Cheesy Corn Dog Nuggets

Don’t bother getting take out. Cheesy corn dog nuggets are easy to make at home, and more tasty than store-bought! 

Cheesy Corn Dog Nuggets

Making these cheesy corn dog nuggets was an experiment in home cooking. So often, people say that they can’t cook or could never replicate store-bought or restaurant food at home. And when they said it, I always want to scream a little. I’m not saying everyone should be creating five-star meals in their home kitchen. Everyone likes a splurge every now and again. But to say no, it can’t be done is ludicrous.

This rant is thanks in part to my family, who begged for take-out lunch this past weekend. All they wanted – begged for incessantly – was junk food. We try to eat healthy but sometimes, the weekend just calls for junk. But I refused to spend the money. The truth is I really wanted corn dogs and knew I had the ingredients at home. Despite screams and protests  – maybe there was even a picket sign and a rotten tomato throwing – I made cheesy corn dog nuggets. And then made those doubters eat their words.

Cheesy Corn Dog Nuggets

Because these corn dog nuggets were infinitely better than anything that could be bought at any store, take-out joint or restaurant. You have the absolute power to customize the batter to your liking, to your tastes. I added some smoked paprika in mine to give it a little kick. And because you are making these at home, you can also choose your hot dogs. I went with cheese-filled because, you know, cheese-filled. 

The best part, however, of this whole homemade corndog ordeal is the fact that you get these babies right out of the fryer (healthy, they are not). They are hot and crunchy and gloriously fried to golden perfection. They hit your mouth before they’ve even had time to cool off. How’s that for fresh?

Recipe slightly adapted from Buns in my Oven

Cheesy Corn Dog Nuggets

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour, divided
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp.salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 cup milk
  • 8 cheese-filled hot dogs, cut into thirds
  • Vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Heat about 2 inches of oil in a sauce pan to 350 degrees.
  2. While the oil heats, prep the batter. Combine 2/3 cup cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, garlic powder and smoked paprika in a bowl and mix well. Adding milk and stir to combine.
  3. Place the remaining flour on a plate. Dredge the hot dogs through the flour, then place them into the batter. Coat them with batter and drip off the excess.
  4. Carefully place them in the frying pan and cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and repeat with all remaining hot dogs.
  5. Serve with ketchup or mustard.
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Angry Orchard BBQ Sauce

Angry Orchard BBQ Sauce

There is something about summer and warm weather that just screams BBQ sauce. It’s thick and sweet, tangy and sassy. My favorite thing is slathering it quite liberally over ribs or chicken, then broiling them so they get a nice, caramel-like crust. And while you may think BBQ sauce is delicious – nectar of the BBQ gods, if you will – you have no idea until you’ve tried homemade BBQ sauce. It’s a completely different animal.

Angry Orchard BBQ Sauce

I made a root beer version last summer and have been using it on basically everything ever since. But a recent influx of Angry Orchard in my fridge had me interested in trying a new variation, so I went with Angry Orchard BBQ sauce this time around. I used some of their crisp apple flavor in place of the root beer. I then took the BBQ sauce off to Vegas and married it. Or at least I would have, if Vegas wasn’t so far away. This sauce, man. It is amazing. The hard cider is sweet with just a hint of tarty flavor. I globbed it onto some chicken for lunches this week and then promptly ate all of it. I couldn’t wait.

Angry Orchard BBQ Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 vidalia onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 cup crisp apple Angry Orchard
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. molasses

Instructions

  1. Heat canola oil over medium high in a pan. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and cook until fragrant, another 30 seconds.
  2. Add in smoked paprika and stir until the onions are coated.
  3. Add in the Angry Orchard and cook 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in ketchup, brown sugar and molasses and cook 15 more minutes until thicken.
  5. Transfer to a jar. Keep refrigerated.
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Eggplant Parmesan Bites

Eggplant parmesan bites are an excellent, bite-sized appetizer fit for any time of day or night.

Eggplant Parmesan Bites 

Eggplant is one of those really polarizing vegetables. A person either loves it or hates it, for the most part. And for many, many years, I fell into the camp of people who hated it. It just tasted bland, flavorless and boring. I’d always give it a second chance, grabbing one or two at the farmer’s market to test. And every year, the same results stuck. I couldn’t make myself like eggplant.

Then a few months ago, I decided it was time to try it once more. Joanne posted this Italian wedding soup that included some plump, crispy looking eggplant meatballs. I didn’t make the soup but pulled together a batch of the meatballs for our dinner in the evening. Let me tell you, these meatballs did NOT disappoint. All those other eggplant dishes I’d tried previously were forgotten. I now loved eggplant.

