Tag Archives: Food Network

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.

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.

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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/

Chopped Challenge Thursday: Buffalo Sauce, Poppy Seeds, Coconut and Apple Butter

coconut, poppy seed, popcorn chicken, oven fried chicken, baked chicken, spicy apple buffalo sauce, chicken tenders

Oh happy day, it’s “Chopped Challenge Thursday”!

This weeks “Mystery Basket” included Buffalo Sauce from Paul Kim, Coconut from Amy Black, Poppy Seeds from Dottie Warmbier and Apple Butter from Whitney Hicks.

coconut, buffalo sauce, apple butter, poppy seeds

Coconut, apple butter, poppy seeds, I could have practically made my Passion Fruit Poppy Seed Muffins with these ingredients. I couldn’t believe it when I saw both coconut and poppy seeds in my “mystery basket” this week. Up until last weekend I had never cooked with either ingredient! I feel like I have a certain psychic connection with my loyal blog followers (or “bollowers”) a lot of the time!

Now the ingredient that threw me for a loop this week was the buffalo sauce. Not because I don’t know how to use the ingredient, I think it’s pretty obvious from my extensive list of buffalo recipes that I not only know how to use the ingredient, but also have a slight obsession with it. From buffalo chicken pasta to buffalo potato salad to buffalo chicken burgers and buffalo macaroni salad.

Even with almost a dozen buffalo dishes under my belt, I have never combined the delicious sauce with poppy seeds, coconut or apple butter!

After much deliberation I decided to make a coconut and poppy seed crusted chicken, then combine the buffalo sauce and apple butter into a dip… say what?  I know, it sounds weird and to be honest, I had no idea if it was going to be the greatest discovery ever or taste like a third-graders science project, but somehow I made it work!

The final result of “Chopped Challenge Thursday” Week Four: Coconut Poppy Seed Popcorn Chicken with Buffalo Sweet Sauce

rice chex, coconut, poppyseeds, coconut milk, eggs, chicken, buffalo sauce, apple butter, ground ginger, flour

Ingredients – Popcorn Chicken

  • 2 lbs chicken breast (cut into cubes)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 6 cups rice chex
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 3 eggs (whisked)
  • 1 cup coconut milk

Buffalo Sweet Sauce

  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 2 tbsp buffalo sauce
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Start by using a food processor to turn the rice Chex into a fine crumb mixture. After no large pieces of cereal remain, add the coconut to the food processor.

coconut, rice chex, crumbs, gluten free, chicken breading

Pulse for 15 seconds then place the coconut crumb mixture in a bowl, add the poppy seeds and mix together.

coconut, poppyseed, rice chex, crumbs, breading, mixture, crust

Next, set up the chicken breading station. Start by placing the flour in one bowl, in another bowl combine the eggs and coconut milk.

flour, coconut milk, eggs, rice chex, coconut, poppy seeds, chicken breasts

Bread each little piece of popcorn chicken by dipping it in the egg and milk mixture, then in the flour, back into the egg and milk, then over to the coconut poppy seed mix.

coconut, poppy seed, popcorn chicken, oven fried chicken, baked chicken, crusted chicken

Place the breaded chicken onto a wire rack on top of a baking sheet so that any excess breading falls through the rack and onto the baking sheet.

coconut, poppy seed, popcorn chicken, oven fried chicken, baked chicken, how to, crusted chicken

Place these little nuggets in the oven at 375° for 25-30 minutes.

While they’re in the oven, it’s time to prepare the Buffalo Sweet Sauce.

