| story and food styling by Beth Maya |
| photography by Alex Lepe |
Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you have embraced 2017 with open arms. You have likely made resolutions and are trying diligently to stick to them. Some of the more popular: be more organized, save money. They are certainly noble pursuits. But, the granddaddy of them all: eat healthy. Lose weight. Get fit. On Jan. 1 the gyms are packed, the kale and quinoa have been picked clean at your local supermarket. Your favorite cooking shows are demonstrating how to trade pizza crust for mashed cauliflower.
So I guess now is the part where I admit I'm not being very nice. But truly, I have your best interest at heart (evil, maniacal laughter erupts in the background). Cheat day. I went all in and created some of the most decadent and satisfying cheat day meals. Pick one and set it aside for one cheat day, or keep some of these recipes for later in the year. Heck, make them all in one day if you want. I’m not here to judge. I'm just here to make you hungry.
So, when you're sweating through cardio, shaking through yoga poses, or eating steamed vegetables, remember a few things. This is great for your body and mind, excellent for health and fitness and … there is an ooey gooey cheat day right around the corner.
“THE TWO TIMER” BACON DOUBLE CHEESEBURGER
2 pounds 80/20 ground beef
2 dashes steak sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
4 brioche rolls
Beefsteak tomato sliced into rounds
Red onion sliced into rounds
Softened butter, for spreading, plus 1 tablespoon
8 slices cheddar cheese
4-6 slices cooked peppered bacon, halved
Place the beef in a medium mixing bowl and add steak sauce, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. With clean hands, mix the meat well. Set aside.
Next, slice the rolls in half and spread each half with some softened butter. Place the rolls face-down on a skillet over medium heat. Lightly grill the rolls so they're nice and golden. Let the rolls cool on a plate until you need them.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter. Form the beef mixture into 8 super-thin patties and place in the skillet, in batches if needed. Allow each to cook about 3 minutes on the first side, flip them and place a slice of cheddar on to melt.
When the patties are done in the middle, stack two patties per bun, place them on the base of the halved buns. Top each with 2-3 pieces of the bacon and top with the sliced tomato, sliced red onion, and lettuce. Add mayo, mustard or ketchup, and top with the other half of the rolls.
“PRIVATE PARTY” PIZZA
Makes enough for one small, thin crust pizza. Double if you like your pizza thick and bready.
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
Stir dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can. Dump all clumps and floury bits onto a lightly floured surface, and knead everything into a ball.
If you are finding this step difficult, leave the dough in a lightly-floured spot to rest. Put the empty bowl upside-down on top of it, and come back in 2 to 5 minutes, at which point you will find the dough much more pliable.
Knead it for just a minute or two. Lightly oil the bowl where you had mixed it (one-bowl recipe!), dump the dough in, turn it over so all sides are coated, cover it in plastic wrap and leave it undisturbed for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size.
Dump it on a floured countertop, and gently press the air out of the dough with the palm of your hands. Fold the piece into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes.
Sprinkle a pizza stone or baking sheet with coarse cornmeal, and preheat your oven to its top temperature around 550 degrees. Roll out the pizza; toss on whatever topping you like. To keep it simple, use your favorite pizza or marinara sauce and add sliced fresh mozzarella. Sprinkle fresh basil once cooked. Just keep toppings light as to not overwhelm the pizza. Bake it for about 10 minutes until it’s lightly blistered.
“BAD BOYS” BACON MAC AND CHEESE
16 ounces elbow macaroni
1⁄2 cup butter
1⁄2 cup flour, sifted
4 cups milk
2-3 teaspoons hot sauce
16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
16 ounces cooked crumbled bacon
Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs, for topping (optional)
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese for topping (optional)
Cook macaroni according to box directions and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add flour and stir constantly until smooth.
Turn heat to medium, and add milk, stirring constantly until thick (about 10 minutes).
Add hot sauce. Stir until mixed in evenly.
Add pasta, bacon and cheese. Mix until cheese melts, bacon is mixed in, and pasta is evenly coated.
Pour macaroni and cheese into a 9x13 baking dish and top according to taste.
Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes. (If using Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs, take it out when the top looks lightly browned. If using cheddar cheese topping, take out when top becomes darkened, but not burnt.)
“JUICY GOSSIP” FRIED CHICKEN
1/3 cup water
About 1 cup hot red pepper sauce, Louisiana hot sauce or Texas Pete
2 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon pepper
1-2 1/2 pounds chicken, cut in pieces
Oil, for frying, preferably peanut oil
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the water. Add enough hot sauce so the egg mixture is bright orange. In another bowl, combine the flour and pepper. Sprinkle the chicken with the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Dip the seasoned chicken in the egg, and then coat
well in the flour mixture.
Heat the oil to 350 degrees in a deep pot. Do not fill the pot more than 1/2 full with oil.
Fry the chicken in the oil until brown and crisp. Dark meat takes longer than white meat. It should take dark meat about 13 to 14 minutes, white meat around 8 to 10 minutes. Check temperature of chicken; make sure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
“OUT OF SIGHT OUT OF MIND” SHINER BOCK BATTERED ONION RINGS
4 cups canola, vegetable or peanut oil
1 1/2 teaspoon pepper, fresh cracked
2 teaspoons salt
2 yellow onions, sweeter the better, Vidalia or Texas sweets
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon garlic, granulated
12 ounces Shiner Bock
In a Dutch oven heat oil to 350 degrees.
Cut onions 1/2-inch thick, remove skin, separate into rings and soak in buttermilk for 1 hour.
Combine 1 cup of flour, remaining salt, pepper, and garlic, mix thoroughly. In a medium bowl, combine beer and 1 cup of flour, mix thoroughly.
Remove onion rings from buttermilk, shake off excess, dredge in flour, shake off excess, dip in beer batter. Drop some onion rings in oil and continue process, being sure not to crowd rings as they will stick together. When golden, remove and let drain on paper towels.
Serve with barbecue sauce or any of your favorite dipping sauces.