What feels like a million years ago now but is more like six years actually, I made this New Chicken Parm recipe from Bon Appetit. And I made it over and over and over again before I met David. I loved it so much that I thought I had made it for David a million times over too. Then, one Sunday a few weeks ago, I started the prep the recipe and David asked me just what in the heck I was making since it looked kinda looked like chicken parmesan but not really. I was in shock. I LOVE this recipe and can’t believe I had let it fall through the cracks. But I did. And I was ashamed. So, did David love it as much as I do? You bet your chicken parmesan loving behind he did. What’s new is old again, er, strike that, reverse it.
Real Simple + One Pot = Happy Momma
Soooooo, I know I’ve said it here before and it’s pretty good odds that I will say it again but, being a parent is all at once terrifying/exhilarating/exhausting/priceless. One area where I’ve noticed a big difference is dinner. By the time we get her home, fed, bathed, rocked and put to sleep it doesn’t end there. While David is folding laundry, I’m taking out the trash, cleaning the cat litter boxes, putting up dishes and wiping toddler food crust off my new work shirt, I’m practically drooling looking at my menu plan and what I have to make for the night. I have learned to plan ahead and let me just say, my days of a chicken a la something on a bed of wilted something or other with a foam of blibbity blob is loooong gone. Enter the days of dishes I can braise or roast, half prep in the morning or are super quick or no cook. And I’ll take it if it means more time with her and David as I know these moments are going to whiz by and I can get back to my gourmet meals while fretting about my daughter in college. It will be here before we know it.
Enter these fantastic dishes from Real Simple magazine in a section called One Pot Wonders and wonderful they were. We tried three out of the five and all of them were delicious, once again in order of favorites:
Chunky Italian Vegetable Stew: this was super fast and DELICIOUS. For something so quick and easy, the depth of flavors were insane. The leftovers were even better the next day.
Braised Chicken Thighs with Almonds and Raisins: the Moroccan infused ingredients in this were killer, from the turmeric to the ginger and crunchy almonds everything was just perfect. And y’all, it’s braised chicken thighs, come on.
Loaded Bacon-Potato Soup with Cheddar and Chives: You would think with a name like that this would be first on my list. Don’t get me wrong, this was good but I think I’ve made too many Baked Potato style soups in the past that just can’t be trumped. Do give this one a try as it was easy, breezy and perfect for any baked potato lover in the house.
Recipe Reviver: Part II
So, I wanted to let you know that I had a slew of new recipes for you, but then my blog was hacked and temporarily disabled…so this time I was not a lazy panda. First up, is my reviews from the gloriousness that was the new Bon Appetit. Well, did I call it or did I call it gang? So far we have tried the three recipes below and none have disappointed. My favorites in order and a brief description of each:
- Braised Beef with Red Onion and Gremolata: Jeez Louise, this was ALL kinds of good. No seriously, absolutely amazing and would be a great crowd pleaser at a dinner party.
- Winter Squash Carbonara with Pancetta and Sage: Did you know you can make pasta feel like a cheesy dish with winter squash? Well you can, and this dish is a perfect example of easy, cheesy, breezy it is. My mind is racing with where else I can apply this method…so many opportunities!
- Chicken and Dumplings with Mushrooms: This was really good. David liked it more than I did as it was a little heavy on the mushrooms for my liking. While I think mushrooms have their place in this world, in my stomach is not one of them.
More to come poppets from Real Simple and Cooking Light including one that had us bickering over the larger leftovers!
Recipe Reviver: The New Bon Appetit Magazine
Kind of like the drink, Corpse Reviver, that’s how I felt about the latest issue of Bon Appetit – it’s revised my recipe senses! I have to admit, October through January is whirlwind of recipe madness; from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas (indulgence, indulgence, indulgence) to January (stop the brakes…EAT ONLY KALE AND QUINOA), I was pleased to get back to a pace of just darn good food and from what I can tell, Bon Appetit just brought it in spades.
