Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin With Apples And Onions

Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin With Apples And Onions

Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin With Apples And Onions

Yay!!!! Halloween is over!!!! I mean…erhmmm, I’m so sad for those of you who enjoy Halloween and have to wait another LONGGGGGGG year for it to arrive again *grins*. I, on the other hand, am 816% ready to have it gone and to move on to Fall comfort foods and cozy cool evenings, crispy leaves under my feet as the puppy drags me at a run across the yard in a vain attempt to catch the cats on her 2 inch tall legs. I crave spiced cider (preferably spiked. I have a husband, kids, cats and a dog. Don’t judge), beef stew, driving home in the afternoon, getting to our driveway and smiling as I smell the scent of a fire going in the wood stove, and flannel sheets.

One meat I tend to use more often in the Fall and Winter is pork. I love pork, but something about it just seems too heavy for eating often in the Spring and Summer. I think part of it is that I grew up before they started breeding leaner pork and I still think of pork as heavy and fatty, even though that’s not the case most of the time anymore.  Apples are in season this time of year too and they play soooo nicely together. I like to think God planned all of those things, because, really, could you imagine using a Spring veggie like asparagus or a fruit like strawberries with pork? Nope. Those go with other meat dishes, but not so much with pork. Pork works better with Fall and Winter foods. Like apples. And onions. And apple cider. Can we say “yummy”, class?

This dish isn’t anything new. I’m not inventing the wheel here. It’s just one of my takes on the ubiquitous pork and apples. But it’s totally delicious, extremely easy, and doesn’t take hours. Did I mention that it’s delicious? Moist, fork tender pork tenderloin, spiced and browned, then finished in a bath of apple cider and surrounded with sauteed apples and onions. So good; so comforting.

You know the drill… 🙂

Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin With Apples And Onions

  • 2 medium onions, sliced into half moons (about 2 cups)
  • 3 apples (use your favorites. I used a mix from what we got at the orchard a few weeks back), cored and cut into wedges (leave the peel. It adds color, flavor and fiber)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil
  • 2 1 to 1.5 lb pork tenderloins (tenderloins, NOT loins)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon (the spice measurements for all the spices I’m giving are approximate for this recipe. You may like a bit more or less of one or another)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick Smokehouse Maple seasoning (easily found in the spice aisle of your grocery store)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground sage
  • salt to taste (but be careful; there is salt in the seasoning blend)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup apple cider
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Melt the butter in an oven safe large non stick pan (I used my largest cast iron skillet). Add in the sliced onions and apples; sprinkle with the 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Cook over low heat until they are softened and barely fork tender, stirring occasionally. When done, remove from the pan and set aside for now.
  3. Add the oil to the same pan and heat until just below the smoking point. Carefully add in the pork tenderloins. Brown on one side, then carefully flip over. Sprinkle half the seasonings evenly over both pieces of meat. Brown the next side, then repeat with the remainder of the seasoning.
  4. Mix the raisins in with the apples and onions, then spoon the mixture alongside and over the meat. Carefully pour the apple cider in the pan along the sides. If you can’t fit it all, that’s ok. Just use what you can.
  5. Carefully slide the pan into the hot oven, being careful not slosh all over yourself (don’t ask me why I felt the need to add that warning, please and thank you).
  6. Cook at 425 for about 15 to 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer stuck into the middle of the loins comes out at between 135 to 140 degrees (it will come up to 145 in the few minutes you let it rest after taking it from the oven; start checking at about 12 minutes just to be safe; nothing worse than overcooked pork).
  7. Let rest for about ten minutes to firm up and come to temp, then thinly slice the meat and serve with the apples and onions spooned over it. This is delicious with noodles or rice, with the fruits and pan juices served on top of the side dish also.
Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin With Apples And Onions

Cider Braised Pork Tenderloin With Apples And Onions

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

Worlds Best Italian Turkey Meatballs

 

Worlds Best Italian Turkey Meatballs

Worlds Best Italian Turkey Meatballs

I like meatballs. My family likes meatballs. I don’t however, make meatballs very often because it’s one of those foods I have a weird mental block with, thinking they are far harder than they really are. When I DO make them, I realize that I was wrong, but in between times, it’s like, “Ooo, I want meatballs. Wait… no, I don’t. They’re a pain in the tushie.”

