Monday, October 19

Another Successful Cook-Off!

On Saturday we hosted our

3rd Annual Chowder Cook-Off

Family, friends and neighbors all came to try for the title of

"Chowder Champ"

This year, the competition was steep.

We had nine chowders come out to win. And this year, it seemed like everyone found their groove and stepped it up, big time.

It was seriously hard to vote - they were so good!

But in the end, the title went to Will!

(I'll share the recipe with you - it was my favorite at the cook-off!)

And my best friend, Kelly, came in as Runner Up!

Congratulations to the winners!

Job well done!

Each year the winner of the Cook-Off gets their own "Chowder Champ" apron. And every year the previous winners wear their aprons during the cook-off. You can see Kelly's apron in the photo above - she won the cook-off the first year that we had it! So we will be making a "Chowder Champ" apron for Will and next year, he will be sporting his right along with Kelly and I (my recipe won the 2nd year).

It's a fun way to document each year's winner!

Before everyone arrived on Saturday, I made up the numbers for each chowder. Each crock-pot gets a number placed in front of it so that the cook can remain anonymous. The thought is that this way voting is based on the chowder itself, not who made it!

I used mini pumpkins and gourds to add to the autumn feel. The numbers were written on vellum tags and tied onto the tops of the pumpkins and gourds with twine. I've done these for Thanksgiving before to mark our guests seats at the dinner table. It's easy and pretty inexpensive, but the thing I love the most is that after the party, they're still usable! Just take off the tags and sprinkle the gourds and pumpkins around the house.

Once all of our guests and their chowders arrived, numbers were placed and ladles were ready to serve.

Time to dish up!

We had a great mix of chowders - lots of different types.

The winner had a Mexican flair to it,

one tasted Italian,

a couple were super spicy,

and a couple were true "from the sea" chowders.

Like I said, it was so hard to choose who should win!

Once our guests decide who to vote for, we have "official ballots" to mark each vote...

The votes are placed in a jar and everyone sits in suspense until the votes are read.

It's all extremely technical and professional, as you can see!


We had a great time!

It's so much fun to hear people already making plans for their chowder for next year.

It's getting quite competitive going into its 4th year!

We made the spicy, scented pumpkin that I talked about the other day...

It makes the room smell wonderful!

We'll definitely be doing this again during this Fall season!

One of the very best parts of the cook-off is the cornbread...

Will makes it and it is delicious!

He sticks by his "secret ingredient" and it's a favorite every year.

(Did you notice his apron in the photo at the top?)

I always make a hot cider to go with the event.

It's a perfect fall drink...

I have tried several, and this recipe is my favorite!

Spiced Cider

1 gallon apple cider

2 teaspoons whole cloves

2 teaspoons whole allspice

2 to 3 cinnamon sticks

5 fresh orange slices, studded with whole cloves

Wrap spices in a bag of cheese cloth. Pour cider, cloves, allspice and cinnamon sticks into a large pot. Cover until heated and then simmer.

Of course, this can be adjusted to your liking. Feel free to add more or less spice and orange slices, if you like.

The recipe for the winning chowder can be found here!

Will did adjust the recipe a bit:

He used 4 times the amount of kielbasa and he added Hungarian HOT Paprika. He also used russet potatoes instead of new potatoes - but only because that's what we had. I'm sure it would have been just as good with the new potatoes.

It was delicious!

Hard to believe that it's already come and gone!

Many thanks to our guests for making it a great Cook-Off!

P.S. And many thanks to those of you that sent recipes! I'm not going to need to look for a new chowder recipe for quite some time! You've made it easy for me. And luckily, there's plenty of Autumn and an entire winter ahead of us, so it's perfect chowder weather for trying out all of your recipes!

Thanks so much!