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travel: little havana in miami

well, my first real cruise and trip to Miami was a pretty rad success. I’ll talk more about the cruise in another post, but I wanted to give you a couple pictures of my food tour in Little Havana.
we visited a few different places on a walking food tour that lasted a few hours… ate some delicious eats and got to experience a bit of the history of the place. it was very fun.
I’ve never visited Cuba and didn’t have a massive knowledge about Cuban cuisine, so I was looking forward to learning something new. as I expected, the food wasn’t particularly spicy or heavily seasoned, but it was tasty and you definitely could see the difference from other caribbean cuisines.
the area of Little Havana itself was like another world from South Beach and it felt very Caribbean with people just hanging around on the street corners and in public spaces playing dominos and socializing… and pretty much every man was sporting a Cuban shirt. so of course I had to bring one home for my husband.
anyways… enjoy some pictures from my wanders…

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and lastly… the food.
medianoche – the midnight sandwich. it’s a Cuban pressed sandwich but on a sweeter egg bread made for late night eating.
empanadas – these were stuffed with ground beef & green olives. delicious twist on a classic.
tostones – fried plantain cups filled with chicken sofrito.
pastelitos de guayaba – pastries filled with guava. so fucking yum.
abuelita maria ice cream – homemade ice cream with waffle cone & guava in it.

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food: poulet en papillote

well hello there.  i know.  it’s been a while.
so let us catch up, shall we?

i’d love to account for my absence with fabulous holidays and tales of jet-setting, but i have been pretty homebound… so that’s not it.  and i’d love to say that i’ve been doing super secret recipe tasting for something fun and exciting like a cookbook, but thats not it either.

truth be told i have been on a super healthy life mission and its just plain keeping me busy.
i have classes and meal plans and exercise routines and all that fun stuff and so its taking my free time (otherwise known as blogging time) down to about nothing.  for more proof, see my giant stack of “books to read” that hasn’t been touched since xmas.

anyways.  i’m going to share one of my current favourite mega healthy recipes.

poulet en papillote sounds super fancy pants, but really, it’s just chicken steamed in paper.
this recipe took us minutes to put together, only 25 minutes to bake and was pretty cheap on the ingredients.
combine that with the super healthy factor and you have a winning recipe in my house.

so here’s how it looks as a meal for 2 people.

poulet en papillote

ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 bunch of asparagus (whole – trim ends)
  • 1 carrot (peeled and thin sliced)
  • 1 small jar of artichokes in oil, drained
  • 10-15 kalamata olives (no pits)
  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1/2 cup or so of feta (optional)
  • fresh herbs (we used tarragon & basil)

vinaigrette

  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (we used myer)
  • 1 tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 & cut 2 pieces of parchment paper to fit chicken & vegetable pack.
  2. in a small bowl whisk lemon juice, mustard & honey.  slowly drizzle in olive oil to form vinaigrette.
  3. divide asparagus over two papers
  4. season chicken breast with salt & pepper and place on top of asparagus.  drizzle with 1 tbsp of dressing each.
  5. add other vegetables and feta and drizzle with another tbsp of dressing.
  6. fold over paper and crimp edges in a half moon shape to seal completely.
  7. bake for 25 – 28 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

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before (above) and after (below)

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this recipe must be tasted to be believed.
the chicken ends up wonderfully moist and tender – no easy feat for a boneless skinless breast, and it creates a natural juice that is to die for.  if you’re enjoying the bead, i certainly suggest that you get a baguette and sop up the deliciousness inside the pouch.

added bonus – the easiest clean up ever.  no pans, no pots, only a cutting board and your dinner plates.  and we ate out of the paper pouch, so even the plate was a breeze to clean up.

food: all of the sweet potatoes

lately I’ve had a bit of a new food obsession. it’s to stuff everything and anything into a sweet potato.
for one, it’s obvs super healthy. sweet potatoes have less carbs than regular potatoes… blah blah blah… but mostly I just like the taste of them. and they are magical little vehicles for the yums.
it all stems from a paleo trick that I adopted a couple years ago to make a tuna melt using a half of a baked sweet potato instead of bread. to be honest, I was skeptical. but I decided to give it a go and lo and behold, I was addicted.

it’s so delightful and easy, I use it as a lunch for work often. I mix the tuna with fixins (I use chopped pepperoncini peppers, s&p and sometimes a smidge of mayo) and I load up the half sweet potato, pile on the tuna and top with some cheese. at work, I microwave and chow down.

