Tag Archives: Life

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!

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

Orange Chocolate Scones

Orange Chocolate Scones with Orange Glaze

A friend of mine is visiting the area for a couple weeks, so yesterday we thought it would be fun to get out of Boston for a bit and head down to Providence. We ended up going to The Duck and Bunny, which is the worlds most adorable cafe. They call themselves “A snuggery” because it’s such a cozy place. We had fancy snacks like bacon wrapped dates, a ricotta spread, and Afternoon Tea. Afternoon Tea consisted of a sampling of finger sandwiches, scones, cupcakes, and of course tea. It was delightful. You should all go to this place.Orange Chocolate Scones

I have since been craving nothing but scones, and decided to revisit my favorite scone recipe from Joy of Baking and play around with it a bit. I had all those leftover mini-chocolate chips, so of course I used them. And I wanted to make one of my favorite flavor combos: orange and chocolate. And I wanted to put an orange glaze on them because being a baker at Panera ruined me forever and I now feel like scones must always have a glaze.

Orange Choco Scone

 

Now I think I might have some tea and get caught up on Downton Abbey!

 

Orange Chocolate Scones with Orange Glaze
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Chocolate and orange are combined in this light, fluffy, delicate scone.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, cold and cut into little pieces
  • ¾ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup milk (more if necessary)
  • For the glaze:
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • ½ tsp orange zest
  • 2-3 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Blend small pieces of butter into the mixture (with a pastry blender, two knives, or crumbling in your hands) until it resembles crumbs.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips and orange zest. Add vanilla and milk, and stir until dough comes together. You may need to add more milk or flour.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Gently knead a few times, then shape dough into a circle about 1½" thick. Divide into 8 triangles, and arrange them on the baking sheet. Lightly brush with milk.
  5. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  6. Let cool slightly, and while still warm spread glaze over the top so it can melt into the scones. Let cool until glaze hardens.
  7. To make the glaze:
  8. Whisk together confectioners sugar, zest, and orange juice (adding more if necessary) until it's pourable but not overly runny.

Orange Chocolate Scone

ybr_badge

Funtimes!

Hello! Shameless self-promotion is about to commence….

Well, the last few days have been fun! I wanted to update this blog with some new recipes, but then I decided to submit them to recipe contests instead. If you’re looking for new recipes of mine to look at and praise me for, here are the links!

Jell-O Easter Lollipops

Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Peasant Bread

Aren’t they pretty? Go ahead and Like them to help me feel special :)

 

Also, I decided to submit my black Bean Brownies to SpicieFoodie.com’s website for their monthly “Your Best Recipe” list. Check out February’s best recipes here!

tonkatsu

豚カツ(Pork Cutlets)

Earlier in the month while I was at my parents house I made a few different dinners and planned on using them to update my blog since I rarely have time or money to do so while in school. One of the meals I made was reminiscent of my time spent in Japan. My most frequently enjoyed meal was Tonkatsu (豚カツ) aka Pork Cutlets. At the restaurant down the street from my apartment Tonkatsu was always served with cabbage and rice, and the condiment on the table was tonkatsu sauce. It was so unbelievably delicious, and going to that restaurant with my friends holds some of my most fond memories of my study abroad experience.

Doesn’t it look like a delightful experience?

With everything going on in Japan right now, I feel like there isn’t much I can do to help but I still have to try my best. Luckily my friends are all ok and safe, if a little scared and anxious about the future. I’ve been talking to my friend Yuko on gchat a lot, and she’s told me about the aftershocks, blackouts, and lack of food (but she said she’ll be fine since she has a lot of rice). Yet she’s still strong enough to tell me that she’s ok, because in her own words she is a “long time survivor.”

If anyone wants to help out, there are many ways to donate money. Google has a great resource page for making donations. Even Lady Gaga has a donation page set up where you can buy a $5 wristband and all proceeds go to Japan, plus you have the option of donating more money if you want. Engrish.com has a t-shirt you can purchase, with all money going to Red Cross Japan. According to the Red Cross website “People can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific.” There are many ways to help out, so I hope you try to help in any way you can.

One of my favorite pictures I took in Machida (町田), Tokyo. This is the area where my study abroad school, Obirin, is. I was there the summer of 2007

Now for a bit about some Japanese Cuisine, try making tonkatsu, it’s absolutely delicious!

We started with a package of thin pork chops, then I placed a large piece of plastic wrap over a cutting board, place one piece of pork at a time on top of it, folded the plastic wrap over it and gently flattened it more. You should use a mallet with a flat edge, but I didn’t have one so I gently hit them with a rolling pin. You don’t have to go too crazy with this, about 1/4 inch thick should be fine.

It’s a great way to get out any stress :)

Then you do the breading procedure. Gather three bowls, put flour in one, equal parts eggs and milk in the next, and panko in the last. The amounts don’t really matter, if you need more of any of them along the way just add more to the bowl. For the egg bowl, I used three beaten eggs and added milk to it, and that was plenty for the 10 cutlets I made. Then you coat the cutlets in flour, then the eggs, and then cover in panko as much as you can. I usually press a little to make sure it’s really stuck on there.

Fill a skillet with enough oil to reach halfway up a cutlet, and heat it to about 350 degrees (I usually just drop a few pieces of panko in and see if they crackle). Gently place the cutlets in the pan, a few at a time so as to not overcrowd it. Cook until that side is brown, about 3-4 minutes. Then carefully flip them over and brown the other side. Sprinkle salt on them after you remove them from the pan. If it takes a long time, and you’re worried about the finished ones getting cold, you can put them in an oven at it’s lowest setting to keep them warm.

