Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sucré Macaroon Gift Box Giveaway!

WIN A FREE BOX OF MACAROONS!

Sucré Sweet Boutiques and Confection Studio, located in New Orleans, Louisiana is offering one of my readers a free box of its Signature Macaroon Collection. (That's a $30 value!!!!)

All you have to do is one of two things:

Like Behind the Bites 

Like Sucré

(Liking both is preferred)

Either one will enter your name in the basket to win the gift. Contest starts today (2/26/2013) and ends Saturday (3/2/2013) at Midnight. Winner will be chosen at random on Sunday (3/3/2013).

Send me a message or leave a comment so that I know for sure that you have entered the contest please! My contact info can be found on the "About me" page of this blog.

You can win these!!!
ABOUT SUCRE
Founded by Chef/Restaurateur/Entrepreneur Joel Dondis and pastry Chef Tariq Hanna in 2007, Sucré has quickly become a cherished local landmark in a city with a rich culinary history. Sucré offers guests a variety of confectionary delights, all made in their New Orleans based confection studio. From French macaroons to salted caramel cupcakes to petit red velvet cakes - each offering is confectionary perfection.

SIGNATURE PRODUCTS

Macaroons
Delicate French macaron cookies filled with luscious mousseline. Flavors include pecan, chocolate, salted caramel, almond, pistachio, strawberry, hazelnut, and bananas foster.

King Cakes
King Cakes
Voted "A Favorite" By The Times Picayune 2012 King Cake Contest and 2011 "BEST" King Cake by a Washington Post blind taste test. Sucre's signature buttery danish pastry is sweetened by cinnamon and raw cane sugar then folded with a light layer of creole cream cheese. Serves 8-10 people. Long live the king!

Chocolate gift baskets
Sucré offers a number of chocolate gift baskets for a variety of occasions including Easter, perfect for treating that special someone.

Please enter ASAP and good luck to all who do!

Eat well, cook often ...


Friday, February 22, 2013

The Popper Frittata


Printable version
A frittata is an Italian omelet with ingredients mixed into the eggs as opposed to the French omelet that is folded around the ingredients. A frittata is more like an egg pie cooked slower and usually finished under a broiler, while the French omelet acts as a wrap for the ingredients, cooked over higher heat and finished fairly quickly.

I prefer making omelets the Italian way. So I guess I like making frittatas. I have tried making traditional French omelets before and had disastrous results. After watching Tyler Florence make one on the Food Network – and make it look incredibly easy, I decided to make one for breakfast. By lunch time, I had picked one attempt off the floor and thrown it away, and the second attempt became scrambled eggs with sausage and green peppers. Frittatas are much easier with identical flavors.

For this recipe, I take the ingredients common to jalapeño poppers and distribute them throughout a frittata. The cream and cheddar cheeses add a decedent richness while the bacon and jalapeño provide a nice flavor punch.

BEHIND THIS BITE
As a recipe developer, I stand behind all of my published creations. I have eaten everyone of the recipes on this site, and the photos are of the actual meals. There is no half cooked pasta and I've never used a curling iron to create grill marks to get a good shot. They are the real deal.

That said, some recipes are a cut above the others in appearance and flavor. This frittata is one of them. If I owned a restaurant it would be on the menu. It has a lot of bacon – which is a winner almost every time – but the star is the cream cheese and drizzle of ranch dressing as garnish. The two combine to create a rich creaminess not found in 99 percent of the omelets, or frittatas, I have ever eaten.

The recipe calls for ranch to be optional because ranch is often an optional dip with poppers and I wanted to stay true to that. I highly recommend that if you try this you use it though. I can’t wait to make this one again!

Eat well, cook often ...

THE RECIPE
Serves 4; 30 minutes
1/2 lb Bacon, diced
3 Jalapeños, diced
1/2 C Onion, diced
6 Eggs
1 C Cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz Cream cheese, cubed
Ranch dressing and cilantro for garnish

Cook bacon
In an oven safe 12-inch skillet over medium heat cook bacon until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of oil.

Sauté veggies, add eggs, cheeses
Saute onion and jalapeno until soft, 3 to  4 minutes. Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk together, sat and pepper to taste. Pour into skillet then add cheddar cheese, cream cheese and bacon. Cook until egg is set on bottom 5 to 6 minutes

Finish and serve
Place skillet under broiler in the oven and cook until top of eggs has set and cheese is melted, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove, slice and serve.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Jalapeño Popper Pizza


Printable version
Jalapeño poppers got their name from the marketing of the frozen snacks. The term “Popper” has been used for the last 30 years to market a variety of treats and appetizers, not just the cheese stuffed chiles though.

