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.
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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.

Pineapple Habanero Hot Sauce


I love me some hot sauce. So much so that my stocking was stuffed with local hot sauces this past Christmas. Katy knows me so well… Anyway I’ve been wanting to make my own sauces forever and now that I have a food processor it has become pretty simple and really easy to experiment. This recipe came out of my head and is almost more in the realm of salsa than sauce, but you can puree to your own liking. It is really good on tacos, eggs, or fish, and can also be scooped solo with tortilla chips.

Pineapple Habanero Hot Sauce

  • 5 habanero peppers, washed
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and rough chop
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup pineapple
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

In a medium saucepan, heat up the olive oil to medium-high heat and add the onions. Let them cook for about 3 or 4 minutes and then add the carrots and garlic, and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes. Adding the carrots later keeps some crunch in them.

Wash and remove the stems from the hot peppers, being careful not to touch your eyes or go to the bathroom without a thorough hand wash. Put the peppers into the blender whole, and add in the cooked veggies, vinegar, salt, pineapple, and juice from one lime. Pulse until desired consistency and jar it up!

 

pineapple habanero sauce spicing up some al pastor tacos

PB & J Milkshake

Everyone’s favorite childhood snack has just been converted into milkshake form. I make a shake almost daily as a protein drink after the gym, so I have made many a milkshake. Milkshakes as a treat for working out is a great incentive, trust me. The idea is simple, peanut butter (I’m a crunchy type), jelly, and nilla wafers as the bread. And it’s already mixed with your glass of milk. Perfect.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Milkshake

  • 2 scoops vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon jelly of choice
  • 3 nilla wafers
  • milk added to desired thickness

Not much to detail about here, put it in the blender and spin. It’s like 2nd grade in a glass.