What I Ate Wednesday #23 – Green Pumpkin Smoothie

Another Wednesday has rolled around – time flies when midterms start creeping up on you!

This month, What I Ate Wednesday is all about making use of all that pumpkin lying around to concoct some healthy treats (at least that’s how I see it!). Like this one…

We’ll get to the recipe for this green pumpkin smoothie in a minute!

I’ll be making plenty of healthy pumpkin snacks and treats this month, that’s for sure! I won’t, however, be giving out anything but candy on Halloween. I know most candy is full of sugar and crazy processed, but I just don’t think you can take candy out of Halloween. I don’t want to be the house kids skip because they’re giving out apples instead of snickers. But until October 31st, I’ll keep my healthy focus!

Thanks again to Jenn for hosting WIAW. For those of you who don’t know, Jen over at Peas and Crayons hosts WIAW every week – check out her blog for more information on it and to find some new blogs to read.

Breakfast

Breakfast was nothing other than overnight oats – pumpkin of course! I’m still perfecting the recipe, but adding real pumpkin (in addition to pumpkin butter) is definitely the way to go!

Lunch

Lunch was a green pumpkin smoothie before I headed off to class. Now, I know that may sound incredibly weird. Not to mention, the green color isn’t too appetizing (but you could say it’s spooky!). The taste, however, is like liquid pumpkin pie! Word of advice: it’s really filling! It’s definitely more of a meal than a snack.

Green Pumpkin Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin butter
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender or immersion blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Enjoy!

Back to WIAW…

Between classes I had another Trader Joe’s brownie and oat bar. I’ll be buying these often!

Dinner

Dinner was crockpot Mexican chicken, rice, and a spinach salad followed by a glass of sauvignon blanc. We’re finally starting to get cool fronts in Houston and when they come, we take advantage of the weather and eat out by the pool. I can’t wait for the weather to stay like this!

And that’s What I ate Wednesday Tuesday! Hopefully I’ll have a new recipe up soon while I’m avoiding studying for midterms!

Posted in Gluten-free, Recipes, Smoothies, WIAW | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

What I Ate Wednesday #22 – Pumpkin Overload!

Happy Wednesday! What I Ate Wednesday Tuesday can basically be summed up by pumpkin this week. Since making my pumpkin butter earlier in the week (which made foodgawker by the way!!!), I’ve been going a little crazy and eating pumpkin butter at almost every meal. You can never have enough pumpkin, right? :)

Thanks again to Jenn for hosting WIAW. For those of you who don’t know, Jen over at Peas and Crayons hosts WIAW every week – check out her blog for more information on it and to find some new blogs to read.

Breakfast

After my short morning run (due to the gross heat and humidity today) I had some delicious pumpkin overnight oats with banana. I’ll be posting a recipe for them soon! I’m probably going to tweak my recipe and give them more pumpkin flavor by adding actual pumpkin to the mix. We’ll see!

Lunch

Lunch was amazing. This combination may sound strange, but I promise it is delicious! I made a quesadilla filled with pumpkin butter, cream cheese, and sliced banana. Seriously good.

In between classes I had a Trader Joe’s Brownie and Oat Bar. It was one of the very few things I picked up at the TJ grand opening in Houston last Friday (because it was a mob scene!). It was a good find and really tasty! When I got home, I snacked on an apple with, you guessed it, more pumpkin butter!

Dinner

Dinner was marinated chicken along with spicy roasted cauliflower (recipe here), sweet and sour butternut squash (recipe here) and brown rice. I’m so happy butternut squash is coming back in season!

Post dinner I had a bowl of ice cream topped with, yes, more pumpkin butter! The perfect pumpkiny end to a fall day!

If you’re a pumpkin lover, stay tuned for more pumpkin inspired recipes coming your way!

Posted in WIAW | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Pumpkin Butter: Hello Fall!

It may not feel like fall yet (at least in Texas), but it’s sure beginning to taste like fall! Nothing tastes like fall more than pumpkin, except maybe pumpkin and apples…

Pumpkin Butter!

