Monday, April 30, 2012

Crispy Baked Chicken Fingers

Posted by: Maggie

Surely some of you are thinking, "Chicken fingers? Has Maggie regressed to childhood?" I assure you that I have not, and I'm here to tell you how to turn a traditional kid's meal into a fancy grown-lady meal in 4 easy steps:

1) Make it from scratch. Who needs dinosaur-shaped mystery chicken? Not you! I made these last night after only eating a granola bar all day, and was really tempted to just buy frozen chicken fingers. I'm so glad I didn't. These take about 20 minutes worth of effort, and the results are a million times tastier than the frozen kind.

2) Serve with a snazzy dipping sauce - not ketchup. I like ketchup as much as the next gal, but my favorite honey mustard or some homemade BBQ sauce will elevate chicken fingers from kid food, to fancy grown-lady cuisine.

3) Enjoy your chicken fingers while watching something wildly inappropriate, and meant for grown-ladies on TV. 20 years ago, I would've eaten chicken fingers while watching Full House or Clarissa Explains it all. Last night, I enjoyed them while finally watching the first two episodes of Girls. You think Clarissa Darling had problems? Girlfriend had nothing on Hannah Horvath.

4) Last but not least, wash your chicken fingers down with a beer. Duh.

Here's what you'll need:

2 cups panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 large egg whites
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Cooking spray
3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4 inch wide strips (I trimmed the excess fat off mine, sliced off about an inch from the flat, narrow end of the breast, and cut into 4 even strips.)

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. In a large skillet, combine the panko and canola oil. Turn the heat on to medium-high, and toast breadcrumbs for 8-10 minutes, until golden-brown. Stir frequently to ensure that they don't burn! Transfer the crumbs to a shallow dish and set aside.

In a separate shallow dish, mix together flour, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne, and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg whites, water, Dijon mustard, and thyme.

Place a wire cooling rack over a baking sheet, and spray lightly with cooking spray.

Dredge one chicken strip in flour, then egg mixture, and lastly in the breadcrumbs, shaking off excess in between steps. Place coated chicken on prepared rack, and repeat with remaining strips.

If you're like me and find breading food to be a colossal pain in the tookus, here are some tips:

- Leave the water slowly running while you bread the chicken. Yes, it's wasteful, but it really helps if you rinse the egg and panko clumps from your fingers in between breading each piece. The reason I suggest leaving the sink on is to avoid cross contamination between the chicken and the faucet.

- Use 2 dishes for the breadcrumbs. Keep the majority of the breadcrumbs in a larger dish, and before breading each strip, transfer a small handful to a saucer, and bread the strip there. That way, you can avoid getting big clumps of egg mixed in with all the breadcrumbs.

After all the chicken is breaded, spray the tops lightly with cooking spray. Bake in preheated oven to 12-16 minutes, and serve immediately.

(Update on 5/1: These are excellent leftover! Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Flip over halfway through.)

Source: Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook, via Annie's Eats

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Posted by: Maggie

As promised yesterday, I'm not leaving you with a BBQ sauce recipe and no meat to slather it on! 

My birthday was last week, and my mom got me a beautiful, green, 8-quart, Le Creuset pot. I knew I needed to make something extra delicious to christen it, and after much internal debate between short ribs and pulled pork, I settled on the pulled pork.

Don't be intimidated by the fact that this recipe takes 6 hours - most of that is inactive time, and this recipe is actually extremely simple. Just pop this in the oven early on a Saturday afternoon, and it will be ready in time for dinner; plus you'll have lots of delicious leftovers!

Here's what you'll need:

For the dry rub:

2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
1/2 tablespoon cayenne

For the pork:

4 pound shoulder pork roast
2 cups apple juice
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

For serving:

Hamburger buns
Homemade Kansas City-Style BBQ Sauce

Rinse the pork under cool running water, and pat dry. Combine all the dry rub ingredients in a medium bowl. Sprinkle the dry rub all over the roast, pressing into the pork to throughly coat. Place pork on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Combine liquid ingredients and garlic powder in a large bowl, and pour into a large dutch oven. Place pork in the dutch oven, cover tightly with foil, and place lid on top. Roast for 4 hours in preheated oven, or until the pork is fork tender and shreds easily. Every hour, brush the roast with cooking liquid.

Remove from oven and shred with two forks when the roast is cool enough to handle. Serve on hamburger buns with BBQ sauce.

Source: Adapted from Paula Deen

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Homemade Kansas City-Style BBQ Sauce

Posted by: Maggie

Who here loves BBQ? I do, I do!

