shepherd’s pie

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i came across a picture of a traditional shepherd’s pie recently and decided to try it out for myself. since the british typically use lamb in their shepherd’s pie, i decided to go with that as well. it was super easy to throw together and the ingredients were super easy to track down. here we go!

ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground lamb (or beef if you prefer).
  • a few teaspoons of olive oil.
  • 2-3 carrot sticks, sliced.
  • 1 whole small onion.
  • a few cloves of garlic, minced.
  • the leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme.
  • 3 teaspoons tomato paste.
  • 4-5 splashes of worcestershire sauce
  • a few dashes of A1 sauce. (optional- I thought it would add a nice flavor)
  • 1-1/2 cups of frozen peas.
  • 1 can of guinness.
  • salt.
  • pepper.
  • 4-5 russet potatoes, peeled, sliced.
  • 1/2 cup milk or half & half.
  • half of a stick of butter.
  • handful of cheese, optional.

now that we have all of our ingredients together, let’s get this party started!

directions:

1. preheat the oven to 400 degrees f.  drizzle the olive oil into a large sauce pan on medium heat or dutch oven pot. i used the everyday pan by le creuset which i love and was perfect for this dish.

2. add in the sliced carrots, chopped onions, fresh thyme and the cloves of garlic. IMG_3074

one of my shortcut items that i use are these frozen blocks of minced garlic that you can pop in without the whole peeling and mincing mess. you can buy them at trader joes or heb.

3. after you cook for about 8 minutes until the onions and carrots are tender, add in the lamb and break into small pieces. cook until browned which is about 10 minutes. IMG_3075

4. add in the 3 teaspoons of tomato paste and frozen peas and stir it into the mixture.

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5. after cooking for one or two minutes, add in the dashes of worcestershire sauce and a1 sauce. continue stirring while you pour in the guinness.

6. turn up the heat to a simmer and  let the sauce thicken. if it looks too dry, add a little more guinness.

7. in the mean time, begin working on the mashed potatoes. peel, chop and boil several russet potatoes. drain and place in a blender. add the half stick of butter, milk or cream and begin to beat the potatoes. season with salt and pepper.

8. once the sauce has thickened, remove from heat and begin to cover with the mashed potatoes.

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9. cover the entire dish with potatoes, sealing the edges and place in the 400f oven for 25 minutes.

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10. after 20 minutes, i took the pan out and added shredded cheddar cheese because i am completely and totally incapable of controlling myself. why not add cheese?

11. five minutes later, it was done and it was glorious.

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i would recommend this to everyone and it was fun and easy to make. i can’t wait for leftovers!

shepherd’s pie

roast dinner

it’s starting to get cooler outside so i decided that it was totally and completely necessary for me to start using my slow cooker as much as possible. i decided to kick off the cooler weather with a pot roast. i picked a smaller cut of rump roast since i cook for two people. here it is and boy was it yummy!

Roast Dinner

for the roast:

  1. season meat with salt pepper and toss into the crock pot. this is my slow cooker and i love love love it!
  2. top with a half cup of good red wine…. or a little more- get crazy!  i used petite petit by michael david which is one of my favorite wines.
  3. quarter a few white onions(1-2) , slice up some (4) red potatoes and chop up some carrots (1) and add to the slow cooker.
  4. add a few teaspoons of worcestershire sauce, a few dashes of seasoned salt and some fresh cracked black pepper over the top.
  5. pour some beef broth (6 cups) over the top of the roast until mostly covered.
  6. leave the slow cooker on low for 8 hours or until completely tender. if you are going to be at work all day, leave the slow cooker on “simmer” which is between warm and low on my machine until you get home and then turn up to low for the last hour and a half.

for the potatoes:

  1. boil 2 (serves 2) peeled and chopped potatoes then drain and add to mixing bowl. my grandpa’s tip for mashed potatoes was to have one medium sized potato per person (and add LOTS of butter).
  2. add a third stick of butter, a quarter cup of half and half and a few dollops of sour cream or cream cheese and begin to blend in a mixer.
  3. as the potatoes begin to get creamy, add salt & fresh cracked black pepper.

for the green beans:

  1. i almost always use fresh veggies but this time, i found a can of green beans in my pantry and decided to cook that. i popped open the can, drained and tossed in a sauce pan.
  2. add a quarter cup of water and cook the green beans on low for 5-6 minutes or until hot.
  3. add a few dashes of salt, pepper and serve hot.

don’t forget to spoon the yummy brothy goodness over the meat when served. i hope you enjoy this recipe as well as the wonderful winter weather headed our way for good!

roast dinner

salmon & grilled veggies

i bought some yummy vegetables from the grocery store and prepped them before i went to spin class so that they would all be ready to grill when i got back. from left to right, i chose zucchini, broccolini, bok choy, asparagus and bell peppers. aren’t they pretty?

