This page is an ongoing log of cooking contest awards and recognitions:

World Food Championships 2015, 5th Place, Dessert

The World Food Championships took us to Kissimmee, Florida in 2015, where I earned a 5th place position with my Strawberry Basil Compote Crunch Cakes!  These are a vanilla sponge cake with strawberry basil compote on the bottom, white chocolate lemon curd in the center and freeze-dried strawberry crumble on top!

Photo by Wes Aldridge

Bertolli Taste of Tradition Competition, Summer 2015

This savory cheesecake earned me a trip to Tuscany, Italy!  It's a rosemary and lemon cheesecake topped with savory pancetta, sweet figs and tangy balsamic vinegar!  It's a great appetizer with some crunchy, buttery crackers and a glass of white wine!

Savory Rosemary, Pancetta and Fig Cheesecake

Raglan Road Master Chef Competition, 2015

Winning a trip to Ireland was mind-blowing; but the company I kept WHILE in Ireland was LIFE-CHANGING! Raglan Road is an AMAZING Irish Pub at Downtown Disney in Orlando, FL.  I was lucky enough to be one of the five winners in their Master Chef Competition, and got to travel to Ireland with Chef Kevin Dundon!  I could go on for days about this amazing journey, but here's the dish that Chef Kevin chose to highlight at their 10th Anniversary dinner in October!

Pan Seared Haddock Fillet, Minted Pea Puree and Crab Croquette

World Food Championships 2014,  3rd Place - Dessert

I am VERY honored to say that I earned the 3rd place spot in the dessert category of the "Superbowl of Food!" 
For the dignature dish,  I made a "Tipsy Rockin' Root Beer Float Cupcake."  It was a chocolate root beer cupcake stuffed with root beer liqueur infused chocolate cream, topped with vanilla buttercream frosting, and garnished with chocolate covered PoP Rocks!  It was so FUN!
Tipsy Rockin' Root Beer Float Cupcakes
Our structured dish theme was New Orleans.  I wanted to do something traditional and different all in the same dish, so I did a blueberry basil beignet with a white chocolate lemon curd.  This dish bumped me up 10 spots to land me in 6th place after the preliminary round!

Blueberry Basil Beignets with White Chocolate Lemon Curd
For the Top Ten, our infused ingredient was citrus.  My Naked Vanilla Key Lime Mini Cakes landed me a third place overall finish and a happy heart!  I'm so proud of these little babies!!!

Naked Vanilla Key Lime Hand Cakes

US Potato Board #TopTater Contest, Fall 2014

I don't know anyone who doesn't LOVE potatoes!  I love 'em!  This was a great contest with a great prize that helped my buy ingredients for WFC2014!  My Cheddar Chorizo Hash Stacks with Chipotle Mango Salsa incorporate so many of my favorite flavors!

Cheddar and Chorizo Hash Stacks with Chipotle Mango Salsa by Kenmore, Dessert, Summer 2014

Kenmore and the website are some of my favorite people.  I was honored to qualify for the 2014 World Food Championships in the dessert category with my Kahlua Pig Chocolate Cake!  It's a Kahlua liqueur infused chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling, chocolate ganache frosting and a macadamia nut and bacon brittle garnish!

The Kahlua Pig Chocolate Cake

World Food Championships 2013, FoodChamp Challenge - Bacon

Five winners were selected to compete in the World Food championships from the WFC FoodChamp Challenge - Bacon.  I was honored to be the blog champ in this category.  My Bacon Stuffed Apples with Vanilla Bourbon Sauce allowed me to compete with some of the best chefs on earth in Las Vegas, Nevada!

Bacon Stuffed Apples with Vanilla Bourbon Sauce

The Sam Livecast Cooking Competition, October 2012

Out of eight competitors, I made it to the final two and took second place.  I have been a huge fan of Sam the Cooking Guy for many years and it was such an honor just to be able to cook in "the red kitchen!"  There were three rounds, in which I made three dishes, pictured below:
Jerk Fried Cod with Coconut Basmati Rice
and Pineapple Bacon Chutney
Photo by Lynn Chyi

Baked Ponzu Orange Chicken
Photo by Lynn Chyi

Bison Sliders with Roasted Corn and
Chipotle Mango Salsa

Real Women of Philadelphia, Summer  2012

White Chocolate Blackberry Mousse Tartelts
I was honored and excited to be one of the the five finalists in the Real Women of Philadelphia Delicious Dreamtrips Giveaway for France!  This was honestly my favorite recipe and video that was submitted for this portion of the contest season, so I'm really excited that it got selected!, Spring 2012

Curried Chicken Stir-Fry
This is one of the best recipes I've made in a long time.'s Curried Chicken Stir-Fry is DELICIOUS, and I was lucky enough to take first place in their video contest for week 1.

