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Barbecue Lover’s Guide to Austin Giveaway

Being born and raised in Texas, I’ve been eating BBQ as long as I can remember. One of my favorite BBQ memories growing up was my family’s frequent trips to Pok-e-Jo’s. We spent many special family occasions celebrating birthdays, Fathers Day or any other holiday. BBQ had a way of bringing our family together.

The BBQ phenomenon was not something that happened with just my family. BBQ in Texas has had a way of bringing families together for generations. Recipes and techniques have been handed down from generation to generation often times kept as a family secret. Although their recipes may remain secret, some families have turned their BBQ into a profitable business. In fact, there are hundreds of BBQ joints that have succeeded to do just that.

It would take a lot of time and effort to find all of these wonderful BBQ joints, but author Gloria Corral has made this easy for us by creating a comprehensive guide for Austin-area BBQ. Investing more than two-years of hands on research, the Barbecue Lover’s Guide to Austin puts the Central Texas BBQ scene at your finger tips. The Guide features, not only the famous BBQ joints you’ve heard of, but all the hole-in-the wall joints, shacks and trailers you may not know about. We thoroughly enjoyed reading through the book and would recommend it for any BBQ lover out there.

Thanks to the folks over at Music Box Media, we have an extra copy to give away to one lucky reader. To be entered in the drawing simply leave a comment about your favorite BBQ Joint by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, March,10. Be sure to include a valid email address so we can get in touch with you. Winner will be chosen randomly using random.org.

Food Swap!

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:

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  • “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)

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Last Minute Turkey Tips

I’m making my first turkey this year. Because I was a little nervous about it, I’ve spent the past couple weeks preparing to roast my first turkey. I’ve read magazine articles, blog posts, and watched YouTube videos. My wife and I even attended a turkey cooking class so we would be ready.

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot of time left to get your turkey started, so I’m sharing some of my favorite turkey tips I’ve picked up over the past couple of weeks. Happy Thanksgiving and good luck!
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  1. Your turkey should already be defrosted, or very close to it. If you haven’t started defrosting your turkey yet, no worries! Run cold water over your turkey to help speed up the process, but this could still take a couple of hours.
  2. It’s not too late to brine your turkey! As a general rule, brine your turkey 1 hour per pound. Brining will help your turkey to absorb more moisture and also add additional flavor.
  3. The formula for a basic brine is 1 gallon of liquid to 1 cup salt, 1 cup sugar and whatever aromatics you choose (onion, garlic, thyme, oregano  etc.).
  4. Use ice as 3/4 of your brining liquid, so you don’t have to wait for your brine to cool. Since I’m making one gallon of brine, I used 3 quarts of ice to 1 quart of water.
  5. If you want crispy skin allow your turkey to air dry in the fridge for 4-6 hours after brining.
  6. Let your turkey sit out at room temp for at least one hour before cooking. This will help your turkey cook more evenly and avoid cold spots in the middle.
  7. When adding butter and herbs to your turkey, be sure to place under the skin. This will not only flavor the turkey meat, but help keep the herbs from burning.
  8. Cover your roasting pan with parchment paper before putting your turkey on the roasting rack. This will save you a lot of clean-up later.
  9. The general rule of 20 minutes per pound is ok as a guideline, but will probably lead to an over-cooked turkey. Instead rely on your thermometer. Remove your turkey from the oven when it reaches 145 degrees. Don’t eat it yet though. See tip 11 for more information!
  10. If the skin of your turkey browns too quickly cover it with tin foil with the shiny side facing out. This will help deflect some of the heat from the skin and slow the browning process.
  11. Let your turkey rest for at least 30 minutes after taking it from the oven. It will continue to cook and is ready to eat when it reaches 160 degrees. This will also allow the juices that were lost in the cooking process to be reabsorbed by the meat.

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Do you have any favorite turkey tips? Please share them in the comments.

With Great Food Comes Great Responsibility

As you may have noticed, I’ve taken a short break from blog posting recently. A lot of family stuff has been going on, which prompted me to visit the doctor to get myself checked out. Unfortunately, I wasn’t all that happy with what I found out. Like millions of other Americans, I have high cholesterol. I was a little shocked to find this out. At only 28, I hadn’t ever really considered having cholesterol issues. Yes, I know I need to lose a few pounds, but I count calories and I try to watch my carb intake. Cholesterol was really the last thing on my mind.

As a food blogger, this is particularly hard for me to deal with. I enjoy going out to eat and trying new recipes at home all of the time. My passion is to cook, my wife’s is to bake and when I heard the news I initially felt that this was going to be the end to our foodie adventures. After thinking about it for a while, I’ve come to the realization that good food doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy. A real chef can take on the challenge of creating dishes that provide short term enjoyment without a long-term negative impact on your health.

Instead of giving-up on the blog, I’ve decided to embrace that challenge. That’s why over the next few weeks you’ll see a shift in what we write about on Luvs2Eat.com. Does that mean we’ll stop eating out completely? No. I’m not giving up enjoying the occasional trip out to a new restaurant (and we’ll still write about it). Does that mean we’ll stop creating delicious desserts? No. A dessert every now and then is OK. Moderation is key, right? What you will see is interpretation of our favorite dishes with twists to make them more heart healthy. An attempt to continue to enjoy the foods we luv, with a more health conscious focus. It will be a journey and learning experience for us, and I hope you’re willing to join us for the ride.

If you’re interesting in learning more about Cholesterol, here are a couple of helpful links from the American Heart Association to get you started:

What Your Cholesterol Numbers Mean

Cooking for Lower Cholesterol