Thursday, December 27, 2012

Family Fun in Austin For New Year's Eve!

New Year's Eve in Austin!
Austin was named one of the top ten NYE destination spots by several leading sources this year so we can expect to be hit with quite the holiday rush!

But that doesn't have to keep you from enjoying what has become a family tradition at Auditorium Shores!

From the Austin's New Year website:

Austin’s New Year (ANY) is an annual free event on Auditorium Shores where Austin families can come together to welcome in the New Year! ANY is an alcohol-free celebration showcasing Austin's diverse and talented creative community through art, films, and live music. And kids and adults alike won't want to miss the exciting fireworks finale!
When: December 31, 2012, 5:00 - 10:30 p.m.
Where: Auditorium Shores (South 1st Street and Riverside Drive in Austin)


There will not be parking on-site at Auditorium Shores, but there are several pay-to-park garages nearby, including Austin City Hall (301 W. 2nd Street, enter on Lavaca Street) & One Texas Center (505 Barton Springs Road). No parking will be allowed in nearby neighborhoods. Download area map
Visit the Downtown Austin Alliance website for a list of private parking garages.
Check the CapMetro website for bus routes.
Road Closures: Visit the City of Austin Special events portal for information about road closures.
Visitor Information: For information about area hotels and restaurants, contact theAustin Visitor Center, 866-GO-AUSTIN.


Read our Entertainment Schedule for a full list of bands, performers, and other artists and activities and download the Event Map to see locations for all the stages and activity centers.
Main Stage (5:00 - 10:00 p.m.): Great music for all ages from five Austin bands - Performances by Sue Young, Edison Chair, El Tule, Courtney Sanchez, and Del Castillo
Youngbloods of Austin Music (5:00 - 9:30 p.m.): The next generation of Austin live music - Performances by Residual Kid, The Seaside Swifts, Little Brave, Mobley, and more
Parks and Recreation Department Performing Arts Stage (5:00 - 10:00 p.m.):Culturally-diverse performances from Austin’s best - Performances by The Flying Balalaika Brothers, Son Armado, Rockin’ Gospel Project, and more
Austin Film Buffet (6:00 - 9:00 p.m.): Short selections from Austin film organizations, including Faces of Austin, Austin Film Society, and SXSW
Fun for ANYone (5:00-10:00 p.m.): Interactive art installations, performances, and creative activities throughout the night, including children’s yoga, StarSeeds, and an interactive light & sound experience
Fireworks Finale (10:00 p.m.): For the first time, our Fireworks Finale will be accompanied by a traditional Scottish pipe & drum band for a performance to remember all year long!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Homemade Silly Putty and other Goops

Kids home from school and bored? Here are a couple of recipes to keep those little hands occupied during the Winter Break!



8 oz of Elmer's glue
 ¾ c. of water
1 t. 20 Mule Team Borax
1 to 2 T. water


You will make two mixtures. The first is ¾ c. of water, food coloring to color your goop, and 8 oz. of glue. The second mixture is the t. of Borax dissolved in 1 to 2 T. of water. Now comes the chemical process. Take your Borax mix and drop it into the glue mix. You'll see a glob of goop form. Scoop that out and place it in another bowl. Mix up more borax and water and drop it into the glue bowl again. Another glob of goop will form, scoop it out and keep repeating the process until all the glue is formed into goop balls. Begin to knead all the balls of goop into one big ball of goop. It's fun and goopy!

Silly Putty


Elmer's Glue-All multipurpose glue
food coloring
Sta-Flo concentrated liquid starch


Mix the glue with the food coloring until the color is even throughout.
Pour the liquid starch into the colored glue mixture.
Stir and let it sit for five minutes.
Pull the putty out of the mixing bowl and set it on a paper towel. Knead the putty in your hands for five to ten minutes.

The final product is great! It can copy newspaper print and bounces when you roll it up into a ball, just like the original store-bought Silly Putty.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Orange and Purple Pancakes from The Sneaky Chef

From the Sneaky Chef! Awesome and easy ways to get veggies into pancakes...even using a boxed mix!

Banana Pancakes: 

- 1 large egg 
- 3/4 cup low-fat milk 
- 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil 
- 1 large banana, mashed 
- 1/4 cup Orange Puree (see Make-Ahead Recipe #2) 
- 1 cup boxed pancake mix 
- 1/4 cup wheat germ 
> In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, oil, mashed banana, and Orange Puree. Add boxed pancake mix and wheat germ, mixing just until combined (don't over mix - leave small lumps). If the batter is too thick, add a little more milk.

Chocolate Pancakes: 

- 1 large egg 
- 3/4 cup low-fat milk 
- 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil 
- 1/2 cup Purple Puree (see Make-Ahead Recipe #1) 
- 1 cup boxed pancake mix 
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder 
- 1/4 cup oat bran 
- 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, optional 
> In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, oil, and Purple Puree. Add boxed pancake mix, cocoa powder, and oat bran, and chocolate chips, if using, mixing just until combined (don't over mix - leave small lumps). If the batter is too thick, add a little more milk.

