Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Individual 7-Layer Dips

My Devilish Nephew and his sweet wife come to visit pretty often.  Like a Mama Duck, nothing makes me happier to have all of my little ducks in a row.  I'm truly overjoyed when everyone is here.  I'm the happiest of course when everyone is here eating.  They have a pretty long drive here from Texas, and often they arrive at odd hours.  Not really a meal time, but definitely a snack time.  On their last visit, they were coming to Oklahoma to pick up their new puppy Finley.  He's an English Cream Retriever, who got to spend a few, very entertaining days with me before their arrival.  They rolled in late on a Friday evening, hungry of course.  Nothing makes a better late night snack than chip and dip.  Even better are these individual dips.  Unlike the traditional large pan of 7-Layer Dip, these were easily made ahead and the guacamole didn't turn brown and the salsa didn't get watery.  The colors were vibrant and the flavors were delicious.  I cheated and used a store bought guacamole and salsa because face it, I had better things to do.  Like snuggle with an 8-week old puppy.  A terrific snack, and still good a couple of days later.  Definitely perfect for a party or tailgate.  I will be making my 7-Layer Dip this way from now on.  More free time to play with pups!

The Party Perfect Portion
Just add tortilla chips!

A new twist on a traditional dip.

8 snacks.  7 layers.
Aren't they fun?

And isn't he fun?
Just a puppy in pajamas.
Advertising 7-Layer Dip.

Individual 7-Layer Dips

Makes 8 servings

1 (16-ounce) can refried beans
1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning (I use gluten-free!)
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
1 (8 ounce) package prepared guacamole
1 (8 ounce) container prepared salsa or pico de gallo, drain the liquid out
1 (8 ounce) package shredded Monterey Jack/Cheddar cheese
2 Roma tomatoes, finely diced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
8 (9 ounce) clear, disposable cocktail cups

In a small bowl, combine the refried beans and taco seasoning.  Divide evenly among the 8 cups.  Use a small spatula to spread it out.  Repeat with the sour cream, guacamole, salsa and cheese.  Finally sprinkle the top with chopped tomatoes and green onions.  Cover each with plastic wrap until ready to serve with tortilla chips.

Prep Time:  Approximately 20 minutes     Cook Time: 0 needs to chill



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Antipasto Skewers and Foodie Photography

A while back I was given the idea of a food photography post from a company called Light.  I was very flattered, but also a little embarrassed to tell them that I'm really not much of a photographer. I explained the challenges of taking photographs in my own kitchen, i.e. it's too dark, my space is limited, and there's even a dog underfoot.  They went on to explain that photography and cooking are very similar in that there are so many factors that contribute to creating a good final product, and they were interested in hearing how food bloggers like myself adapt their individual situations to produce good photographs.  Light is working on a food photography project, and I was invited to participate!  Thanks to their encouragement, I created these Antipasto Skewers with some straightforward photography tips in mind.  Like photography, they are simple to create, but the final product has a serious wow factor. 
A wonderful snack and appetizer.
Look at the brilliant color!
The perfect go-to snack.
Even better for the upcoming
Summer BBQs.

My kitchen walls
are black.  Lighting is a big challenge
in my kitchen.  I usually try to open curtains and
let in as much natural light as possible.
Sometimes natural light isn't enough.
I've been known to sneak the lamp from my
sewing table onto the kitchen counter, sans shade
for an additional light source.
I try to focus on the food as much as possible.
So you don't see the clutter in the background.
I may be a food photographer and blogger, but first
and foremost I'm a wife, mom and woman with
a messy kitchen just like everyone else.
So when I take a picture of my antipasto skewers...
What you don't see is the mess in the background.There's
always a Diet Coke, a dish rag and usually ingredients for
a million other things when I'm cooking.
The biggest space on my counter happens to be in front of
my display of favorite cookbooks.  I think they make a
nice colorful background for my photos so that's usually where
I place my dish and take my pictures.
I try to zoom in so you don't see that is also my catch-all
spot for recipes, my grocery list, and to-do list.

As I said, my counter space is limited.  Why? Well we have
our food sealer, food processor, toaster, three utensil holders
and two mixers out on the counter.  I guess you could say
we are true foodies around here.  Two mixers is a bit of an
extravagance, but one is for very large tasks, and the baby mixer
is my favorite for everyday cooking.
When I focus on the food you don't see all of
those appliances in the background.  All you see is the
food.  And sometimes a bit of color.  Whenever possible
I'll try to add a napkin or place mat to liven up the photo.
My counter tops are grey and when you use a white serving dish,
the photo seems washed out.
I also try to capture the food from an angle.  When I stand directly
over the dish for an "aerial view" I make a shadow and
the food just doesn't look as pretty.

