Monday, June 29, 2009

5 Spice Soy Baked Chicken Wings

If you read my blog you know I recently became enamored of Chinese 5 spice powder. See my Cornish Game Hen recipe for instance.

In keeping with that I thought some marinated and baked chicken wings would be just the ticket. I deliberately chose baking over grilling as I wanted to avoid having to tend the wings over the fire constantly to keep from charring.

These were simply delicious, with a different twist due to the combination of spices. I bet you'll like it if you try it.

Ingredients and Method:

20 chicken drumettes (or plain wings if you prefer)
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons 5 spice powder (Don't skimp)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water

Mix together corn starch and water and pour into bowl. Add the balance of the marinade ingredients and stir well.

Pour into large freezer bag, add drumettes, seal and refrigerate and marinate overnight. Yes, overnight.

Heat oven to 350, lay tinfoil over a baking pan and place chicken into pan.

Meanwhile bring marinade to a boil, reduce heat and let thicken slightly for 5 minutes.

Bake chicken while turning and continuing to baste liberally and repeatedly with the marinade until done. You want a nice coating to build up as they bake. About 45 minutes. Meat should easily separate from the bone.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Care Package Chocolate Chip Cookies

So as some of you know, I have a Son in the Arabian Sea, and a daughter in Baghdad, Iraq. So I spend a lot of time doing what? CARE PACKAGES!

It was my daughter's turn this last weekend, and I wanted to send her and her unit Chocolate Chip cookies. (I understand that the protocol is, anybody who has received home baked goods, is to immediately donate to the group, so nothing generally lasts more than 10 minutes)

Good chocolate chip cookies are generally heavy in butter but I'm sending baked goods on a 5-6 day trip to a Country where the approximate daytime temperature is 110 degrees so I was concerned about butter turning maybe a bit rancid.

So I decided to substitute some vegetable shortening because I'm sure it would stay fresh longer.

I baked them all up, froze all but a couple, so I could sample them, and left them in the freezer for a few days as I continued buying things for the care package so it would be full.

Funny thing happened though. Those cookies are DELICIOUS!

I couldn't stop "hitting" on them. Just a couple each day, but jeez, this is a care package. I felt like I was stealing from my own baked goods.

So I bought everything I needed to buy, filled up the package, with the cookies, and took it directly to the post office and got them out of my house.

My point is, make these cookies. The shortening cut with butter is a great way to go. The cookies retain a great texture even after being frozen and defrosted. And, I suspect I'll get an email from Iraq in a day or two saying...."Hey DAD, thanks for the cookies, they lasted about 10 minutes!"

Ingredients and Method:

1 cup vegetable shortening
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
large package mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream shortening, butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla and mix well. Add baking soda and salt and flour and mix thoroughly. Toss in chips and mix until incorporated.

Refrigerate dough for 10 minutes so it's easier to handle. On a cookie sheet with or without parchment paper, drop cooking dough with a scoop or use two spoons to make 1 - 2 inch balls.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 -12 minutes. (I usually always go 12 minutes, but no more)

Let sit on pan for 5 minutes and then move to wire rack to cool completely.

Repeat with remaining dough until all are baked.


And here's a thought, if you like the cookies, double it and send a couple dozen to my daughter's unit in Iraq. The address is: SGT Merlin Merissa, C co 7-158 AVN, APO AE 09391

I KNOW our troops would be grateful! Trust me, they all share with everyone.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Beer Batter Onion Rings

Well, Walla Walla Sweet onions are out as are Vidalia. It's that time of year. Sweet, sweet delicious onions anywhere. BBQ them, grill them, use them in marinades etc. Also, gotta have some beer batter onion rings. Yeah, it's a bit of a hassle to mess with the oil and all but it is worth it every once in a while. This is a simple basic recipe that makes for an extremely light coating.

2 or 3 large Walla Walla Sweets or Vidalia onions, peeled, and sliced and separated
vegetable oil for frying. If you have a deep fryer fine, but if not, I use a smallish cast iron
pan and it works just fine. I just make two or three at a time. Don't crowd them, and take
your time.

2 eggs
1 1/4 cups flour
dash of pepper
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 cup of beer (a dark beer is best, I use Beck's Dark, but Guinness would work also)
Thousand Island dressing for dipping

Beat eggs well. Add pepper, baking powder, oil, and seasoning salt and mix well. Add beer and flour and mix thoroughly. Place in refrigerator and let chill for 30 minutes.

Heat oil to approximately 370 degrees.

