cooking

Dining Downtown: Stella San Jac

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I live a pretty good life, and as a blogger I’ve been to some very amazing events.

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Though all places I have visited have been incredibly kind, I do have to tip my hat to the wonderful folks at Stella San Jac for the super-cool night they gave me last night.

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The newly opened restaurant, housed in the Westin, brought a ton of local bloggers in for a happy hour with some complimentary appetizers, and even a cooking demo! (More on that later. Actually, seriously, the straight up video for you below.)

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The space was gorgeous, and the food was delish! (Who says ‘delish?’ Oh god, did I just say ‘delish?’ Sign me up for pink sweaters, and tennis lessons STAT.)

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Naturally, I ventured to the bar. (Me?!?!? BAAAAAAAAR????) I asked if there were any happy hour specials, and the bartender replied, “Every hour is a happy hour.” I like it! He poured me a glass of rosé that I was convinced would cost $2508582094821, but it was only $8.66, so you know what? He was right! Every hour is happy hour when good wine is fairly priced.

Now, for the biscuits! If you check out my amazing-super-awesome-cinematography (sarcasm) video above (it was Periscope) you’ll see a demonstration from the chef on how to make his famous #16 Biscuits. He calls them ’16’ because it took that many tries to perfect the recipe, and they’re reportedly good enough to make low-carbers crumble. Fret not, dear reader, I crumbled not (“Not today, Satan!”), but I plan to soon. I spent most of my night eating his delicious salmon spread, and put all of my carbs in through pink wine.

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What’s In the Box: Plated

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Plated is a delivery service that sends the freshest ingredients to your door so that you can make dinners like a boss. They include just about everything you need from the stars of the entree, straight down to the oils and small packets of butter you’ll want to have to enhance the flavor.

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We decided to try their initial offer, and ordered 3 meals: Thai peanut chicken, portobello burgers, and pollack with fennel and blood orange.

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When you open up the box, it looks a little something like that (above). Even though we’re in Texas, the food was still cold by the time I got it, and the freshness of the herbs was still intact.

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I must admit that the pollack dish, which even contained green olives, was one of my absolute faves. It did need some additional salt, but what doesn’t?

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Plated has certainly made the past 3 nights interesting for me, and it was a lot of fun to watch my partner go all Chef Emeril in the kitchen. Think of it like having a romantic dinner prepared by you/for you every night, and you get all the fun of cooking it. It helped us to break out of our routine ‘go to meals,’ and we really enjoyed the process.

Sensational Side: Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

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I know what you’re thinking: What’s the easiest possible side dish to bring to Thanksgiving? One that makes it looks like I put in a lot effort, when I really just slapped 2 ingredients together, and made them look and taste phenomenal without breaking a sweat? 

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At least that’s what I was thinking.

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This dish makes a great low-carb side, and it’s excellent as a party snack. Simply take a bunch of asparagus, and a few thinly sliced pieces of bacon (I sliced mine vertically in half), and wrap the bacon around each stalk. Spread a bit of olive oil on a baking pan, and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes, or until you see that the bacon is done. If you’re using thinner stalks, you may want to cook for a shorter amount of time. That’s it!

Broccoli Bacon Cauliflower Cheese Soup

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I’ve been doing the low-carb thing for almost 8 months now, and the results are great. Sure, there are days when I have a little way too much wine, and my weight goes up a bit, but all in all I am consistently shrinking my waist. One of the biggest downsides of the diet has been that I find myself eating eggs constantly, and I do mean constantly.

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 I was recently craving something that didn’t come from a shell, and recalled the pureed soups I used to make back in my vegan days. I was always amazed at how something could come out so silky and creamy without the use of milk (dairy or otherwise) or cream. I decided to take the idea of a decadent ‘baked potato soup,’ and combine it with the low-carb, veggie-packed elements of those blended soups.

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One of the greatest things about this recipe is its versatility. You can make it vegan/dairy-free if you want, or load it up with cheese and bacon if that’s more your style. It’s very low in carbohydrates either way, and a decadent tasting treat that you can add spinach, and other nutrient packed items to.

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You can even eliminate the greens, and go straight for the cauliflower for something that more closely resembles a baked potato in a bowl. Essentially: you do you on this soup. 😉

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Ingredients:

Fistful size floret of caulilfower

Large broccoli Crown

Enough vegetable/chicken stock to barely cover vegetables

3 cloves of garlic

1/2 white onion

3 slices bacon

Salt and pepper to taste (I add cayenne)

Cheese (I mix 2 different kinds: cheddar and a white cheese made for enchiladas, but anything goes)

Optional: spinach, parsley, jalapeño

Instructions:

Cook the bacon over low/medium-low heat. Boil the stock, and add one of the pieces of bacon to the stock when it looks about 3/4 of the way done. Add the vegetables (chopped) and cook until soft. Remove bacon when it is finished and drain on paper towel before cutting into bite sized pieces. Once the vegetables are soft, remove pot from heat and use immersion blender to puree until smooth. If this mixture is too ‘liquidy,’ add more cauliflower/broccoli and cook until soft, then puree again. Ladel into bowls, garnish with a sickening amount of cheese and bacon in each. I’d recommend a good dose of salt (after tasting) and pepper. Pasley also works well, if you have it.