Foodie News

superb_owl

Greetings and salutations!

So, who’s ready for some FOOTBALL!!! Well, not me cuz while the big game is located on home turf, my beloved NY Giants just didn’t make the cut this year (AGAIN! But I digress).

There are some great appetizer options that are quick and easy to make or if you have a ton of time on your hands and love a challenge. For instance we’ve got the adorable and delicious Chicken and Waffle Bites which you can make entirely from scratch OR pull out some chicken nuggets and Eggo mini waffles from the freezer and plate them in mini cupcake liners and straws in your team colors along with your favorite syrup.

Couldn’t be simpler and oh so good!

And what’s a football game without cheesy potato skins? Check out this link for the recipe!

Are ya drooling yet?

I know I know “But I’m on a diet! I can’t eat that! My heartburn!” I hear ya folks. Football snacks don’t have to be about dripping grease and fat and cheese but it also doesn’t mean you have to be stuck grazing by the obligatory veggie platter or crackers and dip that look like something you’d feed to your parrot. For those of you who are more health conscious, whether you want to be or not, we have Sweet Potato Skins, Herb Marinated Chicken Skewers, and Strawberry Footballs!

C’mon, you know you want some!

Personally, this Sunday I’ll be tweaking a tried and true favorite with my friends and family: Smoky Cranberry Wings

NOM!

In local news, I’ll be entering my Pasta di Formaggio Mediterraneo in the Seminole Heights Sunday Morning Market 1st Annual Mac and Cheese Cook off on Sunday February 9th from 12-2pm at Hillsborough High School located at 5000 N. Central Avenue, Tampa. Tasting tickets are available for $7 and allows you to sample every dish in the contest and cast your vote for the People’s Choice Award. There are only 140 tickets available so don’t wait to get in on all the creamy cheesy goodness! All proceeds benefit Metropolitan Ministries’ culinary training program, Inside the Box.

More news to come. Stay warm and safe out there. Chow for now!

Menu for December 14th

Seasons greetings to all!

This week Ybor City Saturday Market will be hosting Art in the Park. A fantastic event that brings out local artists, young and old. There are also lots of vendors selling some great stuff for the holidays. At our festively decorated booth we will be selling more of our creamy and delicious mint cream chocolate Yule Logs and crispy chocolate hazelnut snoballs.

IMG_0139

$2 each

$2 each

We’ll also have some delicious S’more Pops, marshmallow dipped in homemade chocolate ganache and dusted with graham cracker crumbs, and our Key Lime Crunch pops, chocolate coated marshmallow topped with crunchy key lime flavored candy. 

IMG_0164

As always, we try to have a healthier alternative for the calorie conscious and this week’s option is our Sugared Cranberries. Fresh tart cranberries bursting with flavor rolled in chocolate, sugar or cinnamon sugar is a nice treat that won’t hit your waistline as hard.

IMG_0160

Another new addition to the booth this week is our Christmas Bark. Crunchy pieces of peppermint, butterscotch and maple peanut candies and chewy gumdrops are immersed in soft fudgey Ghirardeli chocolate. Finally, it wouldn’t be Christmas without gingerbread so we’ll also be selling our light and fluffy Lemon Gingerbread cake.

IMG_0161

Christmas Bark

IMG_0168

This will be our final appearance at the Ybor City Saturday Market in 2013 as we’ll be out of town for Yule and due to my husband, Paul’s commitment to the Wounded Warrior Navy team, we will be in Hawaii in January for training and competition. A heartfelt thanks to all of you who donate your frequent flyer miles and to Hero Miles for making this trip possible! Barring acceptance for the new season, Comfy Confections will return to Ybor City Saturday Market January 18th. Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season!

Menu for December 7th

Seasons Greetings everyone!

I hope you had a nice drama free Turkey Day with the family. Even though here in Florida we aren’t getting inundated with snow and ice like the rest of the country, the temps have been dipping low enough to put us in the spirit of the season and is the theme our this week’s menu.

First up is our mini Yule Logs. Moist chocolate cake is wrapped around mint chocolate cream and coated in rich chocolate ganache that is adorned with mushrooms made of marshmallow and Hershey’s Hugs and Kisses, holly leaves and cherry sour holly berries. This rich cake serves 2-3 people depending on how thin you slice it.

IMG_0139

$10 each

Next is our chocolate hazelnut snowballs. This crunchy delight is made from crispy chocolate rice cereal, crushed hazelnut and Nutella with a dusting of sugar snow.

$2 each

$2 each

We’ll also be selling sweet and buttery Christmas Cookies and we’ll be trying our hand at homemade pretzels! Expect to find warm and delicious pretzels available with and without salt, butter. Depending on demand, we also hope to bring you wheat pretzels, gluten free pretzels and pretzel bites.

Winter may be here but Comfy Confections is just getting warmed up! See you Saturday at the Ybor City Saturday Market.

Menu for November 23rd

Anyone else tired of the camel?

Happy Friday all!

Apologies for the delay in posting but I have been a baking fool this week. In the spirit of the holiday my moist and luscious pumpkin bundt with cinnamon glaze and apple cinnamon popovers topped with cinnamon sugar have made a comeback.

Pumpkin bundt w/cinnamon glaze

Pumpkin bundt w/cinnamon glaze

I have also experimented with some old flavors and will be presenting apple pockets and pecan pockets. A flaky crust filled with sweet juicy apples, cinnamon and sugar and crunchy pecans surrounded by gooey maple and molasses flavored goodness. $1 each.

IMG_0128

My further experimentation with homemade marshmallow yielded some unexpected results. It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that while I make a mean yorkshire pudding and my ropa vieja have brought people to their knees in awe, I cannot for the life of me, make Jello. It’s the damnedest thing, even my teachers in culinary school couldn’t understand it. So when I decided to incorporate Jello flavors into my homemade marshmallows I already knew I was in for a fight and fight I did. The end result is my fantastically chewy chocolate dipped mint and vanilla marshmallows. These of course came out exactly how I wanted them to and I couldn’t be happier!

IMG_0129

$2 each

However, I also found myself with lots of marshmallow cream that tasted fantastic and smells like Fruity Pebbles but just wouldn’t stiffen enough to be dipped in chocolate. So I decided to sandwich them between two chewy homemade chocolate chocolate chip cookies to create a delicious and gooey delight. Whoopie Pies are made with cake and cream and I adore them. I never knew they existed until we were transferred to Maine 4 years ago but there is just no way I could get the cream to hold in the heat of the Florida sunshine even now in mid-November. Instead I’ve made Yippee Pies which are available in two sizes, $2 for the smaller ones and $5 for large, and in original vanilla, strawberry, orange, mixed berry and pineapple.

IMG_0118

$2 each

$5 each

$5 each

Once again we’ll have gifts available for purchase for the holidays now through the end of December.

100_1824 100_1825

The weather is looking beautiful so come on out to the Ybor City Saturday Market tomorrow. Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans and Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish readers. Safe travels to all.

November Charity Recipients

Good morning to all!

Our fundraising efforts for the month of October went well considering the level of crowds we saw at the markets we hit but this month we’d like to do better. Here is why we have chosen this month’s recipients:

During the summer of 2007, my husband Paul was deployed with the US Coast Guard. He was climbing the mast of his 210 foot ship  to conduct some routine electrical work when a faulty latch on the 30 lb metal hatch he had opened to crawl through gave way. As the ship bobbed along the waves the hatch came crashing back down cracking his skull open and crushing his hand.

Imagine getting hit with one of these?

The months that followed brought night terrors, anxiety and depression all of which Paul tried in vain to suppress. He was a military man and military men sucked it up and moved on. It’s all in my head, he kept telling himself, but as the months stretched in years more and more problems began to arise. His hearing and eyesight began to fail him as did his memory and concentration. He suffered from terrible headaches on a daily basis and debilitating migraines 4 or 5 times a year. Paul kept losing his balance and falling down resulting in two shoulder surgeries. He would suddenly fly into fits of rage from one minute to the next in a way that would make Mr. Hyde step back and say “Whoa, dude, take it easy!” Trips to medical personnel on my insistence turned up nothing and Paul kept insisting it was all in his head which of course was what the Coast Guard kept telling him. Then one day after an event at the local Burger King where Paul threw a burger at the cashier because he’d gotten the order wrong and told an elderly customer to drop dead followed by roughly collaring one of our dogs for barking too much I put my foot down. The man I married was a funny, intelligent, easy going guy and the maniac I saw before me wasn’t him. I uttered a sentence I never thought in my life I would ever say. “You go get help right now or I’m leaving you!”

