Southern Fried Pickles with Chipotle Ranch.

ALDI Summer Road Trip: Fried Pickles

I was born and raised a yankee. Did you know that? Here I am, a native of the Chicago area, blogging at The Southern Institute. How did that happen, you might ask? Pretty typical, really… college. I moved to Nashville in 1993 and, except for the occasional holiday spent at home, I never left. Here I am twenty-two years later, my children are born southerners (which is really strange for me to hear myself say), and I can’t really imagine our family anywhere else. I absolutely LOVE Nashville! Apparently so do a whole lot of other people because it has been chosen by ALDI fans as a stop on their Summer Road Trip! I’m so excited to be the official ambassador for Nashville on ALDI’s Summer Road Trip. It means that I get to share some of my favorite things to do in Nashville with you, as well as share a couple of custom recipes that say “Nashville” to me!

Nashville has a local paper called the Nashville Scene, and each year they have a “You are so Nashville if…” contest where readers can complete the sentence and send it in to the paper. If yours is one of the chosen entries it gets published.

Here’s my unofficial entry: “You are so Nashville if… you have eaten Fried Pickles!”

ALDI Summer Road Trip: Nashville

If you haven’t tried fried pickles, fear not, I have you covered! I am about to share my very own recipe for Fried Pickles with you, and after you make these you can call yourself an honorary Nashvillian!

Here’s what you’ll need:
1 jar of Great Gherkins Kosher Baby Dill pickles
1 cup of Baker’s Corner All Purpose Flour
1 Goldhen Large Egg
1 cup of Friendly Farms Buttermilk (I used fat-free)
salt and pepper to season
Pure Sunflower oil for frying (Carlini Canola Oil or Carlini Pure Olive Oil can be substituted for Pure Sunflower Oil)

For the Chipotle Ranch Dip
1 packet Stonemill Essentials Ranch Salad Dressing and Dip Mix
8 oz. Friendly Farms Sour Cream
1-2 tsp. Benita Whole Chipotle Peppers* (sauce only)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes per batch to fry (approx. two whole pickles total per batch)
Servings: varies

* Ingredients are available while quantities last. All products may not be available in all ALDI stores.

ALDI Summer Road Trip: Nashville

The ingredients are simple and so is the process. Frying pickles isn’t rocket science, but it takes patience to get that crispy fried coating that makes them taste so amazing.

Start by heating the sunflower oil in a deep saucepan over medium to high heat. You’ll need the oil to be at least 3″ deep, and you’ll want to have a candy/frying thermometer to measure the temperature. While your oil is heating to about 350 degrees, slice several pickles into 3/8″ pieces. You don’t want them to be thinner than that because you need them to keep a bit of their crunch. Use a paper towel to absorb the excess pickle juice.

One thing that I noticed about the Great Gherkin’s Kosher Baby Dills sold at ALDI is that they have no dyes added to them! It’s hard to find a pickle on the market that does not use yellow 5 to color their pickles, but ALDI uses all natural turmeric extract for color and I LOVE THAT! It’s just one more reason for me to shop at ALDI. If you’re not familiar with them, get to know them on Facebook and Twitter!

ALDI Summer Road Trip: Nashville

Combine the egg with the buttermilk in a bowl. Place flour in a Ziploc freezer bag and season with salt and pepper. Dip the pickles in the buttermilk mixture then drop them into the bag of flour. Close bag tightly and give them a good shake, making sure to coat the pickle slices well. Remove the pickles from the bag and set them on a plate or cutting board. Repeat the process of dipping the pickle slices in the egg mixture and coating them in flour, shaking well and coating them well. This gets pretty messy, but it’s worth it, trust me!

ALDI Summer Road Trip: Nashville

When the oil reaches a temperature of 350 degrees you can start frying. Gently lower the pickle slices into the oil in small batches and allow to cook until they are a golden brown. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and allow to dry on paper towels.

