Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cajun Fried Chicken Strips

I've been working on this recipe for a couple of months, testing and retesting to make sure it was perfect. Funny, because it's really quite a simple recipe. Maybe I just loved them so much I had to keep remaking them. No matter what

the case, I'm in love with these chicken strips. You can eat them plain with a little honey mustard for dipping, or you can throw them on top of a cajun chicken pasta. Toss it on top of a salad for a cajun chicken salad. Lots of uses for these tasty bites.

Time to Make It: 30 minutes
Yield: Serves 4 to 6


Vegetable Oil for Frying
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
2 lb chicken tenders, trimmed
1 cup buttermilk


1. Cover the bottom of a large heavy skillet with about 1/2 inch of oil. Heat oil to 350 degrees (see cooking lesson below).

2. In a small dredging bowl combine panko bread crumbs with onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, basil, thyme, peppers, paprika, and salt. Small cake pans make great for dredging.

3. Pour the buttermilk into a small bowl. 

4. Working one at a time, dip the chicken into buttermilk and then into bread crumbs to coat. Place carefully into the hot oil. Cook the chicken in batches as the skillet shouldn't get too crowded.

5. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes and then flip, cooking for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Chicken should have a golden brown exterior and should be cooked all the way through.

6. Remove from skillet and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Pan Frying 101

Your oil should be right in the 350 degree area. You will have to adjust the heating element on your stovetop throughout the frying process in order to maintain this temperature. If you are working on a glass top cooking stove, remember that those elements take longer to cool, meaning your oil will also take longer to cool if you over heat it. Use a thermometer to maintain temperature.

To cool oil fast, add in cold oil Genius, huh?

When you add something into the oil to fry, it lowers the temperature of the oil. That means you may need time in between frying batches to get the oil back up to temperature. Frying too many items at a time can lower the temperature to a point that you don't get a nice crispy exterior and end up with a soggy, oily product, instead of a nice crispy one. 

Remember, should a grease fire occur, cover the pan with a lid or dose it with baking soda. Never use water on a grease fire. You will get severely burned. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pumpkin Truffle Eyeballs

This wasn't in my original line up of recipes, but I figured I better share it before Halloween! Does your neighborhood get "boo'ed?" Ya know, where they door bell ditch a treat on your doorstep and leave a cutesy little poem about Halloween and how you've been boo'ed? And then you have to "boo" two more people and hang a ghost on your door so everyone knows you've already been boo'ed? Okay, well, I'm living in a place now that is known for this kind of 1950s family friendly fun and I love it. If you want to get in on the booing action then you should check out THIS blog where she gives 16 different version of it. Obviously you know where I'm going with this because we got "boo'ed" and I decided I needed to make something very Halloween-esque to pass it on. Usually I focus just on taste and don't do a lot of cutesy stuff, but at least my regular readers know that even though this one is cutesy, it tastes pretty dang good too. These eyeballs are just the right amount of grotesque, and they are filled with pumpkin goodness. Sure, you could do it with an oreo truffle, cookie dough truffle, or gingersnap truffle, but for Halloween you can't go wrong with pumpkin. 

Hands On Time: 30 to 45 minutes 
Ready In: 3 hours
Yield: About 2 to 3 dozen truffles


8 whole graham crackers
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 TB brown sugar
6 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 cups white chocolate chips
24 blue, green, and brown M&M candies
1 tube red writing icing


1. Place graham crackers in a food processor and process until completely crushed. Add in pumpkin puree, brown sugar, cream cheese, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Process until smooth. Refrigerate 2 hours until truffle dough is thick and easy to shape into balls.

2. Shape the dough into round balls, around 2 to 3 dozen. Put on a wax-paper lined tray in the freezer until ready to coat with chocolate.

3. Melt chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl (see cooking lesson below).

4. Dip the pumpkin truffles into the melted white chocolate to coat. Put an M&M on top of each truffle while still wet. Set on a wax paper lined baking sheet to harden. 

5. Use the red writing icing to draw veins on the eyeballs, about 5 vein lines per truffle. 

Melting chocolate is super easy, yet it can end quite poorly if done wrong. Burnt chocolate just isn't good. When melting chocolate in a microwave you should only microwave for 10 to 15 seconds at a time. Use a rubber scraper to scrape the bowl, and then repeat until the chocolate is mostly melted. When there are only a couple of bumps left, just keep stirring until the chocolate is smooth as the heat of the rest of the melted chocolate should be enough to melt it completely. 

