Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Uchi

For the past 2 1/2 months every single week or weekend we have either been out of town, had visitors staying with us or had at least one person sick in our house.
That's exhausting.
Somehow, miraculously, on Saturday night the stars aligned and we had no plans and our babysitter was available! Well, Louis and I jumped on the chance, hopped in the car and drove off before we really had settled on where we were going. After driving for a while he looked at me and said
"Want to go to Uchi?"
Ummmm......hell yes I do! There was no hesitation.
Uchi is, by far, one of my favorite places to eat EVER and it is totally not kid friendly so it's rare that we make it over there.
So we headed to South Lamar and put our name on the list. Because it was last minute for us, and they don't take reservations, the wait was 2 hours long. We stood in the bar area, and then we scored one chair (I sat and Louis stood while I felt guilty), then we got 2 stools in the corner and finally moved to the bar to sit for the remainder of our wait. The walls of the small bar area we waited in is covered in framed awards, foodie articles and accolades from al over, and once you're finally seated and start eating you totally realize why. Their food is mind blowing!  
While waiting I had a few of their special cocktail for the night- a Blueberry Green Tea Champagne Cocktail. I love anything bubbly so this was right up my alley, and the "blueberry" floating in the glass is actually a gummy bubble filled with the delicious Blueberry Green Tea syrup
While you're waiting for your table there are hosts that bring around little snacks every 30 minutes or so. While waiting, we tried Persian cucumber sticks dusted with togradashi, apple slices sautéed in ginger and thai basil, a sushi roll with avocado, cucumber and thai basil and sautéed apple slices in a yuzu chili pepper marmalade (these were by far my favorite)
Not knowing how long I would last on 2 apple slices and a cucumber stick, when we finally got seats at the bar we ordered the blistered shishito peppers. I love these little things! If you haven't tried them before I highly recommend them!
I was so excited when we finally got a spot at the sushi bar and we sat there mesmerize while watching them work!
 
 We started with something I insist on getting every visit to Uchi. The hama chili- baby yellow­tail, ponzu, thai chili, orange supreme. It's so light and fresh, the citrus and heat from the thai chili are amazing with the delicate fish. I could probably eat five plates of this and be perfectly happy.
Crispy Brussels sprouts with lemon and chili. I don't' know what it is about this sauce, but these fried Brussels sprouts soak it up and they become so freaking delicious you will want to order another bowl before you're done with these!
 
akami (tuna)
If Louis could live off one thing for the rest of his life, this would be it. I let him have it all and he loved every second of it!
 avobake-  krab, avocado, bonito, shrimp
I had never tried this before, but I'm so glad we did! It comes to your table and the bonito flakes are moving and curling up from the heat of the broiler so it looks wild.
Then you dig your spoon in and scoop out the creamy, molten hot seafood and fresh avocado. It's really rich, really decadent and totally worth every calorie!
 brie ringo tempura-fried brie, apple chutney, sweet potato crisp
Do I really need to say much more than tempura fried brie?!
foie nigiri - foie gras٠quinoa
Now, I know I had 2 hours of cocktails before dinner, but I also know that didn't change the fact that there was no quinoa on this dish like it claimed. This was one of the nightly specials and if there is foie gras on a menu, Louis has to get it, but I'm a little disappointed they didn't tell us there had been a change to the dish when we ordered it. The foie gras was perfectly seared and seasoned but since it's so silky and rich it could have used the texture that quinoa has to offer. 
For dessert we had the
jizake crème caramel with brown butter sorbet and ginger
The sorbet needs to be sold in stores, the ginger syrup on the plate totally made the dish and the crème caramel was dreamy creamy perfection.
If you ever have a chance to go, you must try Uchi!
A few dishes I highly recommend that we were too full to get are the Bond Roll, the Biendo Roll and the peanut butter semifreddo with apple-miso sorbet

Monday, February 23, 2015

Little's Lunches 11

Happy Monday y'all!
Last week my kids were off of school on Monday, so no lunchbox was needed. We had family in town visiting and stuffed ourselves at The Salt Lick! It was delicious, as usual. I got the turkey lunch plate (sliced smoked turkey breast, coleslaw, potato salad and beans) and the leftovers made awesome sandwiches! I was so hungry by the time we got our plates I didn't get a pic but I promise you it's delicious!

