Difficult Choices – The Appetizer Basket

Choices. We face them every day. Some are small choices like what to wear today (although that’s never a simple choice for Miss A), some are a bit more monumental involving career, love, children, etc. One thing is certain, we make a multitude of choices each day.

A few weeks ago, you all were faced with a choice for the appetizer basket of our Chopped Challenge. Taking 39% of the vote was the Lobster, Chipotle, Fajita and Chocolate basket nominated by Eva at Kitcheninspirations. Appetizer Basket

As you know, if you followed along on our second annual Chopped adventure last Sunday, Mike chose to make a Lobster Chipotle Pizza and I went with the Lobster Mole. Our recipe choices were easy. Since I’m not a big fan of chocolate, I knew I needed to come up with something which wouldn’t feature the taste too prominently for me. Instantly I thought of a mole sauce, and the rest of the ingredients seemed to complement that choice nicely. Making Mole

Mike’s choice was simple too. Try and sway two of the judges with a fan favorite, pizza, using the tortilla shell as the base. working the chipotle

As for my tortilla shells, Miss A and I (Team Girls) cut them into eighths, tossed them with olive oil, lime zest and sea salt and baked them into crispy tortilla chips. baking chips

Mike and Mr. N (Team Domi-Nation) spent a bit of time choosing a good photo set-up for their finished dish. Mr. N

Then it was time for the most difficult of decisions. Choosing a winning dish and the first winning team of the day. Lobster Pizza

Mike and Mr. N ground up about 10 chipotle peppers and then tossed the ground into a large skillet with oil, garlic and water. After the water reduced by half they then added some red wine, cumin, tomato paste and salt. After cooking for about 15 to 20 minutes, they added the dark chocolate, stirring to combine. Lobster Chipotle Pizza

Next they spooned the sauce over the tortilla shells, topped each with arugula and a Dubliner cheese with Irish Stout and baked them at 425F for 10 minutes. They then removed the pizzas and tossed on the chopped raw lobster tail. The pizzas were then placed in the broiler for 5 minutes, sliced and served. Lobster Pizza

As for the mole sauce, Miss A and I started by soaking ancho chiles and the chiptole in hot water for about 30 minutes. This was then blended with a bit of the soaking water to create a puree. In the meantime, we also sautéed onion and garlic with cumin, ground coriander, ground cloves, cinnamon and oregano. The sautéed mix was placed in the food processor with a tomato, raisins, almonds and toasted sesame seeds. Once mixed, we pushed the blended chiles through a sieve to separate the skins. The resulting sauce was then added to the food processor and pulsed to combine. The mole was then placed on the stove to simmer for 25 minutes. Lobster Mole

In the meantime, Miss A and I worked on our chips and melted some chocolate using the double boiler method. The melted chocolate was then stirred into the mole sauce. For the finishing touch, we placed a dab of butter on each of the lobster tails with a bit of lime zest and sea salt. We broiled the lobster tails for about 5 minutes, removed them and chopped up the meat. Lobster mole with chipotle

We then placed our chips in a bowl, added some of the lobster and topped with the mole sauce and fresh cilantro. lobster nachos

Finally the four of us sat down for our first taste test. It was a difficult choice. But as those of you with children, or that have been around children, know the most difficult of choices often comes when in the midst of a full-blown, exhaustive meltdown. Miss A had just such a meltdown yesterday when it was time to leave Grammie and BoomBoom’s (This is what Mr. N named his Grandpa. When he was one, my dad would carry him up and down steps loudly saying “BOOM!” “BOOM!” Mr. N thought it was hilarious and one day he just started to call him BoomBoom. It has since stuck with all three grandchildren.).

But back to Miss A, as her legs flailed and her arms whacked the floor up and down, she couldn’t decide if she wanted to walk or have daddy carry her. She was not happy with either choice. She wanted to stay. Ultimately it was time for the parents to make the choice for her, and Mike picked her up and carried her to the car. On the way home, Miss A was pouting in the back seat and said in her best tattling tone, “Mommy, Daddy stole my choice.”

Fortunately no one stole our choices with the appetizer basket, we got to eat both. The Lobster Chiptole Pizza came in with 4 spoons from Miss A and I, and 3 spoons from Mr. N and Mike. The Lobster Mole came in with 3-1/2 spoons from Mr. N, 3 spoons from Mike and I and 1 spoon from Miss A. While not an easy choice, as you know, the winner for the first round of our Chopped Challenge was Team Domi-Nation with the Lobster Chipotle Pizza. winning basket

Which one would you choose?

