“Fried” Drumsticks

Well, so much for winter. After our New Year’s Eve snow, (which actually hung around for a few days in the shady spots of our yard and the neighbor’s) the weather forecast has shown that it will be in the 80’s tomorrow. THIS is one of my gripes about living in Southern California. It just shouldn’t be 80 in January, a week after it snowed. It’s absolutely ridiculous. I just refuse to wear shorts in January! Anyways, now that I’ve gotten that complaint out of my system, onto the food. January means it should be cold, and cold weather means comfort food. So there.

I made these “fried” drumsticks awhile back and this is the way to make them. Although I love traditional fried chicken (your U.S. citizenship is taken away if you don’t), this is easier and makes for quicker cleanup. And you can completely customize this to suit your tastes. You just need to know the method to do it.

“Fried” Drumsticks

  • 8-10 drumsticks
  • 1 cup flour
  • Seasonings of your choice (I used paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt & pepper)
  • Cooking spray

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, add flour and generously sprinkle the seasonings of your choice into the bowl as well. Stir to combine. Dredge the drumsticks in the flour mixture and place on a baking sheet that’s been sprayed with cooking spray. Once all the drumsticks have been dredged, completely spray them with cooking spray. Place in the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes. You can tell they’re done when the meat starts pulling away from the bone.

fried chicken 3fried chickenfried chicken 2And there you have it! These drumsticks come out with a crunchy skin and are moist and flavorful. Like I said, customize it to suit your tastes and use what seasonings you like.

Even though winter seems to have come and gone (please come back), you can’t take comfort food from me!

OMG Banh Mi!

banh mi 2Have you ever had a banh mi sandwich? I hadn’t tried one up until a few months ago. I’d seen them on menus and heard about them on cooking shows. I’d always been curious but wasn’t quite sure. Well, I tried one at a local café and OMG banh mi! Delicious! What had I waited so long for?!?!

So I’m no banh mi authority but it’s basically a Vietnamese sandwich (supposed to be served on a baguette) with some pickled veggies, cucumbers and cilantro. All those flavors together equal a symphony in your mouth!

I’ve made turkey banh mi sandwiches at home as of late, but I wanted something a little heartier for dinner. This recipe is not “traditional” (I didn’t use daikon and I used a bun, not a baguette) but has those delightful banh mi flavors. In chicken burger form. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Instrument of torture

Instrument of torture

As for making this scrumptious burger, if you have a mandolin, NOW is the time to use it. I am terrified of this kitchen tool, as we all should be. But I didn’t experience true fear until I took a piece of my thumb off with it. It was major in my opinion. I whined (yes, I know, I’m ashamed I whined as an adult) and told my husband I thought I needed to be taken to the hospital. He thought I was exaggerating. But it really hurt and bled for what felt like FOREVER. At least I didn’t cry like the time when a glass blender fell out of the top cabinet and onto my head. Anyways, I almost always use the guard and am very careful with this instrument of death now. But it came in handy for this recipe as I used it to cut all the veggies. If you don’t have one, that’s okay. Just eyeball your cuts and try for thin slices.

Chicken Banh Mi Burger (makes 6 burgers)

  • 1/2 c. rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and julienned (1/8″ setting on mandolin)
  • 1/4-1/2 of a small white onion, thinly sliced (1/8″ setting on mandolin)
  • 6 buns (I used my favorite Hard Rolls from Walmart)
  • 1 3/4 pounds ground chicken (I used dark meat)
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. panko crumbs
  • dash of white pepper
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced (1/8″ setting on mandolin)
  • 1-2 baby cucumbers, thinly sliced (1/8″setting on mandolin)
  • Small handful of cilantro
  • Mayo

Add the first three ingredients to a small pot and stir over medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Cool slightly and then add onions and carrots. Set aside and let pickle for at least 30 minutes. After the veggies have pickled, drain off liquid and refrigerate until ready to use.

In a large bowl, mix together the ground chicken, green onions, garlic, soy sauce, white pepper and bread crumbs. You can use immediately or set in the fridge (which I did) to let the flavors come together. Divide into 6 equal size patties. Preheat your outdoor grill to about 350, or you can use a cast iron skillet or pan sprayed with cooking spray on your stovetop. Cook burgers about 5 minutes on each side, depending on your stove or grill. You can tell the chicken is cooked through when you touch the meat and it’s firm. Remove from grill and set aside.

Slice buns in half and slather each side with mayo. Place the burger patty on the bottom bun and add enough cucumber slices to cover the patty. Add a little bit of the pickled veggies on top. Place some jalapeno slices and cilantro on top of the veggies and cover with the top bun.

banh mi 6banh mi 5banh mi 4banh mibanh mi 3Enjoy your banh mi burger. Or should I say BOMB mi burger?

Chicken Chili with a side of “fries”

chiliChili! It’s all American! Traditionally made with beef, however, over the past year, my family has almost completely switched out ground beef for ground chicken. And we love it! To tell the truth, I like this chili much better with chicken than with beef. I don’t know if Texas will allow me to enter their territory with that statement, but it’s true.

Whenever I make chili, I also make French fries because my kids are chili cheese fries fans. Say that five times fast. My fries are baked so they’re even healthier for you than the traditional fried version, plus they’re super easy. So for the kid in you, see the recipe for my homemade French fries down below.

Chicken Chili (serves 4)

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c. mild chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. tabasco or other hot sauce (this is completely optional depending on your spice level)
  • 1 tbsp. instant coffee powder or strong brewed coffee
  • 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes, or 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 c. chicken broth
This is a real dutch oven, not the urban dictionary definition!

This is a real dutch oven, not the urban dictionary definition!

In a dutch oven (or large saucepan/pot) heat oil and add ground chicken. Stir and break up the chicken, adding the onion and bell peppers. When chicken is cooked (it will no longer be pink), add the rest of the ingredients. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for approximately 45 minutes or until thickened.

*If you don’t have a dutch oven, I highly recommend investing in one. They are ideal for soups and shredded meats and are great because they can be used on the stovetop and then transferred to the oven for further cooking.

*If you are a spicy chili fan, you can use a spicier chili powder and also add more hot sauce.

Homemade Baked French Fries

wedges

My “tutorial” on how to cut your potatoes for fries

  • 5-6 russet potatoes, washed and sliced into wedges (cut in half long ways, then cut those halves into halves long ways, then do it again, understood?!?!)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • pepper
Golden & crispy

Golden & crispy

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place your potato wedges on a baking sheet and pour olive oil over the fries. Sprinkle garlic powder, salt and pepper over the fries (it’s up to you how much seasoning you want on your fries) and then using your hands, stir all of it together to get those fries coated. Bake for about 15 minutes, then turn the fries over. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes. Fries should be crisp and golden.

chili cheese fries 2

A tasty pile of chili & potato goodness

Me Love You Long Time, House Special Chicken!!

I was craving Chinese food last night. I actually crave it often! Want to know why? Well that’s because I live very close to a Chinese restaurant, like 5 minutes walking distance, and a lot of time when I’m outside, I can smell what they’re cooking. And it smells so good! So yesterday as I got out of my car, I was overwhelmed by the aromas wafting my way and decided that Chinese food must be had by all, well, at least all the people in my house.

Again, I’m going to mention budget friendly. This is my thing people. I like to recreate dishes that I’ve eaten at restaurants, and spend a fraction of what it costs to eat out. Now don’t get me wrong, going out for a meal is great. You have someone else waiting on you, someone else cooking the food for you and someone else cleaning it all up too. But there’s also that price tag at the end that pays for all those services. At home, I’m all those people, waitress, chef and dishwasher. But on the bright side, I am saving a lot of money, still eating a delicious meal, and bonus, I can wear my pajamas if I want to. If you enjoy cooking like I do, this isn’t a bad deal at all. And if you want less work? Have your husband or kids do the dishes. I prefer to do my own dishes as I have serious issues with my dishwasher. Like, I don’t like anyone touching it, or loading it. I am the only person who knows how to load it efficiently. I can come to your house and show you how to efficiently load yours too?? I’ve actually done this before. I’m sorry, you know who you are.

So, this recipe is for House Special Chicken, and if you’ve ordered Chinese take out before, you know about this dish. If you’ve never had it before, think along the salty and sweet lines. And you will get those restaurant flavors at home with this recipe, I promise!

house special chicken 2

Where are the green onions, you ask? Well, I never claimed to be perfect!

House Special Chicken

  • 3/4 c. soy sauce
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, minced (omit this if you’re not a ginger lover)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. sriracha
  • 1 -1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • Canola oil
  • Cornstarch
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • Toasted sesame seeds

Whisk the first 8 ingredients together and set aside. Heat approximately 1/2 inch of oil (this is a shallow fry) in a skillet, on medium high. (I used a 12 inch cast iron skillet) Dredge chicken cubes in cornstarch, and shake off excess. (I used 1/2 a box of cornstarch and it was a perfect amount) Add chicken to heated oil and shallow fry for approximately 3-4 minutes, stirring the chicken around to make sure it evenly cooks. You will have to cook the chicken in at least 2 batches, depending on the size of your skillet. Using a metal slotted spoon, set cooked chicken aside. When done cooking all of your chicken, heat a separate pan (a wok works perfectly for this), and add sauce. Heat to boiling, and carefully add cooked chicken. Add sliced green onions and stir to coat. You can add toasted sesame seeds, if you would like, either in the pan or when you plate. Also, if you like things spicy, red chili flakes would be great in this!

house special chickenVoila! It looks like you ordered that in a restaurant. Oh, me love you long time house special chicken. Hope you love it long time too!