Monday, September 29, 2014

IFBC 2014: Cooking Seasonably and Stuffed Winter Squash Recipe

How do you plan your dinners? Maybe you're having a small group over for a dinner party and you whip out you favorite cookbook to find a recipe that will impress your guests. I've done this before, copying the long list of ingredients and heading to my grocery store (and usually three more in the area) to hunt down every last obscure spice. More often though, I play my favorite game of 'what's in my kitchen?' collecting whatever ingredients are on hand to create something new. This is mostly due to laziness over creativity, but when life is busy, it works.

Surprisingly, award-winning chef Thierry Rautureau (Chef In the Hat) validated my method during a cooking demonstration at last week's 2014 International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC).

Image from
Rautureau talked to us about the beauty of using fresh, in-season ingredients, and showed us that an artful meal can be made with just seasonal produce and the food in your fridge. Rather than starting with the recipe book, he suggested starting with a trip to the grocery store or local market to scope out what is in-season, and planning your meals from there.

I really like the notion of cooking what is seasonally available to you, and agree with Rautureau that this is a step towards a more sustainable future. Each Summer I join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group through a local farm, which sends a big bag of fresh veggies my way every two weeks; cooking fresh and local could not get easier. I came home from IFBC in detox mode after all of the lavish dinners, wines and desserts, so I looked to my CSA bag and my swag from the conference for inspiration. This is what I came up with.

Roasted and stuffed squash is pretty much my lazy girl go-to on chilly fall or winter days. I always keep quinoa and chicken stock on hand, so it's just a matter of finding some fresh veggies and squash, and dinner is served. This recipe is completely interchangeable with whatever is in your kitchen, so open the refrigerator door and have at it! It can also be modified easily to fit into a vegetarian or vegan diet by substituting the chicken stock and butter. 

I used this roasted acorn squash with wild rice stuffing recipe on with some modifications to help guide my cooking method. Click over there for a different variation on this classic!


2 medium winter squash, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 sweet red pepper, diced
3 stalks of broccoli rabe, torn into bite-size pieces
3 cups of cooked quinoa, prepared like so (I used Aneto chicken broth as my liquid, but veggie broth or water also work just fine)
1.2 ounces of sliced black olives (this number is random because I used a pack of Pearls Olives to-go, courtesy of IFBC)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


Heat the oven to 450°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Place the squash cut-side up on a baking sheet, brush 1 tablespoon of the melted butter over the tops and insides of the squash halves, sprinkle with the brown sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until just fork tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon of the melted butter in a large frying pan over medium heat (substitute with cooking oil, if desired). Once melted/heated, add the onion, red pepper, and broccoli rabe, season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 6 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the quinoa, black olives, and crushed red pepper flakes. Divide the quinoa filling among the roasted squash halves and sprinkle the hemp seeds on top to garnish.

Continue roasting until the squash is completely fork tender, the edges have started to brown, and the filling is heated through, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Feel good,

Saturday, September 27, 2014

IFBC 2014: Food Photography

Christina ready for IFBC weekend!
After almost two full days of exploring and eating our way through Seattle, we were finally ready to dive head-first into The International Food Bloggers Conference at the Friday night opening reception - and was it delicious!

We walked away with tons and tons of local & specialty goodies that we were already strategizing how to pack for the flight back to the East Coast!  The sponsors of the IFBC clearly put their best foot forward with so many opportunities to try their products and talk to them directly about how great they are.

Highlights included gorgeous "Beef It's What's For Dinner" serving towels, Nutiva hemp seeds and protein powder, gimMe teriyaki seafood snacks (outrageously delicious!) - and Aneto 100% Natural paella & chicken broth straight from Spain!  Aneto even went as far as embroidering each and every one of the attendee's blog or company names on an now when someone asks if we have aprons embroidered in Spain with 'Feel Good Foodies' on them...we can say yes! ; )

So. Awesome.

Before the keynote (with Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, award-winning authors of The Flavor BibleWhat to Eat with What You Drink and others) on Saturday, we were served a light, yummy breakfast from Noosa Yoghurt.

