Friday, May 28, 2010

The Mother of All Weekends, Part 3

After two full days of delicious adventures (documented here and here), Mama B and I tackled our third day like it was our first.

We started our day off with a Starbucks (Mama=Grande Cinnamon Dolce, Me=Double Tall Nonfat Latte) and then hit the road for some snacks and shopping.

One thing Mama B really wanted to try while she was in Austin was a kolache. Originating from Central Europe, kolaches are pastries with sweet or savory fillings. The pastry itself is similar to a Hawaiian sweet bread--super yummy. The fillings are usually fruit (blueberry, apple, etc) or some kind of sausage (like a homemade pig in the blanket).

We found a place on our way to the San Marcos Outlet Mall that had a good mix of both. Dos Gatos is a cute little place run by two brothers right off the Texas State campus. They served up blueberry cream cheese, sausage cheddar, and polish sausage sauerkraut kolaches that were fresh and scrumptious.

An afternoon of shopping had us famished and we were ready for some nourishment. Lockhart, TX is a stone's throw from the outlets and known to be the The Barbecue Capital of Texas. Four big BBQ giants reside in this town and share a rivalry similar to the Geno's vs. Pat's cheesesteak battle in Philly.

After much consideration, we decided on Smitty's. They believe their barbecue is so good you don't need sauce or silverware, so we followed suit and ate our brisket, pork chop, and ribs primitively. Overall very tasty, but the brisket did need a bit of sauce (which we discovered was available behind the counter--just ask sheepishly and they'll provide some). I'm definitely open to giving the other joints a shot, but Smitty's was pretty good.

The best barbecue chaser? A hot fudge malt from Sonic (times two!). The hot fudge adds a richness that plain ol' chocolate sauce doesn't offer. If you've never tried it in a malt or shake, give it a go--you won't be disappointed!

A delicious weekend! Looking forward to our next visit, Mama B. One question though: What are we going to eat? ;o)

Happy Searching,

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Mother of All Weekends, Part 2

My previous post recounted the first day of our Mother's Day Weekend Smorgasbord. Here's Day 2 of our devourings:

Sunday morning, I woke Mama B up with some mixed berry scones with homemade orange honey butter, recipe courtesy of Tyler Florence. The scones were pretty good (especially warm) but the butter was the star. Who knew it was so easy to make your own butter?!? Throw some cream into a mixer and 5 minutes later, you've got the best butter you've ever tasted. So easy, so delish!

After our scones settled, we had brunch at the Eastside Cafe. The first time I ate there, I knew I would have to come back with my mom. The Cafe is actually a quaint little house, complete with a huge garden behind it where all of the produce is grown. Everything is fresh, local, and very tasty.

This Shrimp & Goat Cheese Quesadilla was a last minute addition to our order and probably the best dish at the Cafe--perfectly crispy on the outside, gooey and melted on the inside and gone in two minutes!

After our meal, we were ready for a stroll in the garden. Everything from lettuce to squash grew abundantly, providing a lovely setting.

Later that evening (after a nap, I believe), Ryan treated us to Pineapple Margaritas and Fish Tacos. The margs were perfectly frothy, fruity, and refreshing.  Don't you want a gulp?

The tacos: spicy tilapia dressed with a cool sour cream sauce, then topped with crumbled queso fresco inside a warm flour tortilla. Soooo good!  

Needless to say, we went to bed with extremely satisfied tastebuds...but not before planning our meals for the next day. Check back for kolaches and barbeque from Lockhart, the Texas Bar-B-Q Capital!

Happy Searching,

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Mother of All Weekends, Part 1

I was so excited to have my mom in town for Mother's Day. As I began to plan the agenda for the weekend, the first question that had to be answered: What are we going to eat?

Luckily, my mom and I are of the same mind when it comes to food (I wonder how that happened...). We live to eat and plan our days accordingly. We are often discussing what we should do for lunch while we are eating breakfast. It's awesome.

So, I wanted our time together to be filled with yummy things and all in all, it was a delicious weekend.

We spent Saturday at the Lake Austin Spa and enjoyed some incredible food. We shared scallop ceviche, watermelon gazpacho, an avocado chicken panini, and some frozen our bathrobes! It was heavenly (and much too relaxing to be bothered with a camera, so there are no pictures...sorry).

What better to follow up a healthy day at the spa than with some barbeque? We were in Austin, after all, and I knew just the spot: County Line Bar-B-Q. Being the dainty spa girls that we are, we promptly ordered the Meat Sampler Platter and a pitcher of Shiner. Brisket, beef ribs, pork ribs, and smoked turkey? You betcha!

We sat out on the deck, listened to some great live music, and licked every last bit of the barbeque sauce off of our fingers (I threatened to get Mama B a straw to slurp the remaining side of sauce until I realized she would really do it). You can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl!