 Tuesday: Black bean and cheese tortilla rolls, key lime yogurt, mushrooms and carrots with Ranch and frozen blueberries in the yumbox
 Wednesday: Mozzarella, Tomato and Fresh Spinach on a whole wheat bun, slice of King Cake, potato salad and baby carrots
Thursday: Pretzels with Black Bean dip, shredded cheese, coleslaw, blackberries and jelly beans in the yumbox
Friday: my kids BEGGED for the Mozzarella, Tomato and Fresh Spinach on a whole wheat bun sandwich again, so that's what they got. Along with baby carrots, ranch and apple wedges
I am also super excited to have won a juicer!! Once the Fed Ex guy dropped it off it was thoroughly inspected by Beignet and I can't wait to use it! I don't even know where to begin, so I think I'll be scouring pinterest to get some ideas. Do you juice? If so, I'd love some recipe ideas!
 
 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Little's Lunches 10

Happy Monday! I hope y'all had a great weekend! We spent most of ours outside! Here in Texas we've been enjoying the gorgeous 70's and the pups have been finding any patch of sun to lay in and soak it up. Beignet was pretty miffed that we didn't share our cheese plate with her at happy hour
Here's what was in the kiddo's lunchboxes this week:
Monday: Pepperoni, kidney beans, veggie flavored pita crackers, baby carrots and red bell pepper slices, Mexican corn salad and trail mix I made with Peanut butter Puffins, peanuts, and dried cherries
Tuesday: Raisin Bread Peanut Butter Sandwiches, baby lettuce cups, cucumber and red bell pepper slices, cheese sticks and a graham cracker
Wednesday: Pepperoni, Mozzarella Prosciutto Roll slices, pretzel squares, baby artichokes and olives, strawberries, yogurt and jelly bellys
Thursday: Salads! Baby butter lettuce, red cabbage, carrot, artichoke, shredded cheese, pepperoni, kidney beans and baby roma tomatoes, B wanted Ranch and M wanted garlic Italian, Hawaiian rolls and raisins
 
Friday: Egg Salad on English Muffins with pretzels, cucumbers, black olives, kidney beans and Ranch dressing to dip

Friday, February 13, 2015

Spicy Asian Lentil Lettuce Wraps


I really love a challenge in the kitchen, so when I saw the Lentil Recipe Revelations Challenge I was all in! I love coming up with new and inventive ways to prepare ingredients that I already love and lentils have always been a favorite of mine. They're delicious, versatile and quick cooking and they're the perfect option for a meat free meal.
 I created a twist on the popular Asian Lettuce Cups and swapped the ground meat out for lentils. They're spicy, crunchy and a little sweet from the hoisin sauce. I hope you like them as much as my family does!
 
Spicy Asian Lentil Lettuce Wraps
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon ginger, minced
3 ½ cups chicken broth
2 cups green rinsed lentils
¾ cup hoisin sauce
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons chili garlic paste
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
3 green onions, thinly sliced
½ cup cilantro, chopped
1 head of butter lettuce

In a large sauce pot, sauté the olive oil, garlic and ginger over medium low heat for 3 minutes, or until the garlic and ginger are fragrant and softened. Add the broth and lentils and bring the mixture to a boil. Once the lentils and broth are boiling, reduce heat to a low simmer, cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes, remove the lid and stir in the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, chili garlic paste and sesame oil. Let the mixture simmer, uncovered, for another 15-20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Once the lentils are soft, stir in the water chestnuts, green onions and cilantro. Spoon the mixture into lettuce leaves and serve immediately.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Greek Style Baked Turkey Taquitos with Tzatziki Drizzle

