This Cali Girl is a DOLE California Cook-Off Finalist!

I found out some fun and exciting news this week: I am a Top 5 Finalist in the DOLE California Cook-Off! The competition takes place at the Epicurean School of Culinary Arts on June 26th in Los Angeles California. You guys know I'm a (Santa Cruz/LA) California girl living in NYC, so I'm super excited for any excuse to visit my old stomping grounds in LA.

Celeb Chef Judge. The cook-off will be judged by Celebrity Chef Ben Ford of Ford's Filling Station Restaurant in Culver City California. He's also Harrison Ford's son, and who doesn't love anything to do with Harrison Ford? Say hi to him on twitter: @ChefBenFord.

Vegan Underdog. I am proud to say that my dish is the only vegetarian recipe finalist. I am simply giddy to be showcasing a healthy, delicious, 100% vegan dish. So, are you dying to see which recipe I will be spinning out at the cook-off? Here is it...

DOLE California Cook-Off. Among other rules, these were two biggies:
* recipe must contain at least one (1) of the following DOLE ingredients: 1 can (20 oz.) DOLE Pineapple (crushed, tidbits, chunks, or slices, in syrup or juice), 1 can (11 oz. or 15 oz.) DOLE Mandarin Oranges, 1 can (15.25 oz.) DOLE Tropical Fruit, 1 cup DOLE Pineapple Juice, or 1 cup DOLE Pineapple Mango Juice;

* The Contest Submission must not contain more than eight (8) ingredients (herbs/spices, water and cooking spray do not count);

So I entered one of my favorite recipes that I make using DOLE mandarin orange slices...

practice makes perfect - making this dish more than a few times (good thing it's delicious!!)...

Ginger Mandarin Orange Rice with Cashew Tofu! It's a vegan comfort food dish with a sweet and sassy flavor appeal. A little salty, a little sweet and a hint of heat from the warm fresh ginger. Super healthy and cravable - definitely one of my go-to meals when I'm short on time. I love this recipe because it actually uses the mandarin orange can juice to help flavor the tofu and the rice. Nothing wasted is one of my favorite cooking mottos, right?

You can see my recipe and the 4 other finalist recipes on the DOLE California Cook-Off website. All you have to do is enter your email to view the contest finalist recipes as well as some other info about the competition and Chef Ford.

Foodie Blogger Power. Another fun aspect of the cook-off is that each finalist will get a 'helper' and from this DOLE CC post by Food Tramp Diaries, I think the helpers are food bloggers. How fun is that?! I can't wait to see who I'll be paired up with. Food bloggers just happen to be some of my favorite people. Erin from Food Tramp Diaries on twitter.

...and yes I will take tons of photos and blog all the DOLE-tastic cook-off fun!

And I want to say a big CONGRATS to the other four finalists! I'm so excited to meet you and have a deliciously fun day in Cali at the DOLE California Cook-Off. Good luck to everyone!

So be sure and check out the DOLE California Cook-Off website . And please spread the word about the contest - I'm super excited and appreciate all the support I can get!


Other links:

Chef Ben Ford on twitter: @ChefBenFord.
Ford's Filling Station Restaurant
Food Bloggers involved:

DOLE on Facebook
DOLE Nutrition Institute
DOLE Promotions

Dole logo and contest image from

Love those DOLE mandarin orange slices...

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