Food Fight Write 2015 Bloggers’ Summit


Along with Kansas City Steaks the Saucy Mama Team sponsored a bloggers’ challenge cook-off

My blogging schedule is a bit off kilter due to traveling a bunch in the month of November. Bare with me as I hope to get back on track to my usual Sunday posts come December. In the mean time check out this photomontage of my recent blogger escapades. Here is a view of the 3 day 2015 Food Fight Write Bloggers’ Summit starting with a fabulous media tour and lunch with Shamu and friends at Seaworld.


We learned lots of fun facts about how well cared for these beautiful animals are. How about some fresh ground organic avocado for the aardvark? We should all eat so healthy.

Naturally, we did eat well. Not only an abundant taste of the park at Seaworld, but also some very special locally grown offerings from My Yard Farm including a fresh picked spicy micro green salad featuring their juicy heirloom tomatoes. I am looking forward to growing my own come Spring.


Happy Egg Co and Tuttorosso tomatoes started us off with breakfast one morning while later that day we grilled up some fabulous filet mignon courtesy of Kansas City Steaks. We also sampled several flavorful Saucy Mama products in preparation for a blogger throw-down. More about that later.

IMG_7793Always up for a good hayride, Long and Scott Farms welcomed us with open arms and interesting details about how to grow sweet corn and cucumbers. They also feature a giant 7-acre “Salute to our Armed Forces” corn maze. Automatically, I love them.


Next up on the schedule (are you tired yet) is a visit to one of Orlando’s premiere destinations,  The Champions’ Gate Resort for Inspired Home workshops. This is a blogger’s paradise of collaboration and learning (think periscope, instagram and video) in addition to a mix and mingling of food, lifestyle and brand influencing.


This is how a real brand influencer does it. So inspiring and professional and gets me right into the holiday spirit.

The summit culminated in The Bloggers’ Challenge giving each participant a chance to experience first hand the reality of cooking competition. How to develop a recipe and orientation to the Kenmore Pro kitchen arena were hot topics as well as tips on timing, presentation and judging. While a few of us were already competitive cooks most of the bloggers were not. It was a wonderful way for them to gain insight into this growing world of food sport and as influencers maybe encourage brands to sponsor competitive cooks just like Nike might endorse a pro athlete. Sign me up! And check out my instagram @goodgriefcook to see some fun gadgets received in my Inspired Home swag bag.


Congratulations to my friends, Cho Wut Yee who took third and Rebecka Evans who took first in their first ever cooking competition. So proud of you ladies. ~Photo by Rebecka.


World Food Championships & Moving Forward with Egg Salad

Toasted Egg Salad Roll with Candied Orange Habanero Bacon and Crispy Smoked Potato Strings

Toasted Egg Salad Roll with Candied Orange Habanero Bacon and Crispy Smoked Potato Strings

Like a pat on the back for a job well done once in a while I need a reminder from William he is here with me. When I cook he comes through, so I cook. This past week I was celebrating him at the World Food Championships in Kissimmee, Florida. He and I along with my Comare* Lynn cooked up a few recipes including one bad-ass egg salad sandwich. More about that special sandwich later.

Lynn, my maid of honor and William's godmother is my sous chef. I have always referred to her in Italian as my “comare”. Here is more of a definition:

*Lynn, my maid of honor and William’s godmother is my sous chef. I have always referred to her in Italian as my “comare”. Here is more of a definition:
“Comare… women used this term… [to describe other women in their group] to honor a close bond of mutual assistance.”(Guglielmo, 2010). It was a woman who worked with other women while the men were in the fields, they relied on each other for support in Sicily in the early 1900’s.
When my son passed away, Lynn never left my side. I am so honored to have her cook with me and so our team name (as we both are suffering with hot flashes right now-lol): “Too Hot Comares”.

