Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Byte of Texas in A Few Photos

I had the pleasure of attending Byte of Texas this past weekend at the Bob Bullock Museum, here in Austin & I had so much fun!  And learned quite a few things as well.  The two day long affair was put on by the Austin Food Blogger Alliance & it did not disappoint.

It was a weekend to meet fellow food bloggers, try some delicious treats & most importantly learn from some of the best food writers in the biz.  Below are a few photos of some of the highlights of the event.  Unfortunately, my phone died so I couldn't take any pics of the dinner at Salty Sow, but take my word for it, the food was tasty, the drinks were refreshing & the atmosphere (& weather!) was killer. 

I can't wait to try out the awesome tips, tricks & approaches on the blog, so look for some great things to come!

A beautiful site as I walked into the Bob Bullock on Saturday morning.

Breakfast from Easy Tiger, Zhi Tea & Chameleon Cold-Brew

Mad Betty, Maggie Perkins, Mike Sutter & Michael Barnes speaking on 'Finding Your Own Voice.'

We got a great swag bag full of goodies, including some Wholesome Sweeteners samples!

Addie Broyles (right) interviewing Lisa Fain (left)

Vegan, gluten-free but delicious cupcakes from Skull & Cakebones served as a great snack on Sunday.

Chris Perez, Meredith Bethune, Veronica Meewes & Meghan McCarron discussing 'Writing for other Publications.'

A wonderful quote greeted me on my walk out of the Bob Bullock.  I couldn't agree more!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Making Deep South Austin Tastier: Independence Fine Foods

Have I mentioned before that we live in deep, deep South Austin?  It's not exactly the boonies, and we really are just a short drive from most of our favorite Austin restaurants, but finding tasty local places in our neighborhood, other than a few trailers with unpredictable hours, has been a little tough.  We tried a doughnut shop the first Saturday in our new home that we instantly regretted and the closest Chinese restaurant is not a good option.  At all.  So, when we are craving a bite out, we usually head out to greener pastures further North, but still South, to 78704 territory.  

A few weeks ago when Independence Fine Foods opened up a mere 5 minutes away, we were very hopeful.  Hopeful that maybe, just maybe this place would be delicious.  I am so glad to say, our wish came true.

Independence Fine Foods is delectable laid back gourmet.  Set up as a counter, with a daily dinner special and lunch/dinner sandwiches, burger and deli-style options.  It is great for a sit down dinner, or take out, which makes for quick but scrumptious weeknight meal.  On Friday we had dinner out on their picnic tables, & on Saturday we came back for take-out chicken salad & sides.  Both meals were fantastic. 

The empanada was one of the stunners of the evening.  The crust was rich and just soft enough, & that filling.  Oh man.  The green chile chicken filling was awesome & kept getting better with each bite.

We also tried a couple of salads from the deli case as appetizers.  The Asian Noodle Salad (left) was simple, but so. very. good.  It was so delicious that we got it again the next day.  The sesame dressing was a perfect compliment to the cold rice noodles & crunchy peanuts.   The CousCous & Roasted Squash Salad (right) was also a winner, with a little bit of quinoa & sweet potato mixed in, it reminded me of a cool Fall day.

We also had to try the dinner special for the evening.  Top round with sauteed spinach & mashed potatoes.  Yeah, that was yummy.  You could taste the freshness of the spinach, the mashed potatoes were nice & creamy & the beef was cooked so well.  I can't wait to try some of the other daily specials.

We topped our night off with Sunshine Cake, which lived up to it's name...I loved it.  The frosting reminded me of a childhood favorite, 7 Minute Frosting, but without all the extra sweetness, which my adult taste buds absolutely appreciated.

Everything morsel we tried was fun & fresh, & the service was top notch.  The staff was happy to talk about each dish we were interested in & they use a ton of local foods, which scores them extra points in my book.  We will be coming back soon, I can tell you that much.

Independence Fine Foods

1807 W Slaughter Ln., Ste. 100
Austin, TX 78748

Open Monday - Saturday, 7:00 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Frighteningly Fun Halloween Wreath

I LOVE Halloween.  It's such a fun holiday, filled with silliness and bright colors.  I don't usually dress up, but I love to deck out my house for the ghoulish night, including the front yard.  And what's better for the front door than a cute & colorful wreath?

This craft has a lot going for it: bold patterns, glow-in-the-dark spiders, glitter and it's a snap to make.  To prep, grab:

  • Foam wreath form
  • Fabric of your choice, about 1/4 yard for wrapping around the wreath, plus extra for hanger (both of the fabrics I used are from Jo-Ann's)
  • Wire spiderweb (I think this glittery number, with glow spiders attached, was at Dollar Tree)
  • Hot glue, you'll probably use a couple of sticks
  • Flowers of your choice (Both the purple striped stunner & the flowy polka dot flowers are from Michaels)
  • Scissors

Start by cutting your fabric into strips.  I liked the uneven, raw edge look, so I free handed my strips and didn't stress about them all being the same width.

Now, just make your way around the wreath form, glueing the end of the fabric strip to the back of the form, then wrapping around until reaching the other end of the strip, gliding that to the back and so on and so forth.

After completing the wreath, take your spiderweb and position it against the back, so that as many edges as possible are touching the wreath.  Make your way around the wreath, adding a big dollop of hot glue anywhere the web touches the wreath.

Flip your wreath around to the front, and arrange your flowers.  Taking care, hot glue your flowers to the front of the wreath.  I overlapped my flowers just a bit to make sure the flawy polls dot flowers layer how I wanted.

For a finishing touch, grab a scrap piece of fabric, wrap through the top of the wreath & tie to make an easy, colorful hanger.  A little scary, a little stylish, and so much fun!