Category: fried

She’s a lady… whoa, whoa, whoa.

Before I start rhapsodizing about cheese-covered macaroni, I want to give you all a heads up. Yoyo gave me a widget specially for all you Cupcake Rehab readers (it’s over there to the right, below the ads). Using the code ‘CUPCAKEREHAB’ is good for 20% off all her merchandise! I know, right? And ’tis the season for buying presents; especially handmade presents, because I think giving someone you love something that is made with love is always more special than a gift card. Although I do love me some gift cards. Anyway get your butts over there and buy some stuff, get 20% off, and be jolly. Ho, ho, ho.

Oh, macaroni & cheese. How I love thee. I have made so many variations of macaroni & cheese, it’s kind of crazy. Well no, not kind of, it really is. I’ve made buffalo chicken macaroni & cheese, garlic & herb macaroni & cheese, macaroni & cheese with cayenne, three cheese mac-n-cheese, mac-n-cheese with broccoli, plus a version of Ina Garten’s macaroni & cheese. But it’s one of my favorite foods, so I can’t really help it. And of course, it’s perfect comfort food for chilly weather- or downright cold weather. And despite making so many different kinds and variations, I have never made a Paula Deen recipe. INSANITY! So in my search for another recipe I happened upon this. If you didn’t know, Paula’s restaurant is called Lady & Sons, so of course her macaroni & cheese is called “The Lady’s Mac-n-Cheese.” The Lady does some things differently than I, so I tweaked it a bit. The original recipe can be found here.

Om nom nom nom…

Before I get to that, though, I want to talk about a new product I tried recently. You may have seen the commercials for it on television: Kraft Homestyle Deluxe Macaroni & Cheese. The premise of this is that it’s oven-baked, or rather, it can be… and it’s topped with bread crumbs. I was intrigued, and being a mac-n-cheese addict decided to try it. I bought the “Four-Cheese” variety; made with “Parmesan, Colby, Asagio and Cheddar.” I paid about $3.29 for one 12.6 ounce package. I planned on feeding three people with it, and it said it held 4 servings, so I went with it. Well… no. It doesn’t quite feed three adults, so forget about it if you have kids. Maybe two people could eat one package and be satisfied. The taste? Not bad. I’ve had way worse (namely, the original Kraft macaroni & cheese in the rectangular box with the orange powder) but really, I’ve also had way better. As a matter of fact, I’d rather eat straight up Velveeta shells & cheese instead of this; at least that way I know what I’m getting and don’t expect anything crazy. They went with a cream sauce plus powder seasoning mixture for this new “homestyle” venture, I guess that’s better than all powdered, although I must say Target has an Archer Farms macaroni & cheese that’s really way more delicious than this, and its made with just a powder. It’s a five-cheese kind and it too has a breadcrumb topping, only it’s seasoned. I’d much rather make that. I didn’t get a “four-cheese” taste from the Kraft, whereas with the Archer Farms one you could really taste all the different cheeses (I used to mix a pound of cavatappi with the pasta that comes with it to make more, and add some white cheddar to the sauce mix, way before I started to make homemade). They do have it in a lunch-bowl size as well.

My suggestion? Make homemade. It’s always better for you, even just based on the lack of preservatives, etc. Plus, you can personalize it from start to finish and make the right amount that you need. The Kraft wasn’t terrible, but I probably wouldn’t buy it again- I much prefer homemade. But if you’re really short on time, it’s okay in a pinch, or good to have in the house as a “just in case” option for dinner. Just buy two if you’ve got a family bigger than 2 (or teenagers in the house) and make sure you doctor it up by adding your own cheese. And if you really want a tasty powdered-in-a-box macaroni & cheese dinner, buy this one. Add a lb. of cavatappi to the pasta they give you, add a little white cheddar to the sauce mix, and you’ll make plenty, plus leftovers. But I really think homemade is the best way to go.

And on that note… here’s some really delicious macaroni & cheese for you… homemade, no powder.

THE LADY’S MAC-N-CHEESE (modified slightly by yours truly)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb cooked pasta, cooked al dente and drained (I used pipette, but elbows are okay, so is pretty much any kind you like)
  • 3 cups grated Cheddar, plus 1 cup for topping
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Once you have the macaroni cooked and drained, place in a large bowl and while still hot and add the cheddar.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and add to the macaroni mixture. Mix thoroughly until all pasta is covered. Pour macaroni mixture into a casserole dish, top with 1 cup cheddar and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.

