Monday, April 30, 2012

A New Way To Travel-Air BnB

Alas, I am back from NYC. I am always on a mission to find a reasonably priced hotel in NYC. It is hard for me to justify spending a lot of money for a room that I know I will never be in. Thus, I resorted to the website, Air BnB. It is similar to HomeAway if you are familiar with that website. Basically people just rent their apartments or homes for a set price so depending on where you are looking, you can find some amazing deals.

I went through hundreds of apartments to find the perfect one. I chose this apartment based on it's location, Greenwich Village, and all of the positive reviews. Overall this was a wonderful experience and I will definitely do it again. Check out this gorgeous studio that we stayed in for less than $200/night for almost a week! Below is a picture of the living room when you first walk into the apartment. I am obsessed with that "light up" table.
I love how the owner used the Prada Marfa sign as clever.
This is the view from the living room. The owner of this apartment made this space look big with the 2 oversized green mirrors. One would never know that a kitchen lies behind those taupe curtains!
The bed was super comfortable and the linens were unbelievably soft. The linens were from Restoration Hardware. The owner also gets the linens dry cleaned after each guest so they were freshly pressed!
This is your typical NYC bathroom. It was nothing fancy but large enough to get ready in! The owner also provided us with toiletries, which was a nice touch!
If you are interested in finding a cool place like this, make sure you do your homework so you have as good of an experience as we did!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Joe Fresh

For those of you who religiously read my blog, my apologies for being MIA this week. I have not had access to a computer and the "app" that I use on my phone to post has been acting up, so bear with me for a few more days.

I am going to make this short and sweet! I found my new favorite store in NYC, Joe Fresh! I got a spring wardrobe makeover from this great store. Joe Fresh is from Canada and only has a handful of stores in the US! Here are a few of my purchases that I can't wait to wear! Color blocking and brights, here I come!

Please stay tuned for next week's posts as I will share with you more of my favorite things and places to eat in New York!

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Portobello, Basil, Tomato Panini

I posted this recipe a few weeks back and for some unknown reason it deleted off my blog! My apologies to those who are reading this for a second time but now you have the recipe if you tried looking for it and it was not there.

I decided to be resourceful and buy the large package of portobello mushrooms. I figured I could make two completely different meals using these mushrooms with one being a sandwich and the other stuffed portobello mushrooms with quinoa. This was the more simpler recipe of the two I chose to make. I hope you like your PBT as much as I did!
Adapted from Eating Well
2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fat-freet sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 portobello mushrooms, stems removed, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 ciabatta rolls
Fresh mozzarella cheese
2 tomatoes, sliced
Basil leaves
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Place your mushrooms on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle each mushroom with 1 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before slicing. 
Preheat your panini maker. 
*Mix mayonnaise, sour cream, and lemon juice together. Set aside.
Wash and slice your tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella.
Spread the mayonnaise mixture on one half of the ciabbata bread. Top with the balsalmic mushroom slices, basil, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.
Top with the other half of the ciabbata bread and grill to your liking!
Seriously, this was like taking a bite of heaven.
*The mayonnaise spread is optional but I really enjoyed it.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Garlic Roasted Broccoli

This broccoli recipe is a keeper! I had low expectations for this recipe because there were so few ingredients. However, this was some of the best broccoli I have ever eaten. I found the more garlic cloves you add, the better.
Adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen
1 bunch of broccoli (~1.5 pounds), cut into bite-size florets
2-3 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
12 cloves of garlic
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Wash and cut your broccoli into bite-size pieces.
Slice garlic cloves in half if you want thinner pieces of garlic.
On a baking sheet (foil-lined for easy clean up), toss the broccoli, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Evenly distribute these ingredients on the baking sheet.
Roast for 20-25 minutes or until the broccoli is bright green with slightly brown edges!
You will understand my addiction to this broccoli when you cook this too!
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Swift's Attic

Last Friday, my friends and I went to the soft opening of Swift's Attic here in Austin but the official opening is scheduled for some time this week. This is a wonderful addition and a much needed restaurant to downtown Austin! Swift's Attic is located on Congress inside an old, restored building. If you are familiar with Austin, it is located where Kyoto used to be but you would never know it because they did an amazing job transforming the space. Exposed brick walls line the interior of the restaurant, keeping the integrity of the old building it is in. They restored the hardwood floors and brought in beautiful, modern furniture. I also loved all of the light fixtures.

