All posts by luvs2eat

Food Swap!

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

I know, I know, it has been quite awhile since our last blog post.  The holidays are always a busy time and somehow it just goes by faster and faster each year.  Luckily for us, this holiday we did something we’ve never done before.  Being foodies, we’ve joined our local food blog alliance and took part in a festive holiday event…..a FOOD SWAP!  We were paired up with Boston Food Swap and were given the guidelines of spending $30 or less (we might have gone a bit over here…) sending it before Dec. 15 (sorry, that didn’t happen either!  I know we’re terrible!) and then writing a blog post about what you sent (so here it is folks!).

Here’s a picture of our Texas “foodie” items and a little explanation of each:

  • “Keep Austin Weird” bumper sticker: If you live in Austin, you see this EVERYWHERE!  Basically it’s to promote supporting your local business and to remind everyone that Austin is unique and PROUD OF IT!  We love to find new local restaurants and support them as much as we can.
  • “Don’t Mess With Texas” postcard: I’m not sure if it’s our official state motto, but you will see it on any Texas highway.  I think it’s mostly to promote the fact that if you litter you get a large fine, so if you’re eating something in the car, don’t throw it out the window….or else you might just mess with Texas, and it’ ain’t gonna be pretty!
  • “edible Austin” magazine: This is a free, local magazine that promotes local food establishments, farms, and proprietors that are usually up and coming.  We like to read this anytime we go to our local restaurants because they usually have them free to take! You can also find great content on their site.
  • State of Texas cookie cutter: Being in Texas, everyone is loud and proud to be from here.  Heck, most native Texans think Texas should be their own country!  Why not make cookies in the shape of the best state in the U.S.?
  • “Mr. Bacon” air freshener: Who wouldn’t want their house to always smell like bacon?  After all, you can’t walk into a restaurant in Texas without seeing at least one item on the menu that involves bacon.  We even have a restaurant we like to go to called “Bacon” where that is the featured ingredient in almost 99.9% of the menu items.  It’s delicious!
  • Alamo cookies: When in Texas, you must be sure to visit all the major cities: Austin, Houston, Dallas.  One of our favorites is San Antonio.  They have so much to do, eat and see!  It’s near and dear to our hearts because we went to college right outside of San Antonio and we visited the Alamo when we first started dating, so we always “Remember the Alamo….” 🙂
  • Salt Lick Original dry rub: The Salt Lick is a Texas tradition.  The original location is in Driftwood, TX and has been featured on a variety of food shows.  They are known for the their all you can eat BBQ- ribs, brisket, turkey, sausage, chicken, potato salad, beans and coleslaw!  Lucky for us, they opened a location in Round Rock not too far from our house so whenever we get a craving for good bbq, that’s where we go!
  • Kerbey Lane Cafe Buttermilk Pancake Mix: If you don’t live in Austin, think of Kerbey Lane as the equivalent of a much better, local 24/7 Denny’s!  They serve breakfast all day long and have other menu items as well, but the pancakes are where it’s at!  It’s an Austin tradition!
  • “Fixin to Do” list: In most of the United States of America people get ready to do certain things.  However in Texas, everyone “fixes to do” something!  I don’t know exactly what they’re fixing but they do it ALL the time!  So if you ever find yourself in Texas, now you know about all the fixins!  You’ve been warned!
  • Austinuts: Locally owned and operated, you can find these tasty nuts all around town.  They are some of our favorites!
  • D. L. Jardine’s Texas Chili Kit:  You can’t live in Texas and not eat chili.  Now you have the tools to make traditional Texas chili at home far away in Boston!
  • Central Market Jalapeno Cheese Cornbread Mix:  You can’t have chili without cornbread, so we got a mix from our favorite grocery store, Central Market.   Because everything is hot and spicy in Texas and every Texan LOVES their jalapenos and cheese, we thought that this mix would be a great variation of traditional cornbread.
  • Christmas Crinkle Cookies: John’s favorite Christmas cookies. Yum! (not pictured)
  • Texas White Trash: A snack mix made with Crispix, Dry-roasted peanuts and Texas shaped pretzels. It’s coated with a mixture of melted chocolate, butter and peanut butter and then shaken in a bag of powdered sugar. (not pictured)
  • Lammes Candies Longhorns: One of Diana’s favorites. Lammes is an Austin original(since 1885), so we had to share! Random note of trivia: the original owner, William Lamme, lost Lammes Candies in a poker game. His son David later returned to Austin to reclaim the store. Learn more about Lammes Candies (not pictured)

Miette – San Francisco, CA

By | Desserts, Restaurants We Luv | 2 Comments

If you are looking for a sugar fix, Miette is sure to deliver this and so much more. Conveniently located inside the San Francisco Ferry Building (and several other locations),  this cute bakery has what you need to satisfy that sweet tooth.

