Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What I Cooked This Week (10/7-10/13)

It was a carb-a-licious week in my kitchen. Here's what I made last week. 

Chicken, Broccoli & Cheddar Calzone:

I knew I wanted to make calzones for lunch on Sunday, but I wanted to do a test run of sorts since sealing up dough isn't something I'm always great at. I cheated a bit on these by buying store bought pizza dough, but it was Friday afternoon and I was lazy and hungry so I have no regrets. 

I thought cheddar, chicken & broccoli would be a nice break from traditional pizza toppings (pepperoni, mozzarella, etc) and I was right. Cheddar is melty and delicious and I roasted this broccoli up with some salt, pepper and red pepper flakes before loading it up in the pizza dough. 

 I sent the picture above to my dad and he asked if I was eating Hot Pockets. Um. No. I was eating something WAY more delicious. Though, the nutritional value was probably about the same :)

Cinnamon Roll Cookies:
I felt guilty. I had to schedule a band rehearsal on Saturday morning. And when I feel guilt, I usually alleviate it by baking the offended party a batch of cookies. I thought cinnamon roll cookies would be something that was totally acceptable to eat at 10am. 

Have you ever made cookie dough with yeast in it? This dough has both yeast and cream cheese so it really straddles the line between a bread dough and a cookie dough. The yeasty flavor definitely makes it taste like a real cinnamon roll. And honestly, I found this dough incredibly difficult to roll, so next time, I probably would just make regular old cinnamon rolls. Still, they were delicious when they're all frosted up. 

The recipe can be found here, if you want to give them a shot. 

Rosemary Parmesan Focaccia Bread:
This was kind of a bread repeat for me since I made focaccia bread earlier this year on my bread quest. Still, I felt I could do better. And I did!
I baked half this dough in a 9" pie tin because I wanted a round loaf like we had back in my old Panera Bread days. I also baked a square loaf in a 8x8 pan, you know, for science. They both tasted the same, in case you were wondering. 

The last time I made focaccia I made it in a 9 x 13 pan and it was very thin. Great for dipping & snacking, but I had paninis on my mind so I wanted my bread a little thicker this time around. 

I saw a caprese panini somewhere on the internet [edit: I found it!] and knew I had to make one. 
The picture below does NOT do it justice. There is a basil/garlic/oil spread on both sides of the bread and then thin slices of roma tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. All grilled up to melty perfection. 

The focaccia recipe I used can be found here.

Pepperoni & Pepperocini Calzones:
Since my test run calzone turned out so well, I felt confident in making traditional, pizza style calzones for my pizza loving brother. I made my dough this time and let it proof in the fridge over night so everything was ready on Sunday.
I didn't seal this quite successfully as my first attempt (see the leak there?), but ultimately it didn't matter. These were delicious. Plus, I had a reason to eat some of my homemade pickled jalapenos I made a few weeks ago.  

When Chris and I were kids, our mom hand made pizza rolls for us a few times a year. It was one of the few kitchen projects I was not allowed to help with because forming them was too hard for me. Still, each kid was assigned a specific number of rolls and you guarded them jealously. If someone ate one of your designated pizza rolls, it was grounds for serious punishment. Seriously. We didn't mess. 
Chris and I agreed that these calzones tasted like childhood. So so so very good. 

And now I'm guzzling tea and trying to plan meals for next week that don't involve quite so much cheese...but I'm not particularly committed to the cause :)

Friday, October 11, 2013

What I Ate in Austin

Man, oh man. I did some eating while I was in Texas.

Sadly I didn't get back to my favorite breakfast food truck, Biscuits and Groovy this year, but there was plenty of goodness to go around!

I bought Jenna this mug as a housewarming present when she moved to Austin last fall. I feel entitled to call digs on it whenever I'm in town :). Plus, the coaster was made by our friend Erika!

Torchy's Tacos:
Last time I was in Austin I did have tacos, but they were like...Hawaiian themed or something. This time I wanted the real deal so we hit Torchy's Tacos. I got the Green Chili Pork and the Fried Avocado. Jenna got the Crossroads which also looked delectable. Next time I might go for the Dirty Sanchez or (*gasp*) The Republican.

So at ACL they sell wine. In water bottles. Cups optional. We took much advantage.

Trader Joes:
We took Saturday off of the festival to recoup (from the wine...?) and made a run to the new Trader Joe's on Bee Cave's Road in Austin. It was just as great as I remember. We loaded up goodies for a cheese plate that we had for lunch. Dried apricots, dark chocolate covered cranberries, green grapes, 3 kinds of Spanish cheese plus some brie, some sausage and a nice loaf of ciabatta. Plus a caprese salad on the side. It definitely kept us full for most of the day until...

Drinks and appetizers at Mandola's! This place is so awesome! Part Italian deli, part Italian bakery, part Italian restaurant. We had the Arancini, or, fried risotto balls and a nice glass of Chianti on the porch.

