Monday, December 31, 2012

Kale Salad with Dates and Parmigiano Reggiano

Remember that kale salad recipe I promised? It's here! So simple, so tasty, even my brother-in-law loved it. Best of all, I had all the ingredients on-hand, including the kale straight from my garden!

Kale Salad with Dates, Pepitas and Parmigiano Reggiano

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces kale
8 large, pitted Medjool dates
1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds), lightly toasted
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Whisk mustard, honey, olive oil and salt and pepper in a large bowl, then add kale. Toss to combine and let sit 10-15 minutes. This softens the kale making it less tough and more tasty!

Meanwhile, chop the dates into bite-sized pieces. Add dates, pepitas and Parmigiano Reggiano to kale and toss to combine. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Hope your holidays are wonderful! We enjoyed several days in San Antonio with Luke's family and are excited to head out to Houston tomorrow to spend some time with mine. Twice the Christmas = twice the fun! In the between time, Luke's brother Travis came to spend a few days with us (he hadn't seen our house yet!). Since we'd be driving back on Christmas day after having been out of town, I wanted to be able to make a tasty meal that wouldn't require a trip to the store. This mac and cheese was born, and it was SO good. 

Paired it with a simple salad starring kale from our garden for a fresh side. Recipe to come :)

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

3 cups peeled butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
12 ounces whole wheat elbow macaroni
2 ounces pancetta, diced (optional)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
4 cups milk (I used 1%) at room temperature
4-5 cups sharp white cheddar cheese, freshly grated
3 ounces cream cheese (optional - I was cleaning out my cheese drawer!)
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated
1/2 cup panko 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread butternut squash on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until cooked through. Set aside. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan and set aside.

Meanwhile, Place a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta to al dente. Drain and set aside.

Next, if including pancetta, crisp it up in a skillet, then remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate.

In a large sauce pan, melt butter on medium heat. Whisk in flour and let cook about a minute, stirring constantly. Whisk in milk and let cook until thickened, stirring often, about 10-12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in cheddar and cream cheese, if using.

In a large bowl, combine butternut squash, pasta, pancetta and milk/cheese mixture. Stir well. Pour into 9 x 13 pan. In a small bowl combine panko and Parmigiano Reggiano. Sprinkle evenly over mac and cheese, then bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Let it rest 5-10 minutes before digging in (if you can!).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fish Tacos with Avocado Satsuma Salsa

Monday nights are always hectic at our house. I have a longstanding date with my favorite workout class, Body Jam, at 7 p.m. Now that Luke and I live much further north than we used to, getting home, playing with Benji, making dinner and eating it with enough time to digest before class is a challenge (and waiting til after just wouldn't work for me). That's why I usually plan meals that I can largely prep on Sunday or can put together in 20 minutes or less. This one probably takes 10 minutes max and is full of flavor. And, it's a tasty way to use in-season citrus.

Fish Tacos with Avocado Satsuma Salsa

1 pound tilapia
2 teaspoons ground coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 satsumas, peeled
1 large avocado, peeled and diced
Juice from one lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
Cilantro (optional)
Flour tortillas
Sour cream (optional, for garnish)

Preheat a large skillet on medium heat. Season tilapia on both sides with coriander, salt and pepper. Add oil to pan and let warm. Cook tilapia 3 minutes, then flip and cook another 3 minutes, until cooked through.

Meanwhile, separate satsuma segments and cut in half horizontally. Add to a bowl with avocado pieces, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and cilantro, if using.

Warm tortillas (I place mine on the pancake cook top in the center of my stove. You could also do it in a dry pan or on a baking sheet in the oven if you have a lot). Spread with sour cream, if using, then top with some fish and salsa. Enjoy!

(Pardeon the iPhone photo, husband and camera were MIA!)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gobble Up Turkey Leftovers

This year I set a new record for myself - we celebrated Thanksgiving three times in four days, which definitely had some pros and cons.

  • We got to see lots of family
  • I got to cook several different meals and dishes
  • PIE!
  • Too much driving
  • Too much turkey
  • I only ate leftovers ONCE
Since it's only our second year to be married and celebrating the holidays together, Luke and I are still doing the Texas Triangle -> Austin - Houston - San Antonio - back to Austin (by way of a stop at Grandma's house in New Braunfels). So, while I enjoyed many a turkey dinner, I didn't have time for the iconic turkey sandwich. I was lucky enough to depart with not only some delicious meat, but the picked apart bird itself too, perfect for homemade stock! I took a note from Bon Appetit on this one and whipped up a Turkey and Mushroom Risotto, but I gave it a bit of a healthier spin by swapping traditional arborio rice with barley.

