Thursday, March 2, 2017

#ATXBESTEATS A round-up of Great Austin Cookies

As a kid, I was never really sheltered from dessert.  I grew up with a fine appreciate for sweets, especially homemade.  Often on the weekends, my mom would make cobblers, pies or cookies & we would d-e-v-o-u-r them.  My mom was a great cook, but she really loved baking.  Her love of sugary confections showed in every cookie, slice & spoonful that came out of her oven.  I've told you a little bit about her famous sugar cookies before on the blog.

So, I blame my deep affection for cookies on her.  :)  As part of the AFBA City Guide this year, I decided to tell you about some of my favorite cookies around Austin.  Because, we could all use a treat now & then, right?



Baked by Amy's

Baked by Amy's

13265 North Hwy. 183; Sunday - Thursday, 10am - 8pm, Friday - Saturday, 10am - 9pm

If you want true Austin charm in cookie form, look no further than Baked by Amy's.  You have to try their Austin-centric, Texas shaped sugar cookies.  1. They are absolutely adorable, with 'your my better half,' 'i love you so much,' 'don't mess with Texas' & plenty of other fun Austin designs.           2. They are some of the best bakery sugar cookies I have ever had! These guys are thick, but surprisingly soft, with a great flavor.  Bonus: These cookies come packaged, so they would be perfect for a mid-week treat for loved ones or an Austin-themed basket for someone missing the River City!


Crema Bakery & Cafe

Crema Bakery & Cafe

9001 Brodie Lane, Sunday - Wednesday, 7am - 5pm, Thursday - Saturday, 7am - 7pm

A local favorite of ours, Crema always has a full case of beautiful sweet treats.  Nestled in a little shopping center on Brodie Lane, Crema is a fun place to sit & read a book, while satisfying your sweet tooth.  Try the oatmeal cookie with a latte & you'll be happy.  I'm also partial to their chocolate chip, or on occasion, their decorated shortbread.  You really can't go wrong with anything from their case.



Kellie's Baking Co.


 Kellie's Baking Co.

5245 Burnet Rd., Monday - Friday, 10am - 6pm, Saturday, 10am - 3pm, Closed Sundays

This sweet, colorful shop on Burnet Rd. brings the goods.  Try the Brookie, for a decadent, shareable bite.  This stellar treat is a brownie, topped with a chocolate chip cookie, covered in marshmallow goodness.  Droll worthy, right?  Now, when it comes to something you'll want to save all for yourself...try the Peanut Butter or chocolate chip cookie stuffed with caramel & chocolate.  They're large & most definitely in charge.

La Mexicana Bakery

La Mexicana Bakery

 1924 S. 1st Street, Open 24 hours

If you've never been to a Mexican bakery, I highly recommend trying La Mexicana Bakery on S. 1st.  It's open 24 hours & always has smiling faces behind the counter.  I love La Mexicana because their cookies are just slightly sweet (which means you can eat more!) & always so bright & colorful.  I always go for the ones with sprinkles, or Mexican wedding cookies.  



Quack's 43rd Street Bakery

Quack's 43rd Street Bakery


411 E. 43rd Street, Monday - Friday, 6:30am - 11pm, Saturday, 7am - 11pm, Sunday, 7:30am - 11pm

With fun combos like Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk, Nutella filled Tea Cookies & Chocolate Ginger, Quack's cookies are perfect if you're wanting to try something new.  And the hearty dose of laid-back Austin attitude makes you feel right at home.  They also have ever-changing decorated cookies, that are always cute & original.  You have to try one, & just to rub it in that you're eating something so tasty...you gotta instagram it.


Sugar Mama's Bakeshop

Sugar Mama's Bakeshop

1905 S. 1st Street, Tuesday, - Saturday, 10am - 9pm, Sunday, 10am - 6pm

Sugar Mama's Mexican Wedding Cookies may be one of my favorite cookies.  They are soft, tender, buttery, full of pecan pieces & just the right size.  You need to try these; while strolling down S. 1st street with a good cup of coffee in one hand, & your cookie in the other.  Also, make sure you pick up a Salted Caramel Snickerdoodle & an Everything Cookie, filled with peanut butter, oats & chocolate.


