Riding ballsy with Balls Vodka

ballsvodka (1)

Sample provided for review

Some days demand an after-work cocktail to take the edge off. This week, I made myself a twist on the Bloody Mary with what I had in the fridge, and Balls Vodka. Balls vodka is 80 proof, distilled 4 times, vegan, gluten-free, and under 100 calories per serving.

ballsvodka (2)

 

The Balls-y Mary

Ingredients:

  • 1 shot of Balls Vodka (2 oz)
  • 2 cans of V8, or other tomato juice
  • Dashes of: black pepper, hot sauce, celery salt, garlic salt, lemon juice, Worcestershire, and horseradish
  • Olives and pickle to garnish

Directions:

  1. Fill cup with ice. 
  2. Add vodka.
  3. Season tomato juice to taste. Pour into glass.
  4. Garnish as you deem fit.

Adventures at IFBC!

Last September, I headed up to Seattle to spend three days at The International Food Blogger Conference with Louise. We had fun sampling different eats, drinks and spending time with local blogger friends as well as making some new ones!

Opening breakfast

IFBC mixed meal periods with sessions, with each breakfast and luncheon being accompanied by a talk, while dinner periods were set up like a party with hors d’oeuvres and drinks. During the day, you could pick between sessions on food and blogging topics, and there was an expo hall on the second night that gave attendees a chance to network with the brands in attendance.

Duck slider

Breakfast was at 7 AM on the first day, with a full morning of sessions before lunch at 1 PM. Because of the length of time between meals, all of us foodies in the conference room were getting mighty hungry; and when the final session was a cooking demo from The Chef In the Hat Thierry Rautureau, we were all drooling as we could smell the delicious dishes he was preparing on stage. When it was finally time for lunch, I piled a ridiculous amount of food from the buffet onto my plate and chuckled at the irony of being so hungry during a food event. ;)

Pile 'O Lunch

Lunch was hosted by Ninja Kitchen, who brought out celebrity chef Devin Alexander from The Biggest Loser to give us a demo of what the Nutri Ninja Blender DUO With Auto-IQ could do.

Ninja Demo

One of the big highlights for me was that a selfie I posted for Ninja’s #AddMoreGood contest won me a Nutri Ninja Blender DUO! Talk about an amazing prize!!!

Wine tasting

My favorite session was the wine tasting hosted by Bordeaux Wines. There was a talk going over the basics of pairing food and wine, and then we were broken up into teams and challenged to guess the flavors in the wines we were tasting.


I shouldn't give up my day job to become a wine sommelier, clearly. ;) #ifbc #ifbcbordeaux

A photo posted by Beeb Ashcroft (@beebashcroft) on

Obviously, I did not win any trophies in this department, but the great thing about wine is that the biggest reward comes through the act of tasting itself. ;)

Another amazing aspect to IFBC was the amount of swag given out in our goodie bags. This is what I came home with:

Swag closeup
I've got swag

And no, I’m not a greedy swag hoarder! As often happens at local conferences, those of us who don’t have to fly home can often take back more than others in attendance who are constrained by flights. You should have seen the pallet of peaches that Louise was given with an enthusiastic, “Here! Take these!”.

And what you see pictured here isn’t even all that I was given, as I gave quite a few boxes away on the train ride home. You see, I had a layover in Portland where I met up with family, so I loaded them up with some Krusteaz mixes and Aneto broth. I was quite a sight to behold as I sweated in my business suit, slowly lugging suitcases and bags full of heavy chicken broth through the train station! At one point, a nice man on the street saw me struggling as I walked towards my sister-in-law’s car, and offered to help carry my bag. I thanked him with a box of chicken broth, naturally. ;)

