Sunday, March 25, 2018

The Last Breaths of Winter and Zesty Hamburger Soup


How have I never blogged this recipe? I've been making it for YEARS, definitely years before I was ever flooding the internet with recipes. It was probably the second meal I learned to make from memory as an adult, the first being my version of my mom's famous Baked Mac and Cheese.

I made a big batch of this soup when it was chilly a few weeks ago--true Austinites were bundled up in their parkas but I was doing okay with just a fleece, I guess my "Texas skin" just hasn't come in yet--and now the sun is back and temps are creeping back up.

However, if my Facebook newsfeed is to be believed, my New England friends are still toughing it through colder temps, so I'm sure this soup will be well received.

This makes a huge batch, but it freezes well. I kept a good stock of it in my college apartment's freezer and pulled it out when I didn't have the time or money to grocery shop.

This soup is very hearty, just a little bit spicy, and these days I eliminate the noodles, so it's also gluten free! I imagine if you're paleo-ing it up you could sub out the white potatoes for sweet, and get rid of the corn. Either way, it's pretty freaking delicious.

Zesty Hamburger Soup
(I believe the original recipe was from Home Comfort)

  • 1 pound ground beef (also can substitute ground turkey)
  • 2 cups sliced celery
  • 1 cup sliced baby carrots
  • 1 cup onion
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 4 cups hot chicken broth 
  • 2 medium red potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 cups uncooked shell pasta
  • 4 cups V8 juice
  • 1.5 cans diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • Hot sauce (as much or as little as you'd like--I like it spicy so I use a lot, plus a little cayenne pepper)

-Cook beef, celery, carrots, and onion over medium heat until meat is browned. Add the garlic and mix in.

-Drain the fat, then mix in broth, potatoes, corn, hot sauce, and pasta.

-Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes and pasta are cooked to your liking (I'm not a fan of al dente so I go for the full 15 to get them a little softer)

-Add the rest of the ingredients (V8, diced tomatoes, and sugar) and heat over medium until heated through.*

Garnish with a little bit of fresh parmesan cheese.
*If you'd like to add noodles, do so at this point. If you are freezing, make noodles separately and keep out of the portions you're freezing.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Foodie Friends - Meet Your New Favorite App #sponsored


Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with Appyness and Oros. I received compensation for my review.

Here’s the thing: I love food, but I’m also desperately trying to stay on a budget. This means when I have a bit extra stashed aside for a night out, I’m torn between taking a chance on somewhere new, or going to an old reliable. And it’s not just food--I’m actually planning my honeymoon and I can’t decide if this once-in-a-lifetime trip should be somewhere absolutely new (risky!) or somewhere I know we love.

If only everything came in flights, so you knew what full size to get!

So, what’s a Millennial to do? Our options are sort of limited. We can either fight the social media algorithm and ask the masses within our limited social bubble, or hope that we find a handful of up-to-date, honest reviews across any number of review sites.

Guess what. There’s a third option. Oros! Oros is an app that allows you to text “anyone, anywhere, about anything” within its interface. Meaning you can get a suggestion for the best burger in the city from people who are in the know, without having to give out your number to strangers or wade through endless reviews.

With Oros you can get real-time responses from users in your area and beyond. Simply send out a request for information and users who have opted into that contact filter will be notified of your question. For example, I obviously chose food and travel, but there are endless categories to opt into--crafts, sports, photography--anyone can share their expertise in Oros!

Oros is launching in Austin, Texas on April 3, 2018 with plans to expand to additional cities thereafter. I was lucky enough to get to try it over the past week and I have to say, I’m impressed. I asked for suggestions on local sushi (my never-ending quest!) and immediately got a handful of thoughtful responses. I love how easy Oros makes it to connect with others! It’s like the best parts of Yelp and WhatsApp came together to create one amazing app.

Keep an eye on for updates! And Austin, be sure to download on April 3rd.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Marshmallow White Chocolate Ice Cream and Nostalgia


It's funny, the kinds of things you get nostalgic for. How food can call up a certain memory, take you back to a certain place. With this ice cream, I was trying to do just that--call up the year 2006, early Fall, when I'd just arrived at Emerson College and was trying to find my way around the city with my roommates. Our block on Boylston Street (right next to the Common) had many great dining options, which was great because we soon found our dining hall to be "only okay" in terms of deliciousness. One night, just as a chill began to settle in, we quelled an ice cream craving with a trip to Coldstone Creamery.

I had never been. Back home, it was sacrilege to go to Coldstone. Why go to a chain when there was a plethora of locally-owned businesses with homemade ice cream? Locals even cheered triumphantly when a Coldstone storefront only lasted a year downtown before closing its doors. But we were hungry for sugar, it was dark, and the city was too scary to explore looking for a Mom & Pop type place. Coldstone became the short-term solution for a late night ice cream craving. Especially after I found a fully loaded gift card in a secondhand sweatshirt.