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this is an obvious a solid meal choice, but honestly, I’m not always in the mood for tuna. and sometimes I have leftovers calling my name.
so, a week or two ago, we had leftover rappini from a dinner. it had been sautéed in ghee and had plenty of garlic in it. so, we reheated it in a non-stick frypan and piled it onto the sweet potato. topped with some smoked gouda and browned in the toaster oven. a little siracha on top and voila; quick & easy lunch.

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this maneuver kind of sparked a “what else?” train of thought in our house… and now the half sweet potato has become the go-to vehicle for leftovers.
If we’re baking or cooking something in the oven, I’ll scrub a couple sweet potatoes and toss them in to cook and then throw them in the fridge so they’re ready…
and I think this is my current fave stuffing; it’s kale sautéed in a little ghee with garlic and feta cheese. it’s salty, crunchy, sweet and garlicky. I could eat it every day.

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let me know if you have any sweet potato stuffing secrets! I’d love to get some new ideas.

food: beef barley soup

if there is one thing i know, its that my life is made easier by my ownership of the slow cooker and food processor.

but to be honest, i really don’t use either to their maximum capacity.  i often find myself with a big pot simmering away on the stove or meat braising in the oven, when a slow cooker could definitely be doing that work for me.
and the same goes for my food processor.  sometimes i’m elbow deep in chopped vegetables working away for 40 minutes when it dawns on my that i could have just chucked these in the food processor and i could have been done in seconds.
so i’m working on it.

to me, the slow cooker is a magical device that slaves away when i’m at work.  i throw my raw goods in before i leave, and when i’m home i reap the benefits.  nothing could be easier.
but there’s no reason that i can’t be using it on weekends while i’m nesting on my couch watching movies.  and if i have to pop out to run an errand, its a-okay to leave it to do its thing.

so, on sunday i put it to use.  my biggest temptation is to constantly be lifting the lid & stirring & tasting.  but where the slow cooker is involved, thats bad news.  so i had to really restrain myself from fussing over it.

i used the food processor to chop: 1 onion, 3 giant carrots, some green cabbage and 4 stalks of celery into a pretty uniform dice.  then i threw that in the slow cooker with a frozen ziplock bag with some bone broth i’d made a few weeks ago and let that make friends for a couple hours while my stew beef was defrosting.

i tossed the beef in salt & pepper and browned it in ghee before adding it to the cooker.  topped it up with a bit of water, dried thyme and a teaspoon of beef better than boulion.  and because my husband loves barley, i added a half cup of pearl barley.  oh, and a can of tomato paste.

that hung out in the slow cooker and got delicious for about 5 hours.  we added a bit of chopped fresh thyme and flat leaf parsley and chowed down.

as a side dish, i whipped up some savory scones.  they kinda went down like this:

– 3 cups of flour- 1 tablespoon sugar
– 2 tablespoons of baking powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon each of: dried thyme, garlic salt & dried jalapeno
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1 stick of cold butter
– 1 cup plain greek yogurt
– 2 green onions finely diced
– 1 cup shredded cheese (i used cheddar & aged gouda)

preheat the oven to 400
mix dry ingredients in a large bowl
cut in butter with pastry blender
stir in cheese, onion & greek yogurt.  use a little water to thin if dough isn’t coming together – i probably had to add about 1/4 cup of water total
let chill 20 minutes. divide dough in half & roll out into a square.  cut into quarters and then cut each square diagonally to make a triangle.
brush with milk or melted butter (i used ghee) and bake for 15-20 minutes on parchment paper until golden brown.

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food: farro & kale salad

last week there was a fun article on buzz feed that had a bunch of pumpkin recipes and they all sounded soooooo yummy…
so of course, i took it upon myself to bastardize one of them.

this recipe below started as a lentil & pumpkin salad with feta & arugula.
and i turned it into a farro & sweet potato salad with blue cheese & kale.  because those all seemed like logical substitutions.

I started with a bag of trader joe’s 10 minute farro.  essentially its been par-cooked, so it doesn’t take an hour of boiling before its edible.
so i cooked the farro, microwaved 2 sweet potatoes and chopped a couple kale leaves, some asparagus and flat leaf parsley.

once the sweet potatoes & farro were cooled off (aka – not steaming hot, but still warm) i combined them in a big bowl with the veggies, added the juice of 1 lemon, about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of olive oil, salt & pepper and chili flakes.
then i tossed in some delicious crumbled blue cheese and topped with chopped avocado.

easy peasy!

