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Sometimes, you just need a corn dog. #glutenfree #giveaway

8 Dec
Crispy, delicious, gluten free corn dogs. Like whoa.

Crispy, delicious, gluten free corn dogs. Like whoa.

Disclaimer: Yeah, another semi-sponsored post. I’ll write up the killer chicken soup I just made pretty soon, as well as a review of a paleo-style dinner I recently attended. But this is free GLUTEN FREE corn dogs, people. And they’re awesome. And I knew they were awesome before I was contacted about giving them away, and I wouldn’t have put them on here if they weren’t. So there. 🙂 

Over the past ten years or so, I’ve learned quite a bit.

Eat whole, unprocessed foods to be healthy.

Eat a minimum of sugar, fat and starch if you can help it.

And the best rule of all: Every so often, shuck the rules.

Unfortunately for me, my rules must always include being gluten free, lest I spend the next day or so in the bed or restroom. (Le sigh.) So, when the time comes to totally be naughty, what do I want?

::Cue Spice Girls…I’LLTELLYOUWHATIWANT, WHATIREALLYREALLYWANT::

I want a corn dog. A crispy, salty, delicious corn dog.

Mustard

A few months ago, I noticed someone on the local Gluten Intolerance Group Facebook page talking about some amazing new gluten-free corn dogs that were available at Kroger. “Not me!” I silently gloated. “I don’t eat such things.” And I stared. And I really, REALLY wanted one. Slathered with mustard. Mmmmmmmmmmm…….

So the next time I was at Kroger, I looked around. Nobody was looking. I slid some into my cart. BAM.

gf_corndogsThey were Foster Farms Gluten Free Corn Dogs. And they were glorious. I found that I liked them cooked a little longer than the package says — baked in the oven, of course, not nuked — for optimum brown crunchy awesome.

So, although I usually tell people NOT to buy a lot of pre-packaged gluten free things, let me just assure you that it will be okay. As long as this isn’t representative of your diet, you’re gonna be fine. A few packages of gluten free Oreo-lookalikes won’t kill you, either. (Omigosh Trader Joe’s, WHY won’t you come to Little Rock??) Trust me, my pantry has its share of occasional treats.

Want to give these dogs a try? Sure you do.

It just so happened that, about a month after I purchased the aforementioned box, Foster Farms contacted me about the same product. I figured I could confess to them that I’d already bought some. And they had a cool offer for my readers who also just really, really wanted a (gluten free) corn dog.

Bite at angle

Mention in the comments how you like to eat your corn dogs. (With ketchup or mustard? Part of a meal or alone? Balanced with fruit and/or veggies or whatevs?) We’ll pick five commenters and Foster Farms will ship you your VERY OWN BOX, you guys. Comments close on Monday, Dec. 22.

I’m like the Oprah of corn dogs.

Oprah of corn dogs

Now that my secret is out, I guess I’ll eat more salad this week.

And some Joe-Joe‘s…

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ProStart Culinary/Hospitality Winners Announced; Diamond Chef Prelims Tomorrow

5 Mar
A student from North Pulaski High School's Simply Delicious restaurant competing last week. North Pulaski's team won the culinary competition.

A student from North Pulaski High School’s Simply Delicious restaurant competing last week. North Pulaski’s team won the culinary competition.

If the weather outside hasn’t caught on that it’s almost spring, the event calendar is getting the hint. This time of year brings back some of our favorite food-themed competitions and events.

Last week, the annual ProStart Student Invitational brought the state’s top high school culinary and hospitality programs to Pulaski Tech’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute for a couple days of intense competition. (What, you didn’t know ProStart was a thing? It’s like home ec on steroids, doing a lot of the stuff we did in culinary school.)

Thursday, six culinary teams were set up in the institute’s open atrium, each at a professional workstation. Each team presented a multi-course menu to a team of judges, and I got to watch some of the cooking action. These guys and gals had it going on.

In the end, North Pulaski High School’s Simply Delicious restaurant team won the culinary competition. On Friday, Northwest Arkansas Community College Early College Experience won the hospitality management competition. Both teams will advance to the national ProStart competition.

Tomorrow, the Diamond Chef preliminary competition takes place from 2 – 8 p.m., also at Pulaski Tech CAHMI. This free event is to identify this year’s competitor against last year’s champion, Chef Dan Capello of Chenal Country Club, in the ticketed final event on June 3 at the Statehouse Convention Center.

The schedule has just been announced:

Heat 1, 2pm: Chef Ducrot of PTC Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute vs. Chef Coby Smith of Arkansas Heart Hospital.

Heat 2, 3:00pm: Chef Marc Guizol of the Capital Hotel vs. Chef Elliot Jones of YaYa’s.

Heat 3 at 4p: Chef Jason Morell of Starving Artist vs. Chef Payne Harding of Cache.

The final two rounds after that will determine this year’s competitor.

*****

Photos from last week’s ProStart competition:

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Giveaway: Tickets to Tomorrow’s Signature Chef Gala for March of Dimes

23 Oct

Kellis courseNote: This post is a giveaway of two tickets to tomorrow night’s Signature Chef Gala for March of Dimes, valued at $150 each. See the end and follow directions to win tickets!

About this time last year, I tagged along with Kelli Marks of Sweet Love to help her with a fun event, the Signature Chef Gala for March of Dimes.

At this event, chefs from the top restaurants in Arkanasas serve small plates from stations surrounding an elaborately decorated, festive ballroom at the Statehouse Convention Center. It’s quite the soiree.

Back at the bakery, Kelli had already prepared three desserts for the event: a pumpkin latte cake, a chocolate panna cotta with cocoa nibs, and a spice cake. My job was to help plate, garnish and describe the goodies to the crowds.

Mmmmm....cake.

Mmmmm….cake.

I love working at this kind of event, where you get to interact with attendees. I cut cake and slung sauce like a mad woman. Okay, so I tried to help loosen up that caramel sauce by putting it in some hot water and turned it all crystally…that was my bad. But Kelli never got frazzled, getting everything out and working the crowd like the pro she is.

Kelli Marks of Sweet Love describes each dish to a Signature Chef Gala patron.

Kelli Marks of Sweet Love describes each dish to a Signature Chef Gala patron.

And, of course, her stuff was delicious. People came back several times saying hers was the best table of all.

This year, the event promises to be just as awesome (probably even more so, since I won’t be working!). The chefs scheduled to participate are:

  • Stephen Burrow, Clinton Presidential Center
  • James Hale, Acadia
  • Kelli Marks, Sweet Love
  • Donnie Ferneau
  • Kent Walker, Kent Walker Cheeses
  • Dan Capello, Little Rock Country Club
  • Titus Holly, The Pantry
  • Rachel Boswell & Sally Mengel, Loblolly Creamery
  • Marshall Smith, SO Restaurant
  • Chris Bray, Bray Gourmet
The Signature Chef Gala is known for elaborate decoration, great music and amazing food.

The Signature Chef Gala is known for elaborate decoration, great music and amazing food.

Tomorrow night (Thursday, Oct. 24) is this year’s Signature Chef Gala, and I have an opportunity for you and a date/friend/whoever to attend! 

Just comment saying which chef’s table you would visit first and why. One comment will be chosen at random tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 23) at 6 p.m. You can get an extra chance by sharing this post on Twitter or Facebook; just let me know you did so in your comment. Please only comment if you will be available to attend tomorrow night. 

Good luck!

March of Dimes Arkansas
Signature Chef Gala
Statehouse Convention Center
Thursday, Oct. 24
6 – 9 p.m.

Random numberUpdate: Turns out our earlier winner is unable to attend, so we did a second randomizer. The winner is Shannon Riley! As before, I counted the comments, counting twice for people who shared on another platform and not counting duplicate comments. (I know, it’s confusing when I have to approve it before it appears. Sorry!) I put the total number in a random number generator and counted down to that number.

We’ll do something like this again when we have more time to build up to it. I didn’t give you much time to get the word out, but I’m so glad to be able to share tickets to this great event! 

Cornbread Fest is Saturday’s Best Bet, Despite Speaker Crumble

2 Nov

Last year, organizers of the first-ever Arkansas Cornbread Festival expected about 800, maybe 1000 folks to show up. They ended up with over 3000 hungry cornbread enthusiasts.

Lesson learned. We Arkansans love us some cornbread!

Tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 3, lovers of the sweet (or not!) southern staple will descend upon South Main Street in Little Rock to enjoy live music, shopping, and of course, cornbread.

The event was created as a way to introduce folks to all the nifty things we already have available on South Main, such as an urban garden, a soda shop, unique shopping, restaurants and entertainment venues.

Plenty of ‘bread and sides will be available for sampling, offered up by professional and amateur competitors. The entries are in the categories of Traditional, Non-Traditional and Sweet.

Alas, just as last year, I had grand plans to enter myself, and just…didn’t. (New job! Cooking gigs! Exhaustion!) But I do plan on going over to try other folks’ stuff. If you’re gluten-free like me, I know of at least one cornbread that will be safe: Dempsey Bakery will be there as a competitor in the Sweet category. And I’ll wager that at least one or two of the Traditional category entries will be all-corn, as well.

The event was originally to include a lecture and book signing by Dr. Jessica Harris, author of several books about African-American cuisine and its fascinating history. But Hurricane Sandy stepped in and changed plans for the New York author. So give Dr. Harris some love and check out her latest book, High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America, at the Museum Store at Historic Arkansas Museum.

Visit the event website for lists of all the musical acts, cornbread competitors, arts and crafts (and clothing and more) vendors, recipes and all that. See you there!

Event Deets:

Arkansas Cornbread Festival
Saturday, November 3
11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
South Main Street, Downtown Little Rock
Between 13th and 16th Streets

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids day of the event
Discount advance tickets ($7 adults, $3 kids) are available online until 5 p.m. Friday

These boots are made for…Cooking! ($150 BOOT GIVEAWAY)

18 Sep

My Ariat Brown Oiled Rowdy boots from Country Outfitter.

Update: Entries are closed! Will update soon with the winner. Good luck!

Howdy, folks.

You may have recently noticed, if you’re a follower of blogs, that all the coolest Arkansas bloggers seem to be giving away boots these days.

The reason is, this awesome northwest Arkansas company called Country Outfitter sponsored a bunch of us to give away their cowboy boots. We got a free pair, I admit. And they’re awesome. And they’re letting us give you a pair, too.

So yes, this is a sponsored post, as the vernacular goes. I don’t do many of these, and never for a company or product I don’t like. But…until I got these, I’d never, ever had a for-real pair of boots.

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