Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Awesome Hors d’œuvre

Posted: November 27th, 2009 | Author: alyssa | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

A few years ago I was rifling through my mothers recipes, and I stumbled across something called antipasto bread that was a recipe from one of her close friends who is a great cook.  I asked her about it and she said that it was really good but she never made it because it was a pain in the ass.  Now, for those of you that don’t know, I have some sort of ridiculous imbalance that heard that as a challenge…I HAD to make this.  So I made sure I had all the ingredients, and dove right in.  It turned out that it was a big hit, and has become one of those family things where everyone just assumes that I will make it for all family events.

I have changed the filling to all sorts of crazy things, but the general principle has remained the same.  When I am in a hurry (like Thanksgiving where my sister and I are cooking like fiends for days ahead of time)  I use a bread mix because its easy to deal with, but when I actually have the time and patience, I will make my own bread dough.

You can use almost any kind of bread dough on this one, so just make whatever dough you want ready and set it aside to rise.  Once its rising you can get to the filling.  This time around I made two different ones, so I will give you both ingredients:

Standard Filling:

-1lb sausage removed from its casing–this is not a particularly appetizing job, but if the sausage is a little frozen it makes it a lot easier…unless your grocery store sells the ground sausage, which mine does not

-1 to 1 1/2 cups of frozen spinach

-1 Tbsp minced garlic

- 1 large onion, diced

-1 pkg mozzarella cheese

-shredded parmesan

Just sautee the sausage until it fully cooked making sure to break it up into the smallest pieces possible.   When the meat is about half way cooked, add the onions and garlic.  Meanwhile, put the spinach in a microwave safe bowl and microwave it until it is fully heated through.  Using a LOT of paper towels, squish the spinach to get as much liquid as possible out of it.  You want the spinach really dry so it doesn’t make the bread soggy.  Once the spinach is done and dry, toss it in with the sausage and mix it all together.  Take it off the heat and add as much Parmesan as it takes to taste like you want it to.  At that point, just set it aside until you are ready to use it.

The other stuffing I used today was a lot more simple.  All it takes is ground sausage cooked with onions and garlic (same as above), sliced deli pepperoni, and 1 pkg sliced mozz cheese.

Once the bread has fully risen, turn it out onto a well floured surface and work with well floured hands.  It doesn’t really matter if you are a little overzealous with the flour because with the filling inside, the bread won’t get tough.

Dough

Then roll out the dough until it is even in width and about 1/4 inch thick or a little thicker:
Rolled OutOnce the dough is rolled out an no longer trying to pull back to a smaller circle, then you can start adding the filling.  First put the cheese all over the bread leaving about 1 to 1 1/2 inches all around the edge.  Then put the filling pepperoni (or sausage filling)  Cheese and Pepperoni

Then continue to layer whatever toppings you are putting into the bread, in this case for me it was the sausage:

Add Sausage

Once all the stuff in on the dough, take one side and start to roll it up slowly to make sure the dough doesn’t tear.  Keep rolling (jelly roll style) until there are only about 2 to 3 inches left that you can just pull up and over.  Jelly Roll

Once it is completely rolled, make sure the dough is staying closed and fold over the ends so everything doesn’t melt out the sides.  Score the top with a paring knife, but make sure not to cut too deep so that the stuff bubbles out the top (I learned that one the hard way…) and put it on a cookie sheet with the seam down.

Final bread

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes and immediately brush with butter when it comes out of the oven.  Wait for it to cool and then slice it up.  People will be WICKED impressed, and it tastes really good.  I tend to make it a day or more ahead of time and then just keep it in the fridge or freezer until I’m ready.  If you are going to freeze it, make sure you don’t slice it before you freeze it because when you heat it up the slices will dry out.  Its better to keep the loaf whole and then heat it up and slice it when you are ready to serve it.  I tend to serve it with marinara sauce, but it depends on what you put in it.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Enjoy!

