Photography by Daphne Domingo

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of joining some of my fellow food bloggers in Washington DC for Eat Write Retreat.  The weekend was so much fun! The event was packed with hands-on workshops, delicious food, cool swag and tons of networking opportunities.  I’ve always wanted to attend a food blogger conference and was very excited when I realized there was one right in my neck of the woods.  Eat Write Retreat was pure magic; I met many local and national bloggers (and a few international bloggers!) who I admire.  It was w0nderfully intimate, and I was able to spend some time getting to know most of the other attendees.  More importantly, it reminded me of why I began blogging in the first place and has inspired me to take my site to the next level.

We had some incredible workshops.  I learned so much from the speakers, especially from food photographer Renee Comet and food writer Monica Bhide.  The passion they show for their craft is remarkable.

Food Photography Workshop.  Photography by Daphne Domingo

Monica’s inspiring workshop.  Photography by Daphne Domingo

The OXO Cooking Challenge

The OXO Cooking challenge took place on the final day of Eat Write Retreat and I was lucky enough to be paired up with Stephanie of Copy Kat Recipes and Stephanie of 52 Kitchen Adventures.  It was an Iron Chef/Chopped inspired competition where we had one hour to create a dish that would be judged on taste, creativity and presentation.  We were allowed to make anything we wanted but were given the option of including sponsored ingredients for additional points: mushrooms, watermelon and Jarlsberg cheese.  Definitely a challenge! We ultimately chose to focus on the creativity points (though we were still able to incorporate Jarlsberg).

We decided to make a dessert with the thought that an hour would be enough time to create something delicious if we divided up tasks.  What did we wind up baking?  Beer, bacon & cheese cupcakes!  You heard me right.  And yes, they were sweet.  As luck would have it, we were the the only team who went with dessert.  We came up with a game plan and the challenge went smoothly.  The best part?


Me, Stephanie (Copy Kat Recipes) & Stephanie (52 Kitchen Adventures). Photography by Daphne Domingo

Our cupcakes were a hit and Jarlsberg will soon be distributing a nationwide press release with the recipe!  But I’m sharing it with all of you in advance.  Here you go!


Beer, Bacon & Cheese Mini Cupcakes
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 24 mini cupcakes
  • 6 strips bacon (I'd recommend a slightly sweeter bacon, such as applewood)
  • ½ cup Märzen beer
  • 4.5 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup grated Jarlsberg
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ + ⅛ cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • Jarlsberg, finely grated (optional for garnish)
  • Cooked bacon, finely chopped (optional for garnish)
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • ⅛ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Cook bacon until crispy then remove from oven, drain well, and finely chop. Coat a mini muffin tin with non-stick spray.
  2. Heat beer and butter in a large saucepan on medium-high heat until butter is melted. Add Jarlsberg. Remove from heat, and whisk in the sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the sour cream with the egg. Mix the sour cream mixture into the beer mixture.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Fold flour mixture into the batter. Stir in ¾ cup of finely chopped bacon.
  5. Fill cups in prepared tin almost full. Bake for 12 minutes, or until inserted cake tester comes out clean.
  1. Beat cream cheese and butter until creamy.
  2. Slowly sift in powdered sugar.
  3. Spread onto cooled cupcakes, then garnish with remaining bacon bits and finely grated Jarlsberg.


If you want to experiment a bit, I think candying the bacon garnish would be fun.  Thanks again to Stephanie and Stephanie being fantastic teammates!  Visit their blogs to read additional posts about the winning cupcakes:

Copy Kat Recipes
52 Kitchen Adventures

I want to give a shout out to the wonderful event organizers, Robyn Webb and Casey Benedict.  Eat Write Retreat was a labor of love and their hard work made the weekend truly special.  Also, thank you to the many sponsors including OXO, Calphalon and Feastie.  I got so many fun toys! I kept a lot of it for myself, but I’m planning to have a few giveaways over the next couple months to share my treats with all of you.  This blog wouldn’t be what it is today without your kind words and continued support.

Finally, here’s a bit of link love for some of my fellow attendees!  Please take a moment to visit their fabulous blogs:

The Wicked Noodle
(a)Musing Foodie
Copy Kat Recipes
52 Kitchen Adventures
Mango Tomato
Go Gastronomy
Fifth Floor Kitchen
The Spiced Life

For a full list of attendees check out this link!

  • Judy

    Beer, bacon, and cheese? I’d say you were a shoe-in. Congrats on winning the competition and being able to attend the conference — that is a goal of mine too. :)

    • Savory Simple

      I can’t recommend this one enough! I’ll definitely be back next year.

  • daisy

    Congratulations on winning the challenge! How many bloggers were at the retreat? It seems small with great hands on workshops like the photography one. I’ve actually signed up for my first food blog conference and it’s the Blogher Food in Seattle. I have mixed feelings as the conference seems too big for any real personal attention. I’m looking forward to learning a thing or two to improve my blog.


    • Savory Simple

      I would definitely consider EWR next year. We all chatted about the different conferences and one of the overwhelming themes was that BlogHer is just too big and impersonal. Eat Write Retreat had around 30-40 attendees (I never took a head count but we all fit comfortably in a hotel conference room). I’ll be back next year, maybe I’ll see you there!

