Tag Archives: chopped challenge

Chopped Challenge: Chocolate, Noodles, Sour Gummy Worms and Dragon Fruit

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This weeks “Chopped Challenge” mystery basket was an interesting combination of Noodles, Sour Gummy Worms, Chocolate and Dragon Fruit.

One of the items on my “things I want to make list” was dessert pasta so I decided to combine the chocolate into the noodles and make Chocolate Oreo Spaghetti Noodles.  I then decided to melt down the sour gummy worms, combine them with dragon fruit and ricotta cheese to make a sauce for the noodles.

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The result was a delicious, unique dessert, perfect for an Italian dinner night!

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour (divided)
  • 1 cup oreo crumbs
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp sour gummy worms (melted)
  • 6 oz ricotta cheese
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • 1/2 dragon fruit (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 tbsp honey

Begin preparing the chocolate oreo spaghetti by combining the crushed oreos and 2 cups flour.

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Next, add the eggs to the flour oreo mixture and combine until the dough forms into a ball.  The dough should be slightly sticky.  If the dough is too sticky, add more flour, if it’s not sticky enough, add a little water.

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Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.

In the meantime prepare the sauce by first melting the sour gummy worms.

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Total science-experiment look going on!

Take a teaspoon of the melted science experiment gummy worms and combine with the goat cheese, ricotta cheese, honey and dragon fruit.

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Next, head back to the pasta dough and prepare the spaghetti in a pasta machine.

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Be sure to have that extra cup of flour handy as the oreos make this dough extra sticky!

Place the noodles into boiling water for 2-3 minutes or until they float to the top.  Toss with the Ricotta Dragon Fruit Sauce and serve!

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Grab a fork and dig in!

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♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Substitute gluten-free flour for traditional flour in the pasta dough to make this recipe gluten-free.

Chocolate Oreo Spaghetti with Ricotta Dragon Fruit Sauce

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Chocolate Oreo Spaghetti with Ricotta Dragon Fruit Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour (divided)
  • 1 cup oreo crumbs
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp sour gummy worms (melted)
  • 6 oz ricotta cheese
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • 1/2 dragon fruit (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 tbsp honey

Instructions

  1. Begin preparing the chocolate oreo spaghetti by combining the crushed oreos and 2 cups flour.
  2. Next, add the eggs to the flour oreo mixture and combine until the dough forms into a ball. The dough should be slightly sticky. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour, if it’s not sticky enough, add a little water.
  3. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
  4. In the meantime prepare the sauce by first melting the sour gummy worms.
  5. Take a teaspoon of the melted gummy worms and combine with the goat cheese, ricotta cheese, honey and dragon fruit.
  6. Next, head back to the pasta dough and prepare the spaghetti in a pasta machine.
  7. Be sure to have that extra cup of flour handy as the oreos make this dough extra sticky!
  8. Place the noodles into boiling water for 2-3 minutes or until they float to the top. Toss with the Ricotta Dragon Fruit Sauce and serve.
http://whitneybond.com/2013/02/02/chopped-challenge-chocolate-noodles-sour-gummy-worms-and-dragon-fruit/

Chopped Challenge: Nopales, Green Chilies, Cashews and Black Beans

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I want to start off by saying thank you, thank you, thank you to the four contributors to this weeks “Mystery Basket” on Facebook! I loved this combination of ingredients from the moment I saw it and was so excited to cook with Nopales (aka cactus) for the first time!

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The basket was kicked off by DeAndre Matthews with Nopales, then followed up with Black Beans from Becca Rogers, Cashews from Nicole Whelan and finished off with Green Chilies from Little Leopard Book Momma!

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My first thought was to use the cactus in a salsa, but then I thought about how fun it would be to continually say “Nopale Guacamole” (go ahead, say it!  Fun, right?) so guacamole it was! I decided to toss the green chilies into the Nopale Guacamole, as well as a few other fun things that we’ll get to in a few!

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Next, I decided to make tostadas. Tacos have already appeared a few times on LLB while tostadas have made only one appearance, anyone remember that recipe? Chocolate Bell Pepper Chorizo Tostadas with Quail Eggs, so much fun!

Then I decided to use the puree recipe from my Black Bean Chorizo Fillo Baskets to turn the black beans into a Garlic Lime Black Bean Puree for the first layer of the tostada.

Finally I decided to marinate chicken strips in  a spicy chipotle marinade, then roll the chicken in the cashews and bake them as the “meat portion” of the tostada!

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The result was a seriously delicious and complex dish with spicy, sweet, creamy, fresh and crispy components!

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Ingredients (Chipotle Cashew Chicken Tostadas – makes 6 tostadas)

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (sliced into strips)
  • 3 oz chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups crushed cashews
  • 6 corn tostadas

Black Bean Puree

  • 1 can black beans (15 oz)
  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 2 tsp avocado oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 lime (juiced)

Nopale Guacamole (makes 4 cups)

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3 small tomatillos
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 4 avocados
  • ½ red onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup fresh nopales (spikes removed/chopped)
  • 4 oz green chilies
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 limes (juiced)

Optional Toppings

  • cotija cheese
  • sour cream
  • cilantro

Begin the recipe by preparing the chicken.  First combine the chipotle peppers, cumin, honey, lime juice and olive oil in a food processor.  Once mixed into a puree, place in a bowl and add the chicken (a bigger bowl wouldn’t have been a horrible idea here!)

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Place the marinating chicken in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.  Next, place the cashews in a food processor until they are of a fine crumb consistency.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and dredge in the crushed cashews.

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Next, place the breaded chicken on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.

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Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, flip, then bake for an additional 15 minutes.

While the chicken is baking, prepare the black bean puree by simply placing all of the ingredients in the food processor and blending until smooth.  (Yes, that does mean I used (and washed) my food processor 3 times today!  What a well-used Christmas gift!)

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Place the puree in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat for 5 minutes before preparing the tostadas.

In the meantime prepare the guacamole by first slicing the red pepper, jalapeño, poblano chili and tomatillos into approximately 1 inch strips and place on a baking sheet for roasting.

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I also roasted some cactus to decide which I liked better, raw or roasted, in the guacamole.  I ended up going with the raw, but if you would like some roasted cactus, throw it on there, it’s delicious!

Roast under the broiler on high for 6 minutes, rotating every 2 minutes to make sure that everything roasts evenly.  (This is when a round baking stone or dish comes in handy!)

Remove from the oven and quickly place the jalapeños, poblanos and red peppers in a plastic bag and zip closed. (This makes them easier to peel!)

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Next, mash the avocados in a large bowl, then add the red onions, nopales (cactus), green chilies, cilantro and lime juice.

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Next, peel the roasted peppers, chilies and tomatillos, then add to the guacamole. Voila! A delicious, chunky, flavorful guacamole awaits your taste buds!

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At this point, things should be coming together and you can begin assembling the tostadas!

Start by spreading the black bean puree on each tostada, next place the chicken on top of the bean puree, then the guacamole on top of that. You can also add sour cream, cotija cheese or cilantro at this time!  I ended up omitting the sour cream simply because I didn’t feel the need for it, but I like to give options, so there you have it 🙂

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Nopales can be found at most major grocery stores in the jar, that was what I happened to find first, but was not necessarily my first choice for the recipe! My motto is, “fresh is always best!”, so I ventured further to a large Mexican market where I found the-real-deal nopales and already de-spiked and cut nopales!

So basically I now have a ton of cactus!

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If I were the betting type, I’d place a nice little wager on more cactus recipes appearing soon on LLB 😉

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Although this seems like a complicated dish, each aspect is pretty simple, it’s just putting them all together that takes a little time, but I promise, it is well worth the end result!

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The guacamole alone is amazing and will definitely make an appearance on my “Gameday Grub” menu for the Superbowl!

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Now grab a fork (or in this case your hands will do!) and dig in!

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♣ Vegetarian Option: Substitute tofu for chicken.

♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is gluten-free. (Make sure to use corn tostadas, not flour!)

Chipotle Cashew Chicken Tostadas

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 6 Tostadas

Chipotle Cashew Chicken Tostadas

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (sliced into strips)
  • 3 oz chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups crushed cashews
  • 6 corn tostadas
  • Black Bean Puree
  • 1 can black beans (15 oz)
  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 2 tsp avocado oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • Nopale Guacamole
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 3 small tomatillos
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 4 avocados
  • ½ red onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup fresh nopales (spikes removed/chopped)
  • 4 oz green chilies
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 limes (juiced)
  • Optional Toppings
  • cotija cheese
  • sour cream
  • cilantro

Instructions

  1. Begin the recipe by preparing the chicken. First combine the chipotle peppers, cumin, honey, lime juice and olive oil in a food processor. Once mixed into a puree, place in a bowl and add the chicken.
  2. Place the marinating chicken in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Next, place the cashews in a food processor until they are of a fine crumb consistency.
  3. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and dredge in the crushed cashews.
  4. Next, place the breaded chicken on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.
  5. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes, flip, then bake for an additional 15 minutes.
  6. While the chicken is baking, prepare the black bean puree by simply placing all of the ingredients in the food processor and blending until smooth.
  7. Place the puree in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat for 5 minutes before preparing the tostadas.
  8. In the meantime prepare the guacamole by first slicing the red pepper, jalapeño, poblano chili and tomatillos into approximately 1 inch strips and place on a baking sheet for roasting.
  9. Roast under the broiler on high for 6 minutes, rotating every 2 minutes to make sure that everything roasts evenly.
  10. Remove from the oven and quickly place the jalapeños, poblanos and red peppers in a plastic bag and zip closed. (This makes them easier to peel!)
  11. Next, mash the avocados in a large bowl, then add the red onions, nopales (cactus), green chilies, cilantro and lime juice.
  12. Next, peel the roasted peppers, chilies and tomatillos, then add to the guacamole.
  13. Start by spreading the black bean puree on each tostada, next place the chicken on top of the bean puree, then the guacamole on top of that. You can also add sour cream, cotija cheese or cilantro at this time.
http://whitneybond.com/2013/01/24/chopped-challenge-nopales-green-chilies-cashews-and-black-beans/

Chopped Challenge Thursday: Pears, Pomegranates, Turmeric and Eggs

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Not only is it week 20 of “Chopped Challenge Thursday” but it is also day 3 of my “Thousand by Valentine’s Challenge”!!!