If your chocolate begins to harden at all as you dip, simply pop it back in the microwave for 10 seconds, and stir. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Pot Pie

The post "Buffalo Chicken Pot Pie" first appeared on The Stay At Home Chef on November 16, 2012

I love chicken pot pie. It is one of those comfort foods that just makes you feel at home. I'm also a lover of anything buffalo. So one day, years ago, I combined the two and came up with Buffalo Chicken Pot Pie. Bite sized pieces of buffalo chicken are layered in with traditional pot pie vegetables to create yummy little bites of flavory goodness. You can use leftover cooked chicken in this recipe, or perhaps even leftover Thanksgiving turkey for a delicious Buffalo Turkey Pot Pie!

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 35 minutes
Yield: Serves 4 to 6


2 prepared pie crusts (top and bottom)
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast

1/3 cup + 2 Tablespoons Frank's Hot Sauce , divided
2 TB butter
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cups flour
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup frozen peas
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Lightly grease a small baking dish. Put chicken breast in dish and smother with 1/3 cup Frank's Hot Sauce. Bake in the 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and chop into bite sized pieces. Cover with additional 2 TB Frank's Hot Sauce. 

3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat.  Saute the onion in the melted butter for about 5 minutes. Add in the flour and stir until all combined. Whisk in chicken broth and cook over medium heat until thickened, about 5 minutes.

4. Fill another medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Once boiling add carrots and celery and simmer for about 8 minutes. Add in peas and continue boiling for another 2 minutes. Drain.

5. Add the vegetable mixture to the onion sauce mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.

7. Line a pie plate with the prepared bottom crust. Place half of the chicken onto the bottom crust. Cover with vegetable sauce. Place remaining chicken on top of the vegetable sauce. Cover with top crust and seal the edges. Using a sharp knife, slice a fancy or not-so-fancy design in the top to allow the steam to escape while baking. 

8. Bake pie in a 425 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, until the top crust is golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. 

This is really a basic recipe for a pot pie. You could use the same concept to make a beef pot pie by using beef instead of chicken, and beef broth instead of chicken broth. Use it to make a plain old chicken pot pie by simply not using the Frank's Hot Sauce. 

Many recipes call for cubed, cooked chicken. This can sometimes be a hassle because it calls for a huge additional step of cooking a chicken breast. Jennifer over at The Craft Patch offers a great solution to make your cooking a little bit easier by pre-cooking a bunch of chicken and freezing it for later use.You can view all the details HERE

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Comfort Corn Chowder

The post "Comfort Corn Chowder" first appeared on The Stay At Home Chef on February 18, 2013

My friend Megan makes Mimi's Cafe Corn Chowder as one of her go-to comfort soups for a cold day. It's absolutely delicious. We were having a bit of a cold spell and my kids were sick so I knew it was time for some comfort soup. I came up with my own version of Corn Chowder that is slightly different than the Mimi's Cafe recipe. I use chicken stock instead of water to add another level of flavor. I omitted the celery as a personal preference. I altered the recipe to replace the can creamed corn because that is never something I have on hand and used a mixture of heavy cream and milk rather than half and half (see the cooking lesson below for information for milk, heavy cream, and half and half substitutions and comparisons). Great soup for a cold day and perfect for a cold Fall or Winter day!


4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 small white onion, chopped
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups corn kernels
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper*
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)


1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. The entire soup will be made in this pot so make sure it is big enough.

2. Add in the onions and sautee for about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the flour until a paste forms. Some of the onions will mix into the paste and that is fine. You just don't want any visible, stray white flour.

4. Whisk in the chicken stock until smooth and bring to a boil. Add in the potatoes, corn, sugar, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes (cooking time will depend on how large you cut your potatoes). 

5. When the potatoes are tender, add in the milk and cream and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Taste and season with additional salt and white pepper as desired. 

*white pepper is used in this recipe so that the black flakes are not visible for a more appealing dish. However, if you don't have white pepper you could always use black pepper, you'll just have a speckled soup. 

Chowders are basically just creamy soups with chunks of vegetables, sometimes meat, and often seafood. When a soup calls for heavy cream it will be rich, creamy, and decadent, but high in calories and fat. A way to reduce calories and fat in a cream-based soup is to substitute half-and-half or milk. 

Half-and-Half is literally half cream, half milk. Using half & half in place of cream will lighten the texture and change the flavor, but it is an option that I use frequently. Shoot, I love cream and I'll tell you the above recipe is better with straight cream, BUT my thighs really love cream too so I try and minimize it. To substitute, simple use half heavy cream, and half milk in the amounts the recipe calls for. 

Using milk in place of cream is even more drastic. It will work, but your soup won't be anywhere near rich, creamy or decadent. But, hey, if you are on a diet then it will work. In fact, it might even still taste good. It just isn't the same. 

What if you don't have heavy cream on hand? The standard substitute for heavy cream is 3/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup melted butter, thoroughly mixed. 

What is the difference between heavy cream and whipping cream? The simple answer is that they have different fat contents. Heavy cream has a 36%+ fat content. Whipping cream ranges from 30-36%. For the vast majority of purposes (especially in home cooking) it can be used interchangeably. 

Now for some disclaimers: These kind of substitutes should not be made in candy making, baking, or confections without thorough skill and knowledge in those areas. Candy making is very chemistry oriented and it is hard to make substitutions. Baking is also chemistry oriented and substitutions may or may not greatly alter your outcome. When making homemade whipped cream, you cannot use a substitution. Milk will not whip into cream without being heavily doctored. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Baja Turkey Club (Red Robin Copycat)

The post "Baja Turkey Club" first appeared on The Stay At Home Chef on January 3, 2013

In high school I spent a lot of time at the restaurant Red Robin. I'm not even sure why because it's not like it was the cool hangout or anything. My favorite thing on the menu was their Baja Turkey Club. As an adult I don't eat out all that often, and when I do it is rarely at chain restaurants. Several years ago I had the rare chance of finding myself pregnant and craving self at a Red Robin and was much dismayed to find that the Baja Turkey Club was not on the menu! Gasp! It felt criminal! Luckily it wasn't too hard to figure out what they put into that delicious sandwich so I could make my own. I present to you one of the most delicious sandwiches you will ever come across. Sliced turkey, green chile, melted pepper jack cheese, and smoked bacon served on toasted bread with fresh tomato and a chile aioli.

Time to Make It: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 sandwiches


8 large slices of bread (preferably sourdough or sheepherder bread)

4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 lb sliced turkey
1 can whole green chiles, drained
4 slices pepper jack cheese
4 slices tomato
4 slices bacon, cooked

3 tablespoons mayo
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1 lime, juiced
pinch salt


1. Prepare the aioli by whisking together all ingredients in a small bowl.

2. Butter 1 side of each of the bread slices like you are making a grilled cheese.

3. Slice open the green chiles to lay them out flat. Pat with paper towels to dry.

4. Assemble sandwiches by placing 2 slices of cheese on the non-buttered side of the bread. Add green chiles next. Spread aioli on the green chiles. Top with tomato, then bacon, and last of all the meat.

5. Grill in a flat skillet over medium heat until cheese is melted and both sides are nicely toasted.

I make a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches. I make them so often we even have our own pet name for them...melties. Rarely do they involve the traditional cheddar, but instead include all sorts of filling creations.

The key to making a good grilled cheese is patience. Never let the heat get higher than medium and just let it toast nice and slowly. This will allow the cheese time to melt without burning your bread. If the bread is toasted and the cheese isn't ready, turn the heat to low and carefully and patiently wait it out. There's nothing worse than a half melted grilled cheese. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef and Horseradish Sandwich + Slow Cooker Giveaway!

This is a sponsored post. Hamilton Beach sent me a product to review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

I've been known to use my slow cooker on occasion. Shoot, I did write a book on it which involved slow cookers on every surface in my kitchen every day for several months. So, when Hamilton Beach sent me their new Set 'n Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker  to review I knew I'd have a thing or two to say about it. 


1. It's programmable. This is a must when it comes to a slow cooker. Seriously, you just shouldn't even buy one nowadays unless it is programmable. 

2. It has a built in thermometer that you can shove right into the meat so the slow cooker will turn to the warm setting once the desired temperature has been reached. Friends, that's a pretty nice feature, especially for chicken. People are always overcooking chicken in the slow cooker and drying it out.

3. It's got the snap on lid. If you've ever tried to transport food in a slow cooker you'll know immediately why this is a genius feature. It even has a nice seal to go with those snaps so you can safely eliminate spillage during transport. Score!

4. It beeps after you program it so you actually know it is on. If you've ever come home to a cold slow cooker you'll appreciate the beep. 


1. The display can't be read in direct sunlight. Not even really direct sunlight, just bright light. I just had it on my kitchen counter and had to cup my hand over the display to read it. 

That's really my only complaint. This is a quality slow cooker with some really nice extra features. 

Want to win won for yourself? Scroll down to the end of this post for your chance to win!

Now on to the recipe!

