You are in for a treat today!
Are you as obsessed with the Food Network as I am? Seriously, I could watch Giada & Bobby Flay on Food Network Star for hours (and I have). Plus the baking challenges, especially the kid ones. They’re so entertaining.
Oh, and Chopped. My son and I love watching Chopped competitions, and I always wonder how I would do if I was put in a situation where I had to cook off the cuff based on just a few key ingredients. I pretty much figured I’d flounder because I’m not the best at just coming up with a recipe idea on a whim.
A few weeks ago, I actually got the opportunity to put my skills to the test with Food Network’s own Chopped at Home Contest. I was invited to be a part of it, and I immediately said yes. I mean, how could I not with how much I love the show. I was finally getting the opportunity to be a part of a Chopped contest, even if it was at home. Still super cool!
So I started going through the list of required ingredients. Thankfully with this contest, there’s no requirement to come up with the idea and have it all cooked within an hour. No way could I have managed that. I’m not that good.
Reading through the list:
Broccoli – yum
Cherry or Grape tomatoes – my favorite
Sargento® 4-State Blend Cheddar Cheese – this is only getting easier
Pork Tenderloin – hold the front door!
Kids, I have been vegetarian for almost 12 years now. Not a speck of animal meat in this girl’s body for over a decade.
So I almost immediately declined the offer and bowed out gracefully. That is, until my sweet wife walked by the computer to see what I was up to. She quickly glanced at the contest and the ingredient list and immediately got a sparkle in her eye…
“You’re going to make something with meat in it? Really?!”
I was about to burst her little meat-lovin’ bubble.
“Nope,” I said, “but you are!”
And that is where the brainstorming began. My wife agreed to do all the meat buying, prepping, and grilling. All I had to do was help her style it at the end and make it look pretty. We were in this together!
We reviewed the ingredients again and immediately went to broccoli and cheddar. A classic flavor combo, right? And to make that cheese really ooze and get gooey, we thought a thin layer of cream cheese stuffed in the pork tenderloin with the broccoli and cheddar would be absolutely divine.
I never thought I’d live to see the day that a meat-heavy dish graced the pages of Happy Food Healthy Life. But the thing is, I’m not actually opposed to other people eating meat, and I’m not opposed to featuring meat dishes on the site. It’s just that I won’t cook them. So logistically it’s just never worked out.
I wonder though if I should start hiring my wife as a monthly employee to bring on meat dishes. What do you think?
She did such an amazing job with the pork that I’m seriously considering it.
She was so diligent about cutting off all the fatty pieces of meat and to make it look as pretty as possible (although I’m not sure how pretty raw meat can actually look).
By the time it was all said and done, I actually have to admit that it smelled amazing, and I was half tempted to give it a try. You know you have a winning meat recipe when you almost convert a vegetarian, right?!
To be honest, I think it was the melty ooey gooey cheese that almost won me over. I am a sucker for cheese. I almost love it more than coffee… which is a whole freakin’ lot.
So when I saw that cheese just pouring out, I wanted to dig my fork right in. But I didn’t.
Instead, so I wouldn’t miss out on the Sargento cheese, I piled it high on top of a veggie burger and threw it under the broiler. I was not depriving myself, because really, this is some of the best pre-shredded cheese I have ever had. It’s sharp. It’s flavorful. And I ate it straight out of the bag in fingerfuls. I couldn’t stop myself! Now I’m even more intrigued to try the 30 other varieties Sargento carries. I need them all.
So what do you think? Do you have what it takes to enter the Chopped At Home Contest? I want to see what creative ideas you can come up with. You have until 8/1/16 to enter this round, and I’d love to see you win. Wouldn’t that be awesome. The prizes may or may not include a fair amount of cash and a trip to NYC! So make sure you check out the details and enter here for your chance to win!
- 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets , cut into bite-sized chunks
- 4 ounces cream cheese (I use the 1/2 greek yogurt blend that I find at my Kroger store)
- One 7.5-ounce bag Sargento Chef Blends Shredded 4 State Cheddar
- 2 pork tenderloins , trimmed (2 to 2 1/2 pounds total)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
Butterfly the tenderloins by making a 1-inch-deep incision down the length of each without cutting all the way through. Open the tenderloins like books so they lie flat, cover with plastic wrap and pound with the flat side of a meat mallet until they're about 1/4 inch thick.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread the cream cheese, broccoli, and shredded cheese over the 2 tenderloins, leaving a 1-inch border around all the sides except the long one closest to you. Tightly roll up each tenderloin. Tie each tenderloin with butcher's twine tightly on each end and at 2-inch intervals in between. Brush with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Heat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Oil the grill grates. Grill the tenderloins over direct heat, turning about every 6-8 minutes to sear the outsides of the meat until all sides are well marked. Move them to indirect heat, cover and cook until a thermometer inserted in the center of each roulade registers 145 degrees F, about 15 minutes more. Transfer them to a cutting board to rest 10 minutes.
While the tenderloins are resting, make the cherry tomato garnish. Make a foil packet and fill with cherry tomatoes, spinach, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place foil packet on a medium-heat grill for about 5-7 minutes, or until the tomatoes have burst and the spinach is wilted.
Cut the strings off the tenderloins with scissors, and slice. Serve with the tomato and spinach garnish.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Sargento. The opinions and text are all mine.