Monday, May 28, 2012

Crispy Hot Wings


One thing I hate about eating homemade wings is that either the wings are soggy or they were baked so long that they could be confused with something from the prehistoric era.  Creating a crispy wing shouldn't be hard and actually doesn't require frying (I actually prefer this method to fried wings, with the exception of Buffalo Wild Wings' wings). Using this recipe you get a crispy wing that's low(er) in fat than a fried wing.

The key ingredient to this recipe is actually Crisco Butter Flavor Spray.  Other sprays don't work the same way and the butter flavor actually adds to the flavor of the wing.  When we ran out of spray and used real butter instead, they didn't turn out as crispy or taste as good. The Crisco butter flavor spray makes it so the skin gets that "fried crisp" taste/feel without the downfall of eating something that's fried plus it gives it a great flavor.

My family really like Frank's Red Hot: Sweet Hot BBQ flavor for our every day wing, but my father-in-law makes a hot wing with Frank's Red Hot: Original and Italian Dressing (mix hot sauce with Italian dressing until desired hotness is reached).

You will need:
Cooling rack
Baking Sheet
Container (with lid) to shake wings in

Crispy Hot Wings

Ingredients:
Chicken Wing/Drummets
Crisco Butter Flavor Spray
Wing Sauce of your choosing

Directions:
lay wings out on a cooling rack with a baking sheet under to catch drips
spray crisco "butter flavor" on top side, cook for 15 min on 400
flip wings, spray other side, cook another 15 min on 400
flip wings, turn oven on broil, broil 5 min
flip wings, broil for another 5 min
put wings in a container with lid, toss in desired sauce. 


Placing wings on rack with "drip pan" below
Fully cooked, sauced, ready to "toss" to fully coat all wings

The Land of Milk and Honey (Ice Cream)



Without going into a Biblical reference, (the land of) "Milk and Honey" are synonymous with a place where luxuries are plentiful and easily acquired. This ice cream is a perfect match, created by freezing pudding! Pudding you say? Yes, I do say.  To make this recipe you first create a simple egg-less pudding (from scratch, no cheating here!), once cold you turn that into ice cream and then marble it with honey.  How could one not be in a luxurious land when eating it?
After finding the deliciously decadent Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream at Scoop Adventures, I noticed a link to this beauty.  Milk and Honey, I thought, why yes I do deserve to be pampered.  While I still haven't finished (or started for that matter) the essay I was trying to write when I made Coffee Frozen (Greek) Yogurt, I've had a long week! This weekend has also been hectic with attempting to entertain my 7, 5, and 4 year old kids while we were at the lake fishing... did I mention that my oldest is autistic and has ADHD? I think that figures in somewhere with how worn out I feel, and how messy my house is right now. So while my husband's buddies take him out for a drink for Memorial Day (he served in the Air Force), I am at home with the three kiddos making ice cream and cleaning, before spending tomorrow doing homework... lots and lots of homework...  yes, I deserve some pampering tonight...

For better tasting ice cream, use a good quality honey.  I use a locally made honey that I buy at the Farmers Market, I suggest you look around you and do the same, the different flavors that local honey makers are able to produce are much better than the classic clover you can buy at the supermarket.

The Land of Milk and Honey (Ice Cream)
Recipe from Scoop Adventures

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons high-quality honey

Directions:
Combine cornstarch and heavy cream in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Combine the milk and sugar together in a saucepan and warm over medium heat.  Remove from heat and slowly pour cornstarch slurry into the milk mixture, whisking to combine.

Return pan to medium heat and warm until the mixture begins to boil.  Remove from heat and continue to stir for a few minutes. Pour the mixture into a bowl and let cool for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to release the steam. Refrigerate for several hours, until well chilled.

Once chilled, pour ice cream base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  When ice cream is complete, drizzle a small layer of honey into the bottom of a plastic container (or other container for ice cream) and lightly spoon a layer of ice cream on top.  Continue to alternate layers of honey and ice cream until the container is full.  Do not stir or ice cream will lose the swirls of honey.

Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ice cream (to prevent ice crystals) and close with an airtight lid.  Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream



I love chocolate, I love hazelnuts, give me chocolate covered hazelnuts I'm in heaven.  Think about how I reacted about 7 years ago when my (then) mother-in-law handed me my first container of chocolate hazelnut spread? I was elated, I probably squealed with joy (no joke).  Because, lets face it, chocolate and hazelnut are better buds than peanut butter and jelly, and they're tight.
I recently found a recipe from Scoop Adventures, where she made chocolate hazelnut ice cream.  Yep, ice cream, my new favorite addition (and my waist lines least favorite).  So I of course, had to make it.

