Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Green Wine is Not Green

During my time here in Portugal, there have been some recurring culinary themes. Sangria. Sardines. Green Wine. Sounds great, I’ll have…..wait, what? Did you say “green wine?”

I’m the kind of person that has to try everything. I operate under the philosophy that I might not be in [insert location name] again, so why shouldn’t I give whatever it is a shot? I might not like it, but good news! I don’t live here, so I don’t have to do it or eat it again. This applies to just about everything in life except for skydiving. There is no amount (and I mean no amount) of money in the world that will ever convince me to skydive.

So, green wine. I need to try green wine, but what is it?

While sitting in the bar one evening in my hotel, I asked this very question of the Portuguese bartender and he revealed to me that green wine is not only un-green but a dry white wine with a slight sparkle. I’m sorry, what? I think you just combined several of my favorite words. I don’t simply need to try this while I’m here, I need to try it tomorrow.

So, I did. And, I’m a fan . I love green wine.


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Chicken Soup for the Nose

Finally it’s that time of year when ears start closing, drainage starts flowing, and your head feels like a bowling ball. I’m not complaining considering my body temperature is still returning to normal after this summer and this combo of symptoms allows me to make and eat one of my favorite comfort foods. Considering there is a pretty famous series of books with a title quite similar to this post, I think a few quotes are in order. So if you’re not feeling so hot and you’ve accesorized your coffee table with used kleenexes, then keep this in mind:

“It’s all right letting yourself go, as long as you get yourself back.” – Mick Jagger

This is my take on Chicken Soup. I recently amended my recipe since Mr. Barrett has gone gluten free. So, this is actually my take on Gluten Free Chicken Soup.

The base:

I’ve never made my own chicken stock (shameful, I know), but I really can’t justify spending money on a chicken when I’m going to throw most of it away. My attempt to capture some of that same flavor without throwing away a chicken is the follwing:

In a stock pot add:

  • 1 very large chicken breast
  • 1/2 onion with skin still on
  • 1 head of garlic cut in half around the circumference with peel still on
  • 1-2 celery stalks with leaves
  • 1 carrott
  • salt and pepper
  • several bunches of fresh parsley
  • several bunches of fresh thyme
  • 1 box chicken stalk + equivalent amount of water

Cook for one hour over med-high heat. Strain, reserving the liquid and chicken. Discard all other ingredients. Yes, we’re throwing things away, but these ingredients do not amount to much money. And yes, this is a long process, but consider this:

“The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” – Dolly Parton

The soup:

Wash your stock pot and use it to make your soup.

  1. Saute 1/2 diced onion, 1 diced carrot, and 1-2 celery stalk(s) in a couple of Tbs of olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper until onions become translucent
  2. Add reserved liquid
  3. Add 2 large red potatoes cut into bite sized pieces
  4. Add 5-6 mushrooms, sliced
  5. Cook until potatoes are fork tender

While soup is cooking, shred the cooked chicken and cook 1 link of hot Italian chicken sausage. Cut sausage into small pieces once cooked. The idea is not to eat a big bite of sausage, but to have the spice of the sausage give a little kick to the soup.

Return to the soup and add the shredded chicken and sausage. Let cook for 1-2 mins until flavors combine. You may want to add some water or additional seasoning. I usually add some water, but be careful that you don’t dilute the flavor too much.

Serve in large coffee mugs so that the broth you worked so hard for can be thoroughly enjoyed!

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” – JRR Tolkien

P.S. This makes LOTS, so freeze and enjoy the next time you’re not feeling so hot.

And one more, because I like this one 🙂

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” – Mother Teresa

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I think Fall is my favorite season. Every year when I walk outside on that magical day that seemingly randomly comes after a scorching summer and is such a stark contrast to the 100 degree day that I survived the day before, I feel excited. I feel more productive. Honestly, I feel more alive. Different clothes, different food, different activities. It’s a welcomed change in many ways.

I love living in Texas. I love the summers in Texas, but I must say that it feels so good to not be hot anymore.

We’ve been taking walks outside. Our grass isn’t crunchy. Our plants aren’t wilted. We’ve sought out restaurants that will let us sit outdoors. It’s awesome.

It’s a great time of year, and it means that the holidays are not far away 🙂

We’ve had a lot of fun so far this Fall.

2 weeks ago we ventured up to Lubbock to watch A&M play Texas Tech.

