Friday, January 26, 2018

Chopped Jr Birthday Bash

Last weekend we threw my daughter a birthday party at the house. I tried to offer numerous other options and even attempted bribing her, but she wouldn't budge. She wanted a Chopped Birthday Party. I wondered about the state of my sanity while pulling it together and was really nervous at the thought of having 9 little girls over to my house for a Chopped competition, but to my surprise it went way better than I could have ever expected! The girls had an absolute blast and seeing them so excited made it all worth it!
I ordered the Invites, score sheets, banner and all of the cute printables here from Etsy
I also ordered kids plain aprons and some fabric markers so as the girls were arriving they could each decorate an apron to use while cooking. I was thinking instead of the usual bag of annoying noisemakers/stickers/candy that dyes their mouth green and gets left on the floor of your car after a party this was at least something they could keep and use at home too!
 We had the girls pick a number and then divided them into 3 teams of 3. I set up 3 small stations that they could cook and prep at and had a "pantry" table of extra ingredients they could use as well
The Pantry Table before it was raided is below
Afterwards it looked like a swarm of locusts had cleaned it out
For the entree round the secret ingredients were tomatoes, pizza dough and cheese (I had 5 types of cheese and they could pick the one they wanted)
I pre-cooked bacon and Italian sausage to give them some proteins to choose that didn't need to go on the stove and made sure I had a ton of veggies to choose from too.
For the most part I was really impressed with the final dishes. A few of the girls were worried and told me before we even started that they had never cooked anything before so my expectations weren't very high to begin with. 
Just in case you're wondering, yes that is a pizza surrounded by cool whip in the bottom shot. 
Yeah, it was rough...
They were so excited for the reveals! 
There was a lot of was LOUD y'all
Team 1 hard at work
 So stinking cute!
 I loved seeing how intense they were as the clock was running and had a great time teaching them a little bit of knife skills for those that were interested
Hands Up! Round 1 is over!
 For the dessert round, I had a whole dessert bar in the middle of the table so that served as decoration and their stash to work with plus the pantry table for them to pick from. For their secret ingredients they had to use any flavor cupcake, sprinkles and their choice of icing.
There were sprinkles EVERYWHERE
Overall, it was a blast and I hope the kids had as much fun as Brianna did!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Serrano Honey Lime Vinaigrette

Sometimes the best lunches are born when you're cleaning out the pantry! I had less than half of a package left of a quinoa, brown and wild rice mix hanging around, so I cooked that in the microwave with some chicken stock.  About 1/2 cup of corn was left in the fridge so I grabbed that too. While the quinoa mix was working in the microwave, I sliced the last handful of cherry tomatoes we had left and combined them with a can of black beans, chopped cilantro, salt and pepper. Throw in a few slices of mango, some pickled jalapenos (I'm addicted) and the rest of the cilantro and you have one filling, healthy, meat free bowl!
The vinaigrette was super quick and is my new favorite! Just throw everything into a mason jar and shake it up. It takes 2 seconds and packs so much tangy sweet and spicy flavor. I hope you love it as much as I do!
 Serrano Honey Lime Vinaigrette
zest and juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Yellowbird Serrano Sauce
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

Friday, December 22, 2017

Mushroom Marsala Udon Noodle Bowls

The second annual Fortune Asian Noodle Blogger Recipe Challenge is on and I'm so excited to share my first entry with you! This year, the challenge is to create a fusion udon soup so I'm mixing it up with an Italian twist!
Chicken Marsala Udon Soup using Udon Mushroom Flavored Noodles delivers the perfect umami mushroom flavor in less than 30 minutes!
Chef Yaki Mushroom Marsala Udon Noodle Bowls
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 clove minced garlic
1/3 cup marsala wine
4 cups chicken stock
1 package (7.25 oz) Fortune Udon Noodles Mushroom Flavor
1 ½ cup shredded rotisserie chicken
1 Tablespoon chopped chives

Pour the oil in a medium sized soup pot over medium-high heat.  Sauté the sliced mushrooms until well browned and most of the liquid has cooked off, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the marsala wine and cook until almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Once the marsala has evaporated, stir in the stock and seasoning packet. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and udon noodles to the soup mixture and allow the noodles to simmer in the hot broth without stirring, for 3 minutes. Once the noodles have softened, and chicken is warmed through gently stir to separate the noodles.

Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with chives and serve immediately.
You can purchase JSL Foods products at: Albertson, Lucky's, Von's, Pavilions, WinCo and Target and you can find JSL Foods on their website, Facebook and twitter
#Fortune #ChefYaki

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Duck Bacon Corn Cakes with Duck Confit and Chipotle Bourbon Maple Butter

I'm so thrilled to be able to share that I am the Grand Prize Winner of the 
My "Father's Day Quack Stacks" - Duck Bacon Corn Cakes with Duck Confit and Chipotle Bourbon Maple Butter won me $6,000 and free duck products for a year!! 
I can't even believe I won and I can't wait to start getting all of those ducky deliveries! 
This was the first year that I entered this contest, and I'm so glad I did. Every year seeing the impressive entries that were up for judging really intimidated me and it kept me from even trying. 
So glad I got over that! 
Now I have two new favorite ingredients that I'm in love with: the confit (so easy to use and already fully cooked) and especially the duck bacon (I'd never heard of it before and now I'm in love)! The duck bacon may become a regular freezer staple from now on. The contest called for dishes that highlighted duck for any holiday and for this recipe, I chose to celebrate Father's Day. When brainstorming ideas I started thinking, what do dads like besides duck? Bourbon and spice. And brunch. And peace and quiet.
At least he can get the first three....
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh corn, roughly chopped
1 egg
½ cup milk
3 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup minced shallot
½ cup bourbon
3 Tablespoons chipotle puree
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 1/3 cup baby arugula leaves
2 Tablespoons chopped chives

Prepare the duck confit per package instructions using the oven method. Once the confit is warmed through, shred the meat and discard the bones and skin. Reserve the pan juices for later use. 

In a cast iron skillet, over medium high heat, cook the bacon until browned and crisp (about 10 minutes).

Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, and place in a medium mixing bowl. Add the flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt to the bowl, and stir until thoroughly combined. Gently stir in the corn, egg, milk and 2 Tablespoons of the duck fat. Stir until smooth.

Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle to medium-high heat. Brush the skillet with the remaining duck fat. Using a ½ cup scoop, pour 4 corn cakes in the skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes per side. 
In the same cast iron skillet the bacon was cooked in, cook the butter and shallots until the shallots are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the bourbon and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the bourbon has reduced and is almost gone. Once the bourbon has evaporated, pour ½ cup of the reserved pan juices from the duck confit to the sauce and continue to cook another 5 minutes. Whisk in the chipotle and maple syrup. Strain the sauce with a fine mesh strainer.
To serve, place an even amount of baby arugula leaves on four plates. Top with a corn cake, an equal amount of shredded duck confit and drizzle generously with strained sauce. Sprinkle with chives and serve immediately. 
Serves 4.
Be sure to check out my other entry Mardi Gras Mambo Fried Green Tomatoes with Duck Confit and Duck Bacon Remoulade as well! These were a huge hit at my house and didn't last long!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Pumpkin Amaretto Bisque with Blue Cheese Honey Crostini

Here in Texas, we are officially in the stage of watching everyone else on Facebook and Instagram enjoy the beginning of Fall, pumpkin spice everything and breaking out the scarves and cute boots while we continue to roast daily. So, even though it's in the high 90's and the humidity is out of control, The Home Town Cook’n Recipe Contest is gearing up for the holidays and they're looking for the best dishes to serve on Thanksgiving. I thought highlighting pumpkin in a savory way and adding a healthy amount of booze would brighten up the holidays even if Mother Nature decides not to cooperate in my neck of the woods. 
Using canned pumpkin makes throwing this soup together quick and easy. I pureed mine in my Vitamix for an ultra velvety finish and the sweet and salty crostini are the perfect crunchy dippers!
3 Tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 ½ teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup Amaretto liqueur
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups pure pumpkin puree
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
12 (1/4 inch thick) slices baguette
3 ounces blue cheese
2 Tablespoons honey
½ cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, thyme, salt and pepper and sauté for 5-7 minutes. Add the minced garlic, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Pour in the Amaretto and bring the mixture to a boil. Allow to simmer until Amaretto is reduced by half.
Add the stock, pumpkin puree and nutmeg. Simmer, over low heat for 15 minutes.
While the soup simmers, place the baguette slices in an even layer on a cookie sheet. Place the bread in the oven and toast for 10-12 minutes, flipping them over halfway through. Spread the blue cheese evenly over the crostini and return to the oven for 3 minutes, or until the cheese is warm and melty. Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey.
Turn off the heat, remove the thyme stems and stir the cream into the soup. Using an immersion blender or Vitamix, puree until smooth. Serve immediately with warm crostini.
Serves 6