Sweetish Hill

Sweetish Hill Bakery


1120 W. 6th Street, Monday - Saturday, 6:30am - 7pm, Sunday 6:30am - 3pm

An Austin institution, Sweetish Hill has been a go-to of mine for years.  Their cute shop is along the quieter side West 6th street & is a wonderful place to spend some time.  I love their nutty, pecan-filled sand tarts & of course, the 'Deep in the Heart of Texas' shortbread.  Also try the black & white or the palmier.


Walton's Fancy & Staple

Walton's Fancy & Staple

609 W. 6th Street, Monday - Saturday, 7am - 7pm, Sunday 8am - 4pm

 A great afternoon can be spent sipping a cup of coffee with a salty oats cookie on your plate, sitting in one of the outdoor tables with a little sun shining.  After enjoying your sweet Walton's treat, I recommend walking through Book People, Whole Foods or Waterloo Records, as they're all within eye-sight.  And take a ginger cookie with you for later, they are over-sized, chewy, sweet & zingy.




Be sure to check out the rest of the AFBA City Guides that cover great places throughout the city!





#ATXBESTEATS Deep South Austin

A few years ago, when we moved in to our first 'real' home in deep, deep South Austin (almost in Manchaca, but still rooted in Austin), there was very little in the way of local restaurants in our neighborhood.  Or good restaurants for that matter.  Fast food chains & a couple of not-so-good take out places seemed to be our only options.

Recently, though, delicious Austin-owned eateries have been popping up all over between William Cannon & Slaughter Lane, keeping our bellies & mouths happy!  And if the last few months have been any indication, we are hopeful that many more restaurants are on their way.

Aviator Pizza, South Congress Ave.


Below are my picks for great eats in deep South Austin.  What are yours?  I'm always looking for great places that are close, so if I've left off your favorite, please let me know!  

And if you're looking for more tasty fare that's a little further North, but still firmly in South Austin, check out South Austin Foodie's awesome addition to the 2017 AFBA City Guide, Best of South Austin Restaurants.  You can also check out the rest of the AFBA City Guides that cover great eats throughout the city, here!




Breakfast/Brunch

Crema

9001 Brodie Lane, Monday - Saturday, 7 am - 9 pm

Solid breakfast/brunch options, delicious pastries & a good cup of joe.  With a large variety of cake balls, cookies & cupcakes that'll sooth your sweet tooth, you'll leave with a smile on your face.  They also serve up tasty sandwiches, salads & soups.

Crema

Crema

Kerbey Lane

4301 William Cannon, 24/7

Austin weird meets arguably the best breakfast in town.  They have a full menu, but their omelets, varieties of eggs benedict & pancakes are tops.  Plus, it's fun to have breakfast anytime.  With weekly flapjack specials, seasonal menus, lots of vegan options & dang good queso, they've got something for everyone.  Try the baked potato omelet, a sandwich with sweet potato fries off the seasonal menu or the buttermilk pancakes with lots of butter.  No syrup needed.

Kerbey Lane Cafe

River City Donuts

1945 William Cannon, 7 days a week, 5 am - 9 pm

Simple, tasty, consistent donuts & sausage kolaches.  Strike up conversation with the older men drinking coffee while you're waiting in line & make sure you get at least a few of the Bavarian cream donut holes.  They're worth the calories.

Macho Taco

12110 Manchaca Rd., Monday - Thursday 6:30 am - 5 pm, Friday 6:30 am - 7 pm, Saturday 7 am - 7 pm, Sunday 8 am - 5 pm

Inexpensive traditional Tex-Mex known for their breakfast tacos, lunch specials & more.  The juevos rancheros is my go-to, along with the make-your-own breakfast tacos.  The service is always friendly, and while there is alot of seating, it fills up around popular breakfast hours, so be prepared to wait a few minutes.

Macho Taco

Wholy Bagel

4404 William Cannon, Weekdays 6 am - 3 pm, Weekends 7 am - 3 pm

Incredible, no frills New York style bagels & delicious specialty cream cheeses.  Many claim Wholy Bagel to be best in town.  Very few would argue.  Be sure to get there early to make sure you get your favorite flavor!  Very limited seating, but lots of parking.

Quick Bites

Tino's Greek Cafe

9905 Brodie Lane, Monday - Saturday, 11 am - 9 pm, Sunday, 11 am - 8 pm

You'll find all of your Greek favorites with quick service.  I usually go for the Vegetarian Platter which includes 5 sides of your choice.  The falafel & hummus are always among my picks.

