Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival 2011

After regrouping from an impromptu night out on the town, Sunday afternoon we headed downtown to Waterloo Park for the 21st Annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival.

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The price of admission was 3 cans of non-perishables or a $5 donation to the Capital Area Food Bank.

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I can’t even tell you how many salsas and hot sauces we tasted. There were red ones, green ones, fruit-filled ones, ones that tasted like marinara sauce, and ones with ghost peppers that singed our taste buds.

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One of our favorites came from Indian Fig Offerings, Damas Ofertas Salsa, which will be coming to stores this November.

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Indian Fig Offerings presents to you the magic of Opuntia ficus-Indica, better know as the cactus pear. Packed with the sweet flavor of the cactus pear fruit and other savory ingredients in the form of a brilliant salsa. I excitedly unveil to you Damas Ofertas Salsa in all of its magnificent culinary powers.

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Some recommendations were to use it as a salad dressing, on sunny-side up eggs, and as a marinade for meats or veggies. Once she mentioned marinade, my mind immediately went to the pork chops I was cooking for dinner.

Sold.

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Another winner was Granddaddy’s Sweet Southern Heat hot sauce.

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It was a similar to bbq, but thinner and with a kick. Pretty damn tasty. We bought that one too.

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Two other items I wish I would have bought and didn’t: candied jalapenos & roasted pepper jelly from La Familia Salsa Company.

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I was pretty excited when I saw they sold both online – until I realized it would cost me $11 for shipping. I should have just bought it today at the festival.

After we had had all of the salsa and sauces we could handle, we headed over to the voting tent to vote for our favorites:

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Throughout the afternoon we desperately tried to stay hydrated, as Austin had blessed us with a stifling 111 degree day.

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And Brad made his sling useful by transforming it into a beverage holder:

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And on our way out of the festival, we further cooled down with shaved ice.

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What’s your favorite hot sauce?

House Wine–Happy Hour

Sundays are usually a pretty unimpressive day due to the sadness of the weekend being almost over. The best way to combat these negative feelings is to schedule a blogger/Twitter meetup mid-afternoon. So that is what we did!

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Carly & I met up with Brittany and Jeanette at House Wine, a small wine bar in downtown Austin off of Lamar. It boasts a fairly extensive wine list and various cheese options as well as hummus, olive spread, and a small dessert menu.

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On Sundays, all wine bottles opened on Saturday night are served by the glass at half price. Brilliant idea. Just brilliant.

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It wasn’t long before we were empty, and it was time for round 2.

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Waiting patiently for the next glass…

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The cheetahs were in their element; House Wine felt like home.

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Hunger set in, and we did what any normal person would do: order a giant plate of brie, with brown sugar and almonds.

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And then proceed to inhale it.

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Absolutely delicious. I’ve never met a plate of brie that I didn’t like.

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Lindsay met up with us as well, and after a bit of time passed by, everyone was ready to head home. We were excited to meet up with some fabulous ladies and enjoy affordable, delicious wine while having great conversation. All in all, it was an awesome afternoon.

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Carly and I decided we still had another glass of wine to conquer, and another cheese plate (with gouda & manchego) to devour.

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And then (because this seemed like another genius idea) we split one final glass of wine and ordered dessert.

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A brownie sundae, drizzled with port wine. Fantastic!

Before our departure, we lounged on the patio a bit, savoring the last few moments of our weekend.

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Carly posed with a cute little bird:

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And we listened to this gentleman jam out on his keyboard:

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We sadly left House Wine to head home. We couldn’t make it back to the house without stopping to pick up a bottle of wine to cap the night off with.

The party continued at the house:

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And Bo showed his true colors

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He won’t look at the camera because he doesn’t want to acknowledge that he has a drinking problem.

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Got him. BO – WE’RE ON TO YOU! We know you love a crisp sauvignon blanc on a hot summer afternoon…

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In true cheetah fashion, we’re now unwinding in front of the television. Watching the Real Housewives of New Jersey.

Personally, I can’t decide which show makes me more ashamed to be a Jersey girl: Jersey Shore or RHONJ. Either way, it’s pretty embarrassing.

How do you survive the Sunday blues?

Hot & Steamy 9

Saturday morning my alarm went off at 4:15 and I promptly hit snooze. Or so I thought. I actually shut the alarm off and didn’t wake up until nearly 6:00.

Whoops.

The plan was to be running by 5:30, so we would have been nearly 90 minutes behind schedule by the time we hit the trail. After a quick text exchange with Carly, we decided to move the run to Sunday. Again. Back to bed we went.

I had three alarms set for this morning to ensure history wouldn’t repeat itself. Of course, I woke up on my own two minutes before the alarm went off. When I finished getting ready and walked out of my bedroom, there was Carly, explaining she had overslept. Clearly us cheetahs love our sleep.  After getting our stuff together, we headed out.

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When we arrived at Town Lake at 5:30, the air was already exceptionally warm and thick with humidity. We were going to have our work cut out for us.

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Our pacing for the past two long runs was all over the charts, and felt the best way to remedy this was to run 3:1 intervals. And stop to take pictures.

