Monday, February 29, 2016

Layered Broccoli Salad

We had awesome weather for February in Oklahoma last week.  I spent three afternoons on the deck enjoying 80 degree weather.  As I sit here blogging it's 37 outside with rain and a windchill of 27.  So much for that base tan I started over the weekend.  The warm weather got me excited for summer and new recipes for cook outs and dinner on the patio.  Years ago, my friend Michaela over at An Affair From The Heart shared a delicious recipe with me called, "Peg's Salad."  It it a favorite in their family and has become a favorite in ours.  This salad reminded me of Peg's Salad, with a twist.  Crisp, with savory bacon and cheddar cheese and a cool, creamy dressing.  I love the layered effect.  It looks a lot fancier than it is.  Summer will be here before we know it (or hopefully some more 80 degree weekends) and we will all be looking for some new recipes for potlucks, barbecues and backyard fun!
Layered Broccoli Salad
A beautiful presentation...
Layer the ingredients in a glass salad bowl
and top with the creamy, tangy dressing.
Great for barbecues and potlucks!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Oklahoma "Earthquake Cake"

Growing up in Oklahoma our biggest threat from Mother Nature has always been tornadoes.  When you live in Tornado Alley, you deal with the real threat from deadly tornadoes year round.  It's kind of a part of life.  We had tornado drills in school as children and all Okies have spent their fair share of time in a musty cellar.  What you aren't expecting in the Sooner State is an earthquake.  Upon doing a little research I learned that Oklahoma was feeling earthquakes as far back as 1811.   The funny thing is I remember my grandparents telling me stories about bizarre tornado experiences like the winds being strong enough to push a broom straw through a tree trunk.  No one ever mentioned "The Great Earthquake of _____."  So you could say this Okie is new to the whole earthquake thing.  We've been fortunate to experience no damage at our house, and everyone seems to take things in stride.  A little humor never hurts either.  When I found this recipe in my late aunt's things I knew I had to try it.  My friend Ginger said, "Please oh please rename this OKLAHOMA Earthquake Cake."  So I did.  When I texted the picture of the cake to my friend Barb she said, "That really does look like an earthquake!"  And behold, it does.  But this cake isn't just fun to make, it's chocolatey and moist and rich with a cream cheese frosting-like filling.  Political and geological arguments aside, with a giggle I present you Oklahoma Earthquake Cake:

It really does look like an earthquake!
Sprinkle pan with pecans and coconut
Pour cake batter over pecan mixture
Drop cream cheese mixture globs onto cake batter
Bake 45 minutes

Look at that hot, bubbly, "mess"
Cool slightly, but enjoy warm...
With milk of course.
Unless you have an earthquake and it spills.

Here's the seismic activity in Oklahoma.
So strange.  We've felt a few of the bigger ones
where I live.

Humor helps you deal with all of life's problems.
No matter how big or small.
Next time your cake falls, blame it on an earthquake.
Better yet, just bake some Oklahoma Earthquake Cake
and you don't have to worry about it!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Chinese Five Spice Wings

As much as my kid loves Asian cuisine I should just turn this blog into an Asian food blog.  She would be thrilled.  Her dad and I not so much.  We both like Asian food, just not twice a day every day.  But being the mom that I am I try to cook some kind of Asian meal at least once a week because I know how much she loves it.  (Usually on Thursday night's so the three of us can watch Big Bang Theory and Top Chef together...) So when I found the recipe for these Five Spice Wings I was excited.  My friend Michaela, over at An Affair From The Heart, had given me a set of Penzey's Spices a while back.  She's lucky enough to have a Penzey's store in Omaha, and she often treats me to unusual spices and seasonings.  One of them just happened to be Chinese Five Spice Powder.  If you aren't familiar with five spice powder, it's a mixture of five spices (duh!) used primarily in Chinese cooking, but sometimes in Asian and Arabic cuisines.  The five spice powder is a mixture of: cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger and cloves.  So you can imagine what a great flavor these wings had.  I served them for dinner with some sesame noodles, but these would make a fantastic appetizer at your next get together.  So flavorful and juicy you don't even need a dipping sauce!



Chinese Five Spice Wings
So flavorful and juicy, you won't even need a dipping sauce!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Dill Dip

So I told you how my VALENTINE GIFT  was a Sous Vide machine right?  We've been giving that thing a work out since February 14th.  Yesterday I made a Blueberry Breakfast Cake (recipe coming soon) and my husband actually asked if I wanted to try and sous vide a cake.  The answer was a resounding NO.  I love the sous vide method of cooking.  It's basically like a very high tech, very accurate slow cooker.  I especially like using it for the main course.  Then my oven, stove top and brain are freed up to work on side dishes.  So when we made French Dip sandwiches for dinner, I figured some chip and dip would make a great side dish.  Usually I make French Onion Dip or Beau Monde Dip, but I wanted to try something a little different.  I opted for a Dill Dip.  The addition of the minced onions makes this creamy dip similar to a standard onion dip, but with the addition of dill.  It was the perfect accompaniment to our sandwiches!