TT


Thanksgiving Deliciosity Part Deux- Cranberry fritters

Posted: November 21st, 2009 | Author: alyssa | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

When it comes to Thanksgiving recipes, my family is pretty set in their ways.  We all have our favorite dish, and if it wasn’t on the table for Thanksgiving, we would die.  For one of my sisters, it is corn.  Not super complex, but a NECESSITY.  For my other sister, it is crescent rolls, which unfortunately we often forget in the over and are super overdone.  But they are there.  For me, its broccoli and onion casserole, again very simple: broccoli, onions and a cheddar white sauce, but hey I love it and it is a must have.  My mother tried to change the menu one year and added sweet potato casserole (I know its a tradition in most houses, but had NEVER been present in our kitchen) for my brother in law who was spending his first Thanksgiving with us (god bless him).  We were outraged that she would change the menu, even if it was just to add something.  I don’t tell you this information to make you think we are resistant to change, just that we feel strongly about our traditions.  Fortunately, we do not have our ‘required’ desserts, and it tends to depend on the year, and what we find at the grocery store that looks good.  So when we decided to test out some Thanksgiving recipes for our dear Bakezilla, I immediately gravitated toward desert, because to test another side dish would feel a little like adultery to me.  So as I was wandering around in recipe land I stumbled across Paula Deen’s cranberry sauce fritter recipe, which sounded ok, but used the canned gelatinous cranberry ’sauce’ that we are all so used to.  She simply battered and fried slices of the cranberry jello, which seemed interesting but not entirely up my alley.  However, it did put the idea of cranberry fritters in my head.  So I looked around for other recipes and found one that used real cranberries.  I stumbled across THIS recipe, which I liked so I went ahead and tried it.  The batter was easy enough to make, but when it comes time to handle it, they aren’t kidding when they say your hands need to be well floured…seriously, coat your hands.  Fritter Batter

I rolled the batter in my hands, and poked a little hole to fill with brown sugar and a cranberry and threw it in the oil.  It takes about a minute to get nice and golden.  Of course after making about 3, my inner fat kid escaped and had to try one.  So I bit into and it was super crispy and delicious…except in the first bite I didn’t get any cranberry…crap.  So I put the rest in my mouth and got a whole mouthful of cranberry as well as the interesting texture of uncooked batter that surrounded the cranberry.  I think that the cranberry made it too dense to really cook all the way through, and the tang of the cranberry was all concentrated in the center, so you get sweet fritter and then BAM super sour cranberry.  Recipe Fail.

Fortunately, I have failed enough  times in my life (insert high school math joke here) so I know not to give up.  I was determined to make this bastard work…it sounded good and dammit, IT WOULD BE.  So I took the cranberries and chopped them up with my awesome food chopper.  I love my food chopper…it get the job done and you get to beat the hell out of it :) .  So then I threw the chopped cranberry directly into the batter and mixed it in.  I pulled off some dough, rolled it in my well floured hands, then still poked a hole in the middle, but this time I filled it with just the dark brown sugar.

Batter I’m not entirely sure why my hands look like weird chimp hands here, but it was super hard to take the picture with my hands covered in baking crap.

Batter and sugar

Then I rolled the dough around the sugar and fried it.  Once it cooled, I rolled it in cinnamon sugar rather than the recommended powdered sugar.Frying Fritter

I did about 10 of those and then did what most people do when they aren’t sure how something is going to taste…I had someone else taste it.  Luckily, he loved it, so I knew I could eat one :) .  The tang of the cranberry balanced out the sweet of the batter and the brown sugar in the middle made for a fun surprise.  I was really pleased with this recipe.  We ate most of them that night, but I may have eaten the last three for breakfast the next day… :)

Cranberry Fritter

This is definitely a recipe that I will make over and over again.  I have even seen some people put in cranberry and apple, so its super versatile and I’m guessing can be adapted to most of the denser fruits.

