food

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.

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.

Lamb Jam Coming to Austin (And I’m Giving Away 2 Tickets!)

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You may have caught our love of lamb meat in my Christmas recipe post, so imagine the excitement my British partner and I had when we found out that there was a festival dedicated to celebrating his favorite, healthy protein!

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The American Lamb Jam promises tastings from 16 of Austin’s best and brightest chefs, along with some of Texas’ finest wine and beer. Here’s the star-studded list of the amazing chefs you’ll get to taste from:

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It’s all happening on Sunday, February 22nd from 3-6 at the beautiful Barr Mansion. You can purchase tickets here, OR enter for your chance to win 2 tickets from me! How? Simple! Follow me, and @FanOfLAmb, and tweet which chef or restaurant you’re most excited about sampling dishes from with the hashtag: #atxlamb. You can enter more than once, and I’ll choose a winner at random to be announced on Tuesday! May the odds be ever in your favor! 

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??

My Most Requested Recipe: The Best Pho You Ever Had, That Also Happens To Be Low-Carb & Vegan

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Believe it or not, there’s been a recipe that those-in-the-know have requested from me since long before I became a food blogger. The recipe came about due to my (at the time) obsession with low-calorie items, and veganism (also, at the time), which doesn’t matter. I had straight-up friends that were first generation Americans that loved the recipe (shout out to Mellie!), and I have yet to make a ‘bad batch,’ despite the fact that I kinda/sorta wing it every time. (You’ve been warned: My instructions are, as per usual, not 100% clear on measurements.) Know this: My pho is good, and you can tweak it to your meat-loving heart’s desire. If you’re vegan? You’re welcome!

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I never said this recipe was authentic, but it more than does that job. To start, you’ll want to procure:

  • 1-2 lemongrass stalks
  • 2-3 star anise
  • 1″ of ginger (peeled, sliced)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or dash of cinnamon, sometimes I omit it and just use the star anise by itself)
  • 5-10 mushrooms (your preference, and these are what gives the super-meaty taste to the broth)
  • protein of choice (chicken, beef, shrimp, tofu)
  • soy sauce
  • green onion
  • cooking oil (I do a blend of chili, toasted sesame, and vegetable, but that’s not super important)
  • noodles (I use the 0 calorie shirataki, you can use regular – depends on your carb preference)
  • vegetable (or beef or chicken) stock
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 an onion
  • jalapenos/thai chilis
  • cilantro
  • basil
  • lime
  • sriracha and/or garlic-chili sauce
  • and the super optional Chinese 5 spice powder

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Let’s start by sautéing the star anise, ginger, garlic, and onion. You kind of want to burn it, honestly. Don’t char it until it’s unrecognizable or anything, but definitely put a black edge on those ingredients. Once you have that done, in your delicious chili oil blend (or regular oil!), you can add water to the pot and a bouillon cube or 2 of the stock of your choosing. Turn the heat up on a separate burner, and sautee your chosen protein in oil (again, I like to use chili/toasted sesame). Add the mushrooms and remaining ingredients (sans noodles and toppings such as: green onions, herbs, peppers) to the pot of broth. Let it all cook together for as long as possible; I’d say 20 minutes at a minimum, but I can vouch for making this, saving the leftover (half a pot) broth for the next day, then adding more water and having excellent results.

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If you’re using shirataki noodles, just follow the instructions on the pack, and add them to the broth when ready. The same goes for any other type of noodles, really. Shake some soy sauce into the broth, and don’t be shy. I know most would say you should have drained the ingredients out of the broth, but I prefer to enjoy the sliced ginger, and pieces of garlic in my soup; use a slotted spoon to remove the inedibles (star anise, lemongrass) before serving. Add copious amounts of sriracha, basil, lime (go easy), cilantro, and peppers. Voila!

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!

Epicured Events: Sausage Making Class

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You know what beats a dinner party? A hands-on culinary adventure where you learn how to do something you never expected to be able to do: a sausage making class. That’s right. My partner and I headed out to Epicured Events in east Austin to make, eat, and drink. Well, I mostly showed up to drink.

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With a cold beverage in hand, I watched as our chef, Ben, doled out the workload, and gave us entertaining yet useful cooking tips. (I was successful in avoiding work, which is something I pride myself on.)

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We prepped fresh ingredients (well, everyone but me), and sampled our “test batches” (I pitched in for that part) of the Italian sausage and bratwurst links that we were ultimately going to make.

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You can tell a lot about people by how many penis jokes they make in a sausage making class. Clearly, we were an exceptional group of 6th graders disguised as sensible adults. Chef Ben kept a straight face for 90% of it, and we could tell he’d heard it all before.

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The sausage came out perfect, and we came out stuffed (and buzzed). It was hilarious, delicious, informative, and most of all: fun. I’d gladly re-take this class any day of the week. If you’re looking for something new to do: this is it.

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.