Texas Recipes: Quinoa and Shrimp Stir Fry

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
There have been a lot of changes lately.

Not major earth-shattering changes, but things like, I'm all of a sudden addicted to hot yoga, I've made a friend from Mexico online who I Skype with weekly in an effort to learn Spanish, I'm contemplating vegetarianism (breaking up with bacon may be the hardest thing I'll ever have to do in my life and that is in no way sad), you know...changes!

And my parents have been on this health kick lately, which means (since I love a good team challenge and am slightly terrified about swimsuit season which began about four yesterdays ago) I've been on a health kick lately. And since I'm contemplating vegetarianism I've decided to ease into it by starting on the pescatarian* route (am I exhausting you yet?), so I made this R I D I C U L O U S and healthy (425 calories!) Quinoa and Shrimp Stir Fry that I wanted to share with you all!

*Spell check wanted to change "pescatarian" to "cesarian". Nope.

I got this recipe from SELF, which sort of burned a hole in my skull since I was so enraged over how they shamed a female runner (who also, oh happened to be a cancer survivor) in their April 2014 issue that I sent multiple strongly worded emails to them asking them to cancel my subscription, effective immediately.

(Seriously, I'm exhausting myself right now.)

Anyway, I made peace with cooking this because people make mistakes, and what they did is unfortunate and awful, but I'm choosing to also recognize some of the good stuff SELF does - Like post amazing healthy recipes. And hopefully they have learned their lesson and will move forward by lifting our fellow women up, and not tearing them down!

Okay, feminist rant over. Now THE FOOD.

I altered the recipe a little by adding more delicious things to it, and I'm telling you, it's seriously awesome. And so so easy. And pretty! So many colors I could die.

Okay first things first - cook your quinoa according to the instructions on the package.

In a large pan, heat the canola oil and cook some shrimparoos nice and good!

Side note: If you'd like to save yourself 45 minutes and 17 swear words, buy the shrimp pre-pealed and deveined.

We learn and we grow folks.

Set your shrimp aside, and cook the chopped carrots, red bell pepper, red onion, sugar snap peas, and minced garlic until vegetables are soft.

Isn't that gorgeous?!

Add quinoa and shrimp to the pan, along with low sodium soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, ground ginger, and sriracha to taste. You also may want to throw a teeny tiny little bit of butter in there. I used the super UN-healthy I Can't Believe it's not Butter Spray (baby steps people) to add a little oomph to it.

Make it pretty and put it into some bowls, then top with chopped peanuts and sliced scallions.

Change is delicious y'all.

Brunchin' at Brick & Spoon

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Guys. I'm going to NYC in roughly 16 days, and I'm going to smoosh faces with my friends, shove pizza down my throat, dance to wild 80s tunes at my friend Mike's rockin' wedding, and bask in the tale as old as time tradition of brunch.

But in the meantime, a fine Houston brunch spot that rivals the countless ones peppered along the NYC sidewalks can be found at Brick & Spoon on Westheimer.

Side Note: I previously could not find my photos from this visit and automatically assumed I had accidentally deleted them (because that would be par for the course), but it turns out my dumb phone overheated in the sun, so I took photos with my friend Megan's phone, which she has since sent to me. Hoorah!

After punching some bags in kickboxing class a few Saturdays ago (it's seriously become an addiction), I met up with my girlfriends Megan and Boh for brunch at Brick & Spoon. It was a particularly lovely Saturday, and after a short 20 minute wait, we were able to sit outside on the nice deck (and get a little sunburned - whoops!). Our waiter was awesome, and he and I became besties in about 2.7 seconds. Megan said she felt like the 3rd wheel to our new friendship.

But more importantly, this:

That's right. A build-your-own-Bloody-Mary, which duh, I had to do.

It's a $12.50 Bloody Mary which almost made me choke, but I had to do it. You know, for Narnia.

Anyway, the thing was ginormous, and was probably two drinks in one, so can I really complain? No. And while I definitely enjoyed it (hello, it's me), it wasn't my favorite Bloody. Then again, I'm the one who built the darn thing, so I only have myself to blame.

