November 20, 2017

The Next Food Network Star (& what to serve your family)


Last week, some of the (in)courage bloggers sat around chatting in real life last while our caterer walked through the door, ready to set up her delicious fare for our upcoming supper.

Chit chat continued with out one person noticing what I was noticing. I could not let this travesty continue, so I demanded my own little celebration. Yes, all by myself, I announced over the room,

“Ladies – do you not know who this is? This is Orchid from The Next Food Network Star. YAY ORCHID! Woot Woot!” I cheered and clapped for her – all by myself.

Embarrassing it was, but in our foodie world, the fact that a finalist from the Next Food Network Star started preparing our dinner was a big deal, and I wanted to celebrate her accomplishment.

Orchid chuckled and thanked me for watching. Can you believe that out of those twenty women, I was the only one who watched the show? For shame!

This summer, my 8 year old and I bonded over this one hour of TV, and it warmed my heart to snuggle on the coach and dream over what recipe we would try next.

I shared this story with my friend and she stated that I should totally try out for The Next Food Network Star. Yes, I took that as a compliment, but I am not a good enough chef to be on that show. I could handle the TV challenges just fine, in fact, that would be something I would love, but to create those unbelievable meals from one ingredient or create a seven course dinner off the top of my head, using only what they provide, not going to happen.

When the Celebrity Chefs give a new challenge to the contestants, I quickly try to think if I could do that on the spot and honestly, most of the time, I could not. Often, they are using ingredients I have never even heard of, let alone create as the basis of a meal.

That’s why when Orchid shared her menu, I loved her just a bit more. She prepared the foods that she would serve her own extended family if they were coming to visit, and what a southern feast she provided.

It’s wonderful to realize that a Food Network star’s meal looks very much like choices I provide for my guests. Connecting over food was her medium.

Comfort Food and Down Home Cooking are definitely what I would be known for, except it might not look as pretty as hers.

From the Baked Macaroni and Cheese, Fried Chicken, and Jalapeno Corn Bread, we were just getting started.

1109_incourageHHI_131I popped a few of these Deviled Eggs in my mouth while I waited in line (oh yes, I did.) Deviled Eggs are so simple to make and they always seem to be the first things to go at pot lucks. So why don’t we make this wonderfully frugal appetizer more often?

1109_incourageHHI_139(thank you to my sweet friend, Dawn, for all her great food pictures. I was too busy eating. :))

Ribs, anyone?

1109_incourageHHI_133 This loaded Baked Potato salad had me from the first bite. I debated between an additional helping or dessert. I splurged on the second helping. The carbo loading drew me in.

1109_incourageHHI_135Only the true, born and raised Southerners could appreciate this fare (of which I am not).

Collard Greens. The southern belles were holding this bowl close to their hearts. I, on the other hand, gladly let them. Someone had to sacrifice for them.

Divine Banana PuddingThe meal reached its crescendo with Banana Pudding.

Since moving South, I’ve learned to make Banana Pudding with the best of them, but I have never seen it made with these Chess cookies and I thought that was awfully creative.

So that was my evening with one of the Next Food Network Star contestants. We jabbered on more about cooking with our kids, the show, the restaurant she owns and her attempt at trying to balance those things, but mainly it was just a group of women sharing life around some good ‘ole fashion comfort food.

If you have extended family coming over, what do you serve as your favorite meal?

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  1. Orchid was my FAVORITE!!!! I can’t believe no one else with you knew who she was! What a treat that must have been to have her prepare your meals!


  2. Well, Jen, I AM EXCITED about Orchid and I can’t believe Mary didn’t tell me she was there! I love Food Network Star.


  3. I must admit that I wouldn’t have known Orchid. I have heard of the show, but have not watched. It sounds like a fun, family show. I would like the cooking part of the competition, but the time limits would stress me out.

    Thanks for hosting.


  4. That’s fabulous! How fun! My husband and I enjoy watching Food Network Star, as well, and I often wonder if I could cook like that on the spot. Definitely not. But I’d like to think I could :). Thanks for hosting. I look forward to the ideas every week!


  5. Yay Orchid! How exciting! I loved her on FN, she was one of my faves. How awesome to meet her and get to eat her delicious food!


  6. I am seriously craving deviled eggs now.
    I’ve made banana pudding with the chess crackers before…it’s how Paula Deen does it! 😀


  7. I loved Orchid on the Next Food Network Star. How neat that you got to meet her!!!


  8. Thank you for hosting! This week I have shared the following three seasonal farm-to-table recipes that I made last week and one blog posting:

    celery & turnip soup
    mediterranean kale salad
    zesty cucumber mango soup & salad
    what is csa black box cooking?

    Happy cooking!

    The Intentional Minimalist


  9. We also bonded over the Next Food Network Star! I was able to teach a lot of life skills as we watched – how to lose graciously, that you are always auditing for life, treat everyone with respect, etc. My girls will be so jealous that you met Orchid!


    Jen Reply:

    Oh trust me, I called my 8 year old right away since I knew she would be SO excited. It was so anti climatic to not have any of the other ladies excited with me. 🙂


  10. Oh, wow, that banana pudding looks amazing! I’ve never had, but I am sorely tempted to try making it after seeing the version you included.

    My dh is actually the gourmet chef in our team, though I am getting more comfortable with food hospitality. I have to admit that with 5 kids total, and 4 under the age of 7, we have survived entertaining, rather than enjoying it. Now that the youngest is 3.5, I want to enjoy being hospitable because I do love to cook, even though I’m not confident even after 19 years.

    I love comfort food, and I picked up a cookbook by Williams Sonoma with the same name. I’ve been trying the recipes on my family. It’s time to try them on extended family.


  11. I LOVE Orchid! I wanted her to win so badly!

    I’m pretty sure I would have gone for second (third?) helpings of that potato salad… 😉


  12. That is cool!! You’re encouraging me to watch these Food Network tv shows with my daughters again. Except we must get our tv fixed first!! 🙂


  13. These pictures are amazing and make me hungry. Which I think means they did their job very well!


  14. Although I’m a born and bred Yankee, I have some Southern roots in my family, and that banana pudding just looks wonderful – and pretty.

    The last dish I made for company was mini-meatloaves. I threw in some “extras” – a cup of shredded zucchini, chopped celery, chopped green pepper and a little extra meat – and I ended up stretching the recipe quite a bit. It was a great way to use up some veggies lingering in the refrigerator and freezer while getting a few more meatloaves than usual out of my recipe.


  15. You are so lucky! I loved her on the show and that food looks amazing. If you or your readers are interested, I have a giveaway going on over on my blog for Rocco Dispirito’s new book that ends Sunday night (so that the winners can get their signed copies just after it is released!)


  16. OMG! That all looks scrumptious. I laughed over the deviled eggs. I have to put together two trays at holidays because my family will eat them all BEFORE the meal if I don’t hide one! And that banana pudding — I have to try it with the Chess cookies next time. I think I am going to have to begin watching The Next Food Network Star.


  17. I am soooooo jelious! Orchid was great on FNS. So cool! The pics Dawn took are wonderful and make me hungry!!!


  18. What an awesome experience!!! That would be so fun.



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