Copycat Max and Erma’s Santa Fe Chicken Salad

There’s a Max and Erma’s restaurant right next door to the Premium Outlet Mall in Edinburgh, Indiana. We make it a point to stop by for lunch or dinner there whenever we can. Plus, you get to sit while you eat and after a few hours at the mall, you need that. Nine times out of ten I order the Santa Fe chicken salad. It’s a huge salad, with just the right toppings, and really, really good chicken. And when I’m not at the outlet mall, I can make a pretty darned good copycat of the same salad at home without a lot of fuss.
Copycat Max and Erma's Santa Fe Chicken Salad

You can substitute chicken tenders for the chicken breast if you wish. I like my chicken a bit spicy so I load up on the hot sauce. Feel free to adjust to your taste. The chicken itself is outstanding.

To get the fancy dressing swirls on my copycat Max and Erma’s Santa Fe chicken salad I put some Ranch in a squeeze bottle with three nozzles and go to town on it. Hey, it’s fun.


Also try my Southern Fried chicken salad.

Copycat Max and Erma's Santa Fe Chicken Salad

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

For the salad

  • Your favorite greens iceberg, green leaf, and/or red leaf lettuce, rinsed and patted dry
  • Fried chicken, from below
  • shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • tomatoes chopped or sliced
  • fried tortilla strips
  • Ranch dressing

For the fried chicken

  • 2 small boneless skinless chicken breasts or 1 large
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • hot sauce to taste
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

For the salad

  • Divide lettuce between two large plates. Add the chicken, cheeses, tomatoes, and tortilla strips.
  • Drizzle with Ranch dressing and serve.

For the fried chicken

  • Cut the chicken into small bite-sized pieces or strips, as desired. Transfer to a bowl or pie pan.
  • Stir in the buttermilk and hot sauce. Let marinate for 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes.
  • Combine the flour, salt, black pepper, chipotle chile powder, oregano and cumin and place into another pie pan.
  • Heat 2" of oil to 350 F in a deep fryer or Dutch oven.
  • Working in batches, remove chicken from the buttermilk. Shake off the excess and then coat well in the flour mixture. Return the chicken pieces to the buttermilk and turn to coat. Shake off the excess and again coat in the flour mixture.
  • Fry 4-5 minutes per side until golden brown, turning once.
  • Remove to a wire rack or paper towel-lined to cool slightly and drain.

Old Colony Chicken on the Char-Broil Big Easy

I’ve said it hundreds of times. Chicken cooked on the Char-Broil Big Easy is a fantastic thing. It doesn’t take much effort and no fancy ingredients are required. I like to peruse the marinades at the grocery store, grabbing whatever strikes my fancy. This time my fancy had me using Old Colony Sauce. Often used for steaks, it’s also a fantastic marinade for chicken, adding a light Worcestershire-like flavor and tons of juiciness.
Old Colony Chicken on the Char-Broil Big Easy
Old Colony sauce isn’t loaded up with sugar or honey, which is important when you are cooking on the Big Easy. Since the Big Easy cooks at a high temperature, marinades or sauces containing sugar or honey will tend to burn. You have to save those for saucing at the very end of your cooking, once the meat is almost done, so you don’t risk charred food.

As you can see, Old Colony sauce produced some mighty fine looking chicken (I used split chicken breasts), with great color and flavor throughout.

Also try my State Fair chicken, also made on the Char-Broil Big Easy.

Love your Big Easy as much I love mine? Check out my Big Easy Add-Ons page and my free Big Easy eCookbook!

Old Colony Chicken on the Char-Broil Big Easy

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 4 hours
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 5 hours 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Place the chicken into a resealable bag or container.
  • Add marinade to taste. Toss to coat.
  • Seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, turning occasionally.
  • Fire up your Big Easy.
  • Transfer the chicken to the Big Easy basket.
  • Cook for approximately 20 minutes per pound or until it reaches 165 F as checked in several places.
  • Remove and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Mushroom Jerky on the Nesco Snackmaster Pro

The reviews for my mushroom jerky made on the Nesco Snackmaster Pro are in! And well… they’re mixed! So why am posting it? Well, because I’m one on the ‘thumbs up’ side! I thought these mushrooms came out very woodsy and very flavorful, with a hint of spice to them. I loved them right off the dehydrator, I thought they had a nice texture with a little ‘tug’ to them.