Our favorites include:

    • Cupcakes (named the best cupcake in America by Food Network)
    • Classic french macarons
    • Cakes
    • Cookies
    • Homemade marshmallows (just to name a few!)

We tried their signature Gingerbread cupcake with cream cheese frosting and chocolate cupcake with strawberry frosting.  I must say they were DELICIOUS.  If you can’t make it to San Francisco they also have mail order directly from their website.

Their macarons were simply the best I have ever had! The soft chewy texture made you want to keep coming back for more.

Their strawberry shortcake was so moist and light I felt like I was eating a bit of heaven on a plate.  This might have been one of my favorite desserts in all of the city!  But lastly their macarons were simply the best I have ever had.  The soft chewy texture made you want to keep coming back for more.  Luckily we were staying right across the street from this bakery so we made it a daily ritual to try something new, as you should too!


Make Magnolia Bakery’s Delicious Desserts at Home

By | Desserts | 2 Comments

Last summer, when we were in New York City, we had the pleasure of visiting Magnolia Bakery in Grand Central Station. While we were there  we tried everything from the world famous banana pudding (one of the best we’ve ever had), cupcakes (the vanilla are my favorite), brownies, and bars.  After tasting their yummy treats we were inspired to recreate the experience at home.

We can’t make a trip to NYC every time we crave Magnolia’s delicious baked goods. Fortunately for us, Magnolia has published their own cookbook, so you can recreate their recipes in your own home.

Recently we made the banana pudding and vanilla cupcakes with vanilla butter-cream icing.  I have found our 2 favorite recipes (links below). These and many other recipes are available in the cookbook:

Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcakes:

Find the recipe for the vanilla cupcakes here.

Magnolia’s Banana Pudding

Find the recipe for the banana pudding here.

They truly come out just as good as the treats we had at the NYC location.  I totally recommend purchasing the cookbook so you can have the full Magnolia Bakery experience, especially if visiting NYC is out of the question.

If you’re ever in the city, CHECK THIS PLACE OUT! If you can’t make it to NYC we highly recommend the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook available on Amazon.


Restaurants We Luv: Wayfare Tavern – San Francisco, CA

By | Restaurants We Luv | 3 Comments

I’m sure you are all familiar with celebrity Chef Tyler Florence.  However, I bet few of you have ever heard of his restaurant Wayfare Tavern.

If you are like us and don’t live in the bay area, finding this place and actually getting a reservation is apparently like winning the culinary lottery.  Lucky for us, we had a wonderful concierge at the Hotel Vitale that managed to get us 2 of the most coveted seats in this tasty tavern.  After eating there for our three year wedding anniversary, it’s easy to see how this is one of San Francisco’s top restaurants.

Starting out with the ambiance, the place is filled with young, classy business execs sipping on a cold brew at the bar hoping to get a seat inside.  Lucky for us, we didn’t have to wait long before the hostess escorted us upstairs into the small but cozy dining room above all the chaos.


If you are looking for a quiet intimate dinner, this is not the place for you. However, the service alone made this restaurant the BEST dining experience I ever had.  (But make sure you make your reservations early, because the place is so small it’s very hard to get a reservation or else you might be stuck waiting for service at the bar which is often packed).  You have a designated beverage filler who makes sure you are never thirsty in addition to your waiter, who might I add had the best recommendations and was so kind and attentive. Our waiter Lane, thoroughly explained the menu to us, made great recommendations and made us feel at home.


We started off with the Steak Tartare, which apparently is AMAZING.  I am not one to eat raw food, but my husband on the other hand could not stop raving about how this was the best thing he’d eaten in San Francisco.

Stake Tartare Wayfare Tavern


Moving onto the entrees, John ordered the Wayfare Tavern Burger “Le Grand” with a fried egg and I had the famous organic fried chicken.  I will now say that his burger was THE BEST hamburger I have ever had in my entire life.  This is probably due to the fact that it consists of 4 pieces of choice meat that have been grinded together to perfection.  Thanks to the world wide web, I found this link to the recipe. It’s easy to see how some claim this to be the best burger in all of San Francisco.


The organic fried chicken, although a bit pricey for fried chicken, was quite tasty.  I was sad to find out that it didn’t come with any sides aside from roasted garlic and herbs, so lucky for me I shared the fries that came along with my husbands burger which was enough for the 2 of us.



