Air Fryer Fried Chicken

Allow me to kick this off by saying that an Air Fryer is the best thing your kitchen is missing. With that said, yes you should buy one. Why? 1) it’s healthier and 2) everything you ever made in a deep fryer comes out just as delicious (if not MORE delicious) in an Air Fryer and finally 3) clean-up is way easier due to a lack of oil. I’ve been playing with recipes a lot lately when it comes to fried chicken. After my annual trip to New Orleans, I decided to put the spices I purchased in the French Market to work. Since I am a nice person, I am also going to provide links to both spices I bought in NOLA and used in the recipe(s) below. Note: there are two recipes here but with only one ingredient change. One will use the Lemon Pepper Seasoning and the other will use the Hot & Spicy Sea Salt. Decide which one you prefer, or make two batches. I made 4 chicken thighs with the first spice and 4 more chicken thighs with the second spice. DO NOT MIX THESE SPICES…Unless you want to burn your tongue forever. The rule is this – if you’re using the lemon pepper you do not need more pepper so just add plain ol’ sea salt. If you’re using hot & spicy sea salt you do not need more salt so just add plain ol’ ground black pepper.

  • Ingredients:
  • 4 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in, fat trimmed off (8 thighs total if making two batches)
  • 1/2 cup AP flour (1 cup total if making two batches)
  • 1 egg, beaten (2 eggs total if making two batches)
  • Pepper Lemon Seasoning OR N’awlins Hot & Spicy Sea Salt 
  • if using the pepper lemon seasoning, include plain sea salt
  • if using the hot & spicy sea salt, include ground black pepper
  • olive oil spray
  1. Pre-heat Air Fryer to 390 degrees F (I typically pre-heat mine for 3-5 minutes). You do NOT need to pre-heat before each batch, only before the initial one. The fryer will stay hot once you start using it.
  2. Whisk together the flour, lemon pepper OR hot & spicy sea salt, plain sea salt (if using lemon pepper) OR ground black pepper (if using hot & spicy sea salt). Beat the egg in a separate bowl.
  3. Dredge the chicken through the flour mixture, then into the egg, then back into the flour mixture again.
  4. Spray the basket of the Air Fryer with olive oil spray.
  5. Place two thighs into the basket of the Air Fryer and spray the tops of the chicken with olive oil spray, cook at 390 degrees F for 30 minutes. At the 30 minute mark (most Air Fryers will not allow you to set for greater than 30 minutes at a time), use silicone tongs to flip the thighs and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  6. Remove from Air Fryer and serve or store for later consumption. Continue this process until you have cooked all thighs. Do NOT overcrowd the fryer or it will not cook evenly and you may have some pieces of raw chicken. 
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The batch made using the pepper lemon seasoning and plain sea salt

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The batch made using the hot & spicy sea salt and plain ground black pepper

Both of these came out delicious! If I didn’t tell you these were made using an Air Fryer, you would have thought they were made using the original deep fryer method. The skin is nice and crispy and the inside is moist and juicy. The trick to getting crispy skin is spraying each piece of chicken with olive oil spray. Matter of fact, if and when you do purchase an Air Fryer, just go out and buy olive oil spray. You will definitely need it for most, if not all, recipes you make using this fantastic device.

Before anyone asks, this is the Air Fryer I have. I know there are other ones out there that fit more food in them in one shot but I’m pleased with the one I have. It also comes with a bunch of presets but I have yet to use any of those since the manual controls are so incredibly easy. Another tip is to buy silicone tongs. Most Air Fryer baskets are made using non-stick material therefore a metal tong could potentially scratch the surface, thus making the non-stick material useless.

 

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Crock Pot Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is one of my go-to recipes when I do not want to go overboard, but I still want to make something flavorful and delicious. If you search through this blog, you will find some of my other pulled pork recipes that are similar to the one below. With this particular recipe, I used Dr. Pepper instead of Coca-Cola and incorporated a different liquid smoke flavor. Those flavors combined created a great dish that was a bit on the smoky side.

  • Ingredients:
  • 4-5 lbs. pork ribs, bone-in or boneless (either way works)
  • 1 medium size onion, sliced
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • 16 oz. Dr. Pepper (do not use Diet)
  • 1-2 tbsp. mesquite liquid smoke
  • 1 28 oz. bottle BBQ sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray’s sweet & spicy sauce)
  1. The night before you cook everything inside the Crock Pot, rub the salt, pepper, and garlic powder over the ribs. Cover and place ribs in the fridge overnight.
  2. The day you’re cooking, place the onion in the bottom of the Crock Pot.
  3. Place pre-seasoned ribs inside the Crock Pot, lying over the onion, and pour Dr. Pepper over the pork. Cook on LOW for for 7-8 hours (if you’re using bone-in ribs, I suggest going with the full 8 so they fall right off the bone).
  4. At the 7 or 8 hour mark (whichever you prefer) drain the excess juice and remove the bones (if you used bone-in) then shred. If you went with boneless ribs, still drain the excess juice but simply shred the ribs using 2 forks.
  5. Add full bottle of BBQ sauce and stir. Cook for 1 additional hour.
  6. Serve and enjoy.
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This is what the ribs should look like when you remove them from the fridge after sitting with the s&p and garlic powder on them overnight.

