RSS

Category Archives: events

The Great White Chocolate Debate.

white chocolate

Over the weekend, I took part in WHYY’s 5th Annual Chocolate Tasting. I love WHYY, and have since I was a wee lass, so I’m happy to do anything that promotes them and helps raise money to keep them doing what they’re doing. It’s good stuff, and good people. 

Anyway, this year, I made over 400 Oreo and cream cheese truffles to support the event. I use the term “I made” loosely, as my boyfriend stayed up until almost 1 AM on Valentine’s Day to help me get them all dipped in chocolate and ready to go. He’s a very dedicated and hard-working assistant, not to mention a fast learner. So yeah, I had help.

There were to be two varieties: plain Oreo with milk chocolate coating, and mint Oreo with white chocolate coating. They looked like so:

a team effort.

a team effort.

 

So needless to say, before we let them leave the house, we had to taste them. Being a white-chocolate lover since I received my very first Easter basket, I went for the white, whereas my BF went straight for the milk chocolate, claiming he’s not a fan of white chocolate. That got me thinking – white chocolate really is not for everyone. You never hear someone say “Yeah, white chocolate is just ok.” It’s either “Mmmm!! I LOVE white chocolate!” or “Eww! I HATE white chocolate!” usually accompanied by “It’s not even REAL Chocolate!” Yes, that’s true – white chocolate is basically chocolate with the chocolate removed, which therefore logically speaking would make it not chocolate.

white not-chocolates?

white not-chocolates?

I have a theory though. If we were to globally wage a campaign to change the name of white chocolate to something else – removing the “chocolate” from the name in the same fashion it’s been removed from the confection itself – i think more people would accept it and enjoy it. No, it does not taste like chocolate – and by giving it a name that would lead folks to believe it does can be deceiving, and frankly, turn people off before they even give it a real chance. I think a new name would solve this problem, and give white chocolate the love it rightfully deserves. Of course, I have no idea what that name should be…White Not-chocolate? But that still has “chocolate” in the name itself and also just sounds too negative. White Candy? That’s a little generic and no one will have a clue as to what they’re about to eat. White Cocoa Butter? That’s a little better…but the “cocoa” could still cause confusion. White Sugar Butter? That actually sounds kinda gross. I don’t know….any suggestions? 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Eat, Write, Retreat – Renew.

ewr1

Over this past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the Eat, Write, Retreat! conference, which just so happened to take place this year in my home city of Philadelphia. In addition to the conference being amazing and totally inspiring, I had the opportunity to see the city I grew up in through the eyes of a tourist. Many of the people I met at the conference were not from around here – some of them had never even been to Philly before. There’s something to be said for looking at a place you know better than any other through new eyes – its like John Lennon said, “All these memories lose their meaning, when I think of love as something new.”

Indeed.

The conference started on Friday afternoon, and even as I made my way down the oh-so-familiar street known around these parts affectionately as “Broad Street” (heck, I even ran 10 miles down this street on foot – twice!) it for some reason, seemed entirely new. So, I began snapping photos, as any good tourist would do.

all these places i remember...

all these places i remember…

I can’t really quite explain how all of a sudden, old familiar scenes were being graced with such newness and seemed to come alive – but I’ll take it.

The conference itself was a truly wonderful experience as well. I was beginning to lose faith in my dream of writing/baking/traveling/photographing; I was questioning my “purpose” and if I was still on the right path. Eat, Write, Retreat and all the fabulous folks I had the luck of crossing paths with put those fears to rest. I believe again. Maybe it had something to do with all the watermelon we ate. I do love me some watermelon.

a spiritual experience?

a spiritual experience?

Seriously, although the watermelon was delicious, it was the people that I met that gave me confidence again – through their various presentations, to off-the-cuff sharing of tips and knowledge, to nothing-to-do-with-blogging-at-all friendly walking and talking around the city.

Philly's very own Magic Garden.

Philly’s very own Magic Garden.

Meeting new people has always been one of my favorite things to do – I dare say I even thrive on it. Halfway through the conference, I had already had so many great conversations and connections, I wasn’t sure if it could get any better — but it did. And not only because there was cheese (although it certainly didn’t hurt).

everything's better with cheese.

everything’s better with cheese.

