I had originally planned to head to Atlanta, see my friend, eat at some cool, new places, and take some drool-worthy foodie photographs. But, I got side-tracked by all the art out in the open throughout the streets of the ATL. Art and food go hand in hand. Both give you a window into their creators and the good ones make you want to knock on the door and come inside.
Most of the photographs in this post were taken on or near the beltline in the heart of Atlanta. The beltline is a work in progress that includes a wide cement walkway that plays hosts to walkers, bicyclers, skateboaders, you name it. With art installations along the way and cute shops and restaurants that open up to the beltline, you could spend all day there. And we did.
It is worth pointing out a special series of installations titled “Tiny Doors Atlanta”. They are very small doors placed throughout the city with no real instructions on finding them. I understand there are about 10 scattered around, and we found 3!
We hit up an antique shop/hip new clothes/cool artist warehouse/burlesque event space too. (That is all the same place!) You will want to buy everything- even the crazy stuff- so take your millions.
We are obviously a foodie family and that will never change, but we are super excited to show you a bit of our traveling side- even if it is just to Atlanta, GA. Southeasterners, where are your favorite weekend getaways?
Check out the rest of the art by Atlanta below and don’t forget to tag #castejontravel on Instagram while you’re on the road seeing the world!
I had always looked at those meal delivery programs and thought that everything looked delicious, but what about the ingredient quality? Aren’t they expensive? And most importantly, what kind of foodie family uses meals in a box? After our experience with Sun Basket, let’s just say that THIS foodie family used and loved our meals in a box!
While I was looking into meal delivery services, I was impressed that Sun Basket uses organic and non-GMO ingredients, responsibly sources their proteins, AND that they have gluten-free, vegetarian, and paleo options available for those that are adhering to a specific diet. I was majorly impressed that it only costs $11.49/meal for high-quality, non-processed, elaborate, but easy-to-make dishes.
None of that matters, though, if the recipes don’t taste divine.
Sun Basket graciously sent us a box of three meals to try out and review for y’all. We got to go online, look at their rotating meal list, and choose the ones that best suited our palate. We ended up choosing Masala Chickpea-kale Curry with Red Rice, Tomato-braised Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini and Curried Cauliflower, and the Seared Tuna and Black Rice Donburi Bowl. After our selection was made, in no time at all, we had an insulated box with all the ingredients to make 3 complete meals for two on our doorstep. I unpacked the still-cool ingredients from their package, put them in the fridge, and got excited to make our first meal the next day.
I planned to come home from work, make dinner, do yoga, and then eat. Here’s what really happened: I came home from work, walked into the kitchen, walked out of the kitchen, and wallowed on the sofa, complaining to myself that I did not want to cook anything. After a Home Improvement rerun and a self pep-talk, I convinced myself to make dinner. Side note: How about that JTT, 90’s ladies? Although, a young Tim Allen was looking mighty fine to the adult me.
After I gathered the ingredients for the first dinner and looked over the beautifully photographed recipe card from Sun Basket, I realized that I didn’t need to wallow. In my brain, I was associating making dinner with all the choppage, recipe hunting, and prep-work that I would have to do. As you know, we love creating recipes, cooking, and enjoying the meal process from start to finish around here, but some days you are so tired that nothing sounds fun. Enter Sun Basket.
The first meal I made was the Seared Tuna and Black Rice Donburi Bowl and, like most of Sun Basket’s meals, it can be made in 25-35 minutes. Honestly, the rice did take the whole cooking time, but the rest was done rather quickly. Hardly anytime on your feet in the kitchen and your meal is complete! This is so easy to do because the majority of the prep work is done for you. Sweet potatoes- peeled and small diced. Tuna- cleaned and cut into two 5-ounce fillets. And EVERYTHING was pre-measured. The only thing I chopped for this meal were the radishes and the cilantro. I also juiced and zested a lime.
The instructions were super-easy to follow and there was even a little cooking tip flyer on how to get the perfect sear on your tuna. Now, here’s where I decided that Sun Basket was for me. Following that little flyer tip, I got ready to sear my tuna. The temperature that they said to sear it on seemed low to me, so I turned it up. I got cocky and thought I knew better than Sun Basket. After what I decided was an appropriate sear time, again without looking at the written recipe, I removed the tuna only to find that I had overcooked it! I learned my lesson that when making a Sun Basket meal, always follow Sun Basket instructions. The recipe cards are very detailed and easy to follow. If I had done so, my meal would have been perfect.
