Sunday, August 13, 2017

Mackinac Lemon Blueberry Muffins

I've only been to Mackinac Island once and that was with my parents when I was a teenager. The only thing I remember is the island didn't have any cars and the weather being rather cool even though it was in the middle of the summer. Anyway, I saw this Mackinac Lemon Blueberry Muffins recipe in my Cooks Country magazine and had to make them right away. They're sweet, tangy, lemony, and oh so perfect. Dr. Sweetpea has been eating a muffin every morning on his way to the hospital. This is definitely a keeper for us and will be something I make regularly.

Mackinac Lemon Blueberry Muffins
(Source: Cooks Country) 

1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
5 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sour cream
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
7 1/2 ounces (1 1/2 cups) frozen blueberries

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Generously spray 12-cup muffin tin, including top, with vegetable oil spray. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons lemon zest in small bowl; set aside.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in bowl. Whisk sour cream, 5 tablespoons melted butter, eggs, remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar, and remaining 1 tablespoon lemon zest together in large bowl.

Using rubber spatula, fold flour mixture into sour cream mixture until just combined. Fold in blueberries until just evenly distributed; do not overmix. Using greased 1/3-cup dry measuring cup or #12 portion scoop, portion batter among cups in prepared muffin tin; evenly distribute any remaining batter among cups. Brush batter with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle with sugar-zest mixture (about 1 teaspoon per muffin cup).

Bake until muffins are golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out with few crumbs attached, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking. Let muffins cool in muffin tin on wire rack for 10 minutes. Transfer muffins to rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Butter Toffee Popcorn

This is seriously the best Caramel popcorn that you'll ever try. Yes, it's time consuming to make, but it's sooooooooo worth the effort to make the popcorn from scratch. In fact, I know I'll be making this popcorn again when Christmas rolls around for our Christmas treat tins. 

Butter Toffee Popcorn
(Source: Cooks Country)

3 quarts popped popcorn (about 2/3 cup unpopped popcorn)
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups salted peanuts

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Grease large roasting pan. Place popcorn in pan.

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in vanilla and baking soda (mixture will foam). Add peanuts and pour mixture over popcorn, tossing to coat.

Bake, stirring occasionally, until popcorn is deep golden brown and caramel has set, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (I stir my popcorn mixture every 10 minutes so all the kernels are coated evenly with the toffee mixture.) Cool to room temperature. Serve. (Popcorn can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for 5 days.)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Almond Raisin Granola

I love eating granola with my yogurt every morning and Dr. Sweetpea loves snacking on them or with a big bowl of milk like cereal. Unfortunately, it can be too expensive or too dry when we buy them in the grocery stores which is why I've started to make ours from scratch. I found this recipe in my Cooks Country magazine a few months ago and finally gave it a try and it turned out amazing!! This is definitely a keeper for us. The only thing I didn't do was add the raisins since we like eating our granola with fresh fruit.

Almond Raisin Granola 
(Source: Cooks Country) 

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup packed (2 1/3 ounces) light brown sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Salt
5 cups (15 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups (10 ounces) raw almonds, chopped coarse
2 cups (10 ounces) raisins, chopped

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. (I used a jelly roll baking sheet that's approximately 15.75"L x 11.25"W x 1.63"H.) Spray parchment with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk oil, maple syrup, sugar, vanilla, and salt together in large bowl. Fold in oats and almonds until thoroughly combined.

Transfer oat mixture to prepared sheet and spread across entire surface of sheet in even layer. Using stiff metal spatula, press down firmly on oat mixture until very compact. Bake until lightly browned, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.

Transfer sheet to wire rack and let granola cool completely, about 1 hour. Break cooled granola into pieces of desired size. Stir in raisins and serve. (Granola can be stored in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

Dr. Sweetpea asked me if I can make biscuits to go with our dinner one evening but I didn't want to take out the food processor to make it. So I simply looked for drop biscuits and came across this wonderful recipe from Cooks Country. It's the easiest and fastest biscuits that I've ever made and it'll be our go-to for easy biscuits.

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits
(Source: Cooks Country)

2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, chilled
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt together in large bowl. Stir buttermilk and melted butter together in 2-cup liquid measuring cup until butter forms clumps.

Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated. Using greased 1/4-cup dry measuring cup, drop level scoops of batter 1 1/2 inches apart on prepared sheet. Bake until tops are golden brown, rotating sheet halfway through baking, 12 to 14 minutes.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter and brush on biscuit tops. Transfer biscuits to wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Note: To refresh day-old biscuits, heat them in a 300-degree oven for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Oven Fried Pork Chops with Hasselback Tomatoes

Dr. Sweetpea loves pork chops for his dinner during the week. I found this great oven fried pork chop recipe on a whim and it was a total hit! Actually, he loves this recipe much more than the recipe that I tried a few weeks ago. This is definitely a keeper. I also made Hasselback Tomatoes for a side dish and Dr. Sweetpea raved about how good the tomatoes were as well.

Oven Fried Pork Chops

2 cups panko or other coarse bread crumbs 
1 (1 oz) packet onion soup mix
1 teaspoon paprika 
1/2 cup Dijon mustard 
2 tablespoons flour 
6 (6 oz) boneless pork chops, trimmed of excess fat 
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Arrange a rack in bottom third of oven. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix bread crumbs with soup mix, paprika and pepper in a shallow bowl. In a separate shallow bowl, combine mustard and 2 Tbsp. water. Spread flour on a plate. Dredge pork chops in flour. Coat both sides of each pork chop with mustard mixture, and then dredge in bread crumbs to coat well. Place chops on prepared baking sheet.

Drizzle 1 tablespoon melted butter over each chop. Bake until cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes, turning chops over halfway through cooking time for even browning. Let chops rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Note: After I coated my pork chops in the mustard mixture, I dipped them into 2 eggs to ensure the bread crumbs stick to the pork chops. This is totally optional. 

Hasselback Tomatoes
(Source: Cooks Country)

8 ripe plum tomatoes, cored
7 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (1 3/4 cups)
1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaf
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper

Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set wire rack in sheet. Using serrated knife, cut 1/4-inch-thick slice from 1 long side of each tomato. Turn tomatoes onto cut sides so they sit flat, then slice crosswise at 1/4-inch intervals, leaving bottom 1/4 inch of each tomato intact.

Process 3/4 cup Gruyère, basil, oil, panko, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in food processor until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, about 10 seconds.

Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Combine 3/4 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in bowl. Carefully open tomato slices and sprinkle with salt-pepper mixture. Using small spoon, spread basil mixture evenly between tomato slices (about 2 tablespoons per tomato).

Arrange tomatoes on prepared wire rack. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup Gruyère over tomatoes. Broil until cheese is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Serve.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta

We love fresh ripe tomatoes in the summer and Dr. Sweetpea is known to eat just tomato salads for dinner since they're absolutely delicious. I recently bought a big package of cherry tomatoes and made this Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta by Ina Garten and it was absolutely fabulous. In fact, we ate these as our dinner and didn't even eat any of our actual meal. This recipe is definitely staying in my repertoire.

Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta
(Source: Ina Garten) 

6 ounces good feta, crumbled
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup good olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
2 tablespoons minced shallots (2 shallots)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
2 pounds ripe heirloom or cherry tomatoes, 1/2-inch-diced
3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving
20 to 25 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal baguette slices, toasted
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

For the whipped feta, place the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed. Add 1/3 cup of the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.

For the tomatoes, up to an hour before you're serving, combine the shallots, garlic, and vinegar in a medium bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently, and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and taste for seasonings.

To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top. Put the crostini on plates and scatter with the pine nuts. Sprinkle with extra basil and serve.

Note for the crostini: Preheat oven to 350 and brush both sides of the baguette slices with some olive oil and sprinkle a little bit of salt on top. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until crisp.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

I remember my mom making zucchini bread a lot when I was a kid. In fact, as a child, I preferred zucchini bread over pumpkin bread. Now as an adult, I love all types of bread but I still crave zucchini bread like the type I had as a child. I came across this Chocolate Zucchini Bread recipe a few days ago and it was AMAZING. Dr. Sweetpea couldn't stop raving about how good this zucchini bread was.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
(Source: Taste of Home) 

2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups shredded peeled zucchini

In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and baking powder; gradually beat into sugar mixture until blended. Stir in zucchini. Transfer to two 8x4-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely. Yield: 2 loaves (12 slices each).

