A kickin’ kick off dip that is sure to score

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Kickin’ Cali Collard Dip served in hollowed out, round sourdough boule with baked tortilla chips & bell pepper medley.

Are you ready for some football?

The American Gaming Association predicts that American sport fans will bet about $4.7 billion on the 51st Super Bowl game match up between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons.

That’s a whole lot of clams, cash, moola, duckets, Benjamins and greens.

I don’t know the odds of which team is more likely to win the coveted trophy. But I do know that if you bet your greens on my Kickin’ Cali Collard Dip, the odds are you will score a tasty touchdown.

Kickin’ Cali Collard Dip is a great departure from the usual suspect. It’s made with collard greens instead of spinach. The use of garlic and red onions compliment the greens perfectly. The crushed red pepper gives it a spark. And the secret ingredient that takes it over the top is freshly chopped mint. Yes – fresh mint. You can even add chopped bacon bits, lump crab meat or bay shrimp it you want. Let your imagination be your guide. Serve it with my tasty homemade, baked tortilla chips or a medley of sliced bell peppers as a low carb option.

You gotta score this recipe. Make it a tradition. Make it for your Super Bowl gathering. Make it any time. It’s a touchdown in taste. Give it a try and you will see how kickin’ it really is.

Kickin’ Cali Collard Dip

Ingredients
3 cups of cooked collard greens (chopped, cooled, drained well) or; 1 can of collard greens (approximately 27 ounce can)
1 – 8 ounce can chestnuts (drained and chopped)
8 ounces cream cheese, very softened
8 ounces sour cream
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup red onion, finely chopped
⅓ cup roasted red bell peppers, chopped (could substitute fresh for more texture)
2 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt (add more to taste)
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more if you like)
Cracked pepper to taste
Optional ingredients: ¼ cup chopped bacon bits, ½ cup bay shrimp or lump crab (but you be the judge).

dip on chip

Kickin’ Cali Collard dip on baked tortilla chip and red bell pepper strip

Directions
Add sour cream and softened cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Whisk very well, until well incorporated and smooth texture.

Drain collard greens well. You may want to put them in a colander or strainer and press out as much liquid as you can.

Add greens and all remaining ingredients into cream cheese and sour cream mixture, and mix well. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving. Serve with tortilla chips or vegetables.

Baked Tortilla chips

Ingredients
1 – 12 ounce package corn tortillas
Lemon pepper
Sea salt
Cooking spray

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut each tortilla into 8 chip sized wedges and arrange the wedges in a single layer on a cookie sheet.

Spray each tortilla wedge until slightly moist. Sprinkle tortilla wedges with lemon pepper and sea salt.

Bake for about 7 – 8 minutes, or until the chips are crisp, but not too brown.

The year of fearless cooking

Happy New Year all!

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Simmering pot of Fearless Seafood Chowder

It’s a few weeks into the New Year and I am sure you’ve made a few resolutions.

Let’s see, the list probably includes losing weight, getting fit, making wiser food choices and saving money.

Those are great resolutions and worthy of being on everyone’s list.

Take the challenge

I’d like to challenge you to add another one to your list – cook fearlessly.

Get in the kitchen. Make your own food. Try a new recipe.  Re-image an old recipe. Incorporate a new ingredient. Try a food hack. Bust out of your culinary comfort zone.

Here’s a bit of a food hack that can jump start your fearless foray. Its a pretty bold move, but you can do it!

I love those spicy peel and eat, New Orleans style shrimp bowls. You probably have a favorite restaurant where you like to enjoy the tasty crustaceans.

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Left: Killer Shrimp Steamed Mussels. Right: Killer Shrimp Peel and Eat Shrimp Bowl

I live in Los Angeles and one of my favorite restaurants to visit is Killer Shrimp in Marina Del Rey. The shrimp and steamed mussel bowls are amazing. They are served with a basket of sour dough bread for dipping and sopping up all that tasty, luxurious, spicy broth.

