Monday, August 30, 2010

Good Friends, Good Food

Eating good food with good friends makes the dining experience infinitely better. This past weekend, a group of beautiful women got to do just that!

After several e-mails back and forth, a house was booked in Austin for a Girls Weekend!! With everyone living in different cities across Texas, we figured Austin would be a fun and neutral city to escape to!

Some of us haven't seen each other in a year so it was nice to hang out with old friends (one since 7th grade) and make some new friends (my sister invited some of her friends from Dallas).

After we checked into our temporary abode, the folks who got to the house early, made a short trek to check out a couple of food trailers on S. Lamar. The house was about a 15 minute walk from where we needed to go, but I figured we could use the exercise since we were about to stuff our faces with calorie-laden donuts.

The place we settled on was Gourdough's . Gourdough's describes itself as "Big.Fat.Donuts" - if it fits! The Gourdough's trailer is actually on an empty lot occupied by two other food trailers - one is a smoothie place and I think the other one is Odd Duck.

We showed up around 12 p.m. and there were a couple of other tables, but it wasn't too busy.

We ordered the following:
(2) Mother Clucker: fried chicken strip with honey butter
(1) Flying Pig: bacon with maple syrup icing
(1) The Puddin': basically banana pudding on a donut
(1) Funky Monkey: grilled bananas and cream cheese icing with brown sugar

There were 5 donuts and 6 bellys - would we be able to finish off these donuts?!?!

The Mother Clucker was like eating chicken 'n' waffles, but without the delicious waffle. The mix of savory and sweet worked harmoniously. The donut batter actually tastes like tube biscuit dough that they threw into the deep fryer. Do you know what I'm talking about? That's how my mom used to make donuts at home!

{Mother Clucker and Funky Monkey}

Huong wanted something oinky so she opted for the Flying Pig to satiate her bacon craving. This dish was good but almost overly sweet for me. Maybe they should put bacon bits in the actual donut batter?

{Flying Pig at the top of the pic}

My sister loves banana pudding so it was a no-brainer to order The Puddin'. This one was actually delicious. The mix of pudding, bananas, and dough was perfect. Not too sweet and the fruit cuts through the fat.

{Linda stuffing her face with puddin'}

The Funky Monkey was my favorite of the day. I liked how the caramelized bananas gave a depth of flavor to the cloying sweetness of the icing and sugar.

The original six girls couldn't finish the five donuts, but when two other friends showed up, the donuts were gone!

To make the sugar coma go down a little easier, we got some cold drinks from the Smoothie place on the other corner of the lot. The girl inside the trailer had just started a few days before, so there was a slight delay in our drinks. My iced coffee was fine but some of the other ladies said their fruit smoothies were too sweet.

{waiting for our cool drinks on a hot day}

All of that sugar got us through a day of swimming and kayaking!

That night, we went trolling 6th street for some cheap drinks and a shakin' dance floor. There weren't that many cheap drinks, but we did get to shake our booties at a few places!

After a night of dancing and walking, on our way back to our cars, we came across Chi'Lantro. I actually had Chi'Lantro on my list but I honestly forgot that it was at a corner that we were going to walk pass.

{I see the light across the street! photog: Frida}

Chi'Lantro is basically a fusion of Korean BBQ and Tacos! Yummy Korean beef in a corn taco? Give me two please!

All of us ordered at least one type of taco and we also got one order of the kim chi fries! Yes, you read that right.

{that guy in the background is eyeing that taco!}

The beef in my taco was good but I actually thought the corn tortilla overpowered the beef. The taco was not lacking in juices though. P.S. get extra napkins!

{doing what I do best - photog: frida}

The kim chi fries were cheese fries adorned with bits of kim chi. I could've used more kim chi on those fries, but I am also a kim chi fiend, so I might not be the right person to judge this.

{how many girls does it take to eat a plate of kim chi fries? - photog: elena}

{digging into some kim chi fries!}

We arrived at the food truck just at the right time: 1:45 a.m. By the time we were noshing on our goods, the 2 a.m. crowd was starting to extend the line to the street.

Even though I only put a small dent in the Austin food trucks, I'm glad I was able to share these places with some great friends!

Thanks for a Fabulous Weekend!!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sustainability = Treats for our Dogs!

