Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Poultry · Recipes · Whole30

Default Wings: DIY

Wings are such a quick, easy, and often very cheap way to make everyone happy. They’re frequently labeled at the butcher counter as “party wings” and are already split up into the flat wing and the drumette, which is perfect for me because The Boyfriend prefers the drums and I want *all* the flats. For a little while I was preparing a new recipe each time we wanted wings, until I finally figured out my “go to” or The Default. If you love wings, but you and your meal buddy want different flavors, this is the recipe for you. The Default delivers perfectly crispy wings with a delicious dry rub every time, ready to be eaten as is or drenched in your sauce of choice.

Equipment:
Oven
Large glass pan
Tongs

Ingredients:
1-2 lbs “party wings”
2 tbsp cooking oil or animal fat of choice
1-2 tbsp granulated garlic
2-3 tsp Diamond Crystal salt

Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease one or two glass pans with your fat of choice, using a silicone brush or other preferred utensil to coat the whole bottom of the pan and up the sides. (You may need two pans if you are making more than one pound of wings, if they are too close together, it can overcrowd the pan and they won’t cook as well or as evenly).

Continue reading “Default Wings: DIY”

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Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Poultry · Recipes · Snacks

XXX: Spiced Up Chicken Salad

With the very last of our warm weather, we’ve been using the grill basically every day, and this meal was no different. Since I first came up with this dish, we’ve had it at least three times and it is definitely a new house staple.

Ingredients:
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
1-2 tsp za’atar
1-2 tsp harissa
2 tsp high quality oil (olive or avocado)

For Salad:
1/2 cup sugar-free mayo or to taste
1 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 sweet yellow onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

In a mixing bowl, drizzle oil over chicken thighs. Add harissa and za’atar and mixed gently until coated well. Grill on medium heat until cooked through (or oven roast at 425*F for about 20 minutes). If you are grilling chicken specifically for this recipe, let the meat cool completely and refrigerate for at least an hour before chopping – you don’t want the onions to soften or the mayo to melt! I specifically made extra so I’d have leftovers to make this spiced up chicken salad for lunch the next day, so I’m working with meat right out of the fridge.

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To a large bowl, add chopped 1/2 of a sweet yellow or Walla Walla onion. I highly recommend chopping the onion quite fine, I don’t think I went small enough and ended up with lots of mayo-covered onion at the bottom of the bowl (though The Boyfriend did not seem to mind this and cleaned out both plates).

Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, coarsely chop chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and add to the chopped onion. I have been relying on my squeeze-tube mayo lately, but I am estimating that I used about 3/4 cup. This really comes down to personal preference, so add a little bit at a time, stirring and tasting until you get to your desired consistency and flavor. Season with salt, pepper, and tarragon to taste and mix well.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving. Recommend eating within 24-36 hours.

Baked · Date Night · Party Food · Poultry · Recipes

Conflict-Free Wings

With flavors stemming from North Africa and the Middle East, I wanted to bring all these herbs and spices together without stirring up any trouble so for the sake of enjoying a good meal, any debate on the origin of flavors or other political discussions end here.

Somewhat inspired by the za’atar skillet bread The Boyfriend and I were fortunate enough to try at Willi’s Wine Bar on our recent trip to California, the marinade for these wings comes together very quickly and is practically impossible to stop licking off your fingers (before you touch the raw chicken of course).

You Will Need: 
1 large baking sheet
1 cutting board
1 large bowl
1 medium bowl or large ziplock bag
1 small bowl
1 very sharp knife or cleaver
1 rubber spatula
1 pair boning tweezers or equivalent

Ingredients: 
2 lbs whole bone-in chicken wings (about 10 wings)
5 tbsp high-quality olive or avocado oil
4 cloves garlic, minced or cubes
2 tsp lemon juice

Seasoning: 
2 heaping tbsp za’atar
2 heaping tsp harissa
1 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp salt

Place the wings in a large bowl, cover with cold water, and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine all herbs and seasoning with 2 tsp lemon juice and 5 tbsp oil. Using a fork, stir until mixture resembles a paste. Set aside.

Cutting board: Using boning tweezers or equivalent, remove any feathers left behind on the wings. Split each wing from the drumstick at the joint with a very sharp knife or cleaver. Add split wings to a clean bowl.

Making this recipe a few times is actually what inspired me to pick up this little thing
Making this recipe a few times is actually what inspired me to pick up this little thing

Using a rubber spatula, toss wings with marinade-paste until all wings are coated. Transfer to ziplock bag or cover bowl with foil, refrigerate for at least four hours.

