World Food Championships Las Vegas

Woohoo! Off I went to the inaugural World Food Championships in Las Vegas as a sweepstakes winner  The Daily Meal.  A foodie’s dream 3-day weekend and I was thrilled to attend.

Thursday evening was the WFC Champions Reception benefitting Keep Memory Alive (KMA) held at the Paris Hotel & Casino’s pool.  Welcome Competitors!

World Food Championships
World Food Championships
An Ice sculpture at the entry to the World Food Championships Reception

Delicious small bites at stations scattered around the pool, with 2 liquor bars.  There was risotto, ceviche, sushi and sashimi, pork belly, short ribs, and several types of meatballs.  As example,

World Food Championships
BBQ Pork Meatball on Pee Wee Potato Salad Sign
World Food Championships
Delicious! BBQ Pork Meatball on Pee Wee Potato Salad

To say I was thrilled that the bar had Belevedere vodka is a slight understatement! (I pass on showing a pic of my drinks)  On the other hand, my favorite nibble — without exception — was the

World Food Championships
Fried Bacon Mac & Cheese on White Cheddar Sauce
World Food Championships
OMG! Fried Bacon Man & Cheese on White Cheddar Sauce

Yeah…LE SIGH.  LE SIGH again.  I guess I should sigh 6 times because that’s how many I ate.  Don’t judge me until you’ve been tempted by these.  They were that good.

Our host, Adam Richman, in opening the competition, spoke eloquently not only food and the World Food Championships but also of Keep Memory Alive.

World Food Championships
Host Adam Richman welcoming competitors to World Food Championships

Food is what connects us to those we love yet there’s nothing more devastating than the loss of a loved one’s mind, personality and memories.

KMA strives to create greater awareness of neurocognitive disorders, educate families about cutting edge treatments, research and caregiver services, and promote risk reduction through lifestyle behaviors that encourage healthy brain aging.  (source: http://www.keepmemoryalive.org)

Competitors are home cooks, restaurateurs and caterers and each of them won a qualifying competition to earn the invitation.  Truly these are the best of the best within the 7 categories.

World Food Championships
2 Members of Team “This is It” from LaGrange, Texas, competing in BBQ competition

 

World Food Championships
Everette and Penny Brown, Team Swine Time BBQ, from Myrtle Beach SC, competing in BBQ competition

 

Kaylynn and Kurt of Team “Insane Chili Posse” from Tucson AZ, competiting in Chili competition

 

World Food Championships
Winona Krieger of Sadie’s Pantry, competing in Side Dish Competition
Two Judges – World Food Championships

It was a fun start to an intense competition!

Cooking with Ninja Cooking System

O me O my!

Last week I received a Ninja Cooking System as a freebie from IFBC 2012  in Portland, Oregon.  The enthusiastic PR job at the conference had all of us excited and true to their word, most of us received our Ninjas in 6-8 weeks.

I planned a weekend of cooking … with my new Ninja!  It claims to have stovetop, oven and slow cooker functions along with being able to steam cook/bake. (One minor gripe was we were promised accessories including a cookbook but they didn’t arrive with the Ninja.)

I made carnitas Friday night and inhaled them with a friend who “stopped by” briefly.  It was smelling so good she decided to hang out.  So Saturday I made pulled pork and another batch of carnitas.

I wish I could show you the final product but, em we inhaled them, too!  I promise to make posts on both recipes with photos in the future.  To go along with the pulled pork,  I made a homemade kansas city style bbq.  DELICIOUS!

This morning I took out a cornish game hen for dinner.  No game plan.

Recipe Inspiration
Ninja Cooking System. On and ready to serve.

Seasoned up the cornish hen with salt & pepper, crushed rosemary and stuffed it with lemon quarters.   And into the Ninja for searing …..

Getting its sear on!

After searing the bird, I added garlic, lemon and chicken broth, changed the function to Oven and set the timer for 1 hour. (my only suggestion is read the instructions!)

Oven function — good to go!

Home by 4:30p; dinner in the oven by 4:50p!  As an afterthought, I added a baking potato to the baking rack.

Lemon Hen and Potato

…. and went for a walk!  An hour aerobic walk before walking into the smell of lemon heaven.  I could tell by the fragrance, my hen was done.  WHEEEEEE!

