Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sesame Ahi Tuna Tartare

Shortly before leaving Baltimore, Adam and I got a tiny bit obsessed with walking Oliver to Metropolitan, a local cafe and wine bar, and enjoying their tuna tartare with a cold drink in the rare months of sunshine. They mixed bell peppers into the tuna, which was clearly to add some filler, but we were OK with that because it was actually delicious and added a little crisp bite to the soft tuna. I decided to mess around with a dressing for the tuna, and came up with something really close to the original. Ahi tuna isn't always available, but you can substitute any sushi-grade tuna, like yellowfin.

Sesame Ahi Tuna Tartare

  • 12 oz. sushi grade ahi tuna, (could also use yellowfin tuna)
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1.5 T. fresh lime juice
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 2 t. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1.5 t. Sriracha
  • 1 t. sesame oil
  • 1 t. fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup* red, orange and/or yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 T. sesame seeds, preferably toasted
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Serve with tortilla chips
  1. Combine soy sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, Sriracha, sesame oil and ginger in a medium bowl. This dressing can be made ahead of time, or the day before, but not added to the tuna.
  2. Fifteen minutes before serving, cut the tuna into 1/2" cubes, and add tuna and chopped peppers to the dressing and toss to coat. Allow to sit in refrigerator for up to 15 minutes. 
  3. Remove from fridge, pour any significant excess dressing, leaving only a small amount remaining in bottom. Re-toss the tuna and peppers with the dressing.
  4. Top with sesame seeds and cilantro for garnish.
  5. Serve with tortilla chips for dipping.

* You can stretch this recipe to give a little more bang for your buck by bulking up the tuna with more bell peppers. This way, you can increase the serving size without increasing the pricey tuna or sacrificing flavor.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Watercolor Floral Arrangement

This post serves one purpose, and one purpose only: pure springtime eye candy. When I loaded these photos to my computer, the pastel colors and bright white light reminded me of watercolor paintings. The flowers in the arrangement are pink ranunculus (swoon), light and medium pink tulips, and white stock. I would have liked to build it up a little taller, but the arrangement was made to hang out under the all important champagne glasses on my spring bar cart. The flowers actually grew like weeds after this photo was taken, and shot up about four inches in height. I think they just wanted a taste of champagne. It's science.

I had a few leftover blooms, so I made this little cutie as well.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring Bar Cart Styling

I'm a little bit obsessed with my bar cart. As the only piece of furniture in our apartment that belongs to us, I try to make sure it screams "me". I wanted to give it a fresh update for spring, after it had been pretty vacant since taking down the holiday decor. I decided to go with one of my favorite color combos of mint, pink and gold, which is also vaguely reminiscent of our wedding day. You may be wondering why that mystery liquid in the dispenser looks a little creepy, but it's actually some very concentrated liquor muddling away in there... waiting for a hearty amount of Pellegrino to return it to a normal color. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Gift Idea: DIY Margarita Kit

juicer and salt dish // bowl // glasses // straws // tray
On Saturday, some girlfriends and I celebrated the birthday of one of my oldest and dearest friends. During dinner, while reminiscing, we realized it has already been ten years since we met; I do not know where the time goes. I'm beyond lucky that Shannon has recently moved to none other than Austin, TX! I wanted to get her something special, preferably Texas-themed, and came up with the idea for a margarita kit. Every self-respecting Texan needs to master a good margarita, and what better way than with the cutest barware ever. 

I warned her that the gift wasn't exactly a conventional necklace or cute accessory, because I'm not capable of conventional. Luckily, she knows me. It all started with finding this juicer and salt dish, and I played off of the color scheme from there. Shannon's favorite color is basically the exact color of these glasses, so they just had to be purchased as well. It was a fun gift to put together, and any variation of this idea (with any type of cocktail) is a fun idea for an outside-the-box present.

