When a recipe fails – Fried chicken (cooking challenge)

Cracker Barrel style fried chicken strip recipes made to look like a smiley face with barbecue sauce

A few weeks ago, I tried the Cracker Barrel fried chicken and well, I may have just fallen in love a tiny bit. For a chain restaurant, that may be a first even, but I really enjoyed the crispy coating and it seemed like the perfect fried chicken to replicate for this challenge.

When it came time to do so, we had company and again, I thought, “hey, this lines up pretty nicely,” especially considering one of the kids only eats chicken. “Perfect.” And the recipe I found that claimed to be a copycat of it? Looked great!

I decided last minute to try to bake it instead of fry it, though, and it was a HORRIBLE mess. Sure, it tasted okay, but it looked horrible. Parts of it were still powdery and most of the coating stuck to the pan, despite taking precautions.

Baked chicken mess on aluminum foil

In my book, definitely a failure….so much so that I didn’t even consider taking a picture until I was clearing the table and it was mostly gone already. And then I only took a picture to show the mess, ha.

Failed baked fried chicken recipe with buttermilk pancake batter

See? Not exaggerating.

I woke up a few mornings later, though, and decided that before I even scrounged around for breakfast, I’d toss another few strips of chicken into a milk bath to soak. I didn’t bother measuring out seasonings this time. I didn’t even use half of them. It was a spur of the moment thing and I figured I had a 50/50 shot of convincing myself to even cook it later that day. Maybe I’d say ‘screw it’ and microwave it for the dog instead.

But by lunch time, I did want to fry them. I really wanted to see if it was the difference between baking and frying that made the recipe work. And turns out, it was.

Fried chicken tender strips in the sunshine

I started arranging the pieces on a lovely white plate, as all food bloggers are supposed to, and at some point midway through, I asked my sister “What am I doing?! That’s not how I do this.”

At which point, I headed for the smiley face sauce:

Fried chicken strip smiley face like Cracker Barrel secret recipe

Phew. Personality confusion crisis averted. Much better.

And the taste? Soooo much better than it was when I baked it. This was definitely a case where the batter wasn’t going to hold well without being tossed into super hot oil so that it’d hold in a single piece around the chicken….without actually sticking to the chicken at all.

Bite of chicken with buttermilk batter crust peeling off

See how it’s not really touching around most of the chicken?

Anyway, this was sooo much better, both in presentation and taste departments. The double-dipping in the batter was worth the little bit of extra time and for once, this is a recipe I’ll likely repeat.

Speaking of, here’s the recipe and the linky at the bottom for the Cooking Challenge.

  • 4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce (used another hot sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (didn’t add)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 frying chickens (about 3 pounds each), cut up (used breasts instead)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (you think I actually measured this stuff? pfft)
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (made my own)
  • Olive oil or vegetable oil, for frying

The directions can be found here: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Double-Dipped-Buttermilk-Fried-Chicken-358138  I didn’t follow half of them, though. I did let it set for a few hours. I did fry it. And that’s about it. Cook it like normal chicken….nothing special.

Also, this looks like a cartoon fish:

Chicken that looks tastes like fish instead

If you don’t see it, that’s probably a good thing….

Crazy cooking challenge logo

Every toddler mommy needs a hot dog cutter

barbecue, kids, products, summer | June 22, 2012 | By


No, I’m not being sarcastic either. Really.

Hot dogs are one of those strange foods that kinda creep me out when it comes to letting kids eat them. Unfortunately, I’m not even talking about nutrition. How many hot dogs you feed your kids is your own business and I‘m not going to judge at all much. ;)

No, actually it’s the slippery, slimy texture and kids’ tendencies to take bites too big that cause my hear to skip a beat or two when I see parents hand over whole dogs to their one year olds. And if I’m watching your kid, you better believe it will always be cut right down the middle length-wise and then sliced across into several rows.


Which means I need one of these. This is exactly how I cut them and there aren’t any blades either, so even the kids can take care of chopping their hot dogs in one smooth, adorable move.


Come on, it even has a food/water bowl to add in ketchup or other random condiments. Yes, yes, I know it’s a silly, unnecessary unitasker….but for only 6 bucks? You’ll save more than plenty of time by not having to slice every one over the years by yourself, and you won’t have to pull me out of your throat when I jump down it for you not cutting them. :P

Cupcakewurst – What happens when you fill a sausage with cupcake batter instead?

Cupcake cake that looks like a hot dog or sausage bratwurst on a long john doughnut bun and raspberry icing as ketchup

This does. I’m sure plenty of people are completely grossed out by it and I actually ran across it because it disturbed some people so much…

But I think it’s brilliant!

Do I necessarily want to it eat? Nah. Do I think the pictures from before it was cooked look rather gross? Definitely.

But the idea of filling a casing with something completely unexpected, cooking it, then grilling it and adding it another similarly placed dish to turn it into something completely different? Uh, yes please. In case you couldn’t tell, the “bun” in that picture is half a long john donut and the ketchup is a raspberry topping.

And because Stef is awesome, she even gives a full picture tutorial of how to make your own. It might gross you out, but come on, what little boy wouldn’t love that at his next birthday? Scratch that. Father’s Day is here, isn’t it? What guy wouldn’t love to be allowed to have dessert for dinner? :P