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Keeping Austin Weird!

13 Mar

In October, I visited Austin for the first time. (Thanks to Matt and Ciri for getting married.) I loved it! It was just weird enough not to completely weird me out. I loved the food. I loved the heat. I loved the humidity.

The food. All we did while we were there was eat. Well, and celebrated a Holy Matrimony, but we still did a lot of eating… and dancing. This lovely plate of goodness below is from Juan in a Million. Once again, I love puns. This plate is simple – eggs, cheese, onion and bacon. Wrap it up in a tortilla and you have yourself a brepast burrito. And they give you two tortillas, but ask if you’d like more. Loved it! And finished it!

Don Juan – Eggs. Cheese. Bacon. Onion. Eat.

When we arrived the first day, we had a nice lunch with an old friend (friend for a long time, friend isn’t old) at Elizabeth Street Cafe – where Vietnamese cafe meets French bakery. We started with a french loaf of bread and a few different jams, and JAM it was good! I had the Kaffir Lime Fried Chicken Bahn Mi. It was fantastic. I thought the lime would be too much, but it was just enough, just a little hint. Stud Muffin had a big ole bowl of Pho. He ate it all and slurped it to the end! The wedding was held at the Pecan Grove, which is owned by Salt Lick BBQ, so we had some fantastic Texas BBQ for dinner. I ate so much that I had to dance it off. (pictures at end) I am so glad we got to experience Austin with such an awesome crew. We will definitely be back.

Give me them ribs. (Lisa Woods Photography)

Give me them ribs. (Lisa Woods Photography)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An event that I have always wanted to attend is SXSW! It always seems like such an overwhelming experience, but so fun as well! One day, I will attend. Suaza Tequila sent over a few recipes for some SXSW-themed cocktails. I thought they sounded pretty good and wanted to share.

Keep Austin WeirdKeep Austin Weird

¾ part tamarind concentrate
2 parts Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
1 ¼ parts freshly squeezed lime juice
½ part simple syrup
½ part freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ part DeKuyper® Triple Sec
ice
1 stick cinnamon ( for garnish)
For the rim

1 tsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp cayenne
½  tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
Preparation: Mix sugar, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon in a small bowl, then pour onto a saucer. Pour 2 tablespoons lime juice onto a second saucer. Turn serving glass (martini glass or old fashioned) in lime juice to coat the outer rim. Then spin glass in cayenne mixture, rotating slowly to coat.

Add tamarind concentrate, tequila, lime juice, simple syrup, lemon juice, and Cointreau to mixing glass. Fill with ice and shake well, about 30 seconds. Strain into serving glass. Garnish with cinnamon stick if desired.

*We used tamarind concentrate, which comes as a thick liquid in a plastic jar. If you can only find tamarind blocks, don’t worry. Submerge an inch or so of the block in a few tablespoons of hot water for fifteen minutes. Mash to loosen, and discard any seeds or undissolved solids.

The AustiniteThe Austinite

1 ½ parts Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
½ parts orange liqueur
2 parts Passion Fruit Jam
2 parts Club Soda
½ part Agave
1 part lime juice
Lime wedge(for garnish)
Chili-salt to rim
Preparation: In a shaker filled with ice combine all ingredients and shake vigorously. Strain into a glass filled with ice and prepared with a chili-salt rim. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Southwest Sunset Margarita

2 parts Sauza® Blue Reposado TequilaSouthwest Sunset Margarita
2 parts orange juice
2 dashes grenadine
Lemon wedge for garnish
Preparation: In a glass filled with ice, stir together orange juice and tequila. Pour the two dashes of grenadine down the side so that it settles to the bottom of the glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge. Enjoy!

And if you don’t have all the fixings for these drinks, just pour some tequila in a glass and drink!

 

 

Single Ladies Dance Off with the Groom.  (Lisa Woods Photography)

Single Ladies Dance Off with the Groom. (Lisa Woods Photography)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe Michael Jackson?

Maybe Michael Jackson? (Lisa Woods Photography)

Holy Moly, It’s National Guacamole Day on Sept. 16!

