Tag Archives: Fun

Philly

Eat Write Retreat 2013

This past weekend I attended my first Eat Write Retreat event in Philadelphia.  Was it awesome? You betcha! I met a lot of really great food bloggers, sponsors, and even was able to reconnect with an old friend. Plus, I got a lot of wicked cool swag! I’m going to go ahead and reminisce now, k?

EWR13 Swag - Calphalon, OXO, In the Raw

So much swag!

I was really nervous at first. I’ve had this blog for a few years now, but have only really gotten serious with it over the past year. I wasn’t sure if I would really belong. The first question everyone asked was “What’s your blog about?”  …..I hadn’t really thought about it before! It got me thinking though, is there a running theme here? Then I realized that there is! I’m cheap! I reuse the same ingredients in different ways because they’re inexpensive and I get bored if I have too much of the same flavor or texture. I frugally create recipes based on whatever was cheap at the grocery store! Turns out I DO have a theme, and it started all because I’m perpetually poor. My first lesson of the weekend was how to describe my blog, and I learned it within the first 5 minutes!

The first day, after a long 4ish hour drive, I finally arrived at the hotel. The first person I met was my roommate for the weekend, Susan from The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen. She was very helpful with directing me on where to go to pick up my swag!

On my way to pick up all my cool new kitchen gadgetry, I ran into Kelly from Kelly Bakes! This was exciting not only because she’s a great food blogger (whose recipes and pictures always make me hungry), but also because I grew up with her and haven’t seen her in years. Does this count as our 10-year high school reunion?

salty chocolate

I sat at the wicked awesome Chocolate Terrine table!

After picking up my swag it was time for the meet and greet with the sponsors and all of the other attendees. I got to learn all about Calphalon, OXO, Jarlsberg, and more! I also met Heather from Real: the Kitchen and Beyond, Deanna from Teaspoon of Spice, Linda from Giggles, Gobbles and Gulps, and many many more interesting people! Then there was dinner, followed by cocktails made with Safest Choice Eggs, a photo-booth, and more hanging out. It was a fun day.

Cocktails with Safest Choice Eggs

Cocktails with egg whites? Actually kind of delicious!

 

Mushrooms

Cool mushrooms!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday and Sunday were kind of a whirlwind! I met more great people! I hung out with Mary Beth from Red Mittens, talked with Marisa from Food in Jars (and bought her book because the recipes look amazing), I chatted with Jeanine from Small Indulgences Bakery (and bought her book too because the cupcakes in it were too tempting).

Philly

Philly skyline during the Saturday night Gala

We had a great lecture by Monica Bhide about writing sponsored posts and maintaining our voice,  we did a water tasting, learned about growing mushrooms, grilled flat-bread pizzas with potatoes on a gorgeous Calphalon grill, were taught about SEO optimization and web basics, and got time management tips. And more!

OXO Gift Basket

I won the OXO Salad Gift Basket!!

After it all ended, I wandered around the area a bit with one of my new friends as we attempted to get Philly Cheesesteaks. Unfortunately we had bad timing, since it was around dinner time, and the places we saw had lines going out the door and we didn’t have enough time for all that. Oh well! She managed to get a sub-par cheesesteak at the airport, and I had a random Starbucks sandwich on my drive back. My drive was fairly uneventful, except for a well-timed thunderstorm that lasted just long enough for my journey across the George Washington Bridge.

philly2

Philly had some cool/weird buildings

So was the weekend worth all the money, travel, and nervousness? Absolutely. Would I do it all again? In a heartbeat!

cookie

Monk Fruit in The Raw Sugar Cookie

Another Eat Write Retreat challenge! I’ve recipes so many goodies from this conference, and it hasn’t even happened yet! This one is the “Show Your Raw Talent” challenge. I was mailed a bag of Monk Fruit in the Raw Sugar along with a recipe. I had to use the  recipe, make the cookies, and then decorate them all pretty! YAY! Only one problem: I am not very good at decorating cookies. So I decided to try, see what happens, and not get too worked up over it. If nothing else, I had the chance to try out a really interesting new product and make lots of delicious cookies!

cookie

I decided to just stick with classic black and white. The white frosting is a cookie decorating frosting I found at Michael’s, and it worked SO WELL. It dried quickly and was easy to write on with the chocolate. The chocolate swirls were made from melted semi-sweet Ghiradelli bars, and I simply filled a pastry bag, made a very small snip in the end, and had fun. The result is the simple, fun, loopy swirl joy fest. To make the shape I used round cookie cutters, cut out circles, then cut them again using only half of the cookie cutter. I thought this was a fun shape and I wanted them to be smaller.