But this is definitely a nice, unique feature of Brick & Spoon's brunch.

Bacon. That's where I went wrong. I should have added bacon. *smacks head*

Now I know that I have claimed that salads usually make me feel sad and empty inside, and rightly so. But sometimes I get a wild hair and want one for some reason. I'm assuming the reason on this particular occasion was that I had just jumped around with giant gloves on my hand for the past hour, so I was inspired to be healthy.

That, or I had just basically eaten a meal in the form of a drink.

Tomato, Tomahto.

So I ordered the Grilled Veggie Salad with shrimp and almost had a heart attack from the beauty radiating from the thing. I mean look at it!

And y'all, it even tastes 10 times better than it looks, if you can imagine that. While the salad was light, it still managed to be filling (I'd definitely recommend adding the shrimp like I did), and the bold flavors of the different grilled vegetables were divine. Topped with feta cheese and a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette, I can find no fault with this salad. It's lovely. And fantastic.

Megan and Boh ordered the Breakfast Tacos, which make for an interesting display as they are housed in crispy wonton shells. While Megan liked her tacos, she took a bite of my salad and said she'd be ordering that next time.

A salad! Seriously! It really will rock your world.

Brick & Spoon is a lovely outdoor brunch spot, and the interior is also quite chic and cozy for those unbearable Houston summer (and winter? ugh) days. The food is fantastic, and I definitely recommend going!

ALWAYS add bacon.

Taco Tuesdays: The Original Ninfa's on Navigation

Tuesday, April 15, 2014
I have a confession to make.

I was born and raised around these parts, and I've lived inside the loop for the past year, and my first visit to the Original Ninfa's on Navigation...was last Saturday.

*wince* I know! It's criminal!

But while we're on the subject of confessions, I have to confess that my latest addictions are kickboxing, Instagram (seriously, where had I been all this time?), photo editing apps, "House of Cards" (except after binge-watching it on Netflix, I finally got to the season 2 finale last night, and OH MY GOD, and what am I going to do with my life now??), these pancakes, and spending way too much time playing Candy Crush.

And if anyone can help me unlock the levels after 125, I'll be forever in your debt.

I am proud to say though, that I have now dined at the Original Ninfa's, and I absolutely loved it.

This past Saturday I went with a group of friends to this legendary Houston spot, and it was so beautiful out (Yeah, what must that be like, current 40 DEGREE HOUSTON WEATHER?) we opted to sit on their large patio. The wait time was 40 minutes, which was to be expected for a Saturday night. That was no problem, as we passed the time drinking margs and coronas at the El Tiempo next door.

Once we were seated we ordered the queso (duh) to start, which was hot and cheesy and goopy and pretty exceptional.

Side note: There are a couple of very daring/creepy/awesome cats lurking around your feet, so if you feel something furry brush up against your leg while you are indulging in aforementioned queso, don't think anything of it.

But back to the food.

I debated heavily on what to order for my main course. Do I go with my standard fajitas? That's always tricky since it would take a small act of God for anything to top my love of El Tiempo's Filet Fajitas. However, our bubbly server Gaby was telling me how wonderful the Ninfa's fajitas are.

Max's fajitas with diablo shrimp added

My new friend Max told me that he would put his life on recommending their Diablo Shrimp Soft Tacos though. The tacos are stuffed with a cabbage slaw and bacon-wrapped shrimp, with jack cheese in soft corn tortillas.

Um, yeah that'll do.

Y'all. These were amazing. AMAZING. The shrimp (shrimp? shrimps? platypusses?) were bursting with flavor, the bacon was, um, BACON (read: perfection), and the tangy slaw was delightful. These mighty little tacos were borderline delicate, due to the absolute precision that went into combining these harmonious flavors. Just fantastic.

My friend Megan and her boyfriend Jesse split a Crawfish Enchilada special that they were oohing and ahhing over. I gave them some of my tacos, and after tasting, they dubbed my plate the winner. Their enchiladas set the bar incredibly high, but they claim my tacos were in a class all of their own.

I can see now why the Original Ninfa's is such an institution. The enthusiastic staff, the lively atmosphere, and the exceptional food make it a really special place.

