Doesn’t usually matter what the food is as long as “spicy” is a key adjective.
Cooking spicy food is my forte. I am SO. GOOD. at spicy food it’s hilarious and sometime inedible. Whipping up a quick pasta dish with chicken, peppers, onions and a whole lot of Cajun spice fit right into my main event menu.
1-2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
8 oz. rotini pasta, cooked to al dente
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1 onion, diced
~ 1 cup chicken stock or broth
~ 1/2 cup milk or cream
1 Tbs. butter
Cajun Spice Mix (see below for homemade!)
Cook the pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Drain and set aside while following the rest of the instructions.
Cube the chicken and toss with Cajun Spice Mix. Set aside.
Dice the onion, green bell pepper and jalapeno and saute on high heat with olive oil in a large cast iron skillet. Dress with salt, pepper and red chili flakes to taste. Once they’ve sweat, push them to the sides of the pan so you’ve got a ring of flavor.
Add more olive oil to the center of the pan, and then kerplop the spiced chicken right in the middle.
Cook until nearly completely done. You don’t want to overcook the chicken, and it’s not done with the heat yet.
Once the chicken is nearly cooked through, add 1 tablespoon of butter about about a half cup of milk or cream to the pasta pot. Toss the pasta on top, and then stir to melt the butter and coat the pasta.
Add the chicken, peppers and onion mix to the pasta pot. Stir to combine.
Use the 1 cup of chicken stock or broth to boil off any yummy bits stuck to the cast iron pan, and then add it all into the pasta pot.
Heat the pot on medium-low, cover and simmer until flavors combine. Kill the heat and let it sit uncovered for five minutes, or until the liquid has thickened.
Serve with chopped green onion, diced crisp bacon or all on its own. Enjoy it while it’s hot and spicy!
Cajun Spice Mix: 2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper, 1 tsp. thyme-dry, 1 tsp. oregano-dry, 2 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1 tsp. garlic powder and 1 tsp. cayenne pepper. Add another dash of red chili flakes to kick it up a notch! Makes enough for the recipe above.
There are avocados and beets in this sweet smoothie, and I’m not going to lie. It definitely tastes like beets… but in a good way.
There’s also coconut water in this smoothie, which I tried for the first time – not in the smoothie, just drank some – huge mistake.
It. Was. Disgusting.
Luckily, in the actual smoothie, it’s fine. Can’t even taste it.
I adapted this from oh she glows’Pink Power Detox Smoothie, but I didn’t have strawberries, and I needed my celery for a soup I’m making later… so it’s mildly different.
Hence the adaption.
Also, I made way more than four cups.
Like, hilariously more. I filled five of my little milk bottles way past the actual full line.
SO MUCH MORE that I made a mess.
Avocado Beet Smoothie adapted from oh she glows serves 5 really full 8-oz. milk bottles
2 16.9-oz. containers of coconut water (Maybe not the whole bunch of them.)
2 large organic avocados
4 small organic beets, chopped (I definitely steamed these before blending like she recommends. I don’t have a Vitamix.)
2 cups frozen berries (I used blackberries, blueberries and raspberries.)
2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs. coconut oil
Blend and enjoy! Recommendation: Put the solids in before the liquids so you know how much room you’ll have in your blender.
I had about 4 oz. extra (which might have been more had I not spilled a bunch on my freshly cleaned and sanitized counter top). Save to pour over yogurt and granola for a morning snack or, if you’re like me, drink it up as you clean.
Now that I’m home for lunch and dinner, I can finally post some recipes! Before Wichita Restaurant Week, my husband and I “grilled” up this new take on Honey Sriracha Beef… with venison.
Remember when I said I had two deer worth of meat in my freezer? Well, I wasn’t joking. I haven’t bought beef yet this year, and I don’t think I’ll need to with the rich, red, clean meat my husband brought home in December.
I imagined slow cooking deer into a delightful barbacoa featured by Tasty by Buzzfeed, but I haven’t quite worked out a time to do it. Instead, I decided to try my luck with honey, Sriracha and soy sauce and grilling indoors.
