January 29, 2020

Baked Pimento Dip

It seems like everyone is on some sort of low-carb diet, which can limit the delicious food free-for-all that's the best part of the SuperBowl. I love a good pizza (or even a bad one; let's be honest), and wings are a classic, but the easiest dish to satisfy just about everyone is a dip. I've made dips that taste like Philly cheesesteak and everything bagels and all sorts of other flavors, and my main conclusion is that nobody can resist a hot, gooey, cheesy dip.

This one is inspired by pimento cheese, a southern classic often served cold on sandwiches but made infinitely better by increasing the cheese ratio and heating until hot and bubbly. You can make it healthier by serving dippable veggies like carrots or peppers, or just give in to the SuperBowl temptation and eat it with a spoon.

You only need 5 ingredients and some self-control to get this dish ready and in the oven. Just combine cream cheese and mayo, stir in shredded cheddar, and add in diced pimentos and a squeeze of Dijon. You can dress it up with some fancier cheeses but the beauty of pimento cheese lies in its simplicity. Another option is to add in some heat via cayenne pepper or diced fresh peppers of your choice, though if your SuperBowl spread already has some heat it may be worth keeping at least one dish mild for those of us who can't handle anything spicy.

As for accoutrements, crackers and toasted bread are always reliable. Carrots, celery, and bell peppers would be tasty options for the healthier crowd. You could also get creative with your other snacking options and dip whatever else is nearby on your table. Cheesy buffalo wings, anyone? The options are endless.

4 oz Cream Cheese, Softened
2 Cups Shredded Cheddar
1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
2 T Diced Pimentos
1 tsp Dijon Mustard

Heat oven to 375F. Grease a baking dish.

Mix the cream cheese and mayonnaise together. Stir in the shredded cheese, pimentos, and Dijon mustard. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the dip to the baking dish and bake for 12 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Recipe Adapted from Buns in my Oven

December 31, 2019

Top 20 Recipes for 2020

I love doing these sorts of annual recaps, but I feel like I've been doing the same style for the past few years and the top recipes of all time don't change much. This year, I decided to switch it up for a new year and a new decade. I'm going with the 20 recipes I'm most excited to cook in 2020, from apps to entrees to plenty of desserts. I've made some of them plenty of times and others not enough, but they're all delicious and will make 2020 even better. So without further ado, here are 20 of my favorite recipes (in alphabetical order) that will hopefully start your year off right.

1. Apple Pie

2. Australian Meat Pie

3. Black & White Cookies

4. Blackberry Almond Coffee Cake

4. Buttermilk Roasted Chicken

5. Carrot Bacon Soup

6. Chocolate Fudge Pecan Pie

7. Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Cookies

8. Croque Poulet

9. Deep Dish Pizza

10. Everything Bagel Dip

11. Flank Steak w/ Tomato Caper Relish

12. Grilled Ribeye

13. Louisiana Chicken Stew

14. Matzo Ball Soup

15. Pasta Amatriciana

16. Sesame Chicken Thighs

17. Shrimp & Grits

18. Snickersnaps

19. Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

20. Thai Steak Salad

November 20, 2019

Pumpkin Caramel Tart

Pumpkin pie is a Thanksgiving staple, but there are so many ways to dress it up it doesn't make sense to have a plain pumpkin pie on the table anymore. Whether it's a swirl of cheesecake or baking it in blondie form, pumpkin pie deserves a little love and a lot more creativity. I'm more of a crust girl than a filling fan myself, so any way to up that ratio automatically gains a few points in my book. Add a caramel base for some more complex sweet notes and you've got quite the showstopper, especially with a big scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of the leftover caramel. This tart will have you abandoning your basic-as-pumpkin-spice pumpkin pie recipe this season, if it even is pumpkin at all.

You can usually get away with buying the pie crust at Thanksgiving since there are so many other things that must be homemade and it's so easy to flake out on it. Too bad store-bought crust isn't actually flaky (sorry for the terrible puns... I'm on a post-Halloween candy sugar high). Fortunately, it's super easy to make your own pie dough, and you can even make it a few days in advance so you can focus on all your other Thanksgiving recipes. I've written plenty of recipes with advice on pie crusts, so I'll keep it brief: keep everything (especially the butter) as cold as possible and work the dough as little as possible. Since this is a tart, you'll probably have to roll the dough a bit thinner than you would a pie so it covers the whole pan, but you can just cut the ends flush with the edges: no fancy crimping required. You'll also need to blind bake the crust since the thinner layer of pumpkin filling requires less time in the oven. Don't worry; this just entails covering the dough with foil, weighing it down with dry beans or pie weights, and par-baking it so it starts the cooking process without puffing up in the middle.

Normally, pumpkin pie filling is just a combination of pumpkin puree, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, and spices. This recipe is kinda similar but also kinda not, since a homemade caramel sauce takes the place of the sweetened condensed milk, plus I throw in a spoonful of flour to help it set during baking. Since it's pretty much just whisking a bunch of liquidy ingredients together, you don't even need a stand mixer. While you're on a mixing kick, go ahead and make your own pumpkin spice blend. There's no need to buy an overpriced bottle of the stuff if you already have classic fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. If you don't have those ingredients already, you should go ahead and buy them instead of pumpkin spice.

The caramel sauce is probably the hardest part of this recipe, but it's as easy as caramel gets. It starts by heating sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar, and a splash of water together. The corn syrup and cream of tartar prevent the caramel from crystallizing and turning gritty later on, so don't be scared off by the stereotypes. Those ingredients all cook together until the caramel gets as dark as you like. I aim for a dark amber, but it can go over in a snap so make sure to keep an eye on it. The trick is to watch and don't touch, since stirring promotes crystallization and will give you a grainy caramel. Once the caramel reaches the proper color, whisk in some cream to turn it into a smooth, creamy sauce instead of a hard candy.

To make it all come together, blend the cooled caramel with the pumpkin, an extra spoonful of brown sugar, a bit of flour, eggs, vanilla, and your homemade pumpkin spice blend. The crust is already partially cooked, so you really just have to bake it until the filling is just set and barely wobbly. Once it's cool enough to dig in, serve it a la mode with a bit of extra caramel sauce for your family's new favorite part of Thanksgiving.

1 Recipe Pie Crust (See Below)
1 Cup Sugar
2 T Brown Sugar
2 T Corn Syrup
Pinch Cream of Tartar
1 Cup Cream
1 Cup Pumpkin
1 T Flour
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Ginger
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Vanilla
3 Eggs

Roll the pie dough out to fit a 10" tart pan. Cover with foil and fill with pie weights or dry beans. Blind bake the crust for 20 minutes at 375F. Set aside to cool and leave oven at 350F.

Combine the sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar, and 2T water in a medium pot, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until deep amber, swirling occasionally but not stirring, about 8-10 minutes. Immediately remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream. Set aside to cool.

Combine the pumpkin, brown sugar, flour, spices, salt, vanilla, and the caramel sauce. Whisk in the eggs one at a time.

Pour the filling into the par-baked crust and bake until just set, about 30 minutes.

For the crust:
Pulse 1 1/4 C flour, 1/4 C sugar, and 1/4 tsp salt in a food processor until combined. Add 1 stick chilled and cubed butter and pulse until small pieces remain. Combine the an yolk with a tablespoon of cold water and add in. Pulse until it begins to form a ball, adding more water as necessary. Chill.

Makes 1 Tart
Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit