Live Blogging Event – Chopped Challenge III – 2014

The wait is over! The big day is finally here! The smack talk has been ramping up for days and the teams are ready to go. It’s Chopped Challenge 2014.

First, we’ll introduce this year’s line up:

For The Cleaver’s (points to those who get the play on words) its Kristy and Mr. N; and for Team Number Won it’s Mike and Miss A. Chopped Challenge Teams 2014

Which team will reign supreme? And which team will be Chopped? Let’s get cooking to find out!

We’ll start the day with our Appetizer Basket. Teams will have to use the ingredients from this year’s winning basket and with 35% of the votes comes to us from Mr. N and Miss A, and those ingredients are:
Appetizer Basket Ingredients 2014

Now since this is a live blogging event, make sure to check back throughout the day. We’ll post photos and updates throughout the day for each course as well as the results. This year we’re also going to try to keep up with a photo stream on our Instagram account (eatplayloveblog) which will also post to our Twitter feed @eatplayloveblog. Getting a bit more high tech this year! Once again thanks for your participation and for following along.

Here’s to a great day of cooking and eating! Let’s get it on!

Well, Team Number Won is off to an early lead after commandeering the kitchen. sesame oil

They’ve got some kind of sesame oil and ume plum vinegar mixture going on in there. ume plum vinegar

The Cleaver’s have their bacon going, bacon bacon bacon

and some other mascarpone concoction, mascarpone

but is the pressure already driving Kristy to the brink??? boozing

Thankfully Mr. N is staying focused for The Cleavers.
It looks like they’re hand-stuffing Won-Ton wrappers to make their own tortellini–impressive.

Well, folks, the appetizer round is complete. Team Number Won created a tortellini salad featuring apples, pears, bacon and an Asian-inspired dressing; and the Cleavers came up with a homemade tortellini (using won ton wrappers) which were deep fried and served with a mascarpone cream sauce. appetizer contenders

The salad, which was entirely Miss A’s idea, was a tasty combination. Yet while all the pieces worked in concept, the execution was a bit lacking (which Miss A blames on her teammate – is there dissension in the ranks?). The sesame oil in the dressing was a little too over-powering making the dish a bit too salty. Still the bites with apple, tortellini and bacon were quite good and might do better with a more Italian inspired vinaigrette. This dish came in with 2 spoons from Kristy and Mike, 1-1/2 spoons from Mr. N and 0 spoons from the chef that created the dish! Tortellini Salad

That means – the winner for this round is THE CLEAVERS! The tortellini was made using won ton wrappers (thanks to a post from Chicago John Kristy remembered from last spring) and stuffed with a mixture of ricotta, bacon, basil and apples. After the tortellini were cooked, they were dredged in flour, egg and panko before being deep fried to perfection. (Recipe to come in following weeks.) The crispy tortellini were served alongside a mascarpone cream sauce for dipping. Mr. N and Miss A came in with 4 spoons each while Mike and Kristy gave the dish a 3 spoon ranking. It’s hard to beat a deep fried appetizer folks, especially with two kids at the judging table! fried tortellini

Now it’s time to clean the kitchen from round one. We’ll be back shortly to post the winning main course basket! Stay tuned…

The first round of cleaning is done and we’re on to the main course! This year’s winning basket with 32% of the vote comes to us from Vanyadhanya: Main Course Basket 2014

And the cooking is already underway with a garam masala sachet in the works for Team Number Won. garam masala

The Cleavers are again late to the kitchen, we hope they’re not getting too cocky – it’s still anyone’s game! Although they do seem to have soaked some cashews…another cream perhaps? Cashews
It took us a little while to track down Mr. N and Miss A for Round 2. They kinda vanished for the cleaning phase of the contest. Fortunately we had a good idea where to look.

Team Number Won is mixing up some potatoes, cilantro and flour. Gnocchi, perhaps? Not quite.

Mike and Kristy seem to be sharing the counter space nicely. Wonder how long that will last?

Everyone is on a roll. Lots of cooking is underway. All four burners are in use, the oven, a food processor and a blender. Too bad this isn’t the real chopped kitchen – these teams have to wash dishes in between use! So what is everyone up to? Let’s check back in…Team Number One is rolling something into balls. Looks like it’s potatoes flour and cilantro. Rolling dumplings

Once the balls were rolled, they were dropped into boiling water? Looks like they’re going for some sort of dumpling. The Cleavers are mixing their potatoes, carrots and onions with a cashew cream. Wonder what that’s going to be…mixing cashew cream

A casserole??? pot pies

Nope – a pot pie! Oh, the pressure is on now Team Number One! veggie pot pie

Team Number Won needed a victory in round two of the challenge, and they brought out deep fried potato dumplings in a cashew cream sauce with whole Garam Masala spice infusion and the secret ingredient. They were up against a vegan pot pie with potatoes, carrots, cashews and pumpkin inside, and quite a bit of heat from their own liberal use of the garam masala.IMG_0591

Mr. N was ready to call this one for Team Number Won even before tasting (he did know what the secret ingredient was), but once we actually sat down, it was clear this was going to be a tough call. The pot pie was boldly flavored, with plenty of kick and the pumpkin and creamy cashew mix gave it a great texture.


Mike had just a bit of nervousness as we tasted his team’s dish. He had spent most of the past 24 hours chirping about “the sweet, sweet taste of victory,” which came wrapped up in a small black grocery bag from the little Indian grocery store nearby. After the pot pie, he needed to deliver. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a dish that was going to score big on presentation.
But oh, that secret ingredient–Paneer! Even Kristy had to acknowledge that the thick chunks of paneer in the sauce put it over the top. The Pot Pie got 4 spoons from Mike and Miss A, 3 spoons from Kristy and Mr. N. The dumplings got 4 spoons from Mike, Kristy and Miss A and 3 spoons from Mr. N, though Miss A only liked the paneer in the sauce and didn’t give the dumpling much of a chance.
We head to the dessert round all tied up at a round apiece, though I have a feeling the pot pie may be one of those things that we eat a lot of, even though it didn’t win. We’d better, Kristy made enough to freeze three big casserole dishes full. But before we get to dessert, it’s cleanup time. You’d never know we cleaned up about halfway through this round.

And as the evening draws to a close and all the natural light has disappeared, it’s time for the final round of Chopped Challenge 2014. So with a title riding on this round, what basket do we have in store for Team Number Won and the Cleaver’s? Well, with 39% of the vote, it was Charles’ basket from Five Euro Food! Dessert Basket 2014

The teams are in the kitchen – except for Miss A. She is now providing entertainment for the wary chefs who are going on nine hours of cooking, eating and cleaning! Dancing A
Miss A entertains
you don't know you're beautiful

It’s time for a dessert basket update. What are our super chefs up to now? Team Number Won appears to be slicing mango, slicing mango

and rolling out something under some parchment paper. rolling rolling rolling

As for the Cleaver’s they seem to be conspiring over near the stove. conspiracy

As we go in for a closer look, it appears to be something rather familiar. no bake cookies

But wait? What about the mangoes? dried mangoes

The Cleaver’s have some dried mangoes chopped up, for what remains unclear; and Team Number Won has some simmering on the stove. This could be an interesting round! mango syrup

Alright fans and friends, the results are in for the third and final round. Let’s see what our teams came up with for dessert this year. Desserts 2014

The Cleaver’s created a No Bake Cookie Pop. It’s a cookie with quinoa, chocolate and peanut butter and it looks like they’ve sprinkled it with dried mangoes . Team Number Won opted for a similar concoction, but came up with granola bars and a mango syrup. So who was the winner of the dessert round (and ultimately this year’s title)? No Bake Cookie Cake Pops

