Buffalo Chicken Wings

I’m sure many of you already know (or can at least deduce from the name) that these red-hot chicken wings originated in the great state of New York, city of Buffalo (my dad’s hometown). When my husband and I first married, we took a trip back east to spend Thanksgiving with my dad’s family. My husband, being a connoisseur of bar food, was determined to order Buffalo chicken wings in Buffalo, so my dad took us to one of his favorite local joints. We grabbed a pitcher of Genesee from the bar, and when the waiter came to take our order, my husband asked for a dozen wings. He, like me, can tolerate some pretty spicy food, but since we were in the birthplace of the hot wing, he decided to play it safe and order the medium spiciness. The waiter nodded for a second, then said in his thick New York accent, “I can tell you’re not from around here, so I’m gonna bring you a plate of mild wings, and if they’re not hot enough, just send them back and I’ll getcha the spicier ones.” Looking slightly offended, my husband agreed. Continue reading

Birthday Cake Cookies

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Every year around the beginning of July (specifically July 7th), I’m reminded of how much my husband hates celebrating his birthday. I mean HATES celebrating his birthday. I’m not exaggerating here, he hates his birthday the way other people hate poison ivy and spiders. His loathing of any type recognition on his day not only borders on bah-humbugness, but it goes against every grain in my party-planning body. See, I love birthdays. And not just mine, either, I love everybody’s birthday. I love the cakes and the presents and the balloons, and all the other hoopla that goes along with a throwing big fete. To not celebrate his birthday every year is torturous for me, which is why I do it anyway. BUT, I do it very slyly, almost stealth-like, so that he doesn’t even notice that he’s celebrating. I begrudgingly forgo the streamers and the decorations, and instead opt for a few cards and unwrapped gifts, followed by a nice dinner at his favorite restaurant (and as much as I’d love to see him flush, I don’t ask the waiters to parade out and sing to him). And above all, and this is very important, there are no candles, and the cake comes in the form of a cookie. A birthday cake cookie! Pretty sneaky, right? Continue reading

No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake with Cherry Compote

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In keeping with last week’s Backyard BBQ theme, I’ve come up with a winning dessert that takes minimal effort to assemble, can be made and refrigerated a day ahead, and doesn’t require you to fire up your oven on these very hot summer days. Oh, and did I mention that it’s seriously good? It is. Make a bunch of individual ones for easy serving, or one big one that you can bring out all fancy-like and impress your friends with your mad baking skills. I won’t tell them it only took 20 minutes to whip up if you don’t. Continue reading

Easy Summer Salads

Alright, friends, have we all agreed to stop buying frozen, grocery store hamburgers and unanimously decided instead to try making our own patties this summer? Have the last couple days of me preaching from my soapbox convinced you that there are better ways to barb-e-que? Yes? Good. Now we can move on to fantastic salads to accompany those delicious burgers! Below are two, super easy salads that pretty much go with any main dish. Continue reading

Jalapeño-Cheddar Burgers with Chipotle-Lime Ranch Dressing

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Yesterday I posted my all-time favorite gourmet hamburger recipe (that I could seriously eat every single day, they’re that good!), but let’s pretend for a moment that bacon and blue cheese aren’t your thing. No biggie. I get that some people have a problem with “stinky cheese,” as my mom refers to it. Okay, so maybe you’re looking for a burger that’s a little less fancy and a lot more folksy. In that case, kick the mud off your cowboy boots and try on this spicy Tex-Mex burger for size. Continue reading

Bacon-Blue Cheese Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Garlic Mayo

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When I was a kid, backyard BBQ’s were a simple affair: frozen hamburgers, Oscar Meyer hot dogs, and pot-luck side dishes were about as elaborate as we’d get – and there’s nothing wrong with that. But now that I’m older and have a backyard of my own, I find myself wanting to put a more grown-up twist on my BBQ’s. I want to prepare food that my friends will remember and that will bring them back next summer. I’m talking about good quality food: gourmet burgers, interesting salads, and easy but fun desserts. So that’s what I’m cooking up for you this week! Continue reading

Unbelievably Delicious Burgers for Your Next Backyard BBQ

A great BBQ requires more than just good friends and lively music to be a success. Seriously, you know and I know that everyone is really coming for the food, right? So let’s all agree that this summer we won’t settle for throwing frozen meat-pucks on the grill, instead, let’s mix up our own one-of-kind gourmet hamburger patties. Sound like a lot of work? It’s not. Creating the perfect burger is much easier than you’d think, all you have to do is remember these three simple rules… Continue reading