Mushroom Jerky on the Nesco Snackmaster Pro

After they cooled the mushrooms took on a slightly different texture. I’d call it less “jerky-like”. But still tasty. I opted to freeze the leftovers. They’ll be absolutely perfect in pasta sauce, that’s for sure. Or anywhere you need dried mushrooms but want something a bit more flavorful than ‘just’ ole dried up fungi!

Also try my sun-dried tomatoes, also made using the Nesco Snackmaster Pro.

Mushroom Jerky on the Nesco Snackmaster Pro

Course Appetizer
Prep Time 1 day
Cook Time 12 hours
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 4 large portabella mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup the real stuff
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika

Instructions

  • Slice the mushrooms into 1/2" thick slices.
  • Combine the remaining ingredients in a large resealable container.
  • Add the mushrooms and turn gently to coat.
  • Seal and place in the fridge for 10-12 hours, turning gently every few hours.
  • Fire up your Nesco Snackmaster Pro for 122 F. While you're waiting for the dehydrator to warm up remove the mushrooms from the marinade and place on a wire rack to drain.
  • Transfer the mushrooms to the dehydrator trays. Unless you've scaled the recipe up you won't need many trays, but keep in mind you always need to use at least 4 trays when drying.
  • Close the dehydrator and let run for 10 hours. I quadrupled the recipe and actually went 12 hours. You want the mushrooms to be pliable and chewy but not dried out.
  • Let cool just slightly before enjoying. I actually preferred the mushrooms warm, they seemed to have a more enjoyable texture.
  • Keep in an airtight container.

Tuscan Pasta Salad

Oh, Tuscan pasta salad, where have you been? I was getting just a bit tired of pasta salads and coleslaw then you came along and boom! Something totally different. This recipe makes a nice big batch, perfect for a family get-together, and perfect for that ‘wow factor too.

There’s nothing in this that will scare off grandma I tend to make my dishes on the spicy side. I resisted that temptation with this Tuscan pasta salad, with great results. Fresh and exciting, this salad hits the spot with it’s Italian-inspired flavors.
Tuscan Pasta SaladYou can substitute a tablespoon of dried basil for the fresh if you wish. Just make sure you crumble it a bit in your hand before adding it. I used fresh spinach, but you can also get away with frozen. Just make sure that it’s thawed completely first and squeeze very last drop of water from it before adding it (I like to place it in a kitchen towel, wrap it up tight, and squeeze the heck out of it).

Also try my Mardis Gras pasta salad and also my amazing dill pickle pasta salad.

Tuscan Pasta Salad

Course Side
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8 -10 servings

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 1 16 ounce box bow-tie pasta
  • 1 7 ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 6.5 ounce can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 cup spinach chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

For the dressing

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dry basil
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

For the salad

  • Cook the pasta per package instructions. Rinse with cold water and drain well. Transfer to a large bowl.
  • Add remaining salad ingredients and mix.
  • Add the dressing and toss to coat.

For the dressing

  • Whisk all ingredients together until combined. Note: I like to put the ingredients in a small jar or resealable container, seal, and shake to mix.

Rotisserie French Fries

This actually started out as just a test of an idea I’d had. It was a very hot day here. I have a pet peeve about cooking anything inside when it’s so hot. And thanks to my new Weber Summit S-670, I can not only cook in pots on a side burner, I have a big rotisserie I can use. I have the perfect basket for it, made by Napoleon, that I can use to cook up all sorts of side dishes, such as rotisserie French fries!
Rotisserie French Fries

I started with frozen fries. And I went with the larger wedge fries because, this being my first time, I wasn’t sure how smaller fries might hold up to the constant tumbling. My rotisserie French fries came out fantastic, with a great crispiness and flavor. Of course, you can make them on a charcoal grill too with a rotisserie and a basket and get even more of that great ‘cooked outdoors’ flavor!

I think you can easily get away with cooking smaller fries, such as crinkles. Just keep an eye on them because the cook time will obviously depend on how hot you have your grill. I kept the temperature right around 400 F directly below my basket. I did not use my infrared burner (you can see it above the basket in the picture above).

Fries on the rotisserie were perfect with the burgers I grilled at the same time! Win! For even more spinning goodness, make my chicken wings on the rotisserie too!

Rotisserie French Fries

My rotisserie French fries came out fantastic, with a great crispiness and flavor. No need to heat up the kitchen, just fire up your grill!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Fire up your grill for medium-high cooking and prepare a rotisserie basket setup.
  • Add fries to the basket and close. Turn on the rotisserie and close the lid. Let cook for 20 minutes then check for crispness. If the fries turn golden brown with a bit of char along the edges, they're done! If not, close the lid and cook another 10-25 minutes, checking every 10 minutes or so.
  • Use heat-proof gloves to remove and open the rotisserie basket. Serve.