The World Food Championships (WFC) brought hundreds of professional chefs and home cooks from around the globe to compete in 9 categories for over $350,000.00 in prize money and bragging rights. IMG_7713Having played this game before and getting my butt whooped I never in my wildest dreams thought I could advance through the ranks in my qualifying category of “sandwiches”. Luckily, it’s never about winning or losing for me. I just like being in the mix, cooking to the best of my ability and hoping for a little extra icing on what is already a spectacular cake. Truly, this competition feels more like a family reunion than a cutthroat kitchen. To be passionate and endure in this hobby it has to be about friends first and competition second. Think about those athletes who only care about winning and how quickly they lose the love of the game. I never want that burn-out to happen to me.

good old days with my family

good old days with my family

Others strongly believe in me when it comes to food sport. My daughter Caitlin for one. She never stops believing I can win. She nudges me forward with her simple notes and texts, “You got this mom” or “I know you can do it mom”. Does she know how much her thoughtful, gentle touch means? Same with my husband. He is the perfect coach. His support and encouragement never waivers. He never acts surprised when I bring home a medal or a prize when usually I am picking myself up off the floor in disbelief. And then there is William…..

homemade focaccia filled with a candied orange walnut pesto, speck, fontina and roasted red peppers and arugula salad with cranberry balsamic

homemade focaccia filled with a candied orange walnut pesto, speck, fontina and roasted red peppers and arugula salad with cranberry balsamic…cooking from the heart always wins <3

Like in sports the WFC is a tournament style competition. My first sandwich requiring the use of Kansas City Steaks ribeye was judged at #6. Next up is my signature sandwich inspired by my lunch dates with William at Aventura’s Italian deli in Waterbury. The judges liked it and launched me into the #4 position. What?  Hot damn! After two rounds of judging I am still in it. I made Top 10 and would be required to create an egg sandwich in the final round using American Humane Certified free range eggs from The Happy Egg Co.

Smokehouse Steak Sandwich

Smokehouse Steak Sandwich

Just one problem. I never believed I would make Top 10, so I never prepared any kind of elevated egg sandwich recipe before I left home for the event. Exhausted but exhilarated I had less than 24 hours to figure it out. Before I went to bed that night I had nothing. It was like recipe writer’s block. Lot’s of anxiety. This is going to be embarrassing.

my good luck charm

my good luck charm

…..and then there is William. Just before I turned out the light I held a good luck charm in my hand (thank you Patrice Hurd) and had a little chat with my boy. I closed my eyes and hoped for a little Will Keys intervention. He never disappoints me.

Toasted Egg Salad Roll with Candied Orange Habanero Bacon and Crispy Smoked Potato Strings

Toasted Egg Salad Roll with Candied Orange Habanero Bacon and Crispy Smoked Potato Strings

Guess who woke with a start and jumped out of bed at 3 am with a complete egg sandwich recipe in her head? Not just any egg sandwich, but one bad-ass egg sandwich that scored the second highest score of the Top 10. It shot me into a 3rd place finish, but more importantly it reminded me that William is always here helping me move forward. This is why I cook. This is why I love the competition. It’s putting my grief into a passion. What is your passion?

Too Hot Comares both placed in the Top 10

Too Hot Comares both placed in the Top 10

As always I owe a debt of gratitude to those who went above and beyond to support me at the WFC. Big thanks to Felipe Rivera and Jennifer Daskevich for rescuing me from a major bread snafu; to Amoroso’s Bakery for supplying the most delicious rolls; to Carlino’s for vacuum sealing the imported speck and to Suzy and Colette of Saucy Mama for seeing and believing in me and taking me on this whirlwind of a ride. I am so proud to be a part of your team.


