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Serving Up Fort Collins: Winner of the first original Noosa Yoghurt Blogger Recipe Contest!

Honey Yoghurt Marinated Chicken Souvlaki Photograph by Andrea Karapas, Serving Up Fort Collins

Honey Yoghurt Marinated Chicken Souvlaki
Photograph by Andrea Karapas, Serving Up Fort Collins

Everyone loves an underdog.  There are several theories as to why this is, one being that underdogs are perceived as putting forth more effort than those with better odds.  Whatever the reason, when the underdog beats the odds and pulls out a win, it’s cause for colossal celebration.

I received word yesterday afternoon and it was officially announced today that Serving Up Fort Collins won the Noosa Yoghurt’s first original Blogger Recipe Contest with the Honey Yoghurt Marinated Chicken Souvlaki recipe.  This was a national contest, folks, and there were some heavy hitters competing with me.  I did some snooping when the contest began and discovered that several of the other competing bloggers had thousands of followers and well established readerships.  I knew from the beginning that this was a long shot.

Fort Collins clearly came together, uniting to support this local blogger, and I sincerely thank you.  There’s a lot of family and friends I knew I could count on for votes but know they couldn’t have handed me this win alone.  An entire community of support was at work here and I’m grateful.  It’s still sinking in and I’m on cloud 9.  Follow this link to Noosa’s page announcing the #winner.

A Serving Up Fort Collins reader that voted and left a comment on the blog has been selected at random to win a kitchen package from Bodum, which includes impressive kitchen items such as a mixing bowl set, measuring spoons, and various utensils (including a garlic press, pasta server, whisk, serving spoons and more)! CONGRATULATIONS, Jen Cintora!  I’ll be getting that prize to you as soon as it arrives from Noosa.

Thanks, everyone.  Opa!

Midweek Mix-in: The Fort Collins Foodie Walk

foodieWalkLogo

Until recently, Old Town Fort Collins was a destination.  It was a place to take out of town guests for dinner or pick up a unique gift for a friend.  In the last 17 years I’ve watched Old Town evolve into an experience.  Not only has the foot traffic increased downtown, but so have the events.  And if you’re a foodie like the majority of people in this town, you’ve noticed that these events typically cater to you.  One of the more recent additions to the Old Town experience is the Foodie Walk.  It’s a free, self-guided tour through downtown that will awaken your senses.  Occurring the third Friday of each month from 5:00 – 8:00 PM, this walk features a different theme each month and will acquaint you with some of the best locally-owned businesses carrying essentials to complement all your farmers’ market finds.  The April Foodie Walk is this Friday, the 18th.  Haven’t checked it out yet?  Now’s your chance!

All the retail food shops highlighted on the Foodie Walk have been featured on Serving Up Fort Collins several times so there’s no shortage of recipes here utilizing the ingredients you’ll pick up along the way.  Just simply click on the drop down to your right under Locally Sourced Ingredients to find recipes on the blog that feature these incredible local ingredients.  On your walk you’ll discover The Cupboard, Happy Lucky’s Teahouse, Kilwins Chocolate & Ice Cream, Rocky Mountain Olive Oil Company, Savory Spice Shop, The Welsh Rabbit Cheese Shop, and this month’s Serving Up Fort Collins sponsor, Old Town Spice Shop.

Apple, Pecan & Bleu Cheese Salad with Dried Cherries

Apple, Pecan & Bleu Cheese Salad with Dried Cherries Photograph by Andrea Karapas, Serving Up Fort Collins

Apple, Pecan & Bleu Cheese Salad with Dried Cherries
Photograph by Andrea Karapas, Serving Up Fort Collins

With over 460 restaurants to choose from in Fort Collins, we rarely venture out of The Choice City for good eats.  There are always new places to try, though we typically go back to the same places because we can be boring like that.  When we do venture out of The Fort, we likely hit the highway and head to Denver for a special occasion.  The 55 mile drive is usually worth it and we’ve come to love some choice favorites.