9 Sep

I love guac. It is as simple as that. Fresh avocados, tomatoes, lime juice, cilantro… just perfection. Well, who knew that September 16 was National Guacamole Day!? I certainly did not, but boy am I glad I know now. Is there something unusual that you like to add to your guac, like lobster or goat cheese? If you’ve ever wanted to try something new, now is the time. Thanks to Chef Ivy Stark of Dos Caminos for providing these awesome, different recipes and cocktail pairings!

Dos Caminos Guacamole

Pairing 1

The sweet and fruity flavors of the Marvelous Mango Margarita provide the perfect complement to the smoky heat of the Chipotle-Goat Cheese Guacamole.

mango margarita

Pairing 2

Turn your cocktail up a notch this National Guacamole Day with the Spicy Sauza®-Rita.  This spicy cocktail brings the heat with red and chili pepper flavors and pairs well with the mild flavors of the Artichoke Guacamole with Toasted Pine Nuts.

Spicy Sauzarita

Pairing 3

Try the Strawberry Sparkler with the Lobster Guacamole for a fresh take on the traditional lobster/champagne pairing.

Strawberry Sparklers

Check out the recipes below:

Pairing 1

Marvelous Mango Margarita

  • 1 part Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
  • ½ part JDK & Sons™ O3 Premium Orange Liqueur
  • ½ large ripe mango
  • 2 parts fresh orange juice
  • ⅔ part lime juice
  • ½ part simple syrup
  • 4 parts ice

Preparation: Peel, seed and chop your mango. If you have time you can freeze your prepared mango at this point. Otherwise, put all ingredients except for the ice into your blender and blend until smooth. Then add the ice. Pour the margarita into a glass and enjoy!

 Chipotle-Goat Cheese Guacamole

  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped white onion
  • 2 tsp. minced jalapeño or Serrano chilies (Optional: remove seeds and membranes)
  • ½ tsp. teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2  large ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
  • 1 small plum tomato, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 4 oz. crumbled goat cheese
  • 2 tbsp. chopped canned chipotle chilies

 Preparation:

  1. In a medium size bowl, use the back of a spoon to mash 1 tablespoon of the cilantro, 1 teaspoon onion, 1 teaspoon of minced chile, and ½ teaspoon salt together against the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Add the avocados and gently mash them with a fork until chunky-smooth.
  3. Add 4 oz. crumbled goat cheese and 2 tablespoons of chopped canned chipotle chilles.
  4. Fold the remaining cilantro, onion, and chile into the mixture.
  5. Stir in tomatoes and lime juice, taste to adjust the seasonings.
  6. Serve with warm corn tortilla chips.

 **Makes 4 Servings

 Pairing 2

 Spicy Sauza-Rita

  • 1 part Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
  • 2 parts beer
  • 1 part frozen limeade concentrate
  • 1 part water
  • A dash of hot sauce
  • Sugar (for garnish)
  • Salt (for garnish)
  • Red pepper (for garnish)
  • Chili pepper (for garnish)

 Preparation: In a glass, combine all ingredients. Chill and serve in glasses rimmed with sugar, salt and red pepper. Garnish with a chili.Enjoy!

 Artichoke Guacamole with Toasted Pine Nuts

  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped white onion
  • 2 tsp. minced jalapeño or Serrano chilies (Optional: remove seeds and membranes)
  • ½ tsp. teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2  large ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
  • 1 small plum tomato, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts

Preparation:

  1. In a medium size bowl, use the back of a spoon to mash 1 tablespoon of the cilantro, 1 teaspoon onion, 1 teaspoon of minced chile, and ½ teaspoon salt together against the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Add the avocados and gently mash them with a fork until chunky-smooth.
  3. Add 1 cup of marinated artichoke hearts chopped with ¼ cup of toasted pine nuts and stir.
  4. Fold the remaining cilantro, onion, and chile into the mixture.
  5. Stir in tomatoes and lime juice, taste to adjust the seasonings.
  6. Serve with warm corn tortilla chips.