Many thanks to Peter who was my willing lab rat, and just an all around good guy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

TT


Thanksgiving Deliciosity–Super easy pumpkin mousse

Posted: November 17th, 2009 | Author: alyssa | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 4 Comments »

I’ve never been a huge fan of pumpkin pie.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the flavor with its sweet, spicy amazingness, I think what always got me was the intense density of the dish.  That is probably why, once I was old enough to try eating my favorite Halloween decoration, I stuck more to stealing a couple bites of my dads pumpkin chiffon pie, which was significantly lighter than the traditional pie.  So when I stumbled across a recipe for pumpkin mousse, I thought that it would be perfect for me since it would have the great pumpkin flavor that I like, but be nice and light in texture.  It took about 15 minutes of actual prep time and so far has the approval of 10 high school freshman and one actual adult besides me.

Pumpkin Mousse: ( as stolen from Dave Leiberman on FoodNetwork.com)

-1 can pumpkin (the 15 oz, not that huge beast of a can)

-3 pints (cups) of heavy cream

-3/4 cup of confectioners sugar

-1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

-1 Tbsp vanilla

Seriously this is wicked easy.  Just take the pumpkin, sugar, pie spice and 1 cup of the cream and put it in a sauce pan.  Cook it over medium heat until it is all combined and smooth.  I ended up putting in an extra dash of the spice, just because I wanted the flavor a little stronger.  Once that is cooked, set it aside to cool.  You can put it in the refrigerator if you would like, but I just left mine on the counter to cool, and it took about 20 minutes.  Then take the remaining 2 cups of cream and whip them with the vanilla.  Fold the pumpkin mixture into the whipped cream until it is smooth, and Voila! you have pumpkin mousse….I know, I know…its not REAL mousse with the eggs and everything, but trust me when I say that you barely notice the difference.  I put mine in the fridge to chill for a while and make sure that it set nicely.

I also went a little crazy and made a vanilla bean-cinnamon whipped cream to garnish.  Just whip some cream and put in a dash of cinnamon and vanilla from 1 bean.  I didn’t sweeten it because the mousse was sweet enough, but if you have a bigger sweet tooth, then just use cinnamon sugar rather than just cinnamon

Pumpkin Mousse

Ialso am a big fan of this with a little bit of chocolate syrup added …but I’m a firm believer that everything is better with chocolate :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

TT


Asian Fetish

Posted: November 15th, 2009 | Author: alyssa | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | No Comments »

I love Asian food.  I’m pretty sure it all started with Debbie Wong’s  Chinese food in the town I grew up in.  As I got older, I expanded my horizons into other Asian countries. Not that I was given a choice since my high school’s student body was about 25% Asian, and I had 2 Korean room mates over the course of 4 years.  Unfortunately, in north east Ohio, my options are limited.  There is one really good, but really expensive Thai restaurant, and there is a much cheaper, hole in the wall chinese place that is about 15 minutes away.  Other than that, its about an hour to anything that I’m willing to eat. Because of this I’ve been really experimenting with Asian flavors at home, so that when I have a craving, I don’t have to go on a trip that requires a tent and a weeks supply of water.  So I had an extra pork tenderloin left over that I had to use up, and I decided to do an Asian marinade on it.  I used THIS marinade, minus the chili paste, because I wasn’t really feeling it (ok, I didn’t have any…) and I would recommend increasing the brown sugar and black pepper.  I really liked this but was looking for a little more punch, and I think increasing those two ingredients would help.

I marinated the pork for a couple hours, and then just baked it at 375 until it hit 160 degrees.  Then I let if rest for about 10 minutes so that I wouldn’t lose all that delicious juice.  While the pork was resting,  I cooked some rice noodles in water that was spiked with soy sauce, ginger and a dash of worchestershire  sauce.  I drained the noodles, and let them cool for a minute.  Then I mixed beef broth, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce together until it tasted like I wanted it to and poured it over the noodles to flavor them a little more.  Once everything was ready I sliced the pork and put it on the noodles.  You’ll have to forgive my ‘tupperware plating’ but when I’m on my own, I get lazy with presentation.  I need to feed people more often so that I am forced to make my food pretty :)

Asian Pork and Noodles

I also tossed in some left over green onion, and next time I plan on sauteeing some mushrooms and putting them in as well.  Overall, this was a good recipe, but I have every intention of working to make it even better.

