Friday, March 30, 2012

Mini Corn Dogs

Now that we're back from vacation, I'm trying to clean out my pantry and freezer so I can do a big grocery run and restock. I knew that I had some frozen hot dogs hanging around from the Omaha Steak gift my mom gave to us for Christmas. But, I had no hot dog buns. So, I went to my trusty source for recipes that use things like hot dogs in recipes - allrecipes.com - to see what recipes were out there. I couldn't pass up a recipe for homemade corn dogs when it has 4.5 stars and over 400 reviews.

I'll be honest, I didn't hold my breath on this recipe turning out well. But, I'm happy to say that the results were extremely delicious! The batter was not too sweet, not to salty, and as fluffy as you'd want a corn dog coating to be. The hot dogs that I used were BIG hot dogs. So, I cut them into thirds before coating with the batter. I aslo didn't have thicker wooden skewers to use, so I just used a couple toothpicks as my handles. The key to making these is making sure your hot dogs are close to room temp and perfectly dry. If they're moist then the batter will slip right off as you pull it out of your bowl. Also, make sure your oil is hot enough before cooking, otherwise your corndogs will just absorb oil and turn out greasy and heavy.

I ended up having a lot of leftover batter, so I used a cookie scoop and dropped in balls of the batter to make hush puppies (sort of). The plan is to freeze the leftover corn dogs and hush puppies and next time we want something quick to eat, heat them up in the oven just like you would the ones you buy at the grocery. I'm not sure this will work, but can't hurt to give it a try!

I would absolutely make these homemade mini corn dogs again when I'm looking for a fun indulgent treat, or maybe when I have younger houseguests. Oh, and Chris has requested I make these with the Oscar Mayer Jalapeno Cheddar Hot Dogs next time. I'm sure those will be AMAZING!


Here's the recipe, from Allrecipes.com, which makes 16 corn dogs:

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 quart vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 (16 ounce) packages beef frankfurters
  • 16 wooden skewers
Directions:
  1. In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, sugar and baking powder. Stir in eggs and milk.
  2. Preheat oil in a deep saucepan over medium heat. Insert wooden skewers into frankfurters. Roll frankfurters in batter until well coated.
  3. Fry 2 or 3 corn dogs at a time until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Guinness Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

 

One of my favorite bloggers, Brown Eyed Baker blogged a recipe for Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes last year and I immediately saved it to my favorites. The idea of using beer in a cake was interesting, and the addition of sour cream seemed like a nice alternative to making my ultra-moist buttermilk-based cake...I always seemed to buy a giant container of buttermilk  for that cake recipe and end up with a lot left over.

So, this St. Patty's Day, I decided to give the recipe a try. However Chris and I aren't ones to keep Irish Whiskey or Irish Cream in the house. And frankly, I'm too cheap to drop a bunch of money on alcohol we won't drink. So, I adapted the recipe to make "plain" Guinness Cupcakes with a vanilla buttercream frosting. Trust me, these are rich little cakes of goodness too. 

The addition of Guinness to the cake has a similar effect as adding coffee or espresso. It just brings out the natural chocolate flavors that are already going on. Sour cream in the cake gives the cupcakes a really nice moistness.

As far as the frosting goes, a vanilla buttercream works really well here, but honestly, if you have some Bailey's around there's no reason NOT to whip some into the frosting instead of the vanilla! 

In all honesty, these cupcakes turned out marvelously well, and certainly shouldn't be limited to St. Patty's Day! 

Guinness Cupcakes
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes 
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup Guinness stout
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoons salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
Directions:
  1. To Make the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring the Guinness and butter to a simmer in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
  2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl to combine. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined. Add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat briefly. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter until completely combined. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners. Bake until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on a rack.


Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Directions:
  1. Using the wire whisk attachment of your stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.
  2. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.
You can store any unused buttercream in the refrigerator in an airtight container; let it come to room temperature and then give it a quick whip in the mixer before using.

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pioneer Woman's Mexican Rice

I made this Mexican rice a couple of weeks ago when I was looking for something to serve alongside some burritos. Knowing that all I had on hand were some Ro-tel tomatoes and rice, I looked for a rice recipe that'd work with my limited ingredients. 

Pioneer Woman's recipe worked like a charm! Her recipe makes a LOT of rice. But it's nice because not only does it use things I typically have on hand, it does make pretty tasty leftovers for the next day (or two, or three). 

The only thing to watch out for is cooking your rice long enough. The original recipe on the Pioneer Woman's site says you only need to cook for about 10-15 minutes after adding the chicken broth to the pan. Both times I've made this I have had to cook for about 10-15 ADDITIONAL minutes, with the addition of about another cup to cup and a half of liquid. So taste and add water as you go, and once you get the rice cooked to the done-ness you prefer, you're done.

Also, if you want to add more spice to this, use two cans of Ro-tel instead of 1 can of Ro-tel + 1 can tomatoes.

Here's the original recipe from Pioneer Woman. Makes at least 10 side dish servings, if not more.
Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 1/2 whole Large Onion, Chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 cups Long Grain Rice
  • 1 can Rotel (10 Ounce)
  • 1 can Whole Tomatoes (14.5 Ounce)
  • 2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth (more If Needed)
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin (more To Taste)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Cilantro, Chopped (optional)
Directions:
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onions and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add rice and garlic. Stir constantly, making sure the rice doesn't burn. Cook over low heat for 3 minutes.
  2. Add Ro-tel and tomatoes. Stir to combine and let cook for 2 minutes. Finally, add broth and bring to a boil. 
  3. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 additional minutes or until rice is done. Add more liquid as needed; rice shouldn’t be sticky. (I had to cook my rice for another 10-15 minutes more, adding another cup of chicken broth)
  4. Just before serving, sprinkle lots of freshly chopped cilantro over the top. Serve immediately.


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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Kung Pao Chicken

If you were to ask Chris what his favorite foods are, he may put Kung Pao Chicken somewhere near the top. That is probably the only thing I've ever seen him order at PF Changs. So while this recipe is not really a knock off PF Changs Kung Pao chicken, it's a good make-at-home substitute that gets him the spicy, salty, nutty stirfry he wants. I also like it a lot because it's pretty easy, and I can throw whatever vegetables I have laying around in to give it a little more interest.

This recipe can be found on allrecipes.com and has pretty high reviews there too. The recipe calls for white wine, which I omit because I rarely have it. It also calls for water chestnuts, which adds nice crunch. But, as I mentioned before, the veggies you throw in are totally up to you. My favorites are bell peppers and broccoli. The night I took this photo I also had some green beens that I tossed in. The sauce doesn't make very much, so I'd recommend doubling or tripling it if you want some extra sauce to pour over your rice.

Recipe from Allrecipes.com, makes 4 servings: Kung Pao Chicken
Ingredients:

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 ounce hot chile paste
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts
  • 4 ounces chopped peanuts

Directions:

  1. To Make Marinade: Combine 1 tablespoon wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon cornstarch/water mixture and mix together. Place chicken pieces in a glass dish or bowl and add marinade. Toss to coat. Cover dish and place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  2. To Make Sauce: In a small bowl combine 1 tablespoon wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon cornstarch/water mixture, chili paste, vinegar and sugar. Mix together and add green onion, garlic, water chestnuts and peanuts. In a medium skillet, heat sauce slowly until aromatic.
  3. Meanwhile, remove chicken from marinade and saute in a large skillet until meat is white and juices run clear. When sauce is aromatic, add sauteed chicken to it and let simmer together until sauce thickens.

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