Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Loaded Baked Potato Dog

A few weeks ago, within 10 minutes of landing in New York I got a call from a number I didn't know. I usually never answer those but it was a NY number so I picked up. I was shocked when I was told I had been selected as the grand prize winner for the Crazy Hot Dog Contest by Berk's Foods! Their challenge was to come up with your best twist on the all American favorite- the hot dog.
I actually made three entries, a Bloody Mary inspired hot dog, a buffalo wing hot dog and a loaded baked potato dog 
This is the one they chose, and it was also my kid's favorite!
8 Berks All Beef Franks
8 slices bacon
8 potato bread hot dog buns
1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons sour cream
1-1/4 cup sliced green onion

Preheat a large grill pan over medium high heat.
Wrap each frank with one slice of bacon, tucking the ends of bacon in to prevent unraveling. Cook the bacon wrapped franks in the grill pan for 10 minutes, turning frequently to brown all sides evenly.
While the franks are cooking, lightly toast the buns.
To assemble, sprinkle an equal amount of cheese on each toasted bun. Place a cooked hot dog in each bun and top each with an equal amount of sour cream and sliced green onion.
Serve immediately. Serves 8.

Check out Berk's page to see the other recipes that made it into the top 3

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Still Away From Home and the Riunite Chili Cook-Off

After getting home from the Extended Stay America cook-off things have still been quite busy and exciting! I was asked to go to Charlotte, NC to demo my recipe and talk a little bit about the contest. The flight was a little bumpy, but I made it and I felt like I did a good job once I got there. I get nervous every time before being on camera, but this time it felt a little more natural and the host was very nice, which always helps! 
Here's the link to the segment if you'd like to watch:
 Charlotte News Segment
The interview was very early in the morning, and I went straight from the news station to the airport to fly directly to Dallas to participate as a finalist in the Riunite Chili Cook-off!
I probably looked like a crazy person hopping out of a cab with all of my luggage at the tailgate site to throw on an apron and start cooking!
There were 5 competitors for our region and we all made our chili for the judges in the hopes of winning a spot in the final cook-off in San Diego! The winner of the final cook-off will win Super Bowl tickets and a game day prize pack, so I don't think I need to tell you how hopeful Louis is that I win this one!
Riunite put on a great tailgating event with a catered BBQ lunch, free flowing wine and the most awesome glasses to ever exist. Can we just discuss for a moment how much I love these glasses? I wonder if it would be ok to wear them in carpool line?
Part of the finalist prize was two tickets to the Saints vs Cowboys game
The Saints were an embarrassment and ended up losing 17 to 38
Lucky for me, I did much better than my team and my Chili Al Pastor with Pineapple Cilantro Relish beat out the others! I made my version of tacos al pastor in a bowl and I was glad to know the judges liked it as much as I did! I am so excited to go back to San Diego in November, wish me luck!
Tomorrow morning I will be leaving bright and early to head to the New York Wine and Food Festival! We have reservations at Le Bernardin and The Skylark to keep us busy when we're not enjoying the walls of food, drinks and celebrity chefs at the NYWFF!
I am not packed, my house is a mess and I have 18 loads of laundry to do but I made a point to get something shiny to take with me on the trip.
Priorities y'all
 and this happened.....OMG!!!
I still giggle like a 5 year old when I see posts like this

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

NYC Food Truck Tour

Don't you wish every day started out with your limo waiting on you?
I certainly do!
Even after the contest and the amazing dinner out Extended Stay wasn't done spoiling us. The next day we woke up to a limo waiting and a reservation for all of us to enjoy a walking food truck tasting tour around downtown Manhattan
Dante Mercadante was our trusty guide
our first stop was an Indian cart that had a very long line waiting. I took that as a good sign and was blown away by how delicious their Chicken Kati Roll was. Biz recreated this dish and I can't wait to try it out myself soon, check out her version here
Next up was a taco truck. Living in Austin for a while, I have had my fair share of tacos and carnitas. While the carnitas taco was good, the Barbacoa tacos were amazing! Louis got the Barbacoa and I was jealous of his pick. I had to laugh that they were selling tortas as well!
Now that we had already had downed two meals it was time to take a breather. It was a beautiful day and I felt so lucky to be in NY with Louis, new friends and delicious food
Speaking of new friends, Biz was nice enough to take a few pics of Louis and I. You have to go to her blog My Bizzy Kitchen and check her out. She has a great recap of the day as well and she is hilarious! Great recipes and a good laugh, what more could you ask for?!
Even though we were feeling full, it was time to hit our next stop
 We had "Hornado" from an Ecuadorian/Mexican truck. For me, the pulled pork was just ok. I really liked the avocado sauce and the sweet potato but didn't care as much for the rice.
From there we went to Absolute Greek for Chicken Souvlaki and Tzatziki Sauce
At this point I am totally stuffed and have resorted to guilting Louis into eating my food after I have a couple bites. Miraculously my stomach managed to find some room after I laid my eyes on the next offering at Wafels and Dinges
"The Throwdown" is a warm deliciously crisp wafel topped with spekuloos and whipped cream and was named for beating Bobby Flay in a wafel throwdown. It did not disappoint!
This was the end of our tour and we had a few hours to kill before heading to the airport so we took the Staten Island Ferry to catch a better glimpse of The Statue of Liberty and beautiful views of the city
On the way to the office where we were being picked up we went to Eataly and was completely overwhelmed by how big and beautiful it was. I could get lost in there for a week and never need to leave
We toasted to an amazing trip and can't wait to get back to NYC soon!


Monday, October 13, 2014

The Marrow

I have followed Top Chef every season since it started, so when the Extended Stay execs told us that they were treating us to a celebratory dinner at Harold Dieterle's place, The Marrow, the night of the contest I was so excited! I remember watching him when he won the first season of Top Chef and I couldn't wait to taste his food. It was the perfect way to end an amazing day.
We were all picked up by limo bus and took a ride into downtown Manhattan
The restaurant was absolutely stunning and since I hadn't eaten much all day due to nerves I was starving by the time we arrived
Please bear with me because all I had was my iPhone to get pics of the meal but believe me when I tell you it was utterly divine
The marrow at the Marrow was quite good and is actually one of Louis' favorite dishes. Buttery and rich spread over crunchy crostini with a bright caper and parsley topping.
I got the salad so we could both try everything and it was delicious as well. I adore butter lettuce and topping it with a light herbed buttermilk dressing was a perfect way to start the meal

For entrees we both got the Grilled Branzino
The fish was perfectly cooked, there were little pieces of crunchy pancetta lardons throughout the fregola which had a nice al dente feel to it and the clams gave the sauce a delicious light seafood flavor. I don't think I left a crumb on my plate.
For dessert, Louis had the Peach and Blackberry Crumble with Butermilk Sherbet
and I had the Ginger Stout Cake with Poached Peaches and Honey Ice Cream
Honestly, I know this dessert doesn't look like anything that great, but it may be one of the top 5 best desserts I've ever had. It reminded me a lot of sticky toffee pudding, which I may or may not have overindulged in before and made myself almost sick on.
I was really really sad when I got too full to finish it. This is the dessert of my dreams. The cake was warm and perfectly spiced, there was a sprinkling of flaked salt over the top and when it mixed with the caramel sauce at the bottom it made me regret finishing off my fish. I should have started with dessert! I have GOT to figure out how to re-create this dish. If anyone has a similar recipe, I'd love to see it!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Away From Home- Cook-off Day

The night before the actual cook-off I was absolutely exhausted yet couldn't close my eyes
My nerves were crazy and I just couldn't settle down. Looking over the schedule for the next day one thing got me excited like a kid on Christmas morning and it was first on our schedule for the day: Hair and Makeup
Ariel, the makeup and hair guy was so funny and sweet and I was loving the touch ups he'd insist on right before going to film anything! Can't he just show up at my house and make me look good on a daily basis?
On the far left is Megan, then Shauna, Biz and me on the end
Yay for new friends!
As I said before, I really enjoyed meeting these ladies and I really appreciated the relaxed vibe they all had.
We were told by a few of the production people that the whole day would be a lot of "hurry up and wait" moments and they were so right.
Hair and makeup, catered breakfast in the room, personal interviews, interviews with Sunny, Pictures with Sunny, 45 minutes of filming us all walking into and around the hotel, prepping our food, catered lunch, cooking and having sunny pop in and talking about the tips and tricks of your dish.....it was busy, hectic at times and SO MUCH FUN!
I really loved seeing all of the ins and outs of how filming and creating a large contest was done
This was the room I cooked in
Sunny was so nice, funny and really knew what she was doing. I loved seeing her host and do voiceovers, outtakes and discuss things I didn't even understand with the production crew.
Presenting to the judges I felt like I could pass out at any moment.
But apparently, they liked it. They really liked it!
I still can't believe it happened, but I won! 

I was so glad that Louis was there with me to celebrate. I was also equally glad that even though he had been relaxing in the hotel room drinking beer and playing online poker all day that he came down fully clothed and acting appropriately.
 And here's the YouTube video if you'd like to watch the sizzle reel for yourself!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Away From Home

Hey there! Remember months ago when I came here asking (or begging) for votes in the hopes of having a chance at an amazing prize package offered by Extended Stay America Suites? Well, Guess what?
I got in! I got one of four spots as a finalist!!
I think I actually laughed at the woman on the phone when she called to deliver the amazing news because I just couldn't believe it!
Even though I was super excited, I really had no earthly idea what I was about to experience and I'm excited to share every step of this amazing journey with you!
Before leaving for the actual competition, I made a little trip at 4am to the news station in Austin and talked about my dish there
The next day we headed to NYC and as soon as we walked in the lobby guess what we saw?!
We got to our room and had a beautiful welcome basket waiting for us
I will be honest, I was a little nervous to meet my fellow contestants. You never know when there is a large prize at steak how people will act, but I was so relieved once we got talking and it seemed like a group of friends that I've always known. I had a really great time getting to know these ladies and chatting with them helped calm my nerves when I started to feel frazzled and doubt myself on the big day
After meeting my fellow contestants we made our way to Whole Foods to pick up our ingredients
I really appreciated being able to pick out my ingredients myself. No one likes to show up at a cook-off not knowing what to expect inside your bags and this really put my mind at ease
After shopping we got back to the hotel, went to dinner with a group of marketing people, Extended Stay execs and all of the finalists
After dinner I tried my best to go to bed early but I was too nervous and ended up reading Sunny's cookbook that was in our welcome baskets. I really love Sunny's Kitchen and couldn't believe it when I saw this recipe:
I had no idea Sunny lived in Kenner! I sent a text to my mom, aunt and cousin who live there showing them the recipe and will definitely be trying this one in my own kitchen soon!