Since the tuna was over-cooked it was no longer lightly-seared tuna, but the sauce, seasonings, and fresh ingredients made the whole dish pop with flavor and I almost didn’t miss that fresh tuna taste you get when it is served rare. In short, having Sun Basket around turned what I was dreading doing into a quick, painless way to get a nutritious, savory meal in after a long day.
The next day I was on a Sun Basket high. All the way home I kept thinking how great it was going to be to eat a scrumptious meal in little more time than it takes to stop and grab something. Menu for the evening: Tomato-braised Turkey Meatballs with Zucchini and Curried Cauliflower. This was the one I was most excited about. I love Spanish-style braised meatballs, so I was excited to try the turkey version in a tomato-based sauce.
While I was whipping up this dish I started thinking not only is Sunbasket a good way to save time cooking, but that I had completely forgotten about the time saved by not having to grocery shop. Obviously, we still have to hit the Teeter for everyday essentials, but not having to hunt around a few grocery stores for a specific spice from some small town on the other side of the world is a HUGE time saver. Sun Basket makes it so that you can try exotic or rarer ingredients and flavors without being inconvenienced time-wise.
The Turkey Meatballs are now one of my favorites ever and I will make sure to keep that recipe card close at hand for a quick dinner another day, although I will have to do the grocery shopping myself. Womp womp womp.
Our last meal was vegetarian. Can you tell we picked the meals like we pick our proteins at the grocery store? One from the land, one from the sea, and some legumes.
Curried anything always ranks high on my list of favs. There are so many versions and they are all good. To me, curry is like pizza, even bad ones are good. But when you get a good one, it is oh-so-glorious. I nodded my head in satisfaction after chomping into the less-than-thirty-minute Masala Chickpea-Kale Curry with Red Rice that tasted like the flavors had been melding together for hours. THIS is what curry should taste like. The garbanzo beans made for a hearty meat substitute and their tenderness would make you at least consider joining the likes of Albert Einstein and Prince. Another thing about Sun Basket that I absolutely loved is that each meal was for two people, but the dinner portions were so large that I was able to take a lunch-size portion of leftovers with me to work the day after. Sure beats the hodge podge of bananas, peanut butter, hummus, and random bits I usually throw into a plastic bag in the morning before work.
There’s another exciting part for YOU! Sun Basket has provided all of our followers with a link to get your first 3 meals free! Just click here and you will taken to their site where you can sign up and start choosing your favorites.
While we will continue to develop recipes, try new foodie vendors and shops, and totally immerse ourselves in the culinary world, but Sun Basket and their quality ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes will definitely be our go-to when the day has been long and you just can’t get your creative juices flowing in the kitchen. Also, perfect for a Lazy Sunday.
When we do the grocery shopping for ourselves, there is rarely a standard list of things that we buy. Other than ingredients for our morning smoothies, we mostly buy based on what’s on sale. Even within the smoothie list there is some room for variation, depending on season and sale. Now while ingredients vary from shopping trip to shopping trip, the categories remain the same: fruits and veggies, a couple of proteins- 1 from the land, 1 from the sea, and usually 1 that’s been cured (like sausage or bacon), pasta and/or rice, eggs, wine and beer, bread, milk, yogurt, butter, oils, and CHEESE! I usually have to call on the power of some deity to resist buying all the little cheeses in the bits and pieces bin at Whole Foods.
Obviously the above guide to Castejón grocery shopping is not a hard and fast rule. There IS a Bi-lo right down the street that sells perfectly processed and trans-fat-dipped love in the form of frozen tater-tots. So, there’s that. But, for now and for the sake of our culinary reputation, let’s just focus our eyes (and stomachs) in the other direction.
During our last proper shopping trip we stumbled across some plump and juicy looking shrimp on sale at our local Whole Foods.
We decided that would be our “from the sea” pick of the week and we snapped up 2 pounds. I was thinking of doing 2 recipes, 1 pound for each- still wasn’t sure of the recipes, though. When Alfonso came home from his night at the restaurant the next day, saying he wanted to practice his risotto skills, the recipe was born.
Risotto, no. But, arroz caldoso, sí! Arroz caldoso is Spain’s answer to the popular Italian dish. Made of completely cooked rice, in the style of risotto, the chef leaves a fair amount of broth in the pot even after the rice is done cooking. What do you do when you are jonesing to work with rice and you have 2 lbs of shrimp? You make arroz caldosocon gambas! It starts with a dish of broth-y rice, then a topping of a fresh and flavorful mixture of sautéed shrimp, and finished with your big mouth shoveling in spoonful after spoonful.
