Randel Cooks

Midwest Home Chef



Copy Cat List

Copy Cat Chick-fil-a Sandwich



Kosher salt (see note)


2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, split horizontally into 4 cutlets

2 teaspoons paprika

2 tablespoons black pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon powdered MSG (optional)

1 cup milk

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons powdered non-fat milk

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 quarts peanut oil

4 soft hamburger buns, toasted in butter

8 dill pickle chips


1. Dissolve 1/2 cup kosher salt (see note) and 1/4 cup sugar in 1 quart of cold water. Place chicken breasts in a zipper-lock bag and add brine. Transfer to refrigerator and let sit for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.

2. Meanwhile, combine paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and MSG (if using), in a small bowl. Set aside

3. Whisk together milk and eggs in a medium bowl. Set aside.

4. Combine flour, non-fat milk powder, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 2 teaspoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons of spice mixture in a large bowl and whisk until homogenous. Drizzle 3 tablespoons milk/egg mixture into flour mixture and rub with fingertips until the flour mixture is coarse like wet sand.

5. In a large wok, deep fryer, or Dutch oven, preheat oil to 350°F.

6. Remove chicken breasts from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Season on all sides with remaining spice mixture. Transfer to milk mixture and turn to coat. Working one cutlet at a time, allow excess milk mixture to drip off then transfer to flour mixture. Turn to coat, pile extra mixture on top of cutlet, and press down firmly to adhere as much mixture as possible to the meat. Lift cutlet, shake off excess flour, then slowly lower into hot oil. Repeat with remaining breasts.

7. Cook, turning breasts occasionally until golden brown and crisp on all sides, and chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

8. Place 2 pickles on each bottom bun and a fried chicken cutlet on top. Close sandwiches, then cover with an overturned bowl or aluminum foil and allow to rest for 2 minutes to steam buns. Serve immediately.

Dayton Style Pizza

Royal Thin Crust Pizza

by Melissa Slyh • July 22, 2015 • 96 Comments

If you grew up or lived in Central Indiana at any point, you’ve probably had Pizza King pizza. For many of us, it is the BEST pizza around. If you’re not from the area, you probably won’t understand the hype. To me, it tastes like home.

As a lot of you know, there are two types of Pizza King pizza, the Muncie/New Castle region and the Lafayette region. They are both similar, but they do have their differences. I grew up in the Muncie/New Castle region, and that’s the version I prefer.

Since moving from Indiana, I have longed for Pizza King pizza. When I have visited Indiana, I have made it an immediate destination to relieve my craving. We have even mastered the art of bringing some of the glorious pizza back home with us. When family and friends come to visit us in South Carolina, it is our number one request when visitors offer to bring something from home.

While they do offer to ship pizzas, it can be rather pricey. Who can blame them? They’re shipping precious cargo! So for the past year, I’ve been on a mission to create my own version of the pizza. The time has come…


You’re welcome…

Royal Thin Crust Pizza


Pizza Crust:
2 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

*A lot of times I will use a store-bought pizza crust instead of making it from scratch.  I don’t always have the time nor patience to make crust.  Some grocery stores have fresh pizza dough in their deli or bakery areas.  If you choose this route, roll the dough out thinly, and be sure to still prick the dough with a fork to keep it from puffing up during the par-bake.  Cooking temperature may vary depending on what the package states.

Preheat the oven and a pizza stone on 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Crust Flour

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.

Crust Dough

Slowly and gradually stir in the water and olive oil. Form into a ball and allow to rest for about 10 minutes.

Rolled Pizza Dough

Roll the dough out onto a flour dusted surface with a rolling pin dusted with flour. The dough should be pretty thin. Roll it out to about 16 inches in diameter. You can trim the edges off to make a round circle.

ParBaked Dough

Carefully transfer the dough to the preheated pizza stone. Allow the dough to bake for about 5 minutes.

For the Sauce:
1-6 oz can tomato paste (I used Red Gold brand)
6 oz water

Sauce on Pizza Dough
Combine the tomato paste and water and stir well. Using a ladle spread the sauce out on the pre-baked pizza dough. Be sure to spread the sauce clear to the edges of the pizza.

For the toppings:
8 oz ground pork sausage
1 tsp dried rosemary

1/2 tsp fennel seed
½ tsp dried dill
½ cup chopped pepperoni
½ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup finely chopped mushrooms
½ cup finely chopped green bell peppers
½ cup finely chopped red bell peppers
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded provolone cheese
Extra ½ tsp dried dill

Brown sausage
On medium heat, brown the ground sausage until cooked through. Be sure to break up the sausage into very small pieces.

Using a mortar and pestle, crush the rosemary, fennel seeds and dill. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can rough chop carefully. When chopping with a knife, the fennels seeds tend to flip everywhere. (You could also pulse a few times in a spice grinder.)

Add the seasoning to the sausage. Cook about another minute. Then remove from heat.

Cheese on Pizza Dough

Spread the cheeses evenly over the sauce. Sprinkle the extra ½ tsp of dried dill over the cheese, evenly.

Sausage on Pizza

Next spread the rest of the toppings evenly over the cheese.

Bake on 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15-18 minutes.

Royal Thin Crust Pizza

Cut into the famous square shapes.

I hope you enjoy this little piece of home!


