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Cheddar Jalapeño Chicken Burgers with Guacamole
6

Cheddar Jalapeno Chicken Burgers with Guacamole

Let’s talk about one of the best meals I’ve made over the past couple of weeks.  These cheddar jalapeño chicken burgers with guacamole are freaking outstanding.  They take an oftentimes dry chicken burger to a completely different level, much like the effect of these barbeque chicken burgers except with cheddar (which bubbles and oozes out from the finished burger), jalapeño, ranch dressing and hello!  Guacamole!  You know, just a few of my always sought-after favorite ingredients.  I saw them fly through one of my Pinterest scroll-fests months ago and thank goodness for Courtney for bringing them back up to the top of my list recently!  I too foresee these burgers happening a heck of a lot this summer and once I perfect my whole wheat hamburger bun recipe, there will be no stopping me!

Cheddar Jalapeno Chicken Burgers with Guacamole

Cheddar Jalapeño Chicken Burgers with Guacamole

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 burgers

My homemade buns for these burgers turned out on the smaller side so we made 6 small burgers rather than 4 larger ones...and got to eat them two nights in a row. Score!

Ingredients

    For the burgers:
  • 1 ½ pounds ground chicken
  • ½ small onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed (to tone down the heat if desired), chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • For serving:
  • Burger buns
  • Your favorite guacamole
  • Ranch dressing or sour cream
  • Extra cheddar cheese (melt on the burgers before removing from them the grill)
  • Extra cilantro
  • Salsa (suggestions: roasted tomato & garlic or salsa verde)

Instructions

  1. Heat the grill to medium-high heat. Oil the grates with vegetable oil to prevent the burgers from sticking.
  2. Add the chicken to a large bowl and toss in the onion, cilantro, garlic, jalapeño, cumin, paprika, lime juice, cheddar, salt and pepper. With a fork, lightly stir the ingredients into the chicken until the mixture is well-blended. Shape the chicken mixture into four ½-inch patties.
  3. Grill the patties for 5 to 6 minutes per side. Allow to rest for a couple minutes before serving. Top the buns with guacamole and the burger with desired toppings.

Source

source: adapted from What's Gaby Cooking

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2013/06/cheddar-jalapeno-chicken-burgers-with-guacamole/

Creamy Baked Four-Cheese Pasta
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Creamy Baked Four-Cheese Pasta

Even in the midst of summer, with the grill roaring and endless amounts of ice cream cones happening, there is nothing I love more than cozying up in a pair of sweats on a rainy and chilly day.  I’m talking the type of day where the feel of fabric on your legs feels amazing and fall feels just around the corner.  And considering I’m probably rushing things, since summer just officially started last week, I can’t help but look forward to those days.

Creamy Baked Four-Cheese Pasta

I first became aware of this feeling when I was 10 or 11 years old in the middle of a blazing hot August.  I ended up hanging out on the boat with my mom while she did some cleaning and organizing inside the tiny cabin on a super crummy day.  Too rainy and chilly for even sitting on the dock looking for crabs hanging on to the submerged bulkhead, I threw on a pair of sweats and nestled into my book (likely The Baby-Sitters Club – the original ones of course since we’re talking late 80s/early 90s here – or Anne of Green Gables).

Creamy Baked Four-Cheese Pasta

That kind of day calls for this kind of food.  And this creamy baked four-cheese pasta is what I’m talking about here.  It’s a crazy simple dish that requires almost no work at all but it will have you singing with delight.  Strong-flavored Italian cheeses make up the components that get heated by and mixed in with the hot pasta.  A quick butter-flour-milk sauce (a basic bechemel) gets poured over the top and stirred in.  You’ll bake everything at a high heat for just a few minutes then serve up a cheesy and sophisticated mac and cheese that will instantly make you forget about the whether its a crummy summer day or a cold winter night outside.  It’s perfect either way.

Creamy Baked Four-Cheese Pasta

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings (dinner) | 6-8 servings (side dish)

To cut down on the prep time the night I planned to to make this recipe, I grated and crumbled the cheeses a day in advance and kept them in a resealable container in the fridge. This quick step did wonders for speeding up a weeknight meal.

Ingredients

    For the topping:
  • ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp table salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • For the pasta:
  • 4 oz Italian fontina cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 3 oz Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (about ¾ cup)
  • 1 oz Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (about ½ cup)
  • ½ oz Parmesan cheese, grated (about ¼ cup)
  • 1 lb dry pasta shapes
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream or half-and-half
  • ¼ tsp table salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 500° F.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, oregano, salt and pepper together; set aside. Add all of the cheese for the pasta to the bottom of a very large bowl; set aside. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water for 2 minutes under the recommended cooking time.
  3. While the pasta cooks, in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat, melt the the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking around, for 30 seconds. Slowly pour in the cream or half-and-half while whisking until no lumps of flour remain. Bring the heat up to medium and stir until the mixture starts to bubble and thicken; simmer for 1 minute. Stir in the salt and pepper.
  4. Drain the pasta for 5 seconds, pour it over the cheese in the bowl, then pour the sauce directly over the pasta - do not stir it in. Immediately cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow it to stand for 3 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and stir all of the ingredients up, taking care to scoop up all of the cheese from the bottom of the bowl. Once the cheese has melted and is incorporated with the sauce, transfer the pasta to a 13x9-inch baking dish of a few smaller baking dishes. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the pasta, pressing down lightly. Bake for 7 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Allow the dish to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Source

source: adapted from The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2013/06/creamy-baked-four-cheese-pasta/

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream
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Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

Happy 1st day of summer!!  If there’s any ice cream flavor that brings me back to summers as a kid, it’s cookies and cream ice cream.  There is just something so simple and homey about this flavor.  Creamy sweet cream ice cream with chopped up Oreos mixed in: so basic, yet so amazing.  Whether it was dripping down my cone on days so hot that my brother and I would walk the white “drunk” line on the edges of the boardwalk at the beach* to cool our scorched bare feet…or scooped inside one of our plastic Ground Round Yankees ice cream hat-cups…cookies and cream will always be a huge favorite of mine.  This homemade version (though not the Oreos – some things are better left untouched) just makes me so happy!  And it seems to have made Kyle just as happy because he requested I make it a second time in the course of a week.  Which, of course, I was more than willing to oblige.  Now go celebrate summer with this ice cream!

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

*These photos are not my own.  They are from a Flickr account linked with the website of the beach that my family frequented in my childhood, Davis Park.

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

Yield: about 1 quart of ice cream

Ingredients

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 ¾ cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cups chopped Oreo cookies (about 1 row or 15 cookies)

Instructions

  1. Set a mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Fill a larger bowl about halfway full with ice and water.
  2. Add the egg yolks to a medium heatproof bowl. Whisk in ¼ cup sugar until the sugar dissolves; set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, whisk the remaining ¼ cup sugar, heavy cream, milk, and salt together. Once the mixture starts to steam, remove it from the heat. Using a ladle, scoop out some of the milk mixture from the pan and slowly stream it into the egg mixture, whisking quickly to ensure the eggs don't cook. (Tip: it helps tremendously here to set the bowl on a non-stick oven mitt or Silpat to keep the bowl from sliding around while you're whisking.) Repeat this two more times then whisk the egg mixture into the milk mixture in the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a low simmer and cook until the mixture thickens and just coats the back of a spoon, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Pour the mixture through the mesh strainer, pressing out all of the liquid and catching any cooked egg bits that remain. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  5. Set the bowl inside the larger bowl on top of the ice bath and allow the mixture to cool while stirring occasionally. Once the ice cream base has cooled, cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
  6. Freeze the ice cream base in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer the soft ice cream to a resealable container and stir in the chopped Oreos. Seal the container and freeze for at least 6 hours before serving.

Source

source: adapted from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anna Walker, and Dabney Gough

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2013/06/cookies-and-cream-ice-cream/

3 Cheese Rosemary and Pepperoni Pizza
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3 Cheese Rosemary and Pepperoni Pizza

Never in a million years would I have thought that it would take over a year of using our new ovens to finally make a decent pizza.  Seriously.  Even with a stone (and a stone setting!), we’ve had so much trouble.  I blamed it on the dough.  Though we never had a problem with the dough in our old oven.  I blamed it on Kyle for putting too much cheese on the pizza, thus yielding an oozy mess.  I’m not far off on that one.  I blamed it on the blasted ovens.  “Shitty ovens”, I thought, even though they put a dent in our wallets that I don’t want to talk about.

