“Fried” Zucchini Coins

fried zucc One of my favorite foods is fried zucchini! For many years, I was on the hunt for the perfect burger and fried zucchini. Because of course, they’re an awesome combo. I’ve found many I like, but let’s just say my quest still continues.

So of course I’ve resorted to making my own at home. Minus the fry. But not minus the crunch! If these weren’t crisp, they wouldn’t be worth making in my opinion. “Fried” zucchini has to be crispy and have that special crunch. And although this recipe is a little time consuming (but hey, anything that has to be dredged and breaded is!) it’s totally worth the time it takes. My family inhales this every single time I make it. There’s the proof that it’s worth the time. And we’ve taken a vote in my house and it’s unanimous that we all prefer the “coin” shape as opposed to “sticks”. Why is that? Just because…

“Fried” Zucchini Coins

  • 2 large zucchini (or 3 small) cut into 1/4″ coins
  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 2 eggs plus 2 tbsp. milk, whisked together
  • 3/4 c. Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • A heaping 1/2 c. panko crumbs
  • Pinch of garlic powder and black pepper
  • Grated parmesan cheese, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a cooking sheet generously with cooking spray. I used a tray that fit into the cooking sheet but after trying it once, I prefer to just lay the zucchini directly onto the sheet. In three separate bowls, add flour to one. Then add the eggs & milk to another, whisking together. And in the last bowl, add both types of bread crumbs, along with the seasonings. Stir to combine. Then set up your dredging bowls as shown in the picture.

fried zucc 5Take one piece of zucchini, roll it in the flour and then gently shake the excess off. Add the zucchini to the egg wash, making sure to coat the entire piece. Then take out of the wash and add to the bread crumbs, pressing to adhere the crumbs to the zucchini. Lay on the sheet and then continue this process with each piece of zucchini.

When completed breading, spray generously with cooking spray and put in the oven for 10 minutes. Flip each zucchini coin over and then continue cooking for another 7-10 minutes. This really depends if your oven cooks fast or slow. When zucchini is done, place on a plate and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese if you’d like. Serve immediately.

fried zucc 4fried zucc 3fried zucc 2Since this is baked and not fried, you will not get the traditional brown fried look. This zucchini slightly browns but still has that amazing crunch. Serve it with ranch dressing to dip it in. There is literally no other way to eat “fried” zucchini. I think it’s illegal to eat it without ranch.

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Easy Cinnamon Apples

cinnapp 5Fall is here. But where I live, it really hasn’t felt like fall at all. Part of my weekend included wearing a tank top and shorts, wishing for a cool breeze as I sat watching my daughter’s softball game. It was downright hot in the sun! But a gloomy morning came to be the following day and desperately craving fall comfort food, I decided to whip up these apples. Hopefully to speed along the fall weather as well. Although it’s just wishful thinking, since the weather forecast shows 90’s midweek. This just doesn’t seem right for late October. But these apples tricked me a little into feeling like fall was in the air.

Easy Cinnamon Apples

  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced in thin slices (any variety apple will do)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. chopped nuts of your choice (I used almonds)
  • 2 tbsp. whiskey, optional (I used Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey)*

Heat a pan over medium heat. Add butter and let melt. Add in apples and cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 5 minutes or until tender. *Now here’s the optional part if you choose to do so. Remove the pan from the heat. Like away from the stove. Pour in the whiskey. Place pan back on heat. It will most likely flame up so stand back and BE CAREFUL. If it doesn’t flame up, slightly tip the pan towards the flame and it will then catch and flame up. The flames will die off very quickly.  But please make sure you NEVER EVER pour hard alcohol straight from the bottle into a pan that is sitting on the heat. You can very easily catch the entire bottle AND yourself on fire. If you don’t want to use the alcohol or are afraid of setting yourself on fire, just skip this entire step.

Then at this point, add in the brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir. Then add in the nuts and stir to combine.

This recipe makes a smaller serving so if you’re wanting extra, you can easily double it.

cinnappcinnapp 2cinnapp 3cinnapp 4Now you have these delicious, incredibly simple cinnamon apples to do with what you will! I used them on top of a shortcake to make my very own Cinnamon Apple Shortcake. But a few other suggestions to put these apples up on top of:

  • Vanilla bean ice cream
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles
  • Pork chops

They’d also be great used in an apple crisp. But I will definitely be trying them in a Cinnamon Apple Cobbler. Look for that upcoming blog post soon!

Refried Beans

refried beansSomething that used to intimidate me? Dried beans. Yes, dried beans. As silly as it sounds! I’ve always been a canned bean kind of girl and it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I decided to give dried beans a go.

I knew they were time consuming (soaking them and cook time). But what I didn’t was that they are actually incredibly easy to make. And so much better tasting than their canned counterparts. And even though you’re supposed to soak them, it’s not a requirement.

Truth be told, I’ve had quite the trials with my refried beans. There have been many a time where I’ve added way too much salt and they were basically inedible. Or I didn’t let them cook long enough, and they really weren’t as tender as they needed to be. But lo and behold, here’s a recipe that works.

