Sunday, July 29, 2012

Crunch Chicken Tenders

Over the weekend, my boyfriend and I spontaneously decided to have lunch at Fratello's, a super good restaurant (one of my favorites) that is in my hometown, Appleton. Fratello's has two locations in Appleton and one in Oshkosh. I recommend going to any of them if you ever get the chance. Besides great and unique food, the atmosphere is classy and romantic. Another bonus is that everything is priced well, even for college students like my boyfriend and I. Stuart and I were running errands in our comfy clothes, picking up a golf glove for me and Brewers T's when we got pretty hungry. We really didn't want fast food from the Fox River Mall food court and that is when we spotted Fratello's. The one we went to is actually attached to the mall, so it's not as fancy and doesn't have a water view, like the other two. I would never wear athletic shorts and a t-shirt to the water front locations, but hey, this one is in the mall so we figured it would be fine.

Ok, ok, I'll stop raving about Fratello's...lets get to the recipe. So Fratello's is known (at least in my family) for their crunch chicken tenders. They're served as an appetizer but I think they would make a perfect meal, too. They are sweet and crunchy strips of lightly breaded chicken tenders served with honey dijon mustard. After Stu and I went there for lunch and split the chicken tenders, I wanted to recreate them at home.

And that is exactly what I did! They turned out pretty close to Fratello's. I was impressed with myself and I think Stu was too.

Crunch Chicken Tenders 

1 lb chicken breasts, precut into strips (I was feeling a bit lazy with cutting the chicken myself)
approx. 3 c. Cap'n Crunch cereal
1 c. milk
1 egg, scrambled (optional, I didn't have an egg so I used more milk)
1 1/2 c. pancake mix
2 Tbsp. butter
Kosher salt
small amount of sugar

1. Pour the Cap'n Crunch into a large ziplock bag. Crush with hands or a rolling pin but be careful not to puncture the bag. You could use a blender or food processor also.
2. Add some salt and sugar to the crushed cereal. I didn't actually measure anything. These two ingredients I did to my taste preference.
3. Place the cereal, milk, pancake mix and scrambled egg into separate bowls.
4. Dip a chicken strip into the milk and then coat with the pancake mix.
5. Then dip the strip into the egg (or milk if you don't have an egg, like me) and coat with the cereal.
6. Place strip on a plate and repeat 4-6 for all the chicken strips.
7. Heat up a skillet with the butter at about medium heat. Add the chicken strips once the butter is melted.
8. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side or until there is no pink left.
9. Enjoy with your favorite sides (I did onion rings and peas)!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Green Tomatillo Guacamole

My parents had their Monday night crew of friends over this week, and of course I jumped on the opportunity to show off my mad kitchen skills. They were going to order pizzas. Why do that when it is so easy just to throw some homemade ones together?

I got to be creative with two and my mom made two. Whenever my mom and I try to cook in the kitchen together these days, it turns into a bit of a competition. My dad can attest to my great concern that mom was going to show me up and steal my thunder. Worried all day. Thought my pizzas might be too weird, aka adventurous. Beet pizza. Zucchini and roasted tomato pizza. I just struggle to keep things on the straight and narrow normal path.

So much for all of my fretting, mine were the bomb. Who had one of their whole pizzas devoured? This kid right here. Victory! Hers were good too, she just failed to steal my thunder. Enough bragging and onto the guacamole, which is not your regular guacamole. Which is silly because my whole reasoning behind making it was to quell my concerns about my pizzas.

It was a hit. This is based on a recipe by Rick Bayless, forgot my trusty cookbook at my apartment. The tomatillo mixture makes this guac nice and tangy. It also ends up being less thick than your traditional guac. The addition of lime juice, just a squeeze, is optional. I tasted it and thought maybe it needed more tang. After I added the lime I thought maybe it was better without, but I couldn't go back and compare, obviously. It was a hit though, and will for sure impress!


3-4 medium tomatillos, husked and rinsed
2 serrano peppers, stemmed
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 a small onion, finely chopped
3 avocados
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lime (optional)


  1. Turn your ovens broiler to high. Arrange the tomatillos, serranos and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet, placing it under the broiler for 5-8 minutes. Half way through or when the tomatillos are nicely charred with brown spots, flip them over and return them to the oven. Once nicely charred on both sides, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  2. Once cooled, add the tomatillos, serranos, garlic, cilantro, and a scant 1/4 cup of water to a blender or food processor, blending until smooth. 
  3. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit, and scoop out the flesh into a medium bowl, adding the onion and tomatillo mixture. Mix with a fork to your desired consistency (I like mine fairly smooth). Add more cilantro, squeeze of lime and salt to taste.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summer Squash Ribbons with Almond Salsa Verde

Ever notice when you are really bored, it always seems like everyone is out of town or unavailable? Then all of a sudden everyone wants to get together at the same time. Woah, where was everybody last week when I was bored? All sorts of fun stuff is now being slammed into one week. No time to catch your breathe, just overwhelming fun. Then the cycle repeats itself. That is how the past week has been for me. It is not like I'm complaining or anything. It is just such a strange phenomena, like a little game the world likes to play with people.

