Buffalo Chicken Sliders

As I said earlier this week, I have always been a huge fan of Spicy Buffalo Sauce. So when the craving hit, I knew I would need to act on it. The first step was sauce, which turned out be a great success. The second step was to decide what to do with the sauce one I made it (other than dipping random vegetables and an occasional finger in it).

As much as I love Buffalo sauce, I am not a huge fan of eating meat off of bones. Every once in a while I’ll get a craving for traditional wings, but usually I like to stick with the boneless variety. Keeping that in mind I tossed around a few ideas and finally decided that what I really wanted was Buffalo chicken sandwiches. More specifically, crispy coated chicken, with a balance between spicy sauce and cool creamy ranch, a few blue cheese crumbles, all on top of a soft and somewhat sweet bun. I don’t think I can even describe to you how much this meal hit the spot.

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

Ingredients
2 chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally then cut again into chunks *
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs
heaping 1/4 tsp onion powder
heaping 1/4 tsp garlic powder
heaping 1/4 tsp paprika
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil, divided, plus more if needed (alternatively you can reduce the oild to 1 Tbsp and oven bake the chicken)
Slider buns
Buffalo sauce
Ranch dressing
Blue Cheese crumbles
Thinly sliced red onion

*I was going for sliders so I cut mine into about 2.5×2.5 inch pieces, about 5 from each breast. The key is to make sure each “chunk” is about the size of your slider rolls and no more than 1/2 inch thick.
 
Directions
In a shallow bowl, mix together the panko, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon canola oil. Place the egg in separate bowl.

Coat the chicken by dipping into the egg first, then the panko mixture.

To cook by pan frying, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in batches, so as not to over crowd the pan, until all of the chicken is cooked through, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Add additional tablespoon of oil in between batches and as needed if the pan becomes dry.

To cook by oven baking, preheat oven to 450 degrees and prepare a baking sheet by placing a wire (cooling) rack over the tray and lightly spraying with non-stick spray.. Place the coated chicken on the wire rack and bake for about 10 minutes, or until a piece of chicken cut in half is no longer pink inside, rotating pan halfway through.

Serve on top of slider buns with Buffalo sauce, ranch dressing, blue cheese crumbles, and thinly sliced onions. Goes well with oven fries and celery sticks.

Breading/Coating recipe slightly adapted from the recipe I use for fish sticks, originally from Elly Says Opa.

Homemade Spicy Garlic Buffalo Sauce

**Slight Recipe Edit 8/13/12, changes noted in italics and below the recipe**

Over the past several years Buffalo Sauce has become quite the fad ingredient. I’ve seen it used in pasta, on pizza, in casseroles, and in dip known to some as “Crack Dip”… For most people I think it’s a love it or hate it type of situation. For me, I love it.

I’ve always been a pretty big fan of dip like sauces, and when I discovered Buffalo Sauce – I fell in love. Buffalo Wild Wings (B-dubs) was the place to hangout in high school. 10 cent wing Mondays and 15 cent boneless wing Tuesdays. Of course, the price slowly increased and I think a few years later they dropped the deal nights entirely, but the flavor of Buffalo sauce still brings me right back to those days of cruising around all day with my friends and then heading to B-dubs for a cheap (and delicious!) dinner.

My favorite sauce was always the Spicy Garlic and last week I really had a craving for it. I knew if I wanted to satisfy my craving I would need to make my own sauce. I found a copycat recipe that looked pretty good, but it still used a lot of Franks Red Hot. I have a bottle of Red Hot but it was pretty pricy so I wasn’t that excited about having to use almost the whole thing to make my own sauce. Also, one thing I have always liked about B-dubs sauce is that it is thick and emulsified, so it doesn’t separate when used in recipes or on wings. So I kept that recipe in mind and continued searching and until I found another recipe that looked good. I took the best of both recipes and combined it to make, what I think, was an awesome sauce.

It’s not exactly like B-dubs sauce, but Jesse and I both really liked it! Spicy, garlicky, smooth, and thick.

Homemade Spicy Garlic Buffalo Sauce

Ingredients
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar*
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika 1/2 tsp smoked paprika ***
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp course ground black pepper
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp canola oil
1 egg yolk***
2 Tbsp water, plus more if needed
2 tsp corn starch

*The recipe originally called for Rice Wine Vinegar, which I thought I had but turns out I did not. I used Apple Cider Vinegar instead and I think it really worked. 
**Feel free to add more or less of each spice, to suit your own taste. 

*** 8/13/12 – After some experimentation I have decided that egg yolk is not necessary, reducing the vinegar and adding the little bit of corn starch is plenty sufficient for thickening the sauce. I also decided that 1 tsp of smoked paprika could be a little overpowering, and 1/2 tsp is just right.

Directions
To a small sauce pan over medium-high heat, add the vinegar, dry spices, salt, sugar, black pepper, and canola oil. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the mixture starts to thicken.

While the vinegar and spices are simmering, whisk together the egg yolk, water, and cornstarch. Temper the yolk mixture by adding a few teaspoons of the hot vinegar mixture to the liquid and whisk. Repeat two times, then stream the now warm yolk mixture into the sauce pan, whisking constantly. Simmer for 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool before pouring into a container for storing. Add additional water, as needed, if the sauce becomes too thick.