And the smell… it’s like walking into a Yankee Candle store this time of year. There’s just nothing better than the scent of pumpkin and spices cooking in the kitchen!

I made my first batch of pumpkin butter last fall and I simply fell in love. I couldn’t believe I’d never had it before. I started adding it to everything. You wouldn’t believe the things you can do with this pumpkin goodness! Add it on top of ice cream or yogurt, spread it on toast or a homemade muffin, dip your hand-picked apples in it, make granola, add it to your morning oats…the list goes on and on! I’ll be showcasing some of my favorite recipes that use pumpkin butter soon, but first you need the prime ingredient!

Oh and did I mention it’s pretty healthy too?

Even better, it’s one of the easiest things to make. 30 minutes and some wonderful aromas permeating your house and you’ll have this quintessential fall condiment!

First, combine all the ingredients together in a medium sauce pan. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes until it thickens a little bit. Stir frequently!

That’s it! Enjoy!

Pumpkin Butter

Adapted from SkinnyTaste

Ingredients:

  • One 29 oz can of pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling!)
  • 3/4 cup apple cider
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 cinnamon sticks (you can also use about 3 tsp of ground cinnamon)

Directions:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium sauce pan.
  2. Bring it all to a boil, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Enjoy!

This will last a few days in the fridge or you can freeze a batch because, trust me, you’ll run out and want more!

Posted in Breakfast, Gluten-free, Recipes | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments

What I Ate Wednesday #21 – Healthified Box Mac ‘N Cheese

Happy Wednesday! It’s time for another round of daily eats!

One of the healthy habits that I’ve adopted over the past year or so is adding veggies into my dinners. Sometimes, that calls for being a bit creative! See my dinner for a twist on how to add (or hide!) veggies in your basic box of Mac ‘N Cheese.

Thanks again to Jenn for hosting WIAW. For those of you who don’t know, Jen over at Peas and Crayons hosts WIAW every week – check out her blog for more information on it and to find some new blogs to read.

Breakfast

Because I forgot to make my overnight oats the previous night, breakfast was a yogurt bowl – vanilla greek yogurt topped with pumpkin flax granola, a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of chia seeds. Tasty, but nothing hits the spot for me in the morning quite like overnight oats! I also had a granola bar between classes to keep me satiated until lunch.

Lunch

Lunch was an everything bagel with cream cheese along with an apple. One of the perks of being back in Houston is my proximity to good bagels! I’m very picky about my bagels and only like really good, authentic, “New York-like” bagels. I will almost never eat a bagel from the grocery store – once you’ve had good bagels, you can’t go back! Delicious!

Dinner

Dinner was good ‘ol mac ‘n cheese! I used to eat velveeta boxed mac ‘n cheese all the time as a kid. Healthy? Not really. Cheesy and delicious? Definitely. Since then, I’ve experimented with ways to amp up the health factor on boxed mac ‘n cheese. First, I usually buy Annie’s Organic Deluxe instead of Velveeta because I like the ingredient list better. Next, I add veggies. Occasionally I’ll just mix in some roasted veggies and call it a day. My favorite thing to do is puree veggies and hide them in the sauce. You can barely taste the veggies, so you still get that great childhood taste. I highly recommend trying it next time you want an easy dinner!

First, slice a large zucchini and a large summer squash and roast them at 425 for about 15 minutes.

Next, use an immersion blender to puree the veggies.

Then mix it in with your cheese sauce and you’re done! Simple, healthier, and delicious!

Posted in Pasta, Recipes, WIAW | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Spinach and Sweet Potato Quesadillas

The last week has been very busy for me. You know how when you’re in college and you’re taking finals and you long for the days when you have a 9 to 5 job with no papers, finals or homework? And then you graduate, get a real job, and long to be back in school even if it means studying for finals? Well, I was like that. Now, after three weeks of grad school, I find myself jealous of those 9-5ers again! I forgot how overwhelming school can be at times. I guess the grass is equally green on both sides!

