Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ashlee's Famous Spicy Wings

(they're actually "Henry's" spicy wings, but we're just going to pretend this once)

The following is our latest try from The Newlywed Kitchen cookbook. Definitely a hit.

4 pounds chicken wings
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 cup hot sauce (Frank's Redhot is great)
3 Tablespoons sriracha (an Asian hotsauce in a larger red bottle-- find it in the Asian section on your supermarket)
3 Tablespoons sambal oelek (same as above, but small glass jar)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup panko, or bread crumbs

I cut this whole recipe in half and we still had way too many wings for the two of us. Next time I make these we'll have to have some friends over! I was a little nervous they'd be too spicy for our tender taste buds, but it was just perfect, and they wouldn't be bad a little spicier (less sugar).

1. Arrange raw wings on a baking tray (if you do the whole 4lbs you'll probably need two). Bake at 425F for 40 minutes, until the wings are cooked thoroughly and golden.

Funny story here: I made the mistake of buying whole chicken wings. What you get when you order wings at Buffalo's is only half of the actual wing. The two different shaped wings that we're used to eating are connected by a tendon on the chicken (along with another awkward, finger-like thing). In order to separate these you have to snap the wing. **gags** After manually trying to twist and pull and break the squishy, skin-covered piece of flesh I finally got out the scissors. This worked better, except for the terrible popping sound each time, and an occasional ooze of liquid. I was gagging, crying, screaming, jumping up and down, and doing all sorts of silly, ridiculous things. I thought of recording it all so everyone could see the pain I went through, but it was too embarrassing. :-P I still shudder at the thought.

2. In a medium skillet melt the butter, then mix in all three of the hot sauces and brown sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is warm.

Hot, Hotter, Hottest

Mix 'em up!
3. Meanwhile, melt the rest of the butter in a sauce pan and add the panko/bread crumbs until they're golden and crisp.
It was total random chance that all those ity-bitty crumbs separated to form a heart! ;-)

4. Once the wings have finished cooking pour any drippings off the tray into the hot sauces, and the toss the wings in the sauce. Arrange again on the tray, and bake for another 15 minutes. Reserve the left over sauce.
5. After cooking the wings for a second time pour the remaining sauce over the wings and sprinkle with the panko/bread crumbs.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

My Football Fanatic Husband

He makes me laugh. And smile. And giggle.

He loves football. Sometimes he jokes he loves it second only to God... then he remembers he has a wife. ;-)

Football season is all new to me. My dad and brothers were and still are car guys (though some of my brothers are taking more interest in other sports, football included). If we ever watched sports, we watched the Olympics; if we ever went to a game, it was to an Indians game with the free tickets my grandma got us from work. V-8 engines, smooth stream lines, oversized tires, and going 0-200 in 3 seconds were more of the notes I heard sung. I didn't know what the Superbowl was until I was 16.

I'd never heard of Big Ben Roethelisberger (and I'm already sick of hearing about him), Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, or Tim Tebow. I only knew who Brett Favre was because of a ridiculous Jim Carey movie I happened to see years ago. I had no idea there are 24-7-365 talk shows to digest every play, every decision and every day in the lives of these men. Mike and Mike, Colin Cowherd, and Doug Gottlieb can actually entertain me for a little while now. (Depending on the topic and player. ;-))

I didn't know any of this until I met my husband. Now, and especially for the next five months or so, I am learning more than I ever thought I'd want to know.

So tonight the Saints face the Vikings. This is a big deal because:

1. It's a rematch of the NFC championship game
2. Brett Favre is the QB for the Vikings
3. Drew Brees is the QB for the Saints
4. The above mentioned are two of the best in the league.
5. It's the first game of the season.
6. Plus, it's the only game on tonight.

While I made dinner this evening, I watched, amused, as my husband began carrying the television and antennae all around the house. He was trying to find a spot in our window-lacking home where he could get a clear reception. He finally came downstairs excitedly, but a little nervously, and announced that he found a spot-- in our room, on the floor, by the closet. He quickly promised he would always put it back downstairs when he was finished watching the games. (which basically means the tv will be in front of my closet Fri-Mon :))

I think it's cute. That's why I'm blogging about it. (Though I do not know why the hamper is on top of the night stand.)

Cheers to football! And all football lovers! And all the wives of football lovers! :-D

Labor Day Weekend, New Pictures Hanging, and the latest cookin's

Our Labor Day Weekend was quiet. I think we're the only people in this city whose family is not within two hours of driving. So we mostly hung out at home. Went to the Farmer's Market Saturday morning, did some other shopping, too. Monday Daniel studied for a test and I hung up the frames that we bought Saturday.

I'm so happy with the way it turned out. Finally, the one wall in the family room isn't naked anymore!

Now, the next spot on my mind is the eye-sore fireplace. Any suggestions? (And does anyone know who stole the mantle and the cover?)

We also enjoyed another meal out of The Newlywed Kitchen. It was a lighter dish from the vegetable dish section. I've done stuff like this many times before, but never thought to put an egg on top.

The book suggested asparagus and sliced grape tomatoes. Asparagus is something we hit or miss on. Sometimes we could eat it multiple nights during the week, and sometimes we gag over it. :-P This was one of the latter weeks. So I used green beans instead. Green beans are always good.

Drizzle your choice vegetables (zucchini and squash make excellent selections, too) with 2 Tbsp olive oil, some salt and pepper, and lightly cover (or drench if you're a cheese head) with fresh Parmesan. Bake at 400F for about 15 minutes.

In the meantime fry or scramble eggs for each portion. And place on top of the veggies when everything is finished.

I made biscuits too, because I'm a carb fanatic. The meal was delicious. Light, but satisfying.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Newly Wed Kitchen

My sister and I planned before we both were married that we would cook together through a cookbook sometime, learn how to make some new dishes, blog about it and see how it went. We were inspired by Julie and Julia, but Julia Child's cookbook was much too much for us. Back in July we picked out a book together.

The Newlywed Kitchen by Lorna Yee and Ali Basye.
(buy it at Amazon for half the price of the book stores)


We liked this book because it had a wide variety. There are some killer main dishes, but there are also desserts, appetizers, vegetable dishes and breakfast yummies. We were not looking for a standard cookbook that would retell us the things we already learned at home. We were looking to explore a little more, try new flavors and techniques. So far this has been great.

The first dish I tried was the Award-Winning Four-Cheese Mac-and-Cheese. We thought it would be a hit, because it seemed to be a culturized version of one of Daniel's favorite dishes. The sauce was made with equal amounts of fresh mozzarella, blue cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Gruyere melted down with milk, a tad of white wine, some flour for thickening and sweet yellow onion and thyme for more flavor. Poured over the pasta, then sprinkled with bread crumbs and pieces of bacon it all looked amazing.

Our opinion though, was that we might only try this recipe once more to give it another try. The cheeses were really strong, but we actually liked that part. The richness of it all was a little too much. I may try it again without the blue cheese and just with more mozzarella.

Award-Winning Four-Cheese Mac-n-Cheese

The second try was a smashing success! I had to improvise on this recipe a little, because it was a salad that's base was mushrooms, and neither of us do mushrooms in large quantities. So, I used chicken instead, and loved it because a recipe that was meant to supplement a main dish became a light, healthy main dish itself. I also liked this recipe because it was less involved than the others seemed.

Since this one was one of our favorites I'm going to post the recipe here:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 strips bacon cut into pieces (I only did two)
10 ounces (4 cups) mixed mushrooms, sliced (I did 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons honey
2 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (my grocery store did not have this-- so I mixed 2 t. rice vinegar with 1/2 t. white wine vinegar, and I think I got about the same flavor)
1 tablespoon finely grated, peeled fresh ginger (We discovered we both LOVE fresh ginger)
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 cups baby spinach

Cook the bacon. Cook the mushrooms in the bacon fat and saute for several minutes. (Obviously, since I didn't cook mushrooms I drained almost all of the bacon fat). 
Mix together the olive oil, soy sauce, honey, vinegar, ginger and onion. Pour over the sauce, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 seconds. (I did much longer than this, and it was fine. :-/)
Toss with baby spinach. Yum-O! (I added grape tomatoes to my salad)

Warm "Chicken" Salad with Ginger Soy Vinaigrette

I served the salad with fresh mango and a warm loaf of honey-oat bread. We really enjoyed this meal.

Before we ate I was insistent that I be allowed to take pictures before Daniel touched the food. He was amused to say the least, and asked why in the world I would need pictures of food, and what would they be for, and etc.  I tried to explain to him (again) about the cook book, and Angela, and the blog. He just shook his head and insisted I'm crazy.

