This is just about a menu in itself. We had a great time with the contest this year. Even though the cherries took me a total of 3 hours to put together it seems that the attention to detail paid off by getting 1st place.
The appetizer was an inspiration from seeing Sandra Lee and her semi-homemade ideas of pre-made items tossed together to make it quick and simple. I stood looking in my pantry and happened to grab a package of dry pasta sauce and wondered if it would make a good dip. Turns out it did and so I added rice which added texture to it and entered it. If only more ideas would come this quick I would be cranking out recipes left and right! I have to admit this is a very good tasting recipe and really doen’t need the rice, but if you do add the rice you’ll never know it’s there.
The main dish was a modification to a recipe I used in the Redwood Creek cookoff. I changed the way it was cooked, the seafood used and added some more veggies to it to give it a little more color.

Italian Rice Crisps

1 10 minute boil in bag Success Rice
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
1 package (1.3 ounce) Knorr Parma Rosa Sauce Mix
3 tablespoons ½ and ½ or milk
1 to 2 bags (6 ounce each) Roasted Garlic Bagel Crisps*

In a medium size sauce pan, boil rice for 15 minutes instead of the regular 10 minutes; remove from stove, drain and set aside to cool. Meanwhile combine cream cheese, sauce mix and milk. In a food processor, pulse cream cheese mixture with cooled rice to combine and blend the rice. Spread on bagel crisps and sprinkle parsley on top. Spread could also be served in a bowl with desired dippers if Bagel Crisps are not available.

*Varies 1 to 2 bags depending if crisp in the bag are broken.

Yields 30 bagel crisp topped with spread

Shrimp with Herbed Vegetable Rice

Main Ingredients:
2 quarts water
1 cup Sauvignon Blanc
1 bag of Success boil and serve rice
1 cup diced asparagus
4 tablespoons boiling Zatarans Crab and Crawfish Boil
2 lbs of shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
3 slices bacon
1 cup of sliced mushrooms
2 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely diced
4 tablespoons of olive oil dipping sauce (recipe below)

Ingredients for the sauce:
4 ounces of butter
1 cup Sauvignon Blanc
Juice from 2 lemons
1 tablespoon of ketchup
1 teaspoon of teriyaki sauce
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Olive oil dipping sauce:
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
pinch of salt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Bring the water and wine a boil in a 5 quart pot. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the boil and serve rice. Boil for 7-10 minutes half way through add the asparagus. Remove and add the Zatarans and shrimp. Poach until the shrimp turn pink. Remove shrimp, sprinkle with Cajun seasoning and wrap in aluminum foil, setting aside. Discard water from pot and wipe dry. Add bacon in the pot and fry; remove and set aside. Add the mushrooms and olive oil to bacon grease stirring mushrooms until tender. Add drained rice, bacon, tomatoes, asparagus and seasonings into mushroom mixture stirring through. Adjust seasoning to taste.

While preparing rice mixture; melt butter in small skillet. When butter is melted add the Sauvignon Blanc (reserving ¼ cup) and other ingredients except cornstarch. In a separate cup combine remaining wine and cornstarch mixing well with fork. When sauce begins to reach a simmer add cornstarch and wine mixture to thicken. Reduce heat and simmer till ready to serve. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Chocolate Coconut Rice Covered Cherries

1 cup Riceland rice
2 cups coconut milk
2 tablespoon sugar
35 cherries with stems
2-3 cups chocolate chips, melted

Combine rice and milk in a medium size saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 20-30 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed. Stir in sugar and remove from heat. Let stand for 20 minutes then cover and chill. Meanwhile, drain cherries and set aside. Once rice is cooled; scoop 1 tablespoon at a time and mold around cherries. Allow rice covered cherries to firm up in the fridge or place in the freezer for a few minutes so the rice doesn’t slip off while dipping it in the hot chocolate. Dip rice covered cherries in the melted chocolate and set on wax paper until chocolate has set. Cherries can be garnished by sprinkling desired toppings such as coconut or nuts on chocolate before it sets.

Yields 35 cherries.

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