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This is the finished product, kept in a restaurant-style holder for easy transport (if you’re not eating these at home).

I really like how the flavor came out on these. The Dr. Pepper definitely shows up as an aftertaste. There are 2 types of liquid smoke I use when making pork, one is hickory the other is mesquite. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the mesquite worked much better with the Dr. Pepper and helped to balance out the rest of the flavors.

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Crock Pot Ropa Vieja

Ropa vieja can be a daunting task for just about any cook. It takes a long time to make since the cut of meat that is used tends to be pretty tough until it’s cooked long enough that it’s nice and tender. For dishes like those, I typically prefer to use my Crock Pot (or any slow cooker, for that matter). Who really has the time or energy to stare at their oven all day long? Below is an easy slow cooker ropa vieja recipe that you can set and forget, go about your day, and come home to a flavorful meal.

  • Ingredients:
  • 3 lbs. beef flank or skirt steak (you can also do half flank, half skirt)
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • oregano
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 4-5 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  1. Add the beef broth, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, turmeric, and apple cider vinegar to the slow cooker. Stir.
  2. Add the steak and flip it around in the sauce so it’s completely coated. Add both bell peppers, onion, and garlic. Mix those items together to combine on top of the meat.
  3. Cover and cook on LOW, without opening the lid, for 9 hours.
  4. Shred the meat using 2 forks right in the slow cooker.
  5. Service with rice (or any side you prefer) and enjoy!
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Ta-da!

This came out super flavorful and incredibly tender! The beef pretty much shredded itself with barely any assistance from the two forks I used. The sauce is also great to be scooped up with any bread you may have laying around. I love this recipe because it’s one of those things you can either set to cook overnight while you sleep or while you’re awake and out running errands. Either way you’ll come back to a delicious meal you didn’t have to pay much attention to while it cooked.

This recipe is based off the following link found here

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Baked Mango Chicken

Hi strangers! Sorry I haven’t updated in a while. Truth be told, I haven’t been cooking or baking much recently. I do, however, have a ton of recipes ready to be typed and uploaded, it’s just a matter of finding the time to do so. I decided to kick off my “return”, of sorts, with a recipe I just threw together because I had chicken thighs hanging out in the freezer and fresh honey mangoes (smaller, riper mangoes) that I was recently given. Since I always enjoy sharing my tips and tricks, I wanted to share my latest kitchen investment. This defrosting board ($30 on Amazon) is AMAZING! My chicken thighs were frozen solid and this board cut the defrosting time in half. Worth the money if you’re someone who prefers to not pop meat into the microwave to defrost and doesn’t have all day to spend waiting for meat to defrost on a countertop.

  • Ingredients:
  • 4 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
  • black pepper
  • salt (I only use salt that comes with a grinder since I like to break it up myself)
  • minced garlic
  • 2 honey mangoes, sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and spray a small amount of olive oil onto the bottom of an oven-safe dish.
  2. Trim any extra skin off each chicken thigh, but be sure to leave most of the skin on.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together a healthy amount (eyeball it) of black pepper and salt.
  4. Rub the pepper & salt mixture onto both sides of each thigh.
  5. Using a knife, create a bunch of small “stab wounds” in each thigh and shove minced garlic in each opening.
  6. Place slices of mango on top of each thigh (I used 3 slices per thigh).
  7. Place chicken in prepared dish and cover with aluminum foil. Put in oven and set timer for 45 minutes.
  8. Once the 45 minutes is up, remove the foil, up the temperature to 400 degrees F. and cook the chicken for 15 more minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and serve! Be sure to pour the extra sauce over the top of the chicken.
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All done!

These thighs came out incredibly juicy and the extra sauce the chicken and mangoes produced was delicious! Cooking times may vary based on what kind of oven you use (I used my convection oven since my regular oven makes my kitchen way too hot in the summer months) and the size of your thighs. This makes for a great summer dish thanks to the use of the mangoes.