When I’m busy, I often stick to super simple meals. (Don’t we all?!) One of my favorite simple meals that has never failed me my whole life is a good ol’ quesadilla. I had a phase growing up where I ate a quesadilla every night for dinner. Every. Single. Night. For months! It’s safe to say my quesadillas today look a little different…

These days, I try to add a few veggies into my quesadillas. Want to know a secret? Adding veggies makes a quesadilla more tasty! Who knew?! Not my 15 year old self, that’s for sure! My favorite combination is sweet potato, spinach and cheddar. I swear, sweet potatoes and Mexican food are a match made in heaven.

This meal is simple, easy to make, quick, and delicious! The only step you have to do ahead of time is roast your sweet potato. I tend to like to roast a couple on the weekend to have ready on hand for meals throughout the week. That way, this dinner comes together in less than ten minutes.

Directions aren’t really necessary, but for any quesadilla novices out there, here ya go!

Chop up your sweet potato and roast it at 425 for about 30 minutes, flipping once. (I usually do this ahead of time.)

Chop up your spinach and grate your cheese.

Assemble!

Then throw a teaspoon or so of olive oil on a skillet over medium high heat. Cook the quesadilla for about 3 minutes per side, until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are lightly browned.

Enjoy!

Spinach and Sweet Potato Quesadillas

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces and roasted
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach
  • 3/4 cup of sharp cheddar cheese (or to your liking)
  • 1 tsp olive oil for cooking
  • your salsa for dipping *This is necessary for full flavor potential!*

Directions:

  1. Peel and chop your sweet potato into bite sized pieces. Roast it at 425 for about 30 minutes, flipping once.
  2. Chop up your spinach and grate your cheese.
  3. Assemble your quesadilla. Place an even layer of sweet potato, spinach and cheese over one tortilla, followed by another tortilla on top.
  4. Throw a teaspoon or so of olive oil on a skillet over medium high heat. Cook the quesadilla for about 3 minutes per side, until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are lightly browned.
  5. Enjoy with your favorite salsa!
Posted in Mexican, Recipes, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Almond Encrusted Tilapia with Honey Lime Sauce

Almond Encrusted Tilapia – Doesn’t that sound fancy?

Not only does it sound and look delicious, but it’s much easier to make than you might guess. I had seen a few recipes for almond encrusted tilapia on different blogs and kept bookmarking it. I think I automatically assumed that it would be difficult to make just because of the word “encrusted”.

The first time I made it, I realized that it was actually quite easy. I also realized that it was in desperate need of a good sauce to pull the dish together. Without a sauce, it’s okay, but I don’t like to eat things that are just okay! I remembered a sauce that I used as a a marinade when making my Tropical Fish Tacos, and figured an adaptation of the marinade would work wonderfully to add the perfect flavor to the tilapia.

The result was a huge success! Luke agreed that the sauce was just what the fish needed to take it from ordinary to extraordinary. And remember, I’m not a big fish person. A fish has to have loads of good flavor for me to enjoy it. This almond encrusted tilapia with honey lime sauce meets my requirements!

Now that I have a few fish recipes that I like, I try to add fish to my meal rotation once or twice a week, as recommended for most people. So if you’re looking for a new way to add fish into your diet, give this recipe a shot! It’s a simple way to impress!

First mix your sauce together in a small bowl and set aside. Then season the tilapia fillets with salt and pepper and dip them in the flour, followed by the egg whites.

Next, coat the fillets in the chopped almonds. Make sure each side gets a nice layer!

When you are ready to cook, heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the tilapia fillets. Also place the honey lime sauce in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Boil for about 5 minutes, until it’s slightly reduced.

Cook the tilapia fillets for about 3-4 minutes on each side, until cooked through.

Enjoy!

