Weekend Food Homework.
Cook something different!



It is Thursday night and I’m sitting here watching one of my favourite shows in the world, Masterchef Australia. It’s like Masterchef US only these people can really cook and the judges don’t belittle the contestants because producers think that’s what makes good television.

Good television is made when people are allowed to be authentic. When real situations are allowed to be shown. Not fake, real situations that the producers have invented for the sake of “entertainment”.

Do you know I hosted a decorating show once where I literally tripped through a whole tray of white paint while wearing a brown, floor length winter coat?  I tripped, screeched, slid, fell then swore.  All while trying to hold my coat up in a Batman type manner to avoid getting it stained.  My attempts to remain cool and clean failed.

There was a camera and a microphone on me the entire time. Did that make it into the final version of the show? No. But the fake, producer fabricated “Oh NO! Will the comforter arrive in time??!!!” drama did. Why use highly entertaining genuine drama when you can fake some really bad stuff?

Where was I?  Right!  Masterchef Australia.  Great show.  I’ve talked about it here before.

I find this cooking show in particular to be incredibly inspirational when it comes to food ideas.  Being in Australia they cook a LOT more seafood than I do, but every time they cook it I think “I’m gonna cook that.  I’m gonna cook some seafood.”  And then I promptly throw a chicken in the oven.  Oh my LORD!  Speaking of chicken, on a recent episode they did a recipe that was a Chicken Parcel. It’s a mixture of ground chicken, portobello mushrooms and sliced chicken baked in the oven.  Here’s the kicker … the filling I just described is wrapped IN CHICKEN SKIN!  It’s like a chicken pot pie, but instead of pastry, the filling is encased in crispy, delicious chicken skin!

Sorry.  Probably should have told the 18% of you out there who are vegan/vegetarian to cover your eyes for that last part.

Where was I?  Right!  Seafood.  I have decided that THIS weekend is the weekend I’m going to make a Masterchef inspired seafood dish.  Nothing big.  Nothing too intimidating.  Just scallops.


I have always wanted to cook scallops for myself but never have.  Ever.  I have no idea why.  It’s not like they’re difficult or even hard to come by.

So that is my goal this weekend, to make a nice little scallop appetizer.  Sear them, flip, sear them, eat.

I figured this is a good time to give you another homework assignment.  You haven’t had one in a while.

This weekend I want you to cook something different.  

Something you’ve always been meaning to cook.  Or something you’ve always wanted to try.  Even just a fun fruit for dessert, or a different cut of meat. Anything, so long as it’s different.

And here’s the most fun part!  After you’ve prepared it, I would like you to photograph your new food and send it to me.  I will feature all the photos of your foods next Friday, with the debut picture being my scallops.

Send your pictures to [email protected]  Deadline for sending in pictures is Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. EST.

Have a good weekend!



  1. Elfrieda says:

    If you can get the station, BBC America airs the British Master Chefs shows .. Fabulous; very innovative dishes and so well put together.

  2. Natika says:

    I sort of don’t really follow recipes at the best of times, but lately I’ve been asked to show some Japanese people how to make Canadian food. Of all the things we could have done, sushi pizza is what was chosen, so I’ve been experimenting with how to make that.

    Turns out – it’s super easy! I think it’s going to be a regular staple at home now too.

  3. I’m going to have to check out MC Australia now. I’m really not liking all the drama on the new US series. Mystery box are my favourite challenges because they’re actually about cooking! Team challenges have absolutely nothing to do with cooking and just show how annoying the contestants are.

  4. Bonnie says:

    I totally burned the jalapeño poppers. My son was so understanding, saying, “Well, it was your first time making this.”

    I have so much work to do this weekend that, although I love to cook, my adventure will be a new combination of take out pizza.

    • Karen says:

      :( Sorry Bonnie. You’re not the first to burn them though. Kim did it too. And me. I’ve done it. It happens. (the grease drips down from the bacon and then the fire flares up) Boooo. ~ karen!

  5. Tracie says:

    Karen, I just remembered the jalepeno poppers!!!

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Well … they *are* good, but part of the reason they’re good is the low calorie count. I’d go for the antojitos! Plus you can freeze extras and pull them out for a midnight snack. If you’re anything like me that is. ~karen!

  6. Tracie says:

    I just got a bunch of succulents from a great friend of mine and would love one or two of those planters….Anyway, I am totally up for your challenge. For some reason when you tell us to do something, I feel compelled to do it! I’m thinking the Uncle Shifty appetizer would be good and can’t think of any reason I haven’t already made it. We’ll see. I used to cook and bake all the time, back when I was raising a family. Even home made bread and cinnamon buns, yum. And thanks again for Master Chef Australia! I only saw one season so far, but there is no comparison really. Soooo good!

