Homemade Cracker Jacks

I remember my excitement as a kid when opening a box of Cracker jacks 🎉 I would usually pour all the caramel corn out into a bowl,  just to get to that prize at the bottom (might have done that with cereal too).  Either I’ve become jaded as I’ve gotten older, or the prizes just aren’t that good anymore, but now my excitement is all about that caramel corn!  Well, I’ve decided to bypass the purchasing of a tiny box of Cracker Jacks with its disappointing prize and go straight to making myself an enormous batch of my very own version.  I say “myself”, but I should probably share.  It’s the right thing to do after all.  Probably.  And I can buy my own prize.  I’m a grown up.  (Read more…)

Mexican Caesar Salad

Mexican Caesar Salad 2

When my kids were little and we were living in San Diego, one of our favorite places to eat was El Torito.  I know, I know, we’re in San Diego, home to the best Mexican food in the world, why would we go to a chain restaurant?  This Mexican Caesar Salad (and their sweet corn cakes, but I’m still breaking the code on those)!  Even my then 3 year old daughter could finish off almost an entire bowl of this fantastic salad by herself!  Well, when we moved to New Jersey, El Torito was no longer an option, so I had to break it down for myself.  What results is, if memory serves, an incredible rendition of the best salad I ever ate!  (Read more…)

Shake and Bake Style Pork Chops

I grew up in the 70’s.  I’m not old, I’m a classic.  Anyway, in the 70’s, moms were just getting out into workforce in larger numbers (smoking their Virginia Slims and wearing Charlie! Cologne) and fast and easy meal solutions were really making headway in American kitchens.  There were TV dinners, of course, but there were also a number of instant sauces and coatings designed to make quick meals that tasted (allegedly) homemade.  My favorite of all these had to be Shake ‘n Bake.  Bread crumb seasoning mixes that you used to coat pork or chicken and baked for a “Better Than Frying” fast meal!  The commercials were GREAT, some little kid (with a Southern accent.  It was always a Southern kid) asking Grandma if she (always she, this was the 70’s) could help “fry up” supper.  That’s when Grandma would let the little tyke in on her secret 🤫 She doesn’t fry anymore – she uses Shake ‘n Bake!  Blah blah blah, they cook, the family loves it, “so tender and juicy” exclaims Grandpa.  Then the little tyke blurts out “Its Shake ‘n Bake, and I HELPED”!!

Well tykes, today we’ll learn how to make our own Shake and Bake style pork chops without any of the pesky modified food starch or sodium silicoaluminate (dang it!).  Just as easy, just as crispy, and just as tasty (dare I say more tasty?), as the original without frying!  (Read more…)

Copycat Pepperidge Farms “Croissant” Pizza

Pizza.  A word that makes The Boy’s heart sing 🎶 .  Croissant Pizza.  Not exactly what he was thinking of.  But I have very different pizza dreams.  In the 90’s Pepperidge Farms revolutionized the Pizza Game (in my mind) when they introduced their line of Croissant Pizzas.  Flaky croissant dough, with a slightly sweet, tangy sauce, delicious toppings, MICROWAVED in minutes (this was Jetsons-level science here) in its patented micro-sleeve (woooo… more science!)!  I mean… LOOK AT IT 👀 Wow.

Alas, one day (POOF) they disappeared from freezer shelves.  There was no internet to speak of, so no way to find out why, and no eBay to use to track down that last box of perfection  😢

Well after years of lamenting the loss of this culinary wonder, and without the benefit of a time machine (as a child I was sure I’d have one by now) I decided I HAD to recreate it as best as I could.   I went with really traditional toppings, like you’d find on a 90’s frozen pizza, but hey, classics are classics for a reason!  But you can really do whatever you want! Have fun, try different sauces, different toppings, whatever you want! I mean, how good does salsa as a sauce, spicy ground beef, jalapeños, and monterey  jack cheese sound?!  With a little imagination, you too can have delicious Pepperidge Farms “Croissant” Pizza – without a time machine. Where science fails, we succeed! (Read more…)