Monday, February 28, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This one comes from a freezer cooking recipe book.  They would have you cook the chicken, then chop the chicken, then cook the sauce... too much.  Toss everything into the crock pot and walk away.  You'll have enough for a party plus leftovers for freezing.  Stan really enjoys zapping a 1/2 c serving at a time for a snack.

Buffalo Chicken Dip
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (still frozen)
1-1/2 c (12oz) Frank's Red Hot Sauce
32oz low fat cream cheese
2 c (16oz) low fat ranch dressing

Toss all ingredients in a slow cooker on high for 3-4 hours.  Push the chicken down and mush the cream cheese around if you think of it.  Mostly, just leave it alone.
Once the chicken is cooked (160F), pull it out and shred it.  Use this opportunity to whisk the sauce (or whip out your immersion blender like I did, made super-quick work of it). Stir shredded chicken back into sauce.

Serve hot with tortilla chips, carrot sticks and celery sticks. Makes 12 cups.

Freeze leftovers in 1/2 cup portions, frozen flat in freezer safe zip-top bags.  Thaw in fridge then heat, or microwave from frozen.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My love affair with eggs...

I love eggs.  They're inexpensive, have a long shelf life, and are insanely versatile. Scrambled, fried, omelet, hard-boiled, deviled, custard, strata, frittata, quiche - and now Souffleed Omelets.

I tried this for dinner (half recipe) with apricot topping and ate more than I probably should have. I'll admit, the returns were diminishing for the last couple bites. Serving this for company, I would likely add a fruit salad or maybe a compote or english muffins or biscuits, something to add a break in texture for your taste buds. But I ate it all. And I don't regret it. It was luxurious- and for what, 2 eggs, some apricot jam, and 15 minutes of cooking.  Try it sometime.  You won't regret it either.

Here's the description that hooked me:
"These impressive creations are made by separating egg and beating the whites until stiff, as you would for a souffle... A properly executed souffleed omelet has a lovely brown, firm, dry exterior enveloping a soft, creamy, airy center. With the added volume of the beaten whites, you get more servings from fewer eggs and 1 egg per person satisfies most appetites."

Souffleed Omelet (Basic Recipe)
from Joy of Cooking revised 1997
Preheat oven to 375F

Combine and whisk until thick and light:
4 large egg yolks
3 T sugar

In a separate bowl, beat until stiff but not dry:
4 large egg whites
pinch salt
pinch cream of tartar (optional)
***TO WHIP EGG WHITES: Start on low, until whites lose their transparency, then increase speed and move in back and forth motions to whip in as much air as possible.  Make sure your beaters and bowl (stainless or glass recommended) are clean and dry - this will ensure the best whip.  Don't over-whip, you want whites to hold their peak, but not be dry or they'll become grainy and won't fold in well.  Now you know.

Fold the yolk mixture gently into the whites with a large spatula. Melt in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat (I used my cast iron skillet):
1-2 T butter
When the foam from the butter has subsided, pour the batter into the pan, spread evenly, and smooth the top. Shake the pan after a few seconds to discourage sticking and then cover the pan with a lid whose underside has been buttered to prevent sticking (or a domed lid to avoid the issue altogether). Reduce heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove the cover and place the skillet in the oven until the top is set, 3-5 minutes. Either fold the omelet in half or slide it out onto a warmed plate and sprinkle with:
powdered sugar
Serve Immediately

Jam-Filled Souffleed Omelet
Prepare Souffleed Omelet, above, but before folding the omelet, fill with 2 T warm apricot jam mixed with 1 T rum or brandy, or 2 T raspberry jam mixed with 1 t lemon juice. (I spread the apricot mix on top of my omelet and ate it open-face. mmm...)