Cookie, Cookie, Cookie Starts With C

Cookie, Cookie, Cookie Starts With C

Hi friends,

I feel like I haven’t talked about this before, but one of the things I do with some of my friends is bake cookies. A lot of my friends want to know how they can make the pretty sugar cookies they see online. As the unofficial baker of my friend group, it’s not unheard of for a friend to say, “Hey—When are you going to teach me how to make pretty sugar cookies? Mine never turn out how I think they should.”

Now the perfectionist in me makes it hard for me to bake cookies with other people. I explain to them that the cookie project is not a 30-minute activity. I tell them making pretty sugar cookies sometimes takes days. Luckily, a few friends are up for the challenge.

My friend Bobbie Jill is one of those friends who has really taken off with decorating cookies, now taking orders for and selling cookies regularly. The first couple of times we got together to make cookies I didn’t know if she was going to make it. She wanted to make perfect cookies immediately. Of course, I know the feeling, but with any new hobby, your first take is not going to be the best!

Our first time together, we planned on making sugar cookies from scratch, but we ended up shopping so much that weekend, that we ended up at H-E-B, purchasing round plain sugar cookies and decorating those. The results were NOT pretty. The cookies did not have a smooth surface, so the frosting dipped into the holes of the cookies and showed every bump. Of course, they still tasted great.

So, step No. 1 for cookie decorating:

  1. Start with a flat, nonporous cookie. This pretty much means bake your own cookies.

The next time we got together, we decided we would each bake cookies separately (we live in different cities) and then decorate them together. That worked much better, though we still left decorating to the end after spending too much money and time at The Domain.

So, Step No. 2:

2. Give yourself enough time to decorate.

The next time we got together was even better. We went to Hobby Lobby and purchased my favorite bottles, which are accordion looking and are the easiest for me to push the royal icing through without hurting my hands too much.

Step No. 3:

3. Have the right tools.

Since that first time of baking cookies, both of us have learned so much and gotten so much better at baking cookies. This is a fun hobby I enjoy doing with friends. It’s a lot of work, but people love the results and I’m glad I can introduce my friends to this hobby—and glad some of them are taking it to the next level—selling their lovely treats to others.

Double Vanilla Cupcakes

Double Vanilla Cupcakes

I’ve taken to calling these double vanilla cupcakes, because it’s vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream. The recipes came from Sally’s Baking Addiction and the frosting decoration was part of her monthly baking challenge for this month. Mine didn’t quite look like roses as hers did, but I still thought they came out beautifully.

This weekend was supposed to be full of rain, so I planned indoor activities for Saturday, but so far I haven’t seen a drop.

My indoor activities included making these delicious cupcakes (the crumb on these are amazing!), watching Doc Martin on Netflix, reading “All Grown Up” by Jami Attenberg and some good old puttering around the house.

A new method for my to-do lists is to write each thing I want to get done on a separate post-it note on my bathroom mirror. I got about 4 things done today of about 12 that I put up there. I’ll let you know how this works. It does remind me of what needs to be done every time I wash my hands, but I find after a few days I stop seeing notes around the house at times.

I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend!

Having lobsta fun

Having lobsta fun

Garbo’s hit us up on Twitter when they first opened when I did a post on TJ’s Seafood Restaurant: I always wanted to go but somehow tracking down the truck just never worked out. When I saw them post their two year anniversary celebration, though, I knew it was time. Not to mention, it’s been almost a month since I left Cape Cod (and therefore, last had lobster.

It was a weeknight and I thought it was in The Domain, which would have been convenient. When I saw it was in Wells Branch, I almost changed my mind, but since I didn’t have water at my condo while plumbers were fixing a leak, I figured maybe dinner out was a good idea.
When I got there, the place was packed, which I found out from a local in the neighborhood that that’s usually the case. I grabbed a seat at the bar between two other lovely ladies who were going solo that night as well. The nautical-themed restaurant is chic and casual enough for a neighborhood drop in but still nice enough to pull off a cozy dinner for two.
The special birthday menu included a $10 lobster roll, which you can get two different ways: Maine (cold with mayonnaise, celery and lemon) and Connecticut (warmed in butter). I got the Connecticut, which came on a buttered roll and topped with thinly sliced scallions and a side of Cape Cod potato chips. I loved the butteriness and there was plenty of lobster stuffed in the sandwich. To compliment the meal, I had Heidi’s French 75 for $7.
While you could tell some of the staff were young and, perhaps new, everyone was friendly and worked to get the food out quickly. They ran out of French fries, but I guess that’s a good sign. They also had a birthday whoopie pie that I was tempted by, but decided against. My neighbor ordered it and told me that while there may have been a bit too much filling, overall the cake was perfect and the dish delicious.
I would definitely take my parents to Garbo’s or possibly stop in if I was in the area. This week they’ve added an ice cream trailer Connor’s Creamery Soft Serve, which had already closed up for the night on my visit. And I’m told they still have two trucks around town.
If you can’t afford Cape Cod this year, stick around ATX and try a lobster roll at Garbo’s!
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Delicious Films: 5 Movies for Foodies

