food blog

Low-Carb Pizza Crust

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I know being low-carb isn’t always easy, and there are some vices, such as pizza, that people really miss. Sometimes I sauté a bunch of vegetables and cheese in a pan, then pretend it’s pizza without the bread. It does the job for me, but I got really curious when I heard that you could make a crust out of straight up cauliflower (one of my favorite veggies).

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With my new food processor, I decided to embark on this cauliflower pizza crust journey, and I would definitely say that the results are pretty great, though not necessarily something I would say is ‘exactly like pizza crust!!!’ but still pretty dang tasty.

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To make it: grate half a head of cauliflower using a food processor, or a hand grater (if you’re a masochist!). Using a paper towel, try to get as much moisture out of the cauliflower as possible. Otherwise, you’re going to get mush. Add 1 egg, a handful of shredded parmesan cheese, and mix together. Spread this on a lightly oiled pizza pan, and bake at 425 for about 10 minutes. Once it begins to look a bit golden, pull it out and add the toppings you desire. Bake for another 10 minutes or so, and you should have a delicious low-carb pizza! I used pesto, tomato, jalapeño, olives, mushrooms, and even the kitchen sink in mine. 😉

Low-Carb Breakfast: Bell Pepper Eggs

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There are some dishes that look prettier than they taste. For example: eggs baked in avocado. I don’t care what food blogger told you that it was ‘amazing,’ they are are filthy liars and shouldn’t be trusted. (Also, sorry about that time I Instagram’ed that exact dish and pretended it was amazing.) Bell pepper eggs are not like that. They actually taste as good as they look! Promise.

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I’ve tried it twice, and found the best method to be cutting the bell pepper in half, and using both halves as egg-holders. It does take some de-seeding, but it’s nothing major. Even a novice can tackle this dish.

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Pre-heat the oven to 350, and drop your eggs in those bell pepper cups. You’ll want to add salt and pepper, or even herbs! I added a handful of mozzarella to mine, but to make it Paleo, you can omit this.

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The baking time is closer to ~40 minutes (depending on how ‘done’ you want your eggs), but it’s worth it for the char you will eventually get on the pepper. This dish is absolutely delicious, and a fantastic way to get your veggies and protein in. I threw in some de-seeded jalapeños with cheese on my last bake, and everything came out cooked to perfection. Wait for the egg to look done, and the cheese to begin to brown, and you’ll know it’s ready.

Offbeat Omelet: Sun Dried Tomato & Pesto

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Recently, I bought a jar of olive oil soaked sun dried tomatoes, and small jar of pesto. The purchase wasn’t intended for an omelet, but this morning I got the wild idea that maybe it should be.

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It began as omelets typically do: I whisked 2 eggs together with a fork in a glass prior to starting. I know Gordon Ramsay once said on a show, “You should whisk the eggs while they’re in the pan,” but that just doesn’t work out for me.

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In case you’re wondering what brands of pesto and tomatoes I used, these photos are available, and in black and white because the lighting on them was CRAP.

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I didn’t only use the jarred items though, I also added onions and cheese. The result? My boyfriend says he wants to eat this every day, and I completely agree. As we ate, Giada came on TV, and I think ol’ tooth-grin would agree.

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Omelet (Ingredients based on 1):

  • 2 eggs
  • 1T pesto
  • 2-3 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2T chopped onion
  • 1 small handful of sprinkly white cheese (I used this weird, Mexican off brand cheese, so I really think you go can go with whatever.)

Put a small amount of oil in a non-stick skillet, and turn the heat on Medium. Add the chopped onions, and then the tomatoes, once the onions are translucent. Whisk 2 eggs in whatever container, and pour into pan. Watch it closely, as this will cook quickly. Add your pesto in small dollops to spread the flavor, and your handful of cheese. Once it looks *almost done* lift one half of the omelet to fold over on the other side. Remove when it looks golden-perfect.

An English Christmas In Austin

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Have you ever roasted a leg of lamb, popped a Christmas cracker, or even made roasties? (Are you wondering, in Gollum’s voice: “What are ‘roasties’ precious?”) If the answer is: Yes, to any of these questions, then this is the post for you!

