With Great Food Comes Great Responsibility

As you may have noticed, I’ve taken a short break from blog posting recently. A lot of family stuff has been going on, which prompted me to visit the doctor to get myself checked out. Unfortunately, I wasn’t all that happy with what I found out. Like millions of other Americans, I have high cholesterol. I was a little shocked to find this out. At only 28, I hadn’t ever really considered having cholesterol issues. Yes, I know I need to lose a few pounds, but I count calories and I try to watch my carb intake. Cholesterol was really the last thing on my mind.

As a food blogger, this is particularly hard for me to deal with. I enjoy going out to eat and trying new recipes at home all of the time. My passion is to cook, my wife’s is to bake and when I heard the news I initially felt that this was going to be the end to our foodie adventures. After thinking about it for a while, I’ve come to the realization that good food doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy. A real chef can take on the challenge of creating dishes that provide short term enjoyment without a long-term negative impact on your health.

Instead of giving-up on the blog, I’ve decided to embrace that challenge. That’s why over the next few weeks you’ll see a shift in what we write about on Luvs2Eat.com. Does that mean we’ll stop eating out completely? No. I’m not giving up enjoying the occasional trip out to a new restaurant (and we’ll still write about it). Does that mean we’ll stop creating delicious desserts? No. A dessert every now and then is OK. Moderation is key, right? What you will see is interpretation of our favorite dishes with twists to make them more heart healthy. An attempt to continue to enjoy the foods we luv, with a more health conscious focus. It will be a journey and learning experience for us, and I hope you’re willing to join us for the ride.

If you’re interesting in learning more about Cholesterol, here are a couple of helpful links from the American Heart Association to get you started:

What Your Cholesterol Numbers Mean

Cooking for Lower Cholesterol

It’s Hatch Chile Time: Hatch Chile Shrimp Recipe

Living in Texas one becomes accustomed to many different things.  One in particular is people’s obsession with beer and the other is with hot and spicy foods, which often includes peppers.  On a recent grocery trip to our local Central Market, we saw that it was time for the “Hatch Chile Festival”.  I’ve heard of Hatch Chiles before, but never cooked with them, so I was curious. I did a little research and learned that Hatch Chile Peppers come from Hatch, New Mexico. In addition to their flavor, Hatch peppers are unique because they have a short growing season and are normally only available a couple of months per year.

I saw specialty hatch salsas, hatch chile breads and even hatch tortilla chips. I had to find out what the craze was about, so I found myself picking out hatch chile peppers to experiment with a new recipe. Lucky for me, I discovered one the yummiest peppers I’ve ever had. I found that this shrimp recipe showcases both beer and hatch peppers in a bold and flavorful way and hopefully you will come to love it just as much as I do!

Ingredients

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  • 1 lb Shrimp – Clean and deveined
  • 8 0z Pale Lager (I’ve used both Corona and Landshark for this recipe)
  • Juice of 2 Limes
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1/4 Cup Cilantro Chopped
  • 1 Hatch Pepper (Seeded and roughly chopped)
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Shallot Roughly Chopped
  • 1/2 Tsp White Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

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Directions

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  1. Combine the ingredients (except the shrimp) and mix in a blender until smooth. About one minute on high.
  2. Cover shrimp with marinade and let marinate 30 minutes to 1 hour in the fridge.
  3. When the shrimp are ready to cook, heat a frying pan on medium heat.
  4. Add the shrimp and add half of the remaining hatch chile marinade.
  5. Cook on each side 2-3 minutes. You can tell the shrimp is done when it turns pink.
  6. Remove the shrimp from the pan, but leave the marinade.
  7. Cook the remaining marinade for another 5 minutes and allow it to thicken.
  8. Cover the shrimp with the sauce and you’re ready to enjoy.

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Other Hatch Chile Recipes:

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Can’t find hatch peppers, checkout this article for substitute peppers.

Irie Bean Coffee Bar – Austin, TX

“Irie” is a Jamaican word meaning “it’s all good” or “a state of harmony.”

Last Thursday I attended a media event at Irie Bean Coffee Bar to check out their new Caribbean menu. Prepared by Chef Zach Hanson, formerly of the Four Season’s Trio, the new menu was created to bring island inspired street food to the thriving Austin food scene. The new menu features several entrees all reasonably priced ($7 at the time of this article). Overall, I was impressed with the quality and balance of the food and the precise execution of each dish.

Quinoa & Sweet Potato Griddle Cake

When I saw this listed on the menu, I wasn’t all that excited; however, I was pleasantly surprised. Made from a combination of quinoa and sweet potatoes, the griddle cake had a great crisp texture and a wonderful flavor. The pickled onions and fresh baby greens are a perfect contrast to the sweetness of the coconut sweet onion sauce. Highly recommended.

