Dinner at Caspian Grill – Austin, Texas

Hello! Good to see you guys again. The week has zoomed past, and we are fast approaching the weekend. This means a lot of you will be going out to eat, and I’ve got just the place for you to check out! Plan to make it an early dinner, as this quaint little place closes at 9pm – It is so worth it.

I’m talking about Caspian Grill, ya’ll! When you google the name, be sure to add in ‘Austin’ as well, as apparently there are many other ‘Caspian Grills’ all over the country. This place serves up some of the most flavorful and fresh Persian/Iranian cuisine I’ve ever tasted. I was floored by how much it really hit the spot! Check out my photo snaps of the delicious selections I was happy to chow down on.

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We don’t have a whole LOT of favorite spots to dine in Austin, but we do like to venture out and see what we can add to our list. Caspian Grill, you’ve made the list! Here’s a panoramic of the restaurant from the seat we had in the house. The wall colors were warm, and the lighting dim, but just right to enjoy a hot meal. It was a quiet night because they had not yet announced their grand opening, but the service was impeccable and very accommodating.

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Here’s a close up of the oh-so-succulent Lamb Shank (Baghala polo with Lamb Shank). The meat falls right off the bone and melts into your mouth. The lamb shank is simmered with onion and saffron, cooked to prefection, and served over dilled rice and lima beans, with a side of salad and lamb shank juices to get the full effect of flavor. This whole plate was devoured my friends, and it is quite the heap of serving for $14.95.

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Close up? I got it for you!

The gentle and smiling staff who took our order highly recommended the Koobideh with Naan (Beef Kabob & Bread), which we will try out next time we visit. There are other Beef Kabob variations on the menu, which I think you should definitely have a look at!

Stay tuned for my next post! Happy eating!

Foodie Review: Luvafoodie’s Sea Salt Caramels

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What-UP my foodie followers! I mean it, this post is dedicated to food lovers around the world – Specifically those that are single and looking for a like-minded lover! You are in for a treat, my friends.

I recently got in touch with the CEO of a site called Luvafoodie. I thought it was too good to be true at first, because this concept for an online dating site…catered to singles who are looking to mingle with other people who have a passion for food…was simply something I wish I had thought of first! If I were single, I’d be very open to trying out this site. What better way to expand one’s passion and knowledge of food & cooking, than to meet a mate who feels the same way? That’s the thing about relationships – You gotta have some common interests!

Michelle Mazzara was so kind to send me two packs of her very own home made sea salt caramels. I was able to try out the original Luvafoodie Sea Salt Caramels, as well as the Luvafoodie Raspberry Caramels. As you may see in the photo, I was only able to try TWO of the Sea Salt Caramels, because HE decided to devour the entire bag while I was away. Lol. This is only astounding to me because he doesn’t enjoy sweets the way I do. He wouldn’t eat a slice of cake unless he just absolutely needed sugar. I on the other hand, LOVE sweets. The Raspberry Caramels were slightly sweeter because it didn’t have that salty bite like the the Sea Salt Caramels, nonetheless, I’ve rationed my servings of these so I can enjoy them while I sit at my desk at work. Never know when you’re going to need to curb that sugar craving! Both of these flavors were just the right amount of sweet flavor that a little candy bite should be, without masking any of the very real flavors like other sugar over-dosed candies can do. Thank you, Michelle! I [we] LOVED your delicious caramel candies!

If you want to know more about what Michelle has created for all of you foodie enthusiasts out there looking for the perfect mate to share your recipes with, please read the mission statement of Luvafoodie below.

Our mission is to connect singles of all ages across the USA who share the common interest of food and beverage. This is a new singles website that will bring foodies together. The website also includes recipes, food trends, and dating tips available for members.
There is no other specific on-line dating website that is focused on connecting foodie’s singles together. Each member needs to fill out a specific questionnaire that relates to food, beverages, cooking and dining out.”

Save Money on Date Night!

How We Save Money on Date Night + Announcement

Hello, hello!

