Y’all Ready for This – Chopped Challenge II

Do I even need to post the link to the song? Or is it already thumping through your brains? Y’all ready for this…That’s right, it’s time for our annual Chopped Challenge live blogging event! (Make sure to vote at the end of the post!) Last year we held our first annual Challenge on New Year’s Day. Some of you may remember the fun we had with our seared scallops: Seared Scallops over polenta muffins

Or the mess we had after a seriously full day of cooking: Messy, messy, messy

Well, despite the Herculean cleaning efforts, we had a great time and knew that it was going to be an annual event. This year, we’re timing the fun to coincide with our two-year blogiversary. Well, technically last week it was two years, but being how we seemed to get perpetually behind this past year, it’s only fitting that we’re late in posting our anniversary too! I can’t believe it’s already been two years! When we started this cooking around the world adventure Mr. N was only six and Miss A was a teeny-weeny two! Remember these little faces: our babies

So what have we learned these past few years? A great deal about cooking; a ton about different cultures and regional spices; that there is a wonderful community of bloggers and commenters from around the world; that there are far more recipes that we want to make than we have time to cook; that our spoon rating is highly subjective, particularly when it comes to Miss A; that careers plus growing kids makes it hard to keep up with our original three regular posts a week (how did we ever manage that?!); that Mr. N has a serious love for Asian food; and that Mike and I absolutely cherish the moments spent with our kids in the kitchen, at the table and with our loyal readers and commenters. This whole experience has been such an amazing journey – much more so than we ever expected.

Miss A Then

Miss A Then

Tonight we went around the table and talked about what we’ve learned and love the most about our blog and cooking adventures. Miss A went first and declared her favorite part is making lemon tarts and lemon custard. I think she may have developed my obsession with lemon. She also said she really likes to cook and for next year she wants to cook more.

Miss A Now - a bit more grown-up

Miss A Now – a bit more grown-up

Mr. N said he’s learned that sometimes food that looks bad, tastes pretty good. He’s learned that he really likes Asian food, no matter the country, and that he’s pretty good at figuring out flavors by taste. Next year Mr. N is going to add a new feature to the blog. Since our mission is to cook foods from various countries, he wants to find a fun fact about each of the countries to share in the posts. What a clever guy! So look to that this coming year.

Mr. N Then

Mr. N Then

Mike and I, well we both agree on the things we love the most about this experience: first and foremost, the time spent as a family in the kitchen making memories that will last a lifetime; and second, and nearly just as high on our list, the great friends and followers we’ve gotten to know in the past two years. I know we’ve said it before, but we truly do appreciate each and every one of you. Some of you share advice and empathy, many of you bring us great recipes, others have brought special friendships (who knew you could find such true friends around the world via a little blog!), and ALL of you – long-time commenters, occasional visitors, silent readers – have brought us such unexpected joy for which we are ever grateful.

Mr. N Now - we need to get this guy in the kitchen again!

Mr. N Now – we need to get this guy in the kitchen again!

As for what we want to see on the blog for our third year, well, we want to hit some new countries. We would love to some day find the time to put together a recipe index. We’ve (read I’ve) decided to put less pressure on us to keep to a regular schedule. I don’t doubt we’ll get a post up each week (sometimes more), but between our work schedules, kid schedules, family time, exercise time (which we need to keep up in order to eat this way!), and quite frankly just some flat-out relaxation time…well, you get the idea. So to help with that you’ll notice a few less pics on ingredients as we return to more pictures of our cooking process and final dishes. And you’ll likely even see a few more posts from Mike this year! Surprise Mike! (He’ll learn that little change once I hit publish.)

So that’s where we’ve been and where we’re going. Now to the fun…Below we’ll have three polls – one for appetizers, one for the main course, and one for dessert. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the format, we base this off of the Food Network’s “Chopped” series. The premise is simple, contestants must use the ingredients in the basket (no matter how crazy they seem) to create a dish. There are three rounds (appetizer, main course, and dessert) and contestants are eliminated between each round. The winner is selected based on taste, presentation and creativity.

