Tag Archives: contest

Vote for My Cocktail


I was invited to develop a cocktail recipe for Marx Foods using the stimulating szechuan buttons.  Well, I came up with three cocktails, but one, the Buzz of the Green Fairy is in the running now.

If you like what you see, please visit the Marx Food site and vote for me.  The poll will close on Tuesday, February 15.

Thanks for your support!

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Eating Dr Pepper at the State Fair of Texas

Moving East has made it difficult, but I’ve gone to the State Fair of Texas almost every year I’ve been alive.  I love it.  To deepen my fair experience, I decided to enter one of the baking contests.  The contest offering the largest cash reward was sponsored by Dr Pepper.  In honor of the company’s 125th birthday celebration, they asked contestants to bake a birthday cake using Dr Pepper.

How could I miss this opportunity?  Bake a Dr Pepper cake, one of my favorite drinks, for the State Fair of Texas, one of my favorite events?   I decided to modify the recipe for my favorite birthday cake to use both Dr Pepper and Dr Pepper syrup.

Well, I didn’t win, but it was a fun experience.  I got to see a part of the Fair that I’ve never seen and learn a bit about the culture of cooking contests.  I’m not sure if I like them, but I plan to enter more.

The winner of this contest was awarded $1250, and had her cake deep-fried by the Fry King of Texas, Abel Gonzales.  Crazy, huh?

Gonzales took the winning cake and cut it into cake balls.  In order to provide some stability in the fryer, the cake balls were frozen solid using liquid nitrogen.  Before frying they are dipped in flour and a pancake-like batter with Dr Pepper.  After a few minutes in the deep fryer, the fried Dr Pepper cake balls were served with whipped cream and strawberry Dr Pepper sauce.

Here is Abel Gonzales reviewing the cakes.  He was planning his strategy for how to dismantle the biggest one.

This is another winner.  It is a cooler made of cake!  She spent almost two hundred dollars on molds alone!

Well, my cake wasn’t a winner, but it still tasted good.

Dr Pepper Chocolate Birthday Cake
Makes one 9×13-inch sheet cake, or two 9-inch round cakes
For Cake:
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ cup butter
1 cup Dr Pepper
½ cup vegetable oil
5 Tbsp cocoa
½ cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp Dublin Dr Pepper syrup
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Blend flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl. 
In a medium saucepan, boil together butter, Dr Pepper, vegetable oil, and cocoa.  Stir to blend.  Pour over flour mixture and stir.
Add buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, vanilla, and Dr Pepper syrup.  Mix well.
Pour into greased and floured pans.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.  Let cool completely before frosting.
For Frosting:
½ cup butter
6 Tbsp milk
4 Tbsp cocoa
1 ½ tsp Dublin Dr Pepper syrup
¾ to 1 lb powdered sugar
In a medium saucepan, melt butter, milk, and cocoa.  
Stir to blend.  Once butter is melted and ingredients are well blended, remove from heat.  Quickly stir in Dr Pepper syrup.  
Then, gradually add powdered sugar, stirring to remove lumps, until reach desired consistency. 
For Dr Pepper Glazed Pecans:
2 cups whole pecans
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup Dublin Dr Pepper
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1/8 cup white sugar
Combine ingredients in medium skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring until liquid evaporates.  
Spread out on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  
Roast in preheated oven at 300 degree F for about 20 minutes.
I used the nuts to garnish the cake, along with maraschino cherries.


Filed under Dessert

I Need Your Help Again

With your help, I made it to the second round of Project Food Blog, an interactive contest to discover the next hot food blogger.  Thank you for all your support.

We are not done yet, though.  I’ve submitted my entry for the second challenge, and voting starts today, Monday, September 27.
If you recall from last week, I advance to the next challenge by accumulating votes from the official judges, fellow Food Buzz Featured Publishers, and you.  Please visit my entry for Project Food Blog and submit your vote of support.  (You will need to join Food Buzz.)  If you like my entry, please ask your friends and contacts to do the same.
Thank you again, and I’m sure with your help, I’ll be back for the third round.

Leave a comment

Filed under Personal

Texan Bulgogi with Bibim Bap

I started planning for round two of Project Food Blog before I even finished my entry for the first round.   I liked the idea of making a traditional family dish with the recipe coming from a friend.  I knew my friend, Virginia, could help.   She’s a terrific cook with a generous spirit.  I called her up and we brainstormed some traditional Korean dishes.  She helped me decide on bibim bap (mixed vegetables on rice) and bulgogi (marinated beef), something that her family often ate.

