Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Crazy good dish!!

Today has been an interesting day and ended quite well because I received my Feb Birchbox and my AdvoCare Distributor Kit, yippee!  Yes, I am now selling AdvoCare and have my own site so check it out.

Tonight I wanted to play around with a dish I found that peaked my interest called Creamy Lemon-Pepper Orzo with Grilled Chicken.  All I can say is that this dish is amazingly delicious and is not bad for you at all; it is bursting with flavor and is a hearty dish.  Originally the recipe called for chicken thighs which is dark meat and fattier; I ran it through my recipe analyzer and the numbers were so much higher than what was stated.  ALSO, this recipe states it is 4 servings; THERE IS NO WAY!  This made SO much food and could easily feed 8.  So here is my tweaked version:


2 oz Fage 0% Yogurt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbs paprika
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup orzo
1 cup Fresh Frozen Petite Peas
Juice & zest of 1 lemon
2 ounces finely crumbled goat cheese
4 Tbs chopped fresh basil
1 Tbs chopped parsley

If you're wondering what Orzo is, it is a pasta that looks like rice kernels.  Most of the times you will find it packaged in a small box; however, the occasional bag is out there.

Whisk together the yogurt, 2 tsp of oil, garlic, lemon juice and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper in a bowl until well combined.

Should look like this

Heat remaining oil in your pan on medium-high heat; sprinkle your chicken with the remaining salt, pepper, garlic powder & paprika.  Sear the chicken on each side for approximately 5 min; lower heat to medium, cover with the lid and cook for approx 15 min or until cooked through.

In the meantime, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook your orzo according to the package directions, stir in the peas at the last minute of cooking.  Drain the orzo & peas & reserve 1 cu of the cooking liquid.  Return to pot, and pour in your yogurt mixture along with the goat cheese, 3 Tbs of fresh basil and at least 3/4 cup of the pasta water until combined.  Transfer to a platter or dish.

Starting to come together quite nicely

Slice up the chicken and mix into the pasta.  Sprinkle with the lemon zest, remaining basil and parsley and serve.


As previously stated, this dish can easily feed 8 along with a nice salad so here are the states for 8 servings:

Calories:  257
Fat: 7.1
Cholesterol 63mg
Sodium 593 mg
Carbs 20.0 g
Fiber 2.0 g
Sugar 2.7 g
Protein 27.4 g

Additionally, you can substitute tarragon for the basil if you like or you can add to the dish as well.  I think rosemary would do very well in this dish as well especially in the cooking process for the chicken.

Chris was very pleased with the dish.  It has a rich creaminess to it and a good tang from the lemon zest as well.  It is hard to believe that the dish is rather healthy, even the Fat content is below the recommended for the calories involved. 

I have been asked so many times how you calculate Total Fat for your calories so I will break it down:

Calories x 30% / 9 = Total Fat

Example:  Let's take a dish, or product for that matter, that has 450 calories.  So you multiply that 450 by 30% which equals 135.  Now, take that 135 and divide by 9 and you have 15.  This is the Total Fat in which you should NOT pass for that dish/product/item.  Anything below that is great.  Also remember that some items will have a higher fat content than is recommended, but you must keep in mind that there are good fats such as those found in salmon, nuts & peanut butter just to name a few.

I hope that you enjoy this dish and the little bit of info I provided this evening.  I'm off to go work on my AdvoCare site so until next time, Happy Eating!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Austin adventures

This evening, I have decided to dedicate my post tonight to our weekend trip to Austin (and part II of my Valentine's Day surprise).

Arrived safe & sound in Austin

I was able to obtain a hotel reservation through Priceline at Orangewood Inn & Suites.  I must say we were both pleasantly surprised because we had stayed at Red Roof Inn on our first trip to Austin, and Orangewood was definitely much nicer, slightly less expensive, very clean & spacious and wonderful showers with very hot water and extremely high pressure.  We checked in Friday afternoon and checked out before noon on Sunday, and Chris said it was barely at $110.  We definitely will be returning here on our next visit.

about to hit the town, and someone forgot to bring his jacket

Our mission Friday night was to see our favorite blues guys, Trent Turner who was playing at Latitude30 that evening.  Once we got to the 6th Street area & parked, we stopped into Iron Cactus Mexican Grill & Margarita Bar for dinner.

Blood Orange Basil Mojito

Stacked Pork Enchiladas

We started out our meal with the Chile Con Queso which was remarkable.  It is a blend of white cheeses, Hatch green chiles, pico de gallo & fire roasted jalapeños,  The chips served are unique in that they are light and airy, crispy and flaky.

I had the Stacked Pork Enchiladas:  this is pork carnitas stacked on red corn tortillas layered with Hatch green chiles, rajas, & Monterrey Jack Cheese.  It is topped with a homemade verde sauce and an egg, YES an egg!  I opted to switch out the usual rice & beans for the green chile mashed potatoes & chili-lime roasted corn.  All I can say about this dish is PHENOMENAL!  This is such a creative and inventive dish and tastes too damn good; there is, of course, too much food for me to finish and was sad to leave the rest behind.

Our waiter, Nate, was fantastic, super friendly, funny, attentive and opinionated.  He helped me choose my dish, chatted with us and had us laughing.  If you ever get to eat at Iron Cactus Mexican Grill & Margarita Bar, ask for Nate; you won't b disappointed.

After we finished dinner, we took a walk down 6th Street and stopped by the Lucky Lizard to do look around, do some shopping and walk off our dinner.  I bought Jack-Jack, our little cousin, a cute tie-dyed outfit.  We still had time to kill until Trent's show started so we headed on over to our favorite little cigar shop, Bobalu Cigar Co.  They hand roll their cigars and you are able to watch the cigar rollers in action.

They have a huge selection of cigars in their marvelous humidor.

From our previous visit

One of MY personal missions in coming directly here upon arrival is getting my Café Cubano, a double please; they have the BEST espresso EVER!  Apparently their espresso is directly imported from Italy; let me say it is strong, flavorful and even creamy.  I had to have 2 doubles this evening in order for me to withstand the long night ahead; I of course had gotten Chris into the drink as well and he had 2 doubles as well.

What the heck, it's a Hazelnut Cigarillo

Enjoying his Texas Sweet

9:10 pm & time to head to Latitude 30.


This drives all the ladies crazy!

He is a very skilled guitar player with great vocals and is truly an all-around really nice guy and very entertaining.  He's got a bluesy & rock vibe and plays for hours; just watching him you can see the passion he has for music.

Once the show was done, we headed back down to 6th Street and decided to stop at our favorite pizza shop, Roppolo's Pizzaria.  Now there are 2 locations on 6th Street; this particular one is the one that's like 2 spaces down from Iron Cactus Mexican Grill & Margarita Bar.  They have fantastic pizza here and are constantly busy, busy, busy!

This is my new friend, Merrick, and she is SUPER sweet and SUPER cool!  Stop on by and say HI to her!

out and about on 6th Street

Good morning, or should I say afternoon?  We started out a little late.

We decided to stop by Hopdoddy Burger Bar because we always see this huge line and decided to see what the deal was with these burgers.

Great selection of burgers

I chose the Primetime because I wanted to try Akaushi Beef and also I like the flavor profile going on here.  

Great burger, really great; next time, I would change the brie cheese for goat cheese.  The fries are really good too as is the chipotle ketchup.  Chris had the Buffalo Bill which he said was also great.

Red Velvet Shake

This was the richest, most decadent shake I have ever had, and yes it had chunks of red velvet cake on top as well as buttercream.  Needless to say I didn't get passed 1/3 of this shake; it was just WAY too much for me personally but soooo damn good!

I had been texting a friend of mine from back in high school, April who worked extensively on a list of places to go & things to see while in Austin.  The list was quite long and gives us more things to do on our next trip.   April totally rocks for hooking me up because we did have a great time and enjoyed the suggestions we were able to get to.....

