Posts Tagged 'Game Day'

Slow-Cooker Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

Football party season is upon us (Dr. O is out enjoying one as I write), which means it’s time to break out our very best game day recipes.  I found one this past week that is easy, perfect for entertaining (slow cooker!), and is actually pretty healthy: Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches from the January/February 2011 issue of Everyday Food.  The recipe isn’t on the Everyday Food site yet, so I’ll share it with you here.

Slow-Cooker Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches
Serves 8 | Active time: 25 min. | Total time: 4 hr. 25 min.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced small
1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup hot-pepper sauce, such as Frank’s (I used Cholula)
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
8 hamburger buns

Method:
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high.  Add chicken thighs, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring once, until meat is golden brown, 5 minutes.  With a slotted spoon, transfer to a slow cooker, leaving as much oil behind as possible. Repeat with chicken breasts.

To skillet, add onion, garlic, and bell pepper and cook over medium, stirring constantly, until onion is translucent, 6 minutes.  Add 1/4 cup water and cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits from skillet, 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and transfer to slow cooker.

To slow cooker, add crushed tomatoes, hot-pepper sauce, Worcestershire, mustard, and molasses; stir to combine.  Cover and cook on high until chicken is very tender, 4 hours.  Shred chicken and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve on buns.

Note: Refrigerate the finished dish in an airtight container, up to 5 days, or freeze, up to 3 months.

Nutrition per serving: 358 cal; 10 g fat (3 g sat fat); 35 g protein; 31 g carb; 3 g fiber

Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

These sandwiches were SO good!  I have a basic barbecued chicken sandwich recipe that I’ve been using for years, but this recipe has so much more depth of flavor. Unless I’m short on time, I’ll take this sandwich any day.  I should note, though, that the inclusion of the word “spicy” in the recipe title isn’t a joke.  I was cautious and cut the hot sauce to 3 tablespoons instead of 4; the heat was still enough to make our noses run.  (Our New Mexico and Arizona friends joke that we’re still “in training” when it comes to eating spicy food…  Somehow, I think this will be a lifelong process!)  Anyway, if you like it hot, go with the full 1/4 cup; if you don’t do spicy food, you might still get a hint of heat if you cut the hot sauce to 2 tablespoons.

Since I’m used to cooking fattier cuts of meat (like pork shoulder or chuck roast) in the slow cooker, I was a bit skeptical about how well the chicken breast would shred.  It was amazingly easy!  I guess that just goes to show that the slow cooker can do amazing things with meat, lean or not.

I won’t be cooking on Super Bowl Sunday, but I’m absolutely putting these sandwiches in my game day arsenal.  Give them a try the next time you need to make a casual supper for a crowd.

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Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Dip

The holidays are about get-togethers, and get-togethers often include dip. Today’s recipe – Pampered Chef’s Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Dip – is one of my favorites. I first made it waaaay back when (2002?  Eek!), and I decided to pull the recipe out for last month’s game day-themed gourmet club meeting.  As always, it was a hit!

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it:

Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Dip
Yields approximately 2 1/2 cups of dip
Prep time: 15 min. | Chill time: 3 hours

Ingredients:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup ranch salad dressing
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced (about 3/4 cup)
6 bacon slices, crisply cooked, drained and chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon sugar
Lettuce leaves
Bread or crackers for serving

Method:
Place cream cheese in a medium bowl.  Gradually stir in dressing; mix well

Remove seeds from tomato and dice it.  Reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish.  Finely chop bacon, celery, and onion.  Add tomato, bacon, celery, onion, and sugar to cream cheese mixture; mix well.  Cover; refrigerate at least 3 hours to allow flavors to blend.

To serve, line a bowl with lettuce leaves.  Fill with dip.  Garnish with reserved tomato.  Serve with bread, crackers, or crudités.

Source: Pampered Chef’s Celebrate!

Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Dip

I didn't have any lettuce on hand, so I supposed this is technically Bacon and Tomato Dip. It's delicious nonetheless!

Bacon flavor and general creamy goodness is enough to bring this to the top of my list, but I especially love it because it’s easy, it can be made ahead, and it can be made with light ingredients.  (I used real bacon – although turkey bacon would work – with light ranch and light cream cheese.)  So.  So.  Good.  Try it for your next holiday gathering or game day party!