Week 2 was another win, second place this time, with their beautiful Fetuccine with Pesto, Chicken and Asparagus.  This is a PERFECT dish for a light spring dinner!

Fetuccine with Pesto, Chicken and Asparagus

 My friend Mary has an AWESOME blog with lots of healthy (and some not so healthy) recipes.  PLEASE check her out at

Real Women of Philadelphia, Cookbook Contest 2011

Peanut Butter S'mores Shooters

It always feels good to get constant positive feedback from a company like Kraft Foods, Inc.  Their competitive website,, has blessed me with more contest wins than any other website or competition I've entered. 

My Peanut Butter S'mores Shooters won for their cookbook contest in October of 2011.  This was the second year I was chosen to be a contributor to their community cookbook, featuring lots of delicious recipes featuring Philadelphia Cream Cheese!

Last fall, my family and I made as many different types of S’mores as we could around a back yard camp fire. There were Caramel Apple S’mores, traditional S’mores and Peppermint S’mores, but the hands-down winner was the Peanut Butter Chocolate S’more! This cute little shooter encompasses all your favorite flavors and uses my absolute favorite recipe for peanut butter crème, with Philly!

Peanut Butter S'mores Shooters

Prep time: 30 minutes / Cook time: 5 minutes / Total time: 35 minutes / Servings: 8

Peanut Butter S'mores Shooters

  • 4 ounce(s) of Philadelphia Light Cream Cheese
  • 12 Graham Cracker Sheets (48 individual crackers)
  • 10 ounce(s) of bag of peatnut butter morsels
  • 7 ounce(s) of jar marshmallow creme
  • 1/2 cup(s) of low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup(s) of chocolate syrup
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine peanut butter morsels, milk and Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Cook on medium heat and stir until combined and melted, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a glass mixing bowl and place in the freezer to set for about 10 minutes. Remove and mix with electric mixer until a light, fluffy peanut butter creme is created, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Place the graham crackers in a plastic, sealable bag. Seal the bag and break up the crackers with your hands, creating different size small chunks and crumbs. Transfer to a separate mixing bowl and add the chocolate syrup. Mix well until combined.
  3. Using 2oz. shot glasses, spoon about 1 tbsp. of the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each of the shot glasses. Follow with 1 tbsp. of the peanut butter creme, then 1 tbsp. of the marshmallow creme. Finish with another 1 tbsp. of the graham cracker mixture.
  4. Note: If using tall, narrow shot glasses, fill two separate, small plastic bags with the peanut butter and marshmallow creme, snip off a corner and pipe the cremes into the shot glasses. Serve with long neck teaspoons.

Aetna Healthy Food Fight 2011

Jerk Chicken with Mango Chutney and Coconut Rice
I had the honor of competing in the Aetna Healthy Food Fight as a regional finalist for the second year in a row.  This year was a somewhat scaled-back event, but the staff and the judges were still a blessing and treat to work with.
I wanted to submit this recipe last year, but they had a $12.00 recipe cost limit.  I was pleased to see that the limit was increased to $25.00, which gave me the green light to give them one of my best recipes.

Real Women of Philadelphia, Season Two Casting

Hoopfinity and Paula Deen at the RWOP cook-off
in Savannah, Georgia, June, 2011

Dessert...It's always the big finish to a wonderful meal, or a better finish to a terrible meal.  There aren't many desserts that I don't like.  In fact, I can't even think of one so let's just go ahead and say that I love them all!  My favorite, you ask?  Well, that's's the one that just earned me the VERY last spot in the FINALS for Real Women of Philadelphia's Season Two, my QUADRUPLE B'S!
Quadruple B's

These DELICIOUS Banana Cheesecake Blondies (Quadruple B stands for Better Blonde Banana Brownies) are easy to make and are just perfectly over the top with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and a big drizzle of caramel syrup.

I was sent to Savannah, Georgia to cook with 15 other WONDERFUL women and Paula Deen!  I didn't win the grand prize of $25,000, but this was definitely a high point in my cooking career and one of my life's amazing moments!  Life just keeps getting better and better!

