Chopped Dinner: Take 4

Whew…this challenge is finally over! No more creative cooking for a little while 🙂

Dinner #4 in the Chopped challenge was Matt’s. His list was longer (because he was the oldest? I dunno.) but overall, pretty easy to work with AND gave me the excuse to try three new recipes!

Ok, so Matt’s ingredient list (which I accidentally leaked for those of you with eagle eyes last week!) was this:

So for the brie, I made these little Baked Brie Bites that were in puff pastry. Simple to make, and they were ok, but I think that Matt and I both prefer to eat brie bites the way I’ve made them in the past, which is these little brie cups. I’m thinking next time I make those for company, I’ll make some with pepper jelly and some with sweet jelly. I just used what I had on hand, which was strawberry jam, and the flavor was good, but so much jam baked out of the inside even though I felt like I sealed them well that the flavor was lost.

However, Luke and Jack Henry loved them and ate a few each, and Bennett had one and thought it was fine.

Moving on to dinner, which was Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes and Garlic Gorgonzola Steak. Oh. My. Goodness. Some of the best food I think I’ve ever made.

I’m not a huge sweet potato fan…not something I’d usually crave, but these were amazing (for the kids, I just used salt and pepper instead of the spice blend). Follow her instructions and you will not be disappointed. I did parboil the potatoes even though mine were fresh, but then they accidentally got left boiling too long when Jack Henry wandered into the kitchen with a fake sore throat and I was distracted away from my job for 5 minutes. Look at this pic compared to the original, and you’ll see what I mean…they fell apart but it mattered not…they were delicious.

The only change I’ll make is cutting my slices of sweet potatoes slightly smaller, about an inch tall. And I substituted regular chile powder for New Mexico chile powder…I don’t know the difference, but I’m thinking it can’t matter much in this recipe. And for the sake of using cashews in dinner per the Chopped list, I chopped them up finely and put the on each side of the potatoes with the spices. But, it really didn’t add anything, and I won’t do it again. (Bennett, however, was elated to see a can of cashews and put those on his plate instead.)

On to the steak. I did not buy ribeye as Matt requested; I got strip steaks, because I found a huge package of them on sale and they were better than ribeye, so I figured he wouldn’t complain. Plus, we almost never grill steaks, and we truly NEVER share with our kids, so this was a special dinner. Luke likes steak; the other two are fine with it, but seriously they’d rather have chicken or a hot dog, so it pains me to hear “how many bites of this do I have to eat?”

I seasoned all of the steaks as recommended in the recipe: rubbing a cut garlic clove over the steaks, drizzling with a tiny bit of oil (I used olive oil), and then sprinkling generously with salt and pepper. Next time, I’ll skip rubbing a garlic clove on them…for me, at least, it did nothing to give garlic flavor. I’ll use garlic salt and black pepper and omit the regular salt so we actually get some garlic flavor.

After that, Matt grilled them to close to medium for me, and as soon as he got them inside, I melted a very small amount of butter on each, and put gorgonzola on Matt’s and my steak and covered them with foil for a few minutes to help the cheese melt. It was recommended that you do this step ON the grill, but it was already dark out, and I was picturing it being too much hassle with falling cheese, etc. Know, though, that tenting foil over the steak will make it continue to cook, so that you don’t accidentally overcook your steaks.

Anyway, it worked for us to put the toppings on inside, off the grill. I topped the gorgonzola ones with the french fried onions, and that was it. Seriously, one of the best steaks I’ve ever had.

The leftovers tonight were great, too.

So there you have it! The kids commented that I didn’t get Chopped on any of my meals, so we need to do something harder next time.

Chopped Dinner: Take 3

Luke’s choices were third.

These were changed from his original 3 choices of marshmallows, jalapenos, and a third-choice-we-can’t-remember, after I reminded him that he was actually going to have to eat what I made with those foods.

His list was very easy to work with, and I used this meal to try out some more recipes I’d pinned to Pinterest.

For an appetizer (and the vegetable of the meal, and this is a huge stretch, especially since the boys only ate one of these) I made these zucchini chips and used the Spicy Mayo as dip (though the dip in the original looks really good!). The original calls for making them into sticks, but I thought the “chip” idea may go over better with my kids. They liked them fine, no one gagged, but no one wanted more, either. Matt loved them, and I thought they were good.

To use the garlic and honey, I followed this recipe, which I’d pinned earlier, and following the advice of many, I baked these at 375 for 20ish minutes (I’m not remembering exactly). Note: did you know that you only need to cook pork to an internal temp of 145 now? Anyway, I was completely underwhelmed by this recipe…the kids ate it fine, Matt said it was fine, and I’m just not a huge fan of pork chops. I don’t think I’ll make it again. I’d much rather repeatedly eat chicken than try to shake things up and eat pork chops.

For the English muffins and garlic again, I made the Paula Deen Roasted Garlic Spread and put it on the untoasted English muffins. I stuck them in the oven just enough to melt the butter (5 minutes or so) and the turned on the broiler and broiled them for about a minute so that the edges toasted. Two thumbs up from the whole family on this one!

the pasta is just wacky mac with melted cheese!

So that’s it! A bit lackluster overall, but still fun 🙂

Chopped Dinner, Take 2

Bennett was up second…and his list was a little harder to work with.