Chocolate Cupcakes (aka A Cupcake Recipe That Actually Works in Denver)

I have had a major love-hate relationship with cake since we moved back to the Denver area.  I love it, of course, because I love to eat it.  I hate it because most sea-level cake recipes produce cupcakes that either (a) have sunken-in tops or (b) practically explode all over the muffin tin.  I’ve had some moderate success with the “standard” high-altitude recipe adjustments (oh, if only there truly were standard adjustments), but most of my attempts have resulted in failure.

Recently, I inherited a high-altitude baking cookbook – High Altitude Baking (original title, eh?) by Patricia Kendall – from my friend Hilary.  I knew from my experience with Pie in the Sky by Susan Purdy that recipes don’t necessarily work well at altitude just because they’re published under that claim…  While I had great success with her Independence Pass Brownies, the 1-2-3-4 Cake was dry, dense, and practically inedible.  I wanted to make cupcakes for the Super Bowl, though, so it was time to take a chance on a new recipe.  I chose Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes as the first recipe I would attempt from High Altitude Baking, mostly because I had all the ingredients except an easy-to-purchase cup of sour cream. My first rumbling of trouble came when I realized that I had purchased light sour cream (habit!) instead of full-fat for the recipe.  I forged ahead with the recipe anyway and ended up with predictably less-than-fantastic cupcakes: while they did have decent crowns, they were exceptionally airy and almost chewy from the lack of fat.

Dr. O had put in a request for a few more Super Bowl snacks and we needed to head back to the store, so I decided I’d pick up some full-fat sour cream and try the recipe again.  This time, I ended up with delicious but ugly results; the cake was far more moist, but the batter had overflowed (even with the cups only half full!) and the tops of the cupcakes were crusty and misshapen.  (Sigh.)  Even with lots of icing, there was no covering that up.

Thankfully, I had also replenished my supply of baking cocoa while we were at the grocery store, which meant I had everything I needed to try one more recipe from the book: Chocolate Cupcakes.  After my two sour cream cake failures, I had higher hopes for this recipe because it had a traditional ingredient: oil.  (The only fat in the sour cream recipe came from two squares of chocolate and the sour cream itself.)  I followed the hand mixer instructions (see below), baked them for 23 minutes (instead of 25) and guess what?  I had beautiful, moist little cupcakes – with crowns!

Unfrosted Chocolate Cupcakes

I frosted them with my favorite icing (see below), topped them with sprinkles, and added them to the Super Bowl spread.  Mmmmm.

Chocolate Cupcakes

I think I might have preferred chocolate icing with these cupcakes, so I’ll try that next time.  I was just so freakin’ excited about finding a high-altitude cupcake recipe that worked, though, that I would have happily eaten them without icing.  I’m looking forward to making these again and again…  Cupcakes, minus the frustration!

Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes 24

Ingredients:
2 cups sifted cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup milk (I used whole milk)

Method:
Preheat oven to 375F.  Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans, one 9 x 13-inch baking pan or muffin cups.  Mix and sift flour, cocoa, sugar, and baking powder together into a bowl.  Add oil, vanilla, eggs, and milk; beat for 30 seconds with a mixer at low speed, scraping the bowl frequently.  Beat for 7 1/2 minutes more with a stand mixer at medium speed or 6 minutes with a hand mixer at high speed, scraping the bowl 4 – 5 times.  Pour batter into pans.  Bake for time recommended below, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.* Remove cakes from oven and cool in pans for about 12 minutes.  Remove cakes from pans and finish cooling on a wire rack.

*Two 9-inch cakes: About 28 minutes.
One 9 x 13-inch cake: Lower oven temperature to 350F.  Bake for 30 – 35 minutes.
24 cupcakes (1/2-full): About 25 minutes.
(Update 12/31/10: Based on several visitor comments, I would recommend checking your cupcakes at the 18- or 20-minute mark if you bake them at 375F.  If they need more time, just put ’em back in.)

Altitude adjustments:
6,500 – 8,500 feet: Decrease baking powder to 1 3/4 teaspoons.
8,500+ feet: Decrease baking powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons.  Increase milk by 1 tablespoon.

