Chopped Junior champ Claire Hollingsworth says cooking is a family affair

568dd4f374357.image January 25 — “Baking and cooking has always been something that we have done together as a family,” says Claire Hollingsworth, winner of the grand prize on the January 5, 2016 episode of Chopped Junior. “The kitchen has always been the heart of our home — literally, it is in the center of our house.”

Cooking is also near and dear to her heart, she adds. “When I was little, my father was a stay-at-home dad and let me help with the food prep. He didn’t make me feel like a kid who wasn’t allowed to cook. He taught me to bake first, and that was yummy. Then, when he returned to work, my brother, mom and I were involved when it came to making dinner. I loved it because we’d talk about our day while we were cooking our meal.  My dad was always buying new vegetables for us to try. I liked the challenge of learning about new foods, then cutting, chopping them, and tasting the results.”

Here’s are tips on how you can do the same: 

  1. Never be scared about how your dish will turn out because if it doesn’t taste good or you burn it, try again and learn from it.  My dad always said, “We can eat cereal if this dish doesn’t work out.”
  2. Don’t be fooled by how easy things look on the cooking shows you watch on TV. Although the dishes always seem to turn out perfectly, that’s just the magic of editing. They can stop the camera and start over, and you’ll never know it thanks to the magic of the editing process. Those celebrity chefs make plenty of mistakes, too!
  3. If you really want to learn to be creative in the kitchen — experiment. Look in the fridge for a main ingredient you want to eat, then go through cookbooks or look online for a recipe.
  4. For fun, change one thing in the recipe — like a spice or a fruit or a seasoning. I love experimenting!
  5. Remember tip #1! Sometimes my experiments work out — sometimes they do not.  One of the best desserts I ever made was a chocolate brownie marshmallow parfait. But I didn’t intend for that to be desert! I messed up the brownies I was baking, and I repurposed them. The result was even better. I love cooking!

Never cry over spilt milk

image3January 24 — Nine-year-old Emily Waters of Richmond, VA was thrilled to be chosen to participate in the January 5, 2016 episode of the Food Network’s Chopped Junior episode, “Cuteness Overload.”

So what was the one big take-away lesson that she learned from being on national TV?

If a new recipe doesn’t turn out — try again!

image1 January 22 — “Always remember that cooking means experimenting, and sometimes experiments go awry,” says January 5, 2016 Chopped Junior contestant Emily Waters. “And even if a recipe doesn’t turn out quite right, it doesn’t mean you are a bad chef.  You might just need to try again.”

After all, Emily says, she didn’t make it to the final round of the Chopped Junior. But that doesn’t matter, she knows. “I had a ball, and it’s an experience I will remember for the rest of my life.”

Want something new for dinner tonight? Check the pantry for inspiration, says Chopped Junior contestant Emily Waters

image6January 21 — “Creating new recipes is one of the most fun things I do,” says Chopped Junior contestant Emily Waters.

“Sometimes, I just look through the pantry and see what we have in there. Then I get creative and come up with something new and yummy.”

Tips: “Be sure that the flavors go well together, but that the dish is new and interesting at the same time.”

Emily Waters best tip for prepping — and cleaning up

washing dishesJanuary 20 — Chopped Junior contestant Emily Waters knows that cooking well requires a lot of preparation, as well as clean-up time.

What’s her best tip for prepping? “Make sure you do all of your chopping first and that your oven is preheated,” she says.

What’s her favorite cleaning-up tip? “Try to stay neat as you go so that it’s not as overwhelming at the end.”

What’s Chopped Junior contestant Emily Waters’ secret to cooking well?

brushetta_image by Michael Spencer, flickr.comJanuary 19 — “Cooking well means always having fun in the kitchen. It should never feel like a chore. And, there’s never one way to make a dish. Following recipes can be great, but coming up with your variation is sometimes better. Just have fun and enjoy cooking — and always try to learn something new.”

Emily says one of the fun things that she learned on Chopped Junior is that bruschetta is actually pronounced Bru-sKe-ta — not Bru-sHe-tta.

Here’s what you need to make bruschetta: 

  • 1 loaf sourdough bread sliced 1 inch thick
  • 4 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 diced roma tomatoes
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 T. fresh chopped basil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Step 1: Brush bread slices with olive oil and broil on each side until toasted.

Step 2: In a small bowl combine the remaining ingredients.

Step 3: Spoon tomato mixture onto the toasted bread and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.


What made Emily Waters want to cook — and how can she inspire other kids to do the same? 

chickentomatoes_image by Jeffrey, flickr.comJanuary 18 — Today we celebrate the appearance of Emily Waters on the Food Network’s Chopped Junior TV show on Jan. 5, 2016. The Edible Education® student was one of four contestants, and she made it to the entree round.

So this week we’ll share 7 tips from Emily, starting with the reason she wanted to become a good cook — and how can she inspire other kids to do the same!

Emily says: “I have loved watching Food Network with my mom, and that made me want to always be with her when she cooked dinner. She and I worked together to figure out which dishes our family liked the best, and we started to look forward to having a night where we always cooked it — like my favorite, Roma Tomatoes and Chicken over Pasta.”

Click here for the recipe.

Quinoa is ideal for a gluten-free diet

4411446668_6d9bbae361_bJanuary 17 — We end our week’s worth of tips on quinoa with good news for those on a gluten-free diet: Quinoa is is ideal because it not only lacks gluten — it doesn’t even belong to the same plant family as wheat, oats, barley, or rye.

Some studies also show quinoa flour to have higher-than-expected digestibility. Both of these factors would be expected to decrease the risk of an adverse reaction to quinoa—especially in comparison to a cereal grass like wheat.

While it is possible to make baked goods and pastas out of 100% quinoa flour, most companies combine quinoa flour with other flours (like tapioca flour or rice flour) or with oatmeal to produce a lighter texture. (Products made with 100% quinoa flour typically have a heavy and dense texture, sometimes referred to as “truffle-like.”) When combined with rice flour or tapioca flour, however, quinoa-based products definitely qualify as gluten-free and should help reduce risk of adverse reactions.

The most common type of quinoa you will find in the store has an off-white color but red and black quinoa are becoming more available.

Try this recipe tonight: Quinoa Pilaf with Veggies!

Care and feeding of your quinoa

bulk-binsJanuary 16 — Quinoa is generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the quinoa are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness.

Whether purchasing quinoa in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture. When deciding upon the amount to purchase, remember that quinoa expands during the cooking process to several times its original size. If you cannot find it in your local supermarket, look for it at natural foods stores, which usually carry it.

Store quinoa in an airtight container. It will keep for a longer period of time, approximately three to six months, if stored in the refrigerator.