Monday, February 27, 2012

Wholey Chicken Wings Batman!

Chicken wings are a favourite in the Little Kitchen.  I make chicken wings more often than I write about.  If I actually wrote about chicken wings as often as the boys actually eat chicken wings then this blog would be called "Little Wing on the Prairie".  I kid you not....wings are no joking matter.

We are making the effort to be more healthy lately so when it came time to dredge the wings in flour, I reached for the whole wheat flour instead. The boys claim that these wings were the crispiest wings ever...even better than the other wing recipes I've posted about such as this post, this post, or this post.  Just to make sure it wasn't a fluke, I made these wings again last night with the same crispy baked goodness.  This is another one of those recipes where I didn't really measure too closely on this one.

Crispy Baked Chicken Wings - printable recipe
Big ole package o' wings
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp dry mustard powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black peper
  • (If you have it on hand, 1 tbsp smoked paprika goes well with this mixture too!)
  • 1 pkg chicken wings and drumettes (This was a Costco size package)
Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Line 2 baking sheets with a sheet of foil and a sheet of parchment paper. I find the wings get crispier on parchment then they do if you use a silpat or silicone sheet liner.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients until well blended.

Rinse the chicken wings with cold water and drain.

Dump the wings into the flour and stir to coat all of the wings. Use your hands or a fork...what ever works to get each wing coated.

Shake the excess flour off the wings.

Spread the wings out on the sheets.  If the wings are too crowded together, they will not crisp properly so make sure to give each of them their space.

Bake for 25 minutes then flip the wings over and rotate the pans.

Bake for another 25 minutes.

Once these wings are done you can douse them with your favourite hot sauce.  (Or any sauce you like)

I opted to toss some of the wings with some Hawaiian black lava sea salt and pepper for the most amazing salt and pepper wings EVER! (If only I had a lemon to zest and add to the salt and pepper....mmmmmm)

 Tasty, tasty, tasty...

Until next time, stay warm and eat well!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bacon Love

Do you do anything for the Oscars? I don't normally make anything extra for Oscar night, mostly because the Boy usually has a baseball practice that night...and guess what....the Boy has a baseball practice on Oscar night! At times, I think I should do more to observe these sorts of things but in reality, that's not going to happen so I do what I can. 

As I was browsing through blogville and all things internet, I started seeing all sorts of ideas and menus. I had all sorts of ideas milling about in my head (some of them were even good ones). Oscar night is a star studded event so I was thinking about making something that was also star studded.  Star studded with bacon of course!

Bacon peanut brittle came to mind so I started to browse the wild world of the internet and found many different recipes and you know what I discovered? I discovered that you can take any peanut brittle recipe and add bacon to it.  I don't have a tried and true recipe for brittle so I used the recipe found here at My Man's Belly with only a couple of adaptations.

Bacon Peanut Brittle
 Printable recipe here

Make sure you have a candy thermometer for this one. You will need it.  Also, gather all of your ingredients into bowls before the sugar is done boiling so you can add it all in quickly and pour the molten hot mass onto the cookie sheet.

Gather up the following into their own separate bowls:
  • 1 lb bacon, cooked, drained, and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup roasted, peanuts. (I used unsalted but salted would work here to)
  • 1/2 tbsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla (I will use a full tablespoon next time)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt

Affix the candy thermometer to the side of a large pot and add to the pot:
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup water

Prepare a cookie sheet with either a silpat or silicone liner or butter it generously and set it aside so it is ready to use when it comes time to pour out melty, hot, molten sugary goodness onto it.

Place the pot on the element and turn the heat to medium.  Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves, then set the spoon aside until it is time to stir in the other ingredients.

Stay in the kitchen during the boiling of the sugar. It can burn so quickly. Don't even run to the bathroom to pee quickly or duck into the other room to check the score on the Jets game!!! (This means you Mrs Kimball!)

This can take a while but do not turn up the heat on the stove, it will be tempting but burnt sugar is gross and messy so don't!
When the temperature reaches 290 degrees or the hard crack stage, remove the pot from the heat. This is important because even if you turn the heat off on an electric stove, the element stays hot and you can burn the sugar.

