Category Archives: Food/Beverages
What would be your death row meal? That’s an odd question for me to ask you because I imagine you’re quite a lovely person… and don’t kill people… BUT, let’s pretend you do…okay back to my point. If you were a bad person, what would you want your last meal to be?
I find myself drawn to thinking these things, not because I’m weird (okay, maybe I’m a little weird), as a way to procrastinate, which I’m quite good at if you haven’t noticed yet. Its kind of fun to think about all the different options you could choose from, like steak or lobster or something cool like that. However, I’m not sure why but I’m pretty sure mine would consist of a bowl of macaroni loaded with oozy, melted, cheesy goodness.
I honestly never ate or liked cheese as a kid. A: my dad was allergic, and B: the only cheese my mom would ever eat was foul smelling blue cheese (YUCK!) So you see how, naturally, I was skeptical.
Despite the fact that I looked at cheese with disgust, and wouldn’t even touch it, if someone put a bowl of mac and cheese in front of me, I would easily find room in my stomach to eat at least 2 of 3 bowls… I now realize why I was a chubster.
Kraft mac and cheese was my favorite. Since I had no real knowledge about any other cheese: one time my grandma made me homemade pasta and cheese and, as I’ve been repeatedly told by family members, as soon as she put it in front of me, I refused to eat it because it was white and not orange… I’m horrible, I know. But, what can I say… I loved that fake, processed, orange stuff.
My ways have since changed and I’ve moved on from that blue box, but macaroni and cheese will forever be one of the greatest comfort foods EVER. It doesn’t matter if you’re 5 or 50, this creamy and cheesy dish will always put a smile on your face, or put you in a food coma… either way I’m happy.
I’ve had many different recipes, but let me just tell you something: Panera Bread’s macaroni and cheese is thick, creamy and loaded with white cheddar and American cheese, making it the best thing I’ve seriously ever had (I could add more words to that, but I’m just not sure I can describe how awesomely amazing it is, you just have to try it for yourself). That mixed with the open shell pasta they use, which captures the cheese within it so that each bite is full of yummy amazingness.
I think I’ve used the word cheese wayyy too many times… so I’m just going to stop here.
Even though its almost time for finals and I have way more on my plate than I can handle, I decided today was a great day to cook. It calms me down and overall just puts me in a great mood. The sun is shining through my windows and it’s finally getting cold in Austin… thank gosh. My birthday was this past weekend, on December 1st, and normally it always snows in Chicago. But I have to remind myself, of course, that I am 1,300 miles south of Chicago, where the weather is pretty much up in the air all the time.
Since it is slightly chilly outside, I thought I would embrace this fall/winter(ish)-like weather and make use of the butternut squash that has been in my fridge since right before Thanksgiving. I’ve always wanted to try to make ravioli from scratch and I love butternut squash… see where I’m going here?… so obviously put two and two together and decided to make butternut squash ravioli. Now considering the fact that I’ve never actually made pasta dough before I remember I had a recipe for it in my “recipe folder” on my desktop… which by the way has over 100 recipes in it that I’ve collected over the past few years and have recently came to the conclusion that I will not repeat a recipe on there until I have tried all of them.
Anyways, back to my point. I decided to make eggless pasta, since I figured that was the easiest choice, but am now feeling shameful because my Italian ancestors are probably rolling in their graves right about now.
So I mixed 2 1/2 cups of flour in a small mixing bowl and originally put in 1 cup of warm water. After mixing it with my hands, I decided that it needed a little more water, so ended up gradually putting about another cup into the mixture until it was fully absorbed and felt like a dough(ish) substance.
After that I wrapped it tightly in saran wrap and set it aside in the fridge for about an hour. While that was sitting aside, I cut my butternut squash in half, scraping out the inside and keeping the seeds for later on. I set the oven for 375, sprinkled some brown sugar, salt and pepper in and around the squash and put it in the oven for about an hour, or until soft… this is currently where I’m at right now, so I will keep updating my progress as the day goes on!
America, what a great country. Honestly we have so many great traditions and holidays and what could be more symbolic of our culture than millions of people coming together with their families for one day to stuff their bloated faces and stomachs with greasy flesh torn from the bones of innocent turkeys to feed greedy Americans… okay maybe that’s going a little too far. But Thanksgiving is one of those holidays where we spend hours cooking and for what? To cook the turkey until its dry, burn something or heck, I dunno, even drop a whole dish on the ground. Thanksgiving madness, its totally a thing.
