Friday, February 5, 2016

New Win in New York!

Remember a while ago when I posted my Mushroom Chicken Marsala Chili for the Bush's Beans Chili Cook-off? Well, guess what? I WON!! I almost fell over when I got the email and probably re-read it a thousand times just to be sure I wasn't dreaming!

I still can't believe it myself. Nothing beats getting those kind of emails. I will never get tired of it!
 So, I got the email that I had won and literally was supposed to be in New York within a week. I was nervous about getting everything squared away with the kids, but I am super lucky that my dad (who lives 8 hours away from me) is retired and dropped everything to drive in and stay at my house to take care of the kids and dogs while Louis and I were whisked away and spoiled in NYC!
We got to the Ace hotel and there was the cutest saying painted right on the wall and the Empire State Building was right outside our window.
The welcome bag was an unexpected nice touch! Bottled water, t-shirts, postcards, snacks and $1,000 in Visa gift cards! They really know how to spoil a person!
Once we dropped off our bags in the room I couldn't wait to get downstairs to eat. Lucky for us, the hotel's restaurant is The Breslin.  I've seen it featured on Food Network and in magazines for years and couldn't wait to try it. I had a glass of prosecco, Louis had an Old Fashioned- perfect way to start our trip and calm my nerves from flying! For an appetizer we split the Seafood Sausage with Beurre Blanc & Chives. It was delicious, and we were both starving, so no picture of that. I peer pressured Louis into getting the Chargrilled Lamb Burger with cumin mayo, feta and thrice cooked chips and I got the BLT with Lamb Bacon, Guajillo, Fermented Green Tomatoes and Gaufrettes. We split both of them, and while they were absolutely delicious, if I had to choose, the BLT was the better.
 That night we had tickets to see The Book of Mormon so we wanted to have an early dinner within walking distance of the theater. We ended up at The Paramount Bar and Grill. The hotel and restaurant is beautiful! We started with the Tuna Poke with Tarro Chips and Avocado. I was still pretty full from lunch so I got the Burrata with Heirloom Tomatoes and Grilled Bread and Louis got the Pan Seared Scallops with Pureed Carrots, Blistered Tomatoes and Crispy Shallots. Everything we tried was absolutely delicious but the service was painfully slow and the few questions I asked the waitress about the menu she just made up answers for so not sure I'd ever go back there.
After dinner we walked to the theater, I got my sippy cup of wine and we had great seats! After the show we went to The John Dory Oyster Bar, had a few snacks and then went to bed. I was exhausted and I knew the next day would be a long one!
Bright and early we headed over to The Daily Meal offices for taping! I was SO nervous. Like can't eat, sweating in 15 degree weather, pacing the floor nervous. The kitchen was gorgeous, and when I got there everything was prepped and ready to go for me. I was excited to meet and cook with Chef Jeffrey Saad and luckily he was such a pleasure to work with! He's just a down to earth friendly guy that really made taping the video easy and fun. I quizzed him all about his experience on The Next Food Network Star and loved picking his brain!
The thing that took us the longest was figuring out how to turn on the burners! 
We taped one shot and all of the production people were really happy with the way it went, so I felt very relieved. They brought in lunch from Mario Batali's Otto- pizzas, salads, brussels sprouts, marinated olives, pasta. They had a ton of food, and since I was too nervous to eat breakfast earlier, I tried almost everything! On the schedule it was planned for me to be there for the taping until 6pm, but I was done by 2. They told us they were happy with what I did and for us to go enjoy the city, so we headed down the street to Eataly. I just love walking through that place! It's like a culinary Ikea- filled with everything you didn't know you needed and very hard to find your way out of. We had a drink at Manzo before walking back to the hotel
For our last night in town we made reservations at Scarpetta
The dining room is so pretty, warmly lit and feels very romantic. We got seated right by the front window and it was nice to watch the world go by outside while we ate. The only downfall was that we felt really rushed while there. We ordered a cocktail to start the night and the 3 course tasting with the wine pairing. Before we could finish anything they were attempting to take our plates away and bringing us the new wine pairings. Other than that, the night was perfect. The bread basket alone is worth going for! Since we were rushed I didn't even get to take as many pictures as I would have liked. For starters I got the Creamy Polenta with a fricassee of truffled mushrooms- totally decadent and delicious, and Louis had the Raw Yellowtail with pickled red onion. As our mains, I had to get the Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil. It's what Scott Conant is known for and it is the most comforting bowl of pasta ever. You can tell it's hand made and I cleaned my plate with no problem! Louis had the Black Cod with braised fennel and concentrated tomato- delicious, but I liked my pasta more. Even though we had ordered the 3 course tasting menu, I had heard so much raving about the Duck and Foie Gras Ravioli with marsala reduction, we ordered that as well. If there is Foie Gras written on a menu, Louis wants it. Unfortunately, he wasn't as thrilled with dish like the rest of yelp is and I thought it was just OK. For dessert, I chose the Coconut Pana Cotta- my least favorite dish of the night and Louis got the Valrhona Chocolate Cake. If you ever get a chance to go to Scarpetta, get the spaghetti and skip the dessert!
As you can see so far, we had an absolutely amazing time through  this whole experience. I didn't realize that once I was home Bush's would have another surprise delivered to me! 
I was totally blown away and I've already used the beans and the Le Creuset!
Now, to end the longest blog post ever, here's the link of the video we shot! I hope you like it!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Citrus Roasted Beet and Ricotta Toast

