Last Friday, I mentioned our mystery trip to Kroger, and today I'm revealing the big surprise!
It all started with an invitation that included this cryptic information.
We were invited to:
- Experience one of Kroger's newest product lines
- Join the Kroger team for an exciting event with a twist
- Travel to Kroger's headquarter city of Cincinnati where we'd personally meet the Kroger team, some special guests, meet other bloggers (like myself), share ideas and inspiration and then, finally, learn the big reason why we were all brought together at a surprise event!
I love a good surprise and like to buy lots of my fresh fruits and vegetables and other groceries at Kroger, so I figured it would be worth the time. And besides, I always love meeting up with my blogger pals in person.
Only this time, I didn't know anyone! I thought maybe they'd made a mistake in inviting me… but I didn't let on!
It turns out, there was one other dog blogger in the group, Capree at Dog Milk, who I hadn't met before. When we met up with the other bloggers (all food and lifestyle bloggers) in Cincinnati, it also turned out that they hadn't been told that Capree and I were attending. Hmmm, maybe this was a clue. The other bloggers thought that maybe Capree and I were the "special guests."
|The group of terrific bloggers and Kroger folks we hung out with in Cincinnati|
We had so much fun meeting this new group of bloggers who included Becky at Vintage Mixer, Jen at Bakerette, Maryanne at The Little Epicurean, Robin at All Things Heart and Home, Tanya at Lemons for Lulu, and Kelly at Cooking with Caitlin. Capree and I rounded out the mix of eight attending bloggers. We had so much fun getting to know them all and their blogs are all fabulous!
The first day we were there, we had a fabulous breakfast at the 21C Hotel and then got our first chance to meet the Kroger folks, in a room where we'd be "brainstorming".
|The Kroger folks unveil our cooking "challenge" and are met with our stunned gazes!|
|I'm not as calm as I look!|
Uh-oh. The first surprise is that we were each given a card with our ingredients for a cooking challenge. I'm smiling on the outside, but on the inside I was totally freaked out. Here I was with a group of totally awesome cooks, and the best I can do is chop fresh veggies for my signature "big salad."
My ingredients were Chicken Breast, Potatoes and Whole Carrots. After my initial freak-out, I realized that Google is my friend and I searched for an easy recipe without gobs of extra ingredients, because that just gives me a headache. I added in green beans because at least I knew we needed to add a little color to the dish!
Real Simple came to the rescue with this recipe for Pan-Roasted Chicken with Lemon-Garlic Green Beans. Yum! Sounded delish to me!
|Capree from Dog Milk, left, and Becky from Vintage Mixer|
Then we were whisked off to the amazing local Kroger store to buy whatever additional ingredients we needed to round out our recipes. Capree and I tagged after Becky like puppy dogs who were looking for our next cue. Becky helped us both figure out what to buy, thankfully!
So by now, I had an inkling what the big surprise was all about but I
was told to quit yakking about it was respectfully quiet about my revelation.
Hmm, fresh ingredients, quality proteins, fresh veggies, nothing artificial… I was already crafting the messages in my brain.
Next stop was the Culinary Arts School at Cincinnati State. There, we cooked our recipes with the help (thankfully) of three of their teaching chefs.
I received some great advice from the cooking pros, including help with my knife skills!
|Chef Neace provides some tips to Robin at All Things Heart and Home.|
Chef Alan Neace made us all feel like we could do anything, and make it beautiful too!
Here are some of the dishes we all made. Proteins included salmon, chicken and lamb with other ingredients like cranberries, blueberries, sweet potatoes and brown rice. Hmmm, do these ingredients sound familiar? We also determined pretty early on that all the bloggers had dogs. But mum's still the word, right?!
|My surprise! An amazingly delicious dish I cooked myself!|
One HUGE surprise for me was the dish I made! My roasted chicken was delicious, with a little help from Chef Neal. He suggested we baste it with a wee bit of orange juice for the last five minutes it cooked and then serve it with the roasted lemon. I thought the lemon was just for looks but you can eat it all and it adds a terrific zip to the dish.
Here's my base recipe from Real Simple. All I added were the carrots and the orange juice glaze.
And now for the BIG reveal! Later that night, after we sampled all the delicious meals we all prepared, we headed to dinner at the fabulous Sleepy Bee restaurant where a beautiful table and tasty farm-to-table types of dishes awaited.
After dinner, and sampling so many delicious and nutritious foods, the Kroger folks FINALLY revealed the big news!
Ta-Da! Looks like there WAS a reason we were cooking with lots of high-quality ingredients, fresh veggies and proteins like chicken, lamb and salmon.
The Kroger team unveiled the newest ultra-premium pet food to hit the shelves at Kroger -- Abound for both dogs AND cats! If you're not sure where to buy Abound products in your area, check out this store locator. (Some stores in the Kroger family of brands operate under different names like Fry's, Ralph's, Fred Meyer and more.)
What's cool about Abound is that it contains high quality ingredients (just like we were cooking with), it's available at grocery stores where you shop every day, AND it's a great price. For me, it's a win-win-win when you can make it convenient for more folks to have access to affordable, quality pet foods.
Abound pet foods contain no wheat, corn of soy fillers, no animal by-product meal and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives while chicken, lamb or salmon is the #1 ingredient.
Rocco's already had the chance to sample some of the food and treats and he says they're lip-smacking delicious!
What's also cool is that Abound is partnering with Best Friends Animal Society to help raise awareness of Best Friends' no-kill mission and its efforts help reduce the number of animals entering shelters and increase the number who find loving homes.
Win an Abound Prize Pack and Kroger Gift Card!
Here's your chance to win an awesome Abound prize pack from Kroger for your dog or cat. One winner will receive 14 pounds of dog or cat food, 7 pouches of wet food, 2 bags of dog or cat treats AND a $50 Kroger gift card! Wow! That's an awesome prize pack valued at more than $85.
Enter via our giveaway widget below.
The Abound Prize Pack and Gift Card for our giveaway is being provided by Kroger. Kroger also covered all expenses for our blogger cooking challenge trip to Cincinnati. All opinions expressed herein are our own.