Ménage à Trois Wine:

Facebook Superfan May 30 - June 6, 2011 - I created a delicious berry and wine sorbet for Memorial Day weekend using my favorite California Red, Ménage à Trois.  I posted the recipe on their Facebook page, and the following day, I was awarded their weekly "Superfan" award.  Thanks guys!

Ménage à Trois Sorbet

Prep Time: 30 minutes / Cook Time: 5 minutes / Servings: 4

  • 1 cup Ménage à Trois California Red wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup frozen blackberries
  • 1 cup frozen black cherries (pitted)
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Helpful Hints:  Costco has the Ménage à Trois wine for under $10.  Trader Joe's sells a bag of frozen fruit that has blackberries, cherries, raspberries and blueberries.  You could just use a whole bag of this and it would come out just fine too!

  1. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar.  Stir on medium heat until sugar is dissolved and a simple syrup is created.  Remove from heat and cool in freezer for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a blender or food processor, combine wine, simple syrup, frozen fruit, remaining sugar (1/4 cup), and lemon juice.  Blend on high speed for about 2 minutes until everything is smooth and combined.
  3. Transfer mixture to an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer instructions for sorbet.  If you're not using an ice cream maker, transfer the mixture to a glass 9x7 baking dish, cover, and stir every 30 minutes until the mixture is frozen and sorbet texture is reached (about 2-3 hours).

Ménage à Trois Sorbet

Real Women of Philadelphia (Kraft):

I'm always gushing about what a special community the Kraft Real Women of Philadelphia (RWOP) website is, but today, I received a huge honor from some of my favorite people.  My "How To" video for Southwest Macaroni and Cheese has been selected as the winner for Philadelphia Cooking Creme's Santa Fe Blend Category!  I won $2500 and now the recipe will be featured on the label of Philadelphia Cooking Creme!
This is SO special to me, not only because it was my favorite flavor of the four (obviously I like the Southwest flavors best), but my trip to Sedona was truly SO magical, I guess a little of the magic stayed with me up until it was time for the judges to pick a winner!
This is a simple and quick Mac N Cheese that's packed with flavor and heat! 

Prep Time:  10 minutes / Cook Time: 20 minutes / Servings: 4

  • 16 ounce(s) of Macaroni Elbows
  • 3 Spicy Italian Sausages, casings removed
  • 10 ounce(s) of Philadelphia Cooking Creme, Santa Fe Blend
  • 1 cup(s) of low-fat milk
  • 2 cup(s) of Kraft Shredded Four Cheese Mexican Blend
  • 1 Roma Tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup(s) of sliced, canned jalapenos, chopped
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup(s) of finely chopped cilantro for garnish
  1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and boil for 6-8 minutes until soft. Drain pasta and set aside.
  2. In a large, deep skillet, cook sausage on medium heat for 7-10 minutes, breaking it up into small bits as it cooks.
  3. When the sausage is browned and cooked through, add Philadelphia Cooking Creme. Stir until combined. Add milk and stir until sauce is thick and bubbly. Stir in cheese and mix until sauce is smooth and creamy.
  4. In a large serving bowl, combine macaroni, cheese sauce, tomato, jalapeno, and scallions. Stir until all ingredients are combined. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately. 
Southwest Macaroni and Cheese

    California Strawberry Commission:

    Skinny Tropical Dessert Nachos
    We all know that I love San Diego native ingredients, and strawberries are no exception.  Did you know that San Diego County is one of the largest producers of California Strawberries and, in 2007, about 87% of the nation's strawberries came from the state of California?  That's amazing! (

    My Skinny Tropical Dessert Nachos were a winner in their December 2010 recipe contest, and I'm honored to get a nod directly from the source of one of my favorite foods...STRAWBERRIES!

    Apple chips are the base of this light but decadent no-cook tropical fruit dessert with just a hint of a mint finish. If you can't find the apple chips, banana chips or thinly sliced apple wedges work just as well!