When 290 degrees has been reached, quickly dump in the peanuts, bacon pieces, and butter.  Stir quickly to incorporate.  Now just as quickly, dump in the vanilla, salt, and baking soda.  It will bubble up so be careful. Stir until it stops foaming and quickly  (carefully too) pour the molten hot mass onto your prepared cookie sheet and let it spread out.  Do not use a spatula or the spoon to smooth it out because it will deflate the brittle.

Allow the brittle to cool completely before breaking it into pieces.

Savour it slowly....enjoy it.....every bacony piece.

Until next time, stay warm and eat well!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Growing Up Too Fast

Warning....this post is a little sappy because my baby is growing up quicker than I'd like....

Consider yourself warned!

Strange Exciting things are happening in the Little Kitchen!! The Boy has earned his learner's permit....he has even been behind the wheel of the car!! A few of his friends have their licenses already and let me tell you, I have a mini panic attack every damn time I hear "so and so said he'll pick me up" or "so and so drove us to the mall for lunch today" (I didn't even know he had money!).  As a mom, it does rattle the nerves. You worry about their safety, their where abouts, the choices they make with their new found independence, have I done my job properly......(see, just thinking about it put me on the verge of a nervous breakdown).

My own mom never let me drive when I was learning so I already knew that I didn't want to be like that.  I took him to get his permit and then took him to an empty parking lot to practice driving around....then I let him venture out on the street and drive us to the mall for dinner. He did such a fabulous job, you know, for his first time behind the wheel and all.

This all really makes me think back to all the little steps of 'letting go' as a parent.  Things like letting him walk to school on his own for the first time, riding his bike around the neighbourhood with his buddies (without me following them around), and sending him to the IGA to pick up a couple of ingredients for dinner on his own are all in the back of my mind these days.  Until he gets his actual license, he needs to have a trusted adult in the passenger seat but I will hold on tightly and do my best to let go when the time comes....if I have to....

Let's get to the food now, shall we?

Since we've been busy, I have been trying to cook up a a big batch of something tasty on the weekend and using it during the week.  This week I got an email from the Canadian Parent website with a slow cooker recipe for Beef Stroganoff that looked so simple and straight forward, I gave it a shot.  Here's the link to the site.  I won't post the recipe here but please go to the website and check it out. There are some pretty neat slow cooker ideas there.
Pile stewing beef, onions, mushrooms, and beef broth into the slow cooker
Reheat in a large skillet on the stove
Boil your pasta
Roast asparagus at 400 for 10 to 15 minutes (brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Guess what, everyone loved it. It smelled soooooo go while cooking but we actually didn't eat it until the next day but it heated up so nicely.  I heated the beef on the stove while boiling the pasta and roasting some asparagus! It really was a tasty meal!

Until next time, stay warm and eat well.  (also, drive safe!)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Things I tried in Hawaii

Wow, I am a lame brain and still trying to get back into the swing of fact I should have posted what I made for dinner tonight, but I didn't...I am working on that, dinner was delish!

I didn't actually bake anything for Valentine's day like I did last year. I did however think this would be a time to share something I tried while I was in Hawaii not too long ago.  While the temperature is warmer this week, it dipped way down again other week. Two Fridays ago it was -40 Celsius with the windchill....brrrrr....That is a good 70 degrees colder than it was when I was in Hawaii! (I want to go back!!!!)  One day while wandering through one of the many ABC stores, not sure of what I wanted to snack on, I happened upon this small heating/keep stuff warm unit.  Inside were these little curious bundles...I just had to try one.  Turns out that if you take a piece of Spam, dip it in teriyaki sauce, pair it with some sticky rice, and wrap it in nori, you get a tasty little fast sushi style snack!!
Seriously, this was quite tasty!

I will work on that dinner post for tomorrow!

