Category Archives: breakfast

heirloom tomato jam

well, hello there. some of you playing along at home may be wondering “where did she go?”, “is she like other bloggers who simply got bored of her her own blog, got too busy, or just doesn’t give a hoot anymore?”. the short answer is no, the long answer, and since you’re still reading i’ll go ahead and assume you want the long answer, is that my blog has taken me to places unknown in my wildest dreams. you may have noticed many of the latest posts have been geared towards preserving and canning, for which i have discovered an unbridled love. each small batch of preserves i make is like a tiny art project, changing with the seasons.

soon we shall see if it loves me back. i am launching my new preserving business on september 1st, called confituras. which is spanish for confiture. which is french for delicious. i will make very small batch, locally sourced jams, marmalade, jellies, and pickles from the abundant local fruits, vegetables, and herbs found mostly here in central texas. my offerings will change with the seasons, as today i have pickled peaches and blueberries, lavender peach butter, prickly pear cactus jelly with fresh lime and the lovely heirloom jam you see below. tomorrow, i may have a completely different selection. if you’re in the austin area, i will begin selling my products at Barton Creek Farmer’s Market to start in a few weeks and, with any luck, become aligned with some CSA deliveries, local farm stands, small stores and coffee shops. my website is being built as we speak ( but you can shoot me an email if you are interested in any of my confituras at: info @ confituras dot com

we served this tomato jam with a nutty, well-aged white farmhouse cheddar and almost died it was so good. a friend made a BLT with it. i think it would be fabulous on cornbread, or eggs, or roasted potatoes. you should definitely make this, but if you don’t have time, i can make some for you.

heirloom tomato jam (makes half pints)

adapted from white on rice

you can make this with heirloom or homegrown tomatoes, but try to avoid commercially-grown tomatoes due to their lack of flavor. you’re preserving something seasonal for a reason, after all, and who wants to preserve a mealy, insipid love apple? we have made this several times this summer with various types of tomatoes. each batch was slightly different in color and flavor, but always perfect in it’s variation.

2 pounds heirloom or homegrown tomatoes

1 cup light brown sugar

2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or whatever herbs you like)

8 whole cloves

2 sticks good quality cinnamon

4 tsp aged balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp bottled lemon or lime juice*

place spices in a small piece of cheesecloth or tea ball infuser with all other ingredients in over a medium simmer, stirring frequently, for about 30-45 minutes until thick and jam-like (remember it will thicken a bit more as it cools so don’t overdo it). ladle into sterilized jars and process for 15 minutes in a water bath.

* although i usually shy away from bottled citrus juices, in this case the stable acidic amounts are a must due to the tomato’s unpredictable and borderline acidity. i found a good quality organic lemon and lime juice under the brand of santa cruz in my market.


Filed under appetizer, breakfast, condiment

breakfast joints, austin style: where to eat and why

this is an open letter to all the wonderful folks who will descend on our city over the next few weeks for all that is the south-by-southwest music, film, and interactive festival.

dear sxsw visitors:

i am honored to be part of a group of food bloggers here in austin, and we humbly welcome you to our beautiful city. we are okay with you doubling our population for 10 days, making it difficult to get onto our own clubs, bars, and restaurants, and giving us unbearable traffic on the streets and through our airport. ya know why? because we think…nay, we know our town is as cool as you think it is. and we wanna show it off. many of us are contributing to create and compile a cohesive, if not comprehensive,  list of fantastic places for you and your pie-hole to visit while you are here. check out this food bloggers guide to austin for other recommendations. and i’ve got breakfast covered. here’s where you should go and why:

maudie’s (

three little words: tatiana’s tamale tacos (2 for $4.00) you have not lived until you’ve eaten a tamale breakfast taco. eggs scrambled with a homemade pork tamale. they used to make a bean and cheese tamale version, but it doesn’t seem to be on the menu anymore. wouldn’t hurt to ask. if you’re needing a bit of the hair of the dog, the last time i was there they had a jalapeno margarita (on the rocks, the way margaritas should be) that was perfection. not sure if it’s in their regular lineup, but it should be. multiple locations, but you should really limit yourself to the more central locations of south lamar or lake austin blvd.