Turkey and Mushroom Risotto

2 quarts homemade turkey stock
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cups barley
1/4 cup dry white wine, room temperature
2 cups button mushrooms (or fancy wild ones if you feel like it!)
2 sprigs rosemary
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, warm turkey stock. Keep warm on low heat.
Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, melt 2 tablespoons butter and olive oil. Saute onion 3-4 minutes, then stir in barley. Stir frequently for 2 minutes. Turn off flame and add wine and stir. Turn heat back on medium low and stir until wine absorbs. Start adding broth in 1/2 cupfuls, stirring frequently (it's ok to take a 20-30 second break to enjoy a sip of wine!) and adding more once it absorbs. With normal risotto with arborio rice this process takes 20-30 minutes. With the barley it'll take longer - more like 30 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile in a medium skillet, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter on low heat. Stir in mushrooms and rosemary and saute, stirring frequently for 15 to 20 minutes.

Add mushrooms to risotto and stir in Parmigiano Reggiano. Taste then add salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with additional Parmigiano Reggiano.

Monday, November 19, 2012

We three beans (recipes that is)

After feasting on Thanksgiving food and three rounds of leftovers, you might need a break from indulgence (for both your pocketbook and wallet). Below are three healthful (or mostly healthful - I'm looking at you enchiladas!) dishes incorporating affordable dried beans. It's time to get creative!

I want to know - what's your favorite find in the bulk department of your grocer?

Chicken and White Bean Soup with Kale

2 cups dry white beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 chicken legs (about 1 pound)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 carrots, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
6-8 cups chicken broth
2 sprigs rosemary
1 bunch kale, chopped into 2-inch pieces
2 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)

Put beans in a sauce pan and cover with 2 inches water. Bring it to a boil, let boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let sit 1 hour. Drain.

When beans are almost done, warm a dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil and let warm. Season chicken with salt and pepper, then place in dutch oven and sear on all sides. Remove from pot and set on a place. Add onion, garlic and carrot and saute 5 minutes. Add chicken back to the pot, beans, chicken broth (use 8 cups for a very brothy soup, 6 cups for less) and rosemary. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 45 minutes until beans are fully cooked through. Remove rosemary stems and add in kale. Stir to let wilt - about 2 minutes. Serve in bowls with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.

Rosemary Baked White Beans

1 pound white beans (I used cannellini)
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 sprigs rosemary, tied together with kitchen twine
1 Parmigiano Reggiano rind (several Whole Foods Market stores sell the rinds separately. I always save mine in the freezer when I'm done to add flavor to soups)
2 teaspoons kosher salt

 Preheat oven to 325. Place beans in a large dutch oven and cover with 1 inch of water. Add in garlic, rosemary, parmesan rind and salt. Bake with the lid on for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes, or until soft. Add additional salt to taste. Bonus, with any leftover beans, mash with a fork and a bit of olive oil for an easy spread or hummus replacement.

I served these with my own spin of the Smitten Kitchen's Mushroom Bourguignon. 

Butternut and White Bean Enchiladas

2 cups light sour cream
3 chipotles in adobo plus 2 tablespoons sauce
1 lime
1/2 cup chicken broth
8 whole wheat tortillas
1 cup cooked white beans
1 cup roasted butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups white cheddar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, add sour cream, chipotles and sauce, lime and broth and pulse until smooth. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Then, spread 1/4 cup sour cream mixture evenly across the bottom.

Next, stir white beans, squash and salt and pepper in a bowl.

Next, spread 1 tablespoon sour cream sauce across the middle of a tortilla. Add 1/4 cup of white bean mixture and 2 tablespoons cheese and roll tightly; place in pan. Continue with remaining 7 tortillas until tightly fitted in pan. Spread remaining sour cream sauce evenly across tortillas and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 30 minutes until sauce is bubbling.
Not much to look at, but delicious!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Apple, Walnut and Blue Cheese Pork Tenderloin

If you need a meal that says, "fall is here!" - then this is for you. I certainly enjoy pork year-round, but it tends to make itself onto my plate especially in the fall. And with the addition of apples, walnuts and blue cheese, it doesn't get any more fall than this to me. Oh wait, it does when you add mashed sweet potatoes with Vermont Creamery's exclusive maple and sea salt butter (OMG so good! Grab some at Whole Foods Market next time you're in, but only if you have good taste), and roasted cauliflower. 