Well, below you’ll find four basket options for each round provided by our most frequent commenters (and non-basket winners) from 2012. Some of the baskets are clearly more kind than others; though we won’t name names. Actually we’re excited about them all and look forward to the challenge. So, please select one basket (hitting “vote” on each poll – three total) for the multiple rounds. The winners will then be announced in our live cook-off event on Sunday, February 3rd as Mike and I will go head-to-head to see what we can cook-up. Mr. N and Miss A will serve as our sous chefs now that they’re a bit older. This year it’s the boys against the girls!

So without further ado…vote early and often! Voting remains open until Friday, February 1st. And make sure to stay tuned for the live blogging event and subsequent recipes. We may even throw in a fun little giveaway in honor of our two-year celebration! Thank you again to you all and we can’t wait to see what you drop in our baskets this year!

Baskets courtesy of KitchenInspirations, Garden to Wok, breathelighter, and Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide (respectively).

Baskets provided by Inspired Edibles, Ang Sarap, from the Bartolini kitchens, and Just One Cookbook (respectively).

Thanks to Five Euro Food, First Look Then Cook, Hotly Spiced and Profiteroles & Ponytails for providing the baskets.

Let the voting begin! (Remember to click the vote button on each of the three polls.) Cheers!

64 comments on “Y’all Ready for This – Chopped Challenge II

  1. Erinn @ www.more-sprinkles.com says:

    Congrats on your 2nd year! Very cool!

  2. It’s been so much fun traveling along with your family this year.. Those earlier photos are adorable! I’ve voted.. I did try to be kind:D xx

  3. cecilia says:

    Love it.. absolutely brilliant! can’t wait to see what happens next and we must get together and set a date for a visit to chicago!! c

  4. Wow, everything is so inventive. It was hard to choose. Full confession: I voted for my own basket because looking at the competition I think I got chopped. I wanted to have at least one vote! I can’t wait to see the results.

  5. rsmacaalay says:

    Look at all those ingredient mix very challenging but exciting. You kitchen looks similar when I cook a lot :)

  6. Norma Chang says:

    Congratulations to you and your family on your 2 year blogiversary. Looking forward to see what you and Mike and the sous chefs create. Thanks for including me.
    Thanks also for taking me along on your family’s journey through the different countries, sharing their cultures and their foods. I have learnt a great deal from your blog.

    • Kristy says:

      Thank you Norma! I nearly fell over when I read that you have learned from us…that was so flattering coming from someone from whom I learn something with every post. You are a wealth of information and I really have enjoyed getting to know you. Thank you! :)

  7. Totally looking forward to all the fun Kristy! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your family’s food adventures for the last two years.

  8. Caroline says:

    I’m so happy that you’re doing the Chopped challenge again–such a fun and creative idea! I just voted–can’t wait to see what you end up making. And congrats on two years of blogging!! Crazy how much Mr. N and Miss A have grown up. :)

    • Kristy says:

      We’re excited about the Challenge. It should be a great time! Thanks for sharing in our adventures Caroline! It’s been a pleasure getting to know you and your delicious recipes!

  9. Congratulations on your two years of blogging
    Your blog is one of the first I ever followed and I have loved the journey ever since
    My kids are devoted followers too as they can really relate to your little ones.
    They too say congrats and they are really looking forward to your upcoming posts :)

    • Kristy says:

      Thank you Sawsan – and your children! And thank you for following our adventures these past few years. I’m so happy to have “met” you and I’ve learned so much from you – in so many ways. :)

  10. Eva Taylor says:

    Thanks do much for including me again this year, I’m so excited to see the cook off; my only regret is that I can’t be there to experience the fun in person, the energy in your kitchen must be incredible! You know who I’ll be rooting for! ;) such a cool contest. I’m gonna set up the iPad so we can watch this year.
    Thanks again for the shout out.

    • Kristy says:

      I think I know who you’re rooting for – girls rule! ;) And thank you for following along with us these past few years Eva. It’s been such fun getting to know you.

