Sunday, August 24, 2014

Best use of summer's last tomatoes... Roasted Tomato Jam! {#FBFAsh #VisitAsheville}

Despite my protests, summer is quickly drawing to a close...
Which sadly also means the end of what I think are the best tomatoes our
little garden has ever produced! And, although the tomatoes coming off
the vines now are certainly less attractive than the ones we harvested a few
weeks ago, I refuse to let any go to waste! After all, heirloom tomatoes are
bred for taste, not beauty... A description I also believe applies a bit to me!
But seriously... All of these late-summer tomatoes I picked this morning,
with their green shoulders from too much/uneven sunlight and cracking,
which signals inconsistent watering, are just as delicious and nutritious as
their prettier cousins picked for the salad team first! In fact, the journal
PLoS ONE reports that organic tomatoes pack more nutrients, including
fifty-five percent more vitamin C and 139 percent more phenolic content;
compounds that have been shown to help fight diseases such as cancer. The
theory is that the plants produce higher level of phytochemicals when they
are stressed, which occurs when they aren't protected by pesticides, making
their fruit more nutrient-dense! So go ahead... Run out to your garden and
pick all those ugly tomatoes. And, if you don't have a garden, then get to your
local farmers' market for some before they're all gone! All it takes is a little
trimming and you'll see... Inside, these tomatoes are as perfect as they come!
Speaking of perfect... I have so much to share with you about my time in
lovely Asheville at Food Blog Forum last week! But as excited as I am
to spill the beans and share a dessert recipe I've developed using two of the
very sweetest Asheville FoodTopia goodies, today we're talking about...
My roasted tomato jam! Which also features an ingredient from the
Food Blog Forum swag bag I got... It's this bottle of Batistini IGP
Tuscany Organic extra virgin olive oil. As you know, I cook with a lot of
olive oil and this particular olive oil, which happens to be distributed
in Clemmons, just a few miles from my home, is truly delicious! So,
seeing this sexy bottle pop out of the bag that Jaden, Julie, Lindsay
put together was a thrill! Honestly, it's the best. Read about it, here!
In my opinion, tomato jam is the single
best use of summer's last tomatoes...
It's so easy to put together and tastes like sweet summer-time! I
spread it over my turkey panini and BLT sandwiches... So good!
Chunk up tomatoes, throw them onto a baking sheet and drizzle with
the world's best extra virgin olive oil. Then, kiss them with a little
dark brown sugar and sprinkling of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper!
Slip all this goodness into a preheated,
400-degree oven for 20 minutes...
And, prepare to be amazed by the aroma and flavor!
Now, since I'm also using some of this lip-kicking Smoking J's Fiery
Foods barbecue sauce from in the second amazing swag bag gifted us
by our exceptional FOODTOPIA Asheville hosts, Dodi, Landis and
Cat from on my ribs and chicken wings...
Only tomato jam bruschetta as a side will do!
Let's build the perfect bruschetta, shall we?
Grab a spoon!
To add tomato jam to thin slices of grilled French baguette...
And top with finely grated Parmesan cheese and baby basil leaves!
The sweet, acidic flavor of my tomato jam is the perfect compliment and
equalizer to the stealth kick of Smoking J's Ninja Porter sauce - Made with
Asheville Brewing Company's 2014 World Beer Cup GOLD winning Ninja
Porter brew which delivers a chocolate finish with coffee/caramel notes!
Put it all together and it is all just sooo good!

I leave you now sending my sincere thanks to the Food Blog Forum Asheville team for the incredible experience of exploring parts of beautiful Asheville I've never seen before with delightful new friends from I am just beginning to scratch the surface of the amazing swag from FOODTOPIA Asheville, so please stay tuned!

I said it at the conference and I'll say it again;'s FOODTOPIA Asheville, BEST SWAG BAG... Ever!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Winston-Salem Open 2014 - Sponsored by Hanesbrands and Champion USA!

One of the countless benefits of working for Hanesbrands is the
ability to fill a seat each year at the Winston-Salem Tennis Open!
Where our Champion brand has another opportunity to shine!
I love tennis!
So I pulled out my now vintage '93 US Open t-shirt and
headed out to the semi-finals last night with my sweetie!
It was a lovely evening for tennis!
And, to spend a little extra time with the amazing people I work with!
See what I mean?... Lovely!
Last night's semi-final match was played by Jerzy Janowicz of Poland...
And, Sam Querrey of the United States. He's
from California, but lives in Las Vegas... Just to be exact!
It was great tennis!
Not quite the thrill of watching my biggest crush,
Bjorn Borg defeat McEnroe at Wimbledon in 1980...
But great tennis nonetheless!
Although loyal to Sam, the American... It was
clear that Jerzy had the attention of the crowd!
In the end, despite 18 aces delivered by Querrey...
The better competitor won...
And, I ended up with one of the autographed
tennis balls Jerzy lobbed at us from the court!
Of course, watching Jerzy play last night,
we couldn't not return today for the finals!
Despite the fact that it was blazing hot at 12:30PM when the match began!
Jerzy's challenger today was Czech veteran, Lukas Rosol!
Knowing Jerzy won a prior meeting with Rosol last year
in Marseille, I was hopeful he'd come away with the win...
However, despite giving 150% on one of the hottest days this month...
It was not to be!
Regardless of who wins or loses...
I just love to watch great tennis!
And, this year's Winston-Salem Open didn't disappoint in the least!
Hanesbrands and the Champion USA brand rocked this event!
And, I cannot wait for next year!
The other thing I couldn't wait for was to get home to do this...
Because I wasn't kidding... It was really, really hot out there today!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Bon Appétit's Best Banana Bread... Truly is the Best!

Although it's been nearly a month since I attended Food and Wine Conference
in Orlando, the swag I took home just keeps on giving! So today, I decided to put
this dozen eggs from Davidson's Safest Eggs and beautiful brown sugar from
Dixie Crystals to terrific use creating Bon Appétit's Best banana bread recipe!
As I mentioned yesterday when I shared this tasty one-pot meal, summer's
been missing in action around here lately... So while banana bread doesn't usually
make my August dessert menu, it's exactly what we need on this cool, rainy day!
My sweetie loves banana bread, which means I've spent many years
testing recipes in hopes of finding one worthy of a repeat effort...
Which is exactly what this recipe from Bon Appétit turned out to be!
Dark brown sugar, butter and mascarpone is a very nice start!
Blended until light and fluffy, you know this is not your average
banana bread recipe. After I added the whisked flour/salt
and and baking soda, I mashed up four ripe bananas...
Then chopped a handful of walnuts and grabbed a
few Guittard milk chocolate chips to add in!
This banana bread looks amazing already!
Into my buttered, then parchment lined loaf pan it goes!
And into a preheated 350-degree oven for 60-65 minutes!
It smells like heaven! But better than how it smells...
Served warm with a little unsalted butter or vanilla ice cream...
This banana bread tastes like pure bliss!