Creamy delicious Dill Dip
By the way, here's that French Dip Sandwich I was telling you about.
WOW.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Cheez It Fiesta Chicken

Cheez Its are my mom's favorite snack.  Growing up there was that iconic red box in our pantry.  Our tv watching snacks rotated between those cheese crackers and my mom's homemade fudge.  I still love them to this day, but I really can't get away with nightly tv snacking like I could when I was a kid.  So when I buy something like Cheez Its to snack on, I'm excited when I can incorporate them into our menu.  That way they don't go to waste, and neither does my waist.  I'm also not too embarrassed to admit while this yummy chicken dish was baking in the oven my husband and I passed the box back and forth and ate the remaining crackers.  While watching tv of course!

A yummy use for those iconic cheese crackers...
Dredge chicken breasts in a mixture of crushed Cheez It
crackers and taco seasoning.
Top with a cheesy, creamy green chile sauce and bake.
Serve with a crisp salad.
Enjoy!
(and you'll even have a few crackers left for snacking later)

Monday, February 15, 2016

My Sous Vide Valentine

I may have mentioned that Mr. Devilish Dish ordered a Sous Vide machine as a gift for our wedding anniversary back in December.  As the model he ordered is part of a Kickstarter program, February is here and it hasn't arrived yet.  Now I thought I was the impatient one in this marriage, but it turns out he is.  He ordered ANOTHER machine for my Valentine.  Now some women might not think culinary gadgets are a suitable expression of love, but when you're a complete food geek like me, well that's better than diamonds and pearls.  If you aren't familiar with the technique, sous vide is a method of cooking in which food is sealed in air-tight bags and placed in a water bath.  The temperature is accurately controlled resulting in food that is cooked evenly,  ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside, retaining moisture.  Being the food nerds we are, we decided preparing our entire Valentine meal via sous vide technique would be the ultimate Valentine dinner. 
Here's our gifts to each other...
Food nerds in love.
The Anova Sous Vide Precision Cooker....
Nothing says, "I love my wife" more
than a big slab of heart-shaped meat.
In keeping with his Sous Vide gift theme,
I gave Mr. Devilish Dish boxes of the vacuum-sealingbags that are used in this preparation.  A roll of Copenhagen
(I know so gross and bad for him.  That's an entirely
different blog post...) and some Valentine Rolo candy.
We're On A Roll...
Get it?!?
I really love bad Valentine puns.
We made sous vide Smashed Fingerling Potatoes.
Here they are about to go into the water bath.
Fingerlings, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, olive oil,
salt and pepper.  Once the cooking is completed,
the potatoes were placed on a baking sheet, "smashed",
and crisped under the broiler.
Here's the steak ready to go in.  Simply seasoned with
salt and pepper and a pat of butter. 
Once the steak finishes cooking in the water bath,
it gets a quick sear in a very hot skillet.
Look how juice and evenly cooked it is.
It was so tender.  It was literally melt in your mouth.
Who knew you could sous vide a cheesecake?
We we did.  Actually you sous vide cook the cream cheese
filling and then assemble and chill as you would a normal
cheesecake.
This was so much fun.
I look forward to many more culinary adventures
with my Valentine!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Cherry 7up Bundt Cake


We recently celebrate my sister-in-law's birthday.  My brother got a Big Green Egg for Christmas, and ever since then he's been a barbecuing fool.  So when he invited the family over for a pulled pork and ribs birthday dinner I immediately volunteered to bring dessert.  Since she has a February birthday, I knew something with a Valentine flair was an ideal choice.  Something pink and fun but  not too fussy to complete a barbecue meal.  I decided to guinea pig my family and and create a new version of an old recipe.  I've made the traditional lemon Bundt cake before with lemon cake mix, lemon pudding mix and 7up with great results.  It's a very simple cake to prepare that everyone enjoys.  But how do you make a lemon and 7up Bundt cake with a Valentine theme?  Simple.  You start with Cherry 7up and go from there.  The traditional version of this cake calls for powdered sugar and lemon juice as the glaze but I opted to use maraschino cherry juice instead.  It provided the perfectly pink color I wanted, and a sweet cherry flavor.  To make it just a little more special I decorated it with some buttercream stars and maraschino cherries.  The cake was a huge hit.  Not only did it look wonderful, it was the softest, moistest cake ever.  Ideal for a February birthday barbecue and splendid for your Valentine sweetheart!
Cherry 7up Cake
A pleasantly perfect sweet for your sweetheart!
Isn't this a cute cake?
And very simple to make.
I love the pale pink color
Super moist and delish!
Give it a try...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Circus Circus Cotton Candy Pizza

I was invited by the fun folks at Vegas.com to create a pizza recipe for the upcoming International Pizza Expo, which is the largest pizza show in the world, held yearly in Las Vegas. The challenge was to create a unique pizza inspired by one of the many fabulous Las Vegas Hotels.  If you've been lucky enough to visit Las Vegas, then you know finding creative inspiration is no problem.  The Vegas.com website was my first stop.  There you can find information and book shows, hotels, tours and more.  Wanna see a show while you're in Las Vegas?  Well there's everything from Britney Spears to Zombie Burlesque.  You can book the Bright Lights Big City Tour and enjoy the view of the gorgeous lights from a bright pink Jeep!  There's even a Walking Gourmet Food Tour.  That has my name written all over it  You know how much I love to do dessert.  And Las Vegas does over the top desserts like no one else.  From King Kong Sundaes with 16 scoops of ice cream to Cupcake ATM machines that dispense cupcakes, Las Vegas has every indulgence you can imagine.  So it should come as no surprise to you that I opted to create a dessert pizza.  My inspiration?  The Circus Circus Hotel and Casino.  What comes to mind when you think of the circus?  Cotton Candy of course.  It's the quintessential circus treat.  I envisioned a sweet cookie pizza topped with mounds of fluffy pink sugar floss, sprinkles like confetti and animal crackers of course.  Don't forget the popcorn and peanuts either.  This pizza is a bright as the Las Vegas lights, as sweet as winning on the black jack tables and as pink as the roller coaster inside the Adventuredome at Circus Circus
Cotton Candy Pizza
Inspired by:  Circus Circus Hotel
Here's the sign that helped me channel my inner
Willy Wonka.  Complete with giant lollipop!
Speaking of Willy Wonka, How this for some
"pizza toppings"???
The ultimate in Circus Food:
Pink cotton candy, circus peanuts, animal crackers, and popcorn
Here's that pink coaster at Circus Circus.
As pink as cotton candy!
To get started, you'll want to make the sugar cookie crust.
After it cools, frost with ooey gooey
homemade buttercream frosting.
Check out that "pizza crust"
Now comes the best part:
Decorating.
Think Las Vegas.  Think over to top.  Think indulgent.
There's no such thing as too many pizza toppings
when it comes to Las Vegas.
Slice and Serve.
Wouldn't this be fabulous for a circus-themed party?
Or a slumber party full of screaming girls that
love candy and anything pink?
Sprinkles.  Extra Sprinkles. 
It's like confetti sprinkled on the plate.
Enjoy a little taste of the Circus Circus Experience...
Check out all the delicious pizzas, including
this one at:
https://blog.vegas.com/las-vegas-dining/international-pizza-expo-in-vegas-inspires-hotel-themed-pizza-recipes-64118/

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

King Cake Bites

Mr. Devilish Dish had some gumbo a while back that he really enjoyed.  When it came time to create the menu for our Super Bowl party, he suggested gumbo.  I really liked the idea of Cajun-themed meal since Mardi Gras is currently going on and it's Fat Tuesday!  King Cake is traditionally associated with the Pre-Lenten or Mardi Gras/Carnival season.  Many years ago the cake started out as a French-style bread with sugar on top.  It's evolved into many variations including a puff pastry filled sweet filling topped with colorful sugar.  The colors on the king cake symbolize justice (purple), faith (green), and power (gold).  They honor the Three Kings who visited the Christ Child the 12th day after Christmas.  After researching the history of King Cake I started searching recipes.  I needed something simple and party perfect.  When I stumbled upon these King Cake Bites from the Plain Chicken Blog, I was thrilled.  These little finger-food friendly bites were exactly what I was looking for.  We just ate Steph's Sriracha Ranch Chicken last Thursday night, so I knew this recipe would be amazing.  And I was correct.  So many people at the party requested the recipe, I was sharing her blog left and right.  In fact we ran out of the King Cake Bites before everyone even got to try them.  I promised to share them on my own blog so everyone could make them at home.  The flavors remind me of my own  Sopapilla Cheesecake recipe, and using crescent roll dough speeds up the process.  These were so good and fun, I can promise you I'll be making them again and I will not be waiting until Fat Tuesday 2017 to do so!  

Friday, February 5, 2016

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

That big game is coming up.  You know the one that everybody watches whether they like football or not?  The one everybody watches so they can talk about the commercials and the half-time show the next day?  Yeah that big game.  Buffalo Chicken Wings are ubiquitous when it comes to football.  I don't know anyone that doesn't enjoy a good hot wing during the game.  But face it, they are a little bit hard to eat.  Now I know that guys don't mind sitting around like cave men gnawing the meat off the bone and licking sauce off their fingers.  And I certainly don't mind doing that in the privacy of my own home.  (Don't judge.)  But if we're talking watch party then those kind of eating manners rank right up there with squirting whipped cream from the can into your mouth.  (Not that I know ANYTHING about that.)  So that's where Buffalo Chicken Meatballs come in.  All the flavor of buffalo wings minus that cave man dining experience.  Dip them in some HOMEMADE BLUE CHEESE DRESSING and you've got the perfect game day appetizer!  (And by game day I mean commercial-watching, halftime show-judging appetizer.)

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs....
Just like wings, only neater!
Serve with some Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing
and some carrots and celery sticks...
The traditional way!
Can't beat the tanginess of Frank's RedHot!
Enjoy the big game!
(AKA Commercial Watch Party)
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