Calypso Jerk Chicken

An interpretation of traditional jerk chicken, this dish features jerk-seasoned chicken thigh served with a mango-habanero BBQ sauce, slaw and a side of Irie rice. The dish had a nice kick, but the spice did not overpower the other flavors.

Jerk Fish Tacos

Served on a roll for the tasting, this was my favorite dish of the night. The Tilapia was perfectly seasoned and cooked, and all the components worked so well together. I guess you could say that the fish tacos for me were “irie”.

Pulled Pork Slider

The pulled pork slider features slow-cooked pulled pork topped with Mango-Habanero BBQ sauce and a fried plantain served on a Hawaiian roll. The pork was cooked perfectly and was not fatty or greasy, which sometimes is a problem with pulled pork. I also loved the crispy texture of the fried plantain, which was a nice contrast to the bread and pork.

Dinner is served Thursday through Sunday from 5 to 10pm. In addition to the new menu, Irie Coffee bar serves Certified Organic & Fair Trade coffee, and has a great selection of local, domestic and foreign beers and wines. They also have a great back patio with a stage for weekly live music.

Location:
2310 S Lamar
Austin, TX 78704

For more information visit http://www.iriebean.com/.

Crock Pot Recipe: BBQ Pulled Pork

I love pulled pork, but who has the time and attention to smoke a pork shoulder? Luckily, all you need is a crock pot, about 15-20 minutes to prep and some patience, and you can have a delicious pulled pork.

Recipe

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  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8-10 hours with Crock Pot set to low
Ingredients

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  • 3 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
  • 2 Teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 Teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 cup Jarritos Mexican Cola (You can use any dark soda like Pepsi, Coke, Dr. Pepper, Root Beer etc.)
  • 1/2 Large Onion
  • 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce (We used K.C. Masterpiece Original)
  • Cilantro
  • 3-4 pound pork shoulder
Disclaimer: Jarritos Mexican Cola was provided free of charge for use in recipes.

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Directions

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    1. Combine salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder and pepper to create your rub
    2. Generously coat pork shoulder with dry rub on both sides
    3. Place pork in crock pot. Pour in 1 cup of any dark cola into your crock pot. Do not pour it directly on the pork to avoid washing off your dry rub. We use Jarritos Mexican Cola because it has no high fructose corn syrup.
    4. Add chopped onion and cilantro
    5. Coat pork with BBQ sauce
    6. Cook the pork for a total of 8-10 hours with crock pot on low. The pork is ready when it pulls away from the bone and shreds easily.
    7. After the pork is done cooking, use two forks to shred the pork. I also like to remove some of the fat when I’m pulling the pork. I also add a table spoon or two of BBQ sauce for a little extra flavor.
    8. Finally, place on a bun and enjoy!

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Do you have a favorite crock pot recipe? Share it with us in the comments.

Jarritos Mexican Soda Review

A few weeks ago, we were contacted about doing a review of Jarritos soda. For a minute I was hesitant. For those of you who know me, I don’t drink soda very often, mainly because most soft drink companies use high fructose corn syrup. After doing a little research about Jarritos, I was relieved to find out that it’s made with 100% real sugar and that’s something that’s very important to me.

You may not have heard of Jarritos before, but it’s been popular in Mexico for more than 60 years. After trying it for the first time, I can see why it’s become such a popular beverage. Overall, we really enjoyed Jarritos, especially the wide-range of flavors they offer (listed below).  Not only is it great served over ice, but Jarritos makes a great mixer and the assortment of fruit flavors is great for recipes. In fact, over the next couple weeks, we’ll be featuring a couple new recipes using Jarritos.

Available Flavors:
  • Mandarin
  • Fruit Punch
  • Lime
  • Jamaica (Hibiscus)
  • Mango
  • Strawberry
  • Mexican Cola
  • Pineapple
  • Tamarind
  • Guava
  • Toronja (Grapefruit)

On their Facebook page, Jarritos is having all kinds of exciting promotions. They’re having a daily scavenger hunt where you can follow clues to win free sodas, t-shirts, gift cards and other great prizes. There’s also currently a daily summer promotion where you can win cash instantly just for signing up and redeeming your cap codes – including a cash prize of up to $100,000 now through the end of September! Head on over to Facebook and check it out.

Have you tried Jarritos before? What’s your favorite flavor?

Classic Homemade Hummus

Hummus is a healthy snack with bold flavors. In just 10 minutes, you can have delicious homemade hummus without the extra preservatives included in most store bought varieties.

