Saturday, August 25, 2012

Budget Friendly Dinner Series - Ryan's Favorite Chicken Wings

There are a few moments in life where, as a wife, your husband looks over and he realizes that he's a very, very lucky man for marrying you.  Those moments usually occur over food.  At least, most of mine do.  The first time I made these chicken wings (and every time since then, might I add), Ryan realizes he's a very lucky man for marrying me almost two years ago now.  We can't really figure out why exactly he loves these chicken wings but he eats a huge amount every time.  I don't even need to make a side dish.  I tried to do that once many years ago and the side just sat there, untouched, while the chicken wings were polished off.  That's why this is going under the "dinner series" instead of just being considered as an appetizer or a snack for someone.  So stop putting chicken wings under "Super Bowl Party Food" and "appetizer" and serve them up for dinner!! 

Ryan's Favorite Chicken Wings

1 c. Ketchup
1/4 c. Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp. Orange Juice
1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp. Liquid Smoke
1/2 tsp. Dry Mustard
1/4 tsp. Texas Pete (or other hot sauce) - more or less to taste
1 Large Pack of Chicken Wings or 2 Small Packs

Preheat oven to 375.
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the chicken.
Reserve 1/2 c. sauce and set aside.
Add the chicken to the remaining sauce, turning to coat.
Put the chicken on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray.
Cook for 20 minutes.
Place the remaining sauce on the chicken and bake for another 20 minutes.
Enjoy :-)

Blackberry Turnovers

I'll be honest with you.  I'm not a fan of blackberries.  Ryan loves them.  My mom loves them.  Erin loves them.  I couldn't care less whether I ate them or not.  No, put some strawberries in front of me and I'll be all over them!  But blackberries, eh.  So, being the good wife/friend/daughter that I am, I purchased some fresh blackberries at the farmer's market and got to making some blackberry stuff.  You'll see another blackberry recipe coming soon.

This is a super versatile recipe!  And it's incredibly good (according to my feedback - because I didn't try them due to the not-too-crazy-about-blackberries thing).  You can easily adjust the sugar to compensate for any change in fruit that you'd like.  Are you like me and not crazy about blackberries?  You could easily substitute raspberries or blueberries or even a bag of mixed berries.  Just run with it honey!

Now, for a bit of shameless product placement.  You heard me sing the praises of Instant ClearJel on the Free Form Peach Pie post.  Well, you're going to hear it again.  I love ClearJel.  I told Erin that it was the best invention for pie since the crust!  Do you absolutely, positively need ClearJel for this recipe?  Well, no, but it certainly helps.  You can certainly use cornstarch instead of ClearJel but here is what I have against cornstarch - it clumps and doesn't always thicken.  I tried using cornstarch with this recipe because I know not everyone has ClearJel in their pantry and it never thickened.  I whipped out my ClearJel and voila!  Thickening!  I was ecstatic - the recipe could go on.  So I highly recommend that if you make fruit pie-ish things a lot, you need ClearJel in your pantry.  (I learnt my precious ClearJel to Erin over the weekend where she made an amazing blueberry pie and that pie never once ran off into the pan after she began cutting her slices.  I have converted her and she's requested a bag for Christmas.  Now it is my mission to convert you!) 

Blackberry Turnovers
courtesy of Williams-Sonoma Fruit Desserts

1 c. Berries, fresh or thawed frozen
1/2 c. Sugar
2 Tbsp. Cornstarch (or ClearJel)
Pinch of salt
1 Sheet of Puff Pastry, Thawed according to instructions on package

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (yes, this is important in case you have run off while everything is cooking away).
In a saucepan over low heat, combine your berries with 2 Tbsp. water, sugar, salt, and cornstarch/ClearJel.
Heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is jam-like and thick (about 5 minutes).
Let your jam cool completely in the fridge for 1 hour.
On a lightly floured surface, roll our your puff pastry to about a 10x10 square.
Cut the puff pastry into four even squares.
Preheat your oven to 375.
Divide the filling evenly between the four squares (around 2-3 Tbsp. for each turnover).
Brush the edges with water and fold over into a triangle, sealing the sides by pressing the sides closed with a fork.
Place the turnovers onto your prepared baking sheet, 2 inches apart, and place in the fridge for another 15 minutes.
Bake the turnovers for 25-35 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.
Let cool for 20 minutes.