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i washed them.

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i chopped them up and then threw them on the grill pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper.

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in the meantime, i seasoned the salmon filets with olive oil, salt and pepper. then i threw them in the oven for 15 minutes on 450f.

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next, i took some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a tiny bit of italian seasoning, stirred it up and drizzled a spoonful over the bok choy before i served it.

this was a super quick, easy and healthy dinner. can’t wait to make it again! ta-da!

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salmon & grilled veggies

spicy pulled pork sandwiches

i love anything in a crock pot. i don’t cook a ton with pork so i thought I’d try my hand at some pulled pork and of course it has to be spicy. having something that lasts throughout the week is so helpful to be able to make a quick sandwich for lunch or after a long day.

bbq sandwich

ingredients:

  • 4 1/2lb pork shoulder or pork butt
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon season salt
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 cups of bbq sauce of choice (I chose franklin bbq sauce- a local austin fave)

directions:

  1. place pork and onion in slow cooker and set it to low for 6-8 hours.
  2. add all sauces and seasonings into a bowl and mix together.
  3. pour the bowl of seasonings and sauce over the pork and let it cook.
  4. after 6-8 hours, try shredding the pork to see if it is tender enough. if not, keep cooking.
  5. toast some hamburger buns or other bread of choice and serve with the shredded pork and a dollop of cole slaw for a yummy, crisp crunch.
  6. enjoy!
spicy pulled pork sandwiches

Taco Soup

Taco Soup

This has to be one of the easiest and yummiest soups I’ve ever made. It’s super quick and you will most likely have all of the ingredients already in your pantry! This was perfect for a hearty but also very light meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground sirloin
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste (optional)
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1 can pinto beans, washed and drained
  • 1 can of chili beans, washed and drained
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 cup of water
  • sour cream for topping
  • shredded cheese for topping
  • tortilla chips for topping

Directions:

  1. add oil and brown 1 lb of ground sirloin in a large dutch oven. this one is my favorite dutch oven and is what I used for this soup.
  2. drain oil and fat from the dutch oven, add taco seasoning, cayenne pepper & mix thoroughly. I added tomato paste here because it adds a rich color and taste. continue to cook on medium-high heat.
  3. add the stewed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, water, corn, pinto beans & chili beans.
  4. bring the soup to a boil and then let it simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. top with sour cream, cheese and crushed tortilla chips. we topped with hatch green chile tortilla chips and it was delicious!

Enjoy!

Taco Soup

french onion soup

my husband always wants to order french onion soup when it’s on a menu at a restaurant. i wanted to surprise him by making my own homemade version for him, so this was my attempt. I’m not a huge onion fan but still loved this. it was yummy!

french onion soup

ingredients:

  • 4 onions, sliced.
  • two cloves of garlic, minced.
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2-3 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup of red wine (i used perimeter cab sauv)
  • 2 quarts (2 big cartons) of beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • few dashes of nutmeg
  • sliced baguette pieces
  • freshly grated gruyere cheese (i used a mixture of cheddar, mozzarella and mostly gruyere)

instructions:

  1. begin with a stock pot or dutch oven on medium heat. add the stick of butter and let melt. i love to use this pot by lecreuset. thanks to my in laws for that bday present!
  2. toss the sliced 4 onions, minced garlic cloves, bay leaves and thyme into the stock pot. cook down until the onions are soft.. about 15-20 minutes, keeping an eye on the onions to make sure they do not burn.
  3. add the garlic powder, nutmeg and flour. turn down the heat to medium low and cook for about 6 minutes constantly stirring the mixture. the flour gives the soup a thicker consistency but we cook it so that we can try to rid some of the flour taste.
  4. add the red wine and stir. cook the mixture for another 5-6 minutes until the red wine has mostly evaporated.
  5. remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves. add the beef broth slowly while stirring constantly.
  6. bring mixture to a boil then turn the heat down to a low simmer and leave for 10 minutes.
  7. in the mean time, turn the oven on to broil at 500 degrees F, shred the cheese you want to use and slice the baguette into 1/2 IN thick slices. i only sliced a few pieces for each bowl and then wrapped up the baguette to use another night. align the sliced baguette on a pan and sprinkle with the cheese. (save some cheese for later)
  8. place the pan of sliced baguette and cheese in the oven and broil for 3-4 minutes or until bubbly and crispy. remove from oven and set aside.
  9. ladle the soup into oven safe bowls and add a few of the cheesy toasts to the top. add more cheese to the top and place the bowls on a cooking sheet. place the cooking sheet in the oven and cook under the broiler until the bowls are bubbling and the cheese has darkened.
  10. ta-da! enjoy!