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The intervals worked out really well, and although our average pace was slow (13:08) it was MUCH more consistent than our past runs. Thankfully it was very overcast this morning, but it was still hot as hell. We attempted countless photo ops together, but both looked like we were about to drown in our own sweat and die. Rather than subject you to trainwreck pictures, we stuck with scenic shots.IMG_0549

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One hour and fifty-eight minutes later, our nine mile run was complete. Next week, we’re officially in double digits – TEN!

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Our day now consists of inhaling mimosas, bagels and screwdrivers

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watching mindless TV

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and napping on and off.

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Pork is in the crockpot for pulled pork sandwiches tonight, and the house smells like heaven.

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Perfect day? I think so.

Running this town

It’s hard to believe with all the races we’ve completed, Carly and I have ran only two of them together. And we’ve never ran together purely for fun or during training season.

Until this morning.

4am came early, but we sucked it up and were on our way downtown by 5. On the schedule was 7 miles and we were determined to make it happen.

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Runtex has a couple water stops set up on the Town Lake Trail, and we were more than appreciative.

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Those dark circles are mucho attractive. So are my geriatric shoes.

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7 miles = done! I’m not even going to tell you how long it took us, but I will say we took walk breaks often. No need to go hardcore on our first “longer” run. (Paula, I know your “short” run was twice the distance of our “long” run haha) We pushed it pretty hard while we ran, and recovered with short spurts of walking.

Of course afterwards, we were dying to have caffeine pump through our veins. The plan was to hit up Whole Foods, but they weren’t open yet when we got there. We headed across the street to Starbucks.

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And then back across the street to Whole Foods.

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We were all set on coffee; now it was time for FOOD!

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Eggs benedict, four cheese quiche, and hash browns.

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The heat wasn’t too unbearable yet so we snagged a table in the shade outside on the patio.

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Heavenly!

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We were on a mission: purchase two bottles of Argentinian wine, two delicious cheeses to enjoy later this afternoon, and boniato for our international cuisine night tomorrow.

Cheetahs rejoiced and danced through the aisles of the wine section.

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Can we move in here?

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We quickly decided on two bottles of wine … and then grabbed an extra for tonight, of course.

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For cheese, we went with a Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar, and Capricho de Cabra with Fine Herbs.

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Unfortunately, Whole Foods didn’t carry boniato so we had to venture to somewhere less exciting: Fiesta.

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An employee found it pretty amusing that we were snapping photos in the parking lot.

Guy: Are you taking pictures of Fiesta?

Me: Um, yes, it’s our first time here!

Guy: Oh, well it’s not that exciting…

Once inside we made a beeline to the produce, and look what Mr. Produce man was restocking: boniato! They must have known we were coming…

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Carly’s getting ready to jump in there

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And I present to you, boniato!

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After all of this, we were home by 9:30. Talk about a productive morning! Now we’re foam rolling, icing, hydrating, and lounging comfortably on the couch. Well deserved relaxation after killing our 7 mile goal this morning!

Did you run/race today? How did it go?

Austin Blogger Meetup

About two weeks ago, I met up with a few gals at the Iron Cactus for happy hour and a dinner. I was the first to arrive, so naturally I headed right for the bar to enjoy a glass of wine while I waited.

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Brittany, Monica, Jeanette, and Katie joined me shortly after and we made our way to the dining room. Margaritas were consumed, chips & salsa were devoured, and great conversation was had with these amazing ladies.

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All group photos courtesy of Brittany – thanks lady!

I can’t wait until the next meetup, and maybe we’ll even be able to expand our group (Lindsay, Carla, Tricia, Caitlin – just to name a few!)

Have you ever been to a blogger meetup or tweetup in your town?

Café Tu Tu Tango

Carly and I dined at Cafe Tu Tu Tango back in October when we were in town for our first half marathon. The sangria and food were delicious, so it only made sense for us to make it our first stop Friday night.

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We started off with a carafe of red sangria, which was fantastic.

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We also immediately put in an order for these:

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To die for (but really, isn’t anything with goat cheese to die for?)

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Our next selection doesn’t have a picture, but here is the menu description:

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There were two huge mushrooms, and the horseradish remoulade really made the dish for me. Definitely something to look into replicating at home.

Next up were Curry Chicken Skewers with a cucumber yogurt sauce and garlic flat bread. Didn’t quite get to take a picture before we devoured them.

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Although they looked fairly small, we were pretty full from those three plates. We were planning on skipping dessert, until I read this tweet from Paula:

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A dessert menu was immediately requested.

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How could we say no?

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HEAVEN! Thank you Paula!! I’m still dreaming about it…

And on top of the amazing food, the service was absolutely flawless. I cannot stress enough how awesome our bartender Peter was. If you’re in the Orlando area and happen to end up at Tu Tu Tango, tell Peter that “South Florida” & “Austin” say hello!