Hi there! Things have been super busy lately, and I have a lot of exciting news to share!
My entry for Nordic Ware's photo contest won third place!
Not a huge win, but exciting none the less. This one was purely decided by votes, not recipe, and I entered late but I'm still grateful to everyone that took the time to give me a vote and help me out!
Congratulations, Lauren! You are one of our 3rd Prize Winners with 132 votes! Your photo looked absolutely delicious! We will be sending you an amazing  package of Honestly Cranberry Dried Cranberries, Seven Sunday’s Original Cinnamon Currant Muesli, a 12 Cavity Muffin Pan, and a Naturals Baker’s Half Sheet.
I can't wait for it to get here!

Citrus Roasted Beet and Ricotta Toast
1 pound fresh beets
3 Tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces reduced fat feta cheese
1 ½ teaspoons chopped garlic
2 Tablespoons milk
1 ½ teaspoons orange zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
2 Tablespoons orange juice
4 slices 12 Grain Bread
1 cup baby arugula leaves
4 teaspoons chopped pistachios

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice the tops and bottoms of the beets off, place them on a large sheet of foil and drizzle with 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Wrap the foil tightly, place on a cookie sheet and put in the oven for 45 minutes, or until a knife can easily pierce the beets. 
While the beets are roasting, make the feta spread. Place the feta, garlic, milk, 1 Tablespoon olive oil, orange zest, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a small food processor and blend until the mixture is smooth. Place the cheese mixture in a small mixing bowl and stir in the mint. 
Once the beets are tender, remove them from the oven, peel and cut them into ¼ inch slices. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the orange juice, 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Place the sliced beets in the bowl, and stir gently to coat them evenly.
Toast the bread slices until evenly browned. Spread the feta cheese mixture evenly over each piece of toast, top with arugula and then layer the beet slices evenly over that. Sprinkle chopped pistachios over each sandwich and serve immediately. 
Serves 4.

And, since I don't know when to stop, here's another chance to vote for me! 
I entered the Guac 'n Roll contest last year and didn't place, but as soon as the contest was over I knew what I would enter if they ever had this contest again! You only can enter one recipe, so narrowing it down to only one idea was hard! 
It was right around the time I went to Nashville for the Pillsbury Bake Off and I was introduced to Hot Chicken. I had that on my mind ever since and knew exactly how I'd make it my own!
Nashville, Hot Chicken and Johnny Cash all inspired my Ring of Fire-mole! 
My entry for the#guacnroll2016 contest put on by @chefsroll &@avocadosfrommexico Fresh buttermilk guacamole paired with Hot Chicken spiced chips and crispy crunchy chicken skin. 
Love is a burning thing Mr. Cash!
If you'd follow this link and vote for me it would be very appreciated!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Playoff Pudding Parfaits

