On August 29 I was invited to participate in the Food Lion Frugal Cookoff at the Southern Women’s Show. The Southern Women’s Show is an annual event here in Charlotte showcasing everything from beauty to fashion to food and much, much more! Over 25,000 women attend this three-day event held at the Charlotte Convention Center. Food Lion was one of the presenting event sponsors and had a huge stage set up in the convention space.
I have to admit that I was a little nervous when I arrived to find this huge stage set up on the morning of the competition but luckily the Food Lion team did an excellent job prepping us for the event. I knew who my team members were and we’d had a short brainstorming conference call earlier in the week.
I was super pumped when they gave me an apron with my name and blog embroidered. I definitely had my game face on after putting on my apron! 🙂
The way the challenge worked was that we blind selected one of four proteins: chicken breasts, tilapia fillets, ground turkey or boneless pork chops. Once you selected your protein you had 15 minutes to plan your dish and shop the pantry. The goal was to prepare a meal for four (protein and 2 sides) for under $15. My team had a few ideas going into the event but were super limited when it came to shopping the pantry. The selection was limited so we had to get super creative!
We ended up with the tilapia and decided to go with healthy fish tacos. We had 30 minutes to prepare our dish. While we were cooking the Food Lion Chef came over to offer advice and the event host peppered us with questions. I kinda felt like I was on Iron Chef. (Ha…not quite!)
We divided and conquered. I made a rub for the fish, cooked the fish and assembled the tacos while my teammates made two different side dishes.
We were down to the wire when it came to plating our dish but we pulled it all together and had our plates ready to go to the judges as the buzzer sounded.
We ended up with blackened tilapia fish tacos in romaine lettuce leaves topped with salsa, sour cream and cheese with black bean and corn salad and a spin on patatas bravas on the side. Our dish total ended up at $13.37 (minus the tilapia…they didn’t include our protein in our totals).
The opposing team did a fried pork chop sandwich with corn and slaw.
I wasn’t nervous while we were cooking but I sure was during the judging. The food editor for the Charlotte Observer was one of the judges!
Check out our arms in the air when they announced the winning team. We pulled it off! I totally credit our colorful plate for giving us the winning edge.
I LOVED MY TEAM! You have to check out K. Elizabeth and Amy’s blogs! We worked so well together and both K. Elizabeth and Amy were absolutely lovely. We got to do a TV appearance on a local morning show a few days after the competition to showcase our winning dish.
I am going to share our recipes with you but first, let’s do a giveaway! Food Lion gave me a $250 gift card to give away to a Peanut Butter Runner reader!
If you have Food Lion in your area and would like to enter to win, leave a comment telling me your best idea of what to do with tilapia fillets!
Limit one entry per person, US only, ends Sunday at midnight.
Now, here are those recipes!
Healthy Fish Tacos
FOR THE SPICE MIX
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
FOR THE TACOS
4 Food Lion frozen tilapia fillets, defrosted
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 head romaine lettuce
Food Lion Sour cream
Food Lion Salsa
1 bag Food Lion Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Combine all seasoning ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Pat fish dry and sprinkle with a generous coat of spice mixture, rubbing it in to distribute evenly on each side.
Pre-heat a large non-stick skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat and add tilapia. Saute fish for 3-4 minute per side, or until firm and flaky. Remove from heat and gently flake fish.
To assemble tacos, place tilapia inside a large washed romaine lettuce leaf and top with salsa, sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.
Mexican Spiced Potatoes
3 large russet potatoes, diced
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil, enough to coat the pan
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
2-3 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes and sauté for 5 minutes covered.
Remove lid and season potatoes generously with salt. Add paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes and continue sautéing until potatoes are tender and slightly crisp., about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent potatoes from burning.
During the last minute of cooking, add garlic and sauté. Season with salt, as needed. Remove from heat and stir in fresh parsley.
Black Bean and Corn Salad
1 can Food Lion black beans, drained
1 can Food Lion yellow corn, drained
1 bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup green onion, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Juice of one lemon
Dash of cumin
Salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
I was provided with a $250 gift card for myself and for a reader in exchange for participating in this competition. All thoughts and experiences are my own.