My husband cut the backstrap into inch-ish cubes — mostly because I didn’t want to — and waited for me to mix the marinade, which is really more like a sauce.
Honey, Sriracha and soy sauce are all you need for this recipe. And wine — see picture above — because who cooks without wine?
(Note: The wine goes in you, not the sauce.)
I also chopped up an onion and a green bell pepper, dressed in salt, pepper, olive oil and golden balsamic vinegar to grill alongside the meat.
Usually, you would want to kabob these nuggets and turn them over an outdoor grill.
When the temperature is 25 degrees F and the Kansas wind is being a mad bro, you don’t really have the option of cooking over open, burning charcoal.
The neighborhood would go up in smoke.
Instead, my kitchen did.
And with every fan in the house spinning on high, plus a stand fan aimed at the wide open backdoor, the house was still full of smoke.
Kids, don’t grill indoors.
Even if you’re just using your stove…
Smoke or not, these little nuggets were gold.
Honey Sriracha Deer
1-2 lbs. venison backstrap, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Tbs. Sriracha
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. honey
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more for the onions and peppers
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp. golden balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 red onion, cut into large sections
1 green bell pepper, cut into large sections
Chop the onion and pepper and toss with salt, cracked black pepper, golden balsamic vinegar (apple cider or white wine vinegar also work in a pinch) and olive oil.
Heat a cast iron skillet with a little olive oil and saute the onions and peppers until they’ve just got a bit of crunch left. You don’t want them to be shmushy.
Salt and pepper the venison, with the white pepper, and then coat it in Sriracha, soy sauce and honey.
Coat a cast iron grill pan with VEGETABLE or CANOLA oil — probably don’t use olive oil unless you have a powerful range hood — and heat to crazy hot.
That pan needs to be hot, hot, HOT — smokin’ before you put the meat on it.
Grill the venison in batches of six to eight pieces to medium rare.* Remove from the heat and set aside.
Once everything is cooked, load the plate with deer and a bowl with the veggies and chow down with your spouse or a friend. Two forks and several napkins required.
*My husband checked both deer to ensure they were healthy, without disease and safe to consume at medium rare. If you have not ensured your venison is consumable at this temperature, please understand that deer is susceptible to the same gut bacteria as beef and needs to be cooked accordingly.
Sharing those delicious deviled eggs, that perfectly pulled Venezuelan pork sandwich, the charcuterie board and decadent Tres Leches cake with a friend was the perfect lunch experience, and I bet sharing one of their larger boards — I mean, have you seen these things? — for dinner would be just as astronomically amazing ;)
I hope Wichita Restaurant Week has done its job of fundraising for Boys & Girls Club of South Central Kansas — I can’t wait to hear the results — and I also hope it has shown the Wichita community all the amazing local flavors just around the corner.
…on a chef-inspired buffet complete with traditional American breakfast items and authentic Mediterranean cuisine.
I ate ALL of the goat cheese.
Piccadilly, Wichita’s favorite holiday buffet spot, moved from its long-time Piccadilly Square location to a larger space in Comotara Plaza, where Olive Tree now serves its banquets and catering. The new space comes with a new name — Two Olives — and opens in February. Until then, Olive Tree continues to serve Sunday brunch and cater events across town.
The last time I ate buffet-style was at Piccadilly two Thanksgivings ago (and it was awesome), but that wasn’t the first time I’d eaten Piccadilly’s menu.
When I was in my undergrad at Wichita State University, I worked catering events at Hotel at Oldtown and the Wichita Art Museum with one of the chefs behind the Piccadilly cuisine — Joumana Toubia. While I mixed drinks behind a bar or served a three course meal to 250 event patrons or held an appetizer tray over my head during cocktail hour, Joumana was in the kitchen leading a team of chefs to produce some wonderful bites.
Of course, the staff got to taste them. How else would we be able to describe them appropriately to guests?
How else, I ask you.
At brunch on Sunday — the final day of #WRW16 — I wanted to try everything so I got little bits of as much as I could eat.
I liked almost everything on this plate, but there are certain things I tried that I knew I wouldn’t like, such as the grape leaf wrap things — I don’t like grape leaves — and the eggplant — I don’t like eggplant.