Unless the Saints or LSU is playing, I usually don't care about watching football games. Football parties are just a fun excuse for me to have yummy snacks and drinks with friends. I came up with this super cute and easy recipe as an entry for All You Magazine's Game Day Dessert Contest and I was so excited when I found out I won second place- the prize was $250 and a chance to be featured in the magazine! I got my prize money in the mail but never received the magazine. After searching every store in the area, I wrote to them only to find out the magazine is no longer in print. Booooo. So, if they won't share it with you- I will! Here's my Playoff Pudding Parfaits:
 Prepare one 3.9 ounce box instant chocolate pudding as directed on the package and divide the mixture between 6 small parfait cups.  Place in the fridge to chill.

Place 1 cup shredded coconut in a zip top sandwich bag with 5 drops of green food coloring.  Zip the bag closed and shake and mash it until the food coloring is evenly distributed.

Place 6 chocolate sandwich cookies in a separate zip top sandwich bag and mash with a rolling pin until crumbled. 

Using a cookie cutter, or by tracing a paper stencil, cut out 6 goal posts from 2 large flour tortillas.  Place the cutouts on a cookie sheet and toast in a toaster oven until crisp (about 3-5 minutes).  Once the cutouts are crisp, spray with yellow edible food color mist (easily found at most craft and grocery stores). 

To assemble parfaits, top each pudding cup with mashed chocolate cookie crumbs, then colored coconut.  Stick a goal post cutout in the cups and place a football pretzel or chocolate candy on top.

These can be made ahead and stored in the fridge or served immediately. 

I could also use a little help on another entry of mine. If you have a moment, please go vote for my entry HERE
My Citrus Roasted Beet and Ricotta Toast can be voted on each day through Thursday!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pass The Pigskin Cheese Spread

When I saw that Just A Pinch recipe website was hosting a "Sporty Snack Showdown" recipe contest, I knew exactly what my entry would be! I piled my favorite ingredients together (artichokes, garlic, olives and cream cheese) into a delicious cheese ball, shaped it into a football and rolled it in bacon. It's so easy to make, can be made ahead of time and is the perfect centerpiece for your next football party! 
Pass The Pigskin Cheese Spread
 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Montreal style steak seasoning
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/3 cup chopped black olives
4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/3 cup chopped tomato
½ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
12 ounces cooked bacon
Assorted crackers, chips, baguette or crudité for serving.

In a medium mixing bowl stir together the cream cheese, garlic, steak seasoning, artichokes, olives, Monterey Jack cheese, tomato, cilantro and ¼ cup of the mayonnaise. Once the mixture is well combined, place the mixture in a plastic wrap lined small mixing bowl, and place it in the fridge to cool for at least 30 minutes.
While the cheese mixture is chilling, place the bacon in a food processor and pulse until it is very finely chopped.
When the cheese mixture has firmed up, remove it from the fridge and turn it over onto a serving platter. Using your hands, shape the wrapped cheese mixture into the shape of a football. Remove the layer of plastic wrap and then lightly press the finely chopped bacon into the cheese mixture, covering it completely.
Place the remaining 1 Tablespoon of mayonnaise into a small plastic zip top bag. Using scissors, cut a small hole in the corner of the bag. Pipe the mayo on top of the bacon, making it look like the laces on a football.
Serve spread with crackers, chips, baguette or crudité.
Serves 10-12.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Mushroom Chicken Marsala Chili

On busy weeknights the best meals are made in one pot, with a manageable list of ingredients while still delivering fabulous flavor. Bonus points for a dish that can be thrown together and then left alone, to simmer on the stove, until everyone is ready to sit down and dig in. I adore classic Chicken Marsala, but on a Tuesday evening I usually don't have time to be breading and browning chicken cutlets while helping two little ones with homework. This delicious chicken chili is the perfect marriage combining the flavors of Chicken Marsala with an easy to throw together, one pot chili. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family did! 
Mushroom Chicken Marsala Chili
4 Tablespoons butter
1 pound ground chicken
1 pound mild Italian sausage
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 pound baby Portobello (cremini) mushrooms, chopped
¾ cup Marsala wine
2 cans Bush’s Best White Chili Beans in Mild Chili Sauce
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon pepper
1 ½ Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup parsley, chopped

In a large soup pot, over medium high heat, melt the butter. Add the ground chicken and sausage and cook until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms and sauté about 10 minutes. Once the meat is cooked through and the mushrooms have softened, add the Marsala wine and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated from the pot. Add the beans, stock, salt and pepper and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, top with chopped parsley and serve. Serves 6-8 people.

