Friday, October 9, 2015

Recipe Round Up: How Do You Like 'Dem Apples?

If you aren't already in the spirit of fall, you may want to consider taking a trip to a local apple orchard! Apples are in season and while apple orchards are busy with pickers, you can also take advantage of the great apple prices at the grocery store. If you're looking for some new and sweet ways to use those apples, I've got 12 recipes to suggest... and they'll get you embracing the beauty of autumn in no time!

*Winning* Caramel Apple Spice Cupcakes

Swedish Apple Pie Squares

Caramel Apple Bread Pudding

Buttery Apple Crumble

Hoosier Mama Classic Apple Pie

Caramel Apple Strudel

Apple Fritters with Maple Glaze

Sous Vide Caramel Apple Galette

Praline Apple Cake

French Apple Pie with Butterflake Crust

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Event Recap: Kultura Festival Chicago

Did you know that October is Filipino American Heritage Month? I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if you were unsure what Filipino culture was really about. But thanks to some amazing people of Filipino Kitchen here in Chicago, there are probably a thousand or more people that got a taste of what Filipino American means. Literally. Kultura Festival was the first ever festival here in Chicago created to embrace the contributions of Filipino Americans. The best way to do this? Through food! I was honored to be a part of this event, which was clearly a success in many ways, just as it was a learning experience for all.

First off, we had no idea the event would have such a tremendous response. In fact, as a vendor, we were told to prepare 200-300 servings for the 7 hour event that ran from 11am to 6pm. Having done similar events before, I knew I needed to plan accordingly and make a bit more... you know, just in case. That said, I thought I did extremely well in terms of volume of food. We had enough to carry us through the bulk and mad rush of the event, up until things significantly died down around 4pm. The food vendor next to us barely made it 2 hours into the event and ended up closing up shop since they ran out of food. Apparently, this was the case for many food vendors. Before I knew it, I saw vendors packing up and leaving while attendees were still coming through the door.

Speaking of attendees, I was located at the entrance and folks were lined up for quite some time. We learned that our venue hit the maximum capacity and they couldn't let more attendees in until few straggled out. I guess in this instance, it pays off to come on time or early... "Filipino time" wouldn't have helped you at all!

For those that were able to enjoy the festival before vendors ran out of food, some offerings included these longanisa rolls stuffed with native Filipino pork sausage, garnished with a ginger cream sauce and accompanied with pickles...

Another one were these steamed buns (aka siopao) stuffed with braised beef and served with the common flavor elements of the Filipino dish, Kare Kare. Peanuts, eggplant, seaweed, shrimp paste and egg were artistically plated in an elevated version of Kare Kare...

For dessert, halo halo, a cross between a milkshake and granola parfait, was available and included tropical fruits, shaved ice, milk and rice crispies. Another dessert was a caramel cake topped with a banana ice cream and sweet pastry crisp as a take on the traditional banana eggroll dessert, turon.

For me, I didn't want to overthink my offerings and went with something easy, quick and significant. Besides, I knew as a guest I want to get my food relatively fast at a festival where other food vendors would be present.

I offered up both a sweet and savory option - pork lechon lettuce wraps and tropical cupcakes. Lechon is a very important dish from my childhood and pork is a top source of protein in the cuisine. I wanted to prepare something light and gluten free so I served my lechon as a lettuce wrap with steamed rice, topped with a mango and tomato salsa that had a touch of Philippine lime, or calamansi. We sold out of our lechon lettuce wraps at the perfect time, just as the crowds died down. I did however run out of salsa towards the end but the wraps were still pretty good and flavorful.

My cupcakes were also a popular hit and it was flattering to have some folks come by happy to see them. Years ago I used to sell them through select Filipino grocery stores in the Chicagoland area. When I left the city, the cupcakes came with me... but I brought them to the festival as it was only fitting. I made three flavors - mango, guava and ube macapuno (purple yam & coconut - a very popular Filipino dessert flavor combination.) Just as I ran out of salsa, I also ran out of frosting also at the very end but managed to sell all 300+ cupcakes I brought!

Overall, it was an amazing experience and I would do it all over again. I'm looking forward to participating in Kultura Chicago 2.0 next year. And given how this first year went, I have no doubt in my mind that it's going to be even bigger, better and more delicious!