3 Cheese Rosemary and Pepperoni Pizza

But in reality, the problem was my utter impatience.  It wasn’t the dough, Kyle, or the ovens themselves.  After a complete flop of both a pizza and a calzone one night a few weeks ago that ended in us ordering a delivery pizza and calzone – sigh – I read the Use and Care manual for the ovens.  Who does this??  Turns out with the pizza stone in the oven, our oven(s) needs to preheat for at least 30 minutes at 500° F…which I sort of knew already but refused to acknowledge.

Anyway, the following weekend, I cranked up the oven and sat down with a book (a real paperback!) while the oven and stone preheated in order to prevent myself from dancing around the kitchen with impatience, willing the oven to preheat faster.  What’s that about a watched pot?

3 Cheese Rosemary and Pepperoni Pizza

The pizza we made that night was one we’ve made a few times in the past year.  It’s one with bold flavors and simple ingredients.  Ricotta, mozzarella and fontina round out the cheese category.  The boldness comes in with some old-school pepperoni and chopped fresh rosemary.  The combination of everything together is just killer.  The rosemary really shines through, giving a pizza that could be considered heavy a lightness you wouldn’t expect.  Mediocre pizzas no more – along with a suuuuper hot oven, this 3 cheese pizza with rosemary and pepperoni not only negates the need for flop-induced take-out, but it reminds me of how much we love creating great food at home.

3 Cheese Rosemary and Pepperoni Pizza

Yield: One 12- to 14-inch pizza

Ingredients

  • ½ pizza dough recipe (about 1 lb of dough)
  • ½ cup marinara or pizza sauce
  • 6 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 6 oz Italian fontina cheese, shredded
  • 2 oz ricotta cheese (about ¼ cup)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • Sliced pepperoni
  • Flour, for dusting and rolling

Instructions

  1. Set a rack in the oven to the lowest position. Preheat the oven and a pizza stone, if using, to 500° F for at least 30 minutes - up to an hour is best.
  2. Dust a work surface lightly with flour and roll out the pizza dough into a 12- to 14-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a large piece of parchment paper; reshape the dough if necessary. Spoon on some sauce evenly over the dough out to within ½-inch from the edges. Sprinkle on three-quarters of the mozzarella and fontina cheeses. Dollop the ricotta cheese by the tablespoon over the cheese then toss on some pepperoni - how much you use is up to you. Sprinkle the rosemary over everything followed by the remaining mozzarella and fontina cheeses.
  3. Once the oven is preheated, transfer the pizza on the parchment paper to the stone or a baking sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Source

source: Smells Like Home original

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2013/06/3-cheese-rosemary-and-pepperoni-pizza/

Southwest Chicken Chopped Salad with Chipotle Honey Dressing
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Southwest Chicken Chopped Salad with Chipotle Honey Dressing

A while back, I came across a southwest seasoning mix at Penzey’s that got me on a streak of some fantastic salads.  I mixed the seasoning up with some ranch dressing (bottled at the time, homemade these days), honey, and lime juice, and drizzled it all over a southwest grilled chicken chopped salad.  I never really feel the urge to blog about it because a) it went so fast that I never took an photos, and b) it contained a type of seasoning mix that I wasn’t sure was easily accessible to everyone.

Southwest Chicken Chopped Salad with Chipotle Honey Dressing

But nonetheless, I’ve taken the base of that awesome salad and combined it with a new dressing.  Well, it’s not completely new – it’s a copycat of Chipotle’s vinaigrette, which I completely adore and which is way too accessible to me these days with a location just two blocks from my office.  Gah.  The dressing is a spicy one but it pairs so well with the cool salad, especially the chopped avocado, and you can definitely cut back on the chipotle powder or use a different chile powder altogether (like ancho chile powder which is milder but really flavorful).  I love that I can whip up this vinaigrette in just a couple minutes and spend the time the chicken grills chopping up some veggies…and the recipe makes enough for at least 6 servings so I’ve got extra stocked in the fridge for next time.  A perfect summer salad for some of the hottest nights to come – I’m totally game!

Southwest Chicken Chopped Salad with Chipotle Honey Dressing

Total Time: 1 hour

What's great about this salad (aside from everything in it) is that you can opt to cook the chicken indoors in a saute pan if you can't grill or it's the middle of winter and you're dying for a fun summer meal. Just add a little vegetable oil to a hot pan, season the chicken, and saute each side for 5-7 minutes over medium-high heat or until they are cooked through.

Ingredients

    For the chipotle honey vinaigrette:
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1¼ teaspoons ground chipotle powder
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¾ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp sweet paprika
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • For the chicken and salad:
  • 1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, seasoned (we used taco seasoning), grilled, and sliced
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • ½ cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 avocado, sliced in half lengthwise, pitted, removed from the skin, and chopped
  • ½ small red onion, diced small or thinly sliced
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • (Other suggestions include: shredded cheddar, sour cream, chopped tomatoes)

Instructions

  1. Whisk all of the ingredients up through the oregano together in a medium bowl. Slowly pour the olive oil into the mixture while whisking vigorously. Chill the dressing for at least 1 hour before using.
  2. While the vinaigrette chills, grill the chicken and chop the veggies. Assemble the salads as desired in large bowls or on dinner plates. Drizzle the dressing over each salad and serve.

Source

source: salad is a Smells Like Home original | chipotle honey dressing adapted from Chipotle Fan via Cook Like a Champion

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2013/06/southwest-chicken-chopped-salad-with-chipotle-dressing/

Grilled Margarita Fish Tacos
0

Grilled Margarita Fish Tacos

I don’t know what it is about fish tacos, but they are a meal I totally flip over.  When they’re on a menu somewhere, I always, always order them.  And when I hit up a new taco truck in the area a few weeks ago, every single one of the 5 people in front of me ordered the fish tacos.  Which meant, even off a new truck with food I’ve never had before and didn’t quite know if they were totally trustworthy, I needed those fish tacos.  They were insane.

Grilled Margarita Fish Tacos

I obviously don’t rely on food trucks for my meals because out here, in the rural suburbs, food trucks are nearly non-existent.  But these margarita grilled fish tacos are soooo easy to make at home that I don’t need to rely on food trucks or restaurants to eat them.  After a quick soak in a mix of ingredients that could be set on ice in a glass, the fish goes on the grill (oil the grates well!), and then its stuffed with outrageous pico de gallo inside a crunchy corn taco shell.  If soft flour tortillas are your thing for tacos, go for it; but for me, there’s nothing better than a crispy taco shell with some soft and [boozy] grilled fish lying within.  A 30 minute-dinner is always up my alley but these grilled fish tacos take a regular weeknight meal to the next level of fancy.

Grilled Margarita Fish Tacos

Total Time: 35 minutes

The original recipe calls for the rest of the marinade to be boiled down into a glaze to top the tacos with. I skipped this step and discarded the marinade. I'm sure it would have been great - I just wasn't feeling it that night.

Ingredients

    For the fish:
  • ¼ cup tequila
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • ¼ cup lime juice (2-3 limes)
  • ¼ cup orange juice (1 medium orange)
  • 1 lbs white fish (cod, halibut - any sturdy white fish will work)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • 6 taco shells or flour tortillas
  • For the pico de gallo:
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
  • ¼ cup small-diced red onion
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • Small handful of cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. To make the margarita marinade: Combine the tequila, lime zest, lime and orange juices, ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper together in large zip-top bag. Seal the bag and shake it to mix everything up. Add the fish to the bag, reseal it, and massage the marinade over the fish. Let the fish rest at room temperature while you make the pico de gallo.
  2. To make the pico de gallo: In a medium bowl, stir the tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice, and ¼ teaspoon salt together. Add a little more salt to taste.
  3. To grill the fish: Heat the grill to medium-high. Oil the grates well with vegetable oil. Allow the marinade to drip back into the bag before transferring the fish to the grill; discard the marinade. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes per side, flipping carefully with a metal spatula. (Alternatively, you can grill this on a grill pan, and if I had one, that's what I would have used.)
  4. Divide the fish between the tacos shells and top with pico de gallo.

