Sunday, October 24, 2010

Blogger Event #2: Good-For-You Pizza Party


Last week I attended my second blogger event - a Good-For-You Pizza Party hosted by Rustic Crust and Christine Koh of Boston Mamas. Boston-area moms, foodies and other "influencers" were invited to meet Rustic Crust CEO Brad Sterl and Christine Koh to discuss the importance of introducing families to healthy meals sourced locally and prepared and packaged sustainably. I was super excited to attend this event  - great location (Boston Children's Museum), a mission I can get behind, and a chance to meet other food and mom bloggers. And I've never been one to turn down pizza!

Christine kicked off the event by sharing her thoughts on finding quick, yet delicious wholesome meals for her family. I found myself nodding in agreement.

Nice to finally meet the person behind the twitter handle
Brad spoke about the history of Rustic Crust and his "crust crusade" - offering high-quality food that is convenient, fun and healthy. All-natural, local organic ingredients. Ready-made crusts made by hand. I was ready to try it. Anything to redeem myself from hurried nights of frozen pizza.

Nice to meet a down-to-earth CEO that is passionate about his business
Everyone was then invited to don his or her Rustic Crust aprons and make pizza at a table set-up with different toppings.  We were given a variety of crusts to build upon: Gluten Free, Tuscan Six Grain, and Ultimate Whole Grain to name a few. 

I'm sure you could make a personality test out of the toppings you choose.
Everyone was pretty creative with their toppings. I ended up with pepperoni and broccoli. Yeah, not your typical combo but it looked good to me at the time!

What does this say about me?
The pizzas were ready in less than 15 minutes and there was plenty to go around. I found the crust to be hearty and delicious. I was looking forward to making this for my family to see if they would like it.

CEO Brad Sterle serving up the masterpieces
As everyone lunched on pizza, there was a raffle for prizes from HuePhoria (hand-blown and hand-painted glassware) and even a giveaway for a Rustic Crust fundraiser for a school or non-profit. I was one of the lucky ones to have my name drawn – wahoo! 

Here’s what I won – cute, huh?
Everyone left with a Pizza Party-to-Go bag, complete with three crusts, pizza sauce, coupons and a pizza cutter. I don’t know if I was more excited about the goodies or the fact that I didn’t have to think about dinner that night. And what did my brood think of Rustic Crust? The boys loved it (I don’t think there’s a pizza out there they don’t like). Umdaddy found the crust to be too chewy for his taste. He’s more of a thinkthin-crust guy.

As far as blogger events go in my young blogging career, this was a winner.

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. The event was free and I was given a Pizza Party-to-Go bag and coupons and won a glass ornament via a raffle. Opinions are my own.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Mozzarella and Ham Panini


We're a little over a month into the school year and can confidently say, packing lunch for my Kindergartner has been going well. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that my son loves leftovers (he did not get that trait from me). Fill thermos. Pack fruit and drink. Maybe a yogurt. Snack. Done. And the lunchbox is almost guaranteed to come back empty (don't hate).

The problem is my own lunches have been completely uninspired and slapped together with whatever is in the fridge. I had no excuse the one day we had some fresh baby spinach, scali bread from Boschetto Bakery in the N. End, and Niman Ranch Cured Ham. Make this. Ham and cheese will never be the same.

Mozzarella and Ham Panini
Adapted from Everyday Food

INGREDIENTS:

2 slices of Italian Scali bread
2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1-2 ounces shaved ham
1/2 cup baby spinach
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon butter

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Spread butter on the underside of two slices of bread. Layer one side with mozzarella, ham, and layer the other side with mozzarella and spinach. Seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Close sandwich. 
  2. Put mozzarella in contact with bread on both sides to hold sandwich together as cheese melt
  3. Place sandwich on heated grill pan. Place a pan (something heavy like a cast iron skillet) on top (cover bottom of sheet with aluminum foil, if necessary), and press down very firmly. Turn once and heat until cheese has melted and sandwich is toasted (5-10 minutes).
my makeshift panini press
Nice!
 
The Good: Delicious! Scali bread is perfect for this combo and helps cut cooking time.

The Bad: Takes some work to grill, but worth the effort.

Grade: B+. Made extra for leftovers and my son gobbled it up.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

How to Navigate a Food Festival with Two Kids (and other lessons I learned at the Boston Local Food Festival)



Earlier this month I decided to check out the first annual Boston Local Food Festival - an outdoor food event featuring local food sourced in New England. I was excited to check out this FREE, zero-waste event. Over a 100 vendors and exhibitors were participating. Perfect weather was sure to draw huge crowds. And it promised fun for the whole family with family-oriented activities just on the doorsteps of the Boston's Children's museum. Except I had to do this by myself with a five and two-year old. Gulp!