Source: High Altitude Baking by Patricia Kendall  (Amazingly, this link displays the entire cake section of the cookbook for free!)

Toba Garrett’s Decorator’s Buttercream Icing
Make 2 1/2 quarts (2.37 L) (This is an absolute ton of icing!  Feel free to cut it in half or even quarter it.)

Ingredients:
2 cups (1 pound or 454 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (230 grams) vegetable shortening or hi-ratio shortening
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract, pure vanilla extract, or almond extract
3 pounds (1.36 kilograms) 10X confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 fluid ounces or 135 millilitres) water, milk, or clear liqueur
3 tablespoons meringue powder
1 teaspoon salt

Method:
Cream shortening and butter with an electric, handheld, or paddle-whip mixer. Add flavoring and salt. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time. Add meringue powder. (The mixture will appear dry.)

Add liquid of choice and beat until light and fluffy (approximately 5 to 8 minutes). Keep the bowl covered with a damp cloth or plastic wrap.

Storage:
Store the icing in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.

Source: The Well-Decorated Cake by Toba Garrett

Runzas

If you’re originally from Nebraska and you don’t live there anymore, you probably miss eating at Runza. For those of you who aren’t from Nebraska (or who haven’t had the good fortune of eating a Runza while visiting Nebraska), you’re probably wondering what in the world a Runza is. Some might call it a meat pie, though I can’t say I find that phrase very appetizing. Another friend basically suggested that I was making glorified Hot Pockets. (In a way, Josh, you’re right.) I would describe an original Runza as a small loaf of bread stuffed with seasoned ground beef, onions, and cabbage. I always get mine with cheese, but they get way more dressed up than that. (Swiss cheese mushroom Runza, anyone? How about a BLT Runza?)

Runza is a Nebraska original (started in Lincoln in 1949), and while we do have two franchises in Colorado, it’s pretty unlikely that I’m going to drive all the way to Ft. Collins or Loveland to have one. Therefore, I make my own. Until recently, it had been years since the last time I made Runzas. There’s been something about this Husker football season (maybe related to the fact that we have a game-worthy TV and more kitchen space now?), though, that has been stirring the craving.

I found a recipe on Allrecipes.com that (with a few minor tweaks) perfectly replicates that unmistakable Runza flavor. Making them is a bit time-consuming (and messy), I’ll admit, but it’s totally worth it. Plus, any extras freeze beautifully.

Here’s the recipe with my modifications:

Runzas
Serves 10

Dough Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup sugar (modified from 1/2 cup)
2 (0.25-ounce) packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup milk (I use 1%, but I’m sure 2% or whole would be fine)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup shortening (I use butter-flavor Crisco)
2 eggs

Filling Ingredients:
1 pound lean ground beef (I use 93/7 or 95/5 so I don’t have to drain it)
2 small onions, chopped
4 cups chopped cabbage
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 1/4 cups of shredded mild cheddar (or any cheese of your choosing)

Method:
In a large mixing bowl, place 1 3/4 cups of flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Heat milk, water, and shortening to 120F – 130F. (I heated the mixture in a saucepan on the stove and used a candy thermometer to check the temperature.) Pour over flour mixture; add the eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low until blended. Beat an additional 3 minutes on high. Stir in the remaining flour (2 3/4 cups); knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic (about 6 – 8 minutes). Place dough in a greased bowl; cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour.)

Dough Before Rise

Dough Before Rise

Dough After Rise

Dough After Rise


Meanwhile, brown beef and onions in skillet. Add cabbage, salt, and pepper; cook until cabbage is wilted and starting to become translucent. Continue seasoning filling with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Punch dough down. Divide into 10 equal pieces and roll each piece into a square on a lightly floured surface. Top each square with 1/3 cup meat mixture and 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese. Fold dough over the filling, crimp edges tightly to seal, and place on greased baking sheets. (I used a pizza stone; you could also line your baking sheets with parchment [but NOT wax paper].) Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot.

