Category: Good Eats

Winning Recipe from the 6th Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown

By dchulst on April 11th 2018

What do Picasso, Van Gogh, and Rembrandt all have in common? All three of these famous creatives were able to produce stunning artwork from relatively simple materials. The magic lies in the artist’s ability to create something greater than the sum of their materials, and this philosophy is exactly what propelled UCSB’s Bren School to victory at the 6th Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown. For those unfamiliar, the Grilled Cheese Smackdown is the biggest cooking competition west of Paris, and draws some of the world’s best chefs and artisan sandwich makers (that we know of).

With stiff competition and numerous competitors duking it out for the coveted Golden Spatula trophy, recipes are often kept secret. After all, why would you divulge such confidential and fame-inducing information? But this reserved mindset is not shared by all, especially the team from UCSB’s Bren School. They were generous enough to share the recipe to their winning sandwich, The Vampire Slayer, so everyone can enjoy their marvelous creation. Recreating the greatest grilled cheese sandwich of the year may be difficult, but rest assured, with enough time and dedication, you’ll surely be able to turn out a sandwich capable of slaying vampires!

The Vampire Slayer by UCSB’s Bren School


1 loaf of sourdough bread (The winning bread was from Helena Ave Bakery.)
Vampire Slayer Garlic Cheddar Cheese (Try some from Face Rock creamery.)
Dubliner Irish Cheddar Cheese (The one from Kerrygold is a good bet.)
Garlic Parsley Butter (1 stick of butter, 4 cloves of mashed garlic, liberal pinch of parsley.)
Homemade Marinara Sauce.


For one sandwich, allocate enough Vampire Slayer Garlic Cheddar Cheese slices to cover an entire piece of sourdough bread.
Top the Vampire Slayer Garlic Cheddar cheese with a few slices of Dubliner Irish Cheddar Cheese.
Liberally apply garlic parsley butter to the outsides of both pieces of sourdough bread.
After the garlic butter has been applied to the bread, garnish the outsides with parmesan cheese for a toasted parmesan crust.
Place the sandwich on an already hot griddle, and toast until the bread has a light brown color, and a crispy texture.
Now you are ready to experience The Vampire Slayer!

The best team of the 6th Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown, UCSB’s Bren School!

6th Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown

By dchulst on April 10th 2018

Every culture has a tradition that transcends time and becomes a shining beacon of pride. The Romans tout their architectural acumen, Hawaiians boast a proud wave riding culture, and Toad&Co is known the world over – nay, across the galaxy – for our unparalleled expertise in making grilled cheeses. But this rich cultural tradition (yes, we’re talking about the cheese) didn’t just pop out of thin air. No, the Grilled Cheese Smackdown was born out of both necessity and celebration. A celebration of the divine union of bread and cheese, and the need to find the one grilled cheese to rule them all. In 2011, the inaugural Grilled Cheese Smackdown was held by a handful of Toads in the office kitchen. It was the stuff legends are made of – fontina, cracked pepper jack, triple-cream brie… a tradition in the making. Well, grilling.

Over the years, the Grilled Cheese Smackdown has become a melting pot of intense competition, family rivalry, and good ol’ fashioned fun. Competitors line up at the ready and have 30 minutes to crank out 10 sandwiches – 2 for the judges, 8 for the crowd. Hungry onlookers watch the masters work and wait patiently for a bite of the good stuff. For the purists, a Make-Your-Own grilled cheese table has all the butter, bread and cheese you could ever want, and we recommend dunking into the world’s best tomato soup from longtime partner Organic Soup kitchen. To wash everything down, Draughtsmen Alework’s Blond Buxom poured freely all evening !

The stuff dreams are made of (CARBS).
A young chef in the making.
Even puppies love the Grilled Cheese Smackdown!

