Sunday, May 21, 2017

Crispy Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks with Cilantro Mint Raita

Somehow a draft of this post got posted, and it just said "text" here, haha. Good info from me. You are welcome. That being said, there's really not much more too it than that. Adam and I are trying to find more uses for our Char-Broil Big Easy Oil-less Turkey Fryer (that's a mouthful). While it makes incredible turkeys, we clearly aren't doing that often. So, we bought the accessory insert that allows you to make chicken wings, drumsticks, and even pizzas. 

Infrared is an incredibly healthy way of cooking. It results in food with a crispy exterior that mimics a vat of oil, while relying only on a quick spray. The recipe is super easy, with conversions for a regular oven.  If your Tandoori spice has some sugar content to it, check throughout cooking that it's not blackening too quickly. The cooling and tangy sauce is perfect for dipping or drizzling, with Indian flavors of cilantro and mint.

Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks with Cilantro Mint Raita
Makes 12 drumsticks

  • 12 chicken drumsticks
  • Olive oil spray
  • 2 T. Tandoori seasoning, found in most grocery store's Asian aisle
  • Sea salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk yogurt
  • 1 large handful cilantro
  • 1 t. honey
  • 1/2 t. ground cumin
  • Leaves of 2-4 stems of mint (see below)
  • Generous pinch of sea salt
  1. Preheat your Char-Broil Big Easy, or set your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Dry the chicken drumsticks, then spray lightly with olive oil.
  3. Rub evenly with Tandoori seasoning and a generous pinch of sea salt.
  4. Cook in the Big Easy with the lid on until chicken is cooked through and skin is golden and crispy, about 1 hour (internal temperature of 180). Alternatively, cook for 45-50 minutes in the oven, turning once halfway through.
  5. While the drumsticks are cooking, blend first four sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Blend in mint leaves, to taste. Add salt to taste.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Achiote Pork Tacos with Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa and Pickled Onions

When asked where to go for Mexican or Tex-Mex in Austin, there really isn't one simple answer. Taco lovers will debate Torchy's vs. Tacodeli (Torchy's all day), locals usually pick whatever family favorite they were raised on, and sometimes it depends on the adventurousness of the company. When among food lovers, though, there's no choice better than the "inspired by Mexican soulfood" menu at Licha's Cantina. Located in the cutest little bungalow in East Austin, both the atmosphere and food can't be beat.

These Achiote Pork Tacos are my take on Licha's Cochinita Pibil, which comes with pickled onions, guacamole, and queso fresco. Instead of serving with tortillas on the side, I turned it into a taco, and swapped out the guacamole for a creamy avocado salsa. These are seriously the best tacos I've ever made. So good, in fact, that I made them twice in a week. They're great for a weeknight meal and for entertaining because the pork slow cooks for 8 hours, and can just be scooped into a taco come dinnertime. Make. This. Pork. Put it on everything.

Achiote Pork Tacos with Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa and Pickled Onions
Servings: about 8 tacos

For the Pork
  • 3 lbs bone in pork shoulder
  • 2 T. achiote paste (in the Hispanic foods section of most grocery stores)
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/3 c. fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2 t. minced garlic
  • 1 T. Mexican oregano
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. smoked paprika
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1 t. ground coriander
  • 3/4 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. ground allspice
  • Heavy pinch each of salt and pepper
For the Avocado-Tomatillo Salsa
  • 5-6 tomatillos, husked and wiped clean
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2-3 avocados, depending on size
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, about 1/4 cup packed
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional drizzle of honey, to taste
Pickled Onions
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 t. kosher salt
Taco Time
  • Queso fresco, crumbled
  • Cilantro
  • Corn or flour tortillas


Day Ahead
  1. Place pork in the bowl of a slow cooker, and rub achiote paste thoroughly into all surfaces, being sure to get under the fat and around the folds as much as possible. 
  2. Mix remaining pork marinade ingredients in a bowl, and pour over the meat. Marinate overnight, turning the pork at least once during marinating period, as it will not be fully submerged.
  3. Mix all ingredients for pickled onions together in sealed container, let sit at room temperature at least an hour. Move to fridge overnight. Will keep for 1 week in the fridge.
Day Of
  1. Set slow cooker on low and cook pork for 8 hours.
  2. Preheat broiler to high or 450 degrees. Brush tomatillos and jalapeño with a little olive oil, and broil until blackened, turning to blacken each side. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. In a blender, blend all salsa ingredients until desired consistency. You may want to add half of the jalapeño, without seeds, first and then add additional jalapeño from there if you want more spice.
  4. Assemble the tacos and eat! 