I was surprised to see that she used very little ingredients. While the original recipe suggests one use Nutella brand chocolate hazelnut spread, I would also like to put out there that Jif now makes one as well, I haven't tried Jif's spread yet because I already had a container and a half at my house (running out is never an option).  If you've tried Jif's spread, please let me know, I'm very interested!

As always when making ice cream remember not to skimp out on the milk fats, they help create a smoother ice cream with smaller ice crystals.  I also suggest always grinding your sugars in a food processor or blender for 15-20 sec whenever you make a recipe that doesn't cook them to create a smoother texture when finished.

This recipe makes just slightly more than my ice cream maker can easily freeze in 20-25 minutes, so roughly just over 1.5 quarts.

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream
Recipe from Scoop Adventures

3/4 cup (235 g) Nutella
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
1 1/3 cups (330 ml) whole milk
1 1/3 cups (330 ml) heavy cream
Pinch of salt

Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food process and process until smooth.
Chill mixture in refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
Once ice cream base is thoroughly chilled, pour base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Pack the ice cream into a plastic container.
Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Coffee Frozen (Greek) Yogurt


It's nearing the end of term at school, there's about three weeks left if you include finals week, and I am completely and utterly burnt out when it comes to writing essays. It seems as if every class requires me to write some form of essay every week, which would be great if I actually liked writing essays or could write about whatever pleased me as long as it had something to do with the class subject.

Today I've been sitting at my desk staring at my computer willing it to inspire me to write an epic (or even semi-epic?) research project/essay about the disaster at Fukushima, while maintaining an objective stance, which is easier said than done the more you research the situation (I've spent the last 8 weeks researching this ONE topic).

After a quick rant status about writers block and a 6 page rough draft due in a matter of days, one of my friends commented with "Studies on creativity and writer's block show that you should take a break, then try to do something in the mind of a 7 year old."  

The mind of a 7 yr old you say? What does my 7 yr old son always want? Ice cream.  Well ice cream would take me away from staring at my computer for at least a little while, it's slightly creative, yeah I could do that.  Now to figure out what kind of ice cream to make, about the same time I realized my coffee cup was empty, and I needed more.

Coffee ice cream, sounded good, but making a base and waiting for it to cool when I'm in a hurry, isn't my forte (see strawberry banana sorbet for reference). Coffee frozen yogurt I could do though... I always have chilled coffee on hand. Except one thing, I only buy Greek yogurt as I'm not a fan of the texture of regular yogurt.  So quickly adapting some of the coffee frozen yogurts I've skimmed over the past few months I've been on Pinterest, I did a mix of a few of them to create this.

You will need espresso, or really strong coffee, fresh ground is best. 
I use Panama: Finca Los Cantares, which is from the Panama/Costa Rica border, you can buy it from Costco in whole bean form. Jim Stewart, the founder of Seattle's Best, commented that "its [Los Cantares] flavor is crisp, bright and snappy, and as it rolls over the tongue and hits the roof of your mouth, it's like a buttery Chardonnay. What a coffee!"(GlobeNewswire). I've been drinking this coffee for months, and don't know how I ever palated the other brands that you find at the grocery store (especially pre-ground), and I drink a LOT of coffee.. around 6 cups a day to be honest.

This frozen Greek yogurt is lightly sweet and smooth on the tongue with a nice tangy aftertaste that is indicative of frozen yogurt.   Definitely what I needed for a mid-day pick me up.

Coffee Frozen Greek Yogurt

Ingredients:
1 cup Greek yogurt, plain
1 cup espresso or strong coffee, cold
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar, ground
1 pinch salt, ground
1/4 tsp finely ground coffee

Directions:
Measure out your sugar and your salt and grind them in your food processor or blender, while this is optional, it will create a smoother texture to your finished product.
In a bowl whisk together all ingredients, if mixture is room temperature, chill for two hours, otherwise pour into your ice cream machine and make per manufactures instructions.

Note: You will have smaller ice crystals in your frozen yogurt if you use whole milk yogurt vs. fat free yogurt.  I chose to use fat free because I have it on hand, and the yogurt will be consumed before I have to worry about any formed ice crystals.

A bit of taste testing to make sure it was what I was hoping for...

Really not my day today...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Strawberry Banana Sorbet



Lets face it, I don't think there will be one time in my house that things go exactly the way I want them to.  So I went to make Strawberry-Banana Sorbet last night, got my simple syrup going, threw in a few of my sweetened frozen berries (hey when you know you're not going to finish the box before they spoil cut them up add some sugar, toss them into your freezer and you're good to go!). As I was saying I made a simple syrup with a small handful of berries in them and then poured the still hot syrup into my blender, to which I noted was apparently not screwed on well enough and out poured a large portion of my simple syrup.  Can I ever catch a break? Not likely!