**This blog contains an announcement!**

How was everyone’s Valentine’s weekend? My beau said, “Wow. This Valentine’s is really gonna suck for the guys this year – Valentine’s…on a SATURDAY!?” Hahaha…Lucky him, I didn’t expect the typical V-Day hoopla type of gifts. I really just wanted to stay in away from the crowds, and if we had decided on going out, I would’ve preferred a chill swanky spot with calming Jazz tunes and craft cocktails. Yep, I’m what some would call, buje. Don’t hate! *smiles*

So what did we end up doing? Well, his date-day with his little one was unfortunately cancelled. A total bummer because he had a brand new outfit, and completely heart melting day planned just for them! I’m still a little bummed by the situation, but he is the best father to his little ones, and I know he’ll have forever years to make more memories. Despite the downer, we made the best of the day. All groceries including some big ticket items like, 1 lb. of de-veined large shrimp, 1 bottle of Tott’s Champagne, 2 single craft beers, 1 gallon of Simple Raspberry Lemonade, Mission Tortillas, queso, all produce needed to make it all marry together…all under $45! You tell me where else you can dine out and get four servings of shrimp enchiladas with sides and alcoholic beverages for less than that (in America)!

 Step 1! Gather groceries for a homemade dinner cooked, that my mans offered to whip up, while he goes on an afternoon run to enjoy the beautiful day.

Step 2! Kitchen and food prep for him, because he hates that part – Lol.

Step 3! Pour up some mimosas (for me) and beer (for him) while we cook and simply have good conversation and some jazz tunes on play.

Step 4! He decided on shrimp enchiladas, bacon wrapped jalapenos (stuffed with chive cream cheese), and baked beans for dinner…Once these items were ready to hit the oven, we hopped in the shower and freshened up before we sat down for dinner. Yes, we got right into our pajamas after a relaxed day of exercise and cooking, so we could chow down on the dinner we so rocked out in the kitchen making!

Step 5! After dinner and drinks (all of this delicious dinner ended up being 4 servings = leftovers!), it was time to  lay it down. After our eventful day, rest is certainly very much accepted.

Basically….Keep it simple! That’s just how we do things, and everything else seems to always fall into place the way it should.

ANNOUNCEMENT: I really enjoy my time with my best friend. I wouldn’t change any part of our journey together (except for wishing we had more time with the kids). It feels awkward and unnatural to say, “My boyfriend, fiance, husband” because…those words just don’t give what we are to each other justice. He’s a pretty spiritual guy, and he calls me his “Twin Flame” – I’m not quite sure exactly what that means in the spirit world, but I’m thinking it’s pretty good lol. He’s been a catalyst in getting me to write my heart out for the last couple of years, and I am finally getting the big picture! This blog started off as a way for me to document and share my travel and food experiences….Now, I’m just going to keep it REAL and be who I am, even more so than I already have been with you all. This means content not on just food and travel, but incorporating more of my life and beliefs, passions, and other things that I really enjoy doing like my freelance writing career, books I read and love, movies/shows that I’m a fan of, shopping hauls, and more!would LOVE to share with anyone interested! I’m going to commit to creating my own YouTube Channel as well. I want to connect with my heart and soul to others with like passions and interests – What better way to accomplish everything than to just dive right into it?! No more being reserved, and shy about my LIFE! If you have a question, please….just ask me. I won’t bite.

If you have not yet, and you like my blogBookmark me, follow me on Instagram for my latest photos, and if ya prefer Facebook…I’m on there too! Handle: @Breatheeatlive

 

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Today was also just a regular day for us, and happened to land on one of my days off of work. The house was absolutely overdue for a cleaning. We love books (him especially), and we’ve been trying to find space to display our collection. No bookends on hand, so I cleared his paint table, and just stacked the books on hand to create a makeshift bookend situation! Cleaned up to be a pretty beautiful display of knowledge I’d say! What do you guys think? This was also my “little” Valentine’s Gift from me to him.

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Mmmmm! I love mimosas! Having fun does not have to be “expensive”!

