Date Night at Home

Date Night at Home

If you would have asked me a year ago what my favorite thing to do was, I would have instantly answered, “going out to dinner!” I love trying new restaurants and cuisines, but lately, I prefer cooking at home. I’m not sure whether its because of COVID or our new puppy, but I love being at home so our date nights have transitioned from going to our favorite restaurants to cooking at home as a family.

Tonight our menu was inspired by The Defined Dish’s Pan-Roasted Blackened Cajun Chicken. Alex warned us in her stories last night that getting boneless chicken breasts with the skin on might be a challenge, but the butchers at Central Market were happy to help me this morning, they were even excited to know what I was making!

When you’re at your local grocery store or meat market, just ask the butcher for boneless chicken breasts with skin. It’s not really common, but if you ask nicely, they’ll be happy to help.

When I saw Alex posting about this meal last night, I just knew we had to make it. Last year, my husband and I spent some time in the French countryside and ever since, I have such a new appreciation for chicken. The recipe Alex shared was inspired by the Cajun Chicken entree at Le Bilbouquet…one of my all time favorite restaurants. I’ve never had this dish in the restaurant, but I definitely will next time I go!

I paired our dinner tonight with a medium-bodied French red wine. I think the seasoning on the chicken paired so well with this wine!

For our date night, we started off with a little cheese board when Will got home from work. I kept it pretty simple, but used my favorite ingredients. Central Market makes my FAVORITE crackers, the rosemary crostini crackers…they are a game changer so I started out with those, selected a basil pesto goat cheese and a blue cheese, peppered salami and holiday grapes to round out my board. I like to drizzle local honey over my blue cheese because I think it gives it a really nice balance.

A little cheese board for our appetizer

For our salad, I made a version of a childhood favorite. I diced an apple, crumbled some goat cheese, added a dash of salt and pepper and mixed it with butter lettuce and a spring mix. I drizzled Garlic Expressions over it.

For our main entree, I served the pan-roasted chicken with oven frites and my mixed salad.

Pan-Roasted Blackened Cajun Chicken with Oven Frites

by Alex Snodgrass – The Defined Dish

Pan Roasted Blackened Chicken

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 lbs boneless, skin-on chicken breasts about 1 1/4 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon avacado oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine substitute chicken broth plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon arrowroot starch
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or whole 30 use ghee
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Oven Frites

  • 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes or 2 large potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS 

Pan-Roasted Blackened Cajun Chicken

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • in a small bowl, combine the salt,pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, paprika, rosemary, and oregano. Set aside.
  • Pat the chicken breasts dry and season the skin side with half the spice mixture.
  • in a medium oven-safe skillet, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat until just starting to smoke. Carefully lay out the chicken breasts into the hot skillet skin side down. Cook without moving until the skin is deep golden brown and very crisp, about 6 minutes. While cooking season the second side of the chicken with the remaining spice mixture. Carefully flip the chicken breasts and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake until cooked through, or when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breasts registers 150 degrees, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and set aside, reserving the pan juices in the skillet.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the wine, chicken broth, and arrowroot and whisk until the arrowroot dissolves. Set aside.
  • Pour off all but about 1 teaspoon of the fat from the skillet and place the pan over high heat. Add the garlic along with the wine mixture, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook, stirring until the sauce is reduces by two -thirds, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add butter and the lemon and allow the butter to just melt. Stir to combine. Taste the pan sauce and season with more salt and pepper, if desired.
  • Slice the chicken breasts and serve on individual plates. Spoon plenty of pan sauce over the slice chicken and serve with the oven frites.

Oven Frites

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Scrub the potatoes well, then cut them lengthwise into 1/2 inch wide fries.
  • Place the fries in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper until evenly coated.
  • Spread the fries across the prepared baking sheet in a single layer (you may need two baking sheets to ensure they are in a single layer and have plenty of room to crisp up).
  • Bake in the oven until potatoes are golden brown all over and crisp, about 30 minutes (and no, you do not need to toss during the cooking time at all).

This dinner was amazing!! My husband and I both loved it and were pretty impressed with just how good it was. The chicken was full of flavor and moist, the oven frites were excellent ( I roasted mine for about 45 minutes because I like them extra crispy) and we loved the salad!

