Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration, with Sweets by Maggie!

My girl Maggie came down to Florida a few weeks ago for a visit and over a few glasses of our beloved sangria, she told me about her upcoming event at The Chef’s Garden.  Wow!!! I was excited to hear that she would be participating in The Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration, an event I have been hearing about for many years.  The event is put together to combat childhood obesity, with chefs, wine vendors, and food & beverage companies all participating to make the magic happen.  There are wine seminars, chef demos, book signings and of course, lots of tasting!!  By the end of the pitcher of sangria, she had me convinced, I must travel to Ohio and help the Sweets by Maggie team!

The event kicked off with a welcome reception for all the participants and their teams!  The scenery was lovely; the wine was flowing and the buffet was plentiful.  The host of the event, the staff of Veggie U, The Chef’s Garden and the Culinary Vegetable Institute welcomed us graciously.  It was a perfect summer evening to meet many new friends and reconnect with old ones!

The Culinary Vegetable Institute, also known as CVI

Welcome to Ohio Chef Brian!! Maggie and Brian worked together years ago at WDW. I guess it IS a Small world after all ;-/

Birds eye view of the dining room at the CVI. The chefs were finishing up their prep for the evening before joining the welcome reception.

Chef's finish your mise en place!!

The Grand Tasting Tent- this is where the action would take place! Vendors, chefs, sponsors will thrill guests with their bounty from The Chef's Garden!

Our favorite sales person, Michele!

We were home from the welcoming party by 12:30 AM, grabbed a quick nap before heading to Maggie’s shop at 3:00 AM.  (My friends at work thought I was taking a vacation, hahaha).  We made up batters, beat buttercream, baked cupcakes, packed all the equipment and shoved it in the car by 1:00 pm.  And we were off to the races!

The Subaru was loaded! But it all fit! And that is the lovely Cheryl, who rocked all weekend long with us! Attention Wrigley, you have a new Life Saver flavor!

The Culinary Vegetable Institute, I ran by those chairs all evening long....tempting!

The Reefer Truck- It was refreshing to run and get supplies from the truck, despite the distance, as it gave me break from the heat!

Port Wine Brownies by Sweets By Maggie- We prepped in the reefer truck and were able to keep the desserts from spoiling....mostly... I ate the other ones! 🙂

Wine Seminar Tent - This was great because we were very close to it, while I was busy being a Cake Ball Ninja, I listened closely to the Master Sommelier Serafin Alvarado!

The gardens around the property were gorgeous! I love that you can see people hustling in back before we get started!

Such a beautiful setting to work in!

The Sweets by Maggie table! Getting close to opening, JUST a few friends to feed! 🙂

The tent before the action started.

Tart Cherry Cupcake with Grand Marnier Buttercream; and Lemon Lavender Cupcake with Local Honey Buttercream! They were fabulous!

Port Wine Brownies. I gotta say, the reduction was beautiful -hollllaaaaa!

Cake Balls! There were teams developing amongst the guests, arguing which one was better. (It was a tough decision, but I finally sided with Team White Cake Ball)

Sea Turtle Cake Balls, caramel, pecans, chocolate, sea salt, a few other things and of course, love! Just make sure you don't call them Sea Turtle Balls- I got a few looks when I quickly spieled the desserts.

Salted Caramel Cake Balls! These are soooo good, unfortunately I didn't have any to bring home to my friends in Florida! Hoping Sweets by Maggie starts shipping soon!

That's me- Cake Ball Ninja

Pipe Away Maggie!

I did manage to slip away before the event got going, taking a tour of all the chefs and what they were serving.  The caliber of creativity and culinary responsibility (local, sustainable, fresh, ect…) was extreme!  So many dishes I could not wait to try!

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, by far the best thing I learned about on my trip north. (Excluding everything I learned at the Sweets by Maggie Shop)

Flavors from Jeni's treasure chest!

Jeni's Sweet Corn and Black Raspberries Ice Cream. This will be in my freezer by the weekend. It was A-maZing!

Rockmill Brewery- I can't say enough about this brewer, every brew I tasted was...sooooo good.

Our new and old friends! Brian from Gary's Seafood, Chef Brian and Chef Garrett. We knew there was a great chef next to us, but was delighted when Garrett shared his beverages with us too!

Whoop, Whoop!!!  The event was amazing, the Sweets by Maggie table had guests raving….A complete SUCCESS!!! And like after any huge event, it is time to join in the party!

Welcome to The After Party!

The After Party! Good times were had by all!!


Steelite International was a sponsor of the Chef competition. The award was a trip to Alinea!! #Awesome! Congrats @Jonathon Sawyer!!!