The Cleaver’s No Bake Cookie Cake Pops took the lead with 3 spoons each from Kristy and Mike and 4 spoons for each of the kids. Some might call this the easy way out, going with a tried and true recipe and not a chocolate quinoa cake or quinoa chocolate chip cookie, but there are exactly two things that bring about a gag reflex in Kristy – beets and chocolate. Oddly enough, this is the only recipe with chocolate that Kristy enjoys. And frankly it remains the one and only! granola bars

Knowing Kristy’s abnormal distaste for chocolate, Team Number Won tried to craft a dessert similar to the no bake cookie in hopes of winning over the chocolate hater. Unfortunately their choice of dark chocolate didn’t do the trick. The Quinoa Choco-oat Bars came in with 3 spoons from Mike and 2 spoons from the rest of the judges.

And there you have it, folks, the 2014 Chopped Challenge Champion is The Cleaver’s! Winners 2014

Despite Kristy’s three-peat at the annual event (and her victory in this year’s Super Bowl pool), there are no hard feelings at Eat, Play, Love. love


Or are there?! brother sister fun

Don’t worry, it’s still giggles and laughter all around. It was a game well played by all. Thank you to everyone that participated by providing our basket ingredients, voting and of course following along. It’s a marathon of a day – 11 hours for 2014 – but one of our favorites each year. It’s a tradition we hope will last many more years to come.

Now it’s time to tuck the sous chefs into bed, kick up our feet and enjoy a glass of celebratory Champagne. Thank you all! We’ll be back in the next few weeks with recipes for our winning dishes. Cheers!

Oh – and yes – the cleaning is all done now too. :)
back to normal

39 thoughts on “Live Blogging Event – Chopped Challenge III – 2014

  1. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    Really, really, REALLY enjoyed this post. This is the best narrative (live – amazing!) of the chopped challenge ever. I had so much fun reading and seeing the pictures (in details) and keep on reading. At the same time, every year I feel your family is really amazing to do this as a family event. Kids will remember about this growing up, and I do hope that you won’t stop this challenge (and do not stop blogging about it!). I honestly didn’t care too much about who wins every year. It’s a pure joy to see how family spend the day cooking with new ingredients and being creative, and work as a team. Fabulous event, post, and I think it’s probably the only post that I look forward to every year!


  2. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen says:

    I’m still so impressed that you do all of this cooking and this year, it’s live!! My house would be an absolute disaster and I’d be tired after Round One, lol! Congratulations to all of the chefs (big and small) you’re dishes are amazing.. such talent being able to cook “on the spot” like that and it’s interesting how different each dish turned out! xx


  3. Charles says:

    Hooray, this post was so much fun – they always are!

    The salad Miss A. came up with looked so beautiful, but I’m sorry – deep-fried anything… except maybe old boots… would win every time, at least for me. I feel like the Cleavers had an unfair advantage as soon as they decided to deep fry. They look incredibly good – so crispy and golden!

    Both the mains looks great – I’ve never been a huge fan of paneer though I must admit. Perhaps I’ve just never had it cooked properly. It seems they were both popular dishes though!

    The dessert though – ha, this is what I’m looking forward to! I will admit, I had indeed hoped for something different – I guess everyone who suggests a basket as something specific in mind don’t they. I don’t blame you at all for going a tried and tested route though after such a long day. The creations look very good indeed!

    Congratulations Cleavers, but well done to Team Won as well for being such worthy opponents as well. Glad you had a fun day – incidentally, if you ask me to recommend a basket next year you can be assured I’ll be recommending beets, although I am open to bribes :D.

    Also – penultimate photo: LOL! :D


  4. heybookworm says:

    This is my first visit to your blog and I can’t even express all of the things I love about it! I love trying food from other countries in my kitchen; the world has just way too much deliciousness to not try it all! And to encourage that sort of adventurous spirit in your kids, so great! There’s nothing I hate more than the idea of switching to a menu of chicken fingers and KD once I have kids. Thank you for this! I will be following your blog (and testing your recipes) from now on!


