Posts Tagged ‘cheddar cheese’

Beer-Battered Fresh Wisconsin Cheese Curds

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Fried stuff with cheese!

Can anyone tell me what that’s from?

. . .

It sure has been a while, hasn’t it?

. . .

Anybody still out there?

. . .

No? That’s okay, I’ve decided to post anyway.

Two random events have come together to bring you this delicious post.

Random Event #1:  a couple of months ago, we finally broke down and bought a deep fryer.

We don’t fry things often. Or, well, maybe it would be better to say that we didn’t fry things often. Because now that we have a deep fryer, we fry things pretty frequently.

It used to be that if I wanted to fry something, I’d get out the dutch oven and a thermometer, heat up the oil, and fry things on the stove. The problem with that is that it’s messy, greasy, and most of the oil goes to waste, because I never had a good system for straining the oil to be reused. More often than not, it would sit in that pan, unfiltered, until we broke down and did the dishes, and then it would get tossed. Pretty wasteful.

So like I said, I broke down and bought a deep fryer.

Random Event #2: On Black Friday, my mom, my sister and I went shopping in Kenosha, Wisconsin. And as all sensible Chicagoans must do when they cross that northern border, I stopped and bought cheese curds.

Do you see where this is going?

EZPromain

T-Fal Ultimate EZ Clean Pro

Do you?

 

wisconsin-cheese-curds

fresh cheese curds

Now you do.

beer battered cheese curds

beer battered cheese curds

So how’d I do it? Once you have the deep fryer and the cheese curds, this one’s actually pretty easy.

Beer-Battered Fresh Wisconsin Cheese Curds

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts of canola oil, peanut oil, or vegetable oil for frying (I like to use canola oil)
  • 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 cup bisquick or other baking mix
  • 3/4 cup beer
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound fresh cheese curds broken into pieces

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large fryer or sauce pan to 375 degrees. This part’s easy if you have an electric deep fryer. If you don’t, you can use a thermometer, or worst-case-scenario, you can check to see if the oil is ready by dipping the handle of a wooden spoon into the pan. If the oil forms bubbles around the handle, it’s ready.
  2. Whisk together milk, baking mix, beer, and egg until well incorporated.
  3. Place cheese curds in batter 6 – 8 at a time, stir to coat.
  4. Using a slotted spoon to pull them out of batter, shaking off excess batter.
  5. Deep fry curds until golden brown.
  6. Drain on paper towels
  7. Sprinkle with a light dusting of salt while they’re still hot and resting on the paper towels.
  8. Enjoy the cheesy goodness!
soooo cheesy

soooo cheesy

See? Perfection. The cheese will be melty and gooey and perfectly stringy–like the texture of the best mozzarella sticks you can imagine. The breading, thanks to the baking mix and the beer in the batter, has a light, fluffy texture, even as it gets crispy around the edges. And even though the batter is bound to drip and drizzle a little bit in the oil, the deep fryer we bought has a built in filter as well as a frying pan and frying basket that are completely dishwasher safe, so cleanup is a breeze. If you’re making these without a fryer, though, you should expect a fair amount of crunchy bits left in the oil confounding your efforts to clean up. Just one more reason to buy a deep fryer, I suppose. Even without the deep fryer, they might just be worth the trouble. Thankfully, I don’t have to decide and we can just make them whenever we want.

* * *

P.S. “Fried stuff with cheese!” is from Friends. The One with the Truth About London. Phoebe imagines what could have happened if Joey and Monica had ended up together, and it turns out that what would have happened is that Joey would have weighed about 400 pounds thanks to Monica’s cooking. 

Monica: Dinner’s ready!

Joey: What’s my little chef got for me tonight?

Monica: Your favorite!

Joey: Ho-ho-ho, fried stuff with cheese!

It’s hard to blame you, Joey. Who doesn’t love fried stuff with cheese?!

Cheddar & Brown Rice Risotto Cakes

Friday, July 30th, 2010

We buy our brown rice from Costco, a 12.5 pound bag of short grain brown rice from Lundberg Family Farms. Recently, I checked out their website and was pleasantly surprised to find a whole slew of recipes for all of their rice products, including several for the short grain variety we buy.