**Makes 4 Servings

Pairing 3

 Strawberry Sparkler

  • 1 part Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
  • ½ part DeKuyper® Strawberry Liqueur
  • ½ part (chilled) rose champagne
  • ½ part limeade
  • 3 strawberries
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 lime wedge

 Preparation:  Wash, stem, quarter and freeze strawberries for at least 1 hour (can be done the day ahead). Run a wedge of lime around the rim of your champagne flute and dip in a plate of sugar to coat rim. Place 3 frozen strawberries in the bottom of the prepared flute.  Pour champagne into the glass. In a shaker filled with ice, combine tequila, limeade, and strawberry liqueur. Shake and pour into glass. Add a squeeze of fresh lime if desired and serve immediately.

 Lobster Guacamole

  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped white onion
  • 2 tsp. minced jalapeño or Serrano chilies (Optional: remove seeds and membranes)
  • ½ tsp. teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2  large ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
  • 1 small plum tomato, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 lb. whole lobster or 4 oz. lobster meat, steamed, cleaned and rough chopped
  • Japanese pickled ginger for garnish (Optional)

 Preparation:

  1. In a medium size bowl, use the back of a spoon to mash 1 tablespoon of the cilantro, 1 teaspoon onion, 1 teaspoon of minced chile, and ½ teaspoon salt together against the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Steam, cool and pick meat from lobster and rough chop. Then add to bowl.
  3. Add the avocados and gently mash them with a fork until chunky-smooth.
  4. Fold the remaining cilantro, onion, and chile into the mixture.
  5. Stir in tomatoes and lime juice, taste to adjust the seasonings.
  6. Add Japanese pickled ginger for garnish (optional).
  7. Serve with warm corn tortilla chips.

 **Makes 4 Servings

The Best Christmas Treat – Peppermint Bark

27 Dec

So it’s been a while since we’ve written. Sorry for that. Both Kteb and I are off in our own little adventures. Anyway onto more important matters…the next best Christmas treat.

This year for Christmas we stayed in New England and visited the Love Muffin’s family. I wanted to make some extra cookies and treats to share with the 25+ family members. I decided that I would try my hand at peppermint bark. I’ve read recipes over and over and seen it on trays and in little goodie gift bags, but never made it on my own. So thanks to Pinterest I reviewed a few different recipes and decided to move forward with one of my own.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Unwrap all of the candy canes and place them into a large plastic bag. 
  2. After all of the candy canes are unwrapped, take your rolling pin or meat mallet and hammer away. It’s worth noting that the candy canes did pierce the bag in places so make sure you do this on a surface that can get dirty. I did it over a wooden cutting board.
    Crushed candy caneCandy Cane
  3. After the candy canes are broken begin working with the chocolate. Fill your double boiler with a little bit of water (about 2-3 inches) and turn your stove burner on medium. Allow the double boiler to warm for a few minutes before adding the first bag of chocolate chips.
  4. While the double boiler is heating cover the baking sheet with one seamless piece of foil, set aside.
  5. Once the double boiler is ready (2-3 minutes) add two bags of chocolate chips and allow them to melt slowly. Stir with a heat resistant rubber spatula. After the chocolate is melted take 1/2 cup of the broken candy cane and pour it into the chocolate. Stir until all of the candy cane is incorporated into the chocolate.
    Nestle ChipsMelted chocolate morselsFully Melted Chocolate
  6. Pour the mixture onto the foiled pan. Spread as evenly as possible. The bark will probably be any where from an eighth of an inch to a fourth of an inch thick.
  7. Cover the melted chocolate with the remaining crushed peppermint and refrigerate to set.
  8. After the bark has set (30-45 minutes) remove from fridge and break apart into pieces of your liking.

The bark should be stored in a cool, dry place and will keep for up to two weeks (if you can make it stay that long!).

Peppermint Bark

Finished Product! Enjoy!

peppermint bark 2

~cdog

Butternut Squash & Fried Sage Pizza

27 Sep

Few things signal that Fall is officially here like butternut squash. Admittedly it is one of my favorite Fall veggies – firm, sweet and goes with almost everything. I found this recipe during the summer and knew I would save it for the first cool Fall Friday. The Love Muffin and I tend to make pizza on Fridays. Let me rephrase, the Love Muffin makes the dough, sauce, toppings and I just arrange them while drinking wine or beer. It’s such a great relationship that we have 😉

