Cooking Light Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest

Last week, I was stunned, thrilled, and honored to find out that among thousands of recipes, one of mine (Grilled Portobello Mushroom Eggplant Parmesan Rounds) was chosen to be one of the seven finalists of the 2010 Cooking Light Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest!!!

This dish was conceived in a dream I had one morning.  I woke up soon after “tasting” it, and I wanted more!  I made a replica of my dream version that evening and served it for dinner.    It’s a lightened version of a family favorite:  Eggplant Parmesan.  No breading or frying is involved — just roasting and grilling.  It’s served with a portobello mushroom (rather than pasta) that forms the base of the eggplant parmesan stack and is topped with a fresh slice of vine ripened tomato and cheese.

I’ve always loved Cooking Light and have been a subscriber for many years.  They have great recipes that are generally a lot healthier and less fattening than recipes you’ll find in other food magazines, such as Gourmet and Cook’s Illustrated (also favorites).

In 2006, I was actually a Cooking Light Reader Recipe finalist for my Grilled Skirt Steak and Mesclun Salad with Miso Dressing, (which was later included in the Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2008 cookbook).  There were twelve finalists, and we were all invited to Birmingham, Alabama for a cook-off on-site at the Cooking Light test kitchen.  Three finalists in each of the four categories of Appetizer, Side Dish, Main Entrée, and Dessert competed against each other, with one winner per category, and one grand prize winner among the category winners.

Sadly to say, I was not a grand prize winner, nor even a category winner.  I remember vividly how horrible my cooked dish was, in fact.  The judges couldn’t finish eating it, I’m sure!  My problem that day was that I had to grill the meat on a gas grill, and: 1) We do not have a gas grill at home and 2) I do not grill – that is my husband’s job (and still is).  Also the meat I was supplied with looked twice as thick and much, much denser from the skirt steak I buy here in NY.  It looked more like flank steak than skirt steak.  I was completely thrown off my game:  I totally overcooked the steak; the marinade barely flavored  the meat…  In the end, my prepared grilled steak was as delectable as chewing on a leather sandal.  I was mightily embarrassed.

My manic grin attempts to hide my panic in the kitchen.

On the plus side, Cooking Light treated us to a fun make up and hair session before our photo shoots (we were all featured in later issues) and fed us wonderful meals.   More importantly, I made a friend that I still have today – Anna of Cookie Madness, who was a finalist in the dessert category.  So that made up for all the kitchen disappointments!  We still see each other now and then when Anna visits NYC with her lovely family.

Cut to the present:  Here’s my chance again to try for the prize and redeem myself!  Unlike in 2006, Cooking Light is not flying anyone out for a cook-off.
Basically the 7 finalists’ dishes are posted on the Cooking Light web site and readers get to vote on their favorites between June 29, and August 2.  The voting results make up 30% of the final score of each dish. The remaining 70% of the score is determined by Cooking Light Executive chef, Billy Strynkowski.

So the good news is:  I don’t have to grill!  (Though it is way easier to grill mushrooms than an unwieldy slab of mystery meat…)

The bad news is:  There’s only ONE winner.  So I’m imploring you, dear readers, to go to the Cooking Light site and PLEASE vote for my dish Grilled Portobello Mushroom Eggplant Parmesan Rounds.  I am not allowed to.  But you can.  Every day.  🙂 You’ll also be automatically entered to win the Readers/Voters Sweepstakes ($1,000 worth of sponsors’ products).

Many, many thanks!


Filed under Vegetables

22 responses to “Cooking Light Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest

  1. This looks great! Congrats on being a finalist…I’m heading over there to vote right now.

  2. Melissa- Congratulations to you! I will try your recipe this week- I am Italian and it sounds deliocious!!-Good luck!!

  3. Melissa- Congratulations to you! I will try your recipe this week- I am Italian and it sounds delicious!!-Good luck!!

  4. I can’t register because I’m in Canada, but good luck, your recipe looks awesome!

  5. Congrats! I went and voted for ya!

  6. Alice Iwai

    it looks soooo yummy!!

  7. Alice Iwai

    The dish looks so good, I need to try it very soon.

  8. so many of ‘us’ are behind you….. and trying the recipe! 🙂 good luck M…..c

  9. I am sure it wasn’t that bad, and just know you can cook anything, just add some passion and love to it!

  10. Congratulations! I hope you make it…wishing you all the best! I’ll make sure I vote for you!

  11. Melissa, your eggplant dish looks like a winner! 🙂 Congrats on being selected as a finalist – very well deserved! I will most certainly vote for you! 🙂 I enjoyed reading about your first Cooking Light contest experience. I can totally relate to the grilling challenge. I have no idea how to grill – turn on a gas grill, light a charcoal bbq – forget it! 🙂

  12. Wow, that is so exciting!! I wish I’d entered, because that was always one of my favorite contests. I’m glad you got in :).

  13. In my book, you would get the grand prize. I would say there should be a recount.

  14. Congratulations…This is a fantastic dish, and very nice site:)

  15. Sorry I took so long to read your post 😦 I just registered on the site and placed my vote for you. Cooking Light is my favourite cookbook on my shelf and I love the magazine too. You were so lucky to be a finalist and be flown out to do your cooking – how exciting! Thanks for sharing this cool journey with us 🙂

  16. I just went over and cast my vote for you. The recipe is really lovely, Melissa. I send good wish for the best of luck your way. Blessings…Mary

  17. congrats on being a finalist! we subscribe to this magazine as well and can’t wait to try out your recipe. 🙂

  18. Congrats! Good for you! Will vote!

  19. Pingback: Fairy Bread | Fuss Free Cooking

  20. Congrats!! How exciting for you. Not only does the recipe sound great- but your picture looks wonderful too. Best wishes.

  21. Pingback: Results of Cooking Light Ultimate Reader Recipe Contest « The Hungry Artist

  22. Melissa

    Congrats! I am so happy for you! It looks yummy!!!

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