Start by combining the apple butter and buffalo sauce.  I know, this sounds really weird, trust me, I had my reservations, but once I tasted it I knew that it could work!

buffalo sauce, apple butter, spicy apple buffalo sauce, spicy apple butter sauce, sweet buffalo sauce

Next, whisk in the ginger, allspice, apple cider vinegar and sour cream. The sauce is now complete and once the chicken is crispy, the dish is ready to be served!

coconut, poppy seed, popcorn chicken, oven fried chicken, baked chicken, spicy apple buffalo sauce, oven fries

Baking the chicken instead of frying it reduces the calories by 30% and cuts the saturated fat in half.

coconut, poppy seed, popcorn chicken, oven fried chicken, baked chicken, spicy apple buffalo sauce

These would be a great snack for a party…

coconut, poppy seed, popcorn chicken, oven fried chicken, baked chicken, spicy apple buffalo sauce, fried chicken basket

… or an easy weeknight dish that the whole family would love!

coconut, poppy seed, popcorn chicken, oven fried chicken, baked chicken, spicy apple butter sauce

I also added some oven fries by simply slicing up a couple of potatoes, drizzling olive oil on top and sprinkling with salt.

coconut, poppy seed, popcorn chicken, oven fried chicken, baked chicken, spicy apple buffalo sauce, oven fries

♣ Vegetarian Option: Use vegetarian chicken breast substitutes for the chicken to make this dish vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Rice Chex is gluten-free, so simply substitute the flour for a gluten-free flour alternative, such as coconut flour, to make this dish gluten-free!

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/

THE San Diego Cheeseburger

Hodad's, San Diego, Cheeseburger, Onion Rings, Fries, Milkshake

In San Diego there is an ongoing debate in the city, not about politics or the environment, but simply about where to find the best burger.  The two contenders are Hodad’s and… that other burger joint in Pacific Beach.

For the honesty of journalism I will say that I have never eaten at “that other place in PB”. My theory is if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, in this case, if you find the perfect burger, why go anywhere else!

Hodad's, San Diego, Downtown, Ocean Beach, Menu, Cheeseburgers, Frings

It’s not even so much the burger though, it’s the combination of a piled high juicy burger with a side of thick and crispy homemade fries and freshly battered onion rings. And oh yeah, the ringer, the chocolate milkshake which is flown down by little angels from Heaven every time one is ordered. Yes, that is how amazing this milkshake is.

Hodad's, Chocolate, Milkshake, San Diego, Ice Cream, Syrup, Milk

It’s chocolate ice cream with chocolate milk with chocolate syrup, blended up and topped with more chocolate ice cream and chocolate syrup.

Hodad's, San Diego, Chocolate, Milkshake, Ice Cream, Syrup, MilkDo I look happy here?

Hodad's, chocolate, milkshake, whitney bond, san diego, straw, ice cream, shake

Blissful maybe? I think ecstatic would be the word I’m looking for. And who wouldn’t be with this deliciousness in front of you!

Hodad's, San Diego, Chocolate, Milkshake, Ice Cream, Syrup, Milk

Yes, that is two spoons you see.  I actually shared this little piece of Heaven with my Mom.

After all, I did have to save some room for the real deal, THE San Diego cheeseburger.

Hodad's, San Diego, Downtown, Ocean Beach, Bacon, Cheeseburger, Lettuce, Pickles, Tomato

This is the MINI bacon cheeseburger. Yes, Mini.  There is also a single and a double with the increase in size to boot.

Don’t be fooled, I have taken down a double before, but with the double there is generally no room left in the belly for the scrumptious sides, and that is just a crime.

Hodad's, San Diego, Downtown, Ocean Beach, Food Network, Diners Drive Ins and Dives, Cheeseburger

Although I may not go for the “can’t even wrap your mouth around the whole burger” double, I definitely don’t skimp on the toppings. Delicious American cheese, crispy bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and their thick cut white onions, which takes me to my next topic of discussion, the almighty onion rings.

I will admit, I did some Onion Ring battering during my 9 month stint of working at Sonic when I was 16. It’s not a fun job, but it has to be done to get those super fresh, never frozen, crispy bites of delicious fried onion.

