Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gameday Treats

In honor of my beloved Gamecocks' opening day, I present to you some of my favorite snacks for tailgating and general football-watching. Also, baby in a jersey!

  • Pimento Cheese: A Southern classic, pimento cheese makes the perfect sandwich or spread. Spice it up with chopped pickled jalapeños or make everyone a little happier with crumbled bacon.
  • Fried Chicken Biscuits: Good for those noon games whereupon you want both breakfast and lunch. And a mimosa.
  • Deviled Egg Salad: Good on a sandwich or a cracker.
  • Triple Chocolate Cookie Bars: Every tailgate needs a little something sweet. Portion them out into cookies for easy grabbing.
  • Feta Squares: Good for your gameday chili or on their own.
  • Ham Rolls: These buttery, salty sandwiches are always a hit. 
  • Fried Chicken Nuggets: Good warm or cold, perfect for tailgating.
  • Boiled Peanuts: Y'all, it's not a game without boiled peanuts! I've got three pounds of peanuts goin' on the stove as we....speak? Salty and juicy, boiled peanuts are my favorite gameday snack.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Grilled Pineapple Salsa

As I stare at the pouring rain and my backyard that's slowly turning into a lake, I can't help but want this salsa. Y'all I fully expect to see some fish swimming out here soon. We've got a flash flood advisory, so I can't even go grocery shopping. It's still not as bad as what Charleston is getting right now. There are people kayaking in the Market.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Blueberry Coffee Cake

 I have a weakness. Weaknesses, plural, if we're being truthful. They include butter and brown sugar but are not limited to those. I'm not immune to flattery because I can be just the tiniest bit vain. But mostly it's the butter and sugar. See, it's that transitional time of year. When summer is lingering and fighting turning into fall. We've had days of rain now, which I'm welcoming with open arms. We've needed it. But sometimes rain just seems to make the days hotter. Instead of relieving the heat it just traps it, and it's like living in a giant sauna. Not this time. Yesterday, we had a cool breeze. In the afternoon. Y'all, I'm not sure the Lowcountry has ever seen a cool breeze on an August afternoon. It just isn't done.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fried Chicken Biscuits

So guess what I'm doing in October. The Color Me Rad 5k! Remember when I made a resolution to do a 5k this year? Well I'm keeping it. No, it's not a crazy mud run, though my sister and I want to do one of those too sometime. It pretty much sounds like the most delightful situation you could put yourself in when running. At every kilometer you get this color dust thrown on you so that at the end you look like a walking rainbow. Doesn't that sound fun?! I'm running as an individual even though I'll be running with my sister, but I had to come up with a team name. Will and I brainstormed and finally came up with Rainbow: First Blood. Like Rambo: First Blood but...Rainbow because it's a color run. Get it?!

So obviously in the coming months I'll need to carbo-load. With fried chicken biscuits. What could go wrong?

These biscuits come together in three-ish parts. Step one: Make a simple buttermilk biscuit. You'll need: all-purpose flour, butter, buttermilk, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

As always, give the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt a good whisk.

Add your cold butter and cut it in with a pastry blender. Or a couple of knives. I've never actually used the knife method because I really like my pastry blender.

You want the butter to be about the size of small pebbles.

 Stir in your buttermilk.
And you should get a shaggy dough that'll come together when you pat it out.

 I prefer to pat my dough to about a 1/2" thickness as opposed to rolling it with a rolling pin. It's probably not as precise, but biscuits aren't exactly a highfalutin undertaking.

Use a two-inch biscuit cutter to cut out as many biscuits as you can. I got about seven out of this batch.

Bake about 15 minutes in a 400º oven.

In the meantime, put together your honey glaze. It's just a little honey, thyme, and bourbon. You can leave out the bourbon if you abstain.

Heat the honey and bourbon over medium heat until the honey has loosened up and blends with the bourbon.
Add a few sprigs of thyme and steep off the heat for 5-10 minutes. Discard the thyme leaves.

See that biscuit? It's about to get the treatment.

Brush the tops of the warm biscuits with the honey glaze. I would pay for someone to do this to my face.

And now, the hard part. Which really isn't all the hard as frying goes. You'll need: Flour, black pepper, paprika, cayenne, salt, and chicken thighs.

These are boneless, skinless thighs that I cut into smaller pieces to make them biscuit-appropriate. You could use breasts if you prefer white meat, but I like a thigh. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the chicken.

Season your flour with more salt and pepper, plus paprika and cayenne. Add a few pieces of chicken and coat them with flour. Make sure you get all the nooks and crannies.

Carefully place about four pieces of chicken in about an inch of peanut oil that's been heated to about 365º. An easy test is to drop a little flour in the oil first. If it sizzles the oil is ready. If it doesn't, let it heat some more. If it pops at you, it's too hot. Cover the pan and let it brown on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn the chicken, cover, and let it fry until golden on the other side. I will note that I probably could've used a little less oil in this pan.

Drain your pieces of chicken on a wire rack that has paper towels under it to catch the grease.

 I think these biscuits are best with a little more of that honey glaze drizzled over the chicken and open biscuit.
A tender, buttery biscuit never had a better match than a crispy bite of fried chicken. Except for maybe country ham. Or sausage. Whatevs, I'm in training.

Fried Chicken Biscuits (makes 6-8 biscuits)

2 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
8 tbs unsalted butter, very cold
2/3 c buttermilk

Honey Glaze:
1/4 c honey
1 tbs bourbon
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

Fried Chicken:
1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt, plus more for chicken
1/4 tsp black pepper, plus more for chicken
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into biscuit-sized pieces
Peanut oil, for frying

  • Preheat oven to 400º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. For biscuits, whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add the cold butter and cut it in with a pastry blender. When the butter is the size of small pebbles, stir in the buttermilk until a shaggy dough just forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and pat or roll into a round about 1/2" thick. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake biscuits 13-15 minutes.
  • While biscuits are baking, combine honey and bourbon in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat until the honey has dissolved into the bourbon, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add thyme sprigs. Steep 5-10 minutes and discard thyme. Brush biscuit tops with the honey glaze while they're still warm.
  • For the chicken, whisk together flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne. Sprinkle additional salt and pepper over the chicken pieces. Begin heating about an inch of oil in a medium cast iron skillet. Coat chicken with the flour mixture, making sure to get all the nooks and crannies. Add about four pieces of chicken to the hot oil and cover. Cook 4-5 minutes or until golden brown on one side, then flip the chicken. Cover and cook an additional 4-5 minutes or until golden brown on the other side. Remove chicken and drain on a wire rack or paper towels. Repeat until all the chicken has been fried.
  • Slice biscuits in half and top with chicken and more honey glaze. Eat with gusto.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Triple Chocolate Chunk & Pistachio Cookies

Do you know what I love about the world? Little favors. Little favors that take a craptastic day and turn it into a less craptastic day. It's especially uplifting when the little favors are perpetrated by a total stranger because it restores just a little bit of faith in humanity.
Like two weeks ago in the Kroger by my sister's house. See, I'd found out earlier that day that we had to put our dog, Daisy, down. It ripped a hole in my heart, and I tried to make myself feel better by going to the gym. It's hard to feel sad in Zumba when you're making a fool of yourself. And I did feel better while I was there, but then it was raining and gross outside. On the way back to my sister's I decided to stop at Kroger because it was easier to get to during rush hour. I grabbed a few things and parked myself in the wine section to find a decently priced bottle (P.S. Kroger, your mark-up was a little ridic). I was checking out, and the clerk asked if I had a Kroger card. I said I didn't, and the man in line behind me said "Oh here" and had the clerk scan his card for me. I thanked him, paid, then turned back and said "If I'd known that was gonna happen, I'd have picked a better bottle of wine." He laughed, I laughed and thanked him again, and I left with my heart a little lighter because he did a little something nice.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Oatmeal Cookie Peach Crisp

I've been selfish. I could've shared this with you days ago, but I just kept eating it instead of editing pictures and writing. I'm a baaaad blogger. But! I'm sharing now, k? I know it's not quite fall, which is when I feel like I should be eating oatmeal cookies, so I decided to make it summery by sticking it on top of sweet, summer peaches. Problem solved! (Was that other sentence a run-on sentence? My high school English teacher would quite literally smack me on the head.)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

White Bean Cakes with Avocado Sauce

Y'all, we're less than a month away from football season. I know a lot of y'all aren't ready for summer to end, but lucky for me it doesn't really end until...mid-October? That's when the weather starts acting crazy. Hot one minute, cold the next. At any rate, it's the time of year now when my blood starts to rush and I savor those last ears of summer corn.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lazy Little Peach Cobbler

I'm housesitting while my sister and Rich are in Chicago for a conference. Housesitting means dogsitting. Dogsitting means they wake me up at 5am to go outside. Woof. It's their schedule, not mine so I go along with it. Well I wouldn't want someone to wait until it was convenient for them to take me outside, so I'm surely not going to do that to the pups.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Back to Basics: Easy Corn Tortillas

Okay so maybe tortillas aren't a basic recipe for a lot people. But they should be! They taste 145032x better than store-bought tortillas. I like making my tacos with corn tortillas simply because of the intense corn taste. The best part about this is that you don't need a tortilla press. Uh-huh. If you have a tortilla press...well you're probably already making tortillas. But if you've got a counter, a heavy pan, and a rolling pin you can mimic a tortilla press.