Super Sunday Chopped Challenge

We are pleased to announce a one-day extension on voting! We were able to rearrange our schedule this weekend so that we can have our Chopped Challenge on Super Sunday (which is what we prefer!). That gives us all day to cook, cook, cook…and then clean up. ;)

That being said, we’ll begin our shopping on Saturday, so if you haven’t had the chance to vote yet, now’s your time. We have one tight race and one clear runaway…Still it’s anyone’s game.

Last Year’s Teams:

Team Domi-Nation

Team Girls

We can’t wait to see what you come up with for us. We’ll see you all on Sunday!

The Polls Are Open – Chopped Challenge 2014

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet (and sprinkle it with recent shots of Mr. N and Miss A). I’m busier than I can comprehend right now, but the Chopped Challenge must go on! Below you’ll find four basket options for each of three rounds – Appetizer Round, Main Course Round and the Dessert Round. I think the baskets are particularly creative this year and are sure to provide a good challenge.  So, without further adieu, please select one basket below (hit “vote” on each poll – three total) for the multiple rounds. The winning basket for each category will be our ingredients for each round of the challenge.

We’ll announce the winners in our live cook-off event on Saturday, February 1st as Mike and I go head-to-head to see what we can cook-up. Mr. N and Miss A will again serve as our sous chefs, but this year we’re switching up the teams. Last year we pitted boys against girls, but this year we’re mixing it up. Mr. N will join my team and Miss A will join Mike’s. Who will reign supreme this year?

Voting will remain open until Thursday, January 30th, so make sure to vote early (and as often as you are so inclined).  We’ll be back on the first of February with our live blogging event. Thank you again to everyone participating. We can’t wait to see what you drop in our baskets this year!

Mr. N Christmas Morning

Mr. N Christmas Morning


Basket 1 – Sally from the Bewitching Kitchen
Basket 2 – Eva from Kitchen Inspirations
Basket 3 – Munchy from Eesa Tales
Basket 4 – Mr. N and Miss A from our very own, Eat, Play Love

Miss A had a good Christmas too!

Miss A had a good Christmas too!


Basket 1 – Chicago John from the Bartolini Kitchens
Basket 2 – Vanyadhanya from Skinny Chef de Cuisine
Basket 3 – Shankari from Strawberry Lentils
Basket 4 – Joanna from The Noisy Chomper

Where are my legs?

Where are my legs?


Basket 1 – Raymund from Ang Sarap
Basket 2 – Charles from Five Euro Food
Basket 3 – Kelly from Inspired Edibles
Basket 4 – Crunchy Mama from the Fortress of Crunchitude

We even snuck in a trip to see Nana and Papa in Florida!

We even snuck in a trip to see Nana and Papa in Florida!

Happy voting everyone! Thanks again for playing along and thank you to all of you that provided our delectable baskets. We’re excited!! We’ll see you all in a few days. Let the fun begin.

Then we came home to wind chills of -40F. Burr!

Then we came home to wind chills of -40F. Burr!

Warming Up to a New Year and An Invitation

Happy New Year! We hope you all enjoyed the holiday season and are enjoying a fabulous start to the New Year. Since our area is under an uncharacteristic deep freeze, we thought it fitting to bring you this warming stew recipe to enjoy during these colder months. We also have some fun planned for a future post, so make sure to keep reading to find out how you can play along!

buttercup squash

Now this particular recipe is also for our dear friend Sally at Bewitching Kitchen who mentioned she loves chickpeas. Sally has followed our blog for nearly three years now and was our first non-family/friend commenter. So since she holds a special place in our hearts, I’m going to do a little bragging on her behalf. Check out this post to get a glimpse into why we love Sally and why her blog is on our list of faves. Congrats Sally!

Someone spied a bird out the window!

Someone spied a bird out the window!