I’ve only made one dish so far (more in a minute) but I earmarked, I believe, half the magazine including:
- Braised Beef with Red Onion and Gremolata
- Fennel-Crusted Pork Chops with Potatoes and Shallots
- Thai Beef Stew with Lemongrass and Noodles
- Chicken and Dumplings with Mushrooms
- Fried Chicken Biscuits
- Winter Squash Carbonara with Pancetta and Sage
- Caramel Dipped Popovers with Chocolate Mousse
- Glazed Chocolate-Creme Fraiche Cookies
- Celery Spiked Guacamole with Chiles
- Seared Scallops with Avocado and Daikon
- Grapefruit and White Beets with Yogurt and Tarragon
- Dark Chocolate Waffles
- Shaved Kohlrabi with Apple and Hazelnuts
- Escarole Salad with Horseradish and Capers
Seriously! Get ready for a LOT of Bon Appetit if all of these work out. Who’s excited? So I did make the Indian-Spiced Chicken with Tomato and Cream and wow, did we love this one you guys. I will say if you are not a spices person, this may not be the dish for you, but if you dig the Indian spice fivefecta (turmeric, coriander, cardamom, cumin, garam masala) you are going to simply love this one. It’s simple to put together and I double loved it because it’s a one pot meal. These days, with a 14-month old who is either rolling toilet paper through the house or pointing at everything in the house going ‘THAT?” (she’s asking a question on what it is – the game goes on for hours y’all hahahaha), a one pot meal is a huge food blessing.
Have you guys looked at the new Bon Appetit? Any other mags I should check out?
The Best Damn Cookies in Austin
Well poppets, I’ve been trying to update my blog for quite some time but alas, the Internet Gods were not gracing me with their love the past few weeks. I’ve been dying to put up this post since it’s about one of my new favorite places in Austin: Epicerie Cafe & Grocery.
So, even though I’ve been there twice now, I’ve had exactly the same thing both times because I lurve this one dish so much. I get the Tri-Tip Steak with Frites and Aioli and Brussels Sprouts. Having spent time in California, I’m a huge fan of the tri-tip cut. It’s what they use for their version of Santa Maria Style BBQ. Yummy, yummy – makes me want Hitching Post II so bad!
Back to Epicerie, oui, oui. Gosh, everything about this place is just charming. It’s clean and bright and simple yet cozy with warm light, gentle music and friendly staff. I tried the cheese plate and beet salad too, both good and satisfying but that steak, woo hoo, is excellent and delicious at medium rare. Plus, the fries with aioli should be its own food group or an IV drip.
My only small complaint is the wine. They have bottles for sale and I’m not even going to pretend that I know anything about what they have on their shelves. That being said, I couldn’t get much help from anyone on guiding me to make a good decision The first time I went I ordered a glass of wine and it was the equivalent of doing 2-3 shots? Of wine? I held it up to my friend who looked completely confused. For $8 a pop it was a bit much for us. Once again, not bad, but to me, could be better.
Finally, on to the cookies. Sweet day in the morn. These cookies are FILLED TO THE BRIM with chocolate chips. Seriously, it’s mostly like eating chocolate chips held together ever so carefully by salty, sweet dough. It takes everything in my power to have just one, and these are big cookies to begin with. Please don’t go buy any, please?
I have to say my love for this place has gone from crush to full on love. Go check out, you will not be disappointed.
Cremini Mushroom Meat Loaf
I can’t help myself, but every time I type the word meat loaf, I think of that song that was SO popular in the 90s, “I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).” Remember how EPIC this video was? WOW. It’s so bad looking at it now. Did you know the video was directed by Michael Bay? I’m not surprised one bit.
Well, I can tell you that I would do just about anything for this Cremini Mushroom Meat Loaf recipe from Cooking Light. YUMMEH! The cremini mushrooms all blended up with the sautéed onions and thyme made the perfect moist meatloaf with that certain je ne sais quois (insert my poor French accent here) to it. The Cauliflower Mash was just as excellent and the perfect complement to the meatloaf. I roasted some Brussels sprouts in some extra virgin olive oil and dinner was done.
