Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It's (officially) Official

A couple of months back, I prematurely announced that I would be moving this blog to a new one, The Holland House. I should have waited until I had ample time to learn about Wordpress and get it looking exactly like I wanted it to. Well, that time has come and gone, and I still know almost nothing about Wordpress, nor do I like working with it. Everyone says it's the best blogging platform, but I guess I'm just so used to Blogger and how it works. Trying to do anything on Wordpress just made me an angry person. Lucky for me, Hank is a genius and was able to transfer the domain, or direct traffic, or whatever, so that now I can post on the new blog using Blogger.

I've honestly struggled with my path in blogging. What originally started as a dating blog turned into a lifestyle blog, and now my life has taken an even bigger next step. I still feel like I have plenty of things to share and say, but I would like for that focus to be more on my life that now (permanently) includes someone else. This blog has started to take off, which has been great. And I know that starting all over again is not that great for momentum, but I can live with that. The compromise for me is that I will still keep my identity as Amy in Austin- because that's really who I am.  But I will be sharing my blogging space with my adorable husband, who also has some interesting things to say as well.

We spruced the new place up a bit, and will probably make a few more tweaks as we go along. But I do hope that you will follow us. All of my new posts will be on our new blog- The Holland House. Please add us to your Bloglovin' (or other RSS) feed. I'm going to wait a week or so before I start importing my favorite posts from this blog to the new one, but hope to have the most popular content organized and in place in the next few weeks.

This is certainly not a goodbye, rather a see you soon. Very soon! Our first post is up, with another one planned tomorrow. So don't be shy- pay a visit to our house when you get the chance. We like to kick back with a craft beer (his) or a glass of wine (hers) and share fun stories. We'd love for you to join us.

The Holland House

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Lunch in a Box: Almond Flour Chicken Bites

I'm on a serious roll with healthy lunches this week, but this one is probably my favorite of all my recent lunches. The best part about it is that it doesn't necessarily "feel" healthy, if that makes any sense. The chicken bites and dipping sauce almost made me feel like I splurged and went to Chick-Fil-A (not that I ever would these days).

As I was working on this recipe in my head, I decided I needed to do some research on the health benefits of almond flour. I read some good and some bad things, but decided it was worth a shot. Because it's ground up almonds, you do have to watch the fat content (which is why I paired it with fruit and veggies). And it's also not very heat tolerant, so I used a lower temp in my oven when I baked these. But the end result is absolutely delicious, and this is one chicken dish that I don't mind eating at all. Plus, you can add whatever dipping sauce you happen to like. I made my own honey mustard because it's my favorite, but anything would work.

For this lunch, I added leftover asparagus from dinner, Garlicky Zucchini Ribbons, and mixed berries for dessert.

Amy in Austin: Almond Flour Chicken Bites

Almond Flour Chicken Bites
(6 servings)

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
1 cup almond flour (I found this in the bulk section at Whole Foods)
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1 T garlic powder
1 T onion powder
1 T chili powder
1 tsp turmeric (I swear I use this in everything these days)
1 tsp season salt

1 egg, whisked
1/2 cup rice milk (or some other liquid)

1. Preheat oven to 325°.

2. Brine chicken bites in salt water while you get the rest of your ingredients assembled. (You can skip this step if you want, but I do it when I have time because I feel like it results in a more moist chicken.)

3. Combine almond flour, flax seed and seasonings in a large bowl or plastic bag. I ended up coating several batches in a large bowl.

4. Drain chicken if brining, then pour the egg and milk mixture on top of chicken to coat.

5. In batches, coat chicken pieces in almond mix. Place on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray or lightly oiled.

6. Bake for 15 minutes on each side. Check to make sure they are done before letting cool.

Honey Mustard
(6 servings)

3/4 cup dijon mustard
1 T honey

1. Mix and portion out. I love the Easy Lunch Box Mini Dippers because they fit in my lunch container.

Per my trusty Lose It app, below is a best guest of nutritional information for the chicken bites:

Calories: 253
Fat: 16.7g
Cholesterol: 36mg
Sodium: 31.3mg
Carb: 6.7g
Fiber: 4g
Sugars: 0.7g
Protein: 20.4g

Monday, June 3, 2013

Lunch in a Box: Thai Beef and Mango Salad

Yesterday I hosted our latest Cookbook Club gathering, where we enjoyed a great meal and reviewed dishes we made from two different blogs- Post Punk Kitchen and Eating Well. I wanted to serve something light, fresh and "summery". I knew a salad would be great, but I didn't want it to be a boring salad. Luckily I came across a recipe for Thai Beef and Melon Salad. With a few adjustments, I was confident that it would be perfect for our meal. It tasted great yesterday, and even better today, and of course I was excited to have leftovers to make my lunch.

