Fried Onion Dip, or French Onion Dip, whichever you prefer to call it.

Aside from all the current happenings, baby planning, planning that shot-gun wedding, work, home, my best friend from Florida coming up; Football Sunday still remains.  As such, this requires snack foods, duh.  My dear friend Jenny (you know her as mom of the amazing Andrew) started a cook along for a fantastic new cookbook, The New Midwestern Table by Amy Thielen and I decided why not cook along? I need to try some new recipes, so I jumped on the wagon and ordered the book. You can too here (no I don’t get any credit, it’s just an awesome book)

Picture from Amazon.com

Picture from Amazon.com

I had actually never heard of this book before Jenny posted about it on her blog. (I missed a post in Cookbook Junkies about it, I really need to check notifications more) Truth be told I don’t actually watch the food network… I know, crazy right?  A graduate (with honors) of the Culinary Institute of America, and I don’t watch the Food Network.  It’s just too, I don’t know, too “made for TV”, I miss the days of Sarah Moulton ,  Gale Gand and Julia; Gordon Elliott door knock dinners was the closest to reality cooking TV (or any reality TV) I am ever willing to get.  If there is a special or something that is sciecitific or if Ruhlman‘s fine self is going to be on and I have a heads up I MIGHT set the DVR.  I really don’t watch a lot of TV. For your own reading pleasure I will share with you the shows I DO watch. The Blacklist (hottest middle-aged bad guy with a heart of gold EVER!!!!) The Voice, because I remember Blake Shelton when he played the Dutchess County Fair and had long hair, and because I think Adam Levine is God’s gift to eyesight, even if he does need to eat a days worth of cheeseburgers, and because my friend Ron is his Vocal Coach, AND because he has an amazing voice and does things in concert to a microphone that are generally reserved for showtime afterhours.  Speaking of, I also love the show “Masters of Sex”, I watch it for the Pyrex sightings I swear 😉 I am obsessed with Homeland, LOVE that show, I got my 20-year-old sister addicted, I am quite proud of that. Also, I watch Revenge, simply because I started watching in the beginning and I want to see it through now.  I love Discovery Channel, History Channel, anything dorky or education and I am THERE!! I read a lot more than I watch TV, and I do house work more than both reading and TV combined!!!

Dip and Chips!

Dip and Chips!

Anyhow, so the first recipe for us to all cook is Fried Onion Dip, and it is amazeballs. No joke. Chris LOVED the Lipton dip, like wanted it for every football sunday, and I loathed making it because I knew it was loaded with junk, I just didn’t know how to do it myself.  Now I do, nuff said. It is super easy, and can be made ahead even. I didn’t change anything too much really. I am currently not drinking so I just used some wine Sav Blanc I had picked up for a friend that was already in the fridge.  I am so looking forward to cooking through this book. We are doing 2 recipes per month, how easy is that?  If I have time to do it, you do too! We have 207 people cooking their way along so far (how great is that?!), you can join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/203576403150384/  !

Onions Browning

Onions Browning

Dip pre Chips

Dip pre Chips

For the Dip recipe, check it out here http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/amy-thielen/fried-onion-dip-recipe/index.html

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Baked Buffalo Chicken Dip Bites, Just In Time For Superbowl!

Baked Buffalo Chicken Dip Bites, Just In Time For Superbowl!

In our house, “Buffalo Chicken Dip” is a football favorite, but for only two people one batch makes much more than we could should ever eat in one sitting. I would make a batch and there would be so much left over, I hated seeing it go to waste.  Finally, I started making one regular sized recipe and then, before baking it, breaking it down into smaller portions that could be stored in the freezer to have another day.

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With Superbowl Sunday just around the corner, the timing for these is kismet.  Everyone knows, aside from the commercials, the best thing about Superbowl Sunday is the snacks! (hence the entire pinterest board I devoted to the subject.)  This past weekend I was nose deep in a new book I am absolutely loving,   “The Faux Pastry Chef”, by Mimi Fix; I highly recommend it!  I wanted to make something that would be a perfect football sunday snack, but with minimal effort.  There was Buffalo Chicken Dip in the freezer, and Wonton Wrappers in the fridge, hmmmm what could I make?  In the interest of full disclosure, I actually always have Wonton Wrappers on hand, you never know when you will need to wrap, deep fry, or bake little pockets or rolls of tasty deliciousness.

Empty Wonton

There were a lot of “Buffalo Chicken Cups” on pinterest, but the ratio of filling to wonton surface was lacking; there was too much empty wonton.  Plus, once the wontons are baked they can be very hard, so to have jagged corners sticking up in can be a pain.  Seriously, have you ever accidentally stuck one directly into the roof of your mouth?  It hurts!   I thought I would give something a try.  Use the Muffin tins as a support system, but fold the wrapper down onto the dip, thus creating a little pocket!  Low and behold, it worked!  Of course,  this is provided you already have the buffalo chicken dip on hand, but you could very easily  make a batch, use what you like and freeze the rest to use another time!