Remove wings from refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking, this ensures the meat will cook evenly.

Pre-heat oven to 410*F and cover baking sheet with foil.

Arrange wings on baking sheet skin side up and bake for 20 minutes. After the first 20 minutes, turn the wings so they are facing skin side down and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Set oven to broil, flip wings one last time so they are skin side up, and broil for 3-5 minutes to get the skin nice and crispy.

Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Recipes · Snacks · Vegetarian · Veggies + Side Dishes

Devilish Egg Salad

I really love eggs, like.. a lot. They are the perfect slow carb food: one chicken egg packs 6g of protein, 5g of fat, less than 1g of sugar, as well as vitamins A, D, B-6, and B-12. As you can imagine, we eat a lot of eggs in this house. Duck, quail, chicken, I love ’em all. I also really really love deviled eggs, but rarely have the patience to neatly put them together when it’s just for The Boyfriend and myself. Enter: the deviled egg salad – same ingredients, half the time, and you don’t have to share if you don’t want to. (For the real deal, check out my Top Secret Deviled Eggs).

Appliances/Special Equipment:
1 medium-sized pot
1 medium-large mixing bowl
1 small baking spatula (rubber or silicone)
1 egg slicer or sharp knife

Ingredients: 
5 large eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2-3 anchovy fillets (canned in oil)
1/2 tsp oil from canned anchovies
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp paprika

Prepare eggs to medium temperature, according to The Perfect Boiled Egg (~5 minutes), and peel immediately. Using a sharp knife or egg slicer, cut the eggs in half, and then again into small pieces. Add chopped eggs to mixing bowl.

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Using two forks, shred anchovies into small pieces; add extra anchovies if you like saltier foods. To the eggs, add 1/4 cup mayonnaise, shredded anchovies, 1/2 tsp of oil from the anchovies, paprika, and white pepper. Gently mix with rubber/silicone spatula, making sure to just coat the egg whites and yolks rather than making a mushy mess – you want this to hold up as a salad, after all.

Transfer egg salad to a serving dish or resealable container – other than looking pretty, this is a good way to make sure everything at the bottom was mixed well without risking it turning into mush.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving (or just dig in if no one’s watching).

Date Night · Party Food · Poultry · Recipes · Whole30

Hold the Sizzle: Fiery Chicken Fajitas

If you’re anything like me, you really love fajitas. You love fajitas almost as much as you hate burning your fingers on the damn cast iron skillet that restaurants insist on serving your food on. Every time, they tell me, “don’t touch the plate, it’s hot” and every time, I burn myself one way or another. Never again!

Ingredients: 
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 jalapeño peppers, or equivalent
3 tbsp avocado oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar

Seasoning: 
3 tsp cilantro
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp True Lime (or 1 tbsp fresh lime juice)

Necessary Appliances/Special Equipment: 
1 medium-sized bowl
1 small bowl for mixing spices
1 large non-stick pan
1 rubber baking spatula or equivalent (large spoon, etc)

Slice chicken breasts into strips, about 1/2″ thick by 1″-2″ long and place into a medium-sized bowl. Remove seeds from hot peppers and slice into thin strips, add these to the bowl as well.

In a small bowl, combine all the herbs/spices and stir with a fork (if using fresh lime juice, do not add this in yet). Add 3 tbsp avocado oil, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp lime juice (if using), and all herbs/spices to the bowl of chicken and peppers. Mix gently but thoroughly with rubber spatula or spoon, making sure chicken is evenly coated. Allow chicken and peppers to marinate at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.

Marinate at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.
Marinate at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.

Heat a large non-stick pan on medium heat – you won’t need to add more oil since the chicken has been marinated in some. Dump entire bowl of chicken/pepper mixture into the pan. Sautee over medium heat until chicken is fully cooked through – since the pieces are small, it will be difficult to check the internal temperature, so I usually cut one of the larger pieces in half to make sure the inside is fully cooked.

Serve immediately.

Baked · Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Poultry · Recipes · Whole30

Amazeballs: Super Scallion Turkey Meatballs

I have a confession. Prior to creating this recipe, I’d never made meatballs before. I’ve eaten Russian meatballs, Italian meatballs, matzah balls, you name it. I helped my grandma make the little meatballs when I was a kid, I helped my mom make matzoh balls for most of my life, and I’ve eaten a LOT of excellent Italian food since The Boyfriend and I started dating, but I’d never actually made meatballs on my own! I have to say, I am pleased as punch with myself for how these guys turned out.

