A superwoman lives in Murrells Inlet.
You may know her as Alice Phillips, mild-mannered neighbor, mom, grandma, friend, yoga practitioner and wife of Ben who has lived in Murrells Inlet for more than 20 years.
What you may not know is that she used a two-year interlude in Boston to transform herself into super food blogger and contest queen, Ally of www.allyskitchen.com.
Phillips shares her energetic approach to life through social media. Her high energy radiates through the pages of her blog, shines on YouTube, and sizzles and pops on her tweets, Pinterest and Facebook pages.
“I want others to know that they can do anything – live life to the fullest every day,” she said.
Phillips doesn’t simply aspire to living life with zest, she advocates a “whole orange approach, squeezing every bit of good out of each moment.”
Joanne Langfitt, a teacher at Myrtle Beach High School and Phillips’ friend and neighbor, said, “I first knew her as a mother and an educator. Today, she is so much more than that. Several years ago Ben’s job took them to Boston. During that time, Alice, who is from a small town in West Virginia, learned to get around the city and became very interested in acting. At the same time she also began to broaden her interest in cooking.”
Phillips notes that loneliness during the Boston interlude fueled her drive. She was determined to build on her other interests to express her enthusiasm for life.
“Acting was always in my blood and I’ve always been a contest junkie,” she said. While she was in Boston, her talent agency sent her to audition for a show called “Master Chef.” She made it to the top 100 and got to meet chef Gordon Ramsay, chef Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich.
“I thought, ‘what the heck, I’ve always loved to cook, have plenty of family and friends who rave about my food, so why not?’ ”
Contests were another interest she intensified, especially pertaining to food. While there are many types of recipe and food blogging contests, Phillips hones in on those that call for use of her writing and photography talents, as well as her passion for recipe creation.
“My philosophy about contests is somebody’s gotta win, why not me!” she said. “You have to put yourself out there and be ready to fail. Each failure is a time you learn something and become stronger.”
Many of the prizes are fun experiences for her and for her family. Some of her recent ones include becoming one of two food bloggers selected to cover the 2013 Crisco National Pie Cook-off Championship, the grand prize in Gallo Family Vineyards’ 2011-’12 recipe contest which included a photo shoot and other prizes for the entire family.
Recently, in the To Tuscany Foodie Blogger Competition 2012, she won a trip to Italy to learn Tuscan cooking secrets from a top chef.
And in the first few months of 2013, she was been named one of the Top100 Food Bloggers for Gulf Coast Seafood and was the grand prize winner in the American Lamb Board’s annual February recipe contest. It was her trifecta of skills – writing, photography and imaginative recipe creation – that caught the eye of the Lamb Board with her recipe “Cowboy’s City Slicker: Spicy Grilled Lamb Chops.”
American Lamb Board Program Manager Rae Maestas said, “During February we promote the T-bone lamb chop because it’s shaped like a heart. When we received Ally’s recipe along with her gorgeous photo and her comments on her love of lamb – well, we knew hers was the winner.”
Her blog is more than a celebration of her triumphs in the kitchen and in contests. She aims to inspire others to take a chance on life, to live their passion.
“Many, women primarily, who’ve hit 40 are looking for inspiration, how to re-invent and direct their lives. I think I provide the ‘oomph’ and inspiration (for them) via my energy, soul and spirited living,” Phillips said.
Think of her blog not as a guilty pleasure, but as a life coach paired with delicious food. She wants everyone to sample life in portions of food that “push the edge” and to find his or her own creativity inspired by discovery of self and success. Her reach is large and growing.
“My website really launched in January 2011 and since then it has grown tremendously,” Phillips said. “I get nearly 3,000 unique visitors to my website weekly. I’ve had more unique visitors in the first six days of April 2013 than I had in the entire months of January through March 2011.”
Her Facebook page has more than 15,000 followers and 2,000 people follow her on Pinterest.
“Maintaining all of this is literally a full-time job,” she said.
She attributes these large numbers to her authenticity.
“I’m real. I’ve done what many women have done in life from struggles to victories.”
How Phillips will build on these successes and what future challenges she will accept are to be determined. That she will enjoy each challenge is a surety.
Phillips has discovered a key element for a successful life – she is content within herself. She is confident in her talents and loves to inspire others to succeed.
“I wish you [readers] could meet her in person,” Longfitt said.
Many will meet Phillips through social media and discover that she “truly values each and every person who even clicks ‘like’ on my Facebook page.”
Phillips is a good friend, loving wife, mother and grandmother, cook, writer and photographer, and an inspiration to others. A super woman, indeed.
Two of Alice “Ally” Phillips’ winning recipes:Cowboys City Slicker Spicy Grilled Lamb Chops
Serves 6.3/4 tsp. sea salt 1 1/4 tsp coarse ground pepper 1 1/4 tsp cumin 1/2 tsp. ground ginger 1/8 cup garlic slices 1 tsp. hot smoked paprika 2 tbsp. chopped fresh mint 1 1/2 tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice 1/2 cup chopped onions 1 cup extra virgin olive oil Makes: About 1 1/4 cup of marinade enough for 8 thick cut (2 1/2- to 3-inch) lamb chops
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend for about 2 minutes.
Place lamp chops in a baking dish. Sprinkle sea salt and pepper on each side of each lamb chop. Drizzle the marinade over the chops. Press in with your hands. Turn lamb chops and coat sides and bottom with the marinade. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 4-6 hours before grilling.
Grilling: Place on a covered grill over a medium-high heat. Best to finish to medium rare or medium. Remove the chops from the grill when you reach an internal temperature of 140 F and allow to rest for about 5 minutes.
Bohemian Bolognese Sauce
Serves 8.6 slices of bacon or pancetta 1 shallot diced 3 garlic cloves sliced thinly 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 1 lb. ground beef 1/2 lb. ground breakfast sausage 3/4 cup Italian pepperoni (cut pieces in halves) 12 ounces of tomato paste 1 cup red wine 1/2 cup heavy cream 2 cups beef broth 1 jar marinara sauce (preferably Paul Newman) 8 oz. French onion dip 1/2 cup fresh chopped basil 2 tbsp. dried Italian herb mixture 1/2 cup freshly grated reggiano parmesan or asiago cheese 1 tsp. kosher salt (more or less to taste) 1 tsp. ground black pepper 1/2 tsp. red chili flakes 3/4 tsp. chipotle ground chili pepper
In large cooking pot, fry bacon. Remove crispy bacon from pot. You only want the bacon drippings. Add extra virgin olive oil to bacon drippings. Keep heat at medium. Add shallots and garlic and sauté until translucent. Add ground beef and sausage to this mixture and crumble and brown. Add pepperoni and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes.
Increase heat to medium high, blend in tomato paste into meat mixture. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Add red wine, blend and cook for 5 minutes, stirring consistently. Add heavy cream and blend in. Add beef broth and blend together, cooking 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and add jar of marinara sauce. Allow to simmer about 30 minutes. Add French onion dip and blend in completely.
Reduce heat to medium low and add remaining ingredients – basil, Italian herb mixture, freshly grated cheese, salt, pepper, red chili flakes, chipotle ground chili pepper. Allow sauce to simmer for about 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with your favorite pasta.