This recipe for fresh guacamole is so good, it could win an Oscar! Literally…
On Sunday when the Academy hand out their annual awards, I am most excited to see who wins the “Animated Short” category. Sure, I’ll be excited to see Hugh Jackman looking dapper, and thrilled to find out who takes home Best Picture, but this little category is of particular interest to foodies this year!
Keep reading for the story…
If you are searching for the best wines to sip this summer, look no further! I have four light and refreshing suggestions that are sure to fit any palate and pair with perfectly with your favorite summer fare.
Keep reading to see some of the best wines for summer!
Do you love to go out to a Japanese restaurant for sushi and wonder if it is possible to recreate that experience in your own kitchen? You are in luck! Today I am going to show you, step-by-step, how to make sushi at home.
Keep reading to learn how to make this “Rock and Roll” Sushi Roll from Qsine Restaurant!
Last week I had the extraordinary pleasure of boarding the Celebrity Cruise Line for a 7-day “Excite The Senses” culinary themed adventure to Alaska! This was my first cruise and it was amazing to share the experience with my mom. There were so many stories, recipes and photos to share from our time onboard as well as on land, I don’t even know where to start! So, I decided to put together a “top 10″ list of yummy excerpts from the trip. If this serene and spectacular snapshot from our balcony isn’t enough to convince you to book your cruise right now, this mouth-watering list will have you ready to hop on board as soon as possible!
Keep reading if you have ever dreamed of going on a food lover’s cruise!
If you consider yourself a foodie, it’s hard not to fall in love with Seattle. The seafood, the produce, and the wines of the Northwest are all top notch. The hub of fresh Seattle fare is, of course, the legendary Pike Place Market.
Keep reading to see what was on the menu.
You know what I love about Walt Disney World? It is a destination, unlike any other, where you can make a vacation anything you want it to be. Disney World can take you behind the scenes of a movie studio or transport you to an African Safari. It can whisk you away to a magical land where princesses and fairies come to life before your eyes. A vacation to Orlando can mean hours of relaxing by the pool or fine dining and nightlife out on the town.
What I recently discovered, is that Disney World is not only the ultimate family vacation destination, it can also be the perfect location for a girl’s getaway weekend! My sister and I live on opposite coasts, so we have to find the time and a place to meet up every once in a while to catch up and spend some quality time together.
Take a look at this video we shot documenting our weekend excursion to EPCOT in Orlando. Time and budgets may not allow for a trip around the world, but we sure had fun with our whirlwind tour of the World Showcase. Check it out!
One of the highlights was meeting Hilda Castillo, the Tequila Ambassador for La Cava del Tequila, the restaurant and bar inside the Mexico pavilion featured in the video.
She shared her expertise on how to properly taste and enjoy the three different kinds of tequila and well as a few tips on making the perfect margarita! Follow our “flight” to Mexico featuring Partida Blanco, Don Julio Reposado, and Gran Centenario Añejo.
Tequila Blanco is crystal clear, light and fresh. These types of Tequilas are a finished product after a second distillation. Many connoisseurs prefer it because of its pure flavor. It is bottled or stored immediately after distillation, or aged less than two months in oak barrels.
To be classified as Reposado, a Tequila must be aged for a minimum of 2 months but less than a year. Tequila Reposado is a perfect balance of wood, fruity notes, vanilla, and spices that transport you to a magical place of timeless beauty.
Añejo is a delicate blend of uniquely aged Tequilas. Añejos are aged in small, white oak barrels for a minimum of 12 months. This Tequila has several aromas, like chocolate, almonds, and wood; it is soft and sweet. As in many premium red wines, blends must be adjusted to each vintage; a lot of care and attention is paid when blending Añejo, making it smooth, distinctive, and extraordinary.
The outstanding margaritas featured in the video were created by Mexican Mixologist, Junior Merino. They were hands down the most flavorful, intriguing and creative margaritas I had ever tasted. He is a liquid chef…literally! Check out this website: http://theliquidchefinc.com/ Here are the descriptions of a few of my favorites:
Wild Passion Fruit
100% Agave Tequila Reposado, ginger liqueur, passion fruit, mango nectar and fresh lime juice, topped with mango foam, served on the rocks
El Mayor premium silver Tequila, melon liqueur, fresh avocado, agave nectar and fresh lime juice, served frozen with a hibiscus Himalayan salt rim
El Mayor premium silver Tequila, orange liqueur, sweet-tart mix of blood orange juice and hibiscus syrup, topped with wild berry foam served on the rocks
El Mayor premium silver Tequila, muddled jalapeños, fresh lime juice, cucumber and agave nectar, served on the rocks with a hibiscus Himalayan salt rim
In the end, vacation travel is about making memories that last a lifetime. My sister and I have such vivid memories of Disney magic as children, and now we have rekindled that magic as adults. No matter the age, you can’t help but laugh, smile and be filled with joy during your time in the resort!
Now that it’s officially summer, I think it is time to fire up the grill!
Not only does that mean it’s time for burgers and dogs, but why not get creative with the grill as well? Pineapple holds up well over the coals, and a grilled pineapple makes for a sensational salad.
Speaking of fruit on the grill, I am so excited for the Dole California Cook-Off this weekend! Three talented home cooks will go head to head right here in Hollywood, competing for a whopping $10,000 prize.
Chef Ben Ford and I will be judging the competition, looking for the most DOLE-icious recipe based on creativity, flavor and taste. The three outstanding finalists are featured on the DOLE Facebook page. My mouth waters in anticipation of trying each fantastic dish! (Click here to see the finalists.)
It is a thrill to be a part of this event because DOLE is the world’s largest producer and marketer of high-quality fresh fruit and fresh vegetables, and is the leading producer of organic bananas. DOLE markets a growing line of packaged and frozen fruit and is a produce industry leader in nutrition education and research.
This fresh and colorful salad celebrates the grill and Dole pineapple. Grilled tropical fruit is tossed with greens, cherry tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette. I even threw in a few macadamia nuts for a bit of extra crunch. Stay tuned for updates from the contest this weekend and find out who will be $10,000 richer next week!
1/2 medium pineapple, cored cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 medium mango, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
4 cups torn salad greens
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing
1/3 cup macadamia nuts (optional)
Spray grill with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat to medium-high heat. Grill pineapple and mango 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Cut grilled fruit into bite sized pieces. In a large salad bowl, mix fruit, greens, and tomatoes; toss lightly. Drizzle with dressing just before serving. Top with macadamia nuts, if desired.
Nothing says “summer” like ice cream! It keeps you cool while satisfying your sweet tooth. One of the hottest trends I am seeing this summer season is making your own layered ice cream pops at home. Pop makers and tool kits are flying off the shelves at kitchen stores. There are even new cookbooks on the market with a plethora of fun recipes to try.
As much as I love a new kitchen gadget, sometimes it is nice to make a recipe the old fashioned way. To make these pops you only need 5 ounce dixie cups and plastic spoons!
The sweet/salty flavor combination is what makes these pops shine. Wait until you see how I layer finely crushed peanut brittle in the pop!
I love the Peanut Brittle from See’s candy. This company is a California institution. I remember growing up in Chicago I would always look forward to my grandma bringing a special treat from See’s when she would come visit from California.
Today and tomorrow I am demonstrating this recipe at a couple of blogger events sponsored by Real California Milk in LA and San Francisco. I can’t wait to meet everyone (and their kids!) at the “Ice Cream Socials” they have planned. It will be a blast! (Stay tuned for pictures of the fun!)
Now, about these pops. They are super simple and taste like heaven on a stick. All you do is layer the crushed peanut brittle, ice cream, peanut butter, more ice cream and top with another layer of peanut brittle. Insert the plastic spoon “stick” and freeze until set.
When you are ready to serve, simply peel away the dixie cup and you have a perfectly portable pop! These individual treats are great for summer entertaining and are a crowd pleaser with kids and adults alike. The pops are prepared in advance, so they are easy to serve at any get-together.
