Saturday, May 24, 2014

BlogHer Food ’14: Miami Edition



It’s taken me a whole week to recover from Miami, y’all.
And no, not from too many mojitos.

More like a jaw-flapping, rib-tickling good time.

Yes, amongst all the salivating, mouth watering food we ate, we did learn some important blogging skills, but mainly we ate.
Our schedules were made around food.

We’re food bloggers. #SorryNotSorry

Definitely ate my way through Miami and I’m doing enough cardio this week to prove it.

This was my first time to the Sunshine State, and I WILL MOST DEFINITELY be coming back. Miami, in itself, is like being in another country.
CUBA to be exact. Prepare yourself for all the Cuban food I now must make.

This Texan may or may not have obnoxiously shouted out “We’re in Cuba, y’all!” at one time or five.

While I was greeted by tornadoes (YES TORNADOES, AND NO I WASN’T IN KANSAS, OR TEXAS, OR OKLAHOMA, or anywhere in Tornado Alley), the sun eventually came out, and I was able to flip out over the blue green water, white sand beaches, and inconspicuously people watch through my uber-dark $9 shades.


If you’d like to see a photographical diary of the WHOLE journey, check out my Instagram, but here is a pretty good summary.
But yes, on second thought, check it out, because I want to tell you about ALL THE THINGS, and all the people, and all the food I ate.

On Thursday night, upon arrival, after the funnel clouds left us alone, I met up with a wonderful bunch of local bloggers who took a few of us non-locals to a REAL Cuban place. THE REAL DEAL y’all.

As in, if you have someone important in town, you take them here. Renee and Marni were so gracious, and explained everything on the menu to Nicole and I. When I asked if someone could help me choose some Cuban cigars from the counter up front, Marni was my girl. When asked to identify the thirty-seven different plants and sea grapes and mangoes and coconut trees growing along the roads, Renee named each and every one.

Onto the food. I’m left speechless. Get yourself here. Stat. When the mojito arrived with fresh mint and a REAL sugar cane, I was done for.
Then the waiter brought my Ropa Vieja with fried plantains.

Yup, Ropa Vieja is Spanish for “old clothes.” But let me start by saying I read about this dish on some long, dry, dehydrated, stomach grumbling flight. While flipping through that Southwest Spirit magazine, I was enthralled by the story behind the author’s experience with a good Ropa Vieja. I cannot describe it to you other than saying there is something magical about a good Ropa Vieja, slow-cooked, shredded beef with cumin, bell peppers, and onions… served over rice, and with those fried up plantains that come on every cuban dish…. Man, oh man. I was transported.

I think I left my heart in Cuba.

Cafe Versailles also has “la ventanita,” or walk-up coffee window. I didn’t know Cubans were so proud of their coffee, but luckily I read this post before coming to Miami. The author, Lilia, also ate with us. I knew she was good as gold when I discovered our shared love of beagles, and all things red.


The next day, after we did some learning, we ate. Again.

Can we stop eating yet?


This is where Meaghan, Erin, Lauren, Megan, Annalise (and a whole bunch of my other favorite friends) and I ate so much fried chicken and pork belly, we had to roll ourselves on out of there. And walk home. Not true.

Perhaps all the adrenalin from the terrifying cab rides we took burned off all that food.
Yes. Yes it did. *wide eyes*


Hop on over to Yardbird so you can just read their menu. I could never explain the shrimp and grits to you in all its glory. Nor could I explain the creamy macaroni, with that perfect crunchy topping, all served in a hot cast iron pot. The pork belly fried green tomato with pimento spread? The buttermilk soaked salty fried chicken, topped with a thin glaze of honey sitting atop a fluffy, FLUFFY buttermilk biscuit?

I could never.

Believe it or not, we could *not* save room for dessert.

That night, after a costume change, more socializing and networking took place; I am so grateful for this opportunity. I was able to learn so much from my fellow blogging women – inspired by their determination, fortitude, and moxie (my new favorite word), my brain is once again flooded with ideas, brimming over the top with recipes and stories to share with y’all.

Just because I have to mention it, the top left picture is a reunion of our #CondoCurse ladies from BlogHer ’13: Austin edition.
Our condo was haunted. It was all kinds of awesome.