    And Mindy, that apricot jalepeno jam sounds pretty awesome!

  7. Mindy says:

    I’m a wee bit obsessed with “new recipe night.” I’m constantly trying new things. ‘Cause I love food. And I love to eat. And I love to eat new food. And that started even before I became a food photo hoarder on Pinterest. But I did start a board recently titled, “Pinterest Recipes I’ve Tried.” Plus I blog anything new worth sharing. To send you one picture of something new I’ve made would be like sending you a picture of my favorite kid. Word would get out and I’d be shunned. Just kidding. I just meant I could never pick. I’d stress over the decision for days. So I won’t send you any. How d’ya like them apples? Okay, I might change my mind before the day’s over. I just made new recipe Apricot-Jalapeno jam that’s pretty damn good. I have pictures. I could send you one. Or not. And now this is just getting ridiculous. Please don’t 86 me from commenting. I only do it once in a while and now you know why. I don’t know when to stop talking. Okay, I’m stopping now. And I’m looking forward to seeing other people’s food pictures. And I love Master Chef. Even the US one, ’cause it’s the only one I know.

  8. Paula Chelesnik says:

    I just want to agree with you on the fake situations. I always comment to my husband when I think they are faked. I will try to cook something new. Cooking isn’t really my favorite thing to do but a girls gotta eat and I’m trying to find more joy in it. Your weekly menus are so impressive to me.

  9. toekneetoni says:

    great idea! love the challenge! thanks.

  10. I boned a chicken and stuffed it once…chicken Quasimodo. It might have been delicious but all I can remember is how it looked.

  11. Sarah In Illinois says:

    I will be cooking for my BF’s 11 year old twins. I am not sure how brave I will get with trying something new. I will see if they will join in and that may help!

  12. Kitten Caboodle says:

    Wow, this post could not be more timely. Yesterday I ran across a recipe for a gazpacho with grilled shrimp and garlic croutons that sounded amazing. I have never even eaten gazpacho in my life – the idea of a cold soup is just not all that appealing to me. But this recipe had a few things going for it: 1) Spanish flavors via smoked paprika and sherry vinegar, which I love and 2) shrimp and garlic bread. I figure even if I don’t like the gazpacho as a soup, it would still be a nice sauce to dunk the bread and shrimp into! Fingers crossed!

    • Bonnie says:

      I love gazpacho, but I have never tried it with shrimp. Will you share your recipe?

      • Kitten Caboodle says:

        Hi Bonnie – The shrimp isn’t actually in the soup, They’re on the side with the garlic bread. They are, however, marinated in olive oil, sherry vinegar and smoked paprika which mirrors the flavors in the soup. Just a half hour in the marinade and 2 minutes/side on the grill. They made excellent soup dunkers.

  13. Jeannie B says:

    First of all. I would haved loved to see you trip over that tray of white paint in your brown winter coat. As long as you hadn’t hurt yourself, it would have been great slapstick. I’m thinking, “Carol Burnett”.And Karen,what about just stuffing a chicken with chopped mushrooms and ground chicken and roasting it. Same dish pretty much, isn’t it? I think this is a great idea, to get us cooking something different than the usual. I’ve got oodles of recipes that I’ve saved over the years, that I’ve never tried.

    • Karen says:

      Jeannie – I know it *sounds* like the same thing, but it’s the whole point of having a boneless individual sized serving on your plate that is completely encased in chicken skin. No carving, no falling apart once you do carve it. Sooooo good. ~ karen!

      • Diane says:

        Wouldn’t it take longer to cook the ground chicken inside the whole chicken so the whole chicken would overcook?

        • Karen says:

          No. It shouldn’t. For one thing the chicken in this particular recipe is diced. ~ karen!

  14. Patti says:

    I’m going camping this weekend, so it might be a little tough, AND it’s my local multicultural festival as well, so when we get home I won’t be cooking, either (too much delicious food to eat!).

    So.. I guess camping I will try those s’mores cone things!

    But, for the record, I purchased everything I need to make sushi and udon yesterday, so I will be making it on Monday night! Still counts, doesn’t it?!

    • Karen says:

      Patti – You can make it whenever you want, so long as I get the picture in time. :) Glad the poppers worked out too! ~ karen

  15. Dee says:

    This is just the inspiration I need to get out of the same old, same old. Thanks for the challenge, Karen.

    I’ve used Costco’s frozen scallops before and they are “dry”. Makes all the difference for the searing.

  16. Bobbi says:

    A vegan friend is having a birthday next week, so I will be test baking some vegan cupcakes……

  17. Becca says:

    I hope you hide your appetite for crispy, delicious chicken skin from Cuddles and the other girls.

  18. Marti says:

    What a great idea! I’m in! Except I’m super busy this weekend, because I have and a job interview that I leave for, so can I have a “grace period” to get it done when I get back (plus one day for prep and sleep) on Wednesday?