Oh, and I have another confession to make: I'm going to Dallas next weekend.

*wince* I know! It's traitorous! But I'm visiting my sister!

And you can bet I'll be instagramming the pants off of that trip.

Happy Hour at Shade

Friday, April 11, 2014
This post was supposed to be about the amazing brunch I had at Brick and Spoon with my lady friends Megan and Boh.

But someone (ME) accidentally deleted those photos from my phone, so....oh darn, now I get to go back!

And for now I'll talk about the great Happy Hour experience Megan and I had at Shade a few weeks ago!

First off, I made an earth-shattering discovery when I went there.

Back when I was a wee undergrad at the University of Miami and was visiting home during spring break one year (it's funny how all the Miami students leave Miami for spring break while all of the other young co-eds seem to flock there), I went to lunch with my mom and her co-worker somewhere in Houston. That was like, 42 years ago, so I clearly forgot where it was. But I remembered exactly what I ate (duh. mussels. pre-mollusk allergy, obvs.) and exactly what it looked like inside (beautiful, light, and airy).

Since I've moved back, every time my mom and I go shopping in Rice Village, I point out this one restaurant to her (couldn't tell you the name of it) and say "Mom! That's where you, Gail, and I ate one time when I was in college!" And then she proceeds to look at me like I have five heads, and says, "I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. And I've never eaten there." This exact conversation has happened about seven times.

What is it that they say is the mark of a crazy person?


A few weeks ago when I walked into Shade, located on the most adorable street you've ever seen in the Heights, the realization hit me like a ton of bricks: THIS is the place I had lunch at with my mom and Gail!

Of all the gin joints in all the world....

(Name that movie!)

But anyway. Y'all know I love a good Happy Hour.

Especially a lovely, super inexpensive Houston Happy Hour that allows you to sample multiple small plates with your friends--and Shade definitely fits the bill here!

After much deliberation and hashing it out with our server (these are major life decisions after all), we settled on ordering the Lamb Sliders, Goat Cheese Fritters, and Tempura Fried Broccolini from the Happy Hour menu, along with the Gruyere Macaroni and Cheese appetizer from the Dinner menu.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't blown away by the Goat Cheese Fritters. They were fine, and definitely pretty little suckers, but probably my least favorite thing we ordered. I think it's because the goat cheese was a tad overpowering. When I first took a bite I described them as "fancy mozzarella cheese sticks...but with goat cheese." But I'd probably rather stick to the original.

Megan seemed to be more of a fan of them though!

The Gruyere Mac and Cheese, made with truffle oil, is - naturally - super indulgent. Again, not the best truffle mac I've ever had, but it's definitely worth a taste. It's super decadent and filling, and it is something I would have definitely appreciated more during those awful 20 degree spells we got (in Houston! I still can't get over that!) last winter.

Okay, now we're getting into the big leagues here. First of all, look at how artfully this plate of Lamb Sliders is done. So many colors! So many levels!

 I'm easily amazed.

The sliders come on brioche with tzatziki and chimichuri, and they are AWESOME. The lamb was incredibly tender, which contrasted nicely with the firm brioche, and the tzatziki packed a nice little punch. These munchies were gobbled up in no time. Seriously, the next time I go, I think I'll double (oh hell, triple) my order of these!

But the surprising winner of our Happy Hour samplings was the Tempura Fried Broccolini!



How? Why? Huh? I mean don't get me wrong, I enjoy me some broccoli/broccolini/things of the occoli variety, but this stuff was on a whole new level of wowzers. I don't know how they managed to make the outside so perfectly lightly crisped, while the inside stayed incredibly nice and tender, but it was done beautifully. Also, the sweet chili sauce that came with it?

Ugh, so good I died.

End result? Shade is a darling place with some fantastic Happy Hour food offerings. I am happy to be able to recommend another delightful, inexpensive Happy Hour spot in Houston!

(But I'm even happier to report that my mother no longer thinks I've *completely* lost my marbles).

Houston Astros Games and then a Little Extra Sumpin' Sumpin'

Monday, April 7, 2014
Why hello, April!