But I was in the grocery store the other day and they yet again had ground turkey in the reduced section. They ALWAYS have ground turkey there. Someone in the ordering department needs to get with the program and stop buying so much ground turkey, then they could possibly sell it at normal price. But I digress. They had some, so I bought some on a whim. I do many things on whims. I like to think it makes me interesting. It probably really just makes me extremely confusing and annoying, but humor me. I normally don’t even use ground turkey, finding it too dry and flavorless, but man, did I manage to shake that stereotype with these meatballs!

These turned out really, really good. Like worlds best meatball type of good. You of course, after trying them, might not agree, but hey, I’m the one naming them, so worlds best it is. 😀 These are tender and moist with a LOT of flavor and a mild bite of spicy red pepper to them. They aren’t difficult at all. These delicious bites are perfect with pasta, which is what I used them for this time, but I can easily imagine them in a small loaf of crusty bread, covered in red sauce and a ton of melted cheese.

You know the drill… 🙂

Worlds Best Italian Turkey Meatballs

Worlds Best Italian Turkey Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup fine bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (this is one of those times it’s fine to use the inexpensive powdery stuff. It helps bind the meatballs)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons minced garlic, depending on your love for garlic. I used a lot.
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil for the pan (more for each batch)
  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients up through the salt.
  2. Use your hands to mix well.
  3. Shape the meat mixture into 30 meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter. Obviously, if you want smaller, go smaller, or bigger, same thing.
  4. Pour the olive oil into a large deep pan. Heat for about a minute, until the oil is getting shimmery, then places meatballs in a single layer. Cook over medium heat until nicely browned, about 3 minutes, then flip them and brown the other side. If you’re planning to add them to pasta sauce and cook further, stop there so as to not end up with overcooked, tough meatballs. Otherwise, cook until no longer pink inside (an internal temp of 165)
  5. Clean the pan out between batches and use a bit more oil each time or you end up with burned bits on the bottom that cling to the meatballs.
  6. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon, letting the excess grease drain and serve with pasta, on sandwiches, as an appetizer, plain… whatever trips your trigger.
Worlds Best Italian Turkey Meatballs 2

Worlds Best Italian Turkey Meatballs 2

Easy Cranberry Balsamic Chicken

Easy Cranberry Balsamic Chicken

Easy Cranberry Balsamic Chicken

We all have a mental bucket list. There are some who are organized enough to actually have one written down, but not I. I prefer to keep mine buried in my brain with the cobwebs, the monsters with four heads and 8 inch fangs who come out on nights that I’m stupid enough to stay up alone and watch horror movies, the bad memories of my brother pulling the heads off my barbie dolls, the good memory of the taste of my mothers chili and all the mental post it notes that eventually yellow and disintegrate, leaving me constantly feeling as if I forgot to do something.

Weird thing though? While my bucket list has the typical things on it; go sky diving, hike the Camino De Santiago with my husband in Spain, actually fully clean my house…. mine is made up of a butt ton of cooking goals- learn to make Kouign Amman, make my own wine, finally figure out how to cook so that we don’t eat leftovers of each meal for a week. I have about 900,000 recipes (you think I jest? You should see both my cookbook collection with tabbed pages as well as all my printed out recipes) that I want to try someday. I obviously need to live to be 310. And while making many of these recipes can’t really be called difficult goals, many are ones I’ve had for YEARS and just never gotten to. This recipe was one of those. It’s so simple, sounds like it might be too easy to be interesting in fact. But trust me. It you enjoy tangy, fruity main dishes, you’re going to love this one. It was originally in an old Southern Living cookbook and was just called cranberry chicken. I changed it up a fair amount (it had celery and I dislike celery, it used less cranberry sauce, less onion, it was oven cooked and I wanted stovetop so I could cook this any time of year and not heat the house, etc etc) and with the addition of the balsamic vinegar (God, I love balsamic! You?), it made it into practically an entirely new dish. This has become a family favorite and one of those rare dishes that you can see serving once a week without everyone getting sick of it.

I used bone in, skin on thighs in this, but you could sub in any part you prefer, but watch your cooking time. Breasts will cook quicker and you don’t want to dry them out. This is tender, tangy, sweet, juicy; just an all around winner. We serve this over brown rice. You could use noodles also, I’m sure, if that’s your preference, but serve it with something to use the sauce on!