Hodad's, San Diego, Onion Rings, French Fries, Fresh, HomemadeSee what’s hiding below that massive pile of crisp onion goodness, yeah that would be their fresh-cut fries. Thick cut, well seasoned and, you guessed it, delicious!

Don’t just take my word for it.  My man Guy thought it was pretty good too!  So good, that he did a little show about it.  Maybe you’ve heard of it, Triple D, AKA Diners, Drive Ins and Dives.

Guy Fieri, Diners Drive Ins and Dives, San Diego, Downtown, Ocean Beach, Food Network, Hodad's, Restaurant

THE San Diego Cheeseburger originated in Ocean Beach at the first Hodad’s location. Since then they have opened a second location in Downtown San Diego.  Now, I’m all for expanding successful businesses but I will admit I was weary of trying out the “non-orignal” Hodad’s.

Would it be the same?  Would those little angels be able to find the new location to drop down my heavenly milkshake? Was there something about the ocean air coming in off the beach that made the burger so juicy and fries so crispy?

I can now say for a fact that the downtown location is just as good as the original, the little angels found it just fine and you can expect the juiciness, crispiness and same friendly-in-a-bad-ass-sort-of-way service that you expect at Hodad’s!

Hodad's, Downtown, San Diego, Broadway, Restaurant, tenth avenueVisit the original Hodad’s at 5010 Newport Ave. Ocean Beach CA 92107 or Hodad’s Downtown at 945 Broadway Avenue San Diego CA 92101. You can also visit them online at hodadies.com. Dig in and enjoy!

Chopped Challenge Thursday: Mozzarella, Thyme, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Rhubarb

lemon, thyme, chicken, rhubarb, date, chutney, red wine vinegar, sun dried tomato, garlic, mozzarella, parmesan, risotto

It’s that time of the week again, time for “Chopped Challenge Thursday”!

lemon, thyme, chicken, rhubarb, date, chutney, red wine vinegar, sun dried tomato, garlic, mozzarella, parmesan, risottoThis week the first four responses came from Miss Muffet Bond (yes, my Mom!) with Mozzarella, Amanda Kamermayer with Thyme, Liz Ragland with Sun Dried Tomatoes and technically the fourth came from DeAndre Matthews with Kumquats.  Unfortunately kumquats don’t come into season until November, so I had to go with my number five response from Amy Black with Rhubarb.

I had already decided on a Kumquat Thyme Chicken with Sun Dried Tomato and Mozzarella Risotto when Rhubarb came into my life.  Now what? I decided to stick with the plan yet replace the kumquat with lemon and top the chicken with the rhubarb.  I cooked the rhubarb in red wine vinegar, brown sugar and lemon to give it a sweet, tart and acidic bite on top of the chicken.  The result ended up being so delicious, I was actually glad I was thrown that Rhubarb curve ball in the last hour!

The final result of “Chopped Challenge Thursday” Week Two: Lemon Thyme Chicken topped with a Rhubarb Date Chutney on a bed of Sun Dried Tomato Mozzarella Risotto

lemon, thyme, chicken, rhubarb, date, chutney, red wine vinegar, sun dried tomato, garlic, mozzarella, parmesan, risotto, recipe, food, Italian

Ingredients

Lemon Thyme Chicken

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 large chicken breasts

Rhubarb Date Chutney

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 lb rhubarb (sliced thin)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1/2 cup dates (pitted and chopped)

Sun Dried Tomato Mozzarella Risotto

  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 6-7 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese (shredded)
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil (chopped)

Start by making the marinade for the chicken.  Combine the first 6 ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Pour over the chicken in a large Ziploc bag or shallow dish.

Marinade, Lemon, Thyme, Chicken, Olive Oil, GarlicCoat well then place in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.  Next, begin making the chutney.

Start by bringing the red wine vinegar, water and brown sugar to a simmer.  Next, add the rhubarb.

