Disclosure: This post contains information resulting from complimentary products or events, but all opinions are my own. See full disclosure below.
WELCOME TO ANOTHER INSTALLMENT OF DISHIN’ IT UP – APRIL 2017 EDITION – WHERE I SHARE MY FAVORITE BOOKS, MUSIC, FOOD AND FUN FROM THE PAST MONTH!
Stunning and delicious Baklava Cupcake from Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop!
Y’all! How the heck are we half way through May? And more importantly, how the h-e-double-hokey-sticks are we almost half way through 2017?!?! Life is going by way to fast!
Seriously, I went to start working on my monthly “Dishin’ It Up” post way back on May 4th, thinking I was doing good starting to write it up so early in the month, and now the month is half way over. Where oh, where does that time go?
Anyways, I guess that’s life. So here’s what I’ve been up to the last few weeks.
What I’ve been up to:
The first part of April we traveled to Dallas for work and to visit family. While there, we dined at several new to me restaurants (see below) and visited The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Even though I travel to Dallas for work or to visit family quite often, and I’m pretty familiar with things to do and eat there, this was my first time to visit The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.
This beautiful and peaceful (despite being a crowded Saturday) park and garden, has a variety of walking trails, fountains and flowers and plants that change with the season. Since it was early April when I went, there were tons of gorgeous spring flowers, like tulips and lilies. From friends and family, I’ve hear they have a huge pumpkin festival in the fall and a cute display for Christmas. I plan on sharing a full-on blog post soon, but in the meantime, if you live in Dallas or will be traveling there in the next few weeks, I’d plan a visit before it gets way too hot.
Cutie Pie Wagon award winning pies! (pictured: Pie Queen’s Heath Toffee Pecan, Champion Just Peachy Key Lime Habanero and Fudge Brownie)
Early April I also attended the Indulge Conference, held here in Austin. Just as I’m sure it is with any industry, attending conferences is a great way to get inspired, learn new skills specifically regarding your job and meet, network and mingle with other likeminded people. The only difference is, at a food blogging conference, well there is a lot of delicious food! ? They had meals and snacks catered by several popular local restaurants/food trucks, including some of my favorites like Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop, Gourdough’s Donuts and Chi’Lantro BBQ, as well as a few new to me places like Cutie Pie Wagon, who treated us to these award winning pies. I then got to learn from some top-notch bloggers and am working (albeit slowly working) on some of the skills we learned in the classes like rocking social media and finally doing video. I actually started making videos awhile back but felt so overwhelmed stopped doing it, but after this conference, I feel inspired to get back at it!
The 2nd Annual Colossal Curry Cookoff, that I helped plan and organize with the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, also took place in April and was a colossal success! The weather was perfect, as a cool front blew in the day before our event making the cookoff Saturday cool and overcast, and we had hundreds turn out.
There were close to 20 competitors and they all had unique curry dishes. From Green Curry Gazpacho, to Indian Wedding Soup with Lamb Kofta, to Shrimp & Pineapple Curry and Last Call British Pub Curry and Chips; everything was delicious and it was so inspiring to see all the thought and creativity that all of these home and personal chefs brought to the cookoff. The Judges’ Choice winners ended up being: 3rd place- Rachel Zierzow (Killer Kabocha Squash Curry); 2nd place – Victor Martinez and Chris Rose (Gang Kiew Wan Gai (Thai Green Curry with Chicken & Eggplant); and 1st place – The Cream Team (Sri Lankan Black Curry), who also won the People’s Choice award.
Pics from last year’s Fit Foodie Run
Not only was this a fun and tasty event, I really liked helping to plan it, as planning events large or small is something I love to do!
In between planning cookoffs, attending conferences, travel and work, I’ve started to get back to working out and am trying to eat more balanced “better for me” meals (which by looking over this post, I know is hard to believe). Like many, I had started to try to do this at the beginning of the year, but had a lot going on personally (from surgery to some other stressful personal challenges) that I kind of got off track.
That’s why I decided to sign on again to be a Fit Foodie Ambassador and participate in the Fit Foodie 5k. I really had fun being a Fit Foodie Ambassador last year and preparing for the race last year really helped me get active; so that’s why I decided to partner with them again this year.
