it’s like pizza, but not

Thanksgiving is really this week?! I refuse to believe this year is almost over, and therefore, I am sharing something very un-TurkeyDay-like while I can: Italian-roasted chickpeas. These little babies taste a lot like pizza and suffice as a meal or a snack. Give them a try! Continue reading it’s like pizza, but not

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anti-resolution soup

The first (and last) time I made soup was more abhorrent than the first 10 minutes of the 6 o’clock news — so traumatizing I avoided making or eating any liquescent meals for more than a year. Last week, I decided to grow a set and give it another try. Fortunately for me [and my clean kitchen], this bacon cheeseburger soup did not require a creaming capacity or any appliances other than my own stove top. Continue reading anti-resolution soup

blt dip

“The BLT is absolutely the most underrated sandwich.”

I don’t know why or how my friends get into these conversations, but that’s the conclusion we came to during a spirited debate on the worthiness of certain sandwiches. Regardless, they’re right: BLTs are awesome, but often overlooked.

To honor this delightful little sandwich, I recently made my own take on Paula Deen’s BLT dip. It’s like a mini sandwich in every bite, and there’s tons of crispy bacon, which is never a bad thing. If you’re looking for something to bring to a Labor Day party this weekend, this is an easy-to-make crowd pleaser. Continue reading blt dip

soda and pepper

Everything appears to be going so well in my kitchen lately that you’d think I should lose the ‘neophyte’ moniker, right? Not so fast. Because my posting frequency took a nosedive during the busy summer months, I’d really only been posting some of my more successful culinary adventures. But now that my assorted activities are winding down and I’m starting to get my life back, I have a little more time to post, and thus, share with you some of the horrible, horrible things that have been happening in my kitchen.

Exhibit A: the Dr. Pepper and jalapeño meatballs. Continue reading soda and pepper

ring of onion

Easter is my least favorite eating holiday. It’s always ham or lamb or pasta. Mehh. Even the subordinate Easter staple — the hard-boiled egg — grosses me out. I’m much more interested in a big turkey dinner with stuffing and mashed potatoes, followed by a long nap and an entire weekend to recover. Because I’m so dispassionate about Easter food, I’m focusing this post on my recent trials involving Lent and sacrificing beloved french fries for 40 straight days.

For starters, it was much more difficult than I thought it would be, especially when I’d join my friends at a local restaurant for quizzo every week, and I was surrounded by gigantic piles of salty waffle fries (my favorite). I felt dejected every time I went out to eat — substituting out french fries for some lukewarm soup or some poorly cooked excuse for broccoli. I was in such a state of withdrawal, I would have been willing to eat any or all of the bucket of Chickie’s and Pete’s Crabfries the guy in front of me at the Flyers game dropped on the ground.

Lent may have brought me [almost literally] to my knees this year, but sacrificing fried taters (yes, I avoided potato chips, too) obviously had its health benefits, and it also had me exercising a bit of creativity when it came to my casual side dishes. And thus, I give you baked barbecue onion rings (adapted from Recipe Girl).

These are the perfect complement to a burger or sandwich, and pack much more flavor than your typical onion ring. The barbecue sauce base can be in the flavor of your choosing, so experiment with smoky and sweet. If you don’t have panko crumbs in your pantry, I would highly recommend buying some. Panko crumbs are larger and flakier, and crisp better because they don’t hold as much grease. I just can’t see these being as good without them. The best part about this recipe? No deep frying required. Hooray, semi-healthy!

1 c. barbecue sauce, any flavor
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 tbs. flour
2 c. panko (add more if mixture is skimping)
2 sweet red onions, sliced into rings 

Whisk together BBQ sauce, egg and flour. Pour panko into separate bowl. Using tongs to avoid a mess, dip each onion slice into the sauce mix, then coat with crumbs. Place on a sprayed baking sheet. Before placing in oven, lightly spray tops of rings with cooking spray for added crunch. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes, flipping rings once during cook time.

Total time? 7 minutes prep, 12 minutes cook.
Cost? $1.25 sweet red onions, $1.50 barbecue sauce, $2 panko crumbs.
Overall success relative to expect? 9 out of 10. I didn’t have the highest hopes for these because I’m so used to fast-food onion rings and their thick coatings, and I didn’t think this would stand up. Not only was this a healthier alternative, but there was an incredible amount of flavor. I used a honey BBQ sauce, so next time I’ll go smoky. I’ll also make sure I cut the onion slices a bit thicker so they hold their shape a little better. The biggest drawback (other than crying like a baby whilst slicing onions) was that my house smelled like onion for approximately three days. Sorry, roomies!

Opening Day dip

The wait is over. Five long, dark months have passed. It’s Opening Day. Baseball has returned.

From a few of the players’ mouths (Hunter Pence, B.J. Upton, James Shields), Opening Day has been described as reaching the top of a roller coaster, the first day of the school and, of course, Christmas. Yes. All of the above.

I usually like to tie in what’s going on outside my kitchen to what I post here, but I didn’t get a chance to make cute little baseball-themed cookies or anything of that ilk, so rather than stretch it make it work, I’m reluctantly shifting focus to today’s “food holiday” — National Tater Day — with loaded baked potato dip (from bakedbree).

I made this for a recent potluck, and while it was successful, it was a little overshadowed by all the more substantial dishes there. This is much more appropriate for a casual hangout — maybe one where you and your friends are sunk in the couch watching a handful of baseball games [via MLB Extra Innings free preview] and want to put as little effort as possible into what you’re eating?

The dip doesn’t actually contain any potatoes, so like baked bree, I would recommend using potato chips or fries as dippers to get the full baked potato effect. If you don’t have a deep fryer, go with the chips; without something strong enough to scoop, it’s a little frustrating to eat. McCain waffle fries + my new deep fryer = winning combination.

♦1/4 lb. bacon (I used about six slices of medium-cut)
16 oz. sour cream
2 c. cheddar cheese
1/3 c. chopped fresh chives (I bought a 1/4 oz. package and it sufficed)
2 tsp. hot sauce, plus little more for drizzling on top
dippers — waffle fries, potato chips, etc.

Cook bacon, and crumble when cooled. Place all ingredients (sans dippers) in bowl. Mix. Let chill in fridge for at least an hour. Check taste, and adjust with salt or hot sauce if desired. This really couldn’t be easier.

Total time? 15 minutes prep (bacon is most time-consuming part), 1 hour chill time.
Cost? $3 bacon, $1.50 sour cream, $1.74 chips, $1 chives, $1 hot sauce, $2 fries/potato chips.
Overall success relative to expect? 6 out of 10. I liked this dip, but I didn’t love it. I’m not really sure why, and I know that’s not helpful. It might be because I’m not the biggest sour cream fan. I would still recommend making it because it’s tasty, easy and seemed to be a crowd-pleaser (which may or may not have been because it came with freshly deep-fried waffle fries). Happy Opening Day, baseball fans!

time to dip!