This meat loaf recipe is going down as my second favorite meat loaf recipe of all time and number one if you are looking at traditional recipes of this classic dish. This one from Bon Appetit is still the all time favorite in my book. Either way, make this when it gets cold and rainy outside – you’ll thank me later!
Seduced by the Slow Cooker & Christmas 2013
Cooking Light hit my sweet, er savory spot with not one, not two, but a whole section devoted to the sultry workhorse of the kitchen – The Slow Cooker. In their Slow Cooker Recipes to Feed a Crowd feature I made four of the recipes including the Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew; Slow Cooker Chicken Tagine; Tangy Italian Beef Sandwiches and Sweet & Tangy Short Ribs. Most of these were knock your socks off good, but the hands down winner has to be the Chicken Tagine. Nom, nom, nom. This is a new go-to when I don’t feel like doing much in the kitchen but want something spectacular when I get home.
David and I made the short ribs together, followed it to the letter and boy, we were not fans. The Sambal Oeelek (which usually we can both handle) was HOT. I mean on fire, I was choking a bit hot. Not sure what happened, but we are going to try again and see if it was user error. David and I are still both scratching our heads on what went wrong. Regardless, give the the other three a try. They are simply delightful and easy to prep. I just love coming home to the smells of something in the slow cooker don’t you?
Now on to the BIG DAY – CHRISTMAS! I am one of the biggest nerds on the planet for Christmas and last night, David and I were talking about why. On the surface, I love all the smells, colors and flavors of the season – it’s all up my alley. But more importantly I feel this time of year is when things are a little slower and people are just a bit kinder towards one another. Goodness, I sound just like the opening to Love Actually don’t I? But I truly do believe it!
Enough of this gushy stuff, let’s get to the food. So I had to make this perfect roast chicken again and yes, once again, it turned out perfect. So, so, so perfect. I don’t think I will ever follow another roast chicken recipe again. I also made this Stupid Simple Roast Beef with Horseradish Cream from Food & Wine magazine – jeez, this was outrageously delicious. It was perfectly medium rare and juicy to boot. Was it stupid simple? You bet! We smeared and smothered the spicy, creamy horseradish sauce all over the meat and ate with abandon. I also roasted some red potatoes along with meat and then tossed them in the pan drippings when done. These were cracktastic. At one point, Lila had eaten all of her potatoes and when David asked the table if there were any more, one of guests was trying to hide his – he didn’t want to share, hahahaha. I also served a simple side salad of roasted beets, kale, shaved parmesan and roasted hazelnuts with a lemon infused creme fraiche sauce. Easy, breezy and mostly healthy – it has kale and beets, come on!
The only misstep for us was the Dark Chocolate Pudding with Pretzels from Bon Appetit. I followed this to the “T” (as I always do duh, but especially so since it’s a pudding and those can be tricky) and it was waaaay too rich for the table; even with the salty pretzels. People took a few bites and then kindly set it to the side. Good thing we had cheesecake as a backup! Overall, Christmas 2013 dinner was a success but more importantly, we were so grateful to be with amazing family and friends. Hope you and yours had happy holidays and who is ready for 2014?
Guess Who’s Back?
Oh no pandas! It’s been two months since my last post. Yoikes! While I have been doing some serious Cooking Inside the Lines my poor little blog has suffered at the hands of new and good things from a new gig (at Wellington Group – love those ladies over there!) and of course, our awesome kiddo Lila who is now one. One! Can you believe it? I have to admit I was crying like a big old baby when we sang her happy birthday. Who knew you could feel such sweeping emotion of happiness and being totally overwhelmed in the span of two minutes. Parents, you’re feeling me right?
So, let’s get to some of the great dishes we’ve had in the past few months. I will admit, there was a two week span where everything I made was meh and since “meh” just won’t cut it, I will not share here. I will say David and I were praising the recipe gods because the drought of just ho hum dishes was starting to feel like a curse upon our house.