You know the drill…. 🙂

Easy Cranberry Balsamic Chicken

  • 4 to 6 nice meaty chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pepper to taste
  • one medium onion, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1 can whole berry cranberry sauce (I have to recommend Ocean Spray here. Many of the off brands are far too sweet with fewer actual berries)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons molasses (optional, but it adds some depth to this)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (bottled is fine)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  1. Pour the oil in a large skillet. Salt and pepper the chicken, then add it to the pan and cook over medium high heat until it is nicely browned on one side. Flip and brown the other side. Transfer the chicken to a plate to drain and pour off all but about 2 tablespoons or so of the drippings.
  2. In that same skillet, cook the onion over medium heat until it is limp and just starting to brown. Whisk in the remaining ingredients (other than the chicken) until well combined. Add the chicken, making sure to nestle each piece in there and flipping it once to get sauce on both sides at the start.
  3. Cover your skillet and turn the heat to low. Let the chicken simmer, turning frequently, for about 45 minutes to an hour, until nice and tender. Serve this with ample sauce on the chicken and the side dish.
  4. While it cooks, make your rice or noodles or what have you.
  5. Enjoy! You’re going to love this!

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

Easy Cranberry Balsamic Chicken 2

Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes

Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes

Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes



Confession time again. As they say confession is good for the soul, my soul should be doing great by now, ehh? So here goes.

I don’t normally care for mashed potatoes. I know they are one of the American iconic dishes, they use potatoes and Lord knows I love potatoes and they are a traditional side dish to so many meals, especially Thanksgiving. But they just aren’t usually a favorite. I think it’s a textural sensory issue more than anything.

But with these potatoes, I may have to make an exception. While I’m sure I’m not the first person to ever think of it, a month or so ago, it popped into my head that as much as I love sour cream and onion potato chips, why not try it in mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving? So I did a smaller test batch to try it out and I am so very definitely making them this way for Thanksgiving dinner, sensory issues be darned.

These mashed potatoes are creamy and buttery with just enough sour cream and onion flavor to make it interesting. If you want a stronger flavor profile, add a couple of ounces more cream cheese. These are rather like a loaded baked potatoes, but creamy. Oh, so good. They are quick to pull together and as with any mashed potatoes, if you want to make these for the holiday dinner, just make them the day before, cover tightly with foil, refrigerate, then heat them in the oven or even a slow cooker the next day. This can be easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled, quintupled, sextupletted… ok, I’ll stop now. Sorry.

These are NOT diet food, so don’t go read the recipe and faint, please. 😀

You know the drill… get to cookin!

Mrs. Cupcake, who is going to go eat some more potatoes.

Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes

  • 2 1/2 pounds russet or Yukon gold potatoes (about 6 to 7 medium potatoes)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp, divided
  • 4 ounces (half a container) whipped sour cream and onion cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • one green onion, thinly sliced
  1. Wash, peel and cube the potatoes. Place in a pot; cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then turn down to medium and let cook until a fork easily pierces through a larger chunk. Remove from heat, drain into a colander and set aside for a minute.
  2. In the same pot, combine half of the butter (1/4 cup), cream cheese, milk, salt (use the smaller amount first. You can always add more salt, but you can’t take it back out) and pepper. Place over the still warm burner and let sit just long enough to take the chill off of the milk, about 2 minutes or so.
  3. Dump the potatoes into the pot and mash well. Then use a beater to whip them into a state of frenzied creaminess. See how easy that was?
  4. Spoon into your serving dish; dot with the remaining butter (if you don’t use it all, that’s fine), sprinkle with the sliced green onion and ground black pepper. Enjoy!!
  5. If you want to make them ahead of time, just spoon them into an oven safe serving dish, cover and refrigerate. Set them out the next morning, a couple of hours before dinner, then about 30 minutes before dinner, heat them (covered if you don’t want them to brown, uncovered if you do) in a 350 oven until hot all the way through.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes

Ultimate Buttery Sour Cream And Onion Mashed Potatoes

 

Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin Stuffed With Bacon Jam & Provolone Cheese

Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin Stuffed With Bacon Jam & Provolone Cheese

Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin Stuffed With Bacon Jam & Provolone Cheese



I have decided that what the world needs is more bacon. Bacon would prevent wars, save marriages, clear up acne, cause massive weight loss, stop global warming, prevent tornadoes, and make everyone too darn happy to fuss over the little things.

