Oh my gosh you guys.  I am horrible at keeping secrets.  Before I get into my news, let’s just go back a couple months, shall we?  They always say things in life happen for a reason!

Remember my Beef Counsel weekend in Chicago in early October?  The best and final stop for me was when we cooked at The Chopping Block.  We were put in groups of four, and one of the women I was paired with was Heather.   Out of all the women I met during that weekend, Heather is the ONLY person who became my friend.  I thought I had made a connection with a few other women too.  When I got back home I started following their blogs, sent emails saying how nice it was to meet them – no response at all.  Except for Heather!

Fast forward a few weeks and she linked to a recipe contest that Spark People/Spark Recipes was having.   It basically asked for your best crock pot recipe, and the Grand Prize would be $5,000 dollars and not only that, I could pick a hunger relief charity and donate another $5,000.  I actually said to myself when I read the rules and that they would be announcing the winner in early December that “$5,000 really would be nice if I won that!”

So I entered my Buffalo Chicken Chili as a crock pot recipe.  Dozens of people who have made it have it and entered it into chili contests have won, so I thought I would give it a go!  About a week and a half ago, I got an email that said my recipe made it to the top 15!  The would be spending the week of Thanksgiving making each and every entry, and then based on those results would announce the winner on December 2.  Well, because of the holiday, they needed one more day, so the winner was to be announced on Tuesday.  All day I kept my cell phone at work, kept refreshing my email.  Nothing yet. Then around 3 I got really busy and didn’t have a chance to refresh my phone until I was leaving to go to the restaurant.  I got half way out our front door when I read this:

“Biz, I ‘m happy to inform you that you;’ve been chosen as the Grand Prize Winner of the Spark Recipes Split-the-Pot Slow Cooker Contest!”  WHAT???!!!!!!!!!

I ran right back into my office and showed it to my boss asked her to read it and see if it was true what I read.  I believe I ran into the office with my phone over my head, jumping up and down saying “I think I won $5,000!”

Oh.My.Gosh.   Here is the article about my winning!  I still don’t think it will hit me until I get the check though!   (And Heather, I need your address, you’ll be getting a nice holiday gift from me!)

It literally couldn’t have come at a better time.  While a good portion will be for paying bills, getting ahead and savings, it completely takes the weight off my shoulders about how I was going to make ends meet.  Starting this second job certainly will help too, especially since our insurance deductible that we both met for 2013, will now start over January 1. 🙁

So earlier in the week we had sign up sheets at the restaurant asking which days we could come to a Chef’s tasting – you had to pick 2 of 3 days.  I chose Tuesday and Wednesday, so I told Tony that we should meet at our small Italian restaurant in town, grab a bite to eat and have some Boddington’s on tap.  I send him this text in the early afternoon.  It’s one of the few

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At about 4:15, I got a call at the restaurant.  They apologized and said that last nights Chef’s tasting was mandatory, as the Chef was going to go into more detail and that I had to come in.  I called Tony and told him we’d have to post-pone our date.  He told me not to sweat it.

So a couple things I had that were delicious?!! Burnt pasta, chopped salad and balls.  Meatballs that is!

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The burnt pasta sounds weird, but it’s delicious.  It’s pasta that’s sautéed in butter and fried crispy.   And the chopped salad isn’t your run of the mill chopped salad.  This one was Gorgonzola cheese with crushed butter toffee nuts and it’s served with a mango Chardonnary dressing.  AMAZEBALLS.  And speaking of balls, these are delicious – these are the “regular” balls meaning they weren’t spicy (I would have added crushed red pepper), but these are a side protein you can order with any dish.

Then a few of us were able to hang out with the Chef and GM and get more information about this weekends soft opening.  I enjoyed a nice glass of Merlot.

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I got home around 9:15 and Tony said “check the fridge!”

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I got my Boddington’s after all!  Thanks Tony!

So I am actually taking half a day at the law firm.  Since it’s the first “day” I need to be there at 1:00 and the doors open at 5:00.  After tonight and tomorrow night, I found out my schedule for next week is just Thursday, Friday and Saturday – perfect!  Tony and I will just have to have our date night out early next week.

Alright, I have to fly – I slept in a bit longer knowing I was going to have a busy day today.  Wish me luck!  Make it a great day!