Red Wine, Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Rhubarb, ChutneySimmer for 8-10 minutes or until the rhubarb has softened.  Next, mix in the chopped dates, lemon juice and thyme sprigs.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Red Wine Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Lemon, Thyme, Date, Rhubarb, Chutney, RecipeNow, it’s time to throw that chicken on the grill! The grill should be heated to medium and chicken should be cooked 10-12 minutes per side.

Chicken, Grilling, Recipe, Lemon, Thyme, Olive oil, lemon juice, garlicWhile the chicken is grilling, it’s time to get going on the risotto.

Start by bringing the chicken stock to a boil in a large sauce pan.  On the next burner heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook down for 5-7 minutes.

onions, olive oil, garlic, chicken stock, risotto, recipe

Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Next, add the rice and cook for 1-2 minutes.

onion, rice, risotto, garlic, olive oil, recipeNow start adding the chicken stock in one ladle at a time.

risotto, rice, chicken stock, how to, recipe, garlic, olive oilAs soon as the rice has absorbed all of the liquid, add another ladle of chicken stock.  Continue this process for the next 15-20 minutes or until the rice is soft and the risotto is creamy. Continue stirring throughout the process so that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

Don’t be scared of risotto, it’s not hard to make, it just takes some love and attention (like me, hehe!)

Taste the risotto as you go, if you run out of chicken stock and it still isn’t to your creamy, delicious standards, don’t fret, just add water to the boiling pot and ladle that in until the risotto is perfect. You will know,  I did a little happy dance when I tasted mine and it was perfect!

Also, don’t forget about the chicken on the grill while making the risotto.  It only needs to be flipped once, so I give you permission to leave the risotto unattended for 60 seconds to flip the chicken!

To finish the risotto add in the salt, pepper, cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes and basil.

lemon, thyme, chicken, rhubarb, date, chutney, red wine vinegar, sun dried tomato, garlic, mozzarella, parmesan, risottoStir to combine well.

At this time the chicken should have those perfect grill marks and be ready to go.

Chicken, Lemon, Thyme, Garlic, Olive Oil, Grill, Recipe, Food

Plate up the dish by placing the risotto on the side or under the chicken breast, then spoon the sauce from the chutney over the chicken, it gives it an amazing juiciness.  Next, place the chutney on top of the chicken and serve!

lemon, thyme, chicken, rhubarb, date, chutney, red wine vinegar, sun dried tomato, garlic, mozzarella, parmesan, risotto

I’m loving the results of these Chopped Challenges, I could definitely eat this dish over and over again!

lemon, thyme, chicken, rhubarb, date, chutney, red wine vinegar, sun dried tomato, garlic, mozzarella, parmesan, risotto, recipeIf rhubarb is out of season or not available in your area, tart apples can be substituted.

lemon, thyme, chicken, rhubarb, date, chutney, red wine vinegar, sun dried tomato, garlic, mozzarella, parmesan, risotto♣ Vegetarian Option: Use vegetarian chicken breast substitutes and vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Since rice is naturally gluten-free, so is risotto, that makes this entire recipe gluten-free!

Chopped Challenge Thursday: Lemon Curd, Bacon, Sage and Escargot

Bacon, Scallops, Chopped, Challenge, Food Network, Escargot, White Wine, Pappardelle, Lemon, Sage, Alfredo

I am BEYOND excited to share with you all the results of my first “Chopped Challenge Thursday”.  In case  you missed the 1 Year Anniversary post explaining the concept, on Monday I made an announcement on Little Leopard Book’s Facebook Page asking for the four “mystery” ingredients for my “Chopped Challenge Basket” this week.

Bacon, Escargot, Lemon Curd, Sage, Chopped Challenge, Basket, Week One, Ingredients, Food Network

The first four responses came from Cindi Bogue with Lemon Curd, Kyle Baker with Bacon, Brian Spracklen with Sage and Krista Lombardi with Escargot. Lemon Curd, Bacon, Sage, I can make something happen with this… ESCARGOT, what the heck am I going to do with escargot? Thanks to Krista for throwing a curve ball at me on week one!  Although it wouldn’t be called a “challenge” if it were easy!