kerbey lane cafe (

an austin icon and sentimental favorite with decent queso, but mostly famous for their pancakes (buttermilk, gingerbread, apple wheat, blueberry, or ask for the daily special- short stack $4.25, full stack $5.25). kudos for being one of the first restaurants in austin to use local produce. original location located on kerbey lane (duh). they also have 3 other locations. open 24 hours. may have a humongous line for weekend breakfast.

taqueria la tapatia (no website-located at 1333 w. ben white blvd at banister)

if you are looking for an authentic mexican food experience, this is the real deal. many of the waitstaff take your order in spanish, but they are very good at understanding pointing and other international culinary hand gestures if you need your coffee refilled. the prices may make you feel as if you were in mexico as well. platters of migas, huevos rancheros, mexican scrambles for around $3.00. breakfast tacos, 3 for $2.00. and they have mexican coke. a bit southside, baby, but worth the drive.

counter cafe (

if you could take a greasy spoon diner and modernize it without extracting the cool, this is what you’d end up with. i have to admit, i’ve only been here for lunch (please, please, please order the burger if you’re there during lunch-Texas Monthly magazine decided it was #2 burger in the state last year), but i’ve never been to an establishment that was not considered fine-dining that paid so much attention to detail. plus, where else can you substitute grilled quail for the steak with your steak-eggs? breakfast served all day, meaning 8:00 am-4:00 pm ‘cos that’s when they close.

maria’s taco xpress (

a funky place ‘with a cool south austin vibe” states their website. the cool factor is pretty high here, what with the famous musicians, politicos, et al that grace the place with their presence. but the food is good. notables are the migas taco (a bit gringo pricey at over $2.00 a piece, but they are not small) and the offering of a few tasty vegetarian tacos as well and i’m not talkin’ beans and cheese but real vegetables! long lines that tend to go pretty fast on weekends. full bar with happy hour prices from 3-7 pm.

texas chili parlour (www.cactushill/tcp/

although they don’t open until 11:00am, i have had plenty of great breakfasts at the texas chili parlour. many of them are weekend specials and not on the menu. our favorite has been migas topped with their famous chili. their motto: e pluribus chili. just about everything has chili on it, in it, under it, or around it. and that’s just fine with us. weekend drink specials include dangerously cheap screwdrivers and bloody marys. centrally located near the UT campus.

upper crust bakery (www.theuppercrust

if sweet is more your style, this place has wonderful cinnamon rolls, danish (do i add -es to make danish plural or is it born that way?) and eye-opening espresso coffees plus they open early, at 6:30 am during the week if you’re still out and about after the gig. a little on the north side, but still considered central.

la boite (

you are going to love this place. the lovely folks who opened this cafe only a few months ago have given us a gem. they make and serve high quality french pastries (i could never pass up a pain au chocolate, although theirs’ is called brioche au chocolate. i believe it’s the same?), sandwiches, and desserts in an old shipping container!! that’s right, you heard me–go check it out for yourself. and if it matters to you, they serve fair trade coffee, use local and organic ingredients, and are an environmentally sensitive and green cafe. and they’re the  nicest people around who deserve your patronage.

joe’s bakery and mexican food (

an east austin institution since 1962, i have been going to joe’s for as long as i’ve lived in austin. they have had virtually the same staff since the late 1980’s, with mostly wonderful service, but you have to take the good with the bad. that is, if you want the best migas in town. in my opinion, of course. this is what sets their migas apart: fresh slices of jalapeno sauteed with the egg mixture, then topped with cheese and set under the broiler. when chips and cheese brown, it defines deliciousness. i also have a weakness for their coffee shop coffee. you now the kind, tastes a little burnt and caramelized, served in a real cup and saucer, but always fresh because it’s continuously flowing. they serve breakfast all day, but close at 3:00 pm, so don’t dilly-dally for too long.