  19. Jasper says:

    I love you site Karen. you are so inspiring. I’m making tie dye cookies made from spenda. other then that I hate to cook. haha.

  20. mia pratt says:

    Ok I’m going to try this, despite having sworn to never cook again after closing my little restaurant. If I’m able to muster up a little sumpthn-sumpthn, I’ll send a photo. Chocolate sounds good…and seafood. Not together. Well, together but not in the same pan. You know what I mean!

  21. amyfaith says:

    mmmmmm, hot crispy salty greasy chicken skin…. mmmmmm

    … wait, I’m sorry, were you saying something?

  22. RosieW says:

    Only two comments will open – and it shows 14. Hope you can fix that.

    Good luck on the scallops. My attempts tasted good but sure didn’t look like the maybe photoshopped recipe pics.

  23. Sarah says:

    I cooked brussel sprouts for the first time last night. I’ve never had them and neither has my husband. They were gross and I don’t have a picture.

    • Karen says:

      Brussels sprouts ARE gross. ~ karen

    • Elfrieda says:

      I absolutely hated them when I was in school, in England — it was the only veggie dished up with school lunches (I am talking some many years ago). But now, with my second husband (also from the UK), I’ve started to cook them now and then. Never would I just boil them; yuck. Sauté with some olive oil and garlic. Lots of good recipes can be found online.

  24. Jodi says:

    I want the recipe for the scallops in that picture, Karen! That sauce looks SO yummy!

  25. Reg says:

    Doggone. I’ve been invited to a couple of functions this weekend and won’t be doing any cooking at home. Gee, what a sacrifice, someone else will be cooking. Will a picture of some fancy beer in a cooler full of ice count? ;)

  26. Kim says:

    Great assignment! I need at least 2 weeks for my new experiment in “eat fresh…eat local”. It involves the dorking fowl project and a hundreds of years old project finishing the cockerals with milk and bread. Yes, we are dabbling in fresh backyard chickens for the table. Our friends at Moose Manor Farms in MD have done this for some time now, but neither of us with this “gourmet” centuries old breed. “More meat around the wishbone”….yum. Currently, they are all running around the pasture living happy chicken lives. Beautiful creatures, friendly and part of a hopefully more sustainable lifestyle.

  27. Laura Bee says:

    Oh my goodness – the pressure!

  28. Kim says:

    I’m planning on trying the jalapeño poppers this weekend. It’ll be something new if they work! Hopefully, they’ll be just as camera-worthy as but infinitely more edible than my first attempt! Haha!

    • Karen says:

      Hah! Good luck. Your last batch were the tiniest bit crispy if I recall. :) ~ karen!

      • Patti says:

        I meant to let you know, Karen – my guy made your jalapeno poppers last weekend at my brother’s bachelor party. They were a hit!

        • Quuen Bee says:

          had the poppers for my birthday – big hit here too :)

        • Pam says:

          I made them for a pool party last weekend and everyone loved them. Now I need to find out how to cut up the peppers without choking. (Wore gloves for my hands but what do I do about my lungs?!)

  29. Dagmar says:

    Can I just sit at a table instead of on the couch Karen ? I think with my body being so limited in food intake, I may get sick trying something new, but I’ll try eating it on the balcony or maybe even at a TaBLe. Wouldn’t that be something?

  30. Jenny W says:

    Ok, so now I want a big ol bucket of CHICKEN SKIN!

  31. Amie Mason says:

    Yay! It’s so funny that your into Aussie Master Chef. It’s loosing viewers over here. I don’t think it’s as good as it used to be – but hey, I still watch it…. although they cry a lot this season! Wimps!

    Ok, I’m tossing up between garfish or quail…. hmmm

    BTW. Make sure you get fresh scallops – preferably in the shell and not frozen. Frozen one’s tend to take on water and taste like a sponge when they cook. Good luck!

  32. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Hey..This will be he first time I ever ate my homework..I was just kidding when I said the dog ate it..

  33. Pam'a says:

    I wish there was something I’ve always wanted to cook, but there isn’t. But if I get someone *else* to cook something for me that I’ve always wanted to eat, I’ll be sure to take a picture of it!


  34. Lemurific says:

    I love scallops but haven’t really been able to come by fresh ones. Apparently, frozen ones are worthless. At least that’s what I gather from the chefs on Top Chef.

    • Audrey says:

      Lemurific, you are right. Frozen scallops will not sear and will emit a milky substance. That has been my experience, anyway, here in land-locked Tennessee. I have heard that one should look for “dry” scallops. Probably not something we can get here, sadly.

  35. Jill says:

    I’m in! With new stuff coming from the CSA, who knows what I’ll get up to!

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