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! 😀  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! 😀

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?

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  • Erica
    September 15, 2010 at 1:09 pm SO cool that you're participating! Best of luck. You have shared tons of great recipes with your readers and I'm sure you will rock the contest!
  • Rachel Palmieri
    September 15, 2010 at 2:20 pm Just tell us where to vote and we'll be there!
  • Elaine
    September 15, 2010 at 2:26 pm You betcha!
  • CherylK
    September 15, 2010 at 2:55 pm Consider it done!
  • Helen
    September 15, 2010 at 3:49 pm I actually came looking for you today because for some reason you're not updating in my dashboard. Ticks me off. Anyhoo, you know I will vote for you as many times as I can. In fact, I already voted for you today, on my own blog. Maybe that will bring you some new readers and votes to go with 'em. :-)
  • Jenn@slim-shoppin
    September 15, 2010 at 4:23 pm You've got my vote!!!
  • suzicate
    September 15, 2010 at 5:01 pm you darn tootin' I'll vote for you!
  • Errign
    September 15, 2010 at 5:06 pm Hells yes, I will vote for you! (Even if the idea of beet hummus makes me want to throw up a little!) :)
  • Mom
    September 15, 2010 at 5:52 pm Good for you! And of course I'll vote for you!
  • MIL
    September 15, 2010 at 6:28 pm You've got my vote and everyone here at the office.
  • Pubsgal
    September 15, 2010 at 7:01 pm You've got my vote, and hopefully as many folks as I can convince to do likewise! And once again, sighing heavily (and perhaps getting a little teary) that we're 1,860 miles away neighbors and not next-door neighbors.
    • biz319
      September 16, 2010 at 1:08 pm I know, right?! :D
  • The Southern Cookbook
    September 15, 2010 at 11:14 pm Great post! Good luck ;)
  • MB
    September 15, 2010 at 11:35 pm You've got my vote for sure, just be sure to post a reminder so I don't forget by next week. I was lucky enough to watch my mother and my grandmother cook even when grandma's arthritis was so bad and it hurt to make her homemade pasta but unfortunately I didn't inherit the talent. I love watching other people cook though and trying to spice things up with minimal cooking time and effort. Good luck!
  • weightwatchingfoodie
    September 16, 2010 at 12:29 am you will most definately have my vote....good luck biz
  • Eliana
    September 16, 2010 at 12:44 am Well I have no reason to believe that you won't make it to the next round. Best of luck! I'm rooting for you.
  • Christina (Dinner at Christina's)
    September 16, 2010 at 12:56 am Yay! I'm so glad you're competing with me! I really hope we advance to the next round and get to be creative and cook! Go check out my blog! You inspired me w/ your apples and pork last week! Also, I was just thinking about you during dinner b/c I made your pizza dough. Johnny actually cheered when he saw that's what was for dinner. It was the first time I made it using whole wheat flour! Good luck Biz! :) Great post! And I have to agree - we both do pretty good shots w/ our point and shoot cameras! But man am I kind of embarrassed when I look back at the beginning of my blog. hehe
    • biz319
      September 16, 2010 at 1:09 pm Good luck to you too! :D
  • Mari
    September 16, 2010 at 12:57 am WOW You would def be one of my number one picks! like I said before, you are the only one that make me crave meat! you always come up with the most amazing recipes and your pictures are food porn at its very best!
  • Tami@nutmegnotebook
    September 16, 2010 at 2:01 am I think you are definitely a contender!
  • Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat)
    September 16, 2010 at 2:07 am of course I will vote for you! Because you are awesome! :)
  • Andrea@WellnessNotes
    September 16, 2010 at 2:42 am Yes, I'll vote for you!!! :) Good luck!
  • Year on the Grill
    September 16, 2010 at 10:42 am Biz, I have always enjoyed your blog. So much more than a specialty (diet, diabetes) blog. Your colors, efforts and menus make for a must read... you deserve second place ;) (wink nod, I am in the contest too). Since they are going to let us vote for ourselves only once, as well as others, you are on my list to vote for. Good luck, hope your talents come across to the judges, you deserve a shot
    • biz319
      September 16, 2010 at 1:10 pm Ha - your comment on second place made me laugh out loud! Good luck Dave! :D
  • Robin Sue
    September 16, 2010 at 11:31 am You have GOT to be the funniest person I know! Of course you have my vote! This is my first day "off" since school started so I have missed popping over here and visiting with you. Oh and this day off- running 2 kids to doctors, grocery shopping, laundry...blah blah. Nice. Have a great day Biz!!!
  • Debbi Does Dinner Healthy
    September 16, 2010 at 12:43 pm You'll have my vote! That's for sure! Question about your chili which I have had saved: You grind up your veggies, is that just a personal preference or does it make a better sauce? I like chunky chili so I was thinking about just chopping them up. Just wanted your opinion, I don't want to mess with the best chili ever!
    • biz319
      September 16, 2010 at 1:11 pm It's just personal preference, I don't like a chunky sauce! :D
  • Beth @ 990 Square
    September 16, 2010 at 1:02 pm Go Biz Go!
  • melindard
    September 16, 2010 at 2:06 pm Yes, I think you so deserve this. You make it seem so real and easy and you have a genuine care for your readers and a belief in yourself and that you can do it and you can be healthy and you can do it in a very human way. Good luck!
  • 5 Star Foodie
    September 16, 2010 at 2:16 pm A great post for the 1st challenge! You've got my vote :)
  • Leslie
    September 16, 2010 at 2:41 pm You absolutely have my vote. Without question or reservation. I'll even be your campaign manager!
  • christina
    September 16, 2010 at 3:02 pm you take excellent pictures! i can't believe you just use a p&s! i want those biscuits!
  • katecooks
    September 16, 2010 at 3:30 pm i would definitely vote for you! i read blogs every AM while eating breakfast and yours is the first one i read :)
  • Shelley B
    September 16, 2010 at 3:38 pm I missed this yesterday - but of course I will be sure to vote for you! What a great story - look how far you've come in such a short time! Btw, I hate beets but your beet hummus? I would try.
  • Satu
    September 16, 2010 at 3:53 pm I love this post, Biz! This excerpt describes best you and your blog: "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!)." And think, Best Buffalo Chicken Chili as spread as far as Finland! :-) Best of luck, Satu
    • biz319
      September 16, 2010 at 11:36 pm Thanks Satu! Just glad you were able to find Frank's hot sauce!
  • John
    September 16, 2010 at 7:27 pm You have my vote! You just need to remind me when it starts since I haven't been consistently showing up here everyday :-(
  • janetha g.
    September 16, 2010 at 9:09 pm i initially signed up for project food blog but i think i am dropping it because i just don't have it in me to keep up with all the challenges! BUT.. i will say this. i think you should win. i think your blog is the epitome of what a food blog should be. awesome recipes that are easy to follow, nutritional info, AMAZING photos and a lot of personality. i hope you win! i love your blog, biz!
    • biz319
      September 16, 2010 at 11:34 pm So sweet - thanks Janetha! :D
  • Becca@Start Over From Scratch
    September 17, 2010 at 7:19 pm What a great post! I'm a new reader and can't wait to try your recipes! They look so delish!!!
  • Nicole
    September 18, 2010 at 8:42 pm ABSOLUTELY! You've got my vote!
  • Lara (Thinspired)
    September 18, 2010 at 10:10 pm Biz, you are a TRUE food blogger, and you deserve to win this. I will be rooting for you!
  • ashandlewplus2
    September 19, 2010 at 12:44 am Thank you for sharing your life with us.. I am loving this challenge. I posted my FBC this morning check it out and let me know what you think. Ashlee http://ashandlewplus2.com/2010/09/18/project-food-blog-ready-set-blog/
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    September 20, 2010 at 2:05 pm [...] contestants. I only listed 5. Obviously, my list  is woefully lacking. I can already think of several more off the top of my head that I’ve missed out (Yes, each word has a different link…oh come [...]
  • Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food)
    September 20, 2010 at 8:20 pm Great post! That Chef Boyardee pizza definitely sounds interesting! Love the beet hummus! The color is gorgeous! And I love the picture of the baked donuts! So drool-worthy! Too bad they didn't taste amazing, but I'm sure next time they will! Best of luck with PFB!
  • Food o' del Mundo
    September 21, 2010 at 12:41 am Sent a HAPPY ♥ vote your way. See you in round two.
    • biz319
      September 21, 2010 at 2:01 am Thanks Mary! :D
  • Reeni
    September 21, 2010 at 1:28 pm I am loving the beet hummus! I voted for you - wishing you the best!
  • Joan Nova
    September 21, 2010 at 2:01 pm Really good entry. You convinced me to cast one of my votes for you.
  • Alissa @ Not Just Apples
    September 22, 2010 at 7:23 am I have Type 1 Diabetes, and that totally affects the way I eat... Though sprouted wheatberry bread sounds really new and interesting!
  • Eric&Tiffany
    September 22, 2010 at 8:24 pm You get my vote for your great photos and for breakfast pizza. Hmm... breakfast pizza!
  • Kimmy
    September 22, 2010 at 10:31 pm Love that your inspiration for blogging has come about by your health. I also love you're not letting it preclude you from creating tasty food! (I'm so making that buffalo chicken chili btw). You have my vote! Great to have good competition in this project!