food · life

Some days you bake bird food

Yesterday I took the honey “bourbon” chicken recipe and used it with pork butt. My goal was to make honey “bourbon” pulled pork on homemade rolls. Well…. this isn’t exactly how it turned out.

First I decided to make this in the crock pot. I didn’t think the pork would cook well in the electric pressure cooker. I also had just seen a test where the person tested cooking pork in a pressure cooker, a slow cooker and a dutch oven. The dutch oven did the best and the pressure cooker did the worst. Well, shockingly, I don’t actually have a dutch oven so into the crock pot I put my pork.

Since I was cooking it on low for hours I decided to add a splash of chicken stock, which in the end I didn’t need since there was more liquid than needed. OH well!

I also decided to try out a new roll recipe. I found a recipe for french hamburger rolls made in the bread maker.  When the dough was done I knew it was wrong. I decided to try anyway. This dough was SOOOOO sticky I had to incorporate more flour into it so that it wasn’t all over me, the counter, and everything else. This then meant that the dough was overworked. I plowed on and baked them anyway. They had no flavor and were soooo dense and didn’t rise. So out to the birds that batch of rolls went.

I decided to make rice and quinoa to have with the pork.

It was pretty good, the texture was good, but it just wasn’t the taste I’d anticipated. OH well… such is life. Some days your rolls rise and taste yummy and some days you make bird food.

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book · reviews

The Night The Lights Went Out– Book review

What’s better than one book review in a day???? How about two? Click here to see the first one I did today!

I finished the book I was reading upstairs this week too. The Night the Lights Went Out, by Karen White is a contemporary novel. I love the description on the back of the book that says “…. it touches all the bases of a chick-lit thriller…”

This is the story of Merilee who is recently divorced who moves into Sweet Apple, Georgia. There she rents a house on the property of Sugar Prescott, the towns matriarch. Sugar is known to be aloof and a bit odd, but she hits it off with Merilee. Sugar sees a lot of herself in Merilee and begins to open up and share stores with her that she has not shared with anyone.

Merilee’s children are attending a private school, where Merilee meets Heather the queen bee of the community. Heather brings Merilee into her circle and encourages her daughter to befriend Lily, Merilee’s daughter.

As the story progresses, Merilee finds out that a blogger from the town is writing about not only the town and southern sayings, but also about Merilee and her life. She doesn’t know how to feel about this but since she is trying to keep her head above water and deal with all the drama of life.

As you read through the story, you hear more about the drama of Sugar’s life of the past. You read the many blog posts that show a different side of small town drama anddddd the real dramas of a small town. There is so much more to share, but I can’t without telling you too much.

I highly recommend this book. It is a perfect summer read. It is the type of book that keeps you thinking and makes you want to not put down the book. Read and find out what happens The Night the Lights Went Out.

** Product links included, please read my disclosure statement**

Must Have Monday · reviews

Must Have Monday- Water

TTM_MHM

If you ask my kids what I drink they will probably say Coke or Coffee, but the funny thing about that is I don’t drink either of those very often. I have had one cup of coffee every morning, or almost every morning since we got our Keurig. I don’t drink Coke very often either. Richard and I will split a Coke when we go out to eat. I do drink Coke whenever I have a headache. Whenever I get a headache I first drink a coke, then I grab Excedrin (which also has caffeine in it). This works almost every time for me now. I started that when I was having migraines and was trying to avoid taking the prescription medications. The doctor I had at the time suggested Excedrin and said just get extra strength, it has the same ingredients as the migraine version.

Ok…. back on topic. So the what do I actually drink the most of… WATER! I drink water all day long. So over the years I have has a large variety of different water containment devices. Here are a few of my favorites.

At home, I love having my BEAST!  BEAST 30oz Stainless Steel Tumbler Vacuum Insulated Rambler Coffee Cup Double Wall Travel Flask Mug with Splash Proof Lid, 2 Straws, Pipe Brush & Gift Box Bundle By Greens Steel. This double walled medal water cup, with straw works perfectly for me as I spend my day around the house. I fill it up with ice and water first thing in the morning. Then as the day goes on I only need to add more water to the cup. This stays ice cold all day long. There are many days when the ice is still there the next morning. I also like the size. Think about it, three fills equals 90oz of water! I don’t like to travel with this cup because of the size and if you knock it over by mistake the water will spill.