Arroz Caldoso con Gambas
1.5 cups arborio rice
6-8 cups homemade chicken broth
1 large onion, small diced
3 garlic cloves, minced, divided
3 large dinosaur kale leaves, julienned
1 lb medium-sized shrimp, peeled and de-veined
2 green onions, diced
1/2 pint grape tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
First, prepare the shrimp. They can be set aside later while you make the rice, as they are fine at room temperature. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large frying pan. Heat over medium heat and add green onion. Cook until tender, then add half of the garlic. Stir around for about a minute. Add the shrimp, tomatoes, kale, 1.5 t salt, and 1 t pepper. Sauté for a few minutes until the shrimp are cooked through, the kale is wilted, and the tomatoes are soft. Set aside while you prepare the rice.
Begin by drizzling 2-3 T olive oil in a large, deep frying pan. Heat over medium-low and add onions. Cook onions low and slow for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally while still letting the onions caramelize on the bottom. Add the other half of the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the rice and stir around until coated with the onions and olive oil.
Begin adding the broth 1 cup-1.5 cups at a time. When you add more broth stir around for 30 seconds -1 minute and then let cook for a few minutes until the broth begins to evaporate. Each time you add more liquid add about 1/2 t salt. Continue to taste the liquid and adjust salt as you go. Add more broth and repeat the process. Do this until the rice is cooked through, but a good amount of liquid still remains. You should not be able to eat it with a fork, but it should not be soupy either.
Serve a portion of rice with a portion of the sautéed shrimp over top. Enjoy!
With half of the shrimp left over and having already virtuously cooked the first half in some olive oil straight from Sevilla, it was time to fry something. Don’t tell your new friend Jenny Craig, just do it. Inspired by the shrimp po-boy from Bay Street Biergarten, we decided to make a beer-battered shrimp bocadillo with aioli and smoked paprika- Spanish flavor meets the Lowcountry, if you will.
Like always, we had to add in a little local flavor in the form of Palmetto Brewery’s Hugar Street IPA, used to make the beer batter.
Once you’ve fried the shrimp, the rest of the ingredients can be set out and everyone can assemble their own- who doesn’t love a sandwich buffet? Make sure to lay the fried shrimp out on paper towels to drain the oil before adding to your sammy.
Bocadillo de gambas fritas (Fried Shrimp Sandwich)
1 lb medium-large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
canola oil for frying
6, 6-inch sections of French baguette, each sliced in half
2-3 T butter
3 cups shredded lettuce
3/4 c halved cherry tomatoes
For the beer batter:
1 c flour
1 c cornstarch
1 T salt
2 t baking soda
1/2 t smoked paprika
1 bottle of Hugar Street IPA (or your favorite beer)
For the aioli:
canola oil (around 1 cup)
1 t salt
3/4 t pepper
1/4 t smoked paprika
1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in 3 pieces
First prepare the beer batter. Mix all ingredients together until a thick, but still-runny batter forms. Set aside. Heat 6-8 inches of oil in a deep pot over medium heat until you are able to drop a bit of the batter in the oil and watch it sizzle and rise to the top. When the oil is ready, dip each shrimp into the batter and then drop directly in the oil (Be careful!). Fry until the shrimp are golden brown. When done, remove with tongs and set aside on paper towels to drain and cool.
Meanwhile, prepare the aioli. Crack the egg and add all ingredients except the oil to a large cylindrical cup. Using an immersion blender, begin to beat the egg and add the oil in a a very light, constant stream to the mixture. Continue to run the immersion blender and add oil until the aioli is the consistency of mayonnaise. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use. This can also be done with a blender or a food processor.
Add butter to a large frying pan and melt over medium heat. Add the bread halves, face down and cook in the butter until toasted. Remove and let cool slightly.
To assemble the bocadillo spread a generous amount of aioli on each half of each sandwich. Place 5-6 shrimp on the bottom half and top 1/2 cup lettuce and a few tomato halves. Close the sandwich a chow down.
With the warm weather we’ve been having this week, it has made us think of Spring and all the fun projects and adventures we have planned in the coming months. Stay tuned with us here and on social media to see what’s going on with the Castejóns!