Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jennifer's Buffalo Chicken Dip

For the longest time I thought my favorite new find when it came to recipes was the buffalo chicken sandwiches that my aunt, Marguerite, and I love to make but I have found its equal in its appetizer form!  My dear friend Jennifer Hillen made this for our cookout this past weekend and it was hit!!!!  The pan was literally scraped clean.....I guarantee this will be a hit at any party so please give it a try!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

3-4 cooked, shredded chicken breasts (salt and pepper to taste)
1 jar (approx. 12-16oz)  of Marie's chunky bleu cheese dressing (or quality equivalent)
1 cup grated mild cheddar
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
1-2 packages of cream cheese, room temperature (use 1 for a more "dippy" consistency, 2 for thicker)
1 cup (at least) of Frank's Red Hot Original (I use quite a bit more, I think!)
1 cup feta (optional)

Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix thoroughly.  
Place in oven safe serving dish and cook in oven for around 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serve with celery and your choice of chips.  The dip is also good cold after it has been cooked!  Finally, if you make the dip a bit thicker, you could put it on a sandwich.  Endless possibilities.  YUM!!!

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Gwenyth Paltrow's Homemade Pizza

My friend Jennifer Hillen sent me this recipe that she had seen on one of my favorite blogs.  It is Gwyneth Paltrow's blog called GOOP.  It is amazing and always a treat to read.  When we saw this one we knew we had to try it as pizza is one of our favorite meals. This was by far one of the most fun cooking experiences I have had in a while....it was uncharted territory and turned out better than I could have imagined! Among six of us we ate three whole pizzas and they were each delicious and tasty in their own way. I think the pictures will do a better job than I can at describing this culinary adventure...beware, it truly makes a mess, but it is completely worth it in the end!!!!

I made the pizza sauce several days in advance because I have found that tomato sauces are best if they have had time to sit and meld all the flavors together!

Pizza Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced (I used a few baby carrots because I had them on hand)
1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes with their juices
1 teaspoon coarse salt

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
Add the carrot and onion and cook, stirring occasionally until softened but not ground, about 8 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and their juices and the salt.  Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for 40 minutes.  Carefully puree in a blender until very smooth.  Let it cool before saucing your pizza.  This can be made up to a week ahead.

Pizza Dough
2 1/4 cups warm water (divided)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 packages, or 2 tablespoons plus 3/4 teaspoon, active dry yeast
About 5 cups of flour plus more for kneading and dusting. I used Italian "00" flour but you can also use bread flour
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse salt
    For the dough, whisk together 3/4 cup of the water and the yeast in a large bowl and let stand until the surface has a few little bubbles and is creamy (about 5 minutes).

    Add 1 1/2 cups water, 3 3/4 cups flour, olive oil and salt and stir until smooth. While stirring, gradually add up to another cup of flour until the dough starts to pull itself from the edges of the bowl.  Knead the dough on a generously floured surface until it's elastic and smooth—it will take about 8 minutes of hard work. Dust the surface with flour as you go—you don’t want the dough to stick!  Form the kneaded dough into a ball, dust with flour, and gently place in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a tea-towel. Let it rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. You can let it sit for up to a couple of hours or even overnight in the refrigerator.  Once the dough has risen the fun part begins! To assemble pizzas, break off pieces of the dough and stretch with your fingers until quite thin. 

    You can also roll your dough out using a rolling pin.

    Now top your pizza. I start with pizza sauce. Be sure not to put too much sauce on (this will weigh it down) and don’t go too close to the edge. If you don't have a brick oven in your back yard try the broiler which is what I did. Preheat the oven to 500° F. Arrange an oven rack in the top third of the oven (but not on the top rack) and place the pizza stone on the rack. Let it heat for about 1 hour. If you don't have a pizza stone you can also use a baking sheet.  Turn a large baking sheet upside down and dust the surface with flour. Or you can use a griddle pan which is what I did. Preheat the griddle pan over medium heat until very hot, about 5 minutes. 

     Jiggle the pizza gently on the pan to make sure it is not sticking, and un-stick it if it is, putting a little flour underneath the sticky parts. Slide the pizza onto the heated pizza stone; make sure to start at the stone’s back end so that the entire pizza will fit. Cook the pizza for 3 minutes. If you have a broiler on the top of your oven, turn off the oven and turn on the broiler. Broil the pizza until golden, crisp, and a bit blistery and charred in places, 2 to 4 minutes (watch it carefully to see that it does not burn). If you don’t have a top broiler in your oven, just bake the pizza until the cheese is melted and the crust well browned, about 10 minutes, but go on how it looks, not the time since it varies widely depending on your oven.
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    Lemon Tart

    Here is another recipe I received from Aunt Jean (aka FGA).  She served it at her Kentucky Derby Party and mom loved it so much that when Jean sent her the recipe, Mom promptly forwarded it on to me!  I made this for the cookout I had this past weekend and it was delicious!  The perfect dessert for those days when the temperature doesn't even seem to get out of the 90's even when the sun goes down!

    Springtime Lemon Tarts

    1 ¾ cups sugar
    ½ cup ( 1 stick butter) melted
    12 to 16 tart shells
    1 lemon
    1 egg
    ¼ cup sugar
    Salt to taste
    3 eggs

    Slice the lemon, discarding the seeds. Combine the lemon slices, 1 egg, ¼ cup sugar and salt in a blender and process at high speed until pureed. Add 3 eggs, 1 ¾ cups sugar and butter and
    process until smooth.  Arrange the tart shells on a baking sheet. Spoon the lemon mixture into the tart shells, filling almost to the tops.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.  You may freeze the baked tarts.  Makes 12 to 16 tarts.  
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    Peaches, basil and red onion salad

    Maggie sent me this recipe from Martha Stewart and I thought it would be an awesome addition to the Memorial Day cookout we had this weekend.  Filled with great friends, yummy food and a hot, humid Nashville night...life doesn't really get any better than that! 

    Peaches, basil and red onion salad

    3 peaches, sliced 1/2-inch thick
    1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced
    1/3 cup fresh basil (leaves torn if large)
    juice of 1/2 lemon
    1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
    Freshly ground pepper, to taste
    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

    Toss together peaches, red onion, fresh basil, lemon juice, salt and ground pepper. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.
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    Cathy's Black Eyed Pea Salad

    My dear friend, Cathy Crafton Lewis, sent me this recipe a few weeks ago and I have been waiting, looking for a time to try it....what better audience than those coming to the Memorial Day cookout (aka, the beginning of summer party).  Cathy and I have been friends since the summer before our freshman year at Harpeth Hall.  The two of us, along with Nicoll Doramus Hannaway, were attending freshman volleyball tryouts.  Cathy and I became instant friends when I realized that she always wore a watch to practice and would always let me know exactly how many more minutes we had left in practice, even if it was only a few short minutes past the last time I had asked "how much longer until we get to leave?"  Over the next four years of high school the three of us became inseparable and remain best friends to this day.  Thank you Cathy Sue Cleavage for such a yummy dip!  LOVE YOU!!!

    Black Eyed Pea Salad
    1 red bell pepper, chopped
    1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
    1/3 cup white wine vinegar
    1 large clove garlic, minced
    3/4 cup olive oil (I usually play around with this amount, starting out with about 1/2 c. and adding more if it needs it)
    2 16oz. cans black eyed peas (I like a firm pea for this that won't get all mushy when I stir this. I have found the cheaper store brands work better for this recipe)
    6 scallions, chopped
    2 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
    hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste

    In a bowl, combine the red and yellow peppers, black eyed peas, scallions and parsley.
    In a separate bowl, whisk the garlic, vinegar, evoo till combined. Pour over the veggie mixture and toss to combine. Add salt, pepper and a few dashes of hot sauce to taste.  Serve with tortilla chips (I prefer Tostidos Scoops because the dips stays on the chip)
    * I recommend making this a few hours in advance and letting it sit out at room temp to marinate, stirring every once in a while. It definitely becomes more flavorful the longer it sits.
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    Baby Back Ribs

    I originally posted this last year after a Memorial Day cook out but they hadn't been exactly what I had expected so this year I thought I would give it another go!

    As much as I love my Dad's ribs, I have always wanted to try them in the oven as grilling is not my forte. I did a little research combined with a few ideas I had heard before and came up with this recipe.  I tried a similar version last year and though the flavor was delicious they did not fall off the bone like I had wanted.  A friend of mine said it was probably because they needed to cook with some sort of acid so when I was doing some research on new recipes I thought I would combine the ones that called for such techniques.  I have also heard that some people flash grill them before putting them in the oven to give them that flavor so I thought I would try that as well.  Here is what I came up with and let me just tell you....they were DELICIOUS!!!

    Baby Back Ribs

    4 pounds pork baby back ribs
    2/3 cup water
    1/3 cup red wine vinegar
    1 cup ketchup
    1 cup water
    1/2 cup cider vinegar 
    1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
    1/4 cup prepared mustard
    4 tablespoons butter
    1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
    1/8 teaspoon salt

    Dry Rub:

    1/4 cup brown sugar
    1 1/2 tablespoons paprika 
    1 tablespoons kosher salt 
    1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper 
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 teaspoon onion powder 
    1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne red pepper

    Tear off 4 pieces of aluminum foil big enough to enclose each portion of ribs. Spray each piece of foil with vegetable cooking spray.   Remove the membrane from the bone side of the ribs by slitting with a knife, grip the membrane with a paper towel, and pull. It will rip right off.  Rub the ribs with the dry rub.  Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.  In a medium saucepan, mix together ketchup, water, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, butter, brown sugar, hot pepper sauce, and salt; bring to a boil. 
    Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer barbeque sauce for 1 hour.  
    Preheat a grill to 400 degrees.  Remove the ribs from the foil.  Place each rack on the grill and grill for 5 minutes on each side.  
    Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Combine 2/3 cup of water and 1/3 cup red wine vinegar.  Wrap the ribs back in foil leaving an opening to pour in the water and vinegar mixture.  
    Close the foil packet tightly and place in the preheated oven.   Bake ribs wrapped tightly in the foil at 300 degrees for 2 hours and 30 minutes. 
    Note: I place a baking sheet under the ribs to catch any juices that might escape the foil so it doesn't make a huge mess on the bottom of the oven.
    Remove ribs from foil and add barbecue sauce. 
     Place under the broiler, meat side up, for approximately 15 minutes if you would like to have a crusty top.
    They will literally fall off the bone!  We couldn't even transfer them to a serving platter as they simply fall apart when we tried....just what I was wanting!!
    Here are some of the pictures from our 4th of July!



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    Sunday, May 29, 2011

    The Farmer's Market

    As I know I have mentioned before, I am a huge proponent of supporting local businesses and local farmers.  A favorite outing of mine is to go walk around the farmers market downtown and see what local treats are in season and being sold by some of the hardest working citizens in middle Tennessee.  This past Saturday I went with my first friend in my whole life, Lauren Kysar Bremer, and her mother Bobbi.  Not only was it a treat to be outside on such a beautiful day but it is always a treat to spend time with the Kysar ladies!  Here is just a glimpse into what was going on at the Farmer's Market this weekend...

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