Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What's for Dinner: Sticky Chicken Wings

I love when my kids surprise me. I made these Sticky Chicken Wings from Everyday Food for my husband and myself. For the kids, I made chicken nuggets. The reasoning was simple:  the recipe had too many kid strikes against it. First, the wings themselves. Visible bones are generally a huge turn off with my kids. Next, the "sticky" factor. It's borderline odd how much they dislike getting dirty while they eat. And anything that looks like it could get them dirty seems to be a deterrent for them. And then there are the ingredients - a jalapeno pepper? Fish sauce? I shudder to think of the reaction should they ask what was in the sauce.

So, I was quite pleased with myself that I had the foresight to make them something I knew they would approve of, while my husband and I enjoyed something I figured we would like. I set the plates down, and everyone started eating. My daughter was the first one to notice something was amiss.

Daughter: "What are you eating?"
Me: "Chicken wings."
Daughter: "They look good."
Me: "They are. Do you want to try one?"
Daughter: "Ok....(taking a tentative bite). Mmmm!" (stealing the wing from my hand)
Son: "I try one too!"
Me (eyeing the dwindling number of wings on my plate): "Oh... sure."
Son: "Mmm! Yummy!"
Daughter: "Why didn't you make us these?"

And so it goes. The chicken nuggets were no match for the sweet and salty wings. As an aside, I have never had wings turn out this well from my kitchen. They always seem to get watered down and rubbery. These came out of the oven with a truly crispy exterior and a rich glaze. I made it a dinner by serving them with brown rice and shelled edamame, but this would be a perfect snack for a game or party. I'll definitely be making these again - this time, for everybody.

Sticky Chicken Wings
from Everyday Food
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1-inch piece fresh ginger, smashed and peeled
1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, halved lengthwise
2 pounds chicken wings, cut in half at joint (wing tips removed)

1. Preheat oven to 300. In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, whisk together brown sugar, fish sauce, lemon juice, and soy sauce until sugar dissolves, 2 minutes. Add ginger, pepper and chicken wings; toss to coat. Arrange wings in a single layer.
2. Bake wings 1 hour. Increase heat to 450 and bake until sauce is reduced and wings are glazed, 30 to 35 minutes more, turning wings occasionally. Serve with additional sliced jalapeno, if desired.

Friday, June 3, 2011

In the Kitchen: Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

Strawberry season is here! I love finding new recipes to make with all the delicious local strawberries out there right now. Of course, they're great for just eating fresh, but there are a lot of fun ways to use up all those berries.

This recipe came to me from Martha Stewart's Cookie of the Day e-mail, Strawberry Shortcake Cookies. It really is like a portable strawberry shortcake; the cookie itself is like a sweet biscuit. They were amazing - slightly crisp on the outside with a great biscuit inside -  on day 1, but by day 2 were a bit soggy. I'd suggest making them on a day or for an occasion where you know you will consume them all that day. The upside is that they are so easy to put together, it isn't a lot of trouble to make - and eat - them on the same day.

One more note: The recipe from the web site says it makes 3 dozen. I used a bigger scoop than called for and got 1 dozen. Whoops. I am an admitted sugar freak, but I thought the palm-sized cookies that resulted were a good serving size. And since they are best eaten that day, I think 12 larger cookies is much more doable than 3 dozen.

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies
from Martha Stewart Living

12 ounces strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (2 cups)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup heavy cream
Sanding sugar, for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 7 tablespoons granulated sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or rub in with your fingers, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cream and strawberry mixture until dough comes together.
  2. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment, spacing evenly apart. Sprinkle with sanding sugar, and bake until golden brown, 24 to 25 minutes (this might take longer if you make the larger size). Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool. Cookies are best served immediately, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What's for Dinner: Greek Quinoa Burgers

Quinoa. I feel so pretentious just saying it. Keen wah. Keen wah. Fun. Oh well - it's a tasty and versatile protein. So there. I've been wanting to make more with quinoa for a while now, ever since I tried and loved this quinoa and walnut stuffed red pepper recipe, which I subsequently lost. (On a side note, I'd love to make that recipe again, so if anyone knows of something that sounds like it or close to it - it had parmesan cheese as well, I think? - please let me know!)

I really have no idea how I came across this recipe, but when I saw it was a vegetarian burger with some Greek influence, I knew I wanted to try it. My husband and I thought it was fantastic. The kids liked it to a certain extent as well, but were much more enthused about the pita that came with it.

A note about the recipe: It calls for a sauce to go on top made with Greek yogurt. I didn't make it. One of the benefits of having a Mediterranean grocery story in your neighborhood (Pitaland, for those in the area), in addition to amazing pita made on site - is an equally delicious prepared gyro sauce. I took full advantage. If you do go with the sauce in the recipe below, I'd add some dried oregano to it, perhaps in place of the scallions - I think it would really add to the taste.

Greek-Style Quinoa Burgers
from wholeliving.com

1/2 cup rinsed quinoa
1 medium carrot, cut in large chunks
3-6 scallions, thinly sliced
15 ounces great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Coarse salt
Ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

4 pitas (each 6 inches)
1 cucumber, thinly sliced diagonally
  1.  In a small saucepan, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil; add quiona, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until liquid is absorbed, 12 to 14 minutes; set aside.
  2. In a food processor, pulse carrot until finely chopped. Add cooked quinoa, half the scallions, beans, breadcrumbs, egg, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; pulse until combined but still slightly chunky.
  3. Form mixture into four 3/4-inch-thick paties (dip hands in water to prevent sticking). If too soft, refrigerate 10 minutes to firm. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium; cook burgers until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes per side.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, and the remaining scallions; season with salt and pepper. Serve burgers in pita topped with cucumber and yogurt sauce.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lazy afternoons... right.

My little guy has been fighting me tooth and nail on naps. It's made for a wonderful series of comical mishaps during our afternoons as we try to work though the whole "if you don't want to nap you need to stay in your room for some quiet time" thing. Broken mirrors! Foot after foot of tooth floss emptied out of containers! Missing keys! Headless toys! Cries for snacks every 15 minutes! Comical, right? I'm sure I'll look back on it some day that way. I hope.

In the meantime, though, it hasn't left much time for writing on my blog. I like to keep my evenings to actually making things instead of blogging about making things, so the afternoon nap/quiet time is the perfect time to sit down and write. Not so much the past couple of weeks.

But the making has continued, even if the blog has not. I've tried a few new recipes, which I can't wait to share, and I've got a new make - these very-cool-if-I-do-say-so-myself earrings, made with Habu Silk Stainless. I love them, and I can't wait to keep playing with this yarn.

I'll need to add a picture of me actually wearing them, but right now I've got the whole its almost 90 degrees outside and I've got no air conditioning look about me, so that will have to wait until later.

I need to get back to working on my Featherweight Cardigan. I am making some decent progress on it -- I'm currently working on the second sleeve. I had a bit of delay because of couple of my size 6 double pointed needles went missing (likely from the same imp mentioned above), but have since reappeared. My goal is to have it done by the first (official) day of summer.