July 17, 2017

Houston Cupcake Round-Up, The Sequel

It's been five years since I last did a cupcake round-up for Houston. It's hard to believe that I ended back up in Houston with a different job and am now finding myself moving from the city again. I had a great two years back in the Bayou City and explored a whole new batch of cupcake bakeries.
Some Thoughts:
  • 13 bakeries were visited in the past two years. 19 were visited on my last Houston hunt 6 years ago.
  • the average price of a cupcake was a little over $3
  • since the last Houston cupcake hunting from 2011-2012, 6 of the bakeries have closed down, including my favorite cupcake at Sugarbaby's Cupcake Boutique
  • half of the cupcakes I sampled were great! (that seems like a good percentage to me)
  • I revisited (but didn't blog about it) Crave Cupcakes, and they are now was more fantastic than they were when I first sampled their cupcakes 6 years ago. 
Chung's Best Cupcakes in Houston

Best Frosting:
Strawberry Ganache from The Sweet Boutique

Best Looking Cupcake:
Chunky Monkey from Treat!

Most Unique Flavor:
Cannoli from Drew's Pastry Place

Cheapest Cupcake:
Dessert Gallery had the cheapest at $2.75

Most Expensive Cupcake:
Worst Cupcake:
The Ultimate Chocolate from Ooh La La Sweets suffered from a strange smell and bad flavor. 

Best Cupcake:
Tiramisu from Tout Suite was so flavorful, moist, fluffy and not too sweet---all I could ever ask for in a cupcake!

Runner Up:
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough from The Cupcake Cowgirls was a combo of several desserts in one and all the flavors worked together to create a not-too-sweet, tasty cake. 



July 12, 2017

Houston Bucket List, The Finale

I officially am moved out of Houston and spent a whirlwind week getting settled in Kansas City before heading out to Chicago for my annual summer trip. While I won't miss the scorching hot Houston summers, I will miss the city. xoxo

Here's the finale of my Houston bucket list:

The Sites:
(It may be hard to believe but I do actually go to places that don't involve eating).
I explored the pixel forest at the Museum of Fine Arts, toured the underground cistern turned art installation and roamed the Japanese Garden at Hermann Park.

Yoyo's Hot Dog:
A person I know in Houston declared Yoyo's Hot Dog the best thing he ever ate in Houston. It's such a bold statement so I made it my mission to grab one before I moved. The hot dog cart only emerges on the weekend nights in Rice Village to serve the drunk and hungry crowd and Twin Sista and I picked a non-hot/humid night to wait in line for a much sought-out hot dog. The dog was topped with a plethora of toppings: grilled and fried onions, honey mayo, curry ketchup, cream cheese, spicy mustard and sriracha. Twin Sista and I thought the toppings were competing with each other, which made the flavors muddled. It was good but definitely not the best thing I ever ate.

Michelin Starred Dim Sum:
Yauatcha, a London-based Michelin Star rated dim sum restaurant, opened its doors in Houston recently. My severe head cold wasn't going to stop me from enjoying the super delicious dim sum.

Ice Cream:
My friend Matthew and I continued our ice cream adventures with one final stop this year to Kamalan Bakery in Chinatown for an Instagram famous ice cream cone. Taiyaki is a Japanese fish-shaped cake that is typically filled with red bean but in this case it came with the option of red bean or custard and then topped with red bean/green tea/vanilla or plum ice cream and other sweet goodies. The cake was warm and combined with the ice cream made it as tasty as it looked.

Hot New Spots:
The swanky new bar Better Luck Tomorrow for cocktails and delicious bar food, King's BierHaus for German fried goodies and the best new burger in Houston (a shake shack inspired one) at FM Kitchen and Bar were all fun spots to hit before I departed.

Central Market:

I'm not kidding when I say I'll probably miss a grocery store the most when I leave Houston (ok, well second to tacos). Central Market is the ultimate foodie destination and they even just added in an insanely large olive oil department and chocolate bar. But their salad bar counter was the best place for hearty yet delicious salads.

Until next time, Houston!

June 27, 2017

All The Tacos

When I found out I was moving last November, I asked my fellow Houstonians what they would miss the most if they too were moving. Most people answered: TACOS! And so I made it my mission to eat as many tacos in my last seven months so I could savor the food I would miss the most when I leave the Lone Star State.

Taquerias are plentiful in Houston so I used this guide, recommendations from friends and the help of Yelp to guide me in my taco quest. And in case you were wondering, while not authentic, I prefer flour tortillas but I did order corn frequently and even the occasional whole wheat tortilla.

My Favorite Taco:
I fell in love with Torchy's Taco almost six years ago when I first ate them in Austin. While they're not the most authentic Mexican tacos, they are definitely the most delicious in my eyes. I was introduced last year to their secret menu and their taco of the month was always fun to explore. But I'll miss my favorites: baja shrimp and the dirty sanchez.

Authentic Holes in the Wall:
Cheap, small, spicy and full of flavor, Unos P'nches Tacos and Tacos Tierra Caliente serve amazing tacos that are no frills but utterly delicious. Their menus are similar in that they offer only 7 types of tacos that include pastor, fajita, barbacoa and even tongue.

Fusion Tacos:
The aptly named Fusion Taco and Velvet Taco make tacos with non-traditional fillings like tikka masala, shrimp and grits, falafel, etc.

Breakfast Tacos:
There's nothing more quintessentially Texan than consuming tacos for breakfast. I loved this article on the best breakfast tacos in the city and used it as a guide to help me find ones to eat in my remaining time here.