Now, this recipe for Amazon Bean and Squash Stew (adapted from Eating Well) is also one of our faves because it’s very filling, flavorful and it’s vegan. I haven’t shared this on the blog yet, but last September, Mike and I undertook a three-week vegan cleanse. The results were fabulous – we slept better, felt better and found a ton of ways to get creative with beans, lentils, nuts, spices and all sorts of foods that were relatively new to us. As a result, we’ve completely altered our eating habits and lifestyle (in fact Mike has lost 45 pounds and is the healthiest he’s been since I’ve known him!). While we’re not vegan 100% of the time, we do eat vegan more often than not. Now that’s not to say we would turn down a fabulous seafood dinner, bacon jam, a good piece of meat, or a delicious dessert, but on an average day we’re choosing plants. In other words, there’s no hardcore rules and the blog will still feature a mixture of international recipes of all types, but this particular stew is one we can enjoy any day of the week.

veggies

So the stew starts out simple enough – roast the squash with a bit of olive oil and sea salt. We’ve used an assortment of winter squash including buttercup and acorn, and they’ve all worked well. We also typically roast the squash on the weekend, store it and whip the stew up on a weeknight. When you’re ready to make the stew, heat the olive oil, drop in some garlic (Sally – you can omit the garlic), carrots and diced onion, and saute until the veggies are tender.

making stew

Next we add a bit of veggie stock and water, the roasted squash, a tomato and a boat load of seasonings including salt, pepper, red pepper, turmeric, oregano and cumin. We bring the stew to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. Next we transfer batches of the stew to the blender to puree and then return it to the pot.

squash soup

Finally we add cooked wild rice, fresh spinach and chickpeas to the pot, mix it together and cook it for another 10 minutes, or until the spinach wilts and the beans are heated through.

filling ingredients

We serve the stew with tortilla chips and lime wedges. It makes enough for dinner for four with leftovers (or two servings each if like Mr. N you want seconds). The stew is hearty and flavorful.

amazon squash stew

It’s a 4 spoon dish for Mr. N and I, 3 spoons for Mike and 2 spoons for Miss A. It isn’t her favorite dish in the world, but she will eat her share – especially if the chips are involved. In fact, we’ll all eat our share and have on several occasions now.

Chickpea stew

Print this recipe: Amazon Squash and Bean Stew

bean and squash stew

Okay, now for a little fun. This month is our three-year blogging anniversary. While we don’t post as often as we did in year one or two, we’re still making many new international dishes and exploring different cultures. It’s an adventure we all love for the food we get to try, the time together in the kitchen and for all the friends we’ve made. So, like last year, we’re going to have our annual Chopped Challenge to celebrate. For those of you that aren’t familiar with our Chopped Challenge, you can find year one here and two here. We’ve had several successful recipes – some have even stuck around. You can see all the results on our recipes page.

Appetizer Basket

So how does this work? Well, we ask for mystery basket ingredients from twelve readers which are then put up to vote in a blog poll. Our readers vote on a basket for three categories – appetizer, main course and dessert. The baskets with the most votes in each category will be our mystery ingredients. Then on Super Bowl Sunday (February 2, 2014), Mike and I go head-to-head in an all day cooking challenge. The kids serve as both sous chefs and judges, a task they take very seriously.

winning basket

This year we’ve asked our top six commenters and five new commenters to provide us with basket ingredients. Now,that leaves one opening and we’d like to make this open by special invitation. We know there are many silent blog readers and occasional commenters out there, and we want to make sure you’re included as well. So, if you would like to name ingredients for an appetizer basket we’d love to include your choices in the poll. Just shoot us an email at eatplayloveblog@gmail.com or leave a comment with four ingredients to include in our appetizer basket poll. They can be as wild or as traditional as you want to be, as long as they can be relatively easy to source. All ingredients received by 1/15/14 will be put into a draw and one participant will be selected.

Dessert basket

We look forward to your submissions and are excited for a new challenge. Albeit not so excited about the mess that always results. ;) Messy, messy, messy

Happy New Year all! Stay tuned for the upcoming interactive blogging fun. We’ll put our ingredient baskets up to vote sometime after the 17th of this month, after which our challenge lies in your hands! Until then, enjoy the stew and stay warm. Cheers!