But I wanted to try them.
I inhaled the beets and Brussels sprouts salad, which I didn’t expect, but an upcoming smoothie recipe will show you how I’ve suddenly taken to beets… They’re weirdly delicious.
The salmon was also delicious, and I think I could have eaten an entire plate of just that, but I saved room for as much of the rest of the buffet as I could.
The buffet was delightful, and the food was great, but I wished the areas and items had been labeled more clearly. Some items, like the salmon, didn’t need to be labeled, but others would have helped direct my decisions. For example, my brunch friend and I did not realize there was a waffle station. That would have been dessert, if I had seen it. Some of the tapas-style foods were also unlabeled, and I couldn’t tell the difference between the baba ghanoush and hummus in the muted lighting.
Because Piccadilly recently moved and changed their name and the restaurant technically isn’t “live” yet, I think the look and feel of the location as well as the organization of the buffet will change.
I’m excited to see what they’ll do with the place! It’s massive!
Olive Tree will also now offer its menu on a carry-out basis. Girls’ night? Book club? Don’t want to cook? Get a pint of hummus, a couple pizzas and fattouch salads — my favorite — from the future Two Olives and chow down at home. It’s catering, carry-out style.
Public was busy busy busy because of the KU game, and that always makes me happy. Not just basketball, but also seeing a local place jam-packed full of paying customers who I hope were ordering their local brews with the Wichita Restaurant Week menu!
My husband ordered the local beer on special, a pilsner, and I’m not too fond of pilsners, so I started my meal with the best darn mixed drink I’ve ever consumed.
The Public Smash, ladies and gentlemen.
I broke the jalapeno in half and smooshed it to the bottom of the glass to give the drink a little heat with every sip, but Public serves it on the side so you can enjoy the remaining ingredients heat-free if you prefer.
Public’s three-course meal was the first true three-course meal I’ve run into during #WRW16: Soup or salad to start, an entree and dessert. Plus, their menu featured items they don’t usually have on the regular menu so it was a completely new meal at a restaurant I frequent and frequently order the same thing. (The burger is so good.)
I brought my husband with me in hopes we could order different things on the #WRW16 menu so I could try everything, but there was no sharing this soup.
We both ordered the French Onion Soup and nearly drank it straight from the bowl. All soup, the perfect bite of cheese with deep flavors and the consistency of soup that had been slow-cooked for hours.
I. Want. More.
Public’s #WRW16 menu isn’t an all-the-time menu, which means this soup isn’t an all-the-time soup. I will be starting a letter-writing campaign to get it on the menu permanently.
We did order different entrees.
@publicoldtown on Twitter recommended I get the Five-Spiced Fried Chicken, but my husband was pretty set on getting the chicken. Since neither of us like grits, I ordered the Banana Wrapped Snapper with sticky rice.
The snapper was flaky and fresh without a super “fishy” flavor (I like fishy flavors, but some people don’t so snapper is a good option). The banana leaf kept it piping hot, and probably provided its retained moisture. Eaten with the tangy carrot, cabbage and apple slaw on the side, every bite popped with flavor, but I think this fish needed those extra flavors.
Snapper is, after learning from a bit of research, a pretty mild fish.
As for the sticky rice — well, I love sticky rice. It’s like dessert you get to eat before dessert. (Don’t worry, I still got dessert.)
And here is the chicken! Let me tell you how much my husband loved me taking photos of his food before he could eat it — ha!
Five-spice, wasabi, pho gravy… this is a dish that should offer some incredible flavors — and, wow, did it deliver.
The chicken was perfectly fried — juicy dark meat with crispy skin that hadn’t been overly fried. The texture of the meat and chicken flavor alone could have carried the dish, but I didn’t get much five-spice in the bites I took from my husband.
Either way, suuuuuuuuper yummy, would eat again.
Now, let’s talk about those mashed potatoes.
Everything you love about mashed potatoes — the comfort, the carbs — but with a little kick and a lot of savory from the pho gravy, which was also On. Point. Piled high in the happiest side dish presentation that ever existed ever.
(The letter-writing campaign for those mashed potatoes will coincide with the letter-writing campaign for the soup.)