That photo is of me and my high school BFFL Erica before an Astros game. Based on the Reeboks I was wearing, you would justifiably think the year was 1984, but you would be mistaken as it was actually 2006 kids.

I'm not a sporty person, per se (my father learned that the hard way when he bought me my first baseball glove at age 7 and discovered I couldn't throw or catch to save my life, when he took me to play tennis at age 10 and witnessed me screaming every time the ball came near me, and when after being the tallest person in my class with a "promising" (it wasn't) career in basketball ahead of me, all of a sudden I stopped growing at age 12 and have been stunted somewhere between 5'4" and 5'5" ever since), but I do enjoy the act of attending sporting events. Especially, Astros games, Especially when they're good.

But beggars can't be choosers of course.

And although I couldn't have named you a current Astro before this weekend (I got my eye on you now, Altuve!), I can name you my all-time favorites from the past:

  1. Brad Ausmus (I mean I am a red-blooded American woman) 
  2. Lance Berkman (seriously, have you seen him hit a homer live? Magical.)
  3. And my all-time favorite pitcher Roy Oswalt.

So this weekend I went to Saturday's game against the Angels with my friends Lenny, Christy, and Caleb, and it was super extra special when, no Brad Ausmus was not there and did not declare his undying love to me, but yes I got to see Berkman and Oswalt retire their jerseys as Astros.

Pretty cool stuff.

After the ceremony, Christy and I decided to wander off and get some grub. I have yet to experience the infamous magic of Killen's Barbecue, so we stood in line for half an hour at the new Caswell's and Killen's Smokehouse stand in Minute Maid Park. Did the luscious barbecue baked potato I ordered justify the long wait?

You bet your cute little faces it did!

Funny story about this picture though.

I sat down in my seat, put the baker in my lap, leaned over to grab my phone out of my purse so I could take said picture, sat back up, and discovered that my entire upper lady bits were completely covered in barbecue sauce.

And I was wearing a light blue shirt.

And of course I was tempted to channel my inner Barney Stinson and take my friends up on their challenge of seeing how many dudes' numbers I could get while covered in barbecue sauce. However, after I finished eating that heavenly monster potato (look, a girl's got priorities), I went to the bathroom and performed soap and water surgery on my poor shirt. I came back to my seat, wearing a now soaking wet shirt mind you (I was totally that girl), but now barbecue-free, much to the disappointment of my friends.

A few innings later, and my shirt was totally dry. But then!

A fly ball suddenly popped over into our section and landed in someone's popcorn bucket five seats away from us. My now dry shirt became completely covered in beer as Christy flailed about trying to protect her face.

I must have smelled AMAZING.

After the game (Did we win, my parents asked me? I think we all know the answer to that question.), we walked to the downtown bars, which I actually had never been to. I eventually want to do individual posts about each of these bars when I've had a more, uh, clear experience with them, but I'll give a brief overview.

Our first stop was The Pastry War, and it was super adorable and super fun. Our last stop (well my last stop) was Captain Foxheart's (Bad News Bar), which 100% reminded me of a cool NYC Speakeasy. And side note, when we got in there Lenny asked me what my Twitter handle was, and I full on lied to his face and promptly told him it was @VodkaSoda (It's not. It's @kimmyog).

But the stop in between, Goro & Gun, just might be my new favorite bar in Houston, for three reasons:

1) This creepy awesome thing:

Is that a Pee Wee Herman puppet riding a taxidermed coyote? Yup, sure is.

2) These RIDICULOUS Brussels sprouts that are so good they'll melt your face off:

3) I asked the beyond friendly bartenders if they would play "Africa" by Toto over their sound system, and THEY DID, and I became that totally *ahem*sober girl with beer and remnants of barbecue on her shirt, dancing alone in the bar, fulfilling my every dream.

So long story long, Astros games are one of my favorite spring/summertime events to attend in Houston. You can get decent seats for not a whole lot, and now I've discovered that the after party downtown bar scene ROCKS. You should totally go!

I'll even let you borrow my lucky shirt.
> Back to Top