Adventures at IFBC!

Last September, I headed up to Seattle to spend three days at The International Food Blogger Conference with Louise. We had fun sampling different eats, drinks and spending time with local blogger friends as well as making some new ones!

Opening breakfast

IFBC mixed meal periods with sessions, with each breakfast and luncheon being accompanied by a talk, while dinner periods were set up like a party with hors d’oeuvres and drinks. During the day, you could pick between sessions on food and blogging topics, and there was an expo hall on the second night that gave attendees a chance to network with the brands in attendance.

Duck slider

Breakfast was at 7 AM on the first day, with a full morning of sessions before lunch at 1 PM. Because of the length of time between meals, all of us foodies in the conference room were getting mighty hungry; and when the final session was a cooking demo from The Chef In the Hat Thierry Rautureau, we were all drooling as we could smell the delicious dishes he was preparing on stage. When it was finally time for lunch, I piled a ridiculous amount of food from the buffet onto my plate and chuckled at the irony of being so hungry during a food event. ;)

Pile 'O Lunch

Lunch was hosted by Ninja Kitchen, who brought out celebrity chef Devin Alexander from The Biggest Loser to give us a demo of what the Nutri Ninja Blender DUO With Auto-IQ could do.

Ninja Demo

One of the big highlights for me was that a selfie I posted for Ninja’s #AddMoreGood contest won me a Nutri Ninja Blender DUO! Talk about an amazing prize!!!

Wine tasting

My favorite session was the wine tasting hosted by Bordeaux Wines. There was a talk going over the basics of pairing food and wine, and then we were broken up into teams and challenged to guess the flavors in the wines we were tasting.


I shouldn't give up my day job to become a wine sommelier, clearly. ;) #ifbc #ifbcbordeaux

A photo posted by Beeb Ashcroft (@beebashcroft) on

Obviously, I did not win any trophies in this department, but the great thing about wine is that the biggest reward comes through the act of tasting itself. ;)

Another amazing aspect to IFBC was the amount of swag given out in our goodie bags. This is what I came home with:

Swag closeup
I've got swag

And no, I’m not a greedy swag hoarder! As often happens at local conferences, those of us who don’t have to fly home can often take back more than others in attendance who are constrained by flights. You should have seen the pallet of peaches that Louise was given with an enthusiastic, “Here! Take these!”.

And what you see pictured here isn’t even all that I was given, as I gave quite a few boxes away on the train ride home. You see, I had a layover in Portland where I met up with family, so I loaded them up with some Krusteaz mixes and Aneto broth. I was quite a sight to behold as I sweated in my business suit, slowly lugging suitcases and bags full of heavy chicken broth through the train station! At one point, a nice man on the street saw me struggling as I walked towards my sister-in-law’s car, and offered to help carry my bag. I thanked him with a box of chicken broth, naturally. ;)

All told, IFBC was a fun and memorable adventure. I most loved the “Taste of Seattle” expo hall on the second night, where I had a chance to meet and network with the different brands in attendance. The sessions weren’t necessarily on topics that related to me personally, although I appreciated all of the speakers; but I attend conferences primarily to meet people anyway. There were a few organizational snags, as there tend to be at conferences; for example, our attendee handouts emphasized that all conference-goers are warned not to drink to excess, but during the networking event the second evening, there was no water or non-alcoholic beverages anywhere – not even a fountain. At one point, I asked one of the brands at a booth if they knew where I could get some water, to which they replied, “I don’t think there’s any water, but here – have a glass of wine!” So wine and martinis were our exclusive source of hydration, which was fine with me, but I did find amusing given our warning about drinking. ;) And if you hadn’t guessed already, you should be reading my blog with a tongue planted firmly in cheek!


Having a great time with @momstart at #IFBC!

A photo posted by Beeb Ashcroft (@beebashcroft) on

Have you been to IFBC before?

Paleo Brunch Recipes

Paleo Brunch Recipes

Food, recipes & goodie bags provided by Natural Grocers.

Jai and I were recently introduced to some new paleo brunch recipes during a sampling event at Natural Grocers in Gresham. Although neither of us follow the paleo diet, we’re always up for trying new food, and I did spend some time looking up paleo freezer recipes last summer just for something quick and easy to make. I wanted to share the recipes for the paleo brunch with you if you’d like to try something different for yourself!