While the competition at this year’s Smackdown was intense, a few sandwiches stood out. A rookie Toad&Co team, Kira and Helena from our Design and Product Departments, came out swinging with the “Santorini Panini”, a beautiful basil and olive sammy that left everyone’s fingers Greecy (see what we did there….). Longtime competitors, UCSB’s Bren School warded off all bad spirits with “The Vampire Slayer” with heaps of garlic and a parmesan crust that slayed the taste buds. Our neighbors at Toad HQ, Team Ontraport’s sando, “The Briegal,”made good use of brie and granny smith apples. DE-LISH.

The Santorini Panini, in all its Greecy glory!
UCSB’s Bren School knows that presentation is everything at the Smackdown.
A little of this, and a little of that. It all came together for Ontraport’s Briegal sando!

But impressing the crowd is not enough. The judges are the ultimate authority on who will take home the coveted Golden Spatula Award. This year’s judges included past champions from Visit Santa Barbara, chefs from Organic Soup Kitchen, and our very own Danny, our West Coast Sales. In the post-eat interview, Danny referred to the event as “the best day of his life!” We can relate. When the dust settled, the judges declared the winner of the Golden Spatula to be UCSB’s Bren School for their scary-tasty Vampire Slayer Sandwich!

1st place at the Grilled Cheese Smackdown is an honor indeed, but the coveted People’s Choice Award is the true vote of the masses. More votes were tallied this year than ever before, and the perennial favorite, Alpha Resource Center once again clinched the people’s choice award.

As an event that has come to define Toad&Co and will (hopefully) take over the world, the Grilled Cheese Smackdown once again proved that a group of friends and a few beloved snacks is really all you need for an afternoon of epic proportions.

Beer + Cheese = Fun!
Thanks to everyone who came out to the 6th Annual Grilled Cheese Smackdown!

Vermont Maple Syrup: An UnTapped Superfood

By dchulst on December 13th 2017

Cochran’s ski area in Richmond, Vermont—the first non-profit ski area in the United States—is a tiny hill by ski resort standards. It has around 350 feet of vertical served by a rope tow and T-bar. This locals’ hill, however—started fifty years ago by Micky and Ginny Cochran—is where most kids from north central Vermont learn to ski. And it’s produced generations of Olympic medalists, world cup racers, and more than its share of US Ski Team members.

Now, it’s producing another win—Untapped maple energy foods.

UnTapped is a collaboration between the Cochran cousins—Jim, Tim, Roger, and Doug—and pro cyclist Ted King. In 2010, the cousins started Slopeside Syrup on the ski area their grandfather had started, collecting sap from the maples lining the edge of the slopes and boiling it into syrup in a sugar shack they built near the base of the ski area. When King approached them with the idea to make pure maple energy foods, it resonated with the maple syrup making athletes.

Untapped’s latest power fuel offering, maple waffles.

“The idea came to me when I was riding in Vermont, and I stopped at a general store to refuel,” says King. “When I walked in, the first thing I saw was a syrup display. I bought the smallest bottle and stuffed it in my jersey. It was it delicious and easy to digest.”

It makes sense.

Research shows that pure maple syrup has anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-diabetic properties. It also has healthy trace minerals like zinc, thiamine, manganese, and calcium. What it doesn’t have are any artificial colors, flavorings, sweeteners, or preservatives. Pure maple syrup has a lower glycemic index than rice bran and other syrups used in energy shots—that means less of a sugar spike for an athlete sucking down a maple packet mid ride, run, or race—but still delivers instant energy. And, while natural foods don’t always taste better, this one does, with or without a pancake or waffle underneath.

It’s also good for Vermont.

“Making syrup, and producing Untapped is a way for us to tie ourselves to the land, to the place,” says Jim Cochran, one of the cousin partners in Slopeside and Untapped. “It gives us a way to make a living, interact with the ski area in a symbiotic way—and keep the land open.”

Tapped and ready to drain.

The magic of maple syrup for athletes is something the Cochrans have known about for years—they’ve all taken tugs off a jug of golden or dark deliciousness for ski day energy since they were tots. Now they’re sharing it with any maple lover who needs a portable energy food.

