November 2, 2016

Recipes for Election Night Disaster

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Note: Before you start cooking, you have to vote!

November 8 is set to be a tense night. The past year and a half of constant election coverage, offensive commentary and arguments with former high school classmates on social media all culminate on election night. Normally a night when  people stay in to quietly watch the election results roll in until they fall asleep, election night this year, I have a feeling, will be different. I’m anticipating Super Bowl-like parties with dozens of people, multiple televisions, screaming and — most importantly — food and drinks.

Thinking of throwing your own election night party, but don’t know what to make? I’ve devised the perfect menu to appease both sides of the aisle before you inevitably begin crying with anxiety into your wine glass.

Appetizers: The Swing States

According to statistical analysis site FiveThirtyEight, the two states with the highest chance of tipping the election at the time of this writing are Florida and Pennsylvania. As people begin biting their nails waiting for polls to close in these states, start passing around appetizers inspired by their respective regional cuisines.

Florida is known for a lot of exotic-sounding foods,  such as alligator and conch, that Wegmans doesn’t carry. And if you ask me, if it doesn’t exist at Wegmans, it doesn’t exist at all. So I decided to go with a dish based on Florida oranges and beer, because I know Wegmans has oranges (whether or not they’re from Florida — does it really matter?) and I know we’re all going to want to start the alcohol consumption ASAP.

Florida Citrus Beer Cheese Dip
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yields: 6 servings

½ cup Florida orange juice
½ cup Pilsner beer (or your favorite beer, or whatever beer you have lying around)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup Swiss cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon Florida orange zest, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon hot sauce
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
Parsley, for garnish (only if you really want it to look pretty and if you have some on hand — don’t go wasting money on garnishes)
Toasted bread cubes (or whatever else you want to dip)

After you’ve read that extensive list of ingredients, you’re probably going to want to nix this whole recipe, but just hold on a second because these directions are so easy they’re worth buying the extra ingredients.

Combine orange juice and beer in medium saucepan. Whisk in cornstarch. Add rest of ingredients. Heat over medium-low heat while stirring constantly with wire whisk. Heat until cheese is completely melted.

That’s it! To serve, place the dip in a bowl and garnish with parsley (if you’re into that). Serve with toasted bread cubes or whatever else you have lying around for dipping.

Pennsylvania Dutch Potato Salad
Prep time: 30 minutes (plus time to hard boil eggs)
Cook time: 20 minutes
Yields: 8 servings

6 medium white potatoes with skin
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 teaspoon celery seed
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
2 regular eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing

This is another dish that has a ton of ingredients (although you probably have most of them buried somewhere in your fridge already) but pretty simple directions. You can easily make this while anxiously watching the countdown clock until polls close.

Hard boil four eggs (I usually do more because I inevitably mess up peeling a couple).

Place the potatoes into a large pot and fill with enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain and set aside to cool.

While the potatoes are cooking, whisk together two eggs, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan. Stir in the vinegar, milk and mustard. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Refrigerate until cool, then stir in the mayonnaise. This will become your dressing.

Peel the potatoes if desired and cut into medium pieces. Place in a large bowl and toss with the onion, celery, carrots, celery seed and hard-boiled eggs. Gently fold in the dressing. Refrigerate until serving.

Entrees: Ideologies

In addition to being my favorite late-night (or lazy night) delivery service, Grubhub is a political database. Or, at least, for some reason they gathered information on food orders and partisanship in congressional districts to find a correlation between certain dishes and ideology. According to Grubhub, my food preferences don’t line up with my ideology at all, but it’s an interesting thought.

Liberal Lentil Soup
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yields: 6 servings

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces (you can use any kind of potato you have on hand)
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
6 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice

The great thing about soup is that you can put whatever you want in it. The above list of ingredients is really just light suggestions; feel free to throw in whatever vegetables or spices you want. But keep the lentils — otherwise this soup wouldn’t be left-leaning.

Using a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion for about three minutes, then add the carrots and potato. Sauté for about four minutes and then add garlic and spices. Sauté for about a minute and then add the salt, lentils and broth.

Bring the lentils to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring every now and then. Once the potatoes and lentils are soft, add the lemon juice and lemon zest. Stir again and you’re done!