The first session of the day was probably one of my most favorite of the weekend.  It starred Todd ColemanTasting Table's Creative Director and Co-Founder of Delicious Contentswho talked to us all about Modern Editorial Photography.  

Some of the things he taught us might seem obvious, but actually seeing the photography-art that came out of the principles he shared was breathtaking. 

Photo from:
He was also just fun to listen to. Todd's demeanor was refreshingly humble, it felt as if he was a friend in your living room offering up a few tried-and-true tips on food photography - except his end result is anything but humble.  Todd's photography is awe-inspiring and the stories behind them are just as captivating.  It almost felt as if: the better the photo, the better the story, and vice-versa.

He taught us to be bold, gutsy and 'get the shot' no matter what you have to work with.  In some cases, Todd explained that putting food in unexpected places can create unexpected and exciting textures. Whether you're faking natural light with a flashlight to create a specific visual experience, or using aluminum foil to create light and shadow, it all came down to creativity and looking at things a little bit differently.

Photo from:
During IFBC weekend, I attempted to put some of what I learned from this session into practice when Christina and I dropped by our new favorite French cafe in Seattle, Le Pichet (future post coming on this little gem soon!) for the second time.  I found myself looking at beautiful foods a bit differently after Todd's session - everything doesn't always need to be in its right place and can be beautiful apart from the initial presentation, which is what I tried to capture here:

...And yes, it tasted as delicious at it looks ; )

Feel Good!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Shiro's Sushi & Lola: Seattle Twosome

As New Yorkers, we eat a LOT of sushi.  We should have a completely separate budget set aside apart from rent, groceries, etc. and include a 'sushi fund' in the mix.  That said, we certainly have our share of sushi experiences to compare from - and last night that was deliciously put into practice.

After a full day at Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle, we had met enough locals that after asking 'where's the best sushi in town' over and over again, we knew where to go: Shiro's.

If you've every watched the Netflix documentary, "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" (just watch it), you'll know that anyone who has studied under the 'Godfather of sushi,' Jiro Ono, has undoubtedly become a master of the craft in their own right - and Shiro is no exception. A two-time James Beard nominee, Master Chef Shiro Kashiba brought his sushi skills and years of grueling apprenticeships from Tokyo to Seattle.  In 1967, Shiro opened Seattle's first full service sushi bar.

During last night's sushi experience, we discovered the delicate, buttery complexities that Shiro is famous for - and Jiro dreamt of.  Dreamy slices of elegantly-laid fish made us pause between each sushi piece and reflect on the flavors that were swimming through our senses.  It was, in a word, blissful.     

Tako-su (Octopus in miso vinaigrette) appetizer

Omakase (chef's choice)

(The best) Miso soup (I've ever had)

Our special treat: tempura shrimp head
(actually very delicious!)

...But we couldn't just end the night without a little something sweet.  After we came out of our sushi haze, we headed over to Lola, a Tom Douglas creation.  The renown Seattle chef and restauranteur, has ten restaurants throughout Seattle and Lola is best know as Douglas' Greek's inspired restaurant.  Thought the food receives rave reviews, it's perhaps most famous for it's doughnut dessert: pillowy sweet squares paired with mascarpone and apricot preserves.  We had to try them of course, and they didn't disappoint. We also laid into the decadent Chokolata: a rich dark chocolate confection layered with turkish brittle coffee ice cream, spiced caramel, explosive chocolate pearls, topped with a chocolate macaroon. Essentially a chocolatey, spiced, party-on-a-plate.

An epic dinner finished with an epic dessert.  If this was our first full night in Seattle, I can't wait to see what else is in store for this foodie weekend!

Chokolata & Doughnuts

Feel Good,

IFBC 2014 Pre-Con: Feel Good Foodies Hit Pike Place Market

Almost everything we do at Feel Good Foodies is planned down to the T, planning is a big part of our day jobs, after all. Our approach to 'Day 1' in Seattle was no different, and despite our late-night arrival on Wednesday, we set our alarms for 9 a.m. Thursday, aiming to roll out of bed and conveniently cross the street to explore Pike Place Market. Well, anticipation got the best of us, and we both popped out of bed by 8 a.m. ready to go. We spent the entire day exploring this little but robust part of the city.

After walking past the original Starbucks for a quick picture (I was a barista for three years, so this was a must-do!), we entered the Market and were greeted by friendly vendors and lots of samples. Some of our favorites included:

Sampling smoked salmon and talking NYC with the guys from City Fish Co.

Tasting just about every preserve, marmalade and sauce that Woodring Northwest had to offer (try the strawberry rhubarb)!

Indulging in Black Forest and Pinot Noir cherries from the adorable folks at Chukar Cherries.

...And tasting every single oil and balsamic vinegar from OMG! Olive Oils. We both decided we couldn't live without the White Truffle Oil. Favorite balsamics included White D'Anjou Pear and Barrel Aged Vanilla Fig.

All of this tasting occurred before breakfast, but we found it in ourselves to roll over to Lowell's for a late brunch.

I had the San Juan Benedict (one smoked salmon and one crab), and Alycia had the blueberry, lemon, ricotta pancakes. The Benedict was perfect. I liked that it was atop sourdough bread rather than an English muffin, and the seasoning on the Holandaise sauce was just right. The pancakes were rich and sweet, and everything tasted incredibly fresh.

The main attraction of the day though was catching a fish at the Pike Place Fish Market. You'll be happy to know that we both succeeded.

We rewarded ourselves with a tasting flight at The Pike Brewing Company, and a walk through Post Alley to leave our mark.

We stopped through the aquarium during octopus feeding time, which was quite incredible. Did you know that octopus change colors depending on what they're doing? When they're active they turn an amazing red color, but if they're sleeping they tend to camouflage with their surroundings (sorry, no pictures). 

When we thought we were done for the day, until we happened upon Copperworks Distilling Company, a local craft distillery and tasting room, on our walk back to the hotel. 

This vodka, let me tell you. It had just enough of a hint of vanilla, and it was so smooth. The gin was good as well, less dry than your standard and just a bit more subtle in flavor. The third that we tried was a limited edition malt barrel gin, aged in an American Oak barrel that was previously used to age malt whiskey. The taste was complex and interesting, and I'd love to see a skilled bartender creatively incorporate this one into a signature cocktail. 

Ok, I'm exhausted just writing about this day. Alycia will pick back up later to tell you about the best sushi we've ever experienced.

Feel good,

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Foodie Field Trip: Seattle

BIG NEWS: At this very moment, Feel Good Foodies (AKA Alycia and myself) are in-flight on our way to Seattle for the 2014 InternationalFood Bloggers Conference (IFBC).

This opportunity actually came to us through our employer, Edelman, and a program they offer called Edelman Escape. According to Edelman, Edelman Escape offers U.S. employees with an escape from the duties of everyday work to pursue a dream, goal or experience that will enrich their lives. Alycia and I have Edelman to thank for our friendship, and for this blog, so when we heard about the program we decided that it was absolutely necessary to apply.

For those of you not familiar with the story of Feel Good Foodies, allow me to provide some background. Alycia and I met on our very first day at Edelman in August 2010. While bonding over our first meal together during orientation (gratis pizza, of course), we realized our shared passion for healthy living, cooking and exploring the world through our taste buds. We became close friends quickly, and shared many recipes and extravagant meals together before forming Feel Good Foodies in 2012.

Through this trip, we hope to reawaken our passions for cooking at home, explore a new city to share with our readers, and enhance our writing and digital skills. We’re looking forward to linking you up to new bloggers that we meet along the way, and getting fresh ideas that we’ll share through to the blog over the course of this trip, and beyond. We’d like to thank Edelman for this amazing opportunity, and also Piggyback Letterpress for arming us with our fresh new business cards. Check ‘em out:
Seriously, these guys are awesome. They took the time to brainstorm design with us, and we came out with a new logo that is a true collaborative representation of the blog (thanks Lee)!

Stay tuned for live conference updates over the next week, Seattle restaurant reviews, and more! Maybe a surprise second stop on the road home? Hmm…

Feel good,