Thursday, January 14, 2016

Cookbook Thursday: Easy to make party recipes for Super Bowl Sunday, Carnival festivities

            Super Bowl Sunday is only three weeks away. And to make it even more adventurous — for those of us planning festivities that weekend — it’s the final weekend before Mardi Gras. So for the next three Thursdays, I’ll be spotlighting recipes from Louisiana and Southern cookbooks to start you thinking about Super Bowl Sunday and Carnival parties.
Today, we’re focusing on what’s easy. The following are two ideas for interesting and simple dishes to whip together for any party, one from the Junior League of Lafayette’s “Something to Talk About: Occasions We Celebrate in South Louisiana,” which offers many great recipes for a variety of events, and “Y’all Come Over: A Celebration of Southern Hospitality, Food, and Memories” by Patsy Caldwell and Amy Lyles Wilson. Why wait until Feb. 7 and the Super Bowl? Make these now for the NFL playoffs and the upcoming Carnival parades.

Feta Cheese Spread
1 pound feta cheese, crumbled
3 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 cup (or more) olive oil
Directions: Combine the feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, garlic, oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes in a serving bowl and mix well. Pour the olive oil over the cheese mixture. (Do not stir.) Chill, covered with plastic wrap, for several hours. Stir well before serving. Serve with stone-ground wheat crackers or water crackers.

The party duo of Patsy Caldwell and Amy Lyles Wilson offer this buffalo chicken dip that uses a store-bought rotisserie chicken — the authors admit you can cook your own but why? Add some hot sauce, cheeses and a bottle of ranch dressing and you’ve got a quick and delicious dip.

Buffalo Chicken Dip
From “Y’all Come Over”
1 rotisserie chicken
1 cup red hot sauce
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (16-ounce) bottle ranch dressing
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Celery sticks for dipping
Chips for dipping

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 X 13-inch baking dish. Shred the chicken, using two forks, and spread out in the baking dish. Cover with the hot sauce. Combine the cream cheese and ranch dressing in a medium saucepan. Place over low heat, stirring until hot and smooth. Pour over the chicken mixture. Bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the Cheddar cheese and continue to bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the chicken is bubbly. Serve with celery sticks or chips.

Cheré Dastugue Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She also writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire, “A Cajun Dream” and “The Letter.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.