Monday, January 26, 2015

Slow Cooker Sweet 'n Tangy Glazed Chicken Wings #wingweek

Slow Cooker Sweet 'n Tangy Glazed Chicken Wings
Until recently, I'd never really thought about making chicken wings in the slow cooker. It was either baked, fried, or if I happened to think about it while the grill was fired up, I'd throw some on there. I don't know if I just didn't pay attention before, but as soon as I saw one recipe for crockpot wings, I've been seeing them around every corner. It's like the buying a new car syndrome (see a beautiful car, buy it, then suddenly everybody and their mother is driving the exact same car).

I figured it was finally time to throw some wings in the slow cooker and see what came out. I bet you can guess. Tender deliciousness, of course. I mean, they were cooked in a slow cooker! The result was a batch of wings just threatening to fall off the bone. But boy, were they ugly. Half the fun of eating wings is a crispy skin, and obviously you can't achieve that in a wet environment.

The trick is lifting them carefully from the crock, setting them onto a rack, and then saucing them up and sliding them under a hot broiler. That skin will crisp up in no time, and all you have to do is give it a couple of sauces and a couple of turns. Minimal finishing work for such amazing results.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Chicken Wings: how to break them down + how to cook them #wingweek

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with eating a whole chicken wing, I prefer cutting up my wings into smaller sections before preparing them for game day or appetizers. It really is as easy as one, two, three! Today I'm kicking off #wingweek with a simple tutorial on how to break down chicken wings into easy-to-nibble portions, and also sharing five different cooking methods to prepare those wings with.
Break down a whole chicken wing in seconds via #wingweek
Simple Steps to quickly Breaking Down Whole Chicken Wings:
  1. Locate the two joints by using your fingers. You should be able to feel where they connect.
  2. Use a pair of kitchen shears to snip through the center of each joint, leaving you with three parts: the Drumette, the Wingette (often called a Flat), and the tip.
  3. Use the Drumettes and Wingettes in your recipe. I like to store all my wing tips in a large freezer bag (just adding them as I get them) to add to a batch of chicken or poultry stock, but you can discard them if you don't think you'll use them.
Seriously, it doesn't get much simpler than that. Okay, it kind of does—most markets carry packages of drumettes in their chicken sections. I admit to buying them like this from time to time, but it's nice to know that you don't have to, isn't it? Plus, I like having both of the wing sections to choose from.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Terminally Hip Avocado Toast inspired by The Divorce Diet

Terminally Hip Avocado Toast inspired by The Divorce Diet
The Divorce Diet is dedicated to every woman who ever walked away from a relationship—or a diet.

While The Divorce Diet is not a diet book, it is a book that centers around divorce and diets. Internal monologue is basically how I would describe the tone of this story. We're introduced to our main character, Abigail, as she lies in bed contemplating life as a new mother, the changes in her body and marriage, and another main character in the story—her diet book (and the basis for her imaginary guru), Losing Weight the Natural Way (which ironically includes mostly "low fat" items you purchase from the grocery store).

As if trying to navigate motherhood and wifehood when you're 25 isn't enough, Abigail soon discovers that she'll also have to navigate being a divorced young mother of a baby...without a job or a house.

I had a bit of a hard time getting into this story at first. Abigail is somewhat annoying and grating, but as the story went on and we got to know her better, my attitude towards her shifted. I imagined myself in her shoes. I remembered what it was like to be a single mother at that age. I understood the feeling of being lost and alone. I remembered waiting tables and I remembered how amazing it felt (and still does) to cook—and do it really well—for people. Let's just say, it grew on me.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Chapati, aka Roti (Indian Flatbread) #BreadBakingBabes

Chapati, aka Roti (Indian Flatbread)
It never ceases to amaze me the amazing things that result from using only three simple ingredients: flour, salt, and water. That is exactly the case with this month's Bread Baking Babes challenge—Chapatis (Roti), issued by BBBabe Elizabeth. Elizabeth mentioned that "something nice and plain after all our excesses over the holidays" was in order. I had to agree. Even though I didn't make the gorgeous Nutella Brioche flowers that the BBBabes made last month, there was still excess.