We’ll be back next week to feature our Main Course basket recipes. The dessert recipes will follow. Then it’s time for March Madness! Once we wrap up our French toast championship we’ll be back with our cooking around the world adventures. In the meantime, I’m going to be busy cataloging all of our family pictures from 2012. Digital books or printed photo albums, which ones for our frames…oh, so many choices.

Print this recipe: Lobster Chipotle Pizza

Print this recipe: Lobster Mole

45 comments on “Difficult Choices – The Appetizer Basket

  1. Karen says:

    I think the four of you did a terrific job and I’m sure it was hard to decide the best. I know I would.

  2. Charles says:

    I’d have had a hard time choosing a winner… the mole sounds amazing, but then, so does the pizza… tough choice for sure. I never liked to hurt feelings, so were I doing this in my home I would no doubt announce that both were just as good as each other – everyone’s a winner! :D

    Incidentally, I think that’s the first time I saw your oven before… I’m jealous! It’s gas isn’t it? :( Wish I had a gas stove.

  3. Caroline says:

    Gosh, you guys are so dang creative!!! This chopped challenge looks like so much fun, and love that you teamed up with Miss A/Mr. N. I would have a hard time choosing the winner…but considering I’m the same as you when it comes to chocolate, I think I’d pick your dish. ;)

  4. Lobster Mole! Looks absolutely fantastic – so does the pizza, but I found the lobmole to be very creative/innovative. :)

  5. I am only too familiar with the full-blown melt downs from four-year olds these days Kristy! I’m not surprized that a pizza dish was the winner of this throw down, given that there were kids involved in the judging. Both dishes are so innovative and look really delicious. Could I be a judge next year?

  6. Speaking from having one of those kind of daughters, they only get better with age. :)

  7. I think I would have chosen the lobster mole Kristi. Miss A. is a hoot. What an astute comment though. It is actually quite frustrating when someone steals our choice, albeit in her case, it was a necessity…been there done that…just about 16 years ago though.

    It brings me back to a PTA meeting i purposely missed about 14 years ago…didn’t want to get wrangled into being “room mom” yet again so I just decided to not go to the meeting since I used to have such a hard time saying, “no”. Another mom signed me up as a “favor”. I felt like she had taken away my right to choose and I was not happy one iota. I think I felt like Miss A.

    • Kristy says:

      She is totally a hoot Geni. There is not a bad mood that this little girl can’t get me out of – and she’s not even trying! And oh I can completely relate to the PTA thing. I have a very hard time saying no as well. Although I have to say I’m learning and it feels good! :)

  8. Purely.. Kay says:

    Look at Mr. N.. looks so darn cute. And I have to admit, that pizza does look good. Or maybe it’s because I just want pizza at this time lol. I LOVE it. Never considered lobster on pizza before.. have to try that

    • Kristy says:

      I would never have thought of lobster on pizza before either. That’s why I love this challenge! :) And Mr. N has grown up a bit lately – looking so handsome. I just stopped and snapped a pic of him the other day mid-routine. It was just one of those moments that you notice you know. :)

  9. Sound like so much fun… I would have chosen the mole, though ;)

  10. bakerbynature says:

    My goodness you have adorable kiddos ;)

  11. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says:

    Ok, your home organizing/cataloging initiatives are freaking me out a bit Kristy. I so desperately need to put order in my life!! I have to say, you guys really outdid yourselves in this episode of the Chopped Challenge (all 3 courses). As for the appetizer basket, I love pizza as much as the next American ;-), but as an avowed Mexican foodie, the mole sauce captured my heart (and stomach) from the get-go. Sorry Domi-nators!

    • Kristy says:

      LOL! My house was freaking me out. I had to organize it. I feel so much better now I can’t even tell you. And it’s not that the messes were visible – mostly drawers and closets, but just knowing those are clean now…it’s a sigh of relief. I wish we lived closer – we had plenty of leftover mole to go around! :)

  12. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    Wow, it’s really tough to choose (it’s good that you guys don’t ask us to choose the winner (maybe from looking at recipes)) because both teams did really well. It’s impressive that your children participated to cook all the way. I’m not sure if mine would stick around. Looking forward to the next round. It’s such a fun series!

