Salmon en Papillote: Fish in a DIY bag

salmon en papillote


According to Aimee, salmon en papillote is the very first dinner I ever cooked for her. I had to break it to her that this was my go-to dish for impressing the ladies. It checks all of the boxes:

  • Sounds fancy – salmon en papillote just means “salmon in parchment” but when heard in my outrageous French accent just makes your knees weak.
  • Looks cool – few homemade meals allow for such dramatic presentation. For this dish you plate the bag and the diner tears into it like a present…allowing the steam and savory smells to waft almost magically from the bag.
  • Looks complicated (but super easy) to make – it uses one pan and a cookie sheet, so clean up is super easy too.
  • Healthy and light – this recipe uses just 1 tablespoon of butter or oil and salt and pepper to taste.



parchment paper

parchment paper

parchment paper hearts



skinning salmon

salmon in hearts

salmon in paper

salmon en papillote

salmon en papillote


Here you go, a simple recipe for Salmon en Papillote:

Salmon en Papillote: Fish in a DIY bag
Recipe type: Seafood
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • 3 carrots shredded
  • 1 shallot chopped
  • 2 salmon fillets (skin and bones removed)
  • 1 tbsp. butter or olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 2 sheets of parchment cut roughly 15in x 20in
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat butter or oil in a pan over medium heat. Sauté carrots and shallot until soft (3 - 4 minutes) adding salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Fold the parchment in half so it is 15in x 10in and cut a half heart shape so when unfolded it looks like a Valentine’s heart.
  4. Divide the sautéed vegetables onto the wider part of the hear parchment, close to, but not overlapping the fold. Place the fish on top of the vegetables. Top with lemon zest, salt and pepper.
  5. Place the left half of parchment over the fish in the same way you cut out the heart.
  6. Folding: Starting at the top inseam of the heart fold over a 1 inch section of parchment toward the center of the heart. Working your way around the open side of parchment ½ inch at a time, continuing to fold the sections making sure you overlap the previous section so that no steam escapes. Once you get to the end, fold the long tail of the heart around a few times and tuck it underneath the bag.
  7. Place the bags in the oven on a cookie sheet for 9 or 10 minutes.
  8. Serve and tear in.


A Trip to Manana

I love being able to walk to coffee shops (and bars, of course). So when this new coffee shop opened in the South Congress Hotel, I was hoping it would be good. And on our first visit there, it delivered. The coffee is great, the pastries are OMG so good, and the decor is so cute! I love the tile that’s all around the coffee bar area.



Josh ordered an almond pastry (it had apples inside!) and I ordered a ham and cheese croissant that was so flaky, buttery and perfect.





Just look at all the delicious things happening in that pastry case! I almost got a cinnamon roll.. and a lemon tart.. but stopped myself and just stuck with the croissant.


pastry case


Love the side of the espresso machine!


espresso machine

manana decor

empty coffee cup

Mixed Berry Smoothie Bowl

mixed berry smoothie bowl


Happy Friday! I don’t know about you, but I am so glad the weekend is almost here. I caught a cold last weekend, and I’ve spent most of this week feeling rotten. I’m feeling a lot better, and I’m excited to rest and relax this weekend and just enjoy not being sick!


I will say, when I’m sick, I do try to get as many vitamins as possible, hoping it will speed the cold along. And I absolutely adore smoothies for that purpose. Being able to pack those antioxidants and vitamin c in is perfect! Lately, I’ve been seeing more and more photos of smoothie bowls, and now that I’ve tried it? I’m sold. It’s all the deliciousness of a smoothie with toppings!