  11. Loved the voting – this is awesome! I can’t wait :)
    Congrats on the 2-year blogiversary, looking forward to many more – you run such a wonderful blog, after all! :)

  12. spicegirlfla says:

    It’s been such a pleasure to be a virtual part of your family through your posts, pics and recipes! I adore seeing Mr N and Miss A….especially in all her cuteness! cooking and playing. It’s amazing how they change and grow so quickly. Mr. N is quite the little man these days!! I love his idea for adding in a bit of his part into your cultural visits! And honestly, I feel relieved to hear from you that consistent, 3xs a week blogging can be overwhelming!! I was feeling guilty because I slowed down considerably and you, with 2 active children, work, marriage and social life was still going strong! I think you made a wise decision….I’d never want you to quit though, I’d miss your wonderful family too much!!

    • Kristy says:

      Thank you Linda! I am so happy you are part of our blog family. I admire you so much and hope that Miss A, Mr. N and I are as close as you and your children someday. And believe me, I certainly have my overwhelming days. This year has been a good lesson in stepping back. :) And don’t worry…no plans for quitting anytime soon. Thanks for following along Linda. I can’t tell you how much you have made me smile these past few years (not to mention filled my kitchen with goodness through your recipes!).

  13. What an awesome post to mark your 2 year anniversary – Happy anniversary to you all and here’s to the next wonderful year.
    What wonderful baskets – was quite difficult to make a choice in each category. Not sure I would be as adventurous so kudos to you! I am looking forward to all of the instalments.
    Have a super day. :-) Mandy xo

    • Kristy says:

      Thanks Mandy! We’re always up for an adventure. I just hope we can make something we’ll all enjoy. ;) Some of these ingredients are going to be tough! Thank you for always following along. It’s been so much fun to get to know you through our blogs. :)

  14. Y’all ready for this!!!!! It’s in my head… thanks! ;-)
    Happy Blogiversary!!! SO HAPPY to have “met” you via this blogoverse of ours. :-)
    Miss A. looks just like Kristy!

    I am looking forward to this chopped challenge… can’t wait to see what you come up with!

    • Kristy says:

      I knew you would appreciate the song Kate! I’m so happy to have “met” you as well. We’re kindred spirits in so many ways. I love following along your cooking adventures and getting to know you and your family. And one of these days we’re going to cook from Macedonia and try some of your traditional recipes out! Here’s to many more years of fun!

  15. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    Looking at your family always remind me mine and I’ve been enjoying reading your family cooking adventure. Your family inspired me, including your children! I know, time flies. I see Miss A’s dramatic growth but she’s same age as my daughter so I can relate a lot too. I’m all excited about this challenge! What a fun ingredient selections. I hope you’re not sweating. LOL! Can’t wait!

    • Kristy says:

      Thank you so much Nami! You are a total inspiration as well. The time, care and thought you put into each of your dishes is just incredible. And you know I just LOVE your photography! Our kids do seem to grow up so quickly before our eyes. It’s amazing and so much fun. As for the challenge…oh, I’m already sweating! ;)

  16. sallybr says:

    Looking forward to this fun event!!!!!! My votes are in too… Kelly stole my line, darn it… I was going to vote for myself. That lady is too witty, so I am voting for her instead.
    ooops, did I mess it all up? :-)

    Awesome post, I am always THRILLED when I get notification of a new post from you guys!

    • Kristy says:

      Thanks Sally! I don’t think you could wrong with any of these baskets. They are all going to be fun and most definitely challenging. Thanks for following along and for being among our first and certainly our most long-term commenter. I have very much enjoyed getting to know you. You and your recipes have just enriched our lives. :)

  17. Ah, looking at the then and now photos… I especially notice the change with Miss A… so ‘grown up’ in just two short years. Doesn’t it feel like you’ve been blogging for way longer than 2 years? 3 posts a week… I’m with you; hard to believe how we ever managed that ;-)… where does the time go?!!

    Totally jacked for this year’s challenge! I’m intrigued by the bacon/pretzel combo that appears twice in the dessert category (I think I may have to start viewing this show for myself ;-)) – so many great options to choose from; I can’t wait to see the outcome!

    My votes are in!! (I tried to vote for myself more than once by it didn’t seem to work – haha! :)).