Since flying through Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, my daughter's and husband’s birthdays, the Super Bowl and now with Valentine’s Day being in a few days, indulging has become the norm around here lately.
Every weekend was a different party or event that was filled with delicious snacks, desserts and cocktails. While I have never been one to jump on the New Year’s resolution bandwagon, I do enjoy feeding my family healthy meals that we don’t have to feel guilty about, so when I saw that Healthy Solutions Spice Blends was putting on a blogger contest looking for healthy and delicious recipes using their spices, I couldn’t wait to try my hand at it! I think I’ve come up with a pretty delicious entry too! Greek Style Baked Turkey Taquitos with Tzatziki Drizzle
 I LOVE taquitos- they’re crunchy, cheesy and are perfectly dippable with queso or Jalapeno Ranch dip. As delicious as they are, when made traditionally, they are not figure friendly….. but I fixed that! These taquitos are still crunchy and cheesy, but are baked and not fried, and served with a low fat but full flavored tzatziki sauce on the side.  I used the Healthy Solutions Spice Blends Pork & Poultry Rub to season my ground turkey and I loved how flavorful it was and knowing that it was free of MSG, fillers and preservatives made it even better!
Greek Style Baked Turkey Taquitos with Tzatziki Drizzle
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 20 ounce package lean ground turkey (85% lean)
1 shallot, minced
½ cup diced sun dried tomatoes
2 cups low fat shredded Monterey Jack cheese
15 flour tortillas
 
For the tzatziki drizzle:
1 5.3 oz container plain fat free Greek yogurt
1 shallot, minced
½ cup shredded cucumber
½ teaspoon dried dill
¼ teaspoon salt
5 cups shredded lettuce or salad greens
2/3 cup diced tomato
1/3 cup sliced Kalamata olives
 
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and spray a large cookie sheet with olive oil cooking spray.
In a large skillet, over medium high heat cook the oil, turkey, shallot and spice blend until the meat is browned and cooked through. Set the meat mixture aside to cool slightly. Once the meat has cooled, combine it in a large mixing bowl with the diced sun dried tomatoes and shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Place about 1/3 cup of filling in the middle of each tortilla and roll them up tightly. Place them seam side down on the cookie sheet. Once all the taquitos are rolled, spray the tops with the olive oil cooking spray and place in the oven for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, flip the taquitos over and bake on the other side for 10 minutes or until crisp and browned.
While the taquitos are baking, make the tzatziki drizzle. Stir together in a small mixing bowl, the Greek yogurt, minced shallot, shredded cucumber, dill, salt and spice blend.
I serve mine over shredded butter lettuce and purple cabbage, but any salad greens would be delicious here. When I’m ready to serve, I top them with the diced tomato and olives. You can drizzle the tzatziki sauce over them, or serve the dip in small cups on the side- that’s how my kids like it! Anything they can dip gets a thumbs up in their eyes!
These freeze beautifully in a zip top bag, so I love making a double batch on the weekends and then when those busy weeknights roll around, all I have to do is heat them up in the toaster oven!
 



Monday, February 9, 2015

Little's Lunches 9

Happy Monday!
I have had numerous people ask me about some of the lunchboxes I use, and while I have a pretty extensive variety of containers, my favorite, by a landslide, is the yumbox. It's pretty expensive, so I only have one for each kid, but I love them SO much and use them as often as I can, so it seemed worth it. A few weeks ago though, the latch broke off of M's outer case and I was so upset! I didn't want to invest in another for him if they were going break like that. Well guess what?! I wrote to the company and included a picture of the latch. Within an hour I received a response and within a week I had a brand new latch kit at my door! How's that for customer service?! I was so relieved and impressed with the quick fix they offered, and I was excited to be able to use them again. No other lunchbox I have found seals the way yumbox does which really gives me more flexibility when packing my kid's lunches. I know I won't get a soggy uneaten full lunch brought back to me at the end of the day along with a grumpy hungry kid when I pack these!
 Monday: Salami and Prosciutto, Crackers, veggies and ranch, frozen peach slices and kettle corn
 Tuesday: Asian Noodle Salad, Freeze Dried Grapes and a frozen Yogurt tube
Wednesday: Asian Noodle Salad, Applesauce, Broccoli and Ranch and Pretzel squares
Thursday: Artichoke Bacon Cheese Spread in a flour tortilla, veggies and ranch, goldfish and applesauce with dried cranberries
Friday: Asian Noodle Salad, cheese stick and a chocolate caramel square

As you can see, my kids love this Asian Noodle Salad. It makes a HUGE bowl that lasted us the whole week and they even requested it a few days as an after school snack as well. I love making things like this on the weekend to carry us through the week. I use Pioneer Woman's recipe as a base but I use whole wheat pasta instead of the white, I omitted the jalapeno and I used baby kale instead of the Napa cabbage and spinach. I also blend the dressing in a food processor instead of just whisk it together so there are no pieces of garlic and ginger to bite into.
 
