I was invited to participate in a behind-the-scenes blogger conference with the Kraft Kitchens, for which Kraft provided full travel expenses, meals, and accommodations, and product samples, coupons and premiums, however my opinions are completely my own and I have not been compensated to publish positive or negative reviews of the event or products associated with my experience.

This week I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Kraft Foods BlogEats conference in Chicago. It was an amazing event where we enjoyed: competing in a recipe contest challenge, sampling new products, learning about vlogging, food photography, seo, and knife skills in conference sessions,connecting with other bloggers, and members of the Kraft Foods team, and even a ride in the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile!

Kraft Foods BlogEatsWhen I first arrived in Chicago on Tuesday, it was cold, wet and rainy. I immediately regretted my decision not to bring along a jacket. I live in Cleveland afterall, our weather is not that much different, what was I thinking?!

When I arrived at the DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago – North Shore, I was happy to get in out of the rain, check-in, and snack on a complimentary warm chocolate chip cookie!

Doubletree Chicago ReviewI headed up to my room to unpack and was greeted with this cute treat bag!

BlogEatsIt was perfect because I was hungry after traveling, so I tried a Crackerfuls Big Stuff and a few of the Kickin’ Cheddar Ritz Bitz. Both were flavorful and kept me full until dinner. I’m excited because not only will the other snacks be a big hit at my house, but I can’t wait to do some shopping on HSN and…see the Tassimo brochure in the photo?

It says I’ll have an opportunity to give away a Tassimo here on 2 Wired 2 Tired! So stay tuned for more information on that!

I was excited to spend the next day or so with a group of 14 bloggers from all over the country. Some I’ve met before, others I was glad to get the chance to know at this event. The atmosphere was fun and full of laughs.

Kraft Foods BloggersDinner at Magianno’s Little Italy was a wonderful combination of creations from Magianno’s and the Kraft Foods team. While there was much conversation and excitement about the Crystal Light Appletini’s and Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Martini’s, dessert was the highlight.

We had decadent Apple Dumplings and Lemon Crescent Cookies which were both amazing.

Apple DumplingsBut it was the Peanut Butter Brownies Topped with Sea Salt and Chocolate Covered Bacon that filled the room with “Ooohs,” “Aahs,” and exclamations of “Yum!”

Chocolate Covered BaconThe sweet and salty mixes of the brownies and bacon were delicious and if I hadn’t been so full, I know I would have gone for seconds or even thirds!

The next day we were up early and off to Kraft Foods Kitchens. When we walked into the building, the most wonderful scents filled the air – apple and cinnamon. It felt so festive and immediately I couldn’t wait for breakfast.

When we entered the kitchen area, I found the source of the delicious smells – Yummy Monkey Bread!

Monkey BreadIf you can believe it, I’ve never had monkey bread before and was excited to try it. It was just as divine as they say: sugary, sweet, and melts in your mouth. I can’t wait to make it for Thanksgiving!

We also had a granola & fruit yogurt cup, a Skillet Bacon Feta Frittata, and hot Tassimo drinks brewing.

Kraft Foods BlogEatsWhen we sat down at our table to eat, look what was waiting for us!

Kraft Foods Food & FamilyThe December issue of Kraft Foods Food & Family featuring Cookie Balls! I love this magazine and always look forward to the innovative seasonal recipes.

After breakfast the Kraft Foods team revealed a surprise, we were going to be participating in a Recipe Contest Challenge!

Kraft Foods Recipe ChallengeI was nervous and excited. I love watching all of the cooking competitions on tv but never thought I’d get the chance to be in one. We picked spatulas with numbers on them to determine our groups.

Our challenge was to create a festive dish using one or more of the following products:

  • Planters Peanut Butter
  • Oreo Cookies
  • Jell-O Pudding

We were to be judged on creativity, originality, use of ingredients, and kitchen cleanliness. We headed over to our kitchen and immediately bounced around a few ideas, eventually excited to settle on Snowmen Surprise Cupcakes!

Kraft Foods Snowman Surprise CupcakesWe were very proud of our recipe because not only did we use all 3 ingredients but we also made the cupcakes from scratch, put a special surprise in the middle of each one, and topped them with our own creative frosting and cookie ball snowmen. All in an hour!

The other teams had wonderful dishes as well and it was such a fun challenge. I’m extremely proud to say we won! Yay! The recipe will be featured on some of the brands Facebook pages, so when that happens I’ll be sure to share it with you.

After the contest we broke up into our conference sessions where we learned about Vlogging, Food Photography, and SEO.

BlogEats ConferenceI enjoyed these sessions immensely and learned a lot of tips and tricks that I can’t wait to start implementing them right away.

At lunch, I was tempeted to skip the main entrees and just head for dessert, but I’m glad I didn’t because the Sizzling Salad Dressing used in the salad and the Savory Smoked Turkey & Artichoke Sandwich was just as good as the dessert. I also loved the Bistro Panini and can’t wait to attempt to replicate it at home!

Kraft Foods LunchKraftFoods HalloweenI couldn’t get enough of the desserts! Some of my favorites were the Oreo Pumpkin Cookie Balls, Philadelphia 3-Step Mini Cheesecakes, and the Pumpkin Spiced Mini-Cake Balls.

We also got to try the Jell-O Brain Mold and a fantastically creepy Halloween punch. These would both be a huge hit for those with older kids or at an adult Halloween party.

Kraft Foods Halloween After lunch we watched a demo of a new dinner product that will be coming out in the next couple of months. We were able to sample it as well and I thought it was a delicious, simple idea that will make mealtime even easier to prepare.

We then had a lesson on knife skills which I found fascinating. I would have love to attempted some of the chopping myself, since I know my knife skills are lacking and could really use some practice. But the talk was very informative and offered a number of great tips such as:

  • You shouldn’t cut something that is thicker than the knife you’re using
  • The sharper the knife, the easier it is to work, the quicker it is to work, & the less likely you are to cut yourself
  • You can easily cut cake layers in half by marking points with kitchen twine

Then it was onto more new product sampling. Here a few photos of yet another buffet filled with fantastic food!

Kraft Foods New ProductsTo wrap up the day, Kraft Foods had a big surprise for us. A ride in the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile!

Oscar Mayer WeinermobileIt was so fun! As we drove around the neighborhood people in other cars were honking and taking pictures. We talked with the driver and the other team member and it just sounds like one of the most fun jobs in the world! Everyone is all smiles when you step inside, they say funny things like watch out for the mustard on the floor, fasten your “meat” belts, and who’s riding “shotbun?”

Oscar Mayer WeinermobileI also learned they get 15,000 requests a year for the Weinermobile to attend events around the country and that there are only 6 of them. It was definitely an unforgettable 15 minutes and I think I laughed the entire time!

Oscar Mayer WeinermobileCheck out the license plate!

I had a fantastic time at Kraft Foods Blog Eats and can’t wait to share our Snowman Surprise Recipe with you, host a Tassimo giveaway, and a Kraft Foods new products giveaway as well. So watch for those coming soon!