Runzas

Perhaps this is blasphemy, but I think this recipe actually produces better sandwiches than Runza does itself. The filling taste is spot on, and the bread is absolutely incredible. The first time I tried this particular recipe, I didn’t roll the dough quite thin enough, so the bread was a bit overwhelming. This time, the Runzas were perfect. Perfect! Plus, I have six left in the freezer for later (to be baked for 25 minutes – rather than 20 minutes – at 350F, straight from the freezer). The bread is fractionally more heavenly fresh than it is frozen, but we’ll still have incredibly delicious Runzas without the mess. Runza lovers, you have to try this one… It won’t disappoint!

A few additional notes: Since I am absolutely crazy, I weighed the dough on my kitchen scale and portioned the pieces out by weight. I started with 34 ounces of dough, so each piece was just under 3 1/2 ounces. I did the same thing for the filling. I started with 31 ounces of filling, so each Runza got right around 3 ounces. Feel free to eyeball it, seriously; I just wanted my portions to be about equal.

TIPS:  If you really don’t want to deal with making bread dough, you could probably use frozen dough. I really feel that this dough recipe makes the sandwich, though, so I’d strongly encourage you to at least give it a shot.

Also, if you’re going to freeze your Runzas, first put them on baking sheet and then place them on a freezer shelf for about an hour. Once they’ve started to firm up, transfer them to freezer bags.

Update 1/29/10: I’ve started preheating my pizza stone before I bake the Runzas whether they’re fresh or frozen. Dr. O and I were disappointed to discover that the bottom of our Runzas hadn’t cooked through on one occasion, and this solves the problem. If you’re baking them on a baking sheet rather than a pizza stone, I’d still recommend preheating it. With the preheated cooking surface, fresh Runzas are ready in 20 minutes and frozen ones are ready in 23 minutes (at my house, at least!). Also, I’ve discovered that you can “hold” fresh Runzas in the refrigerator for an hour or two before baking. Just give them 21 or 22 minutes in the oven. I feel ready to serve these for a game day party now that I know I’ll have time to clean up the mess before everyone arrives!

Original recipe link (without modifications): Runzas

Kielbasa Black Bean Chili

I (lightly) catered a party last month for a friend who is involved in the Junior League of Denver, and she gave me a copy of Colorado Classique (the new Junior League of Denver cookbook) as part of my payment.  The JLD cookbooks are a well-known source of fantastic recipes, so I was really excited to receive my very first one.  I had the pleasure of tasting the peanut butter bars from the book at my friend’s house (absolutely incredible – I’ll be making and posting them soon), but I wanted my first selection from the book to be something well-suited for the winter-like weather we experienced here in Denver last week.  I chose to go with the Kielbasa Black Bean Chili, and boy did I choose well.  Dr. O and I enjoyed it so much that I have another pot simmering on the stove right now so we’ll have some to enjoy with football tomorrow.

To make the stew, I started off by heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in my 8 1/2-quart Dutch oven.  (You could probably get away with one that’s a bit smaller.)  Next, I tossed in 1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) of turkey kielbasa (quartered lengthwise and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces) and cooked it until it started to brown.  (This took 10 minutes at my house; the recipe indicated 12 minutes.)

Using a slotted spoon, I transferred the kielbasa to a bowl and set it aside.  You need to have to 2 tablespoons of oil in the pot before the next step, so add or subtract from the drippings if necessary.  (My turkey kielbasa didn’t render much fat but did soak up some oil, so I had to add oil to the pot.)  Still using medium-high heat, I added 2 cups of chopped onions, 1 coarsely chopped red bell pepper, 1 coarsely chopped green bell pepper, and 4 chopped garlic cloves to the pot.  I sauteed them until they were beginning to brown (6 minutes at my house, 10 minutes in the recipe).

To the vegetable mixture, I added four 15-ounce cans of black beans (drained and rinsed), a 32-ounce box of chicken broth, a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes in juice (undrained), 3 tablespoons of chili powder, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 1/2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 3 small bay leaves, 1 1/2 tablespoons of dried oregano, and 2 1/2 teaspoons of ground cumin.  I brought the chili to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduced the heat to medium, covered it, and simmered it for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, I returned the kielbasa to the pot and reduced the heat to low.  I simmered the chili, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When it was nice and thick, I seasoned it with salt and pepper to taste and served it with sour cream and a sprinkle of chives.

