Bites

Recipes. Lunch box ideas. Must-try food. Where-to-eat.

Best Local Restaurants in Lufkin

Whenever I think of Lufkin, I think of short trails with lush green grass, lakes with cute bridges, and unbelievably great food! If you want to know Lufkin’s best local restaurants, I got the perfect list! These five picks are a must-try if ever you go to this small city in Deep East Texas.

  1. Clear Springs Restaurant

Let me just acknowledge the fact that the ambience inside gives you that 1960s vibe which most restaurants in Texas have. It’s cosy and it feels so spacious with their open concept.

Nested in the middle of the Piney Woods of East Texas, this Clear Springs location occupies what once was the first refrigerated warehouse West of the Mississippi River. Located next to a busy rail yard, this warehouse was ideal for getting food and supplies to people all over Texas and the United States. Stop in and see history on the walls and enjoy the Best Fried Catfish in Texas as voted by Texas Highways Magazine. (source)

One thing in their menu that just pops out is their “World Famous Onion Rings.” It costs $5.95 for small, and $8.95 for Texas size. Since it’s only me and Luis, we ordered small, which I think is a great choice because we were almost full even before we got to the main course. We are a fan of onion rings, and Clear Springs’ is one of the BEST that we’ve tasted! It is full of flavor and has the right amount of spices. You can hear the crunch from every bite!

For the main course, I ordered a seafood combo of (2) for $14.45. They also have a choice of (3) for $18.45 if ever you have the appetite for three different kinds. I got fried catfish and fried oysters. This meal is served with french fries, cole slaw, Pinto beans and hushpuppies. I love that their catfish is cooked to perfection; I didn’t taste the “muddy” feel that it gives off sometimes. It didn’t smell fishy at all, and their tartar sauce is perfect with it. Its fried oyster is also surprisingly good! It is so soft inside that it’s almost melting in my mouth. Paired with lemon and tartar dip, their oysters just take the spotlight. For the price, the serving size is not going to disappoint you. I’m not a fan of their cole slaw and beans, or maybe it just tastes bland to me.

Luis, on the other hand, ordered chicken fried chicken (Cowboy size) for $12.95. It’s chicken breast coated with special seasonings then topped with cream gravy. It is also served with a choice of two sides and Texas Toast. He chose beans and fries for the sides. He adores chicken. Everything chicken, actually. So when I asked if he likes it, I already know his answer.

Their staff are also accommodating and very friendly. Waiting time is more or less thirty minutes which we actually didn’t mind because we’ve heard a lot of good things about this place prior going here. I’m giving this 4 stars out of 5 because I love everything about this place! However, it is 30 minutes away from Lufkin and that is a hassle if we want to go there more often.

2. Ray’s Drive In Cafe

Where do locals get their burgers? Definitely here! We are food slaves of Whataburger. Our home is filled with Whataburger ketchups and condiments, and we’re not even kidding. However when in Lufkin, Ray’s Drive In Cafe just takes the VIP seat. Their burgers are the best we’ve tasted in TX! We’ve been to Houston, San Antonio, and all the way south, but nothing like their old-fashioned Ray’s Special!

Sorry for the messy photos. Honestly, we were hypnotized by the greasy scent of the meat that I forgot to take a photo before indulging! My lipstick even stained the bun, do you see it? lol! This is Chili hamburger by the way, which is good, but their Ray Special Burger is the best! It costs $5.00 when I ordered it the next time we went and I didn’t bother to take a photo. It’s THAT good you just want to eat it right there and then! No wonder it is their all-time bestseller.

Another thing they are famous for is their milkshake and ice cream floats! I don’t have enough tummy room for a milkshake so I just ordered a root beer float as my drink for $2.85. And OMG! I was surprised!

This is NOT root beer float, it’s a whole ice cream with root beer in it. They are very generous with their ice cream, I just couldn’t handle the good vibes this cup gave me! And the ice cream tastes like a vanilla “dirty” or “street” ice cream in PH, but this one’s a better version. I totally love it!

Their staff is ok, seems a little off when we first got there. I don’t know why, they are just not those extra friendly people which I don’t mind at all because I was only there for the food. I rate this 5 stars of 5 because of its proximity to our location, fast service, and their outdoor space. It’s pretty amazing to look at especially at night.

3. Auntie Pasta’s

OK, when we got here, I didn’t know that we would have a great and amazing dinner. Yes, we googled it and read some reviews, but since it’s a pasta house, I didn’t really expect much. After all, what’s with pasta other than pasta and sauce, right? I thought, there’d be nothing extraordinary. I didn’t bring my camera, my phone’s battery was at 15%. Luis and I just wanted to eat, basically.

