Hi, everyone! How is your Wednesday going?
I hope you’re staying warm wherever you are. We’ve been getting bombarded by lake effect snow the last couple of days and I don’t think it’s going to stop any time soon, and I know there are quite a few winter storms moving through the country…
I’m just so ready for more sun and warm weather. My parents got back from Mexico on Friday and my mom is so tan, which made me wish for warm weather even more than I already was. Not because I can tan – oh no, I’m ghastly pale all year round to the point of ridiculousness – but just because I love summer so much. And I’m sick of this snow.
Who’s getting annoyed with me saying that? 😉
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So, this weekend I competed in the Incredible Edibles contest. If you remember, I entered a few recipes back in January, and my Homemade Clif Bars (which I renamed Endurance Bars, because of copyright fears) got selected as a finalist in their “healthy” category. Well, I didn’t win the category or the grand prize, but it was still a ton of fun, and my recipe will still be in their little cookbook!
The competition took place at the local community college’s culinary arts center. So, naturally, I was psyched to be in a “real” kitchen setting! Of course, my recipe doesn’t require any cooking (just a microwave and a fridge) but it was still cool to be around all of that equipment.
I got there at about 11:50 (I could start cooking at 12:00, and the judges’ tasting would be at 2:00). My dad came with me, which I was very glad for, first of all because I like spending time with him, but also because after about ten minutes of prep time, there was not much for me to do but wait for the bars to chill! So during those two-ish hours, I got to hang out with my dad, and walk around, talk with others, and see what they were up to.
I can tell you that the kitchen started smelling just amazing after about twenty minutes. OH man. The combination of smells of all of the entrees plus the appetizers plus the desserts was just tantalizing.
When I was first told I would be in the competition, I was told that presentation was a huge part of the judging process. Being a newbie, I assumed this meant I would actually present my food, verbally and physically, to a panel of judges. Nope. This meant I was to place my food on a table next to everyone else’s and find some way to make mine stand out. People had amazing props, pretend table settings, special dishes, and a whole bunch of other things. As it turned out, there was no talking to the judges (which I was relying heavily on, for the allergy-friendly explanation of the bars – I would have done things much differently had I known talking wasn’t an option!).
I had planned on wrapping my bars in parchment paper and setting them up in a basket for presentation. I was kind of going off the whole simple, natural aspect of my recipe.
But after placing that tiny basket next to some of the other props, I knew I needed something more. My dad suggested that I use my scarf for some color, which was a very good idea (albeit a little weird that it had just been around my neck…I’m hoping no one noticed, but we had to use what we had!), and then I added some of the “grass” I used as a tie. A sheet of parchment paper scattered with some of the ingredients was the finishing touch.
All in all, for pulling it out of thin air, not bad!
At 2:00 exactly, everyone was ordered to step away from their dishes and take a seat. The judges went around the table and took a sample of everyone’s food.
They then went away for about a half hour to discuss everything. During that time, the contestants got to sample each others’ food!
Because of my allergies and my current Pescetarian diet, I couldn’t have most of the samples. I did try Portugese Potato Soup (which was very good), Chana Masala (in a word: INCREDIBLE), and a Sea Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Tart (which was very very tasty as well). I didn’t snap any pictures of the food, but it was fun being able to taste the dishes I’d seen come to life!
After a little while, the judges came out and announced the winners. The winning recipe in my category was Smokey Maple Chicken Enchiladas. The grand prize recipe was Durango Potatoes (that was from the morning competition, so I don’t know what went in them). She won a $1300 diamond pendant necklace!
It really was a very fun experience, whether I won or not (and that sounds cliche, but it’s true!). I’m definitely entering again next year now that I know the tricks of the trade. 🙂
So anyway, that was my first cooking competition! Thanks for reading!
And on to What I Ate Wednesday!
Hosted by Jenn over at Peas and Crayons!
For most of my breakfasts this past week, I had the usual.
But on Sunday I decided to whip up a smoothie. I initially wanted it to be a green monster-like smoothie, but because I added some mixed berries, the color turned out a weird purple-y brown. Haha. At least it tasted good!
In the mix: 5 handfuls of spinach, 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries, 1 orange, rice milk and water, and a scoop of protein powder.
I enjoyed the last of these on Monday.
I will definitely have to make up another batch soon! They were so good and so easy to grab out of the freezer and pop into the microwave for a quick but healthy meal.
Last week I made a small batch of quinoa, and tossed it together with some pasta sauce and mixed veggies. With some shredded mozzarella on top, the leftovers were a perfect lunch!