  • Olga @ MangoTomato

    omg, I’m the opening photo ;) Hilarious! It was great to meet you and those cupcakes were amazing.

    • Savory Simple

      I love that photo! It was great meeting you as well!

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  • the wicked noodle (@thewickednoodle)

    So happy to finally get the chance to meet you at EWR!! Here’s hoping we get to cross paths again very soon!! xoxoxo

    • Savory Simple

      I hope so as well! You’re awesome and it was so great to meet you. Let me know if you ever want to come into the DC area for dinner or drinks!

  • Laura (Tutti Dolci)

    Nice to see you back & blogging – I’ve missed your posts! Congrats on the win – what a creative take on the challenge. Eat Write Retreat sounds like so much fun!

    • Savory Simple

      Thank you!! I’ve missed blogging. Life has just been so hectic between starting a new job and buying a house. I’m actually working on my next post at the moment which will go into some more details about everything. The short story is- I’m back!!!

  • Mad Dog

    That’s an interesting one – unusual, but I’d definitely like to try it ;-)

    • Savory Simple

      If you’re gonna win a contest against 8 other teams, you’ve gotta be creative! :D

  • spree

    What fun! Can hardly wait to see what taking your already-beautiful blog to “the next level” means! :)

  • Mama’s Gotta Bake

    Congrats! Sounds like so much fun.

  • Granny

    Congratulations and it is such a pleasure to read about your joy and passion.

  • Christine

    Ooh — I’m totally envious — going to a food blogging conference looks like so much fun! Congrats on all the praise your cupcakes have received, too — it definitely pays to think outside the box when it comes to competitions. :)

  • undermyknife

    These sound absolutely amazing and ridiculous! Well done.. might just be the birthday cupcakes I have to make this weekend!

  • baconbiscuit212

    Beer, bacon and cheese cupcakes? Amazing Congratulation on the win! They look really great.

    The conference looks like it was a lot of fun too. It must have been great to hear Monica Bhide speak! Her cookbooks are great.

    • Savory Simple

      She was so amazing. I can’t even put it into words… I could have listened to her all day.


  • Grubarazzi (@Grubarazzi)

    That sounds amazing and congrats on the win! I didn’t even know that conference was happening. I’m totally jealous. I would love to go next year!

  • Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide

    Normally, I could take or leave cupcakes. I’m taking these!

  • Karista

    Beer, Bacon and Cheese Cupcakes?! Love this! How fun and they look so delicious. They would definitely be a winner at my house. :)

  • chefconnie

    I am jealous. I really want to go to one of these retreats but work always seems to get in the way. I am glad you had a good time!

  • Laura Tabacca

    Thanks for link love! I am so excited you posted this because I was dying to try those cupcakes but did not due to the upset tummy I had (after the previous day’s raw food lunch followed my the carnivorous dinner it is not shocking I suspect!). I’m so glad I finally met you and so sad I only figured out who you were the last day! Hope you’re loving the slow cooker–I am taking the mandoline to my mom’s house this weekend and we are going to try it out. :D

    • Savory Simple

      It was great to meet you! I haven’t made anything with the slow cooker yet but I’m so excited to work with it. Thanks again for the perfect swap. Enjoy the mandoline!!

  • Jennifer Walker

    I’m sorry I missed this event because it’s so close to where I live. It sounds like so much fun. I’ll have to keep my eye out for it next year. Also, congratulations on your win! Those cupcakes sound awesome.

  • Cakeboule

    So very unusual! Congratulations on the win. I can honestly say I have never made or heard of savoury cupcakes before but they look great!

    • Savory Simple

      They’re not savory, they’re very sweet. They just happen to have a few savory ingredients :)

  • My Imperfect Kitchen

    I was blessed to meet Michael Natkin from Herbivoracious a few weeks ago! Great guy and I LOVE his blog! Thank you for sharing your experience. I’ve always wanted to go to a blogging conference and you’ve inspired me to look around for one near me! Oh, and make cupcakes too! :-)

  • Spoon Feast

    Looks like great fun and your cupcakes sound like pure diet busters!
    You have been awarded the “One Lovely Blog” award! You can pick it up on my blog at

  • Karen

    What a wonderful experience you must have had meeting fellow bloggers in sure an informative manner. Congratulations on the win!

  • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy

    Congratulations on your win…what a terrific report from the meet-up/conference! I am inspired to go to one…

  • Carolyn Chan

    Delicious combination!

  • Gina

    Hi Jen,
    EWR looks like a ton of fun, I haven’t attended anything thing like that, but it sure sounds like a blast. Who wouldn’t bond over cupcakes. Maybe they will have one in Cali.

  • Lexi @ You, Me, & A World to See

    Wow, that retreats sounds wonderful! Do they hold it in DC every year?

    • Savory Simple

      This was the 2nd year in DC and I’m pretty sure it’s planned for next year as well! Totally worth it.

      • Lexi @ You, Me, & A World to See

        Hooray! I’ll have to look into it next year. I’m dying to go to a food/blogger conference :)

  • TastefullyJulie

    I really, really, really want to go to this next year! It looks so great. Congrats on the win!

    • Savory Simple

      Maybe I’ll see you there!

  • Aggie

    How fun! Congratulations on the cupcake win!
    This conference has been on my radar since its smaller and on the east coast, will keep in mind for next year!

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