Eat, Write, Retreat 2014 in Philly #EWR14

Are you a food blogger or an aspiring food blogger who wants to know and learn more about food, photography and writing? Eat,Write, Retreat is the event for you! On the first weekend of June, the Sonesta Hotel will host a slew of bloggers for a weekend full of workshops, panels, sessions and events. It is an all inclusive weekend with planned dining events, networking and even some breaks for visiting with other bloggers.

I will be attending for the first time and even though I do not know the whole experience, I know I really wanted to be at the even last year, but with a new baby, it was not quite possible. This year, I am excited to see what all I gain from my experience, especially since writing and creating on my website has been a little more exciting and demanding. I'm especially interested in attending the session called "Pitch to the Pros" which is a one-on-one face time with sponsors that align with my website.

Want to take a peek into the retreat schedule? The schedule could change but this is roughly what it looks like now:

Friday, June 6, 2014

12:00 – On-site registration opens
5:00 – Sponsor Meet & Greet
6:30 – Welcome Dinner
8:30 - Carve Out Time for Mocktails and Networking with Cutco

Saturday, June 7, 2014

6:30 - Breakfast Featuring Safest Choice Eggs and Jarlsberg Cheese
8:30 – Story and Recipe: Serving Two Masters
10:00 – Social Media Spotlight
11:00 – Myths & Trends: What’s Next in Nutrition
1:00 - The Great Mushroom Swap and Lunch!
7:00 – Dinner in Philadelphia

Sunday, June 8, 2014

6:30 - Breakfast: What Does Your Farro Say About You?
8:30 – Lights! Camera! Watermelon! Media Training Workshop
10:00 – Social Media Spotlight
11:00 – The State of Blogging with OXO
12:00 - Learning Lunch and Business Incubator
2:30 – Pitch to the Pros
2:30 – Head Shots by Dottie Foley
Check out our Panels page for full descriptions of this year’s programming.

Check out the Sponsors page for a full list of the brands and representatives that will be at the conference. If you'd like to see more details for the sessions and workshops listed above, please check out the PANELS page.

There is already an update actively awaiting those who have either registered or those who register BY April 30th. As updated by the site, 

The National Watermelon Promotion Board has created a special offer for all Eat Write Retreat attendees who register by April 30, 2014. Develop a watermelon recipe that can be re-created on camera during our media training session, and you could win a prize pack from Calphalon (valued at over $500)! What’s more, if you’ve got the right stuff, you could be selected to star in our media training workshop. (There is no requirement to participate in the live training at Eat Write Retreat to enter to win the Calphalon prize pack with your watermelon post.)

How to Enter:
1. First, register to attend Eat Write Retreat by April 30, 2014.
2. Create and publish a blog post featuring an original watermelon recipe by May 19, 2014.
3. Include watermelon links in your post: watermelon.org,facebook.com/watermelon.org and http://www.twitter.com/All4Watermelon.
4. Submit the link to your post here.
5. You’ll also be able to choose whether you’d like to be considered for the live demos, or simply be entered to win our random drawing for a Calphalon Contemporary Cookware set.
We’re looking for recipes that are straightforward with minimal ingredients and/or dishes that showcase a helpful technique for working with watermelon. Think you’ve got a star recipe? Be sure to post your recipe by May 19 and submit your link online by May 19 to enter to win!


To enter the contest, you must be registered for Eat Write Retreat by April 30, 2014. Additionally, you must create a recipe using watermelon that can be assembled in a 2-3 minute video segment and post it to your blog by May 19, 2014 and submit your link online by May 19, 2014 to be entered to win the prize pack. Blog post must also include a link to watermelon.org as well as The National Watermelon Promotion Board’s social media channels, Facebook - facebook.com/watermelon.org and Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/All4Watermelon

Entries will be judged on creativity, originality, and how well the recipe translates to a 2-3 minute video segment. Winners of prize pack from Calphalon will be selected randomly from all eligible entries. There is no requirement to participate in the live training at Eat Write Retreat to enter to win the Calphalon prize pack with your watermelon post.

The winners will be announced at the 2014 Eat Write Retreat Conference.


Intimidated by the price of the retreat? Well, there is an option to pay over 6 months through PayPal so don't let the price prevent you from attending.

Check out Jennifer's post on her experience last 

Check out the twitter thread from last year to get a sense of all the excitement using #EWR13

Here is a quote from a couple of my blogger friends who attended last year:

"EWR offered useful tools and information to make me a more effective food blogger. I learned so much from my first EWR conference I honestly can't wait to go back."

