Sunday, February 6, 2011

Top Chopped Cook: A Date Night Idea

Each month we do a date night with 2 other couples. We take turns going to each couple’s home for dinner, games, etc. Our goal was to get out and do something with friends on date night. It’s been a lot of fun!  This month it was Kelly & Kaisa’s turn to host and they chose to make dinner a game in itself.  They sent out a note to each of us with our assignments. 

Greetings Home Cooks:
You are all hereby invited to an evening of challenge, intrigue, and culinary crafting at the Norton’s on Saturday, February 5th, at 5pm.

As it is couple’s night, each couple will be responsible for cooking--yes, cooking--at our house, ONE dish, to be chosen at random: an appetizer, a main course, or a dessert. There will be a time limit for each course, followed by tasting (eating), and discussion (laughing or crying).

The rules are pretty simple. You can do whatever you want, but for each course there will be a basket of THREE mystery ingredients drawn at random. Although no one is a trained chef, you still must use all three ingredients in your dish. You can use a little bit, you can use a lot.

In addition to the mystery ingredients, you will have access to whatever is in our pantry, spice rack, refrigerator and freezer. So, you won’t only get those three ingredients to work with. We also have a library of cookbooks and recipes to peruse prior to cooking.

WHAT TO BRING:
THREE ingredients of your choosing

**Use your own discretion at how much of each ingredient you bring, keeping in mind that the combined ingredients with the items from our pantry and fridge need to feed 6 people. For example, one apple alone won’t feed 6, but one apple used as a garnish for pork chops can.

WE WILL PROVIDE THE MEAT, SO YOU DO NOT NEED TO CHOOSE A MEAT AS ONE OF YOUR INGREDIENTS.

To keep the ingredients somewhat of a MYSTERY, put them in a dark or sealed bag, write down each of your three ingredients on a separate slip of paper, and throw the slips of paper in the “HAT” upon arrival, LOL.

Come with your fantastic ideas, your cooking skills, and special kitchen implements if you so desire. BON APPETIT

Well, Brent and I put our thinking hats on an came up with a few fun mystery ingredients to bring.  We decided that we didn’t want to go too “far out” with ingredients.. just things that could be pretty versatile.  The mystery ingredients that we contributed were:

Pretzels, Pineapple, and Puff Pastry

To start the night we each drew a “course” and then ingredients (written on strips of paper) from a paper sack.  We all laughed when we saw that Kaisa and Kelly also contributed pineapple and pretzels.

Here’s what I drew:

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Ay yi yi…

and

Oh my.

So I put on my thinking cap and thought

Brent and Kelly went to work on creating their own culinary masterpieces.  (They both drew appetizers.)  Here’s Brent trying to figure out what to do with Puff Pastry…  We were each given a few minutes to flip through cookbooks to try to figure out what to do. 

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And then he and Kelly took over the kitchen and went to town.  Kaisa and I sat back and watched them figuring it all out.  It was great!

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Hrmmm… I wonder what this could be? Could it be my FAVORITE appetizer of all time?? Hrmmmm…..

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I do have to say that the boys did an amazing job on their appetizers.  Here are the final results, all neatly plated (and bowl’d)…

Kelly’s appetizer:  Vidalia Coleslaw with a twist

Secret ingredients:  Pretzels & Tomatoes

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This was soooo yummy!!  He used a vidalia onion dressing as the coleslaw dressing and used the pretzels as a garnish and drizzled some rasberry chipotle dressing over them.  I thought I would hate the raspberry chipotle sauce because I’m not a fan of raspberries but it was so good!  It added a nice sweet and spicy bite to it… I even added a little more!

Brent’s appetizer:  Puff Pastry Mozzarella Basil Rolls
& Tomato Bruschetta

Secret ingredients:  Puff Pastry and a Baguette

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Absolutely delicious! Tomato Bruschetta is my all time most favorite appetizer in the whole world.  There are some nights we make it and eat it for dinner… yah, just tomato bruschetta… with a little asiago cheese sprinkled on it. DIVINE.   The Puff Pastry Mozzarella Basil Rolls were equally delicious. 