Once our savory cravings were satisfied, it was time for a little something sweet. Luckily, I knew where to go for that, too. Central Market is an Austin grocery store with lots of specialty items but more importantly, a gelato bar. I introduced Mama to this gelato during her last visit and we both became hooked on the same flavor: The Donatella. Creamy and studded with crunchy chocolate-covered waffle bits, it's basically Nutella in gelato form. The chocolate hazelnut flavor is insanely good.

Stay tuned for Part 2...scones and quesadillas and margaritas, oh my!

In the meantime...

Happy Searching!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Burger Love

I could never be a vegetarian. Sometimes I feel bad about eating meat because of where it comes from, but I ultimately surrender to my carnivorous ways. This usually occurs when one of two things are nearby: hamburgers or bacon.

Needless to say, I am always in search of a delicious burger. A few weeks ago in Ft. Worth, I found one at Love Shack.

The Shack is owned by Tim Love, a chef who competed in--and won--Iron Chef America. It's a casual but chic hotspot serving up yummy burgers and sides to go with it.

What I really like about Love Shack is all of the thoughtful details that go into every aspect of the restaurant. The burgers are juicy and served with a homemade special sauce (ala In-N-Out). The fries and potato chips are sliced on the premises and perfectly crispy.  The atmosphere is playful, including a patio full of comfy outdoor couches and chalkboard walls in the powder room (you're actually encouraged to post some graffiti!)  

In a world full of flimsy burgers and fast food, Love Shack is a classy burger joint that takes the time to serve it up right. The attention to detail has not gone unnoticed...we'll be stopping by for some Burger Love the next time we're in town!

Happy Searching,

p.s. They also have amazing milkshakes--I had a Vanilla Heath creation that was to die for. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Perfect Pad Thai

Sometimes I take my husband's fabulous cooking for granted. With Ryan in the kitchen, the bar has been raised and I have become accustomed to gourmet meals on a nightly basis. It's a compliment, really...I know dinner will be delicious because he's such a great cook.

Then sometimes he makes a dish that really reminds me how lucky my taste buds are. Something over-the-top tasty.

This Pad Thai was perfection. Whole wheat linguine wok-tossed with shrimp, chicken, cilantro, bean sprouts, peanuts and spices...aMAZing. Another one of the key ingredients was fish sauce, which is found in the Asian Foods aisle (with a wretched smell but incredible taste....don't let it dissuade you). I really believe this stinky delight is what elevated the dish from good to gone-in-three-minutes.

I think I told Ryan how delicious it was between each and every bite. Maybe we can have it again tonight...

Happy Searching,

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tasty Tostadas

In observance of Cinco de Mayo and all things delicioso, I have to share one of our new favorite recipes. It's a keeper for several reasons, but the best one? It's healthy Mexican food. 

I know what you're saying: "¿Es verdad? Can it be?!" Yes, it's true! 

It seems like an oxymoron, but these shrimp tostadas have all of the deliciousness of Mexican food without any of the greasy guilt. Nada. And they are sooooo good!

If I had to choose one word to describe this dish, it would be flavorful. Smoky cumin, ancho chili powder, lime juice, and cilantro mingled together to create a perfect balance. The roasted shrimp were spicy, the corn and red onion were cool and sweet, and the vinaigrette was tangy.

Even with a few amendments to the original recipe, I can't imagine this dish turning out any better. We didn't have any cabbage, so I omitted it altogether. For the tostada "shells", I substituted won ton skins. They were a bit more healthful than the the corn tortillas the recipe called for and still provided that crunchy texture. 

I brushed ten of them lightly with olive oil, sprinkled them with S&P, and baked them in a muffin tin until golden brown (around 8 minutes). While they cooled, I prepped the shrimp and veggies, tossed them all together and assembled the tostada cups. 

Muy deliciso! A great appetizer, dinner, or fiesta fare. Happy Cinco de Mayo! I hope you're enjoying a margarita (or a Modelo)...

¡Buscar Feliz!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cookie Math

As a reward for a group of fifth graders I tutored, I threw a little party when all of our sessions were finished. I tried to come up with a dessert that had something to do with math when I remembered my rarely-used collection of 100 cookie cutters. I dusted them off and decided to crunch some numbers!

I contemplated making my own sugar cookie dough, but when I thought about how my audience wouldn't care (or know the difference), I went with the pre-made. I did, however, make my own frosting. Well...Giada's frosting. And I have to say it was some of the best frosting I've ever eaten.

I figured this was the perfect opportunity to experiment with the neon food coloring I'd seen in the baking aisle and after trying it, I'm sold. I absolutely loved how vibrant the frosting turned out--lime green, bright turquoise, fuchsia, and tangerine. (Even with several attempts, I wasn't able to get a photo to capture their vibrancy...this was as close as it came).

So I baked the cookies until they were cooked through but still soft, then let them cool. I filled Ziploc bags with frosting, snipped the tips, and covered each cookie with some color. A sprinkle of sparkling sugar on top and--presto!--the dessert equation is solved.

Store-bought dough + homemade frosting = delicious! I love this kind of math...

Happy Searching!
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