Now, for the shopping…I visited two Asian grocery stores within a few miles of our temporary house here in Fort Worth.  The vegetables, rice, and seasonings where easy to find, and it was fun to just wander down the aisles.  The butcher counter was a slightly different story.  
From my conversations with Virginia, I knew I was looking for very thinly sliced beef, and we both believed it would be fairly common to find.  Let me emphasize here that I am not at all squeamish, and I thought it was important in the spirit of the challenge to step outside my normal routine.  I was not deterred by the lack of labels behind the glass, the various animal body parts in plastic, or clerks who didn’t speak English.  I walked slowly up and down the counter case, all along the freezer case, and back to the counter case.  Hmmmm…I didn’t really see what I wanted to find. 
I found one pile that looked like beef, and was thinly sliced, but it looked basically like scraps left from trimming more favorable portions of the cow.  Well, what the heck, the price was only $1.49/lb.  Note to my reader – that should have been my first clue.   Using sign language and pointing, I placed my order.  The clerk reached into the pile with his bare hands and dumped it by the handful into a plastic grocery bag to weigh, then placed it in another plastic grocery bag, knotted it, and handed it over.  This probably should have been my second clue.
Once I got my packages home, I was going to prepare the marinade for the beef.  I unwrapped the meat with the intent of trimming it.  On closer inspection, I noticed that it was really discolored.  It also had a lot of fat on it.  Now, we don’t have the best knife set in our rental kitchen, but I couldn’t even cut it.  No matter what direction in relation to the grain I used, it was too tough.  Alright, enough is enough.  I threw the whopping $3 of meat in the trash and headed out to the store again. 
This time I visited a butcher I knew who could help me figure out what to do.  We put our meatheads together and decided that the best course of action was to buy fajita meat.  Yeah, that’s right.  I bought Texas fajita meat to make Korean bulgogi.  Hear me out…fajita meat is sirloin made for marinade and thin slicing.  Plus, it isn’t too expensive.  Meat crisis over, I went home to make my marinade.


For 1 lb of meat, very thinly sliced
1 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp garlic powder
¼ cup sesame oil
1 bunch spring onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
dash of rice vinegar
Place all ingredients and meat in a gallon sized ziploc bag.  

Using your hands, distribute the marinade around and over the beef.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  The meat can then be stir fried, broiled, or grilled.  You may want to chop it into bite-size pieces, as I did.

Bibim Bap
Serves 4 to 6
2 cups medium-grain Korean (or Japanese) rice
1 large cucumber, sliced into thin strips
1 1/2 cups bean sprouts
1 1/2 cups spinach, trim stems
2 carrots, julienned
1/2 lb meat, optional
Fried egg as a topping, optional
Sesame oil
Sesame seeds
For making the right rice, which is really important, here’s what Virginia says to do.  Rinse the rice to get rid of excess starch.  Then put enough water in it so that when you lay your hand flat on the surface of the rice, the water goes up to your big knuckle on your fingers.  She uses a rice cooker, but if you want to do on stove, just bring it to a boil and then immediately cover, turn heat down to low, and then let that “steam” for 20 minutes.  Do not open lid during the 20 minutes.  I used 1½ cups of dry rice and 2 cups of water.  I brought it to a boil, then covered and turned down the heat to low and cooked for 20 minutes.
I cooked all vegetables separately and kept them separate until serving.
Soak the cucumber in saltwater for about 20 minutes, then drain.
Place the bean sprouts in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes, and drain. 
Cook the spinach in boiling water for no more than 3 minutes and drain very well.  I squeezed it with my hands to remove excess water.  I seasoned each with a drizzle of sesame oil, a dash of salt, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Sauté carrots in a bit of sesame oil and sprinkle with salt.

Spoon cooked rice in large bowl or platter and arrange vegetables on top.
If you like, the bulgogi and egg can be placed in the center.
This was delicious, and we ate until we were almost sick.  We attempted authenticity by eating with chopsticks, but my husband reverted to using a fork because he couldn’t shovel it into his mouth fast enough.  Thanks for the recipes, Virginia!


Filed under Beef

I Need Your Support

So, you may have heard that I’ve entered a contest on the site Food Buzz called Project Food Blog.  It is an interactive contest to discover the next hot food blogger.