  5. Jessica Maher (@kbelleicious) says:

    okay so the first picture and the pic of you with the wine pretty much sums of the day for me! You are a load of fun and what a family of amazing chefs you have! big and small! I love that you do this as a family. it says so much about you and the mr! I love the dishes especially the plum vinegar! It caught my eye like it did kelly’s!


  6. Three Well Beings says:

    This is so impressive! I can’t even begin to fathom how much work went into the challenge, the clean up, and then blogging along the way? Oh my goodness. You must be exhausted. :-) I got the “Cleavers” reference and loved it. And I think my favorite comment was in the first round when Miss A didn’t even give her appetizer one spoon. She is an honest chef, isn’t she! I hope you will share the vegetarian pot pie recipe down the line. That really tempts me, and I was impressed that you went to so much effort with the garam masala. No little store-bought glass jar for you! I think this is just fabulous that you put so much of yourselves into this challenge, and I’m so confident that the children will always think of this as a delightful part of their childhoods. And what cooks they are turning into! ox


  7. {Main St. Cuisine} says:

    Oh, so fun! Between the sweet photos of Miss A and everyone working hard in the kitchen, it looks like it was a successful event and there was a lot of inspired cooking going on throughout the challenge. Your kitchen looks sparkling (just like the celebratory champagne toast)!


  8. Bam's Kitchen says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post Kristy. Your family and your writing style had me laughing so hard I was doubled over! Your kids are a riot and what a fun game. I think this is a challenge even if you were without the kids and add the kids and it is a double challenge. Both teams were very creative. Have a super day! BAM


  9. Eva Taylor says:

    Sounds like an amazing challenge had by all! We petered out due to an incredibly rich lunch! Can you believe it, I had to put the pulled pork in the fridge without even having it! I hadn’t felt like that in 15 years! I’m seriously eating vegetables all week! Still feeling queesy this a.m.!
    Glad you and Mr. N took the spoons! 11 hours is a marathon for sure. You and Mike kept things nice and tidy this time. That’s exactly how I run when I assist on set, things can get so out of control and overwhelming so fast!
    Another fantastic event! Thanks for including us all. You guys rock!


  10. Dawn says:

    Congratulations on a job well done!! I can’t believe you were in the kitchen for 11 hours, that is certainly impressive! While you were slaving in the kitchen, we were having a great time cheering on our Seahawks – so exciting that they won!!


  11. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says:

    Well, you’ve got to admire the confidence of a chef who awards herself 0 spoons for her own dish :) — I don’t know, to my eyes that salad looks gorgeous and I also like the Asian inspired dressing (perhaps a bit too much sesame oil is all) — the homemade tortellini is a prize for sure — love that you stuffed it with all the goodies — great idea! little pockets of bliss. The boys are also following along and loving it! Go teams Go.


  12. sallybr says:

    Talk about drama! that photo with the bottle (and I can tell it is not water, I repeat NOT WATER) says it all!

    looking forward to the next course! Good luck with the clean up…. you guys ROCK!


  13. Eva Taylor says:

    Woohootoo! Sounds like a great day! Can’t wait to see which team reigns supreme. Appetizer sound delicious. Sorry I can’t comment on Instagram cause I lost my password and we’re not at home :(


  14. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says:

    LOL! It’s not worth throwing it all away Kristy… i’m intrigued by the ume plum vinegar but I’m also a big fan of mascarpone…Can’t wait to see what the teams cook up!!


  15. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says:

    WooHoo!!! May the Fun Begin!! The drama is already evident from the family photo ;-) I’m glad that isn’t a cast-iron skillet chef dad is wielding :o) (love “Miss A’s” apron — homemade?). Just retweeted the big event and will head over to my Facebook page to post a link to the excitement there as well. Good Luck to both Teams!!!


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