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Last week and throughout this past weekend, I spent several days hanging out with food and cocktail bloggers and members of the Dole Packaged Foods team. Ally from Ally’s Kitchen was in town again to complete another handful of projects as this year’s Dole Social Media Ambassador, including shooting recipe videos and MC’ing this year’s Dole Cookoff. Ally won last year’s Cookoff, and we initially met during March’s Dole Blogger Summit. She is one of the most exuberant and friendly people I’ve ever met, and her love for cooking is the cherry on top. The 2014 Dole Cookoff is over, and a new person sits on Ally’s throne. I served as a sous chef for Naylet LaRochelle whose Breezy Indian Spiced Chicken with Mango Peanut Sauce, Dates and Grilled Mango took the $25,000 prize. I can’t wait to share that experience with you, but now…it’s all about this salad.
Spring Green Panzanella with Lemon Caper Vinaigrette, Shrimp and Crab Sliders with Avocado Spread, Potato Puffs and Linguica Casserole, Potato and Veggie Crustless Quiche, Mini Bananas Foster Bread Pudding with Cream Cheese Caramel
As Tastemakers for Alexia Foods, we were recently given the opportunity to host a dinner party of our chosing. So far this year, we have featured a farm tour and Q&A with potato farmers who grow a variety of crops that give life to Alexia products. We’ve also hosted a giveaway or two, as well as shared a few recipes featuring goods from Alexia. But let’s get back to this special dinner party. We brainstormed ideas that would highlight several Alexia products in interesting and new ways. And somehow, we landed on beer! We would throw a beer tasting dinner party.
A day doesn’t go by when Emily and I don’t talk about food. As a colleague of mine, we always find time in the work day to recount last night’s sensational meal, share a new must-try recipe, or muse over tomorrow’s dinner. It was clearly a “no-brainer” for her to share her culinary passions with you as our next guest blogger in our Test Kitchen series. And for the first time, I’m happy to say I actually got to taste a Guest Test Kitchen creation. Emily brought me a sample of this delightful salad to work, of which I gobbled down in less than 2 minutes later that evening after a strenuous workout. I am sorry that Chrystal missed out on this one, especially knowing how much she adores sweet potatoes. Like her, you’ll just have to whip it together for yourself. You’ll be glad you did! Here’s Emily with more…
Thanks to Kitchen PLAY, Chrystal and I were invited to participate in the International Olive Council’s (IOC) new “Add Some Life” campaign. It’s a campaign crafted with the sole purpose of praising the all-mighty olive, and doing its part to inspire all of us to incorporate olives and olive oil into our regular diets. I was particularly excited to be a part of any campaign that champions olives, because frankly, I love those little guys. Whether green, black, stuffed, Spanish, Greek, or other, olives are already a mainstay in my diet, and olive oil is a regular item on my shopping list.
You know what’s annoying sometimes? Having to make special versions of dishes sometimes. This is not to sound like a rant directed to anyone in particular because sometimes you have to make the special version for yourself. So it’s you, in fact, who is the reason for your very own annoyance. Now isn’t that crazy? You can go the long way, or you can go the short way and end up in your happy place. The best way to avoid spending lots of time in the kitchen making two versions of any dish is to choose a dish that can easily and joyfully lose one or two ingredients without sacrificing any of its tasty features. Maybe it even becomes better. Well, that’s up to you to decide. The point is that you should be free of any annoyance, and if that’s reason enough to try this, then shall it be.
It seems everyday we learn that one of our good friends loves to cook and does it often. And not frozen dinner, food-out-a-box-heat-it-in-the-microwave type of cooking. They’re actually doing it up in the kitchen–fancy dishes from scratch, using fresh ingredients, and plating the food in ornate styles with decorative garnishes. Maybe we’re just getting older, but it’s clear that times have changed since beans and weenies, ramen and instant macaroni and cheese out of that blue and yellow box dominated dorm room food. Has it been that long since graduation? Yikes!
When we found out an old college friend of ours, Billy, is now a passionate cook and throws down in the kitchen, we were floored! We should aware of such things, being the avid cooks that we are. Sadly, though, this is not always the case, especially when separated by all of those states between California and the East coast. Billy was excited to share his favorite, all-time greatest, best ever dish in life, which happened to be a healthy salad. It’s exciting for us because we felt his enthusiasm for this dish. So much so, we will be making it for …
At our cocktail party after the beach seafood boil a couple weeks ago, we wanted to have an easy dish to serve up to our guests. You may be wondering how they even had room left in their bellies after an afternoon of crab, shrimp, mussels and lobsters. Well, trust us, there’s always room. Having just received several sample bottles in the mail from Girard’s Salad Dressings, we thought a cold pasta salad would do just the trick. We could prep all of the ingredients individually and just toss them together just before serving. We decided to use the Peach Mimosa Vinaigrette because it was one of the most interesting varieties amongst the group. The dressing is sweet, but not overwhelmingly so, and we thought summertime peaches would pair beautifully with it. From there, everything just fell together in unison.
Here’s another Guest Test Kitchen for ya! This month, our dear friend James shares one of his favorite recipes and cooking inspirations. He shows how your favorite recipe can be jazzed up or tweaked to fit any occasion and season, and how sexy a simple squash salad can be. This dish would be a fabulous contribution to any summer meal gathering. Plus, it’s vegetarian so everyone can love it. Enjoy!
If you’re the kind of person who equates salad with lettuce and only lettuce, then today’s recipe will be a lovely change of pace for you. If you are the kind of person who adores couscous, then today’s recipe will be one that you must make now. Don’t waste another second. Two friends hosted a Moroccan-themed dinner party, and the side dish requirement needed to be filled. Couscous is a versatile, quick grain that you can make in less than 5 minutes and dress up however you like. Plus, it’s good for you! You can’t go wrong with this one. That’s why you can’t go wrong with this salad.
When life gives you tomatoes and cornbread, make panzanella. Panzanella, you say? Yes, panzanella. It’s not just for the Italians. We love to try Southernized versions of dishes, and we’ve seen several versions of cornbread based panzanellas out there. It was time to give it a try. This is the summer bread salad of all summer bread salads, especially if you have a pint of cherry tomatoes that are just waiting to be used for something good. If you’re asking why cornbread, we’re sure you’ll have no doubts once you take a bite. The Southerner in us says thanks to whoever came up with the idea.