Dinner was not to be outdone, but I think dessert outdid it.
Somehow, when I read the menu, I missed a key ingredient to these little dough nuggets: chocolate.
Imagine my excitement.
Bitter. Sweet. Chocolate.
The beignets ARE occasionally on the menu so I won’t have to write any letters about them.
My husband ordered the Chef’s Creme Brulee. The flavor last night? Nutella.
He pushed his dessert toward me, and I nearly dove in with my spoon before he stopped to remind me to take a picture.
He’s so supportive, that husband of mine :)
We have never had a bad experience with food or service at Public. Our server last night walked us through the entire Wichita Restaurant Week menu in such a way as to encourage us to order from it because it benefited Boys & Girls Clubs. Five stars to her, for sure, for pushing the menu and the cause even though she was super busy.
I started this morning with the perfect mix of yoga, coffee and croissants (but I only had one).
If you haven’t worked out in a while, or if you’re starting to run again after taking a hiatus, it might be difficult to get back into the swing of things.
For me, yoga is like riding a bike. Sure, it’s a little more difficult to get into some poses I used to fall into easily, but I remember all the postures. I remember when and how to breathe. I remember where my feet are and where my hands are and how to move them.
Yoga is my bike.
Coffee is my fuel.
After yoga, I stopped by Reverie Coffee Roasters for a fresh brewed coffee and snack — a butter croissant from heaven.
I love tacos. I love anything shaped like a taco. You could probably put mushrooms in a taco, and I’ll still eat it — so I was super excited to try District Taqueria for the first time.
Three friends joined me for lunch so I got to try both the salsa and the guacamole on the #WRW16 menu. We also got the queso — and I think I might be addicted to it.
The chips were light and airy, but they could have used some salt. The salsa was a bit mild for me without layers or pops of flavor I look for in a salsa. The guac was good, too, but it was a bit plain.
I think all three could have benefited from more salt… except the queso. Perfect as is. Of course, I put enough salt in and on nearly everything (only when it’s cooking!) to skew my taste buds.
Real quick — look at that food placement. My friends and I have missed our calling as food-stagers ;)
Two corn tortilla topped with chicken, Queso Cotija, avocado crema and — my favorite part — pineapple habanero salsa. Hello, heat!
All together, it was an incredibly flavorful taco. The crema wasn’t overpowering, the salsa wasn’t too spicy (bummer for me) and the tortillas were perfectly chewy.
Eat the chicken alone, though, and it left me wanting. The spice blend on the chicken wasn’t discernible, and, while it wasn’t dry, I couldn’t actually taste chicken. I don’t know. Maybe I got an off-chicken — not like it was dangerous to eat, but like it wasn’t the best-of-the-best on the flavor scale.
Reviews on the Pork Carnitas Tacos (ordered by all three ladies I had lunch with): Delicious. They knew something I didn’t.
I should have swung another pork lunch just to taste those! Oh, well, I’ll definitely be going back — even if only for that amazing queso.
Gracious, I love cheese.
Overall, District Taqueria did not disappoint!
Side note: I would tell you about the Tres Leches cake, but I left without it. They didn’t bring it to me, and I forgot I was supposed to get it. Oops — but probably a good thing since I’ve eaten WAY too much cake to feel good about my snack decisions this week.
I have two days left of #WRW16! I already have my chosen destinations, and I cannot wait for dinner tonight and brunch tomorrow. Remember, you only have two days left of #WRW16, too, so get out there and eat! Ten percent of the meal benefits Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas.
I love Carolina Pulled Pork, but Delano Barbeque’s is something special. Not only is the pork flavorful, tender and delightfully pungent (thanks to the Pecan) — I’ve never had dry barbeque at Delano, BTW — but it’s also just the right amount of spicy.
And I love spicy.
Thanks to Delano Barbeque’s Hawg Sauce, some concoction of spices in a vinegar-based, bold and spicy sauce, any menu item can be the exact level of spicy customers want.
I swear, I could drink it. (Delano Barbeque also has hot and mild BBQ sauce for classic sauce lovers.)