From the top to bottom: The new-kid-on-the-block Liberty Taco has a delicious Texas brisket/egg taco and Chilosos Taco House has pillowy flour tortillas that were so delicious paired with the salty sausage breakfast taco.

The Best Fish Taco:
Mom Chung can't stop talking about how great El Rey's fish tacos are: grilled and accompanied with a slaw and creamy habanero sauce. I couldn't agree more with Mom Chung.

Just Stinking Good Tacos:
Most Houston taquerias have a breakfast taco menu in addition to regular tacos. When I went to Tacos A Go Go and Tacodeli, I ordered both! Tacos A Go Go has splashier, ingredient-heavy tacos (one included tater tots!) that are excellent while Tacodeli has fewer ingredients per taco but are simply delicious and made from local and organic ingredients.

We all know what I'll ask to eat when I visit Houston in the future. Until then, I'll miss you tacos! xoxo

June 24, 2017

Waffling

I'm kind of new the waffling game but last year when my friend Sarah said she didn't want her waffle iron anymore, I gladly took hers off her hands. I've manage to use it only twice in the past year but before the movers came to take my stuff, I decided to use it one more time in my Houston kitchen.
Since I'm not much of a sweets-for-breakfast-type person, this article on savory waffles was well suited for me. I went with the zucchini waffle recipe and they were so filling and delicious. Since they needed a syrup substitute, I decided a runny yolk from a sunny side up egg would be perfect.
No waffling for me for a couple weeks while I wait for my goods to get delivered to me in Kansas City but I'll look forward to my next batch of waffles.

Zucchini Waffles adapted from King Arthur Flour, makes 4 batches of waffles
Ingredients:
nonstick cooking spray
use this basic waffle recipe but omit the vanilla extract and sugar from batter
2 small-medium zucchini, grated and squeezed of excess water
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 eggs
sliced avocado
Directions:
1. Preheat waffle iron and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Follow the waffle recipe above and then gently fold in grated zucchini and shredded cheese to the batter after adding in the egg whites (after step 5).
3. Add a 1/3 cup of the batter into the waffle iron and cook for 2-3 minutes or until it stops steaming.
4. While waffles are cooking, cook up sunny-side up eggs in a frying pan.
5. Top waffle with egg and sliced avocado.
6. Enjoy!


June 13, 2017

Cowgirl Cupcakes

It's only fitting that the last Houston cupcake bakery on my list comes complete with a very Texan name: The Cupcake Cowgirls. Located northwest of Houston in Cypress, the former owner happens to be a winner of Cupcake Wars in 2012.
There were 10 flavors available today and having not had a chance to eat lunch this afternoon when I stopped by, it was hard to control myself from ordering them all. I selected a chocolate chip cookie dough and each cupcake is $3.50.
I was surprised to find out that the vanilla cupcake, which was topped with a cookie, also had a cookie dough ball tucked inside the cake. It wasn't too sweet and the cake and frosting were simple, which prevented it from competing with the flavorful cookie and cookie dough. I opted to take off the cookie to make it easier to eat and also scraped off 75% of the frosting. But all-in-all, it was the perfect afternoon treat that acted more like an appetizer to my eventual late lunch meal.
There are a couple more cupcake places on my radar but The Cupcake Cowgirls was officially the last bakery on my list. Now it's on to packing and trying to cross off a few more bucket list items.

The Cupcake Cowgirls
10750 Barker Cypress Road
Cypress, Texas

June 9, 2017

Sweets in Sugar Land

It's three weeks until move-out day and with the time I have left here in Houston, I am trying to cross off the last couple of spots on my cupcake bakery list. I found it pretty amusing that I would travel to the suburb, Sugar Land, to get some cupcakes today.

The Sweet Boutique has been on my radar for a couple years ever since I saw it was #89 on The Daily Meal's 101 Best Cupcakes in America in 2015. The bakery specializes not only in cupcakes but also custom cakes, cake pops, macarons and cookies. Each cupcake is $3.
I ordered a pistachio cupcake but my eye also caught a beautiful chocolate ganache on top of a strawberry cupcake so I ordered that one as well. I told Twin Sista I would be cupcaking today and she said she would only be interested in sampling them if they looked good. I really hoped they wouldn't disappoint..
What a relief! The Sweet Boutique really delivered on their cupcakes; both were so delicious! The pistachio cupcake was topped with a light frosting and when eaten with the nutty cake, it made for a tasty bite. The ganache on the strawberry cake, which Twin Sista described as luxurious looking, was just as delectable as it looked. It was rich and had a deep chocolate flavor and maybe overpowered the mild strawberry cake, but nonetheless was really delicious. 
The best part about these cakes was that they weren't too sweet. It was kind of hard for me to save some for Twin Sista to sample later but I was able to restrain myself from gobbling up both cupcakes.

The Sweet Boutique
Town Square
2270 Lone Star Drive
Sugar Land, Texas



May 31, 2017

Wedding Weekend Adventures

Twin Sista got married!!! We went back home to the burbs of Chicago to celebrate and spent the weekend filled with lots of love and happiness. Congrats Twin Sista and Stanley!
Pre-wedding Fun:
The whole Chung Clan headed to the Wrigley for the first time in probably a decade to cheer on the Cubs and stuff our faces with hot dogs. 

After Party:
The bride enjoys karaoke so I thought it'd be fun to set up a DIY karaoke party in the hotel. Luckily Dad Chung owns a microphone and an amplifier (when he likes to pretend he's a rockstar at home) so it was fairly easy to throw it together. KaraFun gives access to a large library of karaoke songs and they have a party pass for unlimited access for two days. Combined with some Chicago style pizza from Lou Malnati's, it was the perfect way to keep the festivities going.