Toasted Egg Salad Roll with Candied Bacon & Crispy Potato Strings

12 large Happy Eggs

2-tablespoons Saucy Mama Orange Habanero Wing Sauce, divided

1-tablespoon water

1-tablespoon white vinegar

1 tablespoon Saucy Mama Smoky Garlic mustard

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

½-cup diced Duda Farms Dandy Celery

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

2 tablespoons finely chopped dill pickle

1 tablespoon Saucy Mama Backyard Brat Mustard

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1-tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1-teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

12 slices Wright Apple Wood Bacon, diced

1 russet potato or other frying potato, peeled and thin julienne

Canola oil for deep-frying

1 teaspoon smoked salt

6 (8-inch) whole grain sandwich rolls

½ cup clarified butter

1 bunch fresh arugula

Place eggs in a large saucepan with enough cold water to cover the eggs. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Let eggs stand in hot water for 16 to 18 minutes. Immediately remove eggs from hot water and plunge into an ice bath. When cool, peel eggs. Separate the yolks from the whites. Chop egg whites and reserve in a large bowl. Place yolks in the bowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade. Add wing sauce, water, vinegar and garlic mustard; pulse to blend. With Food processor running, slowly add olive oil, processing until mixture is smooth, stopping and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Fold egg yolk mixture into egg whites. Add celery, dill, chives, pickle, whole grain mustard, zest and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Chill until ready to assemble sandwiches.

In non-stick skillet over medium heat, cook bacon, stirring occasionally until fat is rendered and bacon is browned and crispy. Transfer bacon to a paper towel and discard grease from the pan. Return bacon to pan. Over low heat, add remaining 1-tablespoon orange habanero sauce to bacon, stirring to coat the bacon. Set bacon aside in a single layer until ready to assemble sandwiches.

For crispy potato strings: Fry potato strings in 350F hot oil for 1 minute or until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towel; sprinkle immediately with smoked salt.

Brush cut sides of rolls with butter. Place rolls, butter side down, in skillet over medium heat. Toast 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown.

To assemble sandwiches: place a layer of arugula on bottom half of roll. Top with egg salad. Sprinkle with bacon and crispy potato strings. 

use a russet potato and pat dry with paper towels for extra crispy potato strings

use a russet potato and pat dry with paper towels for extra crispy potato strings

Moose Story & Mousse

easiest dessert ever

easiest dessert ever

Last week I felt bad for not leaving you with a recipe, so this week I am giving you one of my post Halloween favorites. The recipe is a real treat because it only contains three ingredients. Actually, only two if you don’t count the garnish. And it comes along with one of my all time favorite William stories.

I used to steal all their peanut butter cups

I used to steal all their peanut butter cups

Back in 1993 when William was a mere 5 years old we were dining out in a fine Middlebury restaurant right there on the main drag. When it was time for dessert the waitress offered up what was on the menu. After describing a most decadent chocolate mousse William looked up at her and in his most serious voice announced, “I am not eating any moose”. It was a good laugh.

chill that bowl and beaters

chill that bowl and beaters

Here is a recipe inspired by that story. It’s perfect for using up extra Halloween candy. The caramel and vanilla nougat in the candy give the mousse some extra rich flavor. In 1995 Caitlin won her first recipe contest with a version of this recipe using regular milky ways. So either flavor works I just happen to prefer dark. How about you?

Milky Way Midnight Mousse

22 Milky Way Midnight Minis, unwrapped

1-cup heavy cream

Fresh raspberries

Chill a mixing bowl and beaters. Reserve 2 minis; chop and reserve for garnish. Place remaining candy in a microwave safe bowl. Heat on HIGH for 30 seconds; stir candy. If it is not fully melted microwave 10 more seconds and stir. Repeat heating for 10 seconds until candy is thoroughly melted. Beat cream in chilled bowl with chilled beaters until soft peaks. Reserve ½ cup of whipped cream for garnish; chill in refrigerator. Stir another ½ cup of whipped cream into melted candy to lighten it up. Pour mixture back into bowl of whipped cream and continue beating until stiff peaks. Divide mousse into serving bowls or goblets; chill. Just before serving top with reserved whipped cream, chopped candy and raspberries.