I got 21 medium-sized meatballs from 2 lbs of turkey, perfect for two hungry grown-ups and a few extras for breakfast leftovers. Adjust proportions accordingly.

Ingredients: 
2 lbs ground turkey
2 large eggs
12-15 scallions (~ 4 oz)
1.5 cups pork rind “breadcrumbs” (details below)
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp oil
2 tsp bacon fat (or equivalent)

Seasoning:
1 tsp salt
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Appliances/Special Equipment: 
Food processor
Large non-stick pan
Oven

All the scallions!
All the scallions!

Place several handfuls of pork rinds (I really like Mission’s Chicharrones) in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse in 10-15 second intervals until pork rinds resemble breadcrumbs. Repeat until you have at least 1.5 cups of “pork crumbs” – I usually use up the entire bag so I can store the extras and use as I please, but if you just want enough for this recipe, that’s okay too. If you’re making extra, store in an airtight container.

From the scallions, remove the “hairy” end and any wilted tips. I usually peel off and completely remove the outermost layer from the scallion, but if you don’t feel like dealing with it, a good scrub is just fine too. Thinly slice scallions (yep, the white part too) and set aside.

In your food processor, combine the ground turkey, salt, celery salt, pepper, garlic, scallions, and eggs. Blend until mostly uniform – it’s a fine line between mixed and mushy, and you can always do more by hand, so pay careful attention. Remove the turkey mixture to a large bowl. Add 1.5 cups “pork crumbs” and mix until uniform, a large baking spatula is great for this (my food processor came with one, see link above).

Prepare to get messy! Using a tablespoon (the regular dining kind) and your hands, form the turkey mixture into round meatballs. Place on a large cutting board or plate to set. Let the meatballs rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes – this will help them stay together.

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Pre-heat oven to 400*F.
Grease a large, oven-safe pan with bacon fat, non-stick spray, or oil and set aside. Note: I usually just use a metal cookie sheet, but for this recipe I whipped out the big Pyrex with actual sides to prevent my meatballs from rolling all over the place.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large non-stick pan at medium heat.
Working in batches, brown the meatballs – about 1 minute on each “side”. They don’t have to be perfectly brown the whole way around, but getting a good sear on at least two “sides” will lock in some great flavor just like with a steak. Place browned meatballs in rows on oven-safe pan.

Bake meatballs in 400*F oven for 20-25 minutes or until internal temperature reads 165*F.

Serve immediately. (I dipped them in a little bit of creamy horseradish sauce. Amazeballs!)

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Amazeballs!

Suggested Pairing Options: 
Holy Crap! Garlic Soup
Red Lentils are Dal-icious

Beef · CrockPot · Date Night · Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Recipes · Sauces

Cheatin’ on Chipotle: Beef Barbacoa

The barbacoa at Chipotle is a thing of beauty. Other than the new Bonfire Bowls at Baja Fresh, Chipotle’s barbacoa is by far my most frequent craving for a slow carb meal when we’re out and about. Now, The Boyfriend and I fully appreciate Chipotle’s more natural approach to feeding the masses, but sometimes we just don’t want to pay extra for guacamole.. or wait in line. You might have to wait all day for this homemade take on your favorite burrito bowl, but it will feed you all week without actually having to eat the same meal twice (see suggested pairings below).

Ingredients: 
~ 6 lbs boneless chuck short ribs (or equivalent)
2 yellow onions, halved
7 oz chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (1 can)
2 dried red chilis
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup chicken stock
2 tsp True Lime crystals (or 4 tbsp fresh lime juice)
~ 3 tbsp vegetable oil, for searing
1 small bunch radishes, thinly sliced (optional, for garnish)

Seasoning: 
3 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cayenne

Appliances/Special Equipment: 
Blender or food processor
Slow Cooker

Dig in!
Dig in!

Slice onions into thin half-moons and place at the bottom of the crock pot (in theory, this step is completely optional, but I love onions and think they add great flavor to this dish). If you don’t want to use onions, add 1 tsp of onion powder or granulated onion to the blender sauce (further instructions below).

Rinse meat under cold water and pat dry. Trim about 40% of the fat off – leaving enough to render down in the crock-pot, but not so much that the meat won’t sear. Cut the chuck into smaller pieces – I ended up with about 10 total – this will make it a bit easier to fit everything in the slow cooker as well as increasing surface area available for searing (a must-do step to lock in all that great flavor).

Heat oil in a large pot or pan over medium heat. Sear each piece of meat until golden brown (1-2 minutes per side) and for a few seconds on each edge. Add to the slow cooker.

