Thursday, October 19, 2017

Tyson's Tacos

I made it back to my first Austin Food Blogger Alliance Happy Hour since having John and it was at Tyson's Tacos! One of my favs and I was able to make it because it's just down the street from work and home.  It was such a wonderful experience I thought I'd blog about it, even though I'm mostly just a recipe blogger.

Tyson himself hung out with us and told us his story and the story of Tyson's Tacos.  Tyson and his family had run a restaurant in Mexico, but left when Mexico city was starting to get a little too dangerous.  He opened Tyson's which was a bit of a strange idea coming from Mexico as tacos aren't a restaurant food in Mexico, it's more of a drunken late night street food indulgence.  Another cool thing about Tyson's Tacos is that the menu is customer-driven.  Taco combinations are made after customers who are able to rack up enough of the reward points.  And he won't say no to a weird taco combination, even if he would never have thought about offering a weird cheese-type substance you would've never found in Mexico (apparently nobody appreciated Tyson's legit quest flamed so it was replaced with a more Tex-Mex version).  And if you want Takis on a breakfast taco of eggs, cheddar, bacon, potato they'll do it! I learned about that whilst pregnant with John!

Reid and I used to stop by Tyson's Tacos as a reward for me after our OBG appointments.  And I weirdly craved fake cheese/spicy foods like no other when I was pregnant.  I couldn't get enough hot Cheetos or spicy Funions or Takis! And adding something crunchy on a B is for Bacon was just amazing.

So thank you Tyson's Tacos for hosting an incredible AFBA happy hour.  Everyone needs to check out them and their super creative menu, awesome outdoor patio, dog-friendly neighborhood place.  Oh, and did I tell you that musicians play a tune on their mandolin you get a free taco?!

Oh, and they are now TWENTY-FOUR HOUR!

I love this place!
The Prince Taco
Tex-Mex Style Queso and Prince Tacos, served with their awesome sauces
Their sauces are fiery! Take this stuff seriously
Brisket Taco
Unfortunately, I didn't snag a picture of my favorite taco of the night, the Crispy Duck. I guess I was too busy stuffing it in my mouth!
Pay Tyson's Tacos a visit at
4905 Airport Blvd.
Austin, TX 78751
Tyson's Tacos
so good...ate all the tacos!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Super Easy Ravioli Lasagna

I was perusing Food & Wine or maybe it was Epicurious...or Food52...who knows.  Anyway, it was one of those foodie websites/e-mails that I torture myself with every day when I came across this ravioli lasagna idea.  I had seen something similar on Pinterest but sometimes I don't trust Pinterest.  Those beautiful pictures of food are sometimes very deceiving.  I've been burned before with what looks like awesome recipes on Pinterest turning out as complete flops.

Has this ever happened to you?

Well, this ravioli lasagna is NOT the case of the Pinterest fail.

It was a recipe win!

A weeknight, super easy, semi-homemade winner winner ravioli lasagna dinner.

A kind of feel guilty posting the recipe here because it's not really a recipe...
More like some instructions on layering store-bought stuff.
Well, the roasted vegetables I made.  But I think the recipe I originally looked at also said you could purchase these from the deli area of the grocery store if you wanted to even skip that step.

Super Easy Ravioli Lasagna

  • 2 cups diced roasted vegetables (I have used half a red onion, 1 c. butternut squash and 2 small zucchinis one time and another time I used half a yellow onion, 2 small sweet potatoes, and 1 small zucchini)  You can use your imagination/whatever is in your pantry or you can even buy roasted veggies from the deli/prepared counter of the grocery store)
  • Three 9 oz. packages of refrigerated spinach and ricotta ravioli
  • One 24 oz. jar of marinara pasta sauce
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • optional: 1 tbs. grated parmesan cheese and 1 tsp. dried oregano
  1. Roast vegetables-(Skip this step if you bought your veggies!) Preheat oven to 425*F.  Toss vegetables with 1 tbs. olive oil and salt and pepper.  Roast on a pan for 20-25 minutes, turning the vegetables half-way through roasting.  Set aside as you prepare the lasagna
  2. In the bottom of a baking dish, spread a thin coat of the pasta sauce.
  3. Layer ravioli, about 1 c. pasta sauce, 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese
  4. Then layer ravioli, pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, and the roasted vegetables
  5. Finish with a final layer of ravioli, pasta sauce, and mozzarella cheese.  Top with optional parmesan cheese and oregano
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in 350*F oven for 15-20 minutes or until hot throughout and cheese has melted.  Remove foil and allow to bake an additional 3-5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and further melted.
Note: you can also freeze the lasagna before baking and keep on hand for a quick freezer meal

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's fall! It's fall! It's fall!