Oddly enough, my first recipe comes from BuzzFeed (Really???!!!) for the hands down best way to roast a chicken by the one and only Chef Thomas Keller (I feel like I should put “bow down” between Thomas and Keller every time I type his name). Now, I’ve roasted some chickens in my day because, as the hubs knows, it’s one of my favorite things to make…ever. So when I saw “How To Make The Best Roast Chicken Of All Time” roll-up in my Facebook feed I gave a look to the computer screen and said “BRING IT!” (that might be a bit over exaggerated. Who me?). Well, they brought it and all that was left were some chicken bones and empty plates. This was simple, delicious and perfect. Heck, use the best way to cook a steak post and you will have your chicken and steak bases covered for forever. Seriously though, I do think I will use this method until the sun explodes. Loved it.
This Gardener’s Pie from Cooking Light was fantastic to the max. It was so good that I made it on a Monday night and David requested it for the next week’s lineup to try it again. And yes, it was still fantastic to the max. It’s creamy, ooey, gooey with delicious roasted vegetables that are all cooked and season juuuuust right. Make this. Inhale your dinner. Inhale the leftovers. Repeat.
Finally, a super fast and family friendly meal was this Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks with Cilantro Shallot Relish from Food & Wine. We only had six thighs so the cooking time was a lot less than 45 minutes and we had just enough time to make the Cilantro Shallot Relish, heat up some Naan and boom, dinner was done. I did have some Greek yogurt mixed with lemon juice and Garam Masala and we found ourselves mixing the greek yogurt blend and cilantro shallot relish together and dipping our warm, delicious (store bought as I’m not making that from scratch) Naan. Yumm. The chicken was super, duper moist and had just enough oomph from the spice blend without being too overpowering (I mean it looks like it could have that potential right?). Oooh man, I will make this again.
I promise to not be away for this long again – seriously! Love to you all and have a wonderful holiday season and break…ahhhh, a break. Can’t wait to spend it with our amazing family and friends.
Nibbles & Bits
Here’s a collection of all the things that aren’t big enough for a full-on blog post but I have come to love over the past few weeks. And, just in time for weekend two, my must-eats at the Austin City Limits Music Festival.
(1) ACL Music Festival
- My number one place I kept going back to was The Seedling Truck. Their Roasted Goat Tostada was PERFECT. Yummy, tender roasted goat, refried beans, crema and lettuce on a crispy tostada. But, what everyone was waiting in line for by Sunday night was the Short Rib Grilled Cheese. Seriously, you paid in one line and waited in the other since they can only make nine at time. Totally worth the wait in my book and we had two! Also, not to be missed, was their salad with pickled carrots. There’s a ton of not-so-good for your foods at ACL, which of course is understandable, so I was thankful this healthy salad was an option and I got one every day we were there.
- Ch’ilantro BBQ Truck was also a huge favorite. It seemed like every other person was walking around with their famous Kimchi fries, and for very good reason. Crispy fries, queso, ground beef, kimchi and sriracha with fresh onions piled so high you don’t think you will get through it until you black out and all that’s left is an empty container and sriracha/cheese mixture smothered all over your face.
- 2nd Bar & Kitchen is a favorite of mine for brunch and they did not dissapoint at ACL either. Their Truffled Pomme Frites are the most decadent thing I think you can get at ACL (well, unless it’s a hug from the little lamb that is Thom Yorke but, since that’s not going to happen, this is a close second). David also got the Jalapeno Chicken Bahn Mi which we loved.
- The Thai Beef Salad from The Peached Tortilla was also a light and refreshing option amongst the heavier fare. I wish I could have eaten more here but there is only so much time to eat and I just had to inhale the one, the only…
- …The Mighty Cone of course. The beloved food child of ACL and something that you have to get when you go. Just get it, it’s awesome. Always is, always will be.
(2) I’m still dorking out over these black bean tacos two years later from Bon Appetit. Now that’s the sign of a great recipe!
(3) Ramian’s “Crisis Management” is possibly my new favorite wine. I randomly had a glass one night at one of my favorite Italian places here in Austin, North, and could not get it out of my head. I was in a crisis y’all since I could NOT find it. Then, randomly, I was at an HEB I never go to and there in the wine aisle was “Crisis Management.” I squee’d with delight and started clapping my hands with glee. The lady who procures all wines for the store started clapping her hands too and saying, “don’t you just LOVE this wine?” I think she might be my new best friend. It’s a bit pricey ($29) but seriously worth it for a special occasion, or a first bottle option for a nice weekend dinner with friends.
