Can do it all. And modest to boot.

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.


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!


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 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


Mmm..loaf of meat…

Posted: October 9th, 2009 | Author: alyssa | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

Meatloaf is easily one of the most versatile foods on the planet.  Just on this website alone, you will find at least three recipes that are impressively different from one another.  This diversity is one of my favorite things about it, because no matter how you make it, its probably going to be good, and no matter what people say, it is still meat loaf ;) .  Growing up, I had meat loaf maybe a a half dozen times, but it was hardly a staple in our household, probably because none of us liked it.  As I got older and cooking on my own, it was always one of those foods I was curious about, but I had this weird feeling that I had to be a soccer mom of four in a crazy sweater with embroidered reindeer on it to make a successful meat loaf.   Somehow I thought the ingredients would not successfully make a delicious meatloaf if they were brought home in my Jetta and not a minivan.  However, about a year ago, I decided to conquer my fear and tackle the challenge that was meatloaf.  All of the meatloaf recipes I looked at sounded good, but didn’t really seem like they were my style, so I made one up.

Here is my take on the deliciousness that is meat…in loaf form.


1lb ground beef

1lb ground sweet italian sausage

One medium onion diced fine

One large rib of celery diced fine

3-ish cloves of garlic diced fine

a couple of mushrooms (depends on how much you like them) diced fine

1 egg

bread crumbs

italian seasoning


parmesan cheese

red wine – at least 1/3 cup (I usually go more, but I don’t think anyone is surprised by that)

The hardest part of this recipe is cutting all the vegetables up super fine, but the rest of it is cake.  Put the meat in a bowl and mix in all the vegetables  (your hands are your best kitchen tool here).  Mix in the egg and red wine, then the bread crumbs, cheese and herbs until all the liquid is soaked up, if you add too many bread crumbs, the easiest fix is going to be to add more red wine.  I know this would be a tragedy, but hey,  sometimes you have to do things you don’t like in the name of the culinary arts.  Schlep it all onto a cookie sheet and form it into a loaf type shape and top it with more shredded parmesan.  Bake it at 375 for appx. an hour…I usually just shove my meat thermometer in until it gets to 160 degrees.

Of course with this, I have to make mashed potatoes.  I usually try to make a different kind every time, but so far my favorites are the fully loaded mashed potatoes, carmelized onion and bacon mashed potatoes, and bleu cheese mashed potatoes.

Happy Carnivore-ing!


Save gourmet cooking…start with Gourmet

Posted: October 6th, 2009 | Author: alyssa | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: | 1 Comment »

When my cohort, the improviser, told me that Conde Nast was planning on shutting down Gourmet, I was not particularly pleased.  However the more I’ve been thinking about it (and 6 hours on planes and in airports today let to a lot of ‘think time’)  the less angry I get and the more disappointed and frustrated I get.  I know, I know…’ in these economic times’…blah blah blah blah.  But this isn’t just an economic decision, this has been a long time coming and I am pissed about it.  These days, when everyone has to eat nothing but whole grain, high protein, sugar free and high fiber, I think that most people have forgotten how AMAZING food can be.  I know it might mean an extra hour or two at the gym, or (god forbid!!)  a pair of jeans above a size 8, but it is totally worth it to me to use whole milk instead of skim (and don’t even get me started on soy milk) or sugar instead of Splenda in a recipe.  Gourmet magazine is one of the few places I have been able to turn to get recipes that truly fit into the category of GOURMET.  These are recipes that I am more than willing to spend a little extra on ingredients to feed someone a meal that makes them close their eyes and make that happy food noise, that we all make, whether we admit it or not.

Now, don’t get me wrong…these are not everyday recipes by any means, but I think thats what makes them so important and special to me.  Whenever I have a special occasion, a holiday, or just feel like being impressive ;) , I always turn to my saved issues of Gourmet and flip through all the dozens of turned down pages to decide which one to try this time.  And while I love my Cooking Light and Food, my culinary life will not be the same without Gourmet.  In my mind this isn’t just the end of a magazine.  In a world where we put soy crap in EVERYTHING, and even damn Lucky Charms are whole grain, taste is always the first thing that is sacrificed.  The number of gourmet lovers seems to be decreasing precipitously,  and the loss of this magazine will only further that trend.

A message to Conde Nast: Killing Gourmet, means killing a love of food in future generations….don’t let it happen just to better your bottom line.