Mall Soft Pretzel

Family Favorite – Second Attempt

So I have looking for a true soft pretzel recipe, but the first try has not the family’s favorite but the latest recipe is a winner.  Used 4 cups or unbleached AP flour, make sure water bath did not kill yeast at 110 degrees and let rest and rise 30 minutes before hitting the hot oven.  Brush on butter once out of the oven for firmer pretzels and brush on more unsalted butter to make softer pretzels which is the trick for traditional mall pretzels.

Better Second Try which is Family Favorite.


For pretzel dough

1. 4 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour for softer or 2 cups AP and 2 cups unbleached bread flour for firm texture.

2. 2 1/2 tsp of salt

3. 3 tsp instant yeast (2 tsp yeast and 1 tsp instant yeast)

4. 5 packed Tbsp. of brown sugar

5. 5 tsp of baking powder

6. 1 1/4 cups of warm water plus an addition 1-2 Tbsp if needed just add water to your hand while kneading

For water bath

1. 4 cups of warm water around 110 degrees so not to kill the yeast.

2. 1/3 cup baking soda

Topping after water bath

1. Coarse sea salt


1. 1/2 stick of butter melted for brushing


1. In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix flours, salt, yeast, sugar and baking powder until combined. With mixer running on low speed stream in 1 1/4 cups warm water and continue to knead dough until combined, then an additional 5-7 minutes, until smooth and elastic. The dough should be soft, slightly tacky but not sticky. If after a minute or two of kneading, the dough feels very stiff or dry add additional water a Tbsp at a time or if it is really sticky add a Tbsp of flour at a time until right texture. I usually don’t have to add additional water unless the air is very dry and cool.

2. Alternately: you can initially mix ingredients in a bowl, to form a cohesive ball, then turn out on the counter and knead until smooth and elastic, following remainder of directions.

3. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and allow rest/rise for about an hour in a warm place. It doesn’t have to double. (but I waited till doubled)

4. Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large pan, begin bringing the 4 cups of water to just about a simmer- you don’t want it really hot just really warm. Prepare baking sheets- use parchment paper or silicone mat (you can use just the pan but they may stick a bit)

5. Punch down dough and place on counter (do not flour or oil counter) and press into a long rectangle and cut into 12 equal pieces.

6. Gently roll and stretch each piece with your hands until you have a very long and thin rope- 36 inches long. To make a pretzel bring both ends up into a U shape, cross and then cross again, then bring ends down to bottom sides of the U and press to make pretzel shape. For pretzel sticks cut rope into 6 pieces or bites cut the sticks into 5-6 pieces. (It’s easier to cut into bites after dipping in baking soda bath)

7. Once the water is very warm, carefully and gradually add baking soda, stirring it in. (don’t make my mistake by dumping it in or using a small pan- it overflows and what an awful mess!) now wait until bath is around 110 degrees as not to kill the yeast.

8. Dip pretzels and or sticks in baking soda bath for just a few seconds, quickly in and out, and place on parchment prepared pans and let rise for 30 minutes for softer pretzels or just add salt and pop them into the oven for firmer pretzel. If you are making pretzel bites, cut the sticks into 1 inch bite size pieces (remember they do rise in the oven) and place on the parchment prepared pans. You may have to do a few batches, its ok if the pretzels sit out while waiting to go in the oven.

9. Sprinkle the dipped pretzels/sticks/bites with the coarse sea salt if desired before baking so salt will stick.

10. Place 4 pretzels on parchment paper and place in the oven and bake for 4 minutes, rotate pan(s) and bake an additional 3-5 min, until golden brown. Large pretzels will take the longer time- just keep an eye on them

11. Remove pans from oven and brush the pretzels generously with the melted butter. Take pretzels off pans and cool on wire racks.

12. Repeat process for remaining dough.

13. Serve warm or freeze in freezer bags for later use.

14. To reheat frozen pretzels- preheat oven to 350° and place frozen pretzels on a baking sheet. Place in oven and warm until heated through 5-10 min at most. Brush again with some melted butter and you are done.

15. Serve with cheese sauce or mustard or whatever you like!


To make cinnamon sugar pretzels- do not sprinkle pretzels with salt. Bake as directed, brush with butter and generously sprinkle a cinnamon/sugar mix.

For softer pretzels, use AP flour, let dough rise a second time before going into the oven, and use lots of butter.

Inspiration for second try

Good First Try – Firmer more traditional pretzel.

First Ingredients

First Pretzel Dough

1 1/2 cup warm water
4 oz. melted butter
1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup bread flour
3 cups regular flour (or less due to humidity)
Water Bath
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons baking soda
Coarse pretzel salt
3 tablespoons sweet butter (unsalted butter melted)**

First Directions

Sprinkle yeast on lukewarm water in mixing bowl and stir to dissolve. Add sugar, salt and stir to dissolve. Add flour and knead dough then add butter and knead until smooth and elastic. Let rise at least 1/2 hour.

While dough is rising, prepare a baking soda water bath with 2 cups warm water and 2 Tbsp baking soda. Place water and soda in a pan over medium low heat. Be certain to stir often and add enough water to allow pretzels to float.

After dough has risen, divide dough into 8 portions and roll each portion into a long rope* (about 1/2 inch or less thick and approximately 36 inches long) and shape rope into pretzel desired pretzel shape. Dip pretzel in soda solution, drain and place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt.

Bake in 450 degrees F oven for about 10 minutes or until golden. Brush with melted butter. Enjoy!

* The longer and thinner you can make the dough rope, the more like Auntie Anne’s they will be.

** Sweet butter, not regular butter, unsalted butter is one of her secrets!

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