Chinese Boiled Peanuts- The Gateway to Becoming a True Southener

I was born just outside of Philadelphia, in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. I spent a wonderful 12 years playing in the creek in the backyard, going to the pool every summer day and growing into a young girl fond of the King of Prussia Mall before moving south to Virginia Beach. More fun filled years followed in the southern beach town thru high school before I moved and got swept away and truly “southernized” by the charm of Charleston, South Carolina. I fell in love with the South, the tradition and grace, from the willowing giant oaks filled with Spanish moss to the hospitality of strangers on the uneven cobblestone streets. There were only a few southern ways that I could not adapt- one being those giant mushy goober peas, a southern delicacy – Boiled Peanuts.

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I just could not get passed the soft, gross texture, or that a perfectly good peanut was wasted- how can you possibly beat the innate peanut flavor? However, my husband, who came from even deeper south, Fairhope, Alabama, loves the little boogers and convinced me to make some. I bought a one pound bag and made two different flavors- Cajun and Chinese. The raw green peanuts are harvested late summer but you can still get raw dried peanuts thru the year in most groceries. I immediately had a change of heart when I tasted one of the Chinese boiled boogers.

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Ingredients
1/2 pound raw unshelled peanuts
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 stick cinnamon, about 3 inches in length
1 star anise
1 clove
1 dried chili, optional

Directions
Place the peanuts into a large pot and fill with water, stirring to remove the excess dirt. Drain into a colander, rinse and repeat 3 times. In a heavy bottom pot add the peanuts and pour just enough water to cover. Stir in the soy sauce, sugar, salt, cinnamon, star anise, clove, and dried chili.

Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and then lower temperature to a slow moving boil. Cook for 4-5 hours, checking occasionally that liquid is still covering the peanuts. Add water as needed and cook until desired tenderness. Another method is to use a slow cooker on low for 12 hours.

Serve the peanuts warm; reserving the liquid to store the peanuts in, if you have any leftover. Reheat on a stove with the braising liquid to serve later.

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Like any good southerner, I can accept fault with grace- I was wrong about the celebrated boiled peanut. I fell in love with these suckers. The Chinese flavor profile enhanced the traditional peanut flavor that I could not part with, absolutely addictive.

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With a pile in front of us, Sir Wes and I did not stop eating them until they were gone; barely even a face wipe or a sip of beer. I knew at this point of indulgence that although I have a birth certificate from Pennsylvania, I was truly a Southern girl.

Buffalo Chicken Pierogies

Sheez- fall has come and is almost gone.  We just finished up with the Epcot Food and Wine Festival and our big event of the year, the Walt Disney World Service Celebration, which is a crazy busy time of year and has made time fly by.  Sir Wes was such a champ to take on most of the house chores and help me out so much thru the last few months so I wanted to do something special for him.  Which naturally translates to cooking him something.

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I saw this recipe at Soph n’ Stuff and could not resist another buffalo chicken adventure.  I have mentioned Sir Wes can’t go without wings for more then 2 weeks, so I try to find ways to switch it up.

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Pierogie Dough
Ingredients

•3 cups all-purpose flour
•1 teaspoon salt
•1 egg
•3/4 cup water
•2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preparation

Using a food processor, add all ingredients and pulse, slowly adding water until a solid dough forms.  Move the dough out onto a floured countertop and knead a few times until smooth.  Top with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 30 minutes before rolling and cutting it into rounds.

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Buffalo Chicken Pierogie Ingredients

•1 batch pierogie dough, cut into 36 rounds
•2 cups unsalted mashed potatoes
•1/4 cup frank’s red hot sauce
•1 skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
•1/2 cup all-purpose flour
•1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon garlic powder
•1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
•1 egg
•1 cup vegetable oil, for frying
•1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled into small nuggets
•carrots and celery sticks, for garnish

Preparation

In a bowl, add frank’s red hot sauce to potatoes and combine with a fork. Set aside.

Blend flour, spices, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk egg. Take chicken pieces and coat each in egg mixture, then dredge through flour mixture, coating well.

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. The oil will reach temperature when you drop a pinch of flour into the oil and it sizzles. Working in small amounts at a time, fry the breaded chicken pieces for 2-3 minutes on each side, until the breading is golden brown. Set the pieces aside to drain on a paper towel.

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To assemble the pierogie, place a small amount of the potato mixture in the middle of a dough round. Place a chicken piece and a nugget of blue cheese in the center and fold dough over, sealing the edges with a little water, pressing firmly.

Once they are assembled you can either freeze for later or cook the pierogie right away. Frying them, rather than boiling, will retain the crispiness.

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Pierogies are such a fun, easy thing to make, the kids will love getting their hands dirty with them!

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And more importantly our supportive, wonderful husbands will devour them!  Watch out Mrs. T!!

Buffalo Bacon Chips

I’ve always like to step out of my comfort zone, to avoid what is safe and expected, and to try never to be a stick in the mud.   In an effort to do so, and in appreciation of all the Bacon Fans that I am surrounded by, at home, at work, on Twitter and Facebook, ect. I like to try out new bacon involved recipes, though I don’t typically consume it.  So mostly for my husband and my brother, and anyone else passionately dedicated to both  bacon and Buffalo Chicken Wings, I present you with  Buffalo Bacon Chips.

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This pretty simple- not much of a recipe, just some directions.

  • Center Cut Thick Sliced Bacon (amount is up to you, and the appetite of your guests)
  • Flour
  • Buffalo Sauce

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Preheat the oven to 400.  Place rimmed baking sheet in oven to preheat. Cut bacon slices into 1/4’s and gently dredge them thru flour.  Arrange on the preheated baking sheet and return to oven for 6 minutes.   After the 6 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven and flip bacon to opposite sides.  Return to the oven and continue cooking for about 6 minutes, or until crisp.  Place the buffalo sauce in a shallow bowl.  Carefully pull out the bacon from the oven and with tongs dip the chips into the buffalo sauce.  Arrange the bacon chips on a plate and serve immediately.

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Sir Wes and I did go back and forth over the size to cut the bacon, he of course liked the bigger, longer cuts (cutting a slice in 1/3s) but I gravitated to the more squared off chip.  I also tried to consider that one may not be able to have just one….  thinking of your belt holes Honey…

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A great Superbowl snack- super easy and possibly the most exciting part of the 2013 Superbowl (aside from the commercials possibly).

Enjoy and Happy Pigging out!