All told, IFBC was a fun and memorable adventure. I most loved the “Taste of Seattle” expo hall on the second night, where I had a chance to meet and network with the different brands in attendance. The sessions weren’t necessarily on topics that related to me personally, although I appreciated all of the speakers; but I attend conferences primarily to meet people anyway. There were a few organizational snags, as there tend to be at conferences; for example, our attendee handouts emphasized that all conference-goers are warned not to drink to excess, but during the networking event the second evening, there was no water or non-alcoholic beverages anywhere – not even a fountain. At one point, I asked one of the brands at a booth if they knew where I could get some water, to which they replied, “I don’t think there’s any water, but here – have a glass of wine!” So wine and martinis were our exclusive source of hydration, which was fine with me, but I did find amusing given our warning about drinking. ;) And if you hadn’t guessed already, you should be reading my blog with a tongue planted firmly in cheek!


Having a great time with @momstart at #IFBC!

A photo posted by Beeb Ashcroft (@beebashcroft) on

Have you been to IFBC before?

Heading to IFBC!

International Food Blogger Conference 2014 Seattle

I’m heading to Seattle tomorrow to attend 2014 The International Food Blogger Conference! I’m excited for some great eats, great drinks, and neat sessions on food photography, recipe development, social media, and everything else blogworthy. I’ll be recapping what I learn right here on Cooking Catastrophe, so if you won’t be there, you can get a “Taste” of it through my blog. But if you’re anywhere in the area, you should check it out and say “Hi” to me in person! Tickets are available at Foodista.com/IFBC and are $95 for bloggers.

Will you be at IFBC this year? Leave a comment and let me know if I’ll see you there!

This is What Happens When The Cooking Catastrophe Staff Get Together

I visited Catherine a few weeks back, and we had some grand culinary adventures, from egg tacos to fabulous pastries. But the most memorable began when we ran to the grocery store to pick up a few dinner supplies. While we were going through the checkout, Catherine noticed that the customers in front of us had some very unusual flavors of potato chips; with our curiosity piqued, we had to grab a few bags for ourselves:

Cooking Catastrophe appetizers

Why yes, those are cappuccino flavored potato chips. It sounded so disgusting that we simply had to try it; surprisingly, it wasn’t bad, tasting more like cinnamon and sugar toast than anything else. But Catherine had a brilliant idea:

Dessert nachos

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you: Dessert Nachos. The recipe is simple: Layer a bowl with cappuccino chips, cover with mudslide ice cream, and top with a piece of See’s Candy. I know this sounds horrific, but it was so, so good; eating the chips with the ice cream really brought out the coffee flavor. This dish is best enjoyed with Jack Daniels on the rocks and a viewing of Johnny Mnemonic, for those with truly refined palates like myself.

Bal’s Banana Cardamom Crème Brûlée

I have a most definite sweet tooth – last week, I was in a restaurant with friends and was drooling over the delicious Crème Brûlée that one of them ordered. I ended up getting Pommes Frites instead, but only because I’ve had this obsession with dipping fries in sauce after visiting Dreamland BBQ in Montgomery. But I can make up for missing dessert that night thanks to this yummy new recipe inspired by DreamWorks Pictures’ The Hundred-Foot Journey:

Crème Brûlée

Click to view the full-size recipe card.

Patriotic Pony Recipes!

Click Communications: BLOGGER BUTTONS &emdash;

I’m loving these adorable My Little Pony holiday-themed recipes, which include Apple Jack’s Apple Pie, Rarity’s 4th of July Cupcakes, Pinkie Pie’s Pink Lemonade and more! To view the recipes, click on the button above to download a PDF file.

Recipe: Patriotic Nachos

Patriotic Nachos
The Better Chip provided me with product and/or compensation for this post, however the opinions I shared are my own.


