February 21, 2014

SoBe Wine & Food Festival - Burger Bash

There's always something happening in Miami and this weekend it's the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.  One of tonight's events was a Burger Bash which free tickets lured us to.

 
The event was hosted by Rachael Ray who is just as fun in person as she is on TV. 
 

Chris tried 4 of the 31 burgers and really liked them all.  As you might have guessed, I tried zero burgers but I did sample some crazy good cookies from Levain Bakery and enjoyed tasty mango ice cream from San Bernardo.

 
Celebrity spotting at this Food Network event was fun.  Anne Burrell, Trisha Yearwood and Andrew Zimmern are pictured below.  I was most excited to see Trisha Yearwood because I love her music but was surprised at how many other were too.  I overheard a lot of people say "oh my god, it's Trisha Yearwood!"


When Rachael Ray was on stage she mentioned that one of the beers Amstel was serving tasted just like Fresca.  I knew I needed to try it after hearing that.  Sure enough, it tasted nothing like beer which was perfect for me!  It was about 110 degrees in that tent, so I really enjoyed my cold beer.


The event was really, really crowded (which sort of blows my mind because tickets were $225), so we made our way outside of the food tent where it was cooler and less congested.  Other than the sand beneath our feet, it didn't feel like a beach event and you would never know the ocean was 20 feet away.


There are a lot of interesting events as part of the festival, I only wish they weren't so dang expensive.  Hopefully we'll stumble into some free tickets next year too!

February 19, 2014

Lately

Kale Mango Salad -

This salad was inspired by a recent brunch at the Soho Beach House.  I'm thankful Chris' co-worker suggested it because it's not a place we would have stumbled upon otherwise.  It's a private club but their dining area is open to the public.  My recreation involved massaged kale, mangoes and radishes with Annie's mango dressing.


Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar -

I recently picked up two small bottles of Persian lime olive oil and honey ginger balsamic vinegar at a new oil & vinegar shop near our apartment.  An earnest teenager (appeared to be a family run business) tried telling me the larger bottles were a much better value but I wanted to try the smaller versions before committing.

The honey ginger balsamic vinegar is amazing and it's such as easy way to flavor a dish.  Another guy at the shop (the dad?) recommended it on fish or as a marinade for meat...yeah neither of those helped me, but I found a website saying it was great on pasta and vegetables.  So I sautéed carrots and bell peppers, then added cooked farro along with the oil and vinegar.  It was an awesome combination!


Instagram -

So I've been on Instagram for about a month and I still don't quite get it's appeal.  It seems like it would be ideal for me since I love sharing photos but Facebook works well for that and I haven't found many people yet who use Instagram. 

All the hashtags leave me confused too.  I'm used to one or two being used at a time on Twitter, which is a great way to follow certain things, but people go crazy with hashtags on Instagram.  Like a photo I saw today with the following hashtags...#food #foodblog #foodporn #instafood #nomnation #foodphotography #foodstagram #foodiechats #f52grams #foodgasm #hungryhongkong  #foodblogger #foodspotting  #ilovesharingfood #eeeeeats #jj_food #sharemyplate.
 

Miami Restaurants -

We haven't eaten out much here, but we're in high visitor season right now so we're anxious to find great restaurants to take visitors too.  Each time I read about an interesting place or receive a recommendation, I mark it on my google map

This seemed like a great plan and I was excited for Chris to select a place from my map this past weekend.  So he starts pulling up menus and says "I'm surprised you want to go to these places."  It turns out the majority of restaurants in this area serve just meat and seafood with no other options.

It's rare for me not to find something that looks good on a menu, but after taking a closer look at several restaurants I realized this city is not meant for vegetarian dining.  We ended up at Café Pasta Prima because Italian is almost always a safe choice and it did not disappointment.  I started with their Prima exotic fruit martini and had four cheese gnocchi for dinner.


My best friend Tracy arrives in just one week and I'm looking forward to trying more new places with her!  So far, our only plan is a Fort Lauderdale Food & Wine Festival.  I mean other than South Beach, you can't come to Miami without seeing the spectacle that is South Beach :)

February 13, 2014

Valentine's Snickerdoodles with Sprinkles

Chris and I haven't celebrated Valentine's Day since our dating days ten years ago but I do enjoy baking Valentine's treats each year.  How about you?  Something to celebrate or just another day? 