Here are the skewers from the side.  You can even see
the char on the fire roasted red peppers.  See how those
cookbooks are barely in view?  It's okay because
they are out of focus.  The important part of the image
is the food.  You can even see the bits of peppercorn
in the salami.  When you see that, can't you almost
taste that salami?  Like my husband always says,
"We eat with our eyes first."
Food photography has come a long way.
Check out this 1950's meal.  They've got the whole
table in the image.  Plus that groovy plant and lots of
artwork in the background.  I'm not sure if we are supposed
to focus on the shrimp cocktail or that giant lettuce bowl.
These days the trend in food photography is to zoom in and
capture the food.  It's okay to show the crumbs on the plate
or a half-eaten cookie.  It looks so much more lifelike this way
doesn't it?
Light has the answer to every food photographer's struggle.
The Light L16 has 16 lenses that work together to produce
pictures that are worth a thousand words.
And yes, there really is a dog underfoot!
Here's Ghirardelli "Elli" for short, hoping a crumb gets dropped.
Check out the wagging tail action shot!

Antipasto Skewers

1 carton Ciliegine or Bocconcini (Mozzarella Balls), drained
1 package Italian salami
1 small jar Pepperoncini peppers, drained
1 small jar roasted red pepper pieces, drained
small skewers

Slice the salami into bite size chunks.  It the Pepperoncini peppers are large in size, cut those into bite sized pieces as well.  On each skewer place a Mozzarella ball, piece of salami, Pepperoncini pepper, and piece of roasted red pepper.  Place on platter and serve.

Other skewer ingredient possibilities:

pitted olives
pickled okra
artichoke hearts

Prep Time:  Approximately 10 minutes     Cook Time: 0

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Grape Salad

Remember all of the church potlucks and family reunions with all of the colorful salads?  That weren't really salads at all?  Because salads don't contain marshmallows.  Those "SALADS" belong at the dessert end of the table.  This is one of THOSE SALADS.  When Little Devil asked what was for dinner on Memorial Day I replied, "BBQ Beef Tips, Crockpot Cheese Corn and Grape Salad."  Of course I got an Ewww Face along with, "Grape SALAD???" in a grossed out tone of voice.  I said, "Well you know how Snickers Salad isn't really a salad, but it's fruit and candy bars and a bowl of awesome? Think variation on Snickers Salad."  It was a huge success.  I think the crushed Butterfingers on top were the biggest hit.  Mr. DD who rarely eats seconds in the summertime actually brought the bowl to the table for more than one refill.  It's cool and decadent and hardly a SALAD.  But boy is it good.  Totally a "Don't knock it til you tried it" Recipe.  Seriously.  Give this one a try. It's unusual but it is a keeper! 
It's hardly a salad.  I don't know what to call it
besides bowl of awesome!
I used my Great-Aunt's Vintage Pyrex bowl.
Perfect for this recipe!

Butterfingers on top?  Yes please.
Now that is MY KIND of salad!

GRAPE SALAD2 pounds red seedless grapes
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (8 ounce) carton sour cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 full-sized Butterfinger candy bars, crushed

Wash the grapes, remove from stem.  With an electric mixer combine the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy.  Gently fold in the grapes until well coated.  Place in serving bowl and garnish with crushed Butterfinger candy.  Serve immediately. 

Prep Time:  Approximately 10 minutes     Cook Time: 0

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Orange Julius Fruit Dip

Without giving away my age, remember when it was cool to go to the mall with your friends?  And get the latest cassette tape?  And lots of Mrs. Grossman's stickers for your sticker album?  Yeah, I don't either because I'm not that old ;)  But the quintessential mall treat back then was an Orange Julius drink.  Cold, frothy and citrus-y.  Not quite a milkshake and not quite a smoothie.  But totally awesome-ly satisfying for 80s kids every where.  I don't know about your area, but we no longer have Orange Julius at our local mall, but you can still enjoy the flavors in this refreshing fruit dip.  It's a slightly healthy dessert with just a few ingredients that will take you back to the good ol' days when you listened to Tears for Fears and had those little teddy bear stickers stuck to all of your notebooks. 
Tastes just like 80s hair bands, jelly shoes and
ORANGE JULIUS at the mall!

