Fish and Chips

Fish and Chips1

I’m about to say something that for some of you, will make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

I realize this. Heck, it almost doesn’t make any sense to me; but it is the truth, so I’ll just go ahead and say it anyway.

There is a shortage (in fact let’s just call it an absence) of seafood dishes on Cooking is My Sport.

It’s not that this is an accident. To be honest, it’s actually pretty intentional. And will probably, very likely remain that way. Why?

Because I don’t really like fish.

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I realize that for some of you, your mouths are hanging open and your eyes are bugging out of your head in shock. I know; because EVERYONE likes fish, right?

Wrong. I don’t. Neither do the people that live in my house. Not most fish anyway.

I’ve heard people give me all kinds of reasons and rationalizations as to why I have a ‘misplaced’ dislike for the meat of the sea: I haven’t had fish that was ‘fresh enough’. the fish I had wasn’t ‘cooked properly’, I need to eat more fish because it’s ‘healthier’, I need to ‘get creative and eat more types of fish’.

Blah, blah, blah. I’m not buying it anymore, folks. I’ve had fish that was frozen from the grocery store, and fresh fish off the coast of Miami Beach in 5 star restaurants. I’ve had fish cooked for me, and fish I’ve cooked myself.  I’ve had salmon, crappies, blue gills, shrimp, lobster, crab, tilapia, and cod. And yeah, you do feel kinda ‘lighter’ after eating it than you do after eating say… pork or beef.

But seriously, I don’t care about that. I’ve really tried to hop on the Fish bandwagon. But it just didn’t work out for me.

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I will concede on a few things. Salmon can be tasty when cooked properly. I like shrimp in fried rice and jambalaya. However for me, the majority of fish dishes out there pretty much just taste like…fish. There’s just something about the meat that for me doesn’t absorb flavor and spices as well as other proteins- at least not in a way that takes away that ocean-y aftertaste.

Unless you fry it. That’s a different story.

My grandma fries her fish (mostly blue gill and crappies) in cornmeal over the stove Southern-style, and I’ve never had a problem eating that. It’s very good. For a while, it was the only type of fish I was that interested in eating at all. (I even may go ahead and post that on the blog sometime, since it’s pretty easy to do…)

But this past Christmas, I bought myself the America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook as a present and noticed their recipe for Fish and Chips.

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Don’t laugh at me guys, but for a long time (longer than I’m even willing to admit) I didn’t even know what the ‘chips’ of Fish and Chips was. The ‘Fish’ part was pretty obvious, but I didn’t know how it was supposed to be prepared, and I was completely clueless as to what the ‘chips’ were.

Was ‘chips’ a code-word for something else? Were ‘chips’ the chips I knew of that came in a yellow bag on the potato chip aisle of the grocery store? Why would anyone want to eat fish with potato chips anyway?

(Like I said, don’t laugh.)

I did eventually get around to figuring out that ‘chips’ were pretty much what I knew of as french fries. In reading the cook book, I also saw that the fish was typically dipped in a beer batter and deep fried until golden brown. This caught my attention and interest for 2 reasons. First, I’m a human and I’m sane- which is basically synonymous with having a  great and all encompassing love of french fries. Second, anything that gets dipped in a beer batter and deep fried…well suffice to say, it’s pretty much impossible that it’s gonna taste bad. Even fish. Im-possible.

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So what did I do? Well, I took a gamble; I went out and bought some cod fillets with potatoes, pulled out my deep fryer and got to work. Because I don’t cook with fish, I followed the ATK directions to a T; I even bought malt vinegar to sprinkle on the finished fish like they recommended (even though before now, I didn’t know there was such a thing as malt vinegar).

The verdict is in.

Yeah. Okay, um… this fish is good. Like really, really good stuff. And I honestly never thought I’d ever be saying something like that. But I am. Because I’ll never lie when it comes to food. I almost don’t even know where to start when trying to describe this dish.

Oh wait. Yes I do: with the beer batter crust on the fish. Wow. Just…wow. The crunch you get when you bite into it is almost unbelievable. It’s perfectly golden brown and is so well complimented by the puff of airy tenderness of the fish itself. The malt vinegar is exactly what you need to cut the saltiness of the batter and makes the flavors pop all the better.

I won’t lie guys, the potatoes are pretty labor intensive. And even though they came out beautifully, I have to be honest and say in the future I will probably take the shortcut and buy frozen ones to eat instead. Judge me if you like, I don’t care. That’s what they’re there for, right?

