Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cooking Demonstration Recap

As many of you know by now (through Facebook, Twitter or word of mouth), I participated in a cooking demonstration last week. The demo took place during the Milwaukee NARI Home Improvement Show at State Fair Park. It was really fun, although I was incredibly nervous leading up to it.

Let me back up a bit. Last summer, I got an e-mail from the editor of M magazine, asking if I wanted to be profiled in an upcoming article on local bloggers. Of course, I said yes! Please! After the issue came out, someone from Ron Sonntag PR contacted me and said he had an opportunity I might be interested in. Turns out, Ron Sonntag PR helps organize the homeshow, and, in particular, the cooking demos. So, I was chosen as one of the cooks (along with a chef from Saz's, Princess Di's former chef and a former Hell's Kitchen contestant).

I put off thinking about the demo for quite some time. Then, before I knew it, it was the end of January and I had to figure out what the heck I was going to make! Fortunately, it wasn't too difficult to figure it out. I knew I wanted to make something I created on my own--I didn't want to just follow someone else's recipe. And I figured that meant making Mexican, as it's something I love and something I am very comfortable making.
So I decided to make veggie and bean burritos, guacamole and pan-fried tortilla chips. Nate was my right-hand man, up on stage with me and helping through the whole process. It was much appreciated, and allowed me the opportunity to tell some stories and jokes.

We had a lot of fun. As I said, I was pretty nervous going into it, but lucky for me (I guess you could say that!) I had a really busy week at work and didn't have much time to dwell on it.

Thanks to my friend Lisa for taking some pictures during the whole thing (I hear there is a video of me making guacamole, too! If it works, I'll post it to the blog). And thanks to other friends and family for coming out to watch: my parents, friend Leah, and mother in law and step-father in law. Thank you so much everyone--it means a lot!

Here is what we made for the demo and the recipes we used. Nate and I did a test run about two weeks before the actual event, so that's where the food pictures came from. Unfortunately, there wasn't an oven to use to bake the burritos during the demo, so we had to take them home and bake them (no big deal, though!).

Gucamole (serves 4)
  • 1 1/2 avocados (reserve the other half for burritos)
  • 2 tbs. red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbs. prepared red salsa
  • 1/4 teas. lemon juice
  • 1 teas. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teas. each garlic powder, cumin, coriander and chili powder
  • 1/8 teas. garlic salt, salt and pepper

Cut open avocado and remove pit. Scoop out fruit in a medium bowl and mash with a spoon, fork or potato masher. Add the rest of ingredients and mix well. It tastes better if it sits for a little bit (half hour to an hour) in or out of the fridge.

Pan-fried Tortilla Chips (serves 4)

  • 4 small tortillas
  • cooking spray
  • 1/4 teas. each garlic powder, garlic salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teas. each salt and chili powder (both optional)

Stack the tortillas on a cutting board, and with a sharp knife, cut tortillas into 8 wedges, making a total of 32 wedges. In a small bowl, mix spices.

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray, and heat the skillet on medium-high heat. Place the tortillas on the hot skillet and coat with additional cooking spray, then flip tortillas a few times to coat. Sprinkle with spice mix, then flip the tortilla wedges a few times to coat with spice mix. Cook the tortillas on one side for 3-4 minutes (until the bottom is crispy) and then turn each tortilla over, using tongs. Let tortillas cook for another 3-4 minutes (until the chips are crispy and have browned edges). (It's best to cook the tortillas in one thing layer (not piled up) if possible.)

Let cool for 1-2 minutes and serve with guacamole.

Veggie and Bean Burritos (serves 4 (but they're huge!))

  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup orange, red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped (optional)
  • 1 can black beans (reserve 1/4 cup liquid), rinsed
  • 1 can pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 prepared red salsa plus more for burrito topping
  • 1/2 teas. (or more or less to taste) each cumin, coriander, garlic powder and dried cilantro
  • 1/2 teas. chili powder (optional)
  • 1/4 teas. (or more or less to taste) each ground black pepper and garlic salt
  • 1/4 teas. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 and 2/3 cups shredded pepper Jack cheese (or any other cheese or combination of cheeses)
  • 4 large tortillas
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 an avocado, sliced (leftover from guacamole)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add chopped peppers and onions, and cook about 7 minutes, with cover on, until tender. Add beans, salsa and spices. Bring to a boil and simmer, with cover on, for 10 minutes.

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Using a slotted spoon, scoop a 1/4 cup of bean mixture into a tortilla. Top with 1/3 cup shredded cheese. Tuck tortilla into burrito shape--fold in sides first, then top and bottom, making sure to keep sides tucked in tight. Repeat process with the three remaining tortillas. Spread a dollop of salsa on top of each burrito and use the remaining 1/3 cup shredded cheese on top of 4 burritos.

Bake for 15 minutes, then turn broiler on for another 5. Top with avocado slices.


  1. This looks so exciting! I'm bummed I couldn't make it, so hopefully you can get a video posted on here.

  2. Such fun! Wish I could have been there. Looks like you had a great time.

  3. How did I miss this one? Man I have neglected my blog-commenting/viewing duties bigtime! This is awesome, I love the Britney Spears-style microphones you and Nate got to sport...also, Princess Di's former chef? Bwah?! You are quite the celebrity, milady!

  4. Thanks, ladies! It was a lot of fun. :)

    Beck, I'll have to fill you in! We gotta catch up soon. Britney Spears. HA!

  5. Yum, yum, yum.
    So sorry we couldn't make it out to see you! But, it looks & sounds like everything went really well!