The Hands-On Cook-Off contest is all about cooking and enjoying food together and as such there are no rules about what you can cook. With a three minute time cap on your video submissions you should obviously avoid anything that takes hours to prepare. At the same time, you do not have to find a recipe you can complete in three minutes flat as you can edit your video and use captions or commentary to fill in the gaps.

While on one hand it’s great that the #HandsOnCookOff places no restrictions on what you cook, on the other hand, if you are like me, the task of choosing anything can become overwhelming.

So how on earth are you supposed to decide what to cook?

Speak With Your #HandsOnCookOff Team

To begin with speak with the person, or persons, you will be cooking with. You are cooking together as a team, so it is a good idea to choose what to cook together.

Decide What You Are Good At

When you make your video, you don’t want to be worried about making mistakes or trying to work out how to do something new. Yes, it is always a good idea to try new foods and recipes, but when you are making a video for the Hands On Cook Off contest, may not be the best time.

Instead, talk about the food you both already enjoy preparing and eating.

Choose Something Fairly Easy

Don’t try to be too clever and create an extremely complicated dish. The contest is not all about who can make the most “difficult” meal. At the same time, the judges do want to see some cooking skills, so a three-minute video showing how to make a peanut butter sandwich is unlikely to be a winner!

Watch Previous Hands On Cook Off Entries

You can view all of the previous entries and winners of the contest on the Better Together, Hands On Cook-Off website, and while you shouldn’t just copy one of these videos or recipes, they will give you a good idea of the kind of thing the judges are looking for.

And now, while you are mulling over what to cook you can read my interview with Hands-On Cook-Off judge Claire Newell.

Claire Newell:

What inspired you to make travel journalism your career? – Apart from the fact that anyone would have to be mad not to want to travel, write about it, and get paid to do so!

I have always loved to travel and after university, I wanted to see if I could start a travel business. About 3 months after starting the business (26 years ago)I had the opportunity to do a short segment on TV. That chance opportunity opened the door to what I do today.  I feel lucky & grateful to do what I do every day.

What are your favorite travel destinations – as far as good family food is concerned?

Everywhere I have ever traveled, I have been fortunate to experience amazing food with my family. We are open to trying new foods and always ask to try local specialties & prefer the fresh, local cuisine. 

What’s the one food you couldn’t do without?

I have a real sweet tooth and my favorite is dark chocolate. 

Do you have any hints and tips about what healthy snacks to pack when traveling with children?

When travelling with children I recommend putting healthy snacks in small zip top bags that are in individual portions — especially if you have more than one child. Think of things your kids like that aren’t messy and that you can take through customs without any issues. Some of the things that my kids like are trial mix, yogurt covered raisins, dry cereal, popcorn or crackers. 

What do you enjoy cooking with your children?

I love cooking pasta with my kids. They have become really good cooks and are adventurous & creative in the kitchen. Although, I have to say that in the warmer months my husband & son are amazing with the barbecue while my daughter and I try to create fun, healthy salads to go with whatever the boys are grilling. 

What is your family’s favorite meal to cook and eat together?

Sunday dinner is always a family affair in our house. Each person in the family makes part of the meal. It’s a time for us to catch up on the week and we have fun trying new recipes or old favorites. 

Find Out More

Everything you need to know about the Hands-On Cook-Off contest.

Claire Newell can be found:

Twitter : @ClaireNewell

Instagram: Claire Newell Travel

Pinterest: Claire Newell

Facebook: Claire Newell Travel

Web: &


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