So I have done my part here to encourage world peace. How, you ask? Did you even look at the photo and title, for Heavens sake!? Look at all that bacon! It’s pork, wrapped in pork, then stuffed with more pork! What else can one woman do to stop wars…and tornadoes?!! I’m a doctor, not a soldier, Jim!!! Sorry; Star Trek moment there.

This takes a bit more time than my usual cookies or brownies, but there is nothing here that you can’t manage. You just need a sharp knife for cutting the pork and laying it out flat. And bacon. Lots of bacon.  Did I mention bacon?

I roasted this in the oven, but if you’re a grill guru, I would imagine it could be done that way, too. Either way though, this is delicious! A juicy pork loin, cut to lay flat, rolled around a delicious bacon jam* and provolone cheese, then smothered in a stone ground mustard and honey topping and wrapped in even more bacon. What more do you need in this life? Except maybe a good beer to have with it?

You know the drill…..

Mrs. Cupcake, who needs more bacon.

                   Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin Stuffed With Bacon Jam & Provolone Cheese

  • Bacon Jam- (You can make this days ahead of time if you prefer)
  • 1 1/4 pounds good quality thick cut bacon (make extra- you know well you’ll eat some)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of either maple sugar or real maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Pork-
  • 5 lb pork loin (approximately; the world won’t collapse if it’s somewhat bigger or smaller; just change your cooking time and the amount of the filling ingredients you use, accordingly)
  • 1/2 cup stone ground mustard
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon (or to taste) McCormicks Smoked Sea Salt
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups bacon jam
  • 8 slices provolone cheese
  • 1 pound bacon, cooked long enough to soften it and render out some of the fat
  1. Make the bacon jam-In a large shallow pan, fry the bacon until crisp and brown but not overly crunchy, Remove from the pan, crumble it up (don’t eat too much!) and set aside on a plate.
  2. Drain off all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat. Add the onions and garlic to the fat left in the pan and saute over medium heat until limp and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the jam ingredients along with the bacon and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture has cooked down and thickened somewhat, about ten minutes. Hold back the 1 to 11/2 cups and put the rest in a covered container in the fridge. It will keep for about 2 weeks.
  3. First thing to do after the jam is made is to slice the pork loin open. I will do my best to describe the method. It’s easy as can be, but I stink at describing stuff like this, lol.  Get a large cutting board and a sharp knife. About 1 inch up on the long side of the loin, cut almost all the way through, stopping short of the other side. Open the loin and do the same thing again. That cut should open the loin up, but if not, do it one more time. You should end up with a flat rectangular piece of meat. If it bulges and is too thick in any spots, carefully slice those parts off to make the meat an even thickness.
  4. Spread the open loin with the bacon jam. Then top that with the provolone cheese. Carefully roll up the loin and use kitchen twine to tie it up so it won’t open up while cooking. Place in a large foil lined baking pan.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the stone ground mustard, honey and cayenne pepper. Spread this over the top of the loin. Sprinkle with the smoked sea salt.
  6. Take the slightly cooked bacon and wrap it around the loin from end to end, folding pieces under if needed to secure them.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375. Roast the pork loin until it reaches an internal temp of 145 degrees, about an hour for a five pound loin. Since it’s sliced thinner and rolled, it doesn’t take as long to roast as a typical loin would, so check the internal temp often. Cover the pork with foil if at any point the bacon is getting too brown.
  8. When done, let it rest in the pan for at least ten minutes and up to half an hour before slicing.
Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin Stuffed With Bacon Jam & Provolone Cheese

Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin Stuffed With Bacon Jam & Provolone Cheese

 

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

 

 

Creamy Cheesy Cheeseburger Macaroni & Cheese

Cheeseburger Macaroni & Cheese

Cheeseburger Macaroni & Cheese

I remember when I got married at 20. While I knew more or less how to cook and had been doing it for about ten years at that point, the main things I had made up till then were baked goods and home made candy. Dinners were pretty simplistic when our mom wasn’t home. So when my then husband and I moved to Germany and I was cooking for us both, it was…interesting… to say the least. One of the things I made we simply called “goop”. It involved taking a box of cheap mac and cheese, browning a pound of ground beef and mixing them. That was it. No seasoning, nothing. Also no nutrition and not much flavor hehe. Early home made Hamburger helper. Then when I had five kids, all fairly young, to feed, and I was working, the real hamburger helper became an easy stand by. Same concept; brown the beef, mix into the pasta. Easy, quick, with a flavor reminiscent of sewer water but the kids liked it.

Nowadays however, I prefer to make my version of it. Making it yourself leaves you with at some idea that there is a modicum of nutrition in there and no cheese that is powdered. Mind you, this is NOT diet food by any stretch of the imagination. What it is however is tasty, filling, hearty for a cool night and kids and adults both love it. The flavor actually does remind you of a cheeseburger from a fast food place that shall remain unnamed.  You have your ketchup and mustard, the dill pickle, even the little bits of re-hydrated dried onions.

My photo here bites donkey weenies. It was dark, I was feeling well and no matter how I tried, I couldn’t get decent light. So trust me, this is far better than my photo portrays it as being lol. Also, this makes enough for dinner on 2 nights so if you don’t want that cut this recipe in half 🙂  I like the whole recipe myself. Gives me one night of leftovers, thus more time to be lazy and watch reruns of Army Wives. Win Win situation for me!

You know the drill…

Cheeseburger Macaroni & Cheese

  • 1 1/2 lbs elbow macaroni, cooked, drained and set aside
  • 2 lbs ground beef (chuck works best in this)
  • 2 lbs mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 lb Velveeta or American cheese, shredded or cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten (bad eggs, bad eggs! Sorry; I’ll stop now.)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons dill relish
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons dehydrated chopped onions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Brown your ground beef over medium high heat. Drain, mix with your pasta and set aside. Bring your milk to a simmer in a heavy bottomed pot.  Add in the Velveeeta cheese; stir constantly over medium heat until the cheese is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  3. Take about 1 cup of the mixture and slowly drizzle into the beaten eggs, whisking constantly. This tempers the eggs and prevents them from turning into scrambled eggs when you add them to the milk.
  4. Pour the eggs into the pot of milk/cheese and stir constantly until combined. Cook over low heat for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add in the ketchup, mustard, dill relish and dried onions. Set aside.
  5. Butter a large (3 quarts at least) baking dish. Add in half the pasta/beef mixture. Now cover with half the shredded cheese, then with half the cheese sauce mixture. Repeat this layering one more time. Sprinkle with additional cheese if desired but even I have to say it doesn’t need it. I know, right?! ME… saying you don’t need more cheese! Drizzle with some extra ketchup just to up the whole burger factor.
  6. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees until bubbly and golden brown, about 30 minutes.
  7. Served with a side salad and rolls, this makes and extremely kid friendly dinner. 🙂

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

 

Country Fried Chicken

Country Fried Chicken

Country Fried Chicken

My mom made the worlds best fried chicken. Or at least she did to me when I was a kid. I wonder sometimes if I would like as well the foods I enjoyed when I was a kid since my tastes are oh so sophisticated now *snorts and laughs*. But seriously, as our tastes mature and we try more, the things we loved as kids just don’t seem appealing anymore. In some cases, that’s a good thing. As much as I joke about Twinkies and Cheetos, I wouldn’t want a steady diet of them but when I was a kid, I could have happily eaten them for every meal. In other cases, maybe it’s not such a good thing. Like I said, I loved my mothers fried chicken. But now, as a middle aged mom, I make it my way and it’s what my family and I are used to. Would I like mothers now with it’s simple coating of flour, salt and pepper? I don’t know and that strikes me as kind of sad. She also made really good lasagna but I make that differently too. I remember once asking her, after I was married and made it myself, why hers always tasted like it had boiled eggs in it. She replied simply, “because it does.” I thought then and still wonder where she found a recipe for lasagna that used boiled eggs in the filling. And while I wouldn’t make it that way myself, I remember loving it when she made it. Maybe I didn’t know any better… maybe it was because it was a rare treat, maybe it was just because it was made by her.

This chicken is years in the making. For years, my coating was too heavy, too greasy, too hard. FINALLY though, I learned what I was doing wrong. Basically, I was trying too hard. I was trying to make fried chicken into something fancy when it’s not. It’s simple country food, homey and comforting. It’s fattening, it’s bad for you and it’s oh so good. Fried chicken can frighten so many people but if you don’t fall into the ‘trying to hard” trap, it’s easy as can be. Just watch your oil temp (buy an instant read thermometer if you don’t have one) and don’t overcoat. Contrary to what one would think, extra coating won’t make it crispier. It just makes the coating hard and tough.

