26 March 2014

W is obviously for Wings

Hey y'all hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the springish weather and sports programming. I know the Hubbs is, there is literally a game on every night. Usually, I take it as a perk that I get to read a book, craft a little or just hang with some uninterrupted me time. There are always exceptions to the rules though and usually when there is a big game on between my alma mater or on of my favorite teams I try to make man snacks and hang with the Hubbs every once in a while. Salads and flat breads really don't make an appearance on these nights because its all about man food, from what I have been told man food helps us win games!

What does get a chance to grace the menu you ask? well of course some Jalapeno poppers, cheddar queso dip and buffalo wings. The Hubbs and I love to frequent wing restaurants around Utah and a particularly famous wing chain has gotten me addicted. To my dismay they are completely and horribly fired to perfection locking in the juiciness of the meat and enveloping my taste buds in their saucy flavor. After our last little bout with these wings I ate so many of the little buggers I thought I had maxed out on wings for life. But then the craving returned shortly thereafter and I knew then and there I had to figure out a way to eat them more frequently without always looking forward to the  additional pounds that they inevitably  help me pack on. Hence my crispy baked chicken wing recipe was born.

These wings are baked and not fried so that is the first plus, the second is that if you really want to do the majority of the cooking either in a slow cooker or in the oven it gives you more time to prep for other snacks for the party. I usually buy a big big of frozen wings since the Hubbs and I could put away quite a few, and we will usually invite some friends to share in goodness. I chuck the wings in a nice thick baking dish with a cover and cook them for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Once they are done I get my favorite buffalo wing sauce and toss the wings all around and get them and set them out flat on a sheet pan. I then put them under the broiler to get a nice little char and some crispness to the outside. Now when you do this make sure to give it your full attention. Don't walk off and do laundry or answer the phone etc. You don't want to burn these babies. When you check on them and they are getting nice and crisp go ahead and flip them over and stick them back under the broiler so that they are crisp all around.

While the wings are in the oven baking away I usually whip up some semi healthy cooling dip. Depending on the sauce I am using of course. One of our favorites is tried, true and can't be beat. Frank's Hot Sauce. I love it with a cooling blue cheese dressing and celery. My favorite quick dip is a combination on blue cheese, greek yogurt, mayo and a packet of ranch seasoning. I take 1 cup of Greek yogurt and about three tablespoons of mayo. Mix those together and add a little ranch seasoning to taste. Try to add just a little as a time because you won't want to over power the blue cheese. Once everything is mixed in I add the blue cheese and some salt and pepper. Sometimes when I make this dip is can be a little too creamy. To solve this I usually add a little bit of  lemon zest and just a hint of lemon juice, that usually brightens it right up. Now go out get some wings and eat like a piglet in the comfort of your own home.

02 January 2014

Its 2014 and Resolution time...

Its that time of year again... when almost all blog posts start out with that first sentence. To be honest I haven't really been in the holiday spirit much this past season. Who knows why I just wasn't as into the holidays as much as I normally am. I think I'll blame it on global warming and buy a new purse.

Obviously, that will make everything better. As will posting about some of my resolutions for the New Year. In fact I dub this the year or not being a scardy cat. I am going to really try to do what I want this year without being afraid of what others think or might do because of it. I am really going to try and live my life for me and the Hubbs of course.

I took a day off of work recently and the Hubbs and I went on a day date to the movies. Can I tell you how awesome matinee's are?! Cheaper tickets for the same movie you were going to see at 7 and less people in the theater. If you get a chance do it, it's a win. But that is besides the point. The point is we went to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I had heard decent reviews but nothing off the charts. Honestly, I loved it. It's one of my favorites of 2013 and it might be one of my all time favorites. It was one of those movies that was exactly what I needed at the time in my life. It made me think and it made me want to change the way I look at the world and do things. Rather than living day to day in a little bit of work monotony I really want to try and start living in the moment and make those moments really matter. For example I want to stop trying to save my paid time off for a future "what if" and start using it when I want to.

Now please don't get me wrong, I love my life. I have everything I need and so many things that I have wanted. I have been able to do things and see/ meet people that I never thought I would get to do/meet. It's just that my life is significantly different than I would have ever imagined it to be. Many things that I thought I would do, I didn't. Some things I thought I wouldn't find I found. Ergo the Hubbs that I have, he is a way cooler and better person that I thought would ever be interested in me.

I want to try and be adventurous and take risks that I never usually would. Let's not go crazy of course but there are several instances in my life where I have very safely backed away from a challenging opportunity in order to take a very safe route instead. I want to change that even if its just a little bit everyday. I want to be the person that I had always dreamed that I would be someday. I just want to make that day today. I want to start today and keep going for forever but what journey is really complete without a few fun traveling companions? Will you come with me and help to keep me on track and taking some risks? We'll be joined by a very supportive Hubbs and two drooling pack dogs but I think it will be exciting and I would love to have you along. 

In the movie, LIFE Magazine where Walter Mitty works has a motto that I really liked. The purpose of LIFE is “To see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to, to draw closer, to see and be amazed and to feel that is the purpose of life.” I love this interpretation, and I love that its open ended. It doesn't tell you why you want to do dangerous things etc. It let's you decide why you do them. It encourages you to do something, no matter what is your reason. Get out there and do it!

So rather than making a list of everything I would like to change or do this year I think starting out with a challenge to start being who I want to be and who I always thought I could be. Thanks for letting me vent... I would say it won't happen again but then I wouldn't really be being honest would I :) Happy day of new possibilities peeps, make it count and check in and let me know how things are going okay? I'll try to keep everything updated as well. I'm cooking prime rib tonight and if it bombs you best believe I'll let you know. Full disclosure is going to be great, so get ready to see a lot of failures and missteps because based on this goal this year is going to be full of them.
“To see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to, to draw closer, to see and be amazed and to feel that is the purpose of life.”
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/12/walter-mitty-dreams-up-the-purpose-of-life/#2zsutwFJh6fSz7Kt.99
11 October 2013

Cranberry Bliss Bars just in time for the weekend!