Orange Julius Dip

1 (6 ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1 small package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 (8 ounce) Cool Whip topping, thawed

In a mixing bowl, dissolve the orange juice concentrate in milk.  Add the pudding mix and mix well.  Fold in the Cool Whip and chill several hours or overnight.  Tastes just like an Orange Julius.  Serve with fresh fruit for dipping.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

{Gluten-Free} Indian Fry Bread

I'm an Okie, born and raised.  Our quintessential State Fair Food is the Indian Taco.  We have our fair share of chicken fried steak, BBQ and Mexican food too.  And don't forget about a good 'ol Fish Fry.  But the Indian Taco is my go to recipe when someone from out of town comes to visit and I want to give them the full Oklahoma experience.  I've been making them since 4th grade.  It's also my go-to recipe when I have leftover buttermilk, can't think of anything to cook, or I'm hungry.  I've had lots of trial and error converting recipes to gluten-free.  I was determined to master Indian Fry Bread, because I wasn't about to give up Indian Tacos.  Even Mr. Devilish Dish and the Little Devil agreed this version is close to the real thing.  It bubbled up and was soft and airy in texture.  The perfect base for the tasty taco ingredients, or a side to a bowl of green chile. 
Finally!  I light, bubbly
Ideal for Indian Tacos.

Check out the crispy, golden edges.
I'm so pleased with how this turned out.
This is the closest I've come to the real deal.
{Gluten-Free} Indian Fry BreadMakes two large pieces or four small pieces

1  cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Xanthan Gum
1/2 cup buttermilk
oil for frying

In a skillet over medium high heat, melt shortening for frying.  Meanwhile combine flour, baking powder, salt, Xanthan Gum,  and buttermilk.  Divide into 2 even sized pieces and flatten and roll out slightly.  This will make 2 large pieces for Indian Taco bases.  Can also be made into smaller pieces to serve with cinnamon/sugar and honey.  When oil has reached 350 degrees F, place dough in skillet and fry until golden.  Flip over and fry until other side is golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.

*Note  I usually make the Gluten Free Version for myself, and my regular recipe for the rest of the family. I roll my dough out on a separate surface using the gluten free flour.  I fry my bread in the oil first to avoid any cross-contamination.

Prep Time:  Approximately 10 minutes     Cook Time:  Approximately 6 minutes

For Indian Tacos, I like to top the fried dough pieces with:

Warmed Ranch-Style Beans
cooked and crumbled ground beef
shredded cheese
hot sauce   

Monday, May 22, 2017

Asian Chicken Chopped Salad

Whenever Mr. Devilish Dish leaves town, Little Devil and I have our list of favorites that we eat while he is away.  Which consists of: cheese tortellini with marinara sauce, Little Caesar's Crazy Bread and Chick Fil A.  None of these are his favorites so we always enjoy them when he isn't eating with us.  Well guess what?  None of those are gluten-free so we've had to change our "Dad is out of town menu" to some allergy free choices.  We both love Asian salads, which he can live without.  He's not a huge fan of a salad as a meal.  He's more of a "Where's the Beef?" guy.  I happened upon this salad over at the Full Belly Sister's blog.  We've probably made it at least 6 or 7 times, each time tweaking it just a little more to our preferences.  Finally Little Devil said, "This is the one.  You can blog it now."  So here it is.  Our new Dad is Away favorite:  Asian Chicken Chopped Salad.
Cool, Refreshing and just a little bit of kick!
Asian Chicken Chopped Salad

Adapted from: Full Belly Sisters

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the marinade:
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons rice vinegar
juice of 1/2 lime
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
salt to taste
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

For the salad:
1 head butter lettuce, chopped
1 head romaine, chopped
4-6 ounces salted cashew halves & pieces
4 green onions, chopped
2  (15 ounce) cans mandarin oranges, drained

In a small bowl combine the marinade ingredients.  Place in a large plastic bag and add chicken breasts.  Allow to marinate at least one hour, or as long as overnight.  When you are ready to cook the chicken, remove chicken breasts from marinade.  Preheat oven to High Broil.  Place chicken breasts on a foil covered baking sheet.  Bake on high broil for 5 minutes.  Turn chicken breasts over and bake the other side for 5 minutes.  (Make sure the chicken is no longer pink in the middle and its juices are running clear.)  Allow to cool slightly before slicing.

While the chicken is cooking, whisk together the dressing ingredients and set aside.  Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour the dressing over and toss to combine.  Place servings of salad on plates and top with sliced chicken pieces. 