In your blender or food processor, combine: apple cider vinegar, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, True Lime crystals (or lime juice), dried peppers, and all seasoning/herbs/spices. Blend until smooth. Note: If you have a mortar and pestle, I’d recommend crushing up the dried peppers and discarding the seeds before adding them to the blender. Add blended sauce and 1 cup chicken stock to the slow cooker and mix gently, coating as much of the meat as possible with the sauce (my crock pot was pretty damn full at this point so it was a bit of a challenge, but I did what I could).

Set crock pot on high for 6+ hours or on low for 10+, stirring occasionally (and to make sure that any pieces of meat sticking up out of the liquid do not dry out or burn). We actually went out in the middle of making this dish, so I had it on high while I was home for about five hours and then set it on low for an additional four hours (nine hours total) and it came out perfect.

When meat is fork-tender and falling apart, remove meat and onions from the crock pot to a scratch-resistant bowl. Add about 1/2 cup liquid from the slow cooker back to the barbacoa and, using two forks, shred the meat. Adding some liquid back to the barbacoa will keep the meat moist and will also help keep it alive in the fridge a little longer.

Serve immediately: with a few thin slices of radish for a nice little crunch, with lettuce leaves for “green tacos,” or however you choose! Leftovers can be refrigerated up to 5 days.

Suggested Pairings: 
Nice Rice: Cauliflower
Busy Black Bean Soup (recipe coming soon!)
Holy Crap! Garlic Soup
Perfect ‘Stachio Guac

Information · Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Recipes · Restaurants · Snacks · Vegetarian · Veggies + Side Dishes

The Controversial Carrot: Pureed

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We’re back! I’m back! As I shared in my last post, The Boyfriend and I went off to celebrate his 30th birthday by exploring Seattle, WA and Vancouver, BC this past weekend. We had a great time, a lovely experience with airbnb (our first), and ate an insane amount of great food. We only spent one night/day in Seattle, but thankfully got to spend some time at Pike Place Market (and picked up some of the most beautiful produce I’ve ever seen). On Saturday, we ventured out to Gastown in Vancouver for birthday dinner at L’Abbatoir and I tried sweetbreads for the first time! I’m proud to report, they are delicious. I’m not sure if I’ll ever have the guts to prepare them myself, but definitely won’t shy away the next time I see it on a menu. (I will post plenty of pictures from our adventure once I have finished sorting through all of them!)

One last thing before we get to the recipe: I need your help! Yes, you! Right there! Saveur Magazine is holding their 5th annual Best Food Blog Awards and it would mean the world to me if you would take a few seconds and help nominate my blog for “Best Special Diets” blog HERE. Note: multiple categories are absolutely permitted, so feel free to click “new blog” and “cooking blog” too if you want. I will love you forever!

Okay, now on to the rebellion! The carrot is absolutely a controversial veggie for slow carb eaters, and should be eaten in moderation (if at all). That said, The Boyfriend and I did just get back from vacation so our fridge is practically empty, and my body is seriously craving some fresh veggies. I rarely use carrots otherwise so I’m going to let this one go and enjoy my vitamin-packed purée. You will need an immersion blender or food processor to complete this recipe, links to my products of choice are below.

So. Many. Carrots.
So. Many. Carrots.

Ingredients: 
5 lbs whole carrots
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 15-oz can butter beans, drained and rinsed
5-7 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp ghee or grass-fed butter
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp high quality oil (olive or avocado)

Seasoning: 
2 tsp salt (for the water)
freshly cracked salt, to taste
freshly cracked white pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste

Appliances/Special Equipment: 
Immersion blender (recommended) or food processor

Remove any carrots split down their entire length (they are a pain in the @$$ to peel and I don’t like ’em), remove ends from remaining carrots and discard. Peel carrots and chop into rounds, 1″-2″ in length.

Add chopped carrots to a large stockpot with 2 tsp of salt, cover with water at least 1″ over the carrots and bring to a boil. Allow carrots to simmer for 30 minutes.

After the carrots have been simmering for about 15 minutes, begin the second half of the purée:
In a second, smaller stockpot, combine the butter beans, onion, and garlic with 2 tbsp oil, 2 tbsp butter, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1 tbsp rice vinegar over medium-low heat. Stir often, gently mashing the beans as they begin to soften.

Once the carrots have simmered for 30 minutes and are mashable (you can test this with the back of a wooden spoon), drain and add carrots back to the stockpot. Return pot to stove over medium heat and dump contents from second pot into the carrots (bean mixture). Add 1 tbsp of oil as well as your salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and stir well.

