that's forking good

adventures in a culinary neophyte's kitchen

Archive for the ‘notes’ Category

chocolate-covered strawberry paleo pancakes

Posted by culinaryneophyte on January 19, 2015

Thank you to Mrs. Thinsters for featuring my breakfast on their social media channel!

paleo chocolate-covered strawberry pancakes with Mrs. Thinsters brownie batter cookie thin crumbs.

chocolate-covered strawberry pancakes with Mrs. Thinsters brownie batter cookie crumbs.

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tbt: Mike’s Pastry

Posted by culinaryneophyte on November 13, 2014

mikes pastry cannoliDoing the Throwback Thursday thing to my visit to Mike’s Pastry in Boston.

I never go anywhere, so I pretend my business trips are vacations and hit every local famous food place I can in between work obligations. Obviously, I got some chowdah (I learned during my Fenway tour that “r” is a foreign concept there) and a lobstah roll, which was my favorite meal of the week, but a friend insisted I get a cannoli from Mike’s Pastry in the North End — a place known for its Italian food. Italian food and sweets are not my go-to food picks, but man, this lived up to the hype. And the flavor selection was impressive, I brought home a string-wrapped pastry box for my dad, complete with Oreo, peanut butter and pistachio. I tried to work in a “Godfather” reference when I dropped them off, but failed. I think he appreciated it anyway.

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welcome, 2014!

Posted by culinaryneophyte on January 2, 2014

In the past, I’ve done a year-in-review post just before New Year’s Eve, recalling my favorite posts throughout the year. Sadly, this year was very light on posts, and if I made a Top 10 of 2013, it would basically contain every post I wrote this year, because I’m not sure I got that deep into double digits.

This would make sense if I hadn’t spent much time in the kitchen, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. (My Instagram can back that up. I pretty much only take pictures of food.) It’s just been a matter of time… well, I guess more a matter of priority. If something is important to you, you’ll make time for it. Writing fell by the wayside in 2013, and that breaks my little writer heart. I miss crafting posts and sharing my food fun with you. This blog was such a big part of my life, and I want it to be a priority again. I haven’t been big on New Year’s resolutions the last few years, but maybe a New Year’s aspiration?

2014 sparkler

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sexual tonic herb?

Posted by culinaryneophyte on October 13, 2013

A little love for your Sunday here… goji love! High in protein, fiber and vitamin C, this superfood has powerful antioxidant properties to boost your immune system. Oh, and the package says they are “among the most revered sexual tonic herbs.” Yowzaaaa


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tfg enters the toddler phase

Posted by culinaryneophyte on September 9, 2013

Today marks my blog’s third birthday. When I look back at where I was when I started this thing, I simultaneously can’t believe it’s been only three years and it’s been that long.

A few things in my life have remained constant — family, friends, my ability to mess up seemingly innocuous tasks. (Oh, and my beloved car, which also celebrates its birthday this week.) But then, so much has changed. When I started, I baked and wrote to take my mind off the crapstorm my life had become. I was pecking away about mac n’ cheese in my secluded cubicle cave at a failing newspaper, and spending all of my free time on foodgawker. Sometimes I’d be sitting in the dark, the bedroom illuminated only by the laptop, scrolling through the endless trove of food porn until 2 a.m. When I got laid off that winter, I had even more free time to experiment in the kitchen — my roommates often coming home to some strange plate of food on the kitchen table. They would have eaten it regardless of how it tasted or what adjectives I put to it, but it appeared I actually had a smidge of culinary talent despite my sometimes… unconventional methods (or “brilliant” shortcuts that led to burnt eyeballs and broken appendages).

(Not even kidding… As I write this, I just realized I left a wing sauce on the stove for about 15 minutes too long and it is now a burnt, sticky substance at the bottom of my pot. I got lost in my little blogging world over here. Writer > chef.)

The three biggest developments of this last year started with the purchase of my condo in December, which marked the real beginning of my “big girl life,”  No more roommates — just me, on my own. Yes, that meant bug killing duties rested solely on my shoulders, but I now had free rein of my [bigger] kitchen and the foreign task of cooking for one.

Once I got settled, I started looking for a new “thing,” and that’s when I fell into a brand new “fitspo” world. Well — not entirely new because I have always been active, and at that time, was playing on three soccer teams, but I wanted more. I joined kickboxing. I started consistently doing “Insanity.” Shaun T became my best friend. I became my downstairs neighbor’s worst enemy. I felt great and knew moving my diet even further along the healthy spectrum would only improve my life. I started “clean eating.” (Enter my friends mocking my “#cleaneating Instagram posts.) I cut back on the bread. I cut dairy almost entirely out of my diet. I relished the challenge of making people drool with things that were actually good for them. Now, I’m teetering on the edge of being “one of those Crossfit people,” but I make no apologies for feeling stronger (both physically and mentally) than I have at any other point in my life, and much of it comes back to the food.

The last development builds on last year’s mover and shaker: Pinterest. In last year’s blogiversary post, I made it my goal to make one Pinterest meal per month. I actually did a double take when I went back and read that. Per month?! I’m doing, like, three per week. I will always have a place in my heart for foodgawker, but Pinterest has become my new food porn purveyor. And it helps a Type A-person like me organize everything into neat little boards. Many of my favorite creations have been inspired by something I’ve found in Pinterest.

