Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Spending March with Trailer Food Diaries Cookbook, Austin Edition, Volume 3

Spring is almost, almost here.  For a lot of Austin dwellers like me, that means afternoons in the park, serious allergies & more meals eaten at food trailers!

One of my favorite Austin activities is seeking out tasting delights from food trucks.  Food trailers often offer up exciting fusions of flavor at affordable prices.  You can find these mobile restaurants all over town, even on my little edge of deep, deep South Austin.  We actually celebrated our first night in the new house by chowing down on Pretty Thai for a White Guy, which was just a mile or so down the road.

I have a deep love for the food truck, which is why I'm so excited that the Trailer Food Diaries Cookbook series has just come out with a 3rd Volume of it's Austin Edition!

Austin has been big on food trucks for a while now & Tiffany Harelik, of Trailer Food Diaries, has been writing about it since 2009.  Thanks to her Trailer Food Diaries Cookbooks, you can learn back stories & even snag recipes from your favorite street food vendors.  Tiffany has even expanded outside of Austin, serving up cookbooks for Portland, Houston & Dallas-Fort Worth.

I'm thrilled to read this cookbook, but just reading it is simply not good enough.  I want to get a taste of the Kolaches, Pecan Pesto, JalapeƱo Mac 'N' Cheese Poppers & all of the other goodies.  So, for the month of March I'll be making dishes from the pages of Trailer Food Diaries Cookbook, Austin Edition, Volume 3 & telling you what I think about them.  Sampling 3 recipes a week is my goal, with no repeats.  It's going to be so fun & I can't wait to share with you!

P.S.  If you're in Austin, you should make plans to meet Trailer Food Diaries Cookbook author Tiffany Harelik at Book People on Monday, March 3 at 7PM.  Tiffany will be signing books & there will be yummy bites provided by local food trucks The Flying Carpet, Mister Fruitcup, The Peached Tortilla & Hey! You Gonna Eat or What?.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Friendly, Crafty Project for March

Did you have a pen pal growing up?  I remember writing a few letters to friends I met at Girl Scout summer camp, but I don't think I ever had a genuine pen pal.  I did always enjoy meeting new people at camps as a kid & through school events as a teen though.  It's fun to make friends!

Which I why I'm so pumped to be participating in Package Pals, hosted by C.R.A.F.T & Stars & Sunshine, during the month of March!  It combines pen pals & crafts.  I participated in Package Pals last year & had a blast getting to know my new friend, creating a craft to mail to her & receiving goodies of my own!  I loved coming up with a project for someone I haven't known for a long time.

Basically, you fill out a quick personal form (by Feb. 21st, so hurry!) & C.R.A.F.T. & Stars & Sunshine pair you together via email with a new friend from a different place!  You get to know them & create a craft or put together supplies & mail it to your new buddy before March 31st.  And they do the same.  Simple, but so fun!

I can't wait to see who I'm paired with!

Monday, February 17, 2014

14 Goals for 2014: Having a Cleaner House

It's February, which means I've started to slack a little on my goals for 2014.  Doesn't everyone?  It's time to get reenergized & start working on putting a few more of my goals into practice.

Keeping the house consistenly clean is a tough task.  My husband Andrew is a big help, but it's really easy to let clutter pile up, put the dishes in sink for tomorrow or to put off cleaning the bathroom or mopping the floor until you just can't stand it anymore.  It's tiring.  And frustrating.

So, we're putting a cleaning schedule into our daily routine.  I figure if we do a little bit each day & we hit each room on a weekly basis, the house should never get to that 'out of control' level.    

Here's what I've come up with.  A daily task, along with basic cleanup every day.  Seems pretty do-able right?

Monday: Clean Bathroom floors

Tuesday: Dust Living room & Bedrooms

Wednesday: Vaccuum rooms with carpet

Thursday: Clean Living room floors, Hallways & Stairs

Friday: Free Day!

Saturday: Mop Kitchen & Entry Way, Clean out & Wipe down Fridge

Sunday: Clean Bathrooms (Counters, Tubs & Toliets)

Everyday: Wash dishes, Wipe down Kitchen counters & table, spend 15 minutes picking up common areas, Wash 1 load of laundry

Do you have a daily cleaning schedule or do you do everything in one day?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

It's Cold! Warm Up with S'mores Cookies

I don't know about you, but I am tired of these chilly days!  Austin typically is not cold, even in winter, but the past couple of months we have seen more than our share of frigid weather!

All these days of below normal temps made me crave a treat that reminded me of being somewhere nice & toasty, like around a campfire!  So, I took my favorite soft chocolate chip recipe & adapted it, so it's got all the ingredients of a S'more, my fireside go-to.  This recipe is loaded with chocolate, gooey marshmallow bits & a little graham cracker goodness!

A little side note: I use marshmallows that are smaller than the normal 'miniatures' in this recipe.  I use Jet Puffed MallowBits from Kraft.  The tiny bites of marshmallow mix with the teeny bites of mini chocolate chips & the crumbs of graham cracker perfectly.  I've found them in my regular grocery store, but have the best luck at Target.

S'mores Cookies

Adapted from Apple A Day

3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1/4 c. white sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
 1tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
2 tsp. Vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. mini chocolate chips
1 c. mallow bits
1/2 c. crushed graham crackers (crushed into teeny, tiny pieces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and both sugars, along with the cornstarch, baking soda and salt.  Mix in egg and vanilla.  Working in two batches, add in all-purpose flour, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.  Stir in chocolate chips, mallow bits and crushed graham crackers just until mixed.

Using a small cookie scoop or two teaspoons, doll out the cookie dough onto greased or parchment lined baking sheets.

Note: The following steps are important to help keep the cookies soft, so even if you're really, really tempted, do not bake longer than 10 minutes & do not forget to keep the cookies on the baking sheet to cool for 5 minutes!  When you take the cookies out of the oven, they'll look like they're not done enough on top, that's ok, they'll finish up on the baking sheet. 

Bake cookies 8 - 10 minutes.  Remove baking sheets from the oven & place on a cooling rack to rest for 5 minutes.  After the 5 minutes are done, transfer cookies straight to the rack to cool completely.