imageSorry folks! We’ve been a way a while, busy working on our The Tiny Bots kids music video Shake It Like a Cupcake  the past few months. Yep-that’s right! We’re also in a children’s music band. But now that that’s launched, I hope to bring you some more food news, and break into some healthy foods as well. Antonio is really focused on marketing for Garrison Brothers and his band Oh Antonio and His Imaginary Friends, so he’ll be on break for a while longer.

Enough housekeeping. Let’s talk food!

Some friends and I recently brought movie night back into our lives. Every few weeks we get together and someone different picks the movie and brings the food. This week is my week and, of course, I wanted to pick a foodie movie. Here’s the list of movies I considered. Ultimately I decided on Chocolat, but I’d love to hear from you on your favorite foodie movies for future consideration!

1) The Waitress This quirky movie is not the most uplifting but is real and pulls at your heartstrings. A waitress, played by Keri Russell, who is in a lousy marriage to an overbearing husband finds out she is pregnant. After she meets the local doctor and begins an affair with him, she finds the strength to carry out her pregnancy, but it’s not until after she gives birth that she realizes her strength is her own and has nothing to do with the men in her life.

Food: You’ll enjoy the pies she makes throughout the movie with names like I Don’t Want Earl’s Baby pie and I Hate My Husband Pie.

2) Chef Who doesn’t love a second chance story? This movie is set when a chef at a respected restaurant quits his job. He begins to flounder, not just in his profession, but also in his relationships. When he decides to quit it all and restore a food truck and go across country selling Cuban sandwiches, he may just find the adventure of a lifetime and the answers he’s been looking for for success.

Food: You’ll love a look into what it’s really like converting a trailer into a food truck and seeing knife skills and cooking up close.

3) The Hundred-Foot Journey An Indian family in France sets out to find a place to start an Indian restaurant. When they break down in a small town, how are they to know one of the country’s best restaurant is just across the street? But is competition always bad? It seems to be when the competition has loud music, colorful decorations and a string smell just steps from your classy, expensive well-known traditional restaurant in France.

Food: You’ll love the search for perfect mushrooms, the perfect omelette and the difference between French and Indian kitchens (and settings).

4) Babette’s Feast Imagine you’re a well known chef who ends up in a super pious town that hires you to cook the blandest food for them year after year. And then you decide to gift them with the one thing they do not want using all of your money, so that you’ll be stuck there. That’s basically the plot and it’s amazing.

Food: The preparation for this feast will blow your mind!

5) Chocolat Apparently, there are a lot of food haters. I’m starting to see a trend here. Vianne and her daughter arrive in a small French religious town and opens a chocolate shop. The churchgoers try to resist, but one by one Vianne entices the villagers into her shop to chat and try a chocolate. Things come to a head when the gypsies move onto the river nearby–will the church allow things to continue down this road?

Food: At the end, a lovely dinner for the elderly diabetic woman brings friend and foe together for a wonderful dinner party of the most delectable foods.

Pumpkin Picks


It may still be warm in Texas, but it’s still pumpkin season. With Halloween tomorrow, I thought I’d share some of my favorite pumpkin treats I’ve found at Trader Joe’s this year.

I’ve been starting my mornings with the Pumpkin Spice coffee, which is seriously delicious. Lots and lots of flavor and I don’t have to add my own spices. I typically add cardamon, cinnamon and nutmeg to most coffees, but this one is so good as is. I drop in some of the organic half and half from Trader Joe’s as well.

I was not so sure about the honey roasted pumpkin ravioli, but—wow—was it delicious. I thought it would pair well with a nice brown butter sage sauce, but since I didn’t have sage on hand and I did have some tomato sauce and veggie Italian sausage I needed to use up, I decided to go against my better judgment and use a red sauce. Luckily, it turned out so good. I also added a few basil leaves from my indoor plant and some burrata cheese (like mozzarella, but scrumptious, creamy goodness inside.) for good measure. I really truly loved every bite.

