Our fair comes to town every October. When I was younger, it was the highlight of my year. I never understood why my mom chose to stay home while my dad and I practically made ourselves sick on the rickety rides and fried food. I get it now. It’s lame, it’s crowded, and it’s overpriced. Spencer and I went for the first few years of our marriage and every year we’d walk away mad at ourselves that we spent the money. The one thing we never regretted? A funnel cake.

Funnel cakes are just fried dough, like a misshapen doughnut covered in powdered sugar. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them outside of a fair until yesterday when I fried up a couple in my own kitchen. You know I don’t like to fry things often but sometimes you just want a funnel cake.

They were so much simpler than I expected! The dough was a snap to put together and since there’s no rising, you can fry them right away. It took me no time to whip these up. They were the perfect extra-special afternoon snack. Crisp on the outside but nice and soft on the inside. Everything a funnel cake should be, pretty much.

A couple notes: I don’t own a funnel so I used a pastry bag with the end snipped off. It worked fine but I recommend only adding a cup at a time to the bag because the dough will leak out of the bag while you’re working. I also don’t own a thermometer so to test the oil I just dropped a teeny bit of dough into the oil. If it floats to the top pretty quickly, that means the oil is ready.

Funnel Cakes
Servings: 8 6-inch cakes
Ingredients
  • 6 cups vegetable oil or shortening for frying
  • 1 1/2 cups 12 ounces milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups 8 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons 7/8 ounce sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup 3 ounces powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Heat oil or shortening to 375F in a very deep, heavy pan with at least 3-inch-deep sides.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the milk and eggs. Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir into the egg mixture until smooth.
  3. While covering the funnel hole with 1 hand, pour in 1 cup of batter. Star from the center of the frying oil and, in a swirling motion, pour batter in concentric and overlapping circles to make a 6- or 7- inch round.
  4. Fry on both sides until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.
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Last week a huge box of Nature’s Pride buns and rolls showed up on my doorstep courtesy of Foodbuzz. There was only one thing to do with all that bread: a burger party!

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t cook the burgers. It was my birthday and I don’t really enjoy cooking burgers so my husband was nice enough to do that part for me. I did make the BBQ sauce, onion rings, and pickles though.

The burgers were great! The meat itself was just seasoned with salt and pepper since there was so much extra goodness going on. The BBQ sauce was smoky and spicy thanks to the chipotle pepper. The bacon added more smokiness and along with the onion rings, provided a great crunch. And the sharp cheddar? Can you really go wrong with sharp cheddar?

Now let’s talk about the onion rings.

In my world, there are 2 types of onion rings. Fast food onion rings and diner onion rings. The fast food ones are limp, soggy, and almost feel like they have a bread crumb coating. The diner ones are fresh, crispy, and the epitome of amazing. These onion rings are total diner rings but better. If I had known how easy it was to make great onion rings, I wouldn’t have been making late night Burger King runs when I was pregnant.

I was going to take better pictures of the rings but by the time I got the baby asleep and made it back into the kitchen they were gone! So you get my “draining on a paper towel” picture.

All in all, a delicious burger. Too much BBQ sauce though. It made a bowl full and we hardly put a dent in it.

Cheyenne Burgers
from Bobby Flay
Ingredients
For the burgers:
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • salt & pepper
For the onion rings:
  • 2 cups canola oil
  • 2 large onions sliced into rings
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • salt and pepper
For the smoky barbecue sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 heaping tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Instructions
To make the burgers:
  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Season ground beef with salt and pepper. Shape into 8 burgers. Cook about 5 minutes per side or until cooked through. Top burgers with bacon, sharp cheddar cheese, onion rings, BBQ sauce, and any other toppings you desire.
To make the onion rings:
  1. Heat oil in a large pan to 360 degrees.
  2. Put flour in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Do the same with buttermilk in a separate bowl.
  3. Dredge onion rings in flour, dip in buttermilk, and then dredge in flour once more. Fry until golden brown, turning once or twice, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Season with salt.
To make the smoky barbecue sauce:
  1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the onion; cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the ketchup and 1/3 cup water, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients (except salt and pepper); simmer for 10 minutes, or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a food processor; puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a bowl; cool to room temperature. Spoon on burgers
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I have been saying that I wanted to try making tempura fried vegetables since the first time I had it at a sushi place 3 years ago but my hatred of frying has kept me from doing it. I had some asparagus on it’s last leg this week and decided to just get it over with.

Tempura batter is a mixture of flour and cornstarch and then seltzer is used as the liquid. It’s a really light batter that gets super crispy and delicious. It’s great on just about anything but sweet potato and asparagus are my favorite. The sauce is a honey mustard but next time I think I’m going to make some kind of wasabi sauce. For some reason, spicy really works with the tempura batter.

I doubled the recipe and could have easily eaten more. It was kind of ridiculous how much I ate. It was really, really good.

Tempura Fried Asparagus
from Rachael Ray
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 4 cups vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup seltzer at room temperature
  • 1 pound asparagus
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard and honey.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat until the temperature registers 375° on a deep-fry thermometer.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt and baking soda. Whisk in the seltzer until smooth.
  4. Add the asparagus to the batter and turn to coat. Transferring one piece at a time, add about one-quarter of the asparagus to the hot oil and cook, turning, until golden and crisp, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining asparagus, allowing the oil to return to 375° between batches. Serve hot with the dipping sauce.
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Anyone who has been hanging out around here for awhile can probably tell that I’m not a fish person. Shrimp is as fishy as I get normally but for some reason these salmon croquettes in the newest issue of Cooking Light spoke to me.

I was surprised at how much I liked them. The texture, I guess because I used canned salmon, was almost like a fishstick. Even the 2 year old loved them!

I just made a simple sauce of about 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and maybe 1/4 teaspoon fresh dill. It was good but I really don’t think they need any kind of sauce. Some lemon juice squeezed over top would be just perfect.

Salmon Croquettes
adapted from Cooking Light

2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
2 tablespoons minced red pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 (5-ounce) cans pink salmon
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon oil, for frying

Combine Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard, and next 7 ingredients(through egg), stirring well. Add panko; toss. Shape mixture into 3-inch patties (I got 7, original recipe says 8).

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add patties; cook 5 minutes on each side or until browned.

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Recently MyBlogSpark sent me this awesome package of Progresso items, featuring their new panko bread crumbs. I had never tried panko before so I was super excited to participate in this.

I immediately knew I wanted to try my hand at arancini (which is fried rice balls) and ironically enough, a few days later I got Progresso’s Soups & More magazine in the mail (also part of the Progresso package from MyBlogSpark) and it had a recipe for arancini in it! I adapted it to our tastes/what I had on hand and it turned out fabulous. The panko is a totally different texture than regular bread crumbs, more flaky than crumby. It fried up wonderfully and the crispness of the panko was delicious with the creamy risotto center.

Arancini & a CONTEST!
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups Progresso® reduced-sodium chicken broth from 32-oz carton, heated Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Progresso® panko crispy bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Vegetable oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Line cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper. In 3-quart saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook and stir 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in rice and wine; cook 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until liquid is absorbed. Add 1 cup broth; cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until broth is absorbed. Add remaining 1 cup broth; cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until broth is absorbed.
  2. Season with pepper. Stir in butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Spread onto cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour 30 minutes or until firm. (Mixture can be refrigerated overnight.)
  3. On cookie sheet, shape rice mixture into 12×8-inch rectangle. Cut into 6 rows by 4 rows to make 24 squares. Shape rice into balls.
  4. Place flour and bread crumbs in separate bowls. In another bowl, beat egg and water until blended. Coat each ball with flour, then dip into egg mixture and coat with bread crumbs. Place coated balls on unlined cookie sheet; refrigerate 30 minutes.
  5. Line platter or shallow pan with paper towels. In 4-quart Dutch oven, heat about 2 inches vegetable oil to 350°F. Fry 8 balls at a time 3 to 4 minutes, turning once, until golden brown. With slotted spoon, remove balls from Dutch oven to towel-lined platter to drain. Serve hot.
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