Pit Man Cedric Taylor knows what he’s doing with the smoker, and I totally regret not asking to meet him. Sorry about that, blog readers. Maybe next time!
Aside from the food, I really love how Delano Barbeque is involved in giving back to the Wichita community. Owners Michelle and Jon Suddeth organize “Community Give Back Nights” for charitable causes selected by customers.
Delano Barbeque does half the work of promoting it, too, via their website and social channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
Here’s how it works: You choose the Thursday, Delano Barbeque promotes it (and you should, too), and then 10 percent of dine-in and carryout sales from 3-8 p.m. are donated to the cause. Easy peasy! Plus, they’ll have a free S’mores Bar with meal purchase for participating customers, and the non-profit can set up a table with their information.
Delano Barbeque also holds special events, including Live Blues and Final Friday shows, and you can keep up with all the happenings on the website: www.delanobbq.com.
Tonight, I’m going to Delano Barbeque for Final Friday to get photos of and quotes from Newman University student Emilie Leivian whose photography will be on display — this is for my actual job, not my blog.
I hope to see a bunch of BBQ-loving, arts-supporting Wichitans there!
First, we’re going to talk about those pickled deviled eggs…
I do not like deviled eggs. In fact, I pretty much despise deviled eggs. (Preface the following explosion with this statement.)
THEY WERE SO GOOD YOU GUYS OMG
— Deviled Egg Hater
I could have eaten a plate of those deviled eggs. I don’t know what’s in them — I vaguely recall the words “sour cream” and “whipped” — but I will find out and I will make them and I will eat these every day for the rest of my life.
The first round of entrees was the Venezuelan Pork Sandwich, which comes with chips and an adorable pickle. Pictured is only HALF the sandwich.
The whole thing would have taken me two meals to eat so I was glad to share.
Tender pork, tons of flavor and a chimichurri sauce that, when ordered on the side, leftovers can be used to dip your chips. Totally worth it. (Apparently, this sandwich also comes in taco form. I have my excited face on.)
We also got the “Baby” Charcuterie and Cheese Board, which featured smoked gouda, pepperoni, fancy ham, sliced mozzarella, green and kalamata olives, more adorable pickles and a raspberry dipping sauce I nearly forgot to try.
Why they called it the “Baby” board, I do not know. Almost makes me fear what a grown-up board would look like…
With the many items on this board, I wish pepperoni hadn’t been so prominent, but that’s just me considering pepperoni pizza food and not real food.
The “Sweety Drop Peppers,” the little red, tear-dropped shaped peppers on the right were sweet and tangy with an interesting texture. Eaten alone, really powerful and sort of crunchy-soft. Eaten on a mini sandwich, less powerful. Either way, I could have eaten them like candy or on a pizza, in fairness.
And for dessert?
My friend and I shared the Tres Leches, a cake I don’t think I’ve ever had. I do not recall eating anything like this cake before, but I do recall — immediately after finishing my half — that I decided that I will be eating it again.
It was rich and moist [insert groans about how horrible that word is here — I know! I know! But it was!]. While the whipped cream might have been overkill, I did eat all of it.
Like all of the food.
I shared, but I think I might have been bad at it.
Overall, Lou’s Charcuteria & Cocktails has a laid back atmosphere, great food and really amazing service. Our server was awesome — super knowledgeable about the menu and really chill.
Outside of the #WRW16 menu, prices are in the $$ range with sandwiches at $10 and boards at $20-25. The Venezuelan Pork Sandwich was huge so I think $10 was reasonable.
For a normal-sized board, I don’t know, but they are meant “for sharing.” The smaller board we ordered and didn’t finish (I got the leftovers to put in last night’s dinner salad) was shared easily.
I’m not sure if dessert is a regular part of the menu. I didn’t look at the regular menu closely, but, if it is… or even if it isn’t — go find that cake and eat it.
Lou’s gets five Shae stars (these stars are worthless, I’m sorry).
Eating at local restaurants participating in Wichita Restaurant Week is a great way to help Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas. Just order off the#WRW16 menu! Plus, it takes all of the menu hunting and food deciding out of the dining out experience. Like I just ordered the piece of paper.