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food & travel: austin, texas

well… it feels like its been forever since cass & i booked our trip to austin… but finally the countdown is at under 2 months and we’re starting to get VERY excited.

my right hand (wo)man found an amazing blog called Fed Man Walking that we’ve spent a few hours drooling over and dreaming up all the delights that we’re going to try while we’re there…

we’ve mapped out most of the places that we’re planning on visiting and made some guestimates as to what we can walk to and what will be bus or taxi…

and we’ve got a loose itinerary.

we arrive on wednesday and will have had a looooong day of travel with an early morning start, so we’ll probably just check in, chill out, go for a swim and wander the immediate area around the hotel.

thursday we’ll be bright eyed and bushy tailed and plan on a morning run/walk and some solid city exploring, some pool swimming, relaxing ect
then we’re very stoked to be seeing The Book of Mormon that night!

friday is when we really get going… we’ll be up early for our pre-ACL food tour with Austin Eats Food Tours.

Get your ACL festival morning started right!  Experience Franklin BBQ (no line), Torchy’s breakfast tacos, Blue Ox BBQ, Sugar Circus Bakery and Hops and Grain Brew prior to arriving to the festival!
What’s included:  breakfast taco, brisket, sausage, turkey, pork tenderloin, pulled pork, 3 local craft beers, dessert & drop off at the festival!

and then the main event… off to ACL festival!  we have poured over the schedule, highlighted our picks and have formulated a plan of attack.
on friday we’ll end the night with depeche mode.  after the festival… who know where austin will take us…

saturday will hopefully treat us with a bit of a sleep in…  maybe a morning swim… and then off to ACL fest for silversun pickups at 4pm! ❤  ❤ ❤
after the daytime shows are over at ACL fest, we’re heading down to Emo’s to check out the late night show with franz ferdinand and smith westerns which should keep us in just the right amount of trouble all night 😉

sunday is our gospel brunch date at stubb’s bbq!
then we’re off to the last day of ACL fest with the closing performance from lionel richie.  yup.  after the festival, who know?  we may have to crash from exhaustion or we might have it in us to rock austin for one last night…

monday we head home at 3pm, so we’ll still have the morning to have one last exploration and shopping endevour before we start the journey home.

ya, i’d better book that tuesday off work for sleep and recovery.  just typing all that exhausted me, lol.

46 days to go…

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food: coconut steel cut oatmeal

this is a pretty long overdue post… i actually drafted this back in february and just didn’t get around to finishing it.
but, i did definitely want to share the recipe with you all because i thought it was a good one…

eating breakfast is an ongoing struggle for me.  i know its important, but i also know that laying in my bed until the last possible moment is important a lot of days too.
and because i know that productivity first thing in the morning isn’t a consistent strength for me, i have been working on ways to make it easier on myself.

juicing has been a big help for me.  i make juice the night before for the next morning, sometimes for 2 days… and i clean the juicer, put everything away and just have to grab a juice on my way out the door in the morning.
but honestly (and maybe TMI),  my insides can’t handle juice every day of the week.  its also a lot of sugar and so i try to juice two or three times a a week and thats it.

and i’m really breakfast picky.  my stomach is sometimes demanding and finicky in the morning.  i generally don’t like sweet breakfasts, it has to be savory… and in the past, the more carbs the better.  and i don’t love eggs.  so i’m a tough customer when i’m in a rush.

i came across this recipe for steel cut oatmeal that can be premade and reheated and decided to give it a shot.  i was pleased with the results…

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Here’s the recipe I was working from:

  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut, toasted lightly
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1½ cups coconut milk (canned)
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar or preferred sweetener (optional) {i used maple syrup}
  1. Place steel-cut oats, water, coconut milk, and salt in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, bring ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes until thick and creamy.
  2. Stir in vanilla extract. Taste for sweetness, and add sugar if desired depending on your individual tastes.
  3. Spoon into individual bowls and sprinkle with toasted coconut. Serve.

*I made a few changes (of course) as follows:
– used a carton of So Delicious Coconut Milk drink instead of the coconut milk from the can & water.  It worked with no problems.
– I also stirred in a spoonful of chia seeds during the cooking process to add some extra goodness.
– and i didn’t toast the coconut because i’m lazy.
– for the “sugar” i used maple syrup.
– oh, i also added a pinch of cinnamon.

instead of serving right away, i put it into 1 cup mason jars, let cool and refrigerated until i was ready to enjoy.  (made 4 jars)

and then it’s as simple as removing the lid (metal bad) and microwaving for a minute until its heated through.
ta-da!

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