Oh boy.

So my first thought, again, was chicken…though, I promise, the next two meals will not involve chicken. I looked and looked for orange chicken recipes that I thought would be eaten by my children, and when I came across this one, I thought immediately of my Balsamic Garlic Chicken (which we all eat and love), so I thought I could modify my recipe to include orange instead of lemon.

The french fries…really, again? Inspiration for that was from the episode of Chopped viewed right before writing down ingredients, so I have those fries to work with again. I bought Ore-Ida Fast Food Fries in hopes that they’d bake up really crispy. They did, and made a perfect little “nest” for the chicken…get it? A bird in a nest?

food thrown on a plate. this dinner took forever to make and i didn't plate it very creatively, did i?



I also made Roasted Broccoli, which I’ll post on here soon, as it’s a keeper. And, I made these orange rolls, which were really yummy and almost dessert-like. I didn’t have Grands biscuits; I had regular Pillsbury ones though, so I just rolled each of those into the rope she describes instead of cutting the biscuits and rolling them. I halved the rest of the recipe (for one can of biscuits) and had more than enough for the amount it made.

Now for the chocolate syrup. No way was I going to ruin dinner with chocolate syrup, so I just made dessert. I used an allrecipes recipe for Chocolate Orange Fondue, using semi-sweet Ghirardelli chocolate chips + some Hershey’s syrup – the orange liqueur because we didn’t have any. I served it with marshmallows, strawberries and banana slices. Delicious! It was the kids’ first time eating fondue (I just put their chocolate in a bowl and cut up their fruit, and let them dip using a toothpick), and they were fans for sure! Matt and I had a couple of bites, but otherwise, they polished off nearly a pound of strawberries and a couple of bananas!


Chopped Dinner, Take 1

For why we’re doing this, read here

I finally felt like everyone was healthy enough around here to make a real dinner (kids have been sick with fever for days), and wouldn’t you know it, Bennett’s fever returned, and a return trip to the doc revealed bronchitis. Oh well…could be much worse. In 24 hours he should be good as new!

Anyway, dinner was a success…I didn’t get chopped!

First up was Jack Henry, because he turned in his list of basket ingredients first. Here is his list (I dare you not to smile at its adorableness):

Ok. (He got 2 of those ingredients from watching an episode of Chopped: the fries and the carrots. We regularly eat carrots; we almost never eat oven french fries.)

I will admit to being less creative than I originally planned to be, given that this week has practically sucked every bit of my ability to think sanely out of my system. Plus, I really, really wanted my kids to eat their dinner, as no one’s had much of an appetite this week (Bennett’s lost a pound this week!), so I didn’t want to mess with things too much. I promise to try and bump up the creativity next time. 🙂

The only truly incorporated ingredient was the goldfish. I put about a cup of them in my food processor along with about 1/2 cup of unseasoned panko breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese, and a little black pepper and garlic salt. Pulsed it all until it was a fine powder and put it on a plate.

I pounded chicken breasts flat (seriously, good therapy to beat up chicken with a hammer) and then dipped them in milk and then in the crumb mixture, and put them on a silicone baking mat on a cookie sheet, and baked them at 425 for about 20 minutes. I normally wouldn’t cook chicken on that high a temp, but the fries were in the oven at the same time, and that’s what they needed. And really, the chicken came out perfect!

I went with a “Sticks” theme…I cut the carrots into tiny little strips, I cut the chicken into strips, and the fries were already, obviously.

I made a sauce that I will definitely make again, based on one I saw online today…I’m calling it Sweet and Spicy Mayo, and it’s getting its own post here. It was too spicy for Bennett and Jack Henry; Luke, who likes spicy things, deemed it the best part of dinner.

So, here’s what the plated meal looked like!

luke's plate, with 3 different dips

he saved the chicken for last because he didn't think he'd like it...but he was wrong! he ate several strips of it.

Next up: Bennett’s choices. And they’re even stranger than Jack Henry’s, I must say.

Chopped: A Diehl Family Experiment

Our kids LOVE the Food Network show “Chopped.” Almost as much as Matt and I do, I think.

One night at dinner, Matt proposed that each person except me could make a list of 3 basket ingredients that I have to cook with for dinner one night.

This sounded fun, so I agreed, and made up a little form for everyone to fill out with their 3 ingredients. Matt apparently decided he gets 4, because he turned his form in with an extra. Whatever.

So obviously, it won’t be all that much like Chopped. No time limit for me (to which the boys groaned…I was like, “Are you for real? Do you want this to be edible or not?”), and I know the 3 basket ingredients beforehand, and I’ll only be making one dish a night from their basket ingredients (so this will be 4 nights of meals where I cook with their picks). But, because I’m preparing these meals for relatively picky palates, I’m going to need the time to think and do some research. I will try to plate the food nicely so that presentation is taken into consideration by my four judges.

And speaking of judges: they asked if they can “chop” me. I said, “Yeah, sure, but then you have to cook your own food.” So. I’m thinking that I won’t officially get chopped from this competition.

I think this is going to be fun! I’ll blog about our four meals, whether they end up being something I’d make again or not, just because I want to remember this experience.