I knew I wanted to make the lemon curd and sage into a sauce. First thing I thought of was bacon wrapped scallops with a lemon sage reduction, but then Krista threw the escargot at me and my plans changed.  This change actually led to the development of an amazing lemon sage alfredo sauce. The only way I knew to cook escargot was with some garlic and wine so I thought, let’s go pasta here!

I wanted to use a large noodle to hold up the thickness of the alfredo and meatiness of the bacon wrapped scallops and escargot, so I chose Pappardelle, a broader, larger fettuccine egg noodle.

So the final result of “Chopped Challenge Thursday” Week One: Pappardelle tossed in Lemon Sage Alfredo topped with Seared Bacon Wrapped Scallops and White Wine Garlic Escargot

scallops, pappardelle, white wine, sage, parmesan, butter, lemon curd, bacon, escargot, cream, nutmeg, garlic

Ingredients

White Wine Garlic Escargot

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 7 0z can escargot

Lemon Sage Alfredo Sauce and Pasta

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp lemon curd
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage (chopped)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 8 oz package pappardelle

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

  • 4 slices bacon
  • 4 fresh large sea scallops
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter

We’re going to start with the escargot. I mean why not?  Who doesn’t just love themselves a little afternoon snail on top of their pasta 😉

I will admit that prior to this meal I had never cooked, nor eaten escargot and that I was much more concerned about the actual eating part than the cooking part!

I opened them up and surprisingly they looked and smelled so much more appetizing than they sound…. NOT!  They are scary looking!

At this point, I feel like everything I’ve said above is going to come back and bite me in the butt some day when I end up on Food Network and they make fun of me for not being super excited to eat the delicacy that is escargot!

Any who, I drained the little buggers using my strainer and then place them in a bowl full of cold water to rid them of the canned taste (because that’s really going to help the cause here!)

soak, escargot, can, water, bowl

Yes, that is a hot pink plastic Wal-Mart bowl from college.  I feel like everything looks less scary in hot pink! I mean really, would you be scared of someone breaking into your house in a hot pink jumpsuit?  I think not!

As the snails squirmed over on the side I began their sauce bath by melting the butter in a large skillet, then adding the garlic.

Sauté the garlic for 2 minutes, then add the white wine, salt and pepper.

white wine, sauce, garlic, butter, escargot

Allow the sauce to come to a light boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Next add the escargot.

escargot, white wine, cook, garlic, butter

Now, what do you do with the rest of the bottle of wine you ask?  Drink it while these guys are cooking so that you have the courage to eat them when they’re ready (at least that’s what I did!)

Alright, one chopped basket ingredient down, three to go. Lets make some sauce!

Start out the lemon sage alfredo by pouring the cream and lemon juice into a saucepan over medium heat, cook for 2-3 minutes.

Next, add the butter and allow to melt.

butter, cream, lemon, alfredo, sauce

Once the butter has melted add in the lemon zest, nutmeg and lemon curd.

lemon curd, alfredo, sauce, cream, butter, sea salt, pepper, sage

Lemon curd is VERY sweet, the first ingredient in lemon curd (also known as the dominate ingredient) is, none other than our friend sugar. I counterbalanced the sweetness with the sage and sea salt.

Next, add the sage, salt and pepper.

Sage, Alfredo, Butter, Cream, Parmesan, Lemon, Sauce, Savory, Pepper

The sage was actually an amazing addition to the sauce. The savory, peppery flavor complimented the cheesy rich alfredo and balanced the sweetness of the lemon.  Thanks Brian 🙂

Finally, add the parmesan cheese. Stir to combine well and make sure no chunks of cheese exist.

lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon curd, sage, alfredo, parmesan, cream, nutmeg, butter

Simmer on a burner for 15-20 minutes while the sauce thickens.  In the mean time, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pappardelle 10-12 minutes.