And then it was my turn.  Thankfully I was allowed a sous-chef since I had the main course.  I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to make with my THREE mystery ingredients. Yes, I got THREE because I drew last and there was an extra one in there. Doh!  I finally knew what I wanted to make and peeked in the cookbook but the recipe I wanted for my sauce was not going to work… we didn’t have mirin or sake so I decided to wing it.

While my sous-chef cleaned up and fileted some chicken breasts I set to work making my sauce.

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… and some garnish….

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It was a lot of fun whipping this up without a real recipe and having to use my mystery ingredients.  Here’s my entree all neatly plated.

Erin’s main dish:  Teriyaki Island Chicken

Secret ingredients:  Pretzels, Pineapple and Coconut

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I don’t want to toot my own horn too much, but man, this turned out REALLY GOOD.  The secret is in the sauce - for real.  I created a teriyaki sauce with dark brown sugar, low sodium soy sauce, minced garlic and thickened it with a cornstarch-water mixture.   The sauce was a little too thick for my liking so I thinned it with some pineapple juice… oh man.. that made it.  (Next time I will try it with a little lime juice, too!)  The chicken filets are breaded in crushed pretzels, cornstarch and plain breadcrumbs. 

The coconut was SUPPOSED to be toasted and sprinkled on the top of the chicken… but I completely spaced it in my rush to get this plated and ready before 9 pm. LOL!  That’s ok, the judges let it slide and we all agreed it would have been yummy sprinkled on the chicken or even toasted and crumbed with the crust on the chicken. (Brent and I plan on trying this out very soon!)   The super tender chicken is topped with sliced green onions and grilled pineapple.

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Kaisa rounded out the meal with dessert!  (She started prepping her dessert while I was cooking dinner and the cameraman disappeared to entertain the doggies and keep the begging down to a minimum.)  Here’s Kaisa whipping up a secret sauce while her dessert is baking in the oven. MMMM.  Let’s just say that the house smelled heavenly with all the baking and simmering going on at this point. MMm!

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Yum. Yum. Yum. Yum.  Do I detect a little hint of Pineapple rum in there? Hrmmm…

Kaisa’s dessert:  Almond Mini Bundt Cake w/Pinapple Rum Pudding Sauce
& Toasted Almonds

Secret Ingredients:  Pineapple & Almond Syrup

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Kaisa baked these yummy mini bundt cakes in 4 little glass ramekins/dessert cups.  The cake was spongey and yummy like an angel food cake and had a delightful flavor of almond and some ooey gooey pineapple pudding centers.  She topped each tiny cake off with a slice of grilled pineapple and her special pineapple pudding sauce.  They were very delicious and we gobbled them right up

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Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed this fun little date night!  It was so much fun and we’re already planning our next Top Chopped Cook night for a summer date night! Can’t wait! 

Inky Smiles!

7 comments:

Marieke said...

Yummy! It looks like you had a great night! I love all the photos - they really tell the story. What a great idea your friends had - I love Chopped! One of the members of our little scrapbook club (Theresa) is doing one her hosted monthly challenges using a Chopped spin-off - three mystery scrapbook supplies. I think it'll be fun. But this post makes me want to do an actual food challenge. Yum!

Michelle said...

Oh my goodness! This looks soooo yummy!! I would have loved to have been there (but would have felt sorely inadequate!!)

Wendy said...

Wowza! That looks so yummy and so much fun! Please move to my neighborhood! LOL!

Jeanne said...

Dang! You all sure know how to have a good time! Looks like a ton of fun and super yummy, too. Thanks so much for sharing Erin!

Rachele Funk said...

Oh what fun!!! Wouldn't this be a fun RS or YW activity? Oh, what about a birthday party?!! Thanks for sharing!!!

Creative Mish said...

What a fun date night! And everything looks like it turned out delish!

Lillian Child said...

WOW - can I be invited next time you have a cookoff???!!! All of these dishes look amazing!