Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

This has got to be one of my favorite recipes.  So simple yet so delicious, it makes a great supper or even a brunch dish.  It took me a few recipes and tries to perfect but this one is great every time.  I think a lot has to do with the warm bowl- if you add the noodles to the pot you used to cook the bacon and garlic it ends up being too warm and scrambles the eggs instead of turning them into a creamy sauce.  The warm bowl seems to be the perfect temp.  I got this recipe form the America's Test Kitchen cookbook and I made a few modifications.

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

3 large eggs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
5 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces bacon (8 slices), chopped fine
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 pound thick spaghetti
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Adjust an oven rack to lowest position, place a large serving bowl on the rack, and heat the oven to 200 degrees.  Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot for the spaghetti.

2.  Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and cheeses together and set aside.

3.  Cook the bacon in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat until the bacon reaches your desired crispness.  Add the garlic and cook for about a minute or two.  Add the wine and simmer until it is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and cover.

4.  When the water is boiling, stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the spaghetti.  Cook, stirring often until the spaghetti is al dente.

5.  Drain the spaghetti, leaving it slightly wet.  Remove the warm bowl from the oven and add the spaghetti.  Immediately pour the egg and bacon mixtures over the spaghetti and toss to coat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rio's Brazilian

Ugh- what a week. Sorry for the lack of posts, I have been sick all week. I feel like I have gotten sick a lot more while I've been in Texas, I wonder if allergies have anything to do with it. Anyway, last Sunday I went to brunch at Rio's with my neighbor Amy. We have been wanting to check it out for awhile. I have never eaten Brazilian food before so I was pretty excited. It was a warm Sunday morning and we got there early enough to snag a seat on the tiny but cute patio.

They only offered a small brunch menu which was a tad disappointing because there were some things on the regular menu that I wanted to try.  Oh well, guess I will have to go back again for dinner!

The menu consisted mainly of small filled pastries and three main dish entrees.  We decided to order one of all the pastries and share them.  Oh yeah- they also have $1.50 Tropical Mimosas! Yum!

What we got: Cheese Bread Trio, Vegetarian Brazilian Breakfast Pocket, Pastel de Banana, and two of the Bolinho de Aipim.  In my hunger I forgot to take a picture of the cheese bread, oops.  They were good but not exactly what I was expecting.  They are gluten free and made with yuca root.  They were very tiny, only about two bites each and extremely dense and chewy.  The breakfast pocket and the Pastel de Banana were both fried and reminded me of a empanada.  Both were very yummy.

My favorite dishes of the morning were the Bolinho de Aipim.  They are yuca root pastries, one was stuffed with smoked cheese and roasted red peppers and the other was stuffed with shredded chicken breast and mozzarella cheese.  These things were so amazing!  The dough was very soft and a bit chewy.  It did not have a crunch like the fried pastries.  We also got two sauces, one red and one green.  I have no idea what they were but they were so good!  Slightly spicy and a bit sweet and smokey... I could seriously eat them with a spoon.

Can't wait to go again for lunch or dinner.  

Rio's Brazilian Cafe 
408 North Pleasant Valley Road
Austin, Texas 78702

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SXSW fun and Hopdoddy Burger Bar

So, SXSW was last week.  It was crazy.  I didn't get to experience a lot of it because I worked but I did get a taste on Friday night and Saturday.  Knowing what I know now, I would take a day or two off during the week because the weekend shows were so packed, I only got to watch one of the bands I set out to see.  I would definitely invest in a Fader Fort wristband as well.  We did get to see a rockin set by Peelander-Z on Saturday at The Grackle on East 6th.  Awesome!!!  They are a Japanese punk band who put on an amazing and comical show.  Human bowling? Check.  Songs about steak? Check.  If you ever get a chance to see them, don't pass it up.  They are coming back to Austin on April 28 at the Parish.

We did a lot of walking around and stopping into random places and listening to unknown bands.  It was fun to see how each bar or restaurant changed to accommodate SXSW bands and visitors.  Even Italos, which is usually dead, had a band and was full of people.