Naturally, this cheesy recipe caught my eye. It was tasty AND healthy, which is a great combination. Kind of like a potato pancake–cheesy, crispy around the edges, with the nutty flavor of brown rice. We really enjoyed these, and I’m sure we’ll make them again. They’d be good with other kinds of cheese as well. If you weren’t worried about the health aspects, full fat cheese and butter or olive oil in place of the nonstick spray would be delicious, but honestly, they were great the healthy way too. 🙂

I used leftover brown rice to make these cakes, which makes it even better.

Cheddar & Brown Rice Risotto Cakes

  • 1 cup (4-ounces) shredded low-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Vegetable cookin spray
  • Applesauce (optional)
  • Lowfat sour cream (optional)
  • 2 cups cooked Lundberg Organic Short Grain Brown RiceCombine rice, cheese, onion, flour, salt and pepper in medium bowl. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar in small bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold beaten egg whites into rice mixture.

    Coat large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat until hot. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons batter into skillet for each patty; push batter into diamond shape using spatula. Cook patties, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Serve warm with applesauce or sour cream. Makes about 1 dozen patties.

Well, Lost is Over.

Monday, May 24th, 2010

I’m pretty happy, actually, with the finale. I enjoyed it, and I thought they wrapped things up pretty well.

My friend Cara (who has her own fashion blog, if you’re so inclined) came over to celebrate The End. We undertook the massive re-watch together last summer and have made watching Lost a weekly event pretty much ever since, so it was only fitting that we finish it together.

She did an awesome job with the Dharma-tizing of our snacks. You can check out her handiwork below.

that's Dharma wine, beers, and sodas, Dharma Initiative tortilla chips with Dharma salsa, guacamole dip, and salsa con queso dip.

She also printed us boarding passes for Oceanic 815, along with all those awesome poster-prints. We couldn’t resist playing the numbers in the lottery. But more about the food.

I contributed some Dharma Initiative-iced cookies, the “Fish Biscuit” goldfish crackers, and “Black & White Rocks” (i.e. chocolate/yogurt covered raisins). And of course, John Locke orange-slice-smile props.

You’d think that was more than enough food for two people, even though it’s mostly snacks, but no. I also made Donkey Wheel Pasta Salad, which is pretty much just this Pepperoni Parmesan Pasta Salad, which you’ve seen before. I used mini wagon wheel noodles to give it that extra Lost-y touch, but otherwise, it was the same.

Then, in honor of Mr. Smoke Monster himself, I made Lil’ Smokey’s in a blanket, with Smokey cheddar cheese. Yum! (Super-Quick Recipe: Cut crescent roll dough pieces into quarters. Wrap each sliver around a Lil’ Smokey and a small slice of cheese. Bake according to the crescent roll package directions. Enjoy!)

So that was our Lost menu. We had a blast celebrating the series, but I’m not going to lie: I’m going to miss it. What in the world am I going to watch all summer?

Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Burgers

Monday, March 15th, 2010

This recipe comes from the Weight Watchers Comfort Classics cookbook, which I’ve recommended here on the blog before. As with each of the other recipes we’ve tried, this dish was tasty and simple. I wouldn’t say it was spectacular though. I don’t know if I’ll be making these again, since I can pull off the same points value (8) with lean ground beef if I’m careful.

One nice thing though: I ground the chicken breasts myself to make these burgers, which saved a little bit of money since we buy chicken breasts in bulk  and ground chicken can be a little bit on the expensive side. Yay for another chance to use the food grinder attachment for our stand mixer!

Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Burgers
Adapted from Weight Watchers Comfort Classics

  • 3/4 cup shredded 2% sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 1/3 cup dried seasoned bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 light multigrain English muffins, split & toasted
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • 4 tomato slices
  • pickle slices

1. Mix the cheese and mustard together in a small dish. Stir the chicken, bread crumbs, and salt & pepper together in a medium bowl until just blended. Shape into 4 balls. With your index finger, make a deep indentation in each ball. Fill each indentation with 3 tablespoons of the cheese mixture. Fold the chicken mixture around the cheese to seal; shape each one into a patty.

2. Spray a nonstick grill pan with nonstick spray, and place over medium heat. (Could also be done on a George Foreman Grill, if you’re into that sort of thing). Place the burgers in the pan and cook until a thermometer inserted into the side of each burger (without touching the cheese) registers 165 degrees. It should take about 6-7 minutes on each side.

3. Serve the burgers in the english muffins topped with ketchup, lettuce, tomato, and pickles.

AuGratin Potatoes – Lightened

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

I found this Au Gratin Potatoes recipe on the main Weight Watchers website. They post free recipes from time to time, and this was one of them. The notes on the recipe promise that these cheesy potatoes are spouse and kid-friendly, and I can see that. They didn’t taste light at all. The potatoes were creamy and cheesy–reminded me a lot of our family’s standard scalloped potatoes recipe, but with added cheese flavor. I didn’t mind the onion, but if you don’t like onions, you could certainly skip it, and it would turn out just fine.

Au Gratin Potatoes
Adapted from weightwatchers.com

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups fat-free milk
  • 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup 2% cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a 2-quart covered baking dish with cooking spray.

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour; add milk slowly, stirring. Add potatoes and stir to mix. Bring to a boil. Stir in 3/4 cup of cheese, salt and pepper.

Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and level out surface. Bake for 1 hour, uncovered. Cover and bake until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes more.

Change oven temperature to broil. Sprinkle remaining cheese over potatoes. Broil 6 inches from the heating element until the cheese is golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing into 8 pieces. Works out to three points a serving, according to Weight Watchers.

Note: I’m sure we’ll make these again. The potatoes were creamy, and cheesy, and definitely worth making. The only drawback is the lengthy cooking time–I may experiment with parboiling or starting the potatoes in the microwave a little bit to cut down on the time in the oven next time. Almost an hour and a half in the oven is too long to make these practical for a weeknight, unfortunately.

Potato & Chorizo Taquitos

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Taquitos are something that I’d never considered making or even as a real food until I saw this recipe in Everyday with Rachael Ray. The only way I’d ever seen taquitos was in a box from the freezer. The recipe looked manageable enough, and I was excited to try it.

I’m glad I did. They were easier than you’d think to make, and delicious. So much more crispy and fresh-tasting than the kind that come from a box.  We had these for dinner, but they’d make an awesome appetizer. Just serve with some salsa and sour cream.

Potato and Chorizo Taquitos
Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray

Ingredients:

  • 1 baking potato, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying
  • 7 ounces Mexican chorizo (about 2 links), casings discarded
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jarred roasted red pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons diced green chiles from a can
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 18 corn tortillas

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, add the potato and enough salted water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and cook until just tender, about 20 minutes; drain.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook, breaking it up, until browned, about 3 minutes; mash into the potatoes. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet along with the onion, tomato, roasted pepper and chile; season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Stir into the potato mixture along with the cheese and cilantro.
  3. Fill a large, deep skillet with enough oil to reach a depth of 3/4 inch and heat over medium-high heat. Microwave the tortillas in a sealed plastic bag for 25 seconds. Roll up 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture in each tortilla. Add to the oil seam side down; repeat until the pan is full. Fry, turning once, until golden, 4 to 5 minutes; drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup from 101 Cookbooks

Monday, November 30th, 2009

I made a broccoli cheddar soup recipe that I found on another blog, 101 Cookbooks. Though I, personally, am not very fond of broccoli, my husband is a fan. So is our roommate.

Plus, after Thanksgiving, I had another pound of fresh leftover broccoli, and I wanted to use it up.

The recipe looked so pretty. And I was excited about the croutons (which I may have made out of leftover dinner rolls…we are all about the leftovers this week). It also didn’t use velveeta or heavy cream, unlike most of the broccoli cheese soup recipes I came across. Plus, we had a bunch of leftover cheddar, too. This seemed like a place that all that cheese could shine.

