Please be safe if you’re anywhere near the coast of where Irma is! Thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected/may be affected.
We spent the weekend in Block Island, a little island off the coast of Rhode Island. There was a 15K that most of us ran. I’m so proud of everyone! Ed took first place (53 min), and my dad ran the longest race ever (he hadn’t run further than 2-3 miles in the past). My sister ran her furthest race too! It’s not an easy course by any means, as most of the course is hills. It really tests your endurance. I finished in 1:12.08, not a PR, but I was happy considering I hadn’t trained much.
The race was an added bonus to all of us getting together. With four of us kids scattered throughout the country, it’s rare that my whole family gets together at once.
Here’s a shot of the group before the race.
How We Organized a Cooking Competition
If you saw in Friday Favorites, you may have seen that we did a chopped like cooking competition with our close friends last weekend – women against men. We decided on it on our way home from apple picking, so we had a whole bunch of apples to use. While thinking of how to create our competition, we figured that apples had to be included in each dish.
Next, we all put a protein, grain and vegetable idea into a hat. We picked one of each for both teams to have to use in their dish. The winners were pork chop, asparagus, and basmati rice. For dessert, we all added two options and the winners were rice krispies and whipped cream. So, those were the staples, and the apples of course. We then gave each team a $10 stipend to spend at the grocery store to get any other ingredients they may want to use to enhance the dish.
Once we came home with groceries, we set the timer for an hour and a half and got to work. It was a total team effort. We sort of divided the kitchen, where the women had one counter and the men had another counter on the other side of the kitchen. There wasn’t too much talking since we were all hard at work, thinking about how to bring our dish ideas to life.
Our plan was to turn the basmati rice into a risotto. I realize that with risotto, you usually use arborio rice, but hey, we were making due with what we had. We planned to throw the asparagus in the risotto, and mushrooms were one of our “additional” items we bought with the $10 stipend. So, I washed and chopped the asparagus and mushrooms and threw them over some butter while Deb started boiling the rice.
Making risotto is hard, and honestly, this is the first time I’ve attempted it, though Deb pretty much manned the rice. Making risotto requires patience and arm strength! You basically add water/broth in little by little, and stir until it absorbs, and then you repeat with another cup of water. In total, we added 4 cups. We used the right side of the stove, the men used the left for kitchen efficiency.
I also chopped some apples that we would later boil, and seasoned the pork chops with salt, pepper, thyme, garlic and herbs de provence. Those wouldn’t take too long to cook, so we would attend to those last.
The risotto was definitely the most time consuming. While still manning that, we started sauteeing the apples in butter. We wanted to get started on our dessert too. For dessert, we planned to make a baked apple bourbon crisp topped with whipped cream. It would be a unique apple crisp because we would add rice krispee treats.
To start, we softened the apples in butter. We then added a little bit of bourbon, flambe style. Deb made this look easy, she’s a whiz in the kitchen. Meanwhile, I thought something was on fire.
While the risotto was still doing it’s thing and the apples were softening, I put together the crisp part. I didn’t really measure, but used oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, rice krispies, butterscotch chips and brown sugar. Once the apples were sauteed, I mixed them with butterscotch chips to melt the butter scotch and layered them in ramekins.
We added the crisp layer on top of the butterscotch apples, before throwing them in the oven.
After throwing those in the oven, we finalized our entree dish. Once the risotto was done, we added the mushrooms, asparagus and cheese, and worked on the pork loin. We decided to cook it on the stove, seasoned it, and checked for an internal temperature of at least 145. We incorporated the apples into our main dish by sauteeing them in white balsamic and then pureeing them. The apple puree was a marinade topping for the pork, which we layered over the risotto. It came out really good!
And the finalized apple crisp desserts:
I don’t have as much detail for the men, but I have what they told me and any photos I snapped along the way.
The guys took an entirely different approach to the rice. They added turmeric, coconut milk, and some spices, and let it cook. I loved the coconut taste that was embedded in their rice. They sauteed and seasoned the asparagus, which was cooked perfectly, nice and crisp how I like it.
For their entree, they marinated the pork with the apple, and made a homemade barbeque sauce using strained mashed apples, ketchup, onion powder, chili powder, and the other usual suspects for making barbeque sauce.
For dessert, they melted butter, marshmellows and who knows what else, and added the rice krispies and apples to the final product. Unfortunately, they didn’t have time for it to set and freeze, but it was a great attempt!
Here are their final dishes
I don’t think I got a final picture of their apple rice krispee treats 🙁
Meanwhile, Tater was just chillin’ eating any scraps that came her way. She was in the middle of all the action. I gave her tastes of all the apples we picked too. She loves apples!
Then, the fun part was trying everything! The bonus is we got two entrees and two desserts. I couldn’t finish it all but we had some yummy leftovers the next day.
This was SUCH a fun night and fun way to go about cooking a couples dinner. I highly recommend trying it your own way, especially if you’re a fan of Chopped, and getting creative in the kitchen. Also, if you have foodie friends who like to cook, it’s a great cost-effective way to host a double date!
I would definitely do something like this again. Maybe next time we would have a designated “taste tester” or 3rd party person. I loved the creativity that it sparked, and the variety of flavors and tastes along the way.
Have you ever done a cooking competition?