On Friday night we had dinner at Hopdoddy Burger Bar after watching firework on the 1st Street bridge.  I have been wanting to try Hopdoddy for awhile.  It is a fancy but casual burger place. They only serve fresh all-natural ingredients and grind their own beef and bake their own buns daily.  We you walk in you go straight back and get in line to order your burger.  While you are waiting a server gives you a number and finds you a table.  The bar is next to the line so you can get a brew while you wait.  I had a hard time picking, they have so many options for protein such as beef, bison, tuna, turkey, lamb and veggie patty.  I ended up picking the Magic Shroom with a beef patty, goat cheese, field mushrooms and basil pesto.  Matt got a plain hamburger and fries.

Overall this is a pretty solid burger.  Bun was yummy, beef had good flavor and was moist, toppings were tasty and fresh.  The fries are skinny and seasoned and they have a super yummy chipotle ketchup for dipping.  I wouldn't hesitate to go back.

Hopdoddy Burger Bar
1400 South Congress Ave, Austin, Texas  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Watching the Spartans get their ass kicked and eating delicious chicken diablos from 3rd Base

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Bánh mì detour

I was planning on trying Tam Deli on Monday because I had 2 hours to kill before a staff meeting but the meeting ended up getting cancelled.  It is just far enough to be too far for my lunch break, and I never want to make the trek all the up north on the weekends because I have to do it M-F.  So today I decided to go a bit out of my way and grab a banh mi and some spring rolls for dinner.  Tam Deli was closed!  Ahh!  I have heard about another spot up north that serves good banh mi so I took out the trusty google maps and searched.  Turns out Thanh Nhi was only a bit farther north. Yay!

I got the combination pork bahn mi and the pork sausage spring rolls with a fried dough cigar and mint.  Best spring rolls I have ever had.  The picture does not do it justice- the crunchy fried dough in the middle was amazing, mixed with the salty pork, crisp veggies and chewy wrapper- it was perfectly balanced.  I enjoyed the banh mi as well, way better than T&N but much different than Lulu B's.  Oh yeah, this place is cheap.  Dinner for $7.00 and I was pretty stuffed.  The only down side, because of construction I couldn't get back on 183 and had to sit on the congested feeder FOREVER!  Oh well.

Vietnamese Restaurant & Sandwich
9200 N. Lamar Blvd. #104
Austin, TX 78753
(512) 834-1736

On a side note- I am officially registered for the Bun Run 5K on May 1st!  Woo!  Now to get off my butt and start running.  I'm hoping this will help me lose the last ten pounds I need to lose so I can reach my goal weight.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blacks BBQ

The one thing that Andy requested during his stay was BBQ.  We have tried a few places in Austin but everyone has told me that I need to make the drive out to Lockhart for BBQ.   I thought it would be a fun mini trip and Andy would get to see a little Texas town. 

We decided to eat at Blacks, my friend told me she liked it better than the other places in town.  When you walk in you stand in line and grab a plate.  Up first is a buffet station with a variety of sides.  Once you plate up the sides you move on down to where you order your meat and pay.  We tried to get a bit of everything although somehow we forgot the sausage.  We ended up having way too much food, of course.

I got mac and cheese, coleslaw, jalapeno corn bread, lean brisket and a beef rib.  I had to get the beef rib just for novelty- it was so huge!!!  The mac and cheese was good, the coleslaw okay.  I was pretty disappointed in the brisket, we all agreed it was dry.  The beef rib tasted awesome, very fatty and moist.  I will never get one again though- they are expensive!  

Matt got 1/2 a chicken, turkey, beans and mac and cheese.  The turkey was great, yummy and not dry.  Matt took one bite of the chicken and proclaimed it to be too smokey.  It's currently in my fridge awaiting a transformation into chicken salad.

Andy got the pork loin, which I did not try.  He enjoyed it though and ended up eating his leftovers at 5:30 this morning on the way to the airport!