I prefer to use sharp cheddar, but a mix of mild and sharp would work too. So this version was a bit unorthodox (for me); I’ve never made a macaroni & cheese with eggs before, but it really just melted in your mouth. It reminded me of the homemade macaroni & cheese my mom used to make when I was a kid, with the cheese bubbly & browned on top. A lot of people have had problems with the egg, they say it scrambles and that the mixture isn’t creamy. I had no problems, and I added the egg mixture directly to hot pasta right out of the pot, but I also added heavy cream to mine, so maybe that made it a bit creamier? I didn’t find it to be overly “eggy” but again, I tweaked the recipe. The recipe isn’t the creamiest, really, but it’s different. I like different. Although, even though it’s different… it is just straight up mac-n-cheese. There aren’t any other flavors going on, nothing fancy. But god, is it good.

What I did was I mixed the beaten eggs with the sour cream, milk and heavy cream. I cut the butter into very small pieces, then mixed that in as well. I let it sit while the pasta cooked (8 minutes according to my pasta box/brand), and then as soon as I drained the pasta I mixed it together with the cheese. Then I mixed in the egg mixture and made sure it was thoroughly combined, so all the pasta was covered. I don’t know if how I did it made a difference, or if it was just my tweaking, but I found it to be delicious, and so did anyone else who ate it.

And the best thing about it is not only is it amazing the first time around.. but even better fried. Mainly because it’s a great idea for using up the leftover macaroni & cheese, but also because fried mac-n-cheese is one of the best things on earth. In September I went to Chip Shop in Brooklyn with Jay & some friends of ours. You may know them from the Food Network & Travel Channel specials they’ve been featured on. Anyway we went there and we indulged in some lovely fish & chips, but more importantly some fried Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, fried Twix bars, fried pizza and fried cheesecake. We didn’t get to try the fried macaroni & cheese (or fried Twinkies) but really, it was an amazing experience. Believe it or not, we didn’t even feel gross after eating that much fried food… the batter isn’t disgustingly heavy or greasy. So if anyone out there is near Brooklyn, I highly suggest Chip Shop. They’re gods.  But if you can’t get there… try some of this…

THE LADY’S FRIED MAC-N-CHEESE

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe “The Lady’s Mac-n-Cheese” prepared, chilled in the refrigerator overnight, and cut into 15 squares, recipe follows
  • 1 pound bacon (optional)
  • All-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Plain bread crumbs
  • Peanut oil, for frying

Directions:

  1. Heat peanut oil to 350 degrees F.
  2. Wrap each square of cheesy mac with 1 strip of bacon, and fasten with toothpick. Dredge each square in flour then egg and then bread crumbs to coat. Fry for about 3 minutes until golden brown.

Yeah. Holy shit. That’s all I can say.

There are TONS of macaroni & cheese recipes out there. So don’t be surprised if this isn’t the last one you see here. I want to try them all! This is an excellent Thanksgiving mac-n-cheese recipe- I’m definitely making it again on Thursday myself. It comes together easy, no roux, no flour, and yet it’s so delicious. Real stick-to-your-ribs food.

And if you’ve got a problem with the calorie count of this… I’ll quote my girl Paula: “I’m your cook, not your doctor.”

All gone *sad face*


The second round: chive risotto cakes.

Yeah so I made these quite a while ago, over a year, and it was kind of a disaster. Not that they weren’t tasty; they were. But they fell apart, weren’t crispy enough and were basically flat, sad little soft disks of cheese, rice & panko. They’re an Ina Garten recipe and I’ve never, ever, EVER had any issues with her recipes. However this one was my fault. I fucked it up. Embarrassingly so. And that, my friends, is why I’m doing a second round. I must conquer the chive risotto cake.

the first time, I used the wrong yogurt, which definitely contributed to the mess. Greek yogurt in these is a MUST- it’s so thick it really keeps everything together. DO NOT USE YOGURT THAT ISN’T GREEK BUT CLAIMS TO BE ” EXTRA THICK.” It’s not. Use Greek. Not Icelandic, not American, not French, not Mexican, not Yoplait… GREEK. Also, I did not leave them to chill in the fridge long enough. On top of the “wrong-yogurt” debacle, I also couldn’t control my impatient self and of course, didn’t wait “at least two hours.” I know, I’m groaning too. I’m a fool. But I’m going to redeem myself with this post today. Because these came out so perfect, Ina herself would gasp in delight.

