Friday, January 31, 2014

Recipe: Beer Beef Stew

It's freaking cold in Memphis, y'all. 

When it's cold, I still force myself to go to the gym (ugh) and the dog park (really ugh) and school (I mean this is just getting ridiculous), but I like to stay home at night and eat savory hot things. 


And I like beer. 

So hooray beer and stew and stew and beer together!

Like so many recipes I use, I adapted this one from The Pioneer Woman - this uses her Beef Stew with Beer and Paprika as a guideline, although I changed quite a few things. (Seriously though - she's my go to.)

Here's the ingredient list: 

Olive Oil 
2 tablespoons Butter
2ish pounds Stew Meat
1 medium yellow onion, roughly diced
5 cloves garlic (I like things garlicky)
1 can beer - I interpreted "can" as a pint of High Life, but whatever is fine...
3 cups beef broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
8 smallish potatoes (or 6 bigger ones - I just used a mix of reds and Russets and they were fine)
Crusty bread

*Try to get the low sodium beef broth - the regular can get really salty. 
**Oh and hello there there "The Champagne of Beers"!

Heat oil (I used about 3 tablespoons - I have a big Dutch Oven) and butter in a large pot or Dutch Oven. Put the stew meat in and brown on high - the goal here is to get them really brown on the outside but still like a medium rare to medium on the inside. Like this: 

Once the meat is brown, remove to a plate and let sit for awhile. 

Leave the heat on, and toss in the onion.

Let that soften for a few minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 2 or so minutes. 

Now it's time for the fun. 

Pour in the beer.

Then add the stock, the tomato paste, Worcestershire, sugar, paprika, and salt and pepper. 

*I love the tomato paste in a tube. It doesn't go bad as quickly and it's easier to get out what you need without a disaster. 

*This stuff is so good. Some of the best paprika I've ever used. 

And if you didn't put all the beer in, or, if while you're cooking, it looks too dry, just put some more beer in!

At this point, you should have everything in the pot except the beef and the potatoes, and parsley. Cut the beef pieces in half - this actually makes a huge difference in how tender the beef ends up. I cut mine into probably 1/2 inch pieces. 

When the beef is back in, cover and simmer for about an hour, then check on it. If the liquid is too thick, pour some more beer in, then cover for about another half hour. 

While you're waiting, chop up your potatoes. 


Also can we just talk about Samwise is a way better character than Frodo? Frodo is so whiny ALL. THE. TIME. 

After about an hour and a half of cooking time, the stew should be ready for the potatoes. 

Let those cook for another 30 or so minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. 

*Oh. Hello. 

While that's finishing up, grab some crusty bread: 


Slice it up and toast it just a little with some butter in another pan. I used a little cast iron skillet. 

Just until it gets that little crustiness on the edges. 

Then turn the heat off, turn the stew's heat off, and serve yourself an embarrassingly large portion. 

You can add other vegetables - PW says carrots, but I hate carrots so I didn't put them in. This starts as a stew, and is amazing, but the longer you keep it, and reheat it, and basically get pudgy just from eating this, the thicker it gets and the more kind of hearty it is. 

And maybe it will keep you warm during the arctic blast/polar vortex/Memphis' crazy ass weather.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Memphis Nosh: Ciao Bella

Last Saturday, my friend Ashley and I were both hungry, bored, and wanted wine.

And we kind of wanted to go somewhere classy.

We're classy ladies.

Damn it.

So we decided to go to one of my favorites, and someplace new for Ashley, Ciao Bella.

Ciao Bella is in the Erin Way shopping center a few doors down from a Huey's and just up from YoLo. It's like everything I've ever loved in one place!

The inside is like an upscale bistro, with a good mix of tables and booths, and a large party room, and when we got there about 9:20 Saturday, they were still pretty full. We got a table after just a second, and started to look for some wine. 

Our waitress was great. She brought us water, let us catch up, and then came back to check on our wine selections. Ashley went with prosecco and I chose a chianti. 

I had to. I'm sorry.


The chianti was great, as was Memphis' finest water. They have an amazing wine list at Ciao Bella, and I've never been disappointed in my choice.

Next we got some bread.

I love this stuff.

*It's like a focaccia sort of. And I love the oil with peppers and garlic. Amazing. Also good for sauce, and our bread basket was never empty.  

*My chianti and Ashley's fancy little bottle. And her adorable Lilly Pulitzer vest.

*They don't skimp on portions. And look how pretty wine is!

We talked for awhile and finally decided what we wanted.

I've loved everything I've had at Ciao Bella, and they have a pretty big, but not exhausting, menu:

*Via the Ciao Bella website. And they're Project Green Fork certified - even better!

The ravioli is great (if the lobster is on special, try it - fantastic!), the contadina is one of my faves, and all of the appetizers are great. And those pizzas and flatbreads are HUGE and really good. 