    Skinny Tropical Dessert Nachos

    Prep: 15 minutes / Cook Time: 0 minutes / Servings: 4

    • 5 ounces, apple chips
    • 1 cup finely chopped California strawberries
    • 1 mango, finely chopped
    • 2 kiwi fruit, finely chopped
    • 6 ounce(s) of Philadelphia Light Cream Cheese
    • 3 tbsp. of honey
    • 2 tbsp. of orange juice
    • 2 tbsp. of fresh mint, finely chopped, plus one sprig for garnish
    1. Spread apple chips evenly on a serving dish.
    2. Combine chopped fruit in a large bowl and mix until combined. Spoon evenly over the apple chips.
    3. Combine cream cheese, orange juice and honey in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Remove and whisk until all ingredients are combined and smooth (should have the thickness and texture of nacho cheese). Then, spoon cream cheese mixture over nachos. Evenly spread the chopped mint on top and garnish with the final sprig of mint.

    Aetna Healthy Food Fight

    Fall Spice Hash

    I was a regional winner for the San Diego edition of the Aetna Healthy Food Fight in 2010.  The winner went to Los Angeles for the national finals and cooked Thanksgiving dinner for Bobby Flay.  The winner of the national finals gained the title of America's Healthiest Cook and won $10,000 in kitchen appliances. 
    I was lucky enough to be part of yet another positive and encouraging cooking competition.  Everyone at the regional event was so kind and welcoming, I immediately felt like a part of their family.  They had been traveling around the country for the last two months holding regional cook-offs and none of them even seemed a bit tired.  The head chef of the event, "Chef Frank," even had a three month old daughter he hadn't seen since she was first born.  That's dedication.

    Aetna Healthy Food Fight

    We were scored on nutrition, the top 48 scores went to the regional cook-off.  From there, we wer scored on presentation (15 points) and taste (50 points).  I submitted a version of my Fall Spice Hash and was grateful to be selected as one of the 48 healthiest dishes in San Diego.  I've posted some pics of the presentation below, and I got some great feedback on taste.  I feel like I did the absolute best I could.  I didn't win the regional finals, but that's simply because it was someone else's time to shine!
    Good Luck Kisses!

    Prep Time:  20 minutes / Cook Time: 30 minutes / Servings: 5

    • 4 large chicken breasts (about 20 oz.), cubed
    • 1 whole acorn squash, peeled and cubed
    • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
    • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
    • 4 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
    • 3 green onions, finely chopped, including white tips (reserve some for garnish)
    • 1 1/2 cups brown rice, measured dry
    • 1 tsp. black pepper

    1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan.  Add the rice, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and steam the rice for 30 minutes until soft.
    2. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet.  Add acorn squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie spice and black pepper.  Stir until combined and cook on low/medium heat until potatoes and squash are soft, about 30 minutes.
    3. In a separate skillet, heat the remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil.  Add chicken red bell pepper and green onions.  Cook on medium heat until veggies are soft and chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
    To Serve:
    • Use a large, empty, aluminum can (soup) with both ends removed.  Place the can on the serving dish and add 1/4 cup rice, then 1/4 cup chicken, then 1/4 cup squash mixture. 
    • Smash layers down with a potato masher or other flat surface. 
    • Repeat layers and smash down again.  Carefully remove the can, garnish with remaining green onions and serve.

    RWOP (Real Women of Philadelphia)

    WINNING DISH - Jambalaya Joes
    Real Women Of Philadelphia:
    Kraft, Philadelphia Cream Cheese and the beautiful Paula Deen (and her butter!) have all teamed up for an incredible contest.  Each week there's a different theme and dish classification and each recipe submitted must have at least 2 oz. of Philadelphia Cream Cheese.  There was a video contest, hosts were chosen, there's a cookbook in the works and EVERY DAY SOMEONE WINS $500! 
    I found out a couple of weeks late, so I missed the first two entries, but as soon as I could, I started feverishly writing down, photographing and submitting my recipes in hopes of scoring in the cookbook and winning ALL the money $$$$$$ !!!!!!
    I knew the competition would be rough...I watch Food Network A LOT and I've seen those bake-off challenges.  They're brutal! 
    So, needless to say I was expecting cut-throat competition, school-girl drama, and lots of politics.  I went in with my battle armor on and my nose in the air.  OOPS.
    What I didn't realize, was that this was a beautiful COMMUNITY, full of gorgeous people who support, encourage and love each other...and their recipes!  There's no drama, no politics (from what I can see) and some of the biggest competitors, who've already taken home their winnings, are sticking around to kick us "newbies" in the pants and keep us going.
    I can honestly say that I am SO proud of being one of Philly's Real Women, and I am truly honored and humbled by all the encouragement, support and recognition I've been given.  The 500 smackaroos I've been hoping for would now just be the icing on the cake to all the other wonderful doors this competition has opened for me.