Thursday, December 27, 2012

Chopped at Christmas?

All of us after church.
It has been several years since My Vet and I spent a Christmas at my mom's. The last time we planned on being there, a snow storm hit. So our little family, has gotten used to quiet Holiday's. Leisurely breakfast and coffee, small meals, and plenty of time to rest and relax, and if we had the energy a movie at the local theater or on "The Flix".

This year was was much anticipated by our little family. It was just even louder, and busier than I remembered. Lots of people coming and going, and lots of things to do. I'll do my best to share some of the mayhem with you.

Cream Cheese, Bacon, Oranges,
Tortillas, and Carmelized Onion
I had already purchased and wrapped the presents, even had them at my mom's house before Halloween. I thought I was doing pretty good, and would be able to coast right in. Apparently since I hadn't attended many previous Holidays as an adult, I was unaware of the prep that my sister's did. Luckily, this year I was included in the emails. It started with an idea to mimic a Food Network Program called Chopped. Having cancelled our satellite years ago, I had no idea what that show was. Thankfully the starter email stated we would have 30 minutes to assemble appetizers using secret ingredients that would then be judged by the family. Each sister was assigned a food group to bring for the competition.  Bring enough for 5, plus 1 special ingredient to use or share.

Kim and Stephanie hard at work
Being that I was assigned grains, I chose one of my favorites, tortilla's. I hoped their versatility would be good with the dairy, protein, fruit, and vegetables being brought by other sisters. Yep, there are 5 of us. I have to admit, the competitive side of me wanted to bring something less versatile so that I could be prepared and have an edge. My sense of not wanting to eat something gross or funky won out though. I then whipped up a batch of hummus as my secret ingredient.

Statler with Waldorf hiding
around the corner
After some pre-competition discussion we started 30 minutes early to allow for extra time since 5 of us had to share a space and none of us are professionals. It was a sight to see. Every surface was covered with food, cooking utensils, and some children's toys for good measure. A couple of the husband's created a make shift peanut gallery in the back porch and heckled us through out the competition. (Think the 2 old guys in the Muppets.)

The sisters got right to work. We niched out small work areas for ourselves and got busy. You might be able to tell by the photo that I brought some of my favorite cooking utensils from home.A small cutting board, a large knife, an offset spatula, my apron and a pastry bag that Kim ended up using.

I'm sure my mom never thought this day would come. All of her daughters working in the kitchen, without needing to be asked, or fighting, and cleaning up after themselves!

As a child, Kristie used to trade us younger sisters big nickles for tiny dimes. Since she's had time to 'Hohn' that skill over the years, she brought extra secret ingredients to "stock mom's pantry". aka, Allow her to use a recipe for quasadillas she pre-prepared. Thankfully, Cathy threw her off a bit with the oranges that she sliced and drizzled with chocolate as a side.

Kim, being the first of us to marry and have a home, has the most experience in the kitchen. She also loves to try new recipes and is constantly menu planning for different parties and events. We all knew she had the edge going into this. She assembled her ingredients on star shaped, baked tortilla crisps topped with an orange, bacon sauce, and pine nuts. It was My Vet's favorite.

Cathy hard at work
All of our homes are warmed by the cozy quilts Cathy has made for us. All of that time sewing, doesn't leave much time for cooking. Each of the 10 nieces and nephews know to ask Cathy for anything sewing related, and to expect take out if going to her house for dinner. Cathy is usually busy entertaining the children when cooking needs to be done. Knowing this, she selected oranges and brought lettuce as her secret ingredient. She figured that way she could toss those together on a platter and call it good if the other ingredients were too hard. She welcomed advice from all of us during this friendly competition, and ended up using all 5 ingredients, plus her lettuce and some feta cheese from Mom's stock to create a flavorful spiral.

As usual I over thought it and ended up with a medley on my platter. For starters I used my hummus to spread on the tortillas along with bacon, caramelized onion, orange zest, black olives, and green peppers from Mom's stock to create spirals with a bit of a kick. I then used a cup to cut circles out of my tortillas to fry. Some of them stayed flat like a chip, others puffed up. I made a cream cheese, orange juice, bacon, cashew, chicken filling that I piped into the puff and chilled. I then placed the flatter chips around a small bowl of the hummus. My Spirals were Statler's favorite, while my kids dug into the chips and hummus.

Stephanie along with Statler (remember him from the peanut gallery?) collaborate in their kitchen. She tried to get him to step in for her. She's no slouch in the kitchen, she just prefers baking to cooking. She stuck to what she knows best and combined her ingredients along with some chicken from Mom's stock to bake a yummy tortilla cup with a cream cheese based filling.

It took us 1 hour to make our appetizers and to clean up the kitchen. Then we all got ready to go to church. After church, before dinner we served all of our goodies, and awaited the final desicion. None of the husbands wanted to vote. It was a good thing Doc showed up at just the right time. Since he didn't know who prepared what a plate was prepared for him to make the final vote. And the winner was..... A tie between Kristie's hot quesadillas, and Stephanie's fresh from the oven tortilla cups. Maybe we should have let him warm up a bit more before judging?


  1. I enjoyed having all the girls and their familes home for Christmas.
    All the 'chopped' food was great! I'm glad I wasn't called on to choose which was best...I ate so much of each offering that I wasn't hungry for the main meal. Though, I did have some of the coffee ice cream.
    It was a wonderful Christmas, I am truly blessed.

  2. Anonymous12/27/2012

    What a wonderful family AND a great new tradition. May you all have a blessed 2013


Want to make my day? Leave a comment. I read and appreciate EVERY one of them, REALLY, I DO!