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Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Mac and cheese, by default, is a crowd pleaser. It could be the mac that you zap in the microwave and it will still make someone happy. It also comes in handy as a vegetarian-friendly dish when certain people in your group do not eat meat. Granted, it’s not vegan-friendly (sorry, vegans, but cheese is delicious) but it’s still guaranteed to make a majority of the group happy. Oh, and kids love it! Find me one child who dislikes macaroni and cheese. Go on, I’ll wait…

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni (Ronzoni makes great “large elbows” which work perfectluy with this recipe)
  • 4 tablespoons butter (extra required if you want to use it to grease your pan. I chose Pam olive oil spray instead since that helps cooked pasta stay fresh longer)
  • 16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounces mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2-2.5 cups whole milk (depending on how “dry” you like your pasta)
  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. I actually prepared this first since I was transporting it the next day and therefore prepared the night before and baked it when I reached my destination. But! If you’re eating it the same night, then do this first.
  2. Prepare elbow macaroni, as directed on box (prepare it al dente since it will cook further inside the oven). Drain and set aside.
  3. Grease entire surface of a 9×13 in. baking pan.
  4. Cover the bottom of the baking pan with half of the cooked macaroni.
  5. Cut 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces (like a pat of butter) and spread them evenly over the macaroni.
  6. Add a layer of half of the sharp cheddar cheese, then half of the mild cheddar cheese.
  7. Add the other half of the macaroni. Then 2 more tablespoons of butter (also cut into small pieces and spread out evenly).
  8. Add the other half of both cheeses.
  9. Add the milk.
  10. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs lightly in a thin layer over the top of the whole dish. You can either do this right before it goes into the oven or halfway through baking the dish.
  11. Bake for 45 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges.
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I swear there is macaroni underneath all that cheese.

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Complete and delicious!

People kept talking about this all night. It came out delicious with just the right amount of cheese. The breadcrumbs provided a nice crunch to the dish to mix-up the creamy texture. I’m fond of the browned edges so if you’re like me, you’ll definitely enjoy this. This makes around 8-10 servings.

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Cranberry Feta Pinwheels

Are you ready for a recipe that everyone will appreciate? A recipe so simple you can whip it up right before seeing family and/or friends? If so, then continue to read this post. I originally got this recipe from Taste of Home. I needed a quick and easy appetizer for something I could easily transport to a relative’s home. This recipe caught my eye because it includes a couple of my favorite things (I’m looking at you, feta and tortillas). While I HATE green onions, I realized if they were chopped finely enough then perhaps I wouldn’t notice them (I barely did when all was said and done).

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 8-ounce carton whipped cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 5-ounce package dried cranberries
  • 4 10-inch flour tortillas
  1. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, feta cheese, and onions. Stir in cranberries.
  2. Spread an even amount of mixture over each tortilla (make sure the mixture reaches the edges of the tortillas) and roll up tightly.
  3. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. I allowed mine to sit in the fridge overnight.
  4. When ready to serve, cut each roll-up into 10 slices.
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Ready for transport

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All sliced up and ready to serve

These were a hit! So simple and quick to make, yet everyone enjoyed them. The sweetness and bit of tart flavor from the cranberries meshes incredibly well with the feta, cream cheese, and onions. If you’ll be transporting these, like I did, then keep them wrapped until you reach your destination. This will ensure they hold up well (thanks to the wrap) and will stay cold until ready to serve (bring and ice pack or two along). I will definitely be making these again.

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Crock Pot Turkey and Pumpkin Chili

I pre-ordered the new Skinnytaste Fast and Slow Cookbook and was thrilled when it got to my house…On the day it was officially released. I follow Gina’s blog and always love what she comes up with. I especially love recipes that involve the use of a slow cooker since you can set it and forget it. They’re the perfect recipes for days where you’re either heading to work or running errands and don’t have time to stand around the kitchen and prep a meal. This book also includes recipes that can be thrown together in under 30 minutes. That’s also great if you had a long day at the office and need something quick, that does not involve the drive-thru window. I decided the first recipe I was going to try was the slow cooker turkey and pumpkin chili. Gina uses navy beans in hers, while I opted for kidney beans. I also changed around the amount of ingredients here and there but at the end of it all, it’s a chili that is still incredibly delicious and perfect on a chilly day (see what I did there?).

  • Ingredients:
  • Cooking spray or oil mister (I used PAM olive oil spray)
  • 2 pounds lean ground turkey
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (I used Swanson)
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 2 (4-ounce) cans chopped mild green chiles (Old el Paso makes these if you don’t know what to look for)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Coat skillet with cooking spray and add the ground turkey and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, using a wooden spoon to break the meat into pieces as it browns (this takes 5-10 minutes). Transfer to a slow cooker.
  2. Add oil to the skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent (5 minutes or so). Transfer to the slow cooker.
  3. To the slow cooker, add the broth, beans, pumpkin, green chiles, cumin, chili powder, oregano, black pepper, and bay leaves, as well as the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Stir well. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours (low and slow is always better IMO).
  4. Remove the bay leaves, adjust the seasoning to taste, and serve.
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Chili isn’t the prettiest thing in the world but it sure tastes good!

This came out delicious with just the right amount of spice. The flavors blended together beautifully. And it was filling! Definitely a fantastic recipe if you’re looking for something to make as the months get cooler. This recipe also made a ton of food, which resulted in a lot of leftovers. I can’t wait to try out some other recipes from this book!

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