I decided to bring you a really easy slow cooker dish for fall. One of my favorite fall flavor combos is beef and horseradish. Without being too wordy, let's just say this is a killer sandwich and is really amazing on a pretzel roll. 

Prep Time: <10 minutes
Slow Cooker Time: 8 hours
Serves: 6 to 8


1 (2 to 3 lb) beef roast
salt and pepper
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, sliced

You'll also need: rolls or buns and prepared horseradish


1. Season the roast generously with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy skillet to high heat. Sear the roast on all sides. Transfer roast to a slow cooker.

2. Pour worcestershire sauce over the roast. Sprinkle crushed garlic over roast. Top with onion slices.

3. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

4. Shred beef. 

5. Serve on rolls topped with prepared horseradish. Use as much or as little horseradish as suits your taste. I like it nice and spicy. 


Now enter to win a fancy new slow cooker! In addition to the 1 grand prize of your own Set 'n Forget® 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker, I'm also giving away 3 copies of my book "Idiot's Guide to Slow Cooker Cooking" so you'll have plenty of recipes to use!

Must be 18 years or older and reside in the 50 United States or D.C. Hamilton Beach is unable to ship to P.O. Boxes.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Preparing Your Own Horseradish Root

Preparing your own horseradish is both easy and dangerous. You heard me: dangerous. Don't let that intimidate you though. As long as you know before hand that it involves a bit of danger then you will probably end up quite safe. It is ignorance and denial that leads to horseradish injuries.

1. Peel the horseradish root with a peeler or cut away the outside layer with a sharp knife.

2. Place the horseradish root into a food processor and place the lid on. Process the horseradish root by pulsing a few times until it is mostly in pieces. The fumes from the horseradish are very strong at this point. Protect your face and eyes from any direct exposure to the fumes. Trust me when I say that when you remove the lid, make sure it is lifted in a manner that still acts as a shield to you so you don't get hit by a powerful blast of horseradish-fumed air.

3. Add vinegar in a steady stream to the horseradish root while processing until a paste-like consistency is achieved.

4. For a creamy version add the horseradish to some sour cream or add some heavy cream to the horseradish and stir together.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Old Fashioned Beef Stew

I'm a huge fan of good old fashioned beef stew. There's just something so comforting about spooning up those big chunks of meat, potatoes, carrots, and onion. The first cold spell of the Fall I immediately went to work creating a heart warming stew. Today I'm giving directions for how to make it the old fashioned way on the stove top, but you can also make this in a slow cooker. Follow steps 1 and 2 and then combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Then cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Follow step 5 to thicken stew if needed and cook another 30 minutes to 1 hour. 

Prep Time: <30 minutes
Simmer Time: 90 minutes
Yield: Serves 4 to 6


2 TB olive oil 
2 lbs beef stew meat
4 TB cornstarch, divided
4 cups beef broth
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
2 lb red potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 celery stalks, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 TB tomato paste
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 bay leaf


1. Dust beef stew meat with 2 TB cornstarch. In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add beef stew meat, and sear for about 2 minutes per side.

2. Add in crushed garlic and cook 1 minute. 

3. Pour in the beef broth and worcestershire sauce to deglaze the pan. Add red potatoes, pearl onions, carrots, celery, and tomato paste. Season with salt, sugar, , parsley, paprika, oregano, basil, black pepper, and allspice. Add in bay leaf. 

4.   Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 90 minutes.

5. In a small bowl, mix together remaining 2 TB cornstarch with about 1/4 cup water.  Stir until completely dissolved. Pour the mixture into the stew. Stir over low heat until stew thickens. 

6. Remove bay leaf before serving. 


Using Cornstarch As A Thickener

This recipe uses cornstarch as a thickener to give the stew that nice, thick liquid. If you add cornstarch directly to a liquid you'll end up with a clumpy mess that doesn't thicken properly. The cornstarch is so fine it cannot disperse itself throughout the soup on its own. You have a few options. First, this recipe calls for the cornstarch to initially adhere to the fat on the meat. When you dust the meat in Step 1 and sear it in olive oil, the cornstarch is able to disperse itself through any fat that renders off the meat as well as the olive oil, which is a fat on its own. If your soup does not thicken enough towards the end as it reduces, I've shown you a second way to thicken your soup or stew in Step 5. Cornstarch can easily be dissolved in a small amount of water. Once it is initially dissolved you can then add it to the soup. The combination of the cornstarch and heat will cause the soup to thicken within just a few minutes. This method works great as a "last minute" thickener for any soup or stew. 

More Great Soup Recipes: