Tag Archives: garam masala

You Make Chicken Wings!

I will never forget when I first heard of the chicken wing craze; I thought people were truly crazy, but found out that I was just as crazy for them!

I’m not hot on hot wings, but I have found that you can make any variety of wings easily and they are on the list of top SuperBowl and sport-watching foods. They are always big hits on buffets. I will tell you how you can make them and suggest kinds, but (ahem), I expect you to take the ball and run with it!

It is easy to make different styles of wings at home

It is easy to make different styles of wings at home

[This is a small sample; I am not ready for Sunday yet!]

The first few times I made wings, I followed a recipe with was delicious, but very time consuming. It entailed cooking the wings in a slow-cooker for hours, when reducing,(cooking down), the liquid, them frying the wings until crispy. The part which I messed-up on more than once was by over-cooking the wings in the cooker; I ended up with a tasty mess.

Then I decided to branch out with flavors and styles and fry the wings, then cook them in a glaze. They were also good  and were a hit, but it was a messy way and a pain to clean up; it wasn’t worth it for me,(although the fellas here liked them…  of course, they  did none of the work.).

So I will skip you to the easy way to great chicken wings and one that will allow you to make them in large numbers more quickly and to make several types at a time, if you’d like. My secret weapon?

The oven.

The hardest part about making wings is the fact that the bones make it difficult to cook them all the way through.(I became ill at a famous buffet restaurant from undercooked chicken wings). The next thing you need to make successful wings is to make them crispy; you can do it.

Depending on the amount of time you are willing to put in to preparing the wings, you can make a couple or many types and flavors, more on your own, or some straight out of bottles and jars.

For all of them, you are going to line a baking sheet in foil for easy clean-up and place dipped wings,(with or without the wing-tips cut off; I take them off and use them in broth), on the foil,(or parchment paper). I brush them with more of the chosen sauce , cover them and let them cook in a 350F oven for about 45 minutes, occasionally basting them in more sauce .Cut one gently at the main joint and check for color. If it is red, continue cooking.
When they are gray inside with no red-running, remove the covering and baste one last time.  Place the wings under the broiler for a few minutes,(watch them closely).

That’s it.

Now, for choosing sauces:

There are many wing sauces, barbeque sauces and marinades waiting on your grocer’s shelf; (I  mix 3 parts honey bbq sauce with 1 part hickory; that is my secret for most of my barbeque recipes.) You can even use your favorite non-creamy salad dressings ….or you can make your own, original flavors, specifically to your taste.

One of my men’s favorites is Thai Hot Wings,(which was the first I made on my own ).
I take
½ cup of brown sugar
¼ cup of water
½ cup Asian Sweet Chili Sauce (bottled)

Boil this until thick,(taste and adjust ratio of chili to sugar; do not substitute honey; it removes the “heat” from the chili.)
Use as directed above. Warming: these get hotter as they sit. Be forewarned if you pre-make these!

Basic glaze for wings:

The next way is very versatile. The formula is this:

Reduce, (boil until condensed), chicken broth until very strong
Or
Use chicken bouillon and use twice the amount,(or half or the water), suggested.
Then you can dip or baste the wings with this and sprinkle them with herbs and spices, or add them to the broth.
Sprinkling the herbs and spices on afterward is easiest and is probably necessary even if you add some to the broth beforehand, but adding them to the broth softens dried herbs and spices, and gives more uniform flavor throughout the wings. Depending on the saltiness of your glaze, you may or may not feel the need for more salt on the wings. Taste the broth before dipping or brushing the wings; never eat or taste anything that has been contaminated with raw meat or poultry. Boil down further or make more, (and condense), and add spices or other additions suggested below to make dipping sauces, if you’d like.

