Food Wine Conference 2017

One of my favorite things is right around the corner…the Food Wine Conference!  It is held yearly in Orlando, Florida at the beautiful Rosen Shingle Creek, this year running from May 19 – May 21, 2017. The hotel and property are absolutely gorgeous and it is oh so relaxing.

Rosen Shingle Creek

View from my room

The conference brings together bloggers, small business owners, winemakers, chefs, public relations professionals, media, authors and brands.  Bloggers gain knowledge and insight on so many things like food photography, effective writing, search engine optimization, and working with PR agencies, just to name a few.

Donatella Arpaia – Keynote Speaker 2016

I am super excited and honored to have been chosen as a Brand Ambassador this year and can’t wait to share the experience with you during and after the conference (be sure to follow along on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages).  There is still time to register for the conference, and if you use my code of DebbieR2017 you will receive a $50 discount off of the registration fee.  How cool is that!?!

One thing you will notice at this conference is you are welcomed with open arms…there are no strangers here.  Everyone is super friendly and you will feel right at home from the get go.  And that goes for the speakers and sponsors too.  You really do have a chance to speak to and connect with them, something that you may not be able to do at other conferences.  The first year I went to this conference I had not yet started my blog…not knowing where to start I thought by attending I would gain some knowledge and insight as well as decide for sure if this was the right step for me.  So even without having an up and running blog, I was welcomed by everyone and offered assistance with any questions or problems I may have.  This conference really does draw the most friendly and helpful people, and even if starting or having a blog isn’t your thing, if you are a foodie you will definitely enjoy it.

Now, last but definitely not least, I want to tell you about the food and the wine – OH MY is all I can say!! From the welcome reception on Friday night that rolls into the Taste of Rosen Shingle, to the family style dinner on Saturday courtesy of Certified Angus Beef, you will never be hungry or thirsty!!  I mean, just look at these pictures!

Handmade chocolates and desserts…yum!


Brownie bites with chocolate frosting and white chocolate decoration

Everyone received a special gift in their room…a chocolate shoe with French macarons and chocolates…amazing!

Cowgirl Ribeye with all the sides…absolutely delish!

Can you say wine pairing!!

Thank you CK Mondavi for all the wonderful wine you provide during the conference!!

I hope this post has inspired you to join us this year.  Don’t forget to use my discount code of DebbieR2017 for $50 off your registration fee!  Hope to see you there – be sure to comment and let me know you are coming!!

Disclosure:  As always, opinions in this post are my own, but I received an offer of a discounted conference registration for being a Brand Ambassador.


NFL Draft

I LOVE football…but professional football…not a college ball fan (sorry!).  But even loving pro ball, I don’t get into watching the NFL draft.  It is now a three day production, starting Thursday night, then again Friday night, then all day Saturday.  That being said, just because I don’t like watching it, doesn’t mean it isn’t on at my house.  Hubby likes it so it is all draft, all day, for weeks prior to the actual draft taking place.  But, I do have to admit, I still like to plan lots of yummy food for him to enjoy while watching it, just as I would do for watching an actual pro game.

Since the draft starts tomorrow, I had to re-share this favorite of ours.  They are quick and easy to prepare, making use of ready made frozen mini fillo shells.  This recipe was originally created for an Athen’s contest a few years back and has become a staple in our house during football season as well as most any type of party or get together.

Cowboys Steakhouse Bites

Cowboys Steakhouse Bites
1.9 oz. box Athens Mini Fillo Shells, thawed
6 ounces thinly slice deli roast beef
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons minced sweet onion
2 1/2 ounces crumbled bleu cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange fillo shells onto a large baking sheet; set aside.
Finely chop the roast beef, set aside.
Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add in the onion and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, until translucent.  Add in the roast beef, continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through another 1 – 2 minutes.
Fill the fillo shells evenly with beef mixture, top evenly with the bleu cheese.  Place filled shells into preheated oven and bake until cheese melts, approximately 3 – 4 minutes.
Makes 15.


The Taste Food and Beer Festival Recap

Last weekend I was honored to have been a judge at The Taste, a food and beer Festival held in Liberty Park in Inverness, Florida.

Liberty Park

What a wonderful event and experience.  There were delicious restaurants and food trucks, live music, a beer experience (which was new this year and I am sure a keeper!), and a cooking competition, all in beautiful Liberty Park, which is right on the Withlacoochee State Trail and Lake Henderson.

Lake Henderson

The Taste

Beer experience – a very popular place!

On to the cooking competition!  All I can say is WOW and were we full!  We had so many yummy dishes to judge and it was a close race.  Here are the winning dishes:

Barbeque:  Brisket Special by Barn Goddess BBQ

Chef’s Specialty:  Butternut Squash Ravioli by Cattle Dog Roasters

Barbeque and Chef’s Specialty Winners

Chicken:  Smoked Chicken Salad Sandwich by Barn Goddess BBQ

Dessert:  Bread Pudding by The Cove/Pine Street Pub

Chicken and Dessert Winners

Sandwich:  Bacon Infused Pimento Cheese with Crab by Barn Goddess BBQ

Seafood:  Lobster Macaroni and Cheese by The Cove/Pine Street Pub

Sandwich and Seafood Winners

Steak:  Bone-in Ribeye with Bacon Jam and Garlic Mashed Potatoes by Barn Goddess BBQ

Popular Vote:  Pretzel Pizza Pockets/Bites by OMG Pretzel Bites

Steak and Popular Vote Winners

Be sure to keep this event on your radar…you will not be disappointed.  And if you happen upon one of the participants in the cooking competition either at another event or at their store front/restaurant/food truck, RUN, don’t walk, to taste their delicious food for yourself.

Food photos courtesy of City of Inverness, Florida.


Banana Cheesecake Mousse with Salted Caramel Sauce

Easter Sunday is this weekend and I thought what a great time to share this super easy dessert. No cooking or baking required, so when I say super easy I mean super easy!  Perfect for when you have a large holiday dinner to prepare.

This is a delicious and fun dessert idea, too! Instead of using a spoon to eat the mousse, you use cinnamon sugar pita chips for scooping! You can also use graham crackers or nilla wafers in place of the pita chips.

Number of servings vary depending on the size of the individual serving vessels you use…this recipe was originally made using 6 large martini glasses, but works great in smaller cups/dishes also, as shown in the photo.

Banana Cheesecake Mousse with Salted Caramel Sauce

Banana Cheesecake Mousse with Salted Caramel Sauce

2 bananas
1 teaspoon lemon juice
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed
1/2 cup jarred caramel topping
1/4 teaspoon finely ground sea salt, or to taste
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped
Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips
Garnish: banana slices, walnut, and/or pita chip

Place the bananas in a medium bowl and mash with a fork. Add in the lemon juice, stir to combine; set bananas aside.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract, mixing until lump-free. Stir in the mashed bananas. Fold in the whipped topping; set aside.

Place the caramel topping into a small bowl; mix in sea salt, to taste.

To assemble, place a small amount of caramel into bottom of an individual serving vessel, top with a small bit of the walnuts, then with some of the banana cheesecake mousse. Make a second layer in the same manner. Drizzle top with caramel. Place in refrigerator until ready to serve.

To serve, garnish with a banana slice, walnut and/or pita chips. Serve with cinnamon sugar pita chips. Dip the pita chips into the mousse and enjoy!


The Taste Beer and Food Festival – Inverness, Florida

The Taste Beer and Food Festival, being held in Inverness, Florida on Saturday, April 8, 2017 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. brings together yummy, new flavors from trendy food trucks and restaurants, as well as over 100 different craft beers, all for your tasting pleasure!

There is also a cooking competition, with a golden ticket to compete at the 2017 World Food Championships on the line.  But I won’t be competing at the event, I will be on the other side of the table this time, as one of the judges.  It is going to be a new, fun turn of events for me, but one I am super excited to be able to participate in!!

Be sure to stop by the event and enjoy some good food, beer, fun and music!  Information on tickets is available in the following link:  The Taste.   A portion of the proceeds from this event will support the Citrus County Education Foundation, whose mission is to support Citrus County public schools in order to enhance learning and improve personal development for present and future generations.

I will be posting on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on the day of the event, so be sure to follow along to watch all the fun if you can’t make it in person!