Crunchy Spicy Chocolate Granola. Yum.
If you’ve been reading my WIAW posts for a while, you know that I have a serious snacking problem. And I don’t mean that to be funny – if there are crackers or tortilla chips within walking distance, I will eat them
all. It’s bad. I LOVE this granola because there really isn’t anything to feel guilty about while snacking on it. A serving is 1/3 cup, which I’ve been trying to stick to, but I guess what I’m saying is that if I go over that, I don’t feel as bad as I would if I’d gone over a serving of Wheat Thins.
I had two particuarly amazing dinners this past week. The first was my mom’s enchiladas (which are always so incredible).
I made mine using baked tofu instead of the chicken, and I added a little bit of spinach on the inside, because why not?
Probably the most simple but delicious dinner I had over the weekend was this:
Brown rice, mixed veggies, Craisins, and baked tofu. Ohmygosh it was so good.
Breyer’s All Natural chocolate ice cream.
And some homemade Sea Salted Dark Chocolate. Hits the spot every time. 🙂
Workouts Feb 17-23
Monday: P90X Yoga
Tuesday: 25 minutes jogging + 25 minutes walking on treadmill
Wednesday: P90X Plyometrics (my first time doing this workout)
Friday: 6 Week 6 Pack + strength training
Saturday: 30 minutes jogging + 30 minutes walking on treadmill
In other news, Ella thinks she’s a cat. Seriously.
More often than not, you’ll find her balancing in this position…
Or up here. On the three inch-thick window sill. That’s taller than she is. She’ll do two or three practice lunges before jumping up.
Have you ever seen a dog do that??
My spring break starts in a week and a half! Wahoo! Of course, it will probably be blizzarding (they should call it the “Hopefully Winter Will Be Ending Soon” break instead of spring…) but that’s ok, I’ll be warm and at home with this little one:
Finally, a little update on my clean eating agenda (if you’re interested). I have scaled by the amount of pop that I drink weekly drastically. Toward the end of 2012, I was drinking 4-5 diet sodas per week. One of my New Years goals was to drop that down to no more than 2 per week. However, after watching Hungry for Change, I’m not allowing myself more than one a week. My eventual goal is to stop drinking it all together, and I think I’m well on my way! That might not seem like a very difficult thing to many of you clean eaters or pop haters out there, but it really is. When I was living in the dorms, I would have a pop every day, and I just like the energy kick (however short-lived it gives me). But I’m really becoming more aware of just how nasty the stuff is for you (especially diet – at least regular pop has real sugar in it), so drinking just one a week is a big thing for me.
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Questions for the day:
Are you able to tan, or are you a constantly pale person like me? I must say, I have to thank the Downton Abbey gods for casting Michelle Dockery as one of the main characters. She is paler than me but it’s cool to be her. Maybe pale will become the new cool?
(Oh, and, by the way, I don’t even want to talk about the ending of this season. I knew it was going to happen (thanks, spoilers), but I’m still not ready to talk about it. Oy.)
Have you ever competed in a cooking competition? Any other kind of competition?
Does your pet (or brother or significant other) do weird, un-animal (or human)-like things?
Do you drink pop (or soda or fizzy or whatever you call it)?
Well that’s all I have for today. Thanks for sticking around and reading!
Have a wonderful Wednesday!
Just checked out those veggie burgers, wow they sound delicious! I’m thinking those will have to be made over here @ our home as soon as I pick up some sweet potatoes! 🙂
I hope you like them! 🙂
Congratulations on making it to the finals of that competition. Your bars look absolutely amazing! Beautiful presentation too. You definitely did pull it out the bag!
I love the colours in your rice dish. I’m really draw to colourful food (as you probably noticed from my blog ;)) and your dish is so pretty!
What spectacular icicles you have there! I’ve just written a post about the arrival of Spring there… then just heard on the news that it’s going to be cloudy, cold with icy winds for the rest of the week
We definitely have that love of colors in common…why not make food more exciting? 🙂
Oh, that’s such a bummer about the clouds and cold! Hopefully spring will show up over there soon!
Your mom doesn’t concidentally deliver her delish enchiladas? I would take one serving with chicken please 😉
Hahaha I’m not sure she’s ever been asked that! 😉 I would send you one if I could!
I don’t think that sounds cliche at all. I think it’s the journey and experience that makes everything worth it, not always the end outcome. It seems like you had a great time, and although you didn’t win that ridiculously expensive diamond necklace, your bars still ended up turning out great! I would have thought the same thing too about the word “presentation.” Totally ambiguous.
Exactly. 🙂 I appreciate your support so much!
I’m so over summer. Your bars do look really good and it’s too bad you didn’t win but at least you know you have a pretty solid recipe that tastes good and now you can make them for yourself all the time!!
Yep, exactly! Thanks for your support! 🙂
dude what a cool contest! wow I am blown away at you doing it, congrats for just putting yourself out there like that.
Aw, you’re too nice. 🙂 It really was a great thing to do!
I just can’t do without my diet coke and lemon. Love it!
I have a Shih Tzu puppy with an attitude of a teenager, so he is always doing human things. What kind of dog is your cutie?
I totally know where you’re coming from! 😉
Hahah sometimes I think the littler the dog, the bigger the personality. Ella’s a cockapoo (cocker spaniel + toy poodle)!
Sorry you didn’t win the competition nevertheless the bars look fantastic and delicious. I am making a batch of bean burgers tonight to dinner. 🙂 That rice bowl looks like it belongs in front of me right now.
Thank you for your support! Black bean burgers…yum.
I’m checking out your recipe for Homemade Cliff Bars right now, I think you should’ve won, they look beautiful! Don’t even want to talk about Downton. I’m devastated. And your dog is adorable! And yes, very cat-like. My cat does all those things haha
Thank you! Haha it’s good to know Ella isn’t alone in her odd-ness.
Woah, crazy first-place prize! Go you for competing, that sounds like so much fun! And I think your spur-of-the-moment presentation came out pretty darn gorgeous!
Erg, I’m so ready for winter to be over, too. Where’s the sun and warm weather??
Thank you! It really was a fun experience.
Seriously. Come on, spring!
Happy WIAW! What a great experience to be in a cooking contest! I am pale year-round like you and I don’t mind. 🙂 No, I do not drink soda. My dog loves to go the local Starbucks, it is a treat for him.
Aw, that’s great – a Starbucks loving dog!
Your bars look delicious, even if they didn’t win.
LOL @ your dog, my mom’s dogs think they are human. They will not sleep in a bed unless they are on their back, head on a pillow and blanket covering them. Hilarious.
Oh my gosh. That is too funny!
That competition sounds so fun and your bars look amazing. Great styling job! I am white as a ghost sister, so I hear ya. I am also SO sick of winter. You can go on about it as long as you like because I’m ready to keep complaining too. 🙂
Hahah I’m glad to know a fellow winter hater! And thank you!
Oh my goodness a competition sounds like fun! Congrats 🙂 I must try those bars soon! I don’t really drink soda but love bubbly water!
Thank you! I’ll have to try that. It might be a good replacement…?
First, it’s super cool you were in a cooking competition and your last minute presentation turned out really well. Next, Your dog is adorable and that is exactly what my cats do. Also, I love your veggie stir fry; the colors are beautiful. Finally, you should be super proud of yourself for cutting back on pop. I could probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve had it in the last year or two, BUT that was not always the case. All through college and the years after, I drank it every single day. Then one year, I gave it up for Lent, and it was sooooo hard, but by the time I could drink it again, I didn’t really want it anymore. Long story short (too late), it gets better. Hang in there and really good job so far.
Wow, thanks for the encouragement! It means a lot and it’s good to know others have made the elimination happen for good! 🙂
I love the Pup! I have never thought to mix quinoa with pasta sauce and veggies, what a great idea!
It’s so good and easy! And especially great on a budget. 🙂
Oh, Liv! You are an amazing cook! You should compete and compete!
And your angelic dog looks like ballerina!
And I quit all the fizzy drinks long ago. Don’t really miss them!
Aw, thank you! You’re too nice. That’s what I’ve been hearing from people who stopped drinking soda…it’s encouraging!
Your choco granola looks so good, I could use that in my plain greek yogurt, would be fantastic!
Yes! It’s also really good with raisins, so a combo of that in Greek yogurt would be amazing! 🙂
sorry you didn’t win, still sounds like a great experience like you said! Also I’m cracking up at ella, my dog totally does stuff like that all the time!
It really was worth it, even though I didn’t win – thanks! Dogs are too funny.
it’s a travesty…. you should have won :-).
Is Ella ever not utterly cute and adorable? x
Well, thanks – it would have been nice to, but maybe next time! 😉
Hahah I honestly don’t think so. It makes it difficult to scold her when she does naughty things!
[…] I’m telling you, she’s a cat! […]