Source

source: adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2013/06/grilled-margarita-fish-tacos/

Basic Homemade Pizza Dough
6

Basic Homemade Pizza Dough

I really couldn’t tell you why it has taken me so long to set aside a few minutes to snap some photos of this pizza dough.  I mean, I’ve been making this recipe for…oh I don’t know, almost 5 years?  I’m still using my original print-out from the pre-iPad days and it has definitely seen its day!  And what I love most about it is how it turns out perfectly every single time I make it.

Basic Homemade Pizza Dough

After 1 ½ to 2 hours of proofing, you’ll end up with a warm and slightly sticky dough but it’s a dream to roll out, which I find to be a problem with a few of the other pizza dough recipes I’ve made in the past.  If you’re going for a thin crust, you’ll want to roll this dough out pretty thin…or leave it on the thicker side for a beefier pizza.  We’ve made pizzas for both the oven (without and without a pizza stone) and the grill with this recipe, both turning out spectacularly, and I’m sure it would be just as great for a skillet pizza as well.  Now is the time to get over your fear of yeast recipes and get your hands all floured-up, because this homemade pizza dough recipe is way easier than you would think and it’s one you’ll keep in your recipe arsenal for years to come.

I have a new favorite pizza ready for you guys next week but in the meantime, here are some of our favorites with this dough:
Spinoccoli Pizza
Chicken Parmagiana Pizza
Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread
Buffalo Chicken Pizza
Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Pizza
Pizza Bites

Basic Homemade Pizza Dough

Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: enough dough for two 12- to 14-inch pizzas

This recipe yields enough dough for two 12- to 14-inch pizzas. The dough, wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and frozen, keeps well in the freezer for up to 2 months. You can definitely make this recipe by hand too if you don't have a stand mixer. Just mix all the ingredients as instructed in a large bowl with a wooden spoon then transfer the mixture to a well-floured surface and knead by hand for 8 to 10 minutes.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup warm water (about 110°)
  • 2 ¼ tsp instant yeast (1 packet)
  • 4 cups (22 oz) bread flour
  • 1 ½ tsp table salt
  • 1 ¼ cups room temperature water
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Extra oil for greasing the bowl

Instructions

  1. In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, measure the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour and salt. Add the room temperature water to the warm water and with the mixer on low, pour the water into the flour. Add the olive oil. Mix until the dough just combines and starts to pull together. Swap out the paddle attachment for the dough hook and knead the dough on low speed (2 or 3 on most mixers) for 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth but slightly sticky. If it's too sticky, knead in a couple tablespoons of flour.
  2. Very lightly grease a large bowl or dough bucket with oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise in a warm spot for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until it has doubled in size.
  3. Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface, divide it in half, and roll each half into a ball. Allow each dough ball to rest for 10 to 30 minutes (no more than 30!), covered with a damp cloth or a piece of plastic wrap (the one you used to cover the bowl works fine). At this point, you can use the dough right away or wrap and freeze it for another time.

Source

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2013/06/basic-homemade-pizza-dough/

Layered Buffalo Chicken Nachos with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce
3

Layered Buffalo Chicken Nachos with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce

The summer between my junior and senior college years was a maniacal, whirlwind sort of summer.  My days were spent setting up the buddy-system, singing endless verses of “Boom-Chicka-Boom”, soothing tears, scarfing s’mores, and slapping on sunscreen: I was a camp counselor.  My nights and weekends, however, were spent wearing a Pathmark apron and my beat-up Old Navy baseball hat at the local grocery store deli.  14 hour work days and somehow, I worked in a social life that included way too many Mike’s Hard Lemonades >> priorities.  Once in a while when I had 5 minutes to wolf down dinner between Job 1- grime removal (shower)-Job 2, my mom would have some rotisserie chicken waiting for me.

Layered Buffalo Chicken Nachos with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce

And to be honest, I was less than thrilled.  How many of those damn chickens had I prepped for the rotisserie each weekend?  (And how many hours did I spend with eggy-breaded hands from prepping the fried chicken?!)  The last thing I wanted to eat was chicken.  These days however, I crave roast and rotisserie chicken.  (I’ve mentioned this before.)  For some reason, I crave it more when it’s completely counter-intuitive to consider roasting anything when the temperature is above 80° and our AC is struggling to keep up with the sweatshirt weather I like to keep the inside temperature at.  So last year we Amazon’d a rotisserie for the grill and let me tell you: best.investment.evah.

Layered Buffalo Chicken Nachos with Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce

From the two chickens we cooked a few weeks ago, some of the leftovers went to making these nachos completely on a whim one night.  And they were goooood.  Like the kind of good that makes you sad when it’s over (see also: beer-battered fish).  I threw together a thick and creamy blue cheese sauce then layered some blue corn chips, the cheese sauce, some buffalo chicken, and extra shredded cheese (for good measure) on a baking sheet and baked it all off at a high temperature to ensure “meltyness” and not “charredness” from the broiler.  (I suck at using the broiler.)  Back in my Pathmark and camp days, I wouldn’t have come within 10 – heck, 50 –  feet of anything buffalo chicken.  But now?  Bring.it.on.  And these buffalo chicken nachos?  You need them.

Layered Buffalo Chicken Nachos

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings (dinner) | 8-10 (appetizer)

Ingredients

    For the nachos:
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup hot sauce (such as Frank's)
  • 2 ½ cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 oz Monterey jack cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 4 oz creamy gorgonzola or mild creamy blue cheese, crumbled (about 1 ½ cups), divided
  • 12 oz your favorite tortilla chips
  • For serving:
  • Diced avocado
  • Chopped fresh chives or scallions
  • Extra hot sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450° F.
  2. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of butter and the hot sauce together. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the shredded chicken, tossing to coat all of the chicken with the sauce. Keep the pan over low heat while you make the cheese sauce.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Whisk in the flour until no lumps remain and cook, stirring constantly for about 30 seconds. Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture starts to bubble and thicken, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and gradually stir in all of the Monterey jack and cheddar cheeses and half of the gorgonzola/blue cheese until all of the cheese has melted.
  4. Spread half of the tortilla chips out on a heavy-duty baking sheet. Spoon half of the sauce over the tortilla chips and then half of the chicken. Repeat with a second layer of chips and the rest of the sauce and chicken. Dollop the remaining gorgonzola/blue cheese over the nachos.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, until everything is bubbly and hot. After baking, toss on some avocado and sprinkle on extra hot sauce, if desired.

Source

source: Smells Like Home original

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2013/06/layered-buffalo-chicken-nachos-with-creamy-gorgonzola-sauce/

Yellow Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting
18

Yellow Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting

When it comes to comfort foods, I have a few favorites: pizza (specifically, buffalo chicken pizza – either homemade or delivery), brownies, and cake.  Any cake will do.  Really, I’m not that picky when it comes to cake.  But what I’m totally in love with is classic yellow butter cake.  Funnily enough, it’s usually Kyle’s #1 cake choice too (when I give him the option to choose, that is) so I’m usually in cake heaven when we make a layer cake.

Yellow Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting

And up until a few years ago, the boxed version of yellow butter cake was fine – great (!!), in fact; perfect cake every time with awesome flavor and a tender crumb.  However, if you’ve been around these parts long enough, you’ll know that what really makes me most happy is baking from scratch.  It’s been years since I’ve used a boxed mix for anything and in my humble opinion, baking from scratch is just as easy as and is cheaper, healthier (no preservatives or chemicals), and waaay more satisfying than opening a box.

Yellow Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting

And actually, if you get the random 7pm Wednesday (or Monday or Thursday) night whiny-man requests for cake like I do, you sure as heck don’t want to drive to the store for a box mix when you most likely already have all the ingredients for this cake in your pantry and fridge already, right?  Right.  Put simply, this yellow butter cake recipe rocks.  It really is as perfect as any boxed mix out there – amazingly soft, yet sturdy, a wee bit tangy, and not at all greasy like some butter cakes can be.  The rich and glossy-smooth chocolate frosting is worthy of its own post but because it’s Friday and you’ll want to make this cake STAT, I decided to post them together.  So get your comfy pants out and your comfort food on this weekend (especially if you’re drowning on the East Coast like I am) and thank me later.