For traveling about, and going to the gym I use my Brita 20 Ounce Sport Water Bottle with 2 Filters – BPA Free – Twin Pack, Blue and Orange. We purchased these originally before our first Disney Cruise. The thought behind it was that we could always create filtered water no matter where we were going.  On that trip we got off the ship in Nassau and didn’t want to drink the water when we were on that island. After that, the boys and I began taking these to school because we could refill them in the school sinks and not drink school sink water. Anyone who has been to an elementary school knows the sinks have a level of funk no matter what you do. I take mine with me when I hike and go to the gym. Now I typically do not put ice in this because it is not insulated and will sweat. But, as I mentioned it has a filter that I like, but it also is spill proof which is why send it with the boys to school. It has a pop up top which is pretty easy to open and close, but for the most part you need to squeeze it to get the water out.

As I mentioned last week, we have two types of water containment devices for biking. All four of us have CamelBak Rogue Crux Reservoir Hydration Pack, Black/Graphite, 2.5 L/85 oz as well as CamelBak Podium Chill Insulated Water Bottle, Periwinkle, 21 oz Fill the pack up with ice and then add in the water. It will stay cold while you drink and bike or hike. I have often seen people have these at Disney as well. The water bottle is contoured to fit safely into the cage on the bike and not slip and slide while you ride. The ones I just got for the boys are insulated and which will help them stay cold longer. One thing to be aware of when using the pack is when you aren’t wearing it make sure the pack it NOT sitting on it’s bite valve. I can not tell you how many times we have put the down and found a puddle later (in the car, in the truck, on the ground, or even the kitchen counter). The water bottle has a twist close top, but just like the Brita bottles they don’t really leak even when open since you need to squeeze it.

Richard has two different water cups that he likes to use. He has a Tervis 1228352 UCF Knights Pregame Prep Tumbler with Wrap and Black Lid 16oz, ClearHe takes water with him to drink on his drive into work every day and then refills the cup with bottle water from work to drink on his drive home. The Tervis Tumbler he uses during the cooler months. He also has a YETI Rambler 20 oz Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Tumbler w/ MagSlider Lid, Black. This one he is using now because the water will stay colder and the ice will last beyond his morning drive. These fit perfectly into the cup holders in the truck.

Here you go… my must have for drinking water. Well I need to go refill “The BEAST” and keep drinking water. Do share… what is your favorite water containment device? You never know when I need to find another one.

** post contains product links. please read my disclosure statement.**

family · food · life · reviews · through my camera lens

Honey “Bourbon” Chicken

Ok so yesterday I didn’t write any posts, and today you get two (and both are recipes I made yesterday)! Earlier I posted a sweet treat recipe, chocolate peanut butter pretzel bars, that I made yesterday. One of the ingredients of this treat was honey. Now as I mentioned in that post I do not actually like the flavor of honey, but Richard and Colby both love it. I have a HUGE bottle of honey that I purchased at Costco. It was put to use yesterday.

For dinner last night we had Honey Bourbon Chicken made in the electric pressure cooker. I read through the recipe and my first thought was…. ummm where is the bourbon? When reading the comments they said that this was “Bourbon inspired”. One of the people also responded that if you cook with alcohol in a pressure cooker it does not cook off the alcohol… ok let’s try this anyway!

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Honey “Bourbon” Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lb chicken thighs
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic (I grated it with my microplane)
  • 1/2 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 1 c. honey
  • 2 TBSP canola oil
  • red pepper flakes (I did a few shakes of the container)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • 1 TBSP water

Put all the ingredients (except cornstarch and water) into the electric pressure cooker

Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes

Let it release pressure for 5 minutes then finish releasing the pressure manually

Remove the chicken and dice it up into bite size pieces

Combine the cornstarch and water to make a slurry, then add to the cooking liquid. Stir to dissolve completely

Return the chicken to the pressure cooker

Set to saute and cook for an additional 3 minutes to thicken the sauce

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I served it with red wheat berries that I toasted and then cooked, adding a bit of butter at the end of the cooking process. Colby said this made it taste a lot like popcorn. We also had a raw carrot. Colby ended up eating two since he took the one off Richard’s plate too before he got home. No worries, I peeled another one for Richard.

