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Category Archives: Picnic Fare

The 101 Recipes You Need to Know How to Cook | Bon Appetit

Every home cook has some basic recipes that they turn to all of the time for weeknight meals, special Sunday suppers or dinner parties. There are some classics and basic recipes that you learn along the way that you can always rely on when you want to turn out a great meal. Bon Appetit has put together 101 of the basic classic recipes, with everything from appetizers to desserts and everything in between so that you can have recipes to fall back on, learn and use when you want them. Check it out!

Source: The 101 Recipes You Need to Know How to Cook | Bon Appetit

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Kitchen Pantry Cooking Essentials – Key Ingredients and Recipes – Food.com

The key to good cooking and easy cooking is having some basics in your pantry all of the time. When you have the right ingredients around you can put together a meal in no time at all. Food.com has a list for you of the 50 most common cooking essentials you want in your pantry so you can do anything at any time. Check it out!

Source: Kitchen Pantry Cooking Essentials – Key Ingredients and Recipes – Food.com

 

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A Fitting Feast Anytime – Make Ahead Fried Chicken

Fried chicken is one of those things people love to eat but hate to make. Granted it is not the healthiest way to eat chicken but to me it has to be one of the tastiest. I may not make it very often because of all the oil it uses the big cleanup that typical follows making fried chicken, but if you can make the time to make a big batch of it (provided the weather is cool enough in your kitchen in the summer to do it), it can be great to have for outdoor parties, picnics or as your favorite meal. Fried chicken is one of those things that tastes great anytime you want it, whether it is for dinner that night, cold for lunch the next day, re-heated or even as a late night snack. I have tried a bunch of fried chicken recipes in the past but recently i have found myself returning to this one from Melissa Clark at New York Times Cooking for make ahead fried chicken. It seems to strike the perfect balance of spices, good coating and great taste.

Make Ahead Fried Chicken

FOR THE MARINADE:

1 quart buttermilk

2 torn bay leaves

2 thinly sliced shallots

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons hot sauce

1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning

1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons cracked black pepper

1 tablespoon honey

12 drumsticks or a mix of chicken pieces, about 2½ to 3 pounds of chicken

FOR THE COATING:

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cayenne

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon good chile power such as chipotle powder

Corn, grapeseed or vegetable oil, for frying

Make the marinade: Whisk together all the marinade ingredients, except the chicken, and place the marinade in a large bowl or plastic bag. Submerge the chicken in the marinade, cover the bowl or seal the bag, and let the chicken rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or, better, overnight.

Make the coating: In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cayenne pepper, salt and chile powder. Place a paper bag inside another paper bag (this is to prevent seepage, use large bags or several small ones) and transfer the flour mixture into it. This is so you can shake the chicken pieces. (You can also just mix the flour in a large bowl and dredge the chicken parts in it, or use a heavy-duty plastic zipper bag for shaking.)

Take a piece of chicken out of the marinade and place it in the bag with the flour mixture. Close the bag and shake it so the chicken is fully coated. (Or, if you are using a bowl, dredge the chicken in the flour mixture.) Remove the chicken piece and place it on a plate or sheet pan. Repeat the process with the remaining chicken pieces, one by one. Let the chicken rest for 30 minutes so it can come to room temperature. Reserve the coating mixture.

In a large Dutch oven or heavy cast iron skillet with a lid, heat the oil until it reaches 350 degrees on an instant-read thermometer or candy thermometer. Just before frying, shake the chicken pieces in the coating mixture once again, one by one.

Fry the chicken for about 6 to 8 minutes in a covered pan, then uncover the pot and flip the chicken with tongs. Continue frying the chicken for about another 6 to 8 minutes, or until the coating is dark golden brown and the juices run clear when the meat is pricked with a fork.

Place chicken on a wire rack set over a paper-towel-lined baking sheet to drain and cool. Serve the chicken within  8 hours, but it’s best to serve within 4 hours.

The recipe indicates that you could leave the chicken at room temperature for 4 hours, and while you probably could I personally don’t feel right about and refrigerate it. I like cold fried chicken anyway so it’s fine with me and you don’t have to worry about any potential bacteria from leaving the food out too long. I made a mix of chicken pieces – wings, legs, thighs and breasts I had cut in half – and found that the timing worked out well, though I did make the chicken in batches and kept the finished pieces on the rack in a sheet pan in a warm 250 degree oven so that they kept warm. I also checked the temperature of the chicken along the way with my instant-read thermometer to make sure the pieces were at 165 degrees just to be safe. Keep a close eye on your oil and the temperature as you go along if you cook in batches to make sure it stays at the right temp so you can get an even crust on the chicken. The chicken was very flavorful and juicy thanks to the marinade and the double coating you put on the chicken really helps to give it a nice crunch. For the marinade I actually do not always use the Old Bay as Michelle finds it a bit overpowering, so I do occasionally leave it out and the chicken still tastes great. I still use other fried chicken recipes, but this is one that always seem to fall back on as a good go to recipe everyone likes. It tastes just as good the next day for lunch as it does the day you cook it.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on August 18, 2016 in Dinner, Leftovers, Lunch, Picnic Fare, Poultry