i actually served this soup as an appetizer to a yummy steak dinner. my husband has ben working late every night and i wanted to make a nice dinner to show him my gratitude for his hard work. i marinated some steaks in red wine, worchester, and montreal steak seasoning. then whipped up some mashed potatoes (with a dollop or two of cream cheese of course) and added a ceasar salad with parm crisps on the side.

steak dinner

french onion soup

balsamic bruschetta

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this is one of my favorite things to make for a get-together or a mid-week slum. it is super easy and really tasty. you can serve it with crackers or sliced toasted baguette.

ingredients:

  • one carton of champagne or cherry tomatoes, quartered.
  • 1/2 cup of EVOO (I use Tunisian olive oil).
  • 2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar.
  • 1 clove minced garlic.
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt.
  • basil.
  • fresh cracked black pepper.

instructions:

  1. slice and quarter the tomatoes and add to a serving bowl. add the minced garlic, garlic salt and pepper.
  2. pour in olive oil. add more or less to your liking.
  3. add basil. (roll the basil leaves up and slice).
  4. top with drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
  5. serve with toasted sliced bread like a baguette or crackers.

variations: you can add a dollop of fresh pesto or parmesan cheese.

so easy, right? sometimes I put a spoonful or two of this on top of toasted French bread then pop it in the oven for a few more minutes to crisp up. yum! enjoy!

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balsamic bruschetta

want list

these are some items that have caught my eye. i like to spend time thinking about items so that i can see how many outfits i can make with the item before i buy them. then i can tell if they are really worth the purchase.

1. stan smith sneakers by adidas/ nordstrom. consider pairing them with some ripped jean shorts like these from urban outfitters and a top like this from urban outfitters. or pair it with a cute chambray romper from anthropologie.

ADIDAS SUPerstar

2. cropped top in geo brushstroke/ jcrew. how absolutely gorgeous is this top? pair it with a high waist midi skirt or matching shorts!

jcrew crop top

3. hourglass ambient lighting palette/ nordstrom. the hourglass lady at Nordstrom gave me a little makeover recently and i was shocked how much i loved this illuminating powder. need to get this!

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i don’t like to wear heavy makeup because it makes my skin oily so i prefer to do a light dusting of some shimmery powder in the morning before i head out. i use the incandescent electra blush by hourglass everyday.

incandescent electra

i really love this stuff! the hourglass lady said it was basically “an instagram filter for your face.” love it!

4. courtly checked enamel serving platter/ mackenzie childs. love this line and this is a super versatile piece! serve everything from veggies off the grill to tea sandwiches on this cute platter.

mack childs

5. razzle dazzle champagne flutes/ abigails. these are gorgeous! one of my best friends and her parents gave us some champagne glasses from abigails and it sparked my love for the site! what beautiful stemware. i need to add these to my collection!

abigails

6. anything by nak armstrong/ nak armstrong. anytime I see a piece from this local Austin jeweler, my eyeballs pretty much pop out of my face. gorgeous, raw jewelry.

nak

7. fringe pippi naked suede pumps by joie/ neiman marcus. how cute would these be with some bright nail polish like one of these new colors by Essie? super versatile color but also very different and unique with the pop of fringe.

joei pumps

8. yves saint laurent glossy stain, neiman marcus.  i use this lip stain in several colors all of the time. its easy to apply, lasts a long time and the colors are wonderful. i wore this lipstick on my wedding day and also wear it to the beach. its super easy, long lasting, plus it’s in a pretty bottle! touch up with a little sparkly gloss for a perfect pout! totally worth the money. i need more colors!

ysl lip

9. alaia short beach dress/ shop bop. i love love love this bright coverup and they have it in several colors.

