Send us the photos from your reunion with Blue Bell

Blue Bell is back in Austin.

FILE - In this April 10, 2015 file photo, Blue Bell ice cream rests on a grocery store shelf in Lawrence, Kansas. In the wake of a deadly listeria outbreak in ice cream, the Justice Department is warning food companies that they could face criminal and civil penalties if they poison their customers. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)
(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)

After a four-month absence previously unheard of for the 108-year-old Brenham-based ice cream company, at least four of its most popular flavors are back on shelves.

As the official Tweeter Laureate of Texas — aka Justice Don Willett — put it, it’s a day for Texans to remember:

Tweet us your photos of your Blue Bell reunion to @statesman or @austin360 using #bluebellatx. You can also send the photos by email: readerphotos@statesman.com.

Previous Blue Bell coverage:

• 5 things to know about Blue Bell’s return

• H-E-B to limit Blue Bell purchases

Experts: Despite ‘dark cloud,’ there’s a way forward for Blue Bell

 

 

Blue Apron expands cooking kit delivery to Texas

Blue Apron's chicken torta inspired this pork torta made using a similar recipe and technique. Photo by Addie Broyles.
Blue Apron’s chicken torta inspired this pork torta made using a similar recipe and technique. Photo by Addie Broyles.

Meal kit delivery businesses continue to attract million-dollar investments, and one of the biggest is Blue Apron, which recently expanded its delivery area to include Texas.

Like Plated and HelloFresh, national companies that also ship to Texas, Blue Apron (blueapron.com) sends a box of ingredients with recipes to your house or office, but you still have to — or get to, depending on your perspective — do the cooking. I tried a number of these services for a story that ran about a year ago about the expanding world of food delivery, but Blue Apron wasn’t delivering here yet.

Earlier this month, I ordered a box and, without getting to pick the dishes, I received all the ingredients I needed to make a chicken torta, pan-fried tilapia and steaks with roasted vegetables. The box was still cold and sitting on my front porch when I got home from work, and because I was in the mood for a sandwich, I immediately made the chicken torta, which was easy to make and even more satisfying to eat. The other two meals weren’t as memorable, only because I’m not a huge caponata fan, which was the Sicilian side dish for the fish, and because I thought the steaks and their side dish of roasted potatoes and Asian long beans were a little on the small side.

Having said that, I do think these kits provide a good option for people who aren’t worried too much about how much each meal costs and might otherwise spend that money on takeout or eating at a restaurant. The two-person plan, which includes ingredients for three meals per week, costs $59.94 per week, including shipping. The family plan, which feeds four people per meal, costs $69.92 or $139.84 per week, depending on if you get two or four meals in each box.

You can cancel or pause the subscription at any time, and even though you don’t get to pick the dishes, as you can through some other services, you can exclude certain kinds of protein if you don’t eat, for instance, seafood or pork. (Speaking of pork, I was inspired by the Blue Apron meal to make a pork torta with some of the leftover tomatoes and pickled red onions.)

An update on some of the other local companies I wrote about last year: Fairy Tale Meals has closed, but Gourmet By Numbers (gourmetbynumbers.com) and Greenling Organic Delivery (greenling.com) are both still selling meal kits for delivery.

Mexican-Style Chicken Tortas with Tomato, Avocado and Cucumber Salad

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 avocado
1 tomato
1/2 lb. cucumber
1 lime
1 red onion
1 large bunch cilantro
2 Tbsp. queso fresco
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. Mexican spice blend (with ingredients such as ancho chilie powder, Mexican oregano, smoked sweet paprika, garlic powder and ground cumin)
4 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 torta rolls

Wash, dry and prep the fresh produce. Halve the tomato; thinly slice one half and medium dice the remaining half. Cut off and discard the ends of the cucumber; large dice. Pick the cilantro leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Crumble the queso fresco. Peel, halve and thinly slice the onion; place in a bowl with the vinegar. Quarter the lime. Halve, pit and peel the avocado; thinly slice one half and medium dice the remaining half. Top with the juice of one lime wedge to prevent browning.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season on both sides with salt, pepper and all but a pinch of the spice blend. In a medium pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 tsp. olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned chicken and cook, loosely covering the pan with aluminum foil, 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board. Wipe out the pan.

While the chicken cooks, in a medium bowl, combine the diced avocado, diced tomato, cucumber and half the marinated onion; season with salt and pepper. Add the juice of the remaining lime wedges and a drizzle of olive oil; toss to combine the salad and season with salt and pepper to taste.

