Monday, September 29, 2014

Smoky Cheese Fries

I don't know about you, but there is just something about football games that screams for cheesy fries!  These pack some heat with the added chipotles, so adjust the flavors as you see fit.  Try different cheeses to your liking.  Season the fries, or even try different cuts of fry to sop up as much of the sauce as your little heart desires.  Just make sure to keep it one likes cold cheese...or cold fries!

1 large pacakge frozen waffle fries
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups milk
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 chipotles in adobo, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons adobo sauce

Preheat the oven and bake the fries according to package directions.

Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat.  Stir in the flour to make a roux.  Add the tomato paste, stirring to combine.  Whisk in the milk.  When the milk begins to bubble and thicken, add the cheese, chipotles, and adobo sauce.  Season with salt.

Serve the fries piping hot with a bowl of the hot cheese dip on the side.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pimento Cheese Patty Melts

I'd never had a patty melt until I tried this recipe. And now I can't believe how I survived! I found this recipe on the internet somewhere (my guess would be Rachael Ray) and tweaked it ever so slightly to accommodate the contents of my pantry. This is the perfect dish to grill up at your next Game Watch, or just for a weekend cookout with your friends and family. The pimento-cheese is classically Southern, the bacon is a traditional accompaniment to grilled meat, and the patty melt version makes this sandwich just the tiniest bit different from your everyday cheeseburger. Serve it up with your favorite fries (we like sweet potato fries in our house) and crunchy dill pickles on the side! Enjoy!

8 slices smoky bacon
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
Coarse salt and pepper
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 tablespoons grated onion
2 cups sharp yellow cheddar, shredded
1 roasted red pepper, diced (or 4 oz diced pimentos, drained)
4 oz package cream cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Tobasco
1 teaspoon paprika
2-4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
Softened butter
8 slices good-quality white bread

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the bacon on a broiler pan until crisp, about 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, season the beef with salt and pepper. Mix in the worcestershire, parsley and onion. Form 4 large patties (thinner in the middle for even cooking). 

Heat a large skillet or cast-iron griddle over medium-high heat. Add the patties and grill, turning once, 10-15 minutes for medium-well. Transfer to a plate. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cheddar, roasted pepper, cream cheese, mayo, hot sauce, paprika and garlic until well mixed. 

Reheat the skillet or griddle over medium heat. Butter 1 side of each bread slice, placing buttered side down on a work surface. Spread with cheese mixture. Top each slice with a burger, 2 pieces of bacon and another bread slice. Griddle until golden and the cheese is melted. 

Serves 4.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cheesy Chicken Tostadas

Everyone knows I love Mexican food.  Good thing my husband loves it too, or we'd be in a world of hurt with most of my cravings, restaurant choices, and at least one meal a week!  And for some reason, Mexican food seems to go great with sports.  I mean, who doesn't love nachos during the big game?  But, let's get real.  Mexican food and game day food are not known for their nutrition factor.  In fact, just the opposite.  And while I fully subscribe to giving yourself some wiggle room over the weekend, I never want to totally derail my diet and exercise program for a few guilt-free hours of gorging myself at the game watch.  Enter this recipe.  Straight out of one of my many South Beach Diet cookbooks, these tasty tostadas are great as appetizers, lunches, or a light(ish) dinner.  I've made them several times, much to the delight of my husband, who has absolutely no idea that they're "chick food"!!  Take them to your next tailgate, and let the ladies know they can have their football, and eat too!!

4 8-inch whole wheat tortillas (except that I typically buy these)
5 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound chicken breast cutlets, cut into thin strips (or thinly slice a boneless, skinless breast)
1/3 cup minced onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1 can diced tomatoes, well drained (go for the Mexican varieties, which are easy to find)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat cheese (Mexican blend, sharp cheddar, or pepper jack are great choices)
1/2 avocado, peeled and sliced
fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Heat the oven to 400.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Place the tortillas on the baking sheet.  Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the tortillas on one side with olive oil, then lightly sprinkle with salt.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and crisp.  Remove from the oven and turn the oven to broil.  Leave the tortillas on the baking sheet.

While the tortillas are baking, in a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 4 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken, onion, garlic, and jalapeño and sprinkle with salt.  Cook, tossing occasionally, until the chicken is almost cooked through, about 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, and coriander.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes.

Top the tortillas evenly with the chicken mixture, then sprinkle evenly with the cheese.  Broil 6 inches from the heat, watching carefully to prevent the tortillas from burning, just until the cheese melts.  Top evenly with avocado and garnish with fresh cilantro.  Serve warm.

Serves 4.

Recipe adapted from The South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook, by Arthur Agatston.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Kentucky Derby

The first Saturday in May is a biggie in our house!  It's the Run for the Roses and marks a particularly huge milestone in my husband's and my relationship.  He's a native Kentuckian and shortly after we started dating I jokingly told him he should take me to the Derby.  Well, just two months later, he did, and also took me to meet his parents for the first time.  I'll let you read more of the story as you look through these recipes and plan your own Derby Party!  Enjoy!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Bourbon Street Buffalo Wings

I don't know what it is, but for some reason, nothing screams football more than wings and beer!  I'm not a huge wings fan, but I do enjoy the occasional trip to B-Dubs to watch the big game.  In fact, there was one particular Notre Dame - Michigan game while I was in college where I remember one of my roommates' parents took a bunch of us there for dinner after the game.  That memory spurred me to make my own wings for that same game this year.  Maybe it's because this was this last scheduled game of the long-standing series.  Doesn't much matter, because ND shut the Wolverines out in an epic game under the lights.  I couldn't be prouder of my team!  Go Irish! And, even if you're not a Notre Dame fan, these wings are delicious, so you should try them!

2 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 cup sriracha
1 cup BBQ sauce
canola oil, for frying
3 pounds chicken wings
your favorite dipping sauces (I like blue cheese)

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the bourbon, brown sugar, and honey.  Heat through, 2 minutes.

Whisk in ancho chile powder, sriracha, and BBQ sauce.  Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.  Keep warm while you fry the wings.

Heat about 4 inches of oil in a deep skillet or deep-fryer.  Fry wings in batches until golden on both sides and cooked through (mine took about 7 minutes per batch in a small fryer).  You may want to pre-heat the oven to keep wings warm while you're frying.  Remove wings from oil and drain on a platter lined with towels or a baking rack.

Toss the wings and sauce in a large bowl, pile onto a serving platter.  Serve with dipping sauces on the side and shots of bourbon to beat the heat!

Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay's Throwdown, by Bobby Flay.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Bourbon BBQ Sauce

I once read somewhere that southern BBQ is like European wine; no two regions taste the same.  (You may have read that on this blog before).  Well, it's true!  My favorite BBQ sauce is both sweet and spicy, but not too much to either side of that spectrum.  This sauce is just right.  I made it on a whim one night, mostly because I was trying to use up some things in my pantry.  I'm so glad I did!  This recipe made enough sauce to baste six chicken breasts and still fill a mason jar to use later on (which I have, as you can see from the picture).  Try it; it's a winner!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons bourbon
1 1/4 cups ketchup
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 canned chipotles in adobo, chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon molasses
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook 1 minute.  Add the 1/2 cup bourbon and cook until completely reduced.  Add the ketchup and 1/2 cup water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer 5 minutes.  Add mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire, chipotles, brown sugar, chile powder, paprika, cayenne, honey, and molasses.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened.

Transfer mixture to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour into a jar, add the remaining 2 tablespoons bourbon, and cool to room temperature.

Works wonderfully to baste chicken, brisket, or pork chops while grilling out!

Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay's Throwdown, by Bobby Flay.

Monday, September 1, 2014

This Month: Game Day

Football season is serious business in my family. In fact, in the last two years, all three of the colleges my brothers and I attended/are attending have played in the National Championship game (yes, three teams in two years...two of our teams played each other; it wasn't pretty). Between my parents, my brothers, and me, and then adding in my husband's hometown team for good measure, there are a ton of football rivalries every fall. We get loud, we get excited, we yell and we cheer, and boy, do we eat! You can't have a good game watch or tailgate without fabulous game day food, so this month I'm going to share with you some favorite treats (mostly sandwiches) to watch during the big game.