Actually, I was kind of indifferent towards it until Jeff and I got together 3 years ago. It's one of his favorite foods, and I learned to love it too.

I didn't realize for a long time how many different variations of barbeque sauce existed, and that if you go to a BBQ joint in South Carolina, Texas, or Missouri you're going to be getting drastically different versions of what they all claim as barbeque sauce. In South Carolina, they have a vinegar and mustard-based sauce, while the Texas kind is thin, slightly spicy, and not sweet (at least based on my delicious experience at Hill Country in DC!)

I've tried quite a few varieties, but my favorite by a landslide is the thick and sweet Kansas City-style sauce. I was on a Sweet Baby Ray's kick for awhile, and then I started making the Neely's recipe. It's super delicious, but I wanted something darker with more depth of flavor. I discovered this recipe last week, and with a couple very minor tweaks I knew I had perfection on my hands.

If you're wondering what I put this sauce on, you'll have to come back tomorrow! I decided to break up the sauce and meat portions of the recipe so that it wouldn't be too long.

Here's what you'll need:

2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup yellow mustard
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup steak sauce
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons tamarind paste*
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely minced

In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, pepper, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together ketchup, mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire, lemon juice, steak sauce, molasses, honey, hot sauce, brown sugar, and tamarind paste.

In a large saucepan, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add onion, and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic, and saute for 30 seconds. Add the chili powder mixture, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. This helps to release their oil-soluble flavors and gives the sauce more depth. Add the wet ingredients, and simmer for 15 minutes with the lid off. The sauce will thicken during this time. Taste the sauce, and adjust seasonings. I ended up adding an extra squirt of both honey and molasses since I like my BBQ sauce sweet.

If you don't want chunks of onion and garlic in your sauce, pass the sauce through a mesh strainer. I just left them in since I liked the texture it added.

*This is optional, since it may be difficult for you to find. I located it either in the Thai or Indian section at Whole Foods (I forget which since I spent about 20 minutes in the aisle trying to find it!), and the jar looks like this.

Source: Adapted from (a fantastic resource for all things BBQ - I spent a long time reading his site!)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Baked Lemon Donuts

Baked Lemon Donuts

Posted by: Annie

This is a first for A Bitchin' Kitchen - Donuts!!!

I have always been a huge donut fan - munchkins, creme-filled, frosted - if it's a donut I'm there.

Recently, I purchased a Donut Pan and have been excited ever since to bake one of my favorite breakfast treats. These donuts are light and fluffy and "dressed" with a lemon glaze. Also, because these donuts are baked, and are also packed with lemon zest and Greek yogurt, they are a nice alternative to the dense, chocolate-focused, store-bought donuts I am accustomed to!

What you will need:

For the donuts:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 6-oz container Lemon Greek Yogurt (I used Chobani brand)
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup milk
Zest of one lemon

For the glaze:

Juice of one lemon
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Prepare Donut Panby spraying with non-stick baking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together egg, yogurt, oil, milk and lemon zest. Gradually add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, while mixing, until just combined. Using a pastry bag, pipe batter into prepared donut pan. Bake 10-15 minutes until a tester inserted into the center of the donut comes out clean. Cool donuts on wire baking rack. 

While donuts are cooling, prepare glaze. Combine lemon juice and powdered sugar, and whisk together. Drizzle glaze over cooled donuts, or dip each donut into the glaze for complete coverage. 

Source: Barbara Bakes

This post contains affiliate link(s). 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bourbon Banana Bread with Pecans and Dark Chocolate

Posted by: Maggie

Happy belated Easter! Lent is over! As you may remember, I gave up dessert for Lent, which kind of morphed into me giving up baking in general, including non-dessert items like banana bread.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did slip up once during Lent.

Alright, twice.

OKAY. Four times.

I had really good excuses though. I co-hosted a bridal shower, and couldn't resist a slice of cake. Look at it, could you resist? For those in the DC/Northern Virginia area - it came from Pastries by Randolph, which I highly recommend.

I also had cake on Jeff's birthday and my mom's birthday. I also completely forgot about Lent once halfway through, and had a bag of peanut M&Ms when I was deliriously hungry at a comedy show with Jeff. 

Long story short, I suck, but I made a valiant effort. I really missed baking though, particularly since I bought a copy of Joy the Baker's debut cookbook shortly into Lent. Helloooo, 208 pages of torture. I read the cookbook straight through like a novel, and bookmarked about 75% of the recipes. This recipe particularly stood out to me because I love banana bread, and love bourbon, but never thought to smoosh them together. Unsurprisingly, the results were amahhhzing. I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to taste the bourbon in the final product, but it's definitely there. It's not overpowering enough to bother someone who doesn't like bourbon, but the flavor is strong enough for those of us who do enjoy it. 