This weekend we changed course and went in a different direction for a new adventure.   We landed on Main Street in Longmont.  Yes, Longmont!  If you haven’t been to downtown Longmont in a while, there are many new reasons to visit and explore.  They’re transforming their identity and will have an official unveiling on May 14th.  Their arts and entertainment district is flourishing and with over 80 independent merchants downtown, the shopping and dining options have grown appreciably.

Cheese Importers - Longmont Photograph by Andrea Karapas, Serving Up Fort Collins

Cheese Importers – Longmont
Photograph by Andrea Karapas, Serving Up Fort Collins

Among the many new hot spots in downtown Longmont is a quaint French bistro that doubles as a specialty import store with more European novelties than you could ever imagine.  The buzz around a restaurant is always a strong indication of its deliciousness, and there wasn’t a lack of patrons enjoying lunch on the back patio or inside the parlor.  Cheese Importers is a Colorado family-owned business founded in 1976 by Lyman and Linda White.  It features Bistrot des Artistes, their French bistro, serving a wide variety of cheese plates, quiches, baguette sandwiches, soups, salads, pastries, and coffees.  We took our time with the menu and ended up with a glorious spread of paninos, soup, and an antipasti plate. His was a panino of Tallegio cheese, prosciutto, and fig preserves.  Hers was a panino of ham, Fontina cheese, and farmhouse chutney.  The French onion soup was scrumptious with deep, herby flavors and garnished with a locally baked toast.  A favorite was their olive tapenade, which I could have slathered over everything.

Cheese Importers - Longmont Photographs by Andrea Karapas, Serving Up Fort Collins

Cheese Importers – Longmont
Photographs by Andrea Karapas, Serving Up Fort Collins

With full bellies, we strolled through “La Fromagerie”, their enormous European Marketplace, which showcases the largest walk-in refrigerated cheese and cured meat market in Colorado (bring a heavy sweater). Touting an inventory of over 350 cheeses, you can find just about any kind of cheese you need for a gorgeous cheese plate or recipe.  In addition to all their imports, they carry the majority of Colorado artisan cheeses along the Front Range as well as other locally made products.  Given all the samples of cheese, cured meats, and the marinated olive bar, we could have eaten lunch right in the cheese cooler.

Cheese Importers - Longmont Photographs by Andrea Karapas, Serving Up Fort Collins

Cheese Importers – Longmont
Photographs by Andrea Karapas, Serving Up Fort Collins

Aside from all the imported food for purchase, La Fromagerie carries a broad selection of European housewares, linens, unique children’s items, perfumes, soaps, gift wrap, artwork, etc.  It’s a fantastic place to shop for distinctive gifts and a highly recommended weekend excursion or romantic lunch destination if you’re looking for a quaint atmosphere.

Viniagrette for salad Photographs by Andrea Karapas, Serving Up Fort Collins

Viniagrette for salad
Photographs by Andrea Karapas, Serving Up Fort Collins

This salad was inspired by my trip to this European bistro and is similar to a salad they feature on their menu.  It comes from The Pioneer Woman and is a great salad to represent Spring and the lightness of the season.  Though this blustery weather may make you yearn for a bowl of hearty chili, you must resist and hold out for the fresh flavors of Spring and Summer coming our way.

Apple, Pecan & Bleu Cheese Salad with Dried Cherries Photograph by Andrea Karapas, Serving Up Fort Collins

Apple, Pecan & Bleu Cheese Salad with Dried Cherries
Photograph by Andrea Karapas, Serving Up Fort Collins

Apparently, I have a knack for identifying small-town local.  Of all the varieties of bleu cheeses available to me in Cheese Importers today, I was drawn to Shaft’s Bleu Vein Cheese out of Roseville, CA.  Shaft’s Cheese Company, LLC is a small, family-owned and operated company tucked within the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.  Aged for a minimum of one year in an old gold mine, it’s a savory, full-flavored bleu with a rich, creamy flavor.  Thank goodness Cheese Importers is bringing local California to local Colorado.  What a treasure!  I’m in love with this salad.  The flavors are perfect together.  You get the sweet from the apples and dried cherries, the crunchy texture from the pecans, and the salty and creamy from the crumbled bleu cheese.  The vinaigrette is light and pulls it all together.