The very last thing we did was called “Pitch to the Pros,” in which we had a chance to sit with more established bloggers and ask them anything we wanted. I was rather nervous – I had nothing planned and didn’t even begin to know what to ask…I considered bailing out of fear and lack of preparedness; but I knew that would be the worst thing I could do. So onward I trudged, deciding to do my best just winging it.

It was those conversations that wound up restoring my faith the most – reminding me why I’m doing this to begin with. I love writing. I love baking. I love taking pictures. And as much as I love traveling, I can find all of these in my very own hometown, if I just look around once in a while.

who knew mushrooms could look this cool?

who knew mushrooms could look this cool?

I have to say, that in addition to the conference, there have been some wonderful and amazing things going on in my personal life recently that I believe I owe a large portion of this new perspective to, as well. May you all find someone who awakens that light within – who makes everything exciting and new again – even good old Broad Street.

in my life, i love you more.

in my life, i love you more.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on June 5, 2013 in events, Indulgences, life, travel

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Eat, Write, Retreat Culinary Challenge: Fig and Rosemary Scones.

DSC_1188

In less than one month, I’ll be attending the Eat, Write, Retreat! Conference which just so happens to be in my home city of Philadelphia this year! I’m so excited to be taking part in this wonderful opportunity to meet other bloggers, eat delicious dishes, and of course, write all about it!

As an attendee, I’m also taking part in the Amazing Apps Culinary Challenge the conference is running! We are all assigned a secret ingredient, and tasked with creating an appetizer based on said ingredient. Being a baker, I of course went with something, well, you know….baked.

My ingredient was California Figs. I love figs! But I haven’t really incorporated them into my baking that much in the past, so this was my chance! I couldn’t have been happier to create something using a new ingredient that I also happen to adore!

gettin' figgy with it.

gettin’ figgy with it.

As much as I loved eating figs, I had no idea of their nutritional benefits prior to this challenge! Figs are a great source of fiber, for starters. They’re also rich in antioxidants (even richer than red wine!), and they’re an all-natural energy source, which makes them perfect as a pre-workout snack (looks like I’ll be eating some figs before my next marathon!).

So without further adieu…..here’s my creation! Hope you enjoy baking them as much as I did. :)

 

Fig and Rosemary Scones

DSC_1195

What you’ll need:

2 cups flour (sifted)

4 teaspoons baking power

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup shortening

¾ cup half and half

½ cup Dried California Black Mission Figs (chopped)

1 tbsp rosemary (finely chopped)

What you’ll do:

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in the shortening until the mixture has a fine crumb texture.

may i cut in?

may i cut in?

Mix in the chopped figs and rosemary.  Stir in the half and half with a fork so it makes a soft dough. Knead the dough with clean hands about 10 times – do not overknead – it will become too stiff!

knead-y.

knead-y.

Break off roughly shaped pieces (just larger than a golf ball) and place  them on a greased cookie sheet. The shape doesn’t matter – the rougher the better – it gives them a more rustic look! Bake for 12 – 15 minutes (or until the edges being to turn golden brown).  Makes 22 – 24 scones.

rustically delicious.

rustically delicious.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Long time, no post.

Sorry about that. I’ve been kinda….busy. But I have been baking, albeit not as frequently as I had been in the somewhat recent past. But that’s beside the point. Here I am now, writing a new post, about one of the things I actually did bake - Lemon Pistachio Mini Cupcakes.

little. yellow. different.

little. yellow. different.

I actually made these for the Cupcake Smash competition I participated in a couple of weeks back. Although I did not win, I had a fabulous time, made some new baking friends, and received much positive feedback on the cupcakes themselves!

a winner in my book.

a winner in my book.

As far as what went into them, I started off with my Best Vanilla Cake Ever recipe, but instead of using vanilla extract, I used Lemon. I topped them with my New and Improved Lemon Buttercream. But that’s not all – I filled them each with grape jam, and sprinkled them all with crushed pistachios. I titled them “Pistachi-o-baby,” however, as my setup at the event wound up having a Parisian theme, in hindsight I should have called them “Pistachi-ohh-la-la!” That would have been much more fitting. I probably would have won with that. ;)

sur le table.

sur la table.

