Chopped Con 2014

Last Thursday I attended my first food blog conference. The best news is it was in the heart of the Midwest in Kansas City, MO (GO ROYALS!). Kansas City is just a short three hour drive away from Omaha. The perfect first time getaway since having Felix. I survived, he survived, and Grandma survived so that is a relief.

The conference was only one day and they jammed a lot into that day. Chopped Con was organized by Marly from Namely Marly. She (and her family) did a fabulous job securing a beautiful location, fun speakers, and some of the tastiest food. Many of the food bloggers attending are online celebrities of sorts. I mean all my friends read their blogs on the regular so I was incredibly nervous and apprehensive to go up and barge into their conversations.

Kristen from Dine and Dish was one of the hosts of the Thursday night reception. She was incredibly gracious and kind. She introduced me to several of the people whose blogs I have been reading for years. Ali from Gimme Some Oven and Bev from Bev Cooks (the babies made an adorable appearance on Friday!) were the other hosts but I was too awkward to say more than “hi”.

Thursday night’s food showcased Kansas City’s finest chefs. Local chefs sharing their fabulous food with us was the best start to the weekend. The appetizer that stood out the most was from the only female chef representing that night. Chef Renee Kelly owner of Renee Kelly’s Harvest (a farm to table restaurant) made a savory herb filled bread pudding topped with sarsaparilla braised short ribs and a drizzle of local honey. I died. Then I went back and ate two more! Next time I am in town I will be certain to eat at her restaurant.

Chopped Con 2014

The real event was all day Friday. Big circular tables were set up so we could eat and listen to the presentations in comfort. I have to make note of the lovely private loft space Marly let me use when I needed to pump. I was still able to hear all the speakers and I didn’t have to sit in a bathroom stall to pump. Pumping mamas I know you know how wonderful this is. While at the conference Alex and I sat next to two sweet gals from The Pasta Shoppe out of Tennessee. It was fun chatting with them throughout the day. If you have a second take a look at their fun-shaped pasta for every occasion!

The keynote speaker was Carolyn O’Neil M.S. R.D. It was fun having someone from the health/dietician side of things there. After her talk I wanted to come home and bleach out my produce drawer since she said it is the top spot for germs in the kitchen. Later in the day Ms. O’Neil sat next to me and made a comment about how Walmart is the largest seller of organic food in the country. Whatever your opinion about Walmart may be at least they are getting good food in the hands of people that can’t afford to drop a whole paycheck at Whole Foods.

Lindsay and Bjork, the power-couple, behind the gorgeous Pinch of Yum had an information loaded presentation about Taking Your Food Blog from Good to Great! These two seem so knowledgeable and it was fun getting to hear them share a bit of their knowledge with us. I feel like I am treading water some days and most days I don’t have a clue what I am doing so it was awesome to pick up some great tips as I prepare to launch a new site.

royals

All-in-all it was a wonderful time. Alex and I got to see the Royals win game 3 on the giant screen in the Power and Light district. I am so glad they won. KC you are lots of fun when everyone is celebrating a win.

citymarket

Before heading home we stopped into the new IKEA store and a visit to Kansas City River Market where I picked up some new spices. I definitely need to come back when it is in the middle of the growing season. I can’t wait to see what next year’s Chopped Con has to offer!

 

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French Silk Pie Birthday

Hi friends! How was your weekend? I had such a lovely weekend, my husband and I took a mini-vacay to Kansas City where we attended Chopped Con, a food blogging conference in the heart of the midwest. Yes, I dragged my husband to a food blogging conference since he is the *behind the scenes guy I figured it would be fun for him to see/hear more about this thing I love so much. Check back later this week for a little recap of the conference.

French Silk Pie

If you have been a reader for awhile you already know how much I love throwing birthday parties for my kiddos. Penelope had a birthday earlier this month and she went with a Halloween costume party theme, which is a great October birthday party theme. When I asked her what kind of cake she wanted she said French Silk Pie, not cake. OKAY! I can do that!

Halloween Birthday

 

The cousins came all dressed-up, as did my in-laws, my sister, and Mom (Dad said he was scary enough as is ;) ), we played pin the hat on the witch, had a spooky bubbling cauldron of witch’s punch, walking tacos for the kiddos, and of course French silk pie. We had a Halloween Pandora station playing and got to hear every single recorded version of Monster Mash there ever was. There seriously needs to be more Halloween music!   

Spooky French Silk Pie

Since this was a Halloween themed party I swirled some Hershey’s syrup on the top of the whipped cream. Using toothpicks I dragged them through from the middle to the outside making it look like a spider web. Spooky, right?! Spooky delicious.

This pie is RICH and CHOCOLATEY. I actually made this pie earlier in the month as a trial run for Thanksgiving. Penelope LOVED it and that is why she chose it for her birthday. I like the way she thinks.

French Silk Pie

French Silk Pie was a favorite of mine at those 24 hour diners I would go to at 3 am in college. For some reason I always thought it would be so involved and difficult to make, I mean it is French so it had to be complicated, right. This is not true. It is shockingly EASY to make. If you have mixer it will do the work for you. YAY!

Quick note: The filling is gluten free so pour it into your favorite gluten free pie crust and you will have a decadent gluten free dessert.