Ingredients

[list]

  • 1 3/4 cup canned organic chickpeas (look for an organic variety such as this without preservatives)
  • 1/4 Tahini (also known as sesame paste)
  • 3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Smoked Paprika

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Directions

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  1. Drain, rinse and dry the canned chickpeas
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and combine until it reaches your desired texture
  3. Finish off your hummus by sprinkling with paprika

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If your hummus is chunky after combining in the food processor, gradually add additional olive oil while the food processor is running (about 1-2 teaspoons). This will help to create a smooth texture.
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Do you have a favorite hummus recipe? Share it in the comments.

 

Restaurants We Luv: La Boite Cafe – Austin TX

Not to be confused with coconut macaroons, macarons are made from a combination of egg whites, sugar, almond powder and food coloring. The cookies are filled with butter cream frosting, jam or ganache and come in a variety of colors and flavors. These small cookies have become a world-wide favorite.

Recently, I heard about La Boite Cafe on Twitter. Built from a re-purposed shipping container, La Boite features not only macarons, but also french style baked goods, fresh beverages, and sandwiches.   With a green mindset, this company really puts it’s mark on the Austin foodie scene.  We tasted a number of things on the menu but really enjoyed the macarons. In fact, we ended up taking a dozen home with us to share with our family.  The variety of colors and flavors were very exciting to try.  I recommend this creative cafe to anyone who has a desire to indulge in these heavenly little bites.

[box type="info"]Insider tip: Take some home, pop them in the fridge, and enjoy after the filling has hardened.  We actually preferred them when they reached their refrigerated temperature.  It was tastier and less messy![/box]

[image type="frame-css3" align="none" width="300" caption="La Boite"]http://www.luvs2eat.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/La-Boite-Front.jpg[/image]

Featured macarons: (changes frequently)

[list]

  • Fleur de sal
  • Pistachio and Chocolate
  • Orange Blossom
  • Coffee and Chocolate
  • Peach
  • Bananas Foster[/list]

[image type="frame-css3" align="none" width="199" pad=5 caption="Macarons. Yum!"]http://www.luvs2eat.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/La-Boite-3.jpg[/image]
[image type="frame-css3" align="none" width="300" caption="Chocolate Brioche"]http://www.luvs2eat.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/La-Boite-4.jpg[/image]

Location:

1700 South Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78704

Restaurants We Luv: Franklin Barbecue – Austin, TX

Recently featured in Bon Appetite as the best BBQ in America, Franklin BBQ has quickly become the talk of the town. With lines forming at 9 a.m. and BBQ selling out as early as 1 p.m., I was extremely excited to get the chance to try it out. Think five year old kid on Christmas Eve excited. My wife and I both had a random Thursday off together, and what better way to spend time together than to eat great food!

Franklin BBQ 3

The one to two hour wait sounds terrible, but time seemed to pass quickly. I’ve waited in longer lines at Disney World with the end result being much less satisfying than Franklin BBQ. We met some interesting people while waiting including folks who’d driven in from Houston just for lunch and Diana even made a new four legged friend. It’s all part of the Franklin BBQ experience.

Most of the line was in the shade, but the worst part of the wait was the 15 minutes we had to spend standing in the sun shortly before we made it inside the building. Thankfully, there were waitresses selling reasonably priced Shiner and Lone Star (it’s OK to drink beer before noon in Texas) as well as other cold beverages. Once arriving at the counter, you are greeted by Aaron Franklin himself. Friendly and enthusiastic, you can tell he takes pride in his food and it shows.

Did the BBQ live up to the hype? Absolutely. The thing that amazed me the most about all the meats was that I made it half way through the meal before I realized I wasn’t using sauce. If you are a BBQ sauce lover, they do have a variety of tasty BBQ sauces including  an espresso sauce with a distinguished flavor. The meat was all so moist, well-seasoned and had such a great flavor there was no need for sauce (even though all their sauces are delish).

  • The brisket was moist, perfectly seasoned and had an enjoyable smoky undertone that doesn’t overpower the meat.
  • The turkey (my wife’s favorite of all the meat options) was probably the best turkey I’ve ever eaten.
  • The ribs fell right off the bone and had a mouthwatering flavor.
  • The sausage was great, but it would be hard to order sausage as a substitute for the ribs, brisket or even turkey. I’d recommend ordering an extra link on the side instead of as a substitute for the other meats.
  • The pulled pork sandwich combined pulled pork, coleslaw, pickles, onions and tasted as good as it looks.

The sides were a great compliment to the meat.

  • The potato salad was simple featuring a mustard base, perfect for non-mayonnaise eaters like my wife.
  • The coleslaw was tasty. At first glance, it looks like your average creamy coleslaw, but looks can be deceiving. The coleslaw includes a tangy flavor with a hint of vinegar.
  • The beans were good for beans, but I’d have a hard time passing up the the other sides.

