Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Chicken, Potato, and Brie Tart With Onion Jam

Being married to a meat eater has taught me to vastly expand my standard chicken recipes. I mean, you can only make so many chicken salad sandwiches...

When I saw this chicken tart recipe from The Kitchen, I was very intrigued. Not only does it sound fancy, but it is fairly easy to make (especially if you're lazy like me and used a pre-made puff pastry-shhhhh). I also rediscovered my love of Brie cheese which is, in my opinion, the lord of all cheeses - it's soft, melts beautifully, and has that rich creamy taste that allows you to pair it with sweet or savory meals. For a pre-meal snack I cut up thin slices of apple and topped them with some of the onion jam and a dot of brie and it was amazing. The tart itself was a perfect balance of richness and a sweet/sour flavor from the onion jam, all in all a perfect brunch or dinner meal!

Chicken, Potato, and Brie Tart With Onion Jam

makes one 11" tart

Recipe adapted From The Kitchen

2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium sized onions, peeled and thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
1 TBS sugar, leveled

1 sheet of thawed puff pastry
2-3 large waxy potatoes, sliced into 1/2 inch slices
2 cups cooked chicken, torn into big shreds
1/2 cup brie, pinched off into bite sized pieces
4 eggs
2 tsp dried thyme (I also garnished with fresh German thyme)
1/2 cup cream

Directions

1.For the onion jam, heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add onions, salt and pepper, and cook over a medium heat for 20 minutes until nice and soft, stirring every once in a while so that they don't catch on the bottom. In between stirring, half covered with the pot lid. Add balsamic vinegar and sugar, remove the lid and cook a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.

2.Put potatoes in a medium pot, cover with water, season with salt and bring to a boil. reduce heat to a simmer and cook potatoes 15-20 minutes until just able to be pierced with a knife. Drain and set aside to cool.

3.Roll out pastry to fit a 11" round removable base tart tin. Pop in the freezer to chill while the oven heats to 180˚C (350˚F). Layer the onions, potato and chicken into the pastry shell. Dot with brie. Whisk eggs, cream and thyme, then pour evenly over filling. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the filling is set and the pastry is golden. Serve immediately on it's own or paired with a salad.

On a side note - Houston had some pretty major storms last night which resulted in flooding. This is the second time the weather has tried to kill us lol, I am starting to get a complex Houston - what's your problem?! Seriously though, I hope everyone is okay and my prayers go out to those that lost their cars and homes last night, stay safe!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Watermelon Mojitos

I dunno about you but I am gonna need some booze to get through the rest of this week...don't worry, I gotcha covered...

I gotta admit, I am not a real heavy drinker, every once and a while I have a glass of wine or a beer but I tend to think of alcohol as more of an ingredient for baked goods (hence the lack of boozy drinks on this blog). I like this drink though because it's so refreshing and with no added sugar I almost feel like it's healthy? Is that too much of a stretch? I mean it's pretty much just glorified fruit juice right?!


This is the perfect way to utilize allll that watermelon juice that comes when you cut it, and it you're like me you go through a butt load of watermelons in the summer! These ingredient amounts are very customizable, I knew I would never use a whole bottle of rum so I just bought a sample for $1 and it happened to be enough for me but you're welcome to up the amount. Also, if you are making it for a party it might be cool to serve it out of a carved out melon - makes for a pretty impressive center piece!

Watermelon Mojitos

makes four drinks

2 cups watermelon juice (I just strained the juice from cutting the watermelon)
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of fresh mint leaves
50 ml white rum (I just bought a $1 mini bottle)
About 1 cup ginger ale (I used ginger ale 10)
Ice cubes as needed (OR you could freeze watermelon juice in ice cube trays so you won't dilute the product)
lime and mint leaves for garnish

You can either divide these ingredients and make it glass by glass, or mix it into a pitcher and pour, I personally think that they taste better if you mix it individually.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Houston Zoo Adventure

A couple of weeks ago we headed out to the Houston Zoo. Still discouraged by our disappointing Aquarium visit, we were hoping for the best. The zoo is located near Hermann park in the Museum District of town.

Upon entering I was really impressed at the size and overall cleanliness of the place, I felt like I was walking through Busch Gardens in some of the areas. All of the displays were very well maintained and the variety of animals and exhibits were enough to keep you busy for hours. Some of my faves were The African Forest, Carnivores, and the Elephant Exhibit, you can even watch the baby elephants take a bath at the 10 am showing! Though ticket prices may seem on the pricey side ($16 for an adult ticket) they offer many discounts and free admission opportunities which can be seen on their website. Keep this in mind, even if you end up having to pay full price it is well worth it, with a wide variety of species, a children's zoo to keep the kids busy, and a plenty of places to eat and relax in the shade, this would easily provide entertainment for a weekend afternoon.

Some tips for visiting

-If you have a Bank of America card, they host a "Museums on Us" program that allows free entrance to the zoo The first full weekend of each month (this is what we did).

-If you don't quality for this discount they also have free Tuesdays every month (September-May)

-As for parking, there is a lot that charges $6 located on Harvin that provides a shuttle to the zoo but there is also free parking at Hermann Park towards the front entrance - be warned though these spots fill up fast! We parked at Lewis's hospital and took the shuttle down.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fashion Friday: Incorporating Vintage Pieces Into your Wardrobe

I was recently introduced to a site called Invaluable which is essentially a vintage lovers paradise. It's a worldwide online auction database that offers everything from jewelry, antiques, collectibles, and even entire estate sales. I have always loved scouring local antique stores looking for old brooches or rings to add to my collection but now with the convenience of shopping from home, and their bid-based pricing, the opportunity to score one of a kind pieces just became a lot easier!

Most people are hesitant about vintage shopping, they either think they'll look like a grandma or don't know how to incorporate the new with the old. To help with these misconceptions, I decided to style three different looks including one for work, a casual weekend, and a more formal event.

NECKLACE / SHIRT / PANTS / CLUTCH / SHOES

I love adding a pop of color to a black and white outfit, this is especially on trend for the Spring season. I am such a huge fan of turquoise and admire the versatility of it, you could easily wear it for everyday occasions or dress it up for work like I did here.

EARRINGS / DRESS / VEST / SANDALS / BACKPACK

This look pretty much describes my weekend uniform, I was inspired by the somewhat bohemian vibes of these dangling earrings so I decided it would go best with a colorful paisley printed dress and comfortable tassel sandals.

BROOCH / RING / SHIRT / SKIRT / COAT / SHOES / CLUTCH

I am a big fan of this last ensemble, I feel it best compliments the vintage vibes of the jewelry. This ring is probably my favorite piece, I have always been a huge fan of opals (I almost chose one for my wedding band). As for the other piece, I feel like brooches are a very underrated accessory, I think they can dress up a coat or a scarf and add a unique element to an outfit. You may also have noticed that I mixed silver and gold but tied both items together with the diamonds.

I hope I provided you with some vintage inspiration! Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Torchy's Tacos! (Review)

So if you happen to be following along my taco journey, you're aware that I am on the hunt to seek out the best fish tacos in Houston...

It is therefore a miracle that we have just now checked out the infamous Torchy's Tacos! I have heard from several accounts that this place is simply amazing and their Mr. Orange taco should definitely be a contender. Welp, this past weekend we decided to take the plunge and finally check out this formerly famous food truck fare.

To view their menu, click HERE


Torchy's has 3 or 4 locations around town but this particular one sits among a bustling strip in the Rice Village area, we somehow managed to find a parking spot despite it being prime time on a Saturday evening. The place itself isn't that large but offers more space on their outdoor patio, the decor and vibe is what some might call a hipster haven with nothing but all natural sodas at the fountain, marquee lighted letters, and unique menu lingo. The menu of course offers pretty much any type of taco you could ever imagine - from breakfast tacos, to ones that contain ingredients like "pickled jalapenos & onions" and "escabeche carrots" with an array of proteins and even some vegetarian options with your choice of a flour or corn tortilla.

I heard from everyone that you HAVE to order the Green Chili Queso & Chips under punishment of death...or at least public shaming. It's easy to see why people are so enthralled with this bowl of melty goodness, it makes all other quesos look/taste like cheese whiz. The depth of flavor in this is amazing and makes this dish truly unique. Instead of just getting bite after bite of heavy cheese, you get the mild heat from the roasted green chilies at the bottom mixed and the drizzle of hot sauce on top with the cool creamy texture of the dollop of guac, the slight texture from diced onions, and finally the fresh zing of cilantro. I say on behalf of all my fellow foodie Texans, ORDER THIS.

Behold, the Mr. Orange! Blackened salmon topped with grilled corn, black bean relish, fresh cilantro, shredded queso blanco, drizzled with avocado salsa all nestled on a corn tortilla. This taco definitely ranks high on my list! At first I was hesitant on the salmon - sometimes often times it can be super fishy, dried out, and a bit of a flavor hog but this piece of fish was cooked perfectly and was either marinated or cooked in what I can only guess is an orange based sauce. Really nice use of favor and textures here.

Below is the Brushfire which had Jamaican jerk chicken, grilled jalapenos, diced mango, fresh cilantro, and a drizzle of sour cream. This taco was pretty good, it was a little on the dry side but it was full of flavor.

Front and center is The Democrat - shredded beef topped with creamy slices of avocado, shredded queso fresco, cilantro, onions and a side of tomatillo salsa (Lewis's fav). Behind it was The Baja Shrimp Tacos - fried shrimp, cabbage slaw, pickled jalapenos and onions, shredded queso fresco, cilantro with chipotle sauce. While the shrimp taco had nice flavor profiles, it was a tad dry, I would not mind at all if they smothered a dollop green chili queso on this...just saying!

The Verdict


Yeah...that pretty much sums it up. With off the wall tacos using quality ingredients, it's easy to see how this once teeny Austin Taco truck made it in the big city. As far as where it stands on my taco scale I am gonna have to say it now ties easily for first place along with Hobbit Cafe.

Torchy's Tacos on Urbanspoon

Have a fish taco suggestion for me? Please let me know!
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