For dessert we opted for the Summer Berry Shortcake with Creamsicle ice cream.  It was so light and refreshing, the perfect summer dessert.  The ice cream was the best part!


Our Thoughts:

Overall, the food, service, and ambiance make this one of our new favorite restaurants and we will be sure to visit it on any future trips we make to San Francisco and you should too! We highly recommend it.

Yummy Onion Beef Sliders

By | Burgers | 3 Comments

My husband and I recently found a farmer’s market that takes on Wednesday evenings near the Dell Diamond.  You can find all sorts of yummy goodies from baked goods, fresh meat, fish, and poultry, fresh fruits and veggies, delicious beverages, and even yummy homemade popsicles.  One of my favorite booths was for Sweetish Hill Bakery and they featured fresh bread products.  I found some delicious sesame seed slider buns and they were the inspiration for these quick and easy sliders.

  • Your favorite slider buns or hawaiian rolls sliced
  • 1 lb. of fresh ground beef (we used extra lean from Central Market)
  • 1 cup of sliced sweet vidalia onion
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Ketchup, mustard, & pickle slices to garnish


  1. Divide the meat into about 10 small meatball size balls.
  2. Preheat a stainless steel pan* to medium-medium high heat (it was level 5 on our electric stove).
  3. Place half of the sliced onion into the pan and cook until slightly soft stirring frequently to ensure they do not stick.
  4. Then place 4 meatballs at a time into the pan (on top of the onions) and squish each one flat with a sturdy spatula to form your patty.
  5. Season the meat with salt and pepper to your liking.  Cook for 3 minutes uncovered and then flip the patties.
  6. Add 2 tbsp water and cover the pan.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes until the burgers are done.
  7. Move the burgers to the buns, top with onions, ketchup, mustard, and pickle.  Repeat the process again until all your meatballs are cooked.  ENJOY! 🙂

*my hubby loves to buy kitchen things and his new favorite toy is his All Clad Stainless-Steel 12-Inch Fry Pan.  Although it was an investment, we both LOVE the pan and think it’s well worth the money.  We bought it from Bed Bath & Beyond with their 20% off coupon, so it definitely helped. 🙂

Apple Pancakes & Bacon

By | Breakfast | 2 Comments

We have been on a cook book purchasing kick and recently downloaded Fabio Viviani’s breakfast cookbook “Did I really Make Breakfast??? (Well Grandma did help a lot)” found on the Amazon Kindle.  It’s a great collection of easy recipes that will make your mouth water.  This morning I decided to use his Apple Maple Pancake & Salty Spicy Bacon recipe as inspiration for the following dish.

For the bacon:

  • 6 slices centercut bacon
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp organic cane sugar
  • lemon zest to your liking (I’m not a huge lemon fan, so I used very little, but you can add as much or as little as you like)
  • cracked black pepper

For the pancakes:

  • 3/4 cup fat free milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 small peeled apple chopped

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place 6 slices of bacon on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet.  Crack fresh black pepper on top of your bacon slices to your liking.
  3. Then in a small bowl combine salt, sugar, and lemon zest and sprinkle on the bacon slices.
  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the bacon is cooked how you like it.

While the bacon is in the oven, gather the ingredients for the pancakes.

  1. Throw everything except the apple in a blender and combine on low until smooth.  The mixture will be runny but that is o.k.
  2. Then throw in the apple (leave some for garnish if you like; it adds a nice fresh crunch to the finished product if you leave some on top of the finished pancakes) and mix together with a spoon.
  3. In a preheated griddle or pan on the stove that’s over medium low heat, pour your desired pancake size and flip over once edges get firm and the top gets bubbly.
  4. Cook for about 2 minutes or until its cooked all the way and no liquid is visible.  I made my pancakes quite large and I got about 6 pancakes from my batch.

Place the bacon on top of the pancakes and serve with syrup and if you’d like chopped apple on top.  You’d be surprised how yummy the lemon zest is on bacon, I would have never guessed!!!  Great trick Fabio, I love it! It’s sooo easy and SOOOOOO YUMMY!!! 🙂

Lemon Shrimp Orzo Salad

By | Pasta | No Comments

I’m always looking for new ideas and ingredients to cook with and I recently purchased orzo after I had a yummy dish at McCormick & Schmick’s that spurred my culinary imagination.  This dish I created on a whim, so please use as much or as little of each ingredient as  you like.  I’m used to cooking for 2, so if you want more, please double the recipe and I absolutely won’t be offended.  To make the orzo I used:

-1/2 cup whole wheat orzo

-1 qt water

Basically you will follow the package directions and boil the water and add the orzo and cook for 8-10 minutes.  Then drain it and set aside.