See? Gasp-worthy.

CHIVE RISOTTO CAKES

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 1 ½ cups grated Italian fontina cheese (5 ounces)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
  • Good olive oil

Directions:

  1. Bring a large (4-quart) pot of water to a boil over medium-low heat and add ½ tablespoon salt and the Arborio rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. The grains of rice will be quite soft. Drain the rice in a sieve and run under cold water until cool. Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, chives, fontina, 1 ¼ teaspoons of salt, and the pepper in a medium bowl. Add the cooled rice and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, until firm.
  3. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  4. Spread the panko in a shallow dish. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Form balls of the rice mixture using a standard (2 ¼-inch) ice-cream scoop or a large spoon. Pat the balls into patties 3 inches in diameter and ¾-inch thick. Place 4 to 6 patties in the panko, turning once to coat. Place the patties in the hot oil and cook, turning once, for about 3 minutes on each side until the risotto cakes are crisp and nicely browned.
  5. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and keep warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Continue cooking in batches, adding oil as necessary, until all the cakes are fried. Arrange on a serving platter and serve hot.

As far as the fontina, you can use any pale-colored cheese you like. I used white cheddar both times because I love it. But if you love fontina, then use it. I used chives from my own garden this time, and I can’t tell you that made much of a difference in flavor, although I added more because last time I skimped, so it did have a better chive flavor. And it was certainly convenient to just run outside my back door with a pair of scissors and snip off a bunch, unlike last time when I had to go to the store to buy some. I won’t tell you that the olive oil isn’t important, it is, if you use a shitty one the flavor isn’t going to be as nice. Sometimes cheap olive oil has a weird flavor to it. Stick with a good brand name for frying these. Also, I like to use the Italian flavored panko, but that’s up to you.

Mine stayed in the fridge for about 5 ½ hours this time before I fried them. The difference was amazing. They molded perfectly, stuck together, didn’t fall apart even in the frying pan. They came out exactly right; crispy, crunchy outside and a creamy inside. Yum. That parsley garnish is also from my garden. My parsley is crazy-go-nuts, seriously. It’s like a shrub.

So let’s go over the “DON’TS” of this recipe one more time:

  1. DON’T use any yogurt other than plain Greek yogurt.
  2. DON’T be impatient: let it sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  3. DON’T use breadcrumbs other than panko.
  4. DON’T use regular rice!!!!! THIS IS A BIG NO-NO. Arborio only!

Like I said last time, these are a great light dinner item and an even better lunch item. Served with a fresh salad? Perfect. Despite the cheese and the yogurt and the eggs, they’re very light tasting. Not overly greasy or heavy, but full of flavor.

Whatever tickles your fried pickle.

The Food Network is dangerous at night. You’re sitting there, it’s 2 a.m. and then Guy Fieri comes on with Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (or as Jay calls it, “Diners, Drive-Thru’s and Drive-bys“) and even if you ate a huge dinner… you’re done for. It’s starts out innocently enough, you’re sitting there watching him eat awesome looking burgers, barbecue, pulled pork, fried chicken and mashed potatoes and you instantly get hungry. The meal that’s probably still being digested that you ate just a few hours before is forgotten. Then you start thinking of what you can make. It happens to everyone, don’t feel guilty. I’m not judging you.

Last week me & Jay went to his grandma’s for dinner. She had a huge spread: roast chicken, brisket, creamed spinach, macaroni & cheese, roasted potatoes, etc. We ate. A lot. But magically, later on that night, around the 1-2 a.m. mark, we flipped on the Food Network. And who was on? Mr. Guy Fieri. He threw out his line, and the hook went right into our cheeks. Jay started throwing out ideas as to what to make, and none of them seemed feasible to me at that time of the night (or morning). Things like macaroni & cheese, pizza, etc. Then he said “Fried pickles!” I thought he was kidding, but I should really know better. He was not. So I told him sure, and I did a quick search for a recipe just so I knew what the basics were, and it seemed easy enough anyway. So hey, why not? I make cupcakes at 1 a.m., why not fried pickles?

If you’ve never in your life heard of a fried pickle, here’s a little background for ya:

A fried pickle is a snack item found commonly in the American South. It is made by deep-frying a sliced battered dill pickle.

The Fried Dill Pickle was popularized by Bernell “Fatman” Austin in 1963 at the Duchess Drive In located in Atkins, Arkansas[citation needed]. The Fatman’s Recipe is only known to his family and used once each year at the annual Picklefest in Atkins, held each May[citation needed].

They’re certainly interesting. And a really great picnic or barbecue food, since they’d probably travel well and don’t have to be eaten hot. Just be sure to thoroughly drain them after frying, or the pickles get soggy. They’re usually served with ranch dressing, so that’s what we had. But if you prefer something else, or want to make your own, go for it! I think a chipotle mayo dip would be great with these too.

And you’ve GOTTA have ‘em with somethin’ for dippin’…

FRIED DILL PICKLES

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint sliced dill pickles, undrained (we used garlic dill)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon hot sauce (we didn’t use this because Jay is boring & hates anything hot)
  • 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons ground red pepper (see above)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Drain pickles, reserving 2/3-cup pickle juice. Press pickles between paper towels. Combine 2/3 cup pickle juice, egg, 1 tablespoon flour, and hot sauce. Stir well and set aside.
  2. Combine 1 ½ cups flour with ground red pepper, garlic powder, salt, and paprika. Blend well.
  3. Dip pickles in egg mixture, then dredge in flour mixture. Fry coated pickles in 375-degree oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with ranch dressing or whatever dipping sauce you desire.

I don’t like pickles (yeah, seriously) so for me, these were just like any other fried pickles from a restaurant: they were good, I just can’t eat more than one or two. I probably would’ve been more into them if they had the hot sauce in there. Jay devoured the rest that I couldn’t eat, agreeing that they were indeed just as good as any restaurant ones, if not better. However I think we’re going to try different ways of doing it; buttermilk & cornmeal, pickles sliced the long way, etc. That’s what’s awesome about these, you can experiment with different ways of making them. I have an issue of the Food Network magazine that has a recipe for pretzel-coated fried pickles. We’re SO trying those.

Dive on in.

..

I don’t have to tell you there weren’t any leftover. I think the Fatman would be proud.

Aprons & Apple Cider donuts.

Before I go ANY further with this post, I have to show you all a gift I received from my friend Yoyo (You remember her? She runs topstitch.org and has an Artfire store? Hayley Williams from Paramore got some of her handmade stuff at a meet & greet? She’s totally awesome and has her own category over here? Yeah I think I mentioned all that once or twice before…) Anyway… Yoyo sends me stuff all the time and spoils me rotten, but this is one of the coolest things she ever made me!! It’s a reversible Halloween apron!

One side: Happy Halloween with a cute little skull. The other: Sexy witches!(Excuse the terrible pictures, I’m not very good at the self-portrait shots. I’m going to attempt to get someone to take a better full-on shot of it).

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Halloween is my favorite holiday, ever, in case you didn’t know. If you like this, then check out her store and look at what she has for sale, or go to her blog and contact her about making you an apron. She does amazing work and her stuff is so damn cute. I’m so excited! I have a really super apron collection now, including seasonal ones. It excites me that I can wear different aprons different times of the year and be seasonally appropriate. Thank you Yoyo! It’s beautiful. Now all I need is a Christmas apron. And if anyone’s looking to get me one, this or this is something like what I have in mind. *wink*

So that concludes the apron part. Now let’s get to the apple cider donuts part, eh?

Every fall, me & Jay go to this pumpkin farm where they sell the best cider donuts ever.  One year we bought literally tons of them, and on the way home went to a friends house, and in the middle of hanging out  we left for a bit to go eat some in Jay’s car, then went back inside… just to avoid sharing them. Yeah. They’re that good. Last year we went on a Monday and they were closed, and this year we went on a Thursday and it turns out they only make the donuts on Saturdays and Sundays. So we were really bummed. Two years in a row with out cider donuts!? Unacceptable. I decided to take matters into my own hands. Fortunately, in the October 2009 issue of the Food Network magazine there happened to be a recipe for cider donuts, so I made me some of my own. I used Macintosh apples myself. It’s best to use red apples that don’t keep their shape while cooking (i.e., no baking apples). And seriously, just look at how gorgeous the apples I have are (and the pomegranates aren’t bad either)!