*Note: I used one 9X5 bread loaf pan instead of two smaller pans and baked for about 1 hour 20 minutes.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

King Ranch Chicken Casserole

King Ranch Casserole, the quintessential meal to try if you're ever in Texas. I've heard about this many times but never tried it since it always sounded like rotisserie chicken mixed with canned condensed soup (gross). Then I came across this recipe in Southern Living and it seemed really good and gave it a whirl. The consensus? It's pretty damn good! Even Dr. Sweetpea who was very hesitant about trying this casserole raved about how good it is. Another keeper recipe for us. 

King Ranch Chicken Casserole
(Source: Southern Living)

6 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped poblano peppers (about 2 medium peppers)
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 (10-oz.) can diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 pounds coarsely chopped smoked chicken (about 5 cups)
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (I omitted)
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
18 (8-inch) soft taco-size corn tortillas
1/4 cup canola oil
Vegetable cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375°. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and next 3 ingredients; cook, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes or until softened and lightly browned. Stir in garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, and black pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute.

Sprinkle flour over vegetable mixture, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Whisk in broth, and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in tomatoes and sour cream.

Stir together chicken and cilantro in a large bowl; stir in vegetable mixture. Combine both cheeses in a small bowl.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Lightly brush each tortilla on both sides with oil. Cook tortillas, in batches, in hot skillet 1 to 2 minutes each side or until lightly browned and crisp on both sides.

Line bottom of a lightly greased (with cooking spray) 13- x 9-inch baking dish with 6 tortillas, overlapping slightly, to cover bottom of dish. Top with half of chicken mixture and one-third of cheese. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining tortillas and cheese. Lightly coat a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray, and cover baking dish.

Bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned on top. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

North Carolina Dipped Fried Chicken

I saw this recipe for North Carolina Dipped Fried Chicken in my Cooks Country magazine a few months ago and gave it a try since it seemed very similar to the Nashville Hot Fried Chicken recipe that I have. Dr. Sweetpea can't decide which one he likes better because they're both excellent! Definitely a keeper recipe for us!

North Carolina Dipped Fried Chicken
(Source: Cooks Country)

Salt and pepper
1/4 cup sugar
3 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (drumsticks, thighs, and/or wings), trimmed
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 quarts peanut or vegetable oil

1  1/4 cups Texas Pete Original Hot Sauce
5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
5 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

FOR THE CHICKEN: Dissolve 1/2 cup salt and sugar in 2 quarts cold water in large container. Submerge chicken in brine, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours.

Whisk flour, cornstarch, granulated garlic, baking powder, 2 teaspoons pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt together in large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons water to flour mixture; using your fingers, rub flour mixture and water together until water is evenly incorporated and shaggy pieces of dough form.

Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet. Working with 1 piece at a time, remove chicken from brine, letting excess drip off; dredge chicken in flour mixture, pressing to adhere. Transfer to prepared rack. Refrigerate chicken, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Set second wire rack in second rimmed baking sheet and line half of rack with triple layer of paper towels. Add oil to large Dutch oven until it measures 2 inches deep and heat over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. Add half of chicken to pot and fry until breasts register 160 degrees and drumsticks/thighs/wings register 175 degrees, 13 to 16 minutes. Adjust burner, if necessary, to maintain oil temperature between 325 and 350 degrees.

Transfer chicken to paper towel–lined side of prepared rack. Let chicken drain on each side for 30 seconds, then move to unlined side of rack. Return oil to 350 degrees and repeat with remaining chicken. Let chicken cool for 10 minutes.

FOR THE SAUCE: Meanwhile, whisk all ingredients together in bowl. Microwave, covered, until hot, about 2 minutes, stirring halfway through microwaving.

Transfer chicken to shallow platter. Spoon sauce over chicken. Serve.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Homemade Mongolian Beef

If anyone asked me what my favorite meal from a Chinese takeout place is, then you'll know that I'll always say Mongolian Beef. I've loved it my whole life and there is a restaurant back home that makes it extremely well. In Texas, however, I have yet to find a restaurant where I would rave about the Mongolian beef. Which is why I started to experiment with recipes at home.  I used the Broccoli Beef marinade (doubled it) to tenderize my meat and made slight adjustments to the sauce from Damn Delicious and our meal turned out amazing. Dr. Sweetpea couldn't stop raving about how good it was and that we never need to order Chinese takeout again for Mongolian beef.

