Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Need to update!

Seriously, y'all...that picture of me is from 2007 or 2008, I'm not quite sure.  It was taken on the patio of the (now closed) Belmont, during SXSW, right before I met the Italian Guy who tried to romance me although I'm fairly certain he was married.  Obviously, this was prior to me falling fast & hard for Jaime.  Although it would make for a much more interesting story had it happened while I was dating Jaime, no?

Fictional drama aside, my life has been supercalifragilisticBUSYexpialidocious.  Work has been cray cray.  My law firm had been circling the drain, and crashed and burned in late February.  I was lucky enough to be taken in by a splinter group of attorneys that I'd worked with, to their new office.  Now I'm part of the Austin office of a large national firm, based in California.  We've been doing a lot more work with a third less people, but hey, it's job stability.

I promise to update with some pictures, soon, both of the family and food and fun.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Gluten-Free pizza review: Mangieri's at Circle C

I don't eat Gluten-Free because I have celiac disease.  I'm lucky in that I have no wheat sensitivity.  But lately I've been experimenting with GF products and dishes because I have friends who suffer from the disease.  I'm curious to see how things have changed from the early days of crumbly, icky textured, second rate goods.  I'm relieved to say that G-F has gotten yum-my.  In the recent past I've been blown away entirely by the deliciousness that is Blackbird Bakery.  Karen turns out amazingly lucious desserts with nary a speck of gluten in them.  Her crepes! Oh how I love those delicate, airy crepes!  (The Maker's Mark in the apple pie filling doesn't hurt, either).

I've had a burger at Hopdoddy on a GF bun and I simply couldn't tell it was wheat free.  And this week in honor of Chef Jess at ATX Gluten-Free, I tried a pizza from Mangieri's for ATX Gluten-Free Pizza Fest.

I chose Bella's pizza, a specialty pie, with the GF crust.  Making your pizza with a GF crust will cost you a bit extra, but for those who couldn't eat it any other way, it's worth the few dollars.  Bella's pizza is topped with grilled chicken, baby spinach, roma tomatoes, oregano, sesame seeds, EVOO, mozzarella and feta cheese.   Umm, hells yeah!

The crust was crispy on the edge, which was wonderful while warm but be warned, as it cooled it went from slightly toothsome to a little on the chewy side.  The taste was spot on, even a bit buttery.  As a thin crust, this one is definitely a winner.  I would order it again, without a celiac sensitivity to blame it on.  The toppings are fresh, well-seasoned and paired nicely with each other.  There was no one ingredient that stood out too much or too little.  On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, I give this a 3.75, and that would've been higher if the crust hadn't turned tough.

ATX Gluten-Free Pizza Fest Take Two...

Another winner from guest blogger Carrie Wood!  Carries is my GF friend who gives me her opinion of GF products available in area grocery stores.  I can count on her to either give two thumbs up or a resounding "no!" to GF goods.  Carries writes this post as part of ATX Gluten-Free's Pizza Fest.

This time I tried a gluten-free, yeast-free crust mix by Chebe.

I made it according to the directions on the back - the one with the parmesan cheese added to the crust mix.

I topped it exactly like I topped the Almond Flour Pizza crust.

Pic. 3 - just out of the oven (sorry, it's a little out of focus, but I think I swooned!)

Pic. 4 is what was left (hubs ate half) and the empty Chebe package.

This crust is quite simple, and shapes easily. I forgot to sprinkle cornmeal on the stone, so it stuck just a teensy, but loosened easily with a spatula. It makes a thin crust, but it's not chewy or tough. Hubs doesn't like crispy crust so I bake a little less than crispy crust would require. This crust held up well and didn't get soggy in the middle and the slices could be picked up and eaten by hand just like pizzeria slices.

Our vote between the 2 we tested is the Chebe, because it mostly closely approximates a yeasty pizza dough and because we both agree we'd eat it again!

Gluten-Free Pizza Fest Take One...

Welcome guest blogger Carrie Wood to my blog site today.  Carrie is a Gluten-Free friend of mine and she'll be reviewing a few GF pizzas in honor of ATX Gluten-Free's Pizza Fest. 

Since going wheat and yeast-free over 2.5 yrs. ago, pizza has not been part of my life. Oh, sure I could eat the toppings, but pizza isn't pizza without the crust. Carrie, of GingerLemon Girl fame, posted a gluten-free, yeast-free recipe last year and the Pizza Fest gave me a reason to coerce my husband into trying 2 different gluten-free, yeast-free pizza crusts.