There are many who believe the jalapeño popper is an American adaptation of chili rellenos. Whether this is true can not really be proven, but the two are strikingly similar. Reports have surfaced that cheese stuffed breaded jalapeños were being served around the San Diego area as far back as the 1960s. But an exact origin of the popper is hard to pinpoint.

There is one thing about the popper I know for sure – I love them! They have to be one of my favorite snacks of all-time. I made my own version a while back here at Behind the Bites in which I transformed the ingredients to suit my preferences. It's my own take on the popper, but whatever the version I think it's hard to go wrong with the combination of cheese, bacon and jalapeños.

For this recipe, I take all those great flavors and distribute them on a pizza. The cream and cheddar cheeses, bacon and jalapeño help this pie burst with flavor. This is a must try for pizza or popper lovers alike - it's also a great way to ease the younger ones into more spicy foods.

BEHIND THIS BITE
I use a lot of pre-made pizza crusts to make pizza. I always keep a package in my pantry. It makes pizza a 30-minute meal or a quick lunch. I use Momma Mary’s Thin and Crispy crusts exclusively.

I think they are the best, but many pre-made pizza crusts just plain suck. I would name a few but I’m not here to bash, I will only endorse Momma Mary’s. Their thin crusts are like a soft buttery cracker delivering the toppings. When canned dough is not an option or there is not enough time and energy to make dough from scratch, the Momma can be trusted.

Like I said, I always keep a package in the pantry, and NO I’m not getting paid by Momma Mary’s to write this. I recently had some horrifically bad pre-made pizza crust and it made me appreciate the quality of their product – so I thought I would give them a shout. But, if an employee of Momma Mary's does reads this, I encourage you to tell your boss and consider sending me a case ... the Thin and Crispy style.

Eat well, cook often ...

THE RECIPE
Make 2 12” pizzas; 30 minutes
Divide over 2 12” pizza crusts
8 oz Cream cheese
6 Jalapeños, sliced
1/2 C Bacon, crumbled
1 C Cheddar cheese, shredded

Assemble and bake pizza
On pizza crust layer cream cheese, jalapeño, bacon, and cheddar cheese. Bake in a preheated 425° oven for 7 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Creole Chicken and Spicy Slaw Tacos


Printable version
I made Creole seasoning last week that contained the peppery heat found in the cooking associated with New Orleans and the surrounding Bayou. I added cumin and chili powder also, giving it a hint of Southwest.

I used it to season chicken tenders that were intended for tacos. To continue with a Southern theme, I wanted to pair the chicken with a coleslaw. Like the Creole seasoning, I thought it would be fun to mix the South with the Southwest, and instead of vinegar as the acidic element in the coleslaw I used lime juice. To add heat, I sliced jalapeños paper thin on a mandolin and tossed them into the mix, followed by fresh chopped cilantro.

It resulted in a creamy, crunchy and spicy topping for the taco that complimented the peppery chicken. Just to take it over the top (and add extra creaminess) I threw in a couple of slices of avocado.

Any fan of gourmet tacos should try this recipe. I personally couldn't get enough. Beware though, these babies have some kick!

BEHIND THIS BITE

I pigged out on these.

I must have looked like a starving pit bull who had just discovered how to get under the fence of a busy chicken coup. I’m glad I ate these in the confines of my office and not in front of any family members, the kids would have been traumatized. These tacos have all the things I love about good tacos - heat, texture and a little messy. Not chicken wings messy, but definitely not an eat-while-driving type of dish.

The cilantro-lime and jalapeño flavor of the slaw really did compliment the peppery heat of the chicken. I worried they would compete but the combination worked, and I was proud enough to give this taco an official name.

The South by Southwest Taco

Eat well, cook often ...

THE RECIPE
Makes 10 to 12 tacos; 1 hour
1 1/4 lb Chicken tenders
2 Tbs Creole seasoning
3 C Cabbage mix
1/2 C Cilantro, chopped
2 Jalapeños, thin sliced
1/3 C Mayo
Juice and zest of 1 Lime
1 1/2 tsp Sugar
20 to 24 Corn tortillas (2 per taco)
3 Avocados, sliced

Season, grill chicken
Liberally sprinkle creole seasoning on both sides of chicken tenders. Let marinate 30 minutes. Grill until cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Let rest 10 minutes, then slice.