But I had been craving Chicken Parmigiana. I'm totally incompetent at breading things, and I'd wanted this for awhile, so my choice was made. 

*So good. It also comes with Italian spinach, which is a nice touch. I'm not a huge fan of Italian spinach anywhere, but theirs was good. 
**Also this is a huge portion. Easily 3 servings. $17.

Ashley chose the Reuben Flatbread: 

*This thing was literally as big as Ashley's torso. It looked so good though!

I really liked my Chicken Parmigiana. The sauce was good, nice flavor. I added some crushed red pepper because I love heat, but it had a lot of flavor on it's own. And the pasta was cooked perfectly - not mushy, and held up well even to reheating. 

And there was enough sauce that I could liberally dip the bread in it. 

I like bread. 

A lot. 

We decided on a couple more glasses of wine. I stuck with the chianti, and Ashley got the Cupcake Pinot Grigio, which is probably my favorite white wine. 

And then I did a bad thing. 

A delicious, lovely, really bad thing. 

I got some tiramisu: 

*I love how much cocoa powder they put on it. The more the better!

And I ate the whole thing myself. I did only eat like 1/3 of my pasta because it was so huge, but this was a massive piece of tiramisu. 

And I didn't care. 

Because it was insanely delicious.

And then, because I was being indulgent, I had some after dinner coffee: 

*Nice and strong. I felt like I was in Europe again.

So that's a bowl of pasta that I got 3 meals out of, a bread basket, 2 glasses of wine, tiramisu, and a cup of coffee for $45 (not including tip). The prices are reasonable, and it would have been easy to get out of there for under $20. 

But wine. 

And dessert. 

And coffee. 

I regret nothing. 

*Also I just started watching Sherlock and it's amazing!

I apologize for nothing.

 *Also Hedonism Bot is the best.

Our server was great, even when we became those people who got to talking and stayed until almost 11:30. But we had paid out, and she was so sweet, and we never really felt unwelcome, despite them technically closing at 10:30.

Ciao Bella is great for special occasions, last minute dinners, a nice night out with a book, date nights, and even lunch too - and if you check in on Yelp now, there's a 50% off lunch entree coupon!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Recipe: Nigella Lawson's Spanish Chicken and Chorizo & Roasted Asparagus

I'm a little bit in love with Nigella Lawson.

She's talented.

She's funny.

She's gorg, obvs.

*Via Gorgeous.

When I was in London, the TV in my flat got 2 channels that weren't the news or weather. Of course I didn't spend that much time watching TV, but when I did work in the evenings, I would turn it on for noise.

One of those channels was sort of like TBS - lots of Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother reruns.

The other was a cooking channel.

In between shows about slaughtering sheep and THE WORST SHOW ON TELEVISION, Bitchin' Kitchen (I have a lot of hate), there were a lot of episodes of Nigella.

No seriously. Bitchin' Kitchen is the worst.

*I'm sure she's lovely in real life. Just that show grates on every nerve I have.

But the highlights on TV were definitely anytime I got to see Nigella. I love her attitude, and her food is amazing.

She's delightfully dirty. I love it.

She loves food, and isn't afraid to have fun and say funny things and take delight in food, all while being a great cook.

One night, I saw her make Spanish Chicken and Chorizo. It looked great, and I kind of kept it in the back of my mind, but I didn't really think about it after that.

I mean, I wasn't cooking so much since this is where I was:

But a few days ago, I was working procrastinating working and I saw the episode again.

It was fate.

So I asked my roommate, his friend Julie, and our neighbor Troy what they thought, they all seemed to think me cooking this for dinner was a good idea, so I went to the store and bought the stuff to make it.

And holy wow.


Here is her recipe, and here's how I did mine:

12 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (my Kroger didn't have any bone in or with skin)
Olive oil (enough to coat 2 cookie sheet pans)
2 packages chorizo (I had to use beef chorizo, but either the kind that's ground or the little sausage kind will work)
2 1/2 lbs potatoes, chopped to about 1/2 - 1 inch cubes (I used golden yukon ones, and left the skin on)
1 1/2 red onions, diced roughly
2 teaspoons dried oregano
zest of 1 orange

Preheat oven to 425. Put oil in the bottom of pans, then chop the potatoes and onions. I did mine in about 1/2 - 1 inch cubes for the potatoes and a rough chop for the onions. put them in the pans, dividing equally between each.

Salt and pepper each chicken thigh and nestle the thighs on the pan. Just kind of squish them down in between.

(Yes, I know I'm putting raw chicken on potatoes. If this freaks you out, sear the chicken for a second first.)

Nigella calls for just putting the chorizo on the same way you do the chicken. But all I could find was the ground beef chorizo. So I cooked it up a little first, because straight out of the packaging, it's gross. I basically just broke it up a bit and sprinkled/drizzled it all over each pan.

