Thursday, December 31, 2015

Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing

Here's a very easy chicken wing recipe and if you love blue cheese, you'll love the dressing.
My friend Anne brings these tasty wings to my parties so I asked her for her recipe. 

I love the blue cheese dressing!! I made a large batch for a dinner party.

For the wings:

3 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed
2 t chili powder
1 t garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
10 wings, separated into individual pieces
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Combine the olive oil, garlic, chili power, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a large zip lock bag. Add the wings and toss to coat throughout.
Bake for 1 hour.

Blue Cheese Dressing:

1 C mayonnaise
1/2 C crumbled blue cheese (3 oz)
1/2 C half and half
2 T sour cream
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 t Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Whisk mayo, 1/4 cup blue cheese, half and half,sour cream, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and salt until smooth.  

Gently stir in remaining 1/4 cup of the blue cheese.  

Season with pepper to taste.

Refrigerate until ready to use.


I used a blender for the chicken marinade; marinade in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. When cooking I turned the wings half way through.

For the blue cheese dressing, I added extra crumbled blue cheese.

Bacon-wrapped dates with goat cheese

For a rotation dinner group, I hosted in December a "Heavy Hors d'oeuvres" food theme.

One of the recipes I made was an excellent dates wrapped in bacon and stuffed with goat cheese. The last time I had something similar was in Barcelona (November 2014) while on vacation. 

This is the recipe I used, in which I tripled the recipe:

These went quickly so be sure to make a big batch!!!

8 slices bacon (I find that thin bacon works better)
16 dates
4 ounces goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Slice the dates lengthwise on one side to create an opening. Remove the pit.

Using a spoon, stuff a small amount of goat cheese into the cavity of each date and press the sides together to close.

Cut the bacon slices in half. Wrap each date with a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick.

Arrange evenly on a baking sheet with raised edges (otherwise grease will get everywhere) and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the dates and use the toothpick to turn each one so it's laying on its side. Bake for another 5-8 minutes, until browned to your liking, and turn the dates to the other side and repeat. 

Remove from the oven, place on a paper towel lined plate, and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

This was our spread of foods that evening:

I also made chicken wings with blue cheese dressing:

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Red Beans and Rice

I made this yesterday (12 Sep 2015) using Emerl's recipe for a rotation group dinner.

My changes are in { }

1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted over  {I had Salvadorian red beans in the pantry}
3 tablespoons bacon grease {I used olive oil}
1/4 cup chopped tasso or chopped ham {I had regular thick sliced ham}
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped green bell peppers  {I don't care for green bell peppers, so I used red}
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley {I used dried, but next time I'll use fresh}
2 teaspoons fresh thyme  {ditto like the parsley}
1/2 pound smoked sausage, split in half lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces {beef smoked sausage}
1 pound smoked ham hocks
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
10 cups chicken stock, or water  {I used low sodium chicken broth}
4 cups cooked white rice {Cooked with chicken broth}
1/4 cup chopped green onions, garnish

Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and set aside.

In a large pot, heat the bacon grease over medium-high heat. Add the tasso and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the onions, celery and bell peppers to the grease in the pot. Season with the salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes.

Add the bay leaves, parsley, thyme, sausage, and ham hocks, and cook, stirring, to brown the sausage and ham hocks, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the beans and stock or water, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and starting to thicken, about 2 hours. (Should the beans become too thick and dry, add more water, about 1/4 cup at a time.)

Remove from the heat and with the back of a heavy spoon, mash about 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot. Continue to cook until the beans are tender and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves.

Serve over rice and garnish with green onions. 
This came out great. The ham hocks really gave it a good flavor.  I did have to add about a cup of water (1/2 cup at a time per the instructions) so that it didn't get to thick and dry.

I combined the beans and rice into a large pot for the rotation dinner for ease of transportation. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Chile-Rubbed Shrimp with Avocado Corn Cocktail

Chile-Rubbed Shrimp with Avocado Corn Cocktail

Last night was our monthly rotation group dinner. Margaret and Chris hosted. Food theme: “Grill it or Chill it!”

I found a recipe that I could both grill and chill: Chile-rubbed shrimp with avocado corn. This recipe serves four people using jumbo shrimp and served in martini glasses. For the group dinner, I decided to make this as a large salad. It was a hit.

16 jumbo shrimp (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Avocado and Corn Salsa (see below)

Rinse the shrimp under cold running water, and then blot them dry with paper towels.