On Tuesday I launched a challenge in order to reach my first goal of 2013: Reach 1000 “likes” on Little Leopard Book’s Facebook Page. I decided to do this by asking my loyal, amazing, super, fabulous followers to “share” my page with their friends.

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Three days later, I stumbled upon this quote, “If I tell my Facebook friends about your brand, it’s not because I like your brand, but rather because I like my friends.” – Mark Arauz

I absolutely loved it and hope this is how everyone feels about sharing my page!

If you would like to join in the fun, scroll on over to the right hand side of this page, click that little blue “like” button, then cruise on over to Facebook, check out your cousins new puppy, who got engaged this week, send a happy birthday message, then share “Little Leopard Book” with your friends!

I want to thank everyone who has already helped in the challenge!  I put all of my love, passion and obsession with cooking into every post and I just hope you all enjoy reading them as much as I love creating them!

Ok I know, enough with the mushy stuff and on to the FOOD!

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Now after asking you all to share my page with your friends, I feel like I have to be honest with you. I’m not perfect.

Oh my gosh, I know, it’s shocking because there are so many perfect people out there 😉

I try to play the “perfect hostess” card most of the time, but Sunday night “perfect hostess” I was not.

I planned a delicious Greek dinner for a few friends and was able to complete 3 of the 4 items on the menu, but when it came down to dessert I simply ran out of time to prepare the Baklava!

Since I had driven to 3 grocery stores to find phyllo dough, this dessert was still happening, just a little later than planned.

As I looked at my “Mystery Basket Ingredients” for the week, I thought “hmmm maybe I can incorporate these into my Baklava” and I did!

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This weeks mystery basket featured Pears from Michael Winger, Pomegranates from Allison Davis, Turmeric from Krista Lombardi and Eggs from Kristi Sellers.

I incorporated the pears by caramelizing them in a little cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and turmeric mixture, then mixed the caramelized pears with the pomegranate seeds and crushed pistachios for the filling.  I then used half butter and half egg white wash to brush the phyllo dough.  A little more protein and a little less butter never hurt anyone!

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The result was a sweet, nutty, tart, scrumptious dessert, that had so many levels of flavor and pure awesomeness in every bite!

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Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 pears (peeled, cored and sliced)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 cups pistachio kernels
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • 20 sheets phyllo dough
  • ½ cup butter (melted)
  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Begin by melting the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Next, add the pear slices. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Next, combine the turmeric, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in a small bowl.

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Add the spice mixture to the caramelizing pears.

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Cook for 3-5 minutes of until pears become soft, but not mushy!

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Next, place the pistachios in a food processor and blend into a fine crumb mixture.

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Chop up the pear slices, then add the pistachios and pomegranate seeds.

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Next, prepare the “Baklava Making Station” by laying out the phyllo dough, next to a bowl with melted butter and bowl with egg whites, a pastry brush and a 9 x 13 baking dish.

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Spray the baking dish with cooking spray or brush with the melted butter then one by one place the phyllo dough into the baking dish and brush with butter or egg white, alternating with each sheet.  After 10 sheets, place half of the filling on the dough.

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Layer 5 more sheets on top (still alternating egg wash and butter on each sheet) then top with the rest of the filling.

Finally, top the baklava with the last 5 sheets of phyllo dough (egg wash, butter, egg wash, butter, you get it by now!)

Next, slice the Baklava diagonally to form little diamonds.

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Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.

While the baklava is in the oven, prepare the syrup to go on top.

Begin by bringing the water and sugar to a boil. Next, add the honey, lemon juice and vanilla. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the stove and allow to cool while the baklava finishes baking.

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Once the baklava comes out of the oven, drizzle the syrup over the top.

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Let the syrup soak in there for 3-4 hours, then serve!

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Not only was this dessert a delicious mid-week treat, it also helped me knock another item off the “food list challenge”  (I’m now at 72 of 100!)

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I also upped the ante on my “Valentines Day Challenge” by sharing this dessert with new friends!

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Grab a slice and dig in!

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♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Use a gluten-free phyllo dough to make this recipe gluten-free. Foodista has a recipe for gluten-free phyllo dough here.

Caramelized Pear and Pomegranate Baklava

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: around 24 pieces

Caramelized Pear and Pomegranate Baklava

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 pears (peeled, cored and sliced)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 cups pistachio kernels
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • 20 sheets phyllo dough
  • ½ cup butter (melted)
  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Begin by melting the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Next, add the pear slices. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Next, combine the turmeric, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg in a small bowl.
  3. Add the spice mixture to the caramelizing pears.
  4. Cook for 3-5 minutes of until pears become soft, but not mushy!
  5. Next, place the pistachios in a food processor and blend into a fine crumb mixture.
  6. Chop up the pear slices, then add the pistachios and pomegranate seeds.
  7. Next, prepare the “Baklava Making Station” by laying out the phyllo dough, next to a bowl with melted butter and bowl with egg whites, a pastry brush and a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  8. Spray the baking dish with cooking spray or brush with the melted butter then one by one place the phyllo dough into the baking dish and brush with butter or egg white, alternating with each sheet. After 10 sheets, place half of the filling on the dough.
  9. Layer 5 more sheets on top (still alternating egg wash and butter on each sheet) then top with the rest of the filling.
  10. Finally, top the baklava with the last 5 sheets of phyllo dough (egg wash, butter, egg wash, butter)
  11. Next, slice the Baklava diagonally to form little diamonds.
  12. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.
  13. While the baklava is in the oven, prepare the syrup to go on top.
  14. Begin by bringing the water and sugar to a boil. Next, add the honey, lemon juice and vanilla.
  15. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the stove and allow to cool while the baklava finishes baking.
  16. Once the baklava comes out of the oven, drizzle the syrup over the top.
  17. Let the syrup soak in there for 3-4 hours, then serve!
http://whitneybond.com/2013/01/17/chopped-challenge-thursday-pears-pomegranates-turmeric-and-eggs/

Chopped Challenge Thursday: Tofu, Chorizo, Raspberries and Ginger

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This weeks Chopped Challenge Thursday combined a scrumptious assortment of ingredients including Raspberries from my friend and fellow blogger Olivia Reyes over at Give with Liv, Chorizo from Rafael Ocampo, Ginger from Ronni Haragos and Tofu from Stephanie VandenBerg.

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I took these ingredients as an opportunity to create another wonderfully gluten-free and vegetarian burger for the new year!

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One of my favorite “Chopped Challenge” dishes to date is the Sweet Potato Quinoa Burger I created back in October.

The dish I created today is similar in that it is rich in fiber and vitamins, without the gluten or meat, yet it combines its own unique ingredients including red lentils and soy chorizo!

I also topped this delectable burger with a Raspberry Avocado Salsa with freshly grated ginger, lime juice and cilantro!

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Ingredients (Soy Chorizo Veggie Burgers – makes 12)

  • 3/4 cup red lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 14 oz firm tofu
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 12 oz soy chorizo
  • 1 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 red onion (diced)
  • 1 jalapeño (de-seeded and diced)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 lime (juiced)
  • 1 tsp fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup rice chex crumbs
  • 1/4 cup cotija cheese (for topping)

Ingredients (Raspberry Avocado Salsa)

  • 6 oz fresh raspberries
  • 2 avocados (diced)
  • 1/2 red onion (diced)
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger (grated)
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lime (juiced)

Begin by rinsing the red lentils and adding them to 2 cups of boiling water.  Cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.

Next, add the tofu, chili powder and cumin to a food processor and blend until smooth.

(P.S. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my parents for the amazing Christmas gift pictured below, I’ve used it twice a day since I got it home and it is awesome!)

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Next, transfer the spicy tofu to a large mixing bowl and add the soy chorizo.

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Combine well, then add the cooked lentils, diced onions, bell pepper, jalapeños and garlic.

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Finally, add in the lime juice, cilantro, spinach, eggs and rice chex crumbs.

*Rice chex crumbs can be made by simply blending rice chex cereal in a food processor. Using these instead of breadcrumbs keeps the dish gluten-free!

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Combine well, then form into 12 patties.

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These can be cooked on the grill for 10 minutes per side.

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Or in a cast iron skillet on the stove over medium heat.

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Next, prepare the Raspberry Avocado Salsa by slightly muddling the raspberries.

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Then add the diced avocado, red onion and freshly grated ginger.

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Finally, add the cilantro, black pepper, lime juice and drizzle with the olive oil.

Finish the burgers by topping with some cotija cheese.

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Then the salsa!

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This recipe makes 12 burgers, unless you are feeding a clan or are really really hungry, you can individually freeze any leftover burgers for a quick and easy dinner down the road!

♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is gluten-free.

Soy Chorizo Veggie Burgers with Raspberry Avocado Salsa

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 12 burgers

Soy Chorizo Veggie Burgers with Raspberry Avocado Salsa

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup red lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 14 oz firm tofu
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 12 oz soy chorizo
  • 1 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 red onion (diced)
  • 1 jalapeño (de-seeded and diced)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 lime (juiced)
  • 1 tsp fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup rice chex crumbs
  • 1/4 cup cotija cheese (for topping)
  • Raspberry Avocado Salsa
  • 6 oz fresh raspberries
  • 2 avocados (diced)
  • 1/2 red onion (diced)
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger (grated)
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lime (juiced)

Instructions

  1. Begin by rinsing the red lentils and adding them to 2 cups of boiling water. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Next, add the tofu, chili powder and cumin to a food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Next, transfer the spicy tofu to a large mixing bowl and add the soy chorizo.
  4. Combine well, then add the cooked lentils, diced onions, bell pepper, jalapeños and garlic.
  5. Finally, add in the lime juice, cilantro, spinach, eggs and rice chex crumbs. (Rice chex crumbs can be made by simply blending rice chex cereal in a food processor. Using these instead of breadcrumbs keeps the dish gluten-free.)
  6. Combine well, then form into 12 patties.
  7. These can be cooked on the grill for 10 minutes per side or in a cast iron skillet on the stove over medium heat.
  8. Next, prepare the Raspberry Avocado Salsa by slightly muddling the raspberries.
  9. Then add the diced avocado, red onion and freshly grated ginger.
  10. Finally, add the cilantro, black pepper, lime juice and drizzle with the olive oil.
  11. Finish the burgers by topping with the salsa and some cotija cheese.
http://whitneybond.com/2013/01/10/chopped-challenge-thursday-tofu-chorizo-raspberries-and-ginger/

Chopped Challenge Thursday: Boudain, Wasabi, Candy Canes and Shrimp

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This weeks “Chopped Challenge Thursday” kicked 2013 off with a real bang!

