Friday Night Chopped

I'm trying to be frugal these days...having the kids home all day in the summer means food doesn't last very long in the fridge and pantry.  It seems I can buy three boxes of popsicles one day and within 48 hours they're gone!  I know...I shouldn't let them eat them that fast.  Trust me, knowing that and enforcing it are two separate things!  I'm just not hurrying back to the store for more right now.

A few days ago, the older boys really wanted to go get something to in, not from the grocery store, but from a source that would provide their food ready to eat when handed to them.  I said no, despite their begging, and proceeded to tell them that the pantry was full and they needed to get creative.  The pantry is full, there just isn't anything that appears easy and satisfying in there!

They got busy and created two pretty amazing dishes for lunch and then later for dinner, from what they could find in the pantry and refrigerator.  No recipes, just creative minds at work!  We joked that it was kind of like the Food Network series 'Chopped', and with that, the rest of the kids wanted their shot at making a meal from whatever they could find.  That thought seems a little scarier!  We did agree to have a family chopped challenge though on Friday night.

It is not often that we have an entire evening without obligation outside of our home, so we jumped at the chance to do something fun together.  I went to the grocery store, trying diligently not to have something in mind to make, and shopped for pantry staples and a handful of "secret" ingredients.  That is not necessarily a frugal way to shop!!

The result was identical sacks of groceries that each team had to use and a counter full of groceries that would be available to add to the dishes.  The mandatory ingredients included:  rotisserie chicken, egg roll wrappers, mango, pineapple, coconut milk, cranberry pecan bread, poblano pepper, mango lemonade and caramel swirl ice-cream.

Joe got a lesson on how to peel and cut a mango!

Tim would be the judge...and the gopher.  We had to send him back to the store for canola oil!  Jakob, Jonathan and Amelia made up one team and the rest of the kids and myself made up the second team.  I offered to consult my opponents without penalty, although they needed very little consulting.

Our team created a tropical chicken panini with egg roll chips and pineapple-mango salsa.  The sandwich had a mango chutney spread, coconut chicken and a slice of pineapple and cheddar cheese on the cranberry pecan bread.  Our opponents created a sautéed onion, pepper, bacon and chicken fried egg roll with a lemonade macerated fruit salad and sugared egg roll chips.
The caramel covered toast.  We didn't take a picture of the hand-pies!!  Oops!

Desserts were a coconut-caramel glazed cranberry-pecan toast over a cloud of caramel swirl dipping sauce (melted ice cream) and a lemon-mango-white chocolate hand pie served in a sea of caramel, a la mode with a drizzle of mango-lemon sauce.
Tim did a great job of describing what he was judging, from presentation to taste, to texture!

Seriously...I don't think there were any losers here!  Every bite of both main dishes and desserts was amazing!  No one was chopped!  We were all stuffed and Tim and I offered to clean up the aftermath while the kids went to the park to play.

It was so much fun...even with the power struggles and a few pouting fits, a cut to the finger, an oil-splatter burn, and a hot caramel casualty while plating.  We will do it again, I'm sure.