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My house may have smelled like a fish market for a few days afterward, but I was still really pleased with how my first attempt at Fish and Chips turned out. It was even something  family was willing to eat (which is really saying something). I couldn’t believe this was something I actually MADE. Me: the girl who hates fish.

Maybe this is a sign I should start broadening my horizons and being more open to eating fish more often.

…..Nah.

I will say this though, I feel confident enough about this dish to bring it to the Fiesta Friday Anniversary Party Part 2, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted by Nancy @Feasting With Friends and Selma @Selma’s Table.  Because I’m sure there are plenty of fish lovers here right?

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Fish and Chips

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Recipe Courtesy of The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2015

 Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. russet potatoes (about 4 large), ends & sides squared off, and cut length-wise into 1/2 inch fries)
  • 3 quarts plus 1/4 up peanut oil or canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
  • Table salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 lbs. cod other thick whitefish fillets, such as hake or haddock, cut into eight 3-oz. pieces about 1 inch thick)
  • 1 1/2 cup (12 oz.) cold beer

 Directions

1. Place the cut fries in a large, microwaveable bowl, toss with 1/4 cup of the oil & cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high power until potatoes are partially translucent and pliable but still offer some resistance when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 6-8 minutes, tossing them with a rubber spatula. Carefully pull back plastic wrap from side furthest from you and drain potatoes into large mesh strainer set over a sink. Rinse well under cold running water. Spread he potatoes on a few clean kitchen towels & pat dry. Let rest until fries have reached room temp, at least 10 minutes or up until an hour.

2. While fries cool, whisk flour, cornstarch, cayenne, paprika, black pepper, and 2 tsp. salt in a large mixing bowl; transfer 1/4 cup of the mixture to a rimmed baking sheet. Add baking powder to bowl and whisk to combine.

3. In a large Dutch oven fitted with lip on candy thermometer, heat 2 quarts more oil over medium heat to 350°F. Add the fries to the hot oil and increase the heat to high. Fry, stirring with a mesh spider or slotted metal spoon, until potatoes turn light golden and just begin to brown at the corners, 6-8 minutes. Transfer the fries to a thick paper bag or paper towels to drain.

4. Reduce heat to medium high, add remaining 1 quart oil and heat oil to 375°F. Thoroughly dry fish with paper towels & dredge each piece in the flour mixture on a baking sheet; transfer pieces to a wire rack, shaking off any excess flour. Add 1 1/4 cups of the beer to the flour mixture in the mixing bowl and stir until mixture is just combined (batter will be lumpy). Add remaining 1/4 cup of beer as needed, 1 tbsp. at a time, whisking after every addition until batter falls from whisk in a thin steady stream and leaves a faint trail across the surface of the batter. Using tongs, dip 1 piece of fish in the batter and let the excess run off, shaking gently. Place the battered fish back on the baking sheet with the flour mixture and turn to coat on both sides. Repeat with the remaining fish, keeping the pieces in a single layer on the baking sheet.

5.When the oil reaches 375 degrees F, increase the heat to high and add the battered fish to the oil with the tongs, gently shaking off any excess flour. Fry, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer the fish to a thick paper bag or paper towels to drain. Allow the oil to return to 375 degrees.

6. Add all of the fries back to the oil and fry until golden brown and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a fresh paper bag or paper towels to drain. Season the fries with salt to taste and serve immediately with the fish. 

My Grandma’s Cornbread

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There’s  a great and mighty war being fought in the United States right now.

No, not that one.

Nope, not that one either.

This one is about something different, something very complicated. The two sides have grappled, struggled and fought with each other for decades, maybe even over a hundred years. They just can’t reach an agreement over the issue at stake- not even a compromise. There’s no end in sight for this war. It could just go on forever.

You know what war I’m talking about, right?

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The Cornbread War.

I’m serious, guys. No, really. I am.

Here’s the thing: there are typically 2 types of corn breads made in the US. The first type is thought of as ‘Northern’ cornbread; it’s made with a majority of flour with a small portion of cornmeal added to the batter so that it’s moist, soft and almost cakey in texture. It’s also pretty sweet. Then there’s ‘Southern’cornbread: this batter is almost completely cornmeal with just a little bit of flour added to it. The texture is therefore coarser and almost crumbly. It’s hardly ever sweet and in most cases, is actually on the salty side.