By the way, like the new look of A Bitchin' Kitchen?! I was getting really annoyed with the standard template we were using before, because our pictures had to be small and/or square to fit properly on the page. I'm super excited that we can post larger, properly-cropped photos now. Thanks, Delicious Design Studio! If you're reading this in an RSS reader, click over to check out our new look! Hope you guys like it!

Here's what you'll need:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons bourbon
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x5 loaf pan, or spray it with a cooking spray that contains flour (I tried it for the first time with this recipe and I'm in love. Sooo easy.) Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar for 3 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time, and beat between each addition for 1 minute. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, and beat in mashed bananas, lemon juice, and bourbon until fully incorporated. 

Add in the flour mixture all at once, and slowly mix in until just combined. Fold in pecans and chocolate with a rubber spatula. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45-65 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean (don't mistake a banana chunk for raw batter and over-bake it!) 

Cool bread in pan for 25 minutes before inverting on a wire rack to cool completely. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Blackened Tilapia

Posted by: Maggie

When I made this recipe Tuesday night, I wasn't entirely sure that I was going to post it. I snapped a quick photo before digging in, and almost immediately regretted that I didn't try harder to get a great picture. It's hard to believe that something so simple could taste so incredibly delicious. 

Tilapia has never been my first choice when it comes to seafood - give me salmon, cod, or shrimp any day. This has made a tilapia lover out of me, and it certainly doesn't hurt that it's far less expensive than salmon!

This is a great weeknight recipe, since it literally takes minutes to prepare. I actually measured out all the seasonings and stuck them in a sandwich bag Monday night, so they were all ready to go when I fixed dinner on Tuesday. Easy-peasy.

Here's what you'll need:

For the blackening seasoning:

3 tablespoons smoked paprika (don't sub regular paprika)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried ground thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For the fish:

1 pound tilapia fillets
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or another oil with a high smoke point if you can't find it)
Lemon slices

Mix together ingredients for blackening seasoning in a sandwich bag, and shake to thoroughly combine.

Rinse and thoroughly pat dry tilapia. Press a heaping tablespoon of the seasoning over both sides of the fillets, until liberally coated (you will probably have some seasoning left over.) Let the fish to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before cooking.

In a large skillet, heat grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. When the oil barely starts to smoke, add the fish. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Squeeze lemon over each piece of fish, and serve immediately with lots of tartar sauce, extra lemon, and coleslaw!

Source: Adapted from The Food Network

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

Posted by: Maggie

I absolutely adore traditional eggplant parmesan, in all its heavy, cheesy, marinara-covered, fried glory. 

In case you didn't notice from the picture, this is not traditional eggplant parmesan.

This is its deconstructed cousin, who is somewhat healthier, a lot crispier, just as scrumptious, and doesn't leave you in a cheese coma for 12 hours. Although, if I had to be in a coma, a cheese coma doesn't sound too bad.

Sidebar: I just stopped writing this post for 10 minutes while I googled "what is it like to be in a coma?"

I am now sufficiently freaked out, and can add comas to my list of things that I don't like thinking about. This list also includes: outer space, the size of the universe, the concept of infinity, the very real possibility of insects crawling into my ears while I sleep, and deep bodies of water that I can't see the bottom of.

Now that I've convinced all of you that I'm completely neurotic, here's the recipe!

2 small eggplants, cut into 1/2 inch slices
Kosher Salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
2 14.5 ounce cans fire roasted diced tomatoes with garlic
3 tablespoons flour
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Sliced mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil

Liberally salt eggplant slices on both sides with kosher salt, and place in a colander to drain for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove slices from colander, blot with paper towels to remove salt and residual moisture, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a wire cooling rack on a baking sheet, and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Lower heat to medium, and add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for 2 minutes, and add in tomatoes (juices included.) Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened and liquid has evaporated. Set aside until you're ready to prepare the stacks.

While the tomatoes are cooking, prepare your eggplant slices. Dredge the slices first in flour, then in egg whites, and lastly in panko, pressing to help the crumbs adhere. Place the breaded slices onto the wire rack, and repeat until you've used all the eggplant. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes each side, 20 minutes total.

Build the eggplant stacks on the wire rack: spoon desired amount of tomato sauce over an eggplant round, top with 2-3 leaves of basil, and then 1 slice of mozzarella cheese. Place another eggplant slice on top. Repeat with remaining eggplant rounds, and put back in the oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese has melted. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from The Novice Chef, originally from Simply Gluten-Free
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