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Brown Rice-Crusted Escolar with Bok Choy and Mushrooms over Coconut Curry Broth

Recreating restaurant dishes at home is one of my favorite things to do in the kitchen. Testing and tinkering in an attempt to mimic fare from my favorite spots, especially expensive ones, in order to make them more accessible to eat everyday makes me so happy. After an incredible dinner at my favorite date-night spot in Austin, Lenoir, I knew I wanted to copy their rice-crusted fish. While theirs was out-of-this-world, mine is still really freaking good. This recipe is fresh and healthy, but still packed with flavor, thanks to the yummy, rich broth. I wish I could recreate Lenoir's incredible ambiance at home, but we'll start with the fish.

Brown Rice-Crusted Escolar with Bok Choy and Mushrooms over Curry Broth
2 Servings

Curry Broth

1 T. olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 t. minced ginger or ginger paste
1 t. cumin
1-2 T. red curry paste (I used 2)
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 cup coconut milk
Salt and pepper, to taste

Fish and Veggies

Two 4-6 oz fillets of Escolar, or other white fish
Salt and pepper
1 cup brown rice flakes or cereal (example here)
2 T. olive oil
2 cups shiitake or mixed mushrooms
1 small head bok choy, sliced lengthwise into bite-sized strips
1 clove garlic, minced


  1. In a small saucepan, start making the broth by heating 1 T. olive oil over medium heat. 
  2. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger and cumin, stirring for 1-2 minutes until shallots are starting to become translucent, but before the garlic gets too brown.
  3. Add the curry paste and stir into pan ingredients. Saute for about 1 min.
  4. Add the chicken broth and coconut milk, reduce heat to a simmer, and remain simmering while prepping other ingredients. Before plating, taste broth and add salt and pepper as desired.
  5. Salt and pepper both sides of the fish. Brush one side with a little olive oil, and dip into brown rice flakes or cereal. Some will fall off as you work; that's ok. 
  6. Add 1 T. olive oil to a new pan over medium heat. Cook fish on first (non-rice) side 3-4 minutes, flip and cook until fish is just done and flaky to a fork and the rice has become golden brown and toasted (about 6-7 minutes total). Remove from pan.
  7. Add 1 T. olive oil to pan, add mushrooms and bok choy. Saute until just starting to soften. Add minced garlic and saute for another minute, until mushrooms start to brown.
  8. Ladle broth into a low bowl or plate. Top with fish, bok choy, and mushrooms.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Joshua Tree: Cholla Cactus Garden

It's National Parks Week, and I'm excited to finally post some pictures from Laura and I's trip to Joshua Tree! This beautiful park has so much to explore, but without question the top of my to-do list was the Cholla Cactus Garden. I knew the light would be perfect just before sunset, and Laura kindly obliged my desire to take a lot of pics. I barely even edited the photos because they came out so beautifully.

I accidentally learned why they call these cacti "jumping chollas", as a cute little ball of pain jumped from a nearby plant to my forearm. I'm smiling in the photo, not knowing I'd be picking the little pricks out of my skin for over a month. That aside, I highly recommend checking this place out, and spending some time wandering amongst these unique and beautiful cacti.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sous Vide Rack of Lamb with Orange-Ginger Carrot Puree & Pistachio-Cilantro Gremolata

Ignore the funky iPhone photos on this one... it was dark, and I was hungry. Look at that lamb! It was way too tender and perfect to wait for photos. This recipe seems labor-intensive, which in a way it is, but the lamb can be cooked a day ahead and seared the day of serving. The puree comes together pretty quickly, and the gremolata can be made while the carrots are roasting. If you don't have the equipment to sous vide (which most people don't), you can brown and roast the lamb according to these directions.

I have pretty high standards for my meals, judging them by whether I'd be happy if served this dish at a restaurant, which was the first thing Adam said when he tasted this dinner. The New Zealand lamb from Trader Joe's was great; actually it was even better than the expensive racks I bought for Easter from Central Market (which were way too fatty). I had planned to get a plain yogurt for the carrot puree, but when I saw this siggi's orange and ginger flavor, I thought it would be such a great combination. I can't imagine it any other way now.

