Monday, October 20, 2008

Homemade Samplin' Platter

Whenever we, rarely, go out to eat, the appetizer selection is always what I look at first. I am a glutton for appetizers! I typically order an appetizer over an entree. Usually, I feel like I could make any of the entrees at home, but not the appetizers.

However, I no longer can use this excuse. Over the past few months, I've been collecting recipes and experimenting in the kitchen, trying to recreate all of my restaurant favorites. And I'm getting pretty good at it, if I do say so myself. Pretty soon, I'll leave us no reasons to go out to eat. (This is kind of a catch-22 because usually I am the one who wants to go out to eat before anyone else in my family.)

The experiment process has been fun and overwhelmingly successful. My husband and I have always reserved similar foods like this for our date-nights-at-home, but since I've been broadening my appetizer-making horizons, the kids have gotten in on the fun too. A lot of these creations have been made on a Saturday or Sunday night when Eric is home to eat dinner with us. We all sit on the floor and watch a movie and enjoy a fun dinner together.

My newest success was a homemade samplin' platter. It's more of an old-fashioned style though because most restaurants now have much more exotic items in their appetizer repertoire. Ours consisted of pretzel chicken fingers, fried mozzarella wedges, fried zucchini, and fried mushrooms. (Wow, that sure sounds healthy, doesn't it?)
Here is our samplin' platter, in all of its greasy goodness.

And here are the recipes, just in case you'd like to try this recreation in your home.

Pretzel Chicken Fingers
  • 1 lb. chicken breasts, pounded flat and cut into fingers
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T. water
  • 2 t. hot sauce
  • 2 1/2 c. finely crushed pretzel crumbs
  • 1 t. dried thyme
  • 1 t. pepper
  • Canola oil for frying

1. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, water and hot sauce.

2. In a second shallow bowl, mix pretzel crumbs, thyme and pepper.

3. Dip chicken fingers in pretzels, then in eggs, then in pretzels again. For best results, coat the chicken early in the day and let sit in the refrigerator all day. This really helps the breading stay on when frying.

4. Fry chicken in 1 1/2″ of hot oil in a medium-sized skillet. Cook 5 minutes on the first side, 3-4 minutes on the second side.

5. Serve the chicken with any dipping sauces that you like. We really like ranch dressing or a cheese sauce.

Mozzarella Wedges
  • 1/2 lb. block mozzarella cheese, cut into thick slices (about 15)
  • 1 1/2 c. breadcrumbs
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1 t. Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T. cold water
  • dash hot sauce, optional
1. Mix the breadcrumbs and seasonings in a shallow bowl.
2. Whisk together the eggs, water and optional hot sauce.
3. Dip each cheese wedge in eggs, then breadcrumbs. Repeat twice for a total of 3 layers of batter.
4. Fry in 1" hot oil in a skillet for 45 seconds. Flip and fry another 30-45 seconds.

Tempura Batter for Veggies
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 - 2/3 cup ice water
1. Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl, adding water a little at a time to desired consistency. (It should be like pancake batter.) Add any sliced veggies to the bowl and stir to coat. Keep refrigerated until ready to cook.
2. Fry in hot oil, about 45 seconds per side.

When I made this, I only used one pan and added a little new oil in between batches of different foods. I kept everything that was done in a 170 degree oven to keep warm while I worked on the rest. We only had ranch dressing on hand, but you could definitely get creative with the dipping sauces if you wanted.

Some other ideas to add to a homemade samplin' platter would be: quesadillas, nachos, potato skins, or onion strings (I had planned on adding these to our dinner, but I ran out of time). Here are some other recipes I've shared before that would also work well.

On the agenda for this weekend, I am going to attempt to recreate Southwestern eggrolls. This is my absolute favorite restaurant appetizer. If they turn out good, I'll share the recipe next week.

Find more Kitchen Tips over at Tammy's Recipes.

And find more Tightwad Tuesday over at Mary's blog.

For lots more great recipes, visit Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.


Anonymous,  10:18 PM  

Oh, I do want to try those! Bookmarking now!

Sonshine 10:27 PM  

yummy I love doing this with the family and all their tastes. :)

Arlene 12:52 AM  

You're not the only one -- I'm usually the first to suggest going out to eat anywhere, as my family would rather eat home cookin' LOL!

These are great ideas; I'll definitely be giving this a try soon!

Tina 7:26 AM  

I cannot wait to try the pretzle chicken!

Homesteader in Training 7:51 AM  

Oh yummy greasy goodness! It looks really good. I may have to give it a shot.
Thanks for sharing.

Your Frugal Friend, Niki 7:52 AM  

Oh man! My mouth is watering!


Sherry 9:24 AM  

Oh, my! These sound scrumptious! I have a recipe for some boneless buffalo wings like Chili's, if you'd like the recipe. They are out of this world! :D

A happy heart at home 9:54 AM  

Mmmm, looks tasty!


Mary @Raising 4 Godly Men 10:57 AM  

I am for sure going to give this a try. We are needing some goodies for the family fun night and this would be a hit. Thank you for sharing !! My tummy is rumbling now. lol

Blessings in Him<><

Anonymous,  11:40 AM  

This looks absolutely wonderful!! My children will love you for posting this!!! (and for me visiting!! :} )

I'm definitely going to try these. We've tried fried pickles, fried mushrooms, and fried hotdogs. He wanted to try friend mozzarella sticks, but I didn't have the mozzarella!!

Thanks for the recipe!!!


Live.Love.Eat 1:26 PM  

Hi there. Came over from TMTT. I am just like you and LOVE appetizers. These look especially yummy!!!!!

Mrs. Paradis,  7:31 PM  

That looks great.Just like in the resturant!I bet it tasted better than going out.

I am also guilty of wanting to go out to eat but do not do it often.

Lisa@BlessedwithGrace 8:29 PM  

AWESOME! I love appetizers. Thanks for sharing. I am glad you joined the Tempting fun!

lana 11:45 PM  

OH MY LORD!!! You are awesome! Now this looks like my kind of date night at home food!

Anonymous,  11:41 AM  

Great idea!! My husband loves all the fried appetizers, especially mozzarella sticks, or wedges, neat!

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