Category: Appetizer

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Have you ever watched videos about Pyrex dishes exploding? It’s intense. I haven’t had one shatter [thankfully!], but I don’t usually bake with glass. If you do use Pyrex and have no idea what I’m talking about, it might be worth looking into.

That ends your PSA for the day.

Now on to buffalo chicken dip! Frank’s Red Hot is a really bizarre flavor. I like it and feel weirdly addicted to it when it’s around [which is next to never]. I think it’s that vinegar bite. I cringe almost instantly and then settle in for that spicy flavor. The idea of putting it in a dip with a cream-style base mellows out the vinegar just enough that I want to just eat it by the spoonful. That happened a lot.

The base really doesn’t have any cheese in it even though it looks like it. It was magic. It’s all that “cheeze” or cheese-like stuff. It’s actually kind of close — closer than any of the other fake cheese things I’ve tried. I wanted something that I could eat a ton of without worrying about the effects of it. When you’re eating it like a soup, I really didn’t need a bunch of cream. The chicken is also optional, but totally a nice addition. Give me all the protein! I used shredded, but looking back, I’d probably use ground chicken next time. The consistency of the dip can be a little thin, and it was really not all that easy to scoop out the mixture and pull out equal parts chicken and “cheeze.” Speaking of dipping, the celery was challenging. Maybe less so had I used the ground chicken. Chopping it up into the dip would be cool, too. The blue cheese would have been a stellar addition, but would have rendered it full of dairy. I should have served it on the side. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

I wasn’t. Clearly.

Inspiration: Chasing Some Blue Sky

Ingredients

  • 1/3-1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce [I used the full 1/2 cup]
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers [not pickled!]
  • 1 1/3 cup cashews
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Ranch dressing mix
  • Water
  • 2-3 cups shredded or cooked ground chicken
  • Blue cheese, celery, pita chips, etc for serving

Preparation

Add all of the ingredients up to the Ranch dressing mix to a blender or food processor. Start with a cup of water. Blend until smooth. Continue to add more water to your desired consistency. I used a full 2 cups of water, which is why mine ended up so runny. I’d use less next time.

Pour the sauce into a pan with the chicken. Heat through. Serve hot.

Roasted Fennel White Bean Dip

I’ve become a fennel fanatic lately. I had my nose glued to a star anise candle today. My sister gave me that “you’ve lost it” look that sisters can give. I came across this recipe for a fennel and radish salad that I have to make IMMEDIATELY [which really means on April 16th because we all know I’m only eating catered meals at the office until then]. Fennel is just so dang refreshing.

Mixing fennel and white beans in dip form [because what other form is there…] makes a great hummus alternative. Adding a boatload of parmesan and roasted garlic really tie everything together. Roasting fennel mellows out that bright anise flavor and sweetens it up. No one knows it’s in there really, so if you’re a fennel hater we can’t be friends you’ll be just fine. It blends into your white bean base that really just is your creaminess. White beans take on whatever flavor you want it to. My favorite part might have been the crispy parmesan pieces that baked to the dish. I’m one of those people. Plain ol’ pita chips work like a champ here or crudite or a spoon. You get the idea. This is definitely my new go-to dip assuming I have time to roast the fennel.

Inspiration: Sprouted Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 large fennel bulb, save the fronds for garnish
  • 4 cloves of garlic still in their skin
  • 2 cups white beans [or one can]
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan, plus more for topping
  • olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment, foil, or a Silpat. Roughly dice the fennel bulb from the white to the light pale green. Keep the fronds for garnish. Toss the fennel and the garlic cloves in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spread out on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 3o minutes. The fennel will be crisp on the edges.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the white beans, shredded parmesan, the fennel, and the garlic cloves with the skin removed. Pulse to get the mixture started before adding the lemon juice, rosemary, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and 1/3 cup of olive oil. Pulse it all together until it’s a thick puree. Add more olive oil if for consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture into a oven proof dish. Top with more parmesan and bake for 15-20 minutes with the oven temperature increased to 450°. The cheese will be hot and bubbly, browning on the edges. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and the fennel fronds before serving.

Parmesan Black Pepper Grissini

I made this on NYE and it’s almost April. Slow and steady wins the race.

I’ve seen grissini pop up a fair bit lately, on Food52 more specifically, which reminded me of these. Those aren’t the ones I made, but they’re similar. They disappeared rather quickly at the NYE party, which is the highest compliment. I don’t want need to be told they’re awesome. Just eat. When they disappear, I’ll know.

They’re easy and difficult all at the same time. They come together almost too easy. It’s a simple dough. The rise time is next to nothing, so you can totally make them right before you’re walking out the door. I’m living proof. The only thing that was really a challenge for me was actually forming the dough. It was really a lot more dry and tough than I was expecting. They took forever to get to a reasonable length and more than one tore but I just pieced it back together. “A more rustic look,” I’d say. The sprinkling of parmesan and black pepper hides any deformity, and let’s be real, they taste good so no one cares. Rolling them out reminded me of my Play-Doh days. I probably wasn’t very good at it then either.

Inspiration: The Endless Meal

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon active yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 egg, whisked in a bowl with a tablespoon of water
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preparation

In a small saucepan on low heat, melt the butter into the milk. You only want it slightly warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and pour it into a separate bowl to be safe. You’ll add the yeast next and don’t want to risk the hot pan overheating it. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let it sit for about 10 minutes. It’ll start to foam on the top, so you’ll know it’s working.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and you pinch of salt. Add the cooled milk mixture to the flour and mix it together with a large spoon or your hands. It’ll be a dry, shaggy mess until it ultimately forms a ball.

Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for about five minutes. The dough will be smooth on the outside. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it rise for 30 minutes.

When your time is up, preheat the oven to 350° and prep your baking sheets. Either grease them or lay down a Silpat. Split the dough into 24 equal pieces. I measured them because I’m a bit type-a, but as long as you get close you’ll be fine. Roll them out into long, skinny sticks. Place them on your prepared baking sheet with a little distance between them. Brush each stick with the egg wash and then sprinkle them with the parmesan cheese and fresh cracked pepper. Use your fingers to get as much parmesan to stick as possible.

Bake for about 15 minutes. They should be crispy and golden brown, the cheese especially. Let them cool before removing them from the pan. They’ll harden as they cool giving them more of a crunch.

Eating the baked on cheese off your Silpat is sort of optional, but it’s really not something to be missed.

Beef Queso Dip

It has been suggested that I make something gluten-free (“GF”). My sister partakes in the diet, as do several friends. If you’ve been here for any length of time, you know that I’m a gluten fan. I don’t always eat it, but it’s never a conscious thing.

I should go back through and re-tag things as GF–start a new category for those of you who really want to get down on it. Since I certainly don’t specialize, I do follow several blogs who do, or at least do way more often than me. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Edible Perspective

With Style and Grace

Grok Grub

Oh She Glows

Eat Life Whole

The Year in Food

And just because I don’t want to disappoint, this gem was made for New Years. It’s also conveniently GF. Coincidence? I think not. I’d really prefer to call this “straight to your ass” dip or “what New Years resolutions?” dip, but it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. I have a ridiculous soft spot for Velveeta. I have a hard time calling it cheese when it’s shelf stable and in the candy aisle, but I have zero qualms downing its melty goodness. It’s its preferred form [I have it on good authority that it makes great fishing bait in its solid form]. I grew up on Velveeta mac. I have been known to melt cubes of it in chili. This, however, is best of both worlds.

It would be great for whatever football game you’re watching, or a party where you want to watch everyone stare at it with a side eye, not wanting to be the one digging into a vat full of cheese. Don’t worry, you won’t bringing any home. People eventually give in to temptation. This bowl was practically clean when I left the NYE party. Now that is embracing the new year.

Inspiration: Damn Delicious

Ingredients

  • 16oz Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 16oz ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chile verde
  • 1/2 cup roasted green chiles
  • 14oz (or one can) diced tomatoes
  • 4oz Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Olive oil
  • Cilantro
  • Crudités, chips, or sliced baguette for serving

Preparation

Brown the ground beef with the cumin and chili powder in a splash of olive oil in a large skillet with high walls or a Dutch oven. Drain and set aside. Add the cubes of Velveeta to the same pan, stirring often until it melts. It’ll burn if you don’t stir it. No one wants burnt Velveeta. Add the chile verde salsa, green chilies and tomatoes. Don’t drain the tomatoes. You want the liquid to help thin out the dip. Stir to combine. Add the the Monterey Jack cheese and ground beef. Stir until all cheese is melted. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro before serving. Serve warm. It may thicken too much as it cools. Reheat as necessary to maintain the liquid cheesy goodness.

Grilled Feta with Tomato Salsa

It’s totally grilling season — or at minimum, eat outside season. I have a small balcony off the second floor of the house. It’s completely covered in shade by the time noon rolls around, so it has to be a warm day to feel remotely comfortable [if you’re me, anyway; I’m always cold]. I try to get out there as much as possible, even if it means running all bundled up to the grill to flip things and to get back inside. I’m hardcore.

This has been on my to-do list since I got my hands on The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook, and finally and the tomatoes are started to look better at the store fridge. Who doesn’t want to eat 8oz of feta in a single sitting? I mean, c’mon [I split it with Andrew, promise]. It’s like this was practically made for me. Grilling the feta, which is really nestled inside a foil packet with the rest of the goodies, just gets it warm and toasty. It holds its shape despite being super hot and soft [I’m sure there is a joke in here somewhere]. The foil method makes for tricky plating between the heat and all the juices.

I ended up just opening it and digging right in with light rye crackers. I couldn’t help myself. I didn’t want to try my hand at hot foil and trying to slide the contents into a bowl. If you want, you should definitely try Smitten Kitchen’s method in the oven. Way less mess, but way less grill involved. I paired this with some tandoori marinated chicken thighs from the fridge mostly because I needed something quick and easy to go on the grill, and because it’s delicious. I like good things, what can I say?

What are you grilling lately?

Inspiration: The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 8oz block of feta cheese, drained
  • 1 container of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • fresh cracked pepper

Preparation

Preheat your grill to a medium heat; you’ll want it around 400°. In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, olives, onion, garlic, parsley, oregano, olive oil, and some cracked pepper. Set aside.

Get a large piece of tinfoil, and place the brick of feta cheese in the middle of it. Pour the tomato mixture on top of the cheese. Fold up the the foil into a packet so it doesn’t leak all over. Put it straight on the grill for 15 minutes. Smell the deliciousness.

Use caution when removing the hot packet. Eat with chips/crackers of choice.