Corn Fritter Fretting

Tonight, I discovered that I was rather on my own for dinner as my husband wasn’t going to be home until later. He would arrive in time for the eating part, but it was up to me to make sure dinner was available for the consuming. My husband had already gotten venison steaks out last night to thaw. I knew he was having a very hectic day, so I decided to make some of his favorites.

Venison steaks in mushroom sauce
sliced seasoned potatos, fried

I decided to try something different with my usual veggie. I broke my usual rule of having at least one vegetable that wasn’t fried on the plate tonight.

I found a recipe here. Allrecipe Corn Fritters

I’ve been wanting to make these for a while. I love the little golden nuggets I get at my favorite Italian restaurant that are golden and crispy on the outside and have a gooey, sweet corn filling.

This is not what happened this evening when I attempted to make corn fritters for the first time.

Just for the record, I would like to say that the recipe itself did not turn out bad. I changed a few things for the sake of not having stuff and ended up with something that wasn’t half bad, but wasn’t what I expected either.

First off, while making the batter, I added 1 teaspoon of sugar instead of 1/4 teaspoon. I liked the taste and would have even added more. Comments I saw on the recipe state that I am not the only one to do so.

I always use fat free milk as that is what I grew up with. The recipe did not specify what type to use.
Where I goofed was when I discovered I was out of canned corn.

I had a whole bag of corn in the freezer, so silly me, I decided to use this instead of driving to the store and buying corn in the can.
I got out the equivalent amount and rinsed them under hot water until the corn was thawed.

I know know that my error was not in making sure that either the corn was completely thawed, or not cooking i in water first.
The fritters themselves turned out really well. The corn was just a tiny bit chewy. I also think that I should have added more corn, as when the fritters were broken open, there wasn’t as much corn as I would have liked in them. I did make my fritters larger, so this may account in part for the lack of kernels.

I served them with maple syrup as recomended, and they were still a hit with my husband. For some odd reason, I eat mine with French dressing. The sweet dippers make up for the lesser amount of sugar. I was rather surprised at how easy it was to make corn fritters in the end, although they seemed more like corn hush puppies after I was done.

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Sun Dried Tomato Spread Bread

So I bought a jar of something that looked interesting from Giant. It was Sun dried Tomato spread. Having led a sheltered childhood as my husband says, I had no idea this had existed before seeing it. I tend to meander through grocery stores looking for something to strike my fancy while my husband tends to go up and down every aisle while following his lists.

Anyhoodles, I decided to use this as a tomato substitute for some bruschetta. In a microwave safe bowl, I combined margarine, minced garlic to taste (I love garlic, so my bowl had about 2 tablespoons in it or two good squeezes of the bottle(garlic in a squeeze bottle, another epic invention!)) as well as a dash of spice. I melted this for about two 10 second rounds (stop in between and check that stuff is melting lest you set your mixture on fire in the microwave).

I spread this on some sliced Parmesean Pepper bread that we had picked up from the store spread some of the Sun dried Tomato spread on the bread, and then finished it off with a dash of Oregano. I then popped it in the oven (375 F for about 15-20 minutes). What came out was nummy! Even my husband (who hates tomatoes by the way) like this stuff!

You get the roasted tomato-y goodness on crusty bread as a nice snack! Heck, stack some fresh tomatoes on top of that for fun! A friend stopped by and her middle-school aged son ate her whole piece of bread, so you might be able to pass this off to some picky eaters as well!

If you try it, enjoy!

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Fried Green Beans and Crunchy Onion Chicken

I said I would post one of my favorite dishes, and here it is! My mother-in-law introduced me to this dish before I even married into the family. It’s her fall-back and I have to say, I love it! She makes these in a non-stick pan and used butter. I only have stainless steel, which does tend to stick more, but we also use Olive Oil to feel a bit healthier sometimes. I cook these around medium heat, and you have to watch them or they will burn and smoke quickly.

Melt two tablespoons of butter (the real stuff) on medium heat in a non-stick skillet.

I use green beans that we can or get from other family members. I drain the jar, but still let a little bit of liquid in the bottom. Dump the beans into a mixing bowl. To this, add flour enough to coat. I tend to use anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup depending on how dry they are and how long I am letting them sit. Sometimes, the coating sticks better if the beans sit a bit.

To this mixture, I add salt and pepper to taste. I also add Old Bay and minced garlic and I stir until everything is evenly coated. Don’t worry if the coating looks a bit wet or gummy, that just means it will be a bit more crunchy later on!

When the pan is hot, dumb the beans in all at once and spread them out in a layer. Now this is the important part, and the one I have the most trouble with…Leave them be! Do not stir them right away. These beans crisp when they are left alone, so wait a few minutes (like 3-5) before using a spatula to flip them over. Once they start crisping, then you can start stirring more. Eat when you reach the preferred level of doneness.

I ate these with my version of French’s crunchy onion chicken. I love French’s onions. I eat them straight out of the container. I’ve tried off brands, but I do not like them as much. I also love the original onion flavors, the cheddar ones made me gag, but my husband loved them.

I like to marinate my chicken in a sauce before coating it in breading. I do this all the time now, and without it, the chicken doesn’t seem as moist or flavorful. I coat my chicken in Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue sauce (my husband introduced me to this and we use no other sauce in the house). I will sometimes use a meat hammer on it first. I dump the chicken breasts in a plastic bag (Gallon works best).

In another gallon bag, I combine roughly 1/2 to 1 cup crunchy onions, about a tablespoon of flour, and some seasoned bread crumbs if I have them. The onions never seem to cover much, and I’d have to use a whole box on two chicken breasts to get the kind of coating I can get with a shake of the bread crumb container. So I combine. The breadcrumbs evenly coat while the onions give flavor.

After I mix everything in the bag, I seal it, and then run my marble rolling pin over it a few times. This does wonders for crushing the onions. Remove chicken from barbecue bag, stick in coating bag, and pat and roll it around until you get the coating you want. Put on a sprayed or non-stick cookie sheet and cook around 375 F for about 20 minutes, depending on how thick your chicken breasts are. I sometimes flip the thicker breasts half-way through to make sure I get an even coating.

Eat when all sign of pinkness is gone from the breast and they are fully cooked (I always have to cut into mine to check).

Use a spatula to remove breasts from sheet as the coating can stick if you don’t spray it enough.

Bleu Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

So once again, I was left to my own devices nearing towards dinner time as my hubby went out to inspect a tractor he was debating on purchasing from a friend’s father. I was hoping to relax tonight through cooking, since I have off tomorrow and today (this whole week rather. Heck, lets call it the whole month) has been a bit stressful. As I have mentioned before, the more I stress, the more I tend to stress cook. Sure I stress eat with the best of them, but I tend to cook more elaborately when I am trying to relieve pressure. Unfortunately, I also can get frustrated easily if a recipe doesn’t go right.

Drink!

Tonight, I decided to take it easy. I mixed up 1 of the small shots (hubby says maybe 3/4 oz) of Whipped Cream Vodka from Pinnacle, and two of the smaller shots of Peach Schnapps, and then added a whole can of coke and stirred. This tends to be my favorite drink, and it helps me relax when I am cooking to relax. (Note, I don’t do this on a regular basis, please don’t think I am a lush!)

I decided to make my comfort food plate. This is the standard fall-back whenever I am feeling a little blue.

Basically, fried green beans, crunchy onion chicken, and some other side, along with some baked tomato spread bread.

Fried Green beans I will post next with the Crunchy onion chicken. I decided to do tonights side as Bleu Cheese stuffed mushrooms after realizing that my mushrooms would go bad within the next two days. I didn’t start with a recipe, so this is my first attempt and I rather just threw many things into a bowl.

I picked out 6 of my biggest mushrooms, and chopped about 3 of their stems into little pieces and threw them into the bowl. To this I added about 4 oz. of cream cheese and about 1/8-1/4 cup of bleu cheese, mostly some of the bigger chunks in the bowl I had from the store salad aisle. I added also about 1/4 cup seasoned italian bread crumbs, and then threw in some beef broth that I had that needed used up until it was moist. Then I started to stir. If I do this again, I am using my mixture. Since I hadn’t let the cream cheese warm, it was a little harder to mix with a fork. I seasoned the mixture with sea salt, pepper, minced garlic (about 1/2 teaspoon) and a dash of some of my favorite spices. Mostly only a bit of Emeril’s (sp?) and a dash of Oregano. As I was mixing, I would toss in more broth if the mixture got dry.