This is my entry for Bush's Chili Cookoff! There's still time to enter, so if you'd like to win a trip to New York and star in a video on The Daily Meal, go check it out!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Little's Lunches and Mac 'n Cheese Please

Happy Monday! Here's what we had in our lunchboxes last week:
Monday: I rolled up wheat bread and roasted red bell pepper hummus around carrot, cucumber and celery sticks to make sandwich sushi rolls, cheese sticks, veggies with honey mustard and a fruit strip
Tuesday: PB on raisin bread, cheese, red bell peppers, quinoa salad and apple cinnamon straws
Wednesday: M had a field trip, so he got a PB&J, cheese stick, granola bar and dried apples. B got a PB&J, pretzels, veggies and kiwi
Thursday: Cheese, quinoa salad, crackers, a mini banana muffin, a carrot cake energy ball, bell pepper strips and honey mustard
Friday: Cheese stick, hummus carrots and olive wrap, veggies and honey mustard, oyster crackers and grapes
That's what we had for lunches, and this is what we had for dinner
Roasted Poblano and Corn Mac 'n Cheese! It's my entry for a recipe contest and it's up for voting right now. If you have a moment, please go give it a vote HERE!
Corn and Poblano Mexi-Mac 1 lb. elbow macaroni noodles 1 Tablespoon salt 1 poblano pepper 1 teaspoon vegetable oil 4 Tablespoon unsalted Kerrygold butter, cut into small cubes 3 cloves garlic, minced 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour 2 cups milk 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper 7 ounces shredded Kerrygold Dubliner cheddar cheese 3 ounces shredded Kerrygold Aged Cheddar cheese 1 11-ounce can Mexi-corn, well drained 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs 1 cup diced tomato 1 Tablespoon diced jarred mild pickled jalapeño peppers 1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro 1/8 teaspoon salt Preheat oven broiler to high heat. Add the pasta and salt to a large stock pot of boiling water and cook according to package directions. Drain well and set aside. Brush the poblano pepper with oil and place on a small foil lined cookie sheet. Place under the broiler, watching closely for 3-5 minutes, or until skin is blackened and charred. Flip the pepper over and allow the other side to char, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place the poblano in a small bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside to cool, turn the broiler off and set the oven to 375 degrees. Once the pepper is cool enough to handle, peel away the charred skin and remove the stem and all the seeds. Chop into a small dice. Add 3 tablespoons of the butter and garlic to a medium sauce pot over medium high heat. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in the flour and continue to cook, about 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk, stirring constantly until smooth and cook for about 5 minutes and allow to thicken. Stir in salt, pepper and cheeses, working in batches, allowing it to melt completely before each new addition. Remove from heat. Pour sauce over macaroni, chopped poblano and corn and stir until the macaroni is coated evenly. Pour the mixture into a large well-greased baking dish and top with panko and remaining butter pieces. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until top is crisp and golden. In a small bowl stir together the diced tomato, diced jalapeños, cilantro and salt. Once the breadcrumbs are crisp, remove the macaroni from the oven and serve immediately with the tomato mixture.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Little's Lunches

Happy Monday! Here's what we had in our lunchboxes last week:
Monday: cooked apples, broccoli cheese cornbread, carrot raisin salad, carrot cake energy bites, cucumber sticks and black olives with honey mustard
Tuesday: Beef and Cheese Quesadillas, raisins and peanuts, carrot and cucumber sticks
Wednesday: Turkey Honey Mustard Sliders, deviled egg, carrot raisin salad, belvita mini crackers, freeze-dried apple slices
Thursday: cheese stick, beef jerkey, carrots and cucumbers with honey mustard, carrot cake energy bites and pretzel sticks
Friday: Cheese Quesadillas, cheese cubes, carrot cake energy bites , quinoa mexican salad on baby spinach