Monday, January 30, 2012

Skinny Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo chicken wings can be be oh-so-tasty; yet oh-so-fattening! I mean, it is drowning in butter and often deep fried. But guess what I found? A recipe for buffalo chicken dip. It has all the flavor of buffalo wings without the messy hands or the high calorie count! Using low-fat and fat-free ingredients, this is the perfect appetizer for your Super Bowl party! Just adjust the heat to your liking and serve with celery, chips or crackers.

Skinny Buffalo Chicken Dip
Makes 5 1/2 cups

4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup fat free sour cream
1/2 cup Frank's hot sauce (ow whatever hot sauce you like)
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
2 cups cooked shredded chicken

Mix the first five ingredients until smooth. Add the chicken and put this in the crock pot on low for 3-4 hours. Serve warm.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Homemade Twix Bars

Aside from Reese's Peanut cutter Cups, one of my all-time favorite candies is Twix. And thanks to this recipe, I can have them any time I want. Which may be a bad thing. Or not.

Homemade Twix bars

Shortbread Layer:
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
2 cups flour  

Caramel Layer:
2 cups caramel, cut into small chunks
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Chocolate Layer:
3 cups chopped milk chocolate or dark chocolate, melted
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening (optional)

For the crust: Preheat your oven to 300°F. Spray a 9" x 13" pan lightly with cooking spray, or line with parchment, and set aside. 

In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the flour. At first the mixture may seem dry, but will come together as you continue to beat at medium speed. 

Take the dough (it will be somewhat stiff) and press it evenly into the pan. Lightly flouring your fingertips will help with any sticking. 

Prick the crust all over with a fork. The holes will allow steam to escape and the crust will bake evenly with fewer bubbles. 

Bake the crust until it's lightly golden brown on top and the edges are deeper golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately run a knife around the edges to loosen the crust. Set it aside to cool completely.

For the caramel layer: Melt the caramel and cream over low heat in a small saucepan. Pour the caramel over the cooled crust and set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill and firm up. 

For the chocolate layer: Melt the milk or dark chocolate slowly in a double boiler or over very low heat. If it seems very thick, add a tablespoon of shortening to thin it. Pour evenly over the chilled caramel layer and spread to cover all of the caramel. Return to the fridge until the chocolate is well set. Cut into 2" x 2" squares to serve. It's best to store these bars in the refrigerator.

These bars can also be cut and dipped in milk chocolate to resemble Twix ® bars. After the caramel layer has chilled firm, cut down the length of the pan, splitting the bars into two long, narrow bars. Then cut each long strip into "fingers". Dip the chilled bars into melted chocolate and place on parchment paper to set for several hours. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Spicy Whiskey BBQ Sliders

  • This diminutive, decadent and dreamy sliders are absolutely divine. You'll take one bite and hear the angels singing. I mean, how can you go wrong with jalapenos, barbecue sauce and whiskey? The answer: you can't.

  • Spicy BBQ Whiskey Sliders
    Serves 6

  • Ingredients
    2 pounds Ground Meat (beef, turkey)
    Salt and Pepper
    4 Tablespoons butter
    1 whole large onion, diced
    1/2 cup whiskey
    1 cup barbecue sauce
    1/4 cup jarred jalapeno slices
    12 whole slider buns or dinner rolls

Form the meat into 12 (or so) miniature patties and salt and pepper them on both sides. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook the patties until just about done in the middle, approximately 3-4 minutes per side. Remove the patties from the skillet and set aside. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of grease, then return the skillet to the stove.

Throw the diced onions in the skillet and stir to cook, about 3 minutes. Pour in whiskey (be careful if you're cooking over an open flame; turn it off momentarily to be extra careful) and stir. Allow the whiskey to reduce by half, about 2 to 3 minutes, then stir in jalapenos and the barbecue sauce.

Reduce the heat to low and place the patties in the barbecue sauce, turning to coat. Allow the patties to simmer in the sauce until everything's hot and bubbly.

Place the patties on individual buns and be sure to spoon extra sauce (with the jalapenos!) over the top of each one before topping with the other half of the bun.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

If there's one combination of flavors that I absolutely love it's peanut  butter and chocolate. Yum-o! Combine those two flavors in a brownie and I am in heaven. Rich, chocolatey, peanut buttery yumminess. What more could you ask for? You can thank me later.

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies
Makes 1 dozen brownies

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon water
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, plus about 1/3 cup more for garnishing
1 large egg*
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips, plus about 1/3 cup more for garnishing
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or grease 12 muffin cups.

