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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.
Are you the kind of person who makes up an appropriate name for your dish if it does not quite fit between normal classification lines? Our friend hosted a Grammy-viewing party, and chili was on the menu. Several people brought different types of chili, while others supplied various toppings. One of the chili offerings is the one you’ll find right here in this blog post. All the while, behind the scenes, there was an internal monologue about whether or not this dish truly qualified as a chili. When I told Amir, it was more of a soup, I figured we could call it a ‘shili’ or a ‘choup’. You can let us know what you think. The sure thing is that this recipe is definitely delicious.
It’s time to share our first Guest Test Kitchen of the year. This one comes from our friend, Lillani, and an old co-worker of Amir’s. Lani has always been a conscious eater. From her very first introduction, she’s maintained a “vegetarian-ish” diet by avoiding most, but not all, meat products. Now it seems, though, that she’s fully crossed over and sticks to a more strict vegetarian diet. She shares with us an easy veggie burger recipe that’s sure to win over even the most avid meat eater. Enjoy!
Amir and I are both knee-deep, or maybe it’s thigh-high, in holiday preparations. The fall is our favorite month for respective reasons, but the fact that food and festivities abound is a large part of it. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving! Can you believe it? For many of you, the last day or so has been all about shopping and cooking. If you lucked out, you spent that time watching other people shop and cook. Regardless, the holiday madness is around you, and you’ve probably been sucked in. Just remember to breathe, delegate, and most of all, eat well! These Alexia Foods Sweet Potato Rolls are a good place to start.
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…
Potato au Gratin is one of those dishes that you may have ordered from a restaurant too many times to count, but it may be likely that you’ve never had it at home. Well, at least that was the case for us, not counting the boxed versions our respective parents may have whipped up long ago. No offense to Betty Crocker, but it was time to experience the homemade, from scratch variety of this dish. Instead of scouring the web for recipe suggestions and inspiration, for once, I reached for my towering book shelf. Chrystal and I have dozens of cookbooks that make for lovely decoration, but shamefully, they are not used as often as they should be in the kitchen. That’s all about to change.
A week ago we announced we are partaking in the Alexia Foods “Reinvent a Classic” fry challenge, in which we compete with other food bloggers to come up with Alexia Foods’ next original French fry flavor. Only four finalists will be chosen and ultimately one will win the whole challenge, having his or her flavor produced and sold all over the country for everyone to enjoy. How exciting! After our first run of fry testing, we picked back up right where we left off a few days later. Like a mad scientist trying to perfect a new invention, we were back in our culinary laboratories excited to get things started. Of course we want to win in the end, but recipe experimentation and development are our absolute favorite things to do in the kitchen. We’re loving every part of this challenge!
Are there some things you feel like you cannot tire of? Even if you’ve managed to eat them many days in a row. Pizza is one of those meals that can be rocked out in a million ways, and we’ve successfully fashioned at least a thousand versions that have made us happy. Most recently, we provided pizzas for a professional event and baked up a pizza for our first video. There was also a quick and easy dessert pizza for a friend’s birthday almost two years ago. When another strong hankering for crunchy crust and savory toppings bubbled to the surface, it was time to think of a new way to serve it up. One of the favorite vegetables around these parts is sweet potato. If you don’t know by now, let it be known that a sweet potato will not go uneaten when once placed under our respective forks and knives. Tossing slices of sweet potatoes on a pizza seemed like just the way to go with this one. All that potato needed was a few more friends to round out one of the world’s best pizzas.
The funny thing is, what they wanted was just macaroni and cheese. Everything else was our own doing. Regardless, when guests are in town, they run the show. Amir’s best friend, his wife and their super cute baby spent a week in LA, and they made it clear that we would cook for them. Who are we not to oblige? Even though the summer is flying by, there’s no better time for grilling, so we threw some red meat on the barbie. Oh, and into the oven with the mac and cheese of course. There’s no better way to catch up with old friends, or make new ones, when the scent of hot coals floats through the air.
We’ve never had dog food, although apparently it won’t kill you to taste it. There’s this certain kind of dog food that combines lamb and sweet potatoes, and we know a certain dog who eats it. She seems to enjoy it. Although what plops out of the can does not look appetizing, the combination of tender lamb and sweet potatoes remains an intriguing one. We took to the ‘net to see how others have combined them before, and there appear to be many shepherd’s pies, stews and even curries. We wanted a pie for sure, but we wanted one with a flakey crust. One good enough for man and man’s best friend. And, well, that was that!