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What’s your favorite fried food?

I’ve got fried food on the brain today. Maybe it’s because I haven’t eaten much today, or maybe it’s because I just love anything fried to a golden brown and crispy. I mean, what’s not to like? Of course, cardiologists and personal trainers dissuade eating this stuff, but we all do at some point. So rather than go into my favorite fried foods (I’ll do that soon), I wanted to pose this to you readers–give me your favorite fried food item, either something that you make yourself or order in a restaurant. E-mail me at mikeyskitchen@gmail.com and I’ll publish them next week…..stop it, you guys are making me hungry!

Product review: Planter’s Five Alarm Chili Peanuts

Chef JimMy wife will tell you I’m a sucker for snack foods, particularly new snack foods. The marketing folks have me at “new” when it comes to anything salty and/or crunchy and/or crispy. Throw in spicy, and, well, they may as well have a my bank account number.

Such was the case last week when I saw the new Planter’s “Five Alarm Chili” dry roasted peanuts. I’m just now getting over a bad cold and haven’t been able to properly taste food since buying these, but now I can taste them, and man, are they good. I’ve always loved dry roasted nuts, but Planter’s does them especially well for some reason. Maybe it’s because nuts is what they do.

But I was especially impressed with the fact that these nuts boast a spicy flavor when called “Five Alarm” and, well, they aren’t messing around. On a scale of 1 to 10 as it relates to standard packaged spicy food, I’d say these nuts are about a 7.5 or 8. You novices will need a big glass of water. You pros won’t be able to stop eating them. Not only are they addictive based on taste, but the tingling in your mouth from the spice will also have you reaching for the jar several times.

So if you’re looking for a satisfying snack while watching college basketball this weekend, go for these spicy nuts….would Mikey steer you wrong?

Cajun Chicken Fettucine

This is one of those dishes that, when I think about it, makes my mouth start to water. Anything spicy and creamy at the same time that has a mound of pasta is good dude food in my book. This was originally published on Grub for Guys this past summer, but it might be more of a cold-weather dish. Anyway, give this a try and let me know what you think:

Fettuccine Alfredo is one of those dishes you can only eat once in a while, because it has enough butter and cream and cheese to clog your arteries on the spot. But man, does it ever taste good. But for as good as the standard Alfredo is, the Cajun version is even better if you like spicy food. Actually, it borders on being the food equivalent of crack. I’ve experimented with my own Alfredo sauces, and I just recently attempted a Cajun version….it passed the test of both my wife and I, so I hope you’ll give it a shot. You might try washing it down with an amber colored beer or even a light red wine like a Chianti.

Ingredients
1/2-pound fettuccine pasta (or one 9oz. fresh kind like Buitoni)
1/2 stick butter (I don’t mess around, there is nothing like the real thing)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 raw jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced (with seeds)
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup whole milk
1 wedge Laughing Cow cheese
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped
1 cup cooked grilled chicken, cut into small chunks (pre-packaged grilled strips are fine)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt & ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions and set aside. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt butter and then add olive oil. Add jalapeno and sauté for a minute or so. Add flour and stir for 30 seconds, then whisk in cream, milk, Laughing Cow cheese, and chipotle peppers. Stir until sauce begins to thicken, about 2-3 minutes. If it thickens too fast, add a bit more milk until it reaches your desired consistency, which should be creamy but not runny. Add chicken, Parmesan, salt and pepper, then stir in cooked pasta and warm until heated through. Serves 2-4, depending on size of who you’re feeding and how hungry they are, and the recipe is easy to double.

Bullz-Eye blog ranks most addictive breakfast cereals

Chef JimYou know that feeling when you eat a cereal, usually a sugar-laden one, when you get to the bottom of the bowl and want to fill it up again? That’s what this awesome list of the most addictive breakfast cereals on the Bullz-Eye.com blog talks about.

It’s a great list, but I bet you could all think of at least 5-10 more off the top of your head that you like better. One of the readers mentions Lucky Charms, which happens to be the only cereal our 3-year son old will eat. Lucky for me (no pun intended), I bought him a box of the Chocolate Lucky Charms recently and he won’t touch them. Hmmm….of course, I needed an afternoon snack so I’ve just polished off two bowls as I wrote this. Yum.

White bread MIA

First of all, what I’m going to discuss here is going to sound somewhat hypocritical. And that’s because as of January 1, I’ve been trying to *mostly* eat clean–which means a very healthy diet that is low in sugar, refined carbs and fat. Kind of like South Beach or the new Weight Watchers but without sugar substitutes or counting, respectively. One of the things this diet entails is eating whole grains, including bread that is all natural with whole wheat or rye or other grains front and center. Trader Joe’s has excellent bread like this that has little or no preservatives either.

Anyway, let’s face it. If you grew up eating white bread like most of us baby boomers did, you sometimes just have to have white bread. In addition, our 3-year-old son is not keen on whole wheat bread and we like to make sure he eats some bread. I know this is the wrong message to send him at a young impressionable age, but still. Anyway, recently I went out in search of Wonder bread to buy our son for his sandwiches, and what I found were rows and rows of all whole wheat, fiber-added, whole grain white, or otherwise brownish-tinted white bread. Sorry, that ain’t white bread.

The one I wound up getting was Wonder “Smart White,” which is made with regular wheat flour and has wheat gluten and cottonseed fiber added to give it an obscene 5 grams of fiber per two slices. At this point, why wouldn’t you just go for the real thing? But I digress.

I wasn’t compelled to write about this until my wife brought home Thomas’ English muffins over the weekend. These, by the way, are also not available in classic white versions anymore. Oh, they’re white, but the ones she bought were called “Triple Health,” meaning they are 100 calories, high in fiber and low in sodium. Blech. These have farina and wheat gluten and oat cellulose added. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it? Well, I tried one of these yesterday and it toasted up unusually crispy with little flavor and almost no real substance. It was like eating a large, aerated cracker. Triple Health to me is not this English muffin. Blech.

I should add, however, that she also bought a loaf of Village Hearth Italian bread, and voila–this is real white bread as I remember it!

The moral of this story? If you have a hankering for real white bread and you have to spend an hour in the bread aisle trying to find what you need, just look for the I-word–Italian. My brother-in-law, who likens whole wheat bread to sawdust, and I, have this conversation regularly about white bread and why it just tastes good. Many whole wheat breads do as well, but sometimes white bread makes more sense to the sandwich you are making, or to your own nostalgic palate at any given time.

The last few days, I’ve been under the weather with a nasty cold, and when I am, I typically have a hard time sticking to a healthy eating plan (contrary to what I should be doing to get better!). So today I had a peanut butter sandwich with that Italian bread and it was awesome. And now, I can go back to my whole wheat ways for a while, until that white bread hankering hits me again. How about you?

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