 

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Better Than Store-Bought – Buttermilk Fried Chicken Fingers with Ranch Coleslaw

Chicken fingers are one of those things that you probably have a love/hate relationship with. They make a great snack or party appetizer and without a doubt are one those things that most kids love to eat. I remember when Sean was little and went through a phase that no matter where we were – at home, visiting family or out to dinner – he just wanted chicken fingers. The problem is that so many of the chicken fingers you get in the store, from fast food restaurants or even casual family restaurants just do not taste get, at least to adults. There are lots of different chicken finger recipes you can try out there, but this one from Epicurious.com for buttermilk fried chicken fingers was a big hit. They are easy to make, have great flavor and everyone will love them. And what better pairing to make it a good lunch or dinner item than putting it with some ranch coleslaw from Bon Appetit?

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Fingers

For the buttermilk marinade:

3 1/2 cups buttermilk

3 1/2 cups milk

1 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

2 medium jalapeños, sliced (optional)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon hot sauce

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2×4-inch strips, or 2 pounds chicken tenders

For the seasoned flour:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated garlic

2 tablespoons onion powder

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons ground sage

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Canola oil, for frying

Homemade or store-bought ranch dressing, for serving (homemade recipe below)

In a wide, shallow bowl, combine the buttermilk, milk, onion, jalapeño, salt, and hot sauce. Add the chicken pieces, cover the bowl and refrigerate it for 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Set 2 cooling racks over rimmed baking sheets lined with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, combine the flour, granulated garlic, onion powder, thyme, sage, paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

In a large cast iron pot or Dutch oven, pour in enough oil to come up to 2 inches. Set the pot over medium-high heat until the oil registers 350 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in batches of 4 to 5 pieces, remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking each piece to remove any vegetables and excess liquid, and dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour. Fry the chicken pieces, turning once, until they are golden and cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes total per batch. Transfer the chicken to the wire racks and warm them in the oven while frying the remaining batches.

Serve the chicken fingers with the ranch dressing, if desired.

Ranch Coleslaw

For the Ranch Dressing:

¼ cup buttermilk

¼ cup sour cream

¼ cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons finely chopped dill

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons garlic powder

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

For the Coleslaw:

3 cups thinly sliced red and green cabbage

1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced

½ cup Ranch Dressing

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

To make the ranch dressing, stir together the buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise, dill, vinegar, and garlic powder in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

To make the coleslaw, toss the cabbage and carrot with the ranch dressing in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate the coleslaw for 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld before serving.

For the chicken fingers recipe, I actually cut the amounts in half for the recipe I was making because it seemed like a lot both for the marinade and the flour and I was only making 1 pound of chicken. It worked out well for me as I did not end up with a lot of leftover flour and the marinade did its job very well. The chicken fingers picked up great flavor from the buttermilk marinade and the seasoned flour and had a nice little zing to them from the hot sauce. For the coleslaw, I actually doubled the recipe for the dressing so I could use some with the chicken fingers and have plenty leftover for the slaw. The taste of the dressing is spot on in terms of the ranch you would expect to get and it really makes the coleslaw stand out. I used the food processor to cut up the cabbage and carrots so they would be really fine, but you could easily slice it yourself or even buy a store-bought coleslaw mix to use instead. I just happened to pick up carrots and cabbage at the farmers’ market this weekend and it was a good use for them. The chicken fingers are better anything you can buy in the frozen section of your supermarket or what you will get at restaurants and you get to control the ingredients going into them so you can make them taste how you or your kids will like them best. The coleslaw is a perfect side dish for sandwiches, burgers, ribs, pulled pork (which I will be making this week) and just about any summertime lunch or dinner. I got a picture of the coleslaw but forgot to get one of the chicken fingers. I will make them again to get another picture and post it here.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Don’t Dill-y Dally – Make These Dill-icious Homemade Quick Dill Pickles

As much as I love sandwiches it only makes sense that I love the things that can help them make them extra-special for lunch or dinner. That includes having a great side dish like potato salad, coleslaw or another kind of salad, just the right condiments and. of course, pickles. The thing about pickles is that there are some really good ones that you can get when you go out or buy them from the store or farmers’ market and then there are some really bad ones. You know the bad ones as soon as you get them – limp, lifeless and they have no flavor at all or have been sitting for too long. As much as I love pickles, the price for a good pickle is pretty darn expensive today. The good ones in the stores are three or four dollars a jar and you pay just as much or even more at farmers’ markets for good pickles. Now I have never been much of a person when it comes to canning and preserving myself; I just don’t have the space for everything you need or the space to store anything. However, I did want to find a way to make a good, quick batch of pickles so I could have some on hand when I wanted them. I got myself a good jar and set about looking for a recipe and I found this one from Food and Wine that seemed just right for some homemade dill pickles.