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The combination of Boudain (I’ll explain later!), Wasabi, Candy Canes and Shrimp, gave my culinary mind a run for its money, but I came up with something pretty delicious and super spicy to kick off the new year!

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After googling “Boudain” I found out that it is a Cajun sausage typically made of rice, spices and pork, but can also be made with crawfish or shrimp instead of pork.  I then yelped “where to buy Boudain” and found my newest adventure.

This morning I headed to east San Diego to “Mardi Gras Cafe and Cajun Market” to purchase the now infamous Boudain.

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The owners were an extremely sweet couple and very helpful.  I purchased my Boudain, then they proceeded to show me some of their favorite sauces (of the over 100 they had in stock!)

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I can’t wait to grab a couple of bottles of these before my annual Super Bowl Party!

In addition to a variety of Boudain sausages and walls of hot sauce options, they also sell alligator meat and offer a full restaurant menu. I can’t wait to go back and try their Louisiana home cooking!

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Now back to that Chopped Challenge! I decided to combine Japanese and Cajun flavors into a Jambalaya fusion recipe topped with a Sweet and Spicy Wasabi Mayonnaise made with crushed Candy Canes! The result was a spicy, peppery, unique and flavorful dish!

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Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion (diced)
  • 1 jalapeno (diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 12 oz boudain sausage
  • 1 cup mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1/2 cup cucumber (diced)
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1/2 tsp wasabi
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 candy cane
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger (grated)
  • 1/2 cup wasabi mayonnaise
  • 8-10 large shrimp
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds

(Just ignore any of the other ingredients that snuck into the picture above, this was an experimental recipe and not all of the ingredients made the cut 😉 )

Begin preparing the dish by heating the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and jalapeño to the heated oil and sauté for 5 minutes.  Next, add the garlic.  Sauté for an additional minute then remove the boudain from its casing and crumble into the pan.

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Next, add the mushrooms and cucumber.

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Then add the rice, sriracha and wasabi.

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Finally, add the beef stock and stir all of the ingredients together.

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Cover with a lid and allow to simmer for 45 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the Sweet and Spicy Wasabi Mayonnaise to top the jambalaya.  I’m not going to lie to you all, it wasn’t bad, but the jambalaya definitely doesn’t need it.

Pretty much unless you have a bunch of candy canes on hand and some extra wasabi mayonnaise lying around that you feel like experimenting with, this step can be skipped 🙂

If so desired, break a candy cane into a small food processor, then add the ginger and wasabi mayonnaise and mix well.

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Now, back to the jambalaya.  After the dish has simmered covered for 45 minutes, most of the liquid should be gone from the pan and the rice should be tender, now add the shrimp to the pan and continue simmering for an additional 5-10 minutes.

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Remove from the pan and top with the sesame seeds and a little drizzle of the Sweet and Spicy Wasabi Mayonnaise.

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I also sprinkled a little fresh parsley on top to add some color and served the dish with a couple of lemon wedges to mellow out the super spiciness of the wasabi, sriracha and hot boudain!

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This was the perfect warm dish on a cool San Diego winter day!

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After all my hard work on this very unique Chopped Challenge dish, I couldn’t wait to dig in!

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♣ Vegetarian Option: Replace the shrimp and boudain with extra rice, mushrooms and cucumbers for a vegetarian alternative.

♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is gluten-free (just make sure the beef stock you use is gluten-free!)

Chopped Challenge Thursday: Sprinkles, Hummus, Birthday Cake and Artichokes

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This weeks Chopped Challenge was very special because it  just so happened to fall on my birthday!

The ingredients I was given were very interesting, Sprinkles from Allison Davis, Hummus from Arun, Birthday Cake from Krista Lombardi and Artichokes from Angela Garner.

I decided to make a combination of sweet and spicy party dips including Birthday Cake Hummus and Spicy Buffalo Artichoke Dip. The hummus was inspired by my favorite peanut butter hummus at the local farmers market and the buffalo artichoke dip inspired by my consistent need to add buffalo sauce to anything possible!

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Ingredients (Birthday Cake Hummus)

  • 2 cups birthday cake batter
    • 1 1/2 cups flour
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp baking powder
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
    • 1/2 tbsp vanilla
    • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 15 oz can garbanzo beans (or chickpeas)
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp sprinkles
  • pita bread (for dipping)
  • vanilla wafers (for dipping)

Begin by combining the flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl.  In a large bowl beat together the eggs, sugars, butter, vanilla and coconut milk.  Add the flour mixture and beat until well combined.

Place 2 cups of the birthday cake batter (recipe will make slightly more than that so you can bake up a couple little cupcakes on the side :-), garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice and sprinkles into a blender or food processor.

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Sprinkles are fun!

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Blend well, then serve topped with additional sprinkles!

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I loved the vanilla wafers dipped into this hummus for a sweet treat!

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I then prepared the spicy buffalo artichoke dip.

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Ingredients (Spicy Buffalo Artichoke Dip)

  • 1/2 cup vegenaise (or mayonnaise)
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp blue cheese dressing
  • 2 tbsp buffalo sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts (drained)
  • pita bread (for dipping)
  • wheat thins (for dipping)

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a blender or food processor and combine well.  Next, add the artichoke hearts and lightly blend for 10-15 seconds.  Pour into a serving bowl with a side of pita bread or wheat thins for dipping.  I topped it with parmesan cheese and chives for a little extra deliciousness and color!

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This is definitely my new favorite dip, it’s kind of like if Spinach Artichoke Dip and Buffalo Chicken Dip got married, this would be their delicious little baby!

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I will definitely be serving this at my Christmas Cocktail Party next weekend!

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♣ Vegetarian Option: Both dips are vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Replace the flour in the birthday cake batter with a gluten-free flour substitute such as coconut flour and serve each dip with gluten-free cookies and crackers for a gluten-free option.

Chopped Challenge Thursday: Tomato Paste, Dates, Pastrami and Turnip Greens

Week fourteen of Chopped Challenge Thursdays combined dates, pastrami, turnip greens and tomato paste. The dish I created using these mystery box ingredients is a Pastrami Panini with Sweet Tomato Spread, Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates and Turnip Greens.

This weeks Chopped Challenge was made especially special because it was the first challenge that my dad contributed an ingredient to!  His contribution to the mystery basket was dates, one of our families favorite fruits! In addition to dates, Renee Vaughan added tomato paste, Cassie Vaughn added turnip greens and Thomas Kamakani Jr added pastrami!

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It just so happens that my one purchase on black friday was a Panini Press, which I was beyond excited about!  It’s been on my “want” list for a while and I was so excited to get this $50 piece of amazingness for $9.99 on friday!

So obviously this weeks Chopped Challenge had to be a panini!  I turned these 4 ingredients into a Pastrami Panini with a Sweet Tomato Spread, Turnip Greens and Blue Cheese Rosemary Stuffed Dates.

Ingredients (makes 2 paninis)

  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • sweet tomato spread (ingredients below)
  • 1/4 cup southern style greens (collard, turnip & kale)
  • 4 oz pastrami
  • 4 dates (pitted)
  • 2 tbsp blue cheese
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary

Sweet Tomato Spread

  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Prepare the tomato spread by combining all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor.

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Next, spread the tops of each slice of bread with olive oil.  Flip then spread the sweet tomato spread on the other side.

Top each slice with the southern greens and pastrami.

Next, combine the blue cheese and rosemary, then stuff the mixture inside the dates.  Place two dates on one half of each sandwich.

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Place the other half of the sandwich on top and set the sandwiches in the panini press.

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And press!

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Allow to cook for 3-5 minutes then remove from the press and serve!

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The combination of sweet dates, the savory blue cheese rosemary combination and the herb crusted pastrami was so ridiculously delicious!

Week fourteen of Chopped Challenge Thursdays combined dates, pastrami, turnip greens and tomato paste. The dish I created using these mystery box ingredients is a Pastrami Panini with Sweet Tomato Spread, Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates and Turnip Greens.

I’m not going to lie, I might eat this sandwich every day for the rest of the week!

Now slice it open and dig in!

Week fourteen of Chopped Challenge Thursdays combined dates, pastrami, turnip greens and tomato paste. The dish I created using these mystery box ingredients is a Pastrami Panini with Sweet Tomato Spread, Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates and Turnip Greens.

♣ Vegetarian Option: Omit the pastrami and replace with extra veggies such as caramelized onions and roasted red peppers for a vegetarian twist to this dish.

♦ Gluten Free Option: When gluten-free bread is used, this recipe is gluten-free.

Chopped Challenge Thursday: Yams, Cranberries, Pears and Habanero Peppers

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This very special Thanksgiving edition of “Chopped Challenge Thursdays” combined yams from Ashley Caretto, cranberries from Cassie Sue Vaughn, pears from Muffet “LLB Momma” Bond and serrano habanero peppers from Katie Samples.

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I created a new Thanksgiving favorite with these ingredients, Baked Yam Wedges with Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Pear Sauce.

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Ingredients

  • 2 lbs yams (or sweet potatoes)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 pear (peeled, de-seeded and diced)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1 small habanero pepper (de-seeded and diced)
  • 1 lemon (juiced – not pictured)

Begin by slicing the yams into wedges and placing in a baking dish.  Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle the ginger and cinnamon on top.

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Place into a 375° oven for 45 minutes.

In the mean time, prepare the Sweet and Spicy Cranberry Pear Sauce.

Begin by combining the water and sugar in a skillet.  Once the sugar has dissolved, add the diced pear.

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Cook for 5 minutes, then add the honey, cranberries and habanero.

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Cook until the cranberries begin to pop and a thick sauce forms.

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Squeeze the lemon juice into the sauce and mix well.  Pour the mixture on top of the baked yams and place back into the oven for 5-10 minutes.

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I served them along side a Turkey and Dressing Thanksgiving feast with favorites like Bacon Wrapped Dates and Garlic Lemon Green Beans!

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The yams were sweet and delicious, with a very slight kick at the end from the habanero!

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♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is gluten-free.

