Bring It On – Chopped Challenge 2013

The big day is here! And no, we don’t mean the Super Bowl. Team Domi-Nation
The winning baskets are in and we are ready to go. After a marathon shopping adventure (we finished as the grocery store was turning off its lights at 9 p.m. last evening), both teams are confident of a win today. Team Girls

It’s Chopped Challenge 2013. Thanks to everyone that voted. We had some interesting races with some tight results. So without further delay, we’re going to kick off today with our appetizer basket which comes to us courtesy of Eva at Kitcheninspirations. Thanks Eva! Appetizer Basket

Lobster, fajita (tortilla shells), chipotle and chocolate! Let the cooking begin. We’ll update this same post throughout the day, so make sure to check back on our progress and results. The kitchen is already smelling amazing!

Well, Mike has been busy working multiple pots and pans at the stove. working the chipotle

Mike caught me working the food processor and blender. Yes it’s been noisy around here. Va-Va-Vroom

And wait, what’s this? Have the kids deserted us already?! play time

Mr. N said he’ll be back to help with dessert which spies tell me might already be in the works on Mike’s side of the kitchen. Hmmm. Both Mike and I have sauces going right now – one features chipotle peppers with chocolate and wine, the other ancho chiles, chiptole peppers and a blend of spices. Any ideas where this is going yet? We’ll know after the first taste test in a few minutes!

It’s almost time. Miss A is putting the finishing touches on our fajita shells. shake shake shake

If you guessed we’re going to make chips, you just might be right! baking chips

As for the boys, they’ve been done and are finishing with some photo-styling. photo stylers

Whose dish will reign supreme? Oh wait, that’s a different show. πŸ˜‰

[UPDATE: 1:45 PM by ChefDad]Well, round one is in the books and already there is a judging controversy. I offer only this hint–we have honest children. You’ll have to wait until we’re all through to learn the final winners though.

Kristy and Miss A went with Salt and Lime Chips with a Lobster Mole, and it was a hit all around. I’m a sucker for salty snacks, and it was hard to keep my hands out of the bowl of leftovers after we finished our appetizer course.


In a shameless play for the children’s vote, I made pizza. Specifically, Flatbread Pizza with Chipotle-Chocolate Pizza Sauce, topped with lobster and arugula and Dubliner cheese. Mr. N and I were very happy with the effort, but as I was finishing it in the broiler, Kristy distracted me by posing for pictures and it stayed in a little too long, leaving a few slightly singed edges. We still ate it all.
Lobster Pizza
At least so far we’re staying ahead of the cleanup! Off to round 2…


And for round 2 we’ll be working with the basket put in by Eva’s fellow Canadian, Kelly at Inspired Edibles – artichoke hearts, smoked paprika, pistachios and black beluga lentils. basket 2

Now black beluga lentils were a new one to us. It took a little bit of research and hunting to find a store that carried these illustrious little lentils. They are small and when wet resemble caviar thus their name. black beluga lentils

I think a few of the grocers thought I was quite insane…Beluga what? Fortunately we found them and not too far from home (plus at that point in the day it gave us an excuse to go out for dinner!). So what do we have planned for this round…well, Mike’s already got his lentils going. black lentils

And as for Miss A and I, well, we’re bringing our A game this time! Shhhh! the A game

[UPDATE 3:26 PM by ChefDad]The intensity’s heating up as Mr. N pits some olives for Team Domi-Nation.

When you first start cooking the Beluga lentils, they look like pretty little caviar. Hah! Time to turn them into a big smashed mess. It’s too bad you can’t smell them through the screen though, they smell fantastic.

So much for intensity from Team Girls. Time to dance! dancing

Kristy’s still hard at work, though, whipping up, well, I’m not sure yet, but she’s commandeered the stove. She’s got the artichokes, lentils, and some sun-dried tomatoes cooking up in her pot. Smells like garlic too. IMG_6118

I’m getting hungry with all the smells going on. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s gonna be a while before we get to eat, as Kristy just now had me haul out the mixer, and it didn’t take her much time at all to click her pasta attachment on there. mixer and pasta press

Oh no she didn’t…homemade pasta

[UPDATE 5:43 PM by ChefDad]

Team Girls went big in Round 2, while Team Domi-Nation went out of their comfort zone. Kristy busted out the pasta maker, a far more gratuitous ploy than even my pizza-making in the appetizer round. Her pistachio-flour linguine with mussels, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes and black Beluga lentils with smoked paprika spice and goat cheese pulled flavors in from everywhere, and did so quite well.


Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a carnivore, so the first thing I noticed in looking at the basket was the lack of a meat. No worries, I thought, I’ll make meat. Mr. N and I turned the lentils and ground pistachios into veggie burgers that packed plenty of protein and plenty of flavor including a healthy dose of the smoked paprika, then topped them with olive-artichoke salad like you’d find on a muffaletta sandwich.


Now it’s time for Round 3, featuring mangoes, agave nectar, bacon and pretzels, courtesy of Dawn from First Look, Then Cook, which is good advice in addition to being a great blog. Team Domi-Nation of course is not heeding the advice, and Mr. N and I are flying blind as we attempt to triumph in the dessert round.

basket 3

We’ve all been excited about these ingredients. Earlier today, Mr. N and Mike blended some mangoes, limes and lemons. I’m not sure what else went in the mix, but it’s been in the freezer most of the day. Miss A and I also prepped a little earlier with the breaking of some bread. breaking bread 2

Here’s a little peak at what Mike and Mr. N have going (excuse the low-light night time pics), so clever! mango pops
Mike’s also got his hands in some agave, pretzels and bacon. He said he’s going minimalist this round. candied mess

As for Miss A and I, well, we’re putting our bacon and agave to good use too. candied bacon

And it’s officially over! Our dessert round was a big success. Mike and Mr. N knocked out some Mango Sherbet with candied bacon. Don’t you love the popsicle stick. mango sherbet

Miss A was a big fan. ice cream lover

And our other dessert…We gave a nod to the Crescent City, which is incidentally hosting this year’s Super Bowl, and made a mango bread pudding with candied bacon. Our pretzels are in the pudding. mango bread pudding

Not too bad for our Chopped Challenge this year. We were done, cleaned-up and kicking back before 8 p.m. That’s a new record for us! One of these years perhaps we’ll get each round done in 30 minutes like they do on the show. Then again, maybe not. So who won this year’s Challenge? Mr. N and Mike… 2013 winners

You’ve been chopped. Team Girls rules the day! It broke down like this:

Round 1 – The Appetizer Basket – Mr. N was the sole vote for the Lobster Mole. The rest of us went with the Lobster Pizza. That said, both dishes were delicious.

Round 2 – The Main Course Basket – Mike was the lone vote for the Beluga Burgers. The kids and I heavily favored the pasta. Again, we all enjoyed both meals and we’re looking forward to Beluga Burgers for dinner tomorrow.

Round 3 – Miss A was the lone vote for the Mango Sherbet. The mango bread pudding got the rest of our votes. I will say Mike’s sherbet rocked!!! It just didn’t quite work well with the bacon and pretzel.

I’ve got to say, I’m rather impressed with our efforts this year. There really wasn’t a bad dish in the day. We all enjoyed each recipe and are looking forward to our leftovers this week. We may not even have to cook again until next weekend!

Thanks for following along, providing the baskets and voting this year. We had so much fun. Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting our recipes. Hopefully there’s one or two in here you’ll enjoy as much as we did. Now I think we might just have time to catch the end of that other game that’s going on. πŸ˜‰


96 thoughts on “Bring It On – Chopped Challenge 2013

  1. Karen says:

    I was really impressed with your culinary creations this year. Congratulations to all of you but especially to the winners. Good job. I must also mention…a job well done on the clean up as I remember last year’s sink. πŸ™‚


  2. Geni - Sweet and Crumby says:

    Love, love, love the photos and commentary! This was thoroughly entertaining and if there ever was a web family award for most fun…you would all be the winners. And I always would love to be a guest at your table because I know I would laugh heartily and eat some fantastic food.