Apple, Walnut and Blue Cheese Pork Tenderloin

1 tablespoon butter
1/2 medium apple, peeled, cored and chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
1 pound pork tenderloin, butterflied and pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a cast iron or oven-safe skillet, warm to medium heat then melt butter. Add apple and shallot and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl and add blue cheese and nuts. Meanwhile, spread out pounded pork tenderloin and then about 2 inches away from one end, add the apple filling in a long strip from end-to-end, about 1 1/2 inches wide. Then, carefully roll up the pork and secure with with kitchen twine to ensure it stays rolled.

Place pork in the cast iron and sear on all sides. Then place in the oven and cook until it reached at least 145 degrees, about 15 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes, then slice. Enjoy!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Paul Qui Brussels Sprouts (at last!!)

If you haven't heard of Paul Qui or Uchiko by now, please drop everything and go look them up. Or, if you're in Austin, head straight to Uchiko - trust me, you'll thank me. I've been fortunate enough to eat there about 5 times now, and each time I get at least one order of the brussels sprouts - trust me, they're THAT good. The last time I ate there, the bartender even shared the general method:
  • Caramlize some fish sauce
  • Flash fry the sprouts
  • add with fish sauce and sweet chile sauce and some lemon
Sounds basic enough, right? Well, this isn't store-bought fish sauce or sweet chile sauce. Lucky for me, last month the Austin American-Statesman posted Uchi's recipe for the sprouts. This was almost dead-on. And, the best part? It makes a ton of sauce, probably enough to make the dish 4-5 times. And, since both have plenty of vinegar, they won't go bad anytime soon. Word to the wise, the sauce has quite a strong smell, so if you can leave a window open, that might be best :)

For this dish, I roasted the sprouts instead of frying them, but frying is definitely the way to go to enjoy them on their own :)
These little beauties are ready to go in the oven!

Brussels Sprouts Fried Rice
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped 
2 cups cooked brown rice, chilled
1 egg, beaten
2 cups Uchi Brussels sprouts
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup peanuts

In a large wok or nonstick skillet, warm to medium high heat then add oil. Add bell pepper and saute 2-3 minutes. Stir in rice and toss thoroughly and let warm, another 2-3 minutes. Make a well in the middle of the skillet and add egg. Let the egg cook 1-2 minutes, then toss around with rice and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in brussels sprouts and green onions, then finally peanuts. 

I had some spectators while cooking. Gratuitous dog and husband photos!

Can dogs eat Brussels sprouts too? :)


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Tricks, Treats and Decor

Ok, no tricks here, all this stuff is fun and easy to make! Luke and I love entertaining, and I also love Halloween. So, why not host a party?! Here are some ideas for both food and decor. We had so much fun with this, and I hope you'll try one or all!

First, some costume fun! Luke and I were Branson and Lady Sybil from Downton Abbey:

And Benji, our little chef!

Butternut squash vase
I LOVE squash, and when I saw this on The Kitchn, I had to give it a try. Luke made my life easy by using a drill to get into the squash. Note, don't leave the flowers in here, they'll die quickly! Do it only for your party, then off to a vase.

Gourd FireplaceI saw something like this on Pinterest, and just had to try it. Couple that with walking past gourd-eous pumpkin displays at Whole Foods Market, and I made my decision. The best part? Other than transitioning into November nicely, half of these are edible, so I've got big plans :) 

Simply spooky centerpiece
How easy is this? I scored some sassy gold candles on sale at Bed, Bath and Beyond on a whim a couple months ago. All you need is a dish, some candy corn, and candles (or really whatever else - a small pumpkin would look cute here too).

It's Halloween, so why not dessert first?!

Graveyard brownies: Simply prepare your favorite brownie recipe (line the dish with parchment paper), then let it cool. Invert the pan to remove the brownies, then, upside down, cut out the gravestone shapes. I made a simple buttercream frosting and then died some red and some green, and then have baggies of white, red and green frosting and cut out a tiny tip so that you can decorate.

White chocolate ghosts: SO cute! After fumbling through a couple, they were easy to make too! Get the recipe from Martha Stewart.

Barfing pumpkin: I've always wanted to try this. Simply cut the top off the pumpkin and rip out the seeds (save them for roasting!). then, cut out whatever barfy face you like. Make your favorite guacamole recipe and then let the fun begin!
Pumpkin dip holder: Perfect for hummus! Just cut off the top and clean out the inside REALLY WELL to avoid gross stringy stuff getting into your dip. Make sure to provide a spoon for whenever the dip starts getting low so people don't have to stick their hands in.