Chopped Challenge Thursday: Cranberries, Spam, Serrano Chilies and Dark Chocolate

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When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.  When Dusty Duprel hands you spam, you make fancy spam tacos!

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This weeks mystery basket included Cranberries from Olivia Reyes, Serrano Chilies from Kate Ouzounian, the aforementioned Spam and Dark Chocolate from Angela Cho.

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I decided to combine the cranberries, dark chocolate and Serrano chilies into a mole sauce to top the spam which I marinated in a chili lime mixture (in my opinion you have to put some work in to make spam delicious!)

The final result of “Chopped Challenge Thursday” Week Twelve:  Chili Lime Marinated Spam Tacos with Cranberry Mole Sauce!

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Ingredients

  • Cranberry Mole (makes 4 cups)
  • 1 lb tomatillos
  • 3 large pasilla chilies (chopped)
  • ½ cup cranberries
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 6 small Serrano chilies (de-seeded and chopped)
  • 1 very ripe plantain (sliced)
  • 2 oz dark chocolate
  • Chili Lime Spam (makes 1 ½ cups)
  • 12 oz can Spam
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Tacos (makes 6 tacos)
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 lime (cut into 6 wedges)
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp queso fresco

We’re going to start by marinating that spam to infuse it with the chili lime flavors and take away the canned taste.

Simply whisk together the brown sugar, soy sauce, chili powder lime juice, red pepper flakes and olive oil.  Then open up that can of spam and dice it up.

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Add the spam to the marinade and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

While the spam is marinating, prepare the mole sauce.

Begin by roasting the tomatillos.  Because my HOA busted me for having a grill on my balcony, I will now roast my tomatillos in the oven!

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Allow to roast for 15-20 minutes of until slightly charred on the outside. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Next, lightly brown the pasilla chilies in a dry skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

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Remove from the skillet and add to a medium bowl with the cranberries.  Cover with warm water then set aside.

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In the same skillet over medium heat add the almonds, ground cloves, cinnamon, black pepper and allspice.

Toast for 2-3 minutes then place in a spice grinder and ground until a powder forms. If you do not have a spice grinder a coffee grinder works well or a small food processor.

cranberry mole tacos, spices, grinding spices, how to make cranberry mole, cranberry chocolate mole sauce, mole sauce, dark chocolate mole, cranberry mole, tacos, recipe

Still using the same skillet add the olive oil, onions, garlic and serrano chilies.

cranberry mole tacos, how to make cranberry mole, cranberry chocolate mole sauce, mole sauce, dark chocolate mole, cranberry mole, recipe, onions, serrano chilies, garlic

Brown in the skillet until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Now peel the cooled tomatillos and place in a blender or food processor with the ground spices.

Next add the dark chocolate and plantains to the blender.

cranberry mole tacos, how to make cranberry mole, cranberry chocolate mole sauce, mole sauce, dark chocolate mole, cranberry mole, tacos, recipe, plaintains

Then add the cooked onions and chilies, pasilla peppers, cranberries and a small amount of the soaking liquid.  Start with about 1/2 cup, then add more if the sauce is too thick.

cranberry mole tacos, how to make cranberry mole, cranberry chocolate mole sauce, mole sauce, dark chocolate mole, cranberry mole, tacos, recipe, blender

Blend until creamy, then pour back into the skillet over low heat.

cranberry mole tacos, how to make cranberry mole, cranberry chocolate mole sauce, mole sauce, dark chocolate mole, cranberry mole, tacos, recipe

Simmer for 5-10 minutes while cooking the spam.

Pour the spam and marinade into a skillet over medium-high heat.

spam tacos, chili lime marinated spam, tacos, recipe, marinated spam, cooking spam

Cook for 7-10 minutes or until no liquid exists and the spam is slightly caramelized.

To make the tacos, place the spam into warmed tortillas.

spam tacos, chili lime marinated spam, tacos, corn tortillas, recipe, marinated spam

Then top with the cranberry mole sauce.

spam tacos, chili lime marinated spam, cranberry mole, cranberry chocolate mole sauce, mole sauce, tacos, corn tortillas, recipe

Finish the tacos off with cilantro, cojita cheese and avocado.

spam tacos, chili lime marinated spam, cranberry mole, cranberry chocolate mole sauce, avocado, cilantro, limes, corn tortillas, recipe

These tacos have a great balance of sweetness, acidity and spice!

spam tacos, chili lime marinated spam, cranberry mole, cranberry chocolate mole sauce, avocado, cilantro, limes, corn tortillas, recipe

The chocolate, chili pepper, cranberry combination in the mole sauce is divine! I’m thinking about making this for Thanksgiving to put on the turkey, Yum!

spam tacos, chili lime marinated spam, cranberry mole, cranberry chocolate mole sauce, avocado, cilantro, limes, corn tortillas, recipe, tortilla chips, tacos

These tacos would be delicious with a side of Grilled Pineapple Tomatillo Guacamole or Deconstructed Mexican Street Corn!

spam tacos, chili lime marinated spam, cranberry mole, cranberry chocolate mole sauce, avocado, cilantro, limes, corn tortillas, recipe

If Spam is not your thing, you could easily substitute shrimp, chicken or beef in this dish!

spam tacos, chili lime marinated spam, cranberry mole, cranberry chocolate mole sauce, avocado, cilantro, limes, corn tortillas, recipe, tacos

Or if you’re vegetarian, Tofu Tacos!

spam tacos, chili lime marinated spam, cranberry mole, cranberry chocolate mole sauce, avocado, cilantro, limes, corn tortillas, recipe

Now it’s time to dig in!

spam tacos, chili lime marinated spam, cranberry mole, cranberry chocolate mole, mole sauce, tacos, avocado, cilantro, limes, corn tortillas, recipe

♣ Vegetarian Option: Substitute spam with tofu.

♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is gluten-free, just make sure the brand of soy sauce you purchase is gluten-free! (Fresh & Easy is not.)

Chopped Challenge Thursday: Cinnamon, Oranges, Apples and Brussels Sprouts

caramelized apples, caramelized onions, sweet italian sausage, roasted garlic brussels sprouts, gorgonzola cheese, rosemary, phyllo dough crust, tart

Welcome to Chopped Challenge Thursday, Week Eleven!  I can’t believe it has been almost 3 months since I began this little portion of the blog!  It has been a blast and this week was especially fun because my 87-year-old grandma in Houston, Texas submitted an ingredient into the mix (with a little help from my Mom to post on Facebook)!

Check out Nana this summer with my Mom and I while showing off her backyard garden!

grandma, backyard, texas, Houston, nana, mom, family

Nana submitted Cinnamon because she said that she heard it has a lot of health benefits! She’s one smart lady because cinnamon does pack a lot of health benefits including lowering bad cholesterol, relieving arthritis pain, stabilizing blood sugar and even eliminating migraine headaches!

The next three ingredients added into the mix were brussels sprouts from Allison Davis, apples from Wendi Garrison and oranges from Cynthia Mitchell.

chopped challenge, mystery basket, brussels sprouts, oranges, apples, cinnamon, ingredients

I already had an Apple Sausage Gorgonzola Tart on my menu for the week so I decided to use the additional ingredients from “Mystery Basket Monday” to turn the Tart into this weeks Chopped Challenge Thursday!

caramelized apples, caramelized onions, sweet italian sausage, roasted garlic brussels sprouts, gorgonzola cheese, rosemary, phyllo dough crust, tartThe final result of “Chopped Challenge Thursday” Week Eleven: Caramelized Apple and Onion Tart with Gorgonzola, Sausage and Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

phyllo dough, brussels sprouts, oranges, apples, cinnamon, rosemary, gorgonzola cheese, sweet italian sausage, garlic

Ingredients (makes 2 tarts – serves 4)

  • 1 cup brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tbsp olive oil (divided)
  • 1/3 cup and 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar (divided)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 red apples (cored and sliced)
  • 1 red onion (sliced)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 oranges (juiced)
  • 1 roll phyllo dough (app 20 sheets)
  • 2 sweet italian sausages (sliced)
  • 1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary (chopped)

Start by quartering the brussels sprouts and placing on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, then sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss with the minced garlic.

brussels sprouts, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, minced garlic, black pepper, kosher salt, recipe

Place into a 425° oven for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside while preparing the rest of the tart.

brussels sprouts, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, minced garlic, black pepper, kosher salt, recipe

Now on to caramelizing the apples and onions. Melt the butter in a large skillet then add the sliced apples.

caramelized apples, cinnamon, brown sugar, butter, balsamic vinegar, recipe, apples

Cook for 2-3 minutes then add the sliced onions.

caramelized apples, caramelized onions, cinnamon, brown sugar, butter, balsamic vinegar, red onions, apples

Cook until the apples and onions become tender, about 8-10 minutes, then add the brown sugar, cinnamon and 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar.

caramelized apples, caramelized onions, cinnamon, brown sugar, butter, balsamic vinegar, red onions, apples

Combine all of the ingredients together and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Set to the side while preparing the orange vinaigrette for the tart.

caramelized apples, caramelized onions, cinnamon, brown sugar, butter, balsamic vinegar, red onions, apples

Whisk the juice of 2 oranges (app 1/3 cup) with 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar.

orange juice, oranges, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, orange balsamic vinaigrette dressing, recipe

Now prepare the tart’s crust by brushing this mixture on each sheet of phyllo dough, while stacking the sheets on top of each other.

olive oil, phyllo dough, fillo dough, balsamic vinegar, orange juice, orange balsamic vinaigrette

Place 10 sheets in 2 separate stacks to make 2 tarts.

Fold the edges of the tart in to form the crust, then brush the edges with the orange vinaigrette.

