Monday, November 14, 2011

Foodbuzz 3rd Annual Blogger Festival

Earlier this month, I went to the Foodbuzz 3rd Annual Blogger Festival in San Francisco!


This was my first time visiting San Francisco (and only my second time in California - I was in Southern California earlier this year). It's a beautiful city and I wish I had had more time to explore - I was unfortunately only there for less than 48 hours!


On the first night, bloggers were treated with an incredible spread food while the winners of the Foodbuzz Awards were announce. Lots of old favorites were winners (Oh She Glows, Eat Live Run, Peas and Thank You, to name a few), and I was introduced to some new blogs, including The Baker Chick (Audra's a fellow NYC-er!). Congrats to all the winners!


The next day started off with info sessions on everything from blog design, food photography, social media, to creating a successful blog and building a presence. I attended Ashley of The Edible Perspective's super helpful DSLR photography session on "Moving Away from Auto Mode." I still have a lot of learning to do, but Ashley gave a lot of useful and accessible tips for food photography that I'm definitely going to use.

I got a chance to meet Mama Pea after Ashley's session and she gave me one of her famous pumpkin molasses dough balls. Nicest. woman. in. the. world. Please go buy her book. Now.

{Photo courtesy of Jordan}

After the sessions, I grabbed a quick bite with my friend from college, Paige, who is now living in San Francisco and being a badass. We spent many a night in the video editing lab for journalism class in college, so we're basically bonded for life (whether you like it or not, Ms. Paige). She gave me the lowdown on the important things to do while in SF. Or maybe I demanded this information from her. Namely, I wanted to know how to get to the house from Full House (don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about), and how to get to the house from Mrs. Doubtfire (how classic is this scene with House of Pain blasting in the background?). Unfortunately, I didn't get to do either. Next time. Definitely.


We ate at The Creamery, a cute little bistro/coffeeshop in the SOMA neighborhood. I got a veggie sandwich with brie and tomato and a side salad.


I then met up with my bloggie buds and toured the "Taste Pavilion," a huge expo of national and local food and drink vendors.

I tried a crisp watermelon beer by 21st Amendment. This might be my new summer beer -- and it's at Whole Foods in NYC!


Also took some samples of Bunny Bars, organic granola bars by 18 Rabbits. The packaging on these is adorable -- they're targeted at kids because they don't contain nuts (yay!) or dairy, and the bars have names like "Squeaky Cheeky Choco Cherry," but I think adults will buy these for themselves! So cute, and they're chewy, nutritious, and lower in calories compared to many granola bars.


I'm also now obsessed with this bread company, Judy's Breadsticks. And they are sadly only in California! This bread company is completely vegan, and best of all nut-free! I am always weary of multigrain breads because they so often contain nuts. But I love that this company boasts that their breads are made in a completely nut-free bakery. And though I'm not vegan, it's pretty cool to that they're made entirely without animal products.

I sampled their Lovesticks with sunflower seeds -- it's like small baguette, but the texture was chewy and dense and tasted so wholesome. I also tried their Country Crackers, which are Lovesticks sliced and toasted to make crackers! And last but not least, I had their Twigs -- I tried the Coffee Bean flavor. It was like a slightly sweet breadstick! I bet these would be such a treat dunked in coffee. Judy's Breadsticks -- please come to the East Coast ASAP!



Some other foodie findings from the pavilion were of the non-vegan variety :) This ricotta cheese was out of this world. The difference in taste between fresh and store-bought is unbelievable...


Also had some amazing goat cheese, my absolute favorite kind of cheese…


And feta made from goat's milk! Feta can be overwhelmingly salty, but this had such a pleasant subtle flavor. I really liked this...


...Some non-alcoholic wine soda, sweetened only with the juice from the wine. A fun mocktail!


...And some art for your brownies!


At the TCHO station I sampled chocolates from darkest to lightest. I love the darkest of the dark!


Celebrity chef, Tyler Florence, also made an appearance! I actually had not heard of him prior to the Foodbuzz Festival (#foodbloggerfail). He has shows on the Food Network and is a big-time chef in California. Here he is at the Alexia Foods booth with Amanda from Eats, Love, and Happiness.


Our day concluded at a "gala dinner" where Tyler Florence gave a live cooking demo. Very cool to see him in action -- it's a serious skill to be able to talk and cook at the same time. And not make a mess!

Had a fantastic time in San Fran, though it was a quick trip! Made some new friends, learned a lot, and ate a lot of good food. Thanks to Foodbuzz for putting on such a great event! And see you soon, San Francisco!

{My roomies: Lisa, Jordan, me, and Beth. Photo courtesy of Jordan}

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mini Pumpkin Banana Muffins

There are some days that simply require baking.

Snowtober was one of these days. Halloween weekend, the Northeast had our first, and rather unexpected, snowfall of the season. Except we're not really in "the season" yet, so local newscasters and Twitter decided to name it "Snowtober." I love America.

I happened to be at my parents' house in Philly for the weekend, but it was just me and my mom because pops was on the West Coast for work. With nothing to do, nowhere to go, excessive cans of pumpkin, and no dad to turn ripe bananas into banana pancakes, Sus and I decided to make muffins (not to be confused with Muffin, the meowing fur ball).


Mini Pumpkin Banana Muffins
Inspired by
Yields 24 mini muffins, plus 2 additional regular-sized muffins

These little muffins are the perfect complement to a savory breakfast, or an ideal healthier snack. They are made without butter, so they're lower in fat, but the addition of applesauce, mashed bananas, pumpkin, and fall spices make these moist and flavorful.

3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/3 c. rolled oats
1/4 c. oat bran
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 c. applesauce (I used Sue's homemade applesauce, with apples from her backyard!)
1 c. canned pumpkin (about half the can)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. chopped dry roasted & salted pepitas, plus additional for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 350* F and grease or line mini muffin pan.

3. Add flours, rolled oats, oat bran, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices, and chopped pepitas in a medium bowl, and whisk until mixed well.

5. In a separate large mixing bowl, add bananas, applesauce, pumpkin, eggs, and sugars, and beat until smooth.

6. Gradually beat in flour mixture until combined.

8. Spoon into 24-cup mini muffin pan, filling cups until just about full. Fill two regular-sized muffin liners and place on a small baking sheet.

9. Sprinkle pepitas evenly across tops of muffins before baking.

9. Bake mini muffins for 15 to 20 minutes, and bake regular-sized muffins for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the middle of the muffin comes out clean, and cool.