Eggplant Parmesan Bites

I think I’d probably never prepared eggplant properly before, hence the hatred. It needs a loving hand, a generous seasoning, a little breading. After the meatballs, I started buying eggplant regularly. This iteration – these eggplant parmesan bites – may be my favorite version of the nightshade. Crispy, perfectly seasoned, bite-sized and served up alongside a generous heaping of marinara, they make an excellent appetizer for any party. And here is the best part: eggplant is so hearty, you don’t realize the meat is missing. I know, it sounds silly. But I’ve tricked quite a few people with those meatballs and these bites are welcome at our dinner table most nights. Win for me!

Eggplant Parmesan Bites

Yield: Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 eggplant, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • oil for frying
  • marinara sauce for serving

Instructions

  1. Place the eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let it sit and release some moisture for 15 minutes. Combine breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.
  2. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. There should be at least an inch of oil in the pot.
  3. While it heats, take the eggplant and toss it in the flour. Run the eggplant through the eggs to coat, then toss them in the breadcrumb mixture to coat.
  4. Place some of the eggplant in the oil. Be sure not to overcrowd the pot. Once golden, remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with more eggplant until all has been fried.
  5. Serve with marinara sauce.
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Salted Watermelon Skewers

Say hello to summer and warm weather with a perfectly easy and delicious treat: salted watermelon skewers. 

Salted Watermelon Skewers

It feels a bit like cheating, sharing this and calling it a recipe. It’s far too simple to be considered a recipe, but far too delicious to keep to myself. With summer really approaching, we need more healthy and light snackshealthy and light. As much as I love a good, messy ice cream sandwich, I really can’t eat one (or two because really, who eats just one?) and then hop in the pool or hit the beach. They’re too heavy and I’d sink like a rock.

And so I’m sharing these salted watermelon skewers for you instead. Now, I’ve got a few great ice cream sandwich recipes in the works but this one, this has to be the summer kick-off treat to share. I know it sounds odd, sprinkling coarse sea salt on top of sweet watermelon. But there is genius to it. The salt actually brings out a sweetness in the watermelon, making it only more delicious.

These are perfect for tossing together on the fly and bringing to the beach of eating poolside. Just slice up some watermelon on a Sunday night, toss it in a container and serve these babies up as you go!

Salted Watermelon Skewers

Ingredients

  • 1 seedless watermelon
  • coarse sea salt
  • wooden skewers

Instructions

  1. Slice the watermelon into large cubes, discarding the rind.
  2. Thread the watermelon onto the skewers. Before serving, sprinkle with sea salt.
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Tomato Jam Style Salsa

Tomato Jam Style Salsa

A few years ago, I was really hyped up about entering this salsa competition at our local garden center. I don’t even really like salsa but the opportunity to show off my cooking prowess was not lost on me. It was a chance for victory. A moment to shine and then to run around like a child, flaunting my victory in the faces of those not fortunate enough to have a really awesome recipe. 

And then I realized I didn’t actually have a good salsa recipe, since I hated salsa.

Tomato Jam Style Salsa

So, you know, there’s that.  I obviously needed a salsa recipe, in case I ever needed to enter another salsa contest. I tried a bunch of different store-brands to see what elements I liked and what I didn’t. The verdict – I basically hated tomatoes. It’s a textural thing, to be sure. They explode like little flavor bombs in your mouth and I just cannot handle that crap. At least that was my stance until about two years ago.

Taste buds change and somehow, I managed to overcome my tomato hysteria, slowly but surely. I still won’t eat a cherry tomato in a salad but at least now, I’ll incorporate tomatoes little by little into my lifestyle. Mostly in tomato bacon jam, my lifeblood. And this salsa. After the tomato bacon jam went over so well with everyone, I figured it was the consistency and decided to salsa it up. The result is a salsa unlike any other. It’s thick and jam-like, but with all the flavors of a traditional salsa. Tomato jam style salsa, so perfect! Plus it is completely customizable in that you can toss just about anything you want in the mix. I’ve yet to experiment with fruits (mangos, peaches, you know). But this is perfect with jalapenos, habaneros or any other type of pepper that will clean out your sinuses. Just in time for allergy season so really, I’m like a savior here.

Tomato Jam Style Salsa

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups white sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small Granny Smith apple, diced
  • 1 ½ tsp. chili powder

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients and stir well. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to low heat. Simmer for 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the salsa has thickened and has a jam-like consistency.
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