That means now I have an excuse to drink/eat ALL the pumpkin spice flavored things like your typical basic B and wear sweat pants.  But lets get real.  I wear sweat pants year-round.  And also drink pumpkin spice everything.

Fall also means squash season.  And apple everything.  And warm goodness.  And casseroles.  So basically fall is like my favorite season.

Until the next season hits :)

So why not combine my two favorite things? Pumpkin + Chocolate Chip Cookies!!!!

Yum Yum Yum Yum <------my Cookie Monster impression

In all seriousness, I would say these turned out a bit more pumpkin bread-y than cookie texture.  Or at least that's what the discerning Cookie Monster living in my house decided.  But that didn't stop us from eating all 48 of them.  In one day.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe adapted from Food Network Recipe

  • 1 lb. butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 & 1/2 c. canned pumpkin (about 3/4 of a 15 oz can)
  • 3 c. all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. all spice
  • 2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. In a mixer, beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy or until sugar is completely dissolved
  2. Mix in vanilla and canned pumpkin
  3. In a separate large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and all spice.
  4. Slowly combine the flour mixture into the butter mixture until well incorporated.
  5. Preheat oven to 350*F and line 2 cookie sheets with non-stick silicone liner or parchment paper.
  6. Scoop heaping tablespoon of cookie dough onto pans.  I fit about one dozen cookies on each cookie sheet and was able to make 2 batches of 24 cookies each.
  7. Bake for 14-16 minutes, rotating mid-way through baking time.  Cool after cookies become lightly browned at edges.  Move cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Chicken Noodle Soup

It's that time of the year again! FALL  FLU SEASON!

I'm not sure how it's happened so early, but hubby has some how managed to get sick already.  Well, I guess it's not that surprising.  Baby John is in daycare and he carries the plague home to us probably on a daily basis.  Last week I started to feel a tickle in my throat and immediately reached for the Emergen-C (that stuff works, I swear!)  Was in a little bit of denial at first, and thought it was just some allergies, but it must've been some kind of bug because it hit the hubs full force on Friday night.
He sounded like crud and has been super congested.  So yesterday afternoon I made some chicken noodle soup.  I know, I know.  I deserve the wife/mommy-of-the-year award! Thank-you, thank-you! (that was total sarcasm; as the hubs pointed out yesterday, I'm sometimes not very nice).

Didn't have carrots on hand but lucked out and had everything in the house.  Bonus! No grocery trip!

Also, usually I also put in mushrooms, but I was doing this off-the-cuff.  So give me some slack.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves: 4-6 people
Time: About 2 hours

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast and 2 BL/SL chicken thighs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • salt and pepper
  • half a large yellow onion, quartered
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 tsp. or cubes of chicken bouillon or 1 tbs. 'Better Than Bouillon'

  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped into ~1/8" cubes
  • 1 carrot, chopped (I didn't have this on-hand for the photos)
  • second half of a large yellow onion from broth, chopped 
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbs. of fresh minced herbs (Italian/flat leaf parsley or dill or rosemary), optional
  • 12 oz. bag of wide egg noodles
  • the reserved chicken from broth, chopped into ~1/2" cubes

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. I used an 8 quart pot and filled it up to the handle screws.
  2. Add chicken, allow to return to a boil, then reduce to medium heat.  
  3. Add bay leaf, garlic clove, onion, celery and chicken bouillon.  
  4. Simmer for 20 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, remove chicken breast and allow to cool in a medium bowl.
  5. Simmer rest of broth for an additional 10 minutes (or until chicken thighs cooked through and no longer pink in center) and remove chicken thighs into same medium bowl containing chicken breast.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat and allow to cool about 15 minutes.
  7. Strain over a fine mesh strainer into a very large bowl or second pot.  Discard stuff in strainer.  Wipe out the large pot and replace the broth in the large pot (or put the second pot on the stove).
  8. Once chicken has cooled, dice the chicken meat.
  9. Return the broth to a boil over medium-high heat.
  10. While you are waiting for that, add butter and olive oil to a large pan over medium-high heat and saute the chopped onion, celery, and carrots.  Take off heat and add lemon juice and optional herbs.
  11. Pour the sauteed vegetables into the large pot and add back in chicken meat.  
  12. Cook egg noodles in the soup for 1-2 minutes less than directions, or until al dente.
  13. Scoop into bowls and serve with rolls, sandwiches, or croutons.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

How to Fancy Up Instant Ramen

Sometimes you don't have time to plan dinner and so it's great to have some quick dinners on hand in the pantry.  Like boxed mac 'n cheese or better yet, ramen.  Although probably not the healthiest of choices, it;s quick and fulfilling and with some additions, can be a really great meal.  Here's how I usually fancy up ramen to make it more satisfying and filling.

  1. Start with really good instant ramen.  Try to get one without MSG.  I like this Korean version because the noodles are nice and fat and juicy and it's really spicy and flavorful.  I would advice NOT using the whole spice package-it's really hot! And you can get it at HEB, or at least it's at my HEB.
  2. If you have some leftover chicken broth or vegetable broth, use it in place of water.  Otherwise water works just as well.

  3. Throw some frozen or fresh veggies in along with the noodles while you're boiling them.  I like to use fresh spinach or frozen green peas or frozen corn
  4. Add some protein.  If I have a link of frozen lap suong (Chinese sausage), I'll slice that up and fry it up to add.  Sometimes I'll put leftover chicken or pork in there.  Chinese bbq pork is also delicious.  When I took these pictures, I had some frozen pork belly in the freezer so I used that.
  5. Throw an egg on it! 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Kitchen and Cooking Tips

I hate to call these kitchen 'hacks' because I've had failed tries of using internet famous internet 'hacks'.  So these are just a few handy tips and tricks I've picked up over the years that I find handy and that actually work in streamlining cooking or kitchen organizing.  Some of these tips I picked up from my mom.  Some of them I picked up from roommates or friends.  Some of them I found on the internet and found useful.

  • sharpen your knife before each time you use it
    • I picked this up from an old roommate of mine.  He would sharpen (re-align) his knife before he used it every time.  It only takes half a minute, but makes a world of difference.  I mean, you get that stick thing sharpener in most knife blocks and sets anyway, so use it!  I try and do 10 alternating strokes on each side of the knife. Also, contrary to what most beginners think, a sharp knife is much safer to use than a dull knife.
  • use the back of a spoon to peel ginger
    • way easier than using a knife or vegetable peeler and saves more ginger
  • store Silpats (silicone baking sheets) rolled up in an empty paper towel roll
John helping
  • dunk boiled eggs in ice cold water to make peeling easier
  • line your toaster oven tray with aluminum foil
    • cuts down on clean up
  • use the refrigerator crisper drawers correctly
    • set one on 'high' humidity and place things that would wilt in there
    • set one on 'low' humidity and place things that would rot in there
  • freeze chicken bones and vegetable scraps in gallon bags in your freezer
    • once they're full, place in a slow cooker or large pot and fill with water, add salt and pepper and a bay leaf and make stock
  • keep a used produce back on your counter or in your sink for trash/scraps
    • this limits times you have to walk to your trash can.  Also, for any stinky stuff, if you tie a knot at the top of it after you're done, it cuts down on smell and the number of times you have to take your trash out
  • to peel garlic, cut the ends of a clove and then smash it with the side of your knife
  • when scooping things off your cutting board, use the back of your knife
    • this won't dull your knife blade and you won't accidentally cut yourself

Friday, August 25, 2017

Chicken Tonkatsu

Tonkatsu is usually Japanese-style fried pork.  I use the same technique for chicken breasts.  This is super simple and, like all fried things, delicious.  I have made this with pork; a more traditional tonkatsu.  This usually requires frying twice to ensure the pork is cooked through.  I have also experimented with baking in an oven at 425*F on a wire rack after misting the coated chicken with oil with good success.

Chicken Tonkatsu
2 servings, Estimated time ~30 minutes

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • canola oil for frying
  • Tonkatsu sauce*, shredded green cabbage, and sushi rice to serve

  1. If chicken breasts are thicker than 1/2", pound slightly until uniformly about 1/2" thick
  2. Set up small separate bowls for flour and salt, beaten egg and 1 tbs. water, and panko bread crumbs. 
  3. Dredge the chicken breasts in flour, shake off any excess.  Dip in egg wash. Press into bread crumbs on both sides.
  4. Once oil is medium-high heat, fry chicken breasts about 2-3 minutes each side.
  5. Drain on a cooling rack.  Slice into ~1/4" slices.  Serve with rice, tonkatsu sauce, and shredded cabbage.
*Tonkatsu sauce is available to buy at Asian grocery stores and in some international aisles of grocery stores.  I generally make my own because I hate buying something I won't use all up and will take up room in my refrigerator.  And I usually have all the ingredients for making it on hand.

  • 1/3 c. ketchup
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs. mirin
  • 1 tbs. sugar
  • 2 tbs. Worcester sauce
  • 1 tbs. soy sauce
Directions: Whisk together all ingredients.  Adjust if necessary