Buffalo Chicken Dip, the Easiest Recipe in my Arsenal

Good morning, world!  I am happy to announce that I awoke feeling vaguely human today!  I may have have overdone it a bit and am starting to regress a little, but I am taking a break and clinging to the hope that tomorrow will find me totally human again.

Luckily, I was given this easy, and I do mean easy, recipe by my amazing mother-in-law a couple of years ago and it has quickly become a favorite.  My youngest was sick with me for a few days, but managed to avoid the sinus infection, so we have done a lot of Ramen over the last week and a half.  I finally dragged myself out of bed and showed the boys this simple, yet delicious gem.

I like to serve it with olive oil and garlic sprinkled french bread or naan and celery, but I suppose that tortilla chips would work nicely as well.  I used 2 cans of cooked chicken (I know, a crime) because I didn’t have it in me to cook my own, and it was still fantastic.  Doesn’t get much easier than that!  The vultures descended so quickly that I was unable to get a picture of the finished, baked dish, so I hope these shots will suffice.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Ingredients
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, or 2 cans cooked chicken, drained
  • 1/2-3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2-3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup Franks Red Hot Sauce or Cajun Chef hot sauce
  • 1/3 cup blue cheese dressing
  • 8 oz cream cheese
Directions
  1. Mix all ingredients together and bake, covered, at 350° for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
  2. Serve with chunks of a good bread and enjoy.
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Blackberry Pepper Jelly; Happy, Happy, Happy Belly

Nope, I haven’t been abducted by aliens.  I have been down with the mother of all colds which has now moved into my sinuses.  I always say, go big or go home, but I didn’t necessarily mean in all areas…

Anyway, the contractors are starting today and I have a few minutes of free time, so I wanted to share the magical recipe I stumbled upon last night.  This weekend, thanks to my incredibly generous neighbor, Ms. Darlene, the boys and I picked about 4 gallons of blackberries.  Now I love a good blackberry jelly, but 16 jars should tide me over for quite a while, so I was left with deciding what to do with the remaining berries.  I love a good sorbet, but as sick as I’ve been, that seemed like a lot of work (it’s not), so I decided to use the jalapenos I just harvested and jazz things up a little.  My boys have already killed two jars of this stuff because it is so yummy!

If you are new to canning, it can all seem a little daunting, but it really is easy and very addictive.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

The first thing you’ll want to do is soak your berries in salted water.  This will coax any critters out and you can rinse everything away before cooking.  Rinse in a large colander and pick out any shmutz you don’t want in your food; grass, leaves, dried berries, etc.

I am not a huge fan of seeds in my spreads, so I always make juice first, milling out the seeds.  There was just enough pepper to give you a hint of the flavor, but I may use another 1 or 2 next time.  Here we go…

Blackberry Juice

Ingredients
  • 4 cups blackberries
  • 3-4 cups water, to almost cover the berries
Directions
  1. Mash the berries in a pot with the water and cook for about 20 minutes over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove from heat and cool, then strain through a food mill, sieve or cheese cloth to remove seeds.

Blackberry Pepper Jelly

Ingredients
  • 1 (1.75 oz) package powdered pectin
  • 1/2 cup + 3 & 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 4 cups blackberry juice
  • 3 small jalapeno peppers, minced
  • 1/2 tsp butter, if desired, to minimize foam
  • 6 half pint canning jars, lids and rings
Directions
  1. Boil enough water in a large canning pot to cover jars with one inch of water and submerge jars, lids and rings to sterilize.
  2. In a large sauce pan, whisk the pectin and 1/2 cup sugar with the blackberry juice until well combined then add the butter and jalapeno and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop when stirred) for 1 minute.
  3. Add the remaining sugar and return to a rolling boil for an additional minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, continuing to stir while removing jars, lids and rings from the canning pot.  Scoop away any foam (foam adds air to your jelly which can promote bacteria growth).
  4. Ladle jelly into jars leaving 1/4 inch head space and top with lids and rings.
  5. Boil five minutes in a hot water bath to seal.
  6. Serve over cream cheese on crackers or enjoy by itself.  So good!