I took the boys to the museum first to get their 'ya-yas' out early with the hopes that they would cooperate as we navigated the festival. We left the Children's Museum around 11:30am and the food festival was already pretty crowded. But I was determined to scope out as much as possible and chow down on some good food. Here's what actually happened:
 
We checked out the Save the Harbor Save the Bay table so that my oldest could get up close and personal with a live lobster.

Lesson 1: look for (live) animals to entertain the kids

We *slowly* weaved through the throngs of people only to find long lines to almost all the vendors.

Lesson 2: If you are bringing a stroller, make sure it's a small one

We also won a prize at the bean bag toss courtesy of Cabot's, sampled fresh organic milk from Organic Valley, snagged peanut butter and craisin wraps from Maria and Ricardo's Tortilla Factory, and jammed to some Bluegrass.

Lesson 3: fun music always helps set the mood

The highlight of the festival for me was The Grilled Cheese Truck.

Lesson 4: Go for vendors with short lines
I reluctantly shared the melted cheddar (Vermont Butter & Cheese Co.) on Iggy's bread (with and without apple-smoked bacon and tomato) with the boys.

Lesson 5: Set a good example and share with the kids

The highlight of the festival for my oldest was the bus from Enterprise Farm.

Lesson 6: Interactive exhibits are great for the whole family

The bus project is an innovative way to bring fresh produce to people who need it the most without all the red tape of traditional distribution methods.

We left the festival around 1pm - just when the crowds were thickening even more. And I thought maneuvering a small stroller and kindergartner was bad earlier! Even though I wasn't able to check out even half the vendors at the festival, sample some of the tasty treats from Sportello, Taza chocolates, M&M Ribs (just a few restaurants I was dying to try), or take more pictures (you try taking a picture with one hand on the stroller and one eye on a 5-year old), I was glad I went. I think next time I might consider leaving the kids at home.

Getting ready for another event at the Children's Museum: Good-For-You-Pizza-Party hosted by Rustic Crust. Stay tuned for my post on this event!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Shrimp Tacos with GOOP

This week's recipe is inspired by GOOP -- Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle website and weekly newsletter. For those not familiar with GOOP, it is Gwyneth's outlet to share advice and tips on travel, food, fashion and self-care. I subscribe to GOOP mainly for the entertainment factor. Ahh... if only I could stay at five-star resorts when traveling to Spain or dine and share recipes with celebrity chefs! I probably get more enjoyment reading Angry Black Lady Chronicle's posts about the impracticality of GOOP.



Okay, I should stop picking on Gwyn. After all, it was her Mexican Style Family Dinner edition that inspired me to make Shrimp Tacos. Hey, if Gwyneth can make these (in her fabulous kitchen), then I can too!


Southwestern Shrimp Soft Tacos
Inspired by GOOP and Adapted from Epicurious


INGREDIENTS:
Marinade
  • 1 1/2 tbsp minced red onion
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 16 shrimp, shelled, deveined, tails removed
Corn relish
  • 2 ears corn (or 1 cup canned or frozen and thawed)
  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 tbs fresh lime juice and zest
DIRECTIONS:
1. Combine marinade ingredients with 1/4 cup water and season with salt. Add shrimp; refrigerate for one hour. 
Shrimp marinating

2. To make relish, cut corn kernels off cob. Lightly spray a sturdy skillet with cooking spray and heat over moderately high heat. Stir-fry corn until golden brown.
 3. Pour corn into a bowl and add remaining relish ingredients; season with salt. 

corn relish - so good!
4. Remove shrimp and reserve marinade. Lightly spray the skillet with cooking spray and heat on high until very hot. Toss in a few shrimp at a time and cook until just opaque; remove shrimp. 
switched to cast iron to sear in juices
5. Pour marinade into pan, bring to boil and boil for 2 minutes; lower heat and simmer until thick. 
6. Put 4 shrimp on each tortilla; top with corn relish and marinade sauce. Sprinkle with cilantro and green onion. Serve with rice and beans.

The Good: Pretty easy to make. My oldest loved this but the little one just preferred to eat the corn. 

The Bad: The tacos by themselves will not feed a family of four. Be sure to make some sides.

Grade: B+. Tasty meal. Thank you Gwyneth!

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