I tried everything separably, but then put the chicken and wheat berries together and it was so yummy.

The chicken was really tasty. Colby felt it had a homemade bbq flavor, I don’t think it did, but hey if that works for him… then go for it dude. Colby ate 2 carrots and 2 servings of wheat berries and one serving of chicken. Blake ate 2 servings of chicken, his carrot and a nibble of wheat berries. Then, when Richard came home and was having dinner, Blake had a 3rd serving of the chicken. I’d say he really liked this one. Richard enjoyed it too.

I really wish the sauce ended up thicker. I think next time instead of thickening the sauce in the pressure cooker I’d transfer it to a pot and cook it in there so that the liquids can evaporate and thicken. Richard suggested reducing actual bourbon in a pan and adding it to the chicken mixture in the thickening step. This would add the bourbon flavor, but not the alcohol.

I think we will be trying this one again!

 

 

food · reviews · through my camera lens

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

Yesterday I never did get around to writing a blog post, I’m not sure why, but oh well such is life.

I saw the recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel bars and thought they looked rather yummy. Who does’t like chocolate, peanut butter and pretzels, oh wait I know a few people who don’t, but I like them and that’s what counts, a lot of people like them and that is what’s important.

I made them yesterday… well I made something similar anyway. I followed the recipe, but then “Lori-ized it”. And, as soon as I tried one I was already re-writing the recipe in my head.

This is what I did:

Ingredients
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (divided) Image may contain: dessert, food and outdoor
  • bag of mini pretzel twists
  • 4 oz. box Reese’s Pieces candy
Peanut Butter Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Chocolate layer:
  1. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a siltpad
  2. Melt 8 ounces of the chocolate chips gently in the microwave (on low heat, stirring every 15 seconds) until smooth. (my microwave has a melt chocolate setting so I used that, but this is the typical way to melt chocolate in a microwave without burning it)

For the peanut butter sauce:
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat add honey and sugar and stir well to combine.

  2. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 full minute, stirring. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until smooth.

  3. Stir in vanilla

     

Assembly:

  1. Spread the melted chocolate onto the baking sheet, don’t worry about neatness aim more for a similar thickness across the surface area used
  2. Top with pretzels and Reese’s Pieces. You can put them down at random, or be more like me and spend time making sure they are evenly spaced out (ok a bit OCD there, but hey what can I say?) Lightly press into chocolate
  3. Prep peanut butter layer. I had enough to spread it in an even layer over the whole bar
  4. Add an additional layer of the pretzels and press into peanut butter layer
  5. melt remaining 4 oz of chocolate and drizzle over the top of everything.
  6. Refrigerate until solid.
  7. Cut or break into pieces
  8. Enjoy!

OK… now here is how I’d change it next time!

First I felt this was very honey forward. I would either use 1/4 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of agave nectar or switch it all to agave nectar (I am not a huge honey fan even though both Richard and Colby love the stuff and eat it all the time).

Also, I would add salt to the peanut butter layer to bring out the peanut butter flavor more than just the sweet of the honey/sugar combination

I liked the double layer of pretzels (that I already changed from the original recipe), but felt the Reese’s pieces got lost. So you either need to double the amount you use or add peanut butter chips or even peanut M&M’s to up the peanut flavor.

Finally I would put more of the chocolate into the bottom layer maybe only reserve 2.5 oz for the top so it was a true drizzle and not a full layer of chocolate.

Colby tried these out as his after school snack. He loves peanut butter and chocolate together. He loves peanut butter and honey together. He always eats peanut butter and pretzels together. He LOVES  Reese’s Pieces. So this treat was right up his alley. Richard also enjoyed them when he came home from work. I guess I will be making these again, but next time I’ll “Lori-ize” them even more!

