Vote for Me! I Clearly Need Help

15 05 2012

A few weeks ago I posted my recipe entries for the Stonewall Kitchen Blogger Mustard Recipe Contest.  If you haven’t seen my recipes yet, take a look – they really are good eats.  I am confident in my cooking skills.  My blogging skills, well, not so much.  I’m a total rookie in the blogosphere.

I am shamelessly writing this post to beg a moment of your time to surf over to the Stonewall Kitchen Facebook page  or place a comment on the SK Pinterest page on the photo of one of my dishes to vote for me.  Just me.  Not those other guys.  I don’t have very many followers, and if my odds of getting some props for my recipes depend upon the number of “likes” the photo gets, I am screwed.  So have mercy on a baby blogger and give her a “like.”  At least it will save me from the utter embarrassment of being the no-vote contestant. Thanks!

This is my first cooking contest, as I have been too busy running a business, teaching cooking classes, and feeding people all these years to enter a contest.  Until recently, that is.  It’s just my luck that my first foray into competition happens to be a “virtual” contest.  I have no doubt whatsoever that if you put me in a kitchen with these competitors and cut me loose with the clock ticking – al a Top Chef – that I could kick some serious butt.  Garnering votes on a picture on a website – not my fortè.  So it is up to you, my dear readers, whether I will get some sort of honorable mention or not.  So please take pity on me and click through – you can just use this cute button right below (now that I figured out how to insert it – rookie!).

Vote for me!

Being a rookie at the contest thing as well as blogging, I was very careful with my entry.  I made sure to follow all the rules exactly and make the submissions on time and in the format required.  I posted to my blog, to Pinterest, and via email as instructed.  It occurred to me at one point that I really had two recipes, though they were intended to be eaten together and both used the same mustard from Stonewall.  So I sent SK a message asking if this was allowed.  I was told that it was allowed, but that each recipe would be judged separately.  Thus, when I put the final tweeks on the recipes and took my photos for the contest, I photographed them separately and submitted them.


This week I received an email message from the SK staff announcing the finalists, of which I was one.  The message stated that they couldn’t narrow it down to their usual top 10, so they have 11 finalists.  I suspect I might have been #11 – I probably didn’t have any votes, but they tested the recipes in their kitchen and maybe they included mine because my food was good.  It’s just a guess, but mine IS the last (11th) picture in the line-up on Facebook which otherwise doesn’t seem to have a set order (such as alphabetical by Blog name or recipe title).  I don’t really care, it’s just nice to be recognized – I didn’t expect to make the list of finalists because of this whole rookie blogger thing.  So this is great!

As I was reviewing my competitor’s pictures, I was frozen in my virtual tracks at picture number one.  WHAT. IS. THAT.  One of my competitors had prepared a compound (two-recipe) dish like mine but plated them together.  I referred back to my picture on the page and noticed that they listed both of my recipes in the text on the picture, though the picture is of the Southwest Salad alone. Well, OF COURSE IT IS, because I was told they would be judged separately and photographed them separately.  Had I been informed of the rule change (was there one?), I could have made the dish again and taken a new picture showing both items – the way I wrote it to be served originally.  Or perhaps the other contestants should have been informed of the single-recipe rule.  Either way, since it is a competition, shouldn’t all of the contestants have been informed of ALL the rules so we could compete fairly?  If that other compound recipe submitter wins because of that pretty picture including BOTH of their dishes, I’m gonna be really pissed!  It’s so unfair!  This is a lesson in begging forgiveness being better than asking permission.  Arg!

Yes.  Well.  My reaction to this is yet another sign that I have too much time on my hands – I really need to get a life.  More fodder for my therapist.  Who cares?  There is no money at stake here, just a gift basket and 0.5 seconds of fame amongst people who follow mustard recipe contests.  I’m guessing that’s a relatively small audience, of which you are now a member since you are reading this post and have so kindly surfed out to vote for my under-represented contest entry.

Sorry about the characterization as a  mustard recipe contest follower and thanks for the vote.

I’ll let you know if I win, place, or show, since I doubt it will be on the evening news.  I’m just sayin’.

Mustard Rules! Crunchy Tilapia & Southwest Salad

23 04 2012

Dear Readers,

Below you will find two recipes I entered in the Stonewall Kitchens Mustard Recipe Contest for Bloggers.  I saw a tweet about the contest and thought, “What the heck?  Why not?”  Choosing which mustard I would use was a bit of a challenge, but I had a few sample size jars in the fridge.  So I dug them out, had a little taste test, and my dilemma was solved.  The Roasted Garlic Mustard was waving wildly, saying “Pick me!”  So I did.  I don’t know if these are contest-winning recipes, but they are really good eats – so give them a try!  If you like them, I would appreciate you stopping by the SK Pinterest Page to “like” them there – thanks!

Like fried chicken, one is tempted to eat this crunchy fish with one’s hands (guilty!).  It really doesn’t need any accompaniments – it’s that good! But I have created a balanced meal by adding a Southwest-inspired salad embellished with the same delicious Stonewall Kitchens Roasted Garlic Mustard that puts the ‘yum’ in the fish – it brings everything together on the plate beautifully.

You will want to begin preparations at least a solid 6 hours ahead – it is essential to the crunchiness of the fish.  I know that this requirement may put this recipe into the “fussy” category for some of you, but it takes only 10 minutes.  Later, you will simply cook it and serve – another 10 minutes.  I assure you it is totally worth it!

With dueling fry pans and a double recipe, this is great for a casual dinner party – make the salad ahead, and 10 minutes in the kitchen is all you will need to serve your guests a beautiful, affordable plated meal.  Take one of them into the kitchen with you to dice the avocado and plate the salad while you fry the fish.

An added bonus:  The salad can stand alone as a high-protein meal for your vegetarian guests, perhaps topped with some crumbled cheese.

Crunchy Roasted Garlic Mustard Tilapia:

4 fresh or frozen (defrosted) Tilapia Fillets (or other mild, white-flesh fish)

2 Eggs beaten with 1 tablespoon Water

½ cup +/- All-Purpose Flour

4-5 ounces Stonewall Kitchens Roasted Garlic Mustard

Panko Bread Crumbs, to coat the fish thoroughly (3-4 ounces)

Canola Oil, for frying

On the day before serving, prepare the fish.  Set up a dredging station with the beaten eggs and water in a wide, shallow bowl; the flour in another; the panko crumbs in another; and a cooling rack positioned over a sheet pan or platter that will fit in your refrigerator.  Dip the fish in the eggs then dredge in the flour, shaking off the excess.  Brush the floured fish with mustard liberally, coating completely.  Dip the fish into the panko, pressing a bit to coat the fish completely and help the crumbs adhere.  Transfer the fish to the rack.  Place the fish, uncovered, into the refrigerator and chill 6 hours or overnight.

To cook, preheat about a ¼ inch of oil (enough to cover the bottom of the pan) in a sauté pan over medium-high heat.  The oil is ready when it ripples – if it’s smoking it’s too hot.   Place the fish in the hot oil and cook until a medium golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.

Serves 4

Southwest Salad with Roasted Garlic Lime Vinaigrette

For the Salad:

2 cups Fresh or Frozen (defrosted) Corn Kernels

1 can (15-16 ounces) Black Beans, rinsed and drained well

4 Scallions, sliced crosswise

1 cup Roasted Red Peppers, diced small

1 Banana Pepper, seeded and diced small (or a jalapeno if you like big heat!)

1 Avocado, peeled, seeded and cubed (do not cut avocado until right before serving)

1 tablespoon Cilantro, chopped fine

Crumbled Cotija (Mexican Crumbling Cheese) or Goat Cheese, optional, for garnish

Roast the corn kernels in a dry non-stick skillet that has been preheated over medium heat, tossing or stirring to avoid burning.  You want to heat the corn to release its sugars and unlock the full flavor, browning it just slightly.  Your nose will tell you when it is done; just 3-4 minutes is all it takes.

Cool the corn to room temperature then toss all the ingredients except the cheese together in a bowl.

For the Roasted Garlic Lime Vinaigrette:

3 tablespoons Stonewall Kitchens Roasted Garlic Mustard

3 tablespoons Lime Juice (about 2 limes)

1 tablespoon Honey

½ cup good quality Olive Oil

Pinch Sea Salt

½ teaspoon Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

Mix the mustard, lime juice, and honey in a bowl and drizzle in the oil while whisking; the dressing will become creamy (emulsified).  Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.  Toss the salad with the dressing.

Sprinkle with cheese if desired, and enjoy!

Serves 4 as a side dish; Serves 2 as a vegetarian entrée

An Award for ME? Watchutalkinbout?

19 04 2012

Dear Blogosphere,

I am a rookie at this blog thing (though, at my age, not a rookie at much else).  I had just read a blog post in which someone mentioned getting an award of some sort, but really didn’t read too much into it because, well, I’m not here for awards.  I thought it was nice that she got an award, but for me – I didn’t care.  This is therapy for me.  It matters not, really, if anyone reads my posts or not.  It’s nice, for sure, but not necessary.

So imagine my surprise when this same young lady gave ME an award.  I was so flattered that she appreciated what I was writing – and that she actually read it.  I mean, it’s nice to be heard.  So I read her notes to me, and damned if I had no idea how to go “get” this award.  I admitted my ignorance to her, and she graciously explained it to me.  I couldn’t even detect a laugh, at least not via the blogosphere.

It was none other than Heather at sugardish(me), my NC home girl (kinda), who graced me with this gift.  She asked me to pick my own award (apparently we are very casual here in the blogosphere) from an assortment.  I think we should be careful about how long a rope we give some people – I’m just sayin’.  But then again, who cares?  I really dig this whole blogging thing – I write what I want, you can’t stop me from posting it, and I can’t make you read it.  The freedom is so, so, well, freeing.  Now, it turns out, we can more or less give ourselves awards and brag about them.  Could it get any better?

If it DOES get better, could you save it for another day?  A girl can only take so much at once.

So for my sorta-self-awarded award, I selected (drum role, please):

The Versatile Blogger Award

I have no idea if my blog is very versatile, or if it is just all over the map.  For instance, you may be here for the recipes, but you are likely to get some psycho-babble or dark humor with your brownies.  In my book, that makes me versatile.  Apparently, what I think is all that matters.  (and it just keeps getting better!)

Heather did inform me that the catch is two-fold (and nothing in life is ever really free, is it?):  I must share with you 7 things about me that you may not know (I’m sorry, but it’s a requirement) and select some other bloggers to nominate for this award.  So here goes:

About me:

1) I am proudly retired from the US Army

2) I love to float in the pool on my back (which I can do without holding my breath thanks to carefully arranged fat deposits), watching the contrails of the airplanes, dreaming about where people are going (and sometimes I wave just for the heck of it)

3) I can cook my ass off (you might have guessed that one – but a lot of food got hurt to get me to this point, and this is all about me, so I had to say it).  This statement is metaphorical, not literal.

4) I am a serious dog lover.  As I age, my preference in personal pets grows smaller.  This is a wise move on my part, for all the obvious reasons.

5) I am a Damn Yankee.  Ask anyone.  But my military service and cooking skills have endeared me to the locals so they gave me a pass.  I’ve logged over a decade in the Carolinas now ya’ll!  Bless your hearts.

6) I never used Twitter until recently and now I’m hooked.  It’s where I get my news.  Those TV guys wore me out.

7) I play Words with Friends on my iPhone.  My name on there is SusanCooks.  Invite me to a game – I’ll play (just don’t wear me out – I have a very expensive limited data plan thanks to the crooks at AT&T)

Aren’t you glad that’s over?

Now, also for the “Versatile Blogger Award” I nominate/bestow/award the following pretty cool blogs:

Nina Marie Martin – Her blog is awesome and I need to read it more thoroughly.  She knows some stuff about this blogging thing.  I’m pretty sure I can learn something from this young lady (plus she’s cute as a button!)

Lesley Carter at Bucket List Publications – This girl is livin’ the life!  I can totally live vicariously through her.  I have actually been to a couple of the places she’s written about, but I sure as hell didn’t jump out of a perfectly good airplane.  That one is NOT on my bucket list.  You go girl!

Stephanie over at Modern Christian Woman – I admire her bold statement of her religious beliefs, and the simple, comforting recipes that she offers.  Not everyone one has the courage to say what they mean, and mean what they say, in a public forum – with love.

Malou Prestado on Going Dutch – One of the first blogs I started reading upon arriving at WordPress.  Another non-native like me (lol) that has apparently been accepted by the locals.  Like my award presenter, Heather, she’s a mom who loves to cook and is clearly trying to be the best mom she can.  I respect that.

And last but most certainly not least (and I apologize for the duplication here since Heather awarded her as well, but she deserves it):

The Domestic Diva, M.D. – I have no idea what this chick’s real name is, but she is a smart ass just like me.  Excuse me, that’s Dr. Chick to me.  But I admire her humor – she’s gonna need that in her line of work – and the story/recipe combo is a favorite format of mine.  :)

I will not insult any of you by telling you what to do about this award thing.  But if, like me,  you should need more information, you know where to find me.  Or better yet, just ask Heather.  She got me into this.

OK, I have to go tell all these people about the awards.  Heather said that’s also part of the deal.  Happy reading my friends – and do come back.  I wasn’t completely honest when I said I didn’t care.  I do.  I love you.  Dammit, someone get me a tissue.


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