Thursday, January 31, 2013

Super Bowls: Buffalo Chicken Chili

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I'll admit it. We're not really football people.

But, that doesn't mean we don't know great game day fare when we see it.  In fact, we've been known to throw a mean Super Bowl party... with an emphasis on Puppy Bowl and commercial watching, of course.

But even so...  it's really all about the food anyhow. Isn't it?

Since the Super Bowl tends to fall at one of the coldest times of the year, it's a great time for soup. And chili always seems to be a perennial favorite for parties. But, you don't need to make the same old boring recipe.

Creamy blue cheese, crisp celery, succulent chicken, and a nice hot sauce kick. These are the things that make the buffalo wing a perennial favorite. But, deep fried wings aren’t exactly every day fare.

This recipe pulls together all the flavors you love from buffalo chicken wings into a nourishing soup that’s perfect for a weeknight meal or an afternoon of watching football (or commercials) with friends. 

A topping of chopped celery and creamy Gorgonzola cheese gives the soup texture and an added layer of flavor. If you’re not a blue cheese lover (though we encourage you to give it another try), sub out the Gorgonzola for Feta cheese or Queso Fresco.  

For even more of that "chicken wing" feel, use shredded roasted chicken added toward the end of cooking instead of the ground chicken.  


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Game Day or Any Day: Beer Cheese Spread

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It could be the Wisconsinites in us talking here, but we're pretty sure that most party food is better with a bit of craft beer.

And we're not just talking about the kind you drink.

Cooking with beer isn't anything new. In fact there are countless recipes that can help you use up the brews languishing in your fridge. A wide variety of soups, stews, breads, and side dishes can benefit from the complex, yeasty, malty flavor of a good brew.

Of course, one of the best flavor pairings for a good quality beer is always cheese.

Countless cheeses are enhanced by the right beverage pairing. For instance, why not try a goat cheese paired with wheat beer, a mascarpone with a fruity  brew, or a Cheddar with a nice nutty brown ale? Gorgonzola and other blue cheeses go great with Barleywine. And Gruyere can be the perfect match for a dark Lager or a Bock.

We decided to use beer and cheese pairing as an inspiration for this delicious recipe -- a cheese spread that makes full use of the flavors of beer, cheese... and the smokiness of a bit of bacon.

Really, how can you resist?

If you feel like you’re falling into a rut with your game day appetizers, fear not. This recipe that will revive your repertoire and put a smile on the faces of the beer lovers in your group.

All you need is a bottle of flavorful beer and a block of good quality cheese to make your appetizer spread anything but ordinary.

 Butter makes this cream cheese-based spread seductively rich and creamy, while beer, mustard and a hint of smoky bacon ensure that the flavors in this spread will never fall flat.

Serve with pretzels, crackers or kettle-cooked chips… and a beer, of course!

Beer Cheese Spread


Monday, January 14, 2013

Cinnamon Pear Streusel Cake

Pin It Despite all my talk about not being crazy about sweets, I've apparently been baking up a storm.

I'm not sure exactly why.

Maybe part of it is a layover from the holidays when baked goods were everywhere.  Or maybe it's just that time of the year when you find yourself craving slightly sweet bits of comfort.

Not sure exactly what it is, but I'm not exactly sure I want it to end.  After all, I keep happening upon all of these delicious things.

Like this tea cake, for instance.

I haven't had a cake like this for years. It reminds me of something someone's grandmother would have made when I was a kid and served to us as an afternoon snack.

This tender cake isn't too terribly sweet. In fact it gets most of its flavor from the delicious fruitiness of fresh pears with the warmth of cinnamon, the sweetness of almond, and the delicious crunch of its buttery streusel topping.

It's one of those deliciously easy cakes you can throw together in less than 1/2 hour and keep on hand for company. It's great for brunch, but you could also serve it with a little bit of ice cream for an after dinner treat if you wanted to.

And it's got fruit and nuts in it, so it's good for you, right??

Cinnamon Pear Brunch Cake

This post is part of Super Saturday Show & Tell. Check it out!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Gooey Lemon Butter Cake

Pin It I actually have more of a salt-tooth than a sweet tooth, so it’s a rare occasion when you can entice me to get overly excited about a sweet treat.

But, I'll give it ALL up when it comes to butter cake.

Peef and I tasted our first St. Louis style butter cake at the Flying Monkey Patisserie in the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.  The crisp sugary top, rich cream cheese and butter filling, and chewy cakey bottom won us over, and we knew we needed to recreate it at home.

So, I went on a hunt for recipes.

Guess what I found?  Lots and lots of recipes using boxed cake mix and other short-cut ingredients.  So, I decided to take on the recipe myself.

Turns out that keys to a great butter cake include room temperature ingredients, an electric mixer, and ... you guessed it... real butter.

Although there are many varieties of butter cake, including vanilla and chocolate, I decided to take advantage  of the seasonality of lemons for this version. I'm a big fan of lemony desserts. And  I feel like the natural tartness of the lemon really helps to balance out the sweetness of this otherwise sinful and addictive dessert.

Gooey Lemon Butter Cake
This recipe is also featured over at Go Bold with Butter


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Red Wine Blue Cheese Ball

Pin It Are you tired?
I'm tired.

It's not that Christmas wasn't lovely. Or that the New Year didn't seem to arrive at just the right moment to leave me feeling that there's an aura of hope in the air.  But, I've been working on all cylinders for the last few weeks. And I'm just pooped.

Of course, life doesn't always slow down to accommodate. The holidays might be over; but, it seems there's always an occasion for entertaining waiting right around the corner. Maybe it's a birthday, a football party, or even just game night with friends.

Regardless of the event, it always pays to have a recipe or two for a quick appetizer in your back pocket.

That’s why it pays to keep a block of cream cheese, a bit of blue cheese, and a stick of real butter on hand at all times so that you can whip up this ultra-creamy red-wine-infused cheese ball.

The delicious spread gets a ton of flavor from a compound butter made with reduced red wine and shallots which infuses the cheese ball.  Pair that with the tang of blue cheese and the silky texture of cream cheese, and roll it up in minced green parsley (or even chopped nuts) and you've got something pretty awesome going.  We like to use a Wisconsin buttermilk blue, but feel free to experiment with different cheeses to find your favorite.

Perfect on crackers or served alongside a sliced baguette.

Red Wine Blue Cheese Ball


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

For 2013: Instructions for Writing a Food Blog

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This is one of my favorite quotes.
And I often think the first line could be re-tooled to read:  "Instructions for writing a food blog."

After all, cooking is about paying attention.  It's about orchestrating details, discovering techniques, and really becoming engrossed in the process of bringing something new and delicious into the world.

And if there's no element of wonder, surprise, and astonishment about the process... then why would we bother?  We shouldn't.

It's the miracle of creating something new -- and then sharing it with others that makes food blogging so spectacular. It's also what makes life worth living.

So, this year, we pledge to make Mary Oliver's words our motto.

May we pay more attention to what matters.
May we be heartily astonished by what we find.
And may we eagerly share our discoveries with others.

Happy 2013 everyone!