In a medium sized microwave-safe bowl combine sugar, softened butter, and water. Microwave on high for about 45 seconds or until butter is melted. Stir in 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips until melted. Stir in egg and vanilla extract, mix well. Add flour and baking soda, stir until combined. Allow the batter to cool to room temperature. 

Then, stir in 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips and remaining 1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups.

Bake for 13-15 minutes or until top is set and a toothpick inserted into center comes out slightly wet. After brownies are out of the oven, wait for centers to fall. This will happen upon cooling. If not, then tap the centers with the back of a teaspoon to make a hole for the peanut butter.

Place peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 45 seconds then stir. While brownies are still warm spoon about a tablespoon full of peanut butter into the center of each brownie. Top with remaining 1/3 cup of milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Cool completely in pan. 

Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator. 

*NOTE: To reheat the brownies just pop ‘em in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chicken Gyros

Friday, January 13, 2012

Spinach and Artichoke Bread

I love spinach and artichoke dip and this recipe is like a spinach and artichoke dip that you don't need to dip. Genius! The melty cheesy topping is so good you'll find any reason to pull out this recipe - Super Bowl appetizers, tapas night, finger food. Heck, you don't need a reason to make this, you just need to make it. 'Nuff said.

Spinach and Artichoke Bread
Makes one loaf

1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts (drained and chopped)
1 box frozen spinach, thawed
2 green onions (sliced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 (4 ounce package) cream cheese (room temperature)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mozzarella (grated)
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano (grated)
1 loaf Italian bread (sliced in half lengthwise)

Mix the artichoke hearts, frozen spinach green onions, garlic, cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, mozzarella and parmigiano reggiano reserving some of the cheese.

Hollow 1/2 an inch out of the center of both halves of the bread.

Spread the mixture into the hole in the bread slices and top with the reserved cheese.

Bake in a preheated 350F oven covered in foil for 20 minutes.

Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese is melted and golden brown.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tomato, Mozzarella & Pesto Puffs

Tomato, mozzarella and pesto = heaven! I love these little pesto puffs. They make the perfect appetizer - or if you're so inclined, you can make them bigger and enjoy them as an entree. Doesn't matter - either way, you'l probably gobble them down in no time at all. 

Tomato, Mozzarella & Pesto Puffs
Serves 4

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1/3 cup basil pesto, purchased or homemade
4 or 5 small tomatoes
½ pound mozzarella
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
Fresh basil leaves, rinsed well and dried

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Choose a baking sheet that you have two of.   Line one of the baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.  Put the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it out to expand by about 2 inches per side.  Using a round cookie cutter cut the dough into rounds.   Place the rounds onto the parchment-lined baking sheet.  Put another sheet of parchment paper on top and then put the second baking sheet on top of that.  Bake the rounds for 12 minutes.  Remove the top baking sheet and top sheet of parchment paper.  If the rounds are nicely browned, they’re done—if not—put them back in the oven (uncovered) to finish browning.  Cool the puffs for a few minutes while you preheat the broiler.

Spread each round with about a teaspoon or so of pesto.  Then place a tomato and a slice of mozzarella on top.  Broil until the cheese just begins to melt.  Transfer the puffs to a serving platter.  Drizzle each one with a little bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Thinly slice the basil leaves and sprinkle them on top.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Patatas Bravas (Spicy Potatoes)

It's tapas night! I love Spanish tapas, and one of my favorite tapas dishes is Patatas Bravas (wild potatoes), or spicy potatoes. It is apparently one of the most popular tapas dishes in Spain. This version of patatas bravas is not too saucy and not too dry but just right.

Patatas Bravas 

2 lbs baby potatoes, washed and unpeeled
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp tomato puree (not tomato paste!)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp smoked paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper or chilli powder
Splash of tabasco sauce (optional)
1 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice the potatoes thickly, about 1/2 inch. Alternatively, cut them into 1 inch cubes. Arrange on a baking tray in a single layer, and brush some olive oil over them. Sprinkle with salt. Bake in oven for 25 minutes until golden and crisp, then turn the potatoes over and bake for another 15 minutes or until browned and crisp.

In the meantime, heat up 4 tbsp olive oil in a large pan and fry the garlic. Then mix in the tomato puree, vinegar, paprika and cayenne/chilli powder. Add salt, black pepper and tabasco to taste. Add the potatoes and toss to coat. Stir in the mayonnaise. Dish out and serve hot.