Best Ever Fried Chicken

best ever fried chicken

Mike Garten

If you’re looking to add a different flavor note to your fried chicken, add celery seeds, sugar, and salt to the buttermilk marinade! 

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Yields: 10 servings
Total Time: 1 hour 0 mins

Ingredients

1/4 c.

sugar

2

cloves garlic, thinly sliced 

6 c.

low-fat buttermilk, divided 

4 tbsp.

celery seeds, divided 

Kosher salt and pepper

1

whole chicken (5 to 6 lbs), cut into 10 pieces

2 c.

all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp.

cayenne

4 c.

peanut or canola oil, for frying 

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, garlic, 4 cups buttermilk, 2 Tbsp celery seeds, and 1/2 cup salt. Add chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, cayenne, 1 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp pepper, and remaining 2 Tbsp celery seeds. Attach a deep-fry thermometer to a large Dutch oven and heat oil on medium to 325°F. Place remaining 2 cups buttermilk in a second bowl. Working with a couple of pieces at a time, remove chicken from marinade, letting excess drip off. Coat in flour, shaking off excess, then coat in buttermilk and in flour once more. Shake off excess flour and add chicken to oil. Fry chicken until golden brown and cooked through, 4 to 10 minutes depending on piece. Repeat with remaining chicken, adjusting heat to keep oil between 300°F and 325°F.

PER SERVING: 485 calories, 27.5 g fat (6.5 g saturated fat), 37 g protein, 1,005 mg sodium, 21 g carbs, 1 g fiber

COST PER SERVING: $1.83

WD TEST KITCHEN TIP: Dip chicken in marinade and flour twice before frying for a shatteringly crisp crust. Switch it up by adding sugar, salt, and other seasonings to the buttermilk marinade. The oil’s temp drops every time you add chicken—adjust the heat to keep it at 325°F.

Lemony Herb Roast Chicken

Lemony Herb Roast Chicken

Mike Garten

You can never go wrong with preparing a whole chicken for a dinner party or for a special occasion. 

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Yields: 6 servings
Total Time: 1 hour 20 mins

Ingredients

2 tsp.

finely grated lemon zest

2

cloves garlic, pressed

1 tsp.

thyme leaves, chopped

4 tbsp.

unsalted butter, divided, at room temperature 

Kosher salt and pepper

1

whole chicken (4 to 5 lbs), patted dry

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, mash lemon zest, garlic, thyme, 2 Tbsp butter, and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper until combined. With fingers, gently separate skin from breast and thighs of chicken. Place butter mixture under skin and spread evenly. Tie drumsticks together and tuck wings behind breast. Place chicken on a rack fitted into a medium roasting pan. Melt remaining 2 Tbsp butter and brush all over chicken, then sprinkle with 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. Pour 1/4 cup water into bottom of roasting pan. Roast chicken 50 minutes. Reset oven to 425°F; continue to roast chicken, checking to make sure water has not completely evaporated (add another 1/4 cup if necessary), until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F, 15 to 20 minutes. Let chicken rest at least 15 minutes before carving.

PER SERVING: 415 calories, 27 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 40 g protein, 345 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, 0 g fiber

COST PER SERVING: $1.35

Spider Cupcakes

spider cupcakes

Mike Garten

The camp-classic movie, Arachnophobia, crawls to life with this eek-worthy dessert — complete with spun-sugar webs.

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Yields: 12 servings
Total Time: 1 hour 15 mins

Ingredients

12

chocolate cupcakes 

For Frosting
1 c.

(2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp

1

16-oz box confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp.

pure vanilla extract

2 tbsp.

heavy whipping cream

For spiders and webs

Black Royal icing

Purple candy melts

For spiders’ nests
2 1/2 c.

granulated sugar

1/2 c.

water

1/2 c.

corn syrup

Directions

Make frosting: Using an electric mixer, beat butter until fluffy, 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and mix in 1 cup confectioners’ sugar. Increase to high; beat 1 minute. Repeat, adding vanilla and 1 cup sugar. Reduce speed again; mix in cream and remaining sugar. Once incorporated, beat on medium-high speed until creamy and white, 4 minutes. Transfer to a large piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe onto cupcakes. Make spiders: On a large piece of waxed paper, using black Royal Icing, pipe small spider heads, bodies, and legs as well as spiderwebs. Let dry at least 1 hour. To remove, rub a finger under paper to loosen. Make spiderwebs: Melt purple candy melts and transfer to a piping bag. Snip off a corner and pipe webs. Let set, then place on cupcakes. Make spiders’ nests: Fill a large bowl with 3 inches cold water. Line a large baking sheet with a reusable baking mat. Place 4 glasses on either end of long sides of baking sheet. Grease handles of 2 long wooden spoons and balance on glasses over cookie sheet. Place sugar, water, and corn syrup in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Melt sugar on medium, swirling pan. Increase heat and boil, swirling pan occasionally and brushing down sides with water until it reaches 300°F. Immediately place base of pot in cold water until temperature registers 275°F. Working in batches, drag a fork through sugar and wave quickly back and forth over spoon handles to create long strands. Carefully collect strands into a ball with hands and place on top of cupcake. Repeat with remaining sugar syrup.