You know the drill…

Country Fried Chicken

  • 5 lbs chicken pieces (we like boneless skinless thighs and breasts and occasionally wings if I can find them on sale)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons Janes Krazy Mized Up Salt (can be found in most grocery stores. I prefer this one because it uses larger salt pieces thus isn’t as “salty” tasting as other seasoned salts)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 to 5 tablespoons of franks Hot Sauce (optional and amount will vary depending on what level of heat you like)
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup butter flavor Crisco (optional, but it gives a nice flavor)
  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, herbs, spices and salt. Stir well.
  2. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs and hot sauce. Beat until well combined.
  3. In a large pan or dutch oven (I use my 8 quart dutch oven and it works great. You can get a deep level of oil but with no worry of bubbling over and less splattering.), pour vegetable oil to a level of about 2 inches. Add in the Crisco if using (or another cup of oil) and over medium heat, heat oil to 340 degrees.
  4. While oil heats, take each piece of chicken and coat in this order- dredge first in the flour, then in the egg mixture, carefully shaking off excess liquid, then dredge again in the flour. Set each piece on a rack that is set over a piece of waxed paper for easier cleanup.
  5. When oil is hot, put chicken into pan carefully, starting with dark meat pieces like thighs and drumsticks. Turn the heat up to medium high for about 2 minutes, just long enough to bring the oil back up to temp, because adding the chicken can lower the temp drastically, causing the chicken to soak up too much oil. Don’t crowd your pan. Let the dark meat pieces cook for about 5 minutes, then if you have room in the pan, add a piece or two of the white meat.
  6. Cook the chicken, turning two or three times during cooking, until it is golden brown and an instant read thermometer inserted into a piece of chicken (NOT touching a bone if it’s not boneless chicken) reads at a temp of approximately 180 degrees. Remember that white meat cooks quicker than dark and that just because a thinner piece is done, that doesn’t mean a thick piece like a large breast will be. Make sure you check thicker pieces inner temps too.
  7. Drain on a paper towel covered plate and serve piping hot…or warm…or room temp…or cold. I mean, really… it’s fried chicken!!

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

Three Cheese, Seafood And Asparagus Risotto

Three Cheese, Seafood & Asparagus Risotto

Three Cheese, Seafood & Asparagus Risotto

No, I am NOT in a rut darn it :-P. So what if I have done two citrus pies and now two risottos as my last four posts? I LIKE them, I cook them, I inhale them (well not really inhale… my lungs might not appreciate that) then I tell you about them. We all go through food phases and lately anything citrus and different risottos have been my weaknesses.

I splurged for this dish. We are so NOT that family that can afford to get seafood anytime we want, as much as I may wish we could.  Things like going out to seafood restaurants or buying shrimp or even fish are rare treats here. Add in that my husband doesn’t even LIKE seafood and I get it rarely. But Russ is out of town helping take care of his dad after surgery (I miss my darlin man!!!! *sobs*) and my oldest son and his family are here visiting so this seemed like a perfect chance to splurge and use seafood. So I bought some crab and shrimp and got cooking. I have to say, I am in love with this risotto. It’s rich and creamy (and we all know that those are my downfalls) with a wonderful seafood flavor (use less crab if you want the shrimp to shine) along with a burst of lemon and cheese flavors. This is a perfect family treat as well as a dish that would be great for a special occasion. So as I always say… get to cooking! This makes a lot so feel free to cut the amounts in half is serving just a few people.

Three Cheese, Seafood & Asparagus Risotto

  • 1 lb uncooked large shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb asparagus, tough ends chopped off & the rest cut into about 1 inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 12 ounce bag arborio rice
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 4 to 5 cups chicken broth, brought to a simmer and kept hot
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, heated then mixed with the chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine (don’t use something you wouldn’t drink)
  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan (plus more for on top)
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill weed
  • zest and juice of one lemon (no more than 1/4 cup juice however)
  • 8 ounces fresh crabmeat
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. First things first- get the shrimp ready. In a medium saucepan, combine the 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Melt over medium high heat. Add in the shrimp and saute for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side. You don’t want these completely cooked because they will finish cooking when they get mixed into the risotto. When they are done, put into a bowl and set aside (and clean your pan and put it away because I’m anal that way).
  2. Now the asparagus- Take the pieces, put into a microwave safe bowl with 3 tablespoons water, cover with plastic wrap and microwave at full power for 4 minutes. Drain then set aside.
  3. In a large saucepot, melt  the 3 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add in the chopped onion, garlic and rice. Saute, stirring frequently, until the rice has become translucent and the onions and garlic are softened and limp, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add in the wine and continue cooking, stirring constantly until the wine is absorbed.
  5. Stir in about 1 cup of the chicken broth. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until all the broth is absorbed.
  6. Continue to add broth as needed, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly, until the rice is al dente and looks creamy (and utterly delicious)
  7. Stir in the 3 cheeses. Continue stirring until they are melted and thoroughly incorporated into the rice.
  8. Stir in the dill weed, lemon zest and juice.  Stir in the 4 tablespoons butter and stir until melted and combined.Then fold in the shrimp, crabmeat and asparagus, being careful not to break up the asparagus.
  9. Put into a serving dish, sprinkle with more Parmesan and serve. Get ready for some big time kudos here 🙂

Print Friendly and PDF

Now It’sThai(m) For Something Completely Different

 

I'm never going to be a world class photographer but what my photos don't show is that the food I make is darn good :-)

I’m never going to be a world class photographer but what my photos don’t show is that the food I make is darn good 🙂

Sorry. I couldn’t help myself there. I managed to find a way to mix one of my favorite shows (Monty Python) with a really really… no, I mean REALLY bad pun based on one of my favorites types of food.

It was “snack night” here in the Cupcakes household. We have that far more often than I’d like to admit to. But most of you can probably identify with it. You have every intention of cooking but this pesky thing called life gets in the way. Today life meant Wal Mart. Jordans homebound teacher was here and then we had to go to Wal-Mart to get his meds so by the time we got home, it was too late to make the wings I had planned on making. So frozen pizza came to the rescue. The problem with that is that while the guys like frozen pizza, I’m not a fan. Not of it or of fast food which is the other snack night staple. So I usually end up making myself a Lean Cuisine; preferably Salmon With Basil or eating junk food which I know is bad for me.

But tonight at Wally World, I saw a reduced chub of ground turkey that was calling to me, saying “Janet… Jannnnnetttttt, take me homeeeeee. Cook meeeeee… you know you want meeeee.” I wasn’t sure whether to be frightened or aroused so I grabbed it and hid it in the cart under the Oreos. Then came figuring out what to do with it. As hubby and I walked to the car (God; I once said I would never refer to my husband in print as “hubby” and look at me. How the mighty have fallen.) I was reeling off possible ingredients to use to make meatballs from it, at which point he told me he hated me because I was able to visualize a dish in my mind without a recipe whereas he can barely do that WITH a recipe. I don’t think he was appeased when I said that maybe I could do that, but I sure couldn’t chop wood the way HE could. Go figure.

So in the end, I decided to try to make a version of sauced Thai meatballs from it. If I do say so myself, it turned out pretty darn good. The eating parties were torn only about whether I should omit the lime zest from the sauce with me saying it needed to go and my husband saying it was yummy as it was. So I’m going to put the lime zest as optional. All in all though, I was pleased with these. The meatballs were tender and flavorful; the sauce was sweet, hot, sour and salty all in one, which is a combo that can’t be beat. How authentically Thai they are I couldn’t tell you. Call them Americanized Thai. Whatever you call them, try them. They’re yummy! Now to see if I can remember the ingredients correctly hehe.

Saucy Thai Turkey Meatballs

      • MEATBALLS-
      • 1 pound ground turkey
      • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
      • 1 egg yolk
      • 2 green onions, finely minced
      • 1 stalk celery, finely minced
      • 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
      • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
      • 2 cloves minced garlic
      • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
      • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
      • 2 tablespoons Spice Hunters Thai Seasoning Blend (I wish I could give some sub if you don’t have it but it has some ingredients not readily available at the grocery store. Just trust me and go buy some. This stuff has SO many uses it’s worth getting some just because)
      • 1 teaspoon fish sauce (Nam Pla… you can’t taste the fishiness. I promise)
      • 2 teaspoons orange zest
      • 1/4 cup Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
      • SAUCE-
      • 1/4 cup honey
      • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
      • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
      • 2 cloves minced garlic
      • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
      • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest (optional)
      • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
      • 1/4 cup sweet Thai chili sauce
  1. Meatballs- easy peasy, all those other weird ways of saying it doesn’t take much to do this. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and Just get a large mixing bowl and using your hands or a large wooden spoon if you’re squeamish, mix everything together.
  2. Shape into golf ball sized meatballs (you can do them smaller, but this is what I chose. I got 14 meatballs out of this) and put onto a foil lined, greased baking sheet.
  3. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until an instant read thermometer stuck into one reads at about 160 degrees. If you remember, turn them once during cooking so they brown evenly. If you don’t it isn’t that big of a deal.
  4. Sauce- while meatballs cook, prepare your sauce.
  5. In a medium saucepan, combine all sauce ingredients. While stirring, bring to a boil. Turn off and remove from heat..
  6. When  sauce is done, you have the option of straining it to get rid of the garlic pieces. Personal choice. I wanted it smoother looking so I did but if you really want the little bits of garlic and don’t mind the look of them, keep them in there. Otherwise, strain through a fine mesh strainer. Then set side until the meatballs are done.
  7. When meatballs are done, toss them GENTLY in the sauce.  Sprinkle with more minced green onions and sesame seeds.Serve over a bed of rice (preferably Basmati) or rice noodles.