Following 10 challenges to whittle down nearly 2,000 contestants, the winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize and will be featured in a dedicated section of Food Buzz for a year.  Cool, huh?

I’ve submitted my entry for the first challenge, and voting starts today, Monday, September 20.

Here’s where I need your support…I advance to the next challenge by accumulating votes from the official judges, fellow Food Buzz Featured Publishers, and you.  Please visit my entry for Project Food Blog and submit your vote of support.  (You will need to join Food Buzz.)  If you like my entry, please ask your friends and contacts to do the same.

Thanks for your continued support!  I couldn’t do this without your help.


Filed under Personal

Food as History or Project Food Blog Challenge #1

All of us have to eat.  I, for one, really enjoy eating – it not only makes me feel good, but it is a profoundly social experience for me.  I gain so much pleasure out of cooking for others and I feel food is always an occasion for sharing.

This feeling is also why I have created a food blog.  I like the sense of connection, the bond I make with my readers.  I can’t necessarily feed your stomach, but I can offer you something that I hope is filling none the less.  And, perhaps we can share an experience when you recreate something like it in your kitchen.

Readers of my earlier posts will recall that my husband and I are living temporarily in Fort Worth, Texas, not far from the community where I grew up.  I have moved around a lot in my life, and I’ve been feeling the need to settle down in one place soon.  It has been a comfort to be back in Texas, but I know our current living situation is only temporary.  I like the idea of long-time connections and a sense of history and ownership with a place. I’ve realized that I’ve been creating those connections and building a history even while I move from place to place.
Food carries my history and creates my sense of place.  I share myself and my history when I cook for others.  The food described in this blog explains who I am and where I am from.  But, I don’t focus solely on my plate.  I put my recipes and menus in the context of my life.  I want my readers to understand what influences my cooking, what leads to my ingredient choices, and why I do what I do. 

I hope this blog inspires others to cook, and to feel relaxed and creative in the kitchen.  I like the quote from Herman Melville – “We cannot live for ourselves alone.  Our lives are connected by a thousand visible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”  I believe it well describes blogging, but it also fits how I want to think of my life.
This weekend, I felt the joy of these invisible threads, these sympathetic fibers.  My husband and I invited friends over to watch football and be fed.  We spent time with people who have been woven into our lives from years ago and only recently.  They’ve all had an impact on my life and an impact on what comes out of my kitchen. 
In deciding what to feed them, I turned to a football watching favorite shared with me by another old friend, Patrick.  He always made chicken mole when friends came over to watch the Dallas Cowboys, and I felt it had been too long since I had some.  He taught me a recipe shortcut and I’ll share it with you.
Short-cut Chicken Mole
Serves 6 to 8
about 3 lbs chicken (I used a mix of boneless chicken breasts and thighs)
1 to 2 Tbsp canola oil
2/3 cup chopped white onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz jar of mole sauce (I prefer Dona Maria)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
32 oz water, chicken broth, or beer, or combination of any
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (diced) – optional
rice for serving – optional
tortillas for serving – optional
Heat canola oil in heavy-bottomed pan and add chicken pieces.  Give them a nice brown sear, they don’t need to be cooked through.  Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

Add more canola oil, if needed, and put onion into pan to soften and brown a bit.  Add garlic and stir.  

Pour in jar of mole sauce.  Yes, I know…a jar of  mole sauce.  I’m not normally an advocate for jarred sauces, but we can doctor it up and you will appreciate the short-cut.  

The spice sauce is very thick and dense, and can be very strong tasting.  I add peanut butter to smooth the edges and add a bit of depth.

Now pour in the liquid so that the sauce will thin.  I used just beer this weekend, but you can use any combination of water, chicken broth, or beer.  Stir.

I add chipotle peppers with adobo sauce to add a bit more heat to the sauce.  You can adjust the amount of peppers, skip them entirely, or add a different kind of spice, if you prefer.  Keep stirring until the mole sauce is smooth.

Add browned chicken pieces.  Then just let the sauce simmer and break down the chicken so it is meltingly tender.  This makes it a great dish for casual parties.  You can let it keep simmering on low heat for a while as folks help themselves at different times.  This weekend, I let it simmer for almost 3 hours before we dug in the first round.  It also reheats well.

You can serve the mole sauce over rice, as I prefer, or use tortillas to make mole tacos, like my husband.


Filed under Personal