Now onto zucchini, which I should mention was made last week before my social life exploded. Its makes a light, refreshing lunch or dinner. Everything in this dish works really well with each other. The mint adds a nice brightness, while not being overwhelming. The raw garlic adds a little spice. Almonds add the perfect crunch to go along the softness of zucchini. 

The pretty zucchini ribbons almost make it feel like you are eating a bowl of pasta, but you aren't. Which may be why my father enjoyed it so much. He is not a big vegetable guy. It is surprisingly filling too, not too different from a bowl of pasta. This will become a standby for using up your summer squash. Most of these ingredients too may already be in your pantry. 


Adapted from Fine Cooking
1/2 cup toasted blanched almonds, finely chopped
1/4 cup mint, finely chopped
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons capers
1 medium shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large zucchini, ribboned, using a vegetable peeler
Freshly ground pepper

  1. In a large bowl, combine the almonds, mint, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, capers, shallots, garlic and salt.
  2. Toss the zucchini ribbons with the salsa verde, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Flourless Peanut butter Cookies

Why flourless you ask? Well, this weekend my family is coming down to Madison for Art Fair on the Square and I wanted to make a sweet snack that we all could munch on when they stopped by my apartment. However, many recipes are off-limits for this bunch because my aunt cannot eat gluten. I was never really aware of how many things actually contain gluten. Looking at what I eat daily, I know I eat gluten everyday! It would be so hard not even having the choice to eat it. 

I wanted to find the perfect recipe that my aunt could eat with us, taste delicious, and no one could tell was gluten-free. This one does the trick! I almost think these cookies are better than peanut butter cookies I have had in the past. With no flour, there is nothing to get in the way of the peanut buttery goodness! They are thin but still chewy. The other great thing about this recipe than the taste is how easy it is! With only 5 ingredients and a 10-minute cooking time, these yummy cookies are a cinch! 

Flourless Peanut butter Cookies
adapted from the Food Network website

1 c. peanut butter
1 c. sugar
Egg whites from 1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a medium bowl, mix the peanut butter, sugar, egg whites and vanilla extract
3. Place tablespoon-sized balls of the dough onto a baking sheet. Flatten the dough balls with a fork, making the famous cross-hatch markings
4. Sprinkle with Kosher salt (I was nervous to do this but I think it turned out tasty mixing the sweet and salty)
5. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the edges are golden. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet (when they are warm, they tend to crumble)
6. Enjoy!

I added mini Reese's to some after they came out of the oven.
Otherwise, try a Hershey's Kiss to add some chocolate to that peanut butter!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Homemade Marshmallows

Summer is the season of the s'more and everything else that is wonderful. Like canoe camping. Last year was my first time camping, ever. It was a pretty big deal because I don't really do nature. The main reason is that I have a serious irrational fear of frogs. I rather come face to face with a coyote in the woods than a frog. Seems a bit rash, but it is true.

My roommate and two of our friends decided to do canoe camping again this year. Everyone but me is pretty much a camping professional. This makes them super cool. Camping, it is what the cool kids do. If I could get over my fear of frogs and learn to love camping, I could be as cool as them.

The canoe camping was really stepped up this year. Both the canoeing and camping skills were tested. The river was more narrow and windy. There were loads of things to canoe around. Rocks. Fallen trees. Rapids. That is right rapids, very very tiny ones, but rapids all the same. It is baffling how the roommate and I didn't tip the canoe.

Last year camping was on a nice sand bar surrounded by river. So it wasn't really camping. This year it was dry land with forest on one side and river on the other. Real camping. Turns out that is not my thing. Frogs die and dry up on the sand bars. Not the case in the forest-river setting. Traumatic.

The trauma was balanced out with homemade marshmallows. I was worried that they wouldn't hold up in the heat. It had been in the 100 degree zone the four days leading up to camping. Thankfully the temperature dropped just in time for camping. They held up great in the 85 degree weather, out of the cooler too.

If you have never tried a homemade mallow, you must. Marshmallow haters even like these. They are way more enjoyable than the store bought kind. It might also be surprising how easy they are to make too. The most daunting part for many will be boiling the sugar, but don't be. I've made homemade mallows several times and they always come out perfect.

This was the first time using this recipe. Usually they are sort of a pain to get out of the pan and cut. The recipe I used to use didn't use cornstarch for the pan or dusting the tops. It turns out cornstarch is the magic key to less sticky cutting and removal from the pan. The little extra effort to make mallows from scratch is worth it. You will be pleased and impress everyone at your next campfire, promise.

