Thursday, January 29, 2015

Buffalo Chicken Dip + Superbowl Ideas

Is everyone ready for SuperBowl Sunday?  Or shall I say "the big game" (why do we have to call it that?)?

I'm ready for a feast of ridiculously unhealthy foods.  I'm finally reaching the point where I'm ready to switch into health mode, so I figured if i'm going to get back on the wagon next week, I may as well go out with a bang on Super Bowl Sunday. 

These Sriracha Lime Chicken Wings have the absolute best flavor. They're oven-baked, so you can eat more than the fried alternatives (at least that's what I tell myself!. 

If you're SuperBowl party will be a little fancier than mine, you can't go wrong with these Goat Cheese Sliders with Blackberry Onion Jam

Of course, everyone loves a fried pickle.  Mix it up with some sweet bread and butters along with the dill chips! 

I'm also a fan of literally anything I can dip a chip in.  This Cheesy Jalapeno Corn Dip is incredibly simple to put together, and can easily be made in advanced. 

If you're grilling, please look no further than my homemade Surfer Dog recipe.  These bad boys were insanely delicious and so easy to make.  

I'm heading to Mike's parents house for the game and I'm going to come armed with this amazing looking Supreme Pizza Dip that I saw online recently.  I'll report back on the results!

For more recipes, check out last year's Game Day Faves post!

Lastly, I wanted to share my favorite Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe, but sadly I have no picture of it. Please forgive me for this, but I absolutely cannot be trusted to make it more than once a year.  I legitimately have zero control around it, and it is beyond addictive. 

Buffalo chicken dip is one of those recipes that everyone has their own version of.  I'm here to tell you my version is the best, so just go with it.  It also could not be easier. Here's how I make it:

* 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
* 2 blocks of cream cheese, cut into cubes*
* 8 oz. Frank's Red Hot Sauce
* 1 c. ranch dressing*
* 1 c. cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350.  On the stove top, melt cream cheese over medium heat.  Stir in rotisserie chicken, hot sauce, and ranch dressing.  Continue to stir until everything is well combined.  Place in an oven safe casserole dish, top with cheddar cheese, and bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

I would not skimp with fat free cream cheese or ranch dressing with this recipe, but it has worked well with 1/3 fat cream cheese for me.  Alternately, you can also make this in a crock pot on low until everything is evenly melted (it only takes 2-3 hours on low).  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Braised Beef Ragu with Penne

Another day, another crock pot recipe!  Aren't they just the best?  You can't beat coming home on a frigid day to a warm, hearty dish of Braised Beef Ragu.  No really, you can't. 

This recipe turned out so delicious.  Mike likened it to a heartier version of spaghetti, and i'd say that was a spot on description. 

Rather than ground beef, slow cooking a rump roast all day results in tender, savory pulled beef and the  rich tomato sauce is the perfect accompaniment.  Just boil up some pasta, and dinner is served! 

* 1 (2.25-2.5 lb) rump roast
* 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
* 1 (26 oz) package San Marzano Crushed Tomatoes
* 3 tbsp. tomato paste
* 2 tsp. onion powder
* 2 tsp. garlic powder
* 1 tsp. basil flakes
* 1 tsp. ground oregano
* 1 tbsp. dried parsley flakes
* 2 bay leaves
* 1 lb. penne pasta, cooked according to package instructions

In the crock pot, combine all ingredients except beef and penne, and stir well to combine.  Slice the rump roast into 4 equal pieces (just to help it shred easily).  Cook on low for 8 hours, then use a slotted spoon to remove the meat to a cutting board and shred with two forks.  Return the shredded beef to the sauce, then stir in the cooked pasta and serve.  Top with parmesan cheese; enjoy!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fondue for Two + Weekend Update

Happy Monday friends!  I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend.  Mine was incredibly productive, which I find exhausting, but it also makes me feel accomplished!

The highlight was attending an 80s themed birthday party Saturday night.  Ya'll know I love a good theme.  Mike and I reprised our roles of '86 mixed doubles country club champs, and we really committed.  Fortunately my love of all things Lacoste in high school, accompanied by my inability to get rid of things that were once my favorite thing, paid off (I knew those polos would come in handy one day!).  Mike even broke out his dad's old cell phone - state of the art!

Wilkie got to go to the puppy play time that his obedience school hosts on weekends.  He decided to play it cool and act independent, which I couldn't believe.  At work he'll play with any dog who will have him! 

He was kind of the teachers pet of obedience class last week (proud mom!).  After the first night I'm not really sure this is the class for him - all giant dogs who were just bananas!  But we're going to stick with it.  Hopefully I learn some good training techniques.  And hopefully I can figure out how to keep him out of his new favorite hangout spot, the dryer (the man is forever in search of socks to destroy). 

With unwavering dedication to win over his big brother's heart, Wilkie has finally worn down Roscoe.  Roscoe pretends to resist, but he's really starting to love Wilkie (so I tell myself). 

