Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Big Bend: Balanced Rock



Earlier this month, Adam and I decided to take a road trip to the most remote national park in the continental US. In fact, Big Bend National Park was the most remote place either of us had ever seen, let alone park. We drove through hundreds of miles of isolation to reach our west Texas destination in just under eight hours (including a Dairy Queen stop, naturally). While the drive was long, the end destination was even more beautiful and impressive than I had imagined.

A giant dessert on the Texas-Mexico border may not seem like it warrants more than one post, but I just couldn't bear the idea of cutting anything out. Also, when I was doing my classic pre-travel research, I couldn't find reliable information on what areas of the park were worth seeing, and which hikes worth choosing when limited by a long weekend's time; therefore, I wanted to share some photos from each of our adventures.

The first short hike we did was the Grapevine Trail, which led to an impressive geologic formation called Balanced Rock. The actual hike was a quick and easy two miles round-trip, which provided an awesome starting point for exploring. 


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chipotle Ahi Tuna Tostada Bites



While scrolling through folders of recent photos, I realized that without even noticing it, I must be on some kind of kick lately. After making Chipotle Shrimp and Guacamole Tostada Bites and Sesame Ahi Tuna Tartare, apparently my brain went into subconscious overdrive and decided that the next logical step was Chipotle Ahi Tuna Tostada Bites. As it turns out, I'm thankful I took this step, because these were so. freaking. good. Really, you can't go wrong with a bite-sized app that includes seared Ahi tuna, fresh crispy veggies, sweet potato chips, and a chipotle drizzle. In short, these are little nibbles of Tex Mex-Asian fusion perfection.


Chipotle Ahi Tuna Tostada Bites

Ingredients

1/4 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/3 cup bean sprouts
Asian dumpling dipping sauce (grocery store bottle, or recipe)
2 oz. Ahi tuna (I cut a 1x1" column from the side of an Ahi filet)
Sesame seeds
1-2 T. liquid from can of chipotles in adobo
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
Trader Joe's sweet potato tortilla chips, or any tortilla chip
Cilantro, for garnish.

Directions

  1. Combine peppers, sprouts, and Asian dumpling sauce. Can be made ahead and refrigerated for an hour or two before serving.
  2. In a pan over medium-high heat, quickly sear all four sides of your "column" of tuna, just until outside is lightly browned. Remove from heat and coat with sesame seeds. Allow to cool to room temperature, then slice to desired thickness, about 1/4" slices. 
  3. Mix together mayo and chipotle liquid until desired level of spice achieved. I put the sauce in a small Ziploc bag and snip off one corner to drizzle through.
  4. Spread tortilla chips out on serving tray. Top with a pinch of slaw mixture and a slice of tuna. Drizzle with chipotle sauce, and top with a leaf of cilantro.



Thursday, May 8, 2014

DIY Succulent Arrangement



Succulents have been trendy for a while now, but I never fully appreciated them until moving to Texas. Here, they're not only trendy, but ubiquitous thanks to the year-round warm and dry climate. Both indoors and out, cacti and succulents make for amazing, nearly maintenance-free arrangements. I snagged my supplies from the adorable Pennsylvania-based store Terrain, but you can use any inexpensive vessel and found rocks; just make sure you use cactus/succulent potting soil.

The directions are painfully easy. Start with a layer of rocks on the bottom, which allows for water drainage, then a layer of soil. Make indented wells in the soil and settle the succulents into these wells. Choose succulents in a variety of shapes, colors and height; odd numbers of plants are more visually pleasing. Cover the soil with a pretty layer of decorative rocks. Allow soil to completely dry between waterings, and add only a miniscule amount of water at a time. Last step: enjoy having plants that will at least take you a long time to kill.