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Who will win the $10,000, and who will be Chopped?

I have to admit, I'm kind of addicted to this show. Watching people scramble to come up with not just edible but actually good food out of a mystery basket of ingredients made me wonder if I had the chops (heh) to do this. I was thinking about this while staring at stuff in my pantry that has been hanging around far too long.

So here are two mystery baskets from my kitchen. My rules are different in three respects. 1, I can ask for help (hence my posting this.) 2, There is no time limit. 3. I can make an appetizer, entree or dessert from the basket, my choice. Oh, and no one is offering me $10,000 either.

Mystery basket #1: Blueberry muffin mix (the kind in a pouch), jarred pimentos, canned tuna, canned Hatch green chiles.

Mystery basket #2: cube steak, quinoa, enchilada sauce, canned black olives.

As usual, a variety of other pantry and fridge items is also available.

So I have two questions.

First, any clever ideas for my mystery baskets?

Second, can you post your own mystery basket for us to help you with?

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  1. My family and I love that show too. My husband and I have a game announcing what we would do with the ingredients. Since not all of the rules are being followed do you want all the basket items used in one course/meal or can one be moved to another?
    Basket #1 A tuna salad pasta, warm or cold with the chilies and pimentos. Lotsa other goodies can enter the equation. Then I would manipulate the packaged muffin mix into a cake or cookies (look online there should be something) and or add in some dried/fresh fruit, sour cream for moisture or a frosting.
    Basket #2 says mexican to me, a mexican inspired quinoa, alongside the beef stewed in broth and enchilada sauce garnished with the olives. I would add some onions to the beef and probably add a sauteed green on the side or in the mix.
    Good luck with it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: holypeaches

      I wanted to keep the baskets intact because to me that's the real challenge for the contestants. I like your ideas for the second basket, and I'm probably at my best with Mexican inspired dishes. It also helps that I have at least 10 different types of dried chiles in my pantry.

      My issue with the first basket is I either want to transform the muffin mix into a savory ingredient for an appetizer/entree, or figure out how to make the others work in a dessert (which frankly sounds impossible).

    2. Squeeze as much liquid from the tuna as possible then chop and combine with one beaten egg. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on a cutting board and spread the mixture thinly but intact. Dust with half the muffin mix, then put a baking sheet on top, flip, remove board and wrap and dust the other side. Bake until it looks pretty. Cut three squares to stack haphazardly with pimentos stuck in between. Drain and puree the green peppers with, oh say lemon and maybe honey for a sauce.

      This is based on watching endless cooking competitions, not on whether this would actually work. Sorry to leave out the liquid nitrogen.

      1. For the first basket:

        Lemon-Tuna Crepes

        Make Lemon-Blueberry Crepes from the muffin mix by adding 1 tablespoon flour, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, about 2/3 cup water, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon finely chopped green chiles (or to taste), and one teaspoon grated lemon rind. Make it a little thinner than pancake batter. Cook crepes on a buttered griddle/skillet.

        For the filling:

        Saute 2/3 cup finely sliced mushrooms in butter until tender, sprinkle with salt and pepper, set aside.

        In a medium saucepan melt 2 tablespoons butter and add 2 tablespoons flour to make a roux. Cook a few minutes until flour is gently cooked. Slowly add one cup milk and cook until mixture thickens into a sauce. Add the can of drained tuna and some of the chopped pimentos. Add salt and pepper to taste.

        Final assembly:

        Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

        Make the crepes, fill them with filling, and roll them up. Place in a casserole pan seam side down. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated cheese (Swiss, Gruyere, Fontina, or a combination). Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until bubbly.

        Dare I say bon appetit?

        EDIT: To slightly revamp crepe recipe.

        1 Reply
        1. Mystery Box No 1

          I would filter out the blueberries and pickle them. Then toss them with the pimentos and chiles with a dressing, with a base of one of the "jar" liquids. The tuna would become tuna cakes, using the muffin mix as the binder with an egg white. Served over a micro green salad, in a composed style with a wedge of lemon for the tuna.

          3 Replies
          1. re: smtucker

            smtucker, game on, would love to challenge you on Chopped! ;-)

            1. re: TrishUntrapped


              Anyone would beat me in the dessert round however. Easiest faux-$10,000 you would ever make.

            2. re: smtucker

              This was what I was thinking would work the best as well.

            3. I wonder if you could use the blueberry muffin mix along with cornmeal as a batter to fry poblano chiles stuffed with tuna, green chiles, pimentos and jack cheese? Chile Rellenos!

              1 Reply
              1. re: pagesinthesun

                You know, I sort of dismissed this on first read, but then I realized it was because my first line of defense in dealing with any kind of leftovers is to stuff them into a poblano. What seems pedestrian to me because I do it weekly is actually a good way of dealing with this challenge.

              2. So here is my idea for the first basket.

                Add butter, milk, cayenne and possibly shredded cheddar or parmesan to the muffin mix, and try create a tuille that would hold a tuna salad of tuna, capers, pimento, chiles and some sort of acid, like lemon juice or sherry vinegar.

                1 Reply
                1. re: JonParker

                  Muffin mix can indeed be made into cookies, but to get them crispy like tuiles, rathe rthan soft and puffy, you might need to deep fry them. Still - they might come out like fritters.

                  I like the idea of this Chopped challenge because I grew up in a poor family, and we relied to some extent, on USDA surplus foods, some of which (the canned meat) were down right nasty. I liked to cook, so to feed all nine of us I got very creative with pantry ingredients. I discovered early on that you did not need an egg for a cake mix, despite what the box said. Muffin mixes are rather versatile so you do have options.

                2. For mystery basket #1, I would sift the batter to separate the blueberries from the rest of the mix.

                  I would add cornmeal and wet ingredients to the reamaining mix to make muffins in mini muffin tins. Once they were done, I would hollow them out and add a mixture of pimento, cream cheese, canned tuna, lemon juice, and black pepper.

                  While the muffins were cooking, I would rehydrate the berries and cook them down with the the chilies (finely diced), finely diced onion, black pepper, sugar, and apple cider vinegar for a spicy blueberry jam.

                  I would serve three of the stuffed mini muffins with compote for dipping.

                  4 Replies
                    1. re: TrishUntrapped

                      Trish, I would marry you sight unseen.

                      1. re: TrishUntrapped

                        I always aim to please the most sophisticated of tastes, as Chopped is a timeless classic.

                    2. Please do :) He should apprecriate what he has.