The good news is, the cheese did shine in this soup, by the time I was done. If you like broccoli, the original recipe–found here–might very well be your new favorite soup. But me? I had to just about triple the amount of cheese in the soup to make it palatable. I guess that’s what I get for trying to stay on the healthy side of a broccoli cheese soup. The recipe below is what I ended up making. It’s full of delicious, cheesy goodness.

brocchedar

Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks; serves 4-6

For the croutons:

  • 5-6 ounce chunk of bread, cut or torn into 1-inch pieces (About 3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt 

For the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)
  • 1 large head of broccoli (12 ounces or 3/4 lb.), cut into small florets
  • 2 cups freshly grated aged Cheddar, plus more for grating over the top
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard, to taste
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees and place the bread chunks in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, olive oil, and salt, and pour this mixture over the bread pieces.  Toss to coat, then spread the bread out on a baking sheet and bake for 10 – 15 minutes, or until the croutons are golden and crunchy.

While the croutons are toasting heat the remaining olive oil over medium high heat. Stir in the onion and sprinkle with salt. Saute for about two minutes minutes. Next, stir in the diced potatoes, cover, and cook for about four minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender. Uncover, add the minced garlic and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, check to make sure the potatoes are completely cooked. Once the potatoes are soft enough to eat, stir in the broccoli. Simmer just long enough for the broccoli to get tender throughout, 2 – 4 minutes. The broccoli will turn a lovely bright green color in the pot.

Immediately remove the soup from heat and puree with an immersion blender. Add the two cups of cheddar cheese and the dijon mustard, if using. Stir in about 1/2 a cup of sour cream or creme fraiche. You can adjust the thickness off the soup by adding more water or broth.

Serve sprinkled with croutons and shredded cheese.

Mini Ham & Cheddar Quiches

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Last weekend was my first weekend back on Weight Watchers, but we also had two parties to attend. To help mitigate some of the party point damage, I brought a couple of tasty treats that also happened to be healthy. This was the first.

These Ham & Cheese Quiches are meant to be made with pre-made phyllo dough cups, but our store was out, so I had to make my own from sheets of phylly dough. (Super easy, by the way: Thaw the phyllo dough completely, cut into small squares, press four single squares into each cup of a mini-muffin pan sprayed with non-stick spray.) I’m writing the recipe out below with phyllo cups, but if you can’t find them don’t worry. Just follow those quick steps above.

quiche

Mini Ham & Cheddar Quiches
Adapted from Weight Watchers Comfort Classics (makes 15 quiche)

  • 1 ounce ham, chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded fat free cheddar cheese
  • 1 box frozen pre-made phyllo dough cups (15 count), frozen
  • 2 egg whites plus one whole egg
  • 2 tablespoons fat free half & half
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley, to garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Sprinkle the ham and cheese evenly into each pastry shell. Whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour evenly into the prepared quiche cups.

3. Bake until the pastry shells are lightly crisped and the filling is set, about 12 minutes. Be careful not to overbake.

Note: These were very tasty little bites. I’ll probably make them again sometime, but the possiblities for fillings are pretty much endless. I’m sure I’ll be experimenting with them (especially since we bought WAY too much phyllo dough, and I have plenty leftover just hanging out in my freezer).

Chorizo Tacos

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

This might be the closest thing I have to a “secret family recipe” to share with you all. There are plenty of meals that I make just like I grew up with, but I don’t necessarily think that they involve secrets or tips that other people don’t already use. Chorizo is a great ingredient, and I don’t think enough people are using it.

The chorizo that I’m talking about here is the mexican kind. (There’s also Spanish chorizo out there–it’s hard, like salami or pepperoni) The mexican chorizo, on the other hand, is soft and crumbly, a spicy pork sausage that you can find at nearly every grocery store, near the bratwurst and other sausages. I like to mix it with equal parts ground beef, ground pork, or ground turkey to make tacos–it adds a whole new level of flavor. It’s more than just heat, though chorizo-based tacos are spicier. The chorizo imparts this intense mexican flavor. Once you try tacos like these, you won’t want to go back!

taco

Chorizo Tacos

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound chorizo mexican sausage
  • 1 packet taco seasoning mix
  • tomatoes, onions, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, or whatever you like on your tacos!
  • taco shells (soft shells or hard shells, whichever you like)

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the chorizo. It will be very crumbly and will render lots of fat. That’s okay. Once the chorizo is mostly cooked, about 10 minutes or so, add the ground beef and continue cooking until browned.