1st Contestant: Gluten Free Almond Flour Pizza Crust (courtesy of GingerLemonGirl)

Dry Ingredients:

2 c. almond flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. basil

Wet Ingredients:

3/4 c. mashed white beans (I used cannelinni beans)

3 eggs (Egg sub. would work, too)

3 T. olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12-14" pizza pan with parchment paper.

2. In a large metal bowl mix all dry ingredients together.

3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and all all the wet ingredients.

4. Mix them thoroughly. The dough will be quite wet.

5. If you're making 2 med. pizzas, split the dough in half.

6. Spread the dough in a circle on the parchment paper with a spatula. It may help to wet the spatula or spritz it with non-stick cooking spray to keep the dough from sticking to the spatula. (I like the feel of dough in my hands. I opted to plop it out on the parchment paper on my pizza stone. And using wet hands, I smeared and shaped the dough - rewetting hand as necessary).

Pre bake the dough in the preheated oven for 10-132 min. until golden brown.

Add toppings (I used 1 c. Delallo Tomatoes with Basil pureed, topped with slices of low-fat, thinly sliced provolone, then turkey peppperoni, and topped with grated low-fat mozzarella).

Bake topped pizza for 10-15 min. until toppings are cooked to your satisfaction.

Cool for about 5 min. and then serve.

This crust is a bit mealy, of course, due to the almond flour. It's easy to make & shape, sets up nicely and has a good flavor. The verdict: Good, but not good enough to make again.

The rule at our house is that we all have to like it . . . since hubs is compromising and eating wheat-free goodies to accommodate my sensitivity, and my goal is to make delicious food that so closely approximates it's wheaten counterparts that no one misses the wheat!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Green Monster!

Green Monster
I've been trying out different things in my quest for healthier eating habits.  A fit friend of mine has turned me on to the Green Monster Movement.  Michelle kept talking and posting about her Green Monsters until I was dying of curiosity. I've now had two Green Monster breakfasts in one week and I'm hooked!  The picture above is today's GM in a Beer Town Austin 'stache glass and the recipe is below. 

1 Tb milled flax seed
2 cups raw spinach
1 1/4 cups vanilla coconut milk (or any milk of your choosing)
1 Tb organic creamy peanut butter
1 banana
2/3 cup frozen broccoli florets

Blend, blend until all is smooth.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Crockpot barbacoa...easy & delicious

I love barbacoa.  It reminds me of when we'd go see my Grandpa in San Antonio.  On weekends, he'd buy a pound of barbacoa and corn tortillas for us to eat after church.  The rich meat with its distinctive mouthfeel was always delicious.  What distinctive mouthfeel?  I hate that overused word "unctuous" but saying "fatty and sticky" doesn't sound appealing to most people.  But this beef is fatty and slightly sticky, from the slow roasting process that melts down the meat, connective tissue and tendons into a pile of wonderfully slick, sumptously flavorful goodness. 

It all starts with beef cheek...or at least mine does, as the traditional process involves an entire cow head.  I don't know about your house, but mine does not have a refrigerator large enough for that business.  Please ignore that beef cheek meat is not your pretty, clean cut of meat like you normally use.  It is positively primal in appearance, with all manner of fatty bits and stuff.  I clean off most of the fat but leave the other stuff, unless it is an obvious vein, which grosses me out, so I'll practice my knife skills on that.  In other words, remove it without losing a finger.

I cook my barbacoa in the crockpot, using a little seasoning, orange juice, apple cider vinegar and water.  You want the liquid to cover the meat, so chop it in large sections if necessary.  I had a half of an onion and some garlic cloves that needed to be used before they ended up in my compost bin, so I rough chopped them and threw them in, too.  After long and low cooking, you'll end up with what almost looks like pot roast, only it shreds easily with two forks.  I found myself unable to resist eating barbacoa tacos immediately after the meat was done.  I doubt you could resist it, either.  Somewhere in heaven, my Grandpa is smiling, pointing down to me and saying "¡Esa es mi nieta!".

Crockpot Barbacoa

1-2 cups water
juice from half a regular sized orange
2 Tb. apple cider vinegar
3-4lbs beef cheek meat
garlic powder
onion powder
fresh, roughly chopped onion & garlic if you have it on hand

Combine water, juice and apple cider vinegar and pour into bottom of crockpot.  Liberally season meat, add to crockpot along with fresh veggies, if using any.  Cook on low heat for 12 hours.  Remove from liquid, shred with forks.  Serve with warm tortillas and any condiment or toppings desired, such as salsa, chopped cilantro, diced onion.