For the rest of the dish I used:

-olive oil (about 1-2 tbsp to coat the pan)

-1 green bell pepper chopped

-1/2 red onion chopped

-2 cloves minced garlic

-1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar (depending on how vinegary you like it feel free to add more or less)

-1 cup raw shrimp (peeled and deveined)

-2 tbsp chopped black olives

-1/2 cup chopped tomato

-1 handful of chopped fresh parsley

-juice of one lemon

-salt & pepper to taste

Use a skillet that is coated in olive oil over medium high heat to saute the bell pepper, onion, and garlic.

Lightly season with salt and pepper.  Cook about 3-4 minutes then add the red wine vinegar. Constantly stir all ingredients together using a spatula and cook for about 2 more minutes.  Add the shrimp and cook for another 2 minutes and then add the olives.  Cook until the shrimp is cooked through and then remove from heat.  Stir in the orzo, tomato, parsley, and lemon juice and top it off with salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy!

Whole Foods Cake Decorating Class

By | Desserts | No Comments

Having never attended a formal cooking class, I found myself a bit nervous when I arrived at the Whole Foods Culinary Center in downtown Austin, TX.  However, from the moment I walked in, it was quite inviting and smelled delicious!  Cookbooks lined the entry way and a well stocked modern test kitchen was behind a large glass wall for onlookers to see what was the day’s project.  Our friendly teacher Summer Pruett-Gosnay, Pastry Chef owner of Stardust Pastry, made the experience so much fun that I know this definitely won’t be my only class that I’ll take.

The class title was “Icing on the Cake” and the class description promised to teach you techniques to make a beautiful cake. ( Not to mention that I got to take home a piping set and the finished cake just in time for Mother’s Day!)  We started off reviewing a handout with basic recipes for white cake and buttercream icing.

Some interesting things I learned probably had nothing to do with icing a cake but rather random tidbits of knowledge that I want to share with you:

  • Did you know that American recipes call for oil as their main fat versus French recipes that call for butter?  (I guess that would explain why all the cakes in a box ALWAYS call for oil and NEVER call for butter!)
  • If you are making a basic recipe that calls for just flour and you want to make it in a chocolate version you simply do half flour and half cocoa powder. For example of the recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, use 1 cup flour and 1 cup cocoa powder.  It’s THAT easy!  I think that will be very helpful when I’m in search of something to satisfy my chocolate cravings!  Now I can adapt that to make chocolate pancakes, waffles, you name it!!  I’m so excited to learn that trick.
  • When making layered cakes, a trick Summer uses is brushing simple syrup on top of each layer to retain moisture and keep the cake fresher longer.  Who would of thought?!
  • Be aware of the cooking sprays you use.  Be sure to check the ingredients and make sure that there is no silicone in it.  Apparently after it reaches a certain temperature it can turn poisonous!

So if you are wondering, just how do you make a layered cake here’s a quick run down:

1) Bake your desired type of cake and let cool.  It is easier to ice a COLD cake so it’s not a bad idea to plan ahead and bake the cake the day before you plan to decorate it.

2) Take a long serrated knife and shape the top of your cake into a nice flat round surface.  Continue to use the knife to slice your cake into 2 equal halves for your 2 layers.

3) To keep cake moist, brush simple syrup (which is a combination of equal parts water and sugar that’s been boiled and cooled) on top of first layer and then top with frosting.

4) Place 2nd layer on top and repeat process with syrup and frosting.

5) Next, frost the sides of the cake generously.  This is your first coat, so don’t be too concerned with crumbs being visible.  Scrape the edges to get nice clean lines with a Multi-Purpose Pastry Scraper.

6) Then you will add a second coat of frosting that you will spread evenly to make sure it’s presentable.

7) Finally, decorate it as you wish with colored frostings or other cake decor elements.

Here’s my finished product for my first attempt:

Check out pictures of all the cakes on our Facebook page!

Best Apple Pie EVER!

By | Desserts | No Comments

So after much persuasion by my fellow peers, I’ve decided to start this blog in an effort to let everyone know about the food in my life. With so much pressure, I thought I’d start with sharing the absolute BEST apple pie recipe I know of,

and its a collection of ideas that was adapted from Food Network, Martha Stewart, and random cook books. Here it goes:

Crust Ingredients
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening (Crisco works best but you can use butter if you prefer, it’ll be a little heavier)
  • Ice water in a small bowl
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  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. In a medium bowl place the flour and salt into it and cut the shortening into the flour using a pastry blender until its the texture of cornmeal. (It doesn’t take very long to get this consistency)
  3. Add one tbsp of ice water and mix into the dough to get it wet.
  4. Keep adding water and mixing one tbsp at a time until the dough is just moist (but not gluey-if you’ve reached this state, you’ve over mixed and added too much water!)
  5. Roll into a big ball and place in the fridge to get cold.

