Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Good Life

It's about noon in Vegas and Husband and I are enjoying the Champagne Brunch at the MGM Grand. Well, I'm enjoying champagne...Husband is enjoying Diet Coke. And lots of Prime Rib.

We arrived at 10:30am, tired and starving, but excited for the week ahead. We checked into the hotel at the airport (EVERY hotel should have this option. At every airport. Everywhere), boarded a shuttle and 5 minutes later we were strolling through the monstrous casino/hotel, sans bags, which would be sent up to our room when ready. We got a little lost on the way to the Grand Buffet (easy to do), but pretty soon we were piling up our plates with everything from sushi to ravioli, and sipping some bubbly.

I could get used to this....

Vegas, Baby!

It's 1:30am and I just finished packing for our trip to Vegas (wahoo!!!!). Its not that I wasn't prepared. I was. I had a List (I like to make lists). I had everything checked off, except for the necessary toiletries that I would need pre-flight. The problem was the shoes...its always the shoes. Husband said AT MOST I should only have 3 pairs. I laughed at him. And proceeded to sit on my suitcase to stuff everything in.

Anyway, our flight leaves in 5 hours so I'm thinking of just staying up all night. I mean, what's the point? I can sleep on the plane. I hope.

Meanwhile, we'll be back in a week with hopefully some great restaurant reviews, recipe ideas and maybe a good story or two. Here's to hoping our trip is half as fun as the movie The Hangover (without the tiger in the bathroom...but maybe the baby in the closet). If you don't know what I'm talking about, go see the movie. Totally worth it.

Peace out!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

No Luck

Well dear readers, no Top 20 for me. It's ok. Really, it is (Mom, are you reading??). As I mentioned in my last posts, there were some truly fantastic entries out there--lots of inspiration. I wish them all the best! Be sure to check them out and vote for your favorites!

Meanwhile, I've discovered three more contests that I'm going to enter this summer (one rejection just wasn't enough!) so I'll be sure to keep you posted on those ideas, experiments and disasters.

Happy cooking!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Flayvors of Washington Update: And The Winner Is....

Ok, I haven't won yet. I'll be lucky to make it to the Top 20 (there are some AMAZING entries out there), BUT I am pleased to say that this recipe is definitely the winner among all other attempts, experiments and disasters. I know this because as soon as Husband tried it, his first response was "WOW". From a man whose most enthusiastic response is "That's good", this was high praise. All that to say, this is the recipe that I am MOST proud of since I started this blogging adventure less than a year ago (amidst delusions of grandeur, I must admit).

So now its all up to the powers-that-be at the Food Network. But in the meantime, feel free to try it out. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Asiago Encrusted Halibut over Sweet Onion and Chardonnay Cheese Grits
with Fresh Asparagus
Wine Pairing: Columbia Crest Grand Estates Chardonnay


3/4 cup Quick-cooking grits
3 cups water
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 of a sweet onion, chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
3/4 cup aged Asiago cheese
1/4 cup half & half
4 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup Columbia Crest Chardonnay
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 6oz. Halibut fillets
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup aged Asiago cheese
2 Tbsp. flour
1 large egg white, beaten
1/2 of a large lemon
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 bunch of Asparagus tips, washed and trimmed to 1-2 inches
2 cups water
Splash of Columbia Crest Chardonnay

Salt, to taste

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
1. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and saute chopped sweet onions, until tender (about 15 minutes).
2. While onions are cooking, bring 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir grits and 1/4 tsp. salt into rapidly boiling water. Reduce heat and simmer (covered) 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
3. Once grits are thickened, stir in 3/4 cup Asiago cheese and 4 Tbsp. butter; blend well.
4. Add the sweet onions, 1/4 cup half & half, 1/4 cup Chardonnay, freshly ground black pepper and additional salt (to taste, if necessary).
5. Pour grits into small baking dish (8x8) and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, until thick and creamy.
Yield: 2 large servings or 4 small servings

1. Place flour in a shallow dish. Mix panko breadcrumbs and Asiago cheese together and place in another shallow dish. Place egg white in another shallow dish.
2. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over both sides of the halibut to bring out the flavor of the fish. Sprinkle both sides evenly with salt and pepper.
3. Dredge fillet in flour, shaking off excess. Dip into egg wash, allowing excess to drip off. Coat fish with panko/Asiago mixture, pressing lightly to adhere. Set aside and repeat with remaining fillet, in the same order.
4. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
5. Add fillet to pan; reduce heat to medium and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side, until the crust is a nice golden brown and the fish flakes easily with a fork.
Repeat with additional fillet.
Yield: 2 servings

1. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add sprinkle of salt and splash of Chardonnay.
2. Boil asparagus until they turn bright green, about 3-5 minutes.
3. Remove from heat, drain, and immediately plunge into ice bath to stop cooking process while retaining the bright color and crisp texture.
Yield: 2 servings

To serve:
Place two heaping spoonfuls of the grits onto a plate and sprinkle with fresh asparagus tips. Top the grits with one piece of halibut. Finish with a glass of Columbia Crest Chardonnay.


Halibut on Foodista

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


So, apparently you cannot buy Dungeness Crab in Birmingham. I know, I know...I probably should have done some research before I wasted time/gas driving to every fish market and gourmet grocery store in town, only to be met with looks of amusement and/or pity when I presented my request ("Where does she think she lives, the west coast?").

Back to square one. AGAIN.

After poring over the contest's ingredient list for what would hopefully be the last time, I decided that I really wanted to keep grits in my recipe (I'm hoping a little southern flair will help me stand out), and I think that some sort of seafood will be the best pairing for the grits. Turns out, Halibut is about the only Washington-state seafood item that I can actually get in Birmingham. So there you have it. I've got six days to come up with a brand new recipe, test it, perfect it, video it, and
submit it.

Remind me why I thought this was a good idea?