And I regretted not bringing my camera with me! The atmosphere inside is incredible! Their staff wore colorful aprons, and greeted us with warm smiles. Their stairs inside, right after you enter the front door, is antique and appears elegantly unique. Their wall decor, lightings, and the whole atmosphere is just perfect! I can still recall it in my memory! Too bad no photos to prove it, but you definitely should go here! The outside look was such a tease, there was a stunning surprise inside!

I ordered chicken marsala. It consists of chicken medallions, mushrooms and green onions in a rich Marsala wine sauce. It is also served with fettuccine. I can definitely taste the sweet and tangy wine sauce. The aroma is tempting, like a glass of old wine, but with a fruity appeal to it. The chicken is tender and perfect with every bite. You can taste every ingredient and I’ve never tried any pasta like this. It’s full of palatable flavor that is just right in your tongue. It’s not overpowering, it’s perfectly rich! The sauce is not like other wine sauce that I tried. I let Luis try it even though he doesn’t like mushrooms, and he gave his thumbs up!

On the other hand, Luis tried their homemade spaghetti and meatballs. OK, this one, I tried it, too! I am not a fan of sour spaghetti but this tastes like a tomato freshly picked from a farm. I don’t know, it just satisfies your palate in a way that’s hydrating and flavorful. Their meatballs are pure goodness of meat! It may appear simple, but the sauce is just savory!

Before I forget, our appetizer was crab cake. I didn’t give justice to this one but it was plated perfectly. The sauce around it is well-seasoned and has a sharp kick in your tongue, more like gingery and vinegary. It’s served with lemon butter sauce and remoulade dressing. One of the best crab cakes I’ve had in my entire life!

I rate this 5 of 5 because Auntie Pasta’s is one hell of experience for me! I love cooking pasta and this place gave me a lot of inspiration to level up my pasta game. The place was perfect, location is somewhat far from Lufkin city area, but definitely worth it! The price, however, is a little expensive. We spent almost $40.00 excluding the tip. But is it worth it? YES. Are we going back? ABSOLUTELY!

4. Stringer’s Lufkin Bar-B-Q

First of all, this is not the best brisket I’ve ever tasted. (Sorry!) But you should take note that this place has been in Lufkin for 66 YEARS. Legendary, right!? It blew me away, too. This place is not only historical, it also means that this place had served several generations and even then, was able to manage keeping up with changing time.

When you browse their menu, you can see the words: “Juicy, fall off the bone tender, mouth watering, seasoned just right, cooked over open fire pork ribs.” And they are right for the most part. I ordered a brisket plate which costs $12.00, I’m not really sure. But it is around that price range. I like the smokiness and tenderness of the meat. However, it’s not the only one that caught my attention. Their beans are extraordinary! It’s a must-try for the sides! I know others won’t love the sweetness of it but that’s what makes it stand out. I finished the whole thing and didn’t even have to ask for a to-go box! Also, the pickles are fresh and crunchy and cleanses your palate just right.

Another local favorite is their fried rolls.

Immediately after we ordered, these golden rolls hit our plates. They are buttery and soft like a cotton inside. They come with little packets of honey which we tried and boy, it was good! I thought I’m eating a dessert already. The texture is donutty but has more resistance when you chew it. It’s pretty heavy for a starter so we set some aside for after our main order. But we had a hard time, though, because you just can’t help but take another piece.

I’ll give this place a 4 of 5 because I think this place has way more potential than how it is performing right now. The staff are friendly and the vibe inside is homey. Most orders are to-go, and I think it’s because of their old tables and chairs. They should get an upgrade/renovation soon, or not, since it’s an iconic place. Well, as long as the tummy is happy!

5. Dolli’s Diner

“Always fresh, always friendly, the Dolli’s Diner way!”

We found ourselves eating brunch in this cute cafe near University area in Nacogdoches while we’re strolling around. I thought it’d be the usual American diner, but lo and behold, this 1950s style diner stunned us with their fresh selections of sandwiches. The fun vibe in this place is prominent. Colorful walls and memorabilia added character to the place.

Their serving is HUGE; I wasn’t able to eat it all. I even asked for help as Luis tried to finish mine. I got Tex-Mex burger with green chili, avocado, and pepper jack cheese. It is a hand-pattied fresh ground beef on a toasted bun. Served with lettuce, onion, pickle and my choice of fries or onion rings. For $9.00, it’s a fair deal.

Luis ordered his usual bacon cheeseburger which consists of bacon & cheddar, swiss, american, or pepperjack cheese. It’s priced at $9.00 as well.

I personally love this place for its relaxed and friendly atmosphere. It’s a casual place that offers you that home cooked food you always crave for. You can also build your own burger with (3) toppings of your choice for only $10.00. It also comes with homemade chili sauce for an extra $2.00.

I am giving this place a 4 of 5 because while the food is great, their sweet tea is not my type. I don’t know if it’s the way it’s sweetened or just the general taste of it. But overall, this place should be included in your list!


So there you go! Your five best local restaurants in Lufkin.

I’ve always believed that in order for you to know a place, you should try their local food. And we did! Not only did we savor Lufkin’s culture, these dishes also made me understand the authentic Lufkin living which transcends to their laid-back vibe with bold and classic kick.

Did you like this list?

Which one appealed to you the most?

Let me know in the comments!

Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta

 

Ingredients

8 ounces Linguine Pasta

2 Tablespoons olive oil

6 Tablespoons butter

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 pound medium shrimp

salt and pepper to taste

4 cups baby spinach

½ cup parmesan cheese

2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped

4 lemons

 

Instructions

1. In a large pot, cook the pasta in boiling water according to package directions. 10 minutes is usually the magic number that works for me. Add 2 tbsp salt and cooking oil. Salted water flavors the pasta from the inside out as the pasta absorbs the water, leading to tastier pasta. When it comes to adding olive oil, there are different opinion about this. Here's what I learned from watching Food Network when it comes to putting oil in your pasta water:

Rule of thumb: If you are making a thick sauce- including tomato paste, creamy mushroom, lots of cheese- for your pasta, DO NOT put oil in pasta water. It will prevent your pasta from absorbing your sauce. If your sauce is olive oil-based, YOU CAN ADD olive oil in your pasta water.

 

2. Drain and set aside.

3. Using the same pan, heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant.

4. Add the shrimp and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the shrimp start to turn pink.

5. Add spinach and cook until wilted.

6. Add the pasta back to the pot with the remaining butter, parmesan, and parsley. Still until mixed and butter is melted.

7. Add the lemon juice before serving and serve while hot.

Let me know if you tried this recipe. 🙂

How we sprinkled some Christmas vibes away from home

Leaving home is no feat. And spending holidays without your people? It's awful. Homesickness will haunt your core. Stress, anxiety, and loneliness will be your three enemies when dealing with constant longing. 

Doing travel nursing is one of the best decisions I've made, and I don't know any other career path that is more appropriate for me than what I have right now. However, one major downside of it is being away from your comfort zone. That doesn't get to my nerves anymore because I've been working overseas for three years now. And I love it. Luis, on the other hand, had never left his hometown before we ventured into travel nursing. So it's natural for him to feel more homesick than I do.

This Christmas is his first Christmas away from home. This Christmas is also the same holiday that I'm not in my permanent flat. But that doesn't mean we don't get to experience Christmas, because love find ways. Lol, cheesy❤️

This photo was taken from my permanent flat. I bought some Christmas-themed pieces last November. During that time, I was still convinced that we'd be celebrating our Christmas in the valley. But, here we are in Lufkin just a month after! 😂

I was planning to buy some Christmas lights, at least, to have something in our temporary crib but Luis doesn't like the idea of it because it'd take some space when we move again. And he's right.

So what did we do, really?

Here are some ways to put extra holiday ambience to your temporary home:

  1. Light up those scented candles


Aside from its relaxation properties, candles can also set the mood in your home. While you can choose essential oils and fragrance sprays over candles due to fire hazard reasons, they have been known as Christmas symbol for ages. The warmth it gives to a certain place is just so homey!

We chose Pine and Apple&Evergreen scents because they are Christmas related. My other favorite candle scents are pumpkin waffle (You should try this one!) and vanilla caramel. Get yours here.

Now, you might read some negative effects of scented candles, like it might cause cancer, asthma, those kinds of stuff. (Refer to Huffington Post)

According to Anne Steinemann, an environmental pollutants expert who is a professor of civil engineering and the chair of sustainable cities at the University of Melbourne, certain candles may emit numerous types of potentially hazardous chemicals, such as benzene and toluene. They can cause damage to the brain, lung and central nervous system, as well.

“I have heard from numerous people who have asthma that they can’t even go into a store if the store sells scented candles, even if they aren’t being burned,” Steinemann added. “They emit so much fragrance that they can trigger asthma attacks and even migraines.”

Researchers at South Carolina State University tested both petroleum-based paraffin wax candles and vegetable-based candles that were non-scented, non-pigmented and free of dyes. Their 2009 report concluded that while the vegetable-based candles didn’t produce any potentially harmful pollutants, the paraffin candles “released unwanted chemicals into the air,” said chemistry professor Ruhullah Massoudi in a statement.
“For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma,” Massoudi said.

BUT

The National Candle Association refutes these claims, stating in a comment to The Huffington Post: “The safety of scented candles is backed by decades of research, fragrance testing and a history of safe use. The fragrances approved for candle usage — whether synthesized or ‘natural’ — do not release toxic chemicals. Health and safety studies are conducted for fragrance materials used in candles, including toxicological and dermatological tests.”

2. Prepare your favorite holiday treat


For us, it's Christmas meltaway cookies. Meltaway cookies are a soft, lightly sweet shortbread cookie that literally melts away in your mouth.  Okay, I didn't bake this one. I got ours from Walmart.

Cookies are Luis' favorite treat. And having ready to eat cookies in our kitchen brings wonders to his mood. Lol. I don't like baking in general so I don't have any go-to ingredients for this. But I was able to search one that matches what we got so HERE:

Yield: 20 cookies

Ingredients

Cookies:

¾ cup butter (1½ sticks, or 14 Tbsp), room temperature

½ cup powdered sugar

½ cup cornstarch

1 tsp vanilla

¼ tsp salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

Glaze:

1½ cups powdered sugar

3 to 4 Tbsp milk

¼ tsp vanilla or almond extract

Optional:

red & green sprinkles

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment cream the butter with the powdered sugar and cornstarch. Add vanilla. Mix well.

3. Combine the salt and flour. Add to the batter. Mix until dough clumps together.

4. Scoop cookie dough onto silicone lined baking sheets. Flatten dough balls with the bottom of a measuring cup dipped in powdered sugar.

5. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 to 12 minutes until just set. Do not over-bake.

6. Whisk together the ingredients for the glaze adding extra milk 1 tsp at a time until desired consistency. (Keep it slightly thick, a little milk goes a long way.) Spoon on top of cooled cookies.

7. Immediately shake sprinkles on top of wet glaze. Allow glaze to harden. Store cookies in an airtight container up to 5 days.

3. Have a sip of some peppermint drink


What goes with cookies? Milk chocolate drink. And it should be Peppermint! Or else it's just another chocolate drink without the Christmas spirit. lol.

Sorry for the burnt mallows, I just like it toasted (for more caramel flavor). This is by far my favorite experimental drink I've made. I bought peppermint candies, crushed and sprinkled them on top of my Swiss Miss Chocolate drink with marshmallows. This hot drink is perfect before sleeping! We usually drink this after work so we can have a good rest.

Also, I got the idea from Ihop's chocolate drink.

4. Play your Christmas playlist

Click here for the Playlist that we play every morning.
Luis also plays Christmas songs from Youtube. It became a habit that we seriously enjoyed. Although he gets annoyed when I sing along. 😅

Okay, this may not be suited for the holiday vibe of this post but I just find it poetic. The timing is just perfect:

As BBC News reported and Michael’s publicist confirmed, George Michael died Christmas Day at age 53. He is the star beyond the iconic song, Last Christmas.

Mind blowing, right? Of all the days, of all the holidays, he died on Christmas day. We've played this song endless times! I even did my knock knock joke (song related) to Luis!

Knock knock!

Who's there?

December 25,2015

December 25,2015 who?

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart

Knock knock!

Who's there?

December 26,2015

December 26,2015 who?

But the very next day, you gave it away

Knock knock!

Who's there?

2016

2016 who?

This year, to save me from tears

Knock knock!

Who's there?

Luis

Luis who?

I'll give it to someone special

❤️

You just never know when your last Christmas will be. But maybe his spirit knew. And isn't a good time to go? With high spirits everywhere, carolers in the streets, happy scenes scattered in malls and in homes, such a good time to be alive, too! It's just me and my poetic self talking. Don't mind it.

5. Order a Holiday special at your favorite restaurant

If you don't plan to cook, go to your favorite restaurant and order their Holiday special on Christmas morning.

We didn't have the time to roam around because we worked both Christmas eve and Christmas night. So we figured going to our favorite breakfast place will do. And of course, don't have to guess, it's Ihop!

Because pancakes!

Annddd that's about it for this holiday post.

Just kidding. Last but not the least:

6. Gift giving

These gifts are actually from his family. And we love everything in this box!

From cookies to shoes to leggings and pens, they sure know how to make it personal. You see, it's not about expensive gifts. It may be cliche to say this, but it is really the thought that counts. This year, I gave him a leather jacket. He didn't bring one going here because he never thought it'll be cold this season, considering Lufkin's still Texas. Good thing, he left his jacket in my flat and I thought of bringing it with me. That jacket though is not as appropriately insulated as the one I bought. And honestly, he asked for that gift. Practicality goes a long way, they say. We went to Houston and roamed around Galleria mall and found one that suits him best at Macy's. It's INC hooded jacket with removable hood, drawstring closure. Its original cost is $225, but we got it for only $95.90! If you want to purchase one for you with the same discount, go ahead and click >>this<<< and enter code: JOY upon checkout.

Could you guess what he gave me?

The art of fixing what I thought I never needed. Okay, that's too dramatic.

Last September, we went to HEB after our cruise getaway, and unfortunately, I dropped my phone against a metal bar  at the bottom of the ice cream stall. My screen was broken (and it's not the tapered glass you guys!). So for three months, my phone has cracks all over it, I sometimes chip my thumbs. So when we went for gift shopping, we stopped by CELLTECH. It is a one stop for your repair needs, from cellphones, to tablets to laptops. They also specialize in carrying unique and trendy cellphone accessories. They have two trained professionals who patiently assisted us in finding the right case for my phone.

It's almost closing time (0930PM), and I thought they won't accept my phone anymore, but props to their tech team! They repaired it for only 10 minutes. It costs $235, all in all, including my new phone case which is shock and water-resistant. I didn't ask for a gift so my Luis, being the thoughtful guy that he is, paid for everything. I volunteered to pay for the case but he insisted to pay the whole amount. Here is the breakdown: $150 for repair, $60 for the phone case, and the remaining $10 for taxes. The moral of the story: Don't ever drop your phone! And invest in tapered glass! You just never know when your phone's going to give up on you and your tantrums. Lol.

My 2016 Christmas is different from my other Christmases. Last year, I celebrated it with my family and friends in the Philippines. It was fun-filled and I was hyper most of the time. This year, it was quiet and relaxed. Plus, I was with Luis and Pumpkin. During my **single** ages aka boring years, I'd always wish to celebrate this season with someone I love. You know, sharing a cup of warm drink on this cold and cuddle weather. This year is THAT year. All those years of waiting and praying and hoping that someone is out there waiting for me to be his other half, they just made sense. Love is truly worth the wait.

Christmas time is that time of the year when you acknowledge Christ's presence in your life. Isn't he the reason for this season? Aside from the things that everybody look forward to- gifts, travel and all- we should keep in mind that Christmas is never about the physical things. It's about the never-ending grace from our creator. We live because He died for us and our sins thousands of years ago. We love because He first loved us. We give because He had given us everything. We forgive because He had forgiven us even before we commit our earthly sins. (Related post: Christmas story)

If ever you don't celebrate Christmas, for whatever reason, please know that my happy soul is reaching out to you! It may be Happy Hannukah to you, or just another ordinary day. I don't know, but I want you to feel that wherever you are, whatever season you are in right now, you are loved and adored!

How did your December 25th go? Share your story!

How to make Tostada (the lazy version)

I am always looking for options to simplify cooking and preparing food. I’d rather sleep most of the time than roleplay chef because of my demanding work. But one Saturday night, I found myself craving for Tostada.

Tostada is a Spanish term meaning “toasted.” According to some of my Mexican co-workers, it’s basically fried tortilla. When you have tortilla that is close to its expiration date, you can just fry them and make a set of tostada. The tortilla is fried in boiling oil until it becomes golden, rigid and crunchy, rather like a slice of toasted bread. That way, you don’t contribute to America’s oversupply of leftovers.

Is it just fried tortilla? Actually no.

Tostadas are a dish on their own in Mexico and the American Southwest. Mostly, the toppings used are the same as with tacos, known as “guisados”; beans, cheese, sour cream, chopped lettuce, sliced onions, and salsa are mainstays that may be spread on a tostada, which is then topped with diced and fried meat, usually chicken or pork. They are also popular with seafood such as tuna, shrimp, crab, chopped octopus, and ceviche. 

Sounds like a lot of preparation time right? As they say, the lazy ones always find an easier route. 😂

Here are the ingredients that I bought straight from Walmart:


From left to right, top to bottom: Old El Paso Tostada shells (12 pcs), Rotisserie chicken, Marketside shredded lettuce, Eden Organic Refried Black beans, Cacique Crema Mexicana (sour cream), and Kraft Mexican cheddar jack. All these are under $15, including another box of tostada shells. It serves up to six to eight people.

Prep:

1. Microwave beans according to instructions. I heated mine for two minutes.

2. Dice the chicken. This is the most time-consuming part of it. So maybe if you can find cooked chicken tenders, it’ll be easier. It’s perfect for leftover meats- Shrimps, beef, porkchops. You can tostada almost everything!

3. Assemble. This is real easy if you know the basics of layering: just don’t mess it up.

In order:

Tostada (of course)

Beans

Lettuce

Chicken

Cheese

Sour cream

You can also add salsa or even hot sauce if you prefer a spicy version.

Here’s the finished product:


Luis liked it as much as I did! Super yuuummm. And it’s really easy to make. It’s good for appetizer but we ate this for dinner while watching Lost on Netflix. Filled us right up!

As what I’ve said, this is the lazy version. There are much more complicated recipes of Tostadas in the internet. And I bet they’re tastier, too! But we enjoyed this one so I guess it’s win-win. ❤️

The art of making salad

I’m not really the health-conscious kind of person. I know it’s ironic that I belong to healthcare team and not religiously observe balanced diet and proper exercise. I won’t even try to rationalize my food preferences- first off, I loovve pizza… annnd BURGERS. Who doesn’t? I also share the world’s addiction to sweets. And being Asian, I can eat rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No holding off. So yeah, that sums up my food obsession.

This past month, though, it finally came to my senses that I’m gaining a lot of weight. I work graveyard so I can blame that to my slowing metabolism. But I know for certain that my food choices are terrible, in a way that it’s tasty but sinful. I sometimes cook for a ‘less sinful’ alternative but I find it hard to fit food prep in my schedule. If I work four nights straight, I’d rather sleep than cut meats and slice veggies. So I went grocery shopping for healthy options, and I found this salad brand that really surprised me. I thought, maybe, I can try having it as my lunch at work. I tried it the whole week I was working, and from a meat-lover, I converted to being a salad enthusiast real quick. Lol.

Here are some Taylor Farms salads that I got! My favorite is Ranch Chicken! Ya’ll should try it.

I really wanted to provide a version of salads for you so I googled some easy steps for ya’ll to enjoy!

 

What you need:

Lettuce (or spinach if you want)

Veggies you love (bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers)

Meat (grilled chicken bits, tuna, bacon)

Toppings (cheese, nuts, croutons, avocado)

Dressing (vinaigrette, ranch, thousand island)

  1. Wash lettuce in cold water. This is to prevent it from being soggy. Dry it with some paper towels.
  2. Slice your meats and veggies into cubes. Makes for an easy packing, in case you want to bring it for lunch like what I always do!
  3. Toppings are what make your salads look pretty. LOL. I personally want croutons and nuts because it adds crunch and crisp to every bite!
  4. Only put your dressing when you’re already ready to eat your salad. Or you’ll risk having a very sad and soggy salad. I’ve made this mistake before and I had the ugliest salad ever 🙁 So don’t try, I warned you!
  5. There are many available salad dressings that you can play with, but I copied this simple recipe from WikiHow in case you want to make your own version of balsamic vinaigrette:

    The ratio of oil to acid is often 3:1. This means for every three tablespoons of oil, you would use one tablespoon of acid. A basic dressing is simple and painless.

Mix:

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon any variety fruit jam or jelly (optional)

 

  • For dressings or vinaigrettes, the gold standard of oils is extra virgin olive oil. You can also use canola oil, peanut oil, avocado oil, or sesame oil for Asian-style dressings.
  • The gold standard of acids is lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. Also, any citrus juice (orange juice and grapefruit juice) works well with vinegar (apple cider or white wine vinegar).
  • Whisk olive oil and lemon juice together (about 30 seconds). Add salt and pepper. Whisk the jam or jelly into the emulsified dressing (optional). Serve!

I like that salads are easy to make. It fills you right up, it’s healthy, and Taylor Farms offers a wide range of options. So there, my new favorite lunch! Wuhuu!

35 Uses of Apple Cider Vinegar You Never Knew About

Ever wondered why your mom always keeps Apple Cider Vinegar? For so many reasons, of course! Skin remedies, health issues, and a lot more. I compiled 35 uses of ACV that you never knew about! This post is print friendly, so feel free to have a copy. Not too traditional? Share this post on your social media to spread the life hack that might just save somebody's day. 