People who prefer Northern cornbread are adamant that theirs is better. Southern cornbread lovers are of the general opinion that their cornbread IS cornbread. Anything else is just an imposter.

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Personally I have to admit: I am usually willing to be on either of the ‘sides’ in the Cornbread War. Both taste fine to me. However, I will say this: given the choice, any day, I will always always ALWAYS pick my Grandma’s cornbread.

And mu grandma’s cornbread is Southern to a T.

This is a recipe I’ve wanted to share on the blog for a while. It’s very important to our family, as this is something that I’ve literally been eating all my life. Hopefully I’ll be eating it right up to the day I die.  I can cook some pretty fancy stuff if I wanted to, but a hunk of this cornbread served with a big bowl of my grandma’s collard greens are really all I need for a satisfying meal. She’s made this bread so many times, she doesn’t even need to measure out the ingredients; she literally just pours them into a bowl, mixes it up and bakes it off without even paying that much attention.

And it still comes out perfect every time.

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I wouldn’t share this recipe for anything less than a special occasion and today is certainly a VERY special occasion as it happens to be the One Year Anniversary of Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener. A great big HUGE congratulations to Angie on reaching this milestone- thanks for gathering together so many talented bloggers and letting them share all of their wonderful creations week after week at the parties. I also have to throw out a thank you to Nancy@FeastingwithFriends for being the one who first introduced me to the Fiesta Friday link up in the first place- I’m so glad she did. Let’s keep it rockin on, guys.

The Part 1 of our Anniversary party at the Fiesta is being hosted this week by  Hilda @Along The Grapevine and Julianna @Foodie On Board. Make sure you come on out and join us!

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My Grandma's Cornbread

Recipe Courtesy of Jess@CookingisMySport

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 large egg, beaten well
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. liquid bacon grease/drippings
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups of Milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray an 8 or 9-inch round or square cake pan (or a cast iron skillet) with cooking spray.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl, stirring together with a fork.

Combine the egg with the melted butter and bacon drippings in a small bowl.

Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the egg-butter mixture. Pour the milk in, and stir briskly with a fork until batter is smooth. Pour into the cake pan.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.

Chipotle Apple Butter Chicken

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Sometimes I’ll go through a phase where I become addicted to a certain type of food. Like really addicted. I’ll have to have it every day, so I’ll buy mass quantities at one time- you know, just to make sure I never have a craving that can’t be satisfied. Because that sucks and definitely gets under my skin (probably more than it should).

At one time, it was Yoplait Boston Creme Pie Yogurt mixed in with Honey Bunches of Oats Just Bunches. I HAD to have some as an after dinner ‘dessert’.

At another, it was an Archers Farm trail mix of cashews, almonds and dried cranberries.

For a while, I was hooked on Panera Cinnamon Crunch bagels, toasted and spread with butter.

Bananas and melted peanut butter on whole wheat toast was a REALLY big favorite.

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Yellow corn chips is still a big one- I’ve got three bags in the house right now. Honestly, I have to be careful- they’re waaaaay too easy for me to eat in large quantities. Same thing with animal crackers; right now they’re my go to work snack.

About two years I developed a huge love of eating fried eggs on toast and experimenting with different spreads to put on top. I loved the contrast of saltiness from the egg with the sweetness of different jam spreads. One day I was in the grocery store looking in the jam aisle for something a little bit different to try and I noticed a jar of Musselman’s Apple Butter. I’d never heard of apple butter before, much less what it tasted like. But I was in the experimenting kind of mood, so I decided to give it a try.

From that first day, I was hooked. I LOVED apple butter. From then on, it was all I wanted to eat on my toast.

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But as we know, interests and passions begin to fade and shift after a while. Eventually,I got a little tired of having my regular fried eggs on toast smeared with apple butter. I moved onto my next obsession.

But I still had two unopened jumbo jars of apple butter in my pantry. For a long while, they just sat there. And sat there. And sat there.

I wasn’t gonna throw them away. I’m too cheap to do that. But I just…I didn’t know what to do with them. One of the jars eventually went to making some Apple Butter Bread- which I’ve posted on the blog a while ago. The other one still didn’t get used for a few months.

