Cooking Contest Central

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One of my favorite recipe contest moments. Bobby Dean sneaks in a hug at the Beringer Great Steak Cook-Off

Lots of people ask me about how to get involved in recipe contests. I always recommend my favorite go-to web site for recipe contest information. It’s Cooking Contest Central or better known as CCC. Some may balk at the yearly $25.00 subscription rate, but truthfully my time is much more valuable. Instead of searching the web for contests or visiting other sites that may be free I prefer this easy to use up to date source. It has all the information I need including contest news, rules and regulations plus a forum to chat with other like-minded cooking enthusiasts. Not only that, but CCC often runs exclusive recipe contests for its members. A real bonus because who doesn’t want to win $500.00 on occasion. The contests are judged by real food experts and don’t involve the dreaded voting. I recently won a contest sponsored on the site by Mann’s. The contest required I use their broccoli slaw and I think I stood out in the field because I used it in two ways. I hope you like the recipe as much as the judges did.img_3524

Stir-Fry Shitake & Broccoli Slaw Burgers

For the slaw

1 (12 oz.) bag Mann’s Broccoli Cole Slaw, divided

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1-tablespoon olive oil

1 (4 oz) package stemmed and sliced fresh shitake mushrooms

¼ cup sliced scallions

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

For the burger

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 ½ cups Mann’s Broccoli Cole Slaw (reserved from slaw recipe)

1 tablespoon mirin

1 pound (80% lean 20% fat) ground beef

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ cup sliced scallions

4 brioche buns, toasted

4 tablespoons hoisin sauce

4 crisp lettuce leaves

Reserve 1½ cups of broccoli slaw for burgers. Pour remaining slaw into a large bowl; toss with salt. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until mushrooms have released their liquid and are just golden brown. Add mushrooms and scallions to slaw mix in bowl. In small bowl, whisk soy sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, honey, fresh ginger and sesame oil until blended. Pour dressing over slaw mixture; toss well. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and toss again. Set aside while preparing burgers. In same skillet used to cook mushrooms, heat 1-teaspoon olive oil. Add reserved 1 ½ cups slaw and cook stirring 5 minutes or until softened. Add mirin, stirring, just until liquid evaporates. Cool slightly. In large bowl, combine ground beef, salt, pepper, scallions and cooled slaw mix; blend well. Shape into 4 patties about ¾-inch thick. Grill, broil or pan-fry burgers 4 to 5 minutes per side or until fully cooked. Layer bottom half of toasted rolls with hoisin sauce, lettuce and a burger. Top with a generous amount of shitake slaw. Cover with bun tops and serve.

You can also check out the CCC Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/CookingContestCentral/

 

Two Roads & A Recipe with Yakisoba

IMG_1402This week while sifting through more of my son’s things I found two memory cards in a camera hard case. As I dusted some fine golden sand out of the case I remembered sending him the cards in a care package while he was stationed in Afghanistan.DSCN0487

Seeing more than a hundred photos up on the screen it reminded me of the adventurous boy whose travels took him far and wide to some places I did not recognize. The photos of him and the places he had left a footprint on tugged at my heart, but only a smile emerged. His story may have been short, but his journey so full. I am thankful for that. Yes, I have travelled a long way, too. So, I continue to share.DSCN0459

In light of recent events in Orlando the only advice I have for parents who have lost their loved ones is to hold tight to each other. You will travel the grief road as individuals, but you will need the support of each other to keep you on the path to peace. Honor your loved one, have Courage and make a Commitment to love and kindness always. Share it.DSCN0367

Time to share some good food. Two roads and a recipe is always a fun challenge especially when fusion of foreign cuisines is involved. It’s a wonderful creative distraction that I get to share with all of you in this blogger’s challenge contest. It makes me smile. I hope you like what I prepared with Fortune Brand Yakisoba Noodles. Coming in a variety of flavors check the refrigerated section of your grocery store (Von’s, Pavilions and Safeway in Pennsylvania) for this easy to prepare product that inspired so many other recipes that I had to share at least two of these new family favorites. Today, it’s Asian gone Italian in two tasty noodle dishes. First up is a mandarin orange stir-fry twist on chicken picatta. Enjoy the harmony.

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Citrus Chicken Picatta & Noodle Stir-Fry

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 Package Fortune Brand Yakisoba Noodles with Mandarin Orange Flavor Packet

2 cups diced boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon all purpose flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

¼ cup dry white wine or chicken broth*

½ cup chicken broth

1-tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1-tablespoon small capers, rinsed

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Garnish: fresh lemon and oranges slices and fresh herbs, optional

Puncture inner bag of noodles a few times with the tip of a sharp knife to allow steam to escape. Microwave noodles on HIGH for 1 minute; set aside. Season chicken with salt and pepper and toss with flour to coat. Heat olive oil over medium-high. Add chicken; stir-fry 3 to 4 minutes or until no longer pink. Add garlic, shallots and pepper flakes; stir-fry for 1 minute. Add wine; cook for 2 minutes or until reduced by half stirring to loosen browned bits from bottom of skillet. Add loosened noodles, Mandarin Orange flavor packet, chicken broth, lemon juice and capers; stirring for 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Garnish with lemon and orange slices and fresh herbs, if desired.