After fixing that problem I added in more frozen berries and some frozen banana to help cool it down, after what seemed like forever I added it to my frozen core and waited... and then waited more, then realized my core was no longer frozen because my strawberry syrup while no longer hot when I had poured it into the core, was still too warm to turn into ice cream (this is what I get for being impatient).  Reluctantly I poured my strawberry syrup, by then was the consistency of say soft set pudding, into some air tight containers and placed them in the fridge.  I *could* have put them in my freezer and stirred every 30 minutes and made my sorbet that way, but it would not have come with the creamy texture that you get by making it in an ice cream maker.

Who knows, maybe this will help me write my essay for my archaeology mid-term due on Monday morning.  Anything's possible.

Strawberry Banana Sorbet

Ingredients:
2 cups strawberries, rough chopped, save 1 to 1/2 cup for "mix-ins"
1-2 very ripe bananas (these should be spotted bananas! Spots = sugar)
2 cups water
1/2-3/4 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of your berries and bananas, make sure to taste!)

Directions:
Hull strawberries and rough chop them, put 1 cup to 1/2 cup aside for mixing in later.
In a small sauce pan heat water and sugar until the sugar is just dissolved, pour your simple syrup into your blender with strawberries and banana(s), blend until smooth.
Taste to see if you need to add any more sugar or not.  Once desired sweetness is obtained chill mixture completely (this is not optional, see above commentary as for why!)
Once the mixture is cold, pour into your ice cream machine and make according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Enjoy!



Friday, May 18, 2012

Pomegranate Lime Sorbet



My husband bought me an ice cream maker for Mother's Day (I think he's trying to butter me up to buy him a new grill for Father's Day).  The first thing I made from it was an Odwalla Blueberry B Sorbet... of sorts, more like I froze my core and then poured my drink in and waited until it was frozen, well, mostly frozen (I'm impatient), it was great and really satisfied my sweet tooth as well as was really healthy.
At dinner tonight I poured myself a glass of Pom Pomegranate Juice and decided it was strong, so I added a squirt of lime juice to it and it was perfect.  First thought through my mind? I need this frozen! So I looked in the little book that came with my ice cream maker and everything pretty much said I had to make a simple syrup to get it right.  Ok, that's easy, simple syrup there I went!  That was the easy part, silly me... in my haste to cool down my syrup so I can be eating ice cream quicker I poured the liquid into one of my tall cobalt blue cups (if you know me, my cobalt blue glassware is my pride and joy in the kitchen).  Immediately I heard a loud *POP* sound, almost as quickly came the simple syrup pouring out the crack that ran almost completely around the glass, and from top to bottom.  *sigh* So I made my simple syrup, again, and this time cooled it in the pan on my cutting board... then in a bowl with ice cubes in a plastic baggy, hey don't judge! I wanted sorbet and I wanted it NOW!!
Once it was cool and mixed with my pomegranate mixture I grabbed my ice cream machine and poured in my mixture.  My ice cream maker says "ice cream in as little as 20 minutes!" it wasn't even 10 minutes before I was poking and prodding the sorbet willing it to freeze faster, smoother, richer.  This was meant to be, my mouth watered as I watched it slowly become thicker and more creamy looking, as soon as the 20 minutes came I turned off my machine and took a picture, oh it was beautiful.  My mouth watered as I took the first bite, perfect.  I dished some up for my husband and kids (because sharing is caring, right?). The kids of which gobbled theirs down in the blink of an eye; my husband of course (the popcorn gallery, of sorts) tells me it tastes too much like pomegranate and I should have added in some vanilla ice cream to it, he's lucky I love him.  Though I do think a pomegranate frozen yogurt is not too far around the corner, I'll keep you posted.  ^.^

Pomegranate Lime Sorbet

Ingredients:
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 cups Pom Pomagrante Juice
2-3 tablespoons lime juice

Directions:
  1. Stir water and sugar over low heat until the sugar dissolves. 
  2. Take off heat and combine with the pomegranate juice. 
  3. Add 2 tbsp lime juice and stir to combine, add more to taste.
  4. Chill the mixture thoroughly, pour into your ice cream machine and make according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 
  5. Enjoy!


Disclaimer: I am not paid to endorse Pom or Odwalla, I just think they are quality products that I am comfortable feeding to my family.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps


My family and I are always trying to find good food that's not loaded down in fat, and these really seemed to fit the bill.  They were tasty yet surprisingly low in fat (only 102 calories and 3 grams of fat per serving).  I found the wraps fresh and crisp, though at some instances I found the lettuce overwhelming the chicken (could have been because I only used half the amount of sauce the recipe called for and I didn't use the mushrooms). When I made these again the next day I used rice paper wraps and added in bean sprouts and rice, very delicious, everyone had seconds (some had thirds).


Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Skinnytaste.com
Servings: 6 • Serving Size: 1 lettuce wrap Old Points: 2 pts • Points+: 3 pts

Calories: 102.7 • Fat: 3.1 g Carb: 9.6 g Fiber: 0.9 g Protein: 8.4 g • Sugar: 4.6 g
Sodium: 344.1 mg


Ingredients:


8 oz skinless, boneless chicken thighs, ground (I just diced mine)
1/4 cup water chestnuts, chopped fine
1/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp oyster sauce
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice wine or dry sherry
1⁄2 tsp sugar
freshly ground white pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 iceberg lettuce leaves, rinsed (careful not to break)
2 tbsp diced scallions
For the Spicy Hoisin Dipping Sauces:

4 tbsp hoisin sauce
1/2 tsp chili sauce, I used Sriracha
1 tbsp warm water
Directions:
Place mushrooms in hot water to soften a few minutes. Remove stems and chop fine.
Combine soy sauces, oyster sauce, 1/2 tsp sesame oil, rice wine, sugar, and pepper in a bowl.
Combine ground chicken (the author suggested to use a food processor), softened mushrooms and water chestnuts into a bowl. Pour soy sauce mixture over chicken; toss. Let marinate for 15 minutes.
Mix Spicy Hoisin Dipping Sauce ingredients in another bowl. Set aside.
Heat remaining sesame oil in a wok or skillet over high heat. Add garlic; cook until golden, about 10 seconds. Add chicken mixture; stir fry until browned, breaking the chicken up as it cooks, about 4-5 minutes.

To serve, spoon 1/4 cup of the chicken into each lettuce leaf. Garnish with scallions and a spoon a little Spicy Hoisin Dipping Sauce onto each one.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork


Not all of us can own a smoker, if you're like me it's because your back patio is the size of a postage stamp.  There's not much room on our back patio for our barbeque, don't even get me started on our patio furniture. Anyways, I digress, for those of us who don't have a smoker or room to get one we have to make do with what we have.  My husband used a skillet and a slow cooker and it turned out wonderfully, my kids ate seconds.

 Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Recipe from cooks.com

Ingredients:
5 lbs pork shoulder
1 c. BBQ sauce
2 c. beef stock
1 tbsp. table salt (or to taste)
2 tsp. cracked black pepper
1 tsp. granulated garlic (or to taste)
1 tsp. onion powder (or to taste)
1 tbsp. smoked paprika

Directions:
Combine dry ingredients. Rub dry ingredients on pork, covering completely. Store overnight in tin foil.
On a grill or on griddle which has a grilling side, sear meat thoroughly creating grill marks.
In a Crock-pot, combine Beef stock and BBQ sauce. Add pork shoulder to the slow cooker.
Set Crock-pot on high for 8 hours turning over half way through. Remove from Crock-pot and mash with hands adding 1 1/2 cups liquid from the crock.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Where oh where have I been?

As many have noticed, I didn't post in April.  There are many reasons for that, one being that spring term started (remember, I'm back in school to become a teacher!), my stove broke, also I've been sick as a dog.

April brought with it new teachers with new expectations, as well as new sicknesses.  About mid-way through April still getting into the swing of the new term, I caught a flu (or so they think), and I ended up in the hospital with a super high temperature, trouble breathing, fever induced hives and was going in and out of consciousness. After I was stabilized they sent me home, though I was left to try and make up missed days in school.

Just after recovering from my really bad flu I went in for my seventh (and hopefully final) abdominal surgery which was performed less than a week ago.  I am still recovering from surgery, and like I tell family, today feels is better than yesterday.  I hope that come my two week checkup I will be able to resume normal activities (hey I can dream can't I?).

What was also quite interesting is that between all the hectic-ness that came with me being hospitalized, having surgery, and the case load that comes with going to school at more that full time (I'm taking 14 credits this term, with teachers asking 3-5 hours study per "hour in class" so 42-70 study hours a week), my oven and two burners went out on my stove!  First we had to wait 3 days until the repair man could come over to look at it, then they said they were going to have to replace it which would take another 4 days! On top of that they were only able to deliver it during hours that either I would be at school (and my hubby at work) or I was with the kids at their dr's appts (oh the joys of being a mom!). Eventually we did get a new stove/oven, and its much nicer than the one we had before, but the week (plus) without a stove/oven made it so I broke down and ate fast food... first time in THREE YEARS! Needless to say, I can make better tasting food than that ;)  and plan on it being a few more years until I eat fast food again.

As I recover I look forward to bringing you guys good food again soon.