Sneaky Chef Make-Ahead Recipe #1: Purple Puree

Makes about 1 cup of puree 
- 3 cups raw baby spinach leaves* - 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (no syrup or sugar added) - 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice - 1-2 tablespoons water 
*note: I prefer raw baby spinach to frozen spinach for this recipe (more mild flavor); if you must use frozen spinach, only use 1 cup of it.

> Thoroughly wash the spinach, even if the package says “prewashed.” If using frozen blueberries, quickly rinse them under cold water to thaw a little, and then drain.
> Fill the bowl of your food processor with the spinach, blueberries, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of water; puree on high until as smooth as possible. Stop occasionally to push the contents to the bottom. If necessary, use another tablespoon of water to smooth-out the puree.
> This recipe makes about 1 cup of puree; double it if you want to store another cup. It will keep in the refrigerator up to 3 days, or you can freeze 1⁄4-cup portions in sealed plastic bags or small plastic containers.

Make-Ahead Recipe #2: Orange Puree

This makes about 2 cups of puree. Double the recipe if you want to store another cup of puree. Store in refrigerator up to 3 days, or freeze one-quarter cup portions in sealed baggies or small plastic containers.

- 1 medium sweet potato or yam, peeled and rough chopped;
- 3 medium to large carrots, peeled and sliced into thick chunks;
- 2-3 tablespoons water

> In a medium pot, cover carrots and potatoes with cold water and boil for about 20 minutes until yams, and especially the carrots, are very tender. If the carrots aren't thoroughly cooked, they'll leave telltale little nuggets of vegetables, which will reveal their presence (a gigantic NO-NO for the sneaky chef).

> Drain the potatoes and carrots and put them in the bowl of food processor with two tablespoons of water. Puree on high until smooth; no pieces of carrots or potatoes should remain. Stop occasionally to push the contents from the top to the bottom. If necessary, use the third tablespoon of water to make a smooth puree, but the less water the better.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Rugelach: A Hanukkah Favorite!

Celebrate the Festival of Lights with some delicious traditional recipes! The following recipes are kosher, but any substitutions can be made. Experiment with the fillings-different jams and fruits, nuts and spices...make this holiday favorite a new tradition!

Rugelach Three Ways
1 cup (2 sticks) parve margarine
8 ounces parve cream cheese, softened
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out dough
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

Chocolate Filling
4 ounces parve chocolate chips
6 tablespoons parve whipping cream
1/4 pecan halves (optional)

Apricot and Cinnamon Filling
1 cup apricot jam or preserves
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Orange and Pine Nut Filling
1/2 cup sweet orange marmalade
1/3 cup pine nuts

1. To make the dough: Place the margarine, cream cheese, flour, and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of a mixer or food processor fitted with a metal blade or stand mixer with a paddle and mix just until dough comes together. You can also mix the dough together by hand with a wooden spoon in a large bowl. 

2. Divide the dough in half and wrap each ball in plastic and flatten. Freeze 1 1/2 hours or overnight and then remove from freezer half an hour before using. The dough is ready to be rolled when you can press gently into it. If it gets too soft, put it back in the freezer to firm up.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

4. To roll out the rugelach, place a large sheet of parchment on the counter. Sprinkle some flour on the parchment, place one of the dough discs on the parchment, sprinkle again with flour, and then top with a second sheet of parchment. Rolling on top of the parchment, roll out the dough to 13 x 10 inches. Peel back the top parchment once or twice while rolling and sprinkle some more flour on the dough. Remove the top parchment but reserve for re-use. This portion of the dough is now ready to be filled with one of three fillings, or another filling of your choice. 

5. After filling the dough, Fold the right and left sides (the short sides) of the dough 1/2 inch in toward the center to keep the filling inside. Using the parchment to help you, roll the long side from the top toward you, working slowly and rolling as tightly as you can. 

6. Place the parchment you used on top of the dough when rolling it to line a cookie sheet. Place the loaf on the cookie sheet with the seam on the bottom and flatten slightly. Repeat for the other loaf.

7. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the top begins to brown. Let cool and then slice into 1-inch pieces. These can be frozen. I prefer to freeze the baked loaves and then slice them when ready to serve.

Chocolate Filling
Melt the chocolate chips on the stovetop or in the microwave, mixing often until the chocolate is smooth. Remove from heat, add cream, and mix well. If using pecans, place them in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Spread the chocolate mixture evenly on the dough all the way to the edges and then sprinkle with pecan pieces.

Apricot and Cinnamon Filling
Spread half the apricot jam or preserves evenly on the dough. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and then sprinkle half on top of the jam.

Orange and Pine Nut Filling
Spread the orange marmalade over the dough and sprinkle on the pine nuts.