While the hen rested, I added broccoli spears with the potato and continued steaming.

10 min later, I had dinner on the table.  Potato and broccoli perfectly done; cornish hen tasty and moist!

No fuss dinner in an hour!

Plus leftovers for lunch.

** Tips:  Add oil/butter to the nonstick surface to get a toasty brown sear.

** Tips: Have an extra cup of liquid (water, broth, wine, etc) handy in case the initial liquid evaporates.

 

Asian inspired Mahi Mahi

Today’s Hamburger Day!  Woohoo!

But after heading to the gym and forgetting my pants and sneakers, I headed home and opted for fish.  Mahi Mahi sounded good.  Not as good as a cheeseburger but filling nevertheless.

2 thawed Mahi Mahi fillets
1 Chilean, 1 California, 2 Bordeaux – Cabernet

In the meantime, I opened 4 bottles of wine – 1 Chilean Cabernet, 1 California Cabernet and 2 Cabernet-based Bordeaux.

Yea, possibly overkill on red wine but can you ever have too much wine?

 

Simple ingredient list

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marinating Mahi Mahi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asian inspired Mahi Mahi

I ate this alone because I was too lazy to make a side dish.   Oh and I switched to white wine with the fish …. yes, that would be 5 bottles of wine.

Asian inspired Mahi Mahi and Amani Sauvignon Blanc

 

 

Back to Juicing Basics – day 1

Nothing like 2 days in Vegas with some hardcore partying folks to get me to run — not walk — to my fridge for some juicing.

Mean Green Juice

6 leaves kale

4 stalks celery

1 cucumber

2 apples

1/2 lemon

pc ginger

Come to mama, juice!

 

Cast iron skillet – holy grail

Growing up in a Southern home, I know cast iron skillets.  My mom has had hers for at least 45 years.  As a teenager, I remember cooking Sunday breakfast (bacon and eggs) and Sunday supper (usually fried chicken).  I also remember scouring dried eggs or chicken crust from it because I was too lazy to rinse it out when it was hot.

What I didn’t appreciate then was the skillet never lost its shiny black interior — it was true non-stick.  The crud on the exterior is a different story!   Along side that skillet was grease pail.  I’d strain hot bacon grease or shortening into the grease pail every time I cooked and, of course, added some of that savory grease every time I started cooking.

Scrambling eggs, making gravy, sauteing onions, frying chicken, steaming greens …. the skillet was used for every dish and every dish started with bacon grease.

When away to college and forgot the 2 magic ingredients of my family’s kitchen.  Cast iron and bacon grease fell out of favor with the masses.

10 years ago, I missed that skillet and, honestly, was tired of buying and rebuying nonstick cookware that warped and scratched within 1-2 uses.  guess what?  People in Los Angeles apparently don’t use cast iron skillets — no Goodwill, Salvation Army or the 30+ antique stores I visited had any.  Really??  Is cast iron cooking banned like smoking in public places?  No nonstick skillet will sear a steak nearly as well as a cast iron skillet …. oh right, people in LA try not to eat steak.

I finally purchased 2 skillets off ebay at a price of $150+ each.  Desperate times, desperate measures.

Fast forward to a weekend in Leavenworth, Kansas — yes, home to the infamous prison — and a morning of antiquing.  Not only did I find cast iron skillets, I found 5 of them!  And a grit pot and a chili pot.  Talk about hitting the jackpot (no pun intended).  To make it even better, with the exception of the chili pot, each skillet was $8Yes, $8!  The cast iron gods smiled on me, I tell ya.

I did have to transport them back to LA but, again luck was with me.  My suitcase weighed 48 lbs, 2 lbs shy of the 50-lb limit!

next up, a bacon grease pail.

I followed the instructions on Men In Aprons, here:

4 Steps to Season cast iron skillet

Using kosher salt, distilled white vinegar and Crisco to season them.  My skillets (all 7 of them) are now seasoned, happily settled into their new home, ready to  revisit the dishes of my youth and test out new recipes.

I’m thankful to be of an age where I appreciate the small details of my youth, where I appreciate a small portion of comfort food and, more importantly, where I’m still able to lift cast iron skillets!   No wonder women of previous generations never worked out.