Coming Up This Week on SoupBowlRecipes…

20140707-185842-68322413.jpgOkay, okay, I know we all just recovered from the 4th of July, the official grilling holiday, but it’s still summer, which means ya’ll have plenty of time to throw an awesome backyard BBQ! Heck, you still time to throw a few backyard BBQ’s! — And this week on SoupBowlRecipes I’m going to help you do that. From gourmet burgers, to awesome side dishes, to out-of-this-world desserts, I’ll show you how to knock the socks off your family and friends. So say tuned, we have some pretty delicious things coming your way…

Super Easy Sopapillas

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Sopapillas are a traditional Mexican dessert consisting of fried dough that’s been sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar then drizzled with honey. Ohmygod my mouth started watering just typing that sentence. Okay, now you’ve all had elephant ears at the fair, right? Yeah, well these are so much better. I don’t know why, but they are. Maybe it’s the honey. Maybe it’s the Mexican flare. Or maybe it’s just me. But this dessert is the single most thing I look forward to whenever we go out for Mexican food. Forget the chips and salsa, I’m all about the sopapillas.

Now normally I like to do things the right way. I’m about making the dough by hand, letting it rise, rolling it out, and frying it in small batches. When time permits. But when you have a house full of hungry guests who have been drinking daiquiris and noshing on street tacos, there’s no way you’re gonna to want to pull yourself away from the party to cook up a labor-intensive dessert. At least I wouldn’t. So why not opt for something simpler. Let’s all just agree to skip the kneading and rolling this Cinco de Mayo and throw a bunch of tortillas into the fryer instead!

Super Easy Sopapillas

  • vegetable oil, roughly ¼-½ cup
  • 4-6 small flour tortillas (fajita size works well)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • honey

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Cut each tortilla into 4 wedges, set aside. In a small bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar.

Pour oil into a straight-sided skillet until it’s ¼-inch deep. Set heat between medium-high and high. Allow oil to get hot (you’ll know it’s ready when a couple drops of water pop when they hit the oil).

With kitchen tongs, carefully place 4-5 tortilla wedges into the oil and cook, occasionally pressing down on the tortillas, until they brown on one side, then flip and cook on the other side, approximately 1 minute per side.

Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and immediately sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture. Repeat with remaining tortilla wedges.

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Either drizzle with honey and serve immediately, or allow to cool, then store at room temperature in a resealable plastic bag for up to 1 day. Drizzle with honey just before serving.

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Side note: In case you were wondering what happens to all this delicious food after I’m done with my photo shoots, I can tell you that everything goes directly to my Quality Assurance department (a.k.a. my stomach). So yeah, I ate this entire plate of sopapillas as soon as I put down my camera. And no, I didn’t save any for my toddler who was napping at the time. Don’t judge me.

 

Last-Minute Cinco de Mayo Party at Home: Smoky Beef Brisket Street Tacos

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With Cinco de Mayo only cinco days away, it’s time you started thinking about your party plans. You know, and I know, and all the other sane people on the planet know that every Mexican restaurant from here to Jupiter is going to be jammed packed with people fighting for a table. Even if you were forward-thinking enough to make a reservation, you’re still gonna wait a long time to be seated. Sure it’s fun to go out and celebrate with tequila-guzzling, sombrero-wearing, chips-and-salsa-munching party animals, but doesn’t it sound more fun to have a few friends over for a casual party where you can enjoy good food, good conversation, and still make it to work the next day (btw, Cinco de Mayo falls on a Monday this year, yeesh!)? Below is a quick and easy Cinco de Mayo menu that you can prep the day before, then throw into the crockpot to cook while you bide your time at work waiting for the festivities to begin.

Smoky Beef Brisket Street Tacos

Also known as carne deshebrads, these super easy, super tasty tacos take a couple minutes to prepare, and even less time to vanish. Seriously, beware because they are highly addictive and will be requested by family and friends for every occasion from here on out. Consider yourself warned!  Just don’t forget to marinate the brisket overnight so that it can reach its full flavor potential. (Recipe slightly adapted from Muy Bueno cookbook, by way of my aunt, by way of her daughter-in-law)

Serves 4-8

Tacos

  • 2-4 lbs. beef brisket, fat trimmed (½ lb. per person)
  • 2 oz. brisket marinade, (preferably Claude’s Brisket Marinade Sauce), or 2 tsp. liquid smoke per pound of brisket
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 oz. beer (preferably Blue Moon)
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 8-16 corn tortilla, warmed (about 2 per person)

Toppings (choose any combination of the following or add your own)

  • 1-2 cups crumbled or shredded Mexican cheese, such as cotija or queso blanco, or another cheese
  • 1 cup Crema Mexicana or sour cream
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, torn
  • 1-2 cup white onions, diced
  • 1-2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 2-4 avocados, sliced
  • 3-4 cups shredded cabbage or lettuce
  • 2-3 limes, cut into wedges
  • Lots of pico de gallo/salsa

The night before:

Place all of the taco ingredients (except tortillas) into the baking dish of crockpot or slow cooker, then cover and refrigerate overnight to allow the brisket to marinate.