At this point, the escargot is simmering, sauce is thickening, pasta is boiling and I’m drinking the rest of the wine, oh wait, no I’m making bacon wrapped scallops!

Start by placing the bacon in a 375° oven for 5-10 minutes (depending on the thickness of the bacon and how crispy you would like it). I learned this trick somewhere, sometime, that I don’t recall, probably Food Network, but you place the bacon on a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet, that way the grease drips off the bacon instead of swimming around in it!

bacon, how to, cook, oven, grease

You want to cook the bacon slightly prior to wrapping it around the scallops because scallops cook much quicker than bacon and if you don’t pre-cook the bacon, you will end up with one of two things:

  1. Overcooked scallops… $17.99/lb people, just saying, overcooking something that expensive and delicious should be a crime!
  2. Undercooked bacon… no one likes soggy bacon, let’s be real!

So while the bacon is in the oven, lightly salt and pepper the scallops on each side.

Next, remove the bacon from the oven and wrap one slice around each scallop, securing with a toothpick.

Next, add the butter to a warm cast iron skillet and watch it melt. (OK, you don’t have to actually watch it melt, but it’s quick and exciting so why not!) As soon as it is melted spin that skillet around to allow the melted butter to cover the bottom. Add the scallops to the pan.

Cook for 5-7 minutes then use tongs to flip.

Bacon, Scallops, Chopped, Challenge, Food Network, Escargot, White Wine, Pappardelle, Lemon, Sage, Alfredo

Cook for an additional 5-7 minutes. The scallops should be a nice white color with a light brown caramelization on top.

Chopped Basket Ingredients have been used, stove burners are full, kitchen smells amazing, I think it’s time to plate this baby up!

Are you ready?  Ready for what you ask?  To be bombarded with pictures!

This recipe was so fun to create, from the incoming Facebook comments with ingredients, to the recipe coming together in my mind, to the ingredients coming together in the kitchen, I am proud of this dish and took enough pictures to show it 😉

I want to grab the scallop right off my computer screen and eat it!

For some reason I feel the need to write something between each picture, so we’ll just say YUM!

Lets check out the inside of that scallop.

Buttery, creamy, mouth-watering amazingness!

Now about that escargot…

Yeah, that’s them, sitting over there by their lonesome, tossed to the side, haunting me with their presence on my plate.

I have to eat them, right?  I mean I did spend $12 on a tiny can of them.  I have to try.. at least one… maybe half one.  Maybe if I wrap it in a noodle, top it with bacon and smother it with sauce I can bare it!

Bacon, Scallops, Chopped, Challenge, Food Network, Escargot, White Wine, Pappardelle, Lemon, Sage, Alfredo

Yes, that was the first bite I was able to muster up the confidence to eat. A tiny little sliver of escargot, covered in my porky BFF, bacon.

It wasn’t that bad, the taste was salty and the texture reminded me of a portobello mushroom.

Although I will probably not put escargot on my weekly shopping list, it was a fun experience and I’m glad I can say I’ve both cooked and eaten the french delicacy!

Over all this dish was delicious.  I would eat the sauce, pasta and scallop combination pretty much every day!

If you’re feeling super adventurous in the kitchen, prepare this dish as is.  If you’re feeling a little less likely to want snails on your dinner, discard the escargot and enjoy the amazingness of the bacon wrapped scallops!

If you’re on a budget (or vegetarian), escargot and scallops may be a little out of your price range but never fear, the sauce in and of itself is so delicious it could be a meal on its own with the pappardelle!

♣ Vegetarian Option: See above ↑

♦ Gluten Free Option: Substitute the pappardelle with a gluten-free pasta such as corn spaghetti from Trader Joe’s. You can also order gluten-free pappardelle online or find it in specialty stores.