    • Kristy says:

      I really noticed the change with her too Kelly. She looked so toddler like back then. Now she’s all girl. And I agree, in some ways it seems much longer than two years that we’ve been blogging. Three posts a week – how on earth did that ever happen?! We’re excited for this year’s challenge too. It’s going to be an interesting one that’s for sure! I’m pretty sure you can vote more than once. Not that I encourage stuffing the ballot box or anything. ;)

  18. Charles says:

    Ha, I’m so picking the appetizer option which has chocolate! :D What’s with all the bacon in the desserts? LOL! Naturally I voted for myself there but some fantastic suggestions – can’t wait to see what you come up with. Hope your kitchen fares a bit better this year. If I was faced with that mess I’d just nuke it from orbit and declare that it was time to move house :D

    Congratulations on your blogging achievements to date Kristy and your family – it’s been a fun journey! Looking forward to many more shared with you :)

    • Kristy says:

      Go on, pick chocolate…I dare you. I’m going to embrace it. ;) Ha! I doubt I’ll come up with anything as clever as the Monte Kristy though. That was just genius. I highly doubt our kitchen will fair much better. That shot is actually only of the dessert mess. We cleaned after each round as they all made a disaster. It’s all about the endurance with this challenge. ;)
      And thank you for following along Charles. I am so happy to have met you through this process. You know I just adore you and your family (and your recipes!). Here’s to many more years of blogging and friendship. :)

  19. Karen says:

    Congratulations on two years of blogging. It has been fun sharing your adventures and I’m looking forward to your new year and the challenge.

  20. hotlyspiced says:

    Congratulations to the four of you for your second anniversary. You have achieved so much and your blog has such a great theme. I wish you well with all the challenges that lie ahead with these baskets! Good luck there! xx

  21. Happy 2nd year my friend, this is such an exciting opportunity – you have my vote :D


  22. Happy 2nd year anniversary and what a great 2 years it has been. Your little ones have grown up so fast. I love that photo shot of the kitchen cyclone-been there, done that!!!! I just voted and really no matter what you make I know I will love it. Take care, BAM

    • Kristy says:

      Thanks BAM! The kids have grown up so fast. Looking back at old blog posts really reminds me of that. Time does seem to just fly. Thanks for following along with us. It’s been great to get to know you. I love picking up tips for the hungry teenagers I’ll have some day. ;)

  23. ChgoJohn says:

    What a great post to mark your 2nd anniversary, Kristy. I’ve said it before: blogging continues to reward in ways I never dreamt possible. Getting to know your special family is definitely one of those ways. It’s been a great pleasure.
    Let the voting begin! Happy anniversary!

    • Kristy says:

      I couldn’t agree more John. The rewards from this little project have just been unbelievable – you, your stories, recipes and of course Zia are among them. :)

  24. So cool, looking forward to seeing the results and maybe testing them out myself. Congrats on the 2 year blogaversary, and here’s to years more!

  25. voted… and I can’t wait to see what creations come out of those baskets!

  26. A_Boleyn says:

    It’s been quite the year since your first Chopped challenge. I look forward to seeing if my choices win and what the results end up being. Happy days ahead. :)

    • Kristy says:

      Thanks so much Maria! Last year was quite a year, but I already feel so good about the days ahead. It’s going to be a good one and this challenge will be a ton of fun!

  27. This is fun and oh so clever! I loved the photos of the children two years ago. I hadn’t yet even started blogging, so I wasn’t around! :-) They will make marvelous sous chefs! I’ll be eager to see what ingredients end up being a part of this fun challenge. They all would be a challenge to me! LOL!

  28. Dawn says:

    This is going to be exciting – too bad I can’t watch it live!! Skype maybe??

  29. always get excited when you and hubs start up the challenges! This one is going to be fun- only wish I could join ya’ll! i love good friendly competition! Maybe one day huh? i definitely know which ones I am picking! Off to vote

  30. bepcity says:

    I love this poll idea! We have been talking about doing our own chopped challenge since the summer, but haven’t gotten around to it. I think this post might inspire me to get movin’ on it! : ) Can’t wait to see what you do!

    • Kristy says:

      You totally should! It’s a blast. We had such a great time last year and couldn’t wait to do it again. One of these years we’ll add the time component, but we’re not quite that good yet. ;)

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