Crudite: False Start Fun Fondue 

false start

Recommended by me, via Gourmet Mom on Pinterest, @GourmetMom. Because your Gourmet Mom knows best. For more details and photo instructions for this recipe, click here.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. Velveeta cheese
  • 1/2 c. apple juice
  • 2 T. green onion, chopped
  • dash pepper
  • dash paprika
  • whole wheat bread (I used Arnold’s Dark Wheat)
  • white american cheese slices or string cheese
  • raw vegetables, cut up in bite-sized pieces

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut Velveeta in chunks and place in medium saucepan with garlic, apple juice, pepper, paprika, and 1 T. green onion (reserve the rest of the onion for garnish). Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted.
  2. While fondue is cooking, lay out whole wheat bread on cutting board and cut into football shapes (2 footballs per slice).
  3. Place on a cookie sheet and place american cheese or string cheese on top to make “laces”. Bake at 400 until cheese is melted and bread is toasted.
  4. Place fondue in a bowl and garnish with remaining green onion. Place “football toast” and cut up vegetables around the bowl and serve!

Appetizer: Pigskin Pizza Pockets

pizza pockets

Recommended by the Pillsbury Doughboy. Heee hee hee. For more details and photo instructions, click here.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • ¼ cup pizza sauce
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup sliced pepperoni (24 slices)
  • 1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Unroll dough onto cookie sheet; separate into 4 rectangles (2 triangles each). Press each rectangle to form a 6×4-inch football, firmly pressing perforations to seal.
  2. Spread 1 tablespoon pizza sauce on half of each football to within 1 inch of edge. Sprinkle each with 3 tablespoons cheese; top with 6 slices pepperoni. Fold dough diagonally over filling; firmly press edges with fork to seal. Sprinkle each triangle with 1/4 teaspoon grated cheese. With a knife, cut “laces” into the dough.
  3. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until deep golden brown. Serve warm.

The Vegan Option: BBQ Pulled Jackfruit (Fresh) 

jackfruit

Turn fresh jackfruit into delicious vegan BBQ pulled “pork.” Recommended by Salvatore Stefanile, @2QBFFB, because it’s awesome to say the words “jack,” “fruit,” and “pork” in the same dish. For more details and photo instructions, click here.

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 lbs. fresh unripe jackfruit
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1½ tsp. liquid smoke
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ cup vegan BBQ sauce (your favorite store bought or homemade kind)
  • Buns for pulled pork sandwiches or corn tortillas for gluten-free pulled jackfruit tacos

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Remove the skin and outer ¼-1/2 inch of the jackfruit. Pull and cut the jackfruit to remove the stringy parts that are between the fruit. This is the part of the fruit that you will use to make the BBQ. Discard the rest or use it for something else.
  2. Saute the onion in olive oil over medium heat for about 7 minutes or until translucent, then add the garlic and saute a minute or so longer.
  3. Add the jackfruit, sugar, spices, and liquid smoke. Stir until the jackfruit is evenly covered.
  4. Add the vegetable broth, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or until liquid is mostly absorbed.
  5. Transfer the jackfruit out to a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and cover with bbq sauce.
  7. Return the jackfruit to the oven and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the jackfruit is lightly browned.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

NOTES

*Be sure your jackfruit is pale in color, if it’s ripe, it won’t work for the recipe.
*WARNING: The jackfruit is VERY sticky. You’ll have to wash your hands a few times to get all the stickiness off.
*For gluten-free, the pulled jackfruit is delicious on corn tortillas with sliced avocado.

Entree: The Best Fried Chicken EVER

chicken

 

Recommended by Shane Morris, @iamshanemorris. Because let’s do this shit.

