Monday, October 19, 2009

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!


Tracy is ... Loving Pretty Things said...

what a FUN party!

I love your eye for the details - I bet each year this party gets better and better!

That winning chowder sounds amazing - I'm off to mark it in my favorites on the allrecipes website!

Have a great Monday ~ Tracy.

Tracy is ... Loving Pretty Things said...
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Lori E said...

I don't eat shell fish but I am looking forward to seeing some without...I hope.
I bet your guests look so forward to this cook off every year. You are a great host.

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

What a fun event. Love the little tags you made. :)

Kim -today's creative blog said...

you are my featured blogger today!
Please email me for your featured button.

Melanie said...

It sounds like y'all had a lovely time. I wish I lived near you and I could have joined in the fun. I don't eat chowder but it would have been fun. You did a great job decorating for the cookoff.

McCarty and Company said...
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McCarty and Company said...
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McCarty and Company said...

So glad that your Chowder contest went well, and that your hubby won. Your tags are so cute, great idea for Thanksgiving dinner. My daughter and I also love the potpourri pumpkin, thanks for turning us on to Country Living/Martha Stewart. I mean we have checked them both out before, but haven't looked at them lately, until now. ;-) My daughter did her front door with the bats too, and she found a great Trick or Treat sign from Walmart, orange/black/white, so cute.
P.S. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to see pictures of your kitchen, is that your kitchen that Will and Kelly are standing in? :-)

The Summer Kitchen Girls said...

WHat a great idea! We always have Chili cook-offs, but we love this chowder idea! Cute tags on the gourds - perfect for the fall! We are facinated by all of the types of chowder you had - who knew? Certainly not us...but now we do!

The Tulip Lady said...

Hello Karla- Quick question and a thank yoy. First off, where in Seattle would you recommend shopping for cheap fabric? Second, THANK YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH for the tip about the Second Use Salvage store in Seattle. On our way home from th coast this year we stopped there. WOW. We are going to be in Seattle this weekend and are headed back and would also love any helpful tips on where to shop for fabric. Thanks-Vicki

debbie said...

I LOVE the mini gourds with the tags! What a cute idea for thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing.

TRICIA @ The Zoo said...

Hi Karla.
What incredible fun! Congrats to Will. This whole event seems so fantastic.
What a great way to celebrate a Fall weekend.


Melissa Lester said...

Congratulations on your TCB recognition! Love your blog! I'm favoriting you on first sight!

Cassie said...

Sounds like you all had a great time! The little pumpkins/gourds you used for the numbers was a great idea to incorporate fall into the setting! Great idea!

9 chowders! That is just great. Wish I could have been there to try them all! :)

Lori said...

What fun and congrat's to Will!! I am loving those gourds with the tags ~ what a great idea.

Kate Starr said...

How fun! Sounds like everything went really well.... interested in sharing the winner's recipe??? :)

Ruthie's Renewed Treasures said...

Amazing square tags tied on the pumpkins and gourds. Thanks for your post, I enjoyed it!

Marie said...

Hello sweet Karla - what a fun post! I enjoyed reading about the contest. Sounds like fun was had by all. I like the apron tradition. And those pumpkins with the numbers tied to them are so cute! I think I'll borrow that idea to make name place for the table settings on Thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing the winning chowder recipe with us!


My Notting Hill said...

Love the idea for having a chowder cook off. I need to tell my husband about this...