Almond Encrusted Tilapia

Serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tilapia fillets, about 3/4 lb
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ginger (powder)

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the lime juice, honey, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and ginger. Set aside.
  2. Season each tilapia fillet with salt and pepper.
  3. Chop the almonds if you need to. You can also do this in a food processor.
  4. Put the flour in a shallow bowl, egg whites in another, and chopped almonds in another. Dip each tilapia fillet in the flour bowl, followed by the egg white bowl and the almond bowl last.
  5. When you are ready to cook, heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the tilapia fillets and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, until cooked through.
  6. While the tilapia is cooking, place the honey lime sauce in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Boil for about 5 minutes, until it’s slightly reduced.
  7. When the fish and sauce are done cooking, drizzle the sauce over the fish and enjoy!
Posted in Fish, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

What I Ate Wednesday #20

Good afternoon! I have a new love for Wednesdays. I only have one two hour class in the morning, so it’s a short day with lots of free time! This month’s What I Ate Wednesday Theme is “Fall into good habits”.

What a great theme! In my opinion, most of living a healthy lifestyle is about habits. It’s much easier to find time to workout if you make a habit of waking up and working out. Or having a veggie with every meal. After you do it for a while, you feel weird when you don’t do it. I used to never work out or eat vegetables. Now I truly feel off when I have a meal that had no veggies or if I don’t workout on a Tuesday. We’re all creatures of habit. The hardest part is making the decision to change unhealthy habits and adopt healthy ones. So take the advent of fall to “Fall into good habits”!

Thanks again to Jenn for hosting WIAW. For those of you who don’t know, Jen over at Peas and Crayons hosts WIAW every week – check out her blog for more information on it and to find some new blogs to read.

Breakfast

My breakfast was a little different than usual. We were all out of vanilla and flavored Chobani’s, so I couldn’t make my standard overnight oats and had to make do with plain non-fat greek yogurt for breakfast. I’ve never been a fan of eating plain greek yogurt alone, or even loaded with berries. I figured that at the very least, I could use the plain Chobani to make Honey Chobani by adding a couple teaspoons of honey. It worked like a charm! (of course!) I topped it off with blueberries and pumpkin granola. Pumpkin will be making many appearances in my future breakfasts – it’s my favorite part about fall!

Lunch

Lunch was a quick spinach smoothie, an apple, and some sliced strawberries before I went to my three hour block class. Fruity and delicious!

When I got home from class, I had a “homemade” brownie. I experimented with a gluten-free brownie mix the other night and it turned out great! I couldn’t even notice that the brownies were GF. They were nice and fudgy just like I like them! If you have celiac or gluten intolerance, try out the Bettie Crocker Gluten Free Brownie Mix when you want a quick “homemade” treat! (I only used a GF mix because my Dad has celiac – I don’t promote GF diets unless you need to be on one!)

Dinner

I had dinner at Bellaire’s newest restaurant, Costa Brava Bistro. It opened about a week ago. My Mom and I were impressed! Bellaire doesn’t really have any higher end good restaurants, so I think this will be a welcomed addition. We started with the complimentary crostinis that were accompanied by an olive tapenade and olives.

For dinner, I had the roasted duck with cassoulet and my Mom had the snapper with crab stuffed pepper and patatas bravas. Both were delicious!

And that’s what I ate Wednesday Tuesday! Stay tuned for my latest kitchen feat – Almond Encrusted Tilapia with Honey Lime Sauce. It’s quite tasty and easy too!

Posted in Restaurants, WIAW | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Three Good Reads

I hope everyone is having a nice Labor Day weekend! August has flown by and I just realized that I never posted my book review for Peanut Butter Fingers August Book Club. I finished the book on my road trip from New Hampshire to Texas, and I’ve read two other good books since!

Gone Girl

(source)

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was the pick for August book club. Below is the Amazon.com book description:

“Marriage can be a real killer. 
   One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn. 
   On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? 
   As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
   With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.”