  1. Cures bad breath

  2. Cures acne

  3. Removes dandruff

  4. Removes warts

  5. Relieves sore throats

  6. Clear sinuses

  7. Lower cholesterol

  8. Prevent diabetes

  9. Manages itchy skin (caused by bug bites, poison ivy, jellyfish)

  10. Treats sunburn pain

  11. Clears lymph nodes

  12. Weight loss

  13. Adds fluffiness to cookies and cakes

  14. Acts as chemical-free home cleaner

  15. Removes feet odor

  16. Whitens teeth

  17. Deodorant

  18. Removes hair grease

  19. Lessens bruises

  20. Facial toner

  21. Stomach soother

  22. Stops cats from biting cords

  23. Gets rid of hiccups

  24. Fruit fly trap

  25. Beats exercise exhaustion

  26. Untangles hair

  27. Prevents tooth decay

  28. Makes rice fluffy

  29. Prevents acid reflux

  30. Weed cleaner

  31. Fruits and veggies wash

  32. Stamps out stink in the room

  33. Keeps pet flea-free

  34. Improves complexion

  35. Natural aftershave

Why wait for the next grocery shopping? Buy one now:

Spicy Tortilla Wraps

Here is a simple lunch idea for spicy-lovin’ humans out there! It’s so easy to make with few ingredients to consider. Let’s start!

Ingredients:

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp sriracha (adjust according to preference)

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup squash, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 cup canned chickpea

1 flour tortilla

1/2 cup spinach

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 slice of cheese

Directions:

  1. In a small skillet, stir-fry garlic and squash over medium heat.
  2. Cook until squash is tender. Season with paprika.
  3. Add the chickpeas, lemon juice and yogurt. Cook until heated through. Set aside.
  4. Heat tortilla in a skillet, just enough for it to form brown patches. Make sure not to burn a side. Place on a plate.
  5. Place the chickpea mixture and spinach in the center. You can add cheese to make it creamier.
  6. Fold and roll the tortilla.

Smoky Chicken Carbonara

 
Preparation time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 45 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsps butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 4 tsps parsley flakes
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped (optional)
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast cut in halves
  • ¼ pound ham (optional)
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup white wine (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 can of cream/milk
  1. Cook the bacon and ham in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown. You can remove them from skillet with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. I usually just throw the oil from bacon fats, but others might want to reserve it instead of using butter.
  2. Spice up your chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in the skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken breast until no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to cutting board and tent with foil. Rest chicken for 5 minutes before slicing. Set aside.
  3. Using the same skillet, stir garlic and ground black pepper until fragrant. Pour wine into skillet; cook at a simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Whisk Parmesan cheese, eggs, and cream/milk together in a bowl. Slowly stream wine mixture into the Parmesan mixture while whisking repeatedly.
  5. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Put 1 tablespoon oil in the pot so that the spaghetti won’t clump together. Cook pasta in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, about 10 minutes. Remove water from the pot and make sure to reserve ½ cup.
  6. Stir bacon, chicken, and wine mixture into the spaghetti. Thin sauce with reserved pasta water as desired.
  7. Garnish with 4 teaspoons of parsley flakes to add appeal.

Enjoy eating!

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Must-try signature San Antonio food

1. Biga on the Banks

Great unique restaurant where you can enjoy an exceptional dinner on the balcony overlooking the river! Suggested by a business associate, this is an upscale experience of game meat. Nice wine selection, excellent apps (jerk scallops with grits), grapefruit salad and lamb. Pro tip: Take full advantage of their 4 course dinner with wine pairing.

2. Bliss

Every item is prepared with creativity and superb execution. Lovely atmosphere. A great place for a special evening. Food and service were excellent. Portions aren't overwhelming like most restaurants. Wedge salad was crisp and fresh. Scallops are delicious. Beef tenderloin was amazing and the potato gratin was very good. Key lime pie will melt in your mouth! Pro tip: Make reservations, this place isn't very large and fills up quickly.

3. Chama Gaucha Brazilian Steakhouse

This is a typical Brazilian steakhouse in which they come and serve the meat at your table. There is a large salad, cold meats and a variety of cheeses area. Staff are amazing and super friendly. Great atmosphere for business meetings, date or just commemorating a birthday. Pro tip: Don't waste too much plate space on salads since it will fill your belly and you won't have enough space left to try everything.

4. Wildfish Seafood Grill

This is one place where they know their seafood. They cook everything the right way, bringing all the flavors together. The shrimp dishes are cooked to perfection, still crunchy but cooked all the way. The swordfish which can easily be overcooked was done perfectly. The only thing negative thing about this place is the noise. Because it is very popular, it is also a very noisy place to dine. If you want a quiet place to dine, this is not the place. Pro tip: Ask for Chef's selection, and try their Bananas Foster.

5. The River edge's Cafe

If you Go to the old established Hilton Hotel at the Riverwalk, you will find this very special place where you can get excellent cocktails! It's a little bit outside the Center of the City walk, so it is not packed like many other places. Great mexican food, delicious guacamole as starter. The atmosphere is so inviting and a fun place to people watch. Pro tip: Try their Mac and cheese because it's a spot on! Their Chicken and grits, too!

There are many other food places that you can try in SA, but these five are dear to me! Oh wait, don't forget to visit Tower of the Americas! It is quite expensive but the view is just spectacular. Wouldn't trade that for anything, especially when it's dinner with my boyfie. 🙂

Relive your steakhouse experience using these cookbooks:

5 Quick, Easy, Morning Munch

Who really has that much time to prepare breakfast? Not me. And if I do have time, I still choose to ignore my alarm clock, or snooze it as many times as it would let me. Over time, I developed a certain skill: how to prepare food with eyes closed  half awake. These breakfasts are easy to prepare and would only need a couple of ingredients. Here are my top five favorites that never fail to fuel up an extra boost for my daily hustle:

  1. SANDWICH

sandwich

Who doesn’t love mom’s carefully prepared sandwich? By this time, you’ll realize that your mom really knows time wonders by handing you this ultimate go-to breakfast. Neat and yummm.

How to make one: All you have to do is get a bread of your choice (bun or flat bread), slice your tomatoes, grab some lettuce and cheese, spread the mayo and get a piece or two of your smoked ham, bolognese, or salami, or all of it if you love proteins that much. Make it presentable for an Instagram-worthy post. You go #foodie.

2. BACON-WRAPPED ASPARAGUS

bacon asparagus

Want a healthy meal? This is not it. Because BACON. However, putting asparagus in the picture makes it less guilty.

How to cook a bunch: Heat up your pan until it’s ready for olive oil. Rinse your fresh-cut asparagus while waiting for the pan to get hot. Wrap a strip of bacon around each asparagus, and viola, ready to fry. Such an easy treat for everyone who loves bacon.

3. OMELETTE

omelette

Colorful, easy to prepare, and healthy. Plus it offers a variety of flavors especially when your taste buds are having some mood swings. Omelette it is!

How to beat this: Choose your ingredients. If you want a veggie inspired breakfast, you can grab your spinach, tomatoes, and bell peppers. If you’re craving for meats, then get your ham, sausage, or bacon from the fridge. The key to a good omelette is your egg. Yes. Your egg. Beat that, baby! If you’re in for a fluffy meal, mix some mayonnaise with your egg and beat to perfection. Be careful not to put too much mayo though. A teaspoonful is good enough. Add salt according to your preference.

Heat up your pan and pour a little oil on it. Make sure it’s hot enough before you put your ingredients. You can saute your garlic and onions first before others. This will release aroma that’s so appetizing and inviting. Mix in other ingredients, on low fire, and be careful not to burn them. You’d know when, I swear.

Pour in your beaten eggs until it takes the form of your pan. Once it reaches your desired doneness, flip the half like a boss. YOU GOT THIS.

4. BANANA PANCAKES

banana pancakes

How cool it is to make a pancake without flour. Yes, you read that right. Aside from it’s healthy, it’s also mouth-watering, and you’ll just can’t get enough.

How to chef it: Make sure your bananas aren’t too ripe or raw. Get three to four bananas, mash them in a bowl, and add 1 egg. You can add a dash of sugar, and a spoonful of butter. Heat your pan, and spray a little oil. By this time your batter has already reached a fine amount of consistency, then prepare it like any other pancakes you’ve made before. Top it with strawberries or blueberries, or even slices of banana. No judgment here. EASY!

5. TACOS

tacos

Looking a solution to your leftovers? What can go wrong with morning tacos? A balanced meal is sometimes the only thing you need, and THIS nailed it.

How to bring back the YUM: Get your leftover fried chicken or beef. Shred it to fine pieces, slice some onions, and tomatoes. Heat up your skillet, and saute your onions with your meats. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can add a little mayo to give it a desirable texture and sour taste. Make sure your onions are caramelized before you take it out from your pan. Grab your flour tortilla, and put them in it. You can add avocado, tomatoes, and cilantro. Easy grab!

Do you have a personal breakfast recipe that you want to be included here? Comment below!

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