Monday, May 24, 2010

So I lied!

I finished up the last video I was talking about in the previous post on Friday night. Check out my Fabulous Philly-Filled Fauxnuts:

I came up with two other recipes on Saturday and shot one video on Saturday and the other at 1PM on about cutting it close to the deadline, which was at 9PM. I still had to edit my video, upload it (which takes 1.5 hr, if it goes well the first time), then wait a little bit for it to show up before I could submit the recipe on The Real Women of Philadelphia. But it all finished...with 15 minutes to spare!!!

Irish Cream brownies: a coffee flavored brownie topped with a Kraft Philly cream cheese frosting spiked with Bailey's Irish Cream:

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownies (I think the name is self explanatory, haha!):

This phase of The Real Women of Philadelphia is now closed. From what I have seen, it looks like they notify people around Tuesday or Wednesday after the week closes. So pray very hard for me, and I will be doing the same. I worked very hard on every one of my entries for this contest and am proud of the recipes I have come up with. I have learned that I can push myself out of my comfort zone and be proud of the results.

I can take on anything!!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Just one more video...

So I thought I was done with the Real Women of Philadelphia videos, but I have come up with one more recipe. I will be shooting that video either tonight or tomorrow. I am not sure if I will get to it tonight, since I have had an extremely long week at work and I am fairly exhausted. Though it is possible that I will get pumped up when I get home and want to do it tonight.

This is the last few days of the contest and there are only two more finalists left. They haven't announced the winners of the entree week, but it closed on Sunday and I think they notify people fairly quick. This is my last chance to make it to Savannah. I know I have what it takes, I just hope that the people reviewing the videos see that, too. I just can't begin to say how scared I am that my videos are being overlooked. I have worked very hard and hope they are getting the attention they deserve.

I am the most proud of my strawberry pies and the last recipe. Not only do they taste great, but they are truly creations from my own mind. I spent a lot of time thinking them through on the ingredients and execution and think that they came together just perfectly. I wish that I could send in video testimonials on my creations, because everyone loves them.

I will continue to hope and pray that I can join the rest of the finalists in Savannah and hope that there are people out there praying with me. This would just be a huge deal for me, I would be surrounded by professionals and would learn so much in a short amount of time that would take me much longer to figure out on my own. A little help to maybe start selling my creations would go a very long way and I would forever be appreciative!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chocolate Covered Strawberries and Cream Pie and Strawberry Mojito Pie

Here are my two most recent entries for the Real Women of Philadelphia contest. Please bear with the lower quality of video, I have a size limit of 100Meg, so these longer videos need to be saved with a lower quality. I will go back once the contest is done and put up better videos.

The first is my Chocolate Covered Strawberries and Cream Pie ( A strawberry pie topped with chocolate ganache and finished with a cream cheese whipped cream topping. This was is so delicious and I am unbelievably proud of my creation. The cream cheese in the topping, rather than just whipped topping adds an unexpected element that makes the dish flow. What could be better than strawberries and cream? What could be better than strawberries and chocolate? A chocolate covered strawberries and cream pie, thats what!!!

The second is a Strawberry Mojito Pie ( When I first started thinking about this recipe, everyone was talking about the Kentucky Derby. I wanted a way to incorporate the traditional mint julep into one of my recipes. I thought of various strawberry cocktails and figured a strawberry mint julep would be a good combination. Since the Derby would be long passed (and I didn't have any bourbon in the house), I opted for a summer cocktail that is a bit more ubiquitous throughout the season. I chose a mojito, which is made of rum, mint and lime. I looked online and could not find a pie of its kind at all. I incorporated the mojito flavors into my strawberry filling as well as added rum to the cream cheese topping. This pie went over a lot better than I could have guessed! I took it to work and it was gone in less than 15 minutes. Everyone commented on its novelty and loved its taste. I was afraid that the rum would be too strong, but it turns out I guessed just right when I made this pie.

Top Chef University

I just came across this article from USA Today. It is a very interesting concept and I need to think it through to see if it is something I would like to try out. It is $25 a month and certain things need to be done to move on to the next course. I just worry that I won't have the time to devote to the site that I would like and I would not want to waste my money if it turns out I can't seem to progress as quickly as I would like. It is definitely something to think about...

TV's Top Chefs star in online university
By Michelle Locke, For The Associated Press

You've watched them whip up delectable dishes, and a soupcon of drama, in the Top Chef kitchen. Now, stars of the hit Bravo TV series are ready to school their fans: Pack your knives and go... online.