The good news was that I wound up with a bunch of extras, so I brought them to work, and everybody loved them. So really, we all win in the end.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Cupcake Smash!!

So I’ve been pretty busy getting everything together for an event I’m participating in this Saturday – The 3rd Annual Cupcake Smash! 

Print

Each competitor is tasked with making an original cupcake creation based on an item from the menu of PYT, located right next to where the competition will be held this Saturday, April 27th, from 2pm to 5pm, in the Piazza at Schmidts (1050 N. Hancock St., Philadelphia), Not only will you get a chance to sample many Über delicious cupcakes, but the event also benefits Philabundance, which is a major player in the fight against hunger in the Philadelphia area. So just think – you get to eat sweets while simultaneously helping an awesome charity. It’s a win-win.

I’m not going to give anything away as far as my creation goes – you’ll just have to come out to the event to find out for yourself! I will, however, provide you with the link to getting yourself some tickets– http://www.philabundance.org/2013/01/08/cupcake-smash-2013-at-the-piazza-at-schmidts/

And check out the facebook event, where you can find all the info and RSVP that you’re coming!!

I forgot to mention that not only do you get to sample the cupcakes, but you also get to vote for your favorite – so let your sweet tooth speak for itself!!

See you there!! :)

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 24, 2013 in cupcakes, events, Indulgences

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Half Moons (aka Chocolate Covered Chocolate Chip Cookies).

chocs

One of my favorite things to use my baking ability for is supporting a good cause. Last night, I did just that. I participated in an event called “Chocolate”, hosted by local public television station, WHYY. Not only has WHYY been around since I was kid, but it was on this very station where I faithfully watched Sesame Street everyday, and still could to this day, if I so desired. A childhood without Sesame Street is like a cake without icing. Or, a cookie without chocolate. Sure, a chocolate chip cookie can be an amazing snack on its own – but have you ever had one dipped in chocolate? I decided to give back to the community by offering up this very thing. I started with my very own dream cookie recipe.

a dough to build a dream on.

a dough to build a dream on.

I made two varieties – the standard chocolate you see pictured here, and an alternate version with white chocolate chips. I baked them into cookies.

what comes is better than what came before.

what comes is better than what came before.

Now here’s where I was alone, I took a right, I didn’t know what I would find there. I cut all of the cookies in half while they were still a little warm and let them cool. Next, I took each of the “half moons” and dipped it entirely into melted chocolate. Milk chocolate for the milk chocolate chips….

it's getting better all the time.

it’s getting better all the time.

…and white chocolate (colored pink in honor of Valentine’s Day) for the white chocolate chips.

pink, pink, pink, pink moon.

pink, pink, pink, pink moon.

I did some in plain white as well, for the sake of variety. I put them on display and left it up to the people to decide their fate.

The results: two days of baking, cutting and dipping over 400 half moons – all vanished in less than two hours. Cutting them in half way key – a full-sized dipped cookie would have just been too big and too rich. But a half? Now THAT’S the perfect Small Indulgence.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Book Fest 2012.

Tomorrow will be my second year participating in the Collingswood Book Festival , and the 10th year of the festival itself! Held in the town of Collingswood, NJ, the festival runs along the main drag (aka Haddon Ave), and is comprised of local authors, vendors selling used books and book-related items, book signings, food, folks, and fun! It runs from 10 – 4, and I will of course be promoting and selling my cookbook.

a small indulgence in itself.

So stop by, say hi, buy a new book, hang out and read, wander around, eat, drink and be merry. And who knows, maybe you’ll find the next book you were meant to read; or more accurately, it will find you. :)

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”   ~Haruki Murakami

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 5, 2012 in book, ebook, events

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Eat Dessert and Adopt a Pet.

