Recipes for staying in for the night or going out to the party

In the grand scope of what we thought we could include in this edition of Focus Magazine, it felt cruel to leave our readers without any recipes they could take away. While flipping through various ideas where we could have multiple recipes such as meals throughout the day, fast-food knockoffs or even the top picks from student media, we found one a lot more exciting to both the college student and Waco native. 

Throughout the year, there are multiple instances where we get invited to a dinner party or we choose to have a relaxing night in. Both ideas operate best by having a go-to recipe. For example, when staying in for the night, one can cook whatever makes you feel at home. While going out, that dish can become the talk of the party and then everyone wants your recipe. After talking with Abby Tankersley and watching her make a delicious apple pie — she let us have a bite — we talked about the idea of having just recipes that went together for both sides of a fun night. 

When staying in for the night, we had a student recommend this creamy chicken pasta that makes you want to curl under a blanket and watch a movie. For dessert, Abby provided us her apply pie recipe, and while it needs to be started preferably the day before, it can still be delicious end to a relaxing evening. 

Appetizers have become the must-bring for any dinner party and so we gathered up a list of popular dips and two appetizer dishes that can feed the table. From the classics of buffalo chicken dip and spinach dip, we have also added a dill pickle dip for a new level of excitement as well as bacon-wrapped dates for anyone wanting something new.

No matter which path you decide to venture down, take each recipe and add your own twist to it. Make your night in the best it’s ever been, or become the talk of the party and leave the people wanting your notes. 

Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta

Photo by Dillon Kydd‭ ‬on Unsplash

Start to finish: 30 minutes, Servings: 2, Recipe from Alexia Velazquez | Baylor student

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1/2 pound chicken tenders
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 6 ounces of baby spinach
  • 16 ounces of heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes

Instructions: 

Turn the stove on medium heat and bring a pot of water to a boil. Pour in your pasta and cook for about 15 minutes, or to package instructions. Make sure to stir occasionally so the noodles don’t stick together.

While the pasta is boiling, start to prepare your chicken. On a cutting board, cut the fat out from the tenders and season with salt, pepper and garlic salt. At this point, the pasta should be done. Drain the pasta and set aside. 

Add the olive oil to a pan and on medium-high heat cook the chicken for 10 minutes, making sure to flip halfway through. Once chicken is cooked through, set aside and start on the sauce. 

Grab another saucepan and over medium-low heat, add butter to melt. With a clean cutting board, cut the onion into small cubes and add it to the oil to let simmer. Once golden, add the garlic and continue to let it simmer for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

As that cooks, slice the 2 tomatoes thinly and add into the pan. Cook until they’re soft and then add the spinach. Let it wilt. Add the 16 ounces of heavy whipping cream and allow everything to come together and boil for about 5 minutes. 

After five minutes add parmesan cheese and the cooked chicken. Stir around for 1-2 minutes to make sure everything is coated and the cheese melts. Add the pasta. Top with chili flakes if desired. Plate and serve warm.

Deep-Dish Apple Pie

Photo by Kiss Tskitas

Servings: 18, Recipe from Abby Tankersley

Ingredients:

  • Pie Crust
  • 2 1/2 cups (325 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, optional
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar
  • Enough cold water or milk to make 1/2 cups liquid with mixture
  • Pie Filling
  • 8-10 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1/2 cup water or apple juice
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon water

Instructions:

To make the pie crust: In a large mixing bowl, add all the dry ingredients. Whisk together well. Add the cubed butter, and using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until it’s in small pieces, roughly the size of a pea or smaller. 

In a measuring cup, add the egg and vinegar. Beat the egg mixture lightly until it’s uniform, then add just enough cold water or milk to make a 1/2 cup of liquid. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until it is just beginning to stick together. Part of the flour may still be loose. Lay out a piece of plastic wrap and scrape the dough onto the plastic. Again, it will still be crumbly – that is good. Wrap the plastic around the dough tightly. Shape the dough into a disk and refrigerate overnight if possible or at least 3 hours. 

While the dough is resting, begin the filling. In a large pot or skillet set over medium-high heat, add the butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, lemon zest and juice. Stir until it is melted. Add the apples and stir to coat the apples with the sugar mixture. Add the water or juice and continue to cook and stir until the apples begin to soften. Remove from heat. Strain the apples, reserving the juice, and set the apples aside to cool. 

Place the juice in a saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Let the liquid reduce. Once it has reduced by about half, add 1 teaspoon of cornstarch slurry to thicken up the liquid. To make the slurry, add the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Add this to the apple liquid and stir until the liquid is thick, about the consistency of syrup. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Once cool, add the thickened syrup to the cooled apples and stir to combine. Refrigerate, overnight if possible or at least 3 hours.

