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Karen with a couple of the contestants from H-E-B's Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best

I have been in a few cooking contests, and even won back-to-back dessert trophies for my entry of my YiaYia’s Cretan Baklava. It took years of making it with her till I was confident enough to make it myself, let alone enter it in a cooking contest! That contest was challenging but nothing like the third annual H-E-B Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best. Prior to the final judging of this contest and announcement of the winners, I had the opportunity to take a sneak peak and taste of 25 of the finalists' food entries. I am so glad I wasn’t a judge. The honorable judges were a cross section of food critics, area chefs and H-E-B senior leaders and marketers.

There was a lot riding on the foods the contestants prepared – $70,000 in cash prizes and a coveted space on H-E-B shelves. The Quest for Texas Best started three years ago with 750 entrants, last year 420 competed and this year 475 from 101 Texas cities and towns. There were foods in several categories including, sauces, salsas, spices, sweets, spreads, mixes, drinks and meats. And one very unique, refreshing and unusual beverage that I tried iced was the Olive Leaf Tea. It was healthful (twice the antioxidants of green tea and 400 percent more vitamin C than other sources of vitamin C) as well as delicious. 

I enjoyed a small sampling of nearly every finalist’s product but wasn’t allowed to share my favorite choices until the judging was over and winners announced. That was Aug. 11, so here are a few of my favs! The protein cookie, yum …wasn’t even healthy tasting. The flavored gelato pops made with goats milk were mouthwatering, and the Machacado (Carne Seca/Gourmet dried beef) easy to make and my new over the top breakfast dish. 

It was such fun to sample the goods and enjoy getting to know these wonderful Lone Star State entrepreneurs. I do have one recipe to share, so please, “Join My Table” as we explore how to make Machacado with eggs (dried beef combined with scrambled eggs, tomatoes and onion).


Machacado with eggs

1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup white onion, chopped (I use the Texas 1015s)

1 medium tomato, chopped

1 jalapeño, diced (seeded is optional)

3/4 cup carne seca (dried meat), I used this on or you can use shredded brisket

4 large eggs, lightly beaten


Corn or flour tortillas

Directions: Heat olive oil in large frying pan and sauté onion in oil for 2 minutes. Add tomato, jalapeño, carne seca and cook for another 2 minutes. Fry chopped onion, chopped jalapeño and carne seca until light golden brown. Add tomato and garlic and simmer. Add eggs, stirring until cooked about 3 minutes. Serve with salsa, and tortillas.


P.S. Speaking of contests, here is one for the aspiring child chef in your home. Luby’s is having a contest for junior chefs ages 10 to 15. To show off their cooking skills and participate in LuAnn's Kitchen contest send a recipe, along with a picture of your dish and you'll be entered into the contest to win a $1,000 cash prize! A portion of the proceeds will be going to Homemade Hope! For more information go to