Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Honey Barbecue Wings

Wings, wings and wings! What started out as a mostly "hot wings" kind of thing, has today turned into just about any kind you can imagine with a variety of tastes and flavors.

And let's face it, wings are not only economical to buy, but fun to eat ... sticky, sweet, savory, tangy, spicy, deliciousness running down your chin and fingers as you tear into them, because that's the only way to eat them, with your fingers! I mean come on, does anyone use a knife and fork on wings? No! Plus, wings are extremely versatile since they can be baked, fried or grilled.

Over the years we've made many wings ... Sweet Hot Sticky Wings, Asian Sticky Wings, Fried Hot Wings, Honey Mustard Grilled Wings and now these Honey Barbecue Wings, which was my husband's idea ... yes, he cooks too, and at times he's a total genius because these were so darn good!

1 package chicken wings, thawed (I use whole chicken wings from Thames Farm)
1/2 cup raw, local honey (or more if needed)
1 cup homemade barbecue sauce (or your favorite brand)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Place wings in pan and drizzle honey liberally all over the wings.

Bake 20-25 minutes, remove pan from oven and stir wings well, turning over to coat with the honey. They should begin to look caramelized.

Now spoon barbecue sauce over all the wings and return pan to the oven. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and stir wings to coat well. The wings should now be cooked through and completely covered in honey and barbecue sauce.

Serve immediately with a lot of napkins!


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Friday, February 27, 2015

Lemon Strawberry Loaf

Lemons and Strawberries are great together. It's almost like the perfect "marriage" of tart, sweet and tangy.

Since I had 2 fresh lemons leftover from my "lemon saga" of making lemon pie filling, lemon no-bake cheesecake parfaits and candied lemon peel, I decided to use one of the remaining lemons for this recipe ... because I hadn't had enough lemon yet ... right! That lemon and a bag of sliced fresh strawberries in my freezer were about to get happy in my mixing bowl.

This Lemon Strawberry Loaf screams SPRING to me and I am so ready for SPRING! Then I can get some more luscious fresh strawberries from my friends at Willard Farms!

2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
zest of 1 lemon
¾ cup buttermilk
1 heaping cup sliced strawberries
about 1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 9 x 5 in. loaf pan, or 4 mini-loaf pans.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, then beat in the lemon zest.

Lower the speed and mix in about ⅓ of the flour mixture, followed by ½ of the buttermilk. Repeat and finish with the remaining flour.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the strawberries into the batter. Transfer the cake batter to the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top with your spatula.

Bake until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour (small pans 40-45 minutes). Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

Once cool, sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl and whisk in enough lemon juice to make a thick glaze. Drizzle the glaze over the cake and let it rest for a few minutes until the glaze hardens.

Cut in slices and serve.

Cook's note - this is a lovely dense loaf. Flavors are enhanced with the addition of the glaze so don't omit. Top with minced candied lemon peel if desired.


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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Cold days call for a comforting food, and nothing is more comforting than a piping hot bowl of soup.

This Chicken Enchilada Soup is easy to make, a little "feisty" with some herbs and spices, and uses everyday ingredients found in most well-stocked kitchens. 

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3 or 4 strips each, then cut into cubes
2 tbls. olive oil
4 cups chicken stock (make your own chicken stock)
1 cup milk
1 onion, diced
1 - 10 oz. can enchilada sauce
1 - 14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes, drained (make your own diced tomatoes)
1 - 14.5 oz. can niblet corn (make your own niblet corn)
2-3 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. course-ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cilantro or oregano
shredded cheddar cheese to sprinkle on top
*optional - diced bell peppers, black beans

Place oil in a large saucepan; add onion and saute' over med-high heat until onion is getting soft. Add cubed chicken and continue cooking until chicken is cooked through,

Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes to one hour.

Serve while hot with shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

Tortilla Chips - make your own with a flour tortilla. Brush some olive oil onto the tortilla, and cut the tortilla in half and each half into half again. Cut each quarter into triangle strips. Place strips on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and bake in a 325 degree oven 8 minutes or until crispy. Serve tortilla chips with the soup.


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Monday, February 23, 2015

Easy Noodle Soup

Do you ever find yourself thinking, I can make that better myself? Happens to me all the time, but sometimes we just like the "convenience" of grabbing something already "packaged" for us because it's easier. 

Well, I'm all about easy, but I'm also all about knowing what's in the food I eat, so I stay away from pre-packaged, processed foods for that very reason.

When I thought about "packaged soups" I also knew they had to be pretty simple to make. Let's face it, there's not much in them except dried noodles and spices, so I set out to find out how easy.

This soup takes minutes to put together and tastes delicious. I think it's one of the easiest recipes I've ever made, and only takes about 5 minutes to cook, then eat and enjoy. 

I didn't add any meat, but you could easily add diced, cooked chicken, pork, beef or shrimp.