Sprinkle the oregano over, and zest the orange (I used two little cuties actually) over each pan.

Cook for 30 minutes, then switch the pans if you've put one on top and one on bottom, and cook for 30 more minutes.

The chicken will definitely be done. Make sure the potatoes are fork tender and you're golden!

Here is what Nigella's looks like:

**You can see the small chorizos she used. I like the look of those, but mine tasted fine. I think it's a flavor thing, even if mine wasn't quite as pretty. 

And here's mine: 

*Right after it came out of the oven. You can see the chorizo that I sprinkled on rather than chopping up.

*Here it is served up, with my roasted asparagus in the background.

Everyone seemed to love it, and I thought it was fantastic. Spicy, cooked well, nice combo of flavors, and the orange zest really brightened it up. Julie brought white wine, Moscato I think, and that was great with this. With the leftovers I had blood orange San Pellegrino and that was great too. 

Honestly, it wasn't even a difficult dish. Lots of chopping, some time in the oven, but very little actual time standing over the stove.

And, since I put foil down on the pans, I just peeled the foil off and stuck them in the dishwasher.

I kind of struggled with what to serve this with. I usually do potatoes, but this has potatoes in it. Or broccoli, but I do that just with garlic and it seemed kind of starchy and I wanted something really light and roasted and flavorful. 

So I decided on asparagus. 

This is literally the easiest recipe ever. 

1 - 2 bunches asparagus (I used 2. My friends are vultures. But I love them.)
About 3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt

Cut the bottoms off the asparagus. Lay foil over cookie sheet for easier cleanup and drizzle some of the olive oil over it. Lay the asparagus out in a single layer and drizzle the rest of the olive oil on top. Then put a generous amount of kosher salt on top of the asparagus and a little pepper. 

Roast at 425 - 450 for about 30 minutes or until they are a little shriveled and have some blackened edges, then stir them around and roast another 10 or so minutes. They get cooked, have a great roasted flavor, but don't get squishy. 

Here's Nigella making her Spanish Chicken and Chorizo. So good, and she's so great!


Friday, January 24, 2014

Memphis Nosh: Huey's

Seriously, how have I never written about Huey's before?

I'm pretty sure that at various points during my life in Memphis, my diet has consisted of at least 73.8% Huey's food.

I take out of town guests there, I take picky eaters there, I take myself there. They have something for everyone, and all of the food is great.

So the other day before I went to see "Her" with my friend Katie (a weird movie, but good) I was starving. And Huey's is right down the street from Studio on the Square.

It was like a siren, calling me.

Huey's is a local chain that has been around since 1970. Unique to Memphis, they have a lot of live, local music at their locations (which are all over town - seriously, there's never a reason to go without Huey's) and several trivia and karaoke nights, as well as TVs, and, especially at the Midtown location, a really great rotating selection of music (when I went it was 1980s all the way).

And they have a huge menu:

Here's the full menu: 

*From the Huey's website. Seriously if you can't find something to eat on there, you are too picky. Even the pickiest person I know likes Huey's. 
**And I've never had anything bad. The potato soup is a Memphis legend, the Reuben is great, the Sunshine burger justifies everything I've ever said about eggs on burgers, the onion rings are insane, and so on.

They also have a huge beer and wine and liquor selection, but I was there to eat. A lot. 

I started with some cheese fries: 

*Oh my. 

These are steak fries covered in cheddar cheese, scallions, bacon, and then put under the broiler to get melty and crispy and delicious.

Some fries are super crisp, some are squishier (that's how I like mine), and they're all covered in gooey cheese, with ketchup, sour cream, and ranch on the side for dipping. 


I also wanted a burger: 

*The Bluff City Burger. 

The Bluff City Burger has cheddar, fried onions, bacon, and barbecue sauce (I get mine on the side - I'm weird about sauces). 

*Literally the perfect movie. And I am that person in restaurants.

The only problem I ever have with Huey's is the burger temps are consistently off. I ordered mine medium. Definitely medium well to well. I'm not that picky, and it was still juicy, but it's kind of irritating - especially since I was one of two people in the entire restaurant eating. 

However, the service is good, and I bet if I had been that upset about it I could have sent it back. But I wanted to eat, and I'm just that weird person who notices things like that. And they've won Best Burger from the Flyer like a million times, so no matter the temp, they're fantastic.

So I ate half my burger and a third of the fries and got two more meals out of my $17 meal. Winning!

The restaurant is also

*You can shoot your frill picks into the ceiling. I'm too afraid I'll swallow mine, but kids like it. 

Sometimes there are little annoyances at Huey's, but I've never had anyone NOT like it. It's cheap, tons of variety, and, most importantly, it's delicious. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Memphis Style: Bold Lipsticks

I have a little bit of a beauty obsession.

