The Onion Ring

The Onion RingThis is not your Aunt Jemima talking. Is it? No. It is a fan of the Green Bay Packers though, and just in time for the NFC Championship comes another fried goodie.
I was never a true fan of the onion ring, for whatever reasons. Maybe they were not salty enough, tender enough, or sweet enough. I really do not know. Until about three years ago, I was on the hunt to make a good ring. Why? Because my wife enjoys the onion ring, that’s why.

So be ready, and yes, it does include deep frying (yum), and as most of these recipes go, it is super easy. Depending on how many you are serving, these ingredients can vary.
Ingredients:

  • Yellow Onion(s), sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Pancake batter (homemade, Aunt Jemima, Generic batter, what have you)
  • Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Onion salt to taste

The Onion RingIn a medium bowl, add nearly one cup of dry pancake mix. To this, add your salt, pepper, and onion salt, to taste. You might be asking, what the heck should it taste like? Feel it out in your mind, the salt, the pepper, and the onion salt.

The pancake batter itself sweetens it up a bit, so think of an onion wrapped in a thin pancake, and how would you season that. That is the goal. You can always, and you should always season when anything comes out of the fryer, whether it be salt, pepper, or other yummies.

So you have your pancake mix ready right? Good. Now, take your onion(s) and slice them about a 1/4 inch thick, keeping in mind you want rings. Maybe you do not want rings, and that is ok, then you have fried onions; no big deal.

So the onions are sliced. Carefully separate them to retain the ring. Once separated, place them in the pancake batter, and toss and coat, with your hands. 🙂

Now, lets consider the oil is heated. It should be by now. Depending on your frying device, add your rings, carefully not to overlap, or touch one another. I used a medium sized fry pan, as I am patient, and add 3-5 rings in at a time. Do not be afraid to gently shake the pan to get that oil dancing. Dance with it as well. It’s fun. You might laugh. The oil sound is therapeutic, so go with it.

The Onion RingThese do not take long. Depending on the thickness of your cut, these can take a few minutes, or up to six minutes to cook. Look at the golden brown tone. I typically use a fork and flip them half way through.

Drain within a paper towel-lined strainer, salt, and get ready to rumble.

Eat as a side, place on your burger, top on your mac-n-cheese, whatever. Get the onion ring going, and remember, Aunt Jemima, or whatever batter you have is not just for the flap jack, it is also for the onion ring. Enjoy.

The Puffy Taco

Puffy TacoAs many of you might know by now, I typically make my own corn tortillas, due to the freshness and flavor. I make them when making regular tacos, empanadas, or chips. Simply put, they are so easy to make and taste so much better. A couple of days ago I was tuned into the Food Network and came across Bobby Flay’s Throwdown. The subject matter, Puffy Tacos. Now granted, I had already had dinner, was not that hungry, but when that show was about half way done, my mouth was watering and I was ready to take on the puffy taco.

Last night my family had the choice of my wife’s new found glory, chicken and rice (awesome), or fettuccine alfredo, both leftovers. My opinion was that we had our share of both, and as we could have gone in for them, I simply could not get the puffy taco off my mind. We had all of the ingredients on hand, so I was proactive and got them started. You talk about awesome tacos, the puffy is here to stay.

Tortilla Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of Masa Harina
  • 1/2 tablespoon of salt
  • 2 1/4 cups of luke warm water
  • Cooking oil, approximately 2 inches deep and enough for a medium sized deep fryer to fit the tortilla and room to move it around

Taco Ingredients: (Your call)

  • Chicken, pork, or ground beef
  • Finely chopped head lettuce
  • Cheese of your choice
  • Guacamole
  • Whatever else you want or need to build your taco. You know what you like.

Puffy TacoHeat your oil on medium to high heat for roughly seven minutes or so or until it comes to temperature.

In a large bowl, mix the masa harina, salt, and water together, and mix with your hands until you form a nice dough. Take a chunk of the dough and roll into a large ball, larger than a ping pong ball. Place this on your tortilla press, or roll out if you have to, making sure to use plastic wrap to prevent any sticking. You want to form this into a round tortilla shape, and one that is not too thin.
Add the tortilla to the oil and let it fry for roughly 30-45 seconds. You will notice it begins to puff up. With a metal spatula, gently move the oil to the top of it for continued cooking. Flip over, and then place the edge of your spatula in the middle of it and shape it into a taco shell. I used a spoon as well to assist with this process.

Puffy TacoKeep it submerged in the oil to allow for cooking. Gently remove it from the oil. You will notice that there is oil bubbling in the inside pockets. I took a knife and gently made in insert to release any oil. Let drain on paper towel, and repeat the process. This made roughly 11 shells.

When you are ready, simply add your taco ingredients, load it up, and enjoy. The texture of the taco was amazing. My kids informed me this one is here to stay.