Another round of doctors, specialists and in-depth testing both physical and psychological turned up 3 different diagnoses including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). When the hatch hit Paul in the head the brain was jostled in such a way that it damaged core pieces in the front of the brain which resulted in all the issues we were seeing. He underwent therapy with multiple doctors and treatment centers but the folks up in Maine where we had been stationed could go no further. His issues were beyond their level of expertise and even working together they admitted they did not have the knowledge to help him. “This is as far as you’ll go, you’ll just have to live with it.” He was told.

Paul always thrived on his high intelligence level and the fact he couldn’t operate on all cylinders wasn’t helping. He wanted to be able to do more, push the envelope, but he had no one to help him and fell into an even deeper depression. The man I loved was slipping away and it was only a matter of time before he became a statistic. I searched all over the country for TBI specialists who were willing to take his case and help him but kept being told no. His condition was too old, they only helped patients with recent injuries. Finally, a clinic in Colorado put me in touch with the specialists at what used to be Walter Reed. Unfortunately they too had their hands full with recent soldiers returning from the war in the Gulf but they pointed us in the direction of the James Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, FL.

Paul and his service dog, Rosie, went inpatient at the hospital for three weeks where he was given 6 more diagnoses for a total of 9 separate issues that were responsible for the physical, mental and emotional problems we’d been seeing. During his last week at the hospital the Fisher House Foundation invited me to stay within the local area so that I could spend time with him and help him adjust back into normal life outside the hospital.

IMG_0162

Fisher House Foundation build and donate homes to the military and Department of Veterans Affairs which enable family members to be close to a loved one during the hospitalization for a combat injury, illness or disease absolutely free!  These homes are located near a medical center or hospital and consists of between 8 and 21 suites with private bedrooms and baths, a common kitchen, laundry facilities, spacious dining room and an inviting living room with a library and toys for children. Fisher House Foundation also operates the Hero Miles Program which uses donated frequent flyer miles to bring family members to the bedside of injured service members as well as the Hotels for Heroes program using donated hotel points to allow family members to stay at hotels near medical centers without charge.  At the time of Paul’s hospitalization, the Fisher House associated with the hospital was full so I was put up at the beautiful Embassy Suites for free 🙂 The Foundation also manages a grant program that supports other military charities and scholarship funds for military children, spouses and children of fallen and disabled veterans and during the recent government shutdown when Washington dropped the ball on paying out death benefits to families and flying the bodies of fallen soldiers home to be buried, The Fisher House Foundation stepped up to foot the bill!

Before he left the hospital and we situated to our new home in the Tampa Bay area, Paul was contacted by a group we’d never heard of called the Wounded Warrior Project.

The Wounded Warrior Project serves veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound while serving in the military on or after September 11, 2001 and their families with a holistic approach to nurture the mind and body, and encourage economic empowerment and engagement. This includes interactive programs, outdoor rehabilitative retreats, peer support, and professional services, adaptive sports, health, nutrition, and recreational activities, higher education programs, information technology training, and employment assistance, the Policy & Government affairs program and a Benefits Service program that provides access to government benefits and details on all WWP programs and community resources. It is WWP’s mission to give warriors “the tools to maintain healthy, meaningful relationships with family and friends, and pursue life goals without the barriers or stigmas associated with mental health issues.” During the recent government shutdown, WWP also stepped up and announced they would be sending checks to the 40,000+ warriors in their program to assist in paying bills and surviving if veteran benefits ceased.

They asked him about his interests and what hoped to accomplish in the near future. As is common with people in his condition, Paul wasn’t interested in anything and hadn’t considered anything that involved leaving the house except to buy a new video game to play in a dark room 16 hours a day. With the help of his team at James Haley and WWP, I was able to get Paul to start trying new experiences and within the year he was swimming with dolphins, going to games, sky diving and cycling. He was actually becoming gung ho about leaving the house for Wounded Warrior events and even more importantly, he was developing bonds with his fellow wounded soldiers and sailors. Seeing the change that comes over these men and women is just phenomenal! When everyone first arrive, they’re strangers. They’re standoffish, hanging back and watching everything silently, cautiously but by the end of the event they’re bosom buddies! You could swear they knew each other all their lives. What really stayed with me was the nearly 180 degree change in Paul’s manner and demeanor during these events and since becoming involved with WWP. There are times when it’s almost like my husband has returned to me completely and it’s all thanks to the Wounded Warrior Project. Now Paul is talking about returning to college to get a PhD in Psychology and becoming a Peer Mentor among other things. Not only is he less hesitant to venture outside but he wants to help others just like him!