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book · food · reviews · through my camera lens

Roasted Thanksgiving Salad- Alton Brown

This week we had a lot of new recipes on our menu. I really enjoyed all the recipes. And, they all came from on location:Alton Brown: EveryDayCook. First, we had fish sticks, then pizza dough, and then finally Roasted Thanksgiving Salad.

The roasted Thanksgiving Salad was the healthiest of all, and actually really yummy! Think roasted veggies, quinoa, apples and pumpkin seeds in a mustard vinaigrette. This was a great side dish and I’ve had it a few days cold for lunch.

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Roasted Thanksgiving Salad (recipe adapted from Alton Brown: EveryDayCook)

Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs. of Sweet Potatoes, ~3 medium, peeled & cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 lb. of Parsnips, ~3-5, peeled & cut into bite-sized pieces (use the smaller ones as the large ones are too woody)
  • 1 Red Onion, small, diced
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoons of Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup of Quinoa, rinsed in cool water & drained
  • ¼ teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of Agave Nectar
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon Mustard
  • 2 medium Gala Apple, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup of roasted Pepitas
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place the sweet potatoes, parsnips, and red onion on a baking sheet pan lined with a silpat mat or parchment paper. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Roast for 15 minutes, toss and then roast for 10 more minutes or under the veggies are golden and tender.
  3. While the vegetables are roasted, prepare the quinoa. Boil 2 cups of of water and ½ teaspoon of salt in a saucepan. When boiling, whisk in the quinoa and cinnamon. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, still covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  4. For the vinaigrette, combine the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil, vinegar, agave nectar, mustard, and ½ teaspoon of salt in a jar with a lid, shake to emulsify.
  5. Toss the vegetables, quinoa, and dressing together in a large bowl. Top with apples and pepitas just before serving.

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I ended up doubling my dressing since I used more sweet potato, parsnip and apple than was originally called for in the recipe. You easily could change the veggies in this recipe, carrots would make a nice addition and add a bit more sweetness.

Richard and I both enjoyed this and said that the apple and pumpkin seeds added a nice texture to the recipe. I was thinking that if you put wheat berries into this for 1/2 the quinoa you would add in a chewy texture and an additional ancient grain.

The original recipe called for thyme and sage, but I didn’t add these to mine. I can see how they would add to the Thanksgiving feel, but since we were making it in April I didn’t see the need for it to feel Thanksgiving. It also used maple syrup instead of agave nectar, I only have cheap fake maple syrup and didn’t want to use that in this dish, plus it was almost gone. I figured it was looking to add sweetness as much as anything so that’s why I used the agave nectar.

I’m ready to start adding more veggie heavy dishes to our menu. The dish could be used all year long and is hearty enough, in my opinion to be used as a main dish. I served it with grilled chicken.

There is nothing new on our menu this week. Life is going to be busy for the next few weeks so I’m not sure how many new dishes we will see, but you never know.

Hope you enjoy your Friday Eve!

food · Must Have Monday · reviews

Must Have Monday– the cookie baking edition

TTM_MHM

I have decided that I want to have a weekly post on Mondays. I have been debating on this for a bit and decided that Must Have Monday works. One of the big things this does for me is makes it so I don’t have to think about what to blog about on Monday mornings!

Each Monday I will post about some must have items. I have found over the years that many items that I didn’t know I needed later became must haves or at least must use once I’ve had the product.

Since I’m baking cookies, Amish Sugar Cookies, today to take to the boys’ school for their teacher appreciation lunch tomorrow, I figured I’d blog about my cookie baking must haves!

When I was engaged and planning my wedding registry one of the first things I knew I was putting on my list was a stand mixer! I had a decent hand mixer and I still use this at times, but one knows that every good baker needs a stand mixer… right??

I have had my KitchenAid KSM150PSER Artisan Tilt-Head Stand Mixer with Pouring Shield, 5-Quart, Empire Red (mine is white not red) for almost 14 years now and it has seen a lot of use! It sits in the end of my island right below where I keep my laptop. Since moving into our new house, I think I’ve used it at least once a week. Whenever I bake cookies it is the first item I pull out and get ready. So let me get it out so I can start making the Amish Sugar Cookies for tomorrow.