This past year has brought about a lot of changes. Some good. Some bad. Some itty bitty. Some monumental. I’m in a much different place now than I was when that’s forking good turned two, but for your sake, a few things have stayed the same… I still love writing. I still love cooking. I still love taking pictures. And I still haven’t conquered corn soup.

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3rd Annual Cupcake Smash

Posted by culinaryneophyte on May 11, 2013

PrintNow that the cupcake calamity has subsided, I’m ready to recap the rousing day that was Cupcake Smash 2013.

In case you’re new to this fabulous event, here’s a quick overview:

PYT is a crazy burger joint in Philly known for putting bacon and/or booze in basically everything. (Their rise to fame skyrocketed when they came out with the Krispy Kreme burger with chocolate-covered bacon, and gained nationwide notoriety when they started selling taco shells made completely of bacon.)

Philabundance is a nonprofit food bank that serves Philadelphia, Jersey and Delaware, and it’s the largest such organization in the region. In an effort to raise money for the food bank and “squash” hunger, Philabundance and PYT joined forces to create Cupcake Smash — a competition that challenged area bakers to create a cupcake based on one or more of PYT menu items.

On the day of the event, cupcakes invade the Piazza at Schmidt’s, served off decked out stations. Last year, I was inspired by PYT’s “Adult Cereal,” and made a Fruit Loop-flavored cupcake with a Loopy Vodka buttercream, and served the minis in individual cereal bowls with tiny spoons. It was enough for me to be voted People’s Choice among all attendees, so naturally, I had to defend my title…

Like last year, I made just about 10 test batches of different cupcakes based on assorted PYT items. Unlike last year, nearly all of these were relatively successful. (Last year, I had some pretty questionable results, including one that tasted like an ashtray.) This turned out to be more of a curse than a blessing because while all of the test batches were “good,” there wasn’t one among them that I tried and said, “THIS. This is it.” My taste testers’ feedback was all over the place, and I was fretting as the submission deadline loomed. I sent in what I intended to make with a giant, worried sigh.

cinnamonkey setup 2Our fabulous Cupcake Coordinator, Melissa, organized a happy hour for the competitors to meet up, and I had such a wonderful time meeting everyone, hearing their baking stories and sharing our excitement for the big day. I spent most of my time talking to Jamie from Luscious Bakery, a rocket scientist (legitimately!) who left that line of work to open her own business! Totally in awe of this girl, but it looks like it was the right move because she ended up taking first place among professionals this year with her “Brass Monkey” cupcake!

In between the chatting and buffalo bleu cheese fries, I spotted a special on the PYT menu — the “Monkey Bread Milkshake,” made with bits of monkey bread, vanilla ice cream and RumChata. On the way home, I started wondering “what if…” and got some materials together to try just one more test batch.

I had no idea what RumChata was, so I did some research (both via Google and imbibing) and discovered it may very well be the best liqueur ever made. A mix of Caribbean rum, cream, cinnamon and vanilla, a shot tasted like a smooth gulp of liquid Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I got to baking, toted around some test batches and discovered I finally had the one — a cinnamon-sugar, pull-apart cupcake base with RumChata buttercream, topped with a Cinnamon Toast Crunch crumble.

Once the entry was finalized, it was time to devise a theme. I recruited my design-inclined BFF, Laura, to apply her talents and bring our ideas to life. After a monkey-centric brainstorming session, we decided that Cupcake Smash is “more fun than a barrel of monkeys” and that we wanted to nix the standard serving table and display the cupcakes on actual barrels. Only problem was you empty barrels are hard to come by, especially on a budget. On a long shot, we stopped in a garden store that didn’t sell barrels, but by the grace of God, a darling employee pointed us to a local shop that sold potting containers that looked just like barrels. Flipping one on top of another yielded the perfect faux barrel for our display. To add to our monkey theme, Laura incorporated cupcakes into the “Speak No/See No Evil/Hear No” monkeys for our T-shirts.

cupcake smash shirts

Detailing all the madness that went on in the 48 hours prior to the event would make this longer than it already is, but some highlights: buying 50+ pounds of ingredients at the supermarket, the senior citizens’ reactions to my 50+ pound purchase at the supermarket and carrying those 50 pounds and construction materials up six flights of stairs. Oh, and that time the liquor store clerk asked me if I was 16 or 17 after selling me two bottles of RumChata. After some monkeying around (come on, I had to go there at least one), Laura and I stayed up until 3:30 a.m. constructing and baking — didn’t quite realize at the time of conception that rolling 1,200 balls of monkey bread dough would be so time consuming. Yup. It certainly was.

But hey, it proved to be worth it because my CinnaMonkey cupcakes won People’s Choice! With the warm weather and lack of shade, my cupcakes were little cinnamony puddles about 10 minutes in, but people dug what we were serving enough  for me to take home my second consecutive title. Congratulations to the other winner: Luscious Bakery, Watts for Dessert, 2204 House, Cammy Cakes and the Midnight Baker!

cupcake smash trophy

Thank you everyone who came out to the event and helped to raise money for Philabundace. We doubled our total from last year, raising enough to provide 20,000 meals to those in need!

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