Deep Fried Halloween

This past weekend, Robert and I had some of our friends over for to watch the OSU game and celebrate Halloween. It wasn’t just any party, though. It happened to be a fry party. What is a fry party, you may be asking? Well, it is a tradition that began about a year and a half ago after I was poking fun of my beloved husband for registering for a double-decker, commerical-sized deep frier for our wedding. A light bulb popped into our heads and we came up with the idea to set aside one night out of the year where everyone brings over something to fry.  An evening no-holds-barred, deep-fried debauchery.

This year our frying menu included: pickles, avocados, ravioli, pop tarts, oreos, Chinese donuts, jalapeno poppers, bacon-cheddar fritters, chicken wings, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, and the lowest of lows- a McDonald’s McChicken sandwich. Wow. Just typing that list was actually pretty embarrassing. I feel unclean. Nonetheless, a fun time was had by all and there were also some non-fried options to take the edge off. These items included: crudite, cheese and fruit, caramel corn, cookies, Rice Krispie treats, pumpkin cupcakes, chips and salsa, and cake batter dip. In terms of drinks, I served hot cinnamon apple cider and a witches brew cocktail.

Chelsea’s cheese tray

Ok, seriously. As I am recalling all of this food, I am thinking we may have a problem. We really threw caution to the wind.

I decorated our house with pumpkins, mason jar candles with candy corn, mini pumpkins with votive candles, and some spooky spider and bat decals I purchased at Michael’s Arts & Crafts.

Of course, the best party of any party is the company you share it with and this instance was no different. I was so excited to have a great mix of old and new friends at our house.

Jess’s delicious candy corn Rice Krispie Treats

As mentioned above, the low point of the night was the deep-friend McChicken sandwich. Robert and Greg were nearly giddy with excitement with their “brilliant” idea they had brainstormed a few months ago.

And this, unfortunately blurry, photo pretty much sums up the night. A gloriously fun and heartburn-inducing night was had by all.

Now, it’s time to put away the frier for another 364 days. And I also want to point out, as part of my penance,  that I don’t condone this type of lifestyle. I believe in exercise and eating a well-balanced diet.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Here are other Halloween-inspired treats to get you in the holiday spirit:

Marshmallow Ghosts

Chocolate Skeleton Cookies

Spider web cupcakes

Apple Pie with Cinnamon Rum Whipped Cream

Here it comes. The apple pie cliche. But really- there are truly very few things that are more American than apple pie. With the presidential election and Thanksgiving right around the corner, I viewed it as my civic duty to create the classic dessert. That- plus we have been having semi-regular baking contests at work and last week was pie. So, basically, it’s a win win situation.

My Aunt Khaki recommended this pie recipe to me and, I have to say, I wasn’t convinced. It didn’t seem all that special, but you don’t question the great Khaki. She knows her stuff. And her wisdom still stands. This pie is beautifully simple, but not so simple that it’s forgettable. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Although I don’t remember my grandmothers having a special apple pie recipe, this is what it would have tasted like if they did. Add in a dollop of spiked cinnamon whipped cream and you have an extra special dessert.

Apple Pie with Cinnamon Rum Whipped Cream

Yield: 8-10 pieces of pie

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 recipe pie dough

For the whipped cream

  • 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Adjust one rack in the center of the oven and another below that rack.
  2. Make the filling: Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and stir until no lumps remain. Add white sugar, brown sugar and water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low and simmer 5 minutes.
  3. Prepare the pie crust: On a lightly-floured surface, roll out one disc of pie dough into a large circle that is about 1/8 inch thick. Carefully press into the pie pan. Trim off excess and crimp accordingly. Put the apple slices on top of the pie dough. Roll out the other dough disc and cut into 1 inch thick strips. Cover the apples with a lattice work crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust and into the holes between the lattice strips. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.
  4. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and place on the bottom rack to catch any liquids from the pie. Place the pie in the middle rack.
  5. Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees F. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F , and continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a baking rack about 15 minutes before serving.