THE CHICKEN! INGREDIENTS:

  • 8-10 chicken legs and thighs
  • 4 cups of milk
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup of sea salt (or kosher salt)
  • 4 tablespoons of white vinegar
  • SPICES – Pause please for a quick spice break…

Spices can mean a lot of things. Personally, I go with red pepper, a mad dash of Allspice, some black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and a little cumin. What you make of your spices is up to you. I will emphasize that you use SPICES, and not herbs. Do not attempt to sully the flavor of this fried chicken with herbs, you asshole. Anyway, let’s continue…

  • 1 Tub of Crisco Vegetable Shortening (for frying, duh)
  • 1 bag of flour (I’m not sure of the measurement here. Maybe a cup or two?)
  • 1 cast iron skillet
  • 2 large-ish bowls
  • 1 semi-large container with a lid (big enough to hold all the chicken)
  • The rack from your oven, and a cookie sheet. (Or, one of those fancy cooling racks. But those cost money, so fuck that.)

THE CHICKEN! INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Step 1: Get your big container and combine two cups of milk, one cup of water, 1/4 cup of salt, and 4 tablespoons of vinegar. Mix it with a spoon, a whisk, a fork, or whatever is nearby. Get freaky and use the salad tongs–I don’t give a fuck. Just mix it all up.

In cooking terms this is sort of like a brine, except I have added milk and vinegar. The resulting product is a very watery buttermilk and brine mixture–the perfect home for chicken. Now get your chicken pieces and put them into the container with the milky brine. Put a lid on that motherfucker and put it in the fridge for one whole day. Oh, you wanted fried chicken right now? Too fucking bad, because making it the right way means giving the chicken some alone time with the milk.

  • Step 2: It’s been one whole day, so take your chicken out of the fridge, pull it out of the milky mix, and put it on a plate. Discard the milky mixture. Now it’s time to season this goddamn chicken. Take your spices and liberally coat all sides of the chicken with spices–as much or as little as you like. Just give it a good rub down, like those women do at the massage place if you ask for a “magic massage.”
  • Step 3: At this point in the cooking process, you should probably prep your stove for frying chicken. It’s pretty damn simple, actually. Put your iron skillet on a large burner, and then turn it to the medium setting. It doesn’t matter if you have a gas or electric stove. Medium is the setting, because on most stoves, that’s going to be somewhere between 300F and 325F–and that’s the temperature you cook chicken at. Scoop in enough shortening to fill a little less than half of the skillet after it has melted down.
  • Step 4: Get one of your large bowls, and break your egg into it. Beat the hell out of the egg with a fork, salad tongs, whatever, and then add two cups of milk. Mix the beaten egg and milk together until it’s all mixed up. Then, get another bowl, and fill it with a cup or two of flour. Just dump some in until it looks like you have enough flour in the bowl. If it turns out you didn’t add enough to dredge your chicken, just add more later. No big deal.
  • Step 5: Take one of your awesome, spice covered chicken pieces, and toss it around in the flour. Once it is coated pretty well in flour, dunk it quickly in the egg and milk mixture bowl. Pull it out and put it back in the flour. Toss it around a bit more. What you’ll end up with is a piece of chicken that is ready to fry.
  • Step 6: Is the oil hot enough? This is a big deal, because I’m assuming most people don’t have fancy thermometers in their kitchen. The only one I have is a meat thermometer, so how the fuck do you know if the oil is hot enough? I mean, if the oil isn’t hot enough, it’s going to fuck up the whole thing. Generally speaking, I give the shortening about 12 minutes to heat up, using the timer on my phone. A good test is to get a little water on the tips of your fingers, and drip a tiny bit into the oil. If it pops, fizzles, and makes generally dangerous “oil fire” sounds, it’s ready to go.
  • Step 7: Gently place the chicken into the iron skillet. It’s going to start frying immediately, bubbling, etc. This is all normal. My iron skillet can hold about five pieces of chicken at once, so you’ll probably go through this process in three or four rounds. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 with all your chicken pieces. Each piece of chicken needs to cook 10 minutes on each side, so once it has cooked for 10 minutes, flip it over to the other side. The chicken should be that magical “golden brown” color everyone seems to overuse. Use a food thermometer if you have one, and make sure it reads 180F. Technically, I think poultry is safe at 165F, but you want it a little firmer, because it’s finger food.
  • Step 8: Drain the chicken. This is where your oven rack and cookie sheet come into play. Place your oven rack on top of a cookie sheet, and then place the chicken directly on the rack, so it can drip the excess oil down, and cool a bit.