Last weekend, I made this recipe for pumpkin bread and it was delicious! It also made our whole house smell awesome. (Note: I subbed about 1/2 whole wheat flour  for half of the regular flour.)

Today we went to Bentley’s for a fall treat for the B. Little did he know that his treat also came with a doggie toothbrush and shampoo 😉

This is a dog treat! I want to eat it!

Barney Approved

Michelle at Bentley’s is the bomb. She makes all kinds of creative treats for dogs and she stocks pretty much anything you could dream of in her store. She’ll also order anything you want for you. Go see her! She’s an Austin local.

Happy Fall! If you’re looking for me, I’m outside!

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Ah, Texas in the summer. It’s a double edged sword. On the one hand it’s a great time to be in the water having fun. On the other hand, it’s a great time to be in the water having fun because otherwise you might die. Later this week, two friends that we met in Munich are coming to stay with us. I happen to still have the Munich weather report on my phone. It won’t go over 80 degrees there this week, and it won’t go below 100 here. I hope they still like us.

So, what can you do during a Texas summer? Well, if Stephen and I are any example, you can eat and swim. Check out what we’ve been up to!

A few weeks ago, our awesome friends, the Heards, called early on a Saturday to see if we wanted to go out on their boat. Heck yes! We cruised Lake Austin with them and even docked the boat for lunch. It was an awesome day!

Some friends brought their Golden Retriever. They outfitted her with a life jacket and put a bunch of noodles under her so that she would float. She didn't think it was so fun and swam to Stephen for help.

2 weeks ago we celebrated Stephen’s 26th birthday. I bought us a cooking class at Whole Foods where we learned to make Spanish tapas. I loved Whole Foods before, but now I am a walking billboard. This has got to be one of the coolest things Stephen and I have ever gotten to do together. The food was amazing, the chef that taught us was great, they opened unlimited wine, and we got to bring any unused ingredients (read goat cheese, bread, salted cod) home. Talk about getting your money’s worth! Undoubtedly, the best part is that there’s this guy that follows you around preparing your ingredients and cleaning up after you. Unfortunately, he didn’t fit in a to-go container or we would have brought him home too 🙂 Stephen and I have made several of the dishes that we made in class at home already. Easy, delicious, and we feel fancy.

Our awesome chef instructor

Brunch on Stephen's actual birthday where I made one of the dishes we learned in class

Our good friends Jett and Kelly heard about a place in Wimberley, Texas called Blue Hole that they wanted to visit. It’s an awesome spring fed place to swim. A lot more natural than Barton Springs (big trees, no concrete around the water). It was great!

We ended the day at Salt Lick in Dripping Springs. Yum!


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Brownies de Fromage

About a year ago, Stephen and I were watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay when he challenged the Vermont Brownie Company which is famous for putting goat cheese in their brownies. I saw this episode and knew I had to try this. Since I wasn’t going to be in Vermont anytime soon, I visited Google to see if anyone had figured it out. Turns out someone had (and this person had seen the same episode I had), and I’ve made this recipe twice producing AMAZING brownies. I’m not a big sweet person. I like dark chocolate, but I mainly stick with more tangy flavors. This is a perfect blend of savory and sweet. Try it!

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When Stephen and I were getting married, we registered for a pizza pan at Crate & Barrel. It has sat in a cabinet since the day it entered our house….until today. We finally did it. We finally made pizza.

On Sunday we made our pasta, and reserved some of the sauce (without the meat) to be used on our pizza and stuck it in the freezer. Also on Sunday, we made pizza dough using this recipe. I was really intimidated, but it was actually really easy and took less than 30 minutes. The recipe makes enough dough for two pizzas. We froze the dough too.

Today was pizza day. We rolled out the dough, drizzled it with olive oil, and added our sauce.

We added mozarella cheese,

thinly sliced tomatoes,

caramelized red onions, fresh jalapenos, and crushed garlic cloves,

turkey sausage,

and we were ready for the oven. 475 degrees for about 30 minutes.

We added fresh basil and paired our pizza with caeser salad.

This was so cool because absolutely nothing on that pizza came out of a can. It was pretty much as natural as we could make it, and it was delicious. Stephen said it was the best pizza he ever had! We will totally be doing this again and experimenting with other toppings too.

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Fence Party

About 2 months ago when we came back from Europe, we came home to a section of our fence that was threatening to fall over. We called the company that built our fence, and they quoted us $1800 to repair JUST THAT SECTION and $4000 to replace it. No way.

2 weeks ago I was in Oklahoma for a work trip, so Stephen hosted Man Night at our house. Stephen brought this topic up, and The Men said they could fix the fence if we paid them in chicken wings (the official food of Man Night).

So, today was the day. For about $145 spent on supplies and about $60 spent on over 100 chicken wings, beer, and breakfast, we have a new fence. Believe it or not, The Men had a blast building our fence and stuffing their faces, and I got to hang out with some of my favorite girls who happen to be married to The Men.

We started the day at 8am with Hummingbird Cake and coffee

Jett really liked the nail gun

Barney supervised of course

...and supervised some more. Then he got a bath because supervising is a dirty job.

Lily Pad modeled in the window

Our famous Barrett Wings

One awesome fence!

Hummingbird Cake

3 cups flour
1 t. soda, salt, cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil, plus 1 t. butter flavoring
OR 1 1/2 cups buttered vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 8-oz. can crushed pineapple, undrained
2 or 3 chopped, mashed bananas
1 cup chopped nuts

Mix well.  Pour into greased and floured tube or bundt pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 hr./15 min.

Barrett Chicken Wings

Season several cups of flour with Paprika
Salt and Pepper wings
Dredge wings in seasoned flour
Place in 375 degree oil in deep fryer for 10 minutes
Remove and place on several paper towels to absorb excess oil
Roll in seasoning (like a steak or chicken rub)
Dress with sauce (we use about 3 parts Stubb’s Original Wing sauce with about 1 part Salt Lick Spicy Barbecue Sauce)

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Yesterday after dinner I told Stephen that I wanted dessert which really means that I want about two bites of something sweet and I’m done. I’m not huge on dessert. So, we piled in the car and went to HEB where I got a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and ate about 3 spoonfuls. Stephen proceeded to purchase a gallon of Bluebell’s Caramel Turtle Cheesecake ice cream in addition to a sampler of cheesecakes. He then came home and dumped the ice cream and cheesecake in the blender to make a cheesecake shake. He’s doing it again right now. Gotta love a guy who knows what he wants. Love him 🙂

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My college friend Ashley Carter makes awesome purses and other adorable (Anthropologie-esque) things and sells them on Etsy. Check them out here. I purchased a bag from her and couldn’t love it more!

Time to eat….

Eating is something we do very well in this house. Here’s an easy pasta recipe that I made up while Stephen was out of town. We’ve been eating it every week for a month. Can’t get enough!

1. Saute one yellow onion sliced very thinly (I recommend using a mandolin) and 6-8 cloves of minced garlic in a couple of tabelspoons of olive oil. Add salt and pepper liberally and crushed red pepper to taste (we like things hot here, so we pour it in 😉 ). Also add some fresh oregano (usually the leaves of 3-5 stems of the plant).

Note: If you don’t grow fresh herbs at home, you should give it a try! Adds a fresh kick to just about anything!

2. While onions are sweating, cut 4-5 medium-sized tomatoes into chunks and add to onions and garlic once onions have become translucent and a little caramelized. Keep mixture on medium heat. The tomatoes will release a lot of juice. You want the mixture to be simmering so that the juice reduces and you’re left with a thick mixture that’s threatening to stick to the bottom of the pan.

3. While you’re waiting for this to happen (it will take a while), cut up two sausage links into bite sized pieces and cook in a separate pan.

Note: We’ve used just about every kind of sausage you can imagine here – basically depending on what the grocery store has on sale. We’ve done everything from Italian Chicken Sausage, to Habanero sausage to Jalapeno Cheddar Pork Sausage. It’s all been great!

4. Once the tomato/garlic/onion mixture reduces, hit it with about 1/4 cup of white wine and allow to cook off for about a minute.

5. Add the sausage and stir to combine.

6. While cooking all of the above, cook pasta in salted water until al dente. When sauce is done, add pasta to sauce and allow pasta to finish cooking in the sauce for a minute or two.

7. Top your pasta with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a generous helping of freshly chopped basil.

This recipe is delicious and great fuel for running – low fat, lots of carbs 🙂

Also, great to try during the Fall are these two recipes:

Acorn Squash

Spaghetti Squash

Both are great, but Stephen especially loves the acorn squash.

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