Place the chili powder, garlic salt, coriander, oregano, cumin, and pepper in a mixing bowl and whisk to mix. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Stir in the olive oil. Let the shrimp marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Cook the shrimp, following the instructions below for any of the grills, until just cooked through. When done the shrimp will turn pinkish white and will feel firm to the touch.

Spoon the Avocado and Corn Salsa into 4 large martini glasses or serving bowls. Drape 4 of the hot shrimp over the edge of each glass or bowl and serve at once. Or for a cold shrimp cocktail, let the cooked shrimp cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the shrimp, covered, until they are chilled before serving them with the salsa. The cooked shrimp can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

My changes and comments: I used smaller shrimp, two pounds. I didn’t have ancho chili powder, so I used regular chili powder. I also didn’t have garlic salt, so I did a combo of garlic powder and salt.

This salad was delicious and it went very quickly. I really liked the flavors of the rub, which can be used on meats.  

Avocado and Corn Salsa

1 ripe avocado, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 ripe red tomato, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 ear sweet corn, shucked
1 scallion, both white and green parts, trimmed and finely chopped, or 3 tablespoons diced sweet onion
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers or serrano peppers, seeded and minced (for a hotter salsa, leave the seeds in)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper

 Place the avocado in the bottom of a nonreactive mixing bowl and gently toss it with 2 tablespoons of the lime juice. Spoon the tomato on top of the avocado.

Cut the kernels off the corn. The easiest way to do this is to lay the cob flat on a cutting board and remove the kernels using lengthwise strokes of a chef's knife. Add the corn kernels to the mixing bowl. The salsa can be prepared to this stage up to 2 hours ahead. Refrigerate it, covered.

Just before serving, add the jalapeño(s) and cilantro to the mixing bowl and gently toss to mix. Taste for seasoning, adding more lime juice as necessary and season with salt and pepper to taste; the salsa should be highly seasoned.

My changes: I doubled the ingredients with the exception that I only used half of a large jalapeño pepper. I also grilled the corn on our grill, which gave the corn a nice smoky flavor.

Without the shrimp, this is a tasty summer salad.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Peruvian Rice & Lentis (Tacu Tacu)

This is a great side dish for Peruvian chicken.

1 cup dried brown lentils (7 ounces)
7 1/4 cups water, divided
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic, divided
6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon bottled ají amarillo or ají mirasol paste (sometimes labeled "crema")

Bring lentils, 5 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan, then simmer, uncovered, until lentils are just tender, 12 to 25 minutes (depending on age of lentils). Drain, then transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, cook 1 teaspoon garlic in 1 tablespoon oil in another heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring, 1 minute. Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add remaining 2 1/4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil, then cook, covered, over low heat 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Stir rice from top to bottom with a rubber spatula, then stir into lentils.

While rice stands, sautéonion and remaining teaspoon garlic in 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until onion is golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in chile paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir onion mixture into rice mixture.

Heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in skillet over medium heat until hot. Add rice mixture and fry, gently flattening with a spatula, until a golden-brown crust forms on underside, about 3 minutes. Stir rice and fry, flattening it, until a crust forms on underside again, about 3 minutes more. Repeat frying and stirring until bits of crust are dispersed throughout, about 9 minutes more (about 15 minutes total frying time).

Notes: I increased this recipe by 1/3rd for the dinner party. I should have doubled it!   I also added more of the aji mirasol paste.

Peruvian-Style Chicken w/Green Sauce

I hosted a group rotation dinner (11 April 2015) with 17 friends and chose Peruvian foods for the dinner theme. I made Peruvian chicken, a green aji sauce, a yellow sauce (both spicy from jalapeno and aji peppers);  and a rice/lentil side dish.

The following are the recipe for the chicken and both sauces. There are links below to the rice/lentil side dish and a Peruvian potato salad that a friend made.

Peruvian-Style Roast Chicken with Green Sauce

Adapated from:

For the Chicken
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice, from 2 limes
4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons sugar
4 pound whole chicken

Combine all of the ingredients except the chicken in a blender or mini food processor, and blend until smooth. Remove the giblets from the inside of the chicken and pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels; place in a bowl, breast side up with the legs facing you. Using the handle of a wooden spoon or your fingers, loosen the skin from the flesh over the breasts and legs, being careful not to tear the skin or push all the way through (you want the marinade to stay inside the bird). Spoon about 2/3 of the marinade evenly underneath the skin, and spread the remaining 1/3 evenly over the skin. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil for easy clean-up. Spray a rack (preferably a v-shape) with non-stick cooking spray and place the chicken on top. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Roast for 20 minutes, until the skin is golden. Turn the heat down to 375 degrees, and continue to roast for about an hour and ten minutes more, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and thigh. (Keep an eye on it -- if it's browning too quickly, cover it loosely with foil.) Tent the chicken with foil and let rest for about 20 minutes. Tilt the chicken over the roasting pan to release the juices, then transfer to a cutting board. Carve the chicken and serve with green sauce.

