There are certain ways to gauge the worth of a recipe. When it comes to desserts, my mom is the ultimate test. If she loves it (like these Butterbeer cupcakes), then it’s good. For dinners, it’s usually when the husband raves about it. But if my step-dad raves about a recipe, you know it is delicious. He is the type that just eats to live. He doesn’t live to eat. He could survive on hots dogs and baked beans and not blink an eye. Food just isn’t his thing.
So when he raved about this wasabi cream dip he’d tried last time he visited, I knew it’d be good. He and my mom had some slathered on shrimp at a restaurant and my mom immediately set out to recreate it. She brought the recipe down here, I tried some and immediately demanded more. It’s fantastic! Creamy, smooth with a healthy kick from the spicy wasabi. Of course, adjust this to your spice likings. I like mine really spicy so I added a lot. But start small and build.
Per my step-dad, I need to tell you about sour cream. I haven’t used sour cream in years. Not since I discovered Greek yogurt had a similar enough taste to get me by. That’s what I’ve used here and it works fine for me. But my step-dad insists the Greek yogurt tastes different and sour cream is better. He could be right. Try it both ways. Grab some Cheez-It grooves and slather it on. Dunk your veggies in it. Toss it into a salad or dollop it onto grilled shrimp. Just make it. Trust me. My step-dad would not steer you wrong!
As soon as fall hits, the sweet pumpkin recipes come out en masse. Let’s explore the opposite end of that spectrum with some savory pumpkin risotto, fit for a king.
Once the first leaf falls off the trees, something happens in the food world. As soon as it touches the ground, people bust out their cans of pumpkin and get to it. The lattes, the syrups, the cookies, bars, cakes, smoothies. Pumpkin is in everything. And even though I couldn’t resist a little pumpkin spice, I tried to really wait until October to share any serious pumpkin recipes.
Let me just say thank you October! I love pumpkin and it has been tough holding off this long. And while so many recipes out there are for pumpkin sweets and treats, I love taking a look at the savory end of pumpkin sometimes. It gives food a real richness, a creaminess, a depth. I’ve been spooning it into pasta for years, layering it into lasagnas or stuffing it into raviolis. Some of those can be somewhat complex and time consuming but this savory pumpkin risotto? It’s easy as pie.
Whip it up like a standard risotto. Keep a watchful eye, have some patience, pour yourself a glass of wine. Stir, stir, stir. Absorb. Let the rice get really nice and creamy. And when it seems like it is at its creamiest, add in some pumpkin puree. Take it to the next level and get serious about risotto. If you are really adventurous, you could put some fried sage on top. I did not have any sage. I only have sage when my mom is nice enough to give me some of hers. But regardless, this risotto is one for the books.
Hearty buffalo chicken sandwiches are perfect for satisfying your craving for all things saucy, spicy and crispy. Great for eating while sipping a cold beer!
When it comes to sandwiches, there is none as satisfying as the hearty buffalo chicken sandwich. That may be a bold statement but I stand by it whole-heartedly. PB&J with the crusts cut off just doesn’t do it for me. When I’m looking for something substantial and hearty, I go for buffalo chicken sandwiches, hands down.
It’s a great sandwich for the upcoming summer season. The spice of the buffalo sauce, believe it or not, will cool you off. Spicy food makes you sweat and, gross as this is, sweat is the body’s natural air conditioning system. Plus there isn’t much to compare with sitting on the deck, eating a couple of these sandwiches while drinking a cold brew and watching a sports game. If that’s your sort of thing, of course.
The trick here is, once again, the double dredge. Seriously. Try making this chicken without double dreding and you’ll see, it just doesn’t compare. The double dredge is what gives this chicken a thick coating. The buffalo sauce sticks to that coating and creates a saucy, coated piece of buffalo chicken. Top it with a healthy spoonful of blue cheese crumbles, naturally. We used pretzel rolls, like Megan (this recipe is lightly adapted from hers, ever so lightly) and it turned out fantastically. The salty, slightly crisp pretzel rolls is a perfect compliment.
Serve this with a cold beer, perhaps a Monty Python Holy Grail Ale, if you’re into beer. Or just a giant glass of pink lemonade.
I love holidays that revolve around food. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween, 4th of July. Each one has a specific food that I associate and love. And so while a football game may not necessarily be a holiday, it is definitely something that people celebrate and it has a lot to do with food. As I mentioned with these vegetarian buffalo bites, I was interested in testing out some meat-free options to see how they held up in comparison with their traditional counterparts.
I played around with the idea of a sloppy joe, since that always makes me think of sporting events. I’ve never really seen one served at a hockey game (the only event I’ll attend) but still, the image came to mind. And so I went with lentil sloppy joes. Lentils tend to have a really hearty, meaty quality to them. If you are looking to sub out meat but aren’t daring enough to try one of the standard substitutions like tofu, lentils are a decent choice. Mixed with tomato sauce and veggies and loaded with spices, these sloppy joes tasted pretty darned much like a real sandwich.
Now, I didn’t add cheese to mind mainly because I didn’t have any cheese on hand. it was a sad day. Had my fridge been well-stocked, I would have definitely added a thick slice of American cheese. It would have added something extra. I highly recommend, should your fridge be well-stocked, that you add cheese. Just because it’s cheese and everyone loves cheese, right?
I’m not a big fruit person. As much of a sweet eater as I can be, I’d typically choose vegetables over fruit in a heart beat. So much of it has to do with texture. I hate the texture of most fruits. Melons are always grainy. Grapes can be sometimes mushy. An apple has to have just the right amount of crunch and sour flavor for me to be on board. And yet even though I don’t love most fruits, I’m always a fan of pomegranates.
My mom used to buy them when we were kids and I have loved them ever since. I don’t think I ever realized what a pain they were to peel and seed. But once you crack that baby open, those little ruby red jewels are worth it. They’re a bit tangy, a bit sassy and definitely delicious. I wanted to make a dessert with them but was stuck on what. So I just went the easy way and made cupcakes.
I used a classic vanilla cupcake recipe that I keep on hand and filled it with some of the little jewels. Just a third cup so they don’t overwhelm your dessert. A healthy dollop of cream cheese frosting and a pretty sprinkling of pom seeds on top and you are good to go. These cupcakes are as stunning as they are tasty!
These simple vanilla cupcakes are studded with ruby red pomegranates and taste as good as they look.
½ cup butter, softened
⅔ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1½ cups flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
¼ cup milk
⅓ cup pomegranate seeds
red food dye (optional)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
additional seeds for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with paper liners.
In the bowl of a mixer, cream together butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
In a bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Add in flour mixture and milk, alternately, beginning and ending with flour, until well mixed. Add in red food coloring if you choose. Fold in pomegranate seeds.
Divide batter into muffin tins, ¾ to the top of the pan. Bake for 20 minutes until cooked through.
Allow to cool completely before frosting.
To prepare frosting, cream butter and cream cheese until completely combined.
Add in powdered sugar and mix until completely combined.
Once cupcakes are cool, transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with a circle tip.
Starting on the outside of the cakes, frosting circles going up as you pipe. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.