Yellow Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 12-16 servings

A note about the frosting: The original recipe calls for a mixture of cocoa powder and hot water to be added to the frosting; I skipped doing this on purpose. I thought the frosting, with its 1 lb of chocolate, was chocolaty enough and I didn't want to add the extra liquid, as Annie had noted that her frosting was a little on the runny side at first. We definitely didn't miss the extra cocoa here.

Ingredients

    For the cake:
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing pans
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting pans
  • 1 ½ cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • For the chocolate frosting:
  • 1 lb semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 sticks (1½ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. To make the cake: Center one of the oven racks and preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease the bottom and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans with butter. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper cut to fit the pan. Flour the sides of the pans, tapping out the excess flour; set the pans aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for about 4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate before adding the next and scraping the bowl as needed. Mix in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the dry ingredients, then all of the milk, then the remainder of the dry ingredients, mixing to just about fully incorporate each before adding the next. Scrape the bowl well to incorporate anything that may be stuck to the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans (a kitchen scale works great for this). Smooth out the tops with an offset spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until the cakes are a light golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the centers. Transfer the pans to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of pans and transfer the cakes to the wire rack. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting.
  5. To make the chocolate frosting: Add the chocolate to a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, taking care to not allow the water to touch the bottom of the bowl. Stir the chocolate until all of the bits have melted. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to allow the chocolate to come to room temperature, about 25 minutes.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and salt on medium-high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the melted chocolate and mix on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until the chocolate incorporates into the butter mixture, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  7. Once the cakes have cooled completely, frost and decorate as desired.

Source

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2013/06/yellow-butter-cake-with-chocolate-frosting/

 

 

Crispy Oatmeal Toffee Cookies
5

Crispy Oatmeal Toffee Cookies

Can we talk about crispy cookies today?  Because it’s not a realm often ventured to here.  Chewy?  YesYesYes.  And yes.  Plus maybe 6 others.  Crispy cookies get a bad rap – and from me included.  But a couple of years ago when I made those delightful roasted peach ice cream sandwiches, I stuffed that ice cream between two crispy oatmeal toffee cookies and was thrilled with the result.  Yes, after the ice cream softens the cookies you basically can’t tell whether they were soft or crispy to start with however, the flavor of crispy cookies changes.  It’s almost like using browned butter in a recipe; there’s an additional layer of flavor that you don’t expect but it nearly blows you away.

Crispy Oatmeal Toffee Cookies Stuffed with Biscoff and Fluff

For whatever reason, I never got around to posting the recipe for these cookies by themselves and I’m sort of glad that I didn’t because they next two times I made them, they were a complete flop.  Like, I’m still shocked they turned out as good as they did the first time for the ice cream sandwiches.  So I did some tweaking to the recipe, made them less like (or nothing like) grease-cookies and more like crispy oatmeal toffee cookies that you’ll want to dip in your coffee, eat for breakfast, stuff with Fluff and Biscoff, or save for ice cream sandwiches: none of which I know anything about…

Crispy Oatmeal Toffee Cookies

Crispy Oatmeal Toffee Cookies

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp table salt
  • 1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks/12 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Heath toffee bits

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Stir in the oats. Set the bowl aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla; scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Gradually stir in the flour mixture on low speed, increase the speed to medium, and beat for 5 seconds - the wet and dry ingredients should be well-combined. Stir in the toffee bits just until they are combined into the batter.
  4. Using a two tablespoon cookie scoop or a spoon, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the dough 2 inches apart. Bake for 15-16 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and left to right halfway through the baking time.
  5. Allow the pans to cool on wire racks for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to the racks to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough. Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Source

source: heavily adapted from Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook by Kathleen King

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2013/06/crispy-oatmeal-toffee-cookies/