Spicy Pickle Chevré with Nita Crisp Crackers Photograph by Andrea Karapas, Serving Up Fort Collins

Spicy Pickle Chevré with Nita Crisp Crackers
Photograph by Andrea Karapas, Serving Up Fort Collins

I found some local artisan bread from Boulder Breadworks and Nita Crisp crackers to serve with a local Spicy Pickle Chevre from Broken Shovels Farm in Commerce City.  Pour me a glass of wine, ‘cause I’m in heaven!

Locally Sourced Ingredients

Bleu Vein Cheese, Shaft’s Cheese Company, LLC (Roseville, CA) via Cheese Importers (Longmont) – A Colorado family-owned business founded in 1976 by Lyman & Linda White, Cheese Importers offers natural, organic and imported cheeses, cured meats, specialty oils, spices, olives, chocolate, and other unique specialty foods. Their wholesale customers include over 400 discriminating restaurants, natural grocers, hotels and neighborhood buying clubs.  They ship their products directly to businesses and homes nationwide making it easy to remember and taste your experience with whenever you wish.

Rustic Levain Baguette, Breadworks Bakery & Café (Boulder) – Established in 1995, Breadworks Bakery and Cafe is locally owned and operated in Boulder, Colorado. They pride themselves on their award-winning organic artisan breads, fine pastries, fresh à la carte breakfasts, lunches and gourmet take-away food. For their retail and wholesale customers alike they aim to provide the highest quality food and the best service around. From the chicken broth to the croissant dough and all their hand shaped organic artisan breads they make everything from scratch with only the freshest ingredients.

Spicy Pickle Chevré, Broken Shovels Farm (Commerce City) - In their rustic, European style of cheesemaking, no detail is neglected. Their cheeses are farmstead, and each recipe finds perfection in handcrafted elements. All ingredients are non-GMO, including the goat’s feed and forage.  Kindness and respect flavor every spoonful of their goat’s milk products. Supporting their animal workers with top notch husbandry practices is a cornerstone of this farm.  Broken Shovels has found it’s home as an urban farm in an economically challenged neighborhood and is committed to community involvement, neighborhood beautification, food justice and education projects. Attempting to set new standards for sustainability and environmental responsibility in agriculture, they are choosing to build their animal housing and fencing from mostly re-purposed materials saved from landfills, and are working diligently on grey water and solar additions to our farm economy.  From their farm to your table, they strive to raise the bar in every aspect of dairying, and believe the end result is an unparalleled, unique, and beautiful cheese you will be proud to serve.

Wheat Crackers, Nita Crisp Crackers (Fort Collins) – Nita Crisp Crackers are named after Nenita Pellegrino who modified a recipe to make a crispier and healthier cracker for her catering menu. Requests to buy these crackers started the Nita Crisp adventure – from selling at local farmers’ markets to eventually shipping Nita Crisp Artisan Flatbreads to customers across the country.  Nita Crisp Artisan Flatbreads are available at natural grocers, specialty food stores, and restaurants from coast to coast.

Apple, Pecan & Bleu Cheese Salad with Dried Cherries Photograph by Andrea Karapas, Serving Up Fort Collins

Apple, Pecan & Bleu Cheese Salad with Dried Cherries
Photograph by Andrea Karapas, Serving Up Fort Collins

Get the Recipe

Apple, Pecan & Bleu Cheese Salad with Dried Cherries

Ingredients:
12 ounces, weight Salad Greens (spring Mix)
2 whole Apples, Cored And Sliced Very Thin
1/2 cup Pecan Halves
1/4 cup Dried Cherries
6 ounces, weight Blue Cheese, Cut Into Chunks
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup (more To Taste)
1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar (more To Taste)
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Salt And Pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Add greens, apple slices, pecan halves, dried cherries, and blue cheese chunks into a large salad bowl.  In a small jar, mix Dijon, maple syrup, vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Put the lid on the jar and shake well to mix.  Pour a little salad dressing over the top of the salad and toss to combine. Taste salad and add more salad dressing to taste.

Recipe courtesy The Pioneer Woman