This year John Hancock Hosts, The Cooking Light & Health Magazine Fit Foodie Festival and Race, returns to Austin, Texas on Saturday, May 20, 2017 and includes cooking demonstrations and eats from local chefs, like Chef Matthew Harris from Flower Child and Chef Amir Hajimaleki from Oasthouse Kitchen + Bar. There will also be professional athletes, like two-time Olympian Desiree Linden and Ryan Hall, American record holder in the 20K, 30K and half marathon.
Not only is this a fun, family and pet friendly race (you can run it or walk it), proceeds support No Kid Hungry, an amazing organization that I fully support!
Tickets for the Fit Foodie 5K Race are on sale for $45 until May 19, 2016, and you can use the discount code HEATHER to get 15% off! To purchase tickets, go to: www.fitfoodierun.com. OR you can enter to WIN tickets to the Fit Foodie Run, by entering my Instagram giveaway!
Because the start of 2017 was a bit rocky, I’m still trying to get back to my normal fitness routine, so I’ll probably be walking/slow jogging the race, but it is still going to be loads of fun and hopefully I’ll see you there!
What I’ve Been Eating:
In addition to eating lots of yummy curry at the curry cookoff and delicious bites at Indulge Conference, as mentioned, I’ve tried a few new places too.
In Dallas we dined at Dugg Burger, a casual burger joint which serves their burgers (classic beef, grilled chicken breast or portabella) with the top bun hollowed out to make more room for all their toppings. Toppings include classics like bacon, lettuce and tomato; but they also have sautéed mushrooms, crispy onion strings and the “Lucky 13” which is a rotating special topping, like jalapeno lime slaw.
I opted for to have my burger in salad form and while I thought the burger patty was flavorful and I loved all the burger topping mix ins, I love my homemade Cheeseburger Salad recipe more. But I think I’m going to have to go back and try the burger served the traditional way, on a bun with fries, so I can have an official opinion. One thing that was a major disappointment though, were the milkshakes, which weren’t thick and creamy at all and were more like thicker, flavored milk.
While in Dallas we also dined at Hash House a Go Go! Hash House a Go Go has several locations (a few in Las Vegas, and then others in San Diego, Chicago and Orlando) and is a restaurant with a lot of hype. So of course, I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype, but I was pretty impressed. We went for brunch and there was a pretty long wait (which is usually a good sign but can be a bit frustrating when you are hungry, especially since the weather was really bad and there wasn’t a lot of space to wait in) and the prices are pretty high, but the portions are HUGE.
I got the Salmon Scramble, house smoked fresh salmon, basil pesto, fresh tomato and melted brie cheese, served with griddled mashed or crispy potatoes, fresh fruit and a homemade biscuit; and it was absolutely delicious (I actually can’t wait to try to recreate this at home). We also had the Griddled French Toast, dipped in banana cinnamon cream and served with pecan maple syrup and migas. I thought the French toast was sweet and crispy (not soggy) but it would have been too sweet on its own and is best shared with the entire table.
Hash House a Go Go’s most popular brunch item is The Big O Sage Fried Chicken and Waffle Tower, two sage fried chicken breasts, smoked bacon waffle, hot maple reduction, fried leeks and served with two eggs, which being from the south sounded insanely amazing, however, it really is a tower of food and was way too much for me to enjoy before hitting the road. Maybe next time I can get someone to share it with me!?!
The only real disappointment, was the fact that they don’t serve hash browns at the Hash House. Our entire group was looking forward to some amazing hash brown potatoes but was disappointed that they only had “crispy potatoes” which was more like a potato “hash” rather than shredded and fried potatoes.
Well that’s it for now! What have you been up to lately? Share in the comments below!
For more up to the minute peeks into my favorite eats and fun, follow Kitchen Concoctions on Instagram!
*Disclosure: I am a Fit Foodie Ambassador and have received gifts and other compensation to help promote the event. No other products and places mentioned in this post are sponsors or part of any partnerships, I just love sharing what I’ve been up to and some of my favorite things as part of my Dishin’ It Up series! All thoughts and opinions are my own. To read more about my disclosure polices, click here.