Monthly Archives: October 2011

Saturday Selections: Crispy Fried Pepper Jack Wedges

Back a million years ago before The Hubs and I had kids, we used to enjoy fun things that normal people get to do. Things like going out to eat.

While today if we go to a restaurant, we have to go extra early to spare the large crowds from hungry child meltdowns, back then we would sometimes go early voluntarily and take advantage of happy hour specials. We would drink beers and order half priced appetizers while having uninterrupted conversations. It was an all around grand time.

One of the places we would sometimes go had these awesome little fried triangles of pepper jack cheese.

I randomly started craving these recently and thought not only would they be easy to whip up here at the house (where my food covered and screaming kids would bother nobody but us), but they would also be perfect for a Saturday Selection recipe.

I hope you guys will try these. They were silly easy to put together. I even managed to get these fried up while my Little Monkey was eating lunch.

See what I mean about food coverage? Sure, she’s cute now, but would you really like to sit next to that while trying to cut your $15 plate of chicken? Not exactly appetizing.

First you take a block of cheese and cut it into about 1/2 inch slices.

Then you lie them fat side down and cut them diagonally so that you have a cute little wedge.

Get out three bowls and fill one with seasoned flour, one with a couple of eggs and a splash of water, and another with plain breadcrumbs.

Now just dredge the wedges in each bowl, assembly line style.

But here is the big secret that I learned from my friend Giada De Laurentiis.  Dredge them twice! Once they have gone all the way through all of the dunking stations, take them through again. This gives you that thick crispy crust that you get in restaurant fried cheese.

See what kind of fun things you can learn by keeping the Food Network on all day?

Then fry them up in about a quarter inch of hot oil for about 1 minute per side.

Crispy. Crunchy. Hot. Melty. Pepper. Jack. Cheese.

Now if only we could figure out a way to keep my kids neat and quiet during dinner. Then we would be set.

Fried Pepper Jack Cheese Wedges

1 8 oz block of pepper jack cheese

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 eggs, lightly beaten with a splash of water

1 cup plain breadcrumbs

enough oil for frying

Heat 1/4 to 1/2 an inch of oil in a large skillet on medium high heat.

Cut cheese into 1/2 inch slices. Then lay on side and cut diagonally to make two wedges.

Pour flour with salt and pepper, eggs, and breadcrumbs into three separate bowls.

Starting with the flour, dredge each wedge through each bowl and then repeat the process again.

Place on a baking sheet until ready to fry. They may be refrigerated or frozen at this point, but I would strongly recommend letting them come to room temperature before going into the oil.

When oil is hot, cook wedges for about 1 minute on each side. Drain on a paper towel and serve immediately.

Spiced Applesauce Cupcakes

If there is one thing other than tasty recipes that I would like for you all take away from this blog, it is that cooking with your kids around is not only doable, but can be extremely fun and a lot of times down right entertaining.

However, there are certain times when even I wish my kids weren’t in the kitchen.

Times like this past weekend when I volunteered myself to make roughly 60 cupcakes for a baby shower. I thought, “Hey, this will be no big deal. The Hubs can watch the girls and I will just knock those cupcakes out in a few hours.”

Ummmm. Yeah.

Here’s what really went down. That morning, The Hubs offered to help out with some home improvement at his boss’s house. So I was stuck trying to bake cupcakes while The Little Dude played on the computer (thank you, NickJr.com!) and The Monkey napped.  That wasn’t too bad, I managed to get all of the cupcakes baked before she got up. Woot!

I was starting to feel pretty smug about how well it was all going until it came time to frost and decorate the bad boys. Even though The Hubs was back home and doing his best,The Dude just seemed bored. So she looked to me for entertainment. You try explaining to a three year old, why she can’t have a cupcake. 

Me:  “Honey, I’m so sorry but these are cupcakes for my friend’s party.” (Holy crap! I can’t believe I just told her I was going to a party! What was I thinking?!)

Dude:  “Can I come to the party?”

Me:  “No baby. I’m so sorry. You can’t come to the party.”

Dude:  “Well, can I have a taste of frosting?”

And on and on it went.

Then The Monkey, who is normally one of the happiest babies you will ever meet, decided to pick this day to be super cranky, take short naps, and be mega clingy to Mommy.

Oh my.

So what should have been only a few hours worth of work, literally took me all day long.

All. Day.

Basically, I don’t really care if I never see these cupcakes again.

Oh wait. Yes I do. They are delicious.

Everybody really seemed to like them. Including my sweet pregnant friend. Which is all that matters in the end.

Wanna see what they looked like at the shower?

Cute huh?

I can’t take credit for the cupcake design, I saw pictures on the internet of  similar ones that fit this shower’s theme. The whole event was put together by one of my other sweet neighbors who is incredibly creative and crafty. She’s basically an all around know-it-all (in a good way), who I ask advice from on everything from fitness and nutrition tips, to fun fun things to do with my girls, to how to arrange pictures on my walls. I have been pestering her for some time now to start her own blog so she can impart all of her useful knowledge on the world (P.S. I think you should all leave comments telling her to get blogging!).