jo’s coffee (

not to be confused with the joe’s above, jo’s coffee is the place to see and be seen, at least during daylight hours. they make great coffee drinks, have a fantastic bakery case, sometimes including (gasp!) homemade fried pies, and are located in the epi-center of all that is cool during sxsw. the continental club (another austin institution that you should treat yourself to on the saturday of sxsw with breakfast and a daytime showcase emceed by mojo nixon every year!) is across the street, for heaven’s sake! sometimes there is a price to pay for cool, and sometimes that price is attitude on the part of the baristi, but who cares? you are in austin during sxsw!

torchy’s (

this establishment started off only a few years ago as an unassuming little trailer on south first street, then quickly outgrew it’s shell and now has several locations. the trailer on south first still stands, a decision which i really respect. they advertise that they have ‘damn good tacos’ and they don’t disappoint. standouts are the fried avocado taco, battered and deep-fried avocado with a poblano ranch sauce, and the trailer park, fried chicken and green chilies, which you can make ‘trashy’ by adding queso, each are $3.25. and speaking of queso, get some. it’s made with green chiles, guacamole, and queso fresco, served with their homemade chips.

curra’s (

this interior mexican style restaurant has been around for about 13 years. a little pricier than other mexican joints, the quality and exceptional ingredients used make it worth the price. we like the huevos motulenos, eggs served over refried black beans with a smoky chipotle sauce and fried bananas, and the chilaquiles (get your eggs scrambled and choose the green sauce!) topped with goat cheese, fresh onions, and cilantro. they also serve local coffee (from texas coffee traders).

this is not meant to be a comprehensive list of breakfast joints in austin but even if you hit a few of them you will most likely feel like a local, if even for a little while. you may notice a theme here, most notably one of mexican or latin american origin. we love our tacos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. we love the food, the culture, the affordability of our cuisine of choice. we love to screw it up royally with our texan influences. we also love to give something back, in austin it’s in the form of social, environmental, and local sensibilities. we hope you enjoy your visit to our lovely city.

p.s. please feel free to add other breakfast joints to this list for others who visit the site. if you are visiting, please let us know your experiences with any of the suggested eateries!


Filed under breakfast

pumpkin cinnamon rolls (yeah, you heard me).

pumpkin cinnamon rolls 1

i’ve had to take a short break and i won’t bother you with the details. but i hope this will make it worth your while. to me, pumpkin can (and should) be adapted to just about any recipe, sweet or savory. i love the idea of it incorporated into a dough. while it imparts only a mild pumpkin flavor, the look and aesthetic are to die for. if you substitute as pumpkin puree for as much of the liquid as possible, you can really pump up the volume on the pumpkin-y-ness (sp? word?)

pumpkin cinnamon rolls 2a

oh, kitchen aid mixer with dough hook attachment, i will name my first born after you. promise.

punpkin cinnamon rolls 3

just look at this gorgeous dough. it just screams FALL!!

pumpkin cinnamon rolls 4

i think this shadow looks like an elephant. anyhoo, brush butter on your rolled out dough rectangle.

pumpkin cinnamon rolls 7

roll ‘er up and place cut rolls in pan. at this point you could stash them in the fridge, do your 2nd rise in the am, then bake. otherwise, you’d be getting up at 4 am to make this for a crowd. the first time i made these, we ate them at 2 in the afternoon, if that’s any indication. not that there’s anything wrong with that.

pumpkin cinnamon rolls 8

pumpkin cinnamon rolls (makes 12)

adapted from king arthur flour


1 cup canned or freshly made pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)

2 eggs

2 tbsp to 1/4 cup lukewarm water*

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour

1/4 cup non-fat dry milk

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

3 tbsp light brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp instant yeast

*adjust amount of water added depending on humidity and baking conditions-a.k.a. add less to begin with, then slowly add more to make a smooth, non-sticky dough.