 

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What a fantastic finished meal! Messy presentation, but totally deeee-lish! Thank you baby for cooking!! P.S. – I prepared the bacon wrapped jalapenos =)

 

Cheers! Be happy with a wealthy attitude. <3 XO

Cheers! Be happy with a wealthy attitude. <3 XO

Unboxing of decadent chocolates

Valentine’s Special: A Peek at Millcreek Cacao Roasters Chocolates

Unboxing of decadent chocolates

Woo-Wee! I have been M.I.A my loves, and I sincerely apologize for my lack of words. I’m excited about a LOT of things, so please excuse any excess use of exclamation points or incorrect usage of bold and italics! 

First thing’s first – Thank you Dana, of Millcreek Cacao Roasters for sending a generous gift of truly decadent The Cube Collection box of chocolates and your aromatic Pure Cacao Tea.

 I am one of those chocolate lovers who…have to have at least a bar of chocolate a day. I must admit, my usual back in the day was to reach for a $0.50 bar of Twix or Hersheys because it was just what I grew up with. Until a few years ago, I hadn’t tasted REAL chocolate. Chocolate that wasn’t doused with sugar to mask or recreate the flavor of what it actually is.

Good news – I’m going to keep this very sweet and simple, because Millcreek Cacao Roaster’s chocolate made from 70% pure cacao, is just that. You’ll even notice the simplicity in the absolutely beautiful assembled boxes the individual bars come in. My initial thought, as a lover of all foods, was to find out ways to incorporate Millcreek Cacao Roaster’s decadence into a recipe or pairing with other foods…nothing came to mind. It seemed only right to appreciate the food for exactly what it is, and nothing more. I was enticed by the simple yet classic packaging of their product, that I just wanted to carefully dive in and see what they were all about (You’ll see the un-boxing photos below). Entranced, I continued unfolding each layer of the package and by the time I got to the gold foil wrapping, I just wanted to try the chocolate out already – And I did! I was floored by how instantly the flavors spread across my palette so smoothly. I could taste all of the layers, most forthcoming, the sweet roasted flavor of the cacao beans – Excellent.

I’ve eaten practically all of these intensely, rich flavored chocolate bars within a few days of having them. When I decide to order another box, I will be reaching for the Orange Peel, Organic Tart Cherry, and (his choice) Ginger chocolate bars. I can’t wait!

3 Ways I Enjoyed Millcreek Cacao Roaster’s Chocolates

 

  • In a hot bubble bath that my love prepared for me, paired with a glass of wine and a book to read…mmm…It…was…so…perfect! (Thanks boo!)
  • Melted a few pieces of the Dark Luscious Raspberry bar into his cup of morning coffee – He loved. (Or just brew some of the cacao tea to enjoy)
  • Perfect for that sugar craving curve that comes, right around crash time in the office – It kept me alert and made me happy because I LOVE chocolate. You don’t need much of it to be satisfied, plus you get to open up each pretty little box any time you want a bite.

 

Before you view my foodporn, what are your plans for Valentine’s this year? We might try for an evening at the movies, or just crashing out in our own very comfortable home, with some brews, good eats, and each other’s company – It never fails, and we’re definitely S.O.L for any good dining reservations in the city. I’m lucky to have found love with my best friend, so any time we spend together will be perfect- Sappy stuff done. Thank you for taking your time to read my most recent post, and I certainly look forward to welcoming you back for more!

 

As Millcreek Cacao Roasters would say…the best way to enjoy their chocolate is to “Unwrap, taste, and enjoy the experience.”

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If you have any questions for me, please leave me a comment below!!

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Best Sandwich in Austin, Found at Noble Sandwich Co. 620

Noble Sandwich Co. on 620 in Austin, Texas is a must try for those who enjoy wholesome foods, and a darn good sandwich. I’ve always heard of the place, but never stopped by until the Official SXSW Food Crawl of 2014 (it was on the list). I’m glad I made the decision to stop by this charming and at the time, bustling sandwich shop. The 620 location stays open until 5pm, offering breakfast and lunch sandwiches, along with simple sides and a spectacular bread pudding. They’re ingredients are high-quality with some local sustainable items, which makes a great recipe for some feel good eats. A quote from their site gives patrons the ideal situation they’ve got going:

“Make it, and make it better than the guy down the street.” – Noble Sandwich Co.