Really, you can add anything to the top. I checked what I had in my pantry, and so I topped this one with a banana, some sprouted pumpkin seeds (my new love!), and some coconut that I toasted. I’m excited to try out more variations, but I’ll include the recipe of what I did for this one! Modify to your own tastes, and honestly, just throw some good stuff on top. Eat it up with a spoon and congratulate yourself on being healthy.



smoothie bowl

finished smoothie bowl


Mixed Berry Smoothie Bowl
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
  • 1 banana
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 1 cup frozen berries
  • ½ tbsp shredded coconut
  • ½ tbsp sprouted pumpkin seeds
  1. Toast the shredded coconut lightly in a pan over low heat for about 5 minutes. Stir every minute or so.
  2. When coconut is lightly toasted, remove from heat.
  3. Cut ⅓ of the banana into slices. Set aside the rest of the banana for the smoothie.
  4. In a blender, add the frozen berries, orange juice, and rest of the banana and blend until smooth.
  5. Pour into a bowl and top with sliced banana, shredded coconut, and pumpkin seeds.
  6. Eat with a spoon and enjoy!


Yummy Bruschetta

Tomato Bruschetta


I love this time of year. It’s actually the perfect time in Austin where it’s not too hot and not too cold. The weather is getting warmer, and staying warmer. And eating fresh ingredients becomes the norm. Goodbye to soup, hello to raw veggies and fruits! This tomato bruschetta feels like the perfect way to ring in spring. Tomatoes, basil, garlic, warm toasted bread… what’s not to love?


The great thing about this bruschetta is that it is a perfect appetizer, snack, or part of a meal. To make it part of a meal, just serve alongside some chicken or pasta. When we made this bruschetta, we also cut up a rotisserie chicken and called it lunch. So easy. Honestly, the most time-consuming part of this dish is chopping all the tomatoes, but if you have a great helper (like my husband), those tomatoes are chopped in no time!


And before we move onto the recipe, let’s just talk briefly about the pronunciation of the word bruschetta. I keep pronouncing it broo-sheh-tuh. And Josh keeps correcting me, saying it’s broo-sket-uh. Who’s right? Apparently he is. Regardless, it is a delicious and yummy creation.


tomatoes and basil

french bread

slicing bread

tomato mixture

tomatoes for bruschetta

tomato bruschetta

yummy tomato bruschetta

tomato bruschetta


5.0 from 1 reviews
Yummy Bruschetta
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • ½ loaf french or ciabatta bread
  • 6 campari tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ⅛ cup loosely packed basil
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp olive oil (plus more for brushing onto bread)
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Dice the tomatoes and put into a small mixing bowl
  2. Finely mince the clove of garlic and add to the bowl
  3. Chop the basil into thin ribbons and add to the bowl
  4. Add the parsley, 1 tsp olive oil and balsamic vinegar to the bowl
  5. Add a little salt and black pepper
  6. Stir ingredients together. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed
  7. Set aside and let flavors marinate together
  8. Turn on oven broiler
  9. Cut half of the loaf of bread into about ½ inch slices
  10. Place onto baking sheet and brush olive oil onto one side of the bread slices, making sure to get the edges
  11. Place under broiler until nicely browned. Cooking time will vary based on your oven, so just keep an eye on it! You want the bread to be crisp, but not burned.
  12. Remove bread from oven and evenly spoon and distribute tomato mixture over the bread slices.
  13. Grate Parmesan cheese over the top, if desired.


The Roscoe at Torchy’s South Congress

torchys sign - damn good


This past weekend, my sister shared something shocking with me. She had just tried Torchy’s Tacos. For the first time in her life.


This is a girl who has lived in the Austin area for over 10 years. How has she gone so long without having a taco from Torchy’s?


I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been to Torchy’s it has been so many. I CAN count how many of locations of theirs I’ve visited though. Seven. But the one that I am most thankful for is the new one on South Congress. Not only is the decor stunning, but I can easily walk there! Which is perfect for making me not feel so guilty for getting chips and queso. Easy enough to walk off on the way home!


Every month, Torchy’s has a taco of the month. This month it’s the Roscoe which means a chicken strip, bacon, waffle, and fried egg all on a flour tortilla! Josh and I walked over yesterday to check it out and we both loved it. Such a great combination of flavors, made more perfect by topping with a bit of syrup.


If you’re thinking of trying it, you’ve only got two days left! There will be a new taco starting April 1st, so don’t wait.


Torchy's South Congress Floor

Torchy's South Congress Door

Torchy's Chips and Queso

The Roscoe Taco at Torchy's

The Roscoe Taco at Torchy's

The Roscoe Taco at Torchy's

Torchy's South Congress

Chess Bars

chess bars


Does everyone have a favorite dessert from when they were growing up? I think this might be mine. Chess bars. My mom would make a batch of these every so often and stick them in the fridge. I’d sneak them out quite frequently, even if she was saving them for Easter. When I’d mention to her how much I loved them, she’d say that they were so easy, she should make them more often. And do you know what? They ARE so easy.


These have a layer of cake-likeness on the bottom and a layer of gooey cream cheese + powdered sugar on the top. I just love how the top tends to get all crackly too. Over the years, my sweet tooth has almost gone away, but I still can’t resist these!


I’d recommend letting them completely cool before cutting. You’ll get much better results that way. And refrigerate the leftovers! Also, I cooked mine in a parchment-lined pan so I could easily take them out and cut them, but you can also just make them in a cake pan with no parchment. Either works!



chess bar ingredients



chess bars ingredients

chess bars

chess bars

chess bars

chess bars

chess bars


Chess Bars
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 28 bars
  • 1 box butter recipe yellow cake mix
  • 1 stick butter softened
  • 1 egg (for base)
  • 3 eggs (for topping)
  • 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 1 box powdered sugar (16 oz)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Take the cake mix, 1 egg, and softened stick of butter and mix together.
  3. Pat down into a 9x13 pan.
  4. Mix together remaining eggs, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla and pour over cake.
  5. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
  6. Reduce heat to 325 and bake for 45-50 minutes.
  7. This cake will sink in the middle after it cools.
  8. Let cool completely before cutting. Cut into squares and place any remaining bars in the refrigerator in an airtight container (between layers of wax or parchment paper).


Chili Lime Shrimp

Chili Lime Shrimp


Lately I have discovered the joys of working from home. Being able to throw a load of laundry in the washer, step outside for a breath of fresh air, and not having to work under headache-inducing florescent lights are all huge benefits. But even better than all those things is being able to cook a proper lunch. None of this reheating food in a microwave. At home there is an ACTUAL oven. And a stove! And pots and pans!


However, I don’t want to be slaving away in the kitchen my whole lunch break. Or dirtying up a bunch of dishes. That’s why I love quick lunches like this. Cook up a bunch of shrimp, toss in seasoning, squeeze some lime on the top. Easy lunch. And if you’re a bit hungrier or want to turn this recipe into dinner, plate over some cooked pasta or a salad.


I usually use frozen shrimp, because I always try to keep a bag in the freezer. But of course, if you can get fresh shrimp, even better!




chili lime shrimp

chili lime shrimp

shrimp tails


Chili Lime Shrimp
Recipe type: Seafood
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 10-12 medium-sized, frozen shrimp
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • ½ a lime
  • sprinkling of salt
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat
  2. Once oil is hot, place the shrimp into the pan to start cooking. (If using fresh shrimp, cooking time will be less).
  3. Cook until shrimp are pink and opaque, about 10 minutes, flipping about halfway through (at the minute mark)
  4. Turn off the heat.
  5. Add a sprinkling of salt, black pepper, paprika, and chili powder to the pan and stir to combine so the shrimp are coated.
  6. Plate and squeeze the juice of ½ a lime over the shrimp.


Insider Tips to SXSW

This week a plethora of people descend upon Austin for the 30th South by Southwest Film Music and Interactive Festival (aka SXSW or “South By”). It’s an event bursting at the seams with music, film, food, alcohol, and geekdom of all levels.  And it’s the one time of the year li’l ol’ Austin feels like it’s at the center of the universe.