I bet you want to see the recipe now, right? Check it:

Monk Fruit in The Raw Sugar Cookie
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 10 Tbsp unsalted sweet butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup Monk Fruit In The Raw Bakers Bag
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium-high to beat the butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is incorporated for 3 minutes. Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla, beating well between additions. Add the Monk Fruit in the Raw Bakers Bag and beat until just combined. Reduce the beater speed to low and gradually add the dry ingredient, beating until the mixture is clumpy. Stop blending and use a flexible spatula to complete mixing the dough by hand.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a counter covered with plastic wrap and divide it in half. The dough will be soft and sticky. Using plastic wrap to flatten the dough, shape it into a rectangle 4 to 5 inches wide by 6 inches long. Wrap dough and chill overnight in refrigerator.
  4. To roll, place one cookie rectangle on a floured non-stick surface. Working quickly lightly dust top of dough with flour and roll out with rolling pin to ¼ inch thickness and 12 x 9 inch rectangle. Using a large 3-1/2 inch cookie cutter, cut out 6 large cookies. Repeat with the second dough. Place cookies 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Let rest.
  5. Preheat oven to 350.
  6. Bake cookies on center rack. Bake 10-12 minuted or until cookies are firm when pressed in the center and evenly pale gold in color. Let them rest 1 minute on the baking sheet. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Decorate.

cookie 2

 

Like I said, decorating isn’t really my scene. But I still think these came out well. The cookie was sturdy enough that it was easy to work with, and tasty enough that it was easy to eat. All in all, it was a good experience!

Wine Poached Figs

Wine Poached Figs in Prosciutto Pie Bowls

Figs! For my Eat Write Retreat Culinary Apps Challenge I received a box of California Figs in the mail and had to come up with an amazing appetizer featuring them. I have never  cooked with figs before, so this was actually really exciting for me. Since I have no notion of what to do with them, I can just go crazy, right? Right! Luckily there was a handy information packet included in the box with the figs. For example, I didn’t realize that they are known to be a part of a Mediterranean diet. This is quite useful, because I wanted to try to eat a more Mediterranean style diet for the next few weeks so I can learn how to cook fish. Now I have all these figs that I should try to incorporate into this plan! Also, just 3-5 figs give you 5 grams of dietary fiber, so that’s pretty awesome too!

 

Wine Poached Figs

When I think of appetizers, I always think of some sort of something on some sort of bowl or plate made of food. Real specific, I know. So for this challenge I decided to go with a bowl shape. In my research, I found lots of recipes with figs being wrapped in other ingredients, like prosciutto. I figured this is a good chance to change things up a bit and rolled prosciutto, Pecorino Romano cheese, and dried basil into a pie crust, and used that as a bowl. And it worked!  Bonus: the pie bowls can be made the day before!

Look! Prosciutto, cheese, and basil!

Look! Prosciutto, cheese, and basil!

The majority were shaped with the prosciutto facing up, because I was worried the cheese might stick to the pan. The four that faced down didn’t stick at all, and looked really cool. Next time I’ll definitely make them all like that.

bottom

See, these look just fine, and didn’t stick at all!

I wanted to make sure I kept the figgyness of the figs figgy. I like the texture of them and wanted to use other ingredients to enhance their flavor. I still felt the need to alter them in some way, so I poached them in white wine, honey, and a bit of orange juice. I used Pinot Grigio, and it was fantastic.

with wine

And then I obviously had a glass of wine too

With the shipment of figs I also received some tools from OXO. They really came in handy. Especially that measuring cup that twists up! It was perfect for measuring the honey and getting it to actually pour out of the cup. The cheese grater worked really well too!

Tray

And, to make this all even better, I made it for Mother’s Day so my parents were able to be my test dummies!

Ok, is it recipe time yet?

Wine Poached Figs in Prosciutto Pie Bowls
Author: 
Serves: 12
 
Savory prosciutto pie bowls and a figs poached in a lightly sweet dressing
Ingredients
  • 1 pie crust, thawed
  • 1.5 oz prosciutto, chopped
  • ¼ cup Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • ¾ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 6 dried figs, halved
  • 1 cup Spring Mix salad, loosely packed and ripped into smaller pieces
  • Optional Garnishes: grated Pecorino Romano, and orange zest
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 450.
  2. In a small pan, cook prosciutto until it's lightly crispy, and remove to a paper towel lined bowl and let cool.
  3. Roll out pie dough, and evenly sprinkle cheese, basil, and ¾ of the prosicutto. Press into dough, then use a rolling pin to lightly roll ingredients into the dough.
  4. Cut into small circles, and shape to fit into mini-muffin pan cups. Lightly prick each with a fork.
  5. Bake 6-9 minutes, or until lightly browned. If made the day before, store in an airtight container.
  6. In a small saucepan, bring wine, honey, and orange juice to a simmer. Add halved figs, and simmer for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove figs, and continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced by half.
  7. Toss salad with the remaining ¼ of prosciutto and 1 Tbsp of warm poaching liquid. Place leaves into pie bowls, and top each with a piece of fig. Garnish with orange zest and romano cheese.
White Wine Poached Figs
Cheesy Rice

Changes!

There are some changes happening to Cheesy Rice, as you may have already noticed! A few weeks ago I was talking with my friend Kelly about how I really wish I could come up with a good idea for a logo, and she turns to me and says, “Well, your site is called Cheesy Rice, right? Why not have it be chopsticks holding a piece of cheese?” And BAM I had a logo idea.

But then I remembered that I’m not an artist. So I asked my friend Vic if he would design it. He said yes, and then the next day it was done! Just like that! MAGIC. And it was perfect! Great! A logo! I immediately used it to design a business card, because I’ve always wanted business cards. Then I started working on incorporating it into my website layout.

cheesy rice1

 

Which led me to want to design a layout from scratch. Unfortunately, I don’t know  how to do that yet. So moral of the story is: please bear with me while I try to learn how to build a website/logos rock.

Visit Vic’s website to check out his art, and visit his Etsy shop to buy some of it. I’m sure if you harass him he’ll design a logo for you too.

Boston

Boston Area Food Festivals 2013

One thing I love about Boston is all of the summer time food festivals! It’s always nice to share, so here are a few I plan on going to, or would like to go to, this year. If you know of any others, please let me know!

The Hot Dog Safari – May 18th, 12-4pm – Lansdowne St. – $10-20 depending on when you get your ticket

This event is brought to you by the Phantom Gourmet! It looks like just a big fun festival of eating different local foods, such as hot dogs. According to the website, “The Phantom Gourmet Hot Dog Safari is MORE than hot dogs and ALL to benefit Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. This indoor and outdoor event features parties inside the restaurants plus food and fun all over Lansdowne Street.”

hot dogs

Jimmy Fund Scooper Bowl – June 4-6 (12-8pm each day) – City Hall Plaza (Gov. Center T stop) – $10

I love love love love the Scooper Bowl! It takes place in City Hall Plaza, and it’s just tons of local ice cream companies handing out free samples of multiple ice cream flavors. It’s all-you-can-eat ice cream! And since it’s for charity the calories aren’t real. So eat as much as you can! This is my favorite event of the year.

The Cambridge Food Truck Festival – June 8 – 11am – Kendall Square

This is pretty much what it sounds like: a festival of food trucks in Cambridge. The areas best food trucks will be there, so stop by and try something new!

BBQ Beach Party – June 21-23 – City Hall Plaza (Gov. Center T stop) – $5 in advance, $10 at event

BBQ, Music, Drinks, Fun! The food isn’t free, but I think the summertime atmosphere will be worth the price. BBQ teams from around the world show up to make delicious food. I can’t even begin to imagine how wonderful City Hall Plaza will smell during this! This is another event brought to you by The Phantom Gourmet. Check it out.