Here…have one! After all, they are made to be shared!
1 cup finely crushed peanut brittle
8 five-ounce paper cups
1 quart vanilla ice cream
8 Tablespoons smooth or crunchy peanut butter
8 plastic spoons
1. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the peanut brittle into each paper cup. Pack in part of the ice cream to half fill each. Layer 1 Tablespoon of the peanut butter, then remaining ice cream, and peanut brittle on top. Repeat layering with remaining cups. Pack each down firmly with the back of a spoon.
2. Insert a plastic spoon, bowl end down, into each cup. Freeze until firm.
3. To serve, peel off cups. Enjoy the layered pop from the spoon stick! Makes 8 ice cream pops.
Did you know that in just a few short weeks, our friends over at Better Homes and Gardens Magazine will be hosting the second annual “Chill and Grill” festival? This event is the ultimate summer block party. Take a look at my top five reasons why you should go, and then check out five of my favorite grilled recipes for summer. Enjoy!
Top 5 Reasons to go to the Better Homes and Gardens “Chill and Grill” Festival:
My hometown! I have to tell you, this city simply sparkles in the summertime. The crystal blue waters of Lake Michigan and the legendary architecture make this skyline a sight be behold.
An outdoor festival just isn’t complete without some rockin’ tunes! Chicago is famous for it’s blues scene and there will be several local bands on hand to get the party started!
Guy is so much fun and I love it when we get a chance to sit down and chat. He is a fantastic addition to an outstanding lineup of chefs and presenters at the festival.
Click on the image or the link above and enter today!
5) Simply put, it’s delicious!
What are you waiting for…buy your tickets today!
Now that you have grilling on the mind, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite grilled recipes. Whether you are a meat eater or a vegetarian, there’s something for everyone on the grill…even dessert!
My Top 5 Favorite Recipes on the Grill:
There’s something magical about Napa Valley. The sunlight, the warm California air, the wine…
This other-worldly destination is home to Beringer Vineyards, where they celebrate the perfect marriage of food and wine every year during their annual “Great Steak Challenge.” A $25,000 recipe contest and television special on the Cooking Channel.
I was honored to cover the second annual Beringer Great Steak Challenge. If you remember last year, our friend Lisa Keys took home the top prize in their first contest! (Click here to read the 2011 story.)
Have these photos convinced you yet? You simply must enter this recipe contest! Not only will you have a chance to compete for the cash prizes, but you and a guest will enjoy a weekend getaway in this legendary vacation destination. The sponsors at Beringer treat the contestants like culinary royalty and you will make memories to last a lifetime.
Click here to enter your best grilled steak and Beringer wine pairing. Entries are due by July 16th!
There were many familiar faces at the 2012 contest. Larry Elder competed and was joined by his wife, Janice. Mary Hawkes was also a finalist and brought along her husband for the events. (You might remember Janice Elder’s grand prize Lemon Blueberry Trifles and Mary’s winning Cranberry Citrus Biscotti from our weekly contests. I am so proud of our accomplished group here at Better Recipes!)
This contest is unique because it is not only a fierce culinary competition, it is also the set of a major television production! While knives are chopping and grills are firing, cameras are rolling to capture every move. Every moment is pure excitement!
Not only that, contestants have these two fine gentlemen watching their every move and interviewing them while cooking! Here is a glimpse of Jamie and Bobby Deen chatting before the big show begins, making sure everything goes smoothly when the cameras roll.
The judges look on with anticipation to taste the contestants mouth-watering dishes. As experts in their field, they critique the recipe, the preparation and, of course, the wine pairing.
The “Beringer Great Steak Challenge” airs throughout the summer on Cooking Channel. You can watch it this weekend, 5/19 at 6:30 PM and 5/20 at 4:30 PM. It will also air 6/7 at 9:30 PM and 1:30 AM, 6/9 at 8:00 AM and 6/10 at 10:30 AM.
Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t watched the show yet, bookmark this page and come back later. Otherwise, get ready to see the outstanding winning recipes and Beringer wine pairings!