Daniel's what-the-heck face :-P

The next attempt were delicious Prosciutto, Sage and Parmesan Pinwheels. These were a lot of fun, and very easy. A great appetizer for a holiday gathering, or dinner party.
 a Prosciutto, Sage and Parmesan Pinwheel
 How to Make Them Yourself:

1. Defrost 1 sheet of Puff Pastry (frozen dessert section of grocery store)
2. Spread 3 heaping tablespoons of honey mustard
3. Layer 3-5 ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto over top
4. Sprinkle with sage, preferably fresh
5. Then sprinkle with approximately 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6. Then sprinkle lightly with black pepper
7. Start by rolling one side of the pastry toward the center. Stop halfway and roll the otherside.
8. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for several hours unto the pastry is firm again. (Or freeze if you're rushed on time)
9. Cut cold roll into 1/2 inch slices and place on parchment-paper lined baking sheet.
10. Bake at 400F for 15-17 minutes
May be served warm or at room temperature. The book recommends serving them with glasses of champagne or another bubbly drink, and I would have if I could only buy alcohol! Pfft. 

I made these one morning. Stuck them in the refrigerator, and when I got home from work sliced them up and threw them in the oven while I cooked some corn on the cob and chicken smothered in rosemary (new favorite herb, btw).

We both liked these, but agreed you won't want to eat more than two or three. They are meant to be appetizers after all.
That's it for the kitchen update for now. I know it was an overloaded post, but I wanted to get it all out now, so that next time things won't be so bad. I'm having fun exploring these new recipes. They're a good supplement to the classics I'm always holding onto. My sister should be telling us their thoughts soon, too. Keep up with us both-- we have very different tastes for food. Well, actually, it's more our husbands that do. :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I Love This Crazy Tragic, Awful, Beautiful Life

Life. It moves pretty quickly. I am sure I'm not the only one who can't believe it's Labor Day weekend already. Someone on the radio today mentioned leaves changing colors. Where am I, and what happened to my blissful summer?

O, I'm actually enjoying the new season (though the heat still hovers around 100 every day down here, so I wouldn't really say it's fall yet. Though I've enjoyed the fresh, crisp morning air.) This week is my second full week of work as a part time nanny to Maura (7) and Michael (almost 6-- thirteen more days, he reminded me today over and over again). I love it. I am so thankful-- Daniel and I are both so thankful. The family is great. The parents are easy-going and appreciative, and even though they both work full-time jobs, I can tell their kids mean the world to them, and they love and enjoy investing in their lives. I get to cook dinner most nights during the week for them, as well as grocery shop, do the laundry, organizing and arranging different parts of the house and some light house keeping. They have a rescued German Shepherd mix that I've even grown to love a little. They are 2 1/2 miles from our home, and only 2 miles from seminary-- both easy walks. They've also provided a car for me while I'm working, so that there is no hassle between Daniel and I. This has made things so wonderful.

I've tried to decide as I'm working what I love most about the job-- the organizing (!!!), the cooking, or the kids. It's all so great. I guess I love the variety.

Maura is a sweet little girl. She likes being creative, and thrives on quality time. I had a difficult time figuring her out the first couple of days, but I think I'm starting to get it. We're connecting now, and I'm so glad. (No pictures of her yet)

Michael is all boy. He was bragging today that he weighs more than his sister. :-P He is tough stuff. He likes to please though, and is never unhappy unless provoked.

I've felt so incredibly blessed these last couple of weeks. It is good to be actively working at something again. It is nice to have a to-do-list unfinished at the end of the week, instead of having to make a new one every morning. Last week ended and there were still half a dozen things I couldn't get to, and I'm alright with that. I've been reminded that whether male or female mankind was not created to sit around-- we were created to work! And whatever your talent, gift, or vocation there is certainly good, sound satisfaction from a hard day of work. I am thoroughly enjoying that.

Daniel's enjoying his new schedule too with classes at RTS back in full swing again. He met with the admissions counselor and confirmed that he's on track for a 2011 Spring Graduation, and has already started planning his sermon for Presbytery, and memorizing the Shorter Catechism Q's & A's. He's also teaching American Government and Constitutional Law to a couple of home-school students this year-- American Government, and Constitutional Law. He'll start speech and debate classes eventually, too, with one of his students.

We are happy. Sometimes we're so happy I feel guilty. However, I also know that this season of joy is a blessing from the Father, so what can I do but accept it with praise? Besides, life is never free of trials, suffering or sin, and just a quick glance at my prayer list -- what am I saying? My own life! -- can remind me of that.

I've been meditating on my latest memory verse all week:
Revelation 20:3-4  
"And I heard a great voice from heaven saying, 'Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them. And they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe every tear from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things have passed away."

O, God! What a promise!!