(4) THIS is my new go-to short rib recipe, thank you Bon Appetit.
(5) In case my post about Gwyenth Paltrow’s book didn’t inspire to go out and get it, I have two new reasons: The Turkey Meatballs were a hit with the hubs and little one, and the Brown Rice Pasta with Tuna, Olives and Capers is a perfectly satisfying and healthy lunch.
(6) The whole family (including our ten-month old Lila – she is such a LAMBY MCLAMB) enjoyed these Sweet Potato and Chickpea Cakes with Avocado Salsa (see top photo – beauties eh?). Lila pretty much likes anything, but she is a super nerd for avocados and sweet potatoes – hooray right?
My New Amigo Contigo
There are moments, and they are rare, that you leave a restaurant just knowing it’s going to become a part of your regular rotation. Contigo is now one of them…I’ve been there twice in three weeks!
Located off of Airport and 38th/Anchor Lane on the East side this place has that rare mix of delicious food, great drinks, tentative and kind staff and terrific ambience. Let’s walk through and unpeel each layer shall we?
It was all delicious. Their burger actually has received recognition a few times over as one of the top in the Austin, so we of course just HAD to get it. It did not dissapoint. The patty was moist and juicy, with crisp bacon, lettuce, juicy tomato and perfect, and I mean perfect, Challah bun. The only complaint was it was a skosh on the salty side, but overall, it was very impressive.
We also had the popcorn (cinnamon, peanuts and cayenne); Pigs in a Blanket with Dijon mustard; Shisito Peppers with Sesame dipping sauce and the House Pickles with watermelon rind, sweet potato and jicama; fried chicken (their Thursday special!); Crispy Green Beans, and Summer Squash and Eggplant. All of it was great, the only miss for me were the pickles. I know it’s hard to find that just right balance and to me it was way too vinegary (sure that’s a word).
I’m highlighting drinks here for one main reason. When I was pregnant with Lila, I got on a huge kick to find the best mocktails in the city and I’m still working on it even when I’m not expecting. I plan on doing a bigger round up for all of you mommas out there, but Contigo hands down made one of the best ones I’ve ever had. The bartender (who as so nice!) made a blueberry concontion with basil syrup and soda water. It was absolutely delicious!
I could tell Contigo was much more of a cocktail place when I scanned the menu and saw they only had two white, two rose and two red options. While I appreciate a simple wine menu, this seemed to be a little skimpy for my liking. I had a glass of The Curator from South Africa (a shiraz/mouvedre blend) since I’m more of a big and bold wine girl. It was a great glass of wine, but once again, I wish I had just a few more options to choose from.
It’s also unusual for me to make a big deal about the staff, but, they were so nice and attentive I just had to highlight. From the moment we walked in from the pouring rain and were greeted by the awesome hostesses to the fun and laid back bartender; everyone was just delightful and accommodating. As we were leaving the hostess said, “I really hope we get to see you again,” I turned around and sad, “Oh you will!” and then she goes, quite sincerely, “that makes me so happy!” What a LAMB!
And just a I was putting the finishing touches on this post, check out what poodles they really are!
So we arrived during a torrential downpour here in Austin. This city hasn’t seen rain in a while, so needless to say it was a little chaotic, but the staff handled it with grace. Contigo is all open-air seating with a huge outside patio. From the pictures provided on their website it looks so gentle huh? Everything about it is relaxing and easygoing and makes you feel like you are at home. Jeez, I wish I had a patio that looked like that. Right? I loved all the twinkling lights and openness of the space. You could tell they tried hard to make it inviting but didn’t overdo it if you know what I mean.
If you haven’t been to Contigo I would highly recommend as a place to go with your kids and sip a glass of wine, or a fun girls/guys night out or just a laid back dinner for two. It’s kind of perfect in every way.