The After Party! The winning chefs were announced, the volunteers, chefs, participants gathered as a team, broke bread, drank wine and relaxed!

By the end of the evening, with the bustle winding down, I was able to look around and soak in the atmosphere, the friendly faces, all the talent and passion in one beautiful field.  Knowing that all the effort that went into the event was going to fight the rising epidemic of childhood obesity was “icing” on top!

To learn more about Sweets by Maggie, take a look at the website or “Like” them on the Sweets By Maggie Facebook Page.


The Story of Seaside, Florida and a Food Lover

We just arrived home from a week spent on the Emerald Coast of Florida.  The weather was delightful, lazy days on the beach, friends and family, cocktails at sunset, early morning outings, just plain old R & R!  We had heard about the town of Seaside, I even had been there briefly years ago after the Truman Show had popularized it, but when we arrived we were super surprised about the culinary mind trip we were going to go on!  We spent hours eyeballing restaurants menus, small markets, locally made pickles and jams, tasted butters and yogurt creamed a short trip away; we were in heaven.  Like the way the town of Seaside was established, with the focus on community,  the  food scene certainly practices this as well.  Any foodie visitor to the Emerald Coast should block a few hours for this gastrofantastic town!  Needless to say we came home inspired!!

Small town of Seaside- The Farmer's Market

Fresh NW Florida Local Vegetables- Such a difference in flavor

Organic Tea Leaves- We were able to make our own blends, fun for tea's, marinades, sweets!!

Fresh Jams and Eggs- We took some back to the house and had an amazing breakfast!

Farmers Market Poster- I tried to steal this but thought that might not fly in Seaside!

Great Salads- We found our lunch on the beach #nomnom

Stalks of sweet corn- They were picked the afternoon before!

Fresh Breads- This bakery uses all organic, local ingredients. She baked the breads the day before, they were so good. I went to the local creamery stand and go some of the fresh butter as my bread baking interest was sparked again!

Local Honey- Made an hour down the road, he had Tupelo, Wild Flower and Bay Leaf. Great example of buying direct from the farmer as our purchase came with a quick lesson on the state of honey bees, as well as a taste test of the different types of honey! Awesome!

The Modica Market- A great store, we spent an hour looking at all the specialty local items.

The Modica Market Bakery- Then I spent an hour trying to decide which treat to have- 🙂

Modica Market- Chefs Paradise

Florida Made Cheese- I may not be in the know, but I don't think we have to many cheese artisans in Florida, needless to say I was thrilled to find this tasty cheese!! WOO HOO!!

Local Support- The Community of Seaside is dedicated and built around community. The restaurants, markets and chefs follow suit.

Lady Bird Hot Sauces- The Pink Grapefruit Sauce was awesome- soooo good! Double Win for the ASPCA involvement!

Microgreens! The shoppers in Seaside eat well!!

House Pickled Backyard Goods- I really need to learn to "can", there is so much opportunity! Look for canned goods coming soon 🙂

Ping Tung Heirloom Eggplants! These are awesome, the skin is so tender, the seeds are not bitter - Perfect for Baba Ganoush!

Pickle Stand- A ton of different pickles, amongst other many items 🙂

Seaside CSA Garden- This was awesome, very youth oriented, which instills in the kiddo's that important issues can be fun!

Key Lime Pie on a Stick- Can you ever go wrong with pie on a stick?

Food Trucks of Seaside

Barefoot BBQ Food Truck- Sir Wes could not resist, 2 thumbs up!

The Melt Down, Grilled Cheese Food Truck- I spent my time over here, I am a sucker for fancy schmancy grilled cheeses!

Wild Bills Beach Dogs Food Truck-"If you can think it, We will do it"

Dear Seaside,

We are fat and happy- Thanks for the good times, we will see you soon!!!

The Piggo’s

Versatile Blogger Award Winner- Yowza!

Sooo excited to be recognized by Ally’s Baking Journey for a Versatile Blogger Award.  It is a true honor for a newcomer, and so awesome to receive a nod from another foodie blogger!  So thank you Ally!!

As a recipient of the Versatile Blogger Award I am able to pass it on to other new blogs that I admire.  Check them out!!!

A Girl in Her Kitchen


Love and Zest

Sweethart Cakes and Bakes

A Michelin and A Mom

Ryan Bakes


A Cook Walks Into A Bar

The Elegant Eggplant


All of these blogs are great! I hope the recognition is as special to them as it was to me!  And to the recipients they pass it on to! Now on to part II of the Award- 7 Things about myself 🙂

1) I grew up in a pool, swiimming from age 6 and under thru college.  I loved being on a team surronded by such great people and strong role models.