Any suggestions would be welcome :)

TT


The taste of winter

Posted: November 14th, 2009 | Author: alyssa | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

As we get further into the fall and it starts to feel like winter, I slowly begin to remember the hell that is Ohio winter.  With this in mind, I decided to try to turn a negative into a positive.  While winter tends to bring icy walk ways, cars that won’t start, white out snow, and literally NO sunshine for weeks on end, it also brings warm cozy sweaters, and even warmer, cozier food.  Root vegetables, soups, squash, and don’t even get me started on the holiday food :) .   So tonight I decided to make one of my all time favorite winter foods…beef stew.  My mom has a stew recipe that she made while I was growing up that was done completely in the microwave.  It was pretty good, but a) I don’t have any microwaveable cookware, and b) I’m always scared to microwave things like that because I’m a touch slow at times and with my luck I would blow up the microwave, and thus my kitchen.  So I decided to do it in my dutch oven instead.  I had never made it before, and didn’t have a recipe, but I knew the basic components, so I decided to wing it.

Here it goes:

1. pour 3/4 cup of  flour into a plastic bag and season it liberally with salt and pepper.   Throw about 1.5 pounds of stew beef into the bag and shake it to coat all the pieces.

2. Melt a couple TBSP of butter in the pot and put the meat in to brown.   Keep stirring the meat until it is all browned.

3.  While the meat is browning combine 2 cups beef broth (I used bouillon cubes since they are so much cheaper than stock), a cup and a half of red wine and a half a packet of onion soup mix (I wanted to use it up, so I threw it in…good life choice).

4. Once the meat is  browned, pour in the liquid, throw in two whole or halved cloves of garlic and bring it to a boil for about 5 min, uncovered.  Then reduce the heat to simmer, and cover it.  Let it simmer for about an hour to an hour and a half.

5. Cut onion, celery, carrot, and baby bella mushrooms into bite sized pieces.  After the meat has simmered, throw in all the vegetables and keep it covered, simmering for about another half hour (until the veggies are fully cooked).

6. Serve, and be happy.  I suggest using some sort of bread product to soak up the juices, I made biscuits.

Now, I always liked my mom’s stew growing up, and I’m not trying to be a conceited bitch, but holy sh*t dude it was good.  It was all smooth and buttery from the meat and the mushrooms, but with a tang from the vegetables and the wine.  Seriously, I expected to tank this one since I was just sort of throwing crap in a pot, but somehow I stumbled onto something good.  I didn’t put in potatoes because stew is normally heavy enough for me without the added starch, also, I did not in fact have any potato.

This is such a good dish because you can literally throw in anything you have in your fridge.  You could add corn, green beans, peas, anything really.  Once you have the meat done just throw in whatever you want and heat until its cooked.  Its also nice because this would also be something you could easily do in a crock pot.  Just brown the meat in the morning, throw it in the crock pot and set it on low.  When you get home at the end of the day, just put in the veggies and turn it to high for about an hour, and you have dinner.

This is probably going to end up being one of my weekly staples this winter. Anything to get me through another damn Ohio winter :)

Happy Stewing!!

TT


Stuffed Stuff

Posted: November 12th, 2009 | Author: alyssa | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

For those of you that read me with any regularity, you should know by now that I LOVE to stuff things.  I think its because it always sounds, looks and tastes to impressive, but in actuality its pretty easy once you get the hang of it.  Tonight was stuffed pork tenderloin with white wine cream sauce.  Usually when I stuff pork (yes I’m aware that sounds dirty),  its pork chops because I can do individual portions, however tonight I decided to get a little more challenging and stuff a whole tenderloin.  The reason its more challenging is because you can’t just cut  a hole in it and shove food in, like you do with a pork chop.  The tenderloin actually has to be butterflied and pounded pretty thin, but hey, who doesn’t love cooking with a hammer? I wasn’t really sure what to use for the stuffing and none of the recipes I was looking at were really grabbing my attention, so I just sort of threw some stuff together. I ended up stuffing it with a combination of onion, garlic, celery, mushroom, rosemary, thyme, and Gruyère cheese.  I diced up the celery, onion, garlic and mushroom and sautéed them together with butter and a dash of white wine.  It works out if you put the mushrooms in last because they cook pretty quickly and will absorb the flavors of the other vegetables.  Cook the vegetables almost all the way through because the meat doesn’t take long to cook.  While the veggies are cooking, take the meat and cut it down the middle, but not all the way through.  This is not my picture, but it shows it really well.

IMG_0237 Once the meat is cut, put it between two pieces of plastic wrap, grab your kitchen mallet and go to town :) .  If you don’t have a kitchen mallet, then you can use pretty much anything to beat the hell out of it.  I have used a rolling pin, a wine bottle and a regular construction hammer.  Pound it out until it is about a half inch thick all over.

Once your veggies are cooked, throw in a little bit of chopped thyme and rosemary.  I prefer fresh, but if you can’t find it**, go for dried.  Keep in mind that these are strong herbs, so a little goes a long way.  Stir the veggies to incorporate the herbs, and then take it off the heat.  Slice the Gruyère into thin strips, and place them on the meat, then put the stuffing on.  Roll the meat up jelly roll style, and tie it with string.  Place it on a cookie sheet and bake it at 375 for about 20 min.  I cooked it until it reached 160 degrees, so I don’t have an exact time for you.

While that is cooking, you can throw the sauce together ( literally).  The sauce was WICKED easy, probably because I just made it up as I went.  Take equal parts chicken stock and white wine (I used Sauvignon blanc, but pick one that you like) and let them simmer in the pan that I cooked the veggies in.  Once they have reduced by about 1/3, add about a tablespoon of heavy cream and mix it together.  Reduce this again until it coats a spoon.  I also grated in a little of the Gruyère for consistency…and because I love cheese.  The sauce did not get super thick, but I also didn’t wait for it to thicken because I was hungry and it smelled good, so…out came the happy fat kid.

Once the pork is done, take it out and let it sit for a few minutes, then slice it, cover it in sauce and enjoy!

**My grocery store is ghetto, and doesn’t sell thyme.  They were also out of rosemary, however I discovered that they sell the prepackaged herbs in a ‘poultry blend’  which contains rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf.  This was sweet because I got three herbs for the price of one…yay bargain shopping.

This was the final product, and it was really good.  Unfortunately it looks a little monochromatic, but it doesn’t taste that way, I swear :)

IMG00013-20091108-1839

I’ve still got another tenderloin to cook up this week, so I’m thinking that might just be a simple marinade…any suggestions?

TT


The cooking why

Posted: November 9th, 2009 | Author: alyssa | Filed under: Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Sundays are my cooking days.  With my job, its not really feasible to say that I’m going to cook dinner every night, because there are some nights when I don’t get home until 9:30, or I get home at 6:30, and then have dorm duty from 7:15-11:45, so I don’t have time for anything that takes more than 10 minutes.  My solution to this problem is to cook a couple of things on Sunday and have them through the week.  This doesn’t mean I don’t cook at all during the week, but it takes the pressure off so I don’t HAVE to cook in order to have something to eat.

With this in mind, I have had a crazy week and a half with students, parents, administrators, meetings, classes, dorm duty, basketball, etc….so I have been subsisting on the rotisserie chicken from the ACME.  This is a pretty good supplement, but not as fun as something I’ve made myself.  So I actually had two small chickens in my fridge, and decided that it was a perfect time to make chicken soup.  My mom has been making chicken or turkey soup since I can remember and it is my all time favorite ‘mom’ recipe.  I called my mom to confirm a few things and then set about my business.  I set the chicken bodies in a pot and just about covered them with cold water and set it on the stove to boil, uncovered.  Once it had boiled for a few I turned it down to simmer, covered and went to the grocery store.  I was also making pork tenderloin (another post to come, dear readers) so I had a bunch of stuff to get.

Once I was home and going through the process of tasting the stock to get it just right (too much water…Shit…not enough water…etc…) and picking all the gross crap out (bones, et al…) I started thinking about all sorts of stuff.  Most people when they find out I am a culinary dork, ask me what I cook.  I tell them pretty much everything, however I have never really thought about WHY I cook.  This sort of struck me that I had never thought about it before.  I have always liked to cook, but never really thought about why I like to.  So as I was elbow deep in chicken parts (a sexy picture, I know) I thought about it.  Here is what I have come up with:

I cook because its fun.  There is nothing more exciting to me than when I get a new recipe right and get to watch my friends or family make the ‘holy god this is good’ face when they take that first bite.  I am the total cliche chic who turns her music up loud, and dances around the kitchen, singing at the top of my lungs as I work my way through a dish, and I am damn proud of it.

I cook because it is a different kind of challenging.  I am challenged daily in my job, whether it be coming up with a new lab, writing a test, dealing with a student that I would like to kick in the shins, figuring out how to sterilize my lab equipment with a pressure cooker because my school doesn’t think we need an autoclave, or one of the other many fun challenges of my life.  However, cooking is more a personal challenge.  The only one who cares if I succeed is me, and I am a pretty tough critic.  It is a mental and physical challenge that also involves a combination of logic and feeling.  I know all the ingredients that go into bread dough by heart, but I can do it four times in a row and have to adjust it differently each time because the dough just doesn’t feel right.

I cook because I can’t afford a therapist.  Some people run, some people drive, I cook.  When I am cooking, it is a time for me to clear my head, think about my life and figure things out.  Many of my problems have been solved by lasagna, or a double chocolate cake.  I think it is because I am not just thinking but also feeling, smelling, tasting, it just helps me clear my head and see things more clearly.  It is a very satisfying feeling to see the conversion of raw, basic ingredients into a complex and (hopefully) delicious meal.

I cook because I can fail in the kitchen.  Hopefully we have all read my post from this summer where I TOTALLY failed frozen pizza, of all things.  I have never been a person who is really afraid of failure, since failure is just another way to learn, however when I fail in my daily life, others are affected.  If I write a bad test, my kids have to suffer through taking it.  If I do my job poorly, my coworkers have to pick up the slack.  If I burn frozen pizza because I’m functionally retarded and can’t think to remove the cardboard before I put it in the oven…well thats just funny.  If there is a recipe that I continually suck at, then yes I get frustrated, but for the most part if I tank it on a recipe, so what?

Finally, I cook because I am a happy fat kid.  I love food.  Its not just the act of eating that I enjoy, but the power that food seems to have.  Obviously as a scientist I appreciate the energy side of food, however I am constantly amazed at the social power food holds.  Food can bring a family together, it can comfort, it can apologize, and the list goes on.  I had a group of girls in my apartment baking a cake the other day, and just the act of baking made them feel more at home.  All of a sudden, they were all telling stories about home, who they cook with, and what they make.  It was nice to see that one hour and a cake mix could make them feel more comfortable and content with being away from home.

Basically food is amazing, and I love being a part of something that is so steeped in tradition and emotion.

I had not really thought about this in-depth in the past, and trying to answer the ‘why’ of cooking was a really cool thing for me.

And now, a challenge:

Have you ever thought about it?  For some of you it might just be pure necessity, for others it might be more complex, but either way, I’d love to hear it.

WHY do you cook?

TT


Circle of life

Posted: November 1st, 2009 | Author: alyssa | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 3 Comments »

I have been promising the guys I work with that I would have them over for dinner for WEEKS now, and the other night I finally followed through.  Since they are guys I had to make something that was hearty and filling, but still pretty cheap to make, so I decided on meat loaf and mashed potatoes.  I have already gone into my meat loaf recipe, so you guys should know that by now, however I did make a new ‘appetizer’ that I was pretty impressed with.  Screw onion rings…leek rings are the way to go!  They were so amazing, I was even impressed by myself.  All you have to do is take a couple of clean leeks, and cut them into about 1/2 inch slices.  Pull apart the rings so that you have about two to three layers per ring.  Dredge them in flour, then dip them in a milk and egg mixture, then back in the flour and into the oil (at 350ish) until they are golden brown.  Make sure you season the flour with salt and pepper so that their flavor really pops.  The best thing about leek rings is that they are more tender than onion rings, a little sweeter and take a lot less time to fry.  I still have to perfect this, perhaps add some garlic and try buttermilk instead of regular milk, but even in its most basic form, these round pieces of deliciousness are awesome and I recommend giving them a shot.  This will definitely be a newcomer in the super bowl food lineup :)  This is also great because one leek gives you a ton of rings, so its more cost effective :)

IMG00205-20090920-2216

This is all that was left of 4 large leeks with just three people eating…..it was a hit :)

Thanks for reading!

TT


A recipe for Paige

Posted: October 16th, 2009 | Author: alyssa | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 4 Comments »

My sister has been on me for a while now to post about my buffalo chicken dip, so I figured it was about time to get it done…especially since she is pregnant and more than willing to kick my ass :) .

I got the idea for this from one of our favorite restaurants in South Carolina, but it has slowly been evolving for the past couple of years.  I’ve heard a lot of recipes for buffalo chicken dip that use canned chicken, cream cheese and other ingredients that make me cringe a bit (I have a thing against most forms of canned meat), but my recipe is a bit more complex…not difficult, just less simple.

Ingredients:

Oven-safe serving dish

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 white onion (chopped)

2 cloves garlic (diced)

5 strips thick cut bacon

1 bottle ranch dressing

hot sauce of some sort

melted butter

1 can beer (I use Bud Light)

Jack Cheese (shredded)

First things first, cut the bacon into bite sized pieces and brown it in a fry pan.  I like to get mine to the point where it is just starting to get crispy, but still has some give to it.  I have found that gives the best flavor and takes away some of the grainy texture that it gets when its overly browned.  Take the bacon out and let it drain, but leave some of the grease in the pan.  Throw in the onions and saute them until they are soft.  When the onions have become clearly but aren’t fully soft yet, throw in the diced garlic and finish cooking them together.  Remove the onions and garlic and put them in the serving dish, again leaving some of the grease and liquid in the pan.  Cut up the chicken into small, fairly thin pieces.  Cutting chicken is always a pain in the butt, however if you freeze it for about 30 min before you are ready to cut it, it will help you to cut it a lot more easily.  Throw the chicken into the pan and cook it until it is no longer pink on the out side.

While your chicken is cooking, mix together the hot sauce and melted butter.  I wish I could give you more specific measurements, but its really about how you want it to taste and how hot you want it.  I usually end up melting about 4Tbsp butter, and then adding hot sauce until it tastes like I want it to.  Once the chicken is no longer pink, add the butter and hot sauce mixture and coat the chicken with it.  Pour in half of the can of beer and bring it to a boil for a minute.  Reduce the heat to simmer and let it reduce by about a half.  Taste the sauce after it has reduced to make sure it has the right amount of kick for you, I usually end up adding a little more hot sauce.

Once everything is cooked, put it all in the dish and add about 3/4 of the bottle of ranch dressing.  Mix it all together and top it with the cheese.  Bake at 375 until the cheese is brown and bubbly, or if you are serving it right away, just broil it on low for a few minutes.

Serve with tortilla chips, and enjoy!  If you want to be healthier, it is excellent on celery as well, however I am also a big fan of using cucumber slices instead.  Its still a good crunch and I prefer it to celery.