Until next time, stay warm and eat well!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Just Stuff It!! Pretzel Sammies

It is Saturday Sunday today! Hooray! I was supposed to vacuum but I haven't done that yet.  What I did do was make some pretzel bites and pretzel sammies.  Spring training is upon us and that has me thinking of pretzels!! I used a good old stand by recipe that I have posted before because it was tasty and lets face it, sometimes it is just relaxing working with a recipe you  know works and works well.  I made the pretzel bite using this recipe here.  It can also be found at this link. For the sammies, I did switch out 2 cups of all purpose flour for whole wheat this time without affecting the texture or the taste.  These sammies were an absolute hit!!
Ham and Havarti pretzel sammies

Pretzel Sammies
For the pretzel dough:
·         2 cups warm water
·         2 tbsp light brown sugar
·         1 pkg active dry yeast (2 ¼ tsp)
·         ½ cup butter, melted
·         3 cups all purpose flour
·         2 cups whole wheat flour
·         3 tsp salt

Hot water bath
·         6 cups water
·         ¼ cup baking soda
Egg wash
·         1 egg
·         1 tsp water

For the fillings, go with your favourite combinations of meats and cheeses.  Today I went with ham and Havarti, salami and provolone, as well as pastrami and cheddar.

Combine the warm water, yeast, and brown sugar.  Set aside for about 5 minutes and let it get all foamy.

Add the melted butter, the flour, and the salt.

With the dough hook, mix everything.  The dough will come together.  If the dough is sticky, add a bit more flour.

Knead the dough for about 5 minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and set it in a warm spot to rise until double in size, about an hour.

While the dough is rising, cut the cheese into cubes and the meat into more usable portions.

Divide the dough into equal 15 portions. I used a scale and was able to get 15 portions of dough that were roughly 3 oz each.

Form each piece of dough into a ball and cover them with a clean tea towel while you work with a few pieces at a time.

Flatten each dough piece into a flat circle and start piling on the toppings alternating cubes of cheese and pieces of meat.  Pile the fillings on until you think it won’t close.

Pull the dough up around the filling and start pinching to seal all the sandwichy goodness up inside.

Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.  Once it is boiling, reduce the heat slightly to a high simmer and slowly add ¼ cup of baking will bubble up so add it slowly!

Simmer the sammies in the hot baking soda water bath for about 1 minute flipping over after 30seconds.  Transfer to a baking sheet, brush with an egg wash.

If you like, sprinkle with coarse salt after the egg wash.  Although if you aren’t eating these right away, then skip the salt as it will just melt away in storage.  If you are making more than 1 kind, use a piece of the meat to lay on top of the sammies to help identify them.

Bake at 425F for about 15 minutes until golden brown.
Until next time, stay warm and eat well!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bacon, Pasta, and Power

Tonight was one of those nights I actually got some time to myself after work. I must admit it is a bit of a strange feeling.  The Boy is at school until 6:30 for driver's ed, Hubby has a class, and there was no rehearsal for the school production due to a meeting (that I didn't have to attend)!! What to do with that time??? I thought about having a nap but didn't think I would wake up until tomorrow morning. Instead I wandered over the the IGA by my house to browse the shelves and get some ingredients for dinner.  I had a recipe in the back of my head and had a quasi-mental list...okay, I confess, I checked a recipe in my new Jamie Oliver cook book and knew what I wanted to make.

The original inspiration for tonight's dinner was "mini shell pasta with a creamy smoked bacon and pea sauce". Such a long title but it was an easy peasy recipe and has bacon in it! Once I got to the store, I discovered that IGA didn't have fresh mint and things just got worse from there.  As I was at the dairy case, the power went out.  It did kind of throw me for a loop. It wasn't dark as it was actually still light out and there are windows but it still caused me to forget to grab some frozen peas and double check what I was getting as all the interact machines were down!

So I walked home from the powerless store to my powerless house and put my groceries away in my powerless fridge. With no power to cook supper, run the Internet, or heat the house I bundled up and walked over to my friend Marie's house.  We drank some beer so it wouldn't go bad....and she has three fabulous dogs that took turns sitting with me to keep me warm!!