While my butter, oil and sugar cream together, let me tell you a few tips that I’ve learned. I keep my granulated sugar in a food storage container like the one pictured. I do that so it stays fresh and there is no chance of sugar falling all over the floor if the bag tips in the pantry. I keep my flours, as well as, powdered and brown sugars in the freezer. This keeps the flour fresh and bug free, after living in the heat and humidity of Florida I appreciate this knowledge a bit more. Not that I’m using nuts today, but keep your nuts in the freezer too, they won’t spoil as quickly.

Time to check on my batter. When using a stand mixer, you need to make sure you do a good job scraping the bowl. Let me grab my spatula and get the mixer ready for the next step. I have this set of spatulas and I like the variety of sizes and styles. I use the “spoonula” when I’m baking since it has a decent size curved spatula and can get in there and get all the good stuff off the bottom.

A few food must haves when baking cookies (well at least in my book they are must haves)… you must have real butter. I typically buy salted butter even though most recipes call for unsalted, and I still add the salt to the recipe. I love the taste the salt brings out in sweet recipes. I also believe that you MUST use pure vanilla extract. I try very very hard not to use artificial flavors in any of my cooking/baking. I also only use real sugars. Ok so the recipes aren’t going to win any healthy eating contest, but they will taste good and, in my opinion, as long as you have it in moderation… why waste calories on fake food?

Time to whisk together the dry ingredients.  I pulled out my OXO Good Grips 3-Quart Mixing Bowl, White/Black. This is the bowl I always pull out when my boys were helping in the kitchen when they were little. It had a very sturdy base and didn’t tip when they used it. I like the fact that it has a wide lip and spout which helps when transferring the dry ingredients into the mixer. Make sure you have the mixer on low and you do this is small doses or you will we sweeping up your dry ingredients off the floor.

I’m tossing this dough into the fridge so it can chill out for about 30 minutes. The recipe doesn’t call for it, but this recipe reminds me of snickerdoodles and snickerdoodles dough gets chilled… so off to the fridge I go with the dough!

While it’s chilling I’ll clean up the prep mess and get out the next items I need. Let me grab my cookie sheets. Ok so mine aren’t really cookie sheets they are actually Calphalon Classic Bakeware Special Value 12-by-17-Inch Rectangular Nonstick Jelly Roll Pans, Set of 2. I like the size of the jelly roll pans better than the cookie sheets. I can typically fit a dozen cookies on each sheet and I have 4 sheets (2 sets). I have this so I’m not having to wait for a sheet to cool before I can prep the next pan. I just prep them all and toss them in the ovens. On top of my “cookie sheets” I have Silpat AE420295-07 Premium Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat, Half Sheet Size, 11-5/8″ x 16-1/2″. This is one of those I didn’t know I needed it until I had it items. I do not have to spray my pans, the clean up is sooo easy and the cookies almost never burn (if they do, they don’t stick).

Another item I didn’t know was a must have until I had one, or three, is OXO Good Grips Cookie Scoop, Small, Stainless Steel. I have three different sizes of these scoops. I love that using them helps with the consistency of the size of the cookie or other item I’m making.

Once I have dished out all the dough onto the cookie sheets using the cookie scoop I’ll bake them off. I need to bring 2 dozen to the boys school and if I have extra I’ll send them into work with Richard. If not, maybe I’ll just have to bake again later in the week. Seems like I’ve been baking a lot on Thursdays.

I’ll be sure to share pictures of the finished cookies. I have made these before and I know they are yummy! Last time I froze half the batch to pull out at a later date, you can do this with cookie dough before or after baking. Such a versatile product, don’t you think.