On our last day, we hitched a cab (*oooOOoo woozy*) to South Beach and explored Espanola Way, ate more cuban food, drank more cuban coffee, dug our toes into smooth white sand, obsessed over more crispy plantain chips with garlic sauce, and people watched *some more.*

Never a shortage of people watching in Miami.


Look at that weather. No words needed. Yes, that’s Annalise’s perfect hair blowing in the wind.
Yes that’s really the color of the water.
Yes I wanted to live there forever.
Yes, I’m going back.

The keys are calling me home.

You know that shirt, “I left my heart in too many places”?
I need that.

~Peace, Love, and Wanderlust Y’all.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Irish Soda Bread


soda bread1


I LOVE St. Patty’s day, and I’m only like 1/16 Irish, like the 1/16th Native American.
I am 1/4 Portuguese, but they don’t have St. Portuguese Day. No massa sovada here.

One day I’ll spoil you with the sweet bread recipe. It’s time consuming, but worth every delicious bite.

Yesterday I did make y’all some soda bread though.

And tomorrow is Corned Beef and Cabbage, direct from Whole Foods. YUM. I can’t wait.

soda bread2

I found this terrific recipe from Recipe Girl, and didn’t change a thing. She adapted hers from Bon Appetit, and switched out whole wheat flour for a portion, and added brown butter.

She adds currants, which are a tiny variety of raisin, and it adds the perfect bite of sweetness. Her honey butter is to die for as well, nice touch, and makes for a great breakfast treat.


Browning butter is one of those things you need to watch carefully, but once you get it down, it’s reaallllly good. Adds a nutty dimension to any of your recipes.

Here is her link to this recipe, it’s super easy y’all….. it’s worth giving a shot, comes together very quickly.

Makes two loaves too, so pass one along to your non-Irish friends. They’ll appreciate it.

~Peace, Love, and Shamrocks Y’all!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

King Cake Cookies

mardi gras cookies2

Laissez les bon temps rouler, y’all!!

It’s Cajun for “Let the good times roll!”

I’m not a Cajun, nor French, nor a Louisiana native, but something in that bayou stung me like a bee, and I never wanted to leave.

If my mother is reading this, she will attest to the fact that I feel this way about many places.

But really, come on, they have ranking order:

1. Texas. DUH.
2. Louisiana. Specifically New Orleans, or a bayou.
3. I don’t know. Maybe the Pacific Northwest.

Like, I need to have houses in all these places. Who wants to go in?

So, my childhood best friend and I went to New Orleans for our thirtieth birthdays, and had a blast.
(Seriously, check out my Instagram.)
(Great, now I’m currently craving beignets.)
And I never wanted to leave.
Except to come home to Texas.

Guh, I’m torn.

Anyhooooooo…… I love all things Louisiana, and love me some King Cake, but really, it’s a whole lot of work.

Cookies are so much easier.

So my little take on a King Cake Cookie encompasses pralines and caramel as well.
The Ol’ Bayou is known for their pralines.

But cookie form just makes everything so, so much better.
And, a friendly little tip. In order to avoid spending mucho moola on lots of sprinkles, just buy clear, and dye them like Christina did, on Dessert for Two.
Plus King Cake Cookies are simply based on my regular cookie dough, which you can use to make Salted Caramel Cookies.


And hey, Fat Tuesday was yesterday. But ain’t NOBODY gonna give you a hard time for having a Mardi Gras party late.

Trust me.

mardi gras cookies1

~Peace, Love, and Let the good times roll, y’all

Print Print Save Save

King Cake Cookies


1 stick butter (1/2 cup), softened
1 stick butter flavored Crisco (1 cup)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 oz. caramel chips
3 cups candied pecans, chopped
5 cups flour

1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk


In a large bowl, begin by creaming butters and sugars. Once thoroughly mixed, add vanilla and eggs one a time, mixing well after each addition. Add dry ingredients one cup at a time. By the end, the dough will be thick, and it may be necessary to mix by hand. Add in the chopped pecans and caramel chips. Scoop cookie dough into balls, and freeze all dough balls, or bake as desired. Bake at 350 for approximately 12 minutes, until golden.

To make icing:
Stir one cup of powdered sugar with 3 tablespoons milk, or enough to reach desired consistency.

Garnish your cookies with icing and purple, green, and yellow sprinkles.