I really enjoyed the book. The element of suspense kept me wanting to read more and more. There are so many twists in the book that it’s hard to talk about the plot too much. My feelings about the characters, especially Amy, changed dramatically from the beginning of the book to the end. If I try to explain why, I’ll just end up spoiling the book!

I suppose the only thing I didn’t really like about the book was that I can’t imagine what happens in the book happening in real life.  Though the characters seemed real and somewhat relatable (at least at the beginning), I don’t think too many people can relate to what actually happens! The plot is just too twisted and insane!

Again, I feel like I have to keep mum on this book review. I think most people would enjoy this book, even if you aren’t usually into crime novels and thrillers. It’s well written, suspenseful, and will leave you wondering what happens next!

Where We Belong

(source)

I should probably begin by saying that I have never read a novel by Emily Giffin that I didn’t like. She is definitely one of my favorite authors, especially for light hearted beach reads. My favorite books of hers were the first two, Something Borrowed and Something Blue, but they are all good!

Her latest book, Where We Belong, was just released this summer and I knew I wanted to read it ASAP. Below is the Amazon.com book description:

“The author of five blockbuster novels, Emily Giffin, delivers an unforgettable story of two women, the families that make them who they are, and the longing, loyalty and love that binds them together

Marian Caldwell is a thirty-six year old television producer, living her dream in New York City. With a fulfilling career and satisfying relationship, she has convinced everyone, including herself, that her life is just as she wants it to be. But one night, Marian answers a knock on the door . . . only to find Kirby Rose, an eighteen-year-old girl with a key to a past that Marian thought she had sealed off forever. From the moment Kirby appears on her doorstep, Marian’s perfectly constructed world—and her very identity—will be shaken to its core, resurrecting ghosts and memories of a passionate young love affair that threaten everything that has come to define her.

For the precocious and determined Kirby, the encounter will spur a process of discovery that ushers her across the threshold of adulthood, forcing her to re-evaluate her family and future in a wise and bittersweet light. As the two women embark on a journey to find the one thing missing in their lives, each will come to recognize that where we belong is often where we least expect to find ourselves—a place that we may have willed ourselves to forget, but that the heart remembers forever.”

As usual, I loved the book. My only big complaint is that it ends making you wonder what happens next. Ironically, the book doesn’t have too much of a plot, yet I found it to be a page turner. It mostly tells the story of the relationship between Marian and Kirby in the beginning.

I really liked both characters, though I felt I could relate much more to Marian. I loved that Kirby’s name was Kirby because you don’t hear the name often and it happens to be the name of one of my good friends! I had to tell her there was a book with her name as the main character, but of course, she already had the book on her night table waiting to be read :) .

Overall, the book was funny, honest and engaging and kept me interested from page one. I’m hoping there will be a sequel because it really just kind of ends without ending!

Sarah’s Key

(source)

The latest book I read was Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. I know, I’m really late hopping onto this bandwagon! I’m sure most people have read this bestseller by now, but if you haven’t, you should! Here is the Amazon.com description:

“A young girl.

A fateful key.

A woman searching for the truth…

Experience the novel that has touched millions.

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten-year-old girl, is taken with her parents by the French police as they go door to door arresting Jewish families in the middle of the night. Desperate to protect her younger brother, Sarah locks him in a bedroom cupboard—their secret hiding place—and promises to come back for him as soon as they are released. 

Sixty Years Later: Sarah’s story intertwines with that of Julia Jarmond, an American journalist investigating the roundup. In her research, Julia stumbles onto a trail of secrets that link her to Sarah, and to questions about her own future.                                                                                                       

With more than five million copies in print and over two years on the New York Times bestseller list, Sarah’s Key has made its way into the hearts and minds of readers everywhere. Now, with this beautiful new hardcover edition, the gift of powerful storytelling can be shared with the ones you love.”  

This was a much more emotional read than the other books. I knew what it was about going into the book, but the book actually surprised me and wasn’t quite what I expected. I thought the book would be mostly about the little girl’s experience and the tragedies she went through. While that was the main idea behind the book, the author weaves in the personal journey that the journalist goes through. I really liked that aspect of the book. It made it more interesting and relatable to see Sarah’s story through Julia’s eyes.