Mongolian Beef'
(Source: Damn Delicious and Rainy Day Gal) 

1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds thinly sliced flank steak 

Whisk together the baking soda, sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, water, and vegetable oil in a large bowl. Toss the steak with the marinade to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour (I marinated overnight), then proceed below. 

1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup water (can increase to 1/2 cup if too salty to your taste)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and 1/4 cup water. Heat soy sauce mixture in a medium saucepan until slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes; set aside. Heat 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a large saucepan. Add beef and fry until browned and cooked through, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; discard excess oil. Add beef and soy sauce mixture to the saucepan over medium heat and cook until sauce thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in green onions. Serve immediately.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Salted Caramel Nuts

If I had to pick a favorite food network host, it's a tie because Ina Garten and Ree Drummond. They're very different but all their recipes are phenomenal. I watched Ina make these Salted Caramel Nuts on her show a few weeks ago and I had to make them as soon as the episode ended. I will admit that these nuts are hard to make because as soon as the sugar melts and turns into a caramel color, you have to work extremely fast so the sugar doesn't harden before you spread out the nuts. Nevertheless, with the time and effort, it's totally worth it because these nuts are amazing!

Salted Caramel Nuts
(Source: Ina Garten)

1 cup each whole roasted salted cashews, whole large pecan halves, whole unsalted almonds and whole walnut halves (4 cups total)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon fleur de sel
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the nuts on a sheet pan, spread them out and roast them for 7 minutes, until they become fragrant. Set aside to cool.
After the nuts are cooled, place the sugar and 1/4 cup of water in a medium (10-inch) saute pan and mix with a fork until all of the sugar is moistened. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar melts; from this point on, don¿t stir the caramel, swirl the pan! Don¿t worry, the mixture may look as though it's crystallizing. Continue to cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture becomes a clear golden brown, swirling the pan constantly at the end. (Careful, the caramel is very hot!) Off the heat, quickly add the vanilla (it will bubble up!) and swirl the pan to combine. Working quickly (the caramel will continue to cook in the pan), add the nuts and the kosher salt and toss with 2 large spoons until the nuts are completely coated.
Pour the nuts and any extra caramel in the pan onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Spread the nuts out in one layer, pulling them apart with two forks. Sprinkle with the fleur de sel and set aside to cool. When they're completely cooled, carefully break the nuts into large clusters with your hands, trying not to break the nuts too much.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Oven Baked Pork Chops

Dr. Sweetpea loves pork chops. I'll usually buy a pack each week and make it for him after work with some kind of sauce over them. Since the oven fried chicken were a hit last week, I decided to make crunchy baked pork chops to see if he'll like them and they were a massive hit. I served them with a side of pasta salad (his favorite) and he devoured his meal in no time flat. Definitely another keeper recipe for us.

Crunchy Oven Baked Pork Chops
(Source: America's Test Kitchen) 

Table salt
4 center ­cut boneless pork chops, 6 to 8 ounces each, 3/4 to 1 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat
4 slices hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1­ inch pieces
1 small minced shallot (about 2 tablespoons)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup unbleached all ­purpose flour plus 6 tablespoons
3 large egg whites
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Lemon wedges

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Dissolve 1/4 cup salt in 1 quart water in medium container or gallon ­sized zipper ­lock bag. Submerge chops, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 30 minutes. Rinse chops under cold water and dry thoroughly with paper towels.

Meanwhile, pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground, about eight 1 ­second pulses (you should have about 3 1/2 cups crumbs). Transfer crumbs to rimmed baking sheet and add shallot, garlic, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss until crumbs are evenly coated with oil. Bake until deep golden brown and dry, about 15 minutes, stirring twice during baking time. (Do not turn off oven.) Cool to room temperature. Toss crumbs with Parmesan, thyme, and parsley.

Place 1/4 cup flour in pie plate. In second pie plate, whisk egg whites and mustard until combined; add remaining 6 tablespoons flour and whisk until almost smooth, with pea ­sized lumps remaining.

Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking spray and place in rimmed baking sheet. Season chops with pepper. Dredge 1 pork chop in flour; shake off excess. Using tongs, coat with egg mixture; let excess drip off. Coat all sides of chop with bread crumb mixture, pressing gently so that thick layer of crumbs adheres to chop. Transfer breaded chop to wire rack. Repeat with remaining 3 chops.

Bake until instant­ read thermometer inserted into center of chops registers 150 degrees, 17 to 25 minutes. Let rest on rack 5 minutes before serving with lemon wedges.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Oven Fried Chicken

Dr. Sweetpea is a huge fan of oven fried chicken. He grew up eating it often when his mom made it for him regularly and has many fond memories. I came across this recipe a few weeks ago and decided to make it for Dr. Sweetpea to see if he likes it as much as his mom's recipe. He was skeptical  but still told me to give it a shot. It took literally only one bite for Dr. Sweetpea to be over the moon about how good my oven fried chicken is. This will be on our regular rotation from now on.

Oven Fried Chicken
(Source: Cooks Country)

2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 1/4 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
8 split bone-­in chicken breasts (10 to 12 ounces each), skin removed and ribs trimmed with kitchen shears (I usually use boneless/skinless chicken thighs)
2 1/2 cups crushed corn flakes
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon ground poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

 Whisk buttermilk, mustard, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and hot sauce together in large bowl. Add chicken, turn to coat well, cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

Adjust oven rack to upper­-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil, set wire rack on sheet, and coat rack with nonstick cooking spray.

Gently toss corn flakes, bread crumbs, remaining 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, remaining 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, poultry seasoning, paprika, and cayenne in shallow dish until combined. Drizzle oil over crumbs and toss until well coated. Working with one piece at a time, remove chicken from marinade and dredge in crumb mixture, firmly pressing crumbs onto all sides of chicken. Place chicken on prepared rack, leaving 1/2 inch of space between each piece. Bake until chicken is deep golden brown, juices run clear, and instant­read thermometer inserted deep into breast away from bone registers 160 degrees, 35 to 45 minutes.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Large Farmhouse Salad with Lemon Mayo Dressing

Both Dr. Sweetpea and I love a good salad for dinner. It's healthy, has tons of vegetables or fruit mixed in, and we love all kinds of salad dressings. I came across this recipe several years ago but decided to make it today since I had all the ingredients. I was a little skeptical about the salad dressing at first but it's quickly become my favorite. Definitely a wonderful salad to have when it's starting to get hot outside.

Salad with Lemon Mayo Dressing
(Source: Journal Sentinel)

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or olive oil)
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar (I used white balsamic vinegar)
Spring greens mix
Halved red grapes
Sugared walnuts

Sugar-baked walnuts:
3 cups walnuts halves and pieces
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

Make sugar-baked walnuts: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Spread out on a sheet pan and then bake in preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. (Note: Extra walnuts can be used in other salads or eaten as snacks.)
In a large bowl, combine all dressing ingredients and mix until well blended.
Toss dressing with spring mix and then top with halved red grapes and sugared walnuts. Fish, chicken or Parmesan-crusted poached eggs can be served with the salad.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Deconstructed Mexican Street Corn

One of my favorite side dishes after moving to Texas is the deconstructed mexican street corn that's served at some restaurants. I love that I'm not biting corn kernels off the cob the flavor explosion in my mouth. Needless to say, I found this wonderful recipe online and it's our favorite!

Deconstructed Mexican Corn
(Source: Chris Santos) 

Chipotle Salt: 
5 tablespoons chipotle powder
3 tablespoons kosher salt

6 ears corn
1/2 red onion, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro
Zest of 2 limes

For the chipotle salt: Combine the chipotle powder and salt and store in an airtight container.

For the corn: Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat until hot, and then add the corn and char on all sides, turning occasionally, until blackened in parts, 12 to 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off the cobs. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat and saute the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the charred corn kernels and cook until warmed. Stir in 1/2 cup of the cheese, the mayonnaise, cilantro and lime zest. Season with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of the chipotle salt. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cotija cheese and more chipotle salt.