Monday, August 3, 2009

Slow Cooker Competition


So I’m a weirdo. Let’s make that clear. I got this hairbrained idea to enter a Slow Cooker Chili competition! The Food Network, Southern Food & Wine Festival was going on at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel. I read on the Nashville Scene blog Bites there was to be a slow cooker competition, and they had waived the $50 entry fee, you got free parking (usually $18 or something), and got in free to the event. I thought, “What the hey, what have I got to lose?” The extra weirdo part is, I didn’t really tell anyone I was going to do this! I don’t like attention really, so I think that’s why I just kept it to myself. Literally, The Boy knew, and my one producer/friend of mine knew (because he was in the room when I read about the competition and thought about doing it). Oh, and I told my twitter friends! But other than that I didn’t tell my family or friends IRL (in real life).


This was a really fun event, and a new experience for me. I did it totally alone. I lugged all my equipment around the behemoth that is the Gaylord Opryland Hotel till my arm turned blue, set up, and nervously fidgeted until it was time to begin. Luckily my basic “Sweet Heat Chicken Chili” was pretty darned easy to prepare. I brought most of my ingredients, but did use some provided. It took less than an hour to assemble the chili, and clean up. Then I was off to eat lots of free samples browse the exhibits. I got to see the Biscuit Lady, from the Loveless Cafe, do a demo, and I met a really talented food photographer. But mainly I just walked around and ate. I did purchase a few things from some of the vendors. I also went to the wine-tasting area. I am very ashamed to admit, out of the 26 vendors, I only sampled about 14 of them! I just couldn’t make it through it all!


When it came time to plate up my finished dish, I realized I was a little inexperienced! Some people went all out. One team had an accompanying shot of tequila! Oh well, it was a learning experience. I totally went into this as just a fun thing to do, on a rainy Saturday I didn’t have anything else going on. I’m not a hugely competitive person, so it didn’t upset me to learn I didn’t advance to the next round. And, I got to keep the awesome slow cooker! It’s MUCH better & bigger than the one I currently have. Plus, if I had of advanced, I would of needed to shop for the ingredients that evening, and then get up early AGAIN on Sunday. And… being a night shift worker, getting up early just ain’t my thing!


I would like to give a special shout out to all my “internet friends” who encouraged me to do this! It’s funny how I’ll share with strangers that I’m doing something like this. I twittered during the whole event pretty much, so even though I was there alone, I never felt that way with all the support tweets I was getting! If anything like this pops up in your town, whether it be a pie contest, a chili cook-off, a barbecue event, or whatever, consider doing it. I had a lot of fun, and I think stuff like this builds character. Believe me, as I’ve said MANY times before, if I can do it, ANYONE can do it!

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Sweet Heat Chicken Chili

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
1lb ground chicken
1/2 poblano pepper
1 tomatillo, chopped
1/3 habanjero, finely chopped
2 roasted red peppers, chopped
1 bottle Negra Modelo beer
1 28oz can Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes
1 10oz can of Rotel Diced tomatoes with lime juice and cilantro
1 14.5oz can of diced tomato
4.5oz can of chopped green chilies
2 15oz can kidney beans rinsed and drained
1 15oz can black beans rinsed and drained
1 Tablespoon Chili power
1 Tablespoon Cumin
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 Tablespoon chipotle rub (if you don't have this awesome seasoning, use smoked paprika and/or chipotle powder)
Salt and Pepper to taste
light sour cream (optional)

Directions:

Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Dice onion and mince garlic. Saute onion and garlic until soft. Add ground chicken and cook until browned. Season with salt, pepper, and some of the chipotle powder.

In slow cooker combine canned tomatoes, canned chilies, beans, beer, poblano pepper, habanerjo pepper, tomatillo, and the ground chicken and onion mixture. Add in chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, chipotle powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours, or on high 3-4 hours.

Serve topped with sour cream if desired.


*Sorry for the crappy photos. I took most of these with my iPhone, and just a couple with my point & shoot. We’ll return to the GOOD photos tomorrow!*

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Don’t you just love blueberry season? If you’ve read my blog even occasionally you know I love brightly colored food. I’m drawn to it like a fly to honey. Early on in my blog surfing days I saw these bars on Smitten Kitchen’s blog. I have no idea why it took me a year to make them, but I’m so glad I finally did. They were every bit as dreamy delicious as I thought they’d be.