Original BBQ Chicken on the Char-Broil Big Easy

Weber has a line of marinade mixes that you add juice to that are really, really good. And they’re perfect for flavoring chicken before cooking it on the Char-Broil Big Easy. I picked up a package of each and used them to marinate my favorite, split chicken breasts. The original BBQ marinade is mixed with apple juice to produce wonderfully seasoned chicken. A hint of hickory smoke and a hint of sweetness, you’ll think you’re enjoying sauced chicken, but instead all that flavor comes from the marinade alone.Original BBQ Chicken on the Char-Broil Big EasySince the Big Easy cooks at a high temperature you do have to watch that your chicken doesn’t char. One way to help prevent that is to not use marinades containing substances that might burn, like sugar or honey. The other is to rinse the chicken before cooking. Now, you’re going to lose a bit of flavor doing that, but if like me you’re going to remove the skin before eating, it really doesn’t make that big of a difference.

Weber makes all sorts of great flavored Just Add Juice marinades. Collect them all!

Also try my peach BBQ chicken, made in no time on the Big Easy!

Love your Big Easy as much I love mine? Check out my Big Easy Add-Ons page and my free Big Easy eCookbook!

Weber Marinades

Original BBQ Chicken on the Char-Broil Big Easy

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 4 hours
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 5 hours 20 minutes
Servings 2 -4 Servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Place the chicken into a resealable bag or container.
  • Add marinade to taste. Toss to coat.
  • Seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, turning occasionally.
  • Fire up your Big Easy.
  • Transfer the chicken to the Big Easy basket.
  • Cook for approximately 20 minutes per pound or until it reaches 165 F as checked in several places.
  • Remove and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Smoked Peanuts in the Shell

If you like boiled peanuts, you’re in luck. If you like smoked peanuts, you’re in luck too. These smoked peanuts in the shell will satisfy you no matter which camp you’re in. Lightly smokey and well, pea-like, you’ll want to make a big ole batch for snacking during the next big game on TV.
Smoked Peanuts in the Shell

Unlike just boiled peanuts, which have a soggy shell, these smoked peanuts in the shell spend some quality time over higher heat, giving the shells an almost roasted-like texture. So when you crack one open, you might be expecting a roasted peanut. That’s not what you’ll get. The time in the brine not only softens the peanuts it lets them absorb smoke. That’s what you’re after.

Smoked Peanuts in the Shell

Also try my smoked spicy nuts and my smoked pistachios.

Smoked Peanuts in the Shell

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 pounds raw peanuts in the shell

Instructions

  • Combine the water, salt, sugar and peanuts in a large pot over high heat. Bring to a boil and continue to boil for 20 minutes.
  • Drain the potatoes into a large colander and then spread out on a flat surface covered with towels to dry completely.
  • Fire up your smoker for 250 F. Use any wood you prefer, but the peanuts will absorb the smoke so I recommend a lighter fruit wood.
  • Add the peanuts to the smoker. If your grates are too wide, add foil sheets or pans with holes poked in them or use a grill mat like I did.
  • Cover grill and smoke for 20 minutes. Stir and smoke 20 more minutes. And then stir and smoke 20 more minutes. If the nuts aren't a bit crunchy continue smoking or transfer to a sheet pan in a 225 F oven or on a grill until golden brown and crunchy.
  • Store in an airtight container.

Pepper Crusted Bacon Cheeseburgers

In my world there’s nothing better than a burger cooked on a super hot flat top griddle. Boy do I love that nice little char you get on the patties. These pepper crusted bacon cheeseburgers amp up that great flat top (though you can certainly grill them!) flavor even more.

The patties are loaded with sweet onion and lots of black pepper. Lots of black pepper. Crispy bacon, lettuce, smoky cheese and a fantastically garlicky aioli top it all off Every bite is loaded with flavor.
Pepper Crusted Bacon CheeseburgersDo not be shy with the black pepper when you roll the burger patties in it. You really want a good strong pepper flavor. I used smoked pepper but any good freshly cracked pepper will do. For extra smoky flavor used smoked garlic instead of regular raw garlic.

Also try my spicy bacon burger!

