Challenge #1 – Ready, Set, Blog! Welcome to My Bizzy Kitchen

I interrupt my normal posts of egg sammies, spicy soups, fried chicken and my love of Tabasco, to announce that I’ve thrown my hat into the ring for Foodbuzz’s Project Food Blog!

Over 1800 fellow foodies are going to vie for the chance to be crowned Best Food Blog!

I’ve always loved to eat.  Luckily growing up, since I was in so many sports, it didn’t matter what I ate.  Suzy-Q’s and a huge Coke for breakfast – delicious!  A pizza lunch with french fries and two giant chocolate chip cookies?  Yes please!

I actually have my diagnosis of diabetes to thank for getting my act together.  And while managing my diabetes sometimes is a pain in the neck, I don’t have a choice and take each day as it comes, all while trying to make delicious food!

I wish I knew exactly where I got my love of cooking from.  Growing up we always ate dinner together as a family every night, but my moms meals, while delicious, were more simple and quickly made because she worked full time.  I have two favorite recipes of my Mom’s that I will never in a million years recreate as well as she can – her chicken and biscuits and scalloped potatoes!

While I wish I had memories of standing on a step stool next to my grandma all day on a Sunday while she explained how she made homemade marinara or beef stew, that is not my case.

My one grandma could make Chef Boyardee Pizza that came in a box.  I just remember adding water to this icky powder and attempt to roll it out into a pizza dough.  We would add tomato sauce from a can, throw some cheese on it and bake it.  I don’t remember it as being any good, but what sticks in my mind is sitting across the table from her, watching her eat the topping, sans the crust, add more toppings, bake and repeat.  Ew!

My other grandma, however, made the best cinnamon toast – under the broiler in her tiny kitchen that had a constant canister of bacon fat at the ready on top of her stove.  The smell of cinnamon, bacon and fresh cut cantaloupe brings me right back to that kitchen every time.

So why do I think I have the best food blog? One reason is that I think for the most part, I make recipes that are easy to replicate, with a touch of creativity, and maybe generous douses of Tabasco!   I am like the neighbor next door that you’d stop to chat with while I run in the kitchen to bring you a taste of my latest creation.  (Yes, I have done that a lot of times!).

But what I like most about food blogging is that it has allowed me to open my horizons to foods I never would have tried before.

Take for instance my African soup, using coconut milk and coriander.  I am pretty sure five years ago I would have thrown up in my mouth just at that thought of this dish, but the sweet balance of the coconut milk to the spicy curry with the salty cashew gremolata is heaven in a bowl.  (Do I watch FoodTV much?!)

Another favorite, as well as a favorite of dozens of readers who have made this since I posted it, is my crustless broccoli quiche.  Basically this dish is perfect for any vegetable leftover at the end of the week – just make a quiche!

I have BSI to thank for expanding my horizons on ingredients I thought I hated (but I will forever hate onions no matter what!).   Take for instance beets.  The only association I had with beets were if they were on a crappy salad bar and to be avoided at all costs.  But I had to come up with a recipe!  So I decided to hide it and make beet hummus.  I actually had no idea if it would work, but guess what?  The beets lend only a slight hint of sweetness to this now sophisticated hummus!

So as the months passed on this food blog journey, I started getting adventurous!  Could I attempt Indian food?  I saw Bobby Flay do a throw down with tikka masala, and as they were describing the dish as flavorful spicy, I knew I was in!  First attempt?  Complete success!  I’ve probably made this a dozen times since that first try.  My husband still wants to know what smells like ass in the kitchen when I make it though :(

Who doesn’t like Red Lobster’s cheddar biscuits?  Buttery, garlicky – pretty much the only good thing they have going for them!  Growing up my Dad always wanted to go to Red Lobster for his birthday, only to complain each and every year about how skimpy the scallops were.  I looked forward to those biscuits every year!  Now I don’t have to leave my house – these are food processor garlic cheddar biscuits and could not be easier to put together.

Of course this recap could not be complete without my Party Pizza Fridays!  I love that so many of you have used my no rise pizza dough to get pizza on your table before a delivery driver would!  One of my recent favs – hand tossed spinach pizza.  The combination of the fresh mozzarella with the olive oil, salt and crushed red pepper seasoned baby spinach topping is perfection in a pie.

And of course, with the advent of Party Pizza Friday, there is invariably leftover pizza dough.  I have Tastespotting to thank for introducing me my now beloved breakfast pizza.

But I have to think the recipe I am most proud of is my buffalo chicken chili.  Prior to this chili, my husband and I just gave into the fact that we were not chili making people.  But trying a dozen times didn’t seem to stop us!  I got the idea of grinding chicken breasts because ground chicken kinda gives me the willies (not sure what else could be in there!).  Well I have found the perfect chili and will be sticking with this one!

I do have failures too – most recently my attempt to make baked donuts.  Epic fail – but that doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying – look how cute they look even though they tasted like cardboard with a hint of chocolate!

And even though I still have a point and shoot camera, I think my photography skillz have come a long way.  Um, it helps to read your manual! :D  Just check out a couple of my first blog pictures!

First up is a picture of Sprouted Wheat Berry Bread.

love the fingernail action in this one!

Or this dish using leftover chicken to make tostadas – its almost like I am taking the picture from space!

I’ve had so much fun with this food blog, not only with the dishes I’ve created or copied from other food bloggers over these past two years, but from all the wonderful relationships I’ve made with other foodies I’ve never met.  Yes, I call you my friends and I have dozens of them because of this blog! :D

If nothing else, it shows my husband that I am not the only one who thinks about food 24/7 – there are thousands of us!

So I hope to continue to the next round!  This is a stiff competition, as I think only 400 go on to the second round.  A select panel of judges have been selected, including Food & Wine Editor Dana Corwin!

To my readers, you can help me get to the next round!  Starting September 20, you can vote for my blog.  The blog with the highest votes will automatically advance to the next level.  Will you vote for me?