Chop and prepare all the taco toppings (except for the avocado which will turn brown), cover and refrigerate.

The day of:

Place baking dish in the crockpot and set to cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or HIGH for 4-6 hours.

About 30-mintues before the brisket has finished cooking, slice the avocado and remove the other toppings from the refrigerator. Also, warm the tortillas by stacking 5 of them on top of each other, then wrap in tin foil and place in an oven preheated to 350° for 15-20 minutes (you can warm multiple packets of 5 tortillas at the same.)

Remove the brisket from the crockpot and place on a large serving platter. With two forks, shred the meat and drizzle a couple tablespoons of cooking liquid over top.

Set out toppings and allow guests to build their own tacos.

Sidekicks:

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  • Serve tacos alongside Mexican rice, and guacamole with chips.
  • With this meal you have plenty of wonderful thirst-quenching companions. Serve with Mexican beer such as Pacifico, Modelo, Sol, Dos Equis, Victoria, or Carta Blanca, to name half-a-dozen, and/or a pitcher (or three) of homemade strawberry-watermelon daiquiris.

Guacamole

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Guacamole

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • ½ tomato, seeds removed, diced
  • ¼ white onion, diced
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeds removed, minced
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • 4 sprigs fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 dashes hot sauce (optional)

Cut the avocados in half and remove pit. Scoop out avocado from the peel, put in a medium bowl. Mash avocado with a fork until slightly smooth with some chunks of avocado left.

Add tomato, onion, jalapeño, and lime juice. Stir until combined, then season with salt & pepper, and a few dashes of hot sauce if you’d like. Serve with tortilla chips.

*If you have a small food processor, you can use it to chop the ½ tomato, ¼ white onion, jalapeño, and lime juice until chunky, then add it to the mashed avocado. Or, for a super quick version, add ½ cup jarred salsa to mashed avocado and mix until combined.

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Guacamole is best served fresh, but if you do refrigerate it, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of guacamole, the cover the entire bowl with an additional piece of plastic wrap.

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Mexican Rice

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Mexican Rice

Serves 6-8

  • 2 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 green pepper, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 cups dry long-grain white rice
  • 1½ cups spicy tomato juice (2 – 5.5oz cans of V8)
  • 2 cups chicken stock (see recipe in Homemade Stocks)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) peas
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes, seeds removed
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • chili powder (optional)
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh cilantro, finely chopped

In a large, straight-sided skillet, heat oil until shimmering. Add onion and pepper and sauté until soft and onion begins to become translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rice and cook until it begins to toast, about 1-2 minutes.

Add tomato juice and chicken stock and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once liquid begins to boil, immediately reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until rice is soft but not mushy.

Add peas and tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt & pepper and chili powder, if you like it extra spicy.

Transfer to a large serving bowl and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve hot.

*Rice can be made the day before, refrigerated, then quickly reheated in the microwave the day of the party.

Strawberry-Watermelon Daiquiris

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The thing I always hate about making frozen drinks at home is that unless you own a Vitamix (which I desperately want but feel bad about dipping into the Toddler’s college fund to buy), I always end up with huge chunks of unblended ice that clog up my straw. By pre-freezing the watermelon for a few minutes and using frozen strawberries, I’ve found that I can bypass those pesky ice cubes altogether and still get the creamy, frosty effect that you’d get from your favorite Mexican restaurant.

Strawberry-Watermelon Daiquiris

Serves 4

  • 2 cups peeled, seeded, and cubed watermelon
  • 2 cups frozen strawberries
  • ½ cup light rum
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup triple sec
  • ¼ simple syrup *

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Place watermelon in a bowl and pour rum over top, then freeze for 40-60 minutes. In a blender, add watermelon and remaining ingredients and blend on high until smooth.

Pour into glasses and garnish with a wedge of watermelon.

*To make simple syrup, add 1 cup white sugar and 1 cup water in a sauce pan. Bring water to a boil and stir until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool. Simple syrup can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

CHECK BACK FRIDAY FOR A QUICK AND EASY MEXICAN DESSERT YOU CAN SERVE WITH THIS MEAL!