CIDER DONUTS

Ingredients:

  • 2 red apples, such as Cortland or Macintosh
  • 2 ½ cups apple cider
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1 large egg, plus one yolk
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • vegetable oil, for frying

Directions:

  1. Core and coarsely chop the apples (do not peel). Combine with 1 ½ cups apple cider in  medium saucepan over medium heat; cover and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the apples are tender and the cider is almost completely reduced, about 5 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth. Measure the sauce; you should have 1 cup. (Boil to reduce further, if necessary.) Let cool slightly.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
  3. Beat 2/3 granulated sugar and the shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer until sandy. Beat in the egg and yolk, then gradually mix in the applesauce, scraping the bowl. Beat in half of the flour mixture, then the buttermilk and vanilla, and then the remaining flour mixture. Mix to make a sticky dough; do not overmix.
  4. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper and pat into a 7 x 11″ rectangle, about ½ inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  5. Meanwhile, make the glaze: Simmer the remaining 1 cup cider in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to ¼ cup. Whisk in the ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar until smooth and glossy, then set aside. Mix the remaining 1 cup granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a shallow bowl; set aside for the topping.
  6. Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350° degrees. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Cut the chilled dough with a doughnut cutter. Slip 2 or 3 doughnuts into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side, adjusting heat as needed. Transfer to the paper towels to drain.
  7. Dip one side of each doughnut into the cider glaze, letting the excess drip off; dip one side into the cinnamon-sugar topping, then flip to cover other side. Serve warm.

My donuts came out a bit uneven, but c’est la vie. Or c’est la donuts. But I think it’s less about perfection and more about taste. And in terms of taste- these are very yummy. Some of mine were a bit overdone; they cook VERY quickly, so beware. If you aren’t paying attention, you’ll end up with very dark donuts.

Also it’s a very sticky dough, so if you don’t let it chill enough, you’ll have a very hard time cutting it out. Don’t skimp on the fridge time. Leave it overnight if you can.

The general consensus is that these are way better than the ones from that pumpkin farm. Jay bogarted them and refused to allow anyone near his donuts, not even his family. So that’s saying something considering this guy never eats any of the sweets I make (except cookies, he loves cookies). Seriously. He has all the cupcakes and treats he could ever want at his disposal… and he eats NONE of it. So these were obviously pretty damn spectacular.

By the way, in case you didn’t notice from that picture above, my hair is red again. If I may quote: “Turn and face the strange, ch-ch-changes.” You should know by now I can’t keep a haircolor (or style for that matter) for very long without going stir-crazy. I also want to take a second to wish a very happy birthday to Chrisie! She’s the awesome artist who contributed that beautiful Cupcake Rehab painting for my giveaway. Her birthday is today, so happy birthday Chrisie!

Sopa de Tortilla a la Mexicana, y guacamole.

If you know me (or follow me on Twitter, for that matter) you know I am obsessed with Mexican food. I could eat it everyday. Actually, I’m obsessed with all things Mexican. Sugar skulls, Dia de Los Muertos, guacamole, tostadas, tortillas, fajitas, quesadillas, carnitas, pico de gallo, Frida Kahlo- you name it, I love it. My favorite  Mexican thing ever has to be Yoyo, though. Have I mentioned lately how much she rocks? Anyway so when I got the Food Network magazine featuring 50 easy soups and I saw Spicy Tortilla Soup, I had to make it. Also, I had these gorgeous organic tomatoes crying to me to use them in something delicious. Look at them- how beautiful were they?! By the way, if you had told me 8 years ago I’d get excited over beautiful organic tomatoes and KitchenAid mixers, I’d have told you you were batshit crazy.

This really is an easy soup, I have to say. It practically made itself. This wins the easiest comfort food award of the year, I think. The crunchy tortilla strips are super-simple to make: just cut a corn tortilla into strips, heat some oil in a skillet, and throw ‘em in. Wait a few minutes for them to slightly turn golden brown and take them out. Put them on a paper towel to drain. And you’re done! But this post is kinda a two-for-one because in addition to an easy tortilla soup recipe, I’m going to show you that using 4 ingredients you can make an awesome guacamole in 5 minutes. PLUS you can make your own tortilla chips to eat it with using the same fried corn tortilla method as the strips.