Photo credit: John Angcay Photography

Monday, October 5, 2015

Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas

Sunday is probably my favorite day of the week this time of year. Ideally, we'll all be in pajamas, the boys will be lounging around watching football, while I'm in the kitchen playing with some recipes. I had a craving for something Mexican while Patrick had a hankering for buffalo wings recently. With those two options on the table, I decided to combine both and made these Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas. Chicken, blue cheese and cream cheese are stuffed into softened corn tortillas and baked under a blanket of cheddar cheese. Need I say more?!...

We loved how the two cravings were satisfied with this one dish! It was a nice twist on an old favorite and they made excellence leftovers as well. If you wanted, you can even add some diced celery to the filling mixture for additional crunch. 

Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas
recipe adapted from Cooking Light

(6-ounce) cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, shredded
(7-ounce) jar tomato salsa
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup chopped seeded tomato
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
2 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Cooking spray
1 ounce sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1/4 cup)
Sour cream for serving
Lime wedges for serving
Diced fresh tomatoes for garnish

Combine the reserved cooking liquid and tomato salsa in a saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced to 1 1/2 cups (about 30 minutes). Reduce heat to low; stir in whipping cream. Place pan over low heat.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine the chicken, tomato, salt, cumin, blue cheese and cream cheese in a medium bowl.

Dip each tortilla in the salsa sauce mixture for 10 seconds. Fill each tortilla with about 1/3 cup chicken and blue cheese mixture; roll up. Arrange filled tortillas, seam sides down, in an 11 x 7–inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon sauce over tortillas; top with cheddar cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Serve with reduced fat sour cream, fresh limes and diced tomatoes for garnish if desired.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Pumpkin Recipe Round Up!

Happy October! You know what this means, right? Well, for me, it means that time is going to fly right through the holidays now that fall is here and it's cool enough for me to bake to my heart's content! October always triggers the need to have pumpkin - in any shape or form - in my kitchen. I hope I'm not alone and there are some pumpkin loving friends out there. That said, I've been thinking of some pumpkin treats to make. My son's 'Fall Festival' event is coming up in a few weeks at his school and I'll be managing the concessions this year. Aside from that, I'll be baking up some treats for the school's student council bake sale and donating a cake for the Annual Cake Walk. I guess it goes without saying that my oven will be getting quite a workout lol. 

I started going through the various pumpkin recipes on my site and if you're looking for something to bake that incorporates pumpkin, you're in luck! Here are some of my favorite pumpkin recipes so you can get into the spirit of fall!

Libby's Pumpkin Pie

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

Praline Pecan Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

Pumpkin Swirl Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Praline Dessert Tamales

Pumpkin Loaf

Glazed Pumpkin Cranberry Scones

Autumn Pumpkin Caramel Muffins

Caramel Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Spiced Pumpkin Fudge

Pumpkin Pecan Biscotti

Friday, September 25, 2015

O’zapft is! German Fare for Oktoberfest!

As we near the end of Oktoberfest this year, I had to make sure I did a round up of my favorite German recipes! We are actually headed out this weekend to celebrate at Hofbrauhaus with friends for great food, lots of drinks and perhaps a polka or two. How will you be celebrating Oktoberfest, if at all? If you can't make it out to Munich or your nearest German restaurant, here are a few recipes that captures the German spirit! Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Recap: Krusteaz Baker's Dozen at IFBC 2015!

Life has been quite hectic over here the past week or so. With long hours working at the pharmacy, recently hosting a successful Filipino pop up dinner, Joel getting pneumonia shortly after and caring for my mom who has had multiple doctor visits, I needed some space. I needed to get away. And I am so thankful I had a chance to head to Seattle. I couldn't back out of my trip since I was on my way west to work with Krusteaz and to also attend the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC). It was a much needed, fun and fantastic long weekend to reconnect, re-energize and release myself from daily "life."

It wasn't all fun though. In fact, I had maybe 3 hours of sleep before flying out. With so much going on at home, my only opportunity to pack was the night before and of course, I had mountains of laundry to do. So, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning only to realize my taxi was picking me up in 3 hours. Do I sleep or ride it out? I ended up sleeping... barely. Just when I was about to doze off, Patrick woke me up so we could head on out. Gah!

Our flight was about 4 hours and I'm thankful I got some sleep on the plane. By the time we landed, a driver whisked me away to Krusteaz headquarters so I could start getting ready for some videos to film. Thank goodness the makeup artist was able to use her magic and disguise the tired look I came in with lol. We ended up filming 2 segments in roughly 2 hours, featuring some kitchen tips and tricks to make cooking/baking not only easier but fun! 

After filming, we headed to the hotel to meet with my fellow 2015 Krusteaz Bakers Dozen ambassadors for dinner at Seattle's popular Purple Café & Wine Bar. That's when I got to see my dear friend, Susan of Doughmesstic. We often keep in touch online so it was good to see her in person and catch up!

The next day, it was back at Krusteaz headquarters to work more with their product line. One of our projects was to make lunch using a variety of Krusteaz mixes. We were split into 4 groups - appetizer, salad, entree and desserts. Each group was to use available ingredients and incorporate Krusteaz products into their dishes. 

The appetizer group prepared these Cheese & Roasted Vegetable Tarts. They were delicious and incorporated Krusteaz Pie Crust Mix. Did you know the Krusteaz company was actually started as a result of their pie crust mix?  A group of women came up with "Krust - Eaz" for a pie crust mix in which you only needed to add water! As a result of this appetizer, I have a new found love for the mix and want to play around with it to create more recipes!

The salad group prepared 3 salads - leaf greens salad, chopped garden salad and a southwest corn salad. I especially loved their chopped green salad and southwest corn salad. But we all know what the best part of salad is, right? The croutons! They prepared some Krusteaz Cornbread Mix, cut them into cubes and toasted them to add in. Additionally, they made another batch of cornbread to serve with the salad and added some chipotle peppers for a little spicy kick.

The main entree group prepared 4 types of flatbread pizzas. It was a perfect choice to go with the salads prepared. Using Krusteaz Flatbread Mixes, the group came up with four kinds of flatbread - chicken alfredo with spinach and tomatoes, Hawaiian, Meat Lovers and Roasted Veggie. They were all so good and my fave? The chicken alfredo with spinach and tomato!

Lastly, the dessert group that I was in had a lot of fun preparing a couple desserts. We made two sweets - triple berry chocolate chip crisp and a maple apple cobbler. I'll be posting the recipes soon! 

I will say that when you have a group of food bloggers in the kitchen, you can be sure whatever they make will be delicious. All our dishes really complimented each other and I was so proud and impressed at our efforts! It makes me want to have them all come over and cook/bake meals together lol. Just as our food coma started to set, it was time for our next project - photography tips and tricks.

Todd Coleman headed up our photography session and he pretty much blew our minds with his vast knowledge and information shared. I learned so much that I'm finally going to set up one of our bedrooms as a photo studio so I can work on my food photography. Meeting him and learning from him was the push I needed to take a closer look and put more effort into my food photos!

After our photography session, it was time to end the day and prepare for the IFBC conference.

With Krusteaz as one of the main sponsors, theKrusteaz Bakers Dozen helped facilitate a session held for attendees. We also helped Jenn Sbranti of Hostess with the Mostess set up the session with all the cute items she created for the event. The theme tied in travel, treats and special moments with primary colors, a touch of gold and natural textures.

The session was completely hands on, where attendees created three types of cookie containers for gift giving. Naturally, Krusteaz Cookie Mixes were the star and everyone got to take some, package them up and share them with others at the conference. Here's my table of attendees I facilitated which included ladies representing Coravin, BigOven, Geeky Hostess, Tangled Up in Food, and Portlandivore. It was a great mix of women of various food perspectives and backgrounds, which made networking while making our cookie containers so much fun.

There were other great sessions during the conference, including more photography tips and tricks with Todd Coleman, prop styling, learning about wine pairing, cooking lamb, and so much more. It was a full afternoon of sessions and when those were over, we ended the night with a Culinary Fair and Expo. The fair highlighted the some amazing food brands and Seattle restaurants. Over at Krusteaz, we filled up on their delicious bakery style cookies and had fun with the photo props as seen here lol...

Overall, it was an awesome time and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have experienced the jam packed weekend! Now with it officially the first day of fall, I'm even more excited about getting in the kitchen, creating some delicious eats and savoring the moments. Hopefully you are too!
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