Good evening everyone! It's another beautiful day here in the greater Des Moines metro - following up another gorgeous weekend of fall weather. When you consider that this time one year ago, most of central to north central Iowa was covered in an inch of that white nasty stuff known as 'snow'; 65 seem like a gift from above.
This week, we can finally debut the feature we've been teasing for over a month. This week, Maggie and I are going head to head in the "Out Of The Culinary Cook off". Essentially, it's a non-competitive competition pairing my culinary creative and flexibility vs. Maggie's.
The idea for this cook off started when we received two $20 gift cards to Hy-Vee for a wedding present. Rather than just using these cards to buy normal groceries, Maggie and I came up with the idea to utilize these little cards in a unique way.
The premise is simple, we each are given a $20 gift card and are faced with the task of preparing one meal. However, it's not just any meal - after all, with savvy shopping and frugal buying, we both could turn those cards in to two solid meals (with leftovers) apiece! Instead, we are tasked with creating a bold meal (we're talking, 'family over on Sunday night' style) something creative, something a little more fancy and ambitious than the normal 'Tuesday night' cooking fare.
As with any competition, there have to be some ground rules. In this cookoff we are only allowed to use the funds on the card. There can be absolutely zero outside spending. $20 is the limit - no exceptions. Everything that you need for your recipe must be purchased on this card. Exceptions are made for items that everyone would commonly have in their cupboards or pantry. For example, sugar, peanut butter, nutmeg, salt, pepper, etc. would not count against your tab as 98% of people are already going to have a supply at hand.
There is no rule for how you present you dish. You can choose to spend $15 on a roast and the rest on a few veggies and simply go with one large dish. Or, you can focus on salads and smaller dishes and try a five course affair. The decision is up to each chef. At the end of the week, we'll recap each recipe and cast our vote for who we feel was the most creative with their funds.
Tonight, we'll share what we each purchased with our cards - the cost of each item and the amount remaining on the card. Tuesday, Maggie will take to the kitchen to prepare her dish (or dishes) and Wednesday will be my turn. Thursday will be our summary day and that will be the week's worth of cooking. It's a neat idea (in our opinion) that we hope you'll enjoy. Now, here's what Maggie and I purchased to start the challenge:
Hy-Vee Chocolate Chips $1.50
Hy-Vee Sweetened Condensed Milk $1.69
Hy-Vee Mac & Cheese $0.59
Ragu Pizza Sauce $1.48
Hy-Vee Pepperoni $1.99
Cortland Apples (2) $1.53
White Onion $0.48
Ground Beef (93/7) $2.99
Total Spent: $14.88
Gold Medal All Purpose Flour $1.49
AE Heavy Whipping Cream $1.69
1 Bulb Garlic $0.50
Driscoll Strawberries $3.99
Lemon (2) $1.38
Smart Chicken (Free Range) $8.34
Total Spent: $17.39
Oddly enough, Maggie and I took two different strategies in purchasing our ingredients. Maggie went for store brand and cheap, that allowed her to purchase more items. She either has a more complicated recipe in mind, or she has a few recipes up her sleeve. I decided early on that I was going to spend my money where it counted - the main dish. By opting for a free range chicken over the cheaper store brand ($3.80) I am banking on quality over quantity. We'll see whose strategy turns out to be the 'winner' by the end of the week.
That's all we have for you this evening. Maggie gets the competition started tomorrow evening, so be sure to stop back tomorrow night to see what she brought to the table. Until then,