While the next batch is cooking you can be mixing up the Chipotle Ranch, which will only take a couple of minutes to prepare. In a bowl, combine the sour cream and 1/2 of one packet of ranch salad dressing mix. Add 1-2 tsp of chipotle pepper sauce for some kick!

When your pickles are done frying it’s time to dig in! They make a great side to a BBQ sandwich and a cold glass of lemonade, I can vouch for that. There’s nothing more southern than frying pickles. It takes me back to my first year in Nashville as a college student. I had fried pickles for the first time at Melrose Lanes, while bowling with friends. I could not believe how good they were then and I still love them now. So give them a try this week…your family will love them!

ALDI Summer Road Trip: Nashville

This post is sponsored by ALDI.

A Mid Summer Party.

A Midsummer Party

Although I homeschool Abby, she spent last year attending a homeschool tutorial program, which was a huge blessing and just exactly what she needed. Honestly, it was an answer to my prayers. As moms, we can all remember what it was like to be a middle school girl. So much revolved around our friendships- they were a huge part of our lives, weren’t they? My prayer has been that Abby would find friends that shared her beliefs and interests, friends that she could grow with during the middle school and high school years, friends that I felt good about her spending time with. Last year she made those kinds of friends, but the end of the year was bittersweet, as half of the girls in her small class are moving on to another program with her, but half are going to be attending other programs. I wanted to give them a chance to get together this summer, so Abby and I decided to have a mid summer party for her and her friends. Happily, all but two were able to make it, but they were certainly missed!

FG spread

I wanted this party to be special for the girls. After all, they are a pretty unique group. They are the sweetest, kindest twelve year old girls I know. Feather Grey Party Shop was kind enough to send the party supplies for our little get together, and they were absolutely perfect for the occasion! The Pink Sparkle Party plates and napkins were just girly enough for Abby without being over the top, and I though the they were just right for a middle school party. They had a little bit of sparkle, were not at all childish, and the pink and gold suited a summer theme beautifully. There were adorable paper straws with stars on them, and pink and gold glittered circle confetti for the table…perfect!

FG supplies

The first thing that the girls did was to make their own ice cream float treats (ala Handmade Charlotte) called Flonanzas. I got the recipe from Rachel Faucett’s new Good Housekeeping TV class called Class In a Box. These were AMAZING!!! The girls loved them, and I can vouch for the fact that they were the most delicious and refreshing, fruity summertime treat I’ve had in a long time. We’ve made them again since the party- they’re that good!

Making Flonanzas | www.thesoutherninstitute.com

Doesn’t this look sooooo good? There’s that cute straw I mentioned earlier. It was perfect for the Flonanza treats!

Flonanza

After nearly making themselves sick on ice cream floats, the girls got busy making friendship bracelets for each other. Abby and I had gone to the store and bought a variety of bright, fun colors of embroidery floss for this little project. It was a great activity for the girls to do as they sat around the table and talked about how goofy boys are, laughed, and ate sugar cookies. I stayed out of the way like a good mom should (eavesdropping), smiling to myself, and remembering what it was like to be a twelve year old girl, laughing with my best friend. It made me so glad that I had taken the time to make this a special afternoon for Abby.

friendship bracelets

I snapped a few pics of the girls fooling around with the photo booth props that Feather Gray sent us to play with. They were cracking themselves up.

Feather Grey photo props

Soon enough, the moms started to come to pick up their daughters. The girls hugged and said their goodbyes and us moms promised to get them together again before school started. I’m looking forward to many more fun times with these girls!

Thanks to Feather Grey Party Shop for sending the party supplies for our Mid Summer Party! They were just perfect! Please visit their shop to see more…they have several different themes for children and grown ups alike.

What Do You Do When Your Child Doesn’t Excel In Sports?

kids and sports

What do you do when your child is in sports but they aren’t very good at it? What can you do to encourage them when their heart is just not in it but they still have to finish out the season? That’s what I’m sharing about at the Wishing Well blog. It can be frustrating as a parent to watch your child struggle during the season. Click on over for some suggestions for what you can do when your child is having a hard time in their chosen sport. See you at The Wishing Well!