Sunday is Bittersweet

Man, I am SO glad it’s Sunday. Yesterday was go-go-go, and I am absolutely beat. I’m also sad it’s Sunday. Since yesterday was so busy, it flew by and now the weekend is almost over 🙁

Yesterday I got the day started at Gold’s. I don’t know how I used to run 4-5 days a week on a treadmill. It is SO boring. I had my music blasting, watching One Tree Hill with the closed caption on, and the people on either side of me were both running. It was ideal conditions for a killer run, but at mile 2 I was wishing I could just call it quits. I pushed through and ended up finishing my scheduled 6 miler in 1:18. Slooowwww. I don’t care. It’s done.

After the gym, I dragged my sweaty self to Target to pick up a few ingredients for a pasta salad to bring to the BBQ. I grabbed one cucumber, a pint of cherry tomatoes, one small red onion, whole wheat medium-sized pasta shells, and a container of mozzarella ciliegine. Chop veggies & mozz + boil pasta + toss in vinaigrette + put in the fridge = super easy.

Next stop: Ulta! Honestly, I wish I could remember why I went here. I had a $5 off a $10 purchase coupon, and I know I had an item in mind. I was distracted by this

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I have been looking for this palette for MONTHS. I first spotted it in Ulta back in August. I decided I would purchase it for myself on my next payday, which was just 2 days away. Upon my return I learned they were sold out, and it was going to be awhile before they were restocked. Apparently the item was in incredibly high demand. I checked back a couple times since then, but I couldn’t find it in Ulta, Sephora, or even on Urban Decay’s website. I wrote it off, and accepted the fact I wouldn’t be able to purchase it.

Until yesterday. Just out of curiosity, I swung down the UD aisle at Ulta. And what do you know, there was one palette left! Whatever I had just came to the store for was erased from my mind. I grabbed the palette and made a beeline to the register as fast as I could.

UD is pretty pricey, so 12 shadows (all great, neutral colors), a double-ended eyeliner (brown/black), and a travel sized eyeshadow primer for $44 ($39 with my $5 off coupon) is a steal!

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After Ulta I headed to Nordstrom Rack to use my gift certificate. I had only made my way through half of the store before I noticed the massive line extending all the way to the back wall. I counted 27 people waiting in line for the register. It was 2:15, and my hair appointment was at 3. Absolutely no way to try on the items I had already picked up AND wait in line to pay AND drive 15 minutes to the salon. I sadly left empty handed.

I spent 3 hours at the salon for my cut & partial highlight. Yes, 3 hours. Thankfully they serve wine during your services 🙂 After I was finished there, I raced home to change & head to the BBQ.

Dinner was delicious, and with great company. We played several games of Texas Hold ‘Em. I ended up leaving $20 up, which isn’t much but it’s better than leaving down! There’s no better feeling than taking money from a group of guys in poker 😉

This morning was spent recuperating from alcohol consumption last night. Brad overindulged in Jack Daniels, I in Grey Goose. I think this may contribute to why I am feeling so exhausted today!

Well, it’s football time – hope you’re all having a great weekend 🙂

Pumpkin Penne

I know I know, the pumpkin recipes in the blogworld are running rampant. Generally I stick to pumpkin pies and that’s it. My mom sent me a link to a recipe for pumpkin penne and I figured since I had an extra can laying around I’d give it a shot.

I will also preface this with the fact that I absolutely cannot stand Rachael Ray. The recipes exceed 30 minutes, her voice drives me up a wall, she abuses nutmeg on a regular basis, and most importantly – her dishes just don’t taste good. BUT I was feeling adventurous so I gave this one a shot anyway.

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1 pound whole-wheat penne

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 shallots, finely chopped

3 to 4 cloves garlic, grated

2 cups chicken stock

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

1/2 cup cream

1 teaspoon hot sauce, to taste

Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

2 pinches ground cinnamon

Salt and black pepper

7 to 8 leaves fresh sage thinly sliced plus more, for garnish

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

 

Now for the modifications. I used all dried spices because I didn’t have fresh on hand, upped the garlic to five cloves, and substituted a parm-asiago mix. I also added crushed red pepper flakes because the teaspoon of hot sauce just didn’t do it for me. I like it HOT!

Finely chop the shallots, and grate the garlic. I’m assuming she used a microplane, but I’m not cool enough to own one of those. I used a regular handheld grater. Add to the pan with 2 tbsp of olive oil.

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Add two cups of chicken stock, and then stir in the pumpkin.

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Add 1/2 cup of cream. You can substitute fat-free half and half if you are looking to keep calories low. It will just take a little bit longer to thicken up. Add the hot sauce, cinnamon, sage, and nutmeg. Add salt & pepper to taste.

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I didn’t photo this, but I boiled one box of penne rigate and then added it to the sauce after it had thickened up after 10 minutes or so.

I decided to roast a head of garlic and serve it with a loaf of French bread. In the interest of time, I chose Pillsbury Simply Rustic French Bread.

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Garnish the pasta with shredded cheese and a sprinkling of sage.

Here’s the finished product!

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The best way to describe the taste is deconstructed butternut squash ravioli. Since we love the ravioli, we really enjoyed the pasta! I didn’t add any salt during the initial cooking, but I definitely felt it needed it afterwards. I added salt, cracked black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to my plate. It really helped bring all of the flavors together.

Thanks Rachael Ray, finally I got a winner!