Avocado Tomato Toast

avocado tomato toast

MIKE GARTEN

You can make this quick and light lunch at work and feel full for the rest of the afternoon.

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Yields: 1 serving
Total Time: 0 hours 10 mins

Ingredients

1/2

scallion, finely chopped

2 tsp.

lemon juice

Kosher salt and pepper

1/2

avocado

1

thin slice whole-grain bread 

1/4 c.

multi-colored cherry or grape tomatoes

Olive oil, for drizzling

Directions

Toss scallion with lemon juice and pinch each salt and pepper. Add avocado and mash together. Toast bread and spread avocado mixture on top. Halve or slice cherry or grape tomatoes and arrange on top. Drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and sprinkle with cracked pepper.

COST PER SERVING: $1.18 

WD TEST KITCHEN TIP: Avocados brown quickly, so turn the remaining half into tasty Green Goddess Dip: In a blender, puree 1/2 avocado with 2 Tbsp each Greek yogurt and parsley, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp salt until smooth, adding water, 1 Tbsp at a time, as necessary. Serve with veggies.

Chocolate Apple Cat Faces

chocolate apple cat faces

Erik Rank

These smiling candy-garnished Chocolate Apple Cat Faces make fresh fruit ever so enticing. 

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Yields: 4 servings
Total Time: 0 hours 25 mins

Ingredients

4

Granny Smith apples

Wooden sticks

1

12-oz bag semisweet chocolate chips

1 tbsp.

shortening

1 c.

chocolate sprinkles

1

chocolate wafer cookie, cut into eights with a serrated knife

8

yellow banana-shaped candies (Runts)

4

pink heart-shaped candies (Runts)

1

tube each pink and white decorating frosting

Directions

Wash and dry apples. Insert the wooden sticks into tops of each apple. Line a baking pan with wax paper.In a saucepan, melt chocolate chips and shortening on low heat, stirring constantly until completely melted.Put sprinkles in a medium bowl. Working with one apple at a time, dip apple into melted chocolate to cover completely. Allow excess to drip off. Coat apple in sprinkles and place on prepared baking pan; Refrigerate until chocolate is set.Spoon remaining melted chocolate into a resealable bag. Snip a small corner from the bag and use chocolate to attach chocolate wafer pieces as ears, yellow candies as eyes, and red candies as noses. Use chocolate to pipe on mouths.Pipe on pink frosting ears and white frosting whiskers.

Candy Apples with Gummy Worms

candy apples with gummy worms

Erik Rank

These ghoulish-looking candy apples are delicious and easy to make. 

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Yields: 4 servings
Total Time: 0 hours 35 mins

Ingredients

4

Grammy Smith apples

Wooden sticks

3/4 c.

praline crunch ice cream topping

1 c.

sugar

1/2 c.

water

Pinch cream of tartar

Green food coloring

4

gummy worms

Directions

Wash and dry apples. Insert the wooden sticks into tops of apples. Line a baking sheet with foil. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the praline crunch topping over foil.In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, and cream of tartar. Bring to a boil, cover, and boil for 3 minutes. Uncover and cook until a candy thermometer reaches 300°F or hard-crack stage, approximately 3 minutes. Remove pan from stove and place in a bowl of hot water. Tint green if desired with a few drops of food coloring.Dip apples, one at a time, into candy to coat. Allow excess candy to drip off then place on prepared sheet. Sprinkle with remaining praline crunch and add gummy worms. Repeat with remaining apples and ingredients. Let apples cool completely before peeling from the foil.

Bewitching Candy Truffles

truffles

Erik Kran

Truffles turn spooky when they’re covered in candy melts and chocolate, then decorated with frosting to create bats, pumpkins, mummies, and Frankenstein faces.

