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 - Bar Food


Austin is a foodie city, there's no denying it. So, when you end up at a restaurant on a Friday or Saturday night, sometimes all you can hope for is a seat at the bar. But did you know that Austin has more than a few watering holes that also offer amazing food? These are just a few that I've found in my journey through Austin's food and drink scene... Check it out!

Austin's Best Bar Bites

East Side Tavern - This bar is so much fun, with a rooftop patio and amazing drink options (obviously, that's what Taverns do best) but you'd be missing out if you left without having one of these brisket and cheddar tater tots. Let me say that again. BRISKET AND CHEDDAR TATER TOTS. So freaking amazing. Runners up are the pickled deviled eggs and the corndog bites but really, anything here is awesome.
1510 E Cesar Chavez | Austin, TX 78702

The Hideout Pub–Their slogan is "we're cheap so you don't have to be," AND their kitchen is open until midnight, so you know I'm all about this place.  Not to mention they're a mere 5 minutes from my apartment in way north Austin. They mean it about being cheap--they boast more than a handful of drinks under $5! I've had the burgers and the fish and chips here and both were great. Their wing nights are an awesome excuse to chow down on multiple chicken wings for under $1 apiece (60 cents per wing). They're known for their burgers, but all pub food is present and accounted for here. Plus the laid back vibe and huge patio are awesome for hanging out with friends on a weekend or happy hour. The Hideout Pub is located at 12164 N Mopac Expressway in Austin and is open Mon-Fri 3pm-2am, Sat-Sun 5pm-2am.

Uncle Billy's - Does it count as Bar Food if it's a brewery? Sure. Amazing craft beer, excellent BBQ, and all sorts of bites. Definitely a great spot to hit if you're going into or out of Zilker! This was actually one of the first places I ate at when I moved to Austin, and it still holds up! If the weather's nice, they have one of the best outdoor seating in town. Extra points if there's live music!
1530 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, TX 78704

The Dogwood–The day I saw their steak fingers were no longer on the menu was a sad day (please bring them back!) as they were the best I'd found in the city. I can get my fix of flavorful fried meat with the chicken fingers, but if I'm going that route I'd opt for the chicken and waffles sliders. Thankfully, I have a new love in their Armadillo Eggs which are bacon-wrapped jalapenos stuffed with shrimp, crab, and goat cheese, with a peach dipping sauce. The happy hour menu is decent for the price (get the bacon wrapped BBQ shrimp or the sweet potato tots), so get here early and enjoy a meal and a drink on their patio before the West 6th Street crowd rolls in. It's unique southern cuisine, and the bar itself is a good time. The Dogwood is located at 715 West 6th Street and is open Mon-Fri 4pm-2:00am, Sat-Sun 12pm-2am.

Banger's Sausage and Beer Garden - It's a good thing they're expanding this year--the 100 or so tables are regularly packed! The glorious, enormous beer selection aside, they're one of my favorite spots to take out-of-towners because you just need to experience their unique cuisine at least once. All the sausages are made on-site, as are the pickled ingredients. The dishes are anywhere from basic but delicious (hot dog, brat) to out of this world unique (fried chicken, beet and goat cheese). Do not let yourself visit Austin without stopping here!
79 & 81 Rainey St. Austin, TX 78701

Black Star Coop–It's hard to say what's the best part of Black Star Coop. The wide selection of local beer? The fact that all staff is paid a living wage? Or the incredible food? It's a tough call, but I'd say while all those things rock, the food is my favorite. I could eat their thick-cut french fries every day, and their one-time fig-stuffed quail was my first ever foray into quail (I still am not quite sure how one goes about consuming a quail). Plus, it's the best fish and chips I've had in the city so far. And you know me, as a New Englander, I have high standards when it comes to fish. Added to the feel-good well-paid staff thing and the beers, this place definitely wins a spot on my Best Bar Bites list. Black Star Coop is located at 7020 Easy Wind Drive in Austin and is open Mon 4pm-12am, Tues-Thurs 11am-12am, Fri-Sat 11am-1am, Sun 11am-12am.

Photo courtesy of A Cup of Joey

Easy Tiger–I've only ever hit Easy Tiger after a quick jaunt down 6th Street on a weekend night, so honestly my taste buds haven't been at their peak performance. But the menu looks delicious and friends assure me it's worth it. Upstairs is an incredible bakery (I've had the bread while sober for sure), and downstairs is the beer garden where you can also order bites from the restaurant. I've ordered both their pretzel and small cheese plate. The menu is simple, but tasty, with a bit of German influence. Easy Tiger is located at 709 East 6th Street and is open Mon-Sun 7am-2am.

Image courtesy of Waller Creek Pub House

Waller Creek Pub House
Established in 2015, Waller Creek Pub House is known for its craft draft beer, original pub fare and laid-back vibe. Specials Monday’s Wing Deal, featuring 6 house made buffalo wings and a pint of Community Beer Company’s Helles Lager for only $10, or the rotating “Taco of the Day” selection for $10 or less are affordable options for those on a budget.
 603 Sabine St, Austin, TX

Drink.Well–The drinks are amazing, the food is as gorgeous as it is tasty, and 5 out of 5 foodies I asked highly recommend it, so this here is a win. The menu is upscale American pub fare, which pairs well with their 25 whiskeys and the aforementioned amazing cocktails. There aren't many places in town you can get a Scotch egg, or a HOMEMADE TWINKIE... yeah, this place pretty much rocks. Drink.Well is located at 207 East 53rd Street in Austin and is open Tues-Sat 4pm-12am, and Sun 11am-11pm.

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!

Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide 2018 - Fried Chicken


Tumble 22 - Austin's newest and most authentic tasting Nashville-style hot chicken hit the scene this year and I couldn't be more excited about it! Currently located behind Star Bar, the food truck serves up three levels of heat and a ton of flavor in every piece. I typically split a four piece with my husband, which is more than enough tasty food for us both, in the medium level--which is still mighty spicy! Their brick and mortar is opening soon on Burnet, be sure to check it out.
600 W 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

Culinary Dropout - Located in the new Rock Rose area of the Domain, Culinary Dropout offers a wide array of delicious fresh items, but you don't want to miss the chicken. This is another plate I end up splitting most of the time, it's a lot of chicken! Perfectly seasoned breading, juicy chicken--it's the best thing on the menu. Paired with a honey biscuit and delicious sides, this dish is a must for anyone taking a quick break from a Domain shopping day.
11721 Rock Rose Ave #100, Austin, TX 78758

Ms. P's Electric Cock -- Ms. P's touts "FRESH, never frozen, no hormones, no additives, LOCAL free range chicken." The skin is crispy and flavorful, the meat is juicy, and the whole "eat local" jazz is just the feel-good icing on the deep fried cake. Her sides go beyond the typical mac and cheese and slaw sides you find at most fried chicken joints--Truffle Mac and Cheese, Street Corn, and Waffles are only a few of the tasty sides.
80 Rainey St, Austin, TX

Hoover's -- If you enjoy a heavy hand on the breading, the homestyle feel and traditional sides make this a satisfying meal. The Happy Hour specials are some of the best in the city, with a chicken basket for $6 among many other snacks and drinks from 3-7pm Monday-Friday.
2002 Manor Rd, Austin, TX 

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken --  While Gus's is actually a chain that began in Memphis, they have spicy fried chicken down to an art. There are no heat levels, just classically spicy, so be comfortable with a strong "medium" amount of spice if you check them out.
117 San Jacinto Austin, TX 

Lucy's -- Lucy's they deserve a spot on this list because it's a totally "Austin" spot and the view from the Lucy's on the Lake patio is breathtaking. The desserts and sides are delicious. Try the deep fried deviled eggs before you dig into the main course.
Multiple Locations:

Photo courtesy of The Peached Tortilla

The Peached Tortilla – For an Asian twist on the southern favorite, stop by Peached for their Fried chicken night every Wednesday. The special includes Asian fried chicken, dashi bacon braised kale, grilled corn and biscuits. Not to mention, this night also boasts whiskey specials!
5520 Burnet Rd #100, Austin, TX

Black Star Coop -- This locally sourced, sustainably produced fried chicken never disappoints!Order by the dinner or snack size and enjoy the subtly spicy breading and accompanying homemade ranch dip.

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