Sushi @ Ryu of Japan:
We have basically no good sushi available where I live, so I'm always excited to get some. This little hole-in-the wall sushi place was perfect. The prices were good and there was a nice variety of options and specials. I even ate eel! which always freaks me out because...eel! I think we got the Dragon Lasa Roll and maybe the Tiger Roll? I can't completely remember...but it was delicious all the same.

Chicken Nachos:
We had a choice to make Sunday morning when we were getting ready to eat at 10:30 am: bacon & eggs or chicken nachos? We were in Texas so I chose nachos! Made with Trader Joe's queso, some black beans, tomatoes and chicken it was the breakfast of Texan champions!

Salt Lick BBQ Breakfast Taco:
I know The Salt Lick BBQ is a big deal in Austin (I think it was on Man vs Food?) and they had a booth at ACL...but I didn't get the chance to eat any. But I did grab two breakfast tacos at the airport and they were awesome. So much, that sauce they give you? It was divine. I didn't need two...but I regret nothing.

It was a great weekend of eating, drinking and music. Hopefully I'll be back next year!

Austin City Limits Superlatives

Best "New to Me" Band(s)--Grouplove, the Mogwli's
These two band were so high energy and crazy. The Mogwli's were like a shot of B12 in concert form. So happy. So full of energy and enthusiasm. It was contagious.
Grouplove was just crazy and fun. The audience was eating it up and their lady singer was rocking a leopard print unitard as well as anyone ever could.

Best Walk-By--Vampire Weekend/Artic Monkeys
We didn't get to see much of either group, but we liked what we heard when we strolled by!

Band That Should Have Been Given a Bigger Stage: Phoenix
We couldn't even get close. It was INSANELY packed for their show.

Band That My Dad Would Like (that's a compliment): Dawes
They were like old time rock n' roll. They had elements of Rush and Kansas and a great, experienced sound.

Most "Its probably better on headphones"--The National
I have no doubt they're great. I've heard great things...but their mid-afternoon concert lacked energy and I'm not sure their style of music translated well into the outdoor festival setting. They're getting a lot of Pandora time from me right now, though!

Most "I didn't love the album but I loved the show"--Fun.
I'm not Fun.'s biggest fan. I liked Nate Reuss' older band, The Format, more but there is no question that they put on a good show. "Some Nights" sounded surprisingly awesome live and Nate has an great operatic quality to his voice that shines in person. Plus, his dance moves are about as good as mine.

Band with the Most Songs I Knew--Jimmy Eat World
We were late to their set, but I still got to hear "Praise Chorus", so I was happy!

Band I Forgot I Liked Until They Reminded Me (PLUS Bonus Second Viewing Award)--Franz
You guys, "Take Me Out" really stands the test of time. Its still a great song. Plus, "This Fire" is an amazing song to sing along to. Its so angry!

Best Stadium-Type Show--Muse
What can I say? Either you love Muse or you don't. They can be kind of nuts and their lyrics occasionally sound like they're ripped from the pages of an insane conspiracy theorist, but man, they sound great live. Their show ran over and the plug was pulled at 10:00pm on the dot right in the middle of a song (I can't remember what...Natural Selection, maybe?) and the crowd was NOT HAPPY. Luckily for those of us who stuck around, they played one last song in the end and it was completely worth the wait. Because THEY WILL NOT CONTROL US!

Best Audience/Performer Relationship--Lionel Richie
He looked good. He sounded great. He had the audience eating out of his hand. Atoms for Peace were playing their show at the other end of the park and were SO LOUD Lionel was confused and asked what the "noise" was that was coming through his monitors. "Is that God?" he asked? No, Lionel. It was just an obnoxious supergroup with no respect for your greatness.
Hilights included
-his comedy routine about going through the stages of a break up and always turning to the true source of comfort and happiness: crappy wine and LIONEL RICHIE (on cassette tape, CD or 8 track).
-a 10 minute jam session version of Brick House
-Endless Love with the audience singing the Dianna Ross part
-" it me your looking for" and the most epic audience sing along I've ever participated in

ACL was a great experience over all. The people were friendly and considerate. The bands seemed genuinely happy to be there. They sold wine in WATERBOTTLES! I'm a believer. Hopefully I'll be back next year.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What I Cooked This Week (9/23-9/29)

Pesto Peas & Pasta: I used the last of the basil Beth & Marcus gave me to make this pesto. I don't make a lot of pasta at home because I HATE cooking pasta. Isn't that stupid? I think its because pasta doesn't need my help. You just have to wait. And be patient. I'm not good at those things. I need my food to NEED me back, you know? Maybe I've said too much. 