Make this meal sometime when you really want to impress someone, because it will!

Sous Vide Rack of Lamb with Orange-Ginger Carrot Puree & Pistachio-Cilantro Gremolata


For the Lamb

Rack of lamb, mine was New Zealand lamb from Trader Joe's (~1.5 lbs)
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt
3-4 T. olive oil

For the Carrot Puree

10 oz bag shredded carrots
Drizzle of olive oil
5 oz container siggi's orange & ginger yogurt
1 t. cumin
1 t. smoked paprika
1/2 t. sea salt

For the Gremolata

4 T. chopped shelled pistachios
2 T. chopped cilantro
Drizzle of olive oil

  1. Sous vide the racks of lamb according to the master, J. Kenji López-Alt. This can be done a day ahead of time, so that day-of prep is a breeze. I cooked mine at 132 degrees F for 2 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400. Toss the shredded carrots with a drizzle of olive oil and roast on a baking sheet for 20-30 minutes, stopping before they turn brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Blend the carrots with remaining puree ingredients until smooth. 
  4. Mix the pistachios and cilantro for the gremolata, and add just enough olive oil to wet the ingredients.
  5. Remove the lamb from the vacuum bag and dry the surface completely. Salt and pepper the surface.
  6. Heat the 3-4 T. olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat until nearly smoking. Sear all sides of the lamb until browned, about 1 minute per surface. 
  7. Slice the lamb and serve over the puree. Top with the gremolata.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Cinnamon Sugar Buttermilk Waffle Donuts

Waffles. Donuts. Cinnamon. Sugar.  Living together in harmony.  I made these waffle-donut hybrids as a late breakfast on a sleepy, rainy Saturday, and they were so warm, fluffy, and satisfying. The batter could be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge, so that Saturday's task is simply heating up the iron and waiting about 4 minutes. These are best eaten rightttttt after the sprinkling step, while still hot.

Cinnamon Sugar Buttermilk Waffle Donuts


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 2 T. melted unsalted butter
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 t. cinnamon and 1 t. granulated sugar, mixed together
  1. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, buttermilk, egg, and 1 t. of the vanilla extract. Add the melted butter.
  3. Fold the flour mixture into the wet ingredients just until combined.
  4. Grease a waffle iron with a small amount of butter. Pour batter into mold and cook to waffle iron's timing, each is different.
  5. Immediately after removing the waffle, sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Smoked Salmon Rillettes

This spread was the happiest surprise of our entire Easter menu this year. I'm not the world's biggest smoked salmon fan, but when it's right, it's right. This recipe can be whipped up in about 15 minutes, and made an entire day ahead of time, making it a perfect party appetizer. It's also pretty adaptable, as you could add whatever herbs you have on hand, a little more of this or less of that, and everything would be just fine. I'll definitely be making it again and spreading it on some everything crackers (or bagels) ASAP.

Smoked Salmon Rillettes 
(adapted from Salt & Wind)

1 T. unsalted butter
1/4 c. minced shallots
1/3 cup diced fennel
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 t. grated lemon zest
1 T. finely chopped chives
1 T. finely chopped fennel leaves
2 T. creme fraiche
Crackers for serving

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a small pan. Add the shallots and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Sauté until the shallots are translucent and soft. 
  2. Add the diced fennel to the pan and sauté briefly, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  3. In a small bowl, add shallot mixture, lemon juice and zest, herbs, chives, fennel leaves, and creme fraiche. 
  4. Break the salmon into bite-sized pieces and fold into the mixture until just combined. Salt to taste.
  5. Store covered in refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.


Happy Easter! {A Simple Holiday Tablescape}

After nearly six months of an unusable kitchen, we are finally back in action for cooking and holiday hosting. The kitchen is still not finished, mind you, but that's a story too frustrating to tell. I wanted to keep Easter as simple as possible from a decor standpoint, using only what I had around the house for the table, and I think it turned out great! 

My favorite new Tania da Cruz Wig Vase was a perfect centerpiece, decked out with her own festive bunny ears made out of some jumbo pipe cleaners. I kept everything else simple with a burlap table runner, my favorite striped napkins, gold flatware, and some vintage dessert plates from our wedding. You can also catch a glimpse of our gorgeous new faucet and sink drain - yes, I'm gushing over a sink drain. Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

Vase // Napkins (West Elm) // Flatware // Dinner Plates // Salad Plates