Turkey Bacon Meatloaf

DSC_0022Back in February, Katy and I gave the paleo diet a whirl in an effort to get in shape for a Mexican beach vacation. If you are unfamiliar, it is a diet based on the ways of our caveman ancestors. Lots of meat, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. No dairy or grains and absolutely no processed food. To be honest, we each did our own modified variation of the diet, taking some liberties with what was acceptable and what wasn’t. I allowed beans, rice and quinoa, and yogurt. I figured those are all healthy foods, and it helped keep me sane. I really felt great during the diet and I’m continuing to avoid processed food like white flour, refined sugar, and processed meat.

Anyway, I made this recipe up during the diet, and even though bread crumbs are cheating, who cares right? It’s a 1/4 cup! It makes enough for 2 people plus a little leftovers, so scale up if you’re serving more people.

Ingredients:DSC_0001

  • 1.25 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 green onions (sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 clove minced garlic

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F

Grease a cookie sheet with butter. Use a sheet with raised edges so grease doesn’t spill off.

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Cook the bacon on medium heat until some of the fat has rendered off and it just begins to brown. Remove from heat and drain on paper towel. While the bacon is cooling, mix everything but the turkey and egg in a large bowl. Then chop three strips of bacon into 1/4″ bits and add to ingredients. Next, add the egg and ground turkey and mix all ingredients thoroughly with your hands.  Shape into a loaf and place onto the cookie sheet. Cover with the remaining bacon strips and bake for 45 minutes.

I love this recipe because the turkey stays moist, and the bacon adds awesome flavor (it always does)! Little bites with cranberry and onion add sweetness and texture, and the cumin and red pepper give it a nice little kick 😉 Have fun cooking and enjoy! Thanks for reading.

 

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Rio’s Brazilian Cafe

This past Saturday I was planning to take Katy to Arkie’s Grill, a hole in the wall diner on East Cesar Chavez, when we rolled up to an empty building with papered up windows. Needless to say it was closed, and we were both very bummed. We both love a good dive.  So with our plans foiled, we changed directions and headed to Rio’s with the idea of getting coffee and finding some breakfast. I’d only had coffee from there before, so when we sat down and saw a menu it was a pleasent surprise.
It has that homegrown Austin vibe, and shabby thrown together look of the east side that is kind of charming. Quiet Latin music and a fluttering canopy made it feel like we were instantly taken to a side street in Rio.
We picked a few items off the menu, kind of blindly guessing at what to try. Everything was very fresh and homemade, highlighted by the malagueta sauce that is still a mystery to me, but worth buying by the gallon. We each tried an egg, bacon, sausage, and cheese concoction that was fried in an empanada-like pouch, but still very light. We followed that up with a mozzarella, sweet potato, and zucchini pastry that was fluffy, savory, and spiced just right. Our last culinary adventure was a savory pastry made of mashed yucca and stuffed with pulled chicken in more malagueta sauce. It was ‘divine’, just as the server described. All together, this place was a great surprise lunch, and 100% worth revisiting. It had plenty of gluten-free and vegan options if that your thing as well. This humble little joint is a diamond in the rough of east Austin.

Campfire Food

Katy and I got out of Austin for a night over the weekend to do some camping just south of San Antonio. We found an awesome campground that was run by a super nice family who were friendly and helpful and recommended their best site for us. We set up camp right next to the Medina River which had an enchanted feel to it as the afternoon light slipped through the trees.

our peaceful fishing spot down by the river

After a few hours of unsuccessful fishing, more than a few beers, and a couple card games we  sparked up a fire and began cooking dinner. It’s amazing what hot coals and a good cast iron skillet can do. Katy’s handmade burgers(beef, salt, pepper, worcestershire) were on the menu, but the bacon had to be cooked first.  The bacon cooked down and left a nice puddle of grease that our burgers were more than happy to cook in. They sizzled in the pan and  and got a nice hard crust on the outside, but maintained a perfect medium rare inside.  The buns were spread with garlic butter and toasted inside aluminum foil while cheddar melted atop the burgers. I’m serious when I say this was a top 5 burger in my life. Juicy burger, crispy bacon, and melted cheese topped with mayo, lettuce, tomato, and onion. And I think the real kicker was the garlic butter. OH MAN I want another. It was dark but I still tried my best to get a good pic.

