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12 Delicious Places to Eat in Austin

ramen tatsu-ya austin eatRecently, my husband was sent to Austin, TX for the better part of a month for training. Austin is less than 2 hours from San Antonio, so we decided to make a family trip of it. I packed up my mini crockpot so that we wouldn’t have to rely on fast food for every meal, and we headed to Austin. By the way, if you ever need to go on an extended trip and don’t want to spend money eating out 3 meals a day, pick up a small crockpot like this one to save your budget. It was the perfect size to feed 2 adults and a toddler.

Bacon restaurant Austin eatI suppose I should mention that since I moved out here (4 years ago), TJ and I have often said that we wanted to take a roadtrip to explore Austin. It was supposed to happen before we had a kid in tow, but umm… yeah, so cancel the 6th Street bar crawl. We did go into foodie mode; and it turns out Austin has an incredible food scene! Here are my favorite spots, and you need to go to them. Now.

  1. Ramen Tatsu-Ya– This tiny little place does not offer take out because they want their food appreciated in the freshest state possible. They make everything from scratch and the line that circles the end of the strip mall they’re located in is a testament to that. It was AMAZING!! I have not had ramen this authentic since visiting Japan 5 years ago. Get the tonkotsu shoyu. Just do it.
  2. Bacon– Why, yes. Heaven IS located in Austin. And it’s a little bitty shack where they make their own bacon in a variety of different flavors and it’s included in EVERY. SINGLE. DISH. Once again, there’s a line that extends out the door and down the block, but every bite was absolutely worth it.
  3. Hopdoddy Burger Bar– You will never even look at a Burger King again after you’ve been to this place just once. I’ve never had a burger that tasted so… natural, wholesome, healthy… I could describe it so many ways. The point is, it was delicious, and I didn’t feel my arteries clogging up as I ate. Another unique dining experience that is worth enjoying once if you ever pass by one of these restaurants.
  4. Bone Daddy’s– A classic BBQ joint with a Hooters- style atmosphere. We went here with the whole training group and thoroughly enjoyed it. Even my 2-year old cleared his plate! I wouldn’t say it felt healthy, but you can’t visit a major city in Texas and skip the BBQ, right?
  5. Javi’s Tex-Mex– We did not go out looking for Tex-Mex food. I mean, it’s only everywhere. But there was one night that we didn’t want to go far, and this spot was very close to our hotel, so we went. And it was delicious!! They were pretty empty on a weeknight, but the queso was on point!
  6. 888 Pan Asian– This place had a lunch buffet, and I could’ve eaten there every day. They sure do stay crowded, though. Fortunately, we were still able to get in, eat, and get out in a timely manner.
  7. Java Noodles– This restaurant was in the same strip mall as 888, so the next day we tried it for lunch. Tiny with an appetizer bar included in the meal, this was a very quiet place. The food was better than most Asian places I’ve been to since moving to Texas, so it’s a good alternative to 888 if you can find a parking spot.
  8. Hai Ky– Yes, this place was also small, but I’m a sucker for Pho. Service was quick, and the pho was delicious! I hope you don’t mind getting cozy with strangers, though, because this place gets packed.
  9. Maiko Sushi Lounge– Ok, so by now you’ve noticed that I have a thing for Asian food. Don’t judge me. Just go here for a hipster crowd and yummy sushi. The place has a very “cocktail” hour atmosphere. It was the kind of place I would’ve gone to for a quick bite and a few drinks before heading to the clubs further down the street.
  10. Estancia Churrascaria– Look! I totally eat other types of cuisine! Especially when it’s carved right off the bone and onto your plate in an endless supply until you tap out and have to flip over your token. Brazilian steakhouses are expensive, but you’ve got to try this at least once in your life.
  11. Daruma Ramen– Yes, it’s another ramen shop. And yes, it was good. This restaurant was even smaller than the first one, but it’s located on 6th street near a few bars. I feel like this place is a great option if you are looking for a slightly lighter ramen because their broth is chicken-based instead of the rich pork broth from Tatsu-Ya.
  12. Verts Kebap– Imagine a place like Freebirds or Moe’s or Subway, except the bread is reminiscent of pita pockets and they have falafel. That’s Verts, and it’s amazing. This german-inspired chain is taking far too long to add locations closer to me. I must confess, I ate one kebap there for dinner and then ordered a second one to take back to the hotel for a midnight snack… that happened. Don’t judge me.

verts kebap austin eatWell, I can’t remember any other places at the moment, but if I do I’ll just add a part 2. Please let me know if you visit Austin any time soon. I’d love an excuse to go to any of these places again. I’ve now been inspired to develop my own ramen recipe, so stay tuned!

Thanks for reading 🙂 ~ HC

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Little Man turns 1: Yoshi Birthday Cake!

yoshi birthday cake
My son’s first birthday was last month. I forgot to share this with you all. We selected Yoshi from Mario bros as our theme for his party. This resulted in one bomb-diggity cake.