Recharge that broth

The flavor infused broth  that remains when the meal is done – it’s good stuff

Both are absolutely delicious. When I’ve eaten all the shrimp and mussels out of the bowls, what remains is a lovely broth that most people just leave to be discarded. But not me. I have my server combine the broth into one take home container which I stash in the freezer. Why? Because this favor infused broth is a great base for seafood chowder. What if you don’t have the tasty broth? No worries, you can substitute a combination of El Pato Jalapeno Salsa  and Mexican beer to your taste.

I’ve made this chowder often and my family and friends love it. This recipe has a delectable flavor and an impressive presentation. It looks like you worked in the kitchen all day.

You can add any seafood you like. For this version, I rendered the fat from bacon and used the fat in making the roux. I also the crumbled bacon and added it to the stock pot along with the seafood.  I used whole kernel corn. If you like, you can experiment with using creamed corn,  sweet peas, celery or even chayote squash.  This is a  great recipe to experiment with because it’s very forgiving and lends itself to improvisation.  After all,  it’s just a gloried soup!

So don’t be squeamish, be fearless.  Give it a try and dazzle the loved ones in your life, or dazzle yourself.

I am gently nudging you to cook fearlessly and  eat well this year my friends. And you are very welcomed.

Happy New Year and may you have sweet mornings, tasty afternoons and delicious evenings. Now – get cooking!

Fearless seafood chowder

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Fearless Seafood Chowder

Ingredients
¼ cup flour
¼ cup butter (½ stick butter)
1 medium shallot, chopped
3 cloves, chopped
1 cup or more Killer Shrimp stock (Shrimp Bowl or Mussel Bowl stock)
(or substitute 4 ounces of El Pato Jalapeno Salsa with 1 cup of water or beer)
1 32 ounce carton seafood cooking stock
1  14.5 ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
5 medium red potatoes, diced
1 15.25 ounce can whole kernel corn
3 pounds seafood (shrimp, cod, salmon)

Method

Stock ingredients for Fearless Seafood Chowder – including broth container from Killer Shrimp

Add butter to a pan set on medium heat. Add flour. When butter is melted, stir mixture until it is medium in color, about 3 minutes. Add chopped shallots and garlic to pan. Stir another 2 minutes. Remove pan, and empty mixture into a large Dutch oven or 5 quart stock pot. Option:Or you can do this step in large Dutch oven or 5 quart stock pan if you like.

Add Killer Shrimp reserved broth (defrosted) , seafood cooking stock, diced fired roasted tomatoes and diced red potatoes to pot with browned flour, butter, shallots and onion roux mixture. Stir well.

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Left top: Add garlic and shallots to roux. Right top: Add Killer Shrimp broth and seafood cooking stock. Left bottom: Add diced, fire roasted tomatoes. Bottom right: Add diced, red potatoes.

Bring to a gentle boil, turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes on low heat.

After 30 minutes, add seafood and whole kernel corn.

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Left: Add whole kernel sweet corn. Center: Add seafood (shrimp, Alaskan cod, salmon – crab legs are optional).

Add ½ to 1 cup of additional stock if needed. Cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until seafood is done. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and lemon wedges.

 

 

Your lucky pot of peas 2.0 Hacked

You gotta have your black eyed peas on New Year’s Day!

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Stove top view of Sassy black eyed peas 2.0 Hacked

It’s tradition.

You know the story. That pot of peas holds the promise of a happy and prosperous new year. See my post Get your lucky pot of peas simmering for the New Year.

Having black eyed peas on New Year’s Day is serious business in my family and has been for generation. There is no way we are going to enter the new year with having them.

You  need your peas

With the United States and the world polarized by the results of our Presidential election, perhaps we all need a lucky pot of peas simmering on our stove tops on New Year’s Day, along with a generous helping of collard greens  which symbolizes the hope that more  moola – you know the green stuff that buys stuff –  is headed your way.

If you stick with tradition, that pot of peas is cooked low and slow, simmering for over an hour on your stove top.

Nestled among the simmering peas is often a smoked ham hock or turkey parts. The aroma of the smoked meat wafting through the air, along with the sound of the slightly ajar lid clinking back and forth on against the simmering pot, is the stuff that my memories are made of.

