The fritter

The fritter might be the unsung hero of the bread world. It’s incredibly versatile. You can put all kinds of vegetables or fruits in it. And, it’s the closest that you can get to serving carnival food at the dinner table without looking ridiculous. Growing up, corn fritters were a regular part of our Sunday night dinner. These fritters were really as basic as could be. I recently saw a recipe for corn fritters that had a spice combination added into the dough (I think paprika was involved) and I’ve got to be honest with you. I am sure that it is actually tasty (there was also a recipe for a fritter dipping sauce). But, that’s not the fritter that I have known all of my life. So that is not the fritter that I will make with our bountiful amounts of corn.

If you have a copy of the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, flip to the section for simple breads.  There, you will find a great recipe for muffins and a really easy recipe for corn fritters.

My finished fritters:

Golden and crunchy on the outside

Soft and delicious on the inside

Drizzle some good maple syrup on top and I really can’t think of a better use for all of that corn that we’ve been getting.

Cats Would Probably be Great Yoga Teachers

Cats can maneuver their bodies so that they are comfortable no matter where they are. Everyday, I am amazed at the sleeping positions that Buddy and Bugz choose for themselves.  I try to do the yoga on Wii Fit and almost fall over every single time.

I look at the cats and their chosen spots and know in my heart that they would ace every Wii Fit yoga move without even trying.  Does it look comfortable where they are sleeping?  No.  Do they fit in that spot?  No.  Will they probably end up breaking or bending something as a direct result of their determination to sit where they want to?  Yep.  Do they look at me like I’m the weird one?  Most definitely, yes.

Bugz will probably end up breaking this box

Buddy has claimed this bag

The Search for the Perfect Cupcake

Not too long ago, I went to Molly’s  Cupcakes for the first time.  I, of course, had a cupcake.  It seems as though cupcakes are a gigantic food trend these days.  There are food trucks that drive around the city selling just cupcakes.  There are bakeries that just specialize in cupcakes.  There is a show on Food Network about dueling cupcake bakers.  For me, though, cupcakes are not a fad.  I have always loved cupcakes.  I think for me, the best thing about cupcakes is the sheer versatility of these mini cakes.  They can be any flavor of cake that you would use for a full-size cake.  They can be frosted with any type of frosting.  They can be filled with any type of filling that you can imagine.  You can make a basic batch of cupcakes and fill and frost each one of those cupcakes with a different combination.  That kind of variety with one flavor of cake is just not possible in one full-sized cake.

So, now, I have decided that I need to find the perfect place in Chicago to have the perfect cupcake.  I enjoyed the cupcake at Molly’s Cupcakes.  It was a peach cobbler cupcake.  It was filled with peaches and the top of the cupcake actually tasted very similar to a cobbler with whipped cream.  So, yea, definitely tasty.  Was it my all-time favorite cupcake?  No.  But I think that I’m on the right track.

Peach Cobbler Cupcake at Molly's Cupcakes

In your opinion, if I have one cupcake in Chicago, where should it be from?

The Cooling Effects of Orange Juice

When my dad would make our orange juice in the morning, it was always a tube of frozen concentrated orange juice.  I always loved the sound of the frozen orange blob oozing out of the container and landing in whatever pitcher we were going to drink the juice out of.  For those who have never made frozen juice, you add the required amount of water by filling up the now empty frozen o.j. container and you use that as your measuring cup.  Usually, you add in three containers full of water and then mix it all up.  Some days, dad would switch up the o.j. just a bit. Instead of all of the containers of water, dad would substitute one container of water with one container full of ice and would then throw the whole thing in the blender.  The ice never blended very smoothly and you would get larger chunks mixed in with smaller chunks.  The juice would be ridiculously chilled and frothy on the top.  You had to drink it quickly, though, because the ice chunks would start to melt rather quickly.  Delicious.

As I was sweating buckets today, I remembered the frothy cold orange juice that dad would make.  I new exactly what I was going to make as soon as I got home.  I didn’t have any frozen o.j. but I did have a container of orange juice in the fridge that was ready to go.  I threw in a bunch of ice and dumped some orange juice into the blender.

I’ve got to tell you.  This is so cooling and refreshing.  I highly recommend.  Grab juice.  Grab ice.  Throw both in the blender.  Enjoy.

Kicking the heat out of the living room

Three Hot Dog Joints and Why These Are All My Favorite

I love hot dogs.  They were a staple of my childhood.  Hot dogs for lunch and dinner.  A large pot of beanie-weenie (baked beans with pieces of hot dog in it for those who are unfamiliar with this delightful dish).  Hot dogs on the grill.  Hot dogs boiled in a big pot of water.  Yummy.  As I have grown older, my taste for hot dogs has turned a bit more sophisticated.  Now, I have to say that there are few things more delicious and more perfectly balanced than a great Chicago-style hot dog.  Almost all of the food groups are present on one plate.

In the time that I have lived in Chicago, I have found three places that make a great Chicago dog.  And yet, the dogs at all of these places have their own taste.

Wolfy’s – Ryan and I pass this place frequently on our way to or from a Target shopping trip.  It’s a place that Ryan discovered because his dad saw it on a tv show.  It is definitely a great place for any of your basic grilled fast foods.  They’ve got burgers, cheeseburgers, crispy fries, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches but they also have a great classic Chicago-style hot dog.  Ask for everything on your dog but be prepared because the peppers that they throw on the dog are really spicy.  I get the peppers because I like some of the pepper juice to soak in with the other toppings but I remove them once I take a bite and am quickly reminded just how much of a bite these peppers add.

Superdawg – This is a great place not just because of the drive-in set-up of the place.  The milkshakes are delicious.  The fries are crisp.  The dawgs are great!  Superdawg adds a little something different to the classic dog recipe as they have a pickled tomato instead of the normal red tomato.  I feel that this is a great touch especially during the winter when sometimes you really want a hot dog but you know that the tomato on top is going to taste bland as it is way out of season.  I have heard from some people that they feel it is overpriced or is only popular because of the kitschy-ness.  I have to politely disagree.  After a long weekend during the summer, there really is nothing quite like pulling up and hearing that “Hi-ya!” when you press the button to order.  Plus, Puck is a big fan of the Superdawg with nothing on it and the fries.

Hot Doug’s – So, when I go to Hot Doug’s I do usually make sure that I am there on a Friday or Saturday for an order of duck fat fries.  And I usually order one of their crazy-over-the-top dogs.  However, they also make a great Chicago-style dog.  On one of my birthdays, Ben and I went to Hot Doug’s for lunch.  We each got two dogs and split an order of duck fat fries and a corn dog.  (Quit judging.  We were hungry.)  The fries and corn dog were both good.  I’m sure that whatever weekly-special-dog that I ordered was tasty.  However, what I still remember as being really really good was the Chicago-style dog.  And if you’ve only got a couple bucks in your pocket, it really is a great deal as some of Hot Doug’s dogs can be a bit pricey (understandably, since they are using amazing ingredients for their specialty dogs).

So, there you have it.  If you’re looking for a delicious hot dog on the northside of Chicago, I highly highly recommend you check out one of all three of these.  And if you’ve got another to add to my list, please let me know.  I’m always on the lookout for a new favorite spot.

The best breakfast food is dessert

I love traditional breakfast food. I love waffles and biscuits & gravy (especially when my mom makes biscuits & gravy). I love cereal. However, I love breakfast food even more when it is lunch or dinner.

The one type of food that I have never had trouble eating for breakfast is dessert.  I can’t explain it.  It doesn’t really make sense.  It’s not a well-balanced breakfast.  But, it is fantastic.

I made blueberry dumplings for dessert last night.  You can find the recipe that I used here.  It’s very easy and incredibly delicious.  (I also added the juice of one lemon to the blueberries although the recipe doesn’t call for it.)  It also helped us to use up some of the bags and bags of blueberries that we have in the freezer.  We had one dumpling leftover and a ton of blueberry sauce.  So, I had my breakfast for today planned last night.

Breakfast

Roasted Potatoes

I love potatoes. No, really. I love potatoes. During Sunday dinner, the potatoes were passed to me after everyone else had had some just in case I put four servings of potatoes on my plate. And it didn’t matter what type of potatoes were for dinner. Mashed, roasted, twice-baked, salad. I will eat more than my fair share of any potato.
This week, in our CSA, we got several potatoes. Instantly, I knew what I was going to fix for myself for dinner. Does a plate of roasted potatoes count as a full and balanced meal? Well, no.  Is it going to be my dinner anyways?  Well, yes.  Mmmmmmmmm…..potatoes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the potatoes in half or in quarters (depending on size)

Coat with olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper, garlic, fresh rosemary (right out of the garden if you are that lucky)

Roast for at least an hour (check that the potatoes are brown and crispy).

Sprinkle with a little bit more salt.

Grab a fork and dive in.