Disclosure: I'm sponsored by Eat Write Retreat and will be attending in June.


Double Chocolate Cake with Spiked Raspberry Filling

Though I say I will stay away from making desserts I simply cannot. It is the one thing I enjoy making and consuming but it is very easy to find someone to bake for, usually. When we have company over for dinner, it seems as though Ryan and I discuss the dessert options before planning the meal itself. I mean, sometimes the dessert makes the meal, right?

To make matters more challenging, not worse, I decided to take Wilton cake decorating classes. Since I enjoy baking and making cakes, I decided it was high time I learned to decorate my cakes better than I have. I have always been one to take classes rather than to teach myself because, well, I like interacting with the teacher and chatting with others. I LIKE it!

One of the things I realized that attending an evening class after being busy with two small girls makes it very challenging coming prepared to class with baked cakes, cupcakes and being set up with all the cake decorating equipment. I probably failed my prep class tonight because I hardly had half the items I needed for my class, but like I told my husband, I managed and succeeded in decorating my first cake. Not only was I happy and tired but the class was also therapeutic.

What exactly did I really need to learn from a class that I could not learn on my own? Well, probably nothing that I could not read, but I learned the difference between three icing consistencies. The stiff icing was perfect for cake flowers and decorations while the medium icing was great for filling and the thin consistency was all about the cake topping. I learned in my first class how to cook a cake evenly and even how to slice a cake evenly in order to add filling. What was most exciting was learning how to not let the filling seep from the middle outside the cake. Yes!

Now who wants the cake I prepared tonight? Any birthdays out there? I will drop it off for you.

Before I started these evening classes I decided to make a chocolate cake for our guests who came to dinner a few weeks back. Even though I knew I enjoyed making cake, I really did not know what kind of icing to make especially since I only half a stick of butter so I went with a frosting instead. It totally did not come out the way I wanted and was disappointed and wondered what I did but then I realized that the amount of liquid to bring the frosting consistency together has to be done carefully or else the frosting comes out too thin which is what I did.

Even so, the cake turned out to be a great hit especially since it was chocolate. I spiked the preserves with vodka and then filled the cake with the filling and frosted the cake with a chocolate cream cheese frosting. All in all, it was super moist and decadent. Our friends were surprised I even had time to bake it which honestly enough, I was too.

Having a hard time deciding what to make this weekend? Make this cake and bring everyone together to talk about the resurrection of Jesus. I know some people on Instagram have been requesting to see the recipe. So enjoy!

Double Chocolate Cake with Spiked Raspberry Filling

cake recipe by King Arthur Flour
filling by Noelle Kelly
frosting by Allrecipes.com
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients (10 slices)
      2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
      • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 3/4 cup Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder
      • 1 1/2 cups sugar
      • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
      • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • 1 cup milk
      • 1/2 cup brewed, cooled coffee, or water
      • 4 large eggs

      Spiked Raspberry Filling
      • 2 - 10-ounce jars Polaner's All Fruit Raspberry Jam
      • 1/4 cup vodka

      Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
      • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
      • 4 tablespoons milk
      • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
      • 1/4 cup butter, softened
      • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
      • 1/2 cup Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


      Place a strainer over a large mixing bowl. Measure in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and sugar. Sift/shake the dry ingredients through the strainer into a mixing bowl, to eliminate any lumps.

      Add the butter and mix at low speed for 1 minute. With the mixer running, add the oil and continue mixing until the mixture looks like sand.

      Combine the vanilla with the milk and coffee or water, and add all at once. Mix for 1 minute at low speed, stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then mix for 30 seconds.

      Add the eggs one at a time, beating well at medium-high speed between additions. The batter will be thin.

      Pour the batter into two 9" round pans. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 28 to 30 minutes for 9" layers. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack before frosting.

      Spiked Raspberry Filling

      Mix the raspberry filling with the vodka and mix well.

      Chocolate Cheese Frosting
      In a bowl, beat together the cream cheese,confectioner's sugar, butter, vanilla, cocoa, and cinnamon. Add 1 Tablespoon at a time of milk to make sure you get spreadable consistency. Beat in additional milk if necessary. For a darker frosting add more cocoa or up to 4 ounces melted chocolate. Spread onto cooled cake.

      Cut each cake round in evenly in half. Place one cake round base on a cake plate. Divide the raspberry preserves and spread evenly over cake layer. Top with another cake layer and add the rest of the raspberry filling. Add the last cake layer and frost the cake with a spatula and spread frosting evenly around the cake until complete.
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