Dip onion ring in batter, drain a bit and immediately add to hot oil. Repeat with other rings
but leave plenty of room, don't crowd the cooking process. Let cook, attended, until one side is puffed and golden, turn and cook until golden on the other side. Immediately drain on paper towels. Repeat with all onion rings, giving a few minutes in between batches to allow oil to reach proper temperature again.

Serve warm with Thousand Island dressing as a dip. Oh, a cold beer might be a nice addition also.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sweet & Sour Sloppy Joes

Have you ever all of a sudden had a yearning for some childhood food? Like all of a sudden ya just have to have some macaroni and cheese? Or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Or a glass of ice cold Kool aid? Or chocolate chip pancakes? How about a grilled cheese and some tomato soup? Ya know what I'm sayin'?

Well, over the weekend, I, out of the blue, had a hankering for Sloppy Joes. I bet you I haven't had a sloppy joe sandwich in 10 years at least, but I just had to have one. So, I searched the net and came across an interesting recipe at Simply Recipes. I adapted it a bit and it was delicious.

Sweet tangy sauce, with a variety of blended flavors. I like to grill the buns for added crispness and crunch. And some baked beans on the side.

Now, don't you feel like having a sloppy joe?

Ingredients and Method:

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 sweet Vidalia or Walla Walla Sweet onion, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 minced cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 small can tomato sauce
1 can tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons bottled BBQ sauce
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon ground clove
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat and saute minced onion until transluscent, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add minced garlic and ground beef. Break up beef with a spoon or spatula, and then pat ground beef down flat all around the pan, and let cook until browned on one side. Turn the heat down a bit. Don't be in a hurry, let it brown. Turn, break up some more, and turn and stir until all pink has disappeared.

Add the balance of the ingredients. Yup, add all at once. Stir thoroughly, turn heat to low, and let cook on low for an hour, stirring occasionally.

Butter and grill hamburger buns, spoon sloppy joe mixture over, add a slice of cheese, or grated cheddar, and enjoy.

Serve with a salad, or chips, or fries, or baked beans, corn on the cob, potato salad, whatever you like for summertime sides.

And let's face it. Sloppy Joes are one of the BEST leftover meals ever.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cheese Enchiladas with Tomatillo sauce

So I'm driving from Colorado to Washington about 6 years ago. You know the drill, mile after mile of interstate, stop for gas and restroom occasionally, and keep going until you're exhausted. You pull off in the middle of nowhere, check into some non-chain hotel with a restaurant nearby, go to your room, buy a paper and go to the dive restaurant for some food. This particular dive was Mexican food, which I'm not particularly a fan of.

I ordered Cheese Enchilada with a Chile Verde sauce and turned to the paper.

Dinner came. A huge platter, steaming, with refried beans on one side, rice on the other, and in the middle, four good size corn tortillas wrapped around a blend of cheese, and smothered in a green tomatillo verde sauce.

It was HEAVEN! I've never had a Mexican meal so good. The sauce was tangy, delicious, robust, a bit warm, but not overwhelming, with drippy, gooey, cheese goodness dripping with each bite. I cleaned the plate. I had no idea Mexican food could taste this good. And in some unknown restaurant off some interstate.

That being said, on a number of occasions I have tried to duplicate that meal in my kitchen, and have not yet succeeded. BUT, this rendition is definitely closer. Give it a try, you might like it, and I, of course, will continue to tweak it in the background until I duplicate that wonderful meal I had somewhere on the plains of the Western US.

Ingredients and Method:

6 medium sized tomatillos
1 1/2 cups of water or chicken broth
6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 bunches green onions chopped (reserve some for garnish)
1 or 2 small cans mild green chilies (depending on your "heat" preference)
1 small can diced tomatoes
leaves of one bunch cilantro
juice of two fresh limes
1 can refried beans
6 corn or flour tortillas
3 cups shredded cheese - Mexican blend or Monterey Jack.

Remove tomatillo husks, wash and quarter and place in large frying pan. Add water, and garlic and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes until tomatillos are very soft.

Carefully pour contents of pan into food processor. Add cilantro, green onions, chilies, tomatoes and the lime juice. Process in bursts until well blended. Return to pan over low eat and let cook on low for a few minutes to blend flavors.

Grease an 8 x 8 casserole dish. Spread a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of the dish. Take a tortilla and with a knife spread a layer of refried beans. Add 1/3 cup cheese, and carefully roll up tortilla and place in dish. Repeat until casserole dish is full. Pour tomatillo sauce over rolled tortilla's and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake in 350 degree oven of 20 minutes until cheese is melted and dish is heated through.

Let sit for 10 minutes and serve.