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I damn near lost my mind when my British boyfriend decided to leave me, the ex-vegan, a @#%@ing leg of lamb, and told me to cook it for our Christmas party last night. Are you kidding me?! I am not a lamb-eater, and I don’t know if I’m eating the hand of the puppeteer from Lamb Chop, or god-knows-what, and I certainly don’t know how to cook it! Needless to say, I texted him in a panic. (Don’t fret, Dear Reader, because I will tell you how to cook a 4.5 lb. boneless leg of lamb in this post.) I was kind of stuck with All British ingredients, and very little knowledge of how to cook them, despite my stint living there which has absolutely nothing to do with this in any way.

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Now, the vegetables I could handle. (Okay, okay, Dear Reader, I’m becoming that Asshole Blogger that I hate so much when I’m trying to Google a recipe, and they bore me to death with the details.)

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The roasties, however made me a bit scared. There’s a trick to them. (Look at me being a tricksy blogger.)

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Which, luckily, I learned. (So tricksy.)

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Here’s a shot of it: The Beast that had me running scared. (F- it. I said I’d teach you lamb, you endure my photos of said lamb.)

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And,of course, we did some store-bought British stuff. (Can Walker’s just sponsor me already?)

IMG_1541Okay, fine. I’ll give the goods:

Leg of Lamb (Assuming Yours is ~5 Lbs.)

  • Remove the bone. Don’t ask why. My boyfriend did, so I don’t know?
  • Rub it with olive oil (I’m not Ina, I’m not saying use ‘good’ olive oil)
  • Stab it a bunch and put garlic cloves in the holes (more than 6)
  • Cover it in rosemary (In the words of Annie Ray: MORE!)
  • Add some water to the bottom, not a lot, like a splash you’d do in a glass of vodka.

The oven will be set for 375, and you’ll want to watch this. It may take 3 hours, just keep track of the internal temp on a meat thermometer (I totally didn’t). It should be 140-160, but my boyfriend came home to a happy 180, and it was still okay. Again, it takes about 3 hours or so, so don’t start this thing at the last minute.

Oh, the roasties (super delicious British delicacy that is not the same as roasted potatoes):

I shoved them in the oven when I figured the lamb had about an hour to go. (I did those roasted vegetables earlier, because I figured people wouldn’t notice the temperature as much – in case you’re wondering, about 30-45 minutes with balsamic and olive oil.)

  • Par-boil some peeled Russet potatoes
  • Shake them vigorously in a bowl (or strainer) – it’s necessary because it gives them a floury exterior: IMPORTANT
  • Drizzle, LOL JK, DOUSE! them with oil of choosing
  • Bake for about an hour

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I hope you enjoyed the recipes, and I hope you have a great year full of empathy, and forgiveness. Why do I mention that? Why not??

Eating East: Nasha Indian

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Finally! There’s Indian food on the east side! Nasha recently opened it’s very colorful doors, and I’ve already been twice.

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The first time I went, I was a little put off by the harsh lighting inside, but absolutely adored the outdoor patio (warning: acorns will fall on you). On my recent visit, I noticed that the indoor lighting may have been changed for the better. Hurray ambiance!

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Both time I had the Malvani curry, ordered desi hot, and absolutely loved it. It’s exotic, coconut-y, and bursting with flavor.

nasha-indian-austinMy friend grabbed the Millionaire curry, medium hot, and wasn’t quite as impressed, but still ate every single bite. (He can say he’s underwhelmed all he wants, but I saw him lick the plate.)

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The wine and beer are fairly priced, and overall it’s a great spot if you are craving Indian, but simply don’t want to endure the hassle of traveling to north Austin. Did I mention that they made Indian tacos? I’ll just leave you with that.

Food Find: Terry Black’s Barbecue

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We made a quick stop in to Terry Black’s to try Austin’s most talked about, new barbecue stand. The weather was nice, and their patio offered plenty of seating with a beautiful view of the Long Center.

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It was late in the afternoon, but we still managed to grab some of their last brisket. Given that I can’t have beer lately (blame it on the low-carb diet), I was happy to see wine offered by both  the bottle and half-bottle ($12-$18). There were no lines, despite the restaurant being moderately busy.

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We thought what we had was above-average, and even better when you factor in that there wasn’t a 2 hour wait, or a 3 hour drive to acquire it. I should also mention that given you don’t have to jump through hoops to get their food, it’s not necessarily an insane, melt-in-your-mouth, Franklin-esque experience. It’s still good though, and definitely worth a try on a lazy Saturday afternoon after a dip in Barton Springs.