These “refried” beans taste pretty authentic. I use quotes because they are not traditional (no lard involved) however, if you can get that authentic taste at home, I consider it a win. I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again, getting authentic international flavor at home is hard to accomplish. I think that’s why so many people go out to eat, because you can’t get that same flavor at home. But here you go. Make this and you’ll feel like you’re at a Mexican restaurant. That’s in your very own kitchen.

Refried Beans

  • 2-2 1/2 cups dried pinto beans
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. bacon grease

Rinse the beans. Add to a large pot (I use my Dutch oven) and fill with water to just about 1″ above the beans. Let soak. If you don’t have the time or you just simply don’t remember this, that’s okay. I think the longest I’ve ever let my beans soak is about 4 hours.

Add the ham hock to the pot. Heat the pot on high until it comes to a boil. Cover with a lid, and reduce to a simmer for 3 hours if beans were soaked, about 4 hours if beans were not soaked. Make sure to check on these a couple times throughout the cooking time to make sure the water hasn’t evaporated. If you feel the water level is too low, you can add a little more water to the pot.

Remove lid and stir in the rest of the ingredients, except the bacon grease. Cover with a lid and let simmer for an additional hour.

After the hour is up, mash lightly (I use a potato masher) until your desired consistency and stir in the bacon grease until it melts. You can leave the ham hock in and mash around it or remove and discard. My dad loves them so when he’s over, the ham hock is his. But I just use it to flavor the beans. Also, if you feel the beans are too runny, you can let them simmer a little bit longer with the lid off until they thicken further.

This recipe makes a large amount. Enough so that I can usually freeze the other half which in my opinion, is so worth it so we can have beans at the ready for the next time we want Mexican. refried beans 6refried beans 5refried beans 4refried beans 3refried beans 2

Creamy Cajun Pasta with Andouille Sausage

cajun pastaA pasta dinner is such a nice comfort meal. And I’m all about comfort food!! Especially when I can do a double carb overload. I love eating pasta with bread. Don’t judge. It’s like a must for me.

But it’s nice to change things up a bit so this pasta recipe doesn’t have a red sauce. Instead, it’s creamy and got a little kick to it! So watch out for the little people in your house in case they can’t handle spicy. I got my Andouille at the butcher counter and it was fresh made so it was actually pretty mild but it’s typically packing some serious heat.

This recipe also makes for a really quick weeknight meal because it comes together so fast. And it’s pretty inexpensive. So if you’re tight on time and money, try this one out!

Creamy Cajun Pasta with Andouille Sausage (serves 6)

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3/4- 1 lb. Andouille sausage
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb. crimini (aka baby bellas) mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 lb. rigatoni pasta
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1 c. half & half
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. creole seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. chili pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese

Fill a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a large sauté pan, add the olive oil and heat on medium. Add the Andouille sausage. I removed mine from the casing. But other types are fine to slice into coins. Brown up the sausage and break it up. Add in the onions, bell pepper and mushrooms. Continue cooking and stirring for several minutes or until sausage is cooked through. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more. Then add the wine to deglaze the pan. Make sure to stir and remove any bits from the bottom. Let cook until the wine has almost completely reduced. Add in the half and half, as well as all of the spices and cheese. Cook for a few minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly.  Add in the pasta and stir to combine and coat the pasta. Serve immediately.

cajun pasta 6cajun pasta 5cajun pasta 4cajun pasta 3cajun pasta 2

What’s that smell?

drainWe’d been living with the strangest odor in our house for almost two weeks. And I was pretty sure it was coming from the kitchen sink. Now let me give you a little back story here real quick so you can understand why I had come to that conclusion.

Our kitchen sink has clogged and backed up a few times in recent months and this last time was the worst of all. Long story short, my very handy husband saved us $500 by chiseling out the stucco on the OUTSIDE of our house to find the clean out valve for the kitchen sink. Seems like 20+ years ago, the builder of our house decided to stucco OVER the clean out valve. After getting some plumbing quotes and discovering that we had a more serious problem than just a standard clog, my hubs took the matter into his own hands and knocked out the stucco and found the clean out valve in the wall. He was able to use an auger and put it in the clean out valve (which we were told is the proper way to clean a clog) and he even installed a little door over the valve on the outside wall to make it look nice. Of course this all could’ve been avoided if the builder had done their job properly…..

Anyways, shortly after that incident, I noticed a horrid odor coming out of the sink area. Like sweet, rotten, nasty dirty dog smell. We figured it was rotten food remnants stuck in the pipes or the disposal so we tried a drain cleaner. Didn’t work. I even tried the trusty old school method of baking soda, vinegar and boiling water. In case you’re not familiar with this, it really does work great for small clogs and odors.

1/2 cup of baking soda is poured into the drain. Followed by about 1 cup of white vinegar. Let that sit awhile (maybe half an hour) then pour in a small pot of boiling water. If the clog’s not too bad, it should clear it right out as well as freshen things up odor wise.

