Monthly Archives: May 2012

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

If you’ll remember a week or so ago, I bought a rotisserie chicken to make some particularly delicious crunchy tacos. As I mentioned then, I only used half of the chicken for that meal. This is what a did with the other half:

I was in the mood to make a lettuce wrap, something I always thought sounded nice but had never actually made. A few months back my housemate purchased a bottle of buffalo sauce that we used for one meal and haven’t touched since. We were short on time this particular evening, so I decided buffalo chicken would be a fun foray into the challenging world of lettuce wraps. Since I wasn’t making the sauce myself, I decided the homemade part of this meal would be the bleu cheese dressing.

First grate or finely chop garlic, onion, celery and carrot

Mix in greek yogurt, lemon juice and bleu cheese crumbles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I added the carrots and the celery to the dip to mirror the flavors typically served with buffalo wings. I used yogurt here for the dressing because I saw this as a healthier version of the traditional wings and bleu cheese. Once the sauce was finished, I shredded the chicken and warmed it through on the stove with the buffalo sauce.

I heated the rotisserie chicken with the buffalo sauce

I know many people use iceberg lettuce for lettuce wraps, but I hate iceberg lettuce so I used romaine and it worked just fine. As a final flourish, I shredded some carrots and celery for either a side salad or wrap topping, it’s up to you! These made for a pretty meal that was healthy, tasty and took less than 20 minutes to prepare. POP POP.

Served with a salad of shredded carrots and celery

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Texas Eats, from Austin to Abliene

I spent 10 days in Texas this May, which were glorious in many ways, but specifically in the family and the food. Since nobody wants to hear me get all mushy over my family, I’ll focus on the food! I enjoyed several delicious meals during this trip, but I’ve selected three to share with you today. The first is of my very favorite restaurant in the world and a common favorite amongst Austinites: Magnolia Cafe. Mottos include: “Everyone Knows, Everyone Goes” and “Sorry, We’re Open” (they’re open 24/7).

Ever wonder what your dying meal would be? I don’t. It’s this.

Queso with black beans, pico and avocado: “Mag Mud” — We’re married.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every meal I have here begins with their house favorite: Mag Mud. This consists of chili con queso, a Tex-Mex staple, along with black beans, pico de gallo and avocado. It’s quite simply the most delicious thing I’ve ever had anywhere. I generally continue my meal with the chicken enchiladas and I double up on the black beans cause, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t care for rice. I’ve had enchiladas all over the country, although having them all over Texas is enough to establish my credibility when I say these are the best. THE BEST.

No trip to Texas is complete without steak and potatoes…

… and a Shiner Bock!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My trip continued from Austin to Abilene to see my sister, Kate, graduate from college. I enjoyed this drive with my grandma and best friend, Velma Rae. On our first night in Abilene, Kate wanted to show off her town a little, which began with a beautiful meal at the downtown steakhouse: The Beehive Saloon. Here I enjoyed a deliciously tender strip steak with a loaded baked potato: the food of my ancestors. And, of course, no Texas trip is complete with a Shiner Bock.

An old-school country-style gospel band entertained us!

I did not take this photo, I was too hungry — Click to read the blog I borrowed it from.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Texan through and through, Kate knew where she wanted us all to go for her graduation dinner: The Clyde Pizza House in Clyde, Texas, which has a reputation around town for being the best pizza in the area. I’m here to tell you this may be the best pizza in most areas, and I’m saying that as someone who, if not for Magnolia’s enchiladas, would choose pizza for her last meal. I know pizza and this was in my top five best pizzas ever. The crust was unlike any other I’ve had. The best part about this meal, besides the company, was the wonderful family band that played old gospel tunes… brought me right back to riding in a pickup truck as a little girl 🙂

My life and my love are in New York, but my heart remains in Texas.

We will be reunited some day.

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Alice’s Tea Cup

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in New York City we, along with two friends of ours, did the most typical thing two couples can do: we went to brunch! And we did at the cutest possible location: Alice’s Tea Cup. This is a Lewis Carroll dream land of a restaurant, complete with mini Cheshire cats atop the tea pots!

This was how cute this place was. Kitties on the tea pots.

After perusing one of the most extensive tea menus I’ve seen in a long time, I decided on a nice Pu-Ehr, to bring me back to my Espresso Royale days. Our couple-dates ordered teas as well: one hot, one iced. And Jared? Well, with a long menu of special blends of different teas in front of him, Jared chose the cup of drip coffee. #thatsmyman

He may not be a tea aficionado, but he is most definitely the premier authority on french toast this side of Steinway Street, so you can imagine his glee when this was set down in front of him:

This was their brioche french toast, cooked bread pudding style. What?

He was speechless as he devoured this crunchy, gooey, berryful mess of yum. His only complaint? Portion sizes too small! Spoken like a proud Jersey boy. Interestingly enough, both the gentlemen on this date ordered sweet breakfasts and both the ladies ordered savory. While many items on the menu looked appetizing, Alice’s had me at “Scones Benedict”:

This was their “Scones Benedict” served over a ham and cheese scone. Yeah.

I resisted the urge to demand photos of our couple-date’s meals, but I assure you a magically delicious time was had by all. In truth, there are few fairer ways to pass a Sunday afternoon in New York City, or in this case, Wonderland. I recommend Alice’s to anyone who still drops a line to their inner child ever now and again. Mine? We’re on speed dial 🙂

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Margarita Thursday!

To honor my mother’s birthday, May 17th, I knew only one thing: our evening meal had to go well with margaritas. Whenever I was home, especially in the last few years, my mother and I would celebrate the most mundane of days by putting the word “Margarita” in front of them. If Monday was particularly boring, we’d turn it into “Margarita Monday,” you see the distinction?

And thanks to my new boyfriend, Pinterest, I found the perfect dinner for this, what we’ll deem “Margarita Thursday”: crunchy tacos made with corn tortillas. I decided to serve this with the regular guacamole as well as a spicy mango salsa I found (also on Pinterest).

I marinated the chicken in spicy chipotle salsa for one hour.

Filled with chicken, black beans, avocado and cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I bought a rotisserie chicken, I know it’s sort of cheating, but Rachel Ray does it so ppbblllttt… I used half of it here for this dish (stay tuned for what happens with the other half). I added a spicy chipotle along with some adobo sauce and some salsa to the chicken.

To cook the tacos, I filled the skillet with olive oil, and carefully assembled them in this order: chicken, black beans, avocado slices, then cheese (easy to make veggie, just leave out the chicken!) Then I carefully pressed them with a spatula so they keep their shape. They cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crunchy.

The two dips start the same: garlic, onion, cilantro, jalapeño

Avocado and tomatoes go in one, mango in the other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since these two dips start the same, save yourself some time and chop the garlic, onions, cilantro and jalapeños only once. Then you add mango to one and avocados and tomatoes to the other. The mango salsa gets the juice of one lime and the guacamole gets the juice of one lemon and voila! Two different, yet equally delicious dips for your tacos.

Damn those look gooood!

Margaritas made from scratch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made a slight variation of your classic margarita:  I mixed 1 cup water with 1/2 cup sugar to which I added the juice of 8 limes and 1 lemon. I skipped the orange liqueur because I didn’t have any, nor did I have the will to purchase any. Instead, I added the juice of one orange, silver tequila, ice and guess what? They were delicious. POP POP.

Cheers to you, Jeanie! This one’s for you.

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Lentil Soup a la Loren Lieberman

I apologize for my absence; I’ve been in Texas where I ate all sorts of wonderful food (blog to come) but for today I am going to share a wonderful recipe I was given by the lovely Loren Lieberman, beautiful mother of my dear friend Arielle.

During a happy hour date with Arielle, I expressed my desire to make my own soups, to which she replied that her mother made an excellent lentil soup. I was intrigued. You see, I have recently developed an affinity for lentil soup, which I had been buying in cans from the supermarket. Then a few weeks ago, to my horror, I discovered I had been paying $4.50 per can of soup! Never again!

I was ecstatic to try this soup made with lentils, carrots, celery, onion, zucchini, and a jalapeño.

Add everything to the pot, add parsley, bay leaf, salt, pepper

The recipe calls for any kind of stock, so I used veggie both because that’s what I had in the fridge and to introduce a few more vegetarian meals into my diet. The ratio of liquid to lentils is supposed to be 5:1. If you are in possession of a large pot, this is no problem for you. I only have two small pots, so I ended up adding too many lentils, making this soup a little thicker than intended, but it was still delicious!

I let the liquid come to a boil, then added the lentils while I chopped the other veggies. I then added everything and lowered the heat to a simmer, covered and let sit for one hour.

After an hour, I separated this into two pots, added a little more liquid and it turned out beautifully!

The biggest challenge with this soup was that I needed to freeze a portion of it because I was going out of town and I can’t count on my housemate to eat leftovers. I wasn’t sure how it would freeze, but I am currently enjoying a bowl of the de-frosted soup and it’s just as tasty! I believe I got about 8 portions out of this recipe and the total cost was less than $10. POP POP.

 

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Gnocchi with Lamb Bolognese

I was feeling rather bored with all the typical dinner choices this week. Everything seemed meh until my man suggested something he loves that I’ve never really given a chance: gnocchi. I consented, albeit rather hesitantly.

Then, as we were walking through the super-est of the markets in our neighborhood, we happened up some ground lamb. YES! Something new. I was elated.

I made the tomato sauce with garlic, onions, basil, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper

I cooked the lamb with garlic and onions. Drain the fat before adding it to the sauce

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never having cooked lamb before, I wasn’t exactly sure how to do it. But it looked like beef so I just did it like beef and guess what? It worked. I kept it a little pink in the pan because I knew it would cook more in the sauce.

Let the sauce and the meat simmer together for 20-30 minutes.

I added the gnocchi just at the very end and then a little romano cheese on top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This being my first time really eating gnocchi, I didn’t think it best to try my hand at making it, so we bought a package and dropped it in some salty boiling water until it floated to the top, which I’m told indicates it’s finished. It was tasty and potatoey– a very decadent dish.

Served with salad and a nice Chianti... yes I considered fava beans... no my man did not get the joke... did you?

This salad was actually rather intense, it had your basic lettuce, tomato, carrot, onion, cucumber, but I also had some left over avocado, asparagus and feta in the fridge. WINNING.

It was a tasty supper and something we’ll definitely be doing again 🙂

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