I did make a few tweaks to their recipe (like replacing the melon with mango), and was really pleased with the results. You can check out the original on the link above if you want to compare. I added cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks and some fresh berries to round out the meal.

Amy in Austin: Thai Beef and Mango Salad

Thai Beef and Mango Salad
(serves 3-6)

12 ounces of beef sirloin, about 1 inch thick
salt and pepper to season the meat
1 tsp oil

1/4 cup lime juice
3 T low-sodium soy sauce (I can't stand the taste of fish sauce, so I subbed soy sauce and Hoison)
1 tsp Hoison
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper (less if you don't want the heat)

6 cups of mixed greens
3 mangoes, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
1 red bell pepper, sliced into matchsticks
1/2 cup thin cucumber slices, halved
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 cup mint, chopped

1. Heat a pan over medium, and place the seasoned steak in when it's hot. Cook about 5 minutes on each side for medium pink. (Alternative would be to grill the steak.)

2. Meanwhile, whisk the lime juice, soy sauce, Hoison, garlic and red pepper together.

3. When steak is done cooking, let it rest about 5 minutes before slicing it into thin strips.

4. Assemble the lettuce and remaining ingredients, toss with dressing, and then serve steak on top.

Song of the Day: Michael Kiwanuka- Home Again

Since Hank has spruced up our back porch and made it a much more inviting place, we enjoy rocking in the chairs, drinking wine, and listening to some music. I'm always on the hunt for good "porch" music, and Michael Kiwanuka's acoustic/retro soul sound is a perfect fit. It just so happens that he's taping an Austin City Limits show next week, and that is how I found out about him. I have a calendar reminder to check the ACL website every Monday to sign up to win tickets, and saw him listed as the next performer. (Wish me luck that we actually win tickets- it's never happened.)

I already have one of his songs on iTunes, but it's not really my favorite. But the song Home Again (from his album released last year) is a winner. I plan on downloading the rest of the album, and trying it out on our back porch soon.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Foodie Pen Pals

I'm back with another round of Foodie Penpals from The Lean Green Bean. You might recall that I participated in the program last month for the first time, and was so pleased with my box that I decided to do it a second time. I'm so glad I did- I was thrilled with this month's box too!

This time around I was paired up with Jessi from What the Efff. She writes about family, food, and her fur babies- a kindred spirit to say the least. I think my favorite blog post so far is the one about homemade peanut butter dog treats. It's on my to-do list for sure. But most importantly, Jessi lives in Wisconsin, a part of the US that I don't even think I have flown over. I really know nothing about it other than that's where cheese curds come from (I think), which automatically makes it a cool place in my book.

Thankfully, Jessi included the most adorable card (that I believe she made) that gave me the run down on a part of Wisconsin known as Door County. They're famous for cherries, chocolate and coffee. Hello?! Add in the cheese, and I've got all four of my favorite food groups covered. The box contained a jar of Cherry De-Lite Salsa, a jar of MochaCocoa Cappucino Topping, a bag of Danielle Honey Banana Chips, and a jar of East Shore Dipping Mustard. I've never met this girl, yet she just gets me.

Foodie Penpal Wisconsin Treats

I opened the box just before cooking dinner, so I immediately sent Hank to the store to grab a pint of BlueBell vanilla ice cream. There was chocolate sauce that needed a vessel, stat! We enjoyed the treat for dessert, and I'm hoping to use the little bit that is left in some frosting for cupcakes this weekend. It was delicious, to say the least.

Next up was the bag of banana chips. I took them to the office the next day, thinking they would be a great little snack to munch on throughout the week. I opened them up mid morning, and they were gone 60 seconds later. These things are ridiculously good! I added the link because I'd really love to have more, but maybe I'll mix them up with trail mix so that I don't eat them all at once. They aren't the worst thing I could be binge eating, but that bag is probably not intended to be eaten all at once.

We busted open the salsa this past weekend with a bag of black bean chips. We eat a ton of salsa here in Texas, so I was a tad skeptical. I really loved the cherries though, and thought it added a great flavor. It was definitely on the sweeter side, but I would love to have another jar and make a great taco with it.