The original recipe can be found on page 52 of Jamie Oliver's book Jamie's Food Revolution and calls for:
  • 10 slices smoked bacon
  • a small bunch of mint
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb mini shell pasta
  • olive oil
  • a pat of butter
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp creme fraiche or heavy cream
  • 1 lemon
  • 6 ounces Parmesan cheese
As some of you may know, I have issues following rules recipes so many times the recipe I start with is very different from what I actually cook.  I do like to use the recipes as a base idea and then add my own flair. The pasta dish I served up tonight included:
Printable recipe
  • 1/2 lb bacon, cut into small pieces
  • basil
  • salt and pepper
  • rotini pasta
  • 1 cup frozen peas (dug in the freezer and found some)
  • 2 tbsp half and half
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic (because hey, it's garlic)
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes in juice (I had some left over from the other day. I blitzed them with a hand blender first)
  • sauteed mushrooms and asparagus (these were left over from last night's dinner. They had been sauteed in garlic and were fan-freaking-tastic)
  • Parmesan cheese (I actually had some leftover from making the chicken fingers last week! It was about 1/2 a cup)
Put a pot of water on to boil, heat a skillet, and chop the bacon.

Saute the bacon until it is crisp. Drain the fat (or at least some of it).  Add the peas, mushrooms, and asparagus.  Also grate on a micro plane or use a press to add in the 2 cloves of garlic.  This is also a great place to add in a couple grinds of pepper.

To the pot of boiling water, add a hefty pinch of salt and plunk in the pasta.  Cook according to package directions.
Pour the tomatoes into the skillet along with some pinches of basil.  Let this boil down until the pasta is half cooked.

Add 2 tbsp of half and half to the skillet and stir.

Remove the pasta from the water and add it to the skillet.  Mix it all together and add the squeezings of half a lemon and the Parmesan cheese.

Serve with salad or veggies.

This dish received fabulous reviews from the boys and heated up nicely for Hubby when he got back from his class tonight.



FYI, the power did go back on just before 6pm, after 2 hours.  Apparently the hydro company had to shut off the power so they could fix a hydro pole fire issue. 

Until next time, stay warm and eat well.

Dreaming of sunny weather and blue waters...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Comfort Food for Finals

Oh my!! Where has the time gone! I cannot keep making excuses for abandoning my blog and my precious readers.  We have been doing our darnedest to get back into the swing of things after the holidays. January has been cold and busy here on the prairies. I have kept up going to the gym 3 to 4 times a week and feel great!!
I miss Hawaii sooooooo much!
Unfortunately my sun kissed glow from my holiday trip to Hawaii has faded. The new freckles stayed though!  We have sort of settled in to a sort of winter routine here. The Boy is busy with all things studying, baseball, and now, drivers' education.  That's right. You heard me. The Boy is learning how to drive....ACK! I can't be old enough for this! He can't be old enough for this! Am I ready for this? I am going to have to be.
This past week was exam week at the high school and while he won't admit it, nerves played a role.  To help get him through,  I made a couple of the Boy's favourites for dinner.  Nothing like a little comfort food to get  you through!  Chicken Fingers and fries.  He asks for homemade chicken fingers every time I buy boneless chicken breasts!  Of course, this can be a messy undertaking because you need to dredge the chicken strips in flour, dip them in egg yolk, and then in the bread crumb mixture but it is so worth the effort!

First start your french fries!! Heat the oven to 400F and scrub 3 large russet potatoes. Line a baking sheet with a layer of tin foil or parchment paper. Cut the potatoes into fry size sticks.  Toss the fries with 2 tbsps oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt. Place the fries in the oven.

Chicken Fingers
  • 3 or 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4 strips each
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 cup panko 
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper
Take out 3 dishes or pie plates.
In the first dish, toss in the seasoned flour.

In the second dish, beat the eggs.

In the third dish, mix together the panko, Parmesan, garlic powder, onion powder, a big pinch of salt and a healthy grinding of pepper.

Get a baking sheet ready with either parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.

Now, first all of those strips of chicken need to be dredged in the flour and shaken off.

Next, plunge the flour coated chicken into the beaten eggs and let the excess drip off.

Plunk the drippy chicken into the panko mixture making sure to coat the entire piece of chicken in crumbly goodness.

Place the strips onto the prepared baking sheet and slide it all into the oven with the fries. You can flip the fries over if you want, I never do and things always seem to turn out just fine.

Once the chicken strips are in the oven, everything should be cooked in 25 to 30 minutes.

The fries and strips should both be golden brown when done.

Homemade honey mustard.
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 2 tsp mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey
Mix all three ingredients together until thoroughly mixed.

Serve with chicken fingers.

Until next time, stay warm and eat well.