For the Green Sauce
3 jalapeño chili peppers, seeded if desired (I use about half the seeds for a medium-hot sauce), and roughly chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's [I used less mayonnaise]
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, from one lime
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

[I added some queso fresco cheese, as it was listed in another recipe]

Combine all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a blender or food processor and blend into a smooth sauce. With the motor running, open lid and slowly drizzle in olive oil. It will seem very runny at this point but, don't worry, it will thicken up as it sits. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Yellow Aji sauce 
Adapted from:

3 ounces (80 grams) queso fresco (fresh cheese), farmer's cheese or feta
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
4 aji peppers (seeds & veins removed) or 1/4 cup aji amarillo paste
4 small sprigs huacatay or 1/2 teaspoon huacatay paste
4 Tablespoons (15 mL) vegetable oil, divided
1 Tablespoon raw peanuts
salt, to taste

Coarsely chop peppers, onion and garlic.

Pour 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil into a medium skillet. Over medium heat, saute vegetables until soft.

Scrape vegetables into a blender container. Add the remaining ingredients (including the rest of the vegetable oil) and blend for several minutes, until thick and creamy.

Drizzle over steamed potatoes or serve with fries, beef or chicken.

My Notes: 

1. I used chicken thighs, legs, and a couple of large breasts (cut smaller). In all, about 30 pieces. Tony used his smoker (rather than in the oven or his other grill) and followed the directions for roasting. The breasts came out slightly dry, so next time, we’ll stick to legs and thighs. Total cooking time was about 1.5 hours. No resting of the chicken – we dove in and it disappeared quickly.

2.  My green sauce turned out reallllly hot! Probably too many seeds.  I ended up adding almost a whole cup of sour cream to tone it down, along with more cilantro leaves and stems. While still hot, the flavors were fabulous with the chicken.  This is definitely a sauce I’ll make many more times for my other meals. It would be great on any chicken, beef, or pork; even cooked potatoes. Toned down, I can see it as a great dipping sauce with chips.

3. The yellow sauce came out very thick. Next time I’ll add a little water or maybe sour cream. I didn’t have any raw peanuts on hand; and I used the aji amarillo paste instead of peppers.  

Between the two, the green sauce was everyone’s favorite.

Here are two other recipes from the dinner:

Peruvian Potatoes with Spicy Cream Sauce (Papas a la Huancaina):

Peruvian Potatoes with Spicy Cream Sauce

I hosted a rotation dinner (11 April 2015) and decided on a Peruvian dinner theme. I made Peruvian chicken, a green aji sauce, a yellow sauce (both spicy from jalapeno and aji peppers), and a rice/lentil side dish. I’ll post these recipes soon.
Suzanne made this tasty Peruvian potato salad. I loved the flavors of the sauce and the saltiness of the kalamata olives.
"Peruvian Potatoes with Spicy Cream Sauce (Papas a la Huancaina)"

Adapted from:
4 medium Russett potatoes [I added a few more potatoes]
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 2 cups)
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon seeded and finely chopped jarred aji amarillo peppers or fresh habanero
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 lime, juiced
4 large lettuce leaves (such as Bibb or romaine)  [I did not use any lettuce – just served in a platter]
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
10 black olives pitted and sliced (Kalamata or Botija Peruvian olives)  [I used Kalamata olives]
2 tablespoons freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 30 minutes or until a paring knife slides into the potatoes without any resistance. Drain the potatoes and let them cool slightly. Slice the potatoes into 1/2-inch rounds and set aside.
Combine the cheese, evaporated milk, oil, chile, garlic, and the lime juice in a blender and puree until smooth. The sauce should be creamy and pourable. If the sauce is too thick, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is thinned out.
Arrange the lettuce leaves on a platter and top with the sliced potatoes. Pour the sauce over the potatoes. Garnish with slices of hard boiled egg and olives. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Note: A great substitute in this recipe, for feta cheese, is cream cheese.