“Chopped” Challenge at home!

Billy and I really enjoy watching the show “Chopped” and we always pause the television and talk about what we would do with the ingredients. So when we decided to do a chopped competition of our own at home, with Billy buying the basket ingredients and me being the contestant, I was excited!

Let me tell you that it is so much easier just watching it on TV and talking about it. At first I was totally into having a competition at home, it would be fun, no TV cameras, and I knew I wasn’t in danger of getting chopped. However, I did begin to get nervous when Billy came home from the grocery store and had this smirk on his face. He wouldn’t tell me any of the ingredients, of course, but he wouldn’t even give me any hints! I had to wait until tomorrow, the day of the competition.

My reaction to the first "chopped" basket

My reaction to the first "chopped" basket


When Sunday arrived Billy photographed the first set of mystery basket ingredients – for the appetizer course. You will understand my reaction when you see what was in the first basket!



Here’s what was in the first basket. Oh, lucky me… NOT!

TamarindBeef Marrow BonesParsley RootChicken Livers

We’ve got Tamarind, Beef Marrow Bones, Parsley  Root and Chicken Livers.

Round One – Appetizer, 20 minutes to prepare!

Unsure of what to do, I just started peeling the parsley root, to give myself a moment to think about it. Not really a bad basket. Wished the beef marrow bones weren’t in there. That’s what I give to our pups!

The 20 minutes literally flew by and that was me working in my own kitchen. So, I can’t imagine doing it on the show because you don’t know your way around, unfamiliar with pantry items, nervous about TV, etc.

Anyway, here’s what we ended up with as the appetizer. Honestly, it was really good! I loved the flavor of the tamarind sauce.

Pureed Parsley Root topped with Cajun Cornbread Chicken Livers served with Tamarind Beef Sauce

Appetizer Round - Pureed Parsley Root topped with Cajun Cornbread Chicken Livers served with Tamarind Sauce

I definitely would not have been chopped this round… so on to the next.

Round Two – Entree, 30 minutes to prepare!

Here’s what’s in the second basket.

"Chopped" basket #2 - Kohlrabi, Peppermint Lifesavers, Beef Tongue and Malanga

We’ve got Kohlrabi, Peppermint Lifesavers, Beef Tongue and Malanga.

Ok, I’m going to be honest with you and let you know that when I saw the ingredients in the second basket I was not really liking Billy too much. Beef Tongue? I don’t want to cook that, ’cause I don’t want to touch it. Sure, I can handle chicken, cut up a roast, go fishing and gut the fish, no problem. But I don’t want to deal with this beef tongue. The reality is that it’s not a good basket choice with only 30 minutes to prepare, but I did my best. That is, after I had a meltdown…

What happened is that I unwrapped the beef tongue and it was in the sink. It was huge, I mean really huge. I didn’t want to look at the whole thing, but I figured I could work with a small piece and not really think about it being a tongue. Well, I couldn’t cut the darn thing and it was really grossing me out. That, on top of the fact that I had just worked with chicken livers and bone marrow. My stomach was queasy and I was not feeling the love, if you know what I mean.

{{{ Time Out… Stop the clock. }}}

Billy cuts a piece of the beef tongue for me and the clock starts again.

At this point I’m just thankful that I’m not a “judge” and I don’t have to eat what I’m about to prepare. lol

Getting started I immediately put the beef tongue into some water, season it with some Italian seasoning, and a bay leaf, put a lid on it and just leave that sucker to boil.

Wishing that I hadn’t pureed the parsley root in the first round, ’cause I didn’t want to treat a second root veggie the same exact way, I peel and thinly slice the Malanga. I put it in a single layer into a hot frying pan with some olive oil, salt, pepper, parsley and let them fry up.

Meanwhile, I blanch the Kohlrabi tops in some salted water and set aside.

I chopped the Kohlrabi bulb into anything but uniform pieces (now I’m feeling the time crunch). I throw in some equally messed up pieces of apple, some apple cider vinegar, thyme and Oops! I forgot to use those icky Peppermint Lifesavers. I throw 2 of them into some hot water and melt them down to put into the Kohlrabi and Apple salad. The mint and thyme combination turned out, to me, to taste like mouthwash. But, oh well.  I set that to the side.

Back to that beef tongue. It’s not getting any tenderer. I take it out of the pot and discard the tough outer layer. Then I chop up the meat into small pieces and put it back into the water. It’s boiling hard but there’s no softening this thing up in the time allotted.

I put some heavy cream and butter into a separate small frying pan. I add some flour, salt and pepper to make a roux. I add Marsala wine and let it come to a bubble. Using a slotted spoon I remove the beef tongue from the boiling herbed water and put into the cream sauce. I let it come together for a minute or so before I spoon some on top the Malanga rounds. I then plate the salad on the side.

Here’s what we ended up with.

"Chopped" competition at home - round two - the entree

Entree Round - Kohlrabi Greens with Fried Malanga Rounds topped with Beef Tongue in a Marsala Cream Sauce with a side salad of Apple & Kohlrabi

It doesn’t look too bad. I liked the taste of the malanga rounds and the sauce. I didn’t try the beef tongue and the salad, as I said, was a little “mouthwashy”. Oh, I may have been chopped this round, but we’ll never know. Now will we?

Time to move forward to the dessert round. At this point, I’m really hoping for a nice basket with 4 ingredients to make a dessert that I will want to eat!!

Round Three – Dessert, 30 minutes to prepare!

Hmmm… wonder what’s in the dessert basket?

"Chopped" challenge at home - Dessert round - basket #3

We’ve got Top Ramen, Butter Beans, Sour Strawberry Belts and Mandarin Oranges in Juice.

Ok, I can work with this.  :)

I immediately get the top ramen into some boiling water.

Then I put some butter into a large frying pan over medium heat. Once the top ramen is soft I put it into the frying pan along with some brown sugar and cardamom. It caramelizes and I set it aside.

I grab a small saucepan and put the sour strawberry belts into some water. I boil them down to melt them and add a little white chocolate liquor. I put that into the ice cream maker and let it do it’s thing.

Meanwhile, I pulse some of the mandarin oranges in the food processor.

In a separate bowl I whip up some heavy cream and sugar. To that I add some of the mandarin oranges that have been in the food processor. Set aside the orange whipped cream.

I open the butter beans, drain the liquid and put them into the food processor along with the balance of the processed mandarin oranges and some cream cheese. Whip it up.

I check the strawberry white chocolate ice cream, coming along nicely… hope it freezes some more!

Now for assembly. Four small dessert dishes. I put in the top ramen. Next comes the butter bean cream. Put it in the oven for about 10 minutes to set.

I remove the desserts from the oven, top them with the orange whipped cream, place a few mandarin orange segments on top, and a strategically placed sprig of fresh mint.

When I was ready to put some of the ice cream on top, the soft serve dispenser was clogged. Probably from those gooey strawberry belts. See, this is the type of stuff that happens on the show, too!!

So at the last moments I’m frantically rushing around trying to get the ice cream on the desserts. I managed it just in time. Not as pretty as I wanted it to be, but it was good. Actually, my favorite thing about the dessert was the ice cream.

Here’s what the dessert ended up like!

"Chopped" challenge - round three - dessert

Dessert round - Caramelized noodles topped with orange butter bean cream, mandarine oranges and strawberry white chocolate ice cream

It was fun! What did I learn from this? I learned that:

  1. I don’t want to be on Chopped.
  2. I like preparing food with ingredients I choose.
  3. I don’t like pressure.

Basically, food preparation to me is love. It’s my passion and I don’t want to be rushed or forced into preparing something that is disgusting to me.

Oh, and speaking of disgusting… No offense, as I do realize that beef tongue is a delicacy to some. I, however, did not eat it or try it. On an up note, our dogs are loving it!


This entry was posted in ALL RECIPES, Chopped Challenge at Home and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to “Chopped” Challenge at home!

  1. muriel says:

    K so I love that you guys did a chopped challenge on your own! I must
    Say you really recreated the show with those basket choices :) you did such
    An amazing job and your dishes look so presentable and edible, even though
    I have to be honest, you couldn’t pay me enough to eat beef tongue!

    • helena says:

      Thanks for the compliments. The chopped challenge was a lot of fun. And I totally agree with you regarding the beef tongue. Yuck! I didn’t even try it. Honestly, just looking at it made me gag. :)

  2. Susan Loveridge says:

    Hi Helena: I just read your “chopped” challenge that you and Billy did at home. I am absolutely amazed that you were able to put together these dishes with the ingredients that Billy chose! Not only do I not care for beef tongue, I am not wild about most of the other ingredients and especially in the combinations that were given to you to “work with.” Great job–I loved reading your commentary on the challenge. What a great idea to do at home!

    • helena says:

      Thanks so much Susan! It was definitely challenging. Beef tongue is something I have never dealt with before, and I can happily say I never will again… unless it’s some type of challenge with a lot of money involved. lol 😉

  3. Ebooks says:

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  4. Pingback: Seven Facts – I was tagged in this blogger game! | Great food – it's really not that complicated!

  5. Eric says:

    Thanks for the inspiration. I’m working on a Christmas Day Chopped basket for my wife and son to tackle. I can see my initial list of basket items is too simple. I’ll follow your husband’s path and toughen it up!

    • Have fun with it, but remember that whatever she makes you are going to have to taste! Also, be sure to not buy anything that requires long cooking (like the beef tongue)!! Would love to hear what you choose and how she does.

  6. sandie e says:

    I was also thinking of doing this as a Christmas gift for my husband…… he is the cook in the family. He is Italian, so cooking is like a second language for him. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! Im thinking this Chopped Challenge basket might have to wait until our anniversary, Jan 1 !

    • That would be a great present! On Christmas you could give him an invitation to the chopped challenge to be held on whatever date & time you choose. I’d love to hear how my fellow Italian does, so please keep me posted!

  7. flintstones says:

    I LOVE doing Chopped at home with my daughter. We usually pick out one main ingredient together…sometimes we go easy on ourselves…sometimes we’re a little tougher…but I guarantee beef tongue would NEVER make an appearance in our baskets!! Then we each pick out one or two other ingredients in secret…then we go home and fight it out. We’re a little sketchy on the time…we probably do 45 minutes…but we have a blast. It is such a great way to spend time together. As an added bonus…both of us are getting a LOT more comfortable just winging it in the kitchen and we’re both trying things we’d not normally try. We do entrees and desserts mostly…but we recently did a breakfast and it was great. I think I need to start a blog just for our Chopped adventures. Thanks for your story!!!

  8. Beth says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed this post! And especially your conclusions! I can’t imagine the presssure or mystery ingredients. It is fun to watch those quick fire type challenges on TV…and to read about them on blogs too!

  9. Shelly says:

    Loved your post. My family and I started a chopped challenge. 2 do the first round, 2 do the second round and the winners finish off with dessert. Even the kids got into the judging. We are doing it again for Christmas and hopefully we won’t get any baskets like you did, but who knows the winner of the last challenge gets to pick the basket and he is a foodie. Good job.

  10. niomi ortiz says:

    Hi my name is niomi and I am a senior in highschool, I am in this program called wise it is a english program only consiting of seniors. Anyways at the end of the year we are entitled to present any project of our chooseing (20% of our grade) for my project i was actually thinking about holding a huge chopped competition with fellow members of my school. Any tips? it would be greatly appreciated

    • Hi Niomi ~ It sounds like fun, but there are things to consider…. such as, do you have the kitchen space to do a chopped competition? Then there is the expense of the food, since you need to have an adequately stocked pantry so that the competitors have items to work with. There may be a lot more to it than you think. You said this project is for an English Program, so I’m not sure exactly how it would fit with that? You may be better off to do a spelling bee with a really great prize at the end. 😉

  11. invader77 says:

    Amazing job, especially with that beef tongue. I’m planning on doing the Chopped competition for teens. Planning on using your ways of cooking!

    • Hi! I loved doing the Chopped competition at home and have submitted an application to get on the TV show… just the thought of it makes me nervous! That beef tongue really threw me off. My husband is the one who bought the basket ingredients and he didn’t realize that beef tongue could never be cooked adequately in the amount of time. A teen Chopped competition sounds like fun!! :)

  12. Jessica says:

    Just stumbled on this surfing. That was a great read and congrats on such a colorful reenactment!!!

    • Hi Jessica! Glad you stumbled into my “kitchen”. The chopped challenge was fun. Gonna do another one soon. I’ve applied to be on the TV show, so I’m hoping that if I do get on, I’m ready!! 😉

  13. Liz says:

    OMG I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO DID this . So envious though, I wish I had a guy who would want to do this with me :( . You guys are too cute

  14. Jen says:

    Hi – just stumbled upon this posting when I was doing an internet search for “chopped” ingredient ideas. Im trying to put together 2 baskets – my daughter and her 2 friends want to do a “chopped” contest tonight – two rounds – desert and appetizer – any thoughts on these ingredients? I know I need to eliminate a few – also, they are 13 years old – but love to have fun in the kitchen!
    corn flakes
    frozen waffle
    sour candy
    fresh mint
    turkey bacon
    some sort of small pasta

    • Hi Jen – Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I’d love to hear how your “Chopped Challenge” went. I know they’re only 13, but you went a little easy on them with your ingredients. That was nice of you. I’m c curious what they came up with.

  15. anh8746 says:

    Only if I could run into some more content like this one, that would be marvelous.

  16. tiesha5295 says:

    This really shows that there are still people who care about what they submit on the internet. I actually loved reading the comments.

  17. jackie says:

    I was thinking of doing this with somewhat of a bigger group so teams but I cant figure out how we would do work stations any ideas???

    • Hi Jackie – just saw your comment. Sorry for the delay in responding. For work stations I would suggest standard 10 foot tables and you can get individual burners for each table. They’re pretty inexpensive and you can find them on Amazon. Hope this helps!

  18. maggie7892 says:

    It’s good to finally find great posts such as this. I truly liked it.

  19. jena2717 says:

    It’s nice to find decent posts such as this. I truly liked this.

  20. Hi,I wanted to do chopped for my birthday with 8 or 12 friends but only have one stove and no room for more. Living in Denver, Colorado and by g kitchens you know of for rent for like 3 hours?

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