I stuffed as much as I could into each mushroom, popped them in a high-sided greased baking dish and tossed them in the 375 F oven with the chicken. I hadn’t defrosted my chicken as much as I should have and I wanted it crunch, so everything was in there for about 40 mins. I took the mushrooms out a little before when the cheese got bubbly.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture before my husband started devouring them, but he assured me that the mushrooms were really good. I take this in good faith as he usually doesn’t like bleu cheese on his salad or much of anything. They had the lovely bleu flavor without being overwhelming.

Friday Nights

My husband and I have been trying to save a few bucks every week like everyone is want to do in this economical climate. Instead of going out with my parents and their friends every Friday night (all are retired and slightly more financially stable than us) we tend to make Friday nights special dinner nights for just us.

With tax season over, I now have a husband again and was pleasantly surprised to find him home early on Friday afternoon. I had texted him about the absolute rotten day I had ( some interesting clients) and was met at the door where he handed me one of my favorite drinks and told me to relax.

I will post the drink in a bit as I have come up with several that have recently been tested and approved by friends. Mostly, I wanted to share the absolute wonderful meal I literally came home to.

During the summer, the grill is uncovered and my husbands inner chef stretches his arms and warms up for superb feasts of season delight. In our quest to eat healthier- grilling has provided a delightful donation to our cause. Admittedly, it is not always healthy what we put on it.

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With our local butcher (and by local I mean 25 miles away) having customer appreciation week, he was able to purchase very nice New York Strip steaks for a reasonable price. All told, after he was done purchasing meat and veggies, our dinner in was still cheaper then a dinner out, and that is without including gas.

My husband never seasons the same way twice, and he cannot tell you what he put in a dish five minutes after he made it because he gets into this creative cooking coma. I certainly do not complain as the results are fantastic.

The strip steaks were marinated in garlic, ginger, wine, worcheshire sauce, soy sauce, balsamic, and “some other random spices I can’t remember” to produce a tender and juicy main event.

The veggies had grated ginger and Old Bay as far as I have been able to deduce- and were spicy without being overwhelming. The tomatoes were a perfect compliment to the steak. He seasoned and wrapped everything in foil and placed on the grill for a “low and slow” preparation. He did like-wise with chopped potatoes, putting EVOO and garlic on them while they roasted. I didn’t really cook anything for this meal, but merely wanted to show you what can happen to make a bad day better. Also, how a man who professes to “randomly throwing stuff together” to get some of the best meals I have ever had. We joke that we married each other for our cooking.

Some of our closest times are experimenting in the kitchen- so learn to combine your love of your spouse/significant other with your love of food, and you can have the best of all worlds!

Marinated Pork Chops

Marniated Porkchops

I also made Lipton onion soup potatoes as a side but what really caught me was the asparagus.

Usually, when I make asparagus to go with a meal, I do it the way my mother-in-law taught me, toss spears with generous amount of olive oil, salt, pepper and bake. Tuesday night, I was not paying attention and accidently grabbed the Old Bay seasoning (same can shape as my black pepper) and applied liberally before I realized what color it was. I merely mixed and continued. My husband and I use Old Bay on French fries a lot and it works out wonderfully.

Moving on!
To my normal asparagus mixture, I added about a Tablespoon of minced garlic (for those you who haven’t discovered the squeeze bottles of minced garlic at the grocery store, you are missing out!) and applied a liberal amount of shaved parmesan! I went nuts with it. Mixed it all and baked it at 375 F for about 15 minutes (we like ours with a bit of crunch) and stirred it twice. It was the best! I overdid the salt a tad but I didn’t mind the saltiness- but the parmesan added a lovely roasted cheese taste with a bit of salt added in and it completed the meal very well.

Don’t be afraid to experiment- sometimes the mistakes are better than the original recipe!

Chicken Enchiladas Remade!

So I have been wanting to make enchiladas for some time now.  My hubby works long hours during tax season & I am always on the lookout for something that makes extras and either keeps or freezes well.   Hubby pillages the fridge for his lunch & dinner away from home, and the cycle continues.

I went searching for a chicken enchilada recipe with a few criteria:

1. I have all the ingredients.  I live 50 minutes away from the nearest grocery store, so I wasn’t planning on going shopping. 

2. It not be spicy.  My mother never spiced anything due to my father’s food preferences, so I was unable to even handle black pepper before meeting my husband.  Shocking, I know.  He has been slowly introducing me to new flavors and spices.  I have especially developed a taste for Old Bay seasoning on my fries and Indian food.  Keep in mind, I’m still on the mild setting but I am working my way up!  Kudos to Mary here for giving me straight wasabi to try.  I’m pretty sure I lost about 1/3 of my taste buds that day.  Glad it was entertaining.

Moving on!

I found a recipe that I liked and it didn’t use enchiladas sauce (gasp!) because I didn’t have any! 

I decided to ignore my instincts and follow the recipe.  I know, when you start cooking, they tell you to follow everything.  Well, I’ve never done that, & I’m told my stuff usually comes out better if I do what I think should be done to enhance a dish.  All in all, I really liked this recipe.  I got that lovely authentic flavor without having to buy the more enchilada specific ingredients.  Best of all, my husband adored it!  I got a special email message that day telling me he really liked the dish and that I should keep the recipe for later. 

What happened to the original recipe?  Did she follow it exactly?  Tune in after commercials to find out!

So I am following the recipe until I get to the part about the water.  At this point, with the addition of the tomato sauce, I’ve got a really loose sauce.  I was already wondering why we were using tomato sauce instead of salsa.  I believe salsa would add the required tomato flavor and help tighten.  However, I went ahead and added the water.  I ended up with chicken soup.  I brought it up to a boil to try and reduce some of the water.  In the end, I had to use a slotted spoon to scoop my chicken mixture into my taco shells and I had lots leftover.

However, there was a bright spot the leftover sauce was really yummy and it tightened as it cooled due to the sour cream.  I served it over the rice side (in reality, chicken Rice-a-Roni) and it turned out as that extra thing the rice needed to fit in.

Now, onto the changes!

What would I do differently next time? 

(1) I would perhaps substitute half of the tomato sauce for salsa, if not omit it entirely.

(2) I used fat-free sour cream, because I try to make things healthier anyway I can without sacrificing taste.

(3) I didn’t have chili powder!  I know, this might seem a sin to some, but my husband uses it so much that we were out, and I hadn’t had a chance to run to the Amish store to buy my spices in bulk.  So I ended up adding a bunch of taco seasoning!  Worked out great!  I think I got a better flavor.

(4)  I ended up adding about 1/4 cup salsa to the chicken tomato sauce mixture because I wanted that flavor in there.

Side Note:  I have  a pet peeve involving spices bought at supermarkets.  They are so expensive!  So, I happen to be fortunate to live in an area with a large Amish population, and have an Amish store not even a mile from where I live.   Many Amish populations tend to result in fruit stands and random stores selling treasures to behold!  I can’t buy fresh groceries much unless it is summer, but I can buy baking staples and spices for a really good price.  This is where I buy, for example, 2 pounds of Red Star Yeast for $6.50, 1 oz. of Bay Leaves for 35 cents, 4 oz of ginger for 1.95. etc.  You get the idea.  Some is not that good in price, but most of it seems to be good comparatively.  And 1 oz of Bay Leaves might not sound like much, but think something liked >30 dried leaves per container. 

Funny Note: One day, I was muttering about the prices while at the store, and this little old lady asked me if I knew of a cheaper place.  I told her I tend to get mine cheaper at the Amish store, and she asked me if that was a chain.  Okay, end of rant!

(5)  I also used a cheddar cheese mixture, all of which was low-fat.  I also used an a larger amount of cheese on top of the enchiladas than 3/4 cup.  Just seemed like it needed more.  Ended up being more like 1.5 cups of cheese.

 

In the end, do what you think tastes good!

The original recipe I found is as follows:

Chicken Enchiladas from AllRecipes