The Influence of ‘Chopped’

For Thanksgiving this year, Terrie and I created a feast. The menu included all homemade foods, including the appetizers of spinach balls and pimiento cheese; a main meal of roast turkey with a sausage stuffing and gravy, garlic/cheese mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole with bacon, bourbon and pecans, roasted sriracha and honey Brussels sprouts, green beans and mushrooms in a garlic butter sauce, cranberry and mandarin orange sauce (sweet), cranberry and wine sauce (tart), dinner rolls; and desserts of pumpkin pie and aStuffing and spinach wafflepple pie ice cream.

But this blog isn’t about the meal. It’s about the leftovers.

Since Terrie and I have been together, we have enjoyed watching the Food Network, especially “Chopped.”

I never paid much attention to the value of the show itself. I couldn’t really envision doing the creative things the “Chopped” participants do. But three years living with Terrie has opened my eyes to unique ways of doing things in the kitchen. And it’s been on full display lately. In just two days since the Thanksgiving feast, we’ve already created three meal makeovers. For Friday lunch, we had turkey sliders, using the homemade dinner rolls, and filling them with variations of the turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing. Friday dinner was a turkey shepherd’s pie, making use of turkey scraps, the green beans and mushrooms, gravy and mashed potatoes (along with add-ins such as carrots, celery and roasted corn, and the topping of onion rings).

This morning’s creation is in the picture. Waffles made by combining the spinach balls with the stuffing, and topped with an egg. Savory, rich and delicious. Still in the planning stages: turkey enchiladas tonight and turkey gumbo next week.

Most of these meals represent the types of re-imaginations I’d never given a second thought to before. Thanks to Terrie and “Chopped,” I now understand how a foodie mind works. I guess I’ll keep watching. And eating.

It was a 22-pound turkey, after all.

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