When the cooked chicken is cool enough to handle, thinly slice crosswise on an angle. Halve the torta rolls and lay the rolls, cut sides up, on a clean, dry work surface. Divide the sliced chicken, sliced avocado, sliced tomato, as much of the remaining marinated onion as you’d like (you may have extra) and half of both the cilantro and queso fresco (reserve the rest for garnish) between the roll bottoms; season with salt and pepper. Complete the sandwiches with the tops of the rolls.

In the pan used to cook the chicken, heat 2 tsp. of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the assembled tortas. Place a heavy pot on top of the tortas to press them down. Cook 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until toasted and lightly browned. Transfer the toasted tortas to a cutting board.

Cut each toasted torta in half diagonally. Divide the sandwiches between two plates. Garnish the salad with the remaining cilantro, queso fresco and spice blend and serve on the side. Serves 2.

— Blue Apron

MasterChef to host casting call in Austin on Saturday

MasterChef is casting in Austin this weekend. Photo from FOX.
MasterChef is casting in Austin this weekend. Photo from FOX.

If you’re an above-average home cook and wouldn’t mind some time in the limelight, you’ll be interested to know that MasterChef, the popular cooking competition show on Fox, will be hosting a casting call in Austin on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Residence Inn Downtown, 300 E. Fourth St.

Prospective competitors need to preregister at masterchefcasting.com and bring a prepared dish to serve to the casting team.

Austin360Cooks: Tangy dressings keep salads interesting

For a cooling lunch, health and wellness coach Joy Sablatura Rockwell makes a salad with salad greens, red cabbage, pumpkin seeds and a dressing made with tahini, garlic and lemon juice. Photo by Joy Sablatura Rockwell.
For a cooling lunch, health and wellness coach Joy Sablatura Rockwell makes a salad with salad greens, red cabbage, pumpkin seeds and a dressing made with tahini, garlic and lemon juice. Photo by Joy Sablatura Rockwell.

Ready for some new salad dressing ideas?

Joy Sablatura Rockwell, a health and wellness coach (rawjoy.com), eats mostly raw foods, so dressings are kind of her thing.

This formula isn’t rigid. When she’s out of garlic, she uses garlic granules. When out of lemons, she’ll use rice vinegar. Maybe a dash of cayenne. “You can see I am not a gourmet, but very practical,” she writes.

Her all-time favorite dressing is a tangy vinaigrette from the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida, whose recipe she also passed along.

A note about the recipe: It calls for amino acids, a soybean-derived liquid with a saltiness and umami not unlike soy sauce but with far less sodium. If you haven’t tried it before, look for the bright yellow Bragg label in the store — many supermarkets carry it now — and pick up a small bottle. It has a really neat flavor and is excellent on rice and vegetables.

Have a cooking tip to share? Email me at abroyles@statesman.com or use #Austin360Cooks on social media. Each week, we share our favorite submissions and post the photos in a gallery on Storify, which you can see below the recipes.

Tahini Dressing

1/4 cup sesame tahini
Juice of one lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-6 Tbsp. water
Dash of Himalayan salt

Whisk ingredients together in a bowl and serve.

Hippocrates House Dressing

Rockwell says: My all-time favorite salad dressing. It’s from Hippocrates Health Institute, and I do follow their exact measurements. It is one of the zestiest dressings I’ve ever had. Love the garlic and lemon and mustard blend. Double the recipe for easier blending.

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 Tbsp. water
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp. ground yellow mustard seeds
1/8 tsp. cayenne
3/4 cup oil blend (olive, flax, hemp)

Place all of the ingredients — except oil — in a blender. Blend on high for five seconds; then reduce blender speed to slow. Drizzle in the oil. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

//storify.com/broylesa/austin360cooks-august-2015.js?border=false&template=grid[View the story “Austin360Cooks: August 2015” on Storify]

Coterie adds subscription box with Austin-made products

Coterie Market is now offering a monthly subscription service with Austin-made products. Photo from Coterie.
Coterie Market is now offering a monthly subscription service with Austin-made products. Photo from Coterie.

Coterie Market, the online shop that features foods, gifts and goods made in Central Texas, has added a monthly subscription box, the Coterie Sampler, which will include an assortment of the kinds of products available on the Coterie website, coteriemarket.com.

Customers can choose a box for delivery with four to six items for $39.95 per month or one with six to eight items for $59.95, and each will include a mix of sweet and savory foods and some body products or nonedible items for your home. Owner Chelsea Staires Sun says that some of the items will be products from local chefs that will only be available through Coterie.

The first round of boxes will ship Sept. 7, and if you know someone who loves Austin but doesn’t live here, shipping is free to all 50 states. You can sign up at coteriesampler.com.

Austin360Eats: Breakfast at Walton’s, lunch at Lonesome Dove, dessert at Uchiko

Editor’s note: This post is part of an ongoing social media project called Austin360Eats. To submit your photos, use the hashtag on Instagram, and each week, we feature our favorite photos in print and online.