The concept  of this restaurant is brilliant. They designed their menu around sharing, similar to tapas style, so you get to try a bunch of different things! There were 6 of us so we tried almost everything on the menu. We loved it all! The prices are also reasonable especially for this location. I anticipate this will be one of the hardest reservations to get in the coming weeks so book early! Below are some of our favorite dishes, starting with the crudo!
Cheese Plate (I loved the roasted hazlenuts)
Desserts from Pastry Chef, Callie Speer (her husband is the pastry chef at Uchi/Uchiko)
My favorite was this peanut butter and foie gras concoction. 
I also loved this restaurant because they accommodate large groups! Swift's Attic definitely ranks as one of my favorite restaurants in Austin. Other places that I also recommend are Barley Swine, Backspace, Uchiko, Congress and Perla's.

Swift's Attic
315 Congress
Austin, Texas
(512) 482-8200

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mango Salsa

This is a new take on mango salsa. I have made mango pico de gallo in the past which is very tasty but this combination is more suitable for pairing with fish, especially tuna. I loved the mint in this salsa and I think that is the ingredient that put this salsa over the top for me.
Semi-Adapted from Ina Garten
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 onion, diced
1+1/2 teaspoons of minced garlic
2 ripe mangos, peeled, seeded and diced
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3 teaspoons of light brown sugar
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
4 teaspoon of fresh jalapeno pepper, deseeded and diced
2 heaping teaspoons of fresh mint leaves
Dice your onion and jalapeno peppers.
Now it's time to cut your mango. I still do not have a good way of deseeding the mango. I just cut big chunks until I reach the core, then cut around it.
I cut the big chunks into smaller pieces as seen below.
Saute the olive oil and onions in a large pan over medium-low heat or until the onions are translucent, not browned.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
Add the mangos, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 more minutes.
Add the orange juice, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and jalapeno; cook for 10 more minutes, until the orange juice is reduced, stirring occasionally.
 Remove from heat and add the mint. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Quinoa

This was my first time to try quinoa and I found it very easy to cook and filling too! Many people mistake quinoa as a grain but it is actually a seed. It cooks similar to rice though. Quinoa has many health benefits including it is high in protein, low in fat, and contains substantial amounts of manganese (antioxidant), fiber, etc.

Quinoa is gluten-free so hopefully this recipe will appeal to anyone who suffers from Celiac disease or adheres to a gluten-free diet.
Semi-Adapted from Gluten-Free Goddess
1 large portobello mushroom per person
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste

For the stuffing (stuffs three mushrooms):
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup quinoa
A handful of yellow and red grape or cherry tomatoes (3/4 package)
2 green onions, diced
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Gently cleanse the mushroom caps; slice off the stems and using a spoon, lightly scrape out the gills. This will allow you to have a deeper area to stuff the mushroom.
Drizzle with a scant amount of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.
Pre-bake the mushrooms in the oven (350 degrees) for about 15 minutes to soften the mushrooms. Drain any excess fluid that may have accumulated in the mushrooms after cooking.
Cook your quinoa according to the package directions and dice your tomatoes, green onions and basil.
 In a skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil and minced garlic over medium-high heat. Cook until fragrant for about 5 minutes. Lower the heat and add the tomatoes, green onions, raisins, cooked quinoa and pine nuts. Season to taste with sea salt and ground pepper. Stir to combine. You may moisten the mixture with more olive oil if needed. After the mixture is heated through (5-10 minutes), remove from heat. Add the fresh basil.
Stuff each mushroom cap. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, till the mushroom cap is tender. Tent will foil to keep your stuffed mushroom moist (see picture).
To finish this dish, top your mushrooms with feta cheese and serve over a bed of greens drizzled with balsamic vinegar and the rest of of your diced tomatoes!
This is also a great dish to prepare ahead of time. The only difference if you choose to do this is that you will need to cook your mushrooms for 30 minutes instead of 20 since they will have been refrigerated. Pin It

Sesame Crusted Seared Tuna

I made this the other day and it surpassed all my expectations!!! Searing tuna is incredibly easy and takes no time to prepare. I chose to buy fresh tuna which I paid a pretty penny for. However, I think it was well justified because you could never get this much tuna at a restaurant for $20.

I recommend using a cast iron skillet to cook the tuna in as I am still trying to get the grime off my stainless steel pan. Also, another secret to getting a perfectly seared tuna is using grapeseed oil instead of olive oil. Grapeseed oil has a much higher smoke point than olive oil. This means that the grapeseed oil gets much hotter than olive oil which is what you want to get that sear. Another great thing about grapeseed oil is that it is higher in vitamin E than olive oil. Vitamin E is an antioxidant and helps protect your immune system!