Overall lunch was okay.  For some reason I just do not love this place like so many other people do.  It was pricey- our lunch for 3 cost almost $60.  We also did not do the best job of ordering, I'm sure there are ways to keep the price down.  We were going to go to the grand opening of Franklin BBQ but decided it would be way too packed and decided on Blacks instead.  Oh well.  Now to figure out what to do with all the leftovers.....

Blacks Barbecue
215 North Main Street
Lockhart, Texas 78644

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pulled Pork and Texas Caviar

Our friend Andy is in town! Yay!  I love having visitors.  The boys went to San Antonio today (I had to work, boo) so I needed a dinner that could be ready whenever and was also man friendly.  I did the pulled pork in the crock pot.  It's so easy and tasty, not very authentic if you are used to real BBQ pulled pork, but good none the less.  All you do is put the pork in the crock pot, cover it with root beer and cook.  When its done, drain out the liquid, pull and add your fav sauce.  It's very moist and has a bit of sweetness from the root beer.

Matt refuses to eat Texas Caviar, but I LOVE it.  I'm pretty sure I could eat the whole bowl.  Andy was eating it with Fritos scoops, so of course I had to try it. YUM!  Anyway, here is the recipe.  It's quick, delicious and pretty much impossible to ruin.  You can add/subtract whatever you want.  I forgot the green onion.

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 (8 ounce) bottle zesty Italian dressing
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, mix together onion, green onions, jalapeno peppers, garlic, cherry tomatoes, zesty Italian dressing, black beans, corn and chili powder. Cover and chill in the refrigerator approximately 2 hours. Toss with desired amount of fresh cilantro to serve.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pork and Apples

So, here's the deal, I didn't get a chance to go to one of the food trailers from my list this week (boo, I know), so I have decided to post a recipe instead.  I got a slow cooker cookbook a few weeks ago and have been making a bunch of dinners from it.  This is the only one that Matt has requested again.  It's so ridiculousy easy that I'm not even going to bother with writing up the real recipe with measurements and such.

Step 1- Get some pork.  I used thin cut boneless chops.  Season your pork with salt and pepper (I also sprinkled on some Luigi's Magic Spice because that stuff is like crack and I'm addicted).

Step 2- Cut up some apples.  Layer the pork in the crock pot and cover with sliced apples.  I used two apples per layer and I did not overlap the pork.

Step 3- Sprinkle about a tablespoon or two of sugar over the apples.  Repeat the layers with as much pork as you have.

Here is the super hard part; turn the crock pot on and walk away.  Don't stir!  I know, I told you it was very difficult. Six to eight hours later you have delicious and tasty pork!

I am realizing that my photography isn't that great, so you will have to bear with me as I try and get better.  On a side note, our friend Andy is coming in on Wednesday!  Yay for visitors!  I am already thinking about all the food we need to eat and the places we need to go.  I hope he doesn't mind me taking pictures of his food :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pupusa Party!

My neighbor Amy introduced me to pupusas, a dish from El Salvador, the other day.  She has had them while traveling in Central America and raved so much about them I had to do a little Yelp search and see if I could get my hands on some here in Austin.  I ended up finding a little restaurant called Costa Del Sol on Cameron and 183, which just happens to be on my way home from work!  So, naturally I had to get carry out :)

Our feast!  We got six pupusas; two with cheese, two with beans and cheese and two with pork and cheese.  They came with a mountain of vinegary cabbage slaw and Amy brought some champagne mangos from Fiesta to round it out.

Essentially, pupusas are like a stuffed masa (corn) pancake.  They are warm and oozy and cheesy....mmmmm, I'm drooling all over again!

We were in a delightful pupusa coma afterwards.  I highly recommend you try some for yourself!

Costa Del Sol
Ste 4, 7901 Cameron Road
Austin, TX 78754
(512) 832-5331

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


So sad!  The only Hungry Howies in Austin has closed!!!  We were planning on getting HH last night for dinner and found out it was closed!  Decided to get Italos on east sixth instead.  Not too shabby, the garlic cheese bread was amazing, the pizza pretty good.