alaia dress

 10. franklin barbecue: a meat-smoking manifesto/ amazon. i can’t wait to get my hands on this book. as an austin-born lover of bbq, i’ve spent hours in line at franklin waiting to get my hands on some of the best meat in the world.

franklinn

do you have any items that you are considering? hope i can get my hands on some of the items above!

want list

summer jeans

i used to think that jeans with holes in them were super casual and sometimes trashy. i’ve been really into them lately. i bought a few cute pairs from zara while in spain a few weeks ago and am so obsessed. i wear them a ton! the ones i bought aren’t available online but these are also cute and on super sale! i also love pilcro denim which is carried by anthropologie. pilcro makes these which are a fun summer option. j.crew is another one of my go-to’s for denim. the lookout high rise jean is one of my absolute favorites. i have it in a few different shades and colors. i love that it sits higher on my waist and it is so much more comfortable for me.

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even though the holes are small, they feel much lighter and cooler than regular jeans. that is especially helpful in the summertime. you can pair them with a simple tank top and sandals. i love the frayed edges of these zara jeans! free people carries the “destroyed ankle jean” which fits well. check out the frayed edges.

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or you can dress them up with some nude pumps! these pumps are from nordstrom.

loubs

what do you think about hole-y jeans?

summer jeans

spanish cuisine

my husband had to go to salt lake city after our wedding for work so we didn’t take a traditional honeymoon right away. instead, we waited almost 10 months later and were able to spend time planning a fun trip. both of us are pretty well traveled but neither of us had been to spain before…. so spain it is! we had always heard that spain had some of the best food in the world. anthony bourdain says that the two best countries in the world in terms of food are japan and spain and we were so anxious to try it all.

our trip began a little rocky with our insane uber driver who didn’t know how to get to the airport or how to navigate a car in a big city. once we finally got to the airport, we found a restaurant and had a few drinks. vacay time!

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we stayed in the center of the city in a beautiful apartment which made restaurants, bars, museums & shopping all incredibly accessible. one of our first stops was to a local gem called “la venencia” for pre-dinner drinks. the local spot offered a few types of sherry and tapas. this is when we noticed one of the best things about spain. the bar tenders bring you little plates of food while you drink without asking and it is super cheap. I ordered a glass of oloroso and my husband josh ordered fino. along with our dsherry, they brought us a plate of olives. I’m not a fan of olives. actually, I really hate them. however, I decided that I should partake while in spain. we ordered a few different tapas. the lomo was my favorite. a yummy, rich dried spanish tenderloin that was sliced just for us. after a few glasses of sherry and a few tappas, our bill came out to 9 euros. how is it so cheap? we love this place!!

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for our first dinner, we decided to walk to the plaza de santa ana. it was only a few blocks from our apartment, offered patio seating and live musicians. we were sold. we stopped at a restaurant that had open seating. we ordered some wine and started with a garlic shrimp dish. YUM!

shrimp

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my cute husband.

for our main course, we decided to order the chef’s specialty which was a plate full of sliced steak topped with seasonings and rock salt. you are also given a large hot rock that you can cook the meat on yourself. we drank wine, enjoyed dinner and chatted. what a fun night!

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our next stop on our culinary adventure was the mercado de san miguel. i had no idea what to expect: rows and rows of delicious food offerings. anytime we saw something that looked good, we stopped and ordered something. we had olives, meats, burrata, pizza and beer. yummy! here are some photos of the mercado.

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we found out that candy gummies are a popular tapas option, and I had the world’s best mojitos at this bar called “casa pueblo.”  we really loved this place & ended up visiting it four nights total during our trip.

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a place right next door to our apartment offered flamenco dancing shows with dinner called “el buo.” we went there twice on our trip because the food was so yummy & it was super convenient! on our first visit, we had a few appetizers and then i ordered the black tagliatelle pasta with tomatoes and prawns. josh had roasted suckling pig with shishito pepper smashed potatoes. it all was amazing.

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on the last night of our trip, we came back to “el buo.” we had an appetizer of grilled pig ears and their famous paella. they mixed and served the paella tableside. it was a fun show and delicious.

pig ear paella

 at the airport in houston, I encountered a culinary wonder. the sausage mcmuffin at mcdonalds. how had I never had one before? my husband’s jaw dropped to the ground when i told him that i had never had one and then he proceeded to order several so that I could try them. it was tasty and a funny cap to our well-fed honeymoon. can’t wait for our next big adventure!

spanish cuisine