While the dough is chilling, start on the filling. You will need:

-3/4 cup all purpose flour

-variety of apples- I like to use 3 large Gold Delicious and 2 large Granny Smith but you can use whatever combo. just make sure to mix up the varieties so you can get sweet and tart flavors combined

-1 cup white sugar

-1 cup brown sugar

-1 tsp cinnamon

-lemon juice

For the filling, I wash, peel, and slice my apples with my Zyliss Easy Slice Mandolin, White (I got it at Ross for real cheap but any kind of food mandolin will work) using the thinnest setting possible. I like to have the apples look like thin potato chips. If you prefer chunks, go for it but I’ve never done it this way. (Too much work!) As I slice the apples, I drizzle lemon juice on top of them so they don’t turn brown quite as quickly. You usually want to have about 6 cups of apples when they are all sliced up. I have invested in a LARGE measuring cup/bowl that I place the apples in and then add the 2 sugars. I mix the apples and sugar with my hands and add the flour & cinnamon and mix until it’s all combined and smells SOO YUMMY! Once you have that done, time for the hard part….

Get the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 balls. I like to have them be about the same size, but make one a little bigger to be for your top crust. I like to put my dough on a well floured silicon mat on the counter so it’ll be easier to transfer into the pie plate. You will use a well floured rolling pin and roll the dough into a cirle to fit your pie plate (I believe I use a 9 inch plate). This task is very challenging because it’s virtually impossible to roll dough into a perfect cirle, but do not worry, it will be ok. Do your best!! Once you have it rolled as thin as you can go and it’s still in one piece, transfer the dough to the plate (this may be a 2 person process if this is your first time). If you don’t have a silicon mat to just flip over onto the plate, you can try the “roll the dough around the rolling pin and tranfer is to the pie plate” method, but I find this to be very stressful. Be sure to have total coverage for the bottom layer. If one of your edges is lop sided, tear some excess dough from one side of the plate and fill in the empty space. Next, dump your filling into the pie pan. Make sure it is laying flat and not overflowing in the pan because we still need to cover it! Then you will roll the 2nd dough ball into about a 12 inch circle and you will place this on top of the filling. Make sure you trim off the edges or I like to roll mine up and use a fork to make pretty indentions around the edges. (I don’t like to waste the yummy dough) You will then take a knife and cut 4 slits into the top and you will brush the top with a little bit of heavy whipping cream. I then use cinnamon and sugar (the sugar in the raw is my favorite for the top) and sprinkle it on top of the pie.

Cover the pie with aluminum foil and place the pie on a cookie sheet that has edges. (The filling may overflow and spill and its easier to clean the sheet than it is your oven!) Bake the pie for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and then bake for another 35 minutes or until you see it golden brown to your liking. You can serve it warm with ice cream (vanilla pecan is my favorite or cinnamon ice cream is delicious too!). Enjoy!

Diana’s Top Chef Rice Salad

By | Salads | No Comments

If you don’t know it yet, I’m a HUGE Top Chef fan.  Hence me having all of their cookbooks!  However, there is always something in the recipe that I don’t quite agree with (probably because I’m SO picky) so I tweak it a little bit so I will eat it, and this is inspired from the Top Chef: The Quickfire Cookbook – Antonia’s Rice Salad with Seared Skirt Steak.

To prepare the salad I filled a large salad bowl with my favorites: baby spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes, & thinly sliced onion (you can have as much or as little of this stuff as you want; it’s your base).  Then to it, I usually add any leftover meat we have such as grilled chicken, steak, or shrimp and I cut it into strips.  Next, pick your favorite Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice packet (I LOVE the Garden Vegetable or Rice Pilaf, but John prefers the Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice, Long Grain & Wild Rice, 8.8-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 12); all of them work well!)  and cook in the microwave for 90 seconds and then pour into the salad bowl.  The last part is the BEST.  The magic is in the homemade dressing that you pour on top of all the yummy goodness in the salad bowl.  You will need:


-3 tbsp rice vinegar (red wine vinegar works nicely too)

-1/4 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp sugar

-1/3 cup canola oil

-1 bunch of chopped cilantro

You’ll whisk the 1st four ingredients to combine and then stir in the cilantro.  Once that is made, pour it and mix everything together in the salad bowl.  This is such a FAST and easy recipe, this is in my rotation usually once a week too!!  Here’s the outcome using steak: