Sunday, July 20, 2014

Christmas in July and the Family Chopped Challenge 2014

Merry Christmas!

Our family has gotten so big that it is difficult to get all of us together in one house to enjoy Christmas, so six years ago we decided to celebrate Christmas in July.  My sister, brothers and myself take turns hosting each year.  The host finds a campsite, plans activities, chooses a theme for the present exchange, and sets the meal plans.  My brother and I switched turns this year because of a glitch in our campsite reservations.  We live in the woods with a good location for camping, so we were happy to host at our home this year.  It was kind of a blessing in disguise to only have two months instead of a year to plan.  We quickly came up with all of our ideas, and sent out the invitations.  We were also blessed this year to have our daughter and her family visiting.

 My granddaughters made snowmen.

This was the first time in the six years that everyone (except mom) was there.  They came from California, Washington, Arizona, Maryland and Chicago, as well as the locals.  Altogether, including friends and family, there were 49 of us!

There was a lot of visiting...


and fun.

Then there was CHOPPED 
One night when we were first planning the party, my husband and I were watching Chopped on the Food Network.  My husband said "wouldn't that be fun to have the family do a Chopped challenge?" and so the fun began.  The rules were:

1.        Names will be drawn to determine if you will get an entree or dessert basket.  You cannot switch baskets.
2.        You must use each of the ingredients in the basket. (You may use a little or as much of each item as you wish.)
3.        You will have 1 ½ hours to complete your dish.
4.        You can use anything that you brought with you (or anything you can beg, borrow, or steal from your neighbor) to complete your dish.
5.      Dishes will be judged on Appearance, Creative use of basket ingredients, and Taste.
6.      Those preparing an entree will be cooking for 6-7 people.  Those with a dessert basket will be cooking for 9.
7.      All the food will be put out for everyone to share.
8.      Dean, Felicia, Ernie and; Diane will taste each dish and will announce the winners after dinner.

So, we handed out and explained the rules, drew names to determine which course they would get, and let them into the house to get there baskets.  You would have thought this was a 200 yard dash - Everyone grabbed their baskets and ran back to their trailers and RVs.

The entree baskets contained:
2 1/2 lb boneless pork roast
2 cups Minute Rice
Frozen green beans
artichoke tapenade
 The dessert baskets contained:
1 bag of blue raspberry marshmallows
1 bag of pretzels
frozen blueberries
chocolate chips
cool whip
The other judges and I got to sit back and watch the fun.  People were running all over the place borrowing and stealing food from each other.  Oh did I mention that it was about 97 degrees out?  We went from camp to camp checking up on everyone.  At first everyone was kicked back and in control.  The second time around there was a lot more sweating and a little more tension.  By the time we called the 15 minute warning there was total chaos!!!  Then every one set out their presentation plates and explained their dishes.  They did everything they could to sway the judges, from putting the judges initials in food, to using their grandmothers china.  We were all amazed how good everything looked and tasted, I'm talking 5 star restaurant quality food.  We all shared in a great feast, and for once there was very little food left.  In the end there could only be two winners; Ron and Phyllis for entree, and Chad, Nichole and Sherry for dessert.

 All in all I think our 2014 Christmas in July was a great success.  Thank you all for coming.
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