I mean come on, wouldn’t you like to know how to make stuff like this?

But anywho, lets get back to those cupcakes shall we?

I was kind of going for a mulled apple cider flavor. Something that had a nice fall feel to it. They are so so very moist and tender, and are rich with spices. They have an intense warm sweetness thanks to the molasses, which pairs quite nicely with the less sweet brown sugar cream cheese frosting.

They are the perfect autumn cupckae to bake up this week…and totally easy to do with your kids, so long as you aren’t baking a ton and trying to decorate them for someone else’s party.

Spiced Applesauce Cupcakes

(Adapted from Applesauce Cupcakes from The Lady and Sons, Too! by Paula Deen, and Spice Cake from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham)

Makes 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups applesauce

2 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350

Cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar.

Meanwhile in a separate bowl stir together flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, cayenne, and salt. Set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl, heat applesauce and baking soda together about 1 minute, until hot. Stir and set aside.

Stir egg, molasses, and vanilla into butter mixture until combined, scraping down sides of bowl once.

Fold in dry ingredients.

Add hot applesauce to the batter and fold in until just combined.

Place in muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

(Adapted from allrecipes.com)

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 tablespoon honey.

Combine cream cheese, butter, sugar, and vanilla.

When mixture is smooth, add in honey.

Saturday Selections: Caramel Pumpkin S’mores

In a lot of ways, a s’more may be the most perfect dessert. They require no work, they are ready in about 5 minutes, they don’t mess up your kitchen, and everybody, everywhere loves them.

But lets be honest, you know the best part is it gives you an excuse to throw out fun quotes from The Sandlot.

“You’re killin’ me, Smalls!”

Yeah. That is good time to me.

The great thing about these particular s’mores is that they are all warmed up with toasty, cozy, carmael-y, and spicy pumpkin flavors.

It was pretty fun making these with my Little Dude too. It was her first s’more experience.

You’re killin’ me, Dude!

These are s’more stuff, Dude. Pay attention.

FIRST, you take the graham. You spread the pumpkin mixture on the graham.

THEN you take the CHOCOLATE and place it on the PUMPKIN.

Next up is the mallow.

You place the mallow on the chocolate and let it toast up in the oven.

Oh yeah. She’s ready to “stuff” now.

I think she was a pretty big fan.

She wanted to eat them “for-ev-ver.”

Caramel Pumpkin S’mores

Makes 5 s’mores

1/4 cup pumpkin

2 teaspoons caramel sauce

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon ginger

5 sheets graham crackers

dark chocolate chips

marshmallows

In a bowl combine pumpkin, caramel, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger.

Top pumpkin on graham cracker half, followed by chocolate chips, and marshmallows.

Place on a baking sheet and roast under a broiler until marshmallows are golden and toasted.

Top with graham cracker half.

I think I may be coming around on this whole pumpkin thing.

White Chocolate Candy Corn M&M and Peanut Butter Oat Balls

See? This is exactly why I don’t watch the news.

I am apparently one of those nut jobs who takes every little dramatic story that is reported waaaay to seriously.

About a month ago, I started seeing info pop up on my Twitter feed about these White Chocolate Candy Corn M&Ms.

At first, I thought it was some sort of fake advertisement. I started looking around the internets and couldn’t really find anything about it. Then as time went by, I kept seeing more and more tidbits here and there and basically got the impression that they were a real thing but very hard to find. So I started getting all obsessive and paranoid that I would never have the pleasure of trying out these fun little candies. It got to the point where every time I went to Walmart, I would slowly and methodically walk down the candy aisle, scouring the shelves for that one elusive bag that I just knew had to be hiding somewhere. Does this sound like something a sane person does while shopping with a three year old? Yeah. Didn’t think so.

So you can imagine how excited I was when I finally saw them at my Walmart one afternoon while I was picking up a few random odds and ends. I’m pretty sure I squealed. Then before I knew what I was doing, I grabbed three bags and threw them in my cart. Three bags!

Here is what is incredible about that fact:

1. I never buy candy. N.E.V.E.R. For one thing, The Hubs and I can’t control ourselves when we have it, and truthfully I don’t really even care that much for candy anyway (…I know…if it makes you feel any better, it is really hard for me to admit that).

2. While candy corn is The Hubs’ very very favorite Halloween candy, I can’t stand it. I think it tastes terrible.

So there I was, having a little Happy Parade all up and down Walmart, for something that I would never normally purchase and was pretty sure I wasn’t even going to want to eat.

Oh well.

My craziness is your gain I suppose.

While I didn’t really love the M&Ms by themselves, these little nuggets even brought a candy corn non-believer like me, back for seconds.