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Check out that ooey-gooey-ness of the over-easy fried egg I added to the original ‘PBLT’ sandwich…I love a good fried egg. I thoroughly enjoyed this sandwich with a generous offering of smoked pork belly (PB), romaine lettuce (L), and roasted tomato & garlic mayo (T). Make your sammich messy with an over-easy egg. I was full about halfway through, so I had some help from the man.

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My man got the ‘Duck Pastrami’ sandwich which he enjoyed as well, however I didn’t snap a good photo of it….so…you can feast your eyes on him at our table of Noble’s outdoor seating.

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For dessert, I believe this was seasonal, a chocolate or turtle bread pudding topped with hot caramel. Yes, I did mention that I was full half way through my meal, but it was the Official SXSW Food Crawl! – I had to try just one more thing, and it was totally worth it, ya’ll.

Mission accomplished Noble Sandwich Co., my belly was happy, I’d recommend your shop to others, and I’ll be back to conquer more of the menu.

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Naughty or Nice Foodie, This Year?

Have you been a naughty or nice foodie this year? I’ve been a little of both, and you’re going to see what I mean in this post! To catch you up, I had chosen to make better decisions with my food choices – More vegetables, less meat, organic when possible, water instead of sugar saturated beverages, you name it! I’ve dipped back into my cauldron of naughty eating and have actually learned to not feel so bad about it. Keep reading!

Naughty List:

1.

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2.

20141127_174011Okay, so these first two items are on my naughty list because one – I chose not to cook a magnificent feast with the traditional oven-baked Turkey, stuffing + mashed potatoes + casserole from scratch for Thanksgiving. Instead, I suggested that for myself and my fiancé that maybe we could just live without the cleaning, and over-time in the kitchen for a feast for just two, maybe we could just get a few bottles of wine and indulge just a little bit. A feast is for lots of guests, and it was just us this year. And two, there was a LOT of butter involved for the sauce on the rotisserie chicken and of course, bacon! Bacon wrapped Jalapeños that is. OM NOM NOM! I can say, that both of these rather rich dishes are superbly rich when you don’t necessarily eat them everyday, makes the Holidays that much more joyful.

3.

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Last on the naughty list? A whole box of cupcakes?! Just kidding…although this would have been nice, these are actually surprisingly very realistic replicas of cupcakes, to be used as Christmas ornaments. I took one look and thought that this would be the absolute perfect gift for a foodie, pastry chef, or sweet tooth lover. I didn’t grab them myself, but you can always stop by Terra Toys off Burnet and see if they’ve got any left!

Nice List

1.

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Do you know how aromatic and convenient it is to steam food in banana leaves? Let me tell you, it brings a kind of sweet, airy, and richness to whatever you decide to wrap inside of the leaf, and after you’re finished eating, just pick up the leaf and toss it into your compost or dare I say…the trash *naughty finger wave*. What you see in the photo are sautéed ginger, green onion, onion, and garlic atop tilapia with sides of steamed rice. Add a little black pepper and oyster sauce to the sautéed mix and you are golden. My mouth is watering at this very moment, craving this dish again! Now, I’m not sure what other places you can grab banana leaves, but I got mine from our local My Thanh Asian grocery store.

2.

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This year’s holiday season hasn’t really felt all too much like one for me, and it probably has nothing to do with anyone else…but me. That’s okay though, I’ll get to that later. I can say that I’ve felt incredibly blessed at moments with the gift of giving this year. Little things like a card, edible treats, and especially edibles that I love to have in my kitchen! One of my co-workers brought up two gift baskets from his husband’s work, and I’ll tell ya the others and I tore those baskets up! Who doesn’t love GOYA products? I’ve already cracked open the cans of Mango nectar, Adobo seasoning, and black beans.

3.