Recipe by Alton Brown
3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch

  1. Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup water, in the bowl of a stand mixer, with a whisk attachment.
  2. In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium heat and attach a candy thermometer, cooking until the mixture reaches 240F. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
  3. Turn the stand mixer onto low speed, and while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once all of the syrup has been added, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes lukewarm and very thick, about 12-15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pan.
  4. Combine the confectioners sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. Lightly spray a 13x9 baking pan with cooking spray. Add the sugar mixture to the pan and move around until the sides and bottom are well coated. Return the remaining sugar to the bowl for later. 
  5. When ready, pour the whipped mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture  to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to set uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  6. Turn the marshmallows out of the pan onto a cutting board. Cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust each side with the confectioners sugar mixture. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. 

Marshmallow roasting action

Friday, July 6, 2012

Funfetti Birthday Cake Doughnuts

These are the best doughnuts I have ever made! They may be close to the best doughnut I have ever had, or at least right up there. This is saying a lot because I love doughnuts. AKA I eat and try loads of them, whenever I get a chance.

These make the perfect alternative to cake, when you plan to celebrate a birthday at 10AM. Although, I am not above eating cake for breakfast some people are. Put cake in a doughnut form and BAM you've got yourself breakfast. All those eating cake for breakfast haters think they aren't eating cake, but they are. Tricky.

This recipe is awesome too, so easy. I made these before work, managing to fry and photograph them and then drive 20 minutes to work. There was only a little bit of rushing, but then again I lolly gag a lot.  Doing things like taking pictures with my phone instead of my camera. Ending up with a better pictures on my phone actually. Can you tell which one it is? 

The hardest part about making them for me was getting the oil to the proper temperature. I think it is my lack of patience, turning the heat to high does not save you time. It just makes you have to wait for the oil to cool back down, lame.

In addition to being easy, these just taste  and look amazing. Not too sweet. A little bit crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. Other recipes I have tried in the past tend to be dry or have a weird filmy-skin on the outside. Yuck. Come one who doesn't love rainbow sprinkles, too cute. They are even good a several hours after frying, if they last that long! They won't last that long though, trust me. 


Adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon
1 quart vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
1 egg yolk
1/2cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup (3 ounce) jimmie sprinkles
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons whole milk, depending on desired consitency
1/2 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Preheat the oil to 365F
  2. Whisk together the shortening, egg yolk and sugar, until well combined.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sprinkles and salt. Combine the milk and vanilla, in a measuring cup.
  4. Alternate adding the flour and milk to the sugar mixture until the dough just comes together. 
  5. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Lightly flour the surface and roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thick.
  7. Use a 2 to 2 1/2 inch circular cookie cutter, glass, or mason jar lid to cut out the doughnuts. Use a small piping tip, 1/2 inch, to cut out doughnut holes.
  8. Carefully drop 3 to 4 doughnuts into the oil frying for 2 1/2 minutes, flipping the doughnuts after 1 minute.
  9. Drain on paper towels and repeat until all the doughnuts have been, re-rolling the scraps to make more doughnuts.
  10. For the glaze: whisk all the ingredients together, until smooth. Dip each doughnut top into the glaze, topping with sprinkles. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Grown Up Pink Lemonade

Booyah, we made it to our 100th blog post! Brittany and I spent a lot of time contemplating what this epic post would be. Since it had to be epic, it reminded us of the Epic List. 

As many may know, the four of us who contribute to the blog met three years ago in the dorms. While living together, our guy friends made a list of things to do before college ended. We wanted to top them! So, the Epic List was born. It is, for obvious reasons, more girly and fun. Homemade pizza, check. Start a dance party, no big deal, it happened. Wine and dine, check. Beer cocktail, unfortunately was not completed...yet.

As Brittany and I were reminiscing about the list and beer cocktail, it occurred to us that it was added to the list even after it was mounted to the dorm door and events were crossed off. It was a pretty big running joke for us though. I, April, went out and bought a ladle, just for the occasion. We were going to use a leftover animal cracker container to mix it up in. Remember people, we lived in the dorms and there is only so much at our disposal. Sadly, it didn't get accomplished while living in the dorms. Three years later and here you have it!

This cocktail is a more grown up version of what we would have made three years ago. Be careful with it too. I had a friend freshman year call this a "Pink Panty Dropper". It tastes like pink lemonade, which is why it could result in such ridiculousness. Using good vodka is a necessity, such as Stoli or Absolut. This will make a great pitcher cocktail for you next party. It is pink, girly, lemony, refreshing and cute.

We are being a little bit of rule breakers with this beer cocktail. The rule was all four of us had to be present in order to check anything off. Seeing as Kelsey and Emily are in Spain for the next two months, I think we can get away with checking it off. Our fun and epicness can't stand up to European adventures, lets be honest. 

2 cups good quality vodka
1 (quart sized) packet Crystal light pink lemonade
1 1/2 cups (2-12ounce cans) diet cherry 7UP
1 (12 ounces) can light beer
Oodles of ice
Lemon wedges, for garnish
Raspberries, for garnish

  1. Pour the vodka and Crystal light into a large pitcher.
  2. Fill the pitcher half way with ice.
  3. Pour the remaining ingredients into the pitcher, stirring to combine.
  4. Serve immediately, with garnishes.


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