Mummies: Pigs in a blanket get a makeover here - a MUMMY makeover. I bought some full-sized all beef hot dogs and cut them in half to make them short, and then cut them in half lengthwise so it wouldn't be too big or awkward to bite into. Then, you roll out crescent dough and cut it into strips and wrap the mummy up 2/3 of the way. Then, wrap a little bit around the top to make a little hat. Bake according to the crescent roll directions, let cool, then make little faces with ketchup or mustard. Thanks for the idea, Our Best Bites! (I didn't get a good photo, but they have a beautiful one on their site!)

Witch's Brew: Luke and I REALLY wanted to do a green witch's brew, but we didn't like any of the recipes we saw on the internet. So, we simply combined 1 jar unfiltered apple cider (for a cloudy look) with 1/2 of a 750 of vodka and 1 bottle of champagne, then dropped in a few squeezes of green food coloring. Bonus points if you drop in some dry ice - such a fun effect!

Keys to the Kitchen Cookbook

It's not often I do a cookbook review (ok, well, ever), but recently Benji, in his puppy chewing stage, chewed and destroyed half my cookbooks. Since then, I've taken a special fondness to the ones I have left, and I was thrilled to add another one to my collection, from Food Network's Aida Mollenkamp herself.

Who is Aida? Why, a lovely, vivacious, down-to-earth foodie (you may have seen her on Food Network or being awesome on Chow) I had the chance to meet a few weeks ago at a cookbook event for her new book, Keys to the Kitchen. You know you're off to a good start when you walk in to an event and there are more wine bottles than there are people - that's my kinda lady! We had a great time talking about being food dorks (and commiserating over our triumphs and failures at

So, the cookbook. It's rare that I find a cookbook that would appeal to both Luke and me, but this one did it. The whole first half is for both novices and people just REALLY curious about how/why stuff works (insert why Luke would like here). From all the food staples you should know, to how to tackle grocery shopping, this is a great guide for anyone who claims they don't know how to cook.

Then the second half is all about taking those skills and putting them to work. I love how with each recipe, it includes what skill you're mastering - that's right, each recipe has a purpose! I love that. It's not 5,000 salads with different proteins, dressings and cheeses switched out.

I went a little crazy and tried four recipes in one week of hers. But Lindsay, you hate following recipes all the time - yes, that's true. But sometimes you need a crutch when you're not feeling creative. And ok, I did my own thing on a couple of them, but that's why you love me, right? :)

So what would I rate this book on a 10 point scale? I'd say an 8.5, only because I didn't love all the recipes I made 100% (that may or may not have been because my whole chicken didn't completely thaw before I cooked it - even though I took it out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge for 2 1/2 days!!). Also, I'd like to see more photos, simply because I'm a visual person.

Would I recommend this to a friend? You bet! Would I give this as a gift? Absolutely!

In case you're curious, the recipes I tried were:

Roasted squash pasta with sage brown butter (pg. 223) - OMG this was AMAZING. Helped in large part by the fact that I think I got the BEST BUTTERNUT SQUASH ever. Seriously, it was super bright orange and extra sweet.

Cranberry Bean Ragout with Olive-Citrus Butter (pg. 250) - So, I kind of F'd this one up, but I made it work. That's what happen when you don't follow directions. But, it was a lovely bean soup. And Luke, the soup fan, was all over it. Dunked with lots and lots of Parmesan thyme bread from the Whole Foods Market bakery that we're now obsessed with.

Balsamic Caramel Chicken with Roasted Eggplant (pg. 264) - See previous note on chicken not cooking through all the way. Totally my fault. The sauce was lovely. Also, I was reminded that I hate eggplant. I don't cook it for 2 years, then I try again thinking, why don't I ever cook eggplant? I hate the texture and the flavor - end of story. But, if you like it, try this! Or, be smart and just sub in other veggies to roast.

Prosciutto-sage chicken with pan-roasted figs (pg. 278) - Ding ding ding! We have a winner! This one was DA BOMB. Salty prosciutto, sweet figs - what's not to love? And the addition of apple cider to the pan sauce? Amazing! A+
Action shot!