After a good night sleep with an early morning to check out a meteor shower, the fire was back up and running to start breakfast. We had fingerling potatoes that Katy halved and put in foil with onions and more garlic butter. They sat right in the hot coals and cooked and caramelized while we made more bacon, of course. After crisping up the rest of the bacon, I friend and egg in the skillet while toasting an everything bagel with more garlic butter. I promise, garlic butter makes everything better. Piled high on the toasty bagel with a slice of cheddar, this bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich could have been ordered at a restaurant.

Turkey Meatball Hoagie with Homemade Red Sauce

For us, summer has been packed with family outings, traveling to see friends, and entertaining guests here in Austin.  That means we’ve been partying like animals and eating like pigs (the tastiest animal).  So it’s time to get back on track and start eating healthy again, which means lean meats and whole grains. If you are doing the same, or just like to always eat healthy, try out this recipe that tastes delicious but doesn’t leave you feeling like a whale at the beach.

Ground Turkey Meatballs 

  • 1.25 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small carrot, minced
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Prep your area first by getting out a sheet of parchment paper and an oven safe dish or walled cookie sheet. Grease will pour off into your oven if you use a flat cookie sheet! In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients except the olive oil and mozzarella. Pack the mixture into golf ball sized balls, or about the size of your middle finger touching your thumb, and set them on the parchment paper. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate while you make the sauce. If using canned sauce go straight to cooking. Put the olive oil in a skillet and bring it to high heat to get a good sear. Put three meatballs in the pan, rolling over after about 45 seconds. Remove and put directly into oven dish.

Once all the meatballs are seared and in the dish, move it into the oven and bake it for 18 minutes. Keep the oven on. Prepare a wheat hoagie roll with meatballs cut in half (so they don’t roll), sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Place it in the oven open-faced for 1 minute then take it out and enjoy! Sprinkle oregano on top for even more flavor.
Homemade Red Sauce
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 – 32oz crushed tomato can
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

In a saucepan, cook down the onion and garlic until soft, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients into the saucepan and let it simmer very low for at least 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, remove the bay leaf and put about half of the mixture into a food processor. Blend until smooth and put in a new bowl. Repeat with 2nd half of mixture.

Mexican Street Corn


This might be one of the best effort-to-flavor ratio snacks ever. Take 5 minutes to whip up a few cups and you have a savory sweet snack with a little spice and a citrus tang. You can make it out of the can, but if you have the time either boil the corn on the cob or better yet, roast it on the barbecue. I used corn that was roasted the night before that we didn’t eat and simply warmed it up for the recipe.

Mexican street corn:

  • 4 ears of corn
  • 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • 2 limes
  • 4 ounces of Cojita cheese
  • cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper

Roast, boil, or microwave the corn to get it nice and toasty. Split it equally into 4 cups (one cob makes about one cup). Put one tablespoon of mayo on each cup of corn, salt and pepper to taste, sprinke on some cayenne pepper, then crumble tone ounce of cojita cheese on top of each cup. Put a wedge of two of lime on each rim and serve hot. Mix it all up and you have a great blend of flavors without breaking a sweat, or the bank.

Enjoy! 🙂

G’Raj Mahal

G’Raj Mahal seems to encompass everything there is to love about Austin.  Amazing food, friendly people, and a one of a kind “Keep Austin Weird” style food truck. Calling it a food truck would be a lie because it doesn’t move, but calling it a restaurant is further from the truth – it doesn’t even have walls. But somehow they turn this parking lot and trailer into one of the most enjoyable dining experiences I have ever had.

It located in the unique Rainey Street neighborhood where a bunch of old houses have been converted into bars and the whole block has a laid back vibe. G’Raj Mahal is only open for dinner, as we found out a few weekends back when we tried to go for a late lunch only to be disappointed. There was a lot of hype about this place because we had seen it on the Food Network show Eat Street and were really excited to see what it was all about.