This is one of my favorite things to bring when my friends and I do dinner, or to family stuff, and it will definitely be a part of the super bowl repertoire this year.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

TT


Gourmet Soup

Posted: October 13th, 2009 | Author: alyssa | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

For those of you that don’t know, I live in Ohio, and while they say hell is full of brimstone and fire, I have to disagree.  Hell is NE Ohio between the months of October and May.  First it starts with rain, then moves on to freezing rain and sleet, then the full on snow (the words ‘lake effect’ will haunt me until I die) and then back to freezing rain and cold rain.  Now, I’m sure you are asking yourselves by this point, but surely the sun must come out some time….FALSE.  We go months on end with no sunlight.  Why, dear readers, am I subjecting you to this tirade on the weather in this tragic location?  Because I need to get you into the right mind set for todays dish.  This lack of sunlight came a couple weeks early this year, so for the past two weeks or so, we have had nothing but gray dismal rain.  I don’t know about you guys, but on days like that all I want to do is stay at home, curled up in bed or on the couch and read or watch TV…and I really want comfort food.  So this week when I was planning my meals I decided to pull out one of my ‘new’ recipes from Gourmet Magazine (RIP).  This recipe wasn’t new by any means, just had yet to be tested in my home.  It seemed like the perfect recipe for the weather and my mood: Cheddar Potato Soup with Bacon.  I don’t know about all of you, but anything with bacon and cheese HAS to be worth a shot, and I have always LOVED potato soup, but rarely eat it because I’m fairly certain my thighs would hold a record if they got any bigger.  This soup is perfect because it tastes like a really creamy potato soup, but doesn’t use any milk or cream at all, which still baffles me.  Even better, it was a recipe from Gourmet Magazine…also known as my amazing recipe bible, so of course it would be super tasty.  Luckily the recipe is at Epicurious, so you guys can link to it here.

What I really like about this was that it was super creamy and delicious, but didn’t make me feel like I had eaten a rock after half a bowl.  It was also pretty light, and really comforting in the rain.  The bacon is sprinkled on top, so it stays pretty crispy and you still get the bacony flavor.  I also liked it because if you leave out the bacon and use vegetable stock instead of chicken, it is an amazing vegetarian dish, so its super versatile (I’m pretty sure it could be converted to Kosher fairly simply as well, but I’ll rely on our resident kosher chick to help me out with that one, or tell me that I’m wrong :) ).

A few words of advice on this recipe:

If you are anything like me, you have a tendency to ‘over crisp’ bacon when you cook it like this (some people call it blackened, I call it ’sh-t not f-ing again!).  The easiest way to avoid that it to not over crowd it in the pan, and make sure you cook it over medium heat.  I tend to get impatient and want to turn it up, but I fought the urge on this one and it worked in my favor.

I know I have said this in previous posts, but when you are using wine, or any alcohol in a recipe, make sure its something you LIKE.  A lot of people tend to use cheap ‘cooking wine’ but keep in mind that you aren’t getting drunk off it, so all there is left is the flavor, and if you don’t like that, then why are you putting it in food?  I used a Sauvignon Blanc for this.

When using cheddar cheese in recipes like this, I usually go for the super extra inappropriately sharp cheddar, because its my favorite.  However, I have discovered that the sharper the cheese, the chunkier it is when it melts, so what I have started doing is using half extra sharp for the flavor and balancing it out with a much less sharp cheddar to help keep the creamy texture rather than a grainy feel.

Finally…the chives add great flavor, they are not just a garnish, so if you love chives like I do…go wild!  I probably went through 3 times the amount of chives they recommended for my bowl of soup :) .

With the downfall of Gourmet Magazine, I’m trying to make sure I have all my recipes and back issues because I will no longer have a source for all those delicious and amazing gourmet recipes I have come to love.  Somehow, searching a recipe like this at epicurious.com just won’t feel the same…and unlike guys and Playboy, I really do like it for the articles too.  :(  If you are upset about the loss of Gourmet check out this blog even coming up to celebrate the magazine and mourn our collective loss.

As always, thanks for reading

TT