Next begin to assemble the tarts by placing a layer of caramelized apples and onions on the crust.

caramelized apples, caramelized onions, sweet italian sausage, roasted garlic brussels sprouts, gorgonzola cheese, rosemary, phyllo dough crust, tart

Next top with the brussels sprouts, then the sausage, gorgonzola cheese and rosemary.

caramelized apples, caramelized onions, sweet italian sausage, roasted garlic brussels sprouts, gorgonzola cheese, rosemary, phyllo dough crust, tart

Transfer carefully onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 425° for 10-12 minutes (depending on how crisp you want the crust!)

caramelized apples, caramelized onions, sweet italian sausage, roasted garlic brussels sprouts, gorgonzola cheese, rosemary, phyllo dough crust, tart

Thank you all for continuing to provide such awesome ingredients and inspiration through “Chopped Challenge Thursdays”, this is another new favorite dish for me!

caramelized apples, caramelized onions, sweet italian sausage, roasted garlic brussels sprouts, gorgonzola cheese, rosemary, phyllo dough crust, tart

There are so many components that make up this delectable tart…

caramelized apples, caramelized onions, sweet italian sausage, roasted garlic brussels sprouts, gorgonzola cheese, rosemary, phyllo dough crust, tart

the creaminess of the gorgonzola cheese…

caramelized apples, caramelized onions, sweet italian sausage, roasted garlic brussels sprouts, gorgonzola cheese, rosemary, phyllo dough crust, tart

the sweetness of the cinnamon apples…

caramelized apples, caramelized onions, sweet italian sausage, roasted garlic brussels sprouts, gorgonzola cheese, rosemary, phyllo dough crust, tart

and the savory flavors of the sausage and brussels sprouts!

caramelized apples, caramelized onions, sweet italian sausage, roasted garlic brussels sprouts, gorgonzola cheese, rosemary, phyllo dough crust, tart

Now it’s time to dig in!

caramelized apples, caramelized onions, sweet italian sausage, roasted garlic brussels sprouts, gorgonzola cheese, rosemary, phyllo dough crust, tart

♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian when the sausage is eliminated. Replace the butter with olive oil and eliminate the cheese  to make this recipe vegan.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Foodista has a recipe for gluten-free phyllo dough here or replace the crust completely with my cauliflower based Gluten Free Pizza Crust.

Chopped Challenge Thursday: Almonds, Beer, Tomatoes and Marshmallow Fluff

beer battered onion rings, almond crusted onion rings, baked onion rings, sweet bbq sauce, marshmallow bbq sauce

This weeks Chopped Challenge Mystery Basket included beer, almonds, tomatoes and marshmallow fluff…  again!

almonds, beer, tomatoes, marshmallow fluff, marshmallow creme, fat tire, ingredients, chopped challenge, mystery basket

I combined the beer and almonds to make one of my favorite side dishes, onion rings.

beer battered onion rings, almond crusted onion rings, baked onion rings, sweet bbq sauce, marshmallow bbq sauce

I then combined the marshmallow fluff and tomatoes to make a side of BBQ sauce for dipping.

beer battered onion rings, almond crusted onion rings, baked onion rings, sweet bbq sauce, marshmallow bbq sauce

The final result of “Chopped Challenge Thursday” Week Ten: Beer Battered Almond Crusted Onion Rings with a Sweet Marshmallow BBQ Sauce

beer battered onion rings, almond crusted onion rings, baked onion rings, sweet bbq sauce, marshmallow bbq sauce

Ingredients (BBQ Sauce – makes 2 cups)

  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp marshmallow fluff
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup beer
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor.

beer battered onion rings, almond crusted onion rings, baked onion rings, sweet bbq sauce, marshmallow bbq sauce

Puree until a thick sauce forms.

beer battered onion rings, recipe, honey BBQ sauce, sweet bbq sauce, marshmallow bbq sauce

Place in the refrigerator while preparing the onion rings.

Ingredients (Onion Rings – makes app. 30)

  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup beer
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt

Begin by slicing the onions into 1/4 inch rounds.

beer battered onion rings, almond crusted onion rings, baked onion rings, sweet bbq sauce, marshmallow bbq sauce

Next, whisk together the egg, milk and beer. Pour the mixture over the onions.

beer battered onion rings, almond crusted onion rings, baked onion rings, sweet bbq sauce, marshmallow bbq sauce

Next, blend together the almonds and cornmeal in a food processor.

beer battered onion rings, almond crusted onion rings, baked onion rings, sweet bbq sauce, marshmallow bbq sauce

Place in a shallow dish.  Combine the flour, salt and cayenne pepper in a separate shallow dish.

beer battered onion rings, almond crusted onion rings, baked onion rings, sweet bbq sauce, marshmallow bbq sauce

Next, heat a small amount of olive or canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then pre-heat the oven to 400° and prepare a baking dish topped with cooling racks on the side of the skillet.

beer battered onion rings, almond crusted onion rings, baked onion rings, sweet bbq sauce, marshmallow bbq sauce

Now, you’re ready to go!

Begin, by moving the onions from the milk and beer mixture to the flour mixture, coat well, then toss them back into the milk and beer, then into the cornmeal almond mixture.  Coat well then place into the skillet and cook on each side for 1-2 minutes.

beer battered onion rings, almond crusted onion rings, baked onion rings, sweet bbq sauce, marshmallow bbq sauce

Remove from the skillet and place on the baking sheet.

beer battered onion rings, almond crusted onion rings, baked onion rings, sweet bbq sauce, marshmallow bbq sauce

Bake for 6-8 minutes then remove from the oven.

beer battered onion rings, almond crusted onion rings, baked onion rings, sweet bbq sauce, marshmallow bbq sauce

Serve with the Sweet Marshmallow BBQ Sauce for dipping.

beer battered onion rings, almond crusted onion rings, baked onion rings, sweet bbq sauce, marshmallow bbq sauce

This is the perfect way to eat your favorite crispy side dish without the guilt of eating fried foods!

beer battered onion rings, almond crusted onion rings, baked onion rings, sweet bbq sauce, marshmallow bbq sauce

♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Substitute gluten-free flour for traditional flour and gluten-free beer to make this recipe gluten-free.

Chopped Challenge Thursday: Pumpkin, Mango, Oysters and Pecans

fried oysters, sliders, pretzel bun, oyster sliders, oyster shells, chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basketWow oh wow, this weeks Mystery Basket looked like East Coast meets West Coast meets Halloween meets Hawaii, Oysters, Mango, Pecans and Pumpkin, what in the world would I make with this odd combination of ingredients?

Luckily for me I visited Miami in the spring and was treated to a delicious dinner at The Dutch by my great friend Mr. Manning. What does my amazing dinner in Miami have to do with this weeks Chopped Challenge you ask?  Well, it was at this dinner that I had Oyster Sliders for the first time.

fried oysters, sliders, pretzel bun, oyster sliders, oyster shells, chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basketAs soon as Thomas Kamakani threw the oyster’s in the mystery basket this week, I knew I must re-create these delicious sliders, Little Leopard style.

fried oysters, sliders, pretzel bun, oyster sliders, oyster shells, chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basketI added the pecans from Cindi Bogue into the breading for the oysters, used the pumpkin from Kelly Taylor Shirley to make the sauce for the sliders and combined the mango from Rafael Ocampo with pickled onions and jalapeños to make a fantastic relish to top these babies!

pumpkin, mango, oysters, pecans, ingredients, chopped challenge, mystery basketThe final result of “Chopped Challenge Thursday” Week Nine: Crispy Oyster Sliders with Pickled Jalapeño Mango Relish and Spicy Pumpkin Aioli.

cilantro, mango, coriander, pickled jalapeños and onions, mango relish, chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basketIngredients

Pickled Jalapeño Mango Relish (Makes 4 Cups)

  • 2 red onions (sliced)
  • 4 large jalapeños (de-seeded and sliced)
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp whole coriander
  • 1/2 mango (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 limes (juiced)
  • 1 tbsp cilantro

(Ignore the cabbage in the picture, I was originally going to make a slaw, but changed my mind. I’m a girl, we do that 😉 )

Begin by pickling the onions and jalapeños. Poach the onions in boiling water for 2 minutes.

fried oysters, pickled jalapeños and onions, mango relish chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basket

Remove from the water and place in a bowl or dish with lid.

Whisk together the apple cider, sugar and coriander.

apple cider, coriander, brown sugar, pickling, pickled jalapeños and onions, mango relish chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basketAdd the jalapenos to the mixture then pour on top of the onions.

fried oysters, pickled jalapeños and onions, pickling onions, mango relish chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basketPut the lid on top of the dish and place into the refrigerator for one hour.

Remove from the refrigerator and add the lime juice and cilantro.

fried oysters, pickled jalapeños and onions, mango relish chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basket

Remove the pickled vegetables from the vinegar sauce and place in a small bowl, then add the chopped mango.

fried oysters, pickled jalapeños and onions, mango relish chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basket

Next, prepare the Spicy Pumpkin Aioli.

pumpkin, spicy, aioli, dip, low fat, vegan, vegenaise, recipe, sriracha, garlic, paprikaIngredients

Spicy Pumpkin Aioli (makes 1 cup)

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup vegenaise

Add all ingredients to a small bowl.

pumpkin, spicy, aioli, dip, low fat, vegan, vegenaise, recipe, garlic, paprika, chili powderWhisk together.

pumpkin, spicy, aioli, dip, low fat, vegan, vegenaise, recipeCover and refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.

Next, prepare the oysters.

oysters, pecans, cornmeal, paprika, chili powder, canola oil, ingredients, recipe, fried oystersIngredients (makes 3 fried oysters)

  • 3 large oysters
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

Start by shucking and cleaning the oysters. (Thank you to my roommate Ryan for being my “Professional King of Shucking”, as he proudly named himself after successfully shucking the oysters with a kitchen knife, haha)

Next, prepare the breading my placing the cornmeal, pecans, paprika and cayenne pepper in a food processor and blend into a fine crumb mixture.

fried oysters, sliders, pretzel bun, oyster sliders, cornmeal pecan breading, paprika, chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basketPlace the mixture in a shallow bowl and roll the oysters in the breading.

fried oysters, sliders, pretzel bun, oyster sliders, cornmeal pecan breading, fried oysters, chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basketPlace a skillet with 1/2 inch of canola oil over medium-high heat.

When hot, add the oysters to the oil.

fried oysters, sliders, oyster sliders, crispy oysters, fried oysters, chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basketCook for 1 minute on each side then drain on a paper towel.

fried oysters, sliders, pretzel bun, oyster sliders, chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basketNow it’s time to put the sliders together!

I used homemade pretzel buns as the base for the slider, but any slider buns will work!

Start by placing the aioli on the bottom bun.

