Dinner - Food - Musings

I Won the Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off Baltimore!

Last updated on October 6, 2013 by Liza Hawkins

It turns out July was a very busy month filled with all sorts of good stuff, including my 36th birthday and a trip to visit my sister in Brooklyn (where we gorged on all things food – those of you that follow me on Instagram got to witness all of it)!


But the OTHER amazing thing that happened was a little thing called the Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off in Baltimore, Maryland.


Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off Baltimore

I was approached in June to participate in the Frugal Cook-Off with a bunch of other local bloggers, two of which would be on my team. The only information we were given was this basic premise:

Imagine this, you just found out a friend and her husband are in town. Now you must pull together a meal for four in a flash! Oh and one thing. You only have a $15 budget and 45 minutes until dinner is served. You are invited to join the FoodLion Frugal Cook-Off, where you’ll be put on a team to tackle a fun cooking challenge like the one above. Teams will then present their dishes to a panel of judges who will select the winning dish.

Fun, right? I was totally in, despite the fact that the event fell in the middle of the work-week AND on my actual birthday. Happy birthday to me! Seriously though – what 36 year old with two young kids actually has birthday plans during the week? Exactly. My calendar was totally open.

Here’s the teaser video:

Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off Baltimore Teaser Video from Theory House on Vimeo.

My blogger cohorts-in-crime and I had never met in real life before the Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off Baltimore event. But, Roni from Green Lite Bites, Sarah from Capitally Frugal and I quickly got acquainted through the magic of social media and never looked back – we knew we’d take it all! (Or at least we’d try our darnedest.)

Here are the photos from that night, courtesy of Food Lion and the professional photographer they had on site:

Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off Baltimore 1
The three of us are listening to the Food Lion reps talk about the brand and the challenge. About two minutes after this shot was snapped Sarah, Roni and I realized we were the only ones standing…. LOL


Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off Baltimore
Time to select our protein! Roni was the chosen one, and revealed pork chops under our silver dome. W00T! We were psyched!


Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off Baltimore
With pork chops in mind, we had to figure out how to spend our $10 in the Food Lion pantry – including two My Essentials products. Our dish had to be complete with two sides along with the protein.


Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off Baltimore
I wasn’t joking when I said we had a $10 budget in the Food Lion pantry. The total meal could cost no more than $15, and $5 of that was devoted to the pork chops. We were vigilant, as you can see with my notes here. Sarah (a-hem “Capitally Frugal”) kept us on track and also took copious notes while we were cooking.


Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off Baltimore
This is the beautiful kitchen at Talara where we all cooked our dishes. It was only my second time using a full commercial kitchen – pretty cool!


Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off Baltimore
Sarah, Roni and I are busy pulling our recipes together. We only had 10 minutes to decide what we were cooking and then get moving! Only 45 minutes total to cook from start to finish. Whew!


So, after 45 minutes in that hot kitchen (I’m not sure how professional chefs can stand it!), we had to sit and wait for the judges to decide whose dish was the best. Over quiet, hushed whispers they finally tallied up the votes, and…


We won! Happy birthday to meeee!


Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off Baltimore
Here’s our winning dish: Apple & Spinach Stuffed Pork Chop, Balsamic Candied Carrots and Rustic Roasted Potatoes. The pork chop looks kind of “blah” here, but once we sliced it into medallions it looked fabulous!


In addition to winning Food Lion gift cards and a bag of our favorite grocery items (how clever and thoughtful!), we also got these super cool trophies – mine happens to be sitting in my kitchen as we speak AND our recipes were featured on the Talara menu all weekend.

Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off Baltimore
Aren’t they cute?


Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off Baltimore
Here we are, fresh off our win! Very excited – we’re glowing! (Or sweating…)


Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off Baltimore
Here’s the whole group of DC/MD/VA bloggers that took part in the Food Lion Frugal Cook-Off Baltimore – so much fun!


Interested in our recipes? You’re in luck – thanks mostly to Sarah and her diligent note-taking! If left to us, Roni and I would’ve had to try and recite them from memory after it was all said and done…

Apple & Spinach Stuffed Pork Chops

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 Servings


1 Fuji Apple

1/2 Sweet Onion

1/2 Bunch Spinach

1/4 Cup Parsley

2 Cloves Garlic

1/2 Carrot

4 Pork Chops

2 Beaten Eggs

2 Cups Bread Crumbs (Seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika, and Italian seasoning)


1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Dice apple, onion, spinach, parsley, and garlic. Finely chop the carrot. In a non-stick pan, saute the apple, onion, spinach, parsley, garlic, and carrot for about 10 minutes.

3. Pound boneless pork chops with a meat tenderizer, and season each one with salt and pepper.

4. Place 1/4 cup of the stuffing in the pork chop, roll the pork up and secure with a toothpick. Dip the pork roll in the beaten eggs and coat with seasoned bread crumbs.

5. Lightly coat a pan with olive oil, place the stuffed pork chops on it, drizzle with olive oil, and bake for 20 minutes (or until cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees).

6. After pulling it out of the oven, let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing it. Garnish with a little parsley and apple.


Balsamic Candied Carrots

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 Servings


8 Carrots (cut into 1/4″ thick rounds)

1 Tablespoon Sugar

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil



Dash of Parsley

2 Cloves Garlic (Minced)

2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar


1. In a non-stick pan, saute carrots with olive oil and a dash of salt, pepper, parsley, sugar and garlic, stirring frequently so the carrots do not burn. Cover about half way through cooking.

2. Once the carrots soften (in about 10 minutes), add the balsamic vinegar. Let cook for another minute.

3. Serve the carrots with a sprig of parsley.


Rustic Roasted Potatoes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 Servings


4 Red Skin Potatoes

2 Cloves of Garlic (Minced)

1/2 Sweet Onion (chunky cut, roughly the same size as the potatoes)

1/4 Cup of Minced Parsley

Olive Oil


Italian Seasoning




1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Cut potatoes into halves and each half into 8 pieces (roughly 1″ cubes), toss with minced garlic, onion, salt, pepper, parsley, olive oil, and a dash of paprika and Italian seasoning.

3. Place on a sheet pan and cook for 30 minutes, stirring frequently, or until potatoes are tender.



Hi, I'm Liza — a self-proclaimed word-nerd who loves getting lost in whimsical stories and epic movies. I have laid-back, practical attitude towards life and am always on the hunt for good eats, easy recipes, binge-worthy shows, relaxing road trip destinations, the perfect fizzy gin cocktail, and time to finish my novel!

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