This paleo brunch menu has been designed to feed 6 people for around $7.55 per person.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Mini Frittata Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 TBSP coconut oil or ghee
  • 1/4 C plus 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 package Organic Girl Baby Kale
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 large tomato, thinly sliced into rounds
  • Two 4 oz. packages of Applegate Natural Prosciutto
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Cherry tomatoes for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin and set aside.
  • Heat the coconut oil or ghee in a medium sized skillet, add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms, cook until the mushrooms are soft and moisture has evaporated. Lightly salt the mushroom-onion mixture; spoon mixture into a bowl and set aside.
  • Line the muffin tins with prosciutto, covering the bottom and sides completely.
  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs and olive oil together. Add the kale and salt to taste, then stir in the mushroom mixture.
  • Spoon the frittata batter into each muffin cup and top with halved cherry tomatoes.
  • Bake for approximately 20 minutes - allow muffins to cool in tin for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Notes

Recipe by Karen Falbo.

http://www.cookingcatastrophe.com/paleo-brunch-recipes/

Turkey Bacon Sauteed in Coconut Oil

Ingredients

  • 2 packages turkey bacon
  • 4 TBSP coconut oil

Instructions

  • In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Open one package of turkey bacon, separate bacon strips, and lay each in the pan. While cooking, turn bacon often, moving the pieces around to support even browning. As bacon becomes lightly browned, remove strips from the pan and set aside on a plate. Cover with foil to keep warm and cook the second batch.
  • NOTE: Turkey bacon can be prepared a day or two before the brunch and warmed in the oven.

Notes

Recipe by Karen Falbo.

http://www.cookingcatastrophe.com/paleo-brunch-recipes/

Paleo Yogurt

Yogurt-Berry Parfait

Yogurt-Berry Parfait

Ingredients

  • 4 cups plain full-fat yogurt
  • 2 1/2 C fresh or frozen berries
  • 1 C toasted pecans, chopped
  • 4 TSP vanilla extract or flavor
  • 1 full dropper stevia

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, stir together yogurt, stevia, and vanilla. Using 8 small wine or parfait glasses, spoon in a layer of yogurt, top with berries, then add toasted pecans. Continue alternating layers to fill glasses.
  • NOTE: Stevia can be used in place of sweeteners for things like tea, lemonade, plain yogurt, smoothies and baked goods. Oftentimes the licorice aftertaste of the whole herb as well as the bitter aftertaste of the steviosides disappears when used in the proper amounts. Although stevia can enhance flavors in some dishes (Like yogurt), it may not work at all in others.

Notes

Recipe by Karen Falbo.

http://www.cookingcatastrophe.com/paleo-brunch-recipes/

Green Tea-Coconut Water Lemonade

Ingredients

  • 1/2 C hot water
  • 3 green tea bags
  • 10 drops stevia
  • 1/4 C lemon juice
  • 3 1/2 C cold water
  • 1 can coconut water

Instructions

  • Steep tea bags in hot water for 3-5 minutes. Add all other ingredients, stir and serve over ice.

Notes

Recipe by Karen Falbo.

http://www.cookingcatastrophe.com/paleo-brunch-recipes/

We also enjoyed Vegetable Latkes with this brunch – you can find the recipe for that by clicking here to visit MarksDailyApple.com! You can also find a ton of paleo and other recipes on NaturalGrocers.com.

Have you ever tried a paleo recipe before? What did you think?

My Appearance on Simple Kitchen With Missy Maki

KPAM AM 860

This morning, I had the pleasure of appearing on Portland radio station KPAM AM 860 as a guest of Simple Kitchen with Missy Maki. Missy is a local food blogger who talks about everything food on Sunday mornings. This year, Simple Kitchen hosted its first-ever Holiday Cookie Bake-Off, asking listeners to send in their recipes for a chance to win a gift basket with prizes including goodies from Tillamook Butter, LaGrima Vanilla, Wild Friends Peanut Butter and Bee Local. Out of the hundreds of recipes submitted, they chose a handful of favorites to be baked and brought into the station, enlisting a group of area bloggers to serve as both bakers and judges. I was assigned Chocolate Spice Crackle Cookies with Gingerbread Caramel and whipped up a fresh batch last night to share with everyone at the studio. I couldn’t wait to see what the other entries were!


Bake-Off Cookies

Cookies at the radio station

There we so many treats to taste, from yummy Pistachio Cranberry Christmas Crisps made by Marisa to Rebekah’s tasty White Chocolate Cherry Almond Teacakes, which was eventually crowned the winner by our votes. But the prize for “Most original/insane” cookie has to go to Brandie, who was assigned the task of making a cookie using pine needles and Parmesan cheese as ingredients. You know, like pine needles from a tree? Brandie actually had to get a trimming from a pine tree and told of her adventures trying to chop up pine needles in a food processor. (Spoiler alert: It doesn’t work.) She did an awesome job baking such an unusual cookie!

Beeb on the radio

I was the first guest on air, and I discussed the process of making my assigned cookie and what I thought of it. This is the first time I’ve been on the radio – unless you count the time I called into a local station in the 1990s and won a Flintstone VHS tape for answering a trivia question, but I’ve never been a real guest before. ;) You can listen to the full show online at the KPAM website:

Hour 1 of Simple Kitchen With Missy Maki: Holiday Cookie Bake-Off – my segment begins at the 12 minute mark.

Hour 2 of Simple Kitchen With Missy Maki: Holiday Cookie Bake-Off

This was a very fun experience and I’m so glad I had a chance to take part with these lovely bloggers and DJs!

Local Plate: Delicious PDX Meal Kits Delivered to Your Door

Sesame Noodles with Greens & Oregon Albacore + Broccoli

A complimentary meal kit was provided for review.

I recently discovered a cool Portland-based business called Local Plate, which creates dinner kits boasting ingredients from local farms and stores. These kits are seasonal and updated regularly according to what the farms have available that week; you can place your order online and either pick it up at Know Thy Food or opt to have it delivered straight to your door. Now, I live in Seaside, but since we have been spending so much time in Portland this month, I thought it would be fun to give the service a whirl and cook up one of these dinners over bachelorette weekend!

Local Plate

Ordering was effortless: I just logged onto the site, chose a meal kit – we decided on the sesame noodles with Oregon albacore, greens and a side of broccoli – and scheduled it to be delivered to my in-laws’ house where we were staying. If you’re not home when they deliver, they will leave the food in an insulated bag on your porch, which I thought was nice; they also give you a space on the order form to enter any special instructions they should be aware of to make delivery easier.

Local Plate delivers on Monday and Thursday, so I opted to have them drop off the meal kit on Thursday and made the dinner on Saturday before I left town, since the kits keep for 7 days.

Local Plate meal kit ingredients

This meal kit included everything you need to make dinner for 4 people except for salt, pepper, and olive oil; though honestly, if I was in a pinch I think I could have adapted this kit’s ingredients and made it even without the olive oil. The best part is that everything is pre-measured, so it’s all ready to go; some of the ingredients have even been combined when applicable, such as rice vinegar/soy sauce/sugar/sesame oil in one bottle. I was pretty punchy by the time I set about making this, since I had hosted the bachelorette party the night before and just walked in the door from the tapas competition that afternoon, so when I looked over the recipe included with the kit, my first thought was: That’s a lot of words. ;) However, it was actually very straightforward and quite simple to prepare, even in my sleep-deprived state. Looking over the recipe today, I have to laugh, because I was so out of it that I totally misread some of the directions. I only cooked the whites of the scallions because somehow, I didn’t even see the part about adding the greens of the onions to the noodles. And because I am crazy, and tired, and crazy tired, I added the entire pan of chili oil instead of 2-3 tablespoons. Fortunately, this did not make it too hot or ruin the recipe – I honestly didn’t even realize I messed anything up until I reviewed the recipe again while writing this. Ha!!

Local Plate Noodles & Broccoli

This dinner was delicious! This makes a fresh, cold noodle dish mixed with albacore, spicy sesame seed tahini sauce, green onion and kale. The side was simple and tasty broccoli with lemon zest. It was really, really good!

Jai eats Local Plate

Jai enjoyed seconds!

Stella wants noodles

For the duration of the evening, Stella the foodie dog kept trying to sneakily jump up on the table to get to the bowl of noodles. Local Plate: So good, you’ll spend the whole evening whining and scheming to get a bite. ;)

When Local Plate said that this recipe makes “Quite a bit”, they aren’t kidding. The broccoli portion was modest, but the noodles made a HUGE bowl! We left the rest of in the fridge for Jai’s brother and sister-in-law to enjoy.