Hacking the peas

You want that lucky pot of peas. You gotta have that luck pot of peas. But what if you don’t want to go through all that work  soaking and simmering?

Recently, I was a contestant on the Food Network show Clash of the Grandmas. One of the challenges on this special “on fleek” or on point episode involved using a food hack to create an entrée.  Food hacks are tricks, shortcuts, or novel methods in creating or recreating a dish.

In channeling my Food Network experience, I created a tasty black eyed peas food hack for you. I call the recipe Sassy Black Eyed Peas 2.0 Hacked. For this recipe you will need unseasoned, canned black eyed peas – yes you read that right – which I will shamelessly tell you I get from Ralphs or Kroger Market.

This recipe is great to serve for your New Year’s dinner or anytime. It is smoked meat free and tangy, savory, delicious and full of flavor. Your vegetarian friends will rejoice and the carnivores in your life will not even miss the meat.

Now you can have that lucky pot of peas 2.0 style – which simply means updated and recreated using this easy food hack.

Happy New Year to you and your family.

Sassy Black Eyed Peas 2.0 Hacked

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Sassy Black Eyed Peas 2.0 Hacked, served with Simple Truth Chicken glazed with barbecue sauce.

Ingredients
2  15.5 ounce cans unseasoned black eyed peas (Kroger/Ralphs featured here)
2 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup red chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of one lime
¼ cup liquid
Cracked pepper
Crushed red pepper

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Sassy Black Eyed Peas 2.0 Hacked simple ingredients

Method
With a skillet set on medium heat, add sesame seed oil and butter. When butter is melted, add chopped red onion and red bell pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add chopped garlic to pan and sauté for another 2 minutes.

Add two cans of Kroger black eye peas, drained. Reserve ¼ cup of liquid (optional).

Add juice of one lime, ¼ cup of liquid (water, vegetable stock or reserved liquid from drained peas) and cilantro, crushed red pepper and cracked pepper to taste. Stir well. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes or until well heated. Serve.

Mazing macaroons

Cookie season I salute you.

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Mazing Macaroons packaged for gifting giving

It’s the most wonderful time of the year when I dust off my treasured and sometimes secret cookie recipes to bake for the holidays.

Cookies just make the holidays bright.

These sweet treats are the things that memories and traditions are made of. They are objects of enchantment and folk lore when they are baked and shared with generation after generation.

This Christmas my three-year-old grandson Elijah – or “Eli” as I call him – is totally into the holiday season because he’s figured out this time of years gives him a pass to eat all the cookies he wants, or so he thinks.

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My grandson Elijah “Eli” surrounded by the things he loves best – cars

Every year I bake up an assortment of cookies, cakes and treats and package them for gift giving. This year I included a new macaroon recipe I had been developing.

Eli was happy to be my cookie tester. When I pressed the lightly toasted macaroon into his  little hand he said, “Bella (which is what he calls me) they look like snow balls!”

“Well I guess they do. They are called coconut macaroons,” I said.

He took a bite, and then tried to shove the rest of the cookie into his mouth. After he finished the cookie, he raised his hands over his head and said, “These macaroons are mazing Bella!”

Mazing. I like that. I wonder if that’s better than a-mazing?

If you are thinking about making a few baked goods for the holidays, this recipe is simple and you can have these tasty little treats baked up in no time. They are moist, chewy, soft and delicious little mounds with a pop of chocolate. The video below will show you just how easy they are to make. And like Eli says, they are mazing!

Mazing Macaroons

Ingredients
14 ounce package of angel flake sweetened coconut
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup mini chocolate chips
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 egg white, beaten stiff

Method
Combine together coconut, pecans and mini chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.

Add sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt to coconut mixture. Mix well and make sure the condensed milk is thoroughly blended in the mixture.

Beat egg white in a bowl until stiff, until the texture similar to meringue. Fold beaten egg white into the coconut mixture.

Set oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out heaping tablespoons of the mixture and form into densely packed balls. Place each ball on the baking sheet and press them down lightly.

Bake for 15 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from oven. Cool and store. Makes 20 to 22 macaroons.