How it looks folded down.

How it looks folded down.

Baked Buffalo Chicken Bites:

Yield 24 pieces/bites

You will need:

  • Half  a recipe of “Buffalo Chicken Dip, recipe can be found here
  • One package small wontons
  • 2 Muffin tins
  • Olive oil or cooking spray
  • Ranch, Blue Cheese or Sour Cream for dipping

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 375°
  • Spray the  muffin pans with olive oil or cooking spray
  • Push a wonton wrapper down into each muffin tin
  • Place a generous tablespoon of buffalo chicken dip into the wonton in each tin
  • Fold the edges of the wontons down onto the dip and push down just a bit to make sure they stick. If they pop up just push them down again.
  • Bake for 20minutes or till golden brown
  • Let sit in the pans for a few minutes just to cool off, then pop out onto a plate and enjoy!
All they need is some dip!

All they need is some dip!

Homemade Egg Rolls, King Caketails, a visit from Kerry, and Hanging with Baby Jesus

Homemade Egg Rolls, who doesn’t love those?!?!! Warm little fried pockets of vegetable deliciousness, tucked away inside a crispy, yet soft on the inside, little cradle of fried love. Well now you can make them yourself. I should address my lack of writing.  I haven’t posted in a while, a LONG while.  I also haven’t shown you my tattoos, partially because they aren’t finished yet (long and FRUSTRATING story, and partially because, when it comes to actually revealing things about myself,  my inner workings, why I am the way I am; I find it hard to do, it takes some time, and it doesn’t come naturally. Post half-naked pics online, yes I can do that, actually bare my soul, ummm yea not so much.

Sweet Baby Jesus in a KingCakeTail!!!

Moving on, one of my super spectacular, amazing, inspiring friends, Kerry, came up for a visit. Kerry is freaking awesome, seriously, I haven’t laughed that much in a long time, maybe years. We ate, we drank, we watch old movies and then ate more. Oh and fell asleep on the couch in the middle of the movie Salt, woke up to the credits rolling. EPIC good times were had!  Kerry is a vegetarian, considering I’m the queen of meat I know that seems crazy.  So I resolved share with her some of my favorite vegetarian throughout the weekend; after all we did tell Teesh (that’s her hubby’s nickname) that I would give her some badass cooking lessons.  We also invented cocktails, above, you will see the sweet Baby Jesus floating in a King Caketail!!! Since the Baby Jesus gets baked into King Cake, we felt it appropriate to include him in our libation.

Fried Broccoli, mmmm mmm good!!!!

I can’t remember everything I made, but the two most important things were fried broccoli, and egg rolls.  I’m not going to tell you how to make fried broccoli with siracha mayo, maybe another time, but not today; however I am going to tell you how to make egg rolls.

Check out this spread!!

Egg Rolls

  • Make sure you have: A HUGE frying pan or wok,  brown paper bags from the grocery store, or the small brown lunch paper bags, several ramekins or bowls, tongs, small sauce pan, a good slicing knife or chef’s knife, a lot of counter space, wooden spoon or high heat spatula

deliciousness

Recipe:

  • Olive Oil
  • 2 Large Vidalia Onions, chopped small
  • 6 Cloves of Garlic finely minced
  • 1 head of cabbage, chopped up A LOT
  • 1/2 bag of carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 2 Crowns of broccoli, chopped up small, stems peeled and cut very small
  • 2 Cups chicken broth (low sodium), or vegetable stock
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce, more if you like
  • Large Wonton Wrappers
  • Add olive oil to the pan along with onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper and saute till onions are slightly translucent
  • Add the carrots, cabbage broth, and soy sauce; let cook for about 10 minutes, mix and turn as needed
  • Next throw in the broccoli stems and florets, mix and turn as needed
  • Allow to cook till it’s done. It will cook down a lot. To know when it’s done you just have to keep trying it. A rough job I know. It’s a hard knock life.
  • When it’s finally done, using a slotted spoon transfer it to a bowl that you can work from to make the rolls. SAVE THE JUICE!!!!!!!!!!! This is why we use a slotted spoon to retrieve the goodness from the pan. The sauce left after you have removed the filling cooks down to a delicious dipping sauce!!
  • Pour the leftover sauce into a small sauce pan and heat over low flame and allow it to reduce. When it’s reduced by about half turn it off
  • Wash the pan you just used to make the filling, dry it REALLY WELL, and then fill it between 1/3 – 1/2 of the way up with vegetable oil, or canola oil, whichever you prefer. You want the oil to come half way up the egg roll. We will come back to this
  • Pour the sauce you reduced (see above) into a ramekin or bowl
  • Line your counter next to your pan, or whatever spot you pick to drain the rolls on, with paper bags, if you don’t have paper bags, paper towels VERY layered will work as well

