Monday, September 15, 2014

Driving the PCH

Adam and I are so lucky to have just come home from an amazing vacation road tripping the PCH along the California coast from San Francisco to LA. I got a little insta-happy during the trip, but I just love (over)sharing such beautiful sights with anyone who might like to see them. I am a psychotic planner of travel, in that I put in hours of research beforehand to make sure we maximize the trip, balancing between lots of fun, new things and some ever-important downtime. These things combined prompted many people to ask me to post a trip itinerary. What a great idea!

I've decided that I'll post the trip exactly as we took it, separated day by day, with any helpful hints or recommendations of places we discovered along the way. With every day being so different, we were able to do a little of everything, from yurts to five-star resorts, craft breweries to Napa wineries, and city life to almost total isolation. And if this trip doesn't sound up your alley, at least there are some pretty pictures.

Next up, Day 1!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Best White Cake Ever with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

Even though summer in Austin will thankfully last for a couple more months, it still feels somehow strange to make unabashedly summery foods after Labor Day. I know that sounds ridiculous, because it is, but I'm feeling the need to make a bunch of summer recipes really quickly and cram everything into the standard calendar. This meant finally making a dessert with brightly colored berries, so I settled on a layered cake.

While everything was from scratch, I definitely followed other people's recipes. This "best white cake ever" was exactly as described - buttery, moist, just sweet enough, and rich in flavor. I paired it with the same frosting as in this previous post, which is the perfect combo of cream cheese and delicate vanilla flavor. Simply make the cake as directed in round pans (note that the recipe makes three layers... well.. only two of mine made it out alive), spreading each layer with a generous helping of the frosting and top with fresh berries.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Birthday Dinner at Lamberts Downtown Barbecue

Friday night, Adam and I went to dinner at Lamberts Downtown Barbecue to celebrate my (errr.. 25th) birthday. In the land of BBQ, Lamberts stands out as offering upscale renditions of standard fare like brisket, ribs, and pulled pork as one part of an amazing, well-rounded menu. The location, just two blocks from our apartment, made it a great spot to waddle home from after several cocktails and pounds of delicious meat. The food was delicious, with the star being a Mustard and Brown Sugar Crusted Ribeye that the waiter appropriately described as being brûléed; the steak was a perfect medium rare, but topped with a caramelized sweet and mustardy coating. I am so looking forward to going back and trying basically every item on the menu (#ambition).

A view of the restaurant, in Austin's 2nd Street District (Photo credit)
Dress // Shoes
The daily special charcuterie and cheese board, complete with foie gras pate
Mustard and Brown Sugar Crusted Niman Ranch Ribeye
Black Angus Brisket with Brown Sugar and Coffee Rub

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

NYC: Murray's Cheese and a High Line Picnic

Adam and I will be heading off on our next big vacation in only two weeks, and I'm already chomping at the bit to plan another one. Nevermind the fact that we have trips planned almost every month for a year... I just can't stop. I'm beyond #blessed (insert praying hands) to be married to someone that goes along with all of my whims, including making a special trip across NYC just to sample from a famous cheese shop.

Murray's Cheese in New York is essentially a national treasure, and I would visit this shrine to cheese every day if I could. Adam was kind enough to accompany me to buy some cheese, crackers, and prosciutto and enjoy them via a picnic on at High Line Park. The cheese was to die for, and the view was almost as good.

This Challerhocker cheese was some of the best cheese I've ever had.

Our spread: so wishing I could remember the second cheese because it was just as fabulous.
Insert emoji with heart eyes here.
If you've never been to Bleecker Street, it's also known for it's fantastic shopping, which in and of itself makes it worth a visit.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Seared Scallops over Roasted Cauliflower Spinach Couscous with a Curry Emulsion

Just looking at these pictures makes my stomach growl. Anything with scallops gets me going to begin with, but this meal really takes the cake. I got the idea for this entree from Austin's amazing Whole Foods headquarters, which is more restaurant than grocery store. Their version was made with salmon, but the idea is basically the same. Besides, has salmon ever been superior to scallops? No. Never.

Just like any recipe I create, I'm sure there are huge variances in the way you can tackle this; however, I cook with wine, so anything can happen and I record to the best of my abilities. Ultimately, though the steps may seem numerous, it's a really easy dish that just has a few different moving parts.

Seared Scallops over Roasted Cauliflower Arugula Couscous with a Curry Emulsion


  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup chicken broth (more or less depending on couscous directions)
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 cups loosely packed spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup sliced cauliflower
  • 2 t. butter
  • 12-16 scallops
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds

Curry Emulsion
{You will have curry sauce leftover for other things, like french fries}
  • 1/2 to a full can of coconut milk (13 oz. can), depending on taste
  • 1.5 T. Sriracha
  • 1 t. ground coriander
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. curry powder
  1. Whisk together all curry emulsion ingredients using 1/2 can of coconut milk. Taste the sauce and add remaining coconut milk until desired taste is reached. This can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  3. Toss the cauliflower slices with a conservative drizzle of olive oil, and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
  4. Cook couscous according to package directions, substituting the water for chicken broth.
  5. While couscous and cauliflower are cooking, heat 2 T. olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook approximately 1 minute. Add spinach, and stir through olive oil until just wilted. Remove from heat.
  6. Toss couscous with spinach in its olive oil. Add cauliflower and slivered almonds. 
  7. Heat butter in skillet on medium-high heat. Salt and pepper the dry scallops. Add to pan and cook approximately 90 seconds on each side until golden crust achieved on both sides.
  8. Top couscous with scallops and drizzle with curry emulsion.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer Quinoa, Feta and Grilled Vegetable Salad

I'm a bit of a corn addict, and a non-discriminatory one at that. Whether it's frozen, canned (seriously), creamed, boiled or in this case grilled, I'm obsessed. I've made a pretty delicious grilled corn salad in the past, which had a Tex Mex chipotle flavor, so I wanted to revisit that idea but with new flavors and as a meal in and of itself. Thanks to hearty quinoa, this salad can stand on its own as an entree, or serve as a refreshing side to some grilled chicken. You can also do what I did, and make a huge bowl on Sunday that provides a refreshing and satisfying lunch for days.

Summer Quinoa, Feta and Grilled Vegetable Salad


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 3 ears corn, husks removed
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 2 jalapeños
  • 3/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 green onions (green parts only), chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)
  1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions. 
  2. Preheat grill at high setting (or use grill pan on high). 
  3. Brush the corn with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and wrap in each ear in aluminum foil. Grill for 15 minutes, rotating corn a few times throughout.
  4. At the same time as corn, add the bell peppers and jalapeños directly on the grill grating. Grill until blackened a bit on all sides. Remove all vegetables from heat and allow to cool. 
  5. Using a sharp knife, remove kernels from corn cobs. Slice the bell peppers. Finely chop the jalapeños.
  6. Meanwhile, combine TJ's vinegar, olive oil, juice of 1/2 lime, smoked paprika, chile pepper, and salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 t. each). 
  7. Toss the quinoa, dressing, grilled veggies, grape tomatoes, cilantro, basil, feta and bacon to combine.
  8. Can be served warm, cool, or at room temperature.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Capri Flashback

One year ago, Adam and I were sunbathing on a secluded little peninsula on the island of Capri. Today I'm dragging around an orthopedic boot whining about the end of the weekend and shlepping to the grocery store. Sigh. Such is life. While it's hard to believe this was already a year ago, it still feels much too far away. Any place that has this much turquoise must have been created just for me, right? I'm not sure I'll ever get over these colors, and just wanted to interject a little other-worldy aqua into this overcast Sunday.