Food Wine Conference 2017 #BerryDelish #FWCon

Hold on to your seats…there is another opportunity to win some great prizes through Food Wine Conference.  To refresh your memory, the conference is held in Orlando, FL from May 19 – 21, 2017 at the beautiful Rosen Shingle Creek.  There is still time to register and if you use my code of DebbieR2017 you will receive $50 off of the registration fee.

This contest comes courtesy of Wish Farms and offers some awesome prizes including Visa gift cards, reimbursement of conference registration and a flat of Wish Farm blueberries.  Submission is for a cocktail/mocktail recipe which uses at least 1/4 cup of fresh Wish Farms blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and/or blackberries.

This recipe make one large cocktail, but you can easily divide it into two glasses to share. It is so good, though, if you do want to share, make a double or triple batch!!!

Also, the rosemary strawberry simple syrup can be made ahead of time and just kept in the refrigerator until ready to prepare the cocktail.

Rosemary Strawberry Lemonade

Rosemary Strawberry Lemonade – Adult Version

For the rosemary strawberry simple syrup:
1/2 cup hulled quartered Wish Farms Strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Remainder of ingredients to prepare cocktail:
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup tequila
Garnish: additional fresh rosemary and Wish Farm Strawberries

Prepare the rosemary strawberry simple syrup:
Place the strawberries into a large glass or medium-sized bowl and muddle to release juices; set aside.

Place the sugar and water into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until sugar has dissolved. Add in the rosemary and strawberries with juices, and heat over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let steep for 1 hour (or more).

To prepare the cocktail:
Fill a large glass (18-ounces or so) with ice. Add in the lemon juice, water, tequila and rosemary strawberry simple syrup; stir. Garnish with fresh rosemary and Wish Farm Strawberries and enjoy!!

Of course, feel free to make this as a mocktail, just omit the tequila!


Food Wine Conference 2017 #makeitwithMILK #FWCon

So, as you know by my last post, I am super excited to attend the Food Wine Conference in Orlando which is being held May 19 – 21, 2017 at the beautiful Rosen Shingle Creek.

As an attendee to the conference (register here and use my code of DebbieR2017 for a $50 discount), Florida Dairy Farmers is running a recipe contest for some awesome prizes, including an iPad mini, reimbursement for the conference registration, Snapchat glasses, Visa gift card and a Cookbook. The recipe must include at least 1 cup of real milk and at least 1 cup of one other dairy product.

Now, we all know when I hear milk and dairy in a recipe, my mind immediately goes to my favorite thing, macaroni and cheese. So, with that in mind, I definitely knew I needed something different…a basic regular mac and cheese is not going to win this contest.  So, I decided to combine the flavors of a French onion soup with a creamy, cheesy, mac and cheese.

French Onion Macaroni and Cheese

The recipe calls to bake the mac and cheese in individual ramekins, but it also bakes up nicely in a single baking dish, just increase the baking time by about 10 – 15 minutes to be sure it is heated all the way through.

French Onion Macaroni and Cheese

6 tablespoons butter, divided, plus additional for greasing ramekins, plus 1 tablespoon, melted
4 cups chopped sweet onion
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2/3 cup beef broth
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, plus additional for garnish
8 ounces orecchiette pasta
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
10 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded, divided
1/4 cup panko

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 8 (1/2 cup capacity each) ramekins with butter; place onto a medium-sized baking sheet and set aside.

In a large non-stick skillet melt 4 tablespoons butter over low heat. Add in the onions and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until golden brown and caramelized, approximately 30 – 35 minutes. Add in the beef broth and thyme and cook until broth is almost absorbed, approximately 2 minutes.

While onions are cooking, cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to package directions; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add in the flour and cook for one minute. Whisk in the milk and continue to cook until thickened, approximately 3 – 4 minutes. Add in 6 ounces of the cheese and mix until melted into the sauce. Add in remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the pasta and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, mix together the panko and the melted butter.

Fill the prepared ramekins a little less than half full with some of the mac and cheese. Using 2 ounces of cheese, evenly divide amongst the ramekins, then evenly divide the onions between the ramekins, drizzling with any remaining broth, then top with remaining mac and cheese. Sprinkle with the reserved panko, then with remaining 2 ounces of cheese.

Place into preheated oven and bake until heated through and bubbly, approximately 15 minutes.

Garnish with additional fresh thyme and enjoy!

Serves 8


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.