Bourbon Vanilla Bacon Cupcakes

This post is sponsored by my friends at Four Roses Bourbon in honor of National Barbecue Month. They provided product and compensation for my time and ingredients. As always, all opinions are my own! 

Bourbon Vanilla Bacon Cupcakes

Guys…I put bacon on cupcakes.

Cupcakes made with bourbon. And then topped with vanilla bean frosting. And additional bourbon. And then the bacon. And then served with a side of bourbon. Are you hooked yet? Because I am hooked with a capital H-O-O-K-E-D.

Bourbon Vanilla Bacon Cupcakes

Cupcakes are my favorite things to share with a crowd. Which is excellent, because the warmer weather means we’re coming up on priiiiiime BBQ/potluck season. May is even National Barbecue Month (!!!), so when Four Roses asked me to create a bourbon dessert perfect for bringing to your next summer barbecue, I knew cupcakes were on the menu. (I’ll ignore the fact that we don’t actually have a barbecue and celebrate BBQ month by eating all of these cupcakes instead, cool? Cool).

Bourbon Vanilla Bacon Cupcakes

I was a little skeptical about adding bacon here (meat in dessert? I think Friends might have scarred me for life on that one) but I actually loved the way the salty, smoky flavor of the bacon compliments the sweetness of the cake and frosting. (Cupcakes? GOOD. Bourbon? GOOD. Bacon? GOOOOOOOOD. [Sorry-not-sorry. Had to be done]). Plus, the bacon addition means you could totally eat these cupcakes for breakfast…right?

Bourbon Vanilla Bacon Cupcakes

I topped these cupcakes with plain ol’ bacon, baked until crispy. But they would also be straight up deeee-lightful if you candied the bacon first (maybe with brown sugar and, umm, more bourbon?) The recipe as written here is simple enough that you can bust these out pretty quickly, but if you’re in an all-day baking mood you can dress them up with candied bacon and mayyyyybe even a bourbon caramel sauce? Just remember not to top the cupcakes with bacon until you’re ready to serve them, and don’t leave them out on the counter or on a table for long periods of time. Bacon is meat, after all – you’re going to want to keep that ish refrigerated. If you prefer, you can top the cupcakes with bacon early and keep the topped cupcakes in the fridge until you’re ready to eat them, but I prefer to eat my cupcakes and frosting at room temperature rather than chilled. No matter what temperature you eat them at, though, these cupcakes are happy-dance worthy. Bring on the potlucks and BBQ weather! Because we’ve got dessert covered.
Bourbon Vanilla Bacon Cupcakes [Read more…]

Boston Recap: SENA15 and Harvard’s Just Food Forum

How is it MAY already?! I swear it was just yesterday I was a Jessie popsicle trucking through the snow and making soup for every meal. Today, somehow, I’m turning in my thesis (WHOA) and running my air conditioner and avoiding the stove altogether because it turns our apartment into a sauna. Also, we’re only a MONTH away from The Sustainable Seafood Blog Conference – UNBELIEVABLE – and you should totally buy your tickets and join us in New Orleans because we have an INCREDIBLE lineup full of great sessions for bloggers and foodies alike! Ok. Shameless plug over. Let’s talk about Boston!

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A Piece of the Expo Floor at SENA15

I drove out to Boston twice in March, once to attend Seafood Expo North America (SENA15) for The SSBP and once to present a poster on my graduate research at Harvard’s Just Food Forum. (PS – curious about the results of my thesis survey? I’ll be posting a breakdown of our results on the blog in the next few weeks!)

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Curried mussels from the expo floor at SENA15.

This was my second time attending SENA15, and it was an incredible weekend. I roomed with the lovely Julie of In A Half Shell (side note: she’s teaching a can’t-miss Oyster Boot Camp Session at The Sustainable Seafood Blog Conference!) and spent my weekend soaking in sessions about sustainability and eating as much seafood as I could get my hands on. I spent most of the first day in conference sessions, catching up on sustainability issues and the latest seafood marketing trends (You can read a full recap of the sessions on The SSBP blog). Day 2 of SENA15 was more hands-on, and I got a chance to wander the expo floor, check in with SSBP partners, and attend a few meetings. SENA also hosts an annual Oyster Shucking competition, which is a ton of fun (and makes for some great photos!)

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A competitor prepares to head onstage at SENA15’s oyster shucking competition.

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Ready, set…

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…SHUCK!

We capped the day off with a Maine Lobster reception on the waterfront, catching up on their sustainability initiatives while we sampled a variety of dishes including lobster risotto, lobster chowder served in flaky biscuit cups, and lobster rolls.

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Walking in to a reception with Maine Lobster on the Boston Waterfront.

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A delicious lobster chowder at the Maine Lobster Reception.

Afterwards, we headed to a reception with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, which was filled with elaborate ice sculptures and piles upon PILES of fresh seafood. Simple crab legs and boiled shrimp were on the menu, which was perfect – the simplest food is always the best food, don’t you think? We ate a few (okay..maybe more than a few) plates of shrimp and crab and washed it down with some Alaskan beer (I LOVE that they worked other Alaskan companies into this event! Kudos to the planners for being awesome).

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Snapshots of the Alaska Seafood Reception.