Boston Jerk Fest – June 29 –  Benjamin Franklin Institute Technology (South End) – $15 adults, $6 kids, $35 all-access pass

This is a Caribbean style food-festival and will have tons of spicy awesome for for sale. It’s an indoor/outdoor event. It sounds both tasty and education, so hopefully I can check it out this year.  Plus, if you pay  $35 you get an all-access pass which includes the festival as well as the Rum & Brew tasting, featuring music and unlimited drinks!

Food Festival – September 29 – 12-4pm – Lansdowne & Ipswitch – $40 in advance, $50 at event – 21+

This one is a little more pricey, but the ticket includes sampling 100 of the Phantom Gourmet’s favorite foods, so….might be worth it! Also, it’s a 21+ event, and that just seems AWESOME.Drinks aren’t included in the ticket price, which stinks, but no kids around makes up for it. By request of the Phantom, please wear purple if you attend this event.

boston

Tabouli

Life!

I’m pretty freaking excited to be going to the Eat Write Retreat Conference in Philly this year. No lie, it’s going to be awesome. A whole weekend hanging out with other food bloggers, learning how to make my website awesome, networking, and eating? Yes please.

This past weekend I received my Culinary Challenge package for the conference. I’m going to have to come up with an amazing appetizer using the California Figs that were mailed to me, and then hope my appetizer is the best so I can win prizes. I have never actually cooked with figs before, so this is a really exciting challenge! With the figs I also received goodies like a tote bag, wine glass, stationary, measuring cups, graters, and a calendar. I love getting things!!

I also received a package for the conference’s Monk Fruit in the Raw challenge. With this one I have to make the cookie recipe provided, and then decorate it all fancy. I have no idea yet how I will decorate them, but I’m looking forward to trying out different techniques!

And so I shall be thinking, and recipe developing, and decorating, and thinking some more, and hoping for optimal sunlight during photographing time.

In the meantime, check out one of my first posts from way back in the day: Tabouli

 

Tabouli

cheesyrice.com

Cheesy Rice (fancy version)

I have decided it is long past time that I give my original cheesy rice recipe a makeover. Why? Because I bought a really cool bowl and wanted to use it for my website's title recipe. Also I wanted to buy different cheeses. Normally I make cheesy rice with just butter, salt, and American cheese. This time I jazzed it up with chicken broth, Muenster cheese, cheddar cheese, and a green bell pepper (you know, so it's healthy). cheesyrice.com Was the rice still cheesy? You betcha! Am I now in love with Muenster cheese? Holy moly I really am. I almost ate it all before it was time to add it to the rice. That would have been tragic. Also this recipe makes a lot of rice. Why so much????? Because cheesy rice is a meal, not a side dish. cheesy rice2 You're probably wondering "can I add more cheese?" The answer is: YES. When in doubt, always add more cheese. See how my site is named Cheesy Rice? That means I have final say in this matter. In fact, I added more than just Muenster cheese, I added sharp cheddar too! BECAUSE I CAN. Check it: cheese Now check out the recipe  
Cheesy Rice (fancy version)
Author: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups long grain white rice
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • ¾ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (plus more for topping)
  • ⅓ cup cubed Muenster cheese
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • Salt
Instructions
  1. In a medium pot, bring broth to a boil. Add rice and butter, lower the heat, cover and simmer about 20mins or until done. Stir occasionally.
  2. Once rice is done, stir in the cheeses until thoroughly melted. Mix in the bell pepper, and season to taste.
  3. Top with more cheese, and eat it while it’s hot!

 

open

Bacon Cheddar Biscuits

Sometimes I think I should rename my blog something along the lines of  “Cheesy Bacon Laziness” because that’s totally how I roll. As you can tell, I was in the mood for bacon and cheese. Conveniently my cousin was having a potluck in her department at work so I was able to make a lot of Bacon Cheddar Biscuits, and then not be gross and eat them all by myself. Also, I work in the same building so I was able to have some of the potluck food since I contributed to it. (I may have eaten a lot of the chocolate ravioli…)

open

The other half was already eaten before I remembered to take pictures.