This weekend, I’m participating in a bake sale to benefit Furrever Friends Rescue and Volunteers, Inc, which is a wonderful organization dedicated to saving the lives of homeless pets. This particular cause is very dear to me, as I grew up in a family where all of our pets were shelter animals and I adopted my own pet (Gandalf the Gray) almost 10 years ago from a shelter.

10 years old, and still crazy as a kitten.

Anyway, if you are in the Philly area over the weekend, swing on down to the PetSmart in Deptford, NJ , and sample some delicious baked goods, all for a great cause. And, heck, why not adopt a pet while you’re at it!

And just to further entice you, here’s a glimpse of my donations.

Chocolate Chip Cookies….

the cookie next door.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies….

The exotic.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies…

the party cookie.

and Marzipan Mice.

the cheerleader.

The sale will be going on today from 10am to 9pm, and tomorrow 10am to 5pm. If you love animals and baked goods (and who doesn’t) then come on down!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 15, 2012 in confections, cookies, events, Indulgences

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

What is Survive?

I heard a little boy ask his dad that very question this morning while running the LIVESTRONG Philly 10k race. The father was explaining to his son that they were running in honor of a friend of his, who had cancer. “He didn’t survive, ” the father said, to which the little boy responded, “What is Survive?”

I didn’t hear what the father answered, as I had already gone into my head, asking myself that very question. As I ran the rest of the race, I came up with a few answers:

1. It’s waking up for days in a row, feeling like you don’t want to get out bed, but doing it anyway, until the day you finally want to get up again.

2. It’s watching someone close to you suffer, knowing there’s nothing you can do about it, but be there for them, and allow them to inspire you to be better.

3. It’s being better.

4. It’s the voice that says “keep going” when you think you can’t take another step. You can.

5. It’s forgiving AND forgetting.

6. It’s enjoying, appreciating, and being grateful for the little miracles that are all around us and happen every day.

7. It’s constantly broadening your scope – you’re never too old to learn something entirely new.

8. It’s laughing, loving, and being with friends and family.

9. It’s taking full responsibility for yourself and your actions.

10. It’s living with your eyes open, being awake, aware, and alive.

11. It’s having fun while you’re at it. :)

A year ago today, I woke up and headed out to my first ever “official” race – The LIVESTRONG Philadelphia Challenge. It was a 10k, and I was anxious about running that distance. I was nervous, sad, and alone, and I cried on the way there. This morning, I headed out to that very same race, and again cried on the way- this time out of joy and amazement in the difference one year and 9 races can make in a person. Live strong and prosper, everyone. You’re worth it.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on August 18, 2012 in biography, events, life, running

 

Tags: , , , ,

The Power of Pixies.

So the other night, I participated in WHYY’s Best of Chefs Event, as I mentioned in my last post. The event was a blast! It was organized, fun, well-attended and also provided me with a serendiptious opportunity to do some market research. Allow me to explain: I made an assortment of Pixie Cakes, in the following flavors:

Chocolate Pixies

Chocolate cake mixed with buttercream icing, dipped in dark chocolate, with chocolate sprinkles.

Vanilla Pixies

Vanilla cake mixed with buttercream icing, dipped in white chocolate, sprinkled with sugar.

Red Velvet Pixies

Red Velvet cake mixed with buttercream icing, dipped in white chocolate, sprinkled with red sugar.

Cookies and Cream Pixies

Chocolate cake mixed with cookies and buttercream icing, rolled in cookie crumbs.

and Coconut Pixies.

Vanilla cake mixed with coconut buttercream, dipped in white chocolate, and sprinkled with coconut.

I placed them all on a tray, as so:

Pixies on a plate.

Now here’s where it got interesting: the doors opened and the crowd shuffled in. As they approached my table, one after another after another went straight for the Red Velvet. And if it wasn’t the Red Velvet, it was the good old fashioned Chocolate. Now by mere coincidence, I made more of the Red Velvets than any of the others; but it didn’t matter – I ran out of them first, and people were coming back and asking me if there were anymore! When I told them I ran out, they were only dejected for a second, and then just sampled another flavor instead (and liked it!).

The moral of the story: cake is great, but Red Velvet rules.

The people have spoken.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 194 other followers

%d bloggers like this: