Love & Food – S+J Anniversary 2

6.21.12 That was the day. Exactly two years ago yesterday, James and I got married. Last year, we threw our bikes into the back of the van and we drove to Navy Pier in Chicago. We left the van at the pier and rode our bikes all around downtown Chicago and ate whatever we wanted. It was perfect. Here we are:

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This year is a little tougher – James is in Indiana doing research and I’m here in Texas for my summer internship – but we made the most of it through a FaceTime movie date and eating a lot of great food for breakfast and dinner. We took it easy for lunch.

S. Breakfast: Green pancakes
J Breakfast: German pancakes

S Dinner: red potato & pork sausage hash
D Dinner: sushi at Majé

I know what you’re thinking – James really out did me on both accounts. I can’t compete with German pancakes but stay with me for dinner though, you gotta see this. It was so good! But first, we will start with breakfast.

German Pancakes

These are, no joke, my favorite kind of pancakes. They’re quick and easy to make and absolutely delicious. First time I tried German Pancakes was my freshman year of college. Meridith Marie Petty – a kindred spirit – introduced me to this family tradition of hers and it quickly became a forever favorite of mine.

Best part of german pancakes, second only to shoveling them in your mouth, is seeing them right when they come out of the oven. They’re so fluffy and buttery and crispy!! Mmm. James chose well.

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Ingredients:

1/4 cup of butter
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
6 eggs
Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the butter in a 9×13 glass dish and place it in the oven while it preheats so the butter can melt.
  2. Meanwhile, place all the other ingredients in the blender. Blend until smooth.
  3. Once the butter is melted, pour the batter into the glass dish and bake for 35 minutes.

Now, if you’re anything like me and get excited about taking pictures with/of food, then you need to be ready and I mean ready. These beauties only stay puffy for a minute. Snap a few shots and then let it go. Serve with pure maple syrup or maybe fresh fruit.

Green pancakes

I have to apologize, I don’t have a photo of the green pancakes. I promise you’re not missing much though. They look like normal pancakes, but they’re green. Basically, they’re just another “creative” way to get greens into your mouth before noon. Brit showed the family this recipe a while ago and I’ve lightly adapted it:

Ingredients:

1 cup milk alternative (I use almond milk)
1/2 cup coconut oil (make sure it’s melted)
3 eggs
1 tbls agave nectar
1/2 tsp salt
3 large handfuls of Spinach (or whatever fits into the blender on top of the other ingredients)
1 cup wheat kernels

Directions:

  1. Put everything into your high speed blender (I use a Blendtec) in the order listed above and blend on the Whole Juice setting twice. Just make sure it’s well blended.
  2. Allow the batter to sit for 5 minutes to thicken.
  3. Drop about a 1/2 cup of batter into a heated pan. Flip pancakes when little air bubbles start to form on the top.

I recommend spreading some of your favorite nut butter on top and drizzling with pure maple syrup.

Fast forward 8-9 hours and dinner time it is! James had sushi. I’m sure it was good. But let’s talk about my dinner…

Fresh Garden Veggies & Pork Sausage Hash

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Evidently this a breakfast dish but I know very few people that wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to eat breakfast twice in one day. Just look at it. Isn’t it beautiful! This dish was inspired by Celeriac and Sausage Hash from the Against All Grain cookbook by Danielle Walker. You can check out her blog here.

Ingredients:

1 tbls coconut oil
2 cups red potatoes (leave the skin on, it’s good for you!)
1/2 lb breakfast sausage
3/4 cup finely diced carrots
3/4 cup finely diced zucchini
1/2 cup chopped cremini mushrooms
1 tsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp sea salt
black pepper to taste

Add-ins/toppings:

chopped radishes
chopped tomato
fried egg
chopped rosemary for garnish

Directions:

  1. Heat the coconut oil in the skillet over medium heat
  2. Place the potatoes in the skillet and cook for 5 minutes
  3. Add in the sausage and carrots, cook until the meat is fully cooked through
  4. Add the in the remaining ingredients and cook until the mushrooms and zucchini are tender
  5. Top with your add-ins: radishes, tomato, fried egg and rosemary.

Enjoy! I’m sure this would be good with a number of different veggies. Use whatever you have in your fridge at the time. I honestly could’ve gone without the sausage but my siblings really liked the flavor it added.

I rounded out the night with dessert, of course, because anything less than that would just be unacceptable. Luckily for me, Brit had this frozen little delight ready for me (recipe cred: Angela Liddon at OhSheGlows):

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I think it’s safe to say that James and I ate well this year for our anniversary, even if we weren’t able to eat together. It would have been nice to go on some sort of adventure but the delicious food and our FaceTime movie date (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) made it manageable. 🙂

What do you and your significant other do to have fun when spread miles and miles apart?

 

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Frank – Gourmet Hot Dog Review

After Happy Fatz in Huston, TX, my hot dog research took me up to Austin, TX to see fellow WY&PF blogger Sherree where we explored the food and the wonderful things that make Austin weird.

 

Our first stop was Frank (hot dogs, cold beer) a restaurant claiming to be a purveyor of artisan sausage. Frank is located on Colorado Street between 4th and 5th streets in Austin, TX (zip 78701), it has a huge parking lot with a monthly rotating mural supporting local and up and coming artists.

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Help yourself get more familiarized with Franks, check out their website http://hotdogscoldbeer.com/austin/eats/

 

There were four of us dining that afternoon, we were able to sit as soon as we walked in and asked for a table and were able to place our drink orders quickly. Sherree and I sampled the freshly made lemonade and puckered up immediately, word or advice it’s t-a-r-t. It took us awhile to decide on what dog we would all order but we settled on the following,

 

Carolina Pork It – Vienna Beef stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon then deep-fried (why not amiright?) with a layer of grilled horseradish coleslaw and pimento cheese.

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Southern Boy – The base of this dog is a blackened, split Vienna Beef Hot Polish link with caramelized onions, crispy pork belly, pepper jack cheese and Frank’s Dr. Doppelgänger BBQ sauce.

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Jackalope – Smoked antelope, rabbit and pork sausage topped with cranberry compote, sriracha aioli and cheddar cheese.

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And The Notorious P.I.G – Smoked pork, bacon, jalapeno and sage sausage dressed with mac n’cheese and Dr. Doppelgänger BBQ sauce.

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Everyone loved his or her weenies. The Carolina Pork It was a tasty meaty choice, the Southern Boy was pretty freaking spicy so know that before you go face deep in that bad boy but the spices were flavorful even though they were hot. The Notorious P.I.G. was another hit, the mac n’ cheese wasn’t particularly delicious, fortunately for Sherree she ordered it on the side and not on top of her dog. As a whole we felt that the sides at Frank were lacking. The waffle frys and the additional dips available for order were amazing. My personal favorite was the Chili Mayo. I ate the Jackalope, this dog has changed my wiener life, let me tell you why.

 

While eating the Jackalope I realized that any recipe used for pork, beef or turkey could be done for a hot dog! I am a huge cranberry fan and I dream of big fat turkey and cranberry sandwiches every time there is a boxed lunch option at the Business school or work. Finding that I can marry some of my favorite toppings on what I had previously thought was a run of the mill hot dog is a total game changer.

 

If I lived in Austin I would make regular visits to Frank to eat my way through their menu. I highly recommend this restaurant for any locals, those in the surrounding Austin area or anyone passing through, make a point to stop by this place.

 

Not food related I also recommend you take the time to either walk down South Congress to the 1300 block to see the famous “I love you very much” graffiti and other surrounding gems. If you’re in town around dusk 1.5 million bats fly out from under the South Congress bridge to do their nighttime thing, apparently the site is one to be held and one of the many things that help to keep Austin Weird.

 

Happy Fatz – Gourmet Hot Dog Review

I’ve had hot dogs on the brain recently and there are a few reasons I can think of that would make me be thinking of weeines so much:

  1. I love potty humor
  2. I enjoyed a delicious white sausage with a pint of Hefeweizen during a recent layover in the Frankfurt, Germany airport (more on this Sausage experience later)
  3. It’s summer and I’m dreaming of baseball and hotdogs in my beloved AT&T Park
  4. I saw an article on the cover of All You while in the checkout lane with an article on fresh recreations on a family favorite, hot dogs (http://dailysavings.allyou.com/2014/06/11/easy-ketchup-recipes/)

 

So I launched my first research project for WY&PF that I dubbed simply “hot dog research”, my initial name was “Weiner Search 2014” but I thought I should reel myself in a little bit…

 

When I told some fellow interns at work they were very concerned that I was going to be researching à la Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jungle) I’m not a mystery meat kinda gal, so I let them know I most certainly would be staying out of slaughter houses for this assignment and would focus solely on artisan sausages.

 

First up on my tour de dog was Happy Fatz in Houston, Texas.

 

Happy Fatz is located in The Heights, a cute hipster residential part of Houston that is one of Texas’ earliest planned communities that boasts many quant restaurants and beer gardens. Happy Fatz is known for its Gourmet Hotdogs and Specialty Desserts and regularily receives favorable reviews on Yelp.com as well as operates a clean and user friendly website, http://happyfatz.com, all of these things are important to me.

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On a Friday night for dinner I met up with a friend from Purdue who is also interning in Houston this summer. I ordered The Clucker and she ordered the Texas Chili, it just so happens our orders represent the two most ordered dogs on the menu.

 

The Clucker is a mammoth of ¼ pound Hebrew National Kosher Beef hot dog with shredded has brows, large bacon bits, grilled white onions, and an over easy egg onto of a gourmet sausage covered in a light red secret “clucker sauce”. When asked how many calories this behemoth was I was told the calories count is unknown and likely for the best, I decided to order the side of fresh cut fruit to ease my caloric guilt. I had to cut through this dog with a knife and fork, there was no way I could take it to the face with out a bib. With that being said the dog was good and I enjoyed the toppings and the experience of eating a big fat hot dog but I was hoping for bolder flavors. The grilled white onions were prefect and there were bites of flavor with the bacon bits but the clucker sauce didn’t bring much favor to the experience and the egg mostly stressed me out with the running yoke.

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My friend ordered the Texas Chili that housed the same ¼ pound Hebrew National Kosher Beef hot dog along with homemade Shiner Bock chili, onions, melted cheddar topped with a handful of Frito chips. Another dog that was too big to eat without a knife and fork that left a little more to be desired. The chili was spicy but the report back was that it was just OK. I personally love the idea of chips on my hot dog (or homemade sandwich for that matter) and my recommendation would be to add a side of sour cream to ease the heat of the chili.

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Overall, would I go back to Happy Fatz? Oh heck yes.

 

The Happy Fatz experience is laid back and relaxing. I thought the restaurant was a great place to kick back and catch up with a friend and expand my palate. I appreciated how there were local artists hung on the walls and mention to animal adoptions hosted by the Happy Fatz community, these are all the elements I like to see in a local establishment that engrains it into the community members and brings a sense of belonging to customers.

 

Lastly, I have my eye on the Lotus Blossom (Fresh spinach, red cabbage, Happy Fatz white cheddar pimento cheese on a jalapeno bun) or a Build your Own dog with grilled onions, grilled peppers, hash browns, feta cheese & salsa verde. Also, I didn’t have a stomach capacity to explore the Specialty Desserts so a second visit to Happy Fatz is in my future.