It’s a bring your own booze joint so we grabbed a 6-pack of Shiner Ruby Reds and strolled over. Ruby Redbird is Shiners summer beer and has ginger and grapefruit and is one of my new favorite beers. It went really well with our dinner and I’d highly recommend it as your booze of choice at G’Raj Mahal.

The decor here is a contrasting mix of scrap metal, flowing white linen, and a few cats laying around the outside of the dining area. We were sat by a host and given a friendly server who helped us pick out our dinner since neither Katy nor myself are Indian food aficionados. It was very cool to be served at a food truck and it really gave it a brick and mortar restaurant feel.

We started with garlic naan and a side of Raita which is homemade yogurt sauce served cold with chopped veggies and is seriously AMAZING. Literally when the naan was gone I ate the rest of the sauce with my spoon. It should be noted that everything is served on styrofoam plates which completely adds to the no worries vibe at this place and I loved it.

For the main course Katy ordered chicken malabar which is a creamy curry made with a coconut milk base. It is thickened with a caramelized onion sauce and mixed with more spices than I knew existed, and had a perfectly creamy texture and sweetness. I was feeling spicy so I ordered the rechaad masala with shrimp, which is a red-chili paste that was pan-fried with huge plump shrimp. It was hot but not over-whelming or uncomfortable. I actually wanted something hotter but this is apparently their hottest sauce. I asked. It all comes with a big bowl of basmati rice and needless to say, there was nothing left when we stood up to leave.

I really, really enjoyed our trip to G’Raj Mahal and would highly recommend it for anyone looking for a unique date idea or something other than the food truck parking lots. It has an eclectic vibe in an unusual neighborhood and is very much “Austin”.

G’Raj Mahal

91 Red River

Austin, TX

http://grajmahalaustin.com/

Easy Tiger

Sometimes you just have one of those days where all you want to do is clock out, and crack one open. Yesterday was one of those days. So seeing that life gave us lemons, we turned it into lemonade and tried out a local watering hole that we have been wanting to test out. The place, Easy Tiger. It is fairly new, it opened earlier this year, but they are doing things right. They are a self proclaimed “beer garden & bake shop”, which are two descriptions I enjoy from any establishment.

It has a cool set-up, where you walk in on street level to find a working bakery with loaves and loaves of fresh  bread. If you are looking to stay awhile, head

Most of the seating is out back

downstairs to a Bavarian style bar and dining area or keep going out onto the outdoor patio. It’s right on the creek, or river, that runs through the city. Red River maybe? Either way its a nice setting to post up for a few drinks and food. Three ping-pong tables and some chill music rounded out the patio and I thought it had a very welcoming vibe.

The beer selection is awesome, with at least 30 beers on top, none of which ending in “ud” or “oors light”.  Although they do have $2 PBR and $2.50 Lone Star tall boys which is a steal for that area downtown.

We were hungry so we checked out the menu and struggled, in a good way, to decide our order. The bread is obviously fresh, and they say they prepare all the meats in house as well, which include multiple sausages, roast beef, pork loin, and pastrami to name a few. After much deliberation, we ordered a classic bratwurst($7), half a roast beef sandwich($8), as well as a side of potato salad($2).

The food came out quick and was delicious. The bratwurst was served on a pretzel bun(optional) that was warm, soft, and salty, although I thought it stole attention away from the sausage. It also had fresh sauerkraut and whole grain mustard that gave it a balanced bite.

The roast beef was on the well-done side, I prefer rare, but sliced really thin so it wasn’t too dry. The horseradish sour cream spread also helped in that regard. It was plenty big for a half-sandwich.

And lastly was the potato salad which I thought was the star of the meal. Seasoned perfectly with pickles, onions, celery, and dill, it was an instant reminder of summer. It actually is inspiring me to make some potato salad of my own very soon 🙂

To wrap up, I would highly recommend Easy Tiger to anyone who enjoys fresh food and well crafted beer. The location is great, the ambiance relaxed, and the  bill not too steep. Perfect for making lemonade.