Using an immersion blender in the pot, or transferring the carrot mixture to a food processor, blend until desired texture is reached – I like it mostly smooth with the occasional chunk of carrot.

Finish with a sprinkle of coarse salt before serving (optional).

Date Night · Fish · Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Recipes · Seafood

Whatsername Fish Tacos

Note: The story behind the name of this recipe is quite filthy and decidedly NOT kid-friendly so if you don’t like dirty jokes, please skip the following paragraph.

A few years ago, I was at home with my younger sister watching the Food Network (as per usual). We were watching an episode of “Best Thing I Ever Ate,” I don’t remember which episode. Anyway, Mark Summers comes on and starts talking about the most amazing fish tacos he’s ever had in his life – in Hawaii I believe, but that’s not important. He is going on and on about these amazing fish tacos and my sister (probably 15 at the time) turns to me and says, deadpan, “I wonder what her name was”. This was the day I discovered my kid sister did (thankfully) inherit my sense of humor and this joke now comes up whenever fish tacos are involved.

[end of dirty joke]

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Fish tacos are one of my favorites, and I am pleased to report that they are as delicious in lettuce as they are in a tortilla. This recipe is super easy and fun for date night, large groups, and even curious little ones who want to build their own. Dig in!

Ingredients: 
1 lb tilapia fillets
3/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
10-15 leaves butterhead lettuce, washed/dried
1/2 large red onion
1 jalapeño pepper
4 tbsp mayonnaise
2-3 tsp sriracha
2+ tbsp olive or avocado oil, for frying

Seasoning: 
1 tbsp Cocky Cajun
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp cilantro
1/2 tsp freshly cracked pepper

Taco Accoutrements!
Taco Accoutrements!

Slice red onion and jalapeño pepper into thin, half-moons and set aside in a small bowl(s). I serve these raw as taco toppers. In a separate small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and sriracha and mix well – this is my favorite taco sauce!

Rinse tilapia fillets under cold water and pat dry. We bought them frozen in 4-oz fillets which made cutting easier, but one big piece is fine too. Cut the tilapia into smaller fillets, equal in thickness (you may have to slice the thicker pieces in half, which I shamelessly made The Boyfriend take care of). We ended up with about 12 pieces.

In a medium-large bowl, combine the chickpea flour with the herbs and seasonings: Cocky Cajun, salt, pepper, chipotle, and cilantro. Mix well – I find a fork works best for this. Gently dredge each fillet through the flour mixture, lightly coating on all sides, and set aside on a clean plate. We actually dredged the fillets twice, giving them a second light coat right before frying.

Heat oil in a large, non-stick pan on medium heat. Working in batches, fry fillets until completely opaque – about 3 minutes per side. Remove cooked fillets to a clean plate.

Serve immediately with lettuce leaves, raw onion and pepper, and sriracha-mayo sauce. Build your tacos and enjoy!

Date Night · Kid-Friendly · Party Food · Recipes · Snacks · Vegetarian · Veggies + Side Dishes

Pucker-Up Pickle Pucks

After 21+ years of not eating pickles, I have fallen in love again just in time for Valentine’s Day. These aren’t the greasy fried pickles you’re used to seeing on pub menus, but they’re a great snack or side dish for dinner, and if your person loves pickles as much as The Boyfriend does, they’re the perfect pick for your home-cooked Valentine’s Day meal!

Ingredients: 
2 large whole pickles
3/4 cup chickpea flour
2 cups vegetable or coconut oil

Seasoning: 
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne
2-3 tsp Cocky Cajun Seasoning
1/2 tsp black pepper

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Pour 2 cups vegetable or coconut oil in a small pot and heat on medium-high to 350*F – the pot doesn’t need to be full, just enough to cover the pickle rings. Note: if you do not have an oil thermometer, which I don’t, a great way to see if your oil is hot enough is by dipping the handle end of a wooden utensil in the oil. If bubbles begin to form around the wood and float up, your oil is hot enough and you’re ready to start frying.

Using a sharp knife, remove end pieces from pickles in a thin slice then cut pickles into rings about 1/2″ thick. In a medium-sized bowl combine the chickpea flour, salt, Cajun seasoning, cayenne, and black pepper; mix well. Toss the pickle rings in the flour mixture and coat evenly on all sides.

Prepare a clean plate with a paper towel. Fry the pickle pucks in batches for 1-2 minutes and remove to the paper towel to drain. Finish with a pinch of salt.

Serve immediately, as is or with sauce of choice (I mixed mayonnaise with 1 tsp of chipotle powder).