Recently, I bought a family pack of chicken breasts and had no idea what I was going to do with them. I just decided that I would look in the pantry and pick out whatever I thought would be good in a dish. When I got home, the first things I came across were the lonely unused jar of apple butter, and a can of adobe chipotle chiles. And that gave me an idea. By itself, the apple butter would make the chicken way too sweet- but the addition of chipotle chiles and sauce- that just could work.

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I’ve never heard of an apple butter and chipotle barbecue sauce before- but after coming up with this here recipe, I’m of the strong opinion that it really should be come a ‘thing’.

Because it’s friggin marvelous stuff.

The marinade alone works really well, but the best part of this recipe is setting aside a sizable portion ahead of time so that when the chicken is done, you can have some sauce to dunk it into. I cut the chicken up into medium sized tenders, then baked them off in the oven on racks, but this would be an EXCELLENT  dish to make over a grill to give a really special charcoal flavor to compliment the flavor of the sauce.

I’m really happy with this one, guys. So you should go ahead and just try this.

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I’m beginning to think that I should just start calling this blog Cooking Chicken Is My Sport-because sometimes, it really does seem to me that all I do is throw a bunch of chicken recipes at you guys. It’s getting kind of ridiculous.

But the truth is, chicken’s just about the most inexpensive meat I can buy. Luckily, it’s also my preference of  protein nine times out of ten. So I have to keep experimenting with different recipes and ingredients just to make it stay interesting.

Sorry. I hope you won’t hold it against me too much.

I’m taking this chicken to this week’s Fiesta Friday #51, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted by  Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook and Juju @cookingwithauntjuju. Thanks ladies- appreciate ya 🙂

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Chipotle Apple Butter Chicken

Recipe Courtesy of Jess@CookingisMySport

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Ingredients

  • 1 28 oz. jar of Apple Butter
  • 2 1/2 canned chipotle chilies, finely chopped, plus 2 tbsp. of the sauce from the jar
  • 1 tbsp. Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 5 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into tender-size strips
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish
  • Romaine hearts, optional

 Directions

1. Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl. Divide 1/2 cup of marinade between two ziploc bags, and set aside the rest for later use.

2. Place half of the chicken tenders in one bag, and one half in the other. Seal bags and roll chicken around in marinade to make sure it is evenly coated. Refrigerate overnight, or at least for 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper, then place a baking rack on top. Spray rack with non stick cooking spray.

4. Remove chicken from marinade and place on top of baking rack. Bake chicken in the oven, about 30-35 minutes (or until chicken reaches an inner temp of 165°), basting with the remaining apple butter/chipotle sauce occasionally.

5. Remove chicken from oven and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve inside of romaine hearts if desired.

 

Pumpkin Scones

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Jas and I are self-proclaimed, unapologetic coffee addicts. We need it. We crave it. We have to have it. Every morning. Or else.

The sad thing is I was ‘clean’ for going on 3 years. I had truly kicked the habit- but one rotten morning I had at work a few months ago made me cave back into the urge and from then on, I was right back where I started: hopelessly devoted to coffee.

It can expensive if you’re like us and like the gourmet stuff. Plus you constantly have to invest in buying special, also not-too-cheap whitening toothpaste. It’s the devil in a red dress, I’m telling you.

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In my area, we have two major ‘coffee corporation giants’; for the sake of subtlety I’ll call one Bucksstar and the other Bybigs. (I know, I know; REAL subtle there Jess.)

Over all the years of our coffee connoisseurship, Jas and I have worked out our own special theories about the strengths, weaknesses and similarities between Bucksstar and Bybigs. And since we’re self-proclaimed addicts that go to all and any lengths to get their fixes, you should just take our word for it. Cause we’re pros and we just know what we’re talking about.

When it comes to straight hot coffee, with little to no bells and whistles, Bucksstar wins. It’s fancier and you really can taste the difference in the quality of the ingredients. However, when it comes to hot lattes and cappuccinos then we do tend to lean more towards Bybigs. Plus, the caramel apple cider they sell in the autumn is truly out of this world.

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The funny thing about Bucksstar’s lattes is that they taste much better cold than hot to us. In fact, the iced lattes and frappuccinos at Bucksstar’s are the stuff of dreams. The ones at Bybig’s just can’t compare.

Interestingly enough, Jas and I think that the biggest difference between these two coffee giants is NOT their coffee, but their baked goods. There’s just SUCH a huge difference. Want to know what it is? Here’s the answer, direct from us to you:

Bucksstar’s baked goods rock. Bybigs suck.