Our pantry is loaded with:
a) dog food
b) 10# bag of jasmine rice
c) recycling bin
d) 10 large bags chock full with grain
e) all of the above

If you picked "E," you my friend, have seen our pantry!

Ever since Micah switched to "all grain" brewing a few years ago, we have grain in the kitchen and even in the office! We even have a grain mill in the garage (part of the brew rig).

After extracting all the goodness from the grains, "spent grain" is what is left behind. According to Wikipedia, spent grain is a byproduct of beer brewing consisting of the residue of malt and grain which remains in the mash-kettle after the mashing and lautering process.

{this is what spent grain looks like}

Some large breweries actually send their spent grain to farmers for livestock feed.

While we do dump most of the spent grain onto the flower bed, I use a small amount to make yummy (so says the dogs) doggie treats - sustainability! I have also made delicious breads with this stuff too... but that's another post.

I found this generic recipe on a Reelbeer forum but most recipes follow the same outline.

Spent Grain Dog Treats
from Reelbeer

4 C Spent Grain
4 C AP Flour
1 C Peanut Butter
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350.

You literally throw everything into a big bowl and mix until everything is thoroughly mixed.

{I like to use Jif chunky peanut butter because, well, that's what I like to eat}

Press the mixture into an even layer in a cookie sheet. Lightly score the mixture into the size you want.

Bake for 30 minutes @ 350; take it out and score it completely through.

Lower the temperature to 250 and bake for 4 hours or until the treats are completely dry. If the treats are still moist, they will get moldy in a few days - so make sure they're dry and hard!

{the doggies love the nuts!}

{nestled inside my nice Lock&Lock}

Put the treats in a large container and have them handy for your four-legged babies! Just a heads up though, these treats will make them go poo... a lot! So.much.fiber.

{Porter & Spark}

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Italians would balk at this Chicken Spaghetti

When I heard the dish "Chicken Spaghetti" for the first time, I thought, "chicken in a tomato sauce with spaghetti," right? Oh, I was terribly WRONG!

I’m not sure if Chicken Spaghetti is a Southern thing (probably), but the first time I ever chowed down on this stuff was at Micah’s parents’ house. When I saw the dish come out of the oven, I was caught off guard, but then I tasted it: I actually really liked the Velveeta-laden pasta dish.

Growing up in a Viet household, we didn’t eat stuff that was comprised of processed cheese! (I know my youth was squandered on braised pork belly.)

After enjoying it several times at Micah’s house, I finally got around to making it myself and now I make it every few months. I did tweak the recipe to make it a little healthier.

Disclaimer: It might not be the prettiest dish, but it is cheesy goodness, I promise!

Chicken Spaghetti

Inspired by Micah’s Mom

{don't judge me because I mainly use generic brands}


  • 1 lb. of uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 bell pepper - diced
  • 1 medium onion – diced
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast - shredded
  • 1 can diced tomatoes w/ green chiles (I’m cheap so I get the HEB brand, but you can use Rotel, if you’re a baller like that)
  • 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup (Healthy version has less sodium and fat!)
  • ½ block HEB Easy Melt Light (or Velveeta) – chopped into ¼ inch squares (you can make queso with the other ½ block of cheese!)
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Pre-heat oven to 350° and grease a 16x9 inch casserole dish

  • Start off by bringing a big ass pot of water to a boil and when it’s at a boil, season liberally with kosher salt, add all of the spaghetti. Cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. On the last minute of cooking the spaghetti, add the frozen broccoli and peas to the water. Drain everything and dump back into the empty pot.

  • While the spaghetti is cooking, in a medium-sized pot, sautĂ© the onions and bell pepper in a smidgen of olive oil.Season with salt and pepper.

  • When the onions and bell pepper are tender, add the canned items, yep, dump it all into the pot.Warm everything through.

{don't be scared by this monstrosity}
  • Pour the sauce mixture over the drained noodles and veggies.
  • Add the chopped cheese and the shredded chicken.Mix everything thoroughly.

  • Transfer everything in the pot into the casserole pan. Bake @ 350° for 25 minutes or until there is a nice golden top and everything is all bubbly. Allow to set for 10 minutes before serving.

{at least there are some greens in this dish}