I only ever had one flavor, but that was all I needed. White Chocolate, with marshmallows mixed in. Since I got two free mix-ins, but only wanted one, I always just asked for rainbow sprinkles. This was my go-to ice cream. Whenever the drippy dining hall fro-yo became too much, someone would suggest the five minute walk to Coldstone and we'd all follow. A well-meaning new friend assumed I was simply a white chocolate lover and gave me a three pound slab of the stuff for my birthday--strangely enough, this was the only way I enjoyed white chocolate: in my indulgent little ice cream.

Imagine my horror when they no longer carried mini marshmallows for the mixing. My routine ruined, I pushed for frequenting JP Lick's, Emack & Bolio's, or, if we could handle the trek to Cambridge or Allston, the former Herrell's spots there. But I never found the exact combo again.

White chocolate ice cream, with mini marshmallows and rainbow sprinkles folded in, will always remind me of that first year of college. Now, I can happily make my own, when the feeling strikes.

White Chocolate Copycat Ice Cream
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 bag white chocolate chips OR 1 large Godiva white chocolate bar, broken into chunks
  • 1 overflowing cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

-Over medium-high heat, cook cream, milk, and salt stirring occasionally, until the mixture is hot.

(Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Place a large, clean bowl in the ice bath and fit the bowl with a fine-mesh strainer.) <--I always skip this step and things turn out just fine, btw.

-In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar until well blended. In another bowl, place the white chocolate.

-Remove the cream mixture from the heat. Slowly temper the hot cream mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly until there is enough liquid in the yolk mix to heat it. (most recipes say half the cream mixture, I simply do it until it is hot)

-Transfer the yolk mixture back to the saucepan with the remaining cream mixture while whisking vigorously and return it to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula and scrape the bottom of the saucepan so it doesn't scorch, until the liquid begins to steam and the cream has thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

-Immediately pour the hot custard into the bowl with the white chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes, then whisk vigorously until the white chocolate is melted and combined with the custard.

-Strain the mixture into the cold, clean bowl and refrigerate, stirring every 20 minutes for the first hour or so, then occasionally every hour after that (for me this means "when I remember to"--again, turns out fine). When the custard is cold, leave in fridge for an additional hour or preferably overnight.

-When you are ready to make the ice cream, transfer it to an ice cream maker and spin according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once ice cream has churned for the recommended time, pour in the mini marshmallows and the sprinkles. Churn until well combined.

-Pour the ice cream by the cup into your desired ice cream holder or eat immediately if you like it at thick-milkshake-consistency. Freeze overnight for more traditional ice cream texture.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide 2017 - Best Happy Hour Bites


Salty Sow - Where else can you say "yes, one of everything, please," and have it total out at under $50? I'm endlessly amused by this, but the food is the real selling point here is the food. Highlights include the fried chicken, truffled deviled eggs, and ohhhh the brussels sprouts! 4:30-6:30 every day.
1917 Manor Road, Austin TX

TNT - It's all in the name. Tacos and Tequila! Their new re-vamped menu and awesome happy hour is one of the best deals in the city. The menu is bursting with flavor for a wide range of tastes. Bonus: on Tuesdays it's all-you-can-eat tacos for $10! We actually came in for that deal and ended up over-eating the Happy Hour apps before we got a chance. $4 bites and $4-$8 specialty cocktails Monday-Friday 4pm-7pm.
507 Pressler Street, Suite 400 Austin, TX 78703

Ten Oak - I'm glad I know this dark bar serves tasty food, with generous happy hour portions! I suggest sipping one of their signature cocktails while noshing on these "Fig in a Pigs" and truffle fries. Bonus points if you catch some live music while you dine.
409 Colorado Street, Austin, Texas.

Oasthouse - If you're living North, you probably already know about Oasthouse's Happy Hour. If you don't, then you should. Gastropub eats at happy hour prices, with enough beer and cocktails to keep you happy. Don't leave without trying the Carnitas Poutine, or the Truffled Proscuitto Bruschetta.
8300 N FM 620, Unit E  Austin, Texas 78726 

Bullfight - If you want a snack sized sample of what Bullfight has to offer, head over during Happy Hour. The calamari are delicate and fresh, and best of all, half off! All snacks, beer, and select cocktails fall under this amazing deal. The jambon croquettes are worth a taste, too.

Photo courtesy of Sushi Girl ATX

Uchiko - Get to Uchiko right at 5, otherwise you probably won't be able to catch this quick-but-worth-it happy hour, aka their Sake Social Hour. Select nigiri, make, and specialties are all under $10, with beer and sake options as well. It's hard to suggest any one thing (the desserts are pretty stand out though!) so I'll just suggest ordering one of everything.
4200 n lamar blvd, Austin TX

Parkside - You know you'll find inexpensive eats and booze on 6th, but will it be tasty? Somehow Parkside doesn't seem to know it's in the "dirty" part of town, and serves up exquisite food. Their Happy Hour boasts half off all cocktails, beer and bar food, including raw oysters, and a special happy hour burger.
301 e 6th st, Austin, tx  78701

Kome - Kome is one of my favorite sushi places in town, so of course it has one of my favorite happy hours! Again, it literally is an hour long, so get there right at open. All of my favorites are on it--gyoza, chicken wings, dynamite roll, all the sake cocktails... yes, I am a happy happy lady at this happy hour. Don't miss it, at their new expanded location!
5301 Airport Blvd., Austin, TX 78751

Photo courtesy of ATX Eats and Treats

Eureka - Okay so, full disclosure, I can't find their menu online for this, and I am sleepy at this moment. However, I do know that I love Eureka and make a full meal out of their happy hour while achieving a steady buzz. Most things on their menu are solid, so definitely check this out when you find yourself edging into Dirty 6. I know for sure their chicken sliders and corndog lollipops are on it, so check those out!

Peached Tortilla - Cocktails, snacks, tacos, and a special social hour burger are all up for grabs at this Korean-Southern infusion foodtruck-turned-brick-and-mortar. The kimchi arrancini balls are my absolute fave, but Mom's Toast and the burger itself are definitely runners up. With a happy hour Kentucky Mule, of course.

BONUS: Mueller HEB. Y'all, you can get large and in charge sliders here for $3 during Happy Hour, plus beer discounts.

Don't forget to check out the rest of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide for 2018!

Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide 2018 - Burgers


Photo courtesy of Foodie is the New Forty

Salt & Thyme - Considering this restaurant is attached to a butcher shop, you know they know their meat! The Butcher Burger is no exception--whatever meats are on the menu that day get ground up into an amazing burger, grilled to perfection with a side of fresh cut fries.
1912 E 7th St, Austin, TX, 78702

Photo courtesy of Love of All the Things

Casino el Camino–It's on every Best Burger in Austin list there is, so obviously they know their stuff: Fresh, local beef burgers that top out at a three quarters of a pound, with a variety of options to choose from (the Amarillo is my personal fave). I can also attest that they know their way around a hot dog, and their chili cheese fries have helped me quell more than one hangover in my past. Plus their bloody marys come adorned with so much food on top, that you may not even need to make a trip to the burger joint in the back. Casino El Camino is located at 517 East 6th Street in Austin and is open 11am-2am daily.

Photo Courtesy Hopdoddy

Hopdoddy - If the line curling around the outside of any of their three Austin locations is any indication, this place has possibly the most sought after burgers in town. My personal favorite is the Prime Time, a gorgeously high class tasting burger with brie, truffle aioli, and caramelized onions. Or, if you're feeling charitable, the Goodnight Good Cause burger will donate a dollar from each sale to a local charitable organization. Paired with one of their killer cocktails, it's definitely worth the wait.
Multiple locations, see website

Photo courtesy of The Smoking Ho

Clark's Oyster Bar - Yes, an oyster bar can make an incredible burger. And during happy hour (M-F, 3-6pm) it's half price! The burger is a juicy hunk of Black Angus, topped with Sauce Gribiche and Gruyere. The crispy shoestring fries are the perfect accompaniment to this burger. And a few happy hour oysters, if you're into that.
1200 W 6th St Austin, Texas 78703

Dai Due - Butcher shops know their burgers. If you're not in for supper club, definitely hit up their lunch menu for a taste of their Wild Boar Burger, with pickled grilled mushrooms, ham, mixed greens, red eye mayonnaise and asadero cheese on a cemita bun. Feeling the beef on a Tuesday? You won't want to miss their weekly Wagyu cheeseburger special with a side of tallow fries.
2406 Manor Road, Austin 78722

Swift's Attic - Their menu mainstay Bowling Alley Burger (house ground beef, melted fontina, griddled onions, fancy-ass special sauce, pickle spear, sesame seed bun) is legit, but if you want a real burger adventure make sure you're one of the first 18 people to order a burger on a Monday night and you'll be treated to the Bad Ass Burger of the week. Check out the Do512 page for this week's special!
315 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701

Jackalope - Yes, we're sending you to Dirty 6 again. Yes, we promise it's worth it. No, I don't have a suitable picture, because maybe I was riding the dang Jackalope statue and forgot. Whether you're looking to create a solid base before a night of drinking (or help chill out mid-night) or actually sober enough to enjoy it, the Jackalope makes a mighty tasty burger. With options like Bacon and Brie, Mac and Cheese, or Honey Jalapeno Bacon, there's something for everyone at this popular bar.
404 East 6th, Austin, TX 78701

Don't forget to check out the rest of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide for 2018!