Blackened Red Snapper

As a food blogger I have an ongoing list of dishes I want to make.  Either I’ll see something on the Food Network, eat something out that I want to re-create or come up with a random idea to make crouton baskets (coming soon!) while taking a shower!  Inspiration for the blog comes from everywhere and the list keeps growing!

This particular dish has been on the list so long that I don’t even remember where the original inspiration came from!  It would be a safe bet to say the Food Network though. It’s always on at my house!  If it weren’t for sports, Guy Fieri and Next Food Network Star I would have absolutely no use for cable or a TV!

This dish finally came to fruition after making the delicious Squash Puppies.  What better reason than to go all out on a Cajun dinner complete with Blackened Snapper and Blackened Purple Potatoes.

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

  • 2 large red snapper fillets
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano

Start by combining all of the seasonings together. Use a mortar and pestle (if available) to grind the thyme and oregano.

Next, spread the blackening mix generously over both sides of each fish.

Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the seasoning to marinate in.

Next, fire up the grill to medium and place the fish on top.

Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Be sure to watch it because being a thin and delicate fish it cooks very quickly.

After it’s grilled to perfection, it’s ready to serve.  I topped mine with lemon butter. Simply melt 3 tbsp of butter then add to it the juice of 1 lemon. Voila! We also served my Mango Avocado Salsa on the side and it was amazing with the snapper!

Time to eat!

♣ If a member of your family doesn’t eat fish (my Mom) you can repeat the exact recipe using a chicken breast, just increase the cooking time on the grill. We made this for her and she loved it!

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

90 in 90 Bucket List

What would a summer adventure be without a summer bucket list? How about a bucket list that includes 90 items to be completed in 90 days? Well that would be my list!

Included with my recipes, interviews and adventures from the summer, I’ll also be giving bucket list updates!

Let me know if you want to get involved and help me start crossing off my list!! (I’m gonna need it!)

  1. Complete the “food list challenge” (I’m at 68 66 of 100 right now!)
  2. Do a mud run (completed 5/26/12)
  3. Interview a chef in each of these ↑ cities
  4. Attend Taste of Chicago
  5. Surpass the 1000 follower mark on Twitter
  6. Host my own cooking show
  7. Meet Taylor Swift (don’t front, she’s awesome!)
  8. Go skydiving
  9. Attend a Red Sox game at Fenway Park (completed 7/8/12)
  10. Swim with dolphins
  11. Volunteer with WWOOF
  12. Cook with Giada De Laurentiis
  13. Appear on the Today Show
  14. Stomp grapes
  15. Have a pint at Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago
  16. See a live jazz band in New Orleans
  17. Fly on a Private Jet (completed 5/29/12)
  18. Visit a pig farm
  19. Meet the man, the myth, THE BOB STOOPS
  20. Go to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field
  21. Watch the Thunder become the NBA Champions ( saving this one for next year!)
  22. Take Mom Jet-skiing
  23. Go Zip-lining
  24. Make Someones Day
  25. Run across the Golden Gate Bridge
  26. Go to the top of the Space Needle
  27. Interview Jamie Oliver
  28. Eat deep dish in Chicago
  29. Donate toys to a children’s hospital
  30. Catch a fish
  31. Go horseback riding on the beach
  32. Spend a day with Giuliana Rancic
  33. Learn how to play the guitar
  34. Go to a Chicago Blues Bar
  35. Start a college fund for my “nephew” Eli
  36. Ride in a hot air balloon
  37. Participate in a flash mob
  38. Make homemade ricotta cheese
  39. Ride in a helicopter
  40. Go hiking in the rainforest
  41. Eat a hot dog at the original Nathan’s on Coney Island (completed 6/30/12)
  42. Publish a cookbook
  43. Participate in a food eating contest
  44. Go shopping at Pike Place Market in Seattle
  45. Take a photography class
  46. Become a contributing food writer
  47. Re-connect with someone I haven’t seen in years
  48. Get a menu item named after me
  49. Make it on Times “Top 100 Blog List”
  50.  (completed 5/21/12)
  51. Crash a Wedding
  52. Have a picnic in Central Park (does an iced coffee count??)
  53. Help a friend in need
  54. Go snorkeling
  55. Have a video on YouTube “go viral”
  56. Become a New York Times Best Seller
  57. Volunteer to help build a home
  58. Enter a recipe in a contest
  59. Run a race with all the members of my immediate family
  60. Start a dance party somewhere random
  61. Take my “Nephew Neighbor” Jake on a day of fun (completed 5/30/12)
  62. Meet someone new every day
  63. Inspire someone
  64. Play with a monkey
  65. Get a stamp in my passport
  66. See a moose
  67. Go white water rafting
  68. Actually finish a book I start reading
  69. Kiss someone in the rain
  70. Get an agent
  71. Send someone flowers for no reason at all
  72. Compliment a stranger
  73. Volunteer for Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign
  74. Send a dozen greeting cards out to random friends
  75. Ride a bull (a real one, not a mechanical… been there, done that!)
  76. Take Becca to Miami
  77. Create an app for food bloggers
  78. Play “slip cup” (completed 7/7/12)
  79. Go rock climbing
  80. Buy a Polaroid camera
  81. Meet Toby Keith (Boomer Sooner!)
  82. Have a food fight
  83. Be in a parade
  84. Be part of a big Italian family dinner
  85. Make my brother a gluten-free birthday cake (completed 6/1/12)

