This past weekend, I had the privilege of traveling to Roanoke to gather with a bunch of food bloggers for the first-annual Mixed conference. I will be posting more photos and stories of the event soon. It was a total blast!
One of the highlights of the weekend came as a total surprise to me. My Roasted Vegetable Macaroni & Cheese ended up winning a midnight mac ‘n’ cheese contest sponsored by Dreamfields Pasta! I was more than a little shocked, and have no doubt that my face turned beet red as I walked up to receive the prize. But they were awesome, and even gave me a red sash, black feather boa and a little tiara. So fun! :)
Two weeks ago when I was craving some mac and cheese, I could not decide whether to make a batch with pumpkin or butternut squash. Or whether to bake it or go straight from the stovetop. Oh, the tough decisions of life…
That day, I ended up deciding to go with this baked pumpkin macaroni, which was fabulous. But a few days later, the extra butternut squash that I had pureed after making these cupcakes was calling my name. So, because I’m an adult…and because I can….I decided to proudly make a second batch of mac and cheese in one week. Judge away.
Today’s posts are both celebrating a trip I had the privilege of making to Des Moines a few weeks ago for the Farmers Feed US 2012 Iowa CornQuest! Sponsored by the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the trip was a total blast. Loved getting to hang out with some absolutely wonderful blogging friends, learn all sorts of things about the Iowa corn, beef and pork industries and the amazing farmers who work hard to provide for us, and of course — loved getting to eat some seriously stellar food!
While we were treated to many delicious dishes on the trip, one of my favorite meals was actually a lunch that we were able to cook ourselves! That’s right. Brave Chef Terrie Kohl from the Country Club Market split the ten of us food bloggers into teams to prepare lunch for one another using her delicious recipes. And I was lucky to end up on Team Pork making this heavenly Maple Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary Cherry Sauce. I think the chef must have secretly known one of my biggest cooking aversions, because she promptly put me to work removing the silver skin from about 8 pork tenderloins. But I admit, it was all worth it when everyone sat down and took their first bites of this pork dish. It was absolutely amazing!
Any of you Instagram followers will know that I had the pleasure of spending last week in Iowa with a bunch of stellar farmers and bloggers learning all about…CORN! Lots and lots and lots of corn! It was a fabulous experience (which I will be telling you about soon in another post!). But ever since then, I have been craving this salad I adore from one of my favorite local KC restaurants, Urban Table, that it sprinkled with the most delicious roasted corn. They call it the “Shrimp Buena Terra Salad”. I call it…one of my favorite salads EVER.
Seriously. I know that food bloggers are supposed to be all adventurous and everything, but this salad was the first dish I ever ordered there and I love it so much that I may have ordered it every time since. SO GOOD. So after a year, I finally decided I should try making it at home. And I must say, my little homemade rendition seemed to be pretty spot on!
Being the granddaughter of proud Kansas farmers, I’m excited that a group of us bloggers from KC are taking today to celebrate a special local group — our Kansas Pork Association farmers! I feel like I have a special connection with this crew, being that my super-stylish aunt (raised on a farm, now a city girl) was once upon a time crowned the Kansas Pork Queen back in the day. True story. :)
But seriously, I have been around enough farmers to know that they are some of the most respectable, hardest-working folk around. And they also love what they do! This was undoubtedly the case with Jim Crane, a Kansas farmer who lives near my hometown. I had the chance to interview Jim, and completely enjoyed hearing his perspective on pork, farming, and his sweet family’s life on the farm. Read below for my interview, and then check out my take on his favorite recipe — what he calls “The Ultimate Pork Burger”! Granted, his recipe was a little more than my small frame could handle, so I decided to adapt it into some simple little sliders. No frills or fancy sauces here — just the delicious pork patties, bacon, and whatever fixin’s you prefer.