Beef Broth and Vegetable Soup

Beef BrothYou got a day? Good because when you have that day, this one is a must make. It is the process of making rich beef broth. Once you have the broth, use it how you would like, in my case I created my mom’s vegetable soup, however you could use it for the french onion soup as well. This recipe is extremely easy to make, however the only factor is time, and when I say time, I mean 8-12 hours. The broth literally takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and the rest of the time is letting it cook on the stove. Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • Large Soup Pot to hold everything listed below
  • 2 Large Onions
  • 4 Large Tomatoes
  • Bag of Celery, cleaned and base removed
  • 3 bulbs of garlic
  • 1 bag of carrots, washed
  • Beef bones
  • Package of short ribs (I used boneless beef ribs as I wanted more meat)
  • Red wine (optional)
  • Water

Vegetable SoupStart by rinsing your tomatoes, carrots, and celery. In your large soup pot, add everything. You do not have to cut up anything, nor do you have to remove the skin from the onion or garlic. Fill the pot with water and put it on the stove on medium heat. Once the soup has came to a boil, put it on medium-low heat, covered, and let this simmer for eight hours or more. Once the broth has cooked, strain the meat and the vegetables. I used a large spoon strainer for this process, making sure to get the bone out of the meat. I let this cool outside as it is cold in Wisconsin right now. In the morning, I took the solidified fat and threw it out.

This creates your beef broth.

For the vegetable soup, I brought the broth to a rolling boil, and then brought it back to simmer. During this time, I added the following ingredients for the soup, and stemmed away from my mom’s recipe as she does like adding corn or potatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bag of frozen peas
  • 1 cup of corn
  • 2 potatoes (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 large can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/2 pound of chopped, fresh green beans
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Add these ingredients and let cook for an hour or so. I left the soup pot on simmer all day and fed many people, including myself several times over. This is an excellent soup and could be eaten with some great crusty bread, by itself, or with the pepperoni rolls. Enjoy.

Pepperoni Rolls

Get ready, seriously. This recipe is so simple, yet so darn good, you, your kids, and your neighbors are going to be coming back for more. Let me just say, you cannot just eat one. This was justified by my family tonight. Here is the deal. I grew up with two really good cooks, my mom and my dad. I should not classify them as cooks as I should parents, as they both held full-time jobs, however figured out to make time for family meals. Dinner was important, and it is something I try to bring to my family; to sit down and have dinner together as a family. This can be a difficult task, depending on the variables (how many kids, work schedule, etc), however my parents always pulled it off, and we are doing ok ourselves.

Pepperoni Rolls Recipe

Back to the topic, pepperoni rolls. I cannot tell you enough how killer these are. Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • Rhodes Dinner Rolls (make as many as you want)
  • 2-4 Sticks of Pepperoni (depending on how many rolls you make)
  • Block of mozzarella cheese, or cheddar cheese
  • Butter
  • Appetite

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Then grease it with the butter, approximately one tablespoon or so. Take the frozen dinner rolls and place onto the sheet. I placed mine in a non-heated oven for approximately one hours and thirty minutes. Keep in mind this is a thaw process. Once the dough starts to thaw, cut your pepperoni sticks into 1 to 2 inch thick chunks, this goes the same with the mozzarella. Keep in mind that when you are cutting the meat and cheese to take a look at the size of the roll. It is not that big, however it does form pretty easily.

Once you are ready to embed the pepperoni and cheese, take one dough ball and with cheese going down first and the pepperoni stacked on top of that, push it down into the dough roll. Then begin to work the dough around the filler. This sounds weird, and I had to call my mom just to make sure, but no worries, it is pretty simple to do and only took me like six minutes to complete. Repeat this process until all dough is formed. I made a full baking pan, approximately twenty rolls. 😉

Pepperoni Rolls

Now is where you need to be patient. Not because the dough itself is a thing of beauty, but you have to let this rise, three times its size. Place a towel over the baking pan, and let rise in a warm room. Being that I am in Wisconsin, and there is no warm room, I placed back into the oven, covered for nearly six hours. Trust me, the time is worth it.

Once the rolls have risen, remove the towel, and remove them from the oven, then preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Let bake for nearly twenty minutes or until a light to medium golden brown. Let them sit for five minutes or so (I confess, I ate them right away), then go at it. For one of my kids who complains about pepperoni being on a pizza, he did not complain about eating three huge chunks of pepperoni out of the rolls. Go figure. I had these with a vegetable soup, then as a snack, however these things will rock as an appetizer at a party. Look out for another post or update to these as I have my own ideas as to handle these morsels of love. P.S. Keep in mind I did not shoot the last picture as to what is inside, it is truly a treat, and hence why only a small plate full are left. 🙂