As soon as I read through the instructions for making Chapatis, I realized that making them is basically like making flour tortillas. It's pretty amazing how so many different cultures make a very similar version of the same food, don't you think? Each may have a slightly different method, or use a slightly different technique or tool. Different, but not.

Elizabeth made a very helpful video (included after the recipe below) that actually helped me see the major difference between making tortillas and making chapatis. Of course, she uses an electric stove, and I use a gas stove, and that actually makes a difference, as well.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sparkling Mojitos #bloggerCLUE

Sparkling Mojito
What girl doesn't love a little sparkle in their life every now and again? On her finger, in her glass, in the eye of a dreamy guy. You can't deny the lure of sparkly things. Therefore, you'll totally understand when I tell you that I'm sharing not one, but two #bloggerCLUE posts this month. Our theme, afterall, is SPARKLY!

I've been talking lately about things that warm my bones, like soups and stews, comforting roasts, basically anything that cooks low and slow. But sometimes, it even works to just sit back, close my eyes, and sip a cocktail. A sunny burst of lime...the freshness of mint...the rum (oh yeah, totally the rum)...combined they are instant transport to a hot Miami beach via a cocktail—specifically a Mojito.

But I'll do you one better, thanks to Aly of Cooking in Stilettos. She made it easy, really. I knew within just a few moments of rummaging through her "kitchen" what sparkly thing I'd be making. That sunshine-conjuring Mojito I mentioned? She topped it off with sparkles in the form of fizzy Prosecco!

Crockpot Black Bean Soup

Crockpot Black Bean Soup
I'm still hunkered down over here in Frozenville. Stock pots, Dutch ovens, and slow cookers crowd my counters and stove top. Containers of soup disappear from the shelves of my fridge almost as soon as they get there. There's no mistaking the fact that it's mid-January in Northwestern Indiana.

I love coming home after a day out and about to the welcoming smells a slow cooker conjures up. Who doesn't. But tell me, do you ever let your slow cooker work its magic while you're nestled snugly in your warm bed? It's a whole 'nother level of happiness. The scent sort of envelopes the quiet house in a comforting blanket, and invokes good dreams.

What's that you say? You don't feel like waking up to a hearty bowl of stew? That's okay, cool it down and refrigerate it for later. Everybody knows soup only gets better with time. Or better yet, ladle some into thermoses to warm your loved ones back up during lunch at work or school.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Soft Pretzel Sticks with Spicy Mustard Sauce #bloggerCLUE

Soft Pretzel Sticks with Spicy Mustard Sauce
I recently went on a scavenger hunt with my main objective being to find something sparkly. That's right, I said SPARKLY! Why, you ask? It's all due to a not-so-secret secret society called blogger C.L.U.E.. I was given a blog to rummage around in and get familiar with, and since I already "know" the brains behind this blog, I a wee bit worried about finding something sparkly. When I think Debra, and her blog, Eliot's Eats, I think down to earth...I think from the earth...I think seasonal produce.

But, even though I couldn't recall ever seeing a bubble, a shimmering coating of sugar, or a colorful smattering of sprinkles adorning her food, I was on a mission to dig up some sparkle. I was moments away from turning her Maldivian Scrub into a sugar scrub...adding my own sparkle, if you will. But I decided that was changing things up a little too much (our goal is to stay fairly true to the original recipe). I worried that adding sugar and oil (and removing rice flour) may be too much fiddling. But I still plan on making it. This frigid, dry weather has my skin begging for a little resort getaway (at home).

So, I set forth once more. I didn't look far before I the answer was staring me in the face—pretzel sticks gleaming with the twinkle of sea salt. Done. Finito. Acabado.

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