Top Chef, formally launching this week, is designed to give users the experience of culinary school at their own pace, with 12 courses covering about 60 hours of content.

"It's so unique because it's truly a comprehensive program and it's really the first of its kind," says Nikki Cascone, Season 4 contestant and one of the instructors.

The site was created by Jeff Goldenberg, founder of Post Oaks Productions, a leading provider of live and virtual consumer training. He approached Bravo with the concept after getting hooked on the show. Given the green light, he hired trained chef Anthony Hoy Fong and Top Chef judge and culinary expert Gail Simmons to write the curriculum.

Both Simmons and Fong are culinary school graduates and they wanted to develop a program that felt was professional but also would resonate with home cooks.

While graduates won't come out professional chefs, "if you take this program to the end you will have, I believe, a really strong knowledge of the kitchen," says Simmons.

Instructors were picked with an eye to their time on the show. So, Cascone, known for her pasta, is teaching about pasta and grains. Richard Blais, the chef from Season 4 who favored cutting edge techniques like cooking sous vide, is teaching the advanced course that includes molecular gastronomy.

The program, which costs $25 a month or $200 for year-long access, begins with the basics — knife skills, pantry stocking — and moves on to stocks, soups, vegetables, proteins and dessert before finishing up with global cuisine and advanced techniques.

"It really is the only place on the Internet that takes you by the hand and leads you from beginning to end," Goldenberg said.

Instructors include Season 2's Marcel Vigneron, known for his ambitious cooking techniques — and hairstyle — and the behatted Spike Mendelsohn from Season 4. The courses are unhurried, with instructors going through the process in a methodical fashion.

"These guys are real chefs. They cook in restaurants every night. You're really getting one-on-one access to a professional chef," said Fong, who is culinary director of the online school.

Site users are given written tests to see if they've absorbed the material and will be able to upload pictures of their finished work and ask questions on class forums. Though no one can verify whether the dishes produced are hits or misses, coursework must be completed before the next level is unlocked.

So, no dramatic denouements where ousted chefs get the show's signature dismissal line of "Please pack your knives and go!" But those who complete the program will be Top Chef Certified.

At the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., communications director Stephan Hengst thought the idea was intriguing.

The CIA has teamed with Bravo in years past to run demo cooking classes in New York, which proved popular, says Hengst, "so it doesn't surprise me that Bravo is trying to continue to grow the Top Chef brand."

"For the enthusiast who's looking to get some more face time with their favorite Top Chef celebrities, I think it's a great chance for them to be entertained and to be educated," he said, noting that a number of Top Chef contestants, including some winners, are CIA grads. However, the online course "Doesn't necessarily stand up to the rigors of a professional culinary education," he says.

Of course, Top Chef University is thousands of dollars less than culinary school, and Cascone thinks it's a case of comparing apples and oranges. "There are great things to be offered about both programs," she says. "With the Top Chef University you can pause and you can constantly go back. It's really like an encyclopedia."

"I'm convinced that the home cooks and all the foodies out there are going to love this being brought to their living rooms."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

garden update

Its been a little while since my garden was filled with all sorts of goodies, so here is a bit of an update.

Three of my five tomato plants have at least one growing tomato on them. The cherry tomato plant has a bunch coming in. I had better start thinking of some good ideas for all the tomatoes that will be coming my way!

The jalapeno and cayenne pepper plants all have some little peppers on them. I know the jalapenos have a while to grow yet, but I need to check into what size the cayenne peppers should be. I think I have that information on my computer at home, since I typed up all the information for all of the plants before throwing away the little tags. I didn't want to have to deal with the dirt if I kept the tags and this way I can have all the information in one convenient location.

There is a decent sized green bell pepper on one of the plants. I still need to look closer at the other one to see if there are any small peppers hiding out.

My zucchini plants have some nice blossoms on them. I had read that zucchini blossoms are a new trend in fancy restaurants. Maybe sometime I will try to make something with them, but for now, I will let them grow and harvest the full grown zucchini when they are ready. I am not quite ready to experiment with the blossoms before I try different things with the vegetable itself.

My cucumber plants are starting to spread out, which is a very good sign!

I really have no idea what is going on under the surface with the onion sets I planted. The stalks are still sticking up, which I guess is a good sign. I just have no idea whether they are growing under the surface or not and if so, when to take one or two.

As for the chives, I am a little unsure. There has been some grass invading my garden, but I think I see little sprouts that I assume are from the chives coming through the soil. I need to spend some time getting as much of the grass out as I can, when I can find a bit of time to do that.

The basil has taken off. I haven't cooked much with basil, but I will have to try a few things out soon to take advantage of my large stock. The oregano is starting to grow, even though it had a bit of a rough start and didn't take to being transplanted very well. I have the same problem with the thyme, which I started from seed, as with the chives. I need to look closely and see what is my herb and what is grass. Ditto for the spinach.

There is a large sprout on the butternut squash mound...hopefully it is the squash and not a weed!

So overall, I think the garden is making good progress. I am getting very excited and hope I don't jump the gun and take things before they are ready! I will be sure to take pictures and post them soon so I can share how everything is growing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

my attempt to be silly

So I wasn't going to put this video on my blog, but I figure I may as well. Paula had suggested that we get into character and not be afraid to be silly or step outside of our comfort zones. I came up with an appetizer quickly and tried to get silly with it...but failed miserably as you can see. But I guess it can't be an awful thing to post the link here and share just how horrible it turned out!!! I am not one for acting silly and can you tell that I have no idea how to curl my own hair!!!! I used to hate it when my mom would take the curling iron to my hair when I was growing up and just never learned to do it myself. I am always fighting with my hair to make it straighter, so trying to curl it was an adventure of itself. Oh well...

Real Women of Philadelphia Contest Entree Videos

I know that I have been keeping up with the blog quite as much as I would like recently. I have been spending a lot of time working recipes and videos for this contest. Then I was gone for 6 days to Florida to run a Muddy Buddy, a triathlon, and visit my husband's parents. It has been a whirlwind since getting back last Tuesday evening!!

Here are the two entrees I submitted for this week:
Philly Chicken Curry
Philly Breakfast Calzones

I am really worried about my Philly chicken curry recipe. I am the most proud of that recipe and video so far and submitted it on Friday morning. The people on the website review the videos before posting them in the gallery. It still says that my recipe has been 'submitted for review' when it should read 'your recipe is in the gallery.' According to the forum, the recipes are still considered for the week as long as they have been submitted, even if they don't make it into the gallery before the closing time. But I submitted the calzone recipe on Sunday morning and it is already in the gallery. I emailed the help people this morning just to double check my curry video will be considered, but haven't heard back from them yet.

From what I have seen on the forums, it looks like the winners are emailed around Tuesday or Wednesday after the week closes. So I guess I will know very soon the results of the entree week. I am still praying!!!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A few more videos

I know I haven't been keeping up with the blog as well as I should be recently. This past weekend, we traveled down to Orlando, Florida to compete in the Muddy Buddy and I also ran a triathlon the next day. We also visited with my husband's family in Tampa for a few days. So things have been a bit hectic recently. Hopefully I can get things under control a little better now...

Here are a few more videos that I have been making. I wanted to say a lot more in the muffin video, but I guess I was just too worn out to remember much (and my husband was fairly impatient with having to videotape me, which only makes me more nervous in front of the camera).

Cinnamon Raisin Cream Cheese Muffins:

Myers' family spinach dip:

Shrimp Dip:

I have one entree video done, I just need to look at it again and upload it. Hopefully I can do that tomorrow sometime so I can go ahead and submit it. That is the only entree recipe I have for this week. Maybe I can come up with something else in the next few days, but seeing as how hectic work and home have been, I am not confident I will be able to. I have two dessert recipes that I have tested and really enjoy, I will be sure to make those videos this weekend.

I am still keeping my fingers crossed! There are still 8 slots left for the next round in Savannah. Think good thoughts with me!!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

A few more videos that I have submitted, with more on the way

Philly Mashed Butternut Squash

Aunt Sharon's Potatoes

I have also recorded two videos for the appetizer week this week and one entree for next week. I tested out two variations of the same dessert and am leaning towards submitting them both.

Some of the videos have turned out better than others, but I am honestly trying. It is hard enough to get in front of the camera, much less try to forget the potential life altering results of this contest. I have to keep reminding myself that while this is one opportunity to make great strides that it is not the only one that I will ever come across. Sometimes you need to be in the right place at the right time, so I figure if I try to be in all sorts of places as often as I can that I will be able to find that perfect moment that will jump start me in the right direction. So I will keep trying my best and keep submitting recipes and hope that I make a good impression.

All I can give is my all.