After our lunch, we headed over to Zilker Park (thanks again, April) and planted ourselves in the dog park.  It was such a beautiful day, and the park was busy and dogs running and having so much fun (it is a leash-free park).  Chris even got me to climb a freaking rock!

I did make it to the top!

People were having picnics, kids were running and playing and also climbing all up and down this rock.

I really enjoyed this park; next time, we're bringing a blanket and hanging out way longer.

After the park, we headed to a friend of Chris' to fix her bike.  After this, I got to do some shopping and we headed to dinner (thanks again, April) and went to Cool River Café Steakhouse & Southwestern Grille.  Wow, very nice place, elegant, great ambiance, romantic and cozy.  

Calamari with green peppers & onions appetizer

My whole roasted game hen with mushrooms and garlic mashed potatoes (this came home with us!)

My Tomato Mozzarella salad 

His Jim Bean Ribeye

This was an incredible meal.  The calamari were tender & crisp with the peppers adding a special kick.  My chicken tender, juicy and very flavorful.  Chris's steak cooked to perfection with 2 beautifully cooked applewood smoked bacon wrapped scallops.  We could NOT get dessert in at all!

Back to 6th Street we head.  We arrive and go directly to Hatbox which is a hat store that has all kinds of hats and also some custom made hats as well.

                                                      Is that Indiana Jones?

                                              A hat I liked on our last visit

After we left here, we went back over to Bobalu Cigar Co to see if the guy could make me a Cortado.  He said to tell him how & he'd make it (told him equal parts espresso & milk) and voila, he made them perfect!  Chris even liked this more.  I ordered them double so we only had the one drink since it was like an 8oz drink.

We headed over to Friends Bar because we had heard some really good music coming out of there, and this is where we first met Trent.

Chris decided I needed to experience the pedicab so we hopped on one to get there!  This guy was pretty cool, too. 

 We are blown away by the incredible sound of the Stevie Norman Band; wow, can he move his fingers!  These guys were extremely energetic, entertaining and sounded excellent.  They really know how to rock!

I just love a place that has a cocktail menu!  The Jolly Rancher was great!

Enjoying the show

The rest of the night, we were all over 6th Street just chilling and bar hopping.  I cannot believe we did not get back to our room until after 2:30 am and we needed to be up early to check out before noon and get to our destination.

Sunday after check out, we headed directly to The Park at the Domain for their famous Brunch.  April, what am I going to do with you?  This is now our favorite, must-have spot when we return for another fun-filled weekend in Austin.  The food was amazing!  They have such a huge selection:  migas, omelette, rum soaked french toast, banana pancakes, applewood smoked bacon, chicken salad sammies, green chili mac 'n cheese, pasta salads, chicken enchiladas, ribs, smoked sausage, three different kinds of salads, fresh fruits (watermelon, strawberries, pineapples, canteloupe, blackberries) and desserts (custard tarts, churros, brownie bites, danishes and more)  The list goes on and on.  The Brunch buffet is reasonably priced as well at $15.00 a person with $1 Mimosas and $5 Bloody Mary Bar.  This is clearly a popular place because the line was out the door when we left (and we actually arrived 10 min before opening and were at the door for opening).

    Mimosas:  Strawberry, Mango, Peach, Pineapple Basil, Prickly Pear & Original

I loved my Prickly Pear Mimosa

The AMAZING Bloody Mary Bar (made with Grey Goose); Chris loved it!!

We decided to head to The Domain afterwards since we were there already, and we did some window shopping: Fossil, David Yurman, Hatbox again, The Steeping Room and Ben Bridge Jewelers just to name a few.  

I loved  The Steeping Room because I love tea and am addicted to Teavana.  I had a really good hot tea there, Chocolate Crunch which was awesome!

Tea Wall

We were going to head over the Zilker Park Botanical Garden, but we were both so incredibly tired from lack of sleep and still being full from brunch that we decided to post-pone that for our next trip.  I convinced Chris, however, to take me to a coffee shop that,thanks to April for researching them for me, I decided on Flipnotics.  I am glad she found this for me because they have really good coffee; I ordered 2, a Cafe au Lait and a Mocha Iced Toddy for the road.  This is a definite little gem.