What are y’all doing for your date nights this week?! Leave me a comment and let me know!!

XO,

Brit

Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Austin, Texas

Brit’s Summer Travel Series: Austin, Texas

For the third stop on Brit’s Summer Travel Series, we are heading to the Lone Star state! Until a few months ago, I was just a visitor to Austin, not a resident. Through my visits to Austin over the years and after living here for a while, I have learned a few things about the capital of Texas and am sharing them with you for your next visit!

I’ve always thought Austin is where Texas meets L.A., and it’s crazy to think that nestled in the rolling hills of Texas, there is a burgeoning tech hub with chic restaurants and more outdoor activities than you can imagine. The first thing to figure out for your trip is where to stay and Austin hotels do not disappoint.

The coolest hotel in my opinion is the Hotel Saint Cecilia. This boutique hotel is in the heart of the city, just off of South Congress and a quick jump across Lady Bird Lake from downtown. If you’re interested in proximity to town, the South Congress Hotel and W Austin are both great options.

The Commodore Perry Estate is brand new and I haven’t had a chance to visit yet, but it looks incredible! Auberge Resorts brought the nearly one hundred-year-old Commodore Perry mansion back to life and the storied estate looks better than ever.

Austin’s restaurants are as delicious as they are well designed. My absolute favorite restaurant has to be Clark’s Oyster Bar. It is my vibe to a tee and the food is SO good! If you are a seafood lover like me, then this is the place for you. My husband and I love going for dinner together and it’s also a wonderful brunch spot with your girlfriends! I’m not sure if there is anything better than a dozen oysters with Clark’s famous French fries and a glass of one of their many fabulous wines. Their sister-restaurant, Perla’s, is also fabulous and is a larger space if you’re looking for a group outing.

If you’re interested in Mexican food or TexMex, ATX Cocina and Matt’s el Rancho are my favorites. Matt’s el Rancho is more traditional and great for larger groups and families… you can’t leave without getting the Bob Armstrong Dip! ATX Cocina is a gorgeous restaurant in downtown and they serve modern Mexican food and delicious margaritas.

For sushi, we prefer Soto on South Lamar, we love going for happy hour and getting the Chef’s Choice–it’s five pieces of some of the most amazing and innovative sushi I’ve ever had! We also can’t get enough of Sway…I think about their Blue Crab Fried Rice all of the time and the design of all of their restaurants is just so cool.

For lighter fare with subtle French vibes, I highly recommend Launderette and June’s All Day. The food is incredible and again, the vibe will not disappoint. If you’re looking for the most romantic spot in Austin, I suggest Mattie’s. The food is described as southern and it is delicious. But the setting in out of this world. The restaurant is in an old mansion and the grounds have the most beautiful oak trees that have…Peacocks in them! It is so wonderful and perfect for a date night or special occasion.

Austin is known for its taco scene and for good reason. We are still working on this list, but trying out taco trucks and restaurants in Austin has been one of my favorite things to do with my husband since we’ve moved here. If you’re not interested in driving around to look for a taco-focused restaurant, but still want a taco, you’re in luck. I’ve noticed all of the coffee shops here also sell breakfast tacos, which is something I am more than okay with!

The activities in Austin are endless and if you love the outdoors, you will be in heaven here! Unlike many other parts of Texas, Austin is jam-packed with lakes, rivers, hiking trails and plenty of bike lanes!

Whether you’re a Texan looking for a weekend getaway or from out-of-state, Austin will be the perfect destination for you! Come back next week to see Brit’s next stop on the Summer Travel Series!

XO,

Brit

Travel during COVID-19

Travel during COVID-19

As an avid traveler, the past few months have been incredibly strange for me. In my pre-COVID life, my husband and I would fly somewhere at least twice a month, but until last week, we hadn’t stepped foot in an airport since March.

To be honest with you, I was a bit trepidatious about going to the airport and actually flying. I had so many questions and had heard horror stories about not being able to use the bathroom or not having access to get water or food. In the weeks leading up to our trip, I called the Austin-Bergstrom Airport a couple of times to see what it was like in the airport. They assured me that places like Starbucks and Jo’s Coffee were open and all of the bathrooms were open.