Friday night we finally broke out the fondue pot we got as a wedding gift.  Why did we wait so long? Fondue is the best! I absolutely love my Cuisinart version - you don't have to worry about a flame, and it heats up perfectly.  Similar to a griddle, there is a dial where you can control the heat and the temperature changes quickly. 

We foolishly decided to make this as an appetizer and also purchased salad and steaks.  Turns out salad and steaks are completely unnecessary when you consume a giant pot of cheese first, but it was totally worth it.  Next time we'll plan to eat this for dinner, or as an appetizer for 4 people. 

Classic Cheese Fondue:
*.5 lb. gruyere cheese, grated
*.5 lb. emmenthal cheese, grated
*1 tbsp. corn starch
*1 tsp. dry mustard
* 1 c. dry white wine
* 1 garlic clove, sliced in half
*1 tbsp. Kirsch, optional (I skipped this, but it is a traditional ingredient. The cheese was still delicious without it!)
*For serving: green apples, tomatoes, broccoli, cubed bread, tortilla chips

Rub the halved garlic clove all around the fondue pot.  In a bowl, mix together the cheeses, corn starch, and dry mustard.  Turn the fondue pot on high and add the wine until it comes to a boil.  While whisking constantly, slowly add the cheese, one handful at a time (the consistency should be totally smooth before you add another handful).  Once all of the cheese is incorporated, reduce the heat to low.  Enjoy! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sweet & Spicy Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

I'm forever in search of a really easy crock-pot recipe that doesn't skimp on flavor.  I feel like there are so many recipes that require extensive steps (browning the meat, charring the peppers) before you slow cook the full dish.  While those are usually delicious, sometimes I just want to go with the age-old 'set it and forget it' method.

This spicy orange chicken is one of those recipes.  Literally just toss everything together, and you only need one bowl (I used the same bowl to toss the chicken with the flour, then mixed the sauce in it).  The results are a super orange-y, sweet and savory chicken with a surprising kick.

There's nothing better than coming home to a delicious, fully cooked dinner that has filled your house with a heavenly aroma.  I served mine with some Trader Joe's frozen brown rice (it's all I eat - who has time to make rice these days?), and topped it with a few green onions and sesame seeds, since I had them on hand. 

*6-7 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
*2 naval oranges
*1 tbsp. flour
*2/3 c. sweet chili sauce
* 1 tsp. ginger paste (with the fresh herbs at the store)
* 2 tbsp. soy sauce
*1/2 tsp. garlic powder
*1/2 tsp. onion powder
*green onions, sesames seeds, for garnish
*brown rice, for serving

Zest both of the oranges, then thinly slice them.  Layer half to the sliced oranges in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Toss the chicken with flour and orange zest, then place in the slow cooker.  Stir together chili sauce, ginger paste, soy sauce, garlic powder, and onion powder.  Pour the sauce mixture over the chicken, then top with the rest of the sliced oranges. Cook on low 8 hours, then use a spoon to remove the orange slices and gently break up the chicken.  Garnish with sliced green onions and sesame seeds and serve over rice.  Enjoy! 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Birthday Recap

Happy Monday friends!  I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend.  I spent the weekend ringing in the big 2-9.  I've been so busy at work lately that I sort of forgot last week that my birthday was coming up!  So unlike me.  I spent the weekend doing exactly what I wanted, which was a whole lot of nothing, with a whole lot of good food mixed in.  I've just been so exhausted lately between work and Wilkie's 5 a.m. wake up calls that a weekend of relaxation was all I could ask for!

I was so desperate to sleep in that I let Wilkie sleep in the bed with me and it was a success! He snoozed until 8:30, and that was everything I could hope for.  I'm sure I'll regret this set back in his crate training but I was desperate. 

The morning started with breakfast in bed, a new Food Network Magazine,  and flowers from Mike.  Locals - have you been to Beach Bagels?  I've never found a bagel in Wilmington that I really loved, until my sister brought me a Beach Bagel when she was in town for a wedding and staying down at Wrightsville.  So soft and delicious!  I love their everything bagels, but for my birthday I went with Chocolate Chip. 

My mom sent me a great cookbook for my birthday as well.  You can't go wrong with French comfort food!

I'm most excited to try this recipe - potatoes baked with cheese, cream, bacon, and caramelized onions? Ok twist my arm..

Of course, I had to treat myself to a little something too.  Locals - go to the Monkee's winter sale!  All fall and winter is 50% off, AND buy one get one free!  I got these Kate Spade bow shoes that I've been eyeing for about 5 years (perfect birthday shoes if I do say so) and a pair of Cole Haahn basic black pumps for my free pair.  Major birthday score!

I also received a pretty epic bouquet of flowers.  

And wore a pretty epic outfit to dinner (bow shoes included)… I knew it was just right when Mike was judging me and laughing at my ridiculous fur collar!  Hey, if you can't rock a purple fur and sparkly shoes on your birthday, when can you?

Mike took me to Ruth's Chris for my favorite thing ever - their giant onion rings! And of course a beautiful filet as well.  Our dinner was so good we already made a reservation for Valentine's Day on the way out the door. 

Cheers to another great year!