Seriously. I’m not being overly dramatic or just trying to straight out diss Bybig’s. I’m just being honest. I don’t know who it is that formulated their recipes for pastries- but whoever it is, should probably get the sack. The cookies are flat and cardboard-like in texture. The muffins taste like something the Little Debbie company churned out. The bagels are tough hockey pucks.  The rice krispie treats don’t have enough marshmallow creme and butter. And don’t get me started on those friggin scones; they’re drydryDRY with little to no flavor.

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Now Bucksstar? They’ve got this thing on lock. Everyone, EVERYONE knows that Bucksstar baked goods are delicious. I can’t remember the last time I went into one to buy coffee and didn’t end up walking out of there with some kind of pastry. The banana bread is thick, soft and fragrant. Their croissants are flaky and buttery. The cookies are sublime. Even their breakfast sandwiches are the bomb.com.  And the scones? Dude. Their SCONES. I think they must put crack in those scones. It’s the only explanation for their being so addictively awesome, right?

Although I’m not a huge pumpkin pie fan, I gotta admit that my favorite scone to get from good old Bucksstar has always been their pumpkin scone. There’s just something about the blend of all those autumn spices that goes SO well with a cup of hot coffee. So when I saw this recipe posted on Bonappetit.com, I jumped at the chance to try it out. It’s really VERY delicious, whether you decide to ice them or leave them plain- I did both and honestly can’t decide which is better.

Scones are so easy to put together and they yield such marvelous results. They also give me an excuse to drink more coffee- and you know I’ll always find ways to do that.

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Pumpkin Scones

Recipe Courtesy of Beauty and Essex via BonAppetit.com 

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter
  • ½ cup chopped fresh (or frozen, thawed) cranberries
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup canned pure pumpkin
  • ¼ cup buttermilk, plus more for brushing
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar

 Directions

1. Whisk granulated sugar, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, cloves, baking soda, and 2 cups flour in a large bowl.
2. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate in butter, tossing to coat in dry ingredients as you go; toss in cranberries. Mix in egg, pumpkin, and ¼ cup buttermilk.

3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and pat into a 1½”-thick disk. Cut into 8 wedges; transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, 25–30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 400°. Brush scones with buttermilk and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake until golden brown, 25–30 minutes

Nestle Toll House Cookie Pie

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Bad news, guys: for the past few days I’ve had a pretty bad case of writer’s block.

Seriously. It’s really, really bad. I’ve been meaning to put up a post for the past couple of days, but I just couldn’t make it happen. Every time I tried to start writing a post with something ‘meaningful’ to say, it just backfired and I would get distracted with something else. Usually I can manage to pair a recipe with some kind of vaguely interesting story, reflection or topic but today I’ve got absolutely nothing meaningful or interesting to say.

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But I still really wanted to put SOMETHING up. So I guess I can rattle off some random, meaningless tidbits of info to fill up white space.

My twin sister’s getting married in September. I’m (naturally) one of the bridesmaids. Next Saturday I have to go shopping for a dress. Here’s hoping I can find a nice one.

I’ve just discovered the show “Sherlock” and have been binge watching it on Netflix this weekend. It’s pretty good, I think. Benedict Cumberbatch was a good casting choice to play Sherlock Holmes.

I got 2 new cookbooks for Christmas and have already made 2 recipes from them that I’ll be sharing on the blog soon enough.

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That’s 3 things about my life in general; I guess I can also share 3 things about this recipe.

It was a really cloudy, gloomy day outside when I did this photo shoot. Thus, the rather unsatisfactory quality of these pictures. Just try and overlook it.

For those that have never had it, a Toll House Cookie Pie (particularly when it’s piping hot) tastes like the thickest, chewiest, gooiest chocolate chip cookie you’ve ever had. In other words, it tastes like a foodgasm that will make your eyes roll back in your head. Ice cream on top  is also mandatory.

I used some walnuts in this that had been sitting in my cupboard for…a while. It wasn’t a good idea. Don’t get me wrong, nothing bad happened. The pie still tasted delicious. But still, a lesson was still learned: don’t use old nuts. For anything.

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I doubt there’s still anyone at the Fiesta Friday Party #50 this week, but I’m still dragging my late self there anyway. Thanks to Angie@TheNoviceGardener for hosting as always, and  Selma @Selma’s Table and Sue @birgerbird for co-hosting. Don’t mind me, I’m just dropping off my little pie.