I'm addicted to bold, colorful, audacious lipsticks. Especially in this gloomy Memphis weather.

Like, I have a problem.

*That's just the random sampling I pulled from my PURSE. ALL of those were in my purse. See. It's a problem.
**That's NARS "Full Frontal," Makeup Forever "Rouge Intense - Moulin Rouge," L'Oreal "British Red," Covergirl "Stunner," and (in front) Revlon "Ravish Me Red" and Makeup Forever "8". The tall balms are Revlon ColorBurst Balm Matte in Unapologetic and Showy. 

I've talked about my love of red lipstick before. But lately I've been branching out a little bit. 

And it's all Emma Stone's fault. 

Or maybe Revlon's. 

Or maybe both. 

I was in Walgreens the other day and walked past this: 

*Via The Budget Beauty Blog. Which is fantastic btw. 

So I already have a giant girl crush on Emma Stone, and then, there I am in Walgreens, my hands too full of toothpaste and a magazine I just had to have and bandaids and a Diet Coke, and...well...I just couldn't stop myself. 


She's freaking adorable. 

"Easy A" is the best. Also Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson. Love.

So when I saw Emma Stone + MATTE (!!!) lipstick I was a hopeless case.

But I've been wearing a LOT of bolds lately, so here are some of my favorites.

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm - Unapologetic 

(Also I had just gotten my hair done. That doesn't happen naturally).

This is a great pink color - kind of between a berry and a hot pink. And it is BRIGHT. I like that it's matte, and the balm makes it really easy to apply. Also, it's really moisturizing.

Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm - Striking

This is a more orange-y red, which is usually not my thing (I also don't usually wear pink, but it was tee and pjs time by this point), but I really like this one. The matte balm, like the other one, is easy to apply, stays really well, and it doesn't feel goopy. A nice red for everyday. 

Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick - Ravish Me Red

This is a great, more dressy, red. It's almost like a gloss but really intense - not difficult to get on (I'm very anti-liner) and stays pretty well. 

And it doesn't hurt that they mentioned it on American Horror Story: Asylum. 

Yeah bitches. 

NARS Guy Bourdin Collection - Full Frontal 

So I'm in love with this.

We're thinking of a fall wedding. 

Yes, it's a lipstick called Full Frontal. 

And yes. I wore it to school today. 

I'm not ashamed of my love!

This is one of the smoothest, most comfortable lipsticks I've ever worn. My only complaint is that it is a little dry after a few hours, but the fact that it's stayed on for hours makes that kind of moot. It's like a hyped up berry, and I love it. 

Here's what it looks like in the tube:

*And my (now janky) nail polish is OPI "Did You Ear about Van Gogh?"

I'm still wearing the BareMinerals "Risk it All" I mentioned before, and all my other reds (that's why they're all in my purse...). But these are definitely pretty high up in the rotation. 

Now to work up the gumption to try "Audacious"...

*Via Walgreens.

Until then, I'll just be planning my invites to the wedding. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Memphis Nosh: South Of Beale (Downtown Dining Week)

Downtown Dining Week is the best.

I'm not kidding.

It's one of my favorite weeks of the year.

Basically a ton downtown Memphis restaurants have specials - either 2 or 3 courses, or 2 dinners, or some variety of that - for $20 and change. In 2012 it was $20.12, in 2013 it was $20.13, etc.

Kirby and I decided we wanted to go places we don't usually go, and try something new. So we went to a super fancy dinner at Paulette's (so good - but too fancy to take pics!) and to a local favorite, South of Beale (S.O.B.).

They've even been on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives!

The special at South of Beale was a choice of appetizer, entree, and dessert.

But we started out with wine (of course!) and that amazing popcorn:

*Also, we didn't have a reservation, and were looking at a pretty long wait, but we were asked if we'd like to sit at the bar facing the street. People watching and awesome food? Yes!

For my appetizer, I came really close to getting the Oxtail Wontons, but decided to go for the Duck Fried Rice instead: 

*Duck confit, fried rice, scallions, five spice, and a sunny side up egg. Fantastic. It also went bizarrely well with the Malbec I ordered. Maybe I just like wine enough that I can make anything go with anything.

I love eggs on pretty much anything, and I'm a huge fan of rice, duck, and scallions, but putting all this together was genius. Seriously, I could just make a meal out of this. And, for an appetizer, it's HUGE.

For my entree, I got the filet with gouda mac 'n' cheese:

*Cooked perfectly, and some of the best mac I've ever had. I seriously contemplated making a life with this steak. 

For dessert, we had mini milkshakes with Guinness. I was too busy savoring to take a picture. 

Downtown Dining Week is such a great event - not only do you get to try new things that may usually be out of your price range or that you weren't sure about, but also it's a really good way to support local restaurants, and Downtown in general. See everyone at Downtown Dining Week 2014 in November!