I have been very excited about the announcement of our third annual All American Recipe Contest winners. Ever since tasting them it has been a daily struggle to not share them with the world. But today is the day!
The new blog really makes this process fun for me because I get to report on not only who won, but how they won, and my personal thoughts on why I enjoyed them as one of the members of the judging panel. In total we received over 75 avocado recipes, varying from classic summer avocado recipes to more experimental desserts.
Here is a breakdown of our winners with links to each recipe for your testing and enjoyment.
Guacamole, Salsas and Dips Category
Grand Prize Winner: Fire Roasted Corn Guacamole by Julie M. of MenuMusings.com
This Guacamole, Salsas and Dips category was stacked with competitive entries this year. But this Fire Roasted Corn Guacamole recipe was undoubtedly our favorite guacamole in the category. The roasted sweet corn, pico de gallo, jalapeno, lime juice, cilantro and spices created an addictive flavor that we couldn’t get enough of. Adding the optional cotija cheese was a great choice, with its salty yet creamy flavor profiles it did not take away from the flavor of the guacamole, rather supplemented it with savory and funky cheese goodness. I highly recommend this recipe (and adding the cheese!)
First Prize Winner: East Meets West: Asian Inspired Guacamole by Leslie F. of DashofLes.com
We are always looking for new ideas when it comes to guacamole recipes, so we were really inspired by the idea of an ‘East meets West’ guacamole. The challenge you run into with asian-inspired guacamole recipes is keeping a balance of adding those asian-style flavors while keeping the familiar attributes of guacamole that everyone loves.
This recipe lands right in the sweet spot where you still have those familiar guacamole flavors coming from the avocado, lime, red onion, scallion, cilantro and garlic but with the addition of jicama, grated ginger, bell pepper, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, lemongrass, soy sauce, Sriracha and black sesame seeds. You get that refreshing crunch from the crisp jicama, a spicy bite from the freshly grated ginger and lemongrass and an irresistible spiciness from the Sriracha. This fusion guacamole is a hit and would be an enjoyable surprise for anyone to grub on during summer cookouts. My only recommendation is to add the Sriracha last, shortly before serving as it does tend to discolour the guac. Add it right on top of the guac and enjoy, or stir it in (to taste) but do not over mix.
Favorite 4th of July Category
Grand Prize Winner: The Ultimate Fajita Burger by Melissa G. of BlessThisMessPlease.com
Fajitas aren’t necessarily what you think of when you’re craving a cheeseburger. But if you think about it, combining the flavors makes complete sense! And both are what I’d consider summer foods which was partially why we were so drawn to this recipe (the point was to see how you could include avocados into your summer recipes in this category, after all!)
This Ultimate Fajita Burger certainly isn’t your everyday burger, with a cumin and chili powder spiced patty topped with bell peppers, onions, salsa, chipotle cheddar and guacamole. A little spice, some sweet bell peppers and guacamole make for one killer burger we think anyone could enjoy. We really enjoyed the fusion of flavors and added extra guacamole to the burger patties for extra creaminess. Try adding fajita peppers and onions with guacamole to your next burger, I think you’ll love it.
First Prize Winner: All-American Avocado, Black Bean and Corn Salad by Jennifer F. of TheFitFork.com
One of the interesting things we saw with doing an ‘all inclusive’ recipe category like “Favorite 4th of July Recipe” is that we received a huge variety of recipes. I mean, anything you can think of could technically fit into this category. Even though we did have a Guacamole, Salsas and Dips category, and this recipe could kind of be considered a salsa, it was entered under the “Favorite 4th of July” category and we were strangely drawn to it. Here’s why.
Flavor! This black bean and corn salad combines sweet corn, black beans, bell pepper, red onion, tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, vinegar and spices with fresh avocado for a flavor combination that stands strong all on its own, but goes perfectly with grilled meats or tortilla chips as a dip. Put this one on your must-try list stat.
Dessert Recipe Category
Grand Prize Winner: Avocado Key Lime Pudding in Jars by Heather K. of HeathersFrenchPress.com
First of all, I have to say that we really, really enjoyed the dessert category judging. We had never done a dessert category in a contest before so this was uncharted territory we were sailing in. We were very excited to see what desserts came over, and I can say that after judging the top entries in this category, there were some very solid avocado dessert entries, this Avocado Key Lime Pudding in Jars being our number one favorite.
If you’ve ever had a really good, creamy key lime pie then you know that they are delicious and refreshing as the weather gets warm. That’s why we loved this recipe - everything from the photo to the ingredients to the taste captivated us and our tastebuds. The rich, creamy texture of the pudding (made up of blended avocado, lime juice and condensed milk) combined with the light fluffyness of the whipped cream and crunchy graham crackers sings you little song as you savor the sweet and tart tastes. With only five ingredients, and no baking required, this is the ideal summer dessert and was exactly what we were looking for. I recommend making it this weekend.
First Prize Winner: Avocado Tarts with Toasted Coconut by Cheryl S.
The idea of an avocado tart is not a new one. We’ve explored avocado tart recipes and have even made tarts out of our beloved Avocado Summer Pie recipe, however what is new with this tasty rendition is the addition of coconut which really lends itself well to the flavor of avocado.
This recipe, with only 8 ingredients (two being coconut based) is unbelievably creamy and sweet yet refreshing. The filling, made up of avocado, lime juice, sugar, honey and coconut oil, is soft and velvety, and when you get bits of toasted coconut it really creates a delicious taste. You can top with a raspberry, but we also tested with strawberry and the acidity of the berry really helped cut through the sweet flavor and creamy texture.
The one thing our judging panel had a long discussion about with this dessert was its sweetness. Some of us thought it was overly sweet, while others thought it was just right. Since you can taste the avocado tart filling before sending it off into the freezer for setting, I recommend adding sugar as you go, watching carefully not to oversweeten. Overall, a very solid avocado dessert with the bonus convenience in that you do not need the oven. Just blend, pour, set and enjoy!
Other Winning Recipes
This was the third year that we have done the All American Recipe Contest. Check out some of the other winning recipes in no particular order from previous years:
Grand Prize winners won nice, new Weber Gold One Touch Grills as well as California Avocado shipments every month from July through September.
First Prize winners won a shipment of California Avocados.
All winners were awarded with gift bags consisting of recipes, bags, avocado slicers, magnets, t-shirts and other goodies.
Judging Process Overview
Once recipes were received, they were scored by a four person judging panel in a scoring round based on appeal (max 5 points), appearance (max 5 points), themed for category (max 5 points) and photo quality (5 points). From each category, 3 top performers in the scoring round moved on to the final tasting round, where they were prepared in our test kitchen and then scored by the same four person judging panel based on taste alone (maximum 10 points). Based on taste points, the grand prize and first prize winners were identified. There were no tie-breakers this year.
Thank you so much to everyone who entered. Even if you did not win, I encourage you to try again, we really enjoyed your creativity.
Have any input on the structure of the contest, recipe categories or something else? Let us know in the comments! I will make sure we factor your input into the contest next year (yes that means we are doing it again!)