January 31, 2019

Philly Cheesesteak Dip

It's time for another quick and easy dip recipe, just in case the everything bagel dip wasn't quite enough for you and your Superbowl party. This one may not be as simple as mixing three ingredients together, but it's hot and gooey and perfect for the 70% of you that had below-freezing temps this week. It's still way easier than making actual Philly cheesesteaks for a crowd since it's all the components mixed up into one skillet and baked until brown and bubbly. It also emphasizes the cheese part of cheesesteak, which is everyone's favorite part anyway.

Of course, you can't have a cheesesteak without the steak either. When I first started working on this recipe, I cut up some steak and seared it off like I would a real Philly cheesesteak (with the added bonus of tasty fat to cook the veggies in). However, even my attempt at thinly-sliced steak turned out chewy and rubbery after being cooked twice. Luckily there's a solution, and it makes your life even easier: the magic of your grocery store's deli counter. You can buy thinly-sliced roast beef like you would for sandwiches and throw it right into the dip.

I try to dice the roast beef and the veggies about the same size so it's easy to eat. For those classic Philly flavors, I cook off some onions and bell peppers, but sauteed mushrooms would also be delicious (and stretch the dip a bit more). You could also throw in some jalapenos for kick, or stir in some hot sauce. Garlic powder, onion powder, and a splash of Worcestershire round out the flavor profile.

The base is plenty of cheese: cream cheese, mozzarella, and provolone with a bit of mayo to thin it out and make it nice and gooey. The cream cheese adds bulk and a dippable texture, the mozzarella adds stretch for that classic cheese pull, and the provolone gives you the quintessential Philly flavor. Sorry Philadelphians, but I'm not about to add cheese whiz to this. Once it's all mixed up and baked, there's the matter of what vehicle you want to use to get it into your mouth. I tend to go for baguette slices or little crostinis, but pretzel chips or pita chips would work too. A regular old spoon would also work for leftovers after your Superbowl crew heads out.

2T Butter
1/2 lb Deli Roast Beef, Diced
1 Small Yellow Onion, Diced (3/4 Cup)
1 Small Bell Pepper, Diced (3/4 Cup)
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
8 oz Cream Cheese, Softened
1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Worcestershire
1 1/2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella (6oz)
1 Cup Shredded Provolone (4oz)
Crostini, Pretzel Chips, Pita Chips, etc.

Heat oven to 350F and grease a 9" skillet or small baking dish.

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and bell pepper, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 4 minutes or until tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Set aside to cool.

Combine the cream cheese and mayonnaise and mix until smooth. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper. Stir in 1 cup of mozzarella and the provolone. Add the steak and cooled veggies.

Spread the mixture into the prepared dish. Bake for 20 minutes, sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella, and broil until browned and bubbly. Serve with the bread or chips.

January 23, 2019

Everything Bagel Dip

Apparently I'm a bit late to the party. Which party? The everything bagel seasoning one. Everyone has been raving about this stuff for months, and I finally caved and bought a jar of it. My main question was what was I going to use it on, since I'm not into the whole avocado toast fad and I didn't have a desperate need to spice up my other breakfast foods. Enter my sister and her need for dorm-friendly recipes for friends in college. This dip is only three ingredients: cream cheese, sour cream, and everything bagel seasoning and can be whipped up by hand (but a mixer does make it easier). You know what party you won't be late to with this dip? Your Superbowl party, since this takes all of 5 minutes to make but will be the star of the snack table.

The main ingredient here is the cream cheese. You can't have a good bagel without cream cheese, and you can't have a good dip without it either. Since this is a bagel-inspired dip, the cream cheese is pretty much non-negotiable. I use a brick of plain cream cheese (go for the full fat stuff here... I promise it's worth it) and make sure to bring it to room temperature. If it's still cold, you'll end up with lots of little lumps, which you want to avoid if at all possible. I mix the cream cheese with some sour cream to help loosen it up and get a dippable, spreadable texture. 

Once the cream cheese and sour cream are nice and smooth, it's time to add the everything bagel seasoning. You could make your own, but that would involve buying dried garlic, dried onions, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and flaky sea salt. I'd much rather buy the pre-mixed blend, plus it's not like making your own would cut out any preservatives. Side note: preservatives aren't typically a bad thing since they have to be approved by the FDA and it's not like we food scientists throw them in everything for funsies... they serve a real and important purpose and you shouldn't drive yourself crazy trying to avoid them. Soapbox aside, if you can find this seasoning at Trader Joe's or wherever else I say go for it since it makes your life so much easier.

