Category Archives: Dinner

Home run!

I love experimenting and trying new things in the kitchen. Sometimes things don’t work out – like my brownie dessert from a few weeks ago. But sometimes, I hit it out of the park. Crunchy Buffalo Ranch Chicken is one of those recipes.

Toot, toot.

Hear that?

Just me . . . tooting my own horn.

😉

Crunchy Buffalo Ranch Chicken combines spicy buffalo wing sauce with tangy ranch seasoning, all rolled into crispy French-fried onions. This recipe is definitely a take-out fake-out. It doesn’t mimic a restaurant recipe, per se, but it certainly tastes fast-food worthy!

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I work for two food trade magazines and, as part of my job, from time to time I am required to attend industry trade shows. At one show, I visited a company’s booth for a demonstration and received a bag of these crispy fried onions. They’re the crunchy garnish that restaurants often serve over top of salads, burgers and steaks. The bag sat in my pantry before I realized that the expiry date was soon approaching and I should try something with them. The back of the bag had recipes on it, including one that used the onions as breadcrumbs for chicken. When I turned to the trusty ole’ Internet, I found that other people had done this with rave reviews, and made some modifications to the recipe.

I started by cutting two boneless, skinless chicken breasts into nugget-sized pieces. You could leave the chicken breasts whole, but this ensured more of the crunchy coating covered each bite.

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Prepare your dredging station. My usual breading process starts with dipping the meat in a beaten egg, followed by breadcrumbs and seasonings. In this recipe, I replaced the egg with my favourite buffalo wing sauce, and crushed up about one cup of fried onions into a breadcrumb consistency. For an extra kick, I added a package of ranch seasoning into the onions (usually I use homemade ranch seasoning, but I had an extra package kicking around). I’ve seen smaller packages of these fried onions in the salad dressing/crouton aisle at the grocery store. If you can’t find them, don’t sweat. Just substitute something else crunchy for the breading, like corn flakes – but don’t skip out on the ranch seasoning!
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The chicken pieces were dunked into the buffalo wing sauce and rolled around in the onion and ranch powder mixture. Line up the chicken pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 F for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. DSC_0649

The buffalo wing sauce makes the chicken so tender, and with a crunchy coating and bite sized pieces, this chicken is perfectly poppable.

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You guys, this chicken is the bomb. I’m not even kidding . . . I would make this (and eat it) every day if I could. And it got a double thumbs up from hubby – and my mama! She may or may not have kept the chicken I gave her to try all to herself. Hey, I’m not judging . . . I may or may not do the same thing!

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Thursday night traditions

Thursday night at my mom’s house is always pasta night. It’s been like that for years – and I’m not even sure why, to tell you the truth. But no one ever asked what was for dinner on Thursdays – we knew it would be some kind of pasta, and it would always be delicious.

My family has been making tomato sauce for longer than I can remember. When tomatoes come into season at the end of August or early September, my grandfather goes on a hunt for the best looking tomatoes and buys bushels upon bushels.

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We dedicate an entire day to making sauce. Sorting the tomatoes, washing them off, boiling them, feeding them through the sauce machine (I’m sure there’s a more technical term!), boiling the sauce and then jarring it. This past year we had 12 (or maybe more . . . ) bushels of tomatoes. It was one of our biggest years yet! I look forward to this day every year.

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My adorable Nonno draining the boiled tomatoes.

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A giant pot of sauce, ready for boiling and jarring.

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The day always ends with a late-afternoon feast, including homemade wine, natch.

The ironic part of all of this is . . . I HATE tomatoes. I know. What kind of Italian hates tomatoes? Not only that, but I hate ketchup, and store-bought tomato sauce. The sauce we make is literally pure tomatoes, and it is the best.sauce.ever. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve forced myself to eat tomatoes more, and to not be afraid to order pasta at (certain) restaurants. But I’m definitely a tomato sauce snob.

All of this is to say that no matter what happens on Thursdays, I know I can walk into my mom’s house and smell sauce simmering and instantly be happier (luckily she only lives five minutes away!).

In the last year or so, since Alex and I have lived on our own, we haven’t held up the Thursday night pasta tradition. I know. Blasphemous. It’s just that Thursday nights have somehow become pizza-and-wing night or clean-out-the-fridge night. But in an attempt to eat better (and save money), we’ve been trying to turn this around. One of my faaaavourite food blogs, Iowa Girl Eats, is pro at making lighter versions of delicious restaurant-style food. Alex and I love everything Buffalo-related (well mostly the wings and hot sauce for him, and the shopping deals for me!), so naturally her recipe for buffalo chicken egg rolls stood out for me. Tangy ranch sauce is combined with perfectly spicy shredded buffalo chicken and sealed in an egg roll wrapper, baked to crisp perfection.

I seasoned two chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then pan fried in a teaspoon of olive oil until golden brown. I’ve read on Pinterest that a stand mixer comes in handy when shredding chicken, and I’ve been converted. Add your chicken breasts (I had cut mine into a few smaller pieces before hand, but I’m not sure this was necessary) and turn your mixer on to medium. Within a few minutes, my chicken was perfectly shredded.

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I added a dash of my favourite Buffalo-style wing sauce and spooned about two tablespoons full of shredded chicken into an egg roll wrapper with some ranch dressing (you can use blue cheese if you want, but I prefer ranch!).

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Wrapped up and baked for 20 minutes at 400 F (my personal preference, 425 F was too high in my oven), these buffalo chicken egg rolls were a perfect lighter alternative to chicken wings. I chopped up some broccoli and drizzled it with olive oil, garlic salt, fresh cracked pepper and a dash of parmesan cheese and baked it right along the egg rolls for the same amount of time, and threw some potatoes in my beloved ActiFry, and voila!

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A delicious, fairly healthy, Thursday-night-pub-food-worthy meal. It’s not my mom’s pasta . . . but there’s always next Thursday!

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Do you have food traditions? Certain things you eat on certain nights of the week?

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