In the meantime I had made rice and cabbage. For the cabbage I just chopped it up and lightly steamed it so it still had some of its’ crunch. I filled the bowl with rice, but some cabbage on top, and then put the cutlets of top of that. This way the rice eventually gets the flavors from the cabbage and pork and makes it more delicious. I, unfortunately, didn’t have tonkatsu sauce on hand so I just put some BBQ sauce on it.

This delectable dish was inspired by Japan. Let’s help them out, ok? Thanks!

chili

Winter Turkey and Leftovers

I love turkey, and I’m sad that it seems like the only acceptable time to roast a turkey is during the holidays. Why? Maybe it’s because turkey usually weighs so much that it take a large group of people to eat it? Maybe it’s too much work to roast so no one feels like making it unless they have to? Who knows? All I know is that I wanted a turkey, and I already knew what I wanted to do with the leftovers. There aren’t actual recipes to follow, since this just consists of what to do with your own leftover turkey meals, and I figure everyone has their own ways of preparing a Thanksgiving type feast.

Here is an example of leftovers

 

I’m home for the week due to school vacation, and conveniently my parents had a frozen 12 lb. turkey. They thawed it in the fridge so that I could make it when I got home (literally, I had to brine it the night I got home). My brother and I made a quick brine, as it was pretty late and we were sleepy, of just water, broth, lots of salt, Italian seasoning, and lemon juice. It sat overnight in the fridge, and then the next day we roasted it.

I made a mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery) for the turkey to sit on so I would get tasty juices for a gravy.

It also kind of props the turkey up so the heat can get to all parts

Then I mixed unsalted butter with more Italian Seasoning and put it under and over the skin of the turkey. Then, for fun, I quartered an orange and put 2 pieces inside the turkey and 2 outside. Then it roasted for some hours (we were drinking wine and not really watching the time, so I can’t be too specific) until it was done. I had also in the meantime made garlic mashed potatoes and a gravy, plus we steamed some veggies.

TURKEY!

Then we had a delightful dinner. We used the turkey bones to make a broth, along with the leftover pan drippings and mirepoix, and added some packets of turkey gravy, and let it simmer for a while. Then I strained the broth into another pot, picked the meat off the bones and added some of the leftover turkey meat along with fresh veggies and potatoes and let it simmer some more. Then we let it cool and stored the soup into containers to freeze. Later on, when we feel like having the soup, we defrost it and add rice to have a nice, hearty turkey soup.

Yeah, so what if it isnt pretty? It’s tasty, and that’s all that matters. And those are oranges floating in it, leftover from roasting.

But we still had a lot of turkey left. So, my brother made a turkey chili. He has a recipe he always uses for chili, but he uses it mostly as a guide. The recipe says, for example, to use 2 slices of bacon. He uses a whole package. Mostly the recipe serves to remind him what to put into the chili, and when to add it. He just changes how much to add.

I love chili.

And lastly, the mashed potatoes. As delicious as they were, there’s only so much of mashed texture a person can eat within a certain amount of time. So I did what my grandma once recommended to me. I fried them. To do this, I simply rolled a spoonful of potatoes, covered it in a light layer of flour, then coated it in an egg wash (2 eggs beaten, plus an equal amount of milk), and coated it in a mix of half panko and half Italian seasoned breadcrumbs. Then I fried them in vegetable oil at a temp of 325-350 degrees until browned. It was a wonderful textural change and made them more fun to eat, since mashed potatoes had become finger food! I only wish I had thought to make a sauce to go with them. Oh well, there’s always next time.

Crunchy outside, garlicky mashed potato goodness inside

You can also make these with leftover turkey meat and veggies, as long as they aren’t too wet and the ball can still hold its’ shape

So what have we learned from this? That it’s ok to make a turkey during the holiday off-season. It’s way more relaxing when it’s just for your immediate family (hence the drinking of wine while cooking) and then there are plenty of ways to make the leftovers fun. Other examples could be using the leftover turkey and veggies and making a turkey pot pie. You could have turkey sandwiches. You could probably make some sort of casserole with a layer of mashed potatoes on top (think of Shepherds Pie). If your store doesn’t have any turkey right now, ask in the meat department if they could order one for you. Chances are that they will.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

New World Cuisine

I keep meaning to take pictures during class so I can show everyone what I’ve actually been doing, but it’s always so busy in the kitchen before service that I forget or don’t have the time. Friday, however, we had some downtime since all of our food was done and the dining room was running late, so the Chef asked if someone could take pictures of his example plates and email them to him. Lucky me, I had my camera.

What is New World Cuisine? Well, turns out that it is the styles of cooking in America, South America, the Caribbean, and in general this whole part of the world. We make things like Southern Fried Chicken with buttermilk dressing and honey, as well as making Jamaican Curried Rice, and roasted chicken. In this class we employ the methods of grilling, roasting, and deep frying. It’s fun and delicious!

This dish is Adobo-Marinated Grilled Chicken with Chicharrones, on top of Yuca fries with Roasted Pumpkin behind it. The chicken skin was first removed, seasoned, and roasted to make that crispy chip you see standing straight up, which is called Chicharrones. The chicken was then brined for about an hour, then marinated in an Annatto Seed oil and herb mixture before being grilled. The Yuca fries are peeled, trimmed, blanched, and then deep fried. We learned the very important lesson that eating yuca raw is poisonous! Apparently it contains high levels of cyanide, but once it’s cooked then it’s all good.

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