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! :)
One of my favorite places in my neighborhood market is this fantastic Middle Eastern market, always overflowing with fresh pita bread and naan, endless $1 spices by the scoop, and all of the nuts, grains, and everything Middle Eastern you could dream of. But more than anything, I love the great guys who run the place. And now that I live across the street, we get to see each other wonderfully often.
So yesterday when I walked over to pick up a few scoops of lentils, they of course asked what was on the menu. As soon as I mentioned “salmon”, their elderly mother who was sitting behind the counter immediately started talking a million miles an hour in her native language. Her son translated, “She says you must cook salmon and lentils this way — cumin, coriander, cilantro, salt, pepper and a nice bit of lemon juice. It is the best way. You will love it.”
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!
A few weeks ago on a rainy evening, I randomly bumped into an old roommate at Target. And, yes, pretty sure we were thosepeople who stood there right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of carts catching up on our life stories for an hour. It was so great to see her! But sure enough, when there was still more to share and the store was nearing closing time, the conversation came to — “We should do dinner!”
So this week we did! I invited some of the old crew to also come along, and we all spent an evening together at my place sharing a wonderful meal together, some of our favorite nostalgic wines from back in the day, and hours upon hours of conversation about the joys and answered prayers from the past year, some tearful honest moments about the lows, hilarious dating stories for better and worse, cheers over a new engagement, and endless hilarity and laughs. I love these friends!
My crazy-busy season of the year has officially hit. From conferences and launching new programs at work, to teaching my first-ever cooking class last night at church (SO fun!), to taking my choir on the road to sing in a national gospel choir competition in St. Louis (believe it!), to our fitness challenge at work, to weddings and concerts and times out with friends galore…somehow I haven’t had a night at home to myself now in weeks. Nor, apparently, has there been much time to blog. Or cook. Eeks. (I’m working to remedy this!)
But as you’ve read on here before, one of my favorite defaults when pressed for time is to bring home the most deliciously-smelling item at the grocery store — a rotisserie chicken. I’m telling you — they are little miracles. So delicious, easy, and versatile. I usually just cook for one or two, so I generally can stretch mine into at least three recipes. Love it!
This grilled tilapia with a yummy cherry salsa could not have been easier…and tastier! Since our heat index has been hanging in the triple digits all week, I actually took the easy route and just cooked the fish on the stove in my grill pan (in the comfort of my air-conditioned kitchen). Then chopped and stirred together the cherry salsa ingredients while the fish cooked. And voila — an absolutely delightful sweet and savory dinner that you can feel great about enjoying!