Conservative Sweet and Sour Chicken
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yields: 6 servings

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 boneless chicken breasts, sliced into strips
Salt and pepper
1 red pepper (chopped)
1 green pepper (chopped)
8 teaspoons cornstarch, mixed with 8 teaspoons water
2 cups canned pineapple chunks (mostly drained, but with some juice left over)
6 tablespoons light brown sugar
6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup chicken stock
Rice (for serving — honestly just save yourself time and buy some of that cheap microwavable stuff)

Sweet and sour chicken might sound like a weird thing to be serving at a party, but according to Grubhub, the conservatives in the room will love it.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Season chicken strips with salt and pepper and add to pan. Brown chicken and remove to plate. Add chopped red and green peppers and cook for 1 minute. Stir in pineapple chunks, pineapple juice, sugar, vinegar and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer until sauce begins to reduce. Stir in cornstarch mixture and bring liquid to a simmer. Stir in chicken strips and cook for five minutes. Serve over rice.

Desserts: The Candidates

You can’t hold an Election Night party without an assortment of cupcakes based off of the candidates. I spelled out the full recipes for you here, but I understand if you’re too traumatized to do much more than make these out of cake mix and store-bought frosting.

Trumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Toupee Frosting
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Yields: 24 cupcakes

2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pure pumpkin purée
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs

For the frosting:
16 ounces (2 blocks) cream cheese
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
4 cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and ½  teaspoon salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, add the butter and the sugar. Beat with a handheld mixer until light and fluffy, three to four minutes. Add the pumpkin purée and the vanilla extract. Slowly beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix the dry mixture into the wet mixture until thoroughly combined.

Using an ice cream scoop (or another large spoon), fill each cupcake liner ¾  of the way. Bake until the tops turn golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the oven to a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.

For the cream cheese frosting: Add the cream cheese, butter, maple syrup and a pinch of salt to a large bowl and beat until creamy. Gradually add the powdered sugar until thoroughly combined.

Top the cupcakes with the frosting.

Wide-Eyed Hillary Clinton Espresso Cupcakes
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yields: 24 cupcakes

2 sticks butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
One 4-ounce bittersweet chocolate baking bar, chopped
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sour cream

For the frosting:
5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
5 cups confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper cupcake liners.

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa powder, chocolate and espresso powder. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Let cool for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs at medium-high speed with a mixer until fluffy.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Gradually add to the sugar mixture, beating until combined. Add the chocolate mixture, stirring until smooth. Stir in the sour cream.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely on wire racks.

For the espresso frosting: In a large bowl, combine the cream and espresso powder, stirring until the espresso powder dissolves. Add the butter and beat at medium speed with a mixer until creamy. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth.

Top the cupcakes with frosting.

Drinks: Red vs. Blue

We all know this is the most important part of election night. I’m guessing that most of us have been stockpiling election night wine for months. But to keep with the election theme, here’s a list of some red and blue drinks that are perfect for crying into all night:

1. Red Wine (don’t like the taste of red wine but still want to show your Republican spirit? Put the red wine in a blender for 30 seconds. Trust me.)
2. Cosmopolitan (1 part cranberry juice, ½ part lime juice, ½ part orange liqueur, 1 ¼ part lemon vodka)
3. Dirty Shirley (1 part vodka, ½ part cherry liqueur, ½ part grenadine, splash of soda water)
4. Hearts of Pom (2 parts silver tequila, 1 part pomegranate juice, 1 part orange liqueur, 1 part lime juice)

1. Blueberry Martini (1 part vodka, 2 ½ part unsweetened blueberry juice, honey or sugar to taste)
2. Blue Lagoon (1 part vodka, ½ part blue curaçao, splash of lemonade)
3. Bluebird (2 parts gin, 1 part triple sec, 1 part blue curaçao, bitters to taste)
4. Electric Blue Margarita (1 ½ part gold tequila, 1 ½ part lime juice, ½ part blue curaçao, ¾ part agave nectar)

Now that you’ve got your menu down, you’re ready to host your party. Spend time with friends, watch the results, hope democracy doesn’t crumble and eat some good food!