Eggrolls on paper

  • To fill, roll and fry the egg rolls
  • Fill a bowl or ramekin with water for dipping your fingers in
  • Open the package, and keep a damp paper towel over it to prevent them from drying out. It should be damp NOT wet. If if is wet that will make the wrappers mushy. A delicate balance of moisture is needed
  • Place a wonton wrapper in front of you with a point towards you, aka have the wrapper in a diamond shape
  • Spoon about 1/4C-1/3C of the mixture into the center of the egg roll wrapper,
  • Dab the edges with water, this will “seal” the roll
  • What happens next is hard to put into words, check out this GREAT video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJTdKyDg_2Y  to learn exactly how to wrap them!
  • Now that all your little rolls are rolled, remember that pan you washed and filled with oil? Turn it on medium to medium high heat.  Let it warm up for a good 5 minutes, place your hand over it (NOT IN IT) and see if  you can feel some heat off of it. If you can’t, give it another 5 minutes, if you can feel the heat then you are ready to rock.
  • Place a roll in the oil, it should immediately start fiercely bubbling and crackling, if it doesn’t, wait to add any more rolls until that one starts singing.
  • Let them enjoy that oil bath until the side you put them in on is beautifully golden brown, and them flip them over (tongs work best) and then let their other side get nice and golden.
  • When they are the color you desire, take them out, again tongs work best, and place them directly onto the paper bags.
  •  Allow to cool for a just few minutes,  just so they are cool enough to handle, then slice diagonally to serve (or eat them whole if you prefer)
  • And don’t forget the dipping sauce!!!!!!!

mmmmm mmm good

As this post has turned out to be SUPER long, I will just have to write another with the King Cake Tail recipe, but don’t worry I promise to not take as long to write that one!!!

Enjoy and remember to share!

Homemade hummus, so easy to make, there’s no need to buy it!

I love Hummus, really love it. It is healthy, delicious and versatile. You can be “naughty” and dip chips in it,  or go “healthy” and use vegetables or homemade crostini.  Whichever you choose as your “transportation vessel” for this tasty snack, there is no reason to keep buying Hummus at the store when you can make your own for a fraction of the cost, and in about 10 minutes!

Homemade Crostini and Hummus

The recipe here is for a very basic Hummus, but like all the varieties you see stocked on the shelves of your local supermarket, you can flavor it however you want.  If artichokes are your passion, throw some in! If Siracha is your pleasure, throw a tablespoon in! lemon, roasted garlic, fresh garlic, spinach, pine nuts, olives, the possibilities are endless for how you can flavor your hummus.

Ready to be transformed

 Super Easy Hummus:

  • 2 Cans Garbanzo Beans (Drain the beans, but SAVE the “juice” you drain off)
  • 1 & 1/2 Tablespoons Tahini (don’t be scared off by the price, usually about $9-$12 per jar, it will last a long time)
  • Juice from 1/2 of a Large Lemon, or 1 Small Lemon
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 Cup of the “Bean Juice” that you set aside earlier
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (you can add more at the end if it is too thick for your liking)
  • Add all ingredients to a food processor and allow to “process for about 2-3 minutes or until smooth and “Hummusy”. You may want to wipe down the sides and pulse or process more until everything is the same consistency.
  • Transfer to a dish and if desired sprinkle with some crushed red pepper
  • Great dipping ideas are Endive, Red Pepper Strips, Broccoli, Carrots, Green Beans, Snow Peas, Cauliflower, Celery, Crostini, Pita Chips, Fresh Bread, Sesame Bread Sticks, Pretzels, and just about anything else that can be a vehicle for deliciousness!

Mmmm Mmmm Good!

And of course, enjoy!!!! What kind of Hummus flavor varities do you like?

Grilled Mozzarella with roasted garlic, tomatoes and basil

I’d love to say I came up with his all on my own, but I didn’t. I’m simply trying to recreate an appetizer I used to eat at a restaurant called Tramonti in Delray Beach, FL. My friend Elisa and I went there every week and though our main dishes changed ,two things remained constant; Grilled Mozz and Ruffino Reserva Ducale Ora. (Oh and the fun we would have, nothing beat those dinners) I miss her and those dinners.  Just thinking about it makes me want to go visit FL. I loved Tramonti. I STILL love Tramonti.

The Finished Product

So this is my attempt to recreate my favorite app of all time. Well favorite other than the Chicken Satay at Terrapin. Because anyone that knows me knows, Terrapin holds a special place in my heart, and always will.

Tomatoes seasoned, pre balsamicMushrooms Cooking

Here you have one of the simplest and most delicious dishes EVER! I’ve changed it up a bit. Originally they used shiitake mushrooms, but I usually use baby bella mushrooms, also I added tomatoes to it, because they really enhance the dish. It is an appetizer but with the mushrooms and tomatoes it is filling could easily be made larger to serve as a superb vegetarian entrée.