Serving size-2
.75 pounds of fresh tuna
White sesame seeds (~2 Tbsp)
Black sesame seeds (~2 Tbsp)
*Black sesame seeds can be expensive so I opted to get the smallest pack and it was more than enough.
Grapeseed oil
First, you want to toast your black and white sesame seeds. Place the seeds in a nonstick pan and cook for only 2 minutes or until the white sesame seeds begin to brown! Be careful to not burn them. Remove from heat and place on a plate.
Start by drizzling the grapeseed oil on one side of the tuna. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper then dredge in sesame and black seed mixture.
Flip the tuna and do the same thing on the other side.
Heat 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil in a skillet on high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add your tuna. Be careful to not burn yourself as the oil tends to splatter. Cook each side of the tuna for only 1.5 to 2 minutes. Do not cook any longer otherwise your tuna will be overcooked!
Let the tuna cool for 5 minutes before cutting thin slices against the grain.
I served our tuna over warm mango salsa which turned out amazing! Check back tomorrow for that recipe! Pin It

Friday, April 13, 2012

Inti Shoe from Inca Boot Company

I am literally counting down the days until I go to New York again. I have shopping on the brain! Here is what I have been dreaming about lately. These super cute flats come in all different colors and are the perfect shoe for spring. I am literally obsessed with these shoes but I am trying to hold out to ensure I do not find a cuter pair in New York!

If you want a pair, go to Inca Boots and enter TIDBITS for a 15% discount at checkout. For those of you who live in Austin, you should subscribe to Austin Tidbits on email because they always have the latest and greatest deals in Austin as well as all the hot places to go!

Shoes sold in Port Aransas, TX. Sirena Water Wear. Check it out!

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Angel Food Cake & Strawberry Sauce

Here is another delicious and easy dessert to make at the last minute. I did not make my own angel food cake but all the power to you if you want to make your own! The only thing this recipe requires you to do is make the strawberry sauce to top your cake! Remember angel food cake is much healthier than pound cake but either will work in this recipe.
Angel Food Cake or Pound Cake
16 ounce bag frozen unsweetened strawberries or fresh strawberries
2 Tbsp-4 Tbsp of sugar or sugar substitute
Fat-free whipped cream (optional for topping)
Fresh Strawberries (optional for topping)
Wash and remove the stems of your strawberries. I love my strawberry huller which you can find at 
Place strawberries and 2 Tbsp of sugar in a blender or food processor. Puree but don't puree it to death! Leave some little pieces for texture. Taste and make sure it is sweet enough. If not, add more sugar. It should be somewhat thick since you are not adding any extra juice!
Top a slice of angel food cake with a few tablespoons of the strawberry sauce. Garnish with whipped cream and fresh strawberries to your liking!
  • Strawberry sauce yields about 2 cups.
  • If you have red grapes (not green), you may use half strawberries and half grapes or simply add 1 cup of red grapes to the recipe. Just taste and add more sugar or sugar substitute to taste.
  • If you do not want a whole angel food cake, the grocery store has halves or at least the store I go to does! Count on using at least 1/2 of an angel food cake for 4 people.
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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wente Riva Ranch Chardonnay Wine

I would not consider myself a wine connoisseur. I always wanted to be the person at the table who swirled the glass of wine and tested it before they served it to everyone. However, I do not think I could tell a bad glass of wine from a good one. When people describe their wine as citrusy, fruity, acidic, I often wonder how they can differentiate these tastes!

However, when my husband and I were served this wine at a dinner party recently, the flavor of this chardonnay was unlike any other we had ever tasted. It was buttery and full of subtle hints of butterscotch. It was amazing.
We went to 3 different places to find this wine and finally found it at our local Randall's Grocery Store which is part of Tom Thumb. We have also found it in a few specialty wine stores. If you are looking for a fantastic bottle of chardonnay, I highly recommend Wente! A bottle of the Riva Ranch Chardonnay will run you about $20 so it is the perfect gift to bring to a friend for a birthday or serve at a party! Pin It

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dallas Dining: Bolla Restaurant

We enjoyed a lovely dinner at Bolla, located in the Stoneleigh Hotel, on Saturday night. I wanted to spread the word about this restaurant because no one was there! I still can't figure this out. A restaurant of this caliber should be full on a Saturday night regardless if it is Easter weekend. The dining room was decorated beautifully and I think the decor alone is worth going here to see! As for the food, we enjoyed all of our courses.
Some of the highlights included the amuse bouche which was a salmon tartare served on a potato chip!
Another great starter was the coriander crusted tuna which came with jicama hot sticks, tuna ceviche, avocado mousee and patron granita.
Our favorite entree was the tortilla crusted red snapper which came with charred poblana rajas, creamy polenta, and tequila orange butter.
I would not rank this restaurant as one of my favorites but I still think everyone should try this place!
If you go here, skip ordering the salmon and the side of lobster macaroni and cheese because neither of these were anything special. Everything else was great though! 

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