Is it really that simple? Not really, in fact, you need to remember a couple things about science.

Frying Notes: The iron skillet is going to transfer heat towards the middle of the pan, so you’ll want to put your biggest pieces in the middle, with your smaller pieces around the edges. After each round of chicken is done cooking, you’ll want to turn the heat up to medium high for about two minutes, just to get your shortening back up to temperature. Once it’s a little hotter, turn your heat back to medium. Why do you do this? Because the chicken you’re going to put into the shortening will cool down the oil, so you want to plan ahead for this.

Dredging Notes: You don’t want too much excess flour sticking to the chicken, understand? Give it a good shake and make sure all the excess is off the chicken. If you have too much flour, it will fall off when it’s frying, and end up burning up on the bottom of the iron skillet, and it will make your chicken skin taste bitter.

Leftover Notes: This is going to make 3-4 servings, so if you can’t eat it all, no worries. Put it in some tupperware, or any old container with a lid. When you’re reheating the chicken later, just remember one rule: Never, ever, ever–EVER motherfucker, put it in the microwave. It will be soggy and disgusting. Put the chicken on a cookie sheet, and heat at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Did you want to notch up the difficulty a bit? Let’s make a sauce to dip this chicken in–and let’s make it a spicy honey mustard sauce. Here is my quick, dirty honey mustard sauce recipe.

THE SAUCE! INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 small bowl
  • 1 spoon
  • Yellow mustard
  • Sriracha
  • Honey
  • Mayonnaise

INSTRUCTIONS:

Basically, the recipe is two parts mayonnaise, one part mustard, one part honey, and as much Sriracha as you care to add. I like mine pretty damn spicy, so I go heavy like a bawse. You can mix it all up in a cereal bowl. It’s not complicated. I find spicy honey mustard really accents the flavor of this chicken the right way to my taste buds, but if you prefer another option, that’s fine too.

So there you have it. The best fried chicken ever, motherfucker.

Dessert: Deflated Oreo Balls

oreo

Recommended by Mel Evans, @mel_evans, because someone has probably brought these to your office holiday potluck.  They’re super easy to make – and super easy to make deflated.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 package Oreos (you can use a flavor if it inflates your balls)
  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese
  • 2 packages chocolate chips
  • 1 vanilla piping icing (available in the baking aisle) [optional]
  • Wax paper
  • Food processor

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Empty entire package of Oreos into a food processor. Pulse until Oreos are completely crushed – they should be almost grainy.
  2. Add cream cheese to food processor. Pulse until thoroughly mixed with Oreos.
  3. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Being careful of the food processor blade, remove mix from food processor.
  4. Roll Oreo mix into one inch balls and set on baking sheet. Remember, these are deflated balls – so you don’t have to try too hard. Refrigerate at least one hour.
  5. After at least one hour, melt chocolate chips in a double broiler. When chocolate has reached a liquid consistency, take the Oreo balls out of the fridge. Using a toothpick, dip the balls into the chocolate, coating them completely. The chocolate will be hot and the Oreos will probably get melty.  Remember, these are deflated balls. Don’t worry too much.
  6. When the ball is coated, remove from chocolate and place on a new sheet of wax paper to cool. Repeat.
  7. You can use the vanilla piping icing to make laces over the hole from the toothpick – or use a spoon to brush more chocolate over to cover it. Or you can just leave it there as gaping evidence of your ball tampering.
  8. Refridgerate until firm. Heh. Firm balls.
  9. Enjoy your balls.