Oatmeal with a side of magazines is how Victoria Wykoff (@queenvictoria9 on Instagram) likes to spend Saturday morning, especially if it’s at Walton’s Fancy and Staple, 609 W. Sixth St., which serves sweet and savory breakfasts and pastries, as well as lunch.

Gregarious Fort Worth chef Tim Love opened his first Austin restaurant, Lonesome Dove, at 419 Colorado St. earlier this summer, but Austin photographer Madelinne Grey (@madelinnegrey) let the food do the talking with this photo of steak tacos she had for lunch last week.

Many people head to Uchiko, 4200 N Lamar Blvd., when they are craving some of Tyson Cole’s inventive Asian cuisine, but diners like Sarah Jacober (@sarahjacober) know you shouldn’t skip the dessert menu, which includes such creative concoctions as tobacco cream, sweet corn sorbet, fried milk and olive gelato.

View this post on Instagram

triple threat🙌🏼 #uchiko #dessert #austin360eats

A post shared by sarah (@sarahjacober) on

Fried oysters are one thing, and chilaquiles are another, but at Mongers Market and Kitchen, 2401 E. Cesar Chavez St., they combine the two into a brunch favorite that @andreanuu enjoyed earlier this month.

If your Saturday is filled with errands, sometimes it’s a good idea to both start and finish at the grocery store, that is, if your grocery store doubles as a place to fill up the tank before you head out. Last weekend, @traveling.eats and friends gathered at Central Market on North Lamar for pizza, tacos, a burger and a salad.

//storify.com/broylesa/austin360eats-august-2015.js?border=false&template=grid[View the story “Austin360Eats: August 2015” on Storify]

What Blue Bell flavor are you most looking forward to?

FILE - In this April 10, 2015 file photo, Blue Bell ice cream rests on a grocery store shelf in Lawrence, Kansas. In the wake of a deadly listeria outbreak in ice cream, the Justice Department is warning food companies that they could face criminal and civil penalties if they poison their customers. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)
(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)

 

After a public fall from grace following a listeria outbreak that left three people dead and 10 sick, Blue Bell is trying to win back public favor.

Videos and pictures showing Blue Bell trucks on the road have gone viral and now, Blue Bell is teasing its former fan base by making daily announcements about what flavors will be the first available. Today’s announcement: Homemade Vanilla.

If you are one of the 73 percent who told us earlier this summer that you were certain that you would be buying Blue Bell once it makes its way back to store freezers near you, tell us: What flavor are you most looking forward to upon Blue Bell’s return in Austin on Aug. 31?

Update: On Aug. 25, Blue Bell announced its second flavor: Dutch Chocolate

Related reads: Despite ‘dark cloud,’ there’s a way forward for Blue Bell, experts say

‘Farmer as Artist’ exhibit returns to Prizer gallery

This photo from Tim Miller and Laura Baskin of Millberg Farm is one of the pieces of art that will be on exhibit at Prizer from August 29 to Sept. 13. Photo by Tim Miller and Laura Baskin.
This photo from Tim Miller and Laura Baskin of Millberg Farm is one of the pieces of art that will be on exhibit at Prizer from August 29 to Sept. 13. Photo by Tim Miller and Laura Baskin.

For the third year, Prizer, an art gallery at 2023 E. Cesar Chavez St., is hosting an exhibit of artwork from local farmers.

The free “Farmer as Artist” exhibit will debut this weekend with an opening reception from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday. After that, guests can browse the pieces from area farmers including Tim Miller of Millberg Farm, Carol Ann Sayle of Boggy Creek Farm, Brenton Johnson of Johnson’s Backyard Garden, Skip and Alex Connett of Green Gate Farms, Max Elliott of Urban Roots and and Germaine Swenson of Munkebo Farm by making an appointment by emailing prizeraustin@gmail.com.

The exhibit will close on Sept. 13.

Want a head start on dinner? Make this chicken today, eat all week

Asian chicken and noodle bowl from “Make-Ahead Meals” by Better Homes and Gardens. Photo from  Better Homes and Gardens.
Asian chicken and noodle bowl from “Make-Ahead Meals” by Better Homes and Gardens. Photo from
Better Homes and Gardens.

When late summer starts to turn to fall, our nesting instincts tend to kick in.

We get back in the swing of things with school, work and our social calendars. As the schedule fills up, it’s good to have shortcuts stocked away in the fridge or freezer. Maybe that’s pizza dough, pie crust, veggie burgers, tamales or — a recent crutch — breaded chicken cutlets that I like as much as my kids do.