I had also heard stories about crazy-long lines to check bags and get through security, but in our experience, it took less than 10 minutes to check two bags and we got through security in under 15 minutes.

The line for security at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on June 7, 2020.

We flew from Austin, Texas to Panama City Beach, Florida for our first post-COVID vacation. There were no direct flights available so on the way to Florida we had a layover in Nashville, Tennessee and on our way home we had a layover in Houston, Texas. Our layover in Nashville was about 10 minutes so I can’t really speak to what that airport was like, but I would rate Austin’s airport as the cleanest and most efficient.

William P. Hobby Airport on June 14, 2020.

For our trip, we flew on Southwest Airlines and I have to give them such a major shoutout. Everyone from the people behind the counter checking bags to the people boarding you for the flight were so helpful. I think they are incredibly sensitive to the fact that people are nervous about flying again and they worked hard to make everyone comfortable and safe.

If you’re familiar with Southwest Airlines, you will know their boarding process is quite different than other airlines. You check in 24 hours before your flight and are assigned either an “A,” “B,” or “C” with a number between 1-50 behind the letter. That is still the same, but instead of calling passengers in groups of 30, the boarding agents now call passengers in groups of 10. I actually loved this aspect. It was much more civilized and I think it kept the bottle-neck of passengers way down. Until September 30th, Southwest says they are only booking flights at 60 percent capacity leaving the *dreaded* middle seats empty unless you are a family or group traveling together and want to sit in the same row. I loved this and on all four of our flights, there were empty seats and a lot of space between passengers.

None of our flights were completely full. The only people who sat in middle seats chose to sit in them or were traveling with their families.

I do think Southwest could improve the cleanliness of the planes. Our flight to Florida was around 6 a.m., so I believe the plane had been cleaned the night before and you could tell. Our seats were clean and the plane seemed fresh. Our flights home were a very different story. Our flight from Panama City to Houston had a quick turn-around time and there were still crumbs on my set when I boarded the plane. Same story on our flight from Houston to Austin. Luckily, I bring my own wipes and wiped down our seats, armrests, seatbelts and tray-tables, but I do think the airlines should be doing more to keep their planes clean. They were very focused on picking up trash and requested passengers hand them wipes people usually stuff behind the seats several times during the flight, but picking up trash alone does not equal cleanliness.

Passengers are required to wear masks while boarding the plane and during the entire flight unless they are eating or drinking, but while you are in the airport, you are not required to wear a mask. During our longer flights, Austin to Nashville and Panama City to Houston, we were offered a can of water and a snack, but I always bring my own water and snacks so I didn’t take any. On the shorter flights, Nashville to Panama City and Houston to Austin, beverage and snack services were not offered. We were able to use the bathrooms on all flights, but you are not allowed to form lines.

COVID or not, I always try to pack my own snacks. For our flight to Florida, I made Kodiak pancakes, and packed grapes and celery. I don’t usually like fast food and try to avoid buying salty snacks in the airport.

Overall, I really appreciate the changes airports and airlines have implemented and I think they actually make the process of flying less hectic. I do think sanitization efforts should be taken up a notch by sanitizing the buckets used for security, requiring passengers wear socks through security and that airplanes are cleaned AND sanitized thoroughly after each flight.

Up, Up and Away! Leaving Austin for the first time in three months to go to the beach!

Have you traveled during coronavirus recently or do you plan to soon? Leave me a comment and let me know your experience.

XO,

Brit

Back to Brunching

Back to Brunching

Depending on where you live, you might be able to go out to brunch this weekend! Here in Texas, restaurants started opening last week and this weekend, I am ready for brunch! I’ve already made reservations at Clark’s in Austin and I’m a little too excited about getting a frozen cosmo and oysters.

Since it has been more than two months since I last had brunch, I have already started planning my outfits for this weekend. From flowy dresses to pastel-colored shorts, I’m sharing my favorite outfit options for this weekend!

Pink Dress, Bucket Bag, Necklace, Bangle, Wedges
White Dress, Earrings, Clutch, Belt, Shoes
White Top, Pink Linen Shorts, Earrings, Pink Sunglasses, Fendi Bag, Bow Sandals

Are you brunching this weekend?! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the looks and how it is to get back into the swing of things!

