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You Should Go to South Beach Food & Wine Festival

We’re still stuffed from last weekend’s 2014 New York City Wine & Food Festival, but it’s already time to start thinking about flying south for the winter. The 2015 South Beach Wine & Food Festival is coming quickly (February 19-22), and trust us: Feasting in Florida in February is a genius idea.

For four days, top Cooking Channel and Food Network talents will converge on the warm, sunny Miami coastline to cook, drink and hang out. The events hit on nearly every taste, whether you’re a yogi, an unstoppable carnivore or an unabashed cupcake fiend. And you’ll be doing it all alongside the food industry’s top talents, including Debi Mazar & Gabriele Corcos, Rev Run, Aarón Sánchez, Alex Guarnaschelli, Rachael Ray, Giada de Laurentiis, Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay and more.

Tickets are already selling out, so get on it. There are tons of events to choose from, but if we had to play culinary concierge, here’s what we’d recommend.

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Fall Fest: A Week of Apple Recipes

Apple Crisp Recipe

You know what they say about an apple a day. So why not commit to getting in your red (or green) all week long. We’ve developed the perfect meal plan for a week of all-apple eating.

Sunday: With an eye toward Monday breakfast, make a giant apple crisp. Kelsey’s 5-star apple crisp recipe (pictured above) comes together quickly and is ideal for a dinner party or leftovers.

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Summer Soiree: 6 Dips to Make in a Dash

Pimento Cheese Dip

When company is coming and time is short, keep one mantra in mind (admittedly inspired by the band Devo): Dip it. Dip it good.

These no-fail ideas all come together in mere minutes, and are guaranteed to cover you through all seasons, types of gatherings and guest dining preferences. The key is to always have a mix of vegetables and crackers on hand. Then just go ahead and take a dip:

Sriracha-Pimento Cheese Dip: It’s hard to improve on classic pimento cheese dip, but this one (pictured above) actually does. A dose of sriracha is just the thing to cut the rich cheddar-mayonnaise combination. The spice averse may need to keep a drink on hand.

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Summer Soiree: Why You Should Eat Avocados All Day Long

Flautas

We think avocados are pretty great. They’re the basis for guacamole, which might be the world’s most perfect food, and the ideal companion to a margarita. They’re pretty versatile, too. They’re versatile enough, in fact, that we’d eat them all day long if we could. If you feel the same way, here is our suggestion of how to eat avocados from breakfast through dessert.

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Summer Soiree: 4 Ways to Shake Up Your Sandwich Routine

No matter how clever you get with your nut butter and jam, the sandwich routine can get stale pretty quickly. Shake up your back-to-school (or work) lunch options by swapping out bread for tortillas*. Here are a few filling suggestions to get you rolling. And then keep the cylindrical theme going with Kelsey’s homemade fruit leathers. That’s a wrap!

Bacon-Hummus Roll-Ups: Hummus with carrots and cucumbers is no ultra-creative concept. But these roll-ups take the idea a bit further by tucking them into bread with slices of crisp bacon (pictured above). The meal should keep for four hours. If you’re serving vegetarians, try this hummus-grilled vegetable alternative.

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Summer Soiree: Cooking Channel’s Ultimate Labor Day Menu

Labor Day Picnic

Whether you’re celebrating a three-day weekend, the start of the school year or the (hopeful) end of humidity for the year, Labor Day weekend is the perfect reason to host a final backyard party. Stumped on what to serve? Here are Cooking Channel’s best-ever summer recipes to help you wrap up the season with a barbecued, burger-packed bang.

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Burning Love: Char Your Vegetables

Del Campo's Dishes (photo: Greg Powers)

Del Campo's Charred Tomato Salad + Charred Ceviche (photo: Greg Powers)

Remember when burning your vegetables was considered a bad thing? These days, though, chefs are using high heat and chars to draw out the caramel flavors of fruits and vegetables without needing extra sauces and flavoring.

At Del Campo in Washington, DC, chef Victor Albisu serves South American barbecue with a focus on burnt items, so much so that the menu reads like a market stand of grilled items – tomatoes, scallions, artichokes, squash, onions. 

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An Indian Feast Inspired by The Hundred-Foot Journey

Manish Dayal and Helen Mirren from The Hundred-Foot Journey

 

Within minutes of the start of The Hundred-Foot Journey, regular buttered popcorn will cease to be enough. The film is a two-hour bonanza of spices, simmering curries, sauteed vegetables and roasted meats, so no ordinary concession can possibly stand a chance.

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Meatless Monday: Eggplant Steaks

Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. It’s not a campaign to turn everyone in the world vegetarian or vegan; in fact, many involved are meat-lovers. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?

Eggplant is the missing link between meat and vegetable. Hefty, hearty and eager for seasoning (or cheese or a spot between two buns), sliced eggplant is also easy enough to slap under a broiler and serve in a hurry. To up the appeal for carnivores, slather steak and Worcestershire sauces on each slice before browning. Whenever cheeseburger cravings strike, sprinkle some Parmesan and have a meaty meatless meal ready in under 10 minutes.

Eggplant Steaks

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Munchies Alert: Roy Choi’s Oreo-Crusted Chicken Tenders

Since when is a cookie a suitable dinner? Probably since Oreo asked Roy Choi to turn their cookies into the best savory snack we’ve tried in a long time. The recipe was part of a three-chef Snack Hacks challenge to use the retro classic as an ingredient in an entirely new dish.

Los Angeles-based chefs Michael Voltaggio, Nguyen Tran and Choi stepped up at a media event last week, morphing the cookie into dessert nachos with a lemony cookie-filled shandy (courtesy of Voltaggio) and a no-bake bread pudding (Tran). But it was Choi’s clever Oreo-crusted chicken tenders that left us thinking that cookies might actually have a place in savory cooking.

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