If at all possible, make the all the parts the day before and assemble the next day

To assemble the pie, heat the oven to 400° F. Remove the pie dough and cut it in half. Return the other half to the refrigerator. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the dough just large enough to fit into your pie pan. When ready to transfer to the pie pan, fold it in half and gently pick it up and lay it in the pan. Unfold it and press the dough gently into the pan. Place the cooled apples into the pan and refrigerate.

Remove the second pie dough from the refrigerator and roll out to about the same size as the first. You can either cover the pie with the entire crust or cut it into strips and lay over the top in a lattice pattern. If you cover the entire pie with the second crust, make sure to cut some holes in the top to let the steam escape while baking. Crimp the edges. Place the pie in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes then reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for another 30-40 minutes or until the crust is golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. To serve, slice and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

Dips

HLPhoto‭  -‬stock.adobe.com

Dill Pickle Dip

To the pickle lovers who have been waiting for their turn, this one brings everything to the table. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup dill, minced
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

FoodAndPhoto‭  -‬stock.adobe.com

Hummus

There are so many ways to take this simple dip to the next level. While some use a chickpea base, you can style it to your liking with avocado or red pepper.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups canned chickpeas
  • 2 avocados, cored and peeled
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped for garnish
  • Red peper flakes for garnish

nsc_photography‭  -‬stock.adobe.com

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Whether you’re at a party watching the game or need a late-night snack, this dip is sure to fix any spicy craving you may have.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup buffalo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ranch dressing
  • 1/4 blue cheese, crumbled
  • Chopped chives for garnish

JJAVA‭  -‬stock.adobe.com

Bacon Spinach Dip

Even those who don’t enjoy eating their vegetables tend to devour this cheesy spread. It can be eaten with crackers, biscotti, chips and other crunchy items.

Ingredients:

  • 10 slices bacon
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 pound frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella

JJAVA‭  -‬stock.adobe.com

Crab Rangoon Dip

Including everything you love about a crab rangoon in the form of a warm cheesy dip is nothing short of heaven.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack
  • 2 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 6 ounces lump crab
  • 3 green onions, sliced

RoJo Images‭  -‬stock.adobe.com

Marshmallow Fruit Dip

With a base of marshmallow fluff, this dip pairs perfectly with any fruit, from citrus to small berries. Feel free to add sweeteners to make it your own.

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces (2 blocks) cream cheese, softened
  • 7.5 ounces (1 jar) marshmallow creme
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • Assorted fruit of your choosing

Bacon-Wrapped Dates

Brent Hofacker‭  -‬stock.adobe.com

Servings: 6, Start to Finish: 20-30 minutes, Recipe from Abby Tankersley

Ingredients:

  • 15 whole dates, pitted
  • 1 pound parmesan or manchego cut into 15 equal pieces
  • 5 slices of bacon, cut into thirds

Instructions:

Heat oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Make an incision on one side of each date and insert a piece of parmesan. Squeeze the date shut to secure. Wrap each date with a bacon strip and secure with a toothpick. Place the dates on the baking sheet. Roast the dates in the oven until the bacon on top is starting to crisp, about 5 to 6 minutes. Turn the dates over and cook the other side until the bacon crisps. 

 Serve while hot.

Stuffed Peppers

Lindsay_Helms‭  -‬stock.adobe.com

Servings: 6-8, Start to Finish: 20-30 minutes, Recipe from Mallory Harris

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 pound of Italian sausage
  • 5 ounces of grated parmesan
  • 15 jalapeno peppers

Instructions:

Heat the oven to 425 F and set out the cream cheese to soften. In a skillet over medium-high heat cook the sausage until done, crumbling it as it cooks. Drain the grease from the pan and set the sausage in a medium-sized bowl and set it to the side. 

Rinse and dry the peppers. Slice the peppers in half lengthwise, keeping the stems intact. Using a melon baller or a small spoon, scoop out the seeds and throw them away. Be careful to not touch your eyes until you have thoroughly washed your hands after cleaning the peppers.

Add the softened cream cheese to the bowl with the cooked Italian sausage and mix until well blended. Sprinkle in the parmesan cheese and mix until combined. 

Spoon the cream cheese mixture into the cleaned pepper until it reaches a little above the top edge of the pepper. Place filled peppers onto a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until peppers are crisp with the filling lightly browned. Note: The longer you cook them, the milder and less crip the peppers become.