2. In the meantime, prepare your taco shells and other fixings. Hard shells require several minutes in the oven, so don’t forget to preheat.

3. When the meat is cooked through, drain the mixture thoroughly. You want to get as much of the extra fat out as you can, or the tacos will be way too greasy. I don’t like to go so far as to rinse the meat, because you rinse flavor away with the extra grease, but I do use a paper towel to soak up as much as I can. Return to the skillet and follow the directions for your taco seasoning. Even though you’ll have about 2 pounds of meat at this point, you only want to use enough taco seasoning for one pound. Remember: the chorizo half of the meat brought it’s own flavor.

4. When the meat is finished cooking, you’re done. Let everyone assemble their own delicious tacos. Dig in!

Note: It’s worth saying that while the chorizo is quite a bit fattier than using just ground beef, there are some things you can do to lighten the dish, while still getting tasty tacos. 1) I’ve substituted Soyrizo successfully–barely noticed a difference. You’ve probably noticed we’re not much for vegetarian dishes around here. I wouldn’t recommend the Soyrizo if it wasn’t good. 2) The chorizo brings plenty of fat to the mix, which will let you use a lighter ground meat without risking a dry meat mixture. Feel free to use the leanest ground beef you have, or even ground turkey or ground chicken. 3) Even 1/2 pound of chorizo to a full pound of turkey or lean beef makes a difference in the flavor. Feel free to experiment to find your favorite combination.

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

I like seafood, and my family likes seafood, but unfortunately, I’ve got a circle of friends who don’t care much for it, as a rule. In college, even though I could share an employee discount from my part-time job at The Olive Garden, most of my friends weren’t interested in Red Lobster–until I introduced them to the biscuits.

Red Lobster calls them Cheddar Bay Biscuits. They’re soft and fluffy in the middle, crispy at the edges, flavored with garlic and cheddar cheese throughout, and finished with butter and fresh parsley. Best of all, they come in a bottomless basket, like chips & salsa at a Mexican restaurant or more standard dinner rolls at a steakhouse. They truly are crave-able.

So you can imagine how excited I was when the most recent issue of Food Network Magazine claimed to have cracked the secret recipe. I couldn’t wait to try them.

And you know what? They’re really good. I thought they tasted just like the real thing! Next time, I think I’d take more care to make smaller biscuits. The larger ones that I made didn’t get as crispy as I would’ve liked. I ended up with an even dozen, but I’d probably aim for 14 or 16 next time to get the proper size.

Almost-Famous Cheddar Biscuits
From Food Network Magazine, October 2009

For the Biscuits:

  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 ounces grated yellow cheddar cheese (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk

For the Garlic Butter:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

1. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Lightly mist a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Make the biscuits: pules the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add the shortening and pulse until combined. Add the cold butter cubes, pulse 4 or 5 times, or until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Add the cheese and pulse 2 or 3 times. Pour in the milk and pulse just until the mixture is moistened and forms a shaggy dough. Turn out onto a clean lightly-floured surface and knead gently until the dough comes together. Do not overwork the dough, or the biscuits will be tough.

3. Drop the dough onto the baking sheet in scant 1/4-cup portions, 2 inches apart, and bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

4. While the biscuits are baking, make the garlic butter. Melt the butter with the garlic in a small sauce pan over medium heat; cook for 1 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. When the biscuits are finished, brush them with the garlic butter and serve warm.

Note: I like that this recipe is made in the food processor, but I don’t have any experience with how it would work without the food processor. I do have an instinct that everything up to the vegetable shortening could be replaced with Bisquick–but I haven’t tried that either.