Well you will have to let me know what you think of the first installment of Must Have Monday.  Do you have any of these products or something similar? What are your must haves for baking cookies? What other must have ideas would you like me to blog about? Share you thoughts, click on the links, join the fun… and please read my disclosure statement since this post contains links. Remember that if you purchase items through these links it doesn’t cost you any more money and helps me out too. Thanks!

family · food · reviews

Alton Brown’s Pizza Dough

The week of Alton continues with tonight’s edition… pizza! I made a batch of Alton Brown’s pizza dough from his book Alton Brown: EveryDayCook, are you motivated to buy this cookbook yet? (Did you see my post about his fish sticks that I made on Friday? No?!? Click here and check it out)

I did not make any changes to this recipe, so you can find it here on Alton’s site. I did measure everything out with my kitchen scale. I made it in the bread machine instead of in the stand mixer, I just have better luck with dough this way.

You need to plan ahead with this recipe because the dough needs to rise in the fridge 18-24 hours. You take the dough out 30 minute before making your pizza product. Alton suggests cutting the dough into three. We used this to make three different products. We made a grilled pepperoni pizza, a baked two cheese stromboli and garlic butter rolls.

pizza1To make the rolls, I cut the dough into bite size pieces and then rolls them around into a ball shape. I put cornmeal on the counter while I worked as well as on the baking sheet to add extra crunch and prevent sticking. I baked these in a 450 oven for 17 minutes. While they baked I heated EVOO and microplanned 3 cloves of garlic into the oil. When the garlic just began to brown, I added 1/2 stick of butter and let this melt. When it was melted, I brushed it on top of the rolls. (These rolls were my favorite part of the meal.. .just saying!)pizza3

Richard made the pizza and stromboli. For the pizza, he grills both sides of the dough on screaming hot grill. When they are starting to brown on both sides, he brings it in and tops it with sauce, cheese and pepperoni. Then it goes back on the grill to crisp up and melt the cheese. The grill wasn’t as hot as we like it so the crust wasn’t as crunchy this time.

pizza2The dough for the stromboli gets stretched and tossed the same way the pizza dough does. He then lays it onto a cookie sheet and puts the toppings on one half of the dough. This time it was mozzarella and provolone cheese. (We never put sauce in our stromboli because it seems to make the crust mushy.) Then you fold the un-filled part of the dough over the filled and roll the edges together to crimp them. You also need to cut in vent holes to let the steam out. This gets baked for 20-25 min in a 350 oven. We have decided that next time we will make it in a hotter oven for less time since the rolls came out really crispy and yummy.

I will be making this pizza dough again!

A few things we learned:

  • Make sure you put the dough in a large enough bowl over night, ours was over the top and down the sides in the morning
  • These rolls were so worth it and I’ll make them again, but make sure they are closer in size, the bigger ones were good (by big I mean doughnut hole size instead of walnut size)
  • Possible additions/alterations to the rolls
    • put fresh mozzarella in the middle
    • put cheddar cheese in the middle and serve with soup or chili
  • The garlic butter needed more garlic and maybe a pinch or two of salt
  • Go for a hotter oven/grill and shorter cook time.
family · food · reviews

Homemade Fish Sticks

Yes, you read that title correct, I made homemade fish sticks. I found this recipe in Alton Brown: EveryDayCook. I was searching for menu items for the week and thought this would be a good change of pace. Plus earlier in the week I was watching Worst Cooks in America, this show cracks me up, and they made fish and chips.

I decided to make the fish sticks with the frozen tilapia I had in the freezer. I took the fish out and let it defrost a bit and then began the process of chopping it up as stated in the recipe. Well the fish was probably not defrosted enough and/or I didn’t cut it into small enough pieces. When I added the bread crumbs, mayo, mustard, egg and seasoning and tried to mix it together, it didn’t come together into a mixture that could be formed. But, I did not give up… I got power! I pulled out my food processor and mixed it that way. I mixed it enough so that it was not completely homogenized, leaving some bigger pieces of fish still.

I then rolled this mixture into log shapes. I couldn’t quite get them into the pretty sticks the recipe called for, or didn’t try hard enough to anyway. The logs then went into the fridge. I set up my breading station of flour, which I added salt and pepper too even though it wasn’t called for in the recipe, 2 eggs and bread crumbs, the recipe called for panko… I only had Italian.