Have you caught World Cup fever? If you’ll be cheering on Team USA this week, here’s some awesome game day grub for you to cook up: Patriotic Nachos! These nachos are unique, easy to make, and feature The Better Chip, a delicious line of chips that are gluten free, non-GMO and vegan-friendly – well, until you cover them in cheese to make nachos, but just omit that part to keep them vegan. ;)

The Better Chip
I received a fun World Cup package from The Better Chip, containing bags of their chip flavors along with a caxirola, which is the official noisemaker of the World Cup. Good thing it’s not a vuvuzela, right? ;) The flavors included Fresh Corn, a classic, tasty chip; Spinach & Kale, a different, green kind of chip that was nice; Beet Chips, which might be the best beet has ever tasted; Chipotles, a super spicy and smoky chip, and Jalapenos, which has a slightly milder spicy kick to it. I nibbled on each flavor while preparing my nachos and thought they were super yum!

Better Chips
To create my original nacho recipe, I wanted something that would work for both Team USA and the 4th of July this week: Hence, Patriotic Nachos were born! What makes them patriotic, you ask? Because they are red, white and blue!

Nachos
Red: Kidney beans, salad tomatoes
White: White beans, white onion, mozzarella cheese
Blue: Blue cheese

Patriotic Nachos

Patriotic Nachos

Ingredients

  • 2 oz bag The Better Chip Corn Chips
  • 2 oz bag The Better Chip Jalapenos Chips
  • 2 oz bag The Better Chip Spinach & Kale Chips
  • 2 oz bag The Better Chip Beets Chips
  • 2 oz bag The Better Chip Chipotles Chips
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can white beans
  • White onion, peeled & chopped
  • Package of salad tomatoes
  • Bag of mozzarella cheese
  • Package of blue cheese

Instructions

  • Layer all chips in a large, foil-lined pan, arranging in strips by color.
  • Rinse kidney & white beans, layer over chips.
  • Peel & chop a white onion, sprinkle over the chip & bean layer.
  • Rinse salad tomatoes and add to nachos.
  • Cover nachos with mozzarella cheese, then sprinkle with blue cheese as the finishing touch.
  • Cook at 350 degrees until cheese begins to lightly brown around the edges - roughly 20 minutes.
  • Note: These ingredients aren't listed in specific quantities, because nachos are best made to taste - add as much of each item as you want!
http://www.cookingcatastrophe.com/recipe-patriotic-nachos/

I cooked up a tray of these nachos for my family tonight, and it was a big success! Everyone loved it – they thought the dish was really good, and quite different from what you usually think of when you make nachos, making it a simple recipe to prepare yet still unique. My family also noted that they really liked all the different flavors of chips.

Enter to win your own nacho kit!

TWO readers will win the following:

  • An assortment of chips from The Better Chip
  • Your very own caxirola
  • “Nachos Around the World” recipe sheet
  • A coupon for more product
  • And a chip clip!

To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below to get your entries in before July 1st, 2014 at 11:00 PM PST. This giveaway has a very quick turnaround, so make sure to read the rules in the Rafflecopter widget regarding how to claim the prize if you are the lucky winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
What recipe would you create with The Better Chip?

Recipe: Scalloped Potatoes For Foodies

I used to think that I hated scalloped potatoes. Growing up, my mom always made the boxed kind, and I always thought they were super gross. But then a few years ago, one of my aunts made scalloped potatoes from scratch and they were delicious. I realized it wasn’t the dish, it was just those odd boxes of instant potatoes that my mom would buy because she got a good deal on them with coupons – which I completely respect, because as an adult I would do the same thing myself. ;) Also, as you grow up, you realize that those easy meals may be more bland, but they are so much easier to deal with than cooking every single thing from scratch. I find as I get older I make a lot of the same food I used to think was kind of dull as a kid because I don’t want to deal with cooking!!

So while I may not be motivated enough to make a full dish of homemade scalloped potatoes myself, I can certainly appreciate the work that went into this delicious recipe inspired by The Hundred Foot Journey. This is definitely the “Foodie” version that puts those boxed 1990s dinners to shame with its fancy cheese and dash of nutmeg. Yum! Hey…maybe I should give this to my aunt and see if she’ll make it for us again! ;)

Scalloped Potatoes