Next, place the oysters on top.

ried oysters, sliders, pretzel bun, oyster sliders, oyster shells, chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basketThen top with the relish.

fried oysters, sliders, pretzel bun, oyster sliders, pickled jalapeños, chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basketAren’t they so cute and fancy?

fried oysters, sliders, pretzel bun, oyster sliders, oyster shells, chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basketI went on a little bit of a picture-taking frenzy!

fried oysters, sliders, pretzel bun, oyster sliders, oyster shells, chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basketNow top them with the other half of the bun and skewer them to keep all the goodies together!

fried oysters, sliders, pretzel bun, oyster sliders, oyster shells, chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basketThen take some more pictures of how cute they are!

fried oysters, sliders, pretzel bun, oyster sliders, oyster shells, chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basketAnd top with another pickled jalapeño, because it looks pretty and you can never have too many pickled jalapeños in your life!

fried oysters, sliders, pretzel bun, oyster sliders, oyster shells, chopped challenge thursdays, mystery basket

♦ Gluten Free Option: The sauce, relish and oysters are gluten-free, simply replace the pretzel bun with a gluten-free bun to make this dish gluten-free.

Chopped Challenge Thursday: Squash, Okra, Peanut Butter and Cornmeal

butternut squash, gnocchi, balsamic peanut butter sauce, crispy parmesan okra, recipes, chopped challenge, food networkI’m always excited when I can incorporate my Chopped Challenge ingredients into a dish I was already planning to make. This week it worked out just that way.  On my menu for the week I had planned to make butternut squash gnocchi. I’ve been wanting to make homemade gnocchi for years, just never had gotten around to it.  When I picked up an assortment of just-in-season squash varieties last weekend, I knew I wanted to whip that butternut squash into my first ever homemade gnocchi.

Luckily, Becca Rogers submitted squash as the first ingredient in this weeks challenge.  As I awaited the results of what else I would be cooking with I was crossing my fingers that they were ingredients I could use with the gnocchi. The next three items to roll in on my Facebook page were Okra from Jake Fordenbacher, Peanut Butter from Jessica Pauls and Cornmeal from Kate Elizabeth.

squash, butternut, okra, cornmeal, peanut butter, Jif, ingredients, mystery basket, chopped challenge

Now these ingredients I could definitely work into my butternut squash gnocchi.  The final result of “Chopped Challenge Thursday” Week Eight: Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Balsamic Peanut Butter Sauce and Crispy Parmesan Okra. 

okra, butternut squash, peanut butter, cornmeal, ricotta, apple cider, maple syrup, coconut milk, balsamic vinegarIngredients (serves 6)

Butternut Squash Gnocchi

  • 1 butternut squash
  • ½ cup ricotta
  • ¼ cup parmesan
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp fresh sage
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups brown rice flour

Balsamic Peanut Butter Sauce

  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 tsp maple syrup

Crispy Parmesan Okra

  • 2 cups okra (fresh or frozen/defrosted)
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tsp paprika

Begin by slicing the squash in half and removing the seeds.

Next, roast the squash cut side down in a 400° oven for 45 minutes.

butternut squash, squash, roasting, baking

Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool.

Once cool enough to handle, scoop the squash out and discard the skin.

butternut squash, baking, roasting, olive oil, cooking, food

Puree the squash with a hand mixer.

butternut squash, baking, roasting, olive oil, puree, gnocchi, recipe cooking, foodOnce completely cooled add the ricotta and parmesan.

Next add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, sage and egg.

butternut squash, nutmeg, sage, flour, gnocchi, ingredients, recipes, food

Mix well then add the flour one cup at a time until the dough is somewhat sticky, but not too sticky too handle.

butternut squash, nutmeg, sage, flour, gnocchi, ingredients, recipes, food, doughCover the dough with a damp towel  for 30 minutes, then slice the dough into 8 sections.

butternut squash, nutmeg, sage, flour, gnocchi, ingredients, recipes, food, doughOne section at a time roll the dough out into a snake-like shape and cut into equal squares.

butternut squash, nutmeg, sage, flour, gnocchi, ingredients, recipes, food, how to, doughNext, press down on each individual gnocchi with a floured fork to produce indentations then drop the gnocchi 10-12 pieces at a time into a large pot of boiling water. Do not over-crowd the pot with gnocchi or they will stick together.

Once the gnocchi rises to the top of the water they are ready to go in the sauce for tossing.  Speaking of the sauce, lets make that now!

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a skillet and bring to a simmer.

balsamic vinegar, peanut butter, apple cider, maple syrup, ingredients, recipe, sauceSimmer for 5-7 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken.

When the gnocchi is ready, toss in the sauce before serving.

For the side, prepare the crispy parmesan okra while the butternut squash is roasting.

Begin by whisking together the milk and syrup then pouring over the okra.

okra, coconut milk, maple syrup, breading, baked, food, ingredients, recipeNext, place the wet okra into a large ziploc bag, then cover with the parmesan, cornmeal and paprika.

okra, parmesan, cornmeal, crispy, paprika, crusted, crunchy, recipe, ingredients, ziploc bag, cookingShake until all of the okra is well coated then spread evenly onto a baking sheet.

okra, parmesan, cornmeal, crispy, paprika, crusted, crunchy, recipe, ingredients, ziploc bag, cookingBake in a 400° oven for 30 minutes, then serve on the side of the gnocchi.  I also drizzled mine with a little balsamic vinegar before serving.  Totally optional, but I liked the meshing of the flavors with the Balsamic Peanut Butter Sauce!

butternut squash, gnocchi, balsamic peanut butter sauce, crispy parmesan okra, recipes, chopped challenge, food networkThis was the first Chopped Challenge meal that I invited a dinner party of friends over for! After-all, I wasn’t making all of that homemade gnocchi for nothing!

butternut squash, gnocchi, balsamic peanut butter sauce, crispy parmesan okra, recipes, chopped challenge, food networkEveryone LOVED the Balsamic Peanut Butter Sauce! It’s so fun when those random “mystery basket” ingredients end up turning into a new family favorite!

butternut squash, gnocchi, balsamic peanut butter sauce, crispy parmesan okra, recipes, chopped challenge, food networkNow it’s time to dig in!

butternut squash, gnocchi, balsamic peanut butter sauce, crispy parmesan okra, recipes, chopped challenge, food networkThen the okra!

butternut squash, gnocchi, balsamic peanut butter sauce, crispy parmesan okra, recipes, chopped challenge, food networkSuch a delicious fall meal!

♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is gluten-free.

 

Sweet Potato Quinoa Black Bean Burgers

Black Bean Sweet Potato Quinoa Burgers

This burger is super healthy, fiber-filled, protein-packed, vegetarian, gluten-free and really delicious, basically the best veggie burger ever!

Black Bean Quinoa Burger with Avocado

This recipe originally came from my “Chopped Challenge Series” I hosted on Facebook. The ingredients of my “Mystery Basket” that created this delicious dish came from Thomas Kamakani Jr. with Quinoa, Barbara Cervantes with jalapeños and Muffet Bond with red peppers.  Then we have the curve ball pitcher, Miss Allison Davis with marshmallow fluff… there always has to be one!

red peppers, jalapeños, quinoa, marshmallow fluff

When it comes to those “curve ball” ingredients such as lemon curd, apple butter or marshmallow fluff, it’s all about breaking down the ingredients, what exactly is marshmallow fluff?  Basically it’s corn syrup, sugar and water, in simpler terms, a sweetener.

I thought about what goes well with marshmallow that is not dessert and thought sweet potatoes! Who doesn’t love those delicious sweet potatoes covered in brown sugar and marshmallows with a nicely roasted turkey on Thanksgiving day!

I then decided to combine the jalapenos and marshmallow fluff, as I love the combination of sweet and spicy. I have used a Sweet Jalapeño Sauce to accompany my recipes for Mexican Chorizo Meatballs and Squash Puppies in the past.

I combined the quinoa with the sweet potatoes and added black beans to create this burger which packs 9 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein, all without meat or gluten!

sweet potatoes, quinoa, red peppers, black beans, jalapeños, marshmallow fluff, cilantro, rice chex, garlic, red onion

Ingredients

  • 1 lb sweet potatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • ½ red onion (diced)
  • ½ red pepper (diced)
  • 1 jalapeño (de-seeded and diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground chipotle pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup rice chex (crushed)*
  • 1 egg

Sweet Jalapeño Sauce (makes 1 cup)

  • 1/4 cup marshmallow fluff
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (not pictured)
  • 1 small jalapeño (de-seeded and diced)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime (juiced)

Optional Toppings

  • Avocado
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Iceberg Lettuce Leafs (for wrapping)

*Breadcrumbs can be substituted, I simply keep a bag of crushed rice chex on hand to make my dishes gluten-free.

Start by boiling a large pot of water.  Next, peel and cube the sweet potatoes and add them to the boiling water, cook for 20 minutes.

sweet potatoes, boiling, sweet potato burgers, food, recipes

While the potatoes are boiling, rinse and drain the black beans, then add 1 cup of the beans to a large mixing bowl and smash with a fork to create a paste for which to hold the burgers together.

black beans, smashing, fork, recipe, paste, how to, food, beans

Next, drain the sweet potatoes and add them to the smashed beans. Smash them into the mixture with a fork without turning them into a puree.

Next, add the cooked quinoa to the mix.

quinoa, grain, cooked, vegetable, recipe, food, burger

Then add the chopped onion, red pepper, jalapeño, garlic and the remaining whole black beans.

sweet potatoes, black beans, jalapeños, red peppers, onions, garlic, burger mixture, vegetables

Finally, add the spices, cumin, chipotle pepper and cilantro, as well as the binding ingredients including the rice chex and egg.

Mix together, then use your hands to form into 8 patties.

Place the burgers on a grill over medium heat for 10 minutes, then flip and grill for an additional 10 minutes.

*Alternatively you can place the burgers in a 375° oven for 20 minutes, flipping half-way through or bake them in a cast iron skillet on the stove over medium heat for 10 minutes per side.

While the burgers are on the grill, prepare the Sweet Jalapeño Sauce.

Simply place all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor.

jalapeños, marshmallow fluff, sour cream, cumin, sauce, sweet, easy, cilantro, recipe

Blend until smooth and serve with the Sweet Potato Quinoa Black Bean Burgers.

Vegetarian Black Bean Quinoa Burgers

Is it just me or are these the prettiest burgers you’ve ever seen?

Black Bean Sweet Potato Quinoa Burger Recipe

They say you should have five colors on your plate for a healthy meal, how about 5 colors in one item on the plate!

Black Bean Sweet Potato Quinoa Veggie Burgers

I wrapped the burgers in lettuce and topped them with roasted red peppers and sliced avocado, then served them with homemade sweet potato tots.

Sweet Potato Quinoa Gluten Free Veggie Burgers

And voila!  The perfect vegetarian, gluten-free burger is created!

♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is gluten-free.

Black Bean Sweet Potato Quinoa Burgers

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 8 burgers

Black Bean Sweet Potato Quinoa Burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 lb sweet potatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • ½ red onion (diced)
  • ½ red pepper (diced)
  • 1 jalapeño (de-seeded and diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground chipotle pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup rice chex (crushed)*
  • 1 egg
  • 8 iceberg lettuce leafs (for wrapping)
  • 1 avocado (sliced)
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers (sliced)

Instructions

  1. Start by boiling a large pot of water.
  2. Next, peel and cube the sweet potatoes and add them to the boiling water, cook for 20 minutes.
  3. While the potatoes are boiling, rinse and drain the black beans, then add 1 cup of the beans to a large mixing bowl and smash with a fork to create a paste for which to hold the burgers together.
  4. Next, drain the sweet potatoes and add them to the smashed beans. Smash them into the mixture with a fork without turning them into a puree.
  5. Next, add the cooked quinoa to the mix.
  6. Then add the chopped onion, red pepper, jalapeño, garlic and the remaining whole black beans.
  7. Finally, add the spices, cumin, chipotle pepper and cilantro, as well as the binding ingredients including the rice chex and egg.
  8. Mix together, then use your hands to form into 8 patties.
  9. Place the burgers on a grill over medium heat for 10 minutes, then flip and grill for an additional 10 minutes.
http://whitneybond.com/2012/10/11/chopped-challenge-thursday-quinoa-jalapenos-red-peppers-and-marshmallow-fluff/

Chopped Challenge Thursday: Parsnips, Salmon, Peaches and Kale

chopped salad, smoked salmon, kale, roasted parsnips, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, couscous, peach vinaigretteThis weeks “mystery basket” combines some of my favorite foods; parsnips, the slightly sweeter cousin of the carrot, peaches, the sweet summer fruit with the fuzzy skin, kale, the super food packed with vitamins, and salmon, high in omega-3’s and nicknamed “the happy fish” for its depression fighting, mood elevating benefits!

Who wouldn’t want to eat a dish that provides an abundance of vitamins, makes you happy and is also delicious?

parsnips, smoked salmon, peaches, kale, chopped, food network, mystery basket, ingredientsI decided to re-create my favorite dish from the lunch menu at Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach, the Chopped Salad, served with smoked salmon, tomatoes, couscous and parmesan. To the salad I added dates, parsnips and kale.  I incorporated the kale and parsnips by roasting them to add an extra crunch to the salad! I then turned those beautiful orange peaches into a lovely vinaigrette dressing.

The final result of “Chopped Challenge Thursday” Week Six: Smoked Salmon Roasted Kale and Parsnip Chopped Salad with Peach Basil Vinaigrette.

couscous, smoked salmon, parsnips, kale, romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, honey, tomatoes, peaches, basilIngredients – Chopped Salad

  • 1 cup kale
  • 1/2 lb (2 medium) parsnips
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup couscous
  • 9 oz romaine lettuce
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup dates
  • 4 oz smoked salmon
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Basil peach vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 peach (peeled, pitted and chopped)
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil (chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 tbsp honey

Begin by chopping the kale (warning: there’s going to be a lot of chopping in this salad, hence the name!) Remove the thick “stem ribs” and discard.

kale, chopped salad, roasting kale, recipeNext, chop the parsnips and place on a rimmed baking sheet with the chopped kale. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

kale, parsnips, roasting kale, recipe, food, vegetables, recipe, salad

Place in a 400° oven for 15 minutes.

In the mean time, make the peach basil vinaigrette.  Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor.

peach basil vinaigrette, homemade salad dressing, vinaigrette, recipe, peaches, red wine vinegar, olive oil, honey, garlicBlend until all of the ingredients are combined well and the vinaigrette has a smooth consistency.

peach basil vinaigrette, homemade salad dressing, vinaigrette, recipe, peaches, red wine vinegar, olive oil, honey, garlicPlace in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the rest of the salad.

In a small saucepan bring 3/4 cup of water to boil on the stove. Add the couscous to the boiling water, stir, cover, remove from the heat and let stand 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, did you know that Couscous was elected as the third favorite dish of French people in 2011?  Neither did I, but now I do and so do you, thanks for the super important 411 on the popularity of couscous Wikipedia!

Next, get that knife back out and chop the romaine lettuce, tomatoes, dates and smoked salmon. Add to a large mixing bowl.

chopped salad, smoked salmon, kale, roasted parsnips, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, couscous, peach vinaigrette, parmesan cheese

Just ignore those pumpkin seeds floating around in there.  After trying the salad I decided they weren’t necessary and removed them from the dish.  Now if you are a crazy pumpkin seed fan, go right ahead and throw them back in there!

Next, fluff the couscous with a fork and add it to the mix.

By this time the kale and parsnips should be roasted and ready to top the salad. The kale shrinks down to a miniature version of its former self, but don’t worry, it’s supposed to do that!

Toss everything together in the large mixing bowl, then transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with the peach vinaigrette dressing.

chopped salad, smoked salmon, kale, roasted parsnips, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, couscous, peach vinaigretteIsn’t she a beauty?

chopped salad, smoked salmon, kale, roasted parsnips, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, couscous, peach vinaigrette

Check out those lovely layers of deliciousness!

chopped salad, smoked salmon, kale, roasted parsnips, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, couscous, basil peach vinaigretteUse the serving spoons to place this delicious salad into serving bowls.

chopped salad, smoked salmon, kale, roasted parsnips, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, couscous, peach vinaigrette, Chopped challengeServe as a side salad for 4-6 people or split in half and share an entrée sized portion with a friend 🙂

chopped salad, smoked salmon, kale, roasted parsnips, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, couscous, peach vinaigretteI chose the first option and shared this delicious salad with friends and roommates at Tuesday nights “family dinner” alongside grilled cheeseburgers and fresh fruit.

chopped salad, smoked salmon, kale, roasted parsnips, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, couscous, peach vinaigrette, Chopped challenge

What are you waiting for?  Grab a fork and dig in!

chopped salad, smoked salmon, kale, roasted parsnips, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, couscous, peach vinaigrette

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to enter the giveaway going on this week at LLB to win FREE Longaberger Pottery!

♣ Vegetarian Option: Omit the smoked salmon to make this recipe vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Substitute brown rice couscous or another gluten-free variety of the grain to make this recipe gluten-free.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie Pie with Pumpkin Ice Cream

Chocolate Chip Caramel Pecan Cookie Pie with Pumpkin Ice Cream

From the minute I saw this weeks chopped challenge mystery basket I knew a dessert was about to be made!

Chopped Challenge Ingredients Week Five

Hershey’s chocolate morsels, caramel, pecans and pumpkin, all ingredients that scream fall dessert!

Not wanting to make a traditional pie or try to combine all of the ingredients into one dish I decided to make a cookie pie using the Hershey’s chocolate morsels as the chocolate chips and adding caramelized pecans to the dish.  I then decided to turn the pumpkin into a delicious ice cream to top the warm cookie pie.

The final result of “Chopped Challenge Thursday” Week Five: Chocolate Chip Caramelized Pecan Cookie Pie with Homemade Pumpkin Ice Cream.

butter, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, brown sugar, caramels, chocolate chips, pecans, pumpkin, milk, cream, ginger, nutmeg, ingredients, ice cream, cookie pie

Ingredients (cookie pie)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter (separated) (3/4 cup melted)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp vanilla (separated)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 bag ( 1 3/4 cups) Hershey’s Mini Kisses
  • 1 bag (14 oz) caramels
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups crushed pecans

Ingredients (pumpkin ice cream)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 4 eggs (whisked)
  • 3/4 gallon whole milk
  • 7-8 pounds ice
  • 2 cups ice cream salt

Start by preparing the ice cream. Combine the sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in the bottom of the ice cream canister.

How to make Pumpkin Ice Cream

Next, add the pumpkin, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, whipping cream and mix well.

Pumpkin Ice Cream Recipe

Then add two cups of the whole milk to a small saucepan over low heat.  When warm add in the whisked eggs. Continue whisking the mixture regularly for 2-3 minutes making sure the temperature does not get too warm to cook the eggs.

Warming eggs in milk

Add the mixture to the canister then add the rest of the whole milk to the “fill line” on the ice cream canister.

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Mix together well then place the canister inside the ice cream maker.  Surround the canister with ice and salt then plug the ice cream maker in to begin the freezing process.

While the ice cream is freezing begin making the cookie pie.  Still remember to fill the outside of the ice cream maker with ice and salt when needed. If the ice level is too low the freezing process will stop and runny ice cream will result…. and I know that no one wants that!

For the cookie pie, begin by making the caramelized pecans. Unwrap each caramel and place into a medium pan over low to medium heat.  Add 1/2 cup milk, 1 tbsp vanilla and 1/4 cup butter to the caramels.

Making Caramel Sauce

Stir consistently until the caramels are fully melted.  Then add in the pecans.

Caramelizing Pecans

Remove from heat and mix until the pecans are well coated. Set to the side while you prepare the cookie dough.

Start by combining the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.  Next cream together the butter and sugars.  Add in 1 tbsp vanilla, the whole egg and egg yolk.  Mix well, then add in the flour mixture.

Cookie Dough

Next, mix in the chocolate chips or mini Hershey’s kisses.

Hershey Kiss Cookie Dough

Finally, add 1 cup of the caramelized pecans to the mixture.

Chocolate Chip Caramel Pecan Cookie Dough

Mix well then place into a greased pie plate.

Hershey Kiss Carmel Pecan Cookie Pie

Place in a 350° oven for 25-30 minutes or until crisp and brown around the edges.

Before the pie is finished cooking the ice cream machine should shut off and that means… the ice cream is ready!

Pumpkin Ice Cream

While waiting for the pie to come out of the oven, maybe I should go ahead and scoop out some ice cream.

