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.

Chai Oatmeal with Spiced Pears

Chai Oatmeal with Spiced Pears www.thesoutherninstitute.com

There’s not much that I love more than a hot chai tea made with almond milk from our local coffee shop, Sam and Zoe’s. One look at my debit card statement would quickly give me away. I love a good chai, so when I saw a recipe for chai oatmeal made with almond milk I knew I had to give it a try. I found it on a blog called Healthy Aperture and I could not resist, especially when said oatmeal is also gluten free and is topped with warm, spicy, buttered pears. Oh my goodness, is your mouth watering imagining it?

I’m not one to spend a lot of time making breakfast because our mornings are pretty busy trying to get the boys out the door for school in the morning, but since Abby is home schooled, I decided to make this for our breakfast one morning after the boys had left for school. It was a bit time consuming but the end product was so worth it. It is wonderfully spiced, just like my favorite winter drink, and the pears add a sweet (but not too sweet) fruity flavor that completes the dish perfectly. Click over to Healthy Aperture for the recipe and try this one while we still have cold mornings that call for warm comforting breakfasts.

Christmas Cranberry French Toast Casserole

 

Hello everyone! It’s Tiffany from The Nesting Project here today to bring you a breakfast recipe idea for Christmas morning.

The holidays are perfect for make ahead casseroles, especially when you’re talking about Christmas morning. The last thing you want to do is slave away in the kitchen making breakfast while everyone is having fun unwrapping gifts. There are many great French Toast recipes out there but I was really wanting to come up with a festive seasonal dish that I could make the night before and just pop in the oven with maybe a  pan of bacon and in 30 minutes you have a great Christmas breakfast. The best thing about this is that you don’t have to waste any precious memories. You will be there for every smile and laugh.

Cranberries are an untapped resource for breakfast recipes in my opinion so I decided to create a recipe that used homemade cranberry sauce in a French Toast Casserole. The color is festive and the flavors echo the holiday perfectly. Just pour half into a 13×9 glass baking dish and then top with cubed Italian bread and the egg/mixture. Just remember to take the casserole out of the fridge the morning of and let it come to room temperature.

Merry Christmas to everyone and I wish you peace and blessings in the coming New Year.

Cranberry French Toast Casserole

1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries

1 cup water

1 orange

1 lemon

1 1/2 cups of sugar

1 16 oz loaf Italian bread cubed

5 eggs

2 cups half and half

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the juice and the zest of the orange and lemon. Let it come to a simmer and when the skins of the cranberries split apart lower to a gentle simmer. Stir occasionally for about 20 minutes. When the sauce thickens take it off the heat and let it cool slightly. Butter a 9×13 glass baking dish. Pour half of the cranberry sauce into the bottom.  (reserve the other half to pour  over the top for when you serve the final casserole)

Add the cubed Italian bread on top of the cranberry sauce. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, half and half, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla until combined. Pour on top of the bread evenly. If you are making this the night before then cover it with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Make sure you let it come to room temperature the next morning.

Put in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. You’ll start to see the cranberry sauce bubble and ooze up through the bread. When you cut and serve, invert the slices so the beautiful red cranberry sauce is the first thing your family sees. Enjoy!