Have you ever noticed that most days multitasking is inevitable? Usually its doing laundry while simultaneously trying to make dinner or something of the like. Rarely, do I get to multitask with things that I love to do. Saturday was a busy day but one that I felt was really fun and productive. You see I ordered 24 pounds of peaches from a co-op that I get groceries from once a month. I honestly had no idea what 24 pounds of peaches looked like so when I signed my name to pick them up in a large and very heavy box I was pretty overwhelmed. Mind you that I rarely like fruit. I know what you are thinking and it is entirely possible for a human to not like fruit. Ergo Me. Its a texture thing mostly but some of the tastes just aren't for me either. However, like the wonderful woman that I am (shameless plug) I buy them for my husband who is a peach cobbler aficionado and just my luck he likes eating them right out of the can.

Let's be honest there are only so many ways that you can eat peaches before they start getting on your nerves. While looking at the box of peaches I kept thinking that of dishes to make and ways to use them in everything that I was going to make in the next week. Then the thought came to me. Rather than buying canned peaches from a big box store for the Hubbs to eat I might as well can them myself. Can I just say I loved it. Really it's cathartic to work really hard on something and be able to see/ use the final product. Canning is hard, hot and time consuming but if you like to do it, its worth it. I have always loved the fact that I get to choose what goes into the food that I prepare. I get to seal in summer freshness to use all year round and I get to do it without chemical preservatives.
One thing that I always do when canning is to consult the Ball® Complete Book of Home Preserving. If you are a novice at preserving like I am I highly recommend this book. Canning at home can get a little hairy when trying to make sure that you aren't canning a giant bottle of bacteria. This will help to keep you on the straight and narrow for with tried and true tips of the trade. They also have a bunch of great recipes that lend themselves to a hot pack or raw pack canning method. Okay soap box rant over. Canning can be fun. that's the moral here.

When I first started to can the peaches it was pretty warm but as the day went on cooler air started to settle in and I stared to crave hot chocolate and not just any hot chocolate homemade hot chocolate with half and half and Ghiradelli semi- sweet chocolate chips. The more I thought about the hot chocolate the more that I knew that I would need to make something to eat with that hot chocolate. Its the "If you give a mouse a cookie" syndrome, if I get one thing I'll need something to go with it. I was lead to Cranberry Bliss Bars from Starbucks, sweet, creamy with just a hint of tang from the cranberries. It would be the perfect combo to a dark and luscious cup of hot chocolate. Most likely why these babies have been made famous by Starbucks.

I had tried out a few different recipes for the Bliss Bars previously but one of my favorites is from The Girl Who Ate Everything. As my husband says I can never leave a good recipe alone I always have to add my spin on it. I feel like that is the basis of cooking, making something good into something that totally suits your tastes. That being said I have followed The Girl Who Ate Everything's recipe to the letter previously and it was awesome! No matter what you are going to get an awesome end product. I must tell you that I love Christy's recipes and her blog in general she is really creative and super talented, If you have a spare second go over and check her out by clicking here. You can find my version of the recipe below or if you would like a printable version go a head and click here. Obviously, you can make these anytime not just when you are completely overwhelmed by stone fruit and feverish temperatures. What are your favorite ways to multitask? Any time savers that I should know about?

Cranberry Bliss Bars

Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

If you want to download the recipe to print it out click here!

Cranberry Bliss Blondie Layer:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour- maybe a little extra if you are at a high altitude like I am.  
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper. (Yes I bake these in a 9 x 13 even though it gives me the heebie jeebies)
2. To prepare the blondie layer: In mixer, melt butter for one minute in the microwave or until melted; add butter and brown sugar to mixer.* Pour the butter and sugar into a large bowl. Beat together and add the vanilla and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and orange zest; gradually add the dry mixture to the butter mixture. Stir in the cranberries and chopped chocolate (batter will be thick).
** If you want more cake like consistency for your blondies don’t melt the butter and then cream the butter and sugar together.
3. Spread the blondie batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 18-21 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.* Cool completely on a wire rack.
** Note, don’t over bake these babies. If you do you’ll severely regret it so make sure to check them and set a timer. Also because they are in a glass dish they will continue to cook once you remove them from the oven, they won’t cook a ton more but just for a note if they are on the cusp of being overdone.
4. Prepare the White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting: In an electric mixer beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until combined. Pour the chocolate chips and cream into the bowl of a double broiler and melt until combined. Make sure to stir and keep an eye on it. Gradually add half of the melted white chocolate mixture to the cream cheese and beat until blended.
5. Once the blondie’s are cool go ahead and frost!  Sprinkle with chopped cranberries. Drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate. Let the frosting set or you will have a mess on your hands if you want to eat them quickly The Girl Who Ate Everything suggested to throw them in the fridge. I obviously threw caution to the wind and just slathered myself in them. Cut them into triangles or squares or any shape you want and serve, preferably with a nice hot chocolate. Oh and don’t be afraid to eat them in the morning, because they have cranberries it makes them an acceptable breakfast food, at least that is what I tell myself when I eat three before 10 am.

Hey y'all I am Sara otherwise known as the Desperately Happy Housewife. When I am not working I am busy crafting, blogging and re-decorating my house. I channel Lucille Ball and Lauren Graham on a daily basis to get me through the "Oh my gosh I just sewed my finger" moments that often happen. I hope you stay a while and get a chance to see what makes me desperately happy.

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