Make slaw, assemble
Combine cabbage mixture, Cilantro, Jalapeño, mayo, Lime juice and zest, sugar and season to taste. Heat tortillas for 1 minute in microwave, top with avocado, chicken and slaw. Fold and eat. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Homemade Creole Seasoning


Printable version
I made this rub to season chicken tenders as part of a meal I catered for 60 people last Sunday.

Most creole seasoning will include dried thyme or basil, or what I think of as Italian or European type of spices. I mix it up a little here and substitute those with chili powder and cumin, this gives the rub a hint of southwest flavor.

The star of this seasoning though is pepper, along with the aforementioned chili, I also include black pepper, white pepper and cayenne pepper. I use this combination so that it effects all areas of the mouth. The cayenne pepper seems to provide heat up front on the tongue and lips while the others are more throaty. The combination covers the entire mouth rather than just one region.

John Maxwell, New Orleans native and owner of the Ragin Cajun Food Truck, told me the pepper sensation filling the entire mouth is the secret to good creole seasoning. This rub is spicy but the heat level is tame, I went light on the cayenne to keep the heat down. I used it simply for its effect on the mouth and taste buds.

BEHIND THIS BITE
As I mention in the introduction, the chicken tenders I used this spice rub on were an element to a gigantic meal I prepared for a Mardi Gras party of 60 people. It was the first time that I prepared everything myself for a party this large. I did employ my mom to make the deserts, so I technically didn’t make everything. I have helped put out meals like this on a number of occasions, but this time I not only took the lead, I also went solo.

The secret for preparing such large quantities of food was allowing the heat from the actual service vessels to finish the cooking. I made everything in advance, except for the rice for the jambalaya and the baked potatoes. I got to the place early and put out the entire spread in the warming vessels two hours before anyone arrived. The low heat in the covered pans slowly built so that by the time the party started everything had just reached the hot and steamy stage.

It worked perfect, except for one of my roasters. I had it plugged into a power strip that kicked off at some point. Just before service I checked and the jambalaya that was in the roaster was luke warm at best. That’s when I discovered the problem with the power strip. I quickly brought it back to the kitchen and microwaved it in batches to get it hot. It caused a slight delay in the meal, but other than that, it went off without a hitch.

In all, here is what I put out to feed 60:
(Click highlighted links for the recipe)
Main course:
Grilled barbecue chicken tenders, Grilled creole chicken tenders, Jambalaya, Cajun corn, Cajun green beans, Baked potato bar
Apps:
BLT soup (Bacon, Leek and Tomato), Beefy Nacho Dip, Buffalo Dip

Eat well, cook often ...

THE RECIPE
Makes 1 cup
3 Tbs Salt
3 Tbs Paprika
2 Tbs Black pepper
2 Tbs White pepper
2 Tbs Chili powder
1 Tbs Cumin
1 Tbs Onion powder
1 Tbs Garlic powder
1  tsp Cayenne pepper

Make rub
Mix spices together and store in an air tight container. Use on seafood, poultry, pork or beef.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pork Fried Rice


Printable version
The Thai Pavilion in Astoria, Queens has the best pork fried rice I have ever eaten. I used to eat buckets of the stuff at their 30th Avenue location which is now closed and moved to another spot in the neighborhood.

Whenever I eat pork fried rice I compare it to the Pavilion. It has become my standard barer of all things fried rice. A single order would cost $9, which is a bit expensive, but it was enough for two people. The only bad thing about the price was that I had to get two orders for them to deliver because they required a minimum purchase of $10 to bring it to your door. (It is now a $15 minimum) It was light and spicy and perfectly prepared every time. Even cold leftovers directly from the fridge were good and didn’t clump up.

This recipe is my attempt at recreating the pork fried rice bliss of the Pavilion. The dish turned out delicious but I still think the Thai Pavilion has magic in their woks.

BEHIND THIS BITE
I took my Dad to eat at the Thai Pavilion during one of his visits and he agreed that the pork fried rice was outstanding. I was glad I got to take him to a nice restaurant that serves Asian cuisine. The majority of the Asian themed restaurants here in Fort Wayne are just run of the mill take-out joints or an all-you-can-eat buffet.

A good stir fry should come right out of a wok, to me, scooping beef and broccoli out of a hotel pan that has been on a buffet for two hours is low budget. Much like having a wine and cheese party with government cheese. It tastes ok but there is much better quality out there.

The best Asian restaurant experience that I’ve ever had was in Philadelphia. I don’t remember the name of the place but the beef chow fun I order was the best single Asian dish I have ever eaten and probably a top five meal of all-time on my list. I highly recommend finding a high-end Asian-style restaurant for special occasions - and I’m not talking about the Panda Express.

Eat well, cook often ...

THE RECIPE
Serves 4; 25 minutes
6 Tbs Vegetable oil, divided
1/2 C Green onions, sliced
1/2 C Carrot, shredded
2 tsp Ginger, minced
1 Tbs Garlic, minced
1 lb Pork, diced
2 Eggs, beaten
2 C Leftover rice, cold
2 Tbs Soy sauce
1 Tbs Sriracha sauce

Sauté vegetables
In a wok or large fry pan heat oil over medium high heat, add onions, carrot and ginger saute until soft 2 to 3 minutes, season to taste, remove from pan and wipe clean.

Cook pork
Add oil to pan and let it get hot, 1 to 2 minutes add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add pork, season to taste and cook through, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from pan and wipe clean.

Cook Egg, rice, finish
Add remaining oil to pan, add eggs and scramble, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in rice, cook until browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add soy sauce, sriracha, return pork and vegetables to pan and combine. Heat through, then serve.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Creole Jambalaya


Printable version
This is the second time I have made Jambalaya for for my print column "Busco Bites." The first time I made a “dry” or “brown” version, this time I’m making the “wet” or “red” version.

The difference between the two is in the tomatoes. The dry version features diced tomatoes, while the wet version features tomato sauce. I recently asked John Maxwell, New Orleans native and owner of the Ragin’ Cajun food truck about the different versions of jambalaya. He said the dry version was the Cajun version made in the rural areas surrounding New Orleans. The wet version is Creole, or the fancy style found in the city.

Jambalaya is traditionally a leftover type of dish, or what I like to call a “throw it in the pot before it rots” meal. Not here though. I went to the store with jambalaya on my mind.

For this recipe, I use andouille sausage, which provides most of the spice, smoked sausage and chicken thighs. All tossed together with rice, tomato sauce and the Creole holy trinity: celery, onion and bell pepper.

BEHIND THIS BITE
When I went out to buy the ingredients for this dish I went to a specialty meat shop in Fort Wayne to get andouille sausage. Most major retailers have andouille but it’s not really authentic - the spices are boulder and different but it’s just like all the other sausages in the meat case. I found the real deal andouille at Jamison Meats for $3.89 a pound and I couldn’t have been happier.

When I was ready to make the jambalaya I opened the package and the andouille had a peculiar smell - sweet and sulfury. The aroma was slight and it wasn’t a bad smell, but at the same time it wasn’t good. After the jambalaya was finished and ready to eat there was no hint of the smell, and the andouille was delicious and fragrant, the meat was just there to deliver a spicy and bold flavor. The next day I was researching jambalaya for the print column when I stumbled upon a description of real andouille sausage. I discovered it is traditional made of pig entrails!

Entrails = Guts

After the pig has been butchered and cleaned of all the good meat there is a pile of stuff left, that is what gets made into andouille. The meat doesn’t mater, it’s doused with spice, they could put anything in there.

That was the sweet and sulfery smell.

I’m not adventurous when it comes to trying organs and guts of animals, the thought grosses me out. There is a big batch of leftover jambalaya with real andouille sausage in my fridge, it will probably get thrown out. I don’t have what it takes eat more of it. I will say this though, it was really good sausage, I just wish I would have discovered that it was made from pig guts after I had eaten it all.

I'll stick the Kroger andouille from now on, it's not traditional but it's good.

Eat well, cook often ...

THE RECIPE
Serves 6 to 8; 1 hour
1 lb Andouille sausage,sliced
1 lb Chicken thighs, boneless, sliced
1 lb Smoked sausage, sliced
1 C Green pepper, diced
1 C Onion, diced
1 C Celery, diced
1 Tbs Garlic, minced
3 C Tomato sauce
2 C Rice
4 C Chicken broth

Start rice, Brown meats
For rice, see below. In a large pot over medium heat brown andouille and chicken separately in a little olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until both are cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes each. Remove and set aside.

Sauté vegetables, add meats, sauce
Cook onion, celery and bell pepper until soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir in garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Return browned meats to pan, smoked sausage, and tomato sauce, bring to a simmer and cook, 18 to 20 minutes, stir often. Mix in rice just before serving.

The rice
In a large sauce pan over medium-high heat toast rice in a little olive oil for 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Let sit at least 25 minutes. Remove lid and fluff rice with fork.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms


Printable version
The eating of mushrooms and other fungus can be traced back to prehistoric times. According to Alan Davidson, Author of “Food.” There are ancient lake dwellings in Germany, Austria and Switzerland where evidence of puffballs being consumed by humans has been found. Rare and expensive mushrooms like the truffle highly sought after in classical Greece and Rome.

Today, there are varieties of mushrooms that are, pound for pound, some of the most expensive food money can buy. The more common types, which have been cultivated for more than 300 years, are more affordable and are a regular part of most people’s diets.

For this recipe, I use four large portabella mushrooms and stuff them with a sausage and spinach filling and top with shredded parmesan cheese. It’s a meaty bite that is surprisingly light in the belly. Lemon zest and juice is added to the mix and provides a bright balance to the earthy taste of the mushrooms.

BEHIND THIS BITE
One of the great things to look forward to every spring is finding morel mushrooms. This recipe utilizes the portabella, which is tasty in its own right, but if I had my choice of mushroom it would be morels. I've had truffles and they are delicious, but finding a patch of morels in the woods and frying them with a light breading is one of the pleasures that can be found just a few strides from my front door.

Growing up, there were a number of times Dad walked in the house with an armful of the delicious little wonders. Sometimes he would fry up a batch in the middle of the afternoon not being able to wait for dinner to eat them.

A few years back while living in New York, I went to the grocery store and noticed a few packages of fresh morels in the produce section. My mouth started watering. Just as I was creating the menu around them in my head, I noticed the cost was $23 a pound. The price tag suddenly looked like a lump of dog doo on the package. My craving for morels disappeared in an instant.

There is something about going on a mushroom hunt and bringing them in for dinner. I love to fish, but I have a hard time eating them immediately after cleaning them an hour before - just a weird quirk of mine. I need to freeze them and eat them later. With mushrooms, there’s no guts, and I can eat them the same day I harvest them.

Eat well, cook often ...

THE RECIPE
Serves 4; 40 minutes
1/2 lb Italian sausage
4 large portabella mushrooms, 4 to 5 inches wide
1/4 C Red onion diced
2 tsp Garlic minced
5 C Baby spinach
1 Lemon zest & juice
1/2 C Parmesan cheese, fresh grated

Brown sausage, clean mushrooms
In a sauté pan over medium heat brown sausage, 6 to 8 minutes. Once cooked through, move to a paper towel lined plate. Remove stems from mushrooms and dice, wash caps if necessary.

Make filling
Sauté onion and garlic in sausage drippings until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add spinach, sausage, mushroom stems, lemon zest and juice to pan. Cook until spinach is welted and mixture is heated through, 7 to 8 minutes.

Stuff, bake and serve
Let mixture cool slightly then spoon a quarter of it into each mushroom cap, top with parmesan cheese. Place on pan and bake in a preheated 400° oven for ten minutes or until cheese is melted. Then serve.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Chipotle Mac and Pepper Jack Cheese


Printable version
When I was 11, I used to love mac and cheese with sliced hot dogs, to me it was like gourmet sauce and pasta mixed with filet mignon. I could gobble down a bowl and ride my bike for miles through trails in the woods or go play second base in a little league double header.

At that age my palate preferred french fries, breaded chicken and the aforementioned macaroni with cheese sauce made from a packet of neon colored powder.

Then something changed.

Vegetables started to taste better, I began to get nervous around certain girls and some of the clothes Mom wanted me to wear made me feel like a freak at school. Things have just become more complicated ever since. One thing that hasn’t – my love for mac and cheese. I prefer a more sophisticated version these days, but nothing says comfort  on a cold winter day more than a bowl of elbow macaroni smothered in cheese sauce – add some bacon and heat from chilies, and I’m just a kid in a candy store.

BEHIND THIS BITE
This is the second time I have made mac and cheese for the print column. The first time was a more traditional dish, made from scratch of course, but nothing out of the box creativity-wise. This time I went for it. The smoky bacon compliments the chipotle, which along with the pepper jack, provides the fire.

I really liked this dish, and to my surprise, so did my niece. The kids have not warmed up to the idea of spicy food yet. Thankfully she actually tried it, then she kept going back for nibbles - I was pretty excited about that. I’m hoping the kids grow up to be adventurous eaters. She wasn’t adventurous enough to eat one of the whole jalapeño slices that garnish the dish, but the fact that she liked it is a great. It’s a start - Uncle Justin will have her sampling some habanero salsa by the time she can drive.

Eat well, cook often ...

THE RECIPE
Serves 6; 1 hour
6 strips Bacon, diced
3 Tbs Flour
2 C Milk
3 C Pepper jack cheese, shredded
2 Tbs Chipotle peppers, minced
1/2 lb Macaroni
2 Jalapeño, sliced
1/4 C Parmesan cheese, fresh grated

Cook macaroni
Bring 2 quarts of salted water to boil in a large pot, add pasta, return to boil. Cook 7 to 9 minutes for al dente. Then drain.

Fry bacon, make roux
After starting the macaroni, In a large oven safe skillet cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Sift in flour, wisk with bacon drippings until well incorporated then cook 2 to 3 minutes, stir often.

Make sauce
Add milk, bring to a simmer and let mixture thicken, 4 to 5 minutes, stir occasionally. Once thickened add two tablespoons of cheese, stir constantly until melted. Repeat until cheese is gone and a sauce has formed.

Finish
Stir in macaroni, bacon and chipotle peppers. Top with jalapeño slices and fresh grated parmesan cheese. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Remove and serve.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Dip


Printable version
NOTE: For all my regular readers, this is the last buffalo chicken recipe for a while. Promise.

I was at holiday party back in December and someone had brought buffalo chicken dip. It seems like 90 percent of the time I have eaten the dip it has been made with to much hot sauce. I don’t mind the heat, it’s the acidity. It leaves a foul after-taste in my mouth.

Honestly, I have never cared much for buffalo chicken dip – until I tried it at the holiday party. The secret was adding more cheese and dressing, enough to balance the hot sauce. More mozzarella, combined with ranch dressing, cream cheese and blue cheese was enough to take away the unpleasant after taste. I nearly wiped out the entire crock-pot myself.

The most common recipes for buffalo chicken dip found on labels and manufactures web sites do not call for enough cheese to balance the hot sauce in my opinion. A half cup of Frank’s or Tabasco sauce goes a long way – there has got to be a good amount of milk based product to balance that out.

For this recipe, I add a cup of cream cheese (8 oz), cup of mozzarella, quarter cup of blue cheese and half cup of ranch, That’s 3/4 of a cup more combined than what you’ll find in most Buffalo Chicken Dip recipes. For me, that is the key to make this dip delicious.

BEHIND THIS BITE
Two weeks ago I made four different Buffalo Chicken recipes. I was inspired by some Buffalo Chicken Rub I had picked up at Williams-Sonoma. I wanted to mix it up and get my Buffalo on. I had intended to make the dip then, but I got burned out on Buffalo Chicken. I had to give it a break. I decided to wait until the Super Bowl got closer to make this.

Of all the Buffalo Chicken recipes I've made in the last month this was my favorite, I love how the creaminess of the dip works with the hot sauce. I use tortilla chips with this recipe but it's equally good, and a little healthier, with stalks of celery.

The irony of my Buffalo Chicken recipe frenzy is that I never made the one thing Buffalo Chicken is famous for – wings! Honestly though, if I’m going to make wings, I’m going to make my own gourmet sauce, like the Chipotle Bacon wings I made last summer. Buffalo wings are good, but to me, the secret to great wings is in a special gourmet sauce.

THE RECIPE
Party Dip; 45 minutes
2 cans Chicken (12.5 oz)
8 oz Cream cheese, room temperature
1 C Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 C Blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 C Ranch dressing
1/2 C Hot sauce (such as Frank’s)
Tortilla chips or celery for dipping

Mix together and bake
In a 2 quart baking dish mix together hot sauce, ranch dressing, mozzarella, blue cheese and chicken. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 30 minutes or until heated through and bubbly. Stir and serve with tortilla chips.