My family takes the preparation of it way too seriously when we know that at the end of the night we are just going to pour a ton of gravy over everything… that’s what its there for though right? Thanksgiving is supposed to involve family, lots of wine, laughs, WAY too many cooks in the kitchen… and an occasional turkey hat purchased last minute from Target.
As you walk past Copa Bar and Grill you are immediately drawn to music and a crowd of people up the stairs at Meduse Lounge.
Conveniently located in between 2nd and 3rd street on Congress is one of Austin’s newest upscale lounges, where NSIDE Magazine hosted their November Networking Event on Monday November 19. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres and martinis galore were enjoyed by all while lounging on comfortable black couches, which were surrounded by large fish tanks that were lit up with blue florescent lights. Honoring Charles Maund Toyota and benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis of Austin Foundation there was no one in sight who wasn’t having a great time networking while supporting such a great cause.
With ‘ritual’ cocktails provided by Deep Eddy Vodka, bites from Apothecary Café + Wine Bar, Spirited Food Co, and Hill Country Bakery, how could I resist such a tempting invitation? Considering the fact that parking was a hassle, even though the lot was huge, it only meant one thing: Ritual Salon’s grand opening had a huge turnout Thursday, November 15.
Before walking into the spacious, modern and brightly lit salon you could see dozens of smiling faces and not an empty hand in sight. Even though both the food and goody bags were gone within the first hour, everyone sipped on cocktails the rest of the time while socializing within the aisles of black swivel chairs and mirrors. Turning each corner in their maze-like layout, I found myself excited to discover the rest of the salon as I made my way through the crowd of both men and women. Thoroughly enjoying the fact that there were mirrors everywhere, making it inevitable to not look at myself every 30 seconds, I knew coming back here would be in my best interest. If Ritual Salon’s hospitality at their grand opening is any indication of the experience you’ll receive from any number of their services they provide at 4800 Burnet Road, you’re sure to leave with, maybe not a drink in hand, but definitely a smile on your face and a new do!
Imagine being in a rustic, Tuscan-style home, barefoot in some sort of old(ish), wrinkled-yet completely chic-long, linen dress, in a kitchen with no air conditioning that’s older than my great grandmother, and you’re there cooking under the guidance of a sweet Italian old woman you can barely communicate with.
Regardless of the fact that this explains my great grandmother more so than my actual grandmother, I still like to imagine that this is how and where I learned to cook. It’s really not far off, though. Simply replace the Tuscan-style home with a one-story house in the countryside of upstate New York and it’s basically the same situation.
At the end of every summer-for the better part of a month- my older sister and I would leave Chicago and head to a little place called Hillsdale, a town in Columbia County consisting of rolling hills, open farmland and wooden tracts. We did what any normal kid would do during summer break: go fishing, swimming, hiking, tree climbing, and mow the lawn on my grandpa’s tractor, my personal favorite. Aside from that I would always make time to cook with my Grammy (as I like to call her). When I think about cooking I am immediately brought back to her kitchen, and if there is one thing I’ve taken away from her cooking it is that you must put love into every dish you make.
Today was one of those days where I woke up early, went grocery shopping and spent the better part of six hours cooking. Since it was such a nice day in Austin, and probably one of the last warm days for a while, I decided to turn off the air conditioning, open the door leading out to my deck, and cook barefoot, which has now resulted in my feet turning a disgusting shade of black. TMI, I know, but it was well worth it. I had a whole meal planned out: brussels sprout soup topped with candied pancetta, crispy parmesan biscuits filled with lemon butter, baby arugula and smoked salmon, and dark chocolate cupcakes with matcha green tea frosting.
I know, I know, it’s a lot of food but my friends and I decided we would have a mock thanksgiving, even though none of the food we made resembled anything that would be on a thanksgiving table… that’s beside the point though. What really matters is that overall the dinner was a success, I was surrounded by close friends, and we pretty much had a feast.
I used to hate vegetables. I was that kid at the dinner table who would put them in their mouth and then spit it back out into the napkin. Yes I was that bad, and despite my hatred for all things green, my mother would continuously prepare them.