Now if you’ll excuse me: I have an appointment with my sofa, blanket and a man named Benedict that I’ve got to be getting back to now….

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Nestle Toll House Cookie Pie

Recipe Courtesy of Nestle

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Ingredients

  • unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup (6 oz.) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • Sweetened whipped cream or ice cream (optional)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325° F.

2. Beat eggs in large mixer bowl on high speed until foamy. Beat in flour, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat in butter.

3. Stir in morsels and nuts. Spoon into pie shell.

4. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Serve warm with whipped cream, if desired.

Sally Lunn Bread

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I wonder just how exactly a person gets a food, dish or meal named after him or her.

I only bring up the subject because I think that it would be pretty cool. I mean, if there’s anything that’s stood the test of time, it’s food. It’s not going anywhere. People have always got to eat. So even if you don’t have any children to pass on your name to, if you have a food named in your honor that turns out to be pretty good, then you’ve got a good chance of standing the test of time so to speak, right?

Sure enough, I know of several famous foods with people’s names in them that have been around for a while. I also just Googled some. Cause why not?

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According to Wikipedia (which y’know, is SUCH a reliable source, winkwink)General Tso Chicken was apparently named after a famous Chinese general during the Qing Dynasty from the Hunan province. Although apparently, the people from the actual place have never heard of it, and the real General Tso couldn’t have eaten it the way it’s prepared now anyway.

I bet you thought that the Caesar salad was named after the famous Roman emperor, right? WRONG! It actually got it’s name from a chef called Caesar Cardini from Mexico who came up with the salad  when the few basic ingredients were all that he had on hand.

Graham Crackers were first brought about by a Presbyterian minister named Sylvester Graham. He got the ‘brilliant’ idea in his head that coarsely ground wheat flour biscuits would subdue sexual urges. No comment on what I think about that.

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The Margarita drink was brought about by a Dallas socialite named Margaret Sames who put together the flavor combinations while on a vacation in Mexico. I can’t personally say that I think she was successful as Margaritas really aren’t my thing, but no one asked me so moving on.

Salisbury Steak came from an American surgeon during the civil war that believed that vegetables and starches were health hazards; so he came up with the idea of mixing ground beef up with onions and prescribing it 3 times a day with hot water in order to flush out toxins.

The legend of Beef Welllington originated with the winning of the Battle of Waterloo by Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley. The Duke’s chef made him the pastry wrapped beef in the shape of a Wellington boot.

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Then there’s Sally Lunn Bread. This tradition got started with a young Huguenot refugee from France named Solange Lyon who immigrated to Bath in 1680 and found work in a bakery in Lilliput Alley. Solange eventually became famous for a delicious brioche style bread she would make, and as its fame spread, her name gradually took on the name Sally Lunn. Thus, the Sally Lunn bread was sensationalized.  It eventually made its way across the pond and into Southern cooking, which is how my grandma came to hear of it and make it as a breakfast bread for her daughters smeared with butter and jam.

This is one of my family’s favorite breads for me to make. It’s thick, spongy, chewy and slightly sweet. We eat it all on it’s own as a side for dinner but I think it would also make an excellent base for French Toast or stratas. Plus, it has a really cool name.

By the way, this post just begs the question: what do I have to do to get  someone to name a food after me?

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Sally Lunn Bread

  • Servings: 8-10
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Recipe Courtesy of Southern Living Magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm milk (100°-110°)
  • 2. Stir
  • 1 (1/4 oz.) envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup warm water (100°-110°)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Directions

1. Stir together first 3 ingredients in a 2-cup glass measuring cup and let stand 10 minutes, until yeast is proofed.

2. Stir together flour and next 2 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. (Dough will look shaggy).

3. Stir together warm water and baking soda. Stir yeast mixture , soda mixture and melted butter into flour mixture until well blended.

4. Spoon batter into a well greased 10-inch (14 cup) tube pan, or split equally between 2 well greased loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (80°-85°), 45 minutes to 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

5. Preheat oven to 400°. Carefully place pan(s) in oven. Don’t agitate the dough. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a wooden stick inserted in center comes out clean and when internal temperature reaches 190°.

6.Wait ten minutes, then remove to a wire rack. Wait 30 minutes before slicing.