And, here are some recipe links I CAN share, from her article in this month's Food & Wine! Brussels Sprouts salad with pepitas and dates (LOVED the pepitas and dates, but I think next time I'll roast the sprouts). And,  Root vegetable and cauliflower tagine with parsley yogurt (SO good!!!! Made a huge vat and Luke is so excited. Note I didn't do turnips but did extra sweet potatoes and parsnip, and some carrot).
Thanks for sharing Aida - it was lovely to meet you!

Ignore my cheesy grin - I'm so lame when I meet famous people :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Oktoberfest Potato Salad

Central Texas has a strong German heritage - with towns with names like Fredericksburg - it's not hard to see why. Every year, we enjoy heading down to New Braunfels for Wurstfest to drink delicious beer, see the costumes and enjoy the music. This year, I held an impromptu Oktoberfest feast to watch the Texas-OU game (let's not talk about that one...) and the potato salad really stood out. It's super simple and very flavorful. Great year-round, but especially for Oktoberfest!

Oktoberfest Potato Salad

3 pounds red potatoes
2 pieces bacon
1/4 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup grainy mustard (I used Fredericksburg Farms brand)
1/3 cup mayo (I like canola-based)
2 scallions, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a large pot with cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and let cook about 30 minutes, until fork-tender. Drain and let cool, then half.

Meanwhile, heat a cast iron skillet and cook bacon. Remove bacon, then add onion  and garlic and saute 3-4 minutes. Add in halved potatoes and cook another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together mustard and mayo. Add potato mixture and toss to combine. Add scallions and season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy with brats, spaetzle, beer and pretzels!

Note the Shiner Oktoberfest in the background :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Chard, Squash & Farro Salad

I won't lie, my garden is looking really happy right now and I'm thrilled! After buying our house this spring, I got this uncontrollable ITCH to start gardening, and once the crazy hot weather passed, Luke and I went about building our first few boxes and filling them with kale, collards, chard, spinach, beets, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and carrots (ambitious much?). Things are sprouting nicely and I can't wait to start plucking the leafy green goodness. In the meantime, however, I've been satisfying myself with store-bought goods and experimenting with recipes I hope to make once I can start harvesting my crop. 

This is an adaptation of a mustard greens and squash recipe in this month's Bon Appetit. Honestly, I think mustard greens would've been better than chard here, but work with what you've got!

Chard, Squash & Farro Salad

Adapted from this Bon Appetit recipe for Mustard Greens, Roasted Squash and Hazelnut Salad

1 2-lb. butternut squash

2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup hazelnuts, skins removed
1 cup farro
1 large bunch swiss chard, stems removed and leaves cut into 2-inch pieces
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup walnut oil
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
 1 tablespoon grainy mustard

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Half, peel and seed butternut squash, then cut into 1-inch pieces. Spread out on a baking sheet and toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast about 35 minutes, until soft and browning. 

Meanwhile, spread hazelnuts on a small baking sheet and roast about 10 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes, then cut into large pieces. 

Bring 3 cups water to boil, then add farro and let cook about 18 minutes. Drain whatever water remains and add to a large bowl.

In a large skillet, head remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Add chard and saute until somewhat softened - 2-3 minutes. Add to bowl with farro then also add butternut squash, hazel nuts and goat cheese.

In a small bowl, whisk together walnut oil, vinegar, maple syrup and mustard. Pour over salad and toss to combine.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sausage and Poblano Chili

I can't help it - any time there's a "cold snap" in Austin, my mind instantly turns to chili. Luke and I don't eat a ton of red meat, but I'd say the majority of what red meat we DO eat at home is in chili.A longstanding favorite in our house is The Pioneer Woman's version in her cookbook - so tasty! I've tried doing "healthy" chili before that's broth and vegetable based with some ground turkey, but Luke turns his nose up at it. When I saw this recipe in Cooking Light's October issue, it caught my eye, but I knew a couple small tweaks would make it Luke-friendly. I was right!

Sausage and Poblano Chili
Adapted from Cooking Light's Poblano-Turkey Sausage Chili

1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 links sweet italian sausage, casings removed
1  tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 bayleaf
2 poblano peppers, halved, seeded and chopped 
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 14-oz can diced tomato, undrained
1 14-oz can pinto beans, drained
1 14-oz can black beans, drained
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons chicken broth OR water
1/4 cup cilantro
Optional toppings: sour cream, cilantro & shredded cheddar

Heat oil in a medium to large pot (I use a 5 qt dutch oven). Add onion and garlic and saute 4-5 minutes. Add sausage and break it into crumbles, then add spices and poblanos and saute another 4-5 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomato and beans and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and broth to make a slurry, then add to chili. Cook another 2 minutes, stir in 1/4 cup cilantro, then serve.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pumpkin Granola

You may remember my pumpkin month from four years ago. To me, when October hits, all I can think about is all things orange - pumpkin, sweet potatoes and butternut squash! You can bet those lovely orange colors have made it into our breakfast, lunches and dinners. And now, granola!

My sister was always the pumpkin lover in our family - I was more drawn to apple pie rather than pumpkin on Thanksgiving. While I've come around, I actually made this granola to bring to her as part of the weekend celebrating a BIG birthday for her. But, I think it will be joining in our regular rotation - at least if Luke has anything to say about it!

Pumpkin Granola
Adapted from this recipe from Skinny Taste

2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed and blotted dry
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1/4 cup pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons coconut oil (olive oil will work or butter too)
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place parchment paper on a large baking sheet and spread out oats and quinoa. Roast 10 minutes, stirring once.Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Place oat mixture in a bowl. Add nuts, flax and raisins.

In another bowl, stir together pumpkin, maple syrup, honey, spice, vanilla, oil and salt. Pour over oat mixture and stir. Spread over the parchment and bake 20 minutes, stirring once. Remove and let cool, then enjoy!
Happy birthday Lauren!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Austin Restaurant Week Review: Salty Sow

I had seen the name pop up a few times when it opened this summer but hadn't done much research. After seeing them on the list of Austin Restaurant Week participants, I had to check out what they were offering. Salty Sow's menu stood out to me far and away and I knew I wanted to make a visit! 

Located in East Austin on Manor street near Vivo and El Chile, Salty Sow is in a hip area and has a cool vibe inside and a large patio outside. I'll definitely be coming back for a cool fall evening happy hour soon to experience the patio.

One of my favorite things is that they had not only a $27 ARW menu, but also a $37. Both were three courses and looked delicious, so I figured I might as well try to the $27 menu since I have several more ARW visits in the next two weeks.

I started my meal with a ZenJen cocktail, starring gin and ginger liqueur - holy yum, this was so good I had to have two! I know the girls all really enjoyed their cocktails too, so I can't wait to come back and try more.

For starters, two of us had the beef hash with fried egg and veal jus (perfectly salty, a nice sized portion and a great start to the meal) and two of us had the goat cheese fritters (these were huge! Two nice slices of bread with fruit topping helped to cut the cheese). A very strong start on the appetizer front.

For dinner, three of us ordered the duck confit with sauteed greens and mushrooms. I always hesitate before ordering duck, because it can be TOO rich for my blood sometimes - this time it wasn't. Perfectly succulent and falling off the bone - I ate every last bite! My friend got the pork cheeks with grits which was to.die.for - wish I could've eaten both!

Dessert was nice and light - fresh berries glazed in Gran Marnier with freshly whipped cream.

Also as a bonus, some friendly diners sitting next to us had ordered the truffled parmesan fries that were part of the $37 menu and were kind enough to share after seeing how much we coveted them - AMAZING.

Will I come back? YES. Would I recommend their ARW menu to others? YES.

So, where will you be going for Austin Restaurant Week?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Austin Restaurant Week is coming!

One of my favorite activities in Austin is 5 years old! The semi-annual Austin Restaurant Week is here again, starting this Sunday, 9/24. As always, it will run Sun-Thursday, for 2 consecutive weeks. What's to love? Let me count the ways:
  • It's a great way to try out a lot of dishes at restaurants you haven't tried yet (ARW offers 3 course menus for $27 or $37)
  • It's a good reminder to revisit your favorite restaurants
  •  Each ARW meal will donate $2 to Meals on Wheels
So here's what I want to know - where will you be dining for Austin Restaurant Week? What's on your wishlist? Here's mine!
  1. Andiamo Italiano - a reportedly awesome Italian spot that's just a mile from my house!
  2. Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden -  just sounds like fun :)
  3. Olive and June - I lived just a few streets away from them when they first opened and have missed it terribly since we moved!
  4. Salty Sow - holy yum - truffle fries AND chocolate truffle cake on one menu? Yes please!
  5. Swift's Attic - I've been dying to try this place, and after sampling a few of their offerings at this week's ARW kick-off party, I can't wait to try more!

Delicious drinks at the bar. I had the paloma then switched to Hahn pinot noir - it paired well with all the passed apps!

Loved the ambiance. So different from what the space used to be - Kyoto.