Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Captain, my captain.

Sunday night I sat at the computer trying to think of something to make for monday food fest. (Tuesday food fest this week...)  I turned to mr.  “Give me an ingredient.  Anything.  I need to think of something to make.”
“Peanut butter.” he promptly said.
Hm.  Wouldn’t have been my first choice, but I DID ask for his help, after all.  I typed “peanut butter” into the ingredient search box on recipezaar.  Over 4,000 recipes popped up.  That wouldn’t do.  
“Give me another ingredient.  I need to narrow the search.”
mr was preoccupied with football of some sort or another.
“Um, hello?”
“bacon.  See if there’s anything for peanut butter and bacon.”
I rolled my eyes.  Fat lot of help HE is.  So, just to show him, I looked it up.  I figured there’d be some weird, gross side dish and then he’d HAVE to eat it and then I could sit and laugh at him.
Not kidding.  I know it sounds disgusting, but it’s true.  I found it, and once I found it, I HAD to make it.
That is how the menu began.
I also found a recipe for captain crunch chicken, which I’ve been wanting to try my hand at for a while.  I SHOULD have made it out of peanut butter captain crunch, and then we’d have a REAL theme going here, but I didn’t.
We also had steamed green beans - to which I added a bit of margarin and some onion salt, but that’s pretty boring so I won’t talk about that.
As I was wrapping up my teeny tiny little peanut butter sandwiches with bacon, I wondered what I had gotten myself into.  Not only would mr have to eat these, but so would I - and my parents to boot!  I pushed in a few more toothpicks to hold the bacon in place, and shrugged off my trepidation.  I mean, it’s bacon, right?  Bacon’s always good, right?  

I made this exactly as the recipe calls for, with one alteration.  When it was done baking, I broiled it for about 4 minutes.  It made everything nice and crispy.  And bacon is always better extra crispy.
Well, I know it sounds unbelievable, but... the general consensus was that they were GREAT!  My mom told me I could make them again, anytime.  mr wasn’t too sure what he thought of them.  He pondered his response carefully and only now came to the conclusion that it was good, but not his favorite.  Quote “it was good, but I wouldn’t want to have it that often.”  Because of the taste or the fat?  I don’t know.

Now, I was pretty certain about the captain crunch chicken from the start.  Who doesn’t love captain crunch?  And if Planet Hollywood can put it on chicken, why can’t I??  Well, turns out, I can!  Although, I did learn that when the recipe tells you to keep the oil at a certain temperature for frying, you really should listen.

I made this exactly as the recipe calls for - but one tip I have is to mix the flour mixture in a large ziploc bag.  Then you can put your chicken in and shake it around and you won't have to worry about getting another bowl dirty or flipping flour everywhere.  You can do this with the breading, too, but I've found that for coarse breading, it doesn't work as well.
I think this was one of my mom’s favorites.  I agree.  I would love to make it again - this time using peanut butter crunch, or putting MORE capt. crunch in the breading and less cornflakes.  In any case, yum.  That sums it up right there.

What?  Oh, I'm sorry.  I'm too busy eating this delicious 
food to take a picture of it.

For dessert, I made something of my own creation.  Yep, that’s right.  My OWN creation!
When mr and I went out for date night last week, we came across a dessert called cheesecake wontons.  And I thought to myself, hey.  I could totally make those!  Myself responded, “yes.  Yes, I could.”  So I did.
Here’s the recipe:

Cheesecake Rangoons with Raspberries - a knockoff
1 small package of raspberries
2-3 tblsp sugar
Mash up the raspberries with a fork. 
Put 2-3 tblsp sugar in with the masked raspberries and mix well.  Refrigerate for at least an hour - it will make its own juice.
3 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tblsp lemon juice (if you like lemon, add another 2 teaspoons)
2 tblsp flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest
wonton wrappers
oil for frying (I used peanut oil.  It’s supposedly better for you.  But really, frying’s frying, right?)
Put about three inches of oil in a medium pot.  Heat the oil to about 325 degrees.
Put the cream cheese in a bowl and mix with a mixer until it is smooth.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each one.
Gradually add one at a time: sugar, flour, lemon juice, vanilla.  Continue mixing throughout.
lay out a wonton wrapper and put a spoonful of cheesecake mixture in the middle.  Gather the four corners together into the middle and squeeze shut.  Pinch the openings closed.  (NOTE:  I learned this trick when making dumplings a while back.  If you get your fingers wet, it will help adhere the wonton together.  The water reacts with the flour that’s already dusting the wontons.  I keep a cup of water right next to me and keep dipping my fingers in it as I pinch.)
Do this until you have as many wontons as you want.  Or until you run out of wontons.  Or until you run out of cheesecake batter.
In batches of about 6-8, place the wontons in the hot oil, right-side up.
Cook for about 3-5 minutes, then turn.
(NOTE:  You will notice that the wontons bubble as they cook and then float.  Don’t turn them until the bottom is a nice golden brown color.  Sometimes they flip themselves when they are ready, no kidding.  They’re smart like that.)
When they are done cooking, fish them out with a tongs.
Place finished rangoons in a serving dish.  Sprinkle some raspberries on top.  Squirt some chocolate syrup over them.  Garnish the dish with lemon wedges.  Serve with whipped cream and the raspberry/sugar/juices concoction you whipped up before and stuck in the refrigerator.

I don’t think I have to tell you that these stole the show tonight.  They were so good, it was worth the fat they were fried in.  But here is where I will change my recipe on you, just a bit.  If I did it over, I would NOT make enough cheesecake batter to feed a small army.  Because I had half a bowl leftover after I made ALL the wontons - and I think there’s like 50 in a package.  It was hot, sweaty, miserable work... (but like I said, worth it) so I would totally HALF this recipe the next time.  I used a recipe that would be about the amount for a normal cheesecake.  But of course, I didn’t need that much.  
They’re so good.  Not to toot my horn.  Because I know it wasn’t really MY idea.  (thanks, hu-hot)
And in the interest of full disclosure, here is what happens when you think you don’t really need to pay attention to how hot your oil is when frying chicken:
Luckily my dad likes stuff that is burnt to a crisp and carbonized.  I told him I did it on purpose, just for him.  (I don’t think he believed me...) Fortunately, I only did that to three pieces.  Phew.  The rest were fine.
Oh, and THIS is what happens when you put a plastic cutting board on a burner that is still hot:

So, you’ll want to avoid doing that.



Amanda@Imperfectly Beautiful said...

Wow....bacon wrapped peanut butter....who knew?? I like your adventurous culinary delights!

Thank you so much for your sweet comment on my post about Noah. It really meant alot!


Jocelyn said...

Fabulous dessert idea! I would love it if you linked it to my recipe hop. I want to try making these sometime!

Anonymous said...

Everything looks so yummy :) visiting you from Tasty Tuesdays :)

alicia said...

Wow. It looks really yummy indeed. Almost too good to eat, like art. Thanks so much for linkin up with tasty tuesdays. Feel free to share any other fab ideas any time!!

Unknown said...

I guess some of it looks good... but not the blackened chicken! :)

Unknown said...

and thank you for the compliments, everyone!

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