022_22

The Wounded Warrior Project also has wellness opportunities to help the oft neglected caregiver/spouse with retreats and monthly events that not only give us a moment to breathe and relax but allows us to bond with others dealing with the stress and tough days that come with the lives we now lead while reminding us that we are not alone. And so for all of these reasons, in honor of Veterans Day, for the entire month of November all proceeds from our Patriot Fudge will benefit The Fisher House Foundation and the Wounded Warrior Project! 🙂

544423_3705085885292_1178532081_n

It’s All Happening at Ybor City This Saturday!

Good morrow good people!

I don’t know about you but I am psyched about the festivals happening at Ybor City Saturday October 12th. First up, yours truly will not only be vending at tomorrow’s 3rd Annual Cupcake Festival but we’ve entered the contest for Tampa’s Best Cupcake Maker.  A panel of local judges will munch their way through 20 entries to determine the best-tasting cupcakes along with the best-looking creations. Winners will earn the title of “Best Cupcake in Tampa Bay 2013,” along with up to $400 in cash prizes.

Here’s our entry, we call it the Have S’more Cupcake! Moist and chewy graham cracker cake infused with our very own rich chocolate ganache and topped with homemade marshmallow and a dusting of chocolate.

IMG_0052

These will be available for purchase after the judging is over at noon. In the meantime you’ll still be able to try and buy our other creations at the festival. You’ll go bananas for our Bananas Foster cupcake made with banana flavored cake with homemade caramel and baked bananas at the bottom and caramelized sugar on top. Kids will love our PB&J cupcakes blending grape flavored cake and frosting made with natural peanut butter.

Also in time for Halloween is our Candy Corn Dream cupcake which tastes even better than it looks! Orange and lemon cake batter has been poured into each cup together and topped with festively colored vanilla butter cream icing.

Finally we’ve brought back the British favorite, Jaffa Cake, in the form of a cupcake with our rich chocolate ganache topping.

IMG_0054

If you experience cupcake overload at the festival, fear not! We will also be selling your favorite mini apple pie, mini pecan pie and Chocolate Espresso mini bundt cake.

So come check out the Ybor City Saturday Market at Centennial Park (corner of 8th Ave & 19th St.), 1901 19th Street, Tampa, FL 33605 Saturday Oct., 12, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and stick around for Streetcar Fest 2013. Ride the TECO Line Streetcar for only 25 cents from 10 a.m. – 1:30 a.m and check out all the events and sights there is to see!

October Happenings and a New Venue

Greetings and salutations!

After a brief hiatus, Comfy Confections is gearing up for the holidays at our new venue, the Ybor City Saturday Market. Your favorite mini apple pies will be available this weekend as well as our new Pumpkin Crunch Mini Pie blending autumn spices with velvety pumpkin flavor and the crunch of toasted pecans.

Not the exact pie but you get the idea

Also returning is an experimental dish that made a big hit at the Art and Soul Food Festival last month. Our decadent Chocolate Espresso cake, described by one customer as “flavor that just punches you in the face” will be available this weekend in mini bundt form.

Have some cake!

We’re also starting the celebration of one of our favorite holidays with an assortment of Spookies. Starting from $3, you can take home a box of delicious homemade sugar cookies shaped as coffins, headstones, witches, cauldrons, brooms, spiders and webs, cats, bats, moons, candy corn, haunted houses and ghosts. For those who aren’t feeling the spirit of Halloween we also have a nice assortment of Harvest cookies featuring Oak and Maple leaves, apples and pumpkins for $5.

Also not the exact cookies but you get the idea

Finally, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a cause near and dear to Comfy Confections, we are offering the Neapolitan Booby cupcake. A rich chocolate and vanilla cupcake with a bold raspberry jalapeño icing (or strawberry icing for those who prefer a more subtle fruit flavor) presented in a pretty pink paisley cup can be yours for $3. All proceeds for the Neapolitan Booby cupcake will go to the Moffitt Cancer Center.

Do I need to say it again? 😉

So join us at the Ybor City Saturday Market this Saturday from 9-3 and Sunday at Stained Marketplace for the Art & Soul Food Festival from 11-4pm.