SPICY TORTILLA SOUP

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 seeded ancho chilies
  • ½ cup cilantro (plus more for garnish)
  • 1 package corn tortillas
  • some shredded, cooked chicken
  • avocado
  • lime juice

Directions:

  1. Puree the 2 chilies, tomatoes and onion. Then fry in oil.
  2. Add 6 cups chicken broth, 4 torn corn tortillas, the chicken and ½ cup cilantro. Simmer until thick.
  3. Add salt to taste; garnish with crisp tortilla strips, Mexican cheese, avocado, cilantro and lime juice.

See? Easy. I used a shredded Mexican cheese mix (asadero, jack, cheddar) but whatever cheese you like you can use. You can also shred your own.

With the rest of my avocado, I made a quick guacamole, using 1 avocado, half a large onion chopped, chopped cilantro and lemon juice. Very simple: cute the avocado (in case you have no idea how: cut around the avocado in a complete circle lengthwise, then grab it in your hands with the slit down the middle, rotate each side into an opposite direction, they should separate themselves. Then pop out the pit, and cut first crosswise then lengthwise many times on each half to make “cubes” of avocado. Then, using a melon baller or small spoon, “pop” it out of it’s skin into a bowl), add the chopped onion and cilantro and douse with lemon juice (not too much, you don’t want it mushy). Then mash the avocado mixture with a fork until it’s the consistency you want. You can add more onion if you like, and even some tomato. Season with salt and it’s ready to eat!

The chips are done exactly like the fried tortilla strips: just tear a corn tortilla into four triangular pieces, then fry them in some heated oil until they’re browned and crispy. Let them drain on paper towels and then serve with the guacamole. ¡Orale!

And in case you forgot, here’s a friendly reminder to get in your entries for the Cupcake Rehab’s 2nd Birthday giveaway. You have until October 12th, but just until midnight EST! To view the entry, see the prizes up for grabs and view the rules/requirements, go here..  and good luck!

Biscuit doughnuts.

What? Yes, donuts made of biscuits. In the words of Homer Simpson: “Mmm… donuts.” Does it matter what kind? No. Glazed, chocolate, Boston Cream, cinnamon, powdered sugar, who cares. Everything is better with doughnuts. Or donuts if you prefer to spell it that way.

One of my favorite ladies in the world and one of my favorite “celebri-chefs” (thanks for the term, Miss Becky) is Paula Deen. Either you love her or you hate her. I really don’t care if you love her or hate her, personally, because I love her. I love that she cooks with real butter and lots of it, and I also love that she wears all her diamonds to cook. But most of all I love her recipes. Aside from one time when she failed me (lousy red velvet cupcake recipe) I’ve got nothin’ but love for her cooking. And I was watching an old episode of ‘Paula’s Home Cooking’ and she had this doughnut recipe on and, well,  I’m just a sucker for doughnuts.

This is the easiest freakin’ donut recipe ever. On the face of the entire earth. It’s so easy, and yet when they’re done they look so good, that you could easily tell people you slaved over these for days- “Oh well you know I made the dough, then let it rise overnight, then cut it into shapes, then fried it… then I made all the glazes… got the toppings together… yeah you know it’s complicated…” But yet you didn’t. And they’d never know. Unless they read Cupcake Rehab. In which case, your spot was just blown up. Sorry.

CANNED BISCUIT DOUGH DOUGHNUTS (AND HOLES)

Ingredients:

  • Peanut oil, for frying
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 cans large buttermilk biscuits (any brand- Pillsbury, store brand, etc)

Icings:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, divided
  • 5 tablespoons milk, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • Colored sprinkles
  • Chocolate sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Heat 2 inches peanut oil in a large pot or Dutch oven to 350° degrees F.
  2. In a shallow bowl, stir together the ground cinnamon and sugar and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons of milk and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, set aside. This is the vanilla icing. In another bowl, whisk together 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar, ¼ cup of cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons of milk and set aside. This is the chocolate icing.
  3. Lay out the biscuits on a cutting board and with a 1 ½-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out a hole from the middle of each biscuit. Fry them in the oil until golden and then flip with tongs to fry the other side. You can even fry the donut holes. Drain on paper towels and then toss in the cinnamon-sugar or ice and decorate with sprinkles, as desired.

If you have a doughnut cutter, then you can remove the middle (mine has a center cutter that pops out) and use that to remove the middles for the holes. But if you don’t have such an item, another perfect way to cut out the “holes” is using a water bottle cap or soda bottle cap (make sure it’s clean first). Just push it right through the middle and then pop the dough out of the cap and put it aside to make doughnut holes.Voila! And these things cook SO QUICK… you could easily make a dozen in a half hour, complete with toppings. Oh- and doughnut holes too!

