Thursday, June 30, 2011

Batter-Fried Chicken Tenders

I admit it: I've got a thing for fried chicken.

It all started when I was little, growing up (for a while, at least), in southeast Georgia. Let me just say that I was blessed with elders who loved to cook and were doggone good at it.

And everybody knows that in Georgia, most everything is fried. Especially chicken.

These babies are delicious, and super easy to make.

Just cut a chicken breast into strips, then tenderize with a meat mallet (notice I said tenderize, not smash to smithereens).

Dip in a beaten egg batter, then roll thoroughly in your favorite breading mix (I used my basic one of flour, garlic salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and a tad of powdered sugar).

Fry in hot oil until golden brown and juices run clear when you poke it with a cooking fork.

So good, they'll make you want to slap your granny. So make sure she's a safe distance away.

Deep-Fried Dill Pickle Chips

It's all Brittany's fault. Well, and Tyler's, since he started the whole thing. Britt threw the tease out on Facebook, so I had to ask. She said they were easy to make, so I thought, okay. Maybe I can't mess them up.

Thankfully, this time what I saw in my head actually happened.

Start with crispy dill pickle chips. I just happened to have the Vlasic ovals, which were perfect--a little larger and thicker than hamburger chips, so they handled well.

First dip the chips into a beaten egg batter, then roll them in your favorite breading mix (this was my basic one of flour, garlic salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and a tad of powdered sugar).

Drop (carefully!) into oil that you've gotten pretty hot. Fry only a few at a time, and watch them closely as they tend to cook pretty quickly.

As soon as they are golden brown, remove with a metal strainer spoon and drain on a paper towel.

Serve hot. Enjoy!

How Cake Mountain was Born

See, what had happened was...

I had this amazing vision in my head of the perfect birthday cake. And not just any birthday. My only daughter's Sweet 16.

Now, don't get me wrong: all four of the boys' 16th birthdays were just as special, but the girl...well, girls have a SWEET 16, and boys don't really like the whole "sweet" thing...more like Studly16, which now that I see it in print looks completely ridiculous, but I digress. I do that a lot, so you might as well get used to it from the get-go.

Being very practically minded, Rosie wouldn't hear of me paying $70. for a cake from the local bakery. Why do that when we can make it ourselves? she asked. Of course, I replied.

Of course.

I saw this going much, much differently in my head.

What i pictured was what the Google images search pictured: lovely square layers stacked on one another, icing smooth and shiny, flowers trailing delicately down the corners.

Not so much.

I didn't count on the entire thing caving in on itself before I even got to the top layer.

Matt tried to help. He was sure we could salvage it. He went to work.

He worked while Rosie stood a few steps back with her hand clasped tightly over her mouth. "I can fix Cake Mountain, Mom. No worries."

I didn't think it was possible, but it got worse.

I sank into my office chair and wept.

Rosie was laughing so hard she was crying.

I seriously wanted to go Grammy on it and rip it asunder. It couldn't have looked any worse.

Rosie, trying her hardest to stifle the laughter, kept saying, "Mama, please don't cry. Really. This is funny! Ma, please? One day we will all be laughing about this together..."

"Yeah? Well it is not this day!" I sobbed.

I could tell that both Matt and Rosie were about to pull a gut muscle trying not to laugh, which eventually made me laugh, and then we all laughed. And cried.

And then it hit me. I've got two hours to bake a new cake for this party, limited supplies, and no car to go to the store. Fun stuff.

But God binds up the broken-hearted, especially moms crazy enough to think they can bake the perfect tiered birthday cake with absolutely no training whatsoever, so by His mercy I set to work and showed up at the party with a new cake.

And that, Lord bless us all, is how Cake Mountain was born.