    All of the dishes look so creative and totally delicious. I give this post four spoons! πŸ™‚


  3. Purely.. Kay says:

    You know how much I klove your chopped challenges.. and I LOVED THESE BASKETS! The kids look so darn big and cuter th an ever of course :). You and Mike really put your foot int hose dishes. LOVED IT


  4. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen says:

    What incredible memories you have made for your children.. and yourselves:D What a delightful competition, I love the “faux” challenger expressions on your kid’s faces. Every one of those dishes is one I would love to sample. I’m impressed that you can take a few ingredients like the ones above and come up with such gourmet and diverse recipes. I’d be in way over my head on your “Chopped” show! Well done and just so much fun! xx


    • Kristy says:

      You know I was surprised we came up with so many different recipes too. Mike and I don’t tell each other what we’re making, so I was worried that we’d duplicate efforts. I have to say he really impressed me with his veggie burgers! πŸ™‚


  5. Charles says:

    Holy cow – where to start… wonderful, wonderful job on everything to both teams! I’m so glad Eva’s dish was picked for the started! I voted for it from three different IP addresses just because it had chocolate in it, muahaha! What actually is a “mole” though… like a guacamole, but without avocado? I’ve never heard that term before. I bet I’d have loved that, but very crafty of Mike, making pizza! Who doesn’t love pizza, right?

    Main course though – Mike, don’t feel bad about losing that one… the burgers look fantastic but the pasta… that’s some seriously good eating. Not at all what I would have expected!

    The desserts sound really interesting as well – I don’t know, I don’t think I’m sold on the idea of bacon and pretzels in a dessert, but if you enjoyed it then that’s the important thing. It definitely looks like you did a fantastic, creative job with the ingredients on hand for course.

    All in all – a great read and a no doubt hugely fun day – well done guys πŸ™‚


    • Kristy says:

      You are hilarious Charles! I have to admit I rather enjoyed the chocolate round, so thank you. πŸ˜‰ A mole is a type of Mexican sauce ( There are a lot of varieties. I went with the ancho chile version. You know I wasn’t sure what to do with the bacon and pretzels. I’d seen chocolate covered pretzels before, but well…They actually worked just fine in the bread pudding. I soaked them in the batter pretty good and you can hardly tell they are in there. Mixed right in with the bread. The candied bacon though – OMG! You have to try that! I could hardly stop from eating it!


    • Kristy says:

      Totally priceless. She’s having a lot of those moments lately – or maybe I’m just focused on them more. She’s off to all-day school next year and I’m hanging on to every second I get right now. πŸ˜‰


  6. Norma Chang says:

    From your writings and updates I felt like I was in the kitchen with you. Wished there was a video to see the real actions, That sure was a long day, but you all seemed to have so much fun, Congratulations.


  7. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    I am super impressed! I love how you talked about the whole day and I was so drawn into this event. It was a really fun and exciting read and I had so much fun reading this challenge (and I cannot wait for next year!). Both teams did a fantastic job. I couldn’t wait the result who liked which dishes, because both choices looked wonderful, honestly. Next year you guys need a judge, let me know! πŸ˜‰ What a fantastic family event. Please keep this tradition!! Great job to you guys!!


    • Kristy says:

      Thanks Nami! We can’t wait until next year either. I’m so happy we’ve made this a tradition. Miss A actually asked me yesterday if next year we can make it kids vs. adults. I think we’re a few years off from that scenario yet, but I have no doubt we’ll get there (and that they’ll probably kick our butts!). πŸ˜‰


  8. Three Well Beings says:

    You guys are nothing short of amazing! Oh I would have enjoyed watching you closely, and sampling each dish. I loved the sound of each one, and based solely on description I’m not sure how I would have voted. I know I would really like the linguine, and I think I’d have enjoyed Mike’s veggie burger! The children must have had such a great time, too. What a memory-maker this was for them, Kristy. I know you said you were done by 8 pm, but how early did you get started?? And your photography is excellent! πŸ™‚


    • Kristy says:

      I think we started around 10:30 or 11 a.m. A good 9 hours of cooking, cleaning and eating, but worth every minute! Thanks for providing a basket this year Debra. I thought your basket was going to pull it out (even bought some macadamia nuts!). Maybe I’ll have to play with the ingredients anyway now. πŸ™‚ And I actually loved Mike’s veggie burger…I’m just more partial to pasta. And yes, the kids had a ball! Sound asleep now. πŸ˜‰


  9. ChefDad says:

    Congratulations to Team Girls, three outstanding efforts in a row. I thought sure pizza and ice cream would bring the kids to my side, but alas, only MIss A voted for them. Mr. N and I had a blast though, with six fantastic dishes today. I’m full!


    • Kristy says:

      Thanks ChefDad! You had some pretty outstanding efforts yourself. Plus you just look cute with the towel in your back pocket, your shirt sleeves rolled up and focused on your cooking. πŸ˜‰ I love you and our kids!