I’m really glad I finally read this book and would highly recommend it. I think you will enjoy it even if you aren’t into historical fiction. It’s an emotional page turner with a moving story, great writing, and great characters.

And that’s my book update! I just downloaded The Last Letter from Your Lover and I’m looking forward to finding out the next book for Julie’s September book club! Enjoy your day off tomorrow!

Posted in Books | Tagged | 11 Comments

What I Ate Wednesday #19

Good morning! I’m over halfway through my first week of grad school classes. Luckily I have Fridays off! Although, I’ll probably be using them to study biostatistics because I think that class is going to consume my life. Oh well.

I can’t believe that fall is creeping up on us. This will be the last summer What I Ate Wednesday post – August flew by! Thanks again to Jenn for hosting WIAW. For those of you who don’t know, Jen over at Peas and Crayons hosts WIAW every week – check out her blog for more information on it and to find some new blogs to read.

Breakfast

Breakfast was my typical overnight oats – pictures above are night vs. morning. I made my Nutella overnight oats (recipe here) but substituted the Nutella for Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter again. My overnight oats never fail me!

For a mid-morning snack I had an “Envy” apple from New Zealand. I love living near a Whole Foods and Central Market again so that I can get cool apples! :)

Lunch

For “lunch” I had a strawberry banana oat smoothie to hold me through my three hour class. I had block classes in college, but I forgot how long they can drag on!

When I got home from class I snacked on a Chobani apple cinnamon yogurt with pumpkin granola. I still contend that apple cinnamon is the best Chobani flavor! I’ll probably be eating it even more in the fall because it will feel seasonal :) .

Dinner

For dinner, I didn’t have exactly the above picture, but something pretty similar. My Mom made a pasta tossed with zucchini, roasted red peppers and a light cream sauce. It reminded me of my Lemon Yogurt Pasta (recipe here) and I forgot to take a picture of last night’s meal so I used this one! It was made with gluten-free pasta and I actually couldn’t even notice that it was gluten-free. For any GF folks out there, the brand was Schar and it was their penne pasta.

I finished the night off with a triple chocolate chunk cookie that caught my eye at Whole Foods along with glass of wine as I  caught up on Pretty Little Liars. (Yes, I love my ABC Family shows!)

And that’s What I Ate Wednesday Tuesday! Grad school is keeping me busy, but I’ll be back with a new recipe soon!

 

Posted in WIAW | Tagged | 11 Comments

Uchi Houston Review

Good morning! First off, happy birthday to my Mom! Second, my computer is alive (knock on wood) and just in time for my first day of grad school classes. Whew!

I was planning on sharing a recipe today, but my amazing meal at Uchi Houston this past weekend is taking precedent! Uchi is a Japanese fusion restaurant that had it’s first successes in Austin, and just recently opened up in Houston. Reservations must be made far in advance and if you try to go without one, you’ll be waiting quite a while. We had a reservation for my Mom’s birthday dinner, but even if we had to have waited, it would have been worth it!

Uchi is becoming famous for their extremely unique and flavor blasted dishes. They definitely live up to the philosophy stated on their website:

“Combining local seasonal ingre­di­ents with an infinite spec­trum of seafood from around the globe is the basis for Uchi’s culi­nary philos­ophy. We invite our diners to explore their gastro­nomic bound­aries by pairing tradi­tional Japanese offer­ings with new and refreshing flavors and textures.

At Uchi, we serve the freshest product we can procure every day. We main­tain close rela­tion­ships with local farmers and we fly in seafood every day from both Fukuoka and Tsukiji markets in Japan. The essence of Japanese cuisine is the ingre­di­ents; at Uchi we prepare our dishes using inno­va­tive food combi­na­tions for the most unique dining expe­ri­ence in Houston.” (source)

After reading all of the stellar reviews, I had high expectations going into Uchi. They did not disappoint! We decided to order the chef’s tasting menu with a few other dishes. All of the plates are meant to be shared. I’m happy to report that I tried (and loved) every single dish!