Mozzarella ready or the plate!

Grilled Mozzarella (For one serving)

  • Fresh mozzarella cheese
  • A bunch of fresh basil
  • Roasted garlic, an entire bulb, see here for roasting directions
  • Mushrooms, whichever kind you prefer, I use about 1/2C per serving
  • Olive Oil (I like to use the oil from the roasted garlic)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Tomato, one is enough for 4 servings depending on how much you like tomatoes
  • Balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  • Slice the Mozzarella about 1″ thick and set aside
  • Clean and slice mushrooms, about 1/4″ thick slices
  • Pluck basil, about 6 large leaves or 12 small leaves, just slice or tear them and divide into two piles.
  • Heat a small saute pan on medium
  • Add about a tablespoon of olive oil and toss in about 1/2C of sliced mushrooms, season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, then add in a few (4 or so)  cloves of the roasted garlic, allow to continue cooking uncovered
  • Heat an additional small non stick skillet on medium heat
  • Cut the tomato into bite sized pieces and season with a little salt and pepper (I also add balsamic vinegar)
  • Toss half the basil in with the mushrooms and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so, if you aren’t sure how done the mushrooms are just try one  🙂 When they are done turn the heat off, cover and set aside
  • Once the additional skillet is heated place the 1″ thick piece of mozzarella in it, it will sizzle
  • Cover, reduce heat to low and allow to cook
  • After about 5 minutes check the bottom using a spatula, it should be golden in color, and the top should be creamy and starting to melt
  • Flip the cheese, and still on low allow to cook for another 3 minutes or so. Use your finger to check for doneness. The cheese will feel “squishy” when done. You don’t need to brown this side, and you do not want it to cook so much it hardens, the goal is just to soften the remaining cheese
  • Transfer to a plate, top with the mushroom mixture and tomatoes, drizzle some balsamic on the plate,  sprinkle the remaining basil and va bene!

    Delicious!

I hope you enjoy this simple and delicious dish as much as I do. And when you do try it, I would love to hear what you think of it 🙂

Buffalo Chicken Dip….the food that dreams are made of

Buffalo Chicken Dip….the food that dreams are made of

Years ago my friend Denise made something called Buffalo Chicken Dip, I had never had it before and it was love at first bite.  BUT there was something about it, it had blue cheese in it, something I do NOT like. It didn’t overpower it, but you could tell it was there. So I recreated the dip, but without the blue grossness. And life hasn’t been the same since……

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Seriously, snacking just hasn’t been the same. The freezer section just can’t compare with this! It is a standard at the yearly Halloween party, Football Sundays, Superbowl, 4th of July, you get the idea. Its easy, and a guaranteed hit with everyone who has tastebuds, and a double hit with anyone who drinks beer.

I use a Rotisserie Chicken for mine BUT if you don’t feel like de-meating a chicken, or you are in a pinch and don’t have the time…..you can use canned chicken. I DO NOT recommend this, I do not do it; but to each his own.  Use 3 of the large cans, the ones that are either 12 or 10 ounces.  

Ingredients

  • One whole Rotisserie Chicken (from the hot foods section of the grocery store)
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (let it sit out at room temp for an hour or so)
  • 1 Cup Ranch dressing
  • 3/4 Cup Frank’s Buffalo Sauce
  • 3 Cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Take all the skin off the chicken. Eat it, throw it out, feed it to your dog or spouse; whatever you like, but it’s not going in the dip.
  2. Pull all the meat off of the chicken.  If you don’t know how, check out this video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0eeWoLwvBo The only thing I would suggest, which she doesn’t do is I don’t use a knife for the breast, I just use my hands. Also, I take the meat off the wings and drummies as well. ALSO turn the chicken over, there is meat on the bottom of it, pull it off with your hands. (Guess that’s more than one thing)
  3. Once you have all the meat off, either tear it apart with your hands or chop it up into small pieces using a knife.
  4. With the heat on medium, put the chicken, buffalo sauce, ranch and cream cheese in a dutch oven sized pan. Stir continually (I use a wooden spoon) until everything is melted together and bubbly.  If you don’t think your chicken is broken up/small enough just a potato masher and smush it up some more. Add in 2 cups of the cheese, mix well and till just melted.
  5. At this point you have two options. You can either transfer the dip to a slow cooker, and sprinkle the remaining 1cup of cheese on top and keep on warm or low and serve it like that. OR you can put in a baking dish and bake it at 425F until the cheese is melted to your liking.  Then just set it out with some tortilla chips and enjoy!
And yes….I will be posting about the Halloween Party soon……and writing a post on how to make the most delicious snacky little rolls from this dip….and trust me, they are GOOD!