There are certain vegetables that are more popular during the winter season, brussels sprouts being the worst of the bunch. Normally these are rarely served during the rest of the year, but that means nothing to my mother. My one wish as a child was that my mother would finally follow the rest of the herd and stop serving those green vegetables that resembled cabbage, however that never happened. Instead of only occurring for a few weeks during the year, I had the joy of having constant nightmares about those foul and horribly disgusting tasting balls of death.
As I got older-and started to cook more for myself-I found that I tried more and more vegetables, which to my surprise actually transformed my initial hatred into love. I also learned that even though steaming vegetables is healthier I have no problem giving into the temptation of adding more calories to vegetables in order to make them taste better. Tonight I came across Eatocracy’s blog and became a little too excited about finding four new ways to prepare brussels sprouts.
The good thing about winter is that you can take all of these earthy vegetables and come up with creative ways to prepare them, especially if you are one of those people who has a hard time grasping the fact that vegetables are truly amazing. Two of my favorite recipes are pumpkin risotto and broccoli cheddar soup. Combining them into a risotto or soup (soup season is the best season) transforms them from initial disgust to a dish loaded with flavors and textures, so that nightmares about vegetables are the least of your worries.
Fast food is like crack-once you put that first fry into your mouth all hell breaks loose. There is no stopping that food baby that is about to grow from one week to 9 months in, lets be honest here, a span of minutes. Whether you enjoy that creepy dude Jack in the Box’s curly fries or Mickey D’s hot and crunchy fries that are really only good for one second, there comes a moment in everyone’s life when they must try P. Terry’s.
If I could eat P. Terry’s everyday, I would; however, loading my body with several tons of shoe string fries is not in my best interest. Now, normally I speed through a fast food restaurant-if I can I even call it that-as fast as I can, while covering my surroundings with my peripherals, to make sure no one I possibly know sees me. However, when it comes to P. Terry’s I make sure to get the whole shabang for my buck.
We all know that one moment when we finish our sauce only to realize we still have ¾ of our fries left. I mean it almost ruins the whole point of consuming the 10:1 oil to actual food ratio. It worries me so much that I make sure to ask for EXTRA fist fulls of sauce just to be safe, because you never know how many times you will want to double dip. I have perfected this art, since P. Terry’s is always stingy with their sauce, to the point where my kitchen drawer is now a black hole for unopened ketchup packets because I can never actually offer them to the public. As for me, opening that drawer at 2 am after a long night is like waking up on Christmas morning… only to ketchup…
Erase any previous ideas of greasy, cheap, quick fast food and take a drive down to Fresa’s, located at 915 North Lamar. Opening only a few months ago, Fresa’s has been capturing the hearts of Austinites by storm. Serving all-natural Mexican style chicken meals, organic breakfast tacos, fresh salads, tortas and much more, these family style meals give you the authentic taste you desire without the typical drive thru calories.
I tried it for the first time this weekend and was surprisingly pleased. As I walk up, I can see the chicken cooking on the grill right through the window. As I smell the charcoal from the chicken, I had a hard time deciding what fresh item to choose from as my mouth was salivating. I finally decide on the veggie torta. Not even knowing what a torta was, as I took my first bite I knew Fresa’s would become a regular spot for my friends and I to come to for either breakfast or lunch.
Interning for CHAOS COCKTAILS for a few months last year gave me an inside look on how a start up company either makes it or fails. CHAOS COCKTAILS has finally made it.
Lesley Sarkesian, founder and CEO of CHAOS COCKTAILS, took her kids’ advice to sell her ‘concoction’ that she has been making in her kitchen for over 30 years. Through many ups and downs along the journey she has accomplished what many entrepreneurs attempt, but fail. After over a year, this berry, citrus, low calorie, low carb vodka cocktail has launched and is taking over liquor stores by storm. The country’s first Twist & Serve, CHAOS is joined with Republic National Distributing Company, CHAOS ON THE ROCKS can be found in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Lubbock, Houston, San Antonio, and more to come.
Whether you want to stay in or go out, “Sarkesian hopes her original spirited concoction will refresh, relax and inspire you- and help you do more with less. Cheers!”