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Maybe a couple bowls of it…

Pumpkin Ice Cream

And maybe I should take a bite…

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Ding!  Caught by the timer!  The pie is ready!

Chocolate Chip Caramelized Pecan Cookie Pie

Top with the pumpkin ice cream and get ready to gobble down!  The cold ice cream on the warm pie melts quickly!

Hershey Kiss Caramel Pecan Cookie Pie with Pumpkin Ice cream

See, I wasn’t kidding!

Chocolate Pecan Cookie Pie with Pumpkin Ice Cream

This is one decadent, creamy, delicious dessert!

If you like a more crisp cookie pie, I would recommend separating the dough into two pie plates to make a thinner, crisper cookie, rather than a thick chewy cookie (like what I have… and love!)

♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: The pumpkin ice cream is gluten-free. Simply replace the flour in the cookie pie with a gluten-free flour alternative to make this recipe gluten-free.

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Total Time: 1 hour

Pumpkin Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 4 eggs (whisked)
  • 3/4 gallon whole milk
  • 7-8 pounds ice
  • 2 cups ice cream salt

Instructions

  1. Combine the sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in the bottom of the ice cream canister.
  2. Add the pumpkin, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, whipping cream and mix well.
  3. Add two cups of the whole milk to a small saucepan over low heat.
  4. When warm add in the whisked eggs.
  5. Continue whisking the mixture regularly for 2-3 minutes making sure the temperature does not get too warm to cook the eggs.
  6. Add the mixture to the canister then add the rest of the whole milk to the “fill line” on the ice cream canister.
  7. Mix together well then place the canister inside the ice cream maker.
  8. Surround the canister with ice and salt then plug the ice cream maker in to begin the freezing process.
  9. Continue to fill the outside of the ice cream maker with ice and salt throughout the freezing process.
http://whitneybond.com/2012/09/27/chopped-challenge-thursday-caramel-pumpkin-pecans-and-hersheys-chocolate-morsels/

Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie Pie

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 1 cookie pie

Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter (separated) (3/4 cup melted)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp vanilla (separated)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 bag ( 1 3/4 cups) Hershey’s Mini Kisses
  • 1 bag (14 oz) caramels
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups crushed pecans

Instructions

  1. Prepare the caramelized pecans by unwrapping each caramel and placing them in a medium pan over low to medium heat.
  2. Add 1/2 cup milk, 1 tbsp vanilla and 1/4 cup butter to the caramels.
  3. Stir consistently until the caramels are fully melted, then add the pecans.
  4. Remove from heat and mix until the pecans are well coated.
  5. Set to the side while you prepare the cookie dough.
  6. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
  7. Cream together the butter and sugars.
  8. Add in 1 tbsp vanilla, the whole egg and egg yolk.
  9. Mix well, then add in the flour mixture.
  10. Add the mini Hershey’s kisses.
  11. Add 1 cup of the caramelized pecans to the mixture.
  12. Mix well then place into a greased pie plate.
  13. Place in a 350° oven for 25-30 minutes or until crisp and brown around the edges.
http://whitneybond.com/2012/09/27/chopped-challenge-thursday-caramel-pumpkin-pecans-and-hersheys-chocolate-morsels/

Pumpkin Enchiladas

Pumpkin Chorizo Enchiladas

It’s Week Three of my “Chopped Challenge Thursdays” and they have become the highlight of my week!

This weeks “Mystery Basket” includes jalapeños from Marin Marzolf (with the help of her husband Derek!), sharp cheddar cheese from Rafael Ocampo, Pumpkin from Erin Eddens and Nutmeg from Katie Elizabeth.

Chopped Challenge Ingredients Week Three

I was thrilled when I saw pumpkin and nutmeg on there!  Two ingredients that go together like buffalo sauce and chicken, like nutella and chocolate chips, like peanut butter and jelly, you get the point, they’re a match made in heaven! They are also two perfect ingredients for Fall which I’ve incorporated into recipes in the past such as Pumpkin Hummus, Pumpkin Cupcakes, Pumpkin Bread and my favorite, Pumpkin Chili!

The pumpkin chili actually combines all of the “Mystery Basket” ingredients this week (when topped with cheddar cheese)!  I really wanted to simply make it again because it’s that good! But of course I didn’t because “Chopped Challenge Thursdays” are all about being innovative and creating something new! I wanted to stick with some of the flavors in the chili but incorporate them into a new dish.

The final result of my “Chopped Challenge Thursday” Week Three: Chorizo Pumpkin Enchiladas

pumpkin, chorizo, enchiladas, avocado, nutmeg, jalapenos, cheddar cheese, mexican, food, recipe

I incorporated the pumpkin, nutmeg and jalapenos into a spicy, creamy sauce and filled the enchiladas with a flavorful combination or chorizo, bell peppers and sharp cheddar. I  topped them with a little more sharp cheddar and a few more sliced jalapeños!

cheddar cheese, pumpkin puree, nutmeg, tortillas, jalapeños, chorizo, onion, cumin, cayenne pepper, cocoa powder

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper (chopped)
  • 12 oz pork chorizo
  • 1/2 lb tomatoes (chopped)
  • 15 oz pumpkin puree
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 4 jalapeños (de-seeded and sliced)
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 4 oz can diced green chilies
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 6 flour tortillas
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese

Optional Toppings

  • green onions
  • sour cream
  • avocado

Start by adding the olive oil to a skillet.  Once warm, add the onions and bell peppers. Cook for 5-7 minutes then add the chorizo.

Bell Pepper Onion Chorizo Mix

While the mixture is cooking begin preparing the sauce.

Start by adding the chopped tomato to a blender or food processor.  Next add the pumpkin puree, garlic and 2 sliced jalapeños.

Pumpkin Tomato Enchilada Sauce

Blend well, then add the tomato sauce and green chilies.

Spicy Pumpkin Enchilada Sauce

Blend again, then add the cumin, chili powder, oregano, cayenne pepper, cocoa powder and nutmeg.

Jalapeño Pumpkin Enchilada Sauce

Then, you guessed it, blend again!

Pumpkin Enchilada Sauce

At this point you should have a thick, creamy sauce with a little kick behind it!

The chorizo should be cooked through at this time and the enchilada assembly process can officially begin!

how to, assemble, enchiladas, pumpkin, spicy, jalapeño, recipe, chorizo, cheddar cheese, sauce

Get everything lined up and ready to go as your hands are going to start getting messy!

Start by lying one tortilla in the mound of sauce amazingness, then ladle 2 large spoonfuls from the blender of sauce onto the top of the tortilla.

These enchiladas are not for the “weak-of-sauce” basically meaning if you don’t like sauce, get outa’ here!

The sauce is actually the star of the dish, it’s used as part of the filling and not just as a light layering of moisture so you want to make sure you get plenty in there!

Next, spoon a small amount of chorizo mixture into the middle and top with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese, then roll.

Repeat the above 5 more times.

Pumpkin Chorizo Enchiladas

Now take the rest of that sauce you see over there and pile it on top!

Pumpkin Chorizo Enchiladas

I wasn’t kidding about the sauciness of this dish!

Now top the enchiladas with the remaining cheddar cheese.

Pumpkin Cheese Enchiladas

Place in the oven at 350° for 15-20 minutes.

Pumpkin Enchiladas

Remove from the oven and top that cheesy, saucy deliciousness with the 2 additional sliced jalapeños!

Spicy Jalapeño Pumpkin Enchiladas

Carefully scoop out the first enchilada.

Chorizo Pumpkin Enchiladas

Now top with the optional-ly amazing ingredients if you would like 😉

Pumpkin Avocado Enchiladas

I highly recommend the avocado and sour cream.  They add a light coolness on top of this creamy, spicy dish!

Pumpkin Chorizo Enchiladas

Now you know what time it is… time to dig in!

Pumpkin Chorizo Enchilada Bite

♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe could easily be made vegetarian in a number of way:

  • Substitute the pork chorizo with soy chorizo.
  • Omit the chorizo and fill with extra cheese and pumpkin sauce.
  • Sauté up some additional veggies with the bell pepper and onion to fill the inside.

As I said, the sauce is the star of the dish, not the meat inside, so making this vegetarian would be easy and just as yummy!

I’ll admit, I actually ran out of the chorizo mix, so I simply filled one with extra sauce and cheese and it was delicious!

♦ Gluten Free Option: Substitute corn tortillas for flour tortillas to make this recipe gluten-free.

Chopped Challenge Thursday: Jalapeños, Sharp Cheddar, Pumpkin and Nutmeg

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 6 enchiladas

Chopped Challenge Thursday: Jalapeños, Sharp Cheddar, Pumpkin and Nutmeg

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper (chopped)
  • 12 oz pork chorizo
  • 1/2 lb tomatoes (chopped)
  • 15 oz pumpkin puree
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 4 jalapeños (de-seeded and sliced)
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 4 oz can diced green chilies
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 6 flour tortillas
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
  • Optional Toppings
  • green onions
  • sour cream
  • avocado

Instructions

  1. Add the olive oil to a skillet.
  2. Once warm, add the onions and bell peppers.
  3. Cook for 5-7 minutes then add the chorizo.
  4. While the mixture is cooking begin preparing the sauce.
  5. Start by adding the chopped tomato to a blender or food processor.
  6. Add the pumpkin puree, garlic and 2 sliced jalapeños.
  7. Blend well, then add the tomato sauce and green chilies.
  8. Blend again, then add the cumin, chili powder, oregano, cayenne pepper, cocoa powder, nutmeg and blend.
  9. Get everything lined up, the sauce, chorizo, tortillas and cheese, to make the enchiladas.
  10. Pour part of the sauce onto a large plate.
  11. Lay one tortilla in the sauce, then ladle 2 large spoonfuls from the blender of sauce onto the top of the tortilla.
  12. Spoon a small amount of chorizo mixture into the middle and top with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese, then roll.
  13. Repeat the above 5 more times.
  14. Take the rest of the sauce and pour it over the top.
  15. Top the enchiladas with the remaining cheddar cheese.
  16. Place in the oven at 350° for 15-20 minutes.
  17. Remove from the oven and top with the 2 additional sliced jalapeños.
  18. Top with the optional toppings if you would like.
http://whitneybond.com/2012/09/13/chopped-challenge-thursday-jalapenos-sharp-cheddar-pumpkin-and-nutmeg/