Before I end this blog, I wanted to give a couple extra tips: Guero's Taco Bar has REALLY awesome Mexican food and reasonably priced as well; it is always busy and they have bands here as well.

at Guero's Taco Bar on our last trip

And also, a special thanks to the cigar rollers at Bobalu Cigar Co for recommending Habana Restaurant & Bar for real, authentic Cuban food.  This place is phenomenal and the food is incredible!


                                           Plantain Dacquiri (heavenly)

                                                      Cubano with Yucca Fries

                                Seafood Paella (enough for two people!)

Although we didn't stop on our most recent trip, we will return in the future.  

Well, our Austin trip had to come to an end eventually.....

                      Thankfully, we found a Buc-ees in Bastrop to get an Icee!!

Well guys, for those of you who haven't been I hope these tips and reviews serve as a helpful guide to you.  

Until next time, Happy Eating!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Pizza, Pizza!

Well as I get back into my daily routine having enjoyed such an incredible Valentine's Day weekend with my honey, I long debated on what dinner would be tonight and decided on doing a Carne alla Pizzaiola.  (I will post about my Austin adventures later). 

What is Carne alla Pizzaiola?  It is basically meat in pizza style.  The dish derives from Neopolitan tradition that features meat cooked with pepper, tomatoes & olive oil.

Here are the ingredients:

1-1/4 lbs boneless sirloin steak, excess fat trimmed

Kosher salt
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, smashed
1 large white onion, sliced about 1/4" thick
1 red bell pepper, sliced about 1/2" thick
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced about 1/2" thick
5 jarred pepperoncini, drained & thinly sliced
1- 15 oz can crushed tomatoes (I prefer Red Gold)
1 heaping tsp Italian Seasoning
1/2 heaping tsp dried Basil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley (optional)


Sprinkle the steak all over with 1/4 tsp salt.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the steak & sear until browned, about 2 min per side.  Transfer to a plate. 

Have I mentioned how much I love my Emeril sauté pan? 

Smashed Garlic Cloves
(lay your knife sideways, blade facing away, & use your palm or fist to smash)

               Don't these colors just pop?

Add the garlic to the skillet; once it sizzles, add the onions & bell peppers & cook.  Stir occasionally until slightly softened, about 4 min.

I cooked the garlic for approx 1 min

Tossed in the veggies

Then add the pepperoncini, crushed tomatoes, Italian Seasoning, basil, (next time I will use fresh basil because it is much fresher tasting), red pepper flakes and about 3/4 cup water; stir to combine.    Bring to a rapid simmer, nestle the steak in the sauce & simmer, turning once until medium rare (about 7 min) or medium (about 10 min) ***I did medium***

Starting to look and smell sooooo good!

Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest about 5 min (if you do not let the meat rest and immediately cut into it, you will have a dry steak because the juices ran out of the meat instead of having time to redistribute back into the meat for juiciness & tenderness).

Steaks resting

Continue simmering the sauce until thickened, about 3 more min & remove from heat.  Now, thinly slice the steak against the grain.

That's a beautiful medium

 Toss back into sauce mixture, and you may top with fresh parsley.  

This recipe will serve about 4 people, and here are the nutritional facts;

Calories 318
Fat 12g
Cholesterol 51mg
Sodium 668 mg
Carbs 16g
Fiber 4g
Protein 35g

I think you could serve this dish with buttered noodles, white rice or salad.  I made parmesan angel hair and served with a multigrain baguette for a filling dinner since Chris was just getting home from a long day's work.  

He even said it reminded him of pizza, BINGO!  Mission accomplished.

I decided to make dessert for my sweetie: beautiful, in-season, juicy red strawberries and my homemade whipped cream (I was going to with DiSaronno which I love but opted out this time).

He totally deserves this

Until next time, Happy Eating!