709 East 6th St.

Austin, TX 78701

www.easytigeraustin.com/

Cinco De Mayo Survival Kit

Happy drink-o de Mayo!! There are three essentials to a solid cinco festival….margaritas, chips and guac, and sombreros, in no particular order. Here are two quick recipes before I start boozin’ by the pool 🙂  The sombrero is your responsibility, enjoy!

Mayan Margarita

  • 2 oz tequila
  • 1 oz triple sec
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz orange juice
  • 1/2 oz agave nectar

Mix, shake, pour. Rub a lime on the rim of a glass and roll in salt and begin day drinking.

Guacamole

  • 2 avocados
  • 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup red onion
  • salt
  • pepper
  • tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper

Slice the avocado into a grid while it’s still in the shell then scoop into a bowl. Add finely chopped red onion, the juice of two limes, 3 or 4 splashes of tabasco and salt and pepper to taste. Mash it together with a fork and you have guacamole in 5 minutes. Perfect.

Little Deli

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This is probably my fourth or fifth time eating at Little Deli and it has yet to disappoint. A tiny little spot with more seating outside than in, it delivers big time.
Honestly I haven’t even tried a sandwich here yet because I keep going back for the pizza. I did just read a sign on the counter for a half pound hot pastrami though….next time.
The pizza is awesome, at least to my liking. A great thin crust that has a little crunch but doesn’t shred your mouth. Sauce is spiced perfectly and the toppings very fresh.
Each day they have cheese, pepperoni, and a slice of the day. Today is sausage tomato basil and it’s great. Pepperoni is better though. I got a cup of tomato soup as well which is soooo good to dip the crust in.
In a town with limited pizza options, this is my favorite over the over-hyped Homeslice.

Little Deli
7101-A Woodrow Dr.
Austin TX 78757

http://www.littledeliandpizza.com/

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Slow-cooker Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m a big fan of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Guy Fieri might be the biggest douche bag on TV, in close competition with the Jersey Shore cast. He just bothers me, with his frosted tips and abundance of “bling”.  Plus what kind of chef doesn’t eat eggs? Either way, I like the show because it goes around the country finding the lesser known but equally awesome little restaurants that don’t get the notoriety as a celebrity chefs restaurant. On more then one occasion I’ve seen a diner cooking up cabbage wraps in classic European fashion, and I kept telling myself I need to try making them. Well this past weekend I got around to it, and let me say, they were delicious.

A flavorful combination of meat, cabbage, and sauce that works together perfectly and is super easy to make, especially with a slow cooker. The meat is spiced and mixed with rice, the cabbage soft but crunchy (somehow?), and a sauce that is worthy of making by itself.

Ingredients: 

  • 12 cabbage leaves
  • 1 cup cooked white rice
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup onion, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (no less than 90/10)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 20 ounces tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons worcestershire

I removed the cabbage leaves from the raw head of cabbage but later read a good tip to core it out and steam the leaves. After a point the raw cabbage gets impossible to peel off so I would suggest doing the steam method, but removing raw worked too. In any event, you need to bring a large pot of salted water to a boil to soften the leaves. Drop them in for 2 minutes then remove, strain, and set aside. At the same time, cook your rice making at least 1 cup cooked rice.

In a large bowl, mix the cooked rice, egg, milk, onion, garlic, ground beef and salt and pepper. The reason the beef needs to be so lean is that its wrapped raw, so a fatty mix will make for a very greasy roll.

Next, set out the cabbage leaves and scoop about 1/3 of a cup of meat mixture into the lower center of the leaf. Roll the bottom of the leaf over the meat, tuck in the sides, then finish rolling over to seal the meat inside. It looks like a mini green burrito.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you roll all the meat and leaves together, load them into the bottom of your slow cooker and start the sauce. Mix the tomato sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, and worcestershire together and whisk quickly. Pour it over top of the rolls so they are completely covered. Set the slow cooker to 250° and let them cook for 8 hours and enjoy!