I made a chocolate frosting, a plain glaze, and a cinnamon-sugar topping (cinnamon and sugar… duh) for these. I rolled some plain glazed donuts in coconut flakes, put sprinkles on some, and rolled some plain doughnuts in just cinnamon-sugar. There are infinite possibilities.

They taste pretty damn awesome too. I recommend this recipe for anyone- even those with little to no cooking experience. It’s like doughnut making for beginners.

Ch-ch-ch-chive risotto cakes.

EDIT: BEFORE YOU READ THIS POST… know that this post is my first, and my only failed attempt at making these. If you want to see them done correctly, please go to this updated version. If you want to read about my failure, keep reading!

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Okay, this is the first time I’m writing up an entry for an awesome recipe that I failed to execute correctly. Through no fault of it’s own, the chive risotto cakes recipe couldn’t live up to it’s full potential because I am an impatient bitch. Patience is a virtue I do not have. Besides, when you’re hungry, 2+ hours seems like forever. So I cut it a bit short, and they weren’t as firm as they should’ve been, and so they didn’t hold the shape while frying. Woops. You see, dear readers, I am not perfect. I may look it, with my cute hair cut/color, my perfect eyebrows, and my beautiful little swirls of frosting a top my gorgeous little cupcakes. But, alas, I am not perfect. Vain and self-important, yes. Perfect, no.

Sometimes, shit just works out for you. Despite your rebelliousness or substitution of ingredients or your rushed and harried manner… despite all that, your food just glows and sparkles and looks like something out of Martha Stewart Living. Example: my “white” cupcakes that I didn’t use cake flour for, nor did I sift the all-purpose flour I did in fact use.  So yeah, sometimes it works out like that. Other times, even if you do everything right, the Shit Gods just smile on you. Or poop on you. Whatever. This was just one of those times. I do blame myself for not allowing them to set properly. But really, Ina, 2+ hours!? Really!? I have no patience for such things! I’m the person who cuts her hair even shorter when it grows out to the awkward stage, because I have no patience to see it through. You think I can wait 2+ hours… or overnight… for chive risotto cakes of mouthwateringlyness!?

That said, they were delicious. Another A+++ recipe from my homegirl Ina Garten. I used white cheddar instead of fontina because that’s just what I had around, and they were so amazing. If they had only been crunchier. *sigh* I will make them again and give them the proper setting time in the fridge, and they will hold their shape better, and the pictures will come out better. But for now here are my sad little chive risotto cakes that couldn’t hold their shapes.

They don’t look too bad here… except for that one on the left that obviously fell apart.
Further evidence of my impatience.

Ina made them for a lunch with some arugula salad on the side, I had mine for dinner with big fat slices of Italian bread. To each his own I say. You can never have too many carbs!

CHIVE RISOTTO CAKES

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 1 ½ cups grated Italian fontina cheese (5 ounces)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
  • Good olive oil

Directions:

  1. Bring a large (4-quart) pot of water to a boil over medium-low heat and add ½ tablespoon salt and the Arborio rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. The grains of rice will be quite soft. Drain the rice in a sieve and run under cold water until cool. Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, chives, fontina, 1 ¼ teaspoons of salt, and the pepper in a medium bowl. Add the cooled rice and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, until firm.
  3. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  4. Spread the panko in a shallow dish. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Form balls of the rice mixture using a standard (2 ¼-inch) ice-cream scoop or a large spoon. Pat the balls into patties 3 inches in diameter and ¾-inch thick. Place 4 to 6 patties in the panko, turning once to coat. Place the patties in the hot oil and cook, turning once, for about 3 minutes on each side until the risotto cakes are crisp and nicely browned.
  5. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and keep warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes. Continue cooking in batches, adding oil as necessary, until all the cakes are fried. Arrange on a serving platter and serve hot.

I really do recommend them… they were fabu-licious. But just be sure to give them the right amount of time to set. This is an excellent example of why I love doing this blog: you can learn from my mistake! Anyway, I wouldn’t say they were a FAIL… they tasted delicious and didn’t look that bad either. But they definitely weren’t Food Network worthy. All in all, great recipe. Poor execution on my part. Boo.

I would have used a bit more chive in them though, next time. Next time… I will conquer you, risotto cakes. I will CONQUER you.