So what are you making with your Thanksgiving leftovers, Austin?

Southwestern corn chowder and spiced sweet potato souffle with stuffing crust

This is another one of those off-topic posts (I’m thinking of making them a regular feature on Fridays, so I can share the rest of the Austin experience with y’all.)

Today’s off-off-topic (kind of like off-off-Broadway but without the pretentious audiences) is a “What to Do With Your Thanksgiving Leftovers” cook-off on Google Plus.  There was three of competing, plus an awesome judge and timekeeper (sucking up?  You bet!) and a fun audience.

The challenge?  Come up with a creative way to use Thanksgiving leftovers to make a tasty Black Friday meal.  And we all jumped right into the challenge.  We each cooked in our own kitchens, and shared the event as a live Google Hang Out.

The first competitor was Mary Helen Leonard of Mary Makes Dinner. She crafted her Thanksgiving leftovers into a tempting-looking Turkey Day pizza.

The second competitor was Amy Kritzer from Kosher food blog What Jew Wanna Eat and a series of regular cooking demonstrations from Google Austin.  She turned her Thanksgiving ingredients into a delicious looking Thanksgiving Benedict.

My creations were a bit different.  Because we are vegetarians (or at least 2/3 of the household is; my husband eats, well, pretty much everything!) , I skipped over the turkey and went right for the leftover veggies and stuffing.

And because we’re living in Austin, I opted for a local flavor, too.  I started with a Southwest Corn Chowder, full of chopped veggies from the vegetable tray, corn, mashed potatoes and an array of smoky spices.  The soup was finished with a dash of cream, and garnished with fresh cilantro and a sprinkling of Mexican cheese.

Southwestern Corn Chowder

I also made a dish with leftover sweet potato casserole and stuffing, combining the sweet with heat by adding cayanne, San Antonio Chili Powder,  a touch of garlic and some hot Paprika to the potatoes and then whipping them with eggs and egg whites.  That became the soufflé to top a crust made of twice-baked stuffing baked in muffin cups.

Sweet potato souffle on a stuffing crust

I was going crazy getting ready for the event, but I had so much fun doing it!  If you want to see the video, check it out on Google+.  And don’t forget to vote for your favorite chef!  There are prizes afoot, so click here to pick your number one choice! 

After Thanksgiving Cook-Off

Advertisements

Walk into Post-Apocolyptic Austin at Ecopocalypse

Image

Photo courtesy of Ecopocalypse

There are only a couple of day until Halloween, so pay attention Austin!  You need to make some time tomorrow night or Wednesday night to bravely walk into the Austin of the future. But be prepared!  Ecopocalypse is not about shiny flying cars or date nights in space.

It’s about survival.  And it’s scary!

Food? It’s scarce — the shelves of HEB and Whole Foods empty. Clean water? No Texas Rainwater or Evian to be found. Medicine? Good luck finding that…Seton and St David’s are distant memories. Family pets?  Hide them!

This terrifying glimpse into the “Austin that could be” is the newest addition to how-to-get-scared on-Halloween here in town — if you’re brave enough, it’s the one you won’t want to miss.

Unlike the typical “walk through and watch” haunted house, the creators of Ecopocalypse pull you into the action. You enter in small groups of 5 or 6, and wander through the entire experience at your own pace, choosing where to turn (or when to turn back, if it gets too scary!)  You aren’t just a visitor…you become a part of the story, whether you want to or not!

Who should go:

This is a great choice for adults and teens, but the full immersion experience might be too terrifying for kids. I wouldn’t bring anyone under 10 or so, and even then it depends on how they handle near-complete darkness, scary realistic people interacting directly with them, and some pretty realistic scenes of gore.

The 4th of July is hot in Round Rock

Round Rock 4th of July and Sam Bass Shoot Out

For my first 4th of July in Texas, we headed up to Round Rock for their Frontier Days celebration. Yes, there were lots of places to choose from, but only Round Rock promised a chili pepper-eating contest and a historic shoot out!

And thankfully, it was all they promised. Randall’s sponsored the chili pepper eating contest…Ghost Peppers proved to be the highlight of the event…the faces of brave tasters were priceless! (And no, we were not among them! I love spicy, but…!)

After that we headed over to the food area for a snack before the Sam Bass Shootout. It was a great chance to learn a little bit of Texas history and chill (okay, so that’s relative on a 100+ degree day!) in the shade and watch a performance complete with some beautiful horses and impressive riding.

There were kiddie rides, vendor booths, a track-can train (seriously!) and even a unicorn in the pony ride area! It’s kid and family friendly, but dogs aren’t welcome at this normally dog-friendly park on the 4th.

Later on, there was a spectacular fireworks display, followed by an outdoor film (Captain America, this year.)

It was a great day, but some lessons were learned for next year. First, bring water. LOTS of water! And maybe a parasol, too! Vegetarians will probably want to pack a picnic…the meatless offerings were slim. Also, do NOT leave the Festival in the afternoon and plan to return later in the day for the fireworks. The wonderfully easy drive in and parking we had at noon was a nightmare at 7! Bring chairs, lunch and drinks and find a spot in the shade somewhere in the park to relax between the festival and the fireworks. The stress (and gas!) it will save you will be well worth it!