Butternut Squash Pizza with Crispy Sage
Yield = one pizza

1 recipe of pizza dough or 1 pre-made ball of dough (we used wheat dough for this recipe)
1 small butternut squash (about a pound, but you will likely have leftover squash)
olive oil
kosher salt
2 cloves garlic
fresh ricotta cheese
a few sprigs thyme, leaves removed
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
10-15 sage leaves
oil for frying (we used olive oil)
Parchment paper

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Remove the skin of the squash: Halve the squash and remove the seeds. The best way to cut the squash so that it cooks well on the pizza is to cut it into thin slices. We luckly had a fairly straight (rather than bulbous) squash so this was easy. You’ll want the slices to be no larger than a 1/4 of an inch thick. The thicker, the longer they take to pre-cook.

2. Place the slices of squash on parchment paper on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, season with kosher salt to taste, toss to coat, redistribute onto sheet in one layer and place in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until fork tender.

3. Meanwhile, peel and mince the garlic and mix it with the ricotta cheese, set aside. After rolling out the pizza dough and placing it on a prepared baking sheet, brush dough with olive oil. Then top it with salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan. Spread a thin layer of fresh ricotta over the crust. Sprinkle with fresh thyme to taste. Top the ricotta with baked squash slices. Top with more grated Parmesan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, fry the sage. Heat the oil in a sauce pan on medium, high heat. You can test the oil to find out if it’s hot enough by flicking a water droplet off of your finger. If it sizzles, it’s ready. The sage leaves should take no longer than 5 seconds in hot oil to crisp up. I tossed in one leaf first to see how it would fry up but it was pretty easy to tell when it was done (it curls!). So we threw in the rest.  Let the sage cool on a plate with a paper towel.

5. Remove the pizza from the oven and top with the crispy sage. Voila! Pizza time!

Butternut squash, garlic ricotta, and fried sage pizza

This was a great pizza and it gave me a few ideas for new pizzas to make. Here’s to enjoying all of Fall’s bounty!

~cdog

This recipe is adapted from Alexandra’s Kitchen.

Hummus and Grilled-Zucchini Pizza

11 Aug

Big props to Food and Wine Magazine for this little gem of a summer recipe. As I was perusing through the latest issue (yes, I’m a subscriber) I came across a recipe that piqued my interest – garlic hummus and grilled zucchini pizza. I was intrigued because of the lack of tomato and frankly, the lack of cheese so when the weekly menu planning came along we got the necessary ingredients to make this pizza.

© Con Poulos Courtesy of FoodandWine.com

Adapted slightly from the original recipe at Food and Wine:

  1. One 7-ounce container of roasted-garlic hummus (I prefer Sabra)
  2. Extra-virgin olive oil
  3. Salt
  4. Freshly ground pepper
  5. 1 medium zucchini, sliced on the diagonal 1/4 inch thick
  6. 1 ball pizza dough with extra flour in case of stickiness
  7. Parmesan Cheese
  8. Pastry brush & rubber spatula
  9. 11×13 inch baking pan

The Love Muffin makes his own dough, but you can buy pre-made dough. I’d lie and say it’s just as good as ours, but in reality it’s not. Mooooooving on. The original recipe calls for using a pizza stone, but we usually don’t. It also calls for cooking the zucchini before placing it on the pizza. I prefer zucchini less cooked so we just let it cook on the pizza. Here are the adapted directions:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 500° . Remove the hummus packaging and stir in the garlic that sits on top. Let it sit while you prep the dough and veggie.
  2. Slice the zucchini in 1/4 inch slices on the diagonal and set aside.
  3. Flour the bottom of an 11×13 inch baking pan. Flatten out the dough to your desired thickness.
  4. Once you have the dough to your liking, drizzle it with extra virgin olive oil. (We use a pastry brush to spread the oil across the dough).
  5. Sprinkle the dough with salt, fresh-cracked pepper, and grated Parmesan.
  6. Using a spatula, spread the hummus and top it with the sliced zucchini. Add more grated Parmesan on top of the zucchini and slide her in the oven.
  7. Cook for about 10 minutes. The crust should be slightly brown with the vegetables slightly wrinkly and the cheese on top browning. Remove from the oven and let it sit for at least 5 minutes. I know, I know, it’s not easy.

