Blog Better Boston Food Summit

Yesterday I traveled down to York, ME and Stonewall Kitchen for Blog Better Boston’s Food Summit. This was a great event specifically for food bloggers. It was a small event, with only 24 blogger present. Everyone from food lifestyle blogs, cooking, and restaurant reviewers were present.

Typically, these conferences are usually far from home for me so I was very excited to have a chance to meet up with some local bloggers. Besides general networking, the food summit held conferences on food styling and photography, restaurant reviews, photo editing, and recipe development. These sessions were fabulous on their own, but add in a tour of Stonewall Kitchen’s factory and offices, photo studio, break sessions sponsored by Au Bon Pain, Wyman’s, and Stonewall Kitchen and a fabulous lunch prepared by Patty Roche and Scott Jones and you have a foodies dream!

Oh, did I mention the amazing swag bags that were given out and the chance to win a few prizes on top of that? It was a good day! If you have any interest in learning more about blogging, food photography, trying to get further in your blogging, etc. you really should check out some food conferences. While national ones are fun, local ones provide a great opportunity to learn so much and create some amazing opportunities for yourself and your blog.

I promised myself to enjoy the day so I only carried my camera phone, but you can still get an idea of the fun! Thanks so much to Blog Better Boston, Stonewall Kitchen, WayFair and the rest of the sponsors for a wonderful day! I look forward to working with you and the other bloggers I met in the future!

Stonewall Kitchen tour led by food stylist Cynthia

Inside the jam factory

Food photography props. I was in heaven 🙂

Entering the photo studio

Stonewall Kitchen’s photographer Michael Cabelin

Food styling

Dessert being plated by Scott Jones

Dessert being made by Patty Roche

Can we say amazing swag bag??? I “may” have already eaten the absolutely delicious Rocky Road Cookie by Au bon pain on my way home 🙂


Black Bean Cakes

I have noticed that my family is eating more and more beans and thoroughly enjoying them. I’m happy to have another protein to utilize in the kitchen that is healthy and very inexpensive! All of the beans, besides the Beef & Bean Enchiladas, have been side dishes or appetizers and I was ready to make a full meal without any meat in it for my family. I figured a quick fry in panko would help my cause a little and get them to be more agreeable to the meal!

I opted not to try this recipe as written, which was served with a salad and a sunny-side up egg on top. That wouldn’t have gone over with my family at all. So, I served the bean cakes with salad, rice, and corn. Better to stay safe when introducing new things to picky eaters! My husband really enjoyed these, but added a little bit of salsa on top of his. I think the moisture of the missing runny egg played a part here. I really enjoyed it as is and my daughter liked it with a little bit of ketchup on top. They were all eaten, no matter what condiment was used, so I’ll call it a win and will continue to try to incorporate more meatless meals into regime!

Black Bean Cakes


  • 3 Tbsp canola oil, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1 15oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs, divided
  • 1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Place 1 tablespoon of canola oil, egg, and beans in a food process. Pulse 20 times or until the mixture becomes a coarsely chopped paste. Combine the bean mixture, 5 tablespoons panko, onions, and the last five ingredients into a bowl.

Place three tablespoons panko in a dish. Divide the bean mixture into 4 equal portions. Shape each into a 3/4″ thick patty and dredge in panko.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 teaspoons canola oil. Add the patties and cook for 3 minutes on each side.


Per serving: Calories 322, Fat 22.6g, Sat 3.4g, Mono 12.7g, Protein 13.8g, Carbohydrates 18.7g, Fiber 5.1g, Cholesterol 264 mg, Sodium 602 mg.

Source: Cooking Light, September 2012

My husband loves hot sausage, but my daughter and I could do without. She and I like sweet sausage, but sometimes we’ve got to make him happy as well. Especially when he buys hot sausage and I have to cook it so it doesn’t just sit in the freezer for months on end!

I asked some of the girls on my cooking board for a few suggestions. I wanted something that would use up the spicy sausage, but would mute it just a bit so my daughter and I would enjoy it as well. This was one of the recipes that immediately got bookmarked. I knew between the pasta and cream it would be perfect for me and he would be happy as well. I didn’t realize just how happy he would be though! Before I finished snapping a picture of my plate for the blog he was headed back for a second serving!

A Taste of Home provided a great kitchen tip as well. To avoid a messy cutting board, use kitchen shears to cut the tomatoes while they’re still inside the can. Perfect!

Bow ties with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cream


  • 1 lb bow tie pasta
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb spicy Italian sausage, casings removed and crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional only if you want more heat)
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28oz. can Italian-style plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to the directions on the package and drain.

While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Cook sausage and pepper flakes until sausage is evenly brown. Add onion and garlic, cook until onion is tender and translucent. Stir in tomatoes, cream, and salt. Simmer until the mixture thickens, 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir cooked pasta into sauce and heat through. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Source: A Taste of Home Cooking, modified from

Violet Gumdrop Flowers

Anyone can make pretty little flowers to garnish your desserts. Whether you don’t want to get involved with piping frosting flowers or you want a different look, these gumdrop violets are easy and add a beautiful touch. You can also use the same blossom cutter to make pink phlox or yellow forsythia. I have had this little magazine page tucked into my recipe book for years and finally decided to have a go with it. I can’t believe I waited this long. I absolutely love the look and sometimes I just don’t feel like piping! An added plus is that guests, mostly little ones, loved sneaking a flower or two off of the cake!

Violet Gumdrop Flowers

  • Gumdrops
  • granulated sugar
  • blossom cutter

Flatten the gumdrop between your thumb and forefingers to 1/8″ thickness. Using the blossom cutter, cut the shape. Slightly flatten the cut gumdrop again and dredge in granulated sugar. Pinch the center of the cut gumdrop from behind, gently squeezing to form a bell-shaped blossom. Repeat until you have the number of blossoms you desire. Line the bottom of your cake with the violets and use mint leaves for garnish.

Source: Southern Living, April 2008