Over the weekend, we had our first cooking challenge! We decided to infuse a little novelty and fun into our Memorial Day weekend at home (especially since our annual family beach vacation was postponed), and it gave us something to look forward to and plan all week long. And y’all, it was so much fun!
It was a strawberry fest in our house on Saturday as our first cooking challenge unfolded, and I’m excited to share what we did (and some accompanying pictures), in the hopes that it may inspire you to turn an everyday task into something so much more fun and exciting. I shared our process and the evening on Instagram stories as it unfolded, and I received so many comments about the creativity of our little challenge as well as how delicious everything turned out! It truly was an evening to remember and made for the most delectable day and happy experience.
Here’s how it worked:
- We brainstormed ingredients and nominated a secret ingredient to be considered. We put our ingredient nominations in a bowl and chose one – strawberry was the winner! Other nominations included: Mike’s hot honey, apple, lemon, and blackberry.
- We then drew for courses: cocktails, appetizer, entree, and dessert. Whichever course you drew, you were responsible for creating a dish that incorporated strawberries.
- Create, cook, and bake with strawberries to your heart’s content – and then enjoy a delicious four course meal!
Another fun tip: brainstorm as many themed songs as you can! We put together a “strawberry” playlist to enjoy as we were cooking and eating, which kept us laughing for a long time. We then transitioned into classic American rock songs with a little John Mayer thrown in the mix.
And you know I had to set the table to reflect our summertime strawberry theme! It took all of five minutes to cut some fresh dogwoods from our yard, put fresh strawberries in those adorable teal strawberry boxes, top the table with a dusty blue buffalo check tablecloth topped with a red and white striped runner, and voilà!
first cocktail: strawberry gin smash
muddled strawberries, fresh lemon and lime juice, sugar, gin, club soda, and mint
first appetizer: crostini topped with ricotta, honey roasted strawberries, fresh basil, and cracked black pepper
second appetizer: bacon strawberry chipotle meatballs
bacon and ground beef meatballs topped with reduced strawberry, onion, brown sugar, bacon, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
second cocktail: strawberry rosé sangria
rosé, lemons, oranges, strawberries, and club soda
main course: smoked chicken legs with a strawberry-habanero sauce
spring mix salad topped with sliced strawberries, shaved parmesan, and pepitas
dessert: lemon olive oil cake with honeyed ricotta and honey-chamomile strawberries
And thus ends our strawberry cooking challenge! Four courses, all incorporating strawberries, and all insanely delicious. Every single bite we had was truly amazing, and our entire menu came together beautifully. It was far and away one of the best memories of all of quarantine and this season of life, and I know we’re already plotting our next secret ingredient cooking challenge!