Pepper Crusted Bacon Cheeseburgers

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

For the garlic aioli

  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon parsley minced

For the burgers

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream you can omit this if you don't have cream on hand
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 8 hamburger buns
  • Green leaf lettuce
  • 8 slices smokehouse cheddar cheese
  • 8 slices bacon cooked

Instructions

For the garlic aioli

  • Place garlic in a small bowl. Add the salt and mash with a fork until it becomes a paste.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and whisk until combined.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the burgers

  • Place beef into a large bowl.
  • Great 2 tablespoons of the onion into the beef. Slice the remaining onion thin.
  • Add cream, salt and pepper and mix well. Form into 8 1/4 pound patties.
  • Spread cracked black pepper out onto a plate. Lightly press each side of each patty into the pepper.
  • Cook patties as desired. I prefer them grilled on a flat-top griddle, but you can also cook them in a skillet.
  • Lightly toast the buns.
  • Assemble burgers by slathering buns with the garlic aioli. Add the lettuce, cooked patties, cheese and bacon and serve.

Homemade Onion Rings

I’m addicted to onion rings. And I’m picky about them. I’m picking about the coating. It has to be light and crunchy and it has to stick to every inch of the onion. And I’m picky about the onion. Each bite has to be ‘clean’. Nothing is worse than biting into a ring and having the entire onion want to come out at once. And of course, they have to taste great. These homemade onion rings pass my picky tests and then some. They are truly fantastic.

Homemade Onion RingsThere is absolutely nothing I would change about the batter for these homemade onion rings. It has the perfect consistency and flavor. Well, ok, I might change up the seasoning just a bit depending on who I’m serving them to or whatever my mood is that day. Me, I like a bit of heat, so cayenne is my go-to seasoning. But, a little smoked paprika or even a dried herb such as Italian seasoning also makes for a pleasant change.

The batter would also be great on fish filets, making for a big plate of fish-and-rings.

For a nice twist on traditional onion rings, try my fried onion strips with dipping sauce. For something with a kick, you gotta make my spicy red onion rings.

Homemade Onion Rings

Course Side
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 -6 servings

Ingredients

For the onion rings

  • 2 large sweet onions cut into 1/2" rings, rings separated
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable or canola oil for frying
  • Kosher salt

For the batter

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne substitute Creole seasoning for something a little different
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup chilled club soda
  • 1 large egg

Instructions

For the onion rings

  • Place the rings into a large bowl.
  • Add the flour and toss to coat.
  • Let sit for 15 minutes.

For the batter

  • Heat 3" of oil to 365 F in a deep fryer or Dutch oven.
  • Whisk together the batter ingredients until smooth.
  • Working in batches, dip the onions into the batter and coat completely.
  • Fry until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side, flipping once. Do not over-crowd the fryer.
  • Transfer to a wire rack and sprinkle with salt.

Copycat Burger King Whopper

My fast food dining days are pretty much behind me. Oh I might stop and grab something every once-in-a-while, specially if I’m traveling. I still crave some of my fast food favorites, but now I’m more a make-it-at-home kinda guy. So that’s how we ended up here, with a copycat of my favorite chain burger, the Burger King Whopper (although truth be told, McDonald’s Quarter Pounder and BigMac are close behind on the list!).

Copycat Burger King Whopper

I like to cook my copycat Burger King Whoppers on a flat top griddle on my grill. I get the griddle hot, screaming hot, first. That gives me that little char, that little crunch around the edges. And of course cooking on the grill gives you that char-grilled flavor just like at the restaurant!

If you don’t have a grill cook the burgers in a hot skillet!

Also try my copycat of McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese.

Copycat Burger King Whopper

Course Main
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 4 sesame-seed hamburger buns
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter melted
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt I prefer a little more
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper I prefer a little more
  • 4 slices American cheese optional
  • 12 dill pickle slices divided
  • 2 slices white onion separated into 8 rings, divided
  • 2 small tomatoes cut into 8 slices, divided
  • 4 teaspoon ketchup divided (just eyeball it)
  • 1 cup chopped iceberg lettuce divided
  • 8 teaspoons mayonnaise divided (just eyeball it)

Instructions

  • Heat a skillet, grill pan or flat top griddle over high heat.
  • Brush butter on buns and toast until lightly browned.
  • Season the meat with salt and pepper and form into thin patties. Cook 2-3 minutes per side, not flipping until you get a nice crust.
  • To assemble the burgers, place the patties on the bun bottoms.
  • Add the pickle, onion and tomato slices.
  • Add a good squirt of ketchup.
  • Add the shredded lettuce. Spread mayonnaise on bun top and serve.