2 tbsp melted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup raisins, optional (i opted out, adding the same amount of walnuts instead)


1 cup powdered sugar

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 1/2 tbsp milk, or enough to make a ‘drizzlable’ glaze

*honestly, i had to double the amount of glaze, either it was because i made 12 smaller rolls (instead of the 9 the recipe states it make) or i am just crazy for glaze.

mix and knead all dough ingredients together in a standup mixer fitted with a dough hook. . alternatively, you could do this by hand, but why would you? unless you were amish. my apologies to my amish readership. remember to add the water slowly after you add all the other ingredients, until you get a smooth dough. you can always add more water, but you can’t take it out once it’s been added.

place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow to rise about 1/2 hours, until it doubles size.

turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface and roll into a rectangle about 14″x 22″. it will appear on the this side. brush with a few tablespoons of melted butter.

mix together the filling sugar and cinnamon and spread out over the dough, leaving one short edge with no filling (this will be the end of the roll). top with raisins or nuts, if using.

starting with the short end of rectangle that is covered with filling, begin rolling dough into a log. cut log into 9 (or 12 smaller) rolls. place the rolls in a lightly greased pan that is at least 2 inches deep, to accommodate more rising. set aside, covered, to rise for 1 more hour.

preheat oven to 375 degrees. bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned and rolls appear set in center. cool on a rack for about 15 minutes. while cooling, make glaze. heat butter and milk until butter melts, whisk in sugar until dissolved into mixture and drizzle over pumpkin rolls while they are still warm. if you like a frosting rather than a glaze, apply glaze after rolls are completely cool.

is this enough glaze yet? just barely.

pumpkin cinnamon rolls 1a


Filed under breakfast, cake


banana bread 3

this banana bread is one of the best i’ve ever made. i have been looking for years for a great banana bread recipe: not too dry, but not artificially moist. for some odd reason or another, it has eluded me. this recipe is from bakesale betty, a great little bakery and sandwich shop we were taken to on our last trip cali. it is made with honey, cane sugar, AND brown sugar. but that’s not what made it sweet. this is. i would like for you to make a loaf of this bread and while it cools get yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee, whatever you like, and take a few quiet moments to read this story by a fellow blogger. i found it to be a moving account of life’s to-and-fro’s.

banana bread closeup2

banana bread with cinnamon crumble topping (makes 1 loaf)

adapted from sweet amandine/bakesale betty/bon appetit

to toast walnuts, place in a single layer on baking sheet in a 350 degree oven. check and stir every 1-2 minutes. if you don’t set a timer, they will most likely burn. no matter how you try to tell yourself you will remember, you will not.

for the bread:

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar (i use organic evaporated cane juice sugar)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 medium)

2 large eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup toasted walnuts (optional, but not optional for me)

for the topping:

1 tbsp granulated sugar

1 1/2 tbsp golden brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon


preheat oven to 350F. butter and flour a 9x5x3  inch loaf pan. mix together topping ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

in a medium bowl, mix togther flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, baking soda and salt. in a large bowl, whisk together the banana, eggs, vegetable oil, honey and water until smooth. add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 2-3  increments and stir until just combined. do not overmix. add nuts, if using. pour into prepared loaf pan. spoon cinnamon topping over batter.

bake for about 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean (a good rule of thumb is to start checking every 5 minutes after the first 45-50 minutes). cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack, being careful not to dislodge too much of the topping.

p.s. and just so you know, she is alive and well and recovering at home, and even twittering about it. i know there was a collective sigh of relief with that first tweet.