 It was delicious. The end. 
Fall Salad
I needed to eat something I felt was healthy, so I tossed up this salad. There's some goat cheese, walnuts, avocado, tomato, grilled chicken, Honey Crisp Apples and a homemade dressing with dijon mustard and maple syrup. It was so good it almost made me forget I was eating a salad. Probably because of the bacon. Did I mention there was bacon? 
Whipped Feta on Baguette with Roasted Tomatoes:
I've been seeing this recipe for whipped feta around on the internet lately and decided to finally give it a try. Its basically like the tastiest cream cheese you've ever eaten. Its super salty, like feta, but completely smooth. It would be great on pretty much anything. Bagels. Pizza. Mixed into tomato sauce for pasta...I bet it would even be good with a drizzle of honey on toast. I'm definitely making it again. 
Eggs in a Basket: 
My dad used to make it for me when I was a kid and I crave it every now and then. This is probably my most successful attempt at it because I made it using the griddle plates on my panini press, which, unlike my stove, is an actual flat surface. Delicious childhood memories, right there :)

Brown Sugar Pulled Pork
Since its chilly and fall like now, I feel justified in busting out the crock pot. This recipe worked like a dream. Completely easy, not too many ingredients, could feed an army and most importantly, makes your house smell amazing. The key is the roasted garlic. Don't skimp on the roasted garlic! 

Raspberry Galette: 
This is my third time making this crust, but in the past I've used strawberries. The grocery store didn't have any decent strawberries this week, but I think I might actually like the raspberry version better. I can't wait to try with blueberries at some point in the future. Mmmmm sweet sweet pastries.

Grilled Brats and homemade potato chips: 
Chris bought a deep fryer at the church rummage sale and has been desperate to fry me something. These chips were hand cut (poorly...I need a mandolin really bad) and then sprinkled with Lowry's seasoned salt. They were an excellent salty companion to the brats I grilled up on the panini press. Plus, look how proud he is in his penguin shirt. He cracks me up. 

Apple Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread:
I know Pull Apart Breads are soooo last year, but I never got the chance to make one and this one seemed really easy. It reminds me a lot of the monkey bread my mom used to make when we were kids. Pilsbury Biscuit Dough dredged in cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg and then layered up with apple slices that are dredged in the same all baked up into a loaf of gooey goodness and then drizzled with frosting. What more could you ask for in a fall snack? Not much else. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

What I Cooked This Week (9/16-9-29)

1. Grilled Steak with Caprese Salad
I don't know if you know this, but Dancing with the Stars started up on Monday and the cast this season is AMAZING! My fears were realized when Bill Nye graced our screens to do the most awkward dance of all time, but at least I had steak to comfort me. I'm trying to squeeze in a few more grilling sessions before the weather gets to cold. Roommate Jen and I like our steaks VERY RARE and I think I nailed it here. A nice tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil salad with a generous sprinkle of salt, drizzle of olive oil and splash of reduced balsamic made it a great start to the week. 

2. Steak and Blue Cheese Panini    
I had 1/2 a steak leftover and some baguette from the weekend so there was really only one thing to do: make a panini. I whipped up a cheater version of my dad's amazing blue cheese dressing by crumbling some blue cheese in with a few tablespoons of mayo and giving it a sprinkle of garlic salt. I sliced the steak up as thin as I could and then heated up the panini press and threw the steak strips on for a few minutes to warm 'em up. Then I assembled the sammy and tossed it on the press for 5 minutes or so. It was incredibly delicious and a great way to use leftover steak. 

3. Soup with Smoked Gouda Crostini
We go a lot of rain this week and rainy fall days are always better with soup. I polished off the last remaining bowl of Broccoli soup from the batch I made last week and then made a quick crostini with some leftover baguette. Just drizzle some olive oil on the bread and pop them under the broiler for a minute. Literally, like a minute. Then take them out, grate a little cheese on top and put them under the broiler for another 30 seconds until the cheese melts. Carb heaven. 

4. Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies
Since fall has arrived (more or less), I thought I'd jump in with a pumpkin recipe. I had a party to go to on Friday so that seemed like as good an excuse as any to make these awesome Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies. Who can resist cream cheese frosting? Not me. However, when I got to the store on Thursday, I got the LAST CAN of Pumpkin Puree they had. What madness is this? Its not even October yet, people! To make a long story short: these were amazing. Highly recommended. 
5. Buttermilk Cake
What's a girl to do when she's sitting on the couch on the brink of a nap that she shouldn't take (insomniacs know that naps are baaaaaad news) with 2 cups of buttermilk in her fridge that are about to expire? She should make this buttermilk cake. Then she should eat 3 pieces, forget to take a picture of it and send the rest of it away with her brother. 

Or at least that's what I did. 

6. This next section is less "What I Cooked" and more "What I Ate" since I was in Chicago with my pal Jenna on Saturday.
First up: Wildberry Pancakes. I love love love Eggs Benedict and its something I never make for myself since I can't poach eggs (or rather, I'm too scared to try).
These were a bit of a disappointment. The hollandaise was really bland. However, Jenna's mom got the signature Berry Bliss French Toast and I stole a bite. THAT is what I would order next time. 

7. Bold and Beautiful Wine Flight at Bin 36 with a Cheddar Plate
Presented without comment:
Ok. Just one comment: that is wine jello on top of the apples, just in case you were wondering. 

8. Antipasto Platter and Citrius Olives with a glass of Sangiovese at Tesori
The perfect end to our day!

I really recommend the method we chose, especially if you're planning a trip and trying to save some $$$. Order a big breakfast (or brunch) and then just snack your way through the day. A total win!