December 18, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide 2012

Oh, the holidays. 

A time where we stress ourselves out about all the wrong things & overeat out of sheer anxiety.
Let me help you diminish some of that needless stress & 
assist you in finishing up that last minute shopping by giving you some ideas for those family & friends that are oh, so picky & oh, so into their hobbies.
The best part about this stuff is that you can get it all ONLINE.
That means less time shlepping around a department store & more time enjoying the REAL reason for the season:
Sitting around with friends & family, talking about the year that's soon to pass, & thanking the powers that be that we are alive, happy, & healthy for one more day.

If there is anything that has been more evident in the last couple of days, it's that you never know how long you have with people...so cherish each moment you can.

Happy Holidays!!


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December 12, 2012

Lemon Wreath Cookies & The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012!!

Have I ever told you that I freakin' LOVE Christmas?

Well, I do.
I love it so much it's almost a problem....
Almost.

But no one ever seems to complain when I pull out the ol' recipe book 

& tell them I need them to be guinea pigs for an upcoming cookie swap.
All of a sudden, not so much of a problem, is it?

This year's occasion for using my friends: The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012!

The recipe: Lemon Wreath Cookies
The result: Christmas Cookie Tangy Lemon-y Yumminess :)


Last year I had a great experience taking part in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap
so when I got the email saying that it was that time of year again, I jumped at the chance!

It's pretty cray how big this swap has gotten since last year!
Imagine 575 food bloggers in 8 countries baking hundreds of different types of cookies & clogging up the post offices with delicious baked goods!
But that's not all...

This year, all 570 bloggers donated to Cookies for Kids' Cancer and were matched dollar for dollar by OXO (the company that makes those handy kitchen tools) resulting in a donation of $4,300 to aid in the fight against Kids' Cancer.
Who said baking was a frivolous past-time??


This year I sent cookies to:
Sharon at cheesypennies.blogspot.com
Carolyn at alldayidreamaboutfood.com &
Renee at tortillasandhoney.com
(Don't forget to check them out & see what they made for the swap!)




My 3 matches sent me the deliciously diverse cookies you see below!
Check out their recipes & blogs at the following links:
Amy Christie at thisheartofmineblog.com
Stacy Lundstedt at bakingbandit.wordpress.com
Valerie at pursuitofsweetness.com
Thanks Ladies!! 
You helped me nullify my diet 3 times :)



This year I challenged myself to make something that I had never made before but always wanted to try.
I set to scouring the endless collection of "to-do" recipes I have collected over the years & quickly overwhelmed myself.
10 minutes later, cut to me drinking a glass of red wine in my kitchen...& it hit me!
Who's the one person that not only completely fills me with fits of jealous rage but also insurmountable amounts of creativity?
Martha friggin' Stewart.
I'm a big enough woman to admit it...
Oprah has this same effect on me, but she doesn't make cookies, 
so I'll leave her out of this.
Anywho,
I went back to my "to-do" list & what do you know?
Sitting on top of the crazy pile I had made on the floor was this recipe for 
Lemon Wreath Cookies.
Kismet.

I loved everything about these cookies.

I loved the fact that they looked nothing like "cookies".
I loved that they looked like little Christmas wreath glazed donuts.
I loved that they had history being based on a traditional Italian cookie called "ciambella".
So I made them & anxiously awaited my taste-tester's response.
My guinea pigs approved....
I ate, like, a dozen....
Then I made them again just to make sure they were delicious.
Yup. Still pretty darn delicious....
Martha's gone and done it again...and I hate her a little more with every bite...

And there you have it:

Beautiful & Tart Lemon Wreath Cookies!
You can thank me later...I'll wait :)
Enjoy!!


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December 8, 2012

Sriracha Honey-Soy Chicken Wings

Maybe it's the weather or
maybe it's just the mean Fatty McFatterson streak I've been on since Thanksgiving,
but it seems all I can think about the last couple of weeks is chicken wings.

I think it started when I saw a commercial for a famous wing restaurant
& my inner "Chunk" sat up and did the truffle shuffle.

Uh huh,
I just referenced The Goonies.
That just happened.

So a couple of days ago, I bought some wings from the supermarket & then proceeded to stare at them blankly.
All I kept thinking was, "How do I make these pale little wings look awesome & delicious like the ones on t.v.?"
So I googled it.
Duh.
And my recipe for Sriracha Honey-Soy Chicken Wings was born!
 The recipe is actually a result of mashing like, 3 different recipes together & using what I had on hand.
Making these at home not only saved me money but it also saved me from having to put on real pants & go out in public.
Double Win.