Optionally, pour the sauce into a heat proof measuring cup and use an immersion blender to make it extra smooth.

Use on wings, as a dipping sauce for fries, in your favorite Buffalo sauce recipe, or on Buffalo Chicken Sliders (recipe coming this week!).

Adapted from Domestic Fits and wlkr.org

In case you’re wondering where I got the bottle –  It’s just a “reused” juice bottle 🙂

How can I use this sauce??
Buffalo Chicken Salad
Buffalo Chicken Bites
Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Shells
Easy One-Pot Buffalo Chicken Pasta

Penne with Chicken and Vegetables in Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce

Wow, that’s a really long name! Probably too long, but when thinking about this recipe it just didn’t feel right to leave any part out of the name. The chicken, vegetables, and roasted garlic sauce all work together to form one beautiful, filling, delicious pasta dish.

I knew that I wanted to make pasta for dinner and I knew what ingredients I had on hand, but I didn’t have a specific recipe in mind. So I went searching and what I found was very promising recipe on my friend Krystal’s blog (Krystal just had a baby, by the way!). I worked with what I had and used her recipe as guide, and what I thought was going to be a good dinner turned out to be a GREAT dinner! So much so that I’m putting it back on the menu for this week!

The first change I made was to use zucchini instead of broccoli (side note: why can I never spell either of those words right on the first try? mental spelling block) and penne instead of fettucine.  I also used milk instead of cream, but because I was worried that it wouldn’t thicken up enough, I added a tablespoon of corn starch. It worked perfectly and even held up and remained creamy for my next day lunch leftovers. Finally, I added mushrooms because it just seemed right.

Penne with Chicken and Vegetables in a Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce

Ingredients

1 head of garlic – roasted with salt, pepper, and olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small-medium zucchini, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
4-5 button mushrooms, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups milk
1 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for topping
1-2 chicken breasts (depending on how much chicken per serving you want), roasted and sliced
12 oz. penne pasta
Fresh chopped basil or parsley for garnishing

Directions
Preheat oven to 375. Cut the top off of a head of garlic to expose the tops of cloves. Place on a sheet of aluminum foil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Loosely wrap the aluminum foil around the garlic, pinching the seams to seal. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the cloves are tender and start to turn golden brown. Allow to cool.

While the garlic is roasting, drizzle the chicken breast with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and roast for about 30 minutes, until cooked through. Allow the chicken to rest, covered with aluminum foil, until you’re ready to serve, then cut into slices. (Roasting in the same oven as the garlic slightly infuses some of the garlic flavor into the chicken, mmm!)

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook penne until al dente then drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the milk and corn starch in a glass measuring cup, set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and butter. Add the onion, zucchini, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, or until the vegetables soften and the onions are translucent. Season with a little salt and pepper. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the cloves into the skillet. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to break up the garlic and mix into the vegetables.

Create a well in the skillet by pushing the vegetables to the edges, slowly stream in the milk/cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly. Work the vegetables into the sauce with the whisk then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan, then cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken and coat the back of the spoon. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and stir to coat. If the sauce seems too thick, add the reserved cooking liquid a tablespoon at time until you get the desired consistency.

Top each portion with the sliced chicken, extra Parmesan, and fresh chopped basil or parsley. Serve hot and enjoy!

Adapted from Mrs.Regueiro’s Plate

Homemade Chocolate Syrup




I am sure that by now it’s pretty obvious how much I love finding ways to make typically store bought things at home. Pretty much everything I make and blog about can technically be classified as “homemade” since, well, I make it all at home mostly from scratch. But I’m talking about the posts where I recreate things that you normally associate with store bought brands. Like when I made Milano Cookies, Oreos, Funfetti Cupcakes, Fish Sticks, Hamburger Buns, and Mayonnaise. Now that I’m in China and certain kitchen staples are a little harder to come by, you will probably find a lot more of these kinds of posts.

I am a nut for chocolate milk. Like at least a glass a day, sometimes two, kind of nut. So when Annie posted a recipe for homemade chocolate syrup a few months ago, I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning. I knew it would be love at first sip, and it was. I may or may not have drizzled a little directly into my mouth from the squeeze bottle. Rich chocolaty goodness! And of course, as I have found with a lot of DIY foods, it is so much easier than I thought it would be!

As with most things, the quality of ingredients you use will directly relate to the results that you get. Using Hershey’s cocoa powder won’t mean that your syrup is bad or gross, but it won’t be quite as good as if you use a better brand. I had Ghirardelli on hand, which isn’t the highest quality in the market but is a step up, and my results were great.


Homemade Chocolate Syrup

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions
In a medium sauce pan, whisk together the sugar and cocoa powder, making sure to break up any lumps in the cocoa. Turn the heat to medium-high and stir in the water and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Once it has reached a boil, reduce heat to low and continue to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing the mixture to thicken. Once the mixture has thickened remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Store in the refrigerator.

Use for chocolate milk, ice cream topping, brownie topping, or any recipe that calls for chocolate syrup.

Source: Annie’s Eats, originally from 52 Kitchen Adventures