Simple Peanut Butter Cookies

Who doesn't love peanut butter cookies?  Besides people who have peanut allergies - the poor souls.  I could never imagine not having peanut butter ever again.  I just LOVE peanut butter!  I hope to make some peanut butter balls in the future (and if you grew up in the South, you should know what peanut butter balls are - if you don't, I feel terribly sorry for you because you don't know what you're missing)... *drools*  Okay, back to cookies!  This recipe has only FOUR, yes, four, ingredients!  And I can pretty much guarantee that you have all the ingredients in your pantry.  Therefore, you have absolutely no reason whatsoever to not make these cookies immediately.  So, go, get to it!  What's that?  You need the recipe?  Read on...

Simple Peanut Butter Cookies
courtesy of The Lady and Sons, Too!

1 c. Peanut Butter (whether you use creamy or crunchy is totally up to you.  I used creamy.)
1 c. Sugar
1 Egg
1 tsp. Vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350.
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well.
Using a cookie scoop or a spoon, roll your dough into balls about the size of walnuts (if you use a cookie scoop, this will make this step just fly by!).
Put the cookie dough onto a cookie sheet.
Using a fork, make a crisscross design on the tops of each cookie, squishing them down.
Bake for 12 minutes.
Try not to burn your mouth by trying the hot cookies :)

(Don't you just love my Coldplay Mylo Xyloto mug??  I got it when me, Ryan, and Erin went to their concert in Charlotte back in July.  I love it.)

Blueberry Whole Wheat Muffins

I know what you're thinking... another blueberry muffin recipe?!  Well, I have a difficult secret to let you all in on.  I have waaaaaaay too many cookbooks.  *sighs*  There, I said it.  Do you feel that?  It's a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders.  Doesn't it feel nice? :)  I really do have a lot of cookbooks though - much to Ryan's amazement.  I believe when we counted, we got around 75 (although I have sold some that I didn't use but it has yet to really make a dent in my cookbook collection).  I can never get enough (especially baking cookbooks - no clue as to why.  It isn't like I like to bake or anything.).  So I continue to buy them!  It's a compulsion... I just can't stop.  Even now, I have around four or five cookbooks on my Amazon wish list.  So this is the reason why you will sometimes see the "same" recipe but it's different because it's from a different cookbook.  I shall do my best to ensure no one gets confused but let's be honest with each other, shall we?  I won't post a bad recipe so even if you do get confused, it's all good (literally).

So with this recipe, I wanted to make it slightly better for everyone so instead of making this recipe with regular all purpose flour, I used white whole wheat flour.  It has a more subtle wheat flavor than all out whole wheat flour but with all the whole wheat benefits.  But here's the trick with whole wheat/white whole wheat... sometimes that whole wheat-y flavor can overpower your baked goods.  So how do we overcome that wheat-y flavor??  Orange Juice.  Yep, the same stuff you'll probably drink with these muffins in the morning. Don't ask me why but you don't really taste the orange juice but it does cut through that wheat-y flavor so it makes everyone happy.  You can thank the people at King Arthur Flour later.

This recipe hails from a little bakery down in Savannah, Georgia, which, unfortunately, I have yet to visit but do not fear, Gaited Baker readers, for it is on my to-do list!  The bakery is called Back in the Day Bakery (which is a great name, by the way) and they recently released their cookbook which I drooled over for months before finally purchasing it.  I went back and forth and back and forth, asking myself, "Do I really need another baking cookbook?"  Of course, the answer was, "Yes!!!"

Blueberry Whole Wheat Muffins
courtesy of Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

2 c. White Whole Wheat Flour (feel free to substitute all purpose if that's what you have on hand)
1 c. Sugar
1 T. Baking Powder
1/4 c. Canola Oil
4 T. Butter, Melted
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
2 Eggs
2 T. Orange Juice + enough Milk to equal 3/4 c. (omit orange juice if using AP flour)
1 c. Fresh or Frozen Blueberries

Preheat oven to 350.
Spray your 12 muffin cup papers and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder.
In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, butter, vanilla, eggs, orange juice (if using), and milk.
Mix your wet ingredients into your dry until just combined.
Gently fold in your blueberries (you can toss them with a bit of flour if you're worried about them sinking - I didn't both with that and you'll see I didn't have that problem*.)
Scoop the batter into your muffin cups until about 2/3 full.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and muffins cooked through.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 very long minutes while you drool and wait for them to cool.
Store in an airtight container.

* - the few muffins that don't have berries on top are merely an accident.  The berries didn't sink!  Honest!