What do you think? I’m extremely proud of it! I did it all freehand. I was short on time, though, so I used a box cake mix.

First, I drew the outline of the cake to scale on some construction paper. I was able to lay that on top of the sheet cake and carve out Yoshi in his egg.

Finally, I baked a single cupcake for his 1-Up mushroom, which was Little Man’s unofficial smash cake. For the tongue, I flattened and stretched out a piece of Laffy Taffy.

The icing is made from scratch so I’ll post that recipe at a later date. Perhaps I’ll do a tutorial of the cake as well? Hmmm…

More Party Things

I also enlisted a friend’s help to make some Yoshi hats for guests and Yoshi egg centerpieces for the tables. I think they turned out nicely! Thanks, Pinterest!

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Shared Post: Japanese Steakhouse Yum Yum Sauce

Yum Yum sauceIt is entirely possible that I am addicted to hibachi chicken with Yum Yum Sauce. I could eat it every single day. I could go to Sarku for lunch today, and then Sakura for dinner tomorrow. There is nothing wrong with that in my world.

My favorite hibachi dish is usually chicken and shrimp over rice with the shredded veggies on the side. Any combination of zucchini, cabbage, and carrots will do just fine.

This recipe is not my own, but it is delicious enough to warrant sharing. Are you a fan of Japanese hibachi? How about those teppanyaki restaurants where they cook at your table and put on a fabulous show? I love that stuff! If I’m ever a millionaire, I’m going to have a teppanyaki table in my kitchen.

When you go to a teppanyaki restaurant in the US, they normally give you 2 or 3 tiny bowls to hold the various dipping sauces they offer. There’s always a ginger-based sauce. It’s delicious, but doesn’t stick well to anything. I end up pouring it over my veggies most of the time. The other sauce you will get is a creamy white/pink/orange sauce. It works well on any and all meat, in my opinion.

This is a recipe for that white mayonnaise-based sauce that they give you and it is by far the most accurate recipe I’ve ever come across. Most places call it Yum Yum sauce.

When I finally realized that I liked this sauce enough to eat it on meals at home, I went on a hunt. It’s available in a few local grocery stores, but it’s usually at least of $4 per bottle. I’m not about to pay $4 for seasoned mayo, y’all.

Japanese Steakhouse White Sauce (Yum Yum Sauce, Shrimp Sauce, Sakura Sauce) Recipe.

Recipe Notes

The original recipe writer (Chuck) is pretty adamant about using full-fat mayo. But as y’all know, I’m trying to get back in shape. I have made this recipe using low-fat and fat-free mayo before and it did not offend my tastebuds, so feel free to adapt if you like.

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The Easiest Tempura Dipping Sauce recipe

tempura dipping sauce

 

I loooove seafood and veggie tempura. The sauce that it’s dipped in has a distinct flavor that I find addicting. Nothing has ever inspired me to eat my vegetables like this delicious broth-based sauce.

You can find the bonito flakes to make Dashi stock on Amazon if your local grocery store doesn’t have them. I like to get a set of individually portioned packets so they stay fresh.

Tempura Dipping Sauce

  • 1 C. Dashi stock
  • 1/4 C. Mirin
  • 1/4 C. Soy sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp Sugar
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Store in an air tight container until needed.
If you use bonito flakes to make the dashi stock, wrap them in cheesecloth or a coffee filter so that you can pull them back out of the broth without leaving little bits floating in your broth. It’s like making a teabag :).

I guess now I need to make a post about frying your own tempura so that you have something to dip into this sauce. I’d be lying if I said I’d never considered drinking it as is. Something about that sweet and salty balance just gets me every time. I really can’t get enough.

 

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Smoked Turkey Legs by Tomorrow

smoked turkey legs

I recently got tired of paying $10 a pop for smoked turkey legs at festivals. Y’all know Blerdy Momma is too cheap for that. So after plenty of research about the smoking cooking technique, I put together my own brine recipe and set out to smoke my own turkey legs.

It turns out smoking meat is not really a complex process. It is time-consuming, but really not that complicated. Because it takes so long, I highly recommend smoking more meat than your family will eat in one sitting. I guess that’s really just limited to the size of your grill.

I like to buy fresh turkey legs on sale and store them in my freezer. Once I’ve got at least a dozen or so, it’s time to uncover the grill! Once they’re smoked they can be eaten immediately, stored in the fridge, or frozen for a later date. Perhaps you can see why this is my most highly-requested recipe when it’s time to feed a group of friends or family!

My brine recipe has it’s own post over here, or feel free to come up with your own. (Tell me about it in the comments section!)  I tried to include enough pictures to illustrate the key steps because this is such a long process. Have patience, though. You will not regret it.