    • Kristy says:

      We’re always enthusiastic about food, but we only get this elaborate once a year. πŸ˜‰ Thanks for stopping by and commenting. We hope you enjoyed our adventure today.


  10. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says:

    Kristy, I can’t believe you made pistachio linguine – what a brilliant idea – and that’s just the start of your incredible dish! You totally rocked it. Mike, I literally had tears in my eyes trying to describe to my son your reaction to the meatless basket… I think your veggie burgers are a great use of the ingredients (the pistachio and lentil would gel well together – perfect!) and I’m loving that mix of olive and artichoke…very creative and delicious. You guys are awesome!


    • Kristy says:

      Thanks Kelly! We had so much fun today. I had to admit I was really nervous about the black lentils being as how I’m not a big veggie fan, but honestly both dishes were fantastic! I never thought I would enjoy a veggie burger, let alone without ketchup, but it was terrific! So fun today. Thanks for the great basket Kelly!


  11. spicegirlfla says:

    I’m so impressed with your taking on these challenges!! What fun too; love that Miss A takes some time out to dance a bit! Gotta love that little girl, she knows how to have fun! The pasta is pure genius! And, I’m quite curious on that pizza! Can’t wait to see dessert! What a long day for all of you!!


    • Kristy says:

      We’ve just wrapped up. Results coming soon. It was a long day, but not quite as long as last year. πŸ˜‰ We’re getting a little better at this marathon event. Ha!


  12. ChgoJohn says:

    I’m not one to chose sides or pick favorites but, I must say that if points were assigned for intensity, I’d have to give them to the Divine Miss A for her pose in the team photo at the top of the post. I can almost hear her growl! πŸ™‚
    What a hard fought contest! I eagerly await the call.


  13. Profiteroles & Ponytails says:

    Gotta love a dessert with bacon in it! We are anxious to see what you come up with for dessert! I give you guys so much credit for taking on this challenge — it looks like a lot of creativity and energy is going into these dishes. I will be checking in again soon.


  14. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says:

    Loving the live blogging event!! And what a Canadian invasion you have going on over there… what, no black beluga lentils at the corner grocer? ;-).

    Kristy & Miss A, your starter is out of this world! – salt & lime (oh my) – mole sauce (salivate!!)… I would adore this appetizer. Mike, no judgement on the shameless parenting. Pizza always works for us! :). *Love* the pic of you & Mr. N food styling…

    We are staying tuned from Ottawa…! Keep up the great work guys.


  15. Eva TaylorTaylor says:

    Love, love, LOVE the cowboy boots on that cutie pie dancer! Kinda reminds me of our kitchen…can’t let the cool tunes go by without a wiggle or two! Can’t wait to see what you’re doing with those lentils; you just know my mission next weekend will be to find THOSE lentils! Rock on you two!


  16. sallybr says:

    Domi-Nation is priceless! And Tem Girls has enough power, I agree completely: Girls RULE he, he, he… I AM very impartial, you know, and would judge like a pro.. (shameless plug for an invitation for the position of Judge Extraordinaire of the Chopped Challenge of 2014)


  17. Eva Taylor says:

    How wonderful! Thank you all for choosing my basket, I just wish I was there to help with the judging (read tasting!) I loved what you both did, but I must say that mole sauce would be the winner for me. Can’t wait to see the next course!


  18. Grammie Mom says:

    Keep all utensils that resemble swords or bats away from Mr. N and sharp edged objects away from Miss A. Although from the last photo, it looks like they might be interested in rating the courses only! Have fun, big kids. Your Moms are so proud of the cooking skills we passed on to you. Right, Nana? (wink)

    xoxo Grammie Mom


    • Kristy says:

      Kids are doing great. Popping in and out and helping every now and then. And in the meantime, they’re playing great together. Dare I say the stars are aligned today?! πŸ˜‰


    • marilyn says:

      Lets just say I have a new screen saver on the laptop, all 4 of those kids are just precious. Remember that I am the Marilyn that does not have cooking skills. This is a blast to follow along all day.


  19. marilyn says:

    I vote for Mike, No, now I vote for Kristy. I am already torn and the cooking has not yet even started. I have never seen the kids so intense.



  20. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says:

    Love the intensity in the team face off photos… it’s reminding me of the family feud coaching match-up today (I heard something about a football game going on south of the border this afternoon :-)). Can’t wait to see what you cats cook up with Eva’s basket!!


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