So tell me, what's your favorite lunchbox packing items?
Need more lunchbox inspiration? Here's week 1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6,  7,  8
Don't forget to follow me on instagram as well!

Last but not least, please take a moment and vote for my Mexicado Sliders with Street Corn Salsa in my latest contest!
The grand prize is the choice of a kitchen makeover, a vacation or a man cave......I'm sure you can guess what Louis is hoping for! 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Mexi-cado Sliders with Street Corn Salsa

Hey there! It's me again, about to sound like a broken record and beg you for votes to help me win yet another chance at an amazing once in a lifetime prize opportunity!
I keep saying I won't enter any more of these voting contests, but when companies  wave prizes in my face like the chance at a "vacation, kitchen remodel or man cave worth up to $25,000" who can pass that up?!
Obviously not me, so here we are.
Avocados
Who doesn't love them? I really am happy to eat them on anything, but when I saw that Avocados from Mexico was hosting this sandwich contest I figured I needed to make a sandwich that made the avocado the star of the show- not just used as a spread or topping, but acting as the main attraction.
I made an avocado patty rolled in crushed tortilla chip crumbs and perched that on top of a Mexican Street Corn salsa and chipotle black bean spread on cute little slider rolls topped off with pickled red onion! How's that for Tex-Mex slider perfection?!
Black bean dip (I made mine but feel free to use store bought)
Chipotle hot sauce
 warm Slider Buns
Mexicorn
 Cotija cheese
Mayonnaise
 Cilantro
2 ripe Avocados from Mexico
 Crushed tortilla chips
 Pickled red onions- (I made my own using this recipe but you can certainly use store bought)
 
To make these, make sure you start with cold ripe avocados, they stick together best when they're cold. These are super easy to make and Just season and taste as you go!
Stir together the black bean dip and chipotle hot sauce and spread on the bottoms of the slider buns. Combine the mexicorn, cotija cheese, mayonnaise and cilantro in a small bowl and spoon on top of the bean spread. Coarsely mash the avocados, season with salt and pepper and form into small patties. Roll avocado patties into the crushed tortilla crumbs and place patties on the buns. Top with pickled red onions and serve immediately.
 
 So if you would, please go vote for me, and make a few of these sliders while you're at it! You can vote once a day until the 13th and each and every vote is so appreciated!

Delicious Breakfast Breads

I love baking new flavors of breads and muffins that are ready to grab and go on busy school mornings. My kids also love helping me bake so it's fun for all of us! I stumbled across this
 Glazed Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bread from Lovely Little Kitchen
and knew that it would be the perfect recipe to use up the last of the applesauce I had hanging around in the fridge. The recipe makes two loaves, so you can keep one out and freeze one for later or share one with a friend. The glaze is made of applesauce and powdered sugar and keeps the loaves from drying out in the fridge. The bread is not overly sweet at all and I really loved the texture the oats gave it. Give it a try and let me know what you think! 
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

  •  
    Glaze
    • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/4 cup applesauce
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease two loaf pans. I used two 1.5 quart Pyrex glass loaf pans. In a large bowl, mix by hand flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. Set aside.
    In another bowl, mix sugar, oil, eggs, yogurt, applesauce, and vanilla, then stir into dry ingredients by hand until just combined.
    Divide batter between the two loaf pans and bake for 43-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
    Remove from the oven and whisk together the powdered sugar and applesauce for the glaze.
    When the bread has cooled for a bit, remove from the pan onto a cooling rack and spoon the glaze over the top. Allow the glaze to set before slicing.