We then headed to Row 34, a downtown oyster bar, so that Julie could serve as my personal Oyster Sommelier slash hand-holder slash friend-who-does-not-let-you-back-out-once-you’ve-agreed-to-do-something as I (GASP) ate my first ever raw oyster. It’s a little ridiculous that I’d never tried raw oysters (food blogger + SEAFOOD nonprofit director, helloooooo) but I’m happy to report that I came, I slurped, and I conquered. I even kind of liked it. Apparently, I’m hooked – we ordered another plate at lunch the next day at Union Oyster House. Fun Fact: Union Oyster House is America’s oldest restaurant! If you pay them a visit, ask to sit at the oyster bar – their shuckers are great and full of interesting stories.

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My very first raw oyster! You can’t tell from the faces I’m making, but I actually quite enjoyed it.

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Even more oysters! This plate is at the Oyster Bar at Union Oyster House.

Flash forward a week and I was back in Boston to present at the Harvard Just Food Forum. Oof with the traveling!

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The entryway at Harvard Law School, where I was presenting a poster.

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My poster! (And a sneak peek of the research results I’ll be sharing soon!)

I had more free time on this trip than I did at SENA15, which meant I and some grad school friends who were also in town got to explore the city and do very important things like tour the Sam Adams brewery and spend our afternoon sipping champagne at Top of the Hub at the Prudential Center.

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View from the top of the Prudential Center.

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View + Bubbly.

Other food highlights included Miracle of Science, a Cambridge restaurant whose menu is formatted to look like the periodic table. We stopped for brunch when I was done presenting at Harvard and snacked on some kabobs, corn salsa, and arugula salad.

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Part of the menu at Miracle of Science.

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Brunch at Miracle of Science in Cambridge.

I was actually really impressed with the Sam Adams tour – if you’ve been on a lot of brewery tours, you know that they start sounding pretty similar. “Here’s what hops look like, here’s what a vat looks like, blah blah blah.” Their guide did a great job of mixing that standard information with new, Sam Adams-specific stories so that it didn’t feel like the same brewery tour I’d been on everywhere else. You also get to drink a lot of awesome beer, so, y’know, #winning. PLUS, after the tour, you can hop on the Sam Adams party trolley (it’s a real thing. There’s a disco ball) and head to Doyle’s Cafe for clam chowder and the best lobster roll we had during the whole trip.

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Party Trolley. ‘Nuff said.

Myers + Chang was also a standout restaurant. Their tapas-style menu is perfect for sharing, and their Asian-inspired dishes were some of my favorites of the whole trip. The Cold Dan Dan Noodles were the bomb dot com. If you go, ask to sit at the food bar so you can watch the chefs work their magic!

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Food Bar at Myers + Chang.

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Cold Dan Dan Noodles at Myers + Chang

March was a whirlwind, but I’m glad I was able to spend so much time in Boston (and with such great people!) Do you have any favorite Boston restaurants or attractions? I’d love to explore some new places next time I’m there – and I’ll definitely be making another appearance at next year’s Seafood Expo!

Easy Arugula and Blistered Tomato Crostini

Easy Arugula Crostini with Blistered Tomatoes

Ahhhhh, crostini. How I love thee. So many options. So many choices. So many ways to put deliciousness on top of deliciousness on top of cheese on top of bread.

Easy Arugula Crostini with Blistered Tomatoes

I’ve been a big fan of this crostini since I had a similar version while in Boston for a conference last month. Generally, I’m one to stick with the good ol’ tomato-cheese-basil combo with a dash of balsamic. But I was surprised at how much I liked it with arugula instead – and that’s saying something, because tomato+basil+balsamic and I have a love affair for the ages.

Easy Arugula Crostini with Blistered Tomatoes

As soon as I got home, this was at the top of my make-for-lunch list. So I made it. And then I ate it. And then I made it again.

And again.

…And then another time after that.

Easy Arugula Crostini with Blistered Tomatoes

I think I’ve been compulsively eating this crostini for two reasons: one, it’s friggin’ delicious and I love it, and two, I’ve been so busy with Sustainable Seafood Blog Conference planning and that whole finishing-my-Master’s thing (pffft, how annoying) that finding time to eat anything at all is starting to feel like life’s greatest struggle. Also, this crostini is super simple, has minimal cleanup, and is ready faster than you can say “OMG I HAVE TIME TO MAKE FOOD TODAY I AM TOTALLY EATING CROSTINI.” (Not really. But you know. Still fast).

For the most part I’ve been living off Panera and Thai delivery and the occasional (ok…the not-so-occasional) bag of tater tots. So on days when I, like – have time to TOAST something? This lickety-split crostini. All the way.  [Read more…]

Creamy White Wine Shrimp Alfredo

Creamy White Wine Shrimp Alfredo

Today rocks! And it’s not just because I’m sharing this UMM HELLO AMAZING recipe for Creamy White Wine Shrimp Alfredo with you. Today rocks because in addition to this concoction of garlicky shrimp tossed with fettuccine in a velvety white wine cheese sauce, we’re welcoming the 4th class of Blog Partners to The Sustainable Seafood Blog Project (SSBP)! This is our BIGGEST PARTNER CLASS EVER – be sure to click through the links at the end of this post to say hello to them all, and to take a peek at the delicious seafood recipes they’re sharing! [Read more…]

BBQ Chicken Pepper Jack Stuffed Mushrooms

BBQ Chicken Pepper Jack Stuffed Mushrooms

There are very few things in this world I love more than barbecue sauce.

BBQ Chicken Pepper Jack Stuffed Mushrooms

It’s just – AHH. So good. And a splash of BBQ can lend a quick smoky touch and immediate depth of flavor to even the easiest, simplest dishes. [Read more…]