“Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun”

I mean, I’m not going to say that Bryan and I are the best chefs in Nashville, but…? Feel free to call us Champion Food Artists, if you must.

We’ve started this amazing monthly(ish) cooking competition with our friends. It all started back in October, when Bryan had the idea to host a chili cookoff at our house. We invited a handful of friends over and tasted about 10 chilis. Then, we voted and awarded prizes for the Most Creative and Best Overall chilis. We even rewarded the Overall winner with a thrifted trophy!

That competition proved to be so fun that the chili winners, Ashley and Jeremy, decided to host a second cooking contest at their home – tacos. We reconvened in December, bringing in a few more friends, and tasted some truly creative tacos ranging from Tex Mex to Korean Beef to a sweet taco that used a pancake tortilla. Bryan and I made Greek tacos with lamb, homemade falafel and homemade tzatziki sauce. In that contest, Hannah and Jaired walked away victorious, having made incredible Reuben tacos, complete with thousand island dressing and crunchy rye croutons.

As the winners, Hannah and Jaired hosted our third competition this weekend and selected the category: pies. Bryan and I brainstormed for weeks to find the perfect pie idea, knowing that competition would be fierce. We’d need something delicious enough to be a crowd pleaser, but unexpected enough to impress. Bryan came up with our ultimate selection: A McDonald’s Big Mac hand pie.

I’ll be honest: At first, I thought that sounded gross. But the more I thought about it, the more I started loving the idea. (“I’m lovin’ it,” you could say.)

So, on Saturday, we crafted our perfect pies. We cut pie dough into circles and filled them with slices of American cheese, dill pickle coins, ground beef and the top secret signature Big Mac sauce. (We found a few sauce recipes online and chose the one we thought was closest.) Then, we sealed up the pies, rubbed them with an egg wash and topped them with sesame seeds, a bit more sauce and shredded iceberg lettuce.

And, I’ll be honest you guys, they tasted exactly like Big Macs, which made me strangely proud.

We were up against some stiff competition, as usual. A Thai curry chicken puff pastry, a deep-dish pizza pie and a toasted marshmallow s’mores chess pie among them. But, I’m proud to say that we walked away VICTORIOUS!

It’s our turn to host the next competition, and we’ve chosen a slightly different theme: brunch cocktails with a garnish. Think Bloody Mary’s with kebabs stacked with┬ásavory snacks, deliciously sweet boozy coffee drinks, or fruity, tangy bellinis.

These contests have become so fun. I love brainstorming with Bryan, experimenting with different flavors and ingredients in our kitchen, and then pulling out all the stops to execute the most flavorful dish. We’ve been blessed with friends who are great cooks, and the meals never disappoint.

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