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Number of servings vary depending on the size of the individual serving vessels you use…this recipe was originally made using 6 large martini glasses, but works great in smaller cups/dishes also, as shown in the photo.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


Cookie Butter Stuffed Vanilla Wafers

So this yummy, sweet tweet isn’t so much a detailed recipe as it is just a quick and easy idea using just three items that you may already have in your pantry.  Chocolate chips, vanilla wafers (not nilla wafers, the vanilla sandwich wafer cookies), and cookie butter.

All you need to do is sandwich two vanilla wafers with a generous amount of cookie butter, then dip into melted chocolate.  Place onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator to set the chocolate.  Done!!

To easily melt chocolate, place half of the chips into a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave, uncovered, on high for 1 minute.  Then continue to microwave in 30 second intervals until chocolate is soft enough to stir smooth.  Add the rest of the chips and stir until all have melted and you have a nice smooth chocolate sauce.

Cookie Butter Stuffed Vanilla Wafers


Blood Orange Jalapeno Margarita

Time for another cocktail!!  Recently there was a cocktail contest that had to incorporate some type of hot pepper.  I have never had a cocktail that had any type of hot pepper or heat in it, much less created one.  But I was definitely up for the challenge.  I came up with two recipes that I really liked.  This Blood Orange Jalapeno Margarita was the one I entered in the contest.   It isn’t overly spicy…just has a little kick of heat in the back of your throat.  So don’t let the jalapeno scare you off…definitely give this one a try!

Blood Orange Jalapeno Margarita

Blood Orange Jalapeno Margarita

2 slices blood orange, 1/2-inch thick each
1/4 jalapeno pepper, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 ounces tequila
1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
2 ounces chilled pomegranate juice
1 ounce agave

Garnish: jalapeno slice, seeds removed

In a shaker, muddle the blood orange slices and jalapeno pepper. Add in the tequila, lime juice, pomegranate juice and agave. Place the lid onto the shaker and shake to combine.

Place a few ice cubes into an old-fashioned glass. Place a small strainer over the glass (see note). Strain the margarita into the glass, garnish with a jalapeno slice.

Note: This second strainer is used to ensure catching the pulp from the oranges as well as the seeds from the jalapeno while straining the margarita from the shaker.

Makes 1 cocktail.