    • Kristy says:

      Well, the kids didn’t stick around the whole time in the kitchen. They did pop in and out. They alternated between helping and playing with toys in the next room. It was a good balance for all. :)

  13. Norma Chang says:

    I like both and would have loved to have a taste of both.
    Poor Miss A, I think she was just tired from all the work and excitement.

    • Kristy says:

      Yes, she was just exhausted. We can always tell when her little body is heading in that direction. Sometimes we can divert them, other times, she just needs to cry. I can relate to that at times. ;) Have a great day Norma!

  14. ChgoJohn says:

    So much going on: a chopped challenge’s Appetizer Round; preparations for March Madness, and a meltdown — of course! I doesn’t seem to have upset anyone’s performance, though, because each dish looks incredible. Very creative and a great response to the challenge, Kristy. Can’t wait to see Round Two.

    • Kristy says:

      It’s funny, Mr. N’s meltdowns are much more likely to disrupt our patience. He is much more perceptive about which buttons to push on both mom and dad. ;) Miss A, well, Mike and I usually have to leave the room so as not to giggle in front of her. I think they are comical because they are just SOOOO dramatic, typically not aimed at us, and she usually forgets about them within minutes. Round two is coming soon. I think you’ll like that one.

  15. Oh, precious Miss A and her meltdown! Yes, I’ve seen plenty of them. And most hit when they’re tired or hungry. Clearly hunger isn’t a big problem, so I’ll say tired. :-) I like the mole and it probably moves ahead a bit because of the chips. I love that presentation. But both recipes are worth trying and I’m sure I’d give them 4 Spoons! Thanks for making the recipes printable! You’ve created such a fun series here, Kristy! Have a good week…and you all need to get your rest! Ha!

    • Kristy says:

      Thanks Debra! We definitely got well-rested this weekend. We did absolutely nothing on Sunday and it was fabulous! And it’s definitely the hunger and exhaustion for Miss A. First thing in the morning it’s hunger – that’s why she eats a granola bar right away. And by the end of a school week, it’s exhaustion. Fortunately she’s not one to throw a fit for very long. She either falls asleep or is back to bouncing around. ;)

  16. spicegirlfla says:

    Out of the mouth of babes….I really like that Miss A and although her young age makes it hard to be able to have all her “choices” come true, she’s well aware of the fact that it’s not a good thing to have your power taken away!! As for the appetizers, I’d have a hard time choosing between the two; you both did a fabulous job!!

    • Kristy says:

      She’s been very aware of her sense of power from the time she was born Linda! I’ve got one assertive little thing on my hands (and I love it!). :) I had a hard time choosing too, but it’s really hard to go wrong with pizza in my book.

  17. sallybr says:

    I would have a meltdown if I had to judge, but my intuition tells me that after I am done with my drama act, I would go for the mole. I have a soft pot for moles (got the pun? Well, if you didn’t let me say that “mole” in Portuguese means “soft”) :-)

  18. Eva Taylor says:

    I’m definitely trying the mole recipe! JT is a huge mole fan, he always orders it at our favourite Mexican place.
    Poor Miss A, what an incredible thing to say.

  19. hotlyspiced says:

    Oh dear. I feel for you with the meltdowns. There’s been plenty in this household too xx

    • Kristy says:

      I’m sure there will be plenty more to come. It’s funny how with the second child they are not as stressful to the parents as they were with the first child. They just seem to get easier with time. ;) That said, I have a feeling as they get older they will get harder again.

  20. rsmacaalay says:

    I really liked this recipe! very unique taste in a pizza. Very creative

  21. Dawn says:

    Oh the meltdowns…just when I finally feel we are done with that stage, another one happens. What I am realizing is that meltdowns just turn into crying fits as they get older. This weekend my 10 year old was absolutely beside herself because she couldn’t play the part she wanted in string ensemble. It wasn’t a kick down screaming meltdown, but a meltdown none the less…I see a lot more of those in my future as the teenage years get closer.

    • Kristy says:

      I can totally relate. Mr.N still has them as well. Different than a kicking, flailing meltdown, but still a good meltdown. Heck, I think I even have them from time to time. ;)

  22. Lara Klein says:

    Finally a smart blogger…I adore how you happen to be thinking and writing!

  23. I can’t imagine how to decide, they both look too good :D


  24. A_Boleyn says:

    I think the Lobster mole sounded very imaginative but I’d go with the ‘safer’ Lobster pizza.

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