XO,

Brit

Easy Red Coconut Curry

Easy Red Coconut Curry

Even though we are in quarantine and I am home all of the time, I still feel like my weekdays are crazy busy! Because of that, I love cooking healthy, one-pot meals throughout the week. Tonight I’m making my favorite red coconut curry recipe from Averie Cooks.

Thai food has always been one of my favorite cuisines and after living in Houston, Texas, for the better part of a decade, I got pretty spoiled when it came to getting the best Thai food or really any kind of food just down the street. My husband and I recently moved to Austin in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic so we know a little bit about the food scene here, but definitely not as well as we knew our favorites in Houston. Today I was craving curry, so I decided to make this delicious recipe instead of ordering-in.

All the ingredients you will need for the coconut curry recipe.

I’ve made this recipe about 10 times and I’ve decided the only red curry paste I like to use for it is the Exotic Thai Red Curry Paste. I’ve tried a few other brands and it really makes or breaks this dish if you don’t get a good paste.

The creator of this recipe, Averie Cooks, claims this fresh, nutrient-rich recipe is only 141 calories per serving. I serve my curry over rice so of course that number will go up. One cup of rice is generally 160 calories so you will be at 300 calories for one serving of this dish, which is amazing!

Not only is this dish healthy, but it is SO easy to make, you can make it all in one pan and it only takes about 20 minutes, which means you’ll have an easy clean up too!

Let me know what you think and if you try this recipe out!

XO,

Brit

Staying Active at Home

Staying Active at Home

Working out has been a part of my daily routine since I was in high school and when the quarantine caused gyms to close, I was thrown for loop. Whether it is yoga, cycling, cardio kickboxing or walking, working out is essential for me to stay healthy physically and mentally.

During quarantine, I have gone on long walks every day and have loved discovering new virtual workouts. In Austin, there are a number of trails to walk on that have remained uncrowded.


Town Lake in Austin, Texas.

As far as virtual workouts, I have been living for Megan Roup’s Sculpt Society and Baye Tilson’s yoga Youtube classes. On the Sculpt Society app, Megan provides such a wide range of classes from dance cardio to sculpting and meditation. She also offers several different lengths of classes–from 10 to 50 minutes so you can squeeze in a workout even on your busiest day.

Baye Tilson. Photo courtesy of Baye’s Instagram account.

Baye’s yoga classes have also been amazing and they are completely free to view. She regularly teaches yoga at Black Swan Yoga in Houston, Texas. She has a great energy and also offers multiple class lengths so you can always fit it into your schedule.

Prepping for a workout at home in my favorite new tennis shoes.

For me, working out is always more fun when I have a cute outfit. I recently got these multi-colored Stella McCartney for Adidas tennis shoes on the Shopbop sale and am in love with them. They are lightweight, but provide enough support for the jumping required in many of the Sculpt Society classes. I have also been loving these scalloped yoga pants from Lululemon.

What are your favorite at-home workouts? Leave me a comment and let me know below!

XO,

Brit

ABOUT BRIT

ABOUT BRIT

Thank you so much for visiting Basically Brit! For years, my girlfriends, family members and acquaintances have asked me for advice on what to wear, skin care tips, restaurant recommendations, travel ideas and more so I thought creating a blog would be a great way to put all of my thoughts out into the universe!

I am currently living in Austin, Texas, but have lived all around the United States. I was born in Denver, Colorado and moved to St. Louis, Missouri, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Minneapolis, Minnesota, before I was five years old. I was mostly raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, but finished my last two years of high school in Manhattan, Kansas. Because I had never really experienced the American South and had a childhood dream to be an anthropologist of sorts, I decided to go to college at the University of Mississippi or “Ole Miss” as it is commonly referred to. While there, I studied Journalism and Public Relations and met my husband, Will, a couple of weeks after graduation. After college, we moved to Houston, Texas, where I worked as a brand ambassador for Milly at Neiman Marcus and as a writer for the Texas Medical Center news.

Outside of writing, I have always had a passion for fashion and spend way too much of my spare time shopping. I also love cooking, traveling, exercising, drinking wine and hanging out with my loved ones and I hope to share all of this with you! Leave me a comment if there is anything you’d like to know about me that I didn’t include and please follow me on Instagram @basically__brit . Can’t wait to meet all of you!

XO,

Brit