Besides, if you have never tried Sriracha before, what an awesome way to be introduced to this delicious red spicy sauce :)
Traditional Thai sriracha is usually sweeter, more tangy, & a thinner consistency than the "red-rooster-on-the-bottle" Huy Fong Foods brand sriracha I buy & LOVE
but either one will work with this recipe.

So....totally off topic...but you might be wondering what's up with the grainy, off-colored photos?
Well, I got so excited that I was about to make wings that I didn't charge my big fancy camera's battery & therefore had to take these pictures with my good ol' point-and-shoot.
You call it unprepared.
I call it retro.
Let's agree to disagree, shall we?


So despite me trying telling myself that chicken is healthy, wings are not usually included in that category.  So in an effort to lie to myself a little more, I didn't fry these wings before I put them into the oven.  Apparently, this is a terrible offense to some but I pinky swear that you really won't notice the difference.  The sauce is so delicious, you won't care about the missing fried chicken underneath.
To really clear my conscious of the tangy, sweet, awesomeness that I was about to consume,
I decided to lie to myself yet again & pair these delicious wings with a salad.

Hold on.
How did salad get in there?? 
Sneaky salad...hmph.
Now I'm not going to give you the recipe for the salad because if I did,
it would involve directions such as:

1. Go to the supermarket.
2. Buy a salad in a bag.
3. Open the salad in a bag.
4. Eat said salad in a bag.
5. Hang head in pre-manufactured shame.
Hey, sometimes a girl has things to do & side dishes aren't one of them.

So don't judge me & my bag salad.


Start out with some naked (raw) wings. Naked chicken quite frankly, grosses me the heck out so I won't show you a picture of it (you're welcome).  I try to make it more appealing by giving it a quick coating of pepper and garlic salt so as to fool myself that it is in fact, not really raw chicken.  However, I take it easy on the garlic salt for this recipe because soy sauce is full of it and your blood pressure will NOT thank you one bit. 
Besides, a hypertensive coma tends to take all the fun out of a delicious meal, don't you think?


To make the sauce, you combine honey, garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, sriracha, water, lime juice, lime zest & cornstarch and whisk.  
You can really omit or add anything at this point, it's up to you & your taste buds so go nuts!

While the wings are baking in the oven, simmer the sauce until it gets thick & put it off to the side.
After about 40 minutes, take wings out of oven and pour the sauce over them.

Put them back in the oven and continue baking until the sauce is bubbly and gooey.
Not sure if your wings are done cooking?
For heaven's sake, open one up and check it because nothing ruins delicious wings more than salmonella poisioning.

Once the wings are done, I like to roll them around in the sauce yet again before serving them to make sure I get every last drop.
We don't waste 'round here.

Oh, shoot.
There's that sneaky little salad again...Photo-bombing my delicious chicken wing shot. 
I knew it.
Bag salad ain't nothin' but trouble.

Wanna stir up some Chicken Wing trouble of your own?!
Get some wings and try this out yourself!

Enjoy!


Sriacha Honey-Soy Chicken Wings
(Makes about 20-24 wings/drumettes)
Ingredients:
20-24 chicken wings and/or drumettes
1 Tbsp olive oil
Garlic salt & pepper (enough to lightly coat wings-about 1/4 tsp of each)
1/4 c brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp Sriracha chili sauce
1/2 c water
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground ginger
juice of 1/2 of a lime
pinch of lime zest
1 Tbsp cornstarch plus 1/4 c water
green onion and or cilantro (optional topping)

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Line baking sheets with aluminum foil (this makes for easy clean-up!)
3.  Place wings that have been patted dry with a paper towel in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil.
4.  Add garlic salt & pepper to wings and place in a single layer on the baking sheet.
5.  Bake wings for about 20 minutes on one side, flip over & bake again for another 20 minutes until wings are golden brown & just cooked through. This may take more than the 40 minutes it took me depending on your oven.
6.  While wings are baking, combine the garlic, soy sauce, sriracha, water, honey, brown sugar, ginger, lime juice, lime zest, & cornstarch in a 2 quart pot. Whisk ingredients together & continue stirring occasionally while bringing to a boil over medium heat.  
7.  Reduce the heat to low and continue simmering until the sauce has thickened, approximately 15 minutes. Set aside.
8.  Remove wings from oven & pour the sauce over them.  Roll them around to coat evenly.
9.  Cook wings for another 5-10 minutes @ 400 degrees until sauce is bubbling & heated through.
10.  Remove wings from oven & roll around in the sauce one final time before serving.
11.  Sprinkle with green onion or cilantro & enjoy!!
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