*Note: If you prefer not to use wine use additional chicken broth as a substitute

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caprese noodle burger

 

My second recipe includes a classic summer Italian salad topping your favorite burger on a most surprising noodle bun. The bun is a play on an omelet my mom used to make with leftover spaghetti. They not only make a great burger bun, but also delicious as the base for an opened-faced sandwich, too. The noodle buns can even be made ahead and re-warmed on the grill, stove-top or in the microwave.

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Caprese Noodle Burger

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 package Fortune Brand Yokisoba Stir Fry Noodle Mandarin Orange

¼ cup water

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

8 leaves shredded fresh basil

½ cup diced vine ripened tomatoes

2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1-teaspoon balsamic syrup

2 hamburger patties

4 slices fresh mozzarella

Place the noodles, water and half the sauce base in a microwave safe dish. Cover and microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes. Mix well and spread out on a plate to cool. When noodles are cool mix with eggs, parmesan and 2 leaves of shredded basil. Divide noodles into 4 portions and shape each portion into a 4-inch “bun” on plastic wrap lined plates. Bring plastic wrap up and over the buns to cover. Weight down with another plate and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, basil, 2 teaspoons olive oil and balsamic syrup in a bowl; mix well. Sprinkle hamburger patties evenly with remaining sauce mix; grill or pan-fry to desired doneness topping with mozzarella during last few minutes of cooking time. In a large skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Unwrap noodle buns and add to skillet. Cook, 2 to 3 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. Arrange a noodle bun on each plate. Top with a burger and some tomato-basil salad. Cover with remaining noodle buns.

For more delicious yakisoba noodle ideas check out JSL Foods on Twitter and Facebook

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My son’s favorite poem inspired “Two Roads and a Recipe”

Babies & Burgers

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I am back after some much needed private time mostly spent in the garden and anticipating the birth of my grand-daughter. She is due in about 3 weeks.  What do you think of my grandma name, ” KiKi” (pronounced key-key)? Makes sense since my last name is Keys. Right? Anyway, the new life that springs from the dirt in my yard absolutely rejuvenates me, so I can’t even imagine what I will be like with a grandchild. I hope she will like to garden and grill with KiKi. Can’t you just hear her little voice saying, “mom, let’s go to KiKi’s house.”

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Japanese Primrose about to bloom

It’s May. The sun is shining and it’s time to get a pedicure, some new sunglasses and fire up the grill. Did you know that May is National Burger Month? While you are pouring yourself a cool beverage let me show you just how easy and delicious a burger can be compliments of The Kansas City Steak Company. Yes, they sent me free burgers, but opinions are mine….all mine.

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Today, I am writing about The Kansas City Steak Company Steakburgers. You may remember me telling you about this mail order company after my return from the Food Fight Write Blogger Summit and World Food Championships (WFC) last November. Back then I competed in a food blogger competition grilling up the company’s tender filet mignon and then cooked their flavorful ribeye steaks to create my winning sandwich at the WFC.

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Smokehouse Steak Sandwich

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When the company offered me a chance to try their steakburgers it was husband (grandpa) that was all in this time. He’s such a carnivore. Anyway, 1 dozen steakburgers arrived, well packed and frozen with dry ice. Each vacuumed sealed package contained 2 (4.5 oz each) patties separated by a square of wax paper. Also included was a pack of steak seasoning, a recipe pamphlet and a steakburger preparation card. Did I say easy?

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The patties can be cooked from frozen which makes them quite convenient for a last minute meal option, but since I had time I chose to thaw them overnight in the refrigerator. As per the instructions I seared the patties for 1 minute per side on a smoking hot grill and then I transferred them over to the cool side of the grill (indirect heat) for another 6 minutes per side.

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This method of grilling works well as my burgers were fully cooked to an internal temperature of 160F. and perfectly juicy. Going forward I will cook all my burgers this way. As far as flavor, I did season the 100% beef burgers, just prior to grilling, liberally with the accompanying steak seasoning and found them deliciously salted with a little peppery-garlic kick. A toasted bun, a little lettuce and a squirt of jalapeño ketchup completed the picture.

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What are you paying for ground beef these days? Around here it’s anywhere between $3 to $4.00 per pound, so these premium steakburgers are a comparable value except that they are delivered right to your door and ready to cook whenever you are in the mood for a perfectly juicy and flavorful burger. Need more incentive to order? Go to the web site and order anything you want up until June 30, 2016 and use the code 25FREE and get a whopping $25.00 off your order plus free shipping. Stock up! so you can shop and cook less and play with your children and grandchildren more. Happy Mother’s Day.

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Here is a recipe for my signature french fries. They are sliced super thin (julienne), chilled in water and then deep fried until golden brown. If you like a crispy burger topper or side these are the fries for you.

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Crispy Potato Strings

1 russet potato, thin julienne

Smoked salt

Canola oil for frying

Soak potatoes in cold water for at least 15 minutes; rinse and pat dry. Fry potato strings in 350F hot oil for 1 minute or until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towel; sprinkle immediately with salt

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P.S. Moving forward I hope to keep up with you and the blog at least on a monthly basis because I honestly love sharing my recipes and snippets of other good things with you.