I would highly recommend Franklin BBQ to anyone. If you’re going to go through the trouble of waiting in line, plan ahead. Bring a camp chair and have a cooler in the car. Order a ton of food and then pack your leftovers in the cooler on the ride home. My wife and I did this and we’ve been eating off of our leftovers for a couple days. It reheats very well.

Franklin BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

To find out more about Franklin BBQ, visit their website at http://www.franklinbarbecue.com/.

Crock Pot Recipe: Pork Carnitas Tacos and Watermelon Salsa

I recently started reading Tom Colicchio’s book Think Like a Chef. One of the things Chef Colicchio writes about, that I’ve really tried to apply, is using the market to inspire my own dishes. This past weekend, Diana and I took a trip to Central Market with that thought in mind. We arrived with no grocery list. We browsed through the produce taking time to smell and taste, and examined the meat and fish counters for cuts we would not normally use. What I ended up with was delicious crock pot pork carnitas tacos and a watermelon salsa.

Crock Pot Pork Carnitas

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. Pork Shoulder (Also known as Boston butt)
  • 4 Cloves Garlic Diced
  • Kosher Salt (About 2 pinches for each side)
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Cilantro
  • Juice from 1 Lime
  • Dry Oregano (About 1 tsp. per side)
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1/2 Onion Diced (I used a sweet Vidalia onion. Yum!)
  • 1 12 oz. bottle of Corona (You could use chicken stock instead)
  • Black Pepper (I season 3 turns on the pepper mill for each side. You can season more or less based on your taste)

 

Directions:

1.) First, start by seasoning each side pork shoulder with salt, black pepper and oregano. Be sure to rub the seasonings into the meat to help infuse the flavor.

2.) After seasoning the pork, place the pork shoulder in the slow cooker.

3.) Next add the beer, but avoid pouring directly on the pork. This could wash away some of the seasoning you’ve just added.

4.) After you’ve poured the beer add diced garlic, chopped cilantro, lime juice, bay leaf, and diced onion.

5.) Now that all the ingredients have been added, cook the pork in the slow cooker on low for 10 hours turning once about half-way through. It’s done when you can poke at the pork with a fork and it easily falls apart.

6.) Remove the pork and use two forks to pull into shreds.

7.) Finally, season with salt and pepper. You can also squeeze on extra lime juice for additional flavor.

Watermelon Salsa:

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1 Cup Watermelon Diced
  • 1/4 Cup White Onion Diced
  • 1 Tbsp. Chopped Cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp. Seeded and Chopped Jalapeño
  • Juice from 1/2 a lime
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Directions

1.) In a bowl, combine diced watermelon, onion, cilantro and Jalapeño.

2.) Next, add juice of 1/2 of a lime and mix well.

3.) Finally, season with salt and pepper to taste.

4.) Let the salsa marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

 

Tender Oven Baked Pork Ribs

A couple of weekends ago, I took my mom out to the 1st Annual Fulbrook Cork and Culinary Festival for Mother’s Day. We had a great time eating a ton of great food (see our Facebook album here), but also saw several cooking demos while we were there. Top Chef Season 2 Winner Ilan Hall demonstrated how to cook lamb ribs. I’m a sucker for good ribs, so this was the first thing I had to cook when I got home.

For this recipe, I’ve applied the techniques Ilan taught in his demo, but chose to make pork instead of lamb ribs. The whole process takes anywhere from 10-12 hours.

 


  • Pork Ribs
  • Garlic Powder
  • Kosher Salt
  • Pepper
  • Basil
  • Smoked Paprika (Yes, I use this on just about everything)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Aluminum Foil

 


1.) Season both sides of the ribs to your liking. I used a pinch of salt, garlic powder, basil, ground pepper and smoked paprika.

Seasoned Pork Ribs

2.) Heat oil in a frying pan. If I had to guess I used about 2 tablespoons total (added a little bit more after this picture).

Oil in Frying Pan

3.) Brown both sides of the ribs in oil. This took about 10 minutes.

Ribs in the Frying Pan

4.) Let the ribs cool.

5.) Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees.

6.) Wrap tightly in plastic wrap (3-4 times). This is very important. It holds in the juices to help make the ribs tender.

Ribs in Plastic Wrap

7.) Wrap tightly in foil. You’ll need to use 3-4 layers here as well.

Ribs in Foil


8.) Place ribs in a baking pan (I used a Pyrex dish) and add enough water to cover the ribs about half way.

9.) Bake in oven for 10-11 hours. The longer you cook them the more tender the ribs will be. I cooked mine for 10 hours.

Ribs in the Oven


10.) Place on the grill to add a nice crisp to the outsides of the ribs. I cooked mine with the burners at medium high heat for about 10 minutes on each side.

Pork Ribs

11.) Enjoy!

Oven Baked Pork Ribs

 

Me with Top Chef Ilan Hall

Top Chef Season 2 Winner Ilan Hall