I don’t know if you could ask for more really, this stuff is literally three ingredients and requires no baking or cooking. If you can stir and warm things in the microwave, you can make these. And the Halloween colors and slight candy corn flavor make these a really fun non-gross looking (yeah, I’m talking to you, Brain Cupcakes and Monster Toes!) Halloween treat.

First, coarsely chop up a handful of the M&Ms. This is going to give the balls some crunch and give you those fun Halloween colors.

Then you melt your peanut butter in the microwave and set it aside.

I just want you to know, it took every ounce of willpower I had not to turn that bowl up and drink the peanut butter right then and there.

Next up, microwave some M&Ms for 30 seconds.

See how they are starting to crack open? This is a very exciting thing.

Give them a stir (you can be like me and use the same spoon you stirred the peanut butter with) and then microwave them for another 30 seconds.

Now start to crush them with the back of your spoon to release all of the white chocolate goodness.

Then plop that over into your peanut butter and stir, baby, stir!

Now add this mixture over into your oats along with the chopped M&Ms and stir it all together.

And, hey, I don’t care if you start licking the inside of the peanut butter bowl now. You just go right on ahead.

I used a 2 tablespoon scoop to lift out the mixture and then gently molded it into little balls with my hands. This part is admittedly pretty messy, so if you would rather, you could just press it down into a pan and then cut into little bars when you are ready to eat it. I actually considered molding them into a round cake pan and then cutting them into little triangles to sort of mirror the whole candy corn thing. It would be really cute.

Either way, refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes and then they are yours to devour as you please.

Uh-oh. I think I hear the nightly news coming on, I better go turn that off real quick before I start digging a fallout shelter in my back yard or something.

White Chocolate Candy Corn M&M and Peanut Butter Oat Balls

3/4 cup White Chocolate Candy Corn M&Ms, divided

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 cup old fashioned oats

Coarsely chop 1/4 cup M&Ms.

Microwave peanut butter 45 seconds. Stir and set aside.

In a separate bowl, microwave remaining 1/2 cup M&Ms for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave 30 seconds more. Crush M&Ms with the back of a spoon and stir.

Add melted M&Ms to the melted peanut butter and stir to combine.

Add peanut butter mixture and 1/4 cup chopped M&Ms to oats in a large bowl and stir until well combined.

Form into balls and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Oh and P.S. I have been reading that some people are worried that there may be a pumpkin shortage this year, so guess how many cans of pumpkin I have in my pantry right now?

Three. Yep. And you know I don’t even really care about pumpkin…

What is happening to me?

Saturday Selections: Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

It looks like buffalo wings and potato skins had a love child, and it just showed up to watch the game with you.

Maybe you weren’t expecting to hang out with it today. Maybe you like watching the game with your usual friends.

But it’s cool, you get along great. The two of you feel like old friends.

You may even find yourself asking it back over for next Saturday’s game as well.

I can’t wait for you guys to try these.

So much flavor going on here: a little spicy, a little tangy, a little creamy, a little crunchy, and whole lotta cheesy.

And you are going to feel like such a rock star for making your own potato skins.

First things first, place your potatoes in the microwave for a few minutes, just to soften them up a little bit.

Once they have cooled down enough to handle, gently scoop out the insides, leaving about a 1/4 inch border of potatoes all around the edges. And don’t you dare throw that potato away!

Guess what I used mine for?

This. I sure did.

Now give the top and bottom of these potato skins a light spritz with cooking spray, and a little sprinkling of ranch seasoning. Then I gently rubbed it in to try and get it evenly spread around.

Bake them up until they start to get golden and crispy on the edges.

While your skins are toasting up, get out a medium sized bowl and mix up the filling.

Stir together some cream cheese, hot sauce, and ranch seasoning. Then microwave it for about 4 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so until it is pretty well smooth. Mine still had a few small lumps of cream cheese, but I didn’t stress out about it too much, and neither should you.

Now stir in your chicken and cheese, and quickly go hide your tortilla chips. The Hubs and I made the mistake of pulling out our chips for sampling purposes, and almost ate all of the filling before I had a chance to put them in the potato skins.

I used some leftover grilled chicken here, but breaded chicken fingers are also smashing in this recipe.

Fill each toasted potato skin with some filling and top it with cheese.

Then bake them up until they are melty and hot.

Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

8 medium Yukon gold potatoes

4 oz cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup hot sauce

1/2 tablespoon dry ranch seasoning (plus additional for potato skins)

2 cups cooked chicken, chopped

1 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 450.

Cook potatoes in the microwave for 8 minutes on high.

Cut in half and scoop out the centers.

Lightly spray both sides of potato skins with cooking spray, sprinkle with ranch seasoning, and gently rub it in.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Turn oven down to 350.

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, hot sauce, and ranch seasoning.

Microwave for about 4 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until mixture is combined and smooth.

Stir in chicken and 1/2 of cheese.

Place a spoonful of filling into each potato skin and top with more cheddar cheese.

Bake in the oven at 350 for an additional 10 minutes, or until filling is hot and cheese is melted.