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Smoked Turkey Legs

  • 6-12 Turkey legs
  • 1 1/2 Gal Brine
  • Charcoal
  • Wood Chips (I've used Apple, Cherry, Mesquite, Maple, and Hickory. All came out delicious.)
  1. Reserve 1-2 cups of brine to be used as the mopping liquid.
  2. Submerge turkey legs in the remaining brine and refrigerate for 24 hours. (minimum overnight)
  3. The next day, Light your charcoal. Put as much space as you can between the charcoal and the grill grate where the turkey will be. The goal here is INDIRECT heat.
  4. Soak about 2 cups of wood chips in a bowl with water for at least 15 minutes.
  5. Don’t forget to wipe the the grate with oil to keep your meat from sticking. Add a generous handful of wet wood chips to the coals once they are ready. Also add a smaller handful of dry chips to get some extra smoke when you first start out.
  6. Put the turkey legs onto the grill grate and cover the grill. Discard the brine.
  7. Every hour, add some wet chips to the coals. Mop and flip the turkey legs (just like brushing on BBQ sauce but use the reserved brine).
  8. During the last hour, add dry chips for extra smokey flavor. The turkey legs should be done after about 4 hours.

I do not have a dedicated mopping brush like many people do. I find that lint free, clean baby washcloths work just as well when held between some tongs. You can get them in packs at Dollar Tree.

***If you check your meat more than once per hour, you are not giving the smoke time to accumulate and do it’s job. Leave it alone!!***

If you have any questions, email me at blerdymomma@gmail.com.

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Coqui Basic Brine for Turkey Legs

turkey leg in brine

I am addicted to smoked turkey legs. I go to Oktoberfest for two things: beer and turkey legs… ok, and every type of wurst known to man.

Honestly, though, those turkey legs are getting so expensive! They run $10 and up now. Blerdy Momma is not rich, you guys. But, Blerdy Momma can cook.

It turns out all you need for your own smoked turkey legs is a good brine and some flavorful wood chips. A basic brine starts with salt and sugar dissolved in water. The rest of the spices are totally up to you.

Coqui Brine

This is fabulous on turkey legs!!

  • 1 1/2 Gal Water
  • 1 C. Sugar
  • 1 C. Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Black pepper
  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Basil
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Vinegar
  • 1/4 C. Soy Sauce
  • 1/3 C. Molasses
  1. Stir together the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
  2. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate until needed.
  3. Once cold, you can add your meat to soak overnight. (Reserve 2 cups of the brine to serve as mopping liquid before you add your meat to the brine.)

 

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My Cooking Philosophy

philosophy of cooking

I learned how to cook from my dad, who taught me how to make my own ramen and scrambled eggs as soon as I was tall enough to safely manipulate the stove. He taught me 90% of what I know about cooking. He also never used a measuring cup… EVER.

For the longest time, neither did I (baking is something only recently added to my repertoire). To be quite honest, the only reason it’s taking me so long to post all my recipes is because I never measure anything, so now I have to go back and cook these dishes and measure them so that I can write them down to share with you all.

Everything I cook goes by taste. Toss in an ingredient, taste; if it’s not right, sprinkle some more until it is right. Your tongue is the chef, not any piece of paper telling you 1 cup of this and 2 teaspoons of that. I will NEVER be insulted if you adjust a recipe that you find on this site to suit your palate. I feel like you aren’t really a cook until you can make decisions like that and make them well. If I use cheddar and you prefer provolone, use provolone. The recipe SHOULD still work, and now you’ve created your own dish!

You may have already noticed that I don’t specify certain types of ingredients. If something calls for vinegar, I don’t necessarily indicate whether you need apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or rice vinegar. Use whichever is your favorite. That’s how I cook. I use what I have because when I’m at the grocery store, I buy what I like.

Now to be fair, I must tell you that when I’m using a recipe that I didn’t just throw together on my own, I follow the recipe 100%… the FIRST time. When I see a recipe that I want to try, it’s only fair to try it the way the original cook intended. If there happens to be an element that I don’t like, I’ll change it the second time I try that recipe; assuming I liked it enough to try it again.

I hope this little bit of insight into my cooking logic makes my recipes easier to understand and follow.  Tell me about how you think in the kitchen! I love hearing new perspectives.

Happy Cooking!!

The Hungry Coqui aka Blerdy Momma

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10 Basic Rules of Cooking for Beginners

gas stove cooking

There are some basic rules that every cook should know before you get started. These apply to every cooking adventure unless otherwise stated:

 
1. Heat the pan before you put food in it.
2. When baking, eggs always go in last.
3. Chop your vegetables to the same size so they all cook at the same speed.
4. Clean as you go. (It’s just easier.)
5. Make sure you have all your ingredients before you start.
6. Prep in advance if you can.
7. Never cut meat and veggies on the same cutting board. (Cross contamination is gross and extremely unsafe.)
8. Refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible. (Before unsafe bacteria start to grow.)
9. Wash your hands often. (another cross contamination hazard)
10. Always assume that less is more. (You can always add later if you didn’t put enough, but you can’t take it out once it’s in there.)
 
Learn these and heed them well and you will avoid 90% of kitchen blunders.