Thirty minutes, or so, passes time to bread the fish sticks. They then got shallow fried using canola oil. When I did this we decided that my sticks must have been too large since they were perfectly browned on the outside but not fully cooked on the inside. No panic… pull out a pan and put them in the oven to complete cooking.

The funny thing about this whole process is I was making oven fries which I felt didn’t cook crisp enough in the oven so I finished those in the oil from the fish…. so the fish finished in the oven and the fries finished in the oil. Can you say adaptability??

These turned out really good. Blake ate 3, Colby ate 3 and Richard and I both enjoyed them too. Both boys said they would eat them again, so I guess there will be a take two on it. At the bottom of the recipe I included some thoughts on what I learned making this recipe. (hope that helps)

fish1

Fish Stick Adapted from Alton Brown’s Fish Sticks

  • 1 pound white fish (I used talapia)
  • 1 3/4 cups bread crumbs, divided (I used Italian)
  • 3 eggs, divided
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons canola oil (depending on the size of your skillet, you need enough to completely cover the bottom by 1/8th of an inch)
    1. When the fish is just soft enough to cut, finely chop. He suggests freezing fresh fish for 30 min or defrosting frozen for 30
    2. Place in a bowl along with 3/4 cup bread crumbs, 1 egg, mayonnaise, mustard, onion flakes, salt and cayenne pepper. Combine well. — this is where I used my food processor
    3. Shape the fish mixture into 1 1/2 ounce finger-shaped sticks. Set on a sheet pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (oops I didn’t weigh out mine that may have played a roll in the size issue)
    4. Beat the remaining 2 eggs in a shallow pie pan.
    5. Place the remaining cup of panko in a second pie pan and the flour in a third.
    6. Roll each stick in the flour, then egg, followed by the panko.
    7. Heat the oil in wide, non-stick skillet over medium heat (or an electric skillet to medium high) until it shimmers. Add the fish sticks and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. (if not cooked enough pop it into a preheated 350 oven for 3-5 min to make sure it is cooked through. (I used Meat Thermometer – ON’H Instant Read Thermometer Cooking Thermometer Food Thermometer with Strong Magnet for Grilling Barbecue to check the temperature)
    8. Total cook time 8 to 12 minutes.
    9. Cool slightly before consuming.

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A few things I learned…

  • make sure the fish is defrosted a bit more before chopping
  • chop very fine or just plan to put it into the food processor
  • make the fish sticks smaller or plan to finish in the oven
  • make sure you salt them when they come out of the frying process
  • add a touch of water to the eggs to make it a bit smoother and easier to use in the breading station
  • next time just use frozen french fries or tater tots or something else it was too much to do the potatoes and fish at one time.

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family · food · reviews

Emporio: A Meatball Joint – Restaurant Review

So yesterday I posted my menu for the week. In posting this I realized I had never reviewed Emporio: A Meatball Joint.

Emporio is one of those place that we have been going to since we visited PA last March looking for a place to live. What make Emporio special? Their meatballs. That’s what they do… meatballs!

First things first which type of meatball are you going to have, beef, chicken, pork, veggie or the “Ball of the Month”? Now what are you going to do with your balls? Pick your sauce, pick your side (or skip the side) pasta, fries, tater tots, rice, on a roll?

I typically just get “Saucy Balls” which is 4 meatballs in your choice of sauce. This time I just decided to have beef balls in marinara… simple yet yummy. IMG_20180426_174127 (1).jpg

Richard ordered the Taco Ball Salad (taco ball was the ball of the month). This was romaine lettuce, Spanish rice, cheese, peppers and beef taco balls. IMG_20180426_174159.jpg

We have tried the Ball of the month in the past too, one time it was a cheese burger ball, Colby loved that one.

Blake and Colby ordered off the kids menu. This gets them one ball in sauce, a side, drink and a cookie. Blake had beef with marinara (then ate one of my meatballs too) and french fries. Colby had beef with creamy Parmesan sauce and penne with the same sauce

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One of Blake’s favorite things about this restaurant is that we saw it on Ginormous Foods. He thinks this is pretty cool. They visited Primanti Bros on the same episode. You can check the episode out here.