I took these into work with a post it note that said “Blueberry Bars in Erin’s Edit Bay”, and they were gone VERY fast. In fact, when my producers came in to view something I’d edited, I think they were disappointed to discover the bars were gone. Note to self: Next time always save treats for people who will approve my work!

Don’t wait as long as I did to make this seasonal treat! You won’t be disappointed.

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Blueberry Crumb Bars

from Smitten Kitchen, originally from All Recipes

Ingredients:

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Grilled Fish Sandwich with Cabbage Slaw


*Whew* for some reason it’s just been a crazy couple weeks for me. With my work schedule I can only cook supper Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Well, we’ve either been out of town, or really busy on those nights. When I have cooked, it’s been something simple like chicken with a bottled marinade, or a seasoning blend, along with steamed or roasted veggies. Always delicious, but not quite blog-worthy!

So when things called down a bit, I knew I wanted to finally try out a recipe I’d been eying in my most recent issue of Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. This was a simple, summer meal of grilled fish with slaw on top. I was happy to find a tasty way to incorporate the cabbage I received in my CSA share into a main dish. All the components, including the great wheat rolls I chose, really complimented each other. The Boy isn’t even a big fan of slaw, but he liked the sandwich. I really liked how easy it was to prepare. If you had some leftover slaw from a cookout, this would be even easier to whip up.

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Grilled Fish Sandwich with Cabbage Slaw

adapted from Everyday Food
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

4 cups shredded green cabbage (from head cabbage)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon caraway seed
Vegetable oil, for grilling
4 striped tilapia (or other firm-fleshed fish, such as tuna, bass fillets, or salmon), 4 to 6 ounces each
2 wheat sandwich rolls, halved, and sliced lengthwise

Directions:

In a bowl, toss cabbage with 2 teaspoons salt; let stand 20 minutes. Press between layers of paper towels to remove excess liquid. Toss cabbage in a clean bowl with celery, onion, mayonnaise, vinegar, and caraway seed and season with pepper.

Heat grill to medium-high. Clean and lightly oil hot grates. Pat fish dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper and brush with oil. Grill fish on one side until opaque at edges, 2 to 4 minutes. Using a thin spatula, flip fish and cook until opaque throughout, 1 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Clean and lightly oil hot grates; grill bread until lightly toasted, 5 to 10 seconds per side. Assemble sandwiches with fish and cabbage slaw.

**Patting the fish dry with paper towels is crucial for preventing it from sticking to the grill. Always use a wide spatula to move the fish (never tongs or a grilling fork) and turn the fillets only once.**

Per Serving: 420 calories; 10.7g fat (2g sat fat); 41.8g protein; 40.7g carbs; 8.5g fiber


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream


I can’t believe I waited so LONG to give you this recipe! I made this ice cream back in JUNE. I took all these pictures, I ate a bunch of it, I share it with some good friends, and just never got around to posting it. The problem comes back to, my major indecisiveness. I took a TON of pictures, way too many! I couldn’t decide which ones to use, they all were too similar. I kept putting it off. The only reason I kicked myself into gear now is, I have another ice cream recipe to post!

This was the first eggless ice cream I made. And while the flavor was divinely yummy, it was tart and sweet, with the little crunch of graham cracker, it didn’t have the same richness that an egg-based ice cream has (it also doesn’t have as much fat)! I think I prefer the rich texture of an ice cream made with egg yolks, but I still recommend this, as it was a refreshing taste of summer. It’s got all the flavor of key lime pie, in ice cream form. If, like me, you have a hard time locating the key lime juice, check the aisle with the cocktail mixers, as well as the juice aisle. Depending on your grocer, those are the most likely places you’ll find it.


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Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1/2 cup bottled Key lime juice (such as Nellie and Joe's)
1/2 cup whipping cream
Dash of salt
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
6 graham crackers (1 1/2 cookie sheets), coarsely crushed, divided
Key lime wedges (optional)

Directions:

Combine first 5 ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Pour mixture into freezer can of an ice-cream freezer, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Stir 1/3 cup graham crackers into ice cream. Spoon ice cream into a freezer-safe container, and cover and freeze for 1 hour or until firm. Sprinkle each serving with 1 teaspoon graham crackers. Garnish with lime wedges, if desired.

Yield 6 servings (3/4 cup)
Calories: 317; Fat: 9.5g (sat 5.3g,mono 2.7g,poly 0.3g); Protein: 8.8g; Carbohydrate: 50.3g; Fiber: 0.1g; Cholesterol: 36mg; Iron: 0.4mg; Sodium: 190mg; Calcium: 275mg