Filed under breakfast, cake, desserts

cowgirl granola


well, it’s official. granola is not just for hippies anymore. it has enjoyed a real resurgence lately, even a boutique status, if you will. but for many of us, it has been part of our lives for years. the simplicity of the ingredients really speaks for itself: grains, nuts, seeds, and pure and naturally sweet fruit, the flavor intensified by drying.


i used to be one of those chumps who would buy it by the pound at the health food store until our friend, doctor mark, passed on this recipe for homemade granola from alton brown, his culinary hero. i have changed it up a bit over the years; tweaking measurements of this and that, changing the ingredients around, basically using it as a base recipe. it is best topped with a big dollop of plain yogurt.


cowgirl granola (adapted from alton brown)

3 cups rolled oats (old fashioned, not instant or quick cook)

1 cup slivered almonds

1 cup cashews

1/2 cup raw pepita seeds (aka pumpkin seeds)

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

3/4 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened, depending on your sweet tooth)

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

1/4 cup neutral oil (like vegetable or canola)

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup dried fruit of your choice (raisins, dried cherries, figs, banana chips-go crazy!)


preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

in a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar. in a separate bowl, combine honey or maple syrup, oil, and salt. it’s important to to mix wet & dry ingredients separately. combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 foil or parchment covered sheet pans (this is important for clean up purposes only). bake for 35-45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes to achieve an even color. you might also want to rotate pans about half way through baking in case your oven has some uneven heat spots. i like to take the mixture to a pretty deep golden color, but you should take it out when it has achieved your favorite level of golden brown. remember, also, that there will be a bit of residual cooking once mixture is removed from the oven.

 transfer to a large bowl and let cool a few minutes. add dried fruit while mixture is still warm and mix until evenly distributed.

allow to cool completely, breaking up large chunks as it cools if you prefer ( i like to leave it kinda chunky). store in an airtight container in the freezer for best results-that way your fruit won’t make your oats soggy. lasts indefinitely.

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Filed under breakfast

the budget

this time of year always seems to bring out the accountant in all of us. as the government attempts to figure out what we’ve all known all along, i.e. you can’t spend more than you have, we try to do that at home too. this weekend my brand new husband, houston, announced that we should try to go through the entire weekend without going to the grocery store while still managing to eat well. i thought this was a great idea, but what he didn’t know is that we actually do this type of thing all the time. if it is not obvious by now, i am doing most of the cooking, shopping, planning and prep of our meals. i am not complaining. on the contrary, it is one of the most satisfying things that i do. although you will find that i like to make food that takes hours simmering, requires that i learn a thing or two while doing it, and generally makes enough for 10-12 people so we can invite our friends to bring wine and beer, this weekend we will hunker down, regroup, and be creative emptying out the pantry.


our first meal after the declaration of a new budget was one houston’s famous egg scrambles. he is famous in his family for finding things in the fridge, chopping them up into bite-sized gems and throwing it all together in a scramble for breakfast, sometimes unashamedly cooked in the drippings the bacon just left behind in the pan moments before. what’s not to like? later that morning we found a beautiful cut of country style ribs in the freezer that we had purchased at the farmer’s market from one of our favorite meat farmers, Richardson Farms. houston sliced her up and put the gorgeous meat into the crock pot with garlic, onion, green chiles and some tomatillo salsa from the fridge. although it was very spicy, we were able to tone it down as we ladled the pork morsels, with their lovely chile gravy over some plain steamed rice. i will post the recipe as soon as i can get him to write down exactly what he did!

not to be outdone, the next morning i put together one of my favorites, huevos rancheros. having a well-stocked pantry makes challenges like this a cinch, really. living in texas also gives us a special advantage: ready access to latin foods. i heated up a favorite brand of  salsa from mexico, added some cumin and other spices with a touch of olive oil. then i topped sauteed corn tortillas, also kept well in the freezer, with some doctored up black beans, over easy eggs, the warm ranchero, with just a smattering of shredded cheese to round it out. i truly felt like the frugal gourmet. here’s the result:



we shall see what we come up with for sunday dinner but more than likely it will be, as it should be on a budget, leftovers which almost always taste better the second day anyway!

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Filed under breakfast, mexican