Oh, and she loved it. The end.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Royal Hideaway Playacar, Mexico

In another rendition of TBT, I'm going way back (or what at least feels like way back) to Adam and I's very first beach trip together. Living in frigid Pennsylvania and Maryland, on a student budget nonetheless, didn't provide many beach opportunities, so this trip was a long time coming, but was so worth the wait. Adam had always reminisced fondly about a family vacation to a luxurious all-inclusive resort in Mexico, but the memories were one of a teenage boy, and neither of us were sure how the resort would hold up in semi-adulthood. As it turns out, The Royal Hideaway was an unbelievable all-inclusive, with fantastic restaurants, pools, tropical drinks, and of course a beautiful beach. 

I was dumbfounded by the cost of the resort, which I feel like was the best bang-for-your-buck I've ever had on a vacation. It was truly a hidden gem that literally everyone should look into immediately. If the pictures don't convince you, then take a look at the day bed above, which faced the ocean, and provided the most heavenly afternoon napping spot each day of the trip. I still dream about it often.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Chipotle Shrimp and Guacamole Tostada Bites

Remember that time I made guacamole? If not, it's literally right below this. Not only is this another guacamole-related recipe, but it's also another Z'Tejas ripoff. You can even make it with, I don't know, maybe my tableside guacamole. This appetizer is an amazing one for entertaining, because you can assemble them an hour or so ahead of time, and serve them at room temperature. Also, they're easy, especially if you use store-bought guac. For the "tostada" base, I used sweet potato tortilla chips from Trader Joe's; they were very yummy, and I was able to trick myself into thinking that they were also very good for me. This is win, win. I don't need you, Z'Tejas! (Yes I do).

Chipotle Shrimp and Guacamole Tostada Bites

  • Small to medium shrimp
  • Chipotle or BBQ dry seasoning 
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • Round tortilla chips or scoops
  • Guacamole
  • Creme fraiche 
  • Chipotle hot sauce
  • Cilantro

  1. Toss raw shrimp with chipotle seasoning (I used a mixture of chipotle chili powder, smoked paprika, and Old Bay, but you can use any store-bought seasoning). 
  2. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Saute shrimp until just opaque and cooked throughout. Remove from heat.
  3. Top each tortilla chip with a dollop of guacamole, one shrimp, and a leaf of cilantro.
  4. Mix chipotle hot sauce into creme fraiche until desired level of flavor is achieved. Add mixture to a Ziploc bag and trim one small corner to pipe onto tostadas.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Z'Tejas Tableside Guacamole

Adam and I are fortunate/unfortunate enough to have one of our favorite Austin restaurants literally next door to our apartment. It's a dangerous location to be sure, but ultimately our close proximity to Z'Tejas is pretty great. Try as I might, I am just not an avocado fan at all (gasps from everyone who just cannot believe this, and yes that does include guacamole); however, Z'Tejas has made me realize that I can love guac, as long as it's doctored to my liking.

Their tableside guacamole is full of flavorful ingredients that are mixed fresh for you right at your table. The most important feature of this unbelievable dish is the addition of toppings: chipotle Tabasco, Cotija cheese, and pepitas. Yes, yes, and yes. Typical guac, in my opinion, is seriously lacking in flavor. After experimenting with replicating this version, I've realized that for me the inclusion of sea salt is an absolute must, and that hot sauce never hurts the cause either. This appetizer is now a staple in our house, especially when entertaining.

Z'Tejas Tableside Guacamole

Ingredients for basic guacamole:
  • 2 large Haas avocados, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped
  • 1 - 2 T. diced red onion, to taste
  • 1 - 2 T. chopped cilantro, to taste
  • 1 - 2 T. diced jalapeƱo, to taste
  • Dash of fresh lime juice
  • Generous pinch each of sea salt and pepper
  • Roasted, salted pepitas 
  • Cotija cheese, crumbled
  • Chipotle Tabasco
  • Cilantro garnish

  1. Combine all ingredients for basic guacamole in a medium bowl. Stir to combine, until desired consistency of avocado is achieved. This may be left chunky and just combined, or mixed to be more smooth.
  2. Transfer guacomole to clean bowl for serving, if desired. Top with crumbled cheese, pepitas, and chipotle Tabasco. Garnish with extra cilantro leaves.