The $25,000 grand prize went to Kristin Davis from Easthampton, MA.
Kristin says “My dish, Thai Lemongrass Tenderloin Skewers, is all about balance. A bold spicy sauce follows the rules by combining hot, sweet, salty, and sour. This balance lays the perfect framework for a crisp, fruity, well-balanced wine. The Beringer Founders’ Estate Sauvignon Blanc has the strength of flavor to stand up against the intense sauce, while still accenting the light freshness of the cucumber slaw.”
6 Beef tenderloin steaks (6oz each)
6 lemongrass stalks
Salt and pepper
4-5 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup of fresh ginger
5-6 Red bird’s eye chilies (the really small ones)
1/2 cup soy bean paste
1/2 cup Brown sugar
1/4 cup White vinegar
1/4 cup Dark Sweet soy sauce
1/4 cup Fish sauce
1 English cucumbers
1/4 cup Rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp Sesame Oil
In a food processor, combine sauce ingredients and pulse until coarse puree. Pour into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cook for 30 seconds; remove from heat. Use small individual serving dishes. Generously salt and pepper steaks. Use a knife sharpening steel to pierce a hole in the center of each steak, skewer with lemongrass stalk. Over medium high, sear steaks on all sides until desired doneness.
Slaw: Julienne cucumber into matchstick-like pieces. In a large bowl, toss cucumber with vinegar and sesame oil. Serve atop steak.
2nd place and $7,500 went to Larry Elder from Charlotte, NC.
Larry says, “Tenderloin is my favorite cut of beef as it is big on taste and smooth on texture. I wanted to create a recipe that would be enhanced by my favorite Beringer wine, the Founders’ Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The first thing that came to mind was chocolate and I suspected cocoa powder might give the beef an earthy flavor. It needed something else to round out the taste so I incorporated horseradish mustard for a little kick and caramel topping for a bit of sweetness. A splash of fresh lime juice adds a fresh acidity and helps bring all the flavors together.”
1/2 cup butterscotch caramel topping
2 tablespoons horseradish (or wasabi) mustard
2 tablespoons lime juice
6 (6-oz. each) tenderloin steaks
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Optional garnish: additional slices of fresh lime
Drizzle: Preheat grill to medium-high. In a small saucepan whisk together caramel topping, mustard and lime juice. Place on grill until warm and well blended.
Rub steaks with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Just before removing from the grill, dust top of each steak very lightly with cocoa. Remove from grill. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then serve with sauce, garnished with lime slices, if desired. Yield: 6 servings.
3rd place and $2,500 went to Mary Hawkes from Prescott, AZ.
Mary says, “My ribeye recipe brings those influences together in a warm salsa cruda that makes a complex addition to the juicy tenderness of the ribeye. The Beringer Founders’ Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a delightful pairing with this steak. The full-flavored steak along with the earthy flavors of the olives, fresh parsley, cheese, lemons, and sweetness of the grill-roasted tomatoes bring out the nuances of the complex flavors of this fruity Cabernet Sauvignon.”
1-1/2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning (unsalted)
1-1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1-1/2 teaspoons grated fresh garlic
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 (10 to 12-ounce) container marinated bocconcini (bite-size mozzarella), drained, reserving 1 tablespoon marinade; bocconcini quartered
2 well-trimmed boneless beef ribeye steaks, 1-1/4 inches thick (about 1-1/2 pounds each), room temperature
1-1/2 cups small grape tomatoes, assorted colors
1/3 cup halved pitted kalamata olives
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Mix Italian seasoning, rosemary, garlic, salt, zest, pepper and reserved tablespoon of marinade; rub onto steaks. Prepare gas grill for medium-high heat. Place steaks on oiled grill rack; grill, covered, to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest 5 minutes. Place tomatoes in a grill basket; grill 3 to 4 minutes, until starting to soften.
Prepare salsa: mix tomatoes, bocconcini, olives, parsley and juice. Slice steaks diagonally across the grain into 1/2-inch thick slices, divide onto 6 plates; top with salsa. Serves 6.