 


Print Friendly and PDF

Is It Live Or Is It Memorex?


Who else remembers that commercial? The line of course pertaining to the idea that you couldn’t tell (I am assuming everyone was dumb and had their eyes closed) whether or not something you were listening to was live or done on a Memorex cassette tape (those funny looking things that predate CD’s). Even then, I have to admit that I thought the premise was rather lame. Helloooooo. If there is not a sweaty “hair band” in front of me shaking their locks and belting it out (as they drink heavily, hit on all the women and quite possibly smoke pot onstage) as the walls and floors shake and everyone holds up Bic lighters, then it AIN’T live. I was poor so it probably wasn’t Memorex either but some crap quality store brand of cassette. Just sayin’
Point is, usually, it is pretty easy to tell the difference between the real thing and a heavily doctored up imposter. Hostess Ho-Ho’s? Yum. Little Debbies Swiss Rolls? Imposter. Coke? Real thing. Pepsi? Imposter (giggles as I imagine the Pepsi drinking crowd getting angry) Cartier Jewelry? Real. Anything worn (or body parts of) by Paris Hilton? Fake. You get the idea.
But sometimes… just sometimes… a fake can be almost as good as the real thing, just in a different way. Like this recipe here- Extra Crispy Oven Fried Chicken. It’s crunchy and crispity (yes, that is now a word because I said so), tender and juicy (that was already a word. Damn, that means I can’t make it into one) with all the flavor you expect from a good piece of fried chicken. What DON’T you get? A large portion of the fat grams and calories.  Mind you, I won’t say to you “Hey! You can eat this 3 times a day and lose weight! It’s better for you than celery!” but I will tell you that it cuts down on the fat appreciably, especially if you use boneless, skinless breasts. It also definitely tastes far better than celery. Then again, maybe you love celery. In which case, you’re probably reading the wrong blog. Chocolate? Real thing. Celery? IMPOSTER!!
This is extremely easy. Just get out the chicken (any part of the bird will do… except maybe the lips and testicles), and go cook.

Extra Crispy Oven Fried Chicken

  • 6 bone in, skin on chicken breasts (again, that’s what I used because it’s what we had. Use your favorite part. Just adjust cooking time for smaller pieces or dark meat)
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1 11/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons sage
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
  • 2 teaspoons good quality paprika
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons seasoned salt. (I use Janes Krazy Mixed Up Salt which is my go to seasoned salt. Has been for ages.) The range is broad because seasoned salts vary in saltiness. I use about 2 with the janes but with some that would be far too much.
  1. Combine the butter and the oil together in a large foil lined baking pan. Trust me on the foil part. tilt the pan back and forth to mix them together. Preheat your oven to 350.
  2. Mix the panko, flour and seasonings in a large bowl or gallon size ziploc bag.
  3. Wet each piece of chicken and dredge it in the flour mixture, pressing it into the chicken if needed (which it will be)
  4. Lay each piece as you dredge them, skin side down, into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake at 350 for approximately 25 minutes (again, adjust your cooking time depending on what part of the chicken you’re using. Boneless breasts will cook much quicker as will wings. Large pieces of dark meat will take longer. This is based on bone in, skin on breasts.
  6. Flip each piece of chicken over and continue cooking  about another 20 minutes or until the chicken has reached an internal temp of 165.
  7. Let rest in pan for about five minutes. Before serving, feel free to lay these on a paper towel lined plate to absorb some of the excess oil if you feel the need.