Beefed Up Fun at the Viking Cooking School

This morning was pretty cool! I was invited by Holly at June Cleaver Nirvana to mingle with some other DFW area bloggers at a free cooking event at Milestone Culinary Arts Center/Viking Cooking School in Dallas. The event was sponsored by the Texas Beef Council.

What a delight to arrive at my seat to find this cool reuseable goodie bag filled with great information on family meal time, a fabulous cookbook, a meat thermometer, an apron, a measuring spoon, fajita seasoning, a notepad, and pen. Who doesn't love goodie bags?!

And this is our lovely hostess, Holly, who was raised vegetarian but is hosting a promotional event on beef. Seriously, is there anything she can't manage?

We were introduced to Angela Lemond, RD, LD. Angela is a registered dietician who talked with us about pediatric nutrition and promoting healthy family lifestyles. You can follow her blog at

Angela talked about the three "E's" for optimal child feeding:

1. Educate - Teach children about foods and why they are good for them. Use resources like the one we just learned in cub scouts this week,, to teach about the different food groups.
2. Expose - Children need to try a new food for at least 10-15 times before they really know if they like it or not. So just keep putting it on their plate and exposing them to it even if they say they don't like it. Also let children "experience" food by taking them to a farmer's market to touch and smell fresh food or let them grow their own in a home garden.
3. Empower - Let children make their own choices whenever possible. This doesn't mean that they can decide to not have vegetables at dinner. Instead ask them, "Would you like broccoli or carrots?". Then let them help you prepare them by washing them or putting them in a serving bowl. As a child, they have so little control over things in their lives. Letting them feel like they had an important part in the decision making and dinner preparation could just possibly get them to finally eat that broccoli.

She pointed out that personalities may affect food choices. Shy and timid children will be more timid about trying anything new so they may be more picky whereas adventurous kids love to try new things and will likely enjoy testing out new flavors.

She also pointed out the obvious that as parents we need to be a good role model for our children. Kids will more likely do what you do, not what you tell them to do.

As far as tips for healthy eating, Angela promotes buying most of your groceries from the perimeter of the store because that is where you will find the least processed foods like fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, meats, etc. All foods are ok to have in your diet but the key is to watch your portions, frequency, and variety. Avoid fad diets. Eat 3 meals and 2 snacks each day to keep yourself from feeling hungry and giving in to unhealthy food cravings. Include fish in your meal plans at least 2 times a week. Eat low fat dairy foods 2-3 times each day.

And most importantly, make meal time "family time". Enjoy good healthy food together while relaxing and talking about how each other's day was.

For the next session, we had a celebrity chef cook some delightful meals right before our eyes. It was fun being in a "kitchen stadium" and learning cooking tips from a great chef.

Chef Richard Chamberlain is the owner of Chamberlain's Steak and Chop House. His restaurant has received awards and "best restaurant" rankings from such magazines as Bon Appetit, Gourmet Magazine, Wine Spectator, Texas Monthly, and D Magazine as well as Zagat's ranking as one of "America's Top Restaurants". He is also a co-author of the cookbook we received in our goodie bags, The Healthy Beef Cookbook.

Did you know that beef really can be healthy? Did you know that there are actually 29 cuts of beef that are considered lean? Hallelujah! It's like telling me to eat more chocolate. I'm there, baby! Check out the Texas Beef Council's website,, for more information on lean beef and its health benefits.

Chef Chamberlain made two recipes from The Healthy Beef Cookbook - Beef and Heirloom Tomato Salad with Basalmic Syrup and Beef Pot Roast with Maple Sweet Potatoes and Cider Gravy. After he completed each recipe, we were delivered plates with samples of each dish. The salad really surprised me. I haven't had beef in a salad before but it was so good. The balsalmic syrup was really pulled it all together. The pot roast was moist and juicy but the sweet potatoes were the best I've ever had. Stuart loves sweet potatoes so I can't wait to make this recipe for him.

After quite a show in the kitchen, it was our turn to show off our cooking the Viking Teaching Kitchen no less! How cool is that?!

We were divided up into teams and each team got to complete one of the great beef recipes in the cookbook. My team made Chipotle Sloppy Joes with Crunchy Cole Slaw. We gathered all of our ingredients at our station.

Then we chopped and measured. It was hard to not feel like I was on some cooking challenge television show like Hell's Kitchen. It was funny because others on my team said the same thing.

But unlike Chef Ramsey on Hell's Kitchen, Chef Chamberlain doesn't call you "donkey" and kick over a trash can because you didn't slice the peppers thin enough! (Why in the world do I like that show?) Instead Chef Chamberlain just walked around and gave feedback, jumped in to help, and talked a lot about food. It was so educational and fun!

Oh yummy! This filling smells so good. Lean ground beef, onion, ketchup, corn, beans, tomato sauce, chipotle peppers, and cumin. Mmmm..

Ta-dah! Doesn't that just make you hungry? And it's an excellent source of fiber, protein, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, selenium, and zinc.

The other teams made impressive dishes as well. Such as Beef Brisket Tostados with Spicy Peanut Slaw...

...Tenderloin, Cranberry and Pear Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing...

...and, one of my favorites, Sweet Hawaiian Mini Burgers.

My culinary buddies! Check out our cool "I Love Lean Beef" aprons. Sexy, right?

While I was at the Viking Cooking School, I decided to go ahead and shop for our next kitchen. We are way overdo for a remodel. This one really jumped out at me, complete with Viking professional appliances. Do you think Stuart might surprise me with this for my birthday? :)

I had so much fun today. The staff at the cooking school were so gracious. The Texas Beef Council provided some great information and resources for cooking with lean beef. Chef Chamberlain was so helpful in the kitchen and very generous to share his cookbook with us.

But above all of this, I enjoyed getting out and having some Mommy Time. Time alone with other adults and having conversations about something more than super heros or Elmo is so rare. It was awesome to play in a professional Viking kitchen and cook next to a celebrity chef. It was kind of like stepping out of my day-to-day life for a few hours and into someone else's shoes.

But alas, my Mommy role quickly returned when I got back to the van and actually saw the back seat where I had quickly removed Rachel's car seat earlier this morning.

Crushed Cheerios, crackers, and who knows what smooshed into the fabric of the seat.

Guess it's time to get back to reality...


  1. This was such a fun day. Nice meeting ladies from DFW too. Glad we could pop on up there from way out in the sticks like we are.
    So much of the dishes looked so professional. Who says us moms can not kick it with the big boys?

  2. Looks yummy. Can you send me the recipes. I love to try new things and all of these look super yummy!

  3. Comment from my hubby: "I would love to be able to surprise you with that Viking kitchen for you birthday, but now that you've seen it, it wouldn't be a surprise."

    I think surprises are really overrated, don't you?

  4. Tell your husband you will still ACT surprised...hahaha.

    SO GLAD you could make it. Also glad that no one was calling us "donkeys" in the kitchen...

  5. I am pretty sure I have several spots like that in my car. But I'm not moving the car seats to find out!