Kielbasa Black Bean Chili

I could happily eat this once a week through the end of winter…  It’s amazingly delicious, warm, and comforting.  Plus, the recipe yields 8 servings, so we were able to have dinner twice plus a lunch for Dr. O on one night’s worth of cooking.  It was wonderful the first night, but a tip included with the recipe was spot on: The chili really was even better the next day.  This makes it perfect for casual entertaining; I’m going to put the chili, Dutch oven and all, into the refrigerator and then just gently reheat it tomorrow for the game.

TIPS:  The bottom of my Dutch oven got pretty brown when I was browning the kielbasa, and the onions picked up the color when they were sauteeing.  It didn’t cause any problems with the chili in terms of flavor or appearance, so don’t worry if this happens to you.

Kielbasa Black Bean Chili
Serves 8

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed
1 1/2 pounds turkey or beef kielbasa or Canino’s Bratwurst, quartered lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups chopped onions
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
4 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 32-ounce box organic chicken broth
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
3 – 4 tablespoons chili powder, depending on desired spiciness
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 small bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons salt, or more to taste
Sour cream and chopped green onions for topping

Method:

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.  Add kielbasa or bratwurst and saute 12 minutes or until beginning to brown.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer kielbasa or bratwurst to a bowl.  If necessary, add more olive oil to drippings in pot to measure 2 tablespoons, or discard all but 2 tablespoons of drippings.  Add onions, both bell peppers, and garlic.  Saute 10 minutes or until beginning to brown.  Add beans, broth, tomatoes with juice, chili powder, sugar, vinegar, bay leaves, oregano, and cumin.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.  Return kielbasa or bratwurst to pot.  Reduce heat to low.  Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until chili is thick, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper.

Chili can be made a day ahead.  Cool slightly; cover, and chill.  Rewarm before serving.

Source: Colorado Classique

Super Bowl Snacks: Past Posts

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, everyone! The afternoon’s parties are rapidly approaching, so I thought I’d give a few last-minute snack suggestions based on past Sweet and Saucy posts. You might consider:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chex Bars
Baked Potato Bar
Fresh Salsa
Sparkling Limeade
Mint Chocolate Brownies
Barbecued Chicken Sandwiches
Chocolate Caramel Oatmeal Chews
Slow-Cooked Tex-Mex Chicken and Beans
Sweet Party Mix
Jumbo Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies
Almond Fruit Bars

Happy snacking!

Super Bowl Snacks: Lighter Beef Chili

Would any Super Bowl party be complete without chili? I’m not so sure. I want to preface this all by saying that I’m not about to get into the “beans or no beans debate” – I’m not a chili purist. I’ll play nice with all the Texans and say that real chili doesn’t have beans, so we can agree that this is really chili *with* beans. Or something. 🙂

Anyway, my recipe for today – Lighter Beef Chili – comes from the January/February issue of Everyday Food. This recipe is nice because it’s lean and it’s quick. Prep time is only 25 minutes, and it’s ready to eat only 15 minutes later. You could easily keep it on the stove over low heat if you want to keep it warm for a few hours.

I started by warming 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. I added 1 medium onion (chopped) and 4 garlic cloves (chopped), seasoning with salt and pepper. I cooked the mixture until softened, about 4 minutes.

Next, I added 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of chili powder, and 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder. I cooked and stirred everything until it was fragrant, about 1 minute. I added 1 pound of ground beef sirloin and cooked it, breaking it up with a spoon, until it was no longer pink (about 5 minutes).

Finally, I added 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) of undrained diced tomatoes in juice and 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) of pinto beans (drained and rinsed). I brought the mixture to a boil over high heat, reduced it to a simmer, and cooked the chili until it was slightly thickened, about 12 minutes. I served mine with sour cream and scallions.

lighter_beef_chili.jpg

This chili is good – it has a nice texture and I appreciate that it’s on the healthier side. It doesn’t have a really strong flavor, though, which is what I’m used to when I eat chili. Once we added our toppings (we ended up throwing some crushed blue tortilla chips in there as well), the flavor really improved. Grated cheddar or pepper jack would be really nice too. Since it’s mild, this is a perfect kid-friendly chili. I would just use extra seasoning or a variety of toppings to dress it up a bit more for the adult crowd.

Recipe link: Lighter Beef Chili




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