18 November 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Okay, this post is even more unexpected than the last. While I was a die hard omnivore as a child and known for my penchant for ham and chicken nuggets, those tendencies have since subsided and I have not consumed meat in years. I will, however, admit that meat can be mighty tasty, so occasionally I will make meat-based dishes for my lovely friends.

This here recipe is a classic. There is nothing special to it and it is extremely easy. I originally received the recipe from my cousin, but it appears as if this recipe is floating all over the internet. If you haven't stumbled upon it yet, (my omnivorous friends say) you're missing out! I particularly appreciate this recipe, because while it calls for grilled chicken breast, you can just as easily buy Purdue's Grilled Chicken Strips and use that, which cuts down on cooking and preparation time, as well as time that I have to spend handling the poultry, which currently gives me the heebie jeebies.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

  • 2 8 oz. blocks of cream cheese (Reduced fat cream cheese is a nice option, because it's softer and easy to mix!)
  • 1 c ranch dressing
  • 1/2 c Frank's Red Hot
  • 2 c cooked (roasted or grilled) chicken breast, chopped into small bite sized pieces
  • 8 or 12 oz shredded cheese (I usually use either Colby Jack or sharp cheddar. I also go for 12 oz, because I'm a big fan of serving excessively cheesy dishes.)
  • garlic powder
  • paprika
  • cayenne pepper (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the cream cheese, ranch dressing, and hot sauce until well incorporated.
  3. Add the chopped chicken. Fold the chicken in so that it's coated evenly with sauce.
  4. Transfer mixture into a 9 x 13" pan. Smooth it out so that it forms an even layer.
  5. Once even, coat the top with garlic powder. (How much garlic powder depends on your preference, but I typically use a heavy hand, because I love garlic.) After adding the garlic powder, give a light dusting of paprika to the top of it. If your crowd likes things spicy, at this point add a dusting of cayenne pepper. This works much better than trying to up the amount of Frank's Red Hot, which can make the dip overly saucy, in both flavor and consistency, and not actually spicy enough.
  6. Top with cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is to your liking. Serve with your favorite dippers (celery sticks and blue corn chips are recommended).

17 November 2011

Green Bean Casserole

Whoa, wait. Caitlin.. eating green beans?

If you know me, you probably know that despite being a longtime vegetarian there are still some vegetables that I won't touch. For a very long time, up until this summer, actually, green beans have been my number one arch nemesis (with olives and gill-y mushrooms following a close second and third, respectively). Since joining a CSA, I have been working diligently on my relationship with green beans and have come to appreciate their flavor. So, when hosting a Thanksgiving party for my fellow first year graduate students, I figured I might as well continue making peace with green beans and tackle the green bean casserole. I had never had it before, so I went with the classic recipe off the back of the French's French Fried Onions container, but of course, edits had to be made.

What can I say? It turned out to be a hit!

Green Bean Casserole
Yields: 9 x 13" casserole

  • 12 oz Pacific's Organic Cream of Mushroom, condensed
  • 1/2 c milk (I used reduced fat milk)
  • 1 tbs reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 lb green beans, fresh
  • 6 oz French's French Fried Onion Strings
  • 1/4 c Bel Gioioso's four cheese blend
  • 1/4 c sliced almonds
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/16 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. On the stove top, bring a large pot of water to boil. While water is coming to a boil, snap any woody ends off of the green beans. Afterward, chop green beans into 3" pieces. Once water is boiling, put the green beans in for a quick 2 minute cook. Immediately after two minutes, take the green beans out, strain them, and run cold water over them to stop them from cooking. Then, let them sit in cold water or an ice bath for at least 5 minutes.
  3. In your 9 x 13" pan, combine cream of mushroom, milk, and soy sauce. Add spices to this liquid mixture.
  4. Once the green beans have cooled, toss them and half of the onion strings with the mixture in the pan. Top with cheese and the sliced almonds.
  5. Bake casserole for half an hour. If the cheese topping is becoming crusty, remove the casserole and cover the pan with tin foil and resume cooking until the 30 minutes is up.
  6. After 30 minutes, take the casserole out from the oven. Immediately top with the remaining onion strings and serve!
Expect to see this recipe redone in the future with homemade cream of mushroom soup and onion strings. Last night did not permit trying out these endeavors, but hopefully there will be time in the future for these adventures. Also expect a post on sweet potato blondies coming up shortly!