Unfortunately, I think your Superbowl friends may judge you just a little if you go at this with a spoon, so you'll probably want to invest in something to dip with. The clear winner is bagel chips. This is everything bagel dip, after all. You can make them yourself by slicing up some bagels and toasting them in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil, or you can ask your local bagel place if they sell them pre-made. If bagels aren't your thing or you can't seem to find any, pretzel chips or pita chips would be pretty tasty too. If you're trying to be healthy, go with some baby carrots or celery sticks (or maybe find a salsa or something, since this is literally just cream cheese and sour cream). Of course, you also don't have to limit yourself with the occasion. The Superbowl may only happen once a year, but I'm hosting Bachelor watch parties every week, and you know this will be the main event.

8oz Cream Cheese, Softened
1 Cup Sour Cream
2 T Everything Bagel Seasoning
Bagel Chips, Pretzel Chips, etc. 

Beat the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer or whisk for 2 minutes or until smooth. Add the sour cream and beat for another 2 minutes until combined. Stir in the seasoning and serve with bagel chips and other dippables.

Makes 2 Cups

January 10, 2019

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

How many of you still have your New Years resolutions in tact? I'm sure lots of you are working hard to exercise, eat well, cook more, and otherwise improve your life. If you've lost some motivation (or didn't make any resolutions in the first place and just want an easy dinner recipe), don't worry! There is plenty of time to jump back on it, and recipes like this make it easy. It's all the goodness of enchiladas with none of the finicky rolling and assembly, just a big pile of spicy chicken and veggies in a creamy sauce with spiced tortilla chips. All that lean meat, beans, and vegetables with just a sprinkle of cheese makes for a pretty healthy dinner, too.

I normally start this dish by seasoning and searing the chicken. Browning it adds so much flavor, plus it gives you even more flavorful fat to cook the rest of the dish in. If you don't want to get a pan dirty, you do have a few options. You could dice up the raw chicken, toss it with the seasoning blend, and cook the dish for a bit longer in the oven. However, I still like the shredded chicken better, so buying a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and pulling the meat off of there is one of my favorite shortcuts. You can even use the bones to make a tasty soup to warm you up more with all this cold weather.

One of the perks of searing off the chicken is it gives you an excuse to cook off the onions, garlic, and jalapenos. They'll continue cooking in the oven, but this way they'll soak up those delicious chicken juices, incorporate the yummy browned bits, and mellow out some of the sharpness. The other veggies are canned, so there's no need to cook off the tomatoes, beans, or green chiles. They all get combined with the chicken, some pre-made enchilada sauce, and some sour cream. I'm sure there are ways to make your own enchilada sauce, but the whole point of this dish is to make a quick and easy meal. Using a can of sauce cuts down on time and saves you the hassle of buying tons of other ingredients.

I also take the time to make my own tortilla strips. I bake them to save on time and calories and season them lightly with salt, pepper, and chili powder. The best shortcut here is to go ahead and buy some tortilla chips instead (and use up the rest with some homemade guac). They just get sprinkled in between layers of the chicken mixture, then it all gets covered in cheese and baked until golden, hot, and bubbly. I throw more tortilla strips on top for crunch since the ones inside tend to soak up all the juices from the casserole (it's a good thing, trust me). It's great to feed your whole family for dinner, eat as leftovers for lunch, and/or freeze for another night when you're tempted to break your resolutions.

8 Corn Tortillas
3 T Oil
1 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
1 1/2 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Cayenne
1 Large Yellow Onion, Diced
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Jalapeno, Minced (Optional)
1 10oz Can Red Enchilada Sauce
1 14.5oz Can Petite Diced Tomatoes, Drained
1 4.5oz Can Diced Green Chiles
1 14oz Can Black Beans, Rinsed
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1 Cup Shredded Cheese (Mexican Blend, Pepper Jack, Monterey Jack, etc.)

Heat oven to 450F and line a large baking tray with parchment.

Cut the tortillas in half and then in strips. Combine the oil, 1 tsp chili powder, and salt and pepper. Toss the tortilla strips in the oil and spread onto the prepared pan. Bake for 4-6 minutes or until golden and crispy, tossing occasionally.

Lower oven temperature to 375F and grease a 9x13" baking dish.

Combine the cumin, cayenne, remaining 1/2 tsp chili powder, and salt and pepper. Pound the chicken to 1/2" thick if not thin enough already, then season generously with the spice mixture.

Heat some oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sear the chicken until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Set aside to cool, then dice or shred.

Cook the onion in the remaining fat over medium heat until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeƱo, if using, and cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Set aside.

Combine the chicken, onions, enchilada sauce, diced tomatoes, green chiles, black beans, and sour cream. Spread half the chicken mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with 2/3 of the tortilla strips, then cover with the remaining chicken mixture. Top with the shredded cheese. Bake for 12 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Garnish with the remaining tortilla strips.

Serves 6-8
Recipe Adapted from Anna Stockwell