If you don’t want to rely on the grocery store shortcuts, you can fill up that freezer yourself by par-cooking base ingredients that are stored in one-meal or one-serving increments. That’s the idea behind Better Homes and Gardens’ new book, “Better Homes and Gardens Make-Ahead Meals: 150+ Recipes to Enjoy Every Day of the Week” by Better Homes and Gardens (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $19.99).

The theory is that if you roast and shred chicken ahead of time to put in your freezer, you won’t be tempted to buy the more expensive heat-and-eat shredded chicken sold at grocery stores. When it’s time to make dinner, you can flip to the chicken chapter and find a dozen recipes for inspiration with what to do with that chicken you thought ahead to make.

The book includes base recipes for ground beef, sausage, tomato sauce, shredded pork, shredded chicken and a grain, bean and lentil mix that can easily cut weeknight cooking time in half. While we’re holed up inside because of this heat, we might as well make use of the time and get a jump start on dinner for the next three months.

Make-Ahead Shredded Roasted Chicken

7 1/2 to 8 lb. bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line two 15-inch-by-10-inch baking pans with foil. Place chicken thighs in the prepared baking pans. Drizzle with lemon juice and oil. In a small bowl stir together salt, thyme, paprika and pepper. Sprinkle seasoning blend over chicken.

Roast, uncovered, for 35 to 40 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink (180 degrees). Remove from oven. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones; discard bones. Using two forks, pull chicken apart into shreds.

To store, place shredded chicken in 1-cup portions in airtight containers or freezer containers. Cover and store in the refrigerator up to 3 days or freeze up to 3 months. If frozen, thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.

Asian Chicken and Noodle Bowl

2 cups water
1 3-oz. package ramen noodles
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 cup shredded chicken
1 1/2 cups torn fresh spinach
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 tsp. sriracha or other hot sauce
1/4 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

In a medium saucepan, bring the water to boiling. If desired, break up noodles; drop noodles into the boiling water. Reserve flavor packet for another use. Return to boiling; boil for 2 to 3 minutes or just until noodles are tender but firm, stirring occasionally. Drain noodles.

Pour oil into a wok or large skillet. Heat over medium-high heat. Stir-fry ginger and garlic in hot oil for 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and soy sauce. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and stir shredded chicken base into broth mixture. Cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through.

Add noodles, spinach, carrots, cilantro and sriracha sauce to mixture in wok; toss to combine. Ladle into soup bowls. If desired, sprinkle with peanuts. Serves 2.

— From “Better Homes and Gardens Make-Ahead Meals: 150+ Recipes to Enjoy Every Day of the Week” by Better Homes and Gardens (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $19.99)

DIY macaroni and cheese mix, just in time for back to school

Boxed macaroni and cheese is a staple of many childhoods, but in this recipe from “The Homemade Vegan Pantry” by Miyoko Schinner, you can make your own powdered mix with nutritional yeast and cashews. Photo by Eva Kolenko.
Boxed macaroni and cheese is a staple of many childhoods, but in this recipe from “The Homemade Vegan Pantry” by Miyoko Schinner, you can make your own powdered mix with nutritional yeast and cashews. Photo by Eva Kolenko.

Macaroni and cheese from a blue box conjures a certain kind of American nostalgia that many of us still harbor — even those of us who might use the word “foodie” and can make homemade mac from scratch.

Miyoko Schinner, author of “The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples” ($22.99, Ten Speed Press), admits a soft spot for that bright orange cheese sauce, but she also wanted a DIY vegan alternative that would be just as easy to mix with water or a dairy substitute on a busy school night (it would also be tasty made with milk if you’re not vegan).

After you make this dry mix, which yields enough for the equivalent of five boxes of the store-bought stuff, cook 1 cup of dry macaroni and drain. Combine 1/3 cup of the mix with 1 cup water or unsweetened nondairy milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk well and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 minute, then toss with hot cooked macaroni.

Schinner also points out that this versatile vegan “cheese” sauce mix is great for casseroles. To make one, combine leftover pasta, potatoes or grains with vegetables and some of the dry cheese mix. Add a little water and additional spices and then bake. Feel free to use it in soups or to make a sauce for serving on top of broccoli, asparagus or cauliflower.

Make-Your-Own Macaroni and Cheese Mix

1 cup cashews
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup oat flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. organic sugar
2 tsp. powdered mustard
2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. onion powder

Add all of the ingredients to a food processor and process until a powder is formed. There should not be any discernible chunks or large granules of cashews, so this may take 3 to 4 minutes of processing. Store in a jar or portion out into 1/3-cup increments and put in zip-top bags; store in the pantry for a month or two or in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Makes 1 2/3 cups, or enough to coat the equivalent of 5 store-bought boxes instant macaroni and cheese.

— From “The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples” by Miyoko Schinner ($22.99, Ten Speed Press)