2) My Grandmother (GG) and Uncle are SUBERB Chefs, I love sitting around the kitchen and talking about food with them!

3) I haven’t eaten beef or pork since 1994, the 2nd semester of my freshman year at The College of Charleston- Craig Cafeteria, wasn’t bad…it just was what it was..

4) Sir Wes has a 15 year old daughter, who was nicknamed Jelly by my brother Ryan.  She stays with us most of the week, and is a terrific food critic- She is developing a very refined pallette!

5) Chips, Salsa, and Beer are my end all, cure all.  A bad day often ends with that trio-

6) Sometimes I hope for bad days because of the Chips, Salsa and Beer that might follow 🙂

7) I worked in a popcorn shop when I was in college, which I love to talk about.  Have I ever told you I worked in a popcorn shop??  Well there was also nut shop connected to it- I was the Shop Artist, I painted the tins, and helped out in the shops making great tasty treats and of course “Killa Chedda”!

Anyway- I think it is so great to get a chance to tell you more about myself, and share other blogs with you- I’ve been inspired by many!


Lake Lily Food Truck Cafe

We went down to the Lake Lily Food Truck Cafe last week and had a great time.  We met some friends and made some new ones too.  It was a good time had by all, and would recommend highly.  The prices were great, the food was fresh, creative and delicious.  I would recommend to get there early, as the lines can get long.  And definetly bring your appetite, the choices are vast!  Look below to see some of the highlights.
The bathroom was our first stop, and I just thought this sink was so peculiar. Are all sinks so welcoming?

What a great dinner spot!

Food Truck Alley

I love @BigWheelMCO tables

I think Sir Wes made a few request, they happily obliged.

The @winterparkfish- very tasty!

Cooked perfectly by the man in the @winterparkfish truck

Kobe Dog (@winterparkfish)

Lots of food, not really sure what we got...but I think it was more than we paid for...careful of that @koreanbbq_2011

Just an example of me posing for a picture- I clearly am not fond of letting Sir Wes hold the camera!

Lemonata with Meringue Frosting from @yumyumtruck_fl

Luther Burger from the @TREEHOUSETRUCK- Nothing says it like a picture in this case!

Food Coma, poor girl...but so worth it!

A Morning at the Central Florida Second Harvest Food Bank Farm (@2harvestCFL)

I had a great experience not too long ago, a lot of friends  have asked me about it, so I thought I would share..maybe get a few volunteers motivated for such a great cause.

The Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida (@2harvestCFL) has a farm;  all of the produce goes to the local community at the meal center.  They are able to provide healthy and fresh  offerings in addition to the nonperishable items donated by the community.  At work, we also harvest our leftovers and send it over to the food bank, as well as preparing a monthly dinner service.  It is a great program,  I love getting involved, and I really liked getting dirty 🙂

Punch the clock and get on it boys!

The “Farm Girl”, Kirsten, was great- She was very knowledgeable despite that it has been less than a year of her managing the farm.  That particular morning there was about 7 of us volunteering, a couple of college kids studying Aeronautic Engineering (I really don’t know what they studied, but they interned at Lockheed Martin) and  a mother and her high school son, all of these guys were doing it as part of their school volunteerism.  There was also a gentleman there, who also worked for Lockheed Martin, I told the college guys, how fortunate for them to  show up today the same day as a senior leader.

We were tasked with an important job in all farms, I anticipated it being like in the movies, but actually it turned out to be the same as what Sir Wes tries to makes me do …weeding..

Doesn't look like much, I thought.. my back thought different the next day!

For the first hour, we quietly weeded the rows of squash, exchanging some small talk now and then.  Making our way down the row, someone asked about the squash blossoms, which perked me right up.  I asked a few questions which led Kirsten to ask if I was a foodie, professionally I told her.  The senior engineer was particularly interested in dehydrating, after I told him about a boyfriend that had rode his bike from Seattle to Poinciana, with me sending him boxes of supplies including a week’s worth of dehydrated meals.  Anyways…we had a great time, weeding, chit chatting, I think the best was when one of the college boys asked me (his first language was not english), “Do I say, I picked weeds or weed this weekend?”  I quickly told him, it was weeds, and please don’t tell everyone you were at the Second Harvest Food Bank Farm, picking Weed…LOL.

We did take a break; Kirsten should us around the farm, and told us a lot about agriculture, which led to a Q & A for the last hour or so.  She had a lot to tell us, leaving me wanting more.  Overall it was a great experience; I am looking forward to going back, and arranging some “field trips” at work.  Helping out and giving back  always feels good, but when you walk away having learned something…even better.

Fresh Organic Eggs..

No weeds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sweet Vidalia's