Leftovers…in the Aftermath of Entertaining – Buffalo Bleu Cheese Dip

Happy 4th of July America!

While I am a very good cook, there are a few things I have never learned to do well, and one of them is cook for just 2 or 3 people. I like cooking for a MOB! In fact, I’d like to say I cook for an Army, but in all actuality I cook for an AIR FORCE (go Blue)! So, because I can’t seem to control my quantities really well (something a trained Chef can do with ease), we end up with leftovers, and it’s worse when we entertain because I never can judge how much people want to eat. I’d rather have too much than not enough.

Truth be told, there are people out there that hate leftovers and I don’t understand why! Never, in all of my days, will I understand how something is no longer good once it has been served. Sometimes food that is left to sit over night gets better. Tomato sauce is a perfect example of that! I suppose if you are eating the exact same meal 2 or 3 days in a row, leftovers suck, but if you get creative there are so many things you can do with your leftovers. Chop up the veggies and put them in a quiche or an omelet. Take leftover taco meat and make a taco salad or enchiladas, or 7 layer dip. Get it? There are people out there that will NOT under any circumstances eat leftovers. They would die of starvation in my house! We frequently have “search and destroy” nights. That’s when we take all leftovers out of the fridge, line ‘em up on the counter, everyone chooses their own dinner and we clean out the fridge to make room for more leftovers! Hubby John LOVES leftovers because they become what he takes to lunch. If I make Curried Chicken, I make extra rice and we portion it out, put it in the freezer and he can grab and go, straight to work and into the microwave!

Lately I have been challenging myself to try some new approaches to using up leftovers. Using the things in the fridge to cull dinner without having to make a major purchase at the store to accomplish it is harder than it looks sometimes. One dish I have come up with is Grilled Vegetable Enchilada Casserole– the veggies are grilled, not the enchiladas. (Truth Moment – Mom says when I was little if the word “casserole” was in the name of the dish, I automatically ate it!) I had to buy one ingredient – cotija cheese because I didn’t want cheddar or jack cheese. As soon as that recipe is perfected I will share it with you all.

For those of you who have people in your house that won’t eat leftovers, here is an easy recipe to rework roasted chicken. It is one of those recipes I am asked to bring to potluck get-togethers and it’s a hit every time. I wouldn’t make it for Michael Symon, it’s not fancy, but it is a crowd pleaser. And because it is an APPETIZER recipe – they won’t FEEL like they are eating leftovers!

This week’s Food Memories are a fab Patty Melt at the CrowBar in Shoshone, CA, breakfast burritos with my boy, and a 3rd of July BBQ with old friends and smoked sausages “imported” from Texas! This week’s pic is my Step Mom Nettie’s 7 Layer Salad. It’s my fave of the recipes she shared with me.

A few notes about the recipe – I prefer Texas Pete Original Hot Sauce™ in this recipe www.texaspete.com. You can use the Hotter Than Hot™ and it will be just as good. The Blue Cheese I am using right now is St. Pete’s Select (thank you Chef Tim Grandinetti for the turn on) however any good quality Blue Cheese will work. www.faribaultdairy.com

Buffalo Chicken – Blue Cheese Dip
Serves 10 generously

1½ C crumbled Blue Cheese – divided (about 12 oz)
2 pkg cream cheese (8 oz) – softened
2 C Sour Cream
10-12 oz leftover roasted, chicken, shredded or chopped
1 C hot sauce (I prefer Texas Pete®) – or more to taste
1/3 – ½ C good quality blue cheese dressing

Celery sticks and pita chips for dipping

Preheat oven to 375.

Using an electric mixer, combine 1 cup blue cheese and the cream cheese, mix at high speed until smooth and well combined. Reduce speed and add the sour cream and mix just until combined.

Spread cheese mixture into the bottom of a deep dish pie plate.

Combine hot sauce and chicken and mix until the chicken pieces are well coated. Put into pie plate on top of cheese mixture and spread evenly. Top with remaining ½ cup of the crumbled blue cheese. Bake until bubbling at the edges and heated thru.

Top with drizzled blue cheese dressing and serve immediately.