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Ah, the comfort of home cooking of your culture. What is that odd combination you see? It is trei ngeat, white rice, topped with a sunny side up egg. Trei Ngeat is a Cambodian food staple, of the motherland and here. Oh, don’t mind my glass of red wine to the side. It’s crazy to me how I was not born in Cambodia (my parents were), but I feel this unexplainable connection to the foods and traditional recipes from there that I didn’t even like as a kid. I am embracing this mmm…peculiar rush of fond emotion that keeps surprising me – Like I have roots in a place I have never been.

Okay, so back to the real story. I don’t always write about food. I don’t always write about traveling. I write about how all of these things that I love, make me feel, and those things will branch off into…who knows? Something else that I can write about. This year has been a journey of change for me, as every other living second that I’ve spent on Earth. I’d like to say that I’m always ecstatic and passionate just to be living, but there are many times where I look at the glass as half empty, rather than half full. It’s been a little difficult to bring myself to write just as me, not as someone who wants to “sound good” for my audience. I am sharing with you all how my ever growing connection with food, cooking, traveling…amongst other loves of my life marry together, and make me who I am everyday. I’m still piecing everything together myself, and I hope you’ve all enjoyed my stories and come back for more. Happy Holidays & Happy Eating!

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P.S. Couldn’t leave you all without a little guilty pleasure to top off my naughty list, this year. *wink*

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Red Banana and Apple Smoothie Recipe for the Fall

Just in time for Fall! Well…in Austin, Texas we’ve finally been blessed with amazing Fall weather over Halloween weekend.  It’s crisp, cool, and most of the time sunny. It is definitely my favorite time of year for cooking and developing new recipes, as I usually cocoon myself into the house with all of the doors and windows open to feel the amazing weather. That being said, I want to share my fun Fall smoothie recipe with you all for Williams-Sonoma’s  “Not Your Average Smoothie” of the week

Have you ever had a red banana before? I know that I typically reach for the yellow bananas, but this week, I wanted to merry up my fruit and vegetable variety at home. Lucky me! The stars of my smoothie recipe will be very ripe, red bananas and crisp Fuji apples – both bought from Whole Foods organic produce.

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One major difference I noticed between the red bananas vs. yellow, were that the red bananas appeared more golden yellow after being peeled of course, and also tasted more dense and less sweet. Make sure that the bananas are very ripe, rather soft to touch and that the peel is almost all the way black – Don’t be alarmed, once peeled you’ll see that they are perfectly soft and semi-sweet on the inside. The Fuji apples should also be ripe for a sweeter taste.

Are you ready for a twist? Get a small saute pan and warm some butter on a low heat. Throw in your apple and banana slices and simmer for about 3 minutes. Before you turn the heat off, add sprinkles of cinnamon and drizzle some honey to the mix…it will smell absolutely divine! The caramelized effect of the apples and bananas sauteed with butter and honey  fill your home with Fall aromas and give a bit of an edge to the flavor.

Here’s a way to boost up your Fall smoothie – Add your greens. There’s already a sweet factor in the smoothie with the caramelized apples and bananas, the greens will just add a nice little boost to your nutrition for the day. I usually incorporate a few leaves of Lacinato kale and spinach to my smoothies. Pour in some vanilla sweetened almond milk and ice cubes, and you’re all ready to blend!

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I made this smoothie for my fiance and I this morning, and he gulped it down in no time! If you want to have this smoothie as a dessert, just leave out the ice and greens for a thicker consistency and the perfect mix of sugar and spice.

I hope you enjoyed the recipe! My list of ingredients are below. I used my Black and Decker blender  as a temporary replacement, but you can try out any of Williams-Sonoma’s selection of blenders for your smoothie recipes! Leave me a comment and let me know what you would consider your “Not Your Average Smoothie”!

Food Things You’ll Need:

  1. Ripe red bananas (2-3)
  2. Fuji apple (1/2 of  a big one or 1 whole small one)
  3. Lacinato Kale (2-3 leaves)
  4. Spinach (1/2 cup, or close to a handful with stems on)
  5. Vanilla sweetened almond milk (1/3 cup)
  6. Honey (4-5 tablespoons)
  7. Cinnamon (ground, 2 teaspoons)
  8. Butter (unsalted, 1 tablespoon)
  9. Ice cubes (1/2 cup)

Love,

Elaine