Stuffed Mushrooms

There’s a rule (and if there isn’t one, I’m making it up right now) that when it comes to food, the word “stuffed” increases awesomeness, like, exponentially.

Think about it.  Poultry, pork chops, potatoes, pasta.  Potentially delicious on their own, but then you stuff them with something and whoa.  It’s like delicious squared.

Which brings me to the topic of this post.

Now, I love mushrooms.  Big time.  Over steak, in a salad or soup, especially with a pasta dish.  Or just by themselves.  It’s all good.  I’m not picky.

But then stuffing is involved and oh my gracious goodness.  Magic happens.

Stuffed mushrooms are probably my favorite appetizer.  I will never pass them up when they’re offered at an event and have come close to stabbing fellow guests who made the unfortunate mistake of getting in my way.  I have a difficult time restraining myself when I see them on a restaurant menu.

I’d pretty much eat them at every meal.  For every meal.

And then it occurred to me that I could make them at home.  When I woke up from my joy coma I started looking for recipes and found a few which appealed to me and adapted one to include sausage.  See, I love sausage only slightly less than I love mushrooms.    I felt it my duty to get these two crazy kids together.  Uniting them in a marriage of scrumptious, savory delight.

I think you should do the same.


Are you as in love with mushrooms as I am? What’s your favorite appetizer?

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Olive Dip Main

A while back, I shared with you a Pioneer Woman recipe for olive cheese bread.  I remember telling you how much my dad loved that bread and how much he raved about it whenever I made it – which was pretty much every time he came over after that, since I knew he enjoyed it so much.  And I always gave him the leftovers to take home.

Recently I wanted to make something which would incorporate those same flavors, without actually preparing the bread.  A lightbulb went on in my head: Why not make a dip?

So using those basic ingredients, I came up with something savory and magical and, as long as I’m being honest, highly addictive.  Something which, were he still here, I think my dad would have loved.

I served it with my own homemade crostini, which was nothing more than thin slices of French bread which I lined up on a cookie sheet, brushed with a bit of olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt, then baked for 10 minutes or so at 350 degrees.  You may want to keep an eye on them to be sure you reach your desired level of crispiness – to each their own, after all.  ;)   Of course you could use pita chips, veggies, tortilla chips…let your imagination run wild!

What’s your favorite dip recipe?

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Buffalo Chicken Dip

Warning: This is not health food.  Do not be surprised by what you see here.

I’ve been wanting to share this recipe with y’all for a long time now.  But it seems that no sooner do I make this dip then it disappears.  I can never get good photos.

Today, however, I’ve made it to take to a barbecue so hands off, Rob.

Anyway.  As you may well know, I’m a buffalo chicken addict.  But I’m not a huge fan of super spicy foods.  So this dip is perfect – it’s got just the right amount of heat.  Just enough so you know it’s there but not so much that it can’t still be enjoyed.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t get the big deal about eating something so hot that it makes you sweat.  Or cry.  I only endorse tears of joy while eating, folks.

One note: Use buffalo sauce for this.  Not hot sauce.  I learned this one the hard way.

Poach two chicken breasts in simmering water til cooked through, then chop them up.  Add them to a pan with 1 1/2 cups buffalo sauce.  Again.  Not hot sauce, unless you want to hurt yourself.  I cannot stress this enough.

Heat the mixture through, letting the sauce soak into the chicken…mmm…then add two 8 ounce bars of cream cheese, which have been sitting out for a while so they soften up.  Stir them into the chicken.

Add 1 cup of blue cheese dressing and stir it in.

Then add around 1 1/2 cups of grated cheese.  Usually I’d use the orange kind (I know, I’m so scientific) but someone in my house seems to have an obsession with the white cheese.  So.  That’s what I used.

Pour this into a pretty 8×8 baking pan and add more cheese.  Okay, it doesn’t have to be a pretty baking pan.  But it helps.

Then pop the whole thing into the oven and let it bake for around 20-30 minutes, until nice and hot and bubbly and melty.

You could also be like me and take some extra, put it in a ramekin with some cheese, and nuke it for a minute.  If you’re feeling extra impatient.

Mmm.  Mmmmmm, I say.

So good.

Now.  Here’s another tip if you are really unhappy about the grease layer that forms on the surface: When the finished product comes out of the oven, lay a paper towel over the dip and gently press it down to soak up the grease.  I said gently – not only because you don’t want to lift off the cheese, but because it’s hot!

And there you go.  Buffalo chicken dip.  Your guests will go crazy over it.  And so will you.

Try to share.

I’m still working on that myself.


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Boneless Wings

One day, many moons ago, I was experimenting in the kitchen.

I admit, sometimes this doesn’t go well.  Like the time I tried to make cream of potato soup by boiling the potatoes in the milk.  Shudder.  I didn’t always know a whole lot about cooking.

Anyway, I was experimenting.  I think I was going to be throwing a party and wanted to make something easy and delicious, something people would flock to but which wouldn’t take me a whole lot of time to make and could be prepared in advance.

It was also around that time that I started frying things.  As in dunking them in hot oil and seeing what happened.  I’m a wild and crazy girl, aren’t I?

After much experimentation, I came up with…this:

Popcorn chicken.  You know you want it.

Be sure to cut the chicken up into pieces of approximately the same size – you want them to cook evenly so you know when one is finished cooking, the rest are as well.

It’s important to make sure the oil is ready for frying.  How do you know? When you drop a small piece of bread in the oil and it sizzles, then floats to the surface right away, it’s time to fry.  If the oil isn’t hot enough it will just make the breading soggy.

But keep an eye that it doesn’t get too hot or else you’ll have some burned chicken, or a lovely golden coating with raw chicken inside.  Which is no good for anyone.

That’s what you want.  It may take a little experimenting at first to get the hang of it.  But it’s well worth the experimentation, believe me.

How does it taste? Well, let’s just say that I was frying batches for a New Years Eve party a couple of years ago and one batch was gone before I turned back to replenish the plate.  And we didn’t have that many people in attendance.  And there were approximately a million other things to eat.

Plus, Rob’s addicted.  So that’s saying something.

The next time you feel like a little KFC is in order (or Church’s or Popeye’s or whatever), and you have a little time and patience, give this a shot.  You can play with the flavor in the coating after frying a piece or two and seeing how you like it- personally I like it on the milder side, but that’s only because I like to do…THIS to it:

Oh yeah. Buffalo sauce.  I went there.  I went there, sat down, ate a heap of it and wiped my mouth after.  And it was good.

Incidentally, this could also be called boneless buffalo wings.  Which is the only kind I’ll eat.  I’m not a fan of, like…bones and stuff.  Just give me the meat.

And then, if you’re really bad (like me) you could dunk it in some dressing…


Excuse me.  I have to wipe the drool off my keyboard.  And fry up some more of this.

You should fry some up, too.  Only don’t blame me if you find yourself dreaming about it and buying oil by the vat in order to keep up with your chicken frying habit.  Your addiction is your own, as they say. ;)


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Fried Pickles

Fried pickles with dipping sauce

Fried pickles.

It sounds sorta silly, doesn’t it? I mean, who fries pickles? Aren’t pickles delicious enough on their own?

Well, they are indeed very delicious.  I can’t argue with you there.  However, if you don’t understand why pickles should be fried…it’s probably because you’ve never eaten a fried pickle.  I too used to be a naysayer.

Then I ate one.  Then I ate an entire jar’s worth.  And the world will never be the same.

And really, when you think about it…chicken is good, but popcorn chicken is excellent.  And fried dough rolled in powdered sugar, aka beignets? Pretty much so-good-you-could-die amazing.  So really, is it so unthinkable that pickles would be totally delicious when fried?

These pickles are reminiscent of the ones I’ve eaten at Buffalo Wild Wings.  There’s cornmeal in the coating, to give it a little extra crunch and texture, just like at the restaurant.  The dipping sauce is my own creation, though – I can’t resist a little dill and horseradish action.

Fried Pickles

Two things to remember: One, drain and dry the pickles thoroughly before coating.  Two, make sure whenever you’re frying anything that the oil is hot enough – otherwise the oil will soak into what you’re frying and instead of crispiness you’ll end up with oiliness.

And no one likes an oily pickle.

Have you ever eaten fried pickles? What did you think?

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