Beer and Pretzel Caramels- Stuff his stocking!

It was impossible to pass over this recipe when I saw it, baking with beer and pretzels was right up my alley . I haven’t had a lot of luck with caramels, but wanted to take a chance on these “Mans Man” caramels. Salty, Sweet and Beer- put them on the coffee table for all the bowl games coming up!

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These unique treats came from Taste of Home– It might seem like a lot of beer to let go, but the outcome is so worth it!

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Ingredients

1/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups miniature pretzels
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

CARAMELS:
4 cups dark beer
1 teaspoon plus 1 cup butter, divided
3 cups sugar
2/3 cup corn syrup
2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon kosher salt

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Directions

In a small bowl, combine sugar and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the pretzels, oil and vanilla. Add sugar mixture; toss to coat. Transfer to a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. foil-lined baking pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 350° for 18-22 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool completely. Coarsely chop pretzels; set aside.
In a large saucepan, bring beer to a boil; cook until reduced to 2/3 cup. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, line a 9-in. square pan with foil; grease the foil with 1 teaspoon butter and set aside.

In a Dutch oven, combine the sugar, corn syrup, 2/3 cup cream, water, salt and remaining butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 238°, about 20 minutes. In a small bowl, combine reduced beer and remaining cream; slowly stir into sugar mixture.

Using a pastry brush dipped in cold water, wash down the sides of the pan to eliminate sugar crystals. Cook, stirring constantly, until a candy thermometer reads 245° (firm-ball stage), about 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Pour into prepared pan (do not scrape saucepan); sprinkle with candied pretzels and kosher salt. Let stand until firm, about 5 hours or overnight. Using foil, lift candy out of pan. Discard foil; cut candy into 1-in. squares using a buttered knife. Wrap individually in waxed paper; twist ends.

Yield: about 3 pounds/81 Servings

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The guys will love these artisanal treats for sure!!

Marscapone Filled Brownie Sandwiches

I wanted to tag everyone in this post, to get your attention and suggest you stop what you’re doing today and make these instead. By far these are absolutely my favorite cookie made to date. Rich, creamy, and decadent, the kind you would travel across town for. This is the cookie in which one is enough, at least for one seating.

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If you have to share with more than 5 friends I highly suggest doubling the recipe as it doesn’t make too many. Or hide the last one, not that I did that!

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From Better Homes and Garden Holidays– They got this one right on the money!

Ingredients
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon instant espresso coffee powder
2 eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup miniature semisweet chocolate pieces
1 8 ounce container mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whipping cream
½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions

In a small heavy saucepan heat and stir chopped semisweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, and butter over low heat until melted and smooth; set aside to cool slightly. In a small bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder; set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl beat eggs, granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed for 4 minutes or until thick and light yellow in color. Fold in melted chocolate mixture. Fold in flour mixture until combined. Fold in semisweet chocolate pieces. Let batter stand for 10 minutes (batter will thicken as it stands).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Drop batter by slightly rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake about 8 minutes or until set and tops are crackled. Cool on cookie sheets for 1 minute. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

For filling, in a small bowl stir together the mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, whipping cream, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Spread about 1 tablespoon filling each on the flat sides (bottoms) of half of the cookies. Press the flat sides of the remaining cookies against the filling.

From the Test Kitchen
To Store:  Layer filled cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store the cookies in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

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Enjoy the first day of Winter- 85 and sunny here in Florida! Looking forward to waking up in the 40s on Christmas morning!!

No Bake Lemon Drop Cookies

The kiddos are about done with school before the holiday and will soon be looking for something to do!  Put them to work with these fun candy cookies- no ovens required and plenty of hands on time!  Hard to beat the classic flavor of a lemon drop candy!!

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These kid friendly treats came from Better Homes and Gardens.  They offer a ray of sunlight on a cold winter day (unless you are in Florida with me where we pray for temperatures under 65).

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Ingredients

2 cups finely crushed shortbread cookies
1 cup powdered sugar
½ cup almonds, toasted and finely chopped
½ cup finely crushed lemon drop candies
2 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon finely crushed lemon drop candies

Directions
In a large bowl, stir together the crushed cookies, the 1 cup powdered sugar, the almonds, and the 1/2 cup crushed candies. In a small bowl, stir together corn syrup, milk, and melted butter. Stir the corn syrup mixture into the cookie mixture until well combined.