Food Banjo is no stranger to the strangeness of SXSW. Over the years we’ve learned a thing or two we’d like to pass on to our Banjo-eestas.  So if you are planning on attending, or just here to soak up the atmosphere/alcohol these are our tips for making it out alive and happy.


Tips from Josh:

RSVP to Everything

No matter how full your schedule is there will be moments you’ll find you have some free time, or just want to grab a free bite or drink on your way to something else. This is where RSVPing to events helps fill you schedule and your belly. Here’s a good resource of events up for RSVPs: And don’t feel bad for drinking on the go…you’re busy with important people to meet!


Don’t Pay for It If You Can Get It for Free

The Austin Convention Center and hotels are convenient for grabbing food, but there’s likely a sponsored something or other literally across the street. There’s always some business that’s eager to trade some good food for a moment of your eyeballs on their marketing. You might have to stand in line, but that’s when you double-check your schedule, meet someone from another country, or find out where the next free thing is on Twitter – start with @thefreenoms.


Remember The Alamo

At some point during SXSW you’ll be tired and hungry but don’t want to miss out on anything. In those moments I duck into the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and watch one of the films showing during the festival. They serve a full menu and bar and deliver to your theater seat during the show…and it’s all reasonably priced. If you don’t have a film badge you can still buy a ticket to any show that is not sold out.


Be Curious. Act Clueless.

There are thousands of concurrent events during SXSW. How can anyone keep them straight in their head? Sometimes the best way to experience SXSW is to pretend you belong everywhere you go. Wander, wide-eyed through the alley entrance, and blend in. I’ve done it, sometimes on purpose, most of the time I’m just clueless, but haven’t been thrown out yet!


Don’t Be Tethered

When your phone dies, don’t be one of those losers sitting on the floor of the hotel lobby waiting while their phone charges at an ankle-level outlet. The Convention Center has a few different charging lockers where you can securely leave your phone. They even have charging cords for just about every phone.


The Floor is Lava

Remember this is an event with billions of international visitors…and by that I mean bacteria, viruses, germs. With that in mind, pretend that every public space is covered in goo…because it probably is. Wash your hands often and carry around a small bottle of sanitizer. Don’t worry, you will blend in with the other dorks that are doing the same thing. Believe me, in the future you will thank me.


Tips from Aimee:

All the Noms

As Josh stated above, there is a ton of free food at SXSW! I like to make a game of it and try to see if I can get away with not paying for any meals. I will take a break from this game if I head over to SouthBites Trailer Park. It brings together not only delicious food trailers from Austin, but also ones from other cities. It’s a great way to try different food.


Lounge Away

If you need a place to get away during the interactive conference, the lounges are a great place to do this. They provide a space away from the crowds to just relax and regroup. Every once in awhile, one of the is serving free food or drinks. An added bonus!


Power Up

Do not forget your power cord to charge your devices. You WILL be using your phone constantly to check where your friends are, where the free food is, or to take notes on. Charge well, charge often.


Hashtags are your Friend

If you’re attending the interactive conference, you may realize there are several sessions you want to see at once. Or you may not get into your preferred session. What do do?! Well, on the SX schedule, you may notice there is a hashtag associated with each session. Go to Twitter, search for that hashtag, and you’ll see what others tweeted about the session. A great way to get some key takeaways!


Step Away from the Free Stuff

Okay, I know we’ve both said free stuff is great. But.. when it comes to swag, you don’t want to be lugging around a bunch of koozies, papers, booklets, pens, notepads, etc. if you don’t have to. Only take the free swag you really like, and leave the rest.


Have fun!

Kumquat Salad (Thoughts on Kumquats)

kumquat salad

My grandfather, a burly, mustachioed man with sea blue eyes, lived on the top of a dead end street in Central Los Angeles. It was a working-class neighborhood. When I would visit from suburbia at six years-old and rollerskate down the sidewalk, I would be the only one out there with modern skates. All of the local kids had skates with metal wheels that, upon contact with the black asphalt, became immediately pitted and were ever after a teeth-chattering experience.

My grandfather, Clyde, transformed his backyard into a bit of a sanctuary with enough room for a small table where we would sit and play dominos and eat kumquats from the same tree that provided the tiny patio with its main source of shade. He would tug on the small fruit until the tree reluctantly submitted, then hand them out like gold nuggets and we would plop them into our mouths: skin, seeds and all. Just men being men.

The bounty of kumquats made it seem like one could find them anywhere, but ask anyone now where to find them and you’ll most likely get an odd look for your trouble. The rarely seen kumquat has the look of an orange with the shape and size of an olive. Unlike an orange though, the skin is sweet and the juicy flesh is sour, and so these soft-shelled crabs of the citrus world are eaten whole or sliced, sometimes seeded, but never peeled. They grow at different times of the year in various parts of the world. If you don’t live in California or Florida you can find them at a Whole Foods or it’s equivalent, but only as a hoarded handful in a small plastic container. We’ve seen them recently on trees around the neighborhood, and they always yield a surprising sweetness and tartness.

We are offering up a recipe to the kumquat gods and seek their and your approval.



kumquat salad

kumquat salad

Adapted from a recipe by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen.

Kumquat Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4
  • ⅓ cup thinly sliced seeded kumquats
  • 2½ tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1 5-ounce package baby spinach
  • ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Chop enough kumquats to measure 1 tablespoon.
  2. Mix chopped kumquats, vinegar, shallot, vegetable oil, ginger, and sesame oil in large bowl.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Plate spinach, almonds, cilantro, and sliced kumquats and douse liberally with kumquat dressing.

Panko Crusted Cod

panko crusted cod


Happy first day of March! We’re excited to head into the second month of posts here at Food Banjo. Up today… this delicious and crunchy panko crusted cod recipe.


Breaded and fried. That is how I used to like my fish when I was younger. Now I like to think my tastes have evolved and I love seafood in a variety of ways, but this panko crusted cod takes me back to that flaky white fish with a crunchy coating that I used to love. Luckily, because this is baked, I like to pretend it is a lot healthier, and hopefully it is!


Fresh fish is great, but for convenience, I tend to keep fish in the freezer, that way it’s easy to take it out and thaw. Also, use fresh lemon and get yourself a zester if you don’t already have one. It is such a great kitchen tool! What I also love about this recipe is it’s quick to prep, and then cook in the oven, so it’s perfect for an easy dinner paired with a side of veggies.


lemon zest


panko cod

panko crusted cod

panko crusted cod

Panko Crusted Cod
Recipe type: Seafood
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 servings
  • 2 medium cod filets, fresh or defrosted
  • 1 lemon (for zesting and slicing)
  • ½ cup panko crumbs
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp salt (plus extra for sprinkling)
  • ¼ tsp pepper (plus extra for sprinkling)
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp maple syrup
  • ½ tbsp olive oil (for panko mixture)
  • 1½ tsp olive oil (for pan)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Zest lemon to get ½ tsp lemon zest
  3. In medium bowl, combine lemon zest with panko, parmesan, parsley, salt, and pepper
  4. Stir together and set aside.
  5. In small bowl, combine dijon mustard and maple syrup. Mix until combined.
  6. Oil an ovenproof skillet and wipe out any excess.
  7. Take fish filets and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides.
  8. Cover the top of the fish with the maple syrup and mustard mixture.
  9. Press the panko mixture onto the top of the fish so that as much sticks as possible.
  10. Carefully place the fish in the skillet and cook in the oven for 12 minutes.
  11. While fish is cooking, slide the lemon to place atop the fish.
  12. After the 12 minutes, turn the oven to broil, and broil until the panko is nicely browned.
  13. Remove, let fish rest for 2-3 minutes, season with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, plate with lemon slides and enjoy!