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Yields: 32 servings
Total Time: 0 hours 50 mins

Ingredients

Truffles
3/4 c.

heavy cream

10

oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

4 tbsp.

unsalted butter, softened

To Decorate
6

oz each white, green, and orange candy melts

1/2 c.

each semisweet chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and green candy melts

2 tbsp.

each yellow and red candy melts

1/2 c.

unsweetened cocoa powder

Chocolate wafer cookies, cut into wing shapes with serrated knife

Directions

Truffles
In a medium saucepan, bring cream to a boil on medium. Remove from heat and add chocolate and butter. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Uncover and stir until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.Shape truffle mixture into 1-inch balls using a small ice cream scoop or spoon. Place balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until hard.

To Decorate
Line a baking sheet with parchment. In three separate microwave-safe bowls, melt the white, green, and orange candy melts and chocolates at 50% power in 30-second intervals, until melted and smooth.In five separate microwave-safe bowls, melt chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and green, yellow, and red candy melts at 50% power in 30-second intervals, until melted and smooth. Transfer each to a resealable bag with the corner snipped off.

BATS: Roll eight truffles in cocoa powder to coat. Press two chocolate cookie wafer pieces into each truffle as wings. Set onto prepared baking sheet, then pipe on yellow eyes and white fangs.

MUMMIES: Coat eight truffles in melted white chocolate. Set onto prepared baking sheet, then drizzle melted white chocolate over top. Pipe on brown eyes and sprinkle with cocoa powder.

FRANKENSTEIN: Coat eight truffles in green candy melts. Set onto prepared baking sheet, then pipe on brown, red, and green Frankenstein faces.

PUMPKINS: Coat eight truffles in orange candy melts. Set onto prepared baking sheet, then pipe on brown Jack-O-Lantern faces and green vines.  

Crude-It├ęs with Green Slime Dip

Crude-Ités with Green Slime Dip

Erik Kran

Getting kids to eat healthier isn’t such a nightmare with tis array of veggies with an herb and onion dip.

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Yields: 12 servings
Total Time: 0 hours 25 mins

Ingredients

Dip
1 c.

packed basil leaves

1/4 c.

packed parsley leaves

1

clove garlic

2

scallions, chopped

1/2 c.

sour cream

1/2 c.

mayonnaise

Kosher salt and pepper

Green food coloring (optional)

Crude-Ités
1

bunch celery

1

head Belgian endive, separated into leaves

1

head radicchio

1 lb.

carrots, cut into sticks

1

seedless cucumber, cut into sticks

1

each red, yellow, and orange peppers, cut into strips

1 c.

green beans, stem ends snipped and boiled to crisp-tender

Directions

Make dip: Combine basil, parsley, garlic, scallions, and sour cream in a blender. Blend until creamy, scraping down side as necessary. Pour mixture into a bowl. Whisk in mayonnaise and season with salt and pepper. Tint a brighter green with food coloring if desired. (Cover and refrigerate overnight if desired.)To assemble: Arrange vegetables in a serving bowl so they stand up. Cover with moist paper towels and refrigerate until ready to serve with dip.

Cheesy Spiders

cheesy spiders

Erik Kran

These cheesy spiders have breadcrumb fur and chow mein noodle legs, making them a great finger food, or a melty-crunchy garnish on top of bubbling bowls of stew.

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Yields: 24 servings
Total Time: 0 hours 10 mins

Ingredients

1

8-oz package cream cheese, softened

1

16-oz package shredded cheese

Black paste food coloring

1

3.5-oz package round rice crunch crackers (or 24 of any round cracker) 

1

cup chow mein noodles

Directions

Mix 2 tablespoons softened cream cheese with food coloring to tint black. Spoon into a resealable bag; set aside.Beat remaining cream cheese with all but 1 cup of the shredded cheese until blended. Shape mixture into 1 1⁄4-inch balls.Place remaining shredded cheese in a shallow bowl. Roll balls in cheese to coat. Place one ball on a cracker. Insert 8 chow mein noodles into each ball as legs of the spider. Snip a very small corner from the bag with black cream cheese., then pipe eyes on each spider.

MAKE AHEAD: Do not put on crackers until ready to serve. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight.

Witch’s Potion

witch's potion

Erik Kran

Pomegranate juice adds ghoulish appeal to this pitcher-perfect Witch’s Potion made with lemonade, lemon-lime soda, and red decorating gel.

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Yields: 8 cups
Total Time: 0 hours 10 mins

Ingredients

8 c.

ice

1

1-liter bottle lemon-lime soda

1 qt.

lemonade

1 c.

pomegranate juice

2

tubes red decorating gel

Directions

Place ice cubes in a large pitcher or glasses. Add soda and lemonade and stir to blend.Gently add pomegranate juice at the top of the pitcher or glasses to keep the color concentrated.Squeeze some gel on the lip of the glasses and pitcher.