No Reservations… No Kidding!

As someone who one day hopes to call herself a “Food Network Star”, I definitely have to side with my girls Paula Deen and Rachael Ray, as well as my Dads favorite, Guy Fieri when it comes to the words of “No Reservations” host Anthony Bourdain in this smackdown of the foodies! I mean, does this look like “the worst, most dangerous person to America”???

Ok so there’s a good chance that she threw that Turkey in the deep fryer about 1.5 seconds after this picture was taken, but I’m pretty sure there are a lot more dangerous people out there than this sweet little grandma!!!  Yes, Paula Deen likes to fry things and use excessive amounts of butter and sugar, but if people are stupid enough to eat this way every day, then maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if they died an early death of diabetes and obesity!  Ok, maybe that was a little harsh, but I feel the same way about poor eating habits and unhealthy lifestyles as I do about cigarette smoking.  With all of the information we have at our fingertips these days there is no reason why you shouldn’t KNOW better and therefore DO better for yourself and your families!  Is Paula Deen influencing unhealthy ways to prepare food? Sure, but I definitely wouldn’t call her “America’s Most Wanted”.

And on to Rachael Ray, and I quote Mr Bourdain “”Does she even cook anymore? I don’t know why she bothers. I feel bad that she still feels compelled to cook.” Um, not sure what your bank statement is looking like these days Anthony, but Miss Ray’s is coming in at around $60 million, so for someone who made her money from cooking, I would say that she must be doing something right!!! 

Although Guy may not be pulling in $60 million dollars like Miss Ray…. YET… he is well on his way there! With multiple shows, books, restaurants and even his own knife brand, I would definitely call Guy a household name these days! But of course our good ol pal Anthony had no reservations for Mr Fieri, saying “”I look at Guy Fieri and I just think, ‘Jesus, I’m glad that’s not me.’ You work that hard and there’s not a single show of yours that you’d want to sit down and say, ‘Hey, I made that last week. Look at that camera work. It’s really good, huh?’ I’m proud of what I do.” Well I guess the rest of America does not agree with you, Guy’s signature show “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives” more than doubled the number of viewers and ratings of your show “No Reservations” last season. Who’s laughing now Bourdain?? This Guy↓

Needless to say, after his little rant on my peeps I now have no reservations to watch anything Anthony Bourdain!