2 cups water PLUS 2 tsp. chicken or beef bouillon
- OR - 2 cups chicken or beef bone broth (preferred)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
1/2 tsp. parsley leaves
1 pinch dried red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup vegetable of your choice (I use frozen) 
1 small bunch Angel Hair spaghetti or other thin pasta

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring water, bouillon or bone broth to a boil. Add vegetables and spices and cook just a few minutes, or until vegetables are getting soft. Add noodles and continue to cook until pasta is al dente'.

Serve immediately.


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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Lemon No Bake Cheesecake Parfaits

It's time to THINK SPRING and make some of these Lemon No-Bake Cheesecake Parfaits. Light and delicate, they are the perfect dessert, or treat, anytime you make them. 

I love making them in mason jars, so they are an easy "on the go" treat to take anywhere; to the office, on a picnic, or to a backyard barbecue. What's really great is the lids keep the bugs out!

Cheesecake Filling
1 - 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 tbls. vanilla
2 tbls. lemon juice
1/2 - 8 oz. container cool whip or 1 cup heavy cream
Lemon Pie Filling
See recipe for Candied Lemon Peel

Set out cream cheese to soften. Once softened, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth and combined.

Add vanilla, lemon juice and sour cream and beat until well blended.

Mix in whipped heavy cream or cool whip until fluffy.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool 1-2 hours.

Lemon Pie Filling
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
6 tbls. corn starch
Juice of 2 lemons
Grated rind of 1 lemon
4 egg yolks (lightly beaten)
1 tbls. butter

Mix water, sugar, salt, cornstarch, lemon juice, grated lemon rind and egg yolks in large sauce pan, whisking to combine.

Cook over med-high heat, stirring often to prevent sticking.  Bring to a boil and cook one minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in butter, stirring until melted.  Pour into bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool on counter-top or refrigerate until ready to use.

In 8 oz. mason jars, add 1 large spoonful of the cheesecake filling. Top cheesecake layer with 1 large spoonful lemon pie filling, then 1 large spoonful cheesecake filling. Add another spoonful lemon pie filling, and lastly 1 large spoonful cheesecake filling.

Sprinkle tops with diced candied lemon peel if desired.

Cover jars with lids and store in your refrigerator.

Cook's note - leftover lemon pie filling will keep for a few weeks in your refrigerator, or use it to make hand pies!


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Friday, February 20, 2015

Candied Lemon Peel

Because I like to find uses for  "all of a product" I decided to candy some lemon peel from the lemons I use to make my Lemon Pie Filling.

Once the peels are candied, they can be stored in an air-tight container up to one month. I like to dice them up small and serve over the lemon desserts I make, but you can use them in a variety of ways ...

• Top a lemon meringue pie with candied lemon peels
• Dip in dark chocolate for an amazing treat
• Mix a handful of finely chopped candied peels into batters for muffins, breads, or cakes.
• Sprinkle chopped candied peels over ice cream or yogurt.
• Garnish citrus-based cocktails with candied peels.
• Mix finely chopped candied peels into streusel toppings for muffins and cakes.

Peel of 2 lemons, cut thinly, pulp removed
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided

In a medium pot of boiling water, cook peel until tender, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer peel to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet; spread in a single layer to dry slightly, about 15 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a boil over high, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add peel and boil until it turns translucent and syrup thickens, 8 to 10 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer peel to wire rack, separating the pieces as needed.

Let peel dry 1 hour. Toss with 1/2 cup sugar to coat.

Cook's note - this recipe works well for any citrus peels


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Thursday, February 19, 2015

What to do with a Whole Chicken?

One of the easiest and economical things you can do is buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself. When you buy a chicken at the grocery store, organic or otherwise, or your local farm (preferred), you are paying for the butcher or processor to have those nice breasts or thigh pieces already cut for you. Why pay them when it's so easy to do it yourself?

See a video on "how to" here

I like to cut up my whole chicken into 10 pieces; 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings, and 2 breasts split in half or 4 pieces. For myself and my husband this will easily get us several meals. If you are a family of 4 this is enough chicken for each person to have 2 pieces, or one larger piece (1/2 breast or 1 thigh). Add some inexpensive side dishes such as potatoes and vegetables or a salad and you have a very economical meal, plus some leftover pieces for a meal another day.

Another great thing to do with a whole chicken is roast it! Makes a perfect Sunday dinner with plenty leftover for chicken sandwiches, casseroles, white chicken chili, chicken enchiladas, chicken salad, soups, and more.

And don't forget you can keep the back bone or carcass for Homemade Chicken Stock!

Whole Roasted Chicken
Italian Seasoned Grilled Chicken
Grilled Barbecue Chicken
Fried Chicken
Chicken and Potato Chowder
Grilled Chicken Salad
Hearty Chicken Noodle Casserole
Asian Chicken Noodle Bowl
Honey Mustard Chicken

The possibilities are endless! So, the next time you are shopping for chicken, be sure to consider buying a whole chicken and cutting it up yourself.


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