If you aren't acquainted with the Food Network Show, Chopped, I'll fill you in right now! Chopped is a fast-paced show where four culinary artists set out to prepare a three-course meal consisting of an appetizer, entree, and dessert. You may be thinking that sounds pretty easy, right? But alas there is a catch.

Bowl of pesto pasta with salad greens, tomatoes, and cheese
Photo by Eaters Collective

In each round, the chefs must prepare a dish that utilizes all of the ingredients that the show provides them. Which would be pretty low on the difficulty scale, that is, if the ingredients were anything that would normally be used in a kitchen. And sometimes, there are one or two normal ingredients, but for the most part, it is a random pairing of ingredients.

You will often find anything from leftover pizza, ostrich eggs, gummy candy, beef tongue, marmite, and rose water. Yes, you read that right, all of those things could be combined together, and the chef must make use of all ingredients to successfully complete the challenge, and keep the judges happy.

Butcher's hands cut a slab of raw beef
Photo by Armando Ascorve Morales

Now you must be thinking that there's no way a chef could take those ingredients and make something even remotely edible. But almost every time something great is made despite the odds. Of course, there are also times where the course is completely botched, as it's hard to fully conceptualize an idea with the time allotted. Things happen.

Wok cooking vegetable stir fry in a kitchen
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

Say you forget to use an ingredient, that could ultimately mean a disqualification, so you really have to be mindful of everything that you're doing.

Now in terms of you and your partner, I think it's possible to borrow these same ideas to create a fun, memorable, and slightly competitive date night. By pretending you're contestants on Chopped, it allows the two of you to do something you never did before, and it challenges yourselves to think outside the box.

Onions, potatoes, cilantro, and spices on a cutting board
Photo by Syd Wachs

What would be really fun is that instead of using the same ingredients as your partner, the two of you decide to pick out each others. Now, this way you can make it as hard or as easy as you want to. You may wish to copy the strangeness of the ingredients previously used on the show, or if you want to be nice and easy on them, use ingredients that you know you wouldn't mind eating (as you'll probably be the one to eat or at least taste test the food they make).

Or, perhaps if you have children, you can put on a show for them, and have them be the deciding judge as to what dish tastes better. That way you can incorporate a date night without having to pay for a babysitter.

Kid reaching for fresh strawberries on the kitchen counter
Photo by Kelly Sikkema

By cooking together in the kitchen you're able to be more connected and happier. You know how the saying goes, "spend time, not money?" Well, that same way of thinking is applied here. With the busy schedules, people have, quality time with loved ones can sometimes be put on the backburner. I urge you to be more conscious of this and set aside a time each week where you can fully be there in the moment with your partner (set aside phones, or other distractions). By being present in the moment, working on a task, you'll feel accomplished and connected as a couple.

Plus, if you already have some things in your fridge that you haven't touched in awhile, this could be your chance to use them. So bring out those pickles, horseradish sauce, wilting spinach, and cheese doodles.

It's time to get creative, and hopefully not Chopped.

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