Untapped hit the market less than a year ago. Its first two products are maple shots, 100% pure certified organic maple syrup in gel packets, and maple stroopwaffles. In the fall of 2015, it received a $50,000 grant from the USDA to develop a 100% maple flavored and sweetened gummy style energy snack. Untapped plans to introduce their latest maple goodness this spring.

And, by the way, it’s not just for working out. The maple shots are great for sweetening your coffee, and the waffles make an excellent afternoon snack.

A Taste of Vermont

Whether you’re a full time resident of Vermont, or vacationing in the Northeast, tasting the local varieties of maple syrup is a must. There are even select sugar houses that will let you come and pour your own maple syrup! Remember, Vermont gets extremely cold. We recommend you bundle up with these warm winter styles.

The women’s Arriva Jacket and the Breckinridge Parka will keep you warm while foraging for syrup in Vermont.

The men’s Carver Canvas Coat is durable and warm, while the Double Bock Jacket is as stylish as it is insulated.

Tapping maple trees for syrup can be a time consuming process. Keep the good vibes flowing with the Demerbox!

Originally written by RootsRated.

“Best I’ve Ever Had” Pumpkin Pie

By dchulst on November 8th 2017

There’s no denying that the right pumpkin pie can be life changing. With a dollop of whipped cream and pinch of spice, a slice of pie can transform a so-so day into the highlight of the month. So this holiday season, brighten the lives of your holiday guests with a slice of “Best I’ve Ever Had” Pumpkin Pie.

Rest assured, this recipe comes from a bona-pied baker: Norma, one of Toad&Co’s amazing Product Developers, has mastered every pie in the book (and then some). She’s SO good, in fact, that her apple pie medaled at last year’s county fair! Norma is also an accomplished swing dancer and one helluva product developer (you can thank her for perfect arm-holes and inseams). Turn on some tunes, round up your ingredients and get to work on your masterpiece.

Pumpkin & Sweet Potato Pie

Combine the following in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer (10-15 minutes). Make sure to mashing the yams nice and good.

1 can pumpkin (15oz.)
1 cup drained canned yams
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Whisk the following together then add to pumpkin mixture:

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3 eggs and 2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Strain and pour into pie crust. Bake 350° until done, about 45 minutes.

Bourbon Whipped Cream

No slice of pumpkin pie is complete without a dollop of whipped cream. Try whippin’ up some Bourbon Whipped Cream to really get the party started.

1 cup heavy cream, well-chilled
2 teaspoons powdered sugar
4 teaspoons bourbon (and 2 oz. for sipping…)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine ingredients in a chilled bowl and beat until soft peaks form and cream is billowy. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Need a delicious cocktail for your holiday party? Or just something to keep warm? These delicious drinks should do the trick!

Easy Oysters Rockefeller

By dweb247 on October 9th 2017

Despite what you’ve heard, oysters are always in season. As long as you’re slurping oysters that come from healthy waters (like the ones from Tomales Bay), and they’ve been properly refrigerated, you can shuck from New Year to New Year. Hone your chops with this Oysters Rockefeller recipe from the Tomales Bay Oyster Company.

Oyster Rockefeller Recipe
24 Pacific Oysters, shucked
1/4 cup butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp each of celery, parsley, green onions diced
2 tablespoons anise liqueur (optional)
cayenne, salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated

Melt butter in a pan over medium heat, add garlic, and sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Mix half of the garlic butter into breadcrumbs. Add spinach, green onion and celery to the pan, cook until the spinach wilts. Add anise liqueur, deglaze the pan and allow most of the liquid to evaporate and remove from heat before seasoning with cayenne, salt and pepper to taste. Mix parsley and parmesan into the breadcrumbs. Place heaping teaspoon of the mixture on each oyster then breadcrumbs. Bake at 450°F until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Serve with cold beer and crusty bread. Cheers, mate.