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sensational S'mores

Recently I took part in a S'mores contest on Instagram put on by The Feed Feed and Ghirardelli. To say that my kids were thrilled is a huge understatement! I was so honored to have been chosen as a finalist in their contest. I didn't win, but my kids sure felt like they did!
Here are my entries:
This one was my absolute favorite! I picked up an apple fritter from the bakery, sliced it in half and warmed it up. Sandwich it with a Caramel Chocolate square and a roasted marshmallow and you will be in ooey-goooey caramel apple fritter heaven!
I called this one The Crispy Camper. I used crispy granola bars in place of graham crackers and used the caramel chocolate squares. This might be the only thing I like about camping....
On the first day of school I had this fun treat waiting for the kids after picking them up. I made Funfetti Blondies and then sandwiched it with dark chocolate squares and roasted marshmallows. Throw some more sprinkles on top and you'll be party ready! 
This is the one that was picked as a finalist entry. My son LOVES all things coconut and I was thinking about the Girl Scout Samoa cookies when I came up with this one. I made coconut macaroons and paired them with chocolate caramel squares and toasted giant marshmallows. This was so rich and so decadent and totally stretchy pants worthy!
It is always fun to be featured on a company's Insta feed
Are you following me on instagram yet? Please do -here's the link. 
Spoiler alert: my entire feed is food and Beignet ;)

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sandwich Bros Southwest Strattas

My second entry for The Sandwich Bros recipe contest was actually my favorite. I took their breakfast pita pockets, chopped them up and added them to a mix of eggs, cheese and green chiles. My inspiration was chile rellenos and I loved how quick and easy they were to make!
If you're pressed for time, you could mix these up the night before and then bake them the next day!

Sandwich Bros Southwest Strattas
3 large eggs
¾ cup milk
½ teaspoon garlic salt
1 (7oz) can diced green chiles, drained well
½ cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1 package Sandwich Bros Sausage and Cheese Pocket Sandwiches

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 4 ramekins with non-stick cooking spray and place on a large cookie sheet.
Whisk the eggs, milk, garlic salt, green chiles and pepper jack cheese together in a large mixing bowl.

Prepare the pocket sandwiches per box instructions. Cut into 1 inch cubes and gently stir into the egg mixture. Divide the mixture evenly between the ramekins and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Serve immediately. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Sandwich Bros Breakfast Nachos

Goodness gracious I'm so glad it's Friday! Am I the only one that feels like this was the longest week in existence?! To celebrate let's have nachos for breakfast. 
My love for Tex- Mex runs deep and when I saw Sandwich Bros breakfast pita pockets I knew I could give them a southwest spin. These nachos are so quick and easy to make and my kids actually have requested them three times since I made them!
Apparently the judges enjoyed them as well:
"Thank you for participating in the Sandwich Bros. Really Tasty Recipe Contest and congratulations! Your recipe “Sandwich Bros. Breakfast Nachos” was selected as a SANDWICH BROS. Really Tasty Recipe Contest Honorable Mention. 

As an Honorable Mention, you’ve won a Sandwich Bros. Prize Pack (water bottle, bag, t-shirt, nail decals and 52 FREE product coupons)."
My kids will be thrilled with the swag! Thanks Sandwich Bros for a fun contest!!
Sandwich Bros Breakfast Nachos
½ cup drained canned black beans
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
¼ cup diced tomato
¼ cup guacamole
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup sliced green onion

Preheat oven broiler to high. 

Prepare all 4 sandwiches per package instructions. Once heated, cut each into 4 wedges and arrange in a small pie plate. Top with black beans and cheese. Place under broiler for 2-3 minutes, watching closely to prevent burning, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. 

Top with tomato, guacamole, sour cream and green onion. Serve immediately. 

Makes 4 servings.
Also, if you feel inclined my recipe entry for My Mardi Gras Mambo Fried Green Tomatoes with Duck Confit and Duck Bacon Remoulade is up for fan favorite voting and I would love any votes I can get! You can vote once a day through Monday and the winner will receive $350! Thanks so much!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Mardi Gras Mambo Fried Green Tomatoes with Duck Confit and Duck Bacon Remoulade

My entry for Maple Leaf Farm's duck contest is up for public voting today to hopefully win the People's Choice award- $350!!
Here's the link to vote if you'd like to help me out. It's a quick and easy vote once a day until Monday the 18th at noon:
This is the first year I tried my hand at this contest and I'm kicking myself that I never entered it before. I was intimidated at first, since although I love duck and will order it at a restaurant, I've never made it at home. Now I am in love with the confit (so easy to use and already fully cooked) and especially the duck bacon (I'd never heard of it before and now I'm in love)! The duck bacon may become a regular freezer staple from now on. The contest called for dishes that highlighted duck for a holiday and naturally, I chose to celebrate Mardi Gras. Fried Green Tomatoes are one of my favorite appetizers and the tangy juicy tomatoes are then topped with the shredded duck confit and a creamy spicy duck bacon remoulade sauce. It's set atop mixed greens, sprinked with chives and even more of the crispy salty crunch crumbled duck bacon. You could serve one as a hearty starter, or give each guest two for a main course.

Mardi Gras Mambo Fried Green Tomatoes with Duck Confit and Duck Bacon Remoulade
2 packages Maple Leaf Farms Duck Leg Confit (16 oz each)
5 slices Maple Leaf Farms Duck bacon, chopped finely
4 medium green (unripe) tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
3 teaspoons salt, divided
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pepper
2 cups buttermilk
6 cups vegetable oil, for frying
1/3 cup mayo
1/3 cup creole or whole grain mustard
1/3 cup ketchup
2 Tablespoons minced shallot
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
3 cups mixed salad greens
2 Tablespoons chopped chives
Prepare the duck confit per package instructions using the oven method. Once the confit is warmed through, shred the meat and discard the bones and skin. 

In a cast iron skillet, over medium high heat, cook the bacon until browned and crisp (about 10 minutes). Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, and allow to drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Line a large cookie sheet with paper towels. Sprinkle the tomato slices evenly with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, lay them on the paper towels and let them stand for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, dry thoroughly with paper towels.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, bread crumbs, flour, pepper, and the remaining salt. Pour the buttermilk in a shallow dish.

In a large Dutch oven fitted with a deep-fry thermometer, over medium heat, bring the oil up to 350° degrees.

Working in batches dredge the tomato slices, first in buttermilk, then the cornmeal mixture, shaking off any excess. Carefully place tomato slices in hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the oil using a slotted spoon, and allow to drain on a wire rack.

Place half (about ¼ cup) of the crisped duck bacon into a small mixing bowl. Add the mayo, mustard, ketchup, shallot, lemon juice and parsley to the bacon and whisk to combine.

To serve lay the greens on the bottom of a large platter. Lay the fried green tomatoes on the greens, top evenly with shredded duck confit and drizzle with duck bacon remoulade. Sprinkle with remaining duck bacon and serve immediately.

Serves 6-8

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Watermelon Ginger Glazed Shrimp over Som Tum Watermelon Salad

I really had a great time coming up with recipes for a watermelon contest recently! I had never considered cooking with watermelon rind and was so surprised once I tried it out how delicious it could be! I've seen pickled watermelon rind before, but had never tasted it since it just sounded strange. Once I started looking at it, when the green peel was cut off the white rind reminded me of one of my favorite Thai dishes- Som Tum. Som Tum is a Thai slaw that uses julienned unripe green papaya, so I decided to swap that out with the watermelon rind. 
Let's make Mai Tai's and share a bowl of this yummy Thai salad!
Watermelon Ginger Glazed Shrimp over Som Tum Watermelon Salad
20 fresh green beans
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon minced ginger
1 cup watermelon puree
½ cup jalapeno pepper jelly
1 ½ pounds peeled and deveined shrimp
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 ½ Tablespoons fish sauce
1 ½ Tablespoons brown sugar
4 cups julienned watermelon rind (white part only)
10 halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup cilantro leaves
2 thinly sliced green onions
1 thinly sliced fresno chile pepper

Fill a small mixing bowl with ice water and set aside. Bring 5 cups of water up to a boil in a medium sauce pot over high heat. Once the water is boiling, add the green beans and cook for 3 minutes. After three minutes, drain the green beans and add them to the ice water to cool.
Return the same sauce pot to the stove, and add the oil, garlic and ginger. Cook over low heat for 5-7 minutes. Add the watermelon puree and jalapeno jelly, and allow to simmer until thickened, about 10-15 minutes.
Season shrimp with salt. Heat a large grill pan or outdoor grill over high heat. Grill shrimp for 2-3 minutes per side until pink. Once they are cooked, add the shrimp and soy sauce to the warm glaze and stir to evenly coat.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce and brown sugar. Gently toss the julienned rind, tomatoes, cilantro, green onion and chiles to the dressing.

Divide the slaw into 4 serving bowls.  Top evenly with shrimp and serve immediately.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Watermelon Quinoa Tabouli

This Watermelon Quinoa Tabouli salad is a recipe I created for a contest a few weeks ago.
While it didn't win, it was just too good not to share! The watermelon is so juicy and bright with the fresh mint it may be my favorite summer salad. And bonus points for being healthy- you don't need to feel any guilt if you polish off the bowl without sharing!
Watermelon Quinoa Tabouli
¼ cup olive oil
6 Tablespoons lemon juice
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ cup finely minced shallot
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 cup finely minced flat leaf parsley
1 cup diced English cucumber
4 cups chopped seedless watermelon
1 cup cooked quinoa

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and shallot. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and stir gently to combine. Serve immediately, or place in the fridge to chill before serving. Serves 4.

Chopped Jr Birthday Bash

Last weekend we threw my daughter a birthday party at the house. I tried to offer numerous other options and even attempted bribing her, ...