French Silk Pie

FRENCH SILK PIE
Ingredients for the crust
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup shortening, chilled
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons ice water, possibly need more

Ingredients for the pie filling
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
4 large eggs
2 cups whipped cream for topping
chocolate for grating or shaving on the top

Directions

for the crust
1. Preheat oven to 400ºF
2. Cut shortening into the flour and salt with a pastry cutter to the consistency of coarse meal
3. Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time while stirring gently until the dough starts to form into a ball
4. Gently roll out the crust between two sheets of parchment paper. Place it in a pie plate. Crimp edges as desired.
5. Dock the dough by piercing with a fork several times around the bottom and sides
6. Lay parchment on the crust and fill with pie weights (or dried beans or rice)
7. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove weights and bake for 10 more minutes or until golden brown
8. Remove pie and allow to cool completely before filling

for the filling
1. In the bowl of your mixer beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes
2. While mixer is still running gently pour in the cooled melted chocolate.
3. Add vanilla, cocoa powder, and espresso powder. Scrape down the bowl
4. Add eggs one at a time, beating on medium-high speed for 5 minutes in between each addition (20 minutes total for silky texture)
5. Pour into cooled crust and refrigerate for 4 hours before serving.
6. Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings or curls or chocolate syrup for a spooky spider web

French Silk Pie

*Alex has been busy behind the scenes working on my NEW site. There is a lot of work we still need to do to launch but hopefully I can show it off before the end of the year! 

Posted in Desserts, Family, Gluten Free, Holidays | Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

When baking for a bake sale you need to appeal to the children. The children are the ones that really drive the sales we all know that.

Our school bake sale is a little fundraiser for the PTA and I wanted the PTA to get the most they could during their bake sale so I baked up some sugar cookies that I was certain would appeal to the children. Sprinkles are the secret. Doughnut makers have known this for years.

If you cover it in sprinkles the children will want it. Also make the cookies jumbo sized. Jumbo cookies make children happy too.

This cookie recipe is perfect for rolling out and cutting into shapes. To make these jumbo cookies I used a 3-inch circle shape cutter. You can use any shape you choose. Jumbo sprinkle covered cookies will sure be a hit wherever you serve them.

Jumbo Sprinkle Cookies

SPRINKLE SUGAR COOKIES
Ingredients

3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

water for brushing
sprinkles

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl whisk together flour and baking powder.
2. In the bowl of a kitchen mixer, beat together unsalted butter and sugar.
3. Once mixed well, add in egg and vanilla.
4. Add in flour mixture about a cup at a time.
5. Mix until dough forms and begins to clump together. If it appears crumbly keep mixing it will come together.
6. Roll dough into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and allow to chill in fridge for 30 minutes before using.

When ready to use:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. To roll dough place between lightly floured parchment sheets. I like the cookies between 1/8 -1/4 inch thick.
3. Place cut out shapes on parchment lined cookie sheet.
4. Brush tops of cookies with water and cover in sprinkles.
5. Put cookies sheet in freezer for about 5 minutes.
6. Bake for about 8 minutes. Let sit on the cookie sheet for a minute or two to set before placing on cooling rack.

Sugar Cookies with Sprinkles

Posted in Desserts | Tagged as: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Restaurant-Style Salsa

Restaurant Style Salsa

What is your favorite cuisine? Tacos, burritos, tamales, tortas, enchiladas, margaritas… without hesitation I would say that Mexican food is my favorite. I love the muy authentico Mexican foods and the Tex-Mex varieties equally.

The story goes my uncle (who was in high school at the time) fed me chips and salsa when I was barely six months old and I love it. I have pretty much been stuffing my face with chips and salsa since. Thanks JP! :) In college there were times when I couldn’t make it to the cafeteria for dinner, stupid night classes, so I would make chips and salsa my dinner after class.

Mexican restaurants that give you endless chips and salsa are my favorite. Yes I know that you shouldn’t fill up on that type of stuff before dinner but freshly made chips are about a billion times better than the chips you get at the grocery store. And the salsas. Ahhh the salsas, they are so good too. About a billion times better than the jarred stuff in the store.

This salsa isn’t a salsa in the sense of tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cilantro. This is more of a sauce. A spicy tomato sauce in fact. Which is perfect when slightly warm. This salsa is very similar to the salsa I grew up eating at our local smokey bar that served some of the best Mexican food. This restaurant still exists but I don’t get back to eat it very much anymore. Instead I have slowly started to recreate my favorites at home.

My mother-in-law actually told me she heard the secret to their salsa was tomato sauce and red pepper flake. That is it. How easy, right?! I had to give it a try and we were so pleased with the end result I know I will be making this many, many, many more times in the future. It is true moms do know everything. :)

 

Restaurant Style Taco Sauce

RESTAURANT STYLE SALSA 
Ingredients
1-8 ounce can tomato sauce
1-2 teaspoons red pepper flake

Directions: 
1. In small sauce pan add tomato sauce and red pepper flake
2. Simmer over medium-low for 5 minutes.
3. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Best served warm

SO TELL ME! 

What is your favorite cuisine? 

Have you recreated restaurant favorites at home?

    

Posted in Appetizers, Gluten Free, Snack, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tagged as: , , , , | 3 Comments
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