This meal kit retails for $40, which includes free delivery. $10 per serving is more than I would normally pay for a dinner since I’m cheap frugal, however this service is a little different since the food is locally sourced. The onions came from the Gathering Together farm in Philomath, the albacore is from the southern Oregon coast via Port Orford Sustainable Seafood, with the seasonings coming from Portland’s Savory Spice Shop and other unlisted local retailers. I believe in supporting local businesses whenever I have the budget to do so, and I really love the concept of Local Plate. I was also impressed that they could afford to include delivery in the meal cost. I honestly think they ought to be charging danger pay for having to navigate through Portland’s labyrinth to deliver these meals! ;)

If you’re in Portland, check out the new meal kit offerings weekly on LocalPlate.com.

PDX Food Bloggers Tapas Competition & Wine Tasting Event

PDX Tapas Event

Complimentary admission, refreshments & goodie bags were provided!

Yesterday, I attended a local food blogger event at the Pearl District Whole Foods Market in Portland. This fun gathering included a wine tasting and tapas competition. Each blogger brought their own unique tapas dish to share, and the dishes that received the most votes from attendees would take home some fun foodie prizes. I had already planned to be in Portland this weekend because I was throwing my sister-in-law’s bachelorette party on Friday night, so when I heard that this event was taking place on Saturday afternoon, I just had to go since I am crazy like to make the most of my trips. Marlynn of Urban Bliss Life said, “You look way too rested for having been at a bachelorette party last night!” I told her that I just wear good makeup. ;)

Going to a foodie event should have been intimidating, especially since I’ve never made a true tapas dish before. But my goal was merely to make a nice dish and enjoy myself, so I wasn’t worried about it being perfect or winning a blue ribbon as long as it tasted good. After some Googling, I decided to make Aceitunas a la Sevillana, since it was a fairly traditional tapas dish that is meant to be served at room temperature. This was important, because I knew that if I had to travel with something that had to be served hot or cold it would be a mess. I paired the olives with a loaf of my homemade bread:

My olives and bread
Since I was staying with my in-laws for the party, I brought my breadmaker along and baked a loaf the morning of the tapas event so that it would be fresh. I also made a second batch of the olives and had a conveyor belt of bread going all weekend for the bachelorette party, so it all tied together nicely! I was satisfied with how my simple dish turned out, although I was face-palming afterwards when I realized that I forgot to bring the giant slab of butter I bought specifically for this event. Duh! I suppose people could put the olives on top of the bread, but it would have tasted about 10x better if I had actually brought the butter. I suppose this wouldn’t be Cooking Catastrophe without something silly happening, right? ;) Still, everyone was really nice, and Pechluck from Pechluck’s Food Adventures even gave my bread a sweet shout-out on her blog. Aww!

Pouring wine
The event started off with a lovely wine tasting. Whole Foods wine expert Justin spoke with us about different types of wine, including facts about “Sherry law” that I found interesting. Did you know that “Sherry” is a protected name meant to only be used for wine produced in a specific region of Spain, and the only reason that you’ll see American-made bottles called “Sherry” is because “Sherry lawyers don’t have as much money as the Champagne lawyers”, as we joked at the event. This might explain why they Sherry I tasted at the event was so different than what I’m used to – it wasn’t extremely sweet, like the bottles my family and I traditionally pick up around Christmastime.

Whole Foods wine tasting
The Spicy Bee gives a tapas talk
After the wine tasting, Bee of The Spicy Bee talked about the history of tapas. Bee and I sat next to each other, which was fitting and also caused some funny miscommunication when people said our names since “Bee” and “Beeb” are so close phonetically!

Top Tapas!
As I expected, the event was full of amazing food. There were so many delicious and unique tastes, from spicy stuffed peppers to berry crisps to a cronut stuffed with meat. A “Cronut” is the newest food craze that people are lining up to taste – a combination croissant and donut. I can’t think of anything more Portland than a meaty cronut! Every single thing I ate was absolutely divine – and all the appetizers were so big that it was like eating a full dinner! I took so long eating that I accidentally missed the voting period, but I was actually glad because I don’t know how I could have chosen a favorite.

It was so fun meeting new bloggers, connecting with some “Face-to-face” for the first time, and even discovering some unexpected connections. I was chatting with Rachel of Tossing The Script, who said, “So you’re from Seaside – do you know (Name of one of my dear friends)?” I said, oh my gosh, I do! It turns out that Rachel knows my friend because she went to school in France with her. (This is the same friend who was waiting for her flight when I made my sugar-free fail!) I visited this friend twice while she was living in Poitiers, so Rachel and I realized that we must have met briefly all those years ago. Is this a small world, or what?!

Gift bag
As we were leaving, we were provided with fun gift bags as a thank-you for attending. They included decorative toothpicks from the organizer of the tapas event, Jenni at A Well Crafted Party; a free coupon for Black Rock coffee; a box of Pukka Licorice & Cinnamon tea (I brewed a cup of this today and it was nice!), and some yummy Goodness Knows Snack Squares. The bag was topped off by a cute card from Tiny Prints, who provided all kinds of cute napkins and placecards for the party. Appropriate, since the business cards which I brought to the event are also by Tiny Prints!

Goodness Knows Snack Squares
If you’d like to make your own simple tapas spread, here’s how I made mine:

Aceitunas a la Sevillana

Aceitunas a la Sevillana

Ingredients

  • 16 oz jar of green olives
  • 2-4 anchovy fillets
  • 4 TBSP. white balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. rosemary leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp. oregano leaves
  • 1 1/2 thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin

Instructions

  • Adapted from this Spanish Marinated Olive Tapas recipe on GumboPages.com
  • Strain the olives over a bowl, reserving the water; place the olives back into the jar. Peel the garlic and add to the jar along with the anchovies, seasonings, and vinegar. Pour reserved water back into the jar until filled, screw on the lid, and shake the jar. Place on a counter to marinate for about 4 days, then store in the fridge for at least 3 days. Serve at room temperature.
http://www.cookingcatastrophe.com/pdx-food-bloggers-tapas/

Super Fast & Tasty Homemade Bread

Super Fast & Tasty Homemade Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 TBSP. butter
  • 10 1/2 fluid ounces water
  • 2 tsp. yeast

Instructions

http://www.cookingcatastrophe.com/pdx-food-bloggers-tapas/

FitBloggin’ Food: The Nines Hotel

Yummy pastry

As a FitBloggin’ live blogger, I received complimentary conference admission & meals.

Last week, I attended the FitBloggin’ conference in Portland, hosted at The Nines Hotel. Being a “Local”, I stayed in my in-laws’ guest room rather than the hotel, but I feel like I almost did stay at The Nines since I spent most hours out of each day there! The hotel is beautifully decorated, with some of the nicest staff you will find on the planet. And the food!

The Nines breakfast buffet

Each morning we had a huge breakfast buffet to choose from, with fresh fruit, pastries, BACON, eggs, potatoes, scones, coffee – the only thing I don’t like about buffets is that I never have enough room to taste everything!

A yummy lunch was also included the first day, with things like salmon, pasta salad, hummus, veggies, and more – and in true Cooking Catastrophe fashion, I took a bite out of my sandwich before I remembered to take a photo. ;)

The Nines dinner appetizers

Appetizers were provided at the goodbye dinner, although there were enough there that it felt like a proper dinner to me. Waiters were constantly coming to our table offering all kinds of noms, from spring rolls to mini-nachos and even tiny hamburgers. There was a big buffet of appetizers served at the dinner alongside the options delivered to our tables, with homemade crackers, cheeses, veggies, and more. This spread boasted some of the best Brie I’ve had in a long time.

The waitstaff at The Nines were on top of everything, swooping in to get cleared plates the second you were done and always rushing around to make sure there was plenty of food and everything cleaned up. Every day, I chatted with one of the staff – I wish I had gotten her name! – and on the last day I gave her my blog address when I found out she was originally a Clatsop County “Local” also! They were all so incredibly nice and helpful.

And that went for everyone in the hotel – the first night, I got stuck in the lobby until 2 AM because unbeknownst to us, there was a dead spot for cell reception where Jai was at and he didn’t know I was calling him to come pick me up. Andy in the lobby went above and beyond being nice and helpful while I was stuck there and even offered me a bottle of water as I waited. (This became a theme – if I stood in part of the hotel for more than a few minutes, it seemed the staff would offer a water bottle!)

Have you ever stayed at The Nines? What did you think of the food?