Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Family cooking contest reinvents hot dogs

I'm fortunate to be virtual friends with today's guest blogger, Kara Glenn, because we share a love of food. I ogled her photos of Thanksgiving dinner one year and sent her a Facebook friend request for that reason (though I had met her in person when we worked for the same company years ago.) And I'm excited to share with you the cooking contests her family holds.

Without further delay, meet Kara.

Kara Glenn lives in Morgantown with her husband Trevor and Golden Retriever Kelsey. She currently works for the Department of Energy doing design work, and enjoys cooking, reading (mostly Harry Potter), blogging, gaming with her husband and spending time with her family.

Here's her story of a recent family get-together over Columbus Day.

One of my family's favorite activities is eating. OK, actually it's our favorite. My mom went to culinary school in New Orleans, and good food has always been the centerpiece of our gatherings. With the growing popularity of the Food Network and competition-based cooking shows, we thought it would be fun to implement a friendly competition amongst ourselves.

Our first competition was a slider cook-off for the Fourth of July in which yours truly took home first-place honors. For Columbus Day weekend, we tapped a similar vein and chose a hot dog cook-off.

The competition takes place at my parents’ cabin in Canaan Valley, which provides amazing scenery for the festivities. We have few rules, if any. You are able to find the recipe for your entry wherever you choose, or make it up yourself. You can be quite creative in regards to how you view the competition food. We would never turn away a more modern interpretation of a hot dog, or whatever the food may be. Help is allowed, if needed. Often times we help each other when it gets to crunch time.
Judging is done by the whole family, including those competing (my mom, sister and I). Everyone gets a ballot and writes the name of their favorite entry. The entry with the most votes wins! Voting for yourself is allowed, but be prepared to be ridiculed for it.

The entrants were:

The Welsh Dog - Beef hot dog on a potato bun, smothered in beer cheese sauce (made with Irish Cheddar and Pumpkin Beer) and topped with caramelized onions.

The Monte Cristo Dog - Egg-battered fried bun topped with thinly sliced pork hot dog, hot turkey and melted Swiss and smothered in homemade Russian dressing.

The Poblano Dog - A roasted Poblano pepper stuffed with a beef hot dog, then battered and fried and topped with a red pepper jelly jalapeno sauce.

They were all amazing! I made the Welsh Dog, and as much as everyone loved it, I did not receive any votes. My vote went to the Monte Cristo Dog, which was amazingly delicious! This was my sister's creation, and she came up with the idea on her own (she's a chef and incredibly creative!). I've actually made these for dinner one night last week because I loved it so much!

As good as the creations my sister and I came up with were, my mom's Poblano Dog took home first place! It was sweet and spicy, and tasted very much like a Chinese chicken dish. It was slightly too spicy for my liking, which is why it did not receive my vote.

Overall the competition was as success, and the judges (aka my brother, father, husband and my sister's girlfriend) really enjoy our cook-offs (I wonder why...). It's a great family activity, and we talk about it often. For my birthday in August, my husband presented me with a giant trophy with lots of blank plaques for our winners. This has turned in to a wonderful family tradition, and a great way for my sister, mom and I to spend some quality time together doing what we do best—cooking.

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