Thursday, January 29, 2015

Super Potato Bowls (Bites) with Salsa, Black Beans and Avocado

The Super Bowl... what does it mean to you?  Football?  Shopping?  Commercials?

For me Super Sunday has evolved over the years.  As I find myself ever so slightly older than the Super Bowl itself, I don't have many childhood memories of the event, but entering my 20's the Super Bowl stood for one thing... Joe.  Montana that is.

You may remember him... handsome, young guy who could do no wrong (in my eyes) with a football in his hands.  Total calm under pressure, Joe led the 49ers to 31 fourth quarter comeback wins in addition to 4 Super Bowl Championships.  Nicknamed "Joe Cool", Montana remained a vision of calmness in the midst of chaos and simply marched his team down the field to earn those final few points necessary for the expected win.

ESPN's Larry Schwartz describes it best:

"Take the 1989 Super Bowl against the Cincinnati Bengals. The San Francisco 49ers were down by three points with 3:20 left when Montana spotted -- no, not an open receiver -- but a personality. "There, in the stands, standing near the exit ramp," Montana said to tackle Harris Barton. "Isn't that John Candy?" And then he led the 49ers 92 yards, throwing for the winning touchdown with 34 seconds left."

Cool and calm under pressure, that's how I'd like to think of myself handling the appetizers at one of our Super Bowl Extravaganzas, and these Super Potato Bowls, much like Dwight Clark or Jerry Rice, make my job easy.

Roasted Potato Bowls

Roasted until tender, potato bowls are filled with either homemade or store bought salsa with added black beans.  These super potato bowls are then topped with diced avocado (did you know that Super Sunday sees the consumption of more than 158 million avocados?) and chopped cilantro... add a squeeze of lime if you like, then sit back and watch these bites disappear faster than Joe could have turned around a score in the last few minutes of a game.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Season 2 MasterChef Jr. Winner, Logan's Chocolate Chip Cookies and a MasterChef Junior Giveaway

Life.   We tend to think we have it all figured out, don't we?  Our flight plans filed, we find ourselves happily headed down nice balanced paths when all of a sudden a fork, or a rock, or even a flood appear out of no where bringing a diversion we didn't expect.  Taking us off our current path and onto another, we sometimes find this new path easy going and blossoming with flowers, however other times we find ourselves fighting to regain our footing in an attempt to get back into balance.

Early December brought a bit of a tumble off of our happy, balanced path when my usually healthy husband found himself visiting the ER twice in three days with the second visit ending up with emergency surgery.  After an emotional 5-day hospital stay he headed home two days before Christmas with even more questions and an understanding that we have no understanding of how to efficiently work the current medical system.

While he's doing much better, he's been off work for some 4 weeks and will probably see a few more before he returns to filing flight plans for real (he's an airline pilot).  Thankful his issues aren't life threatening, Liv and I have settled in to make him comfortable with he's healing and stretch of time on the couch.

Looking for pick-me-up entertainment, Liv took the remote from his hands, fired up HULU on the computer and caught him up on Season 2 of our favorite show - MasterChef Junior.  And just in time as the premier of Season 3 aired last Tuesday, January 6 at 8/7c on Fox. 

Oona from Season 2
I have to admit he scoffed at the show at first.  "Seriously...", he questioned, "How good can watching a bunch of kids compete in a cooking show be?" (I fear he vividly remembers my Girl Scout Troop's adventure in cooking in our kitchen...).

But within minutes 9-year old Oona had him wrapped around her little finger with her confident come backs, kitchen finesse and irresistible personality.  12-year old Sean left us in awe of his restaurant-quality precision and skill, and who could resist 8-year old Abby's love of all things jelly bean?

Judged by the esteemed Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, and Joe Bastianich (whom I read is leaving the show sometime in 2015)MasterChef Junior doesn't go easy on the contestants aged 8-13.  With critiques that would bring adults to their knees, these kids take it and move on to the next challenge with their heads held high simply oozing skills that I can only envy.  Really... how many kids enjoy pâté let alone know how to whip one up?

Finishing up our binge watching of Season 2, we caught the premier of Season 3 last Tuesday (January 6th - 8/7c on Fox) and I love that my husband is totally hooked, even telling us that we will have to wait to watch the show all together when he goes back to work in a few weeks. 

Meeting the kids in the first episode I must admit I'm somewhat missing the kids from last season, but I also enjoyed seeing the new personalities begin to shine with the first Mystery Box Challenge.  I loved how the kids brought different ideas from the same ingredients with final dishes ranging from entrees to desserts.

Jenna's Coconut Rice Pudding with Mango Mint Compote had me itching to whip up a batch of my own, and Jack's Chard-Wrapped Salmon is tucked away in my mind for a future date.  If only I had the recipe... because unlike him it's not something I'm capable of just whipping together like he did.

Nathan... from San Diego!
And I have to pull for 12-year old Nathan, though we didn't see much of him in this episode.  Hailing from our hometown San Diego, I'm wishing him the best of luck!!  But I think he'll see some serious competition from the intelligent and talented Ryan Kate, 11-years old from Texas.  And one can't help notice little 8-year old Riley, also from Texas who showed skills I can only wish for (I love his little step to get him over the counter!).

8-year old Riley... he's adorable!  And talented.
And easing us into this new, compelling season I have a special gift for us!  Just as we arrived home from the hospital a care package arrived on our doorstep (how did they know we needed a pick-me-up?) and proved the perfect treat while watching the Season Premier.

Opening the box we found goodies the treats including a recipe from Season 2's winner, Logan!  I almost feel kind of like he and I are cooking buddies... right??  Hot Coco Milk Crumb Chocolate Chip Cookies, he's brilliant!

Rounding out our MasterChef Winter Warm Up Box we received two MasterChef Junior Mugs, 4 chunks of chocolate on spoons, and jars of marshmallows, crushed candy canes and caramel chips... all perfect to go with Logan's Chocolate Chip Cookies and warm us to our toes as we enjoy the show.

MasterChef Junior Warm Winter Giveaway
And MasterChef Junior wants you to have a care package too!  Together we are giving away the same box of goodies we received to warm you up while you watch an episode of the show too.  Here's how to enter:
  • Open to residents of the United States only.
  • Giveaway ends January 16, 2015
  • Leave a comment below with your favorite new contestant, or if you haven't watched the show something you cooked when you were little.
  • Please leave an email address so we can contact you if you win!!
  • For an extra entry leave a comment below after you Tweet the followingHave you entered Liv Life's #MasterChefJunior Giveaway? #MCJWarmWinter
  • For another extra entry pin to Pinterest from this post and leave a comment below telling me you did.
  • Giveaway includes:  Recipes, two MasterChef Junior Mugs, 4 Wooden Spoons with Chocolate, 3 jars toppings (marshmallows, crushed candy cane and caramel)
Liv Life's #MCJWarmWinter Cookie Instagram!  (Logan even liked my post... now we really are recipe buddies!!  @logan.jr.chef )

Our thanks to the kids of MasterChef Jr. for helping us heal and getting us back into the kitchen!!