This year I combined Valentine's sprinkles (aka jimmies) from Target's dollar spot with Joanne's soft and chewy snickerdoodle sprinkle cookies and loved the way they turned out.


It's a quick recipe to make because it yields just 32 cookies unlike some recipes that make quantities more appropriate for a bake sale.  Just two cookie sheets in and out of the oven and you're done!

I made a couple minor changes to the recipe, using less sprinkles (my package was 3.2 oz, about a 1/2 cup) and using nonstick cookie sheets instead of parchment paper.


One $2 plate from Target later and you're all set to serve these cookies :)


February 05, 2014

Roasted Eggplant Dip

I'm currently reading Food Blogging for Dummies and despite the title, it's a really good book.  It probably sounds like it's geared for beginner bloggers, but I think you need to be at least a couple years into blogging to really benefit from the book.

One piece of advice from the book that I don't adhere to is "pay attention to seasons and holidays."  The author says "For example, posting a pumpkin pie recipe on Thanksgiving Day isn’t very useful for your audience and you probably won’t have the best-tasting tomato salad in December."

I know that eggplant, peppers and tomatoes aren't in season right now in the vast majority of the U.S. but they are here and that's the beauty of Pinterest.  I recommend pinning this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa now and then making it when eggplant starts arriving in your CSA box.


I saw Ina make this recipe on one of the many episodes of Barefoot Contessa I've watched over the past few months.  It's the only cooking show that I typically pin several recipes from after watching.
 
This time around, I made the recipe exactly as written, but would like to try a fresh tomato in place of tomato paste next time.  Our CSA box is heavy with tomatoes each week and I find it difficult to find enough uses for them.  Hopefully our next freezer is bigger and then I can freeze marinara sauce.
 
I really liked this dip with Stacy's naked pita chips, but I can imagine it making a tasty sandwich spread too, topped with some crunchy cucumbers.
 



Roasted Eggplant Dip

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes


Ingredients (8 servings)
  • 2 medium eggplants, peeled
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded
  • 1 red onion, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (use less if serving with salted pita chips)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from one lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Instructions
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Cut the eggplant, bell pepper and onion into 1-inch cubes, then place inside a large Ziploc bag. Add garlic, olive oil, cayenne, salt and pepper to the bag, then shake until the vegetables are coated in seasoning.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil, then spread the vegetables out in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes, then toss vegetables. Roast for another 20 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft. Cool slightly.
  • Place the vegetables in a food processor, add the lemon juice and tahini, pulse a few times to blend. Transfer to a bowl and add chopped parsley. Serve with pita chips.
Recipe Source: Barefoot Contessa
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February 01, 2014

From Milwaukee With Love Giveaway

From Milwaukee With Love combined many of my favorite things in their Sweet Treats box, and I'm giving away two boxes as part of Sweet Phi's blog hop in which four of us are spreading Wisconsin love. 

     1. Sweetphi Blog                   2. Karis’ Kitchen              3. The Frosted Vegan          4. She Ordered What?

When Philia asked me if I was interested in participating, I immediately thought of Paul & Lori Fredrich's new company called From Milwaukee With Love which "celebrates awesome products made in small batches by local artisans."

Their Sweet Treats box includes:


I love Becky's caramel sauce, it's by far the best I've tried.  It tastes like a delicious melted version of my grandma's caramels.  I also love Treat's candied pecans.  There are some amazing things being made in Milwaukee and this is your chance to try these great products, if you're not already familiar with them.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check out my fellow bloggers' giveaways, who are also spreading Wisconsin love.
  • Sweet Phi - Phi is giving away a Wisconsin-shaped cutting board, chocolates and a Starbucks gift card.
  • The Frosted Vegan - Abby is giving away Indulgence chocolate, Penzeys smoked paprika and Colectivo coffee.  
  • She Ordered What? - Kerri is giving away a wine stopper, Indulgence chocolate and a cute heart-shaped bowl from Rowe Pottery Works in Wisconsin.

In conjunction with this giveaway, there's also a discount code available for 10% off any orders from From Milwaukee With Love, just enter KARIS10 when you place your order.  Please note that winners of this giveaway must have a U.S. mailing address.  Two winners will be chosen on February 10, 2014 and notified via email.

Disclosure: From Milwaukee With Love offered me a buy two get one free deal.  So in exchange for purchasing two boxes for my giveaway I received one box for free.