And then there’s the Pumpkin O’s. These are more subtle if the full-on pumpkin flavors are not for you. They remind me of Apple Jacks a little bit, with more of a fall taste. Very simple and tasty for a quick breakfast.

If you have any pumpkin favorites of your own, please pass them along.

Happy Halloween!

A Pescetarian in Texas

IMG_0133Living in Austin makes me think vegetarianism is normal. You can hardly find a restaurant that doesn’t have some type of vegetarian menu items, and many cater to the veggie-only crowd. So when I venture from home, to say, see my parents in a smallish town in Texas, I’m always amazed.

On a recent trip home, I stopped in at a large bakery that has a few locations off the highways of Texas. On the breakfast menu, it had:

  • biscuit $1
  • biscuit with egg and sausage $1.95
  • biscuit with egg and bacon $1.85
  • biscuit with egg $1.50
  • add cheese .50

When the young lady at the cash register asked if she could help me, I asked for a large coffee and a biscuit with egg and cheese.

“Just egg and cheese?” she asked. “No bacon or sausage?”

“No bacon or sausage, just egg and cheese biscuit,” I repeated my order back to her.

“Well, I’m not sure we have that,” she said peering into the case.

When she finally found the one egg biscuit in the bunch, she said, “Oh, I didn’t think we had that. I’ve never had anyone order that before.”

I failed to point out that it was on the menu, since I was tired and ready to get back on the road.

As she grabbed some cheese and microwaved the biscuit and egg, I heard her say to another employee, “I don’t know how to ring this up. Do I just ring it up like the others? Is it the same price?”

Meanwhile, a poor soul who just wanted a refill on his coffee continued to wait for her to come back.

I patiently waited, knowing that by pointing out the price on the menu would likely not hurry things along.

Another employee explained how to ring the meal up and when the cashier came back she reminded me again, “Sorry, but no one had ever ordered it without bacon or sausage before.”

As she told me the total (I’m pretty sure she still charged me for meat), I realized she had been so focused on the fact that she couldn’t believe someone would eat an egg and cheese biscuit without meat that she forgot about the coffee. 

After a few more minutes, I awkwardly took my microwaved egg and cheese biscuit and coffee out to the car to eat, scared that she would gawk at me as I ate this “non-meat” (I mean, egg is a meat, right?) meal if I ate inside. When things like this happen, I just have to laugh.

Now, I’m aware that it seems I’m harshly judging most of my state over one incident, but believe me, this happens pretty much any time I leave the Lone Star state’s capitol.

On another trip, I stopped at the same bakery, but in another part of the state (about three hours southwest of the other location). It was lunchtime and there was a bit of a line. I looked at my options. Just tuna fish and a veggie sandwich.

“Yes! They have a veggie sandwich,” I thought. I love tuna, but it’s a frequent option, so it gets a little old.

When it came my turn, I put in my order.

The young woman asked, “A veggie sandwich?”

“Yes, please,” I responded.

“Ok, well, All we’ve got is lettuce, pickles, onions, tomatoes, onions, olives and jalepeños,” she listed the ingredients out for me.

The “all we’ve got” did not really get me excited.

“Oh. Um. In that case, I’ll take the tuna sandwich.”

Keep in mind that the veggie sandwich cost just as much as the meat sandwiches that came with a meat, cheese AND all the toppings she just listed out to me. No hummus, no cream cheese, no sauteed veggies were available. And yet, the sandwich was about $10.

When I first became pescetarian, I’d go home to visit my parents and say I was vegetarian, because growing up in this semi-small city, I knew it was unlikely people understood vegetarianism, much less pescetarianism.

Sure enough I’d tell people I didn’t eat meat and they’d respond, “That’s OK. We have chicken.”

Interested in learning more about pescetarianism? Here’s a Huffington Post article I recommend:


The Domain: Shake Shack

Shake Shack


As of yesterday, the Shake Shack is now open in The Domain. You can find the new restaurant in the Macy’s parking lot.

The chain was established in 2004 and serves burgers, fries and frozen custard. Austin’s location is on South Lamar Boulevard.


Sun. – Thu., 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Fri. – Sat., 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.

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San Francisco: Brenda’s French Soul Food

Brenda's storefrontOff Polk Street, in San Francisco, I found the most delightful surprise. I had passed numerous diners—usually a favorite of mine, those diners are—but they seemed to lack life in the Union area of San Francisco. And so I began
looking up restaurants nearby and came across Brenda’s French Soul Food. It had good reviews, so I wandered around the extra 1/2 mile until I finally came upon the unassuming outside. Just a sandwich board, the name and a door with black metal decorative grating around the door and windows.

A man was cleaning the door as I went to open it, but he quickly opened it and led me to an empty table near the front. The inside was fresh and new, though imitating the old in that way restaurants do: A mural on the right of a crawfish with Bon Voyage Shipping Co. on top of old brick, silverware held in Cafe de Monde empty coffee canisters.

Brenda's wallI ordered coffee and water right away and then was left to familiarize myself with the menu. Everything looked and sounded delicious, but the beignet flight ($10) held my interest. I knew I couldn’t eat four beignets even before I saw how large they were, but the chance to try all four flavors was too strong: crawfish, apple, chocolate and plain.

When they arrived, after a neighbor and I realized we didn’t have spoons and so conspired to use our knives to swirl our coffees, I was very, very pleased. Three of the four were dusted in confectioner’s sugar, with the fourth—the only savory beignet—dusted in cayenne.



I started with the savory crawfishcrawfish beignet beignet, which was creamy inside with scallions and cheese. I enjoyed every bite, which reminded me of my time in New Orleans.

I then moved on to the sweets. Not remembering which of the beignets were which, I dove into the one just after the crawfish. It turned out to be Granny Smith apple, which tasted like a sweet apple pie with its cinnamon and honey butter filling.

Savoring each bite, I thought I could go on when the waitress came by to see if I needed a box. “Oh no,” I said naively. “I think I’ll just have a little more.”

But by the end of the second beignet I had to admit she was right. I needed a box—I could not take another bite.

I later shared the chocolate beignet at lunch, filled with molten Ghiradelli chocolate filling with my brother and his friend Mary. And the next day I finished off the plain for breakfast. Essentially the four beignets lasted me three meals over two days for ten dollars. Amazing.

I’ve already added Brenda’s French Soul Food to the list of recommendations for friends visiting San Francisco (all the rest can be found at If Only), so you know it must have made an impression.

The specials also looked amazing, with Creole pot pie with cheddar biscuits and green salad. I can’t wait to go back and try their lunch or dinner menu, but until then, I have my memories.


The Flying Cucumber

In the world of food blogging, you get a lot of press releases. Some are strange. Some sound fun. But rarely do you get one that sounds as grand as a Flying Cucumber.

The one thing we love about Hendricks is that they know how to throw a party!

And this go ’round was no different. Setting off in L.A. on April 13, and traveling across the U.S. over the next 13 weeks, you can see this exquisite airship wrapped as a beautiful cucumber! Side note: There are more astronauts in the world than airship pilots.

You might be wondering if anyone got to ride in the airship. Sadly, the wind was not in our favor. But being a 9 a.m. call time on a workday, Hendrick’s poured libations and kept true to their personality.

Regardless of the weather, we got a splendid cocktail – Lady Grace Drummond-Hay. Two things to note. 1. Over the last year, I have noticed that I have enjoyed wine cocktails. And this one is pretty grand since I am not a Chardonnay fan. Or maybe this is the best use of Chardonnay yet – Just add gin. 2. Lady Grace Drummond-Hay was the first woman to travel the world by airship.

Lady Grace Drummond-Hay

1 1/2 Parts Hendrick’s Gin
1 Part Chardonnay
1/4 Part Citric Acid
1/4 Part Simple Syrup
1 Dash Orange Bitters

Combine ingredients over ice. Stir and strain. Serve Chilled. 

All you need to do know, is build the cocktail and browse the pictures of the unusual!


North Shoal Creek: Verts Kebap


I was recently introduced to Verts Kebap in North Shoal Creek and its close proximity to my house means I’m likely to go back again and again. In the same shopping center as Hopdoddy’s, it’s a nice option if Hopdoddy’s ends up having a crazy long line (as it usually does).

The first go ’round I tried the veggie patty, but it was a bit mushy. So I went back and tried what I should have gotten the first time: a falafel. The falafel passed the test. It was crispy and hot and came with lots of vegetables and a variety of sauce options. There’s also a snack size, which is perfect for me, as it seems more like normal sized to me. If you like crispy, salty fries, definitely grab a side order, as they are really good hot and fresh.

Now it’s not going to replace Kebabalicious, but it is nice to have an option close to home that’s very reasonable and quick.The house and spicy red sauces really round out the falafel.

Try it for a quick dinner when you’re too tired to cook.

Love: How cheap and quick it is.


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