Shape cookie mixture into 1-inch balls. In a small bowl, combine the 1/3 cup powdered sugar and the 1 tablespoon crushed candies. Roll balls in powdered sugar mixture. Place on a large baking sheet or tray.

Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Roll balls again in powdered sugar mixture just before serving.

Makes about 36 cookies.

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And of course the best part is…your little helpers are the ones able to make them!!

Wild Flower Honey- Hazelnut Lace Cookies

Lace cookies should be a part of every cookie buffet, they add the perfect option for the “I’ll have a small one” line of thinking.  These are crisp, rich and light all at the same time, the perfect answer to that sweet tooth.

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These scrumptious cookies came from Southern Living.  Truly cannot go wrong!

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Ingredients

¾ cup powdered sugar
½ cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon wild flower honey
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup finely chopped hazelnuts
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour

Parchment paper

Direction

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Beat first 5 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer 4 to 5 minutes or until creamy. Add hazelnuts and next 2 ingredients; beat just until blended. Drop by level teaspoonfuls 3 inches apart onto 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

2. Bake at 325° for 12 to 14 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes; transfer to wire racks, and cool.

Makes about 2 dozen.

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These are a perfect hostess gift, and last up to a week.  Unless the elves in the house get to them first!!

 

Triple Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate and Mint- what more do you need in a holiday cookie?  Sir Wes believes all items with ingredients of mint and chocolate reign supreme, I have to agree with him mostly!  This combination certainly needs to grace every holiday cookie list.

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When I saw these bad boys in Better Homes and Gardens 100 Best Cookie Issue I knew they were daring me to put them on the must make list.  They were just about perfect, I just added a touch extra mint.

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Ingrediants

½ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 ounces white baking chocolate, melted
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon mint flavoring
½ teaspoon butter flavoring
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup powdered sugar
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 -2 tablespoons water
1 ounce white baking chocolate, melted (optional)
Very small fresh mint leaves (optional)

Directions
In a medium bowl combine the granulated sugar, the oil, the 2 ounces melted white chocolate, the egg whites, mint flavoring, and butter flavoring, stirring until well mixed. In a small bowl stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg white mixture; stir just until combined. Cover and chill dough for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours or until firm enough to roll into balls.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls (1 teaspoon dough each). Place cocoa powder in a small bowl. Roll balls in cocoa powder to coat. Place balls 1-1/2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten balls with the bottom of a glass to about 1-1/4-inch-diameter circles.

Bake for 6 to 7 minutes or just until edges are firm. Transfer to a wire rack; cool.

For chocolate filling, in a small bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, the melted bittersweet chocolate, and enough of the 1 to 2 tablespoons water to make a smooth spreadable filling. (If mixture seems too thin, allow it to stand a few minutes before using.)

Spread the bottoms of half of the cookies with the chocolate filling, using about 1 teaspoon filling on each. Top with the remaining cookies, bottom sides down, to make sandwich cookies.
If desired, place the 1 ounce melted white chocolate in a small resealable plastic bag. Seal bag. Using scissors, snip off a very small corner from bag. Drizzle white chocolate over tops of cookies; place mint leaves on top.

Makes about 16 sandwiches.

Storage
Layer undrizzled sandwich cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw cookies if frozen. If desired, drizzle with white chocolate as directed in Step 6.

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These will be a crowd favorite- consider making a double batch!

Glistening Lemon Sandwich Cookies

These are one of my favorite cookies from the beginning of my baking journey.  They are so delicate and festive, that they scream perfect for a season filled with love and care.  They taste like shortbread but with a much lighter and flaky consistency.

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I thought they were just gorgeous when they made the cover of the 2008 Gourmet December issue, and thought they deserved a reappearance!

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Ingredients 

For cookies:

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • White or colored sanding sugars

For filling:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

Equipment:  a heavy-duty sealable bag

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Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line  2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt.

Beat together butter and confectioners sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then beat in zest and vanilla. At low speed, mix in flour mixture just until a soft dough forms.

Put sanding sugars in different bowls. Roll a scant teaspoon of dough into a ball and drop into sugar, turning to coat. Reshape if necessary and transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat, spacing balls  3/4 inch apart, until baking sheet is filled.

Bake until tops are slightly cracked but still pale (bottoms will be pale golden), 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer cookies on parchment to a rack to cool completely.

Form and bake more cookies on second baking sheet.

Make filling and sandwich cookies:

Beat together all filling ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until combined well. Transfer to sealable bag and snip off a corner.

Turn over half of cookies and pipe about 1/2 teaspoon filling on flat side of each. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing gently.

Makes about 50 sandwich cookies.

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Cheers to a weeks worth of holiday cookies- Turn your ovens on!!!

 

Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies- The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

Confession- there has not been a trip to the grocery store in the last two months that I have not bought a cooking magazine, mostly from the cookie category. Every year the same thing- that one to five minutes spent waiting in the darn check out line is just too long to resist. Holiday baking- I love it, the search for that perfect gem of a cookie. This year I participated again in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap along with over hundreds of other participants (search #FBCookieSwap to find mouth-watering cookies to bake or torture yourself with). The cookie swap was all to raise money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, over $13,778.40 was raised!

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013

Martha Stewart contributed to the cookies I sent- after an evening of heated debate and taste testing these were the winners that I was going to ship and bake.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 cups white-chocolate chunks (about 9 ounces)
  • 1 ¾ cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 ¾ cups coarsely chopped walnuts (about 6 ounces)

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Mix in eggs, 1 at a time. Stir in vanilla.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Mix into butter mixture on low speed until well combined. Stir in chocolate, coconut, and walnuts.

Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop batter onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly. Bake until set, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 2 minutes. Transfer cookies on parchment to racks to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 1 week.

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We totally lucked out this year with our cookie swaps- all three of the cookies received were out of this world- so ummm, umm good!   Cranberry Orange White Chocolate Cookies from Stephanie at 52 Kitchen Adventures were Sir Wes’s favorite- he “allowed” me to have a couple.  Kate at Fleur-De-Licious sent Ginger Crinkle Cookies, which I am wondering if she knew about my ginger devotion- so yum!  And lucky for me, Sommer, of A Spicy Perspective, could not decide what cookie to send so we got both Sour Cream Whoopie Pies with Chocolate Hazelnut Filling and Tangerine Shortbread with Chocolate Drizzle.  Love that I found another indecisive lady in the kitchen!

Thanks to Lindsey and Julie for organizing such a fun way to “Bake-Back” to a great cause! If you want more mouth watering temptation follow their blogs!  Also to the sponsors of The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, OXO, Dixie Crystals, Gold Medal Flour, and Grandma’s Molasses!

Butternut Squash, Chicken and Sausage Cassoulet

I am drawn to all the squashes being stocked at the groceries and markets. They are not only tasty, but pretty as well. There are tons of creative ways to incorporate them into your holiday décor. I am definitely partial to food that I can decorate with!

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I love that they are play the role of both vegetable and starch. It’s sneaky, they go both ways. In fact they double their character by being used in both savory and sweet sides of the kitchen.  This week though I stuck with the savory side, a cassoulet type soup/stew.  Rich and hearty and packed with fall flavors.

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1 pound raw chicken breast, diced into 3/4 inch cubes
1 tablespoon Herb de Provence
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 red pepper, roasted, seeded, skin removed and diced
1 green pepper, roasted, seeded, skin removed and diced
12 ounce sausage crumbles, turkey or pork
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and diced in to 3/4 inch cubes
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1 teaspoon chopped sage
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup sliced green onions

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Start by marinating the chicken with the Herb de Provence, salt and pepper. Allow the chicken to marinate at least 1 hour. Roast your peppers in high temp oven or over a grill and remove seeds and skin, then dice and reserve.

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Place a heavy bottom stock pot over medium high heat and add sausage crumbles. While stirring sausage add in the chicken, squash, onions, celery and sage. You may need to add a touch of oil depending on how much fat leeches out of the sausage. When onions are translucent and there is a bit of color on the squash and chicken pour in the chicken stock.

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Turn the heat to medium and allow to simmer for another 20 minutes. Add in the roasted, diced peppers and adjust with salt and pepper to your taste. Before serving add the green onions.

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Serves 4-6 guests

This is a quick and easy fall dinner, one that gets better with age, so it’s a perfect do ahead meal for your busy weeks coming up! Just have to sacrifice one of your display squashes!

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Warm wishes and happy Thanksgiving!!

Buffalo Chicken Pierogies

Sheez- fall has come and is almost gone.  We just finished up with the Epcot Food and Wine Festival and our big event of the year, the Walt Disney World Service Celebration, which is a crazy busy time of year and has made time fly by.  Sir Wes was such a champ to take on most of the house chores and help me out so much thru the last few months so I wanted to do something special for him.  Which naturally translates to cooking him something.

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I saw this recipe at Soph n’ Stuff and could not resist another buffalo chicken adventure.  I have mentioned Sir Wes can’t go without wings for more then 2 weeks, so I try to find ways to switch it up.

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Pierogie Dough
Ingredients

•3 cups all-purpose flour
•1 teaspoon salt
•1 egg
•3/4 cup water
•2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preparation

Using a food processor, add all ingredients and pulse, slowly adding water until a solid dough forms.  Move the dough out onto a floured countertop and knead a few times until smooth.  Top with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before rolling and cutting it into rounds.

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Buffalo Chicken Pierogie Ingredients

•1 batch pierogie dough, cut into 36 rounds
•2 cups unsalted mashed potatoes
•1/4 cup frank’s red hot sauce
•1 skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
•1/2 cup all-purpose flour
•1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon garlic powder
•1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
•1 egg
•1 cup vegetable oil, for frying
•1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled into small nuggets
•carrots and celery sticks, for garnish

Preparation

In a bowl, add frank’s red hot sauce to potatoes and combine with a fork. Set aside.

Blend flour, spices, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk egg. Take chicken pieces and coat each in egg mixture, then dredge through flour mixture, coating well.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. The oil will reach temperature when you drop a pinch of flour into the oil and it sizzles. Working in small amounts at a time, fry the breaded chicken pieces for 2-3 minutes on each side, until the breading is golden brown. Set the pieces aside to drain on a paper towel.

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To assemble the pierogie, place a small amount of the potato mixture in the middle of a dough round. Place a chicken piece and a nugget of blue cheese in the center and fold dough over, sealing the edges with a little water, pressing firmly.

Once they are assembled you can either freeze for later or cook the pierogie right away. Frying them, rather than boiling, will retain the crispiness.

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Pierogies are such a fun, easy thing to make, the kids will love getting their hands dirty with them!

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And more importantly our supportive, wonderful husbands will devour them!  Watch out Mrs. T!!

Edible Orlando and Walt Disney World Making Magic for the Second Harvest Kids Cafe

Last Sunday Edible Orlando and Walt Disney World were blessed with a beautiful day and wonderful support for their combined efforts of hosting the inaugural Field to Feast dinner to benefit Second Harvest Kids Café. The venue was perfect- Long & Scott Farm in Zellwood and the crowd was fun and enthusiastic!

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The Chefs spent a number of weeks working on pairings that blended well with Rioja wines and beers from Cigar City Brewing and Cask & Larder Brewing. As guests entered the farm reception they enjoyed adult punch made with Palm Ridge Reserve Whiskey before settling in to the shabby chic farm setting.

FIELD TO FEAST DINNER MENU

Victoria & Albert’s
Chef Scott Hunnel
Sommelier Rebecca Lewis
Lake
Meadow Chicken Sausage with Zellwood Corn Succotash

California Grill
Chef Brian Piasecki
Sommelier Michael Scheifler
Spice-crusted Local Calico Scallops with Zellwood Pumpkin Ravioli, Toasted Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette, Baby Sage, Buttered Brussel Sprouts, and Pumpkin Dust Brittle

Flying Fish Cafe
Chef Tim Keating
Sommelier Stig Jacobsen
Asian-inspired Uncle Matt’s Citrus-marinated Rock Shrimp and Local Calico Bay Scallop “Cocktail” with Salad of MacGregor Farms Greens, Herbs, Epcot Cucumber, and Bhut Jolokia-Kaffir Lime Vinaigrette

The Wave . . . of American Flavors
Chef Frank Brough
Sommelier Damaris Jimenez
Locally-sourced Sweet Potato Agnolotti with Bourbon-Maple Pork Belly, Liquid Caramel Corn, and Vanilla Powder

Epcot® Events
Chef Leonard Thomson
Sommelier Pete Freidel
Suwannee Farms Florida Fresh Cab Beef Tenderloin over Balsamic Charred Onion Bread Pudding topped with Wine Reduction and served with Duck Fat Fries and Zellwood Sweet Corn Gelato

Florida Local at Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival
Chef Jens Dahlmann
Sommelier Tom Kovacs

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As I told one of the guests, I felt the chefs and servers were enjoying the evening as much as the guests, there was truly a community feel that grew in the crowd through the day of set up and into the evening.  It was a great event to be part of and I cannot wait until next year!!