Chinese Chicken Salad

Chinese Chicken Salad4

I went to a popular restaurant in our city for breakfast with my mom and sisters one day a few years back. It was a pretty good day, I was in a pretty good mood, and ready to eat some food that was more than pretty good (actually it’s fantastic, so if you’re ever in the Lansing MI area then make sure you go to Sophia’s House of Pancakes).

When we were seated, I noticed that there was an elderly couple that had also been recently seated in the booth just behind ours. The woman was sitting with her back to me, while the man was sitting on the opposite side, facing me. As well sat down, he smiled at me. I thought it was a very nice, kind smile, and even though the strangers I’ve come across normally didn’t throw out smiles like that, I decided to go ahead and throw a great big smile back at him. I didn’t really think too much of it after that, focusing my attention on ordering m food and engaging in conversation with my family.

Chinese Chicken Salad1

I think it was a few minutes after the food we’d all ordered had come out- we were about mid way through, when suddenly our waitress comes over to our table. She bends down and starts murmuring to us quietly, “Excuse me: I know this is our of nowhere, but I’ve just been told to let you now that your meal’s been completely paid for.”

TimeoutwaitWHAT?!

That was about the collective response at our table. When we asked her if she was sure about that, she nodded and pointed across the restaurant, “Yes: it was that gentlemen over there. He said that he just wanted to cover your bill for you because of how nicely you,” She nodded at me, “Smiled at him when you came in.”

You guys, I’m not the type of person who gets embarrassed easily. I think I’ve blushed a grand total of three times in my entire life.

Well, that was one of them.

At hearing that, my face got all hot and pink, I started grinning like an idiot and I paused long enough to swallow my mouthful of pancakes to choke out a sheepish, “Oh my God, are you serious?!” I was in a state of mild shock.

Chinese Chicken Salad3

I looked up to find the elderly gentleman and his wife and saw that they were just then leaving the restaurant. He waved at all of us as we shouted out a collective, stunned “thank you!”. I still remember the way that he grinned at me and mouthed, “Keep smiling!” as they went out the doors.

It’s the year 2015. Everywhere I look, I see people posting about New Years resolutions to accomplish things that (if we’re being completely honest with ourselves) are almost entirely superficial. I’l be upfront with you all and even admit that I’ve made similar resolutions to myself in past years. It’s easy to focus on what’s ‘wrong’ with you as a person and resolve to change it. Heck, that’s not always a bad thing.

However, this year I’m hoping for more moment like that day in Sophia’s House of Pancakes where I come across people like that kind elderly man and his wife that aren’t too old, jaded or bitter to notice and value the important of seemingly little things like kind smiles and random acts of generosity to strangers. I’m also hoping that this year I can do more to take my focus off of myself and be like that elderly man was in noticing the beautiful things of life that are far too often taken for granted. I believe that days and moments like the one I just shared are a large part of why we’re here on this Earth in the first place. They make the world seem brighter and filled with hope. They’re what’s really important in life.

Chinese Chicken Salad2

I’m still keeping things light and healthy this week with a salad that’s become a new favorite of mine. Although the recipe is originally for chicken, we are just coming off of the holidays and if you still have some leftover turkey in your fridge (like I do) then you can definitely sub that in. The dressing is both tangy from the vinegar and ginger, and also earthy from the flavor of the peanut butter. The chipotle gives it a nice little kick of heat in the aftertaste. If you can’t find dry crunchy Chow Mein noodles where you are (they’re usually in the Foreign Cuisine aisle of the grocery store) then using peanuts would also give the same ‘crouton’ contrast of textures that you’re looking for in a salad.

I’m taking this salad to Fiesta Friday #49 this week, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted this week by Mr Fitz @CookingwithMrFitz and Kaila @GF Life 24/7. Happy New Year everyone!

fiesta-friday-badge-button-i-party

 

Chinese Chicken Salad

Recipe Courtesy of Bobby Flay

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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle pepper puree
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1/4 pound snow peas, julienned
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • Handful of Chinese crunchy chow mein noodles

Directions

1. Whisk together the vinegar, peanut butter, ginger, chipotle pepper puree, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, and canola oil in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

2. Combine cabbage, lettuce, carrots, snow peas, cilantro, and green onion in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss to combine.

3. Transfer to a serving platter and top with the shredded chicken and chow mein noodles.