To make the whipped cream

  1. Place the whipping cream, sugar, and cinnamon in a glass or metal bowl. Beat on medium-high until stiff peaks form. Add in the rum and switch to a rubber spatula. Carefully fold the rum into the whipped cream. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for two days.

Source: Pie adapted from All Recipes

Homemade Pie Dough

It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is just over a month away. We’re having a meal at our house again this year and I’ve been thinking of scaling things back a bit because I always feel like I consumed a block of lead after the marathon day of eating; and it would be nice to not be in a total food coma for the entire extended weekend. It probably isn’t necessary to have 6 different desserts after eating a huge meal, but the jury’s still out on that.

One thing’s for sure and that is that I will be making some sort of pie- whether it be pecan, apple, or pumpkin. You can’t have Thanksgiving without pie. I believe it is in the Constitution. Every great pie comes with a great crust. I used to be intimidated of making my own crust until I found this recipe from Martha Stewart and discovered how simple it really is. All you need is butter, flour, sugar, salt, and ice water. Her recipe uses a food processor, but it can be done with a pastry cutter or an electric mixer if you don’t own a food processor (although, I highly recommend them!). This pie is perfect for both sweet and savory pies and is delightfully buttery and flaky.

If you feel like getting a jump start before Turkey day arrives, this dough can be frozen for up to a month.

Pie Dough (Pate Brisee)

Yield: 1 double-crust or 2 single crusts for 9 inch pans

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter chilled and cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup ice water

Directions

1. Pulse the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor. Pulse until combined.

2. Cut the butter into cubes and place in the food processor.

3. Pulse until the mixture resembles oatmeal flakes.

4. With the machine running, slowly add the ice water until the dough just comes together (don’t mix for more than 30 seconds).

5. Divide the dough onto two separate pieces of plastic. Wrap into flattened discs. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour before using or freeze for up to 1 month.

Source: Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts

Pork Chops with Apple Cider Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Sauce

I have naturally curly hair. When I was growing up and in school, I was often envious of the girls with the straight blonde hair. I went through several years of trying to beat my frizzy hair into submission, bleaching it a lovely shade of trashy blonde and frying my hair to extra crispy with a flat iron or curling iron. Sometimes, I could disguise myself. But then, the slightest bit of humidity would creep in and those fabricated poker-straight strands would start to retract into a coil. As much as a tried, I just couldn’t hide it.  It took a while for me to accept that fact. And beyond accepting, it took even longer for me to embrace it. As with many things in life, it’s often a slippery slope to try to transform something into that which it was not meant to be.

Just as it’s sometimes tempting to season pork chops with all kinds of sassy spices, it’s usually best to let the true flavors of the meat shine through. A little salt. A little pepper. An apple cider mushroom and onion sauce (think of it as a pretty bow-adorned headband for your hair pork chops). That’s all you need for a beautiful and tasty dish.

Pork Chops with Apple Cider Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Sauce

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 pork loin chops, bone-in and fat trimmed
  • 1-2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 10 ounces fresh cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup apple cider
Directions
1.Thirty minutes before you’re ready to make the pork chops, remove from packaging and place on a plate. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper on both sides and allow the meat to rest.
 
2. In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. When the butter is melted and hot, add the pork chops and cook for 6-7 minutes before turning and cooking an additional 6-7 minutes on the other side, or until a meat thermometer registers 145 degrees in the center (don’t overcook!). Remove from heat, place the pork chops on a clean plate, and cover with tin foil to allow the meat to rest (the meat will continue to cook as it rests).
 
3. Meanwhile, add the chopped onions and shallots to the same saucepan the pork was cooked in. Saute until tender and brown, about 5 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and cook an additional 1-2 minutes longer. Carefully pour in the apple cider and stir into the onion/garlic mixture, scraping up the bits from the bottom of the pan as you do. Stir in the mustard and then the mushrooms. Cook an additional 5 minutes longer, or until the mushrooms are cooked. Spoon the sauce over each pork chop and serve immediately. 
 
Source: Adapted from Skinnytaste, originally  from Food & Wine