So anyways, that method didn’t do anything either. I used those lemon plink balls. Nada! I finally resorted to using lots of air fresheners which really did nothing but add to the “sweet” rotten smell. I really didn’t know where to go from there.

Sunday morning rolls around and we’ve had a busy weekend and my husband is wanting a nice breakfast. So I get up early and start cooking so we can have a big breakfast before church. Bacon, eggs, biscuits & gravy. That was on the menu. So I’ve got the bacon and biscuits in the oven. Getting ready to start the gravy on the stovetop and needed to break my eggs into a bowl because I really wanted scrambled eggs. Well if you didn’t know this, we have chickens in our backyard so we always have fresh eggs. Unfortunately it’s been so hot here and my girls haven’t been laying that much. So I only had four eggs in my basket (which I keep on the counter) but I figured that was enough. I started rinsing them off and cracking them into the bowl and when I get to the last egg, it’s stuck to the basket. Weird. I grab it a little harder and it just explodes! But not like yolk and all that splatters me. Just a huge puff of air, like it had been compressed. This is followed by the most horrible odor I could have ever imagined. Then black liquid starts oozing out of the egg and onto the countertop.

I tried my best to clean it up but I started dry heaving uncontrollably. So loud in fact that my husband yells down the stairs and wants to know what is wrong with me! I tell him there’s black stuff coming out of the egg and it smells disgusting. He comes down and like my knight in shining armor, cleans it all up. The smell is so bad we have to open all the windows and turn the fan on. He also comes to the conclusion that the egg was cracked on the bottom and air had gotten in, causing the egg to slowly rot and reach a point somewhere past rancid.

After the clean up, my hubs asks me if I thought the egg was the smell and not actually the sink. Hmmm….. good idea! The smell is so bad though that I figure once it all clears out and we get home from church, we’ll be able to tell.

Fast forward a couple hours later and we walk into a stink free kitchen. So almost two weeks of enduring rotten kitchen stink funk, only for it to end up being a rotten egg sitting on the counter next to the sink.

And just like that, there went my dreams of being a detective….

Corn Salsa

corn salsa 4I don’t know about you, but texture means something to me when I’m eating. As in, I don’t want to eat a bunch of soft, mushy food. In my opinion, it’s always nice to have that little crunch or something to offset the food and add texture!

So this recipe (if you can call it that) will add just that the next time you have tacos. Especially if you’re going more traditional and having soft tacos. I love the crunch of fried shells but lately, I’ve really been digging warm, soft tortillas when it’s taco time. When I pulled out this corn salsa, my husband kind of turned his nose up at it. He’s not one for trying something different and veering away from what he’s used to but he did give it a try, and he agreed. The crunch was much appreciated and the flavor of the corn salsa added that special something. We enjoyed this on green chili pulled pork tacos but it would be great on beef, chicken or even for veggie tacos.

Corn Salsa

  • 1, 15.25 ounce can of corn, drained
  • 1 large green onion, sliced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, finely chopped
  • Pinch each of salt and ground cumin
  • A squeeze of lemon or lime juice

corn salsa 3Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve on your tacos of choice. And it’s also yummy in burritos!

corn salsa 2corn salsa

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

pulled pork 7Thursdays are a busy day for me this time of year. My oldest daughter has softball after school and that means I don’t have much time to make dinner. So the slow cooker it is! That way when we get home from practice, we can still enjoy a home cooked dinner that’s waiting for us. I’d much rather prefer that instead of having hungry, complaining little people walking around, whining and asking repeatedly when dinner will be ready.

I like to start this recipe the night before but if you’re pressed for time, it can always be put together the morning of. Just skip the night before step.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

  • 3-4 lb. bone in pork shoulder
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. each of ground cumin and chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. each of paprika, garlic powder and onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. each of salt and pepper
  • Dash of cayenne
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced
  • 6 oz. beer

The night before: Mix together all of the spices in a bowl. Sprinkle and rub the spices all over both sides of the pork. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

The next morning: Add the sliced onions to your slow cooker insert. Unwrap the pork and place on top of the onions. Pour the beer over the meat. Turn the slow cooker on low and cook for 8-10 hours.

When the meat has finished cooking, remove the bone and the layer of fat on the pork. Using forks or tongs, pull the pork apart into smaller pieces. Serve on buns with BBQ sauce.

pulled porkpulled pork 2pulled pork 3pulled pork 5pulled pork 4pulled pork 6*If you don’t drink or like cooking with alcohol, you can omit the beer. I’ve cooked this both ways and I like them both. But the beer adds just that little extra flavor. And I used a whole beer and only poured half of it over the meat. If you’re into morning drinking, finish the beer. If not, you can put it in the fridge and give it to your husband when he gets home from work. Mine asked me why the beer was so flat and why there was only half of it. But seriously, if your husband likes beer as much as mine, he really won’t mind.