Tino's Greek Cafe

Torchy's Tacos

4301 William Cannon, Monday - Thursday 7 am - 10 pm, Friday 7 am - 11 pm, Saturday 8 am - 11 pm, Sunday 8 am - 10 pm

Killer queso, inventive tacos & fried deep fried chocolate chips cookies.  Bonus: real sugar sodas from Maine Root.  There's lots of seating, but be prepared...it will be packed if you go around standard meal times.  Try whatever the taco of the month is.  The Scarecrow, a frequent October pick, is my favorite taco.  Ever.

Torchy's Tacos

Thicket Food Trailer Park

7800 S. 1st Street, Monday - Sunday, 7am - 9pm

In a shady little oasis sits Thicket, a fun food trailer park just off of South 1st & Dittmar.  There are several stellar food trailers, including Granny's Kitchen, specializing in comfort food that will warm your belly & your heart.  Try their Chicken & Dumplings, with a side of mac & cheese & it'll definitely take you back to dinners at your grandparents house.  Their is an amazingly delicious variety of grilled cheese sandwiches at Grilled Chi & you have to try a drink for the coolest trailer around, Level Up.  


Grilled Chi at Thicket



ThunderCloud Subs

3601 William Cannon, Monday - Friday 10:30 am - 9 pm, Saturday/Sunday 11 am - 9 pm

1807 Slaughter Lane, Monday - Friday 10:30 am - 9 pm, Saturday 10:30 am - 9 pm, Sunday 11 am - 8:30 pm

True Original Austin, ThunderCloud Subs, embraces Austin weird, friendly service & boasts a large list of above average sandwiches that are always fresh.  Thundercloud is one of my husband Andrew's favorite go-tos for a quick meal.  Say yes to Thunder Sauce.


PhoNatic

9900 S IH 35 (Southpark Meadows), Monday - Sunday 11 am - 9 pm

Tasty Vietnamese fare including build-your-own Pho, vegetarian goodies & a wide variety of drink choices.  Try the bahn mi sliders as an appetizer to share or a light lunch.  The Vietnamese coffee and The '403' with shrimp, wontons, bok choy & egg noodles are among my favorites.

PhoNatic

Bamboo Bistro

6818 Westgate, Monday - Sunday 10:30 am - 10:30 pm

Dependable Asian food available for delivery, dine-in or drive-thru.  The service is always friendly & quick & their Cantonese Crispy Noodles are the perfect comfort food.  They also make a killer General Tso's chicken & my trip is never complete without getting an order of Crab Won Tons.

Bamboo Bistro

Green Mesquite

9900 S IH 35 (Southpark Meadows), Sunday - Thursday, 11 am - 9 pm, Friday/Saturday 11 am - 10 pm

Traditional Texas BBQ, Southern favorites & daily specials.  The meat is good & the sides are tasty.

Brooklyn Pie Company

9500 S IH 35 (Southpark Meadows), Monday - Wednesday 11 am - 10 pm, Thursday - Saturday 11 am - 11 pm, Sunday 12 pm - 10 pm

Delicious pizzas, calzones, salads & more made with natural & preservative-free ingredients.  Available for delivery, carry out or dine-in, but their seating is very limited.

509 W. Slaughter Lane, Sunday - Thursday 10:30 am - 11:00 pm, Friday - Saturday 10:30 am - 12 am

I am pretty biased, as Rosa's is a West Texas staple that kept me sustained throughout most of my college years at Texas Tech, but they are a Texas-based chain, so I'm mentioning it.  Solid, stand Tex-Mex dishes done quick, & more importantly, drive-thru friendly.  Their fajita family plate, guacamole & fresh tortillas are among my go-tos.  If you're looking for an enchilada, a quick queso fix or a good Taco Tuesday deal, Rosa's is your new friend.  


Rosa's Cafe

Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ

11500 Manchaca Rd., Monday - Sunday, 8am - Sold Out

Famous for good reason.  Valentina's recently moved down to my neighborhood & we could not be more elated.  A hybrid of two Texas traditions done right.  I recommend the Ultimate Bean & Cheese, for a taco that's filled with BBQ, beans, cheese & salsa.  It will leave you satisfied for hours.  Also, always order the guac, because...guac!  Be sure to get there early, as the secret is out about just how good Valentina's is.

Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ

Dinner


Aviator Pizza & Drafthouse

6501 S. Congress Ave., Sunday - Thursday, 11am - 9:30pm, Friday & Saturday, 11am - 11pm

Aviator is new to the deep South Austin scene, and it is worth checking out.  Their pizzas are fresh, with a nice thick crust & a long list of fun topping combos.  We love the South Austin, with prosciutto, arugula, goat cheese & honey.  It's a tasty twist on a classic.  Also be sure to try the hearty salads, calzones & the cinnamon pecan dessert.  And don't forget about the beers & wines on-tap.

Aviator Pizza & Drafthouse

Flores

4625 William Cannon, Monday - Thursday 11 am - 10 pm, Friday 11 am - 12 am, Saturday 9 am - 11 pm, Sunday 9 am - 10 pm

An old favorite, Flores is great for happy hour margaritas & queso, or an easy meal out with the family.  Their William Cannon location is nice & new, with rustic decor touches, plenty of seating, with a large bar & even a playground for the kiddos.  I love their combo plates & the La Flor Margarita, with a splash of orange juice & a cherry on top.


Flores Mexican Restaurant

Hao Hao

1901 W William Cannon, Tuesday - Friday 11 am - 2:30 pm, 5 pm - 9:30 pm, Saturday 12 pm - 9:30 pm, Sunday 12 pm - 9 pm

All of your standards, plus an extensive list of veggie options, Hao Hao has been a Mullins family favorite for years.  The service is friendly, and their delivery is quick.


Hao Hao

Mandola's Italian Market

4301 William Cannon (Arbor Trails) 11 am - 9 pm daily

A wide selection of pastas, thin-crust pizzas, small bites, desserts & coffees.  They have two large dining areas, a small market full of Italian goods & bocce ball on the patio.  Try the parma pizza, calamari & zucchini fritti for quick bite, or the lemon ricotta cookies with a fresh coffee for dessert.

Mandola's Italian Market

Mandola's Italian Market

Independence Fine Foods

1807 Slaughter Lane, Monday - Saturday 7 am - 8:30 pm

A variety of salads, soups, desserts, coffees & other offerings available from the deli counter as well as a rotating carving-station meal for evening service.  Their meats are locally sourced & as your taste buds will confirm, everything is made fresh.  Sandwiches, burgers & breakfast options served daily.  Try the juicy burger with truffle fries or anything from the bakery case.

Independence Fine Foods


Amaya's Taco Village

9900 S IH 35 (Southpark Meadows)   

Tex-mex usuals, but the crispy beef tacos are the stand-out on the menu.  Sometimes I get enchiladas too, but I always have a taco.  Always.  Puffy, hearty corn tortillas take these old favorites to a new level.

Amaya's Taco Village

Via 313

6705 Hwy. 290, Sunday - Thursday, 11 am - 10 pm, Friday - Saturday, 11 am - 11 pm

Detroit style pizza that is one of our favorites in town.  Large square slices with crispy, cheesy edges & sauce on top, these unique slices are perfection every time.  I have a soft spot for the Rocket, with Soppresatta, Arugula & Shaved Parm, but I also love a good slice of The Stooges, bar style (thin, crispy crust) with Artichokes, Spinach, Shallots & Parm Crisps.  

Via 313


Monday, January 30, 2017

Birthday Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting!



Cake is always a good idea.  Always.

This Sunday was my wonderful mother in-law Colleen's birthday.  We celebrated by heading up to Round Rock to celebrate at Andrew's sister Katie's house.  Katie made a delicious batch of Green Chili Enchiladas & asked me to make the cake!  I haven't made a layered cake in a while & wanted to add a little zing to the normal cream cheese frosting, so I came up with this recipe.

It's got a little zing from the lemon zest, but it's not too tart & perfect for those of us (Me!) who don't like sour.  Give it a try & let me know what you think.


Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

8oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter, softened
Zest from 1 medium Lemon, organic
1 lb. Powdered Sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon Vanilla

Whip Cream Cheese, Butter and Lemon Zest together until well combined.  Working in batches, mix in Powdered Sugar.  Add in Vanilla and mix until fluffy.  Use on your favorite cookies or cake.