First, we had the Hamachile: baby yellowtail٠ponzu٠thai chili٠ orange supreme. This was my first time eating yellowtail sashimi and I will never forget it! It’s really too hard to describe most of these dishes other than incredibly delicious!

Next, we had the Walu Walu: oak-grilled escolar٠candied citrus٠ yuzupon٠myoga. This dish was cooked fish that had an amazing sauce underneath. The fish itself is apparently quite controversial. According to The Kitchn, it’s actually been banned in various countries because part of the fish is indigestible to humans and can cause serious gastrointestinal problems. None of my family members got sick, we simply thought it had  an amazing and unique flavor.

Then came the famous brussels sprouts. Since I had done my research on Uchi before we went, I knew we had to try these babies. They were heavenly! They are deep fried and tossed with a caramel fish sauce and chile lime sauce. They are simply the best brussels sprouts you will ever eat. I actually found the recipe for them, but it is far too complicated for me to attempt!

Next up was the Maguro Sashimi and Goat Cheese: bigeye tuna٠pumpkin seed oil٠ fuji apple. I’m a big tuna fan, so I loved this one. The goat cheese was an unexpected combination, but of course, it worked beautifully!

We were then served the Zero Sen: yellowtail٠avocado٠shallot٠ cilantro٠tobiko٠yuzu. This was the first sushi roll my Mom has ever had that she liked. It was also my first ever sushi roll without soy sauce. They suggest you don’t dip their rolls in soy sauce (though they do provide it as an option). I’m glad I didn’t ruin the flavors by masking everything in salty soy sauce. It was too delicious.

Next up was the Pitchfork roll: wagyu beef٠leek crisp٠ avocado٠yuzu kosho. I picked this one out just in case my Mom didn’t like any of the fish (she’s not a sushi fan, or at least wasn’t until now!). Another ball hit out of the park! So good. I loved the addition of the leek crisps to replace the typical crunchy stuff you find on top of sushi rolls.

It seemed like our food never ended! The waiter then came out with the Hamachi Nabe: baby yellowtail٠koshi hikari rice٠ farmegg٠soybroth. This was Uchi’s twist on fried rice. The flavor was so rich and delicious. I definitely have a new found love for yellowtail!

Next up was the Yokai Berry: atlantic salmon٠dinosaur kale٠ asian pear٠yuzu. This was another one of my dish choices because I read great things about it in reviews. The waiter said it was their healthiest dish. All of the flavors worked great together and the sauce was mouthwatering. It was a dish where you needed to make sure you took a bite of each element at the same time or you wouldn’t get the same delicious taste in your mouth.

Just when we thought we were about to get dessert, we were served the Machi Cure: smoked baby yellowtail٠ yuccacrisp٠marconaalmond٠ asian pear٠garlic brittle. It was described as a twist on nachos. The most delicious and creative twist on nachos ever!

Then, the waiter brought out one of his favorite dishes as a birthday surprise for my Mom, the Biendo: tempura shrimp springroll٠ nuoc mam٠grapes. I almost didn’t try this because I am not a shrimp fan. As I loved everything else, I took the plunge! The sauce was amazing, and all of the elements melded together perfectly. Yum!

Finally, we had dessert – the Peanut Butter Semifreddo with Apple-Miso Sorbet. This was by far the most original dessert I have ever had. It was incredibly delicious. The peanut butter flavor was not overpowering and each element of the dish was so unique and tasty. I really don’t even know how to describe the semifreddo – maybe a mousse like cake? It was just so good. The perfect ending to a fabulous meal!

I would highly recommend venturing to Uchi if you are ever in Houston or Austin. My parents promised to take Luke there when he arrives in Houston and I cannot wait to have my tastebuds wowed like that again!

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