Happier Hour: Soto Japanese Restaurant

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I’m probably one of this city’s biggest sushi fans, and make a point to try and sample every single sushi bar within driving distance. Soto may be a little on the north side of things, but after hearing numerous rave reviews, I thought it might be worth a 20 minute “road trip.”

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We knew that it would be all night happy hour on Monday, so that’s the night we went. The space was intimate and dark, but quickly went from nearly empty to brimming with diners in a matter of minutes.

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The happy hour menu included rolls, as well as some cooked items. We ordered the salmon collar, which was delicious, but a bit bony, which is to be expected with certain parts of the fish.

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My seafood-weary partner got adventurous and tried exotic-to-him pieces of nigiri, and several sashimi orders. He loved every bit of it.

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Despite service being a bit slow (they were a little understaffed on that particular night), we decided to stick around for dessert. I couldn’t sample anything sweet because of my (insert curse words here) diet, and so I watched in agony as my dining companion licked the bowl clean from his green tea tiramisu dessert. Next time you’re looking for high-end, well-presented sushi, look no further than Soto. A lot of people are calling them the “Uchi of the north,” but I think that creatively, they have their own thing going for them, and they really are in a league of their own.

Austin Eats Food Tour: South Congress Avenue

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Have you ever thought about visiting Austin? Better yet, Austinites, have you considered becoming a tourist in your own town? Perhaps you’re just hungry? Whatever the reason, you should definitely check out Austin Eats Food Tours. Recently, I dragged my boyfriend out of the house, and along with me on their South Congress walking tour.

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Now, I consider myself a bit of an “expert” (heavy accent on those quotation marks) on food in Austin, and even I, Amber (Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, King of the Andals and the First Men), found myself genuinely enlightened. South Congress is a touristy street that most locals have found themselves on half a million times, and even though a few of the stops were pretty famous, each one offered something that I hadn’t really tried before. To kick off the tour, we met up by Jo’s to sample iced coffee with pastries from La Patisserie.

Snack Bar South Congress

After introducing ourselves to the group, we strolled down to Snack Bar, where the owner gave us a thorough history lesson regarding South Congress’s seedy past, and the relation her restaurant held to the iconic Austin Motel next door. (tl;dr: If you wanted hookers and crack back in the 80’s, SoCo was the place to be.)

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We were served her take on onomiyaki, which is a savory Japanese pancake, and learned about Snack Bar’s dedication to local, organic food. All the while I was pitifully trying to remove the shrimp from inside the pancake in a last ditch effort to “sort of maintain my low carb diet.”

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Speaking of diets, if you’re on one whilst taking this tour, then count it as your totally-worth-it-awesome-cheat-day-that-you-will-never-regret. NEVER REGRET! Our next restaurant was Guero’s, which had been around for much longer than I ever would have thought. A waiter told us about how the restaurant was once a feed store while we sipped small margaritas, enjoyed pork tacos, and watched tortillas being made right before our eyes.

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We left to hit the next place, and received rockstar treatment at Hopdoddy.

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Hopdoddy is known for having massively long lines, and worth-it-waits, but we arrived to a table set just for our group. Zero wait. Immediate samples.

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Drinks weren’t included at this stop, but I still took advantage of the bar using my own cash, as did a few others in the group.

Croque Madame

We ate quickly, and later learned that our group holds some sort of record for being the fastest eaters, then crossed the street to Burro Cheese Kitchen. Burro is a local food truck specializing in deluxe grilled cheese sandwiches.

Croque Madame

They even do sandwiches with brisket, and offer free beer once a week! Despite feeling a bit full, we devoured the unctuous croque madames, and cooled off with complimentary water bottles. The croque madames contained everything but the kitchen sink: sour dough, smoked ham, fried egg, fontina, pesto aioli, dulce de leche…

Homeslice Pizza

It’s at this point in the tour that we started to feel the fullness hitting us, but when we heard that Homeslice Pizza was going to be our next and final stop, we decided to soldier on.

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Homeslice has consistently been a local darling amongst New York style pizza fans, and pizza fans in general. They have that “quirky, South Austin vibe” and nothing exemplifies that more than their bizarre coloring books, which I always ask for.

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With our day coming to a close, we chatted with our tour guide and enjoyed the pitchers of beer he brought to our table (well, I got wine, I actually did pretty much maintain my low carb thing, believe it or not). My boyfriend moaned that he was in a happy state of food coma as I demolished the toppings from his pizza. It was a fun, filling day that made me see an all-too-familiar neighborhood in a new, mouthwatering light. Which place would you try?