Homemade Dill Pickles

1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

3/4 teaspoon dill seeds

2 cups hot water

2 pounds Kirby cucumbers, sliced 1/4 inch thick or sliced into spears

3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill

3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

In a large, heat-proof measuring cup, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seeds, coriander seeds and dill seeds with the hot water and stir the mixture until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Let the brine cool.

In a large bowl, toss the cucumbers with the fresh dill and the garlic. Place the cucumbers, dill and garlic into a jar with a tight seal or leave them in the large bowl. Pour the brine over the cucumbers and turn to coat the cucumbers (if they are in the bowl; if you have them in the jar they are fine as is). If you are using a bowl, place a small plate over the cucumbers to keep them submerged in the bowl, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. If you have the pickles in a jar, close the jar tightly. Refrigerate the pickles overnight, stirring once or twice. Serve cold.

When I first looked at the recipe I was skeptical that I would be able to get good flavor out of pickles with such an easy recipe and with them just sitting overnight, but boy I was wrong. These pickles have fantastic flavor that they pick up from all of the spices, the fresh dill and the garlic. If you like garlic with your pickles these are ideal because the flavor is there without completing overpowering the pickles. If you really like garlic you could always add a few more chopped cloves to the mix, but  I thought they were perfect as is. I have been making these pretty consistently for a couple of months now and once you have all of the ingredients on hand the only cost of making them is buying the pickles. I get a package of 6 Kirby cucumbers for $2.50 and it makes lots of pickle spears that last me for weeks, so the cost savings is pretty good in my opinion. These pickles are perfect to go with any type of sandwich or a burger and will be great for picnics, barbecues or any party. I brought a jar with me to the Outer Banks a few weeks ago and every ate them up. It’s definitely worth the little bit of time it takes to make them.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Savor the Summer for Lunch with This Tomato Sandwich

Summertime brings about some of my favorite vegetables and fresh fruit to make all kinds of great things with. I love to go to the farmers’ markets and see what I can get from some of the local farms and I always come back with something great and delicious. Know that Monroe finally has its own farmers’ market every Sunday I can just drive to town and get some great stuff, which I did this past weekend. I got a great haul of strawberries and peaches, but I also picked up some local beets,  cauliflower, honey, heirloom tomatoes and even a chuck roast from one of the local farms that raises organic beef. Tomatoes are just starting to hit their stride now and instead of turning to what you can get at your local supermarket and pay lots more for sub par fresh tomatoes, go to your nearest farmstand or farmers’ market and get some great heirlooms. I got a basket of heirloom tomatoes which had 6 good-sized tomatoes in it for only $6.00 where they easily sell for at least four dollars a pound in my local store. Now that I have some great tomatoes to use, I needed to find something to make. The first thing I thought of was to have a great lunch with a classic and simple tomato sandwich. You probably don’t even really need a recipe for a tomato sandwich, but I took this idea from Melissa Clark at New York Times Cooking, followed her idea and added a bit to it to really make it my own.

Tomato Sandwich

4 slices crusty bread

1 fat garlic clove, halved crosswise

1 ripe, soft tomato, halved

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mayonnaise, as needed

1 ripe heirloom tomato, sliced

Thinly sliced red or white onion

1 ripe avocado, pitted and sliced thinly (optional)

4 slices cooked bacon (optional)

Toast the bread slices until they are golden. Take each slice and rub one side all over with the cut side of the garlic clove. (The clove should start to disintegrate into the bread.) Rub each slice with the cut sides of the soft halved tomato, pressing so the tomato flesh sticks to the bread. Drizzle the bread with the olive oil, then sprinkle each slice with a bit of salt.

Spread the mayonnaise over the tomato pulp on the slices of bread. Place the sliced heirloom tomatoes on top of 2 pieces of the bread. Cover the tomato slices with the onions and sprinkle them with salt. Top with the avocado slices or the bacon if using, sprinkle on some freshly ground pepper to taste and then use the other 2 slices of tomato-rubbed bread to make sandwiches.

You have lots of options of course, as you do with any sandwich. I omitted the bacon she suggested as I just wanted the taste of the tomato and avocado with the onion. I prefer the bite a red onion provides, but if you like something mellower a white onion is also good. The combination on the sandwich of the great-tasting tomatoes with the onion, avocado and the little hint of garlic on the bread makes it all a perfect lunch. I put a little bit of parsley on mine for some extra flavor and you could do the same with some lettuce, arugula, spinach, fresh basil or anything else you might like. I made the sandwich on my favorite homemade bread and it was divine. It is the perfect sandwich to have during the summer and it makes me wish I could get heirloom tomatoes like this locally all year-long.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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50 Easy Weeknight Summer Dinners, So You Can Relax – Bon Appétit

It’s summer and it’s hot out so avoiding the elaborate dinner becomes almost a necessity for most of us. Bon Appetit is here to help you out with 50 easy weeknight summer dinners so you don’t have to slave in the kitchen to have a good meal. Check it out!

Source: 50 Easy Weeknight Summer Dinners, So You Can Relax – Bon Appétit

 

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Jennifer Probst

a little bit naughty a little bit nice

Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

simple cooking recipes

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