This was honestly one of the best homemade pizzas we’ve made. The garlicy hummus adds so much flavor and now you have another use for all of the zucchini from the garden.

Enjoy!

~cdog

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

20 Feb

Chocolate chip cookie dough truffles. Need I say more? These little beauties came across my radar while on Pinterest a few weeks ago. This may be the BEST no bake dessert ever created. Who doesn’t love cookie dough and because this recipe doesn’t contain egg, you don’t have to worry about possible salmonella poisoning, like you do with traditional cookie dough (but seriously folks, if you’re not eating cookie dough because of the raw egg you are missing out on life!). So without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

14 oz dark chocolate candy coating

Directions:

Beat butter and sugars and in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add milk and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt, until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.

Cover and chill dough for 1 hour.

Chilled cookie dough

When dough is firm enough to handle, form dough into 1″ balls and arrange on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. I used a cookie dough scoop to help do this, the dough didn’t get as warm or sticky by using the tool. Place sheets in freezer and let chill for 30 minutes.

Cookie dough balls

Now comes the hard part…the dipping.

Melt chocolate candy coating in a double boiler or in microwave according to package directions. I used NESTLE Toll House Chocolate Chips and melted them in a double boiler. Using forks or a dipping tool like a toothpick, dip cookie balls into candy coating to cover. Make sure to tap the fork on side of pan to remove any excess coating, and return to waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Chill until set. Store, chilled, in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

These truffles are super easy and quick to make and honestly if you show up to a party with these you will be a rockstar.

Finished truffle

And there you have it, probably the BEST no bake dessert ever.

~cdog

Original recipe courtesy of love & olive oil

Happy National Popcorn Day!

19 Jan

Happy National Popcorn Day! Since this blog started our as an ode to all things snacks. I thought it would be appropriate to mention today as a day of celebration. We all have co-workers who make popcorn in the office and it’s like a chain reaction. Everyone makes popcorn. And then there are those who burn said popcorn and are shunned from the office. But in all seriousness, who doesn’t like popcorn. It’s super versatile, fun to make and healthy (unless you’re pouring massive amounts of butter on it). In celebration of the day give one of these recipes a try – here are some fun and traditional twists on popcorn.

Caramel Popcorn (Recipe courtesy of AllRecipes.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 quarts popped popcorn

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (95 degrees C). Place popcorn in a very large bowl.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla. Pour in a thin stream over popcorn, stirring to coat.
  3. Place in two large shallow baking dishes and bake in preheated oven, stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely before breaking into pieces.
  4. Yields five quarts.

Sweet & Salty Kettle Corn (Recipe courtesy of Everyday with Rachel Ray) Yes, I can still eat a whole pot!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

Directions:

  1. In a large pot with a tight-fitting lid (I’d recommend the Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn. When the oils sizzles, sprinkle the sugar over the kernels. Cover and shake the pan or turn the pan handle until the popping slows down (about 3 minutes). Remove from the heat and toss with the salt.

.

Cocoa-Cayenne Popcorn Balls (Recipe courtesy of Chow)

Ingredients:
  • 9 cups plain popped popcorn
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Zest of 1 medium orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Candy thermometer*
Instructions:
  1. Coat a large heatproof bowl with butter, vegetable oil, or cooking spray and place popcorn in the bowl.
  2. Place sugar, corn syrup, water, vinegar, and salt in a medium saucepan and stir to combine. Place over high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Bring to a boil and cook until mixture registers 260°F on a candy thermometer, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter, cocoa, orange zest, cayenne, and vanilla until melted and smooth.
  3. Immediately drizzle sugar mixture over popcorn. Stir continuously with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom of the bowl, until popcorn is thoroughly coated and cool enough to handle, about 3 minutes.
  4. Using buttered or oiled hands, tightly press mixture (it may still be a bit warm) into 3-inch rounds. Place on waxed or parchment paper to cool completely, about 15 to 20 minutes. This recipe makes 6 3inch popcorn balls.

*A good candy thermometer is needed for this recipe. The Love Muffin just bought me one. Check out CDN TCG400 Professional Candy & Deep Fry Thermometer.

And if none of these strike your fancy, I would recommend tried and true Orville Redenbacher’s.

Happy National Popcorn Day!!

~cdog

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