Prep Time:  1 hour to marinate     Cook Time:  Approximately 10 minutes

Monday, May 1, 2017

[Gluten-Free] Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

As I've said previously, the hardest thing about switching to a strictly gluten-free lifestyle is giving up convenience.  We've been out to eat a couple of times and thankfully several restaurants offer many gluten-free options.  Fortunately for me I'm not a huge Italian fan, so giving up pasta hasn't been that difficult.  My weakness as you all know is Mexican food.  For the most part that has been adaptable, especially cooking at home.  Gluten-free corn tortillas are readily available, and we are very careful to prepare our salsas and dressings from scratch.  My husband and the Little Devil have been very accommodating as guinea pigs on my gluten-free journey.  They've suffered through the failure of gluten-free won ton wrappers and gluten-free crust for chicken pot pie.  When Mr. DD suggested we have Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas, I reminded him that most sauce recipes require flour.  He reminded me that we could almost certainly come up with a gluten-free version.  And I'm happy to say he did.  We used the Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour to thicken the sauce, and it made a beautiful roux and thickened beautifully.  He and Little Devil could taste no difference and there was no notable difference in texture.  It was a thick, creamy, flavorful sauce, perfect atop chicken enchiladas.  I hope this is one of many gluten-free recipes (especially Mexican ones!) that I get to share on this journey with you as well.  

You'll never notice they are gluten-free...
A thick, creamy rich sour cream sauce...
Cover the chicken enchiladas with sour cream sauce,
cheese and chopped green onions.

Bake until hot and bubbly
You CAN have your gluten free Mexican food,
and eat it too!

[Gluten-Free] Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas

12 gluten-free corn tortillas
1 pound chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (I poached mine in salted water for 20 minutes)
1 tablespoon gluten-free taco seasoning
2 cups shredded Monterrey-Jack cheese, divided
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour
2 cups gluten free chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles
3-4 green onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish and set aside.  In a bowl, combine shredded chicken, taco seasoning and 1 cup of cheese.  Heat tortillas in microwave in a tortilla warmer or between two damp towels until they are pliable.  Roll chicken mixture up inside tortillas and place in baking dish.  In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Stir in flour and whisk for 1 minutes.  Add broth, whisking until smooth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and stir constantly until thickened.  Remove pan from heat (so the sour cream does not curdle) and stir in sour cream and green chiles.  Pour mixture over tortillas.  Top with remaining 1 cup of cheese and sprinkle with chopped green onions.  Cover with foil and bake 20-25 minutes or until hot and bubbly, and cheese is melted.

Prep Time:  Approximately 15 minutes     Cook Time:  Approximately 25 minutes

Monday, April 24, 2017

Taco Lettuce Wraps {Gluten-Free}

In my quest to master a gluten-free lifestyle my biggest problem has been dining out.  You'd think Mexican food would be a safe bet as long as you chose a corn tortilla?  WRONG.  Almost every place I've encountered uses flour in their ground beef mixture.  I have no idea why.  In my entire life of cooking and eating Mexican cuisine, not once has flour been involved in the meat mixture.  So I'm finding more and more it's much easier to eat at home because I know exactly how everything is prepared.  Thankfully Mexican is my favorite kind of food and it's easy to prepare gluten-free.  In an effort not to burn my family out on beef tacos with crispy corn shells, I've been trying new and creative ways to serve tacos outside the box.  When you think of lettuce wraps, P.F. Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps are the first thing that comes to mind.  Those are fabulous, and we enjoy them often but why are lettuce wraps limited to Asian cuisine?  Well now they are not.  Switch up taco night and enjoy the filling on a crisp piece of butter lettuce.  It's a little healthier and a lot delicious!

Just like a taco, with a fresh, crisp lettuce "shell"

Taco Lettuce Wraps

1 head butter lettuce
1 pound ground beef
1 cup salsa
1 ounce package gluten-free taco seasoning
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained

chopped tomatoes
shredded cheese
sour cream

In a skillet over medium heat, saute the ground beef until no longer pink and cooked through.  Season with the taco seasoning.  Stir in salsa and black beans until heated through.  Scoop mixture into pieces of butter lettuce.  Top with chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese and sour cream before serving.

Prep Time:  Approximately 15 minutes     Cook Time: Approximately 10 minutes

Friday, April 14, 2017

Jelly Bean Popcorn

Little Devil gave me the most beautiful antique lavender-colored glass jar for my birthday.  Actually she gave it to me a few weeks before my birthday.  When I asked her why she didn't wait she said, "Because I knew you would want to fill it with jelly beans and put it out with your Easter decorations."  Which is exactly what I did.  I filled it up with jelly beans and put it on display.  The next day my mom and her twin sister came over and headed straight for the jelly beans.  They were actually arguing over the colors  They ate almost all of them.  When it came time to come up with an Easter treat for the grandparents I knew it had to incorporate jelly beans since I had no idea they were so popular with my family.  In the past I've made Homemade Honey Buns and Bunny Bites Snack Mix.  I know everyone in the family loves popcorn, so I decided a popcorn snack made with colorful jelly beans would be ideal.  This is everyone's favorite marshmallow popcorn, with a sweet splash of color added.  A little extra salt and some cute bunny sprinkles finish off this sweet and salty treat.  I've even included some printable tags if you want to gift some to your favorite bunny.
A perfectly sweet & salty treat!
colorful too!
Sticky, gooey and ready for your Easter Bunnies...
Here it is all bagged up for gift-giving
Click on the image to enlarge.
Right click and save to your computer.

Open with the software of your choice
and print onto cardstock.These images are my exclusive artwork.
Please be courteous when using these printables
and remember they are for personal use only.
Here's the cute little jar that inspired it all.
Notice I refilled it!

Jelly Bean Popcorn

10 cups popped corn, salted
3 tablespoons salted butter
3 cups miniature marshmallows
jelly beans
Easter sprinkles

Place the popped corn in a large bowl.  Spread a jelly-roll pan or flat surface with waxed paper.  In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the marshmallows and stir until the marshmallows are melted.  Pour marshmallow mixture over the popped and salted corn.  Stir well to coat.  Spread the popcorn mixture onto the waxed paper.  Pour jelly beans and sprinkles over, lightly pressing into sticky popcorn. Allow to dry and then break into bite-sized piece.  Enjoy and sweet and salty treat!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Oklahoma Theta Burger Soup

You know I'm an Oklahoma Girl through and through.  In the past I've shared several recipes that have their roots here in Oklahoma, including Cattlemen's Salad Dressing and the Famous Oklahoma Club Special.  Another recipe with its history tied to my state is the Theta Burger.  It's a hamburger topped with mayonnaise, pickles, hickory sauce and shredded cheese.  It's definitely on the menu just about every place in Norman and Oklahoma City and I've heard it's even available at a place or two in Austin, Texas.  I'm unsure of when the burger was actually invented, but the Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority at the University of Oklahoma lays claim to having their name on it and the version I'd like to believe is that the burger was invented right here in Norman, OK by Ralph Geist who owned the historic Town Tavern that stood on campus corner for many years.  Legend says during the 1930s and 1940s the sorority had a curfew of 10 pm and would call the Town Tavern for a late night burger delivery.  Ralph always obliged, but as you can imagine a house full of hungry sorority girls would have quite a complicated order.  Legend says Ralph compromised and invented a burger they could all agree upon.  He named it after them and added it to his menu.  The true story may be lost to history, but thankfully the burger survives to this day.  It's my husband's favorite burger and we got the wild idea to create it in soup version, inspired by my friend Brandi at Aunt Bee's Recipes and her Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Soup.  We garnished the hearty bowl of soup with plenty of shredded cheese, chopped pickles and a generous drizzle of mayo and hickory sauce.  It tastes EXACTLY like a Theta Burger in a Bowl.  It's incredible.  Trust me.  You may think the combination is unusual, especially if you're not from around here and aren't used to seeing the Theta on your local burger menu.  But there's a reason this flavor combination has survived for nearly 100 years.  If you can't make it down to Norman for a true Theta Burger, then definitely try my version in a bowl!
It's just like a Theta in a Bowl!
The ingredient line up...
Garnish with mayo, Hickory sauce, chopped pickled
and plenty of shredded cheese for the Authentic Theta Flavor!

Oklahoma Theta Burger Soup

8 slices uncooked bacon, diced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound sliced white mushrooms
1/2 chopped onion
4 cups peeled, cubed potatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Montreal Steak Seasoning (I didn't have Montreal Seasoning so I used "Panhandle Chicken Fried Steak Seasoning" because you know: OKLAHOMA)
1 quart beef broth
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Hickory Sauce
chopped pickles
additional shredded cheese for garnish

Sauté chopped bacon in a large stock pot until crispy. Remove the bacon from pan & drain on a paper towel, leaving drippings in the pot.  Increase the heat to medium add the ground beef, sliced mushrooms and chopped onions. Brown and then remove most of the leftover fat.  Add the minced garlic & sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn the heat to high and add the potatoes, beef broth, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and steak seasoning. Boil for 10 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.  Add the reserved bacon pieces back into the pot.  Reduce the heat to low & add the shredded cheese and stir until the cheese is completely melted.
Garnish with mayonnaise, hickory sauce, chopped pickles and additional shredded cheese.

Prep Time:  Approximately 20 minutes     Cook Time:  Approximately 25 minutes 
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