 

I was feeling super lazy, so I decided to just use Bisquick for these. Here is my method:

 

First you cook the bacon. Remove it to a paper towel lined plate when it’s cooked, and either crunch it up with your hands or chop it to make it into small pieces. I just did a whole package, and saved crumbled bacon pieces for another meal.

bacon

I think this is the prettiest picture in the whole world.

ingredients

 

In a large bowl combine:

3 cups Bisquick (or other similar mix)

~2 Tbsp chopped chives

~1 cup sharp cheddar cheese

~2/3 cup chopped/crumbled bacon

1 cup buttermilk (add more if necessary)

These measurements are mostly guesses, I didn’t actually measure anything other than the Bisquick and buttermilk…

 

 

raw

 

Drop in rounded spoonfuls onto parchment lined baking sheets.

Bake at 450° for 8-10 mins, or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, melt about 4 Tbsp of butter.

 

 

 

 

Brush tops with butter while still warm, and sprinkle chives/garlic powder/salt/whatever makes you happy. Best if eaten warm!

baked

 

This recipe made about 14 biscuits.

 

chili bowl

Chili Experiments

If you read the title, you’ll realize I felt the need to experiment with chili. Chili isn’t hard to make, and I always ignore the beans-vs-beanless chili battles and just make whatever I want. I wanted to make chili to go with the beer bread (see previous post) for my dad because he was visiting this past Wednesday. I didn’t want to make him wait forever for dinner though, so instead of cooking the chili for hours and hours, I simply made it the night before and put it in the fridge over night. When I got home from work on Wednesday I took it out, added a bottle of beer, and cooked it until it was heated through. Easy!

chili bowl

A scoop of sour cream and some cheese is all you need to finish it off.

I didn’t make this into a thought out, thorough recipe, because that’s just not how I cook. Also, I was trying out products I don’t usually use. You’ll figure it out.

Here are some things I tried out:

bacon

I had such a good experience with Trader Joe’s cut pancetta, I figured I might as well try the bacon too. I DID NOT LIKE IT. It was gross. It was all one big lumpy clump of thick hunks of fat. I ended up cooking it for flavor, then removing most of it because it looked awful. I will not be trying this again.

 

 

mirepoix

 

 

I wanted this to be wicked simple and lazy to make. So for the first time ever I bought prepared Mirepoix at the grocery store. It wasn’t anything exciting, but it sure was easy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tomatoes

 

 

If you’re going to add diced tomatoes, why not have them be fire roasted and come with chiles? It made sense to me, and so I tried it, and I liked it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also used ground beef, obviously. And kidney beans too. For flavor I used paprika, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, garlic powder, Worcestershire Sauce, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and a bottle of beer.

chili

Heating it up with beer, right before serving.

 

 

bread

Beer Bread

This is one of the easiest and most delicious breads I have ever made, and as a former baker that’s certainly saying something. It has very few ingredients, and is really quick to make. And it’s fun! Because it’s made with beer! It goes really well with chili (which you’ll learn about tomorrow, and also contains beer), and probably with a lot of other meals as well.

sliced bread

The flavor isn’t super beer-y, but you do taste it. I don’t know if I’m explaining that very well, you’ll just have to make it and try it for yourself. I also have no idea what kind of beer would be best; I just used what was in my fridge. Play with the recipe, it’s fun!  I first thought of trying it when I found this recipe , and after reading the comments decided to try it with some of the suggestions that people made. And if you don’t feel like buying self-rising flour, you could easily make it yourself.

Check it:

recipe

This is how I write recipes

 

3 cups self-rising flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 (12oz) beer

1 Tbsp butter

 

 

 

mixing

 

Mix flour and sugar. Add beer and mix until everything is just combined.

 

 

 

 

proof

 

Pour into greased 9×5 pan. Let sit for 30 minutes, then pour melted butter over the top. Bake at 350° for 40-55mins, or until lightly browned.

 

 

 

 

 

Let cool on wire rack about 5 minutes, then remove from pan and continue to cool.

Slice and eat. Preferably with chili.

bread