The last item in the box was the dipping mustard. I'm a huge fan of mustard and was excited to get this. I really wish I had taken the time to go get some fresh pretzels to eat it with, but I was too lazy to make the trip. Instead, I used it to dip baked chicken fingers that I threw together for an easy Friday night dinner. The dip was tasty and masked the chicken that I'm slowly starting to incorporate back into my diet.

All in all, it was another fun box, and I loved that she sent me such a great taste of Wisconsin. Thank you so much Jessi! I also sent a taste of Austin to Kristel, who lives in Richmond, VA and writes at Stirring Things Up. Ironically enough, she will be visiting Austin next week for the BlogHer Food Conference, so it was fun sharing ideas of things to do while she's in town. If you're interested in joining for next month, you must sign up by June 4th. Just click on the image below for more details.

The Lean Green Bean

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

INSTA+LATELY {link up}

I'm back for another Instalately link-up with Jenn. Our life lately has revolved around animals, food and home improvement projects. Nothing wildly exciting since the wedding, but we're perfectly alright with slowing down a bit!

Our animal herd

*We celebrated Maddie's birthday (and Marley's belated birthday) with a doggie cake from Bentley's Biscuits and Bones. All of the girls loved it! We've been feeling guilty about all the attention Brees gets, so it was a fun way to celebrate Maddie and Marley!
*Brees got her very own Saints jersey, and we hope she'll still fit into it come football season.
*Cat stand-off over the favorite chair. They love to fight over this spot.
*Brees and Marley after a long morning walk. They play hard, they sleep hard.

Healthy meals

*Back on the healthy lunch train with Curried Chicken Salad (made with non-fat greek yogurt!)
*Farmer's Market dinner with locally grown kale and brussels sprouts.
*Another healthy (low-carb) lunch with a frittata and salad.
*Biggest news- I ate chicken! Baked chicken strips with honey mustard dipping sauce. 

*Hank put together a new picnic table/umbrella for our patio and we hosted our first outdoor dinner.
*We finally have things growing in our yard! The top is a bell pepper that will eventually be red if it makes it, and the bottom is a golden cherry tomato. The plant has produced 2 so far. Hoping the dogs leave them alone this season so that we can actually enjoy some fresh produce from our own yard. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Weekend Recap

I hope that everyone had a fun, safe and memorable Memorial Day weekend! It certainly wouldn't be appropriate if I didn't recognize those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving for our country. I'm so thankful for their service and all the freedoms that it brings us.

We enjoyed a very low-key weekend, and pretty much stayed in our little corner of Austin. After running in the rain on Saturday morning and eating breakfast tacos with friends, we didn't do a single thing but lay on the couch and be lazy. We were long over due for doing nothing, and soaked up every minute! Sunday was a little bit more of the same, though we did take Brees to Petsmart to sign her up for Puppy Basics class, and also to hit the local farmer's market. But we hit the pool in the afternoon so that we could rest from our excursions.

Sunday night we went to the The Oasis to watch The Brew play. They're a local latin/jazz band and I never get tired of seeing them. There was a huge crowd with a ton of great people watching, so that kept us pretty entertained for the evening. It's a shame that such an amazing venue doesn't have better food. Every time we end up eating there, we always wish we didn't. There's nothing creative or good about their menu! Our other regret was that we didn't get up to participate in the free salsa class that took place while the band was on a break. Next time....

On Monday we went on an hour long trail hike/jog on the trail system in our neighborhood. We have so much green space, and never really take advantage of it. With the recent rain, it was a little bit muddy. But it also meant that the creeks were full and running. It was just beautiful, and I'm looking forward to hiking on more of them. It was nice to get out and do something active, and I we really enjoyed all of the quality time that we got to spend together.

We rounded out the weekend with a delicious (and healthy!) dinner at my parent's house. The weather was just nice enough for us to sit outside and enjoy their pretty yard. My mom had come across a new food blog called Iowa Girl Eats that had some really great looking recipes, including a section with 20 Great Memorial Day Recipes. So our menu included Key West Lime Chicken with Mango Salsa, and Cauliflower Rice. Yes- you read that right. Cauliflower rice. This low carb girl was loving it, and it really tasted great! Since we're now eliminating rice from our diet, this will definitely become a weekly staple. Hank and I took ingredients to make an easy Grilled Mexican Corn side dish, and then we rounded out the meal with strawberry shortcake skewers and a yummy yogurt/cream cheese cheese dip.

Grilled Mexican Corn

Key West Lime Chicken and Cauliflower Rice

Fun outdoor table setting.

Red, white and blue dessert!