Suggestions for additions are:

Italian spice ( or parsley, basil , marjoram)

Garlic-Rosemary

Mesquite

Mexican spice combo( or cilantro, cayenne, cumin)

Mixed Vegetable flakes

Tomato &/or Sweet Pepper flakes with garlic &/or chives

Lemon–Pepper or Lemon-Thyme (squeeze lemon juice on the wings after the first glazing and sprinkle on pepper, or use dried lemon peel)

Oregano, onion powder and paprika

Garam Masala

Dillweed

Sage, marjoram, onion powder , parsley

Sesame seed (add a couple of drops of sesame oil to broth for stronger flavor)

You get the idea, right? I hope you get more ideas.

You can add or glaze at the end with honey (in addition to many of the above), or with maple syrup alone.
If you want sweet but can’t use honey, you can use corn or cane syrup, or brown sugar.
For sweet wings without sugar, use a fruit-only spread,(found in the jelly aisle).
If you are feeling really adventuresome, you can add ginger or allspice and make wonderful wings.

You can freeze the wings after they cool. As always, wrap tightly and remove as much air as humanly possible,(if you don’t have a vacuum machine, use a good, sturdy zipper-close bag and squeeze.) You can microwave them to thaw and they will be good to eat heated that way , but you can re-crisp them under the broiler for a couple of minutes after they are thawed and bring them back to perfect.

So feel free to try several kinds and make them before your party, or to keep on hand for a filling fast snack or an addition when there are unexpected guest, or long-staying ones, ever-hungry teens, or kids’ sleep-overs..

I have a special guest-blogger coming next time. I hope you join me in welcoming him.

SuperBowl /March Madness Party Tips and Potato Skins

It’s time to kick-off some tips for SuperBowl, (and every other Bowl) and get into March Madness parties…and any other ‘Football” parties anywhere in the world.(Too bad it is so long between World Cup matches,I love  them!)

Many of the recipes in the archives would suit a nice and easy buffet, which is the only way to go when it comes to watching events and for all-day parties.

Remember that there is probably going to be a lot of hands-in-the-air and jumping-up, either in celebration or in disgust, decided by the individual on how the plays go and who makes them!

Depending in just how long you anticipate your guests, some or all, to be there will help you to make the choices of foods to offer. Are you going to have fellow fans in for most of the pre-game programs as well as the game itself?Or just for the game, which will be long enough,(expect four hours for the SuperBowl.)
If you are expecting things to go on for some time, you are going to want some of the foods to come out at varying times; some substantial, some snack-type, some sweet. It does not matter how many or how few, people need food , people want interesting food and you don’t want to work too hard to make a nice spread. Much can be done ahead of time.

Ideas for your offerings can be founds among those already posted in this blog. They are:

Lentil Soup, Bean Soup [August Archives], Savory Bread Rolls, Taco Salad, Teriyaki Pork , Meatball Stew[Sept. Archives; which also tells of “Pitfalls and Parties”],Zucchini One-Bowl, Cookies and Sarah Ballance’s Pecan Bars [October Archives], Crispy Veggies, Vegetables with Cheese Sauce[November Archives], Ham, Broccoli, Potato & Cheese Casserole [Dec. Archives],Salads, Vegetable Pasta Salad [Previous Post]
All can be made ahead of the game day and, (with the exception of the Cheese Sauce and Salads), frozen even earlier and re-warmed before your guests arrive.

I will admit that I have waaaaay overdone the football theme at times. I made 2 kinds of cookies, one in cut-outs that were ball-shapes and helmet-shaped and iced them in the teams’ colors and , using the side of a spoon to ‘drop’ the Chocolate cookies, I made them reasonably football-shaped and put ‘laces’ on them with icing.[ October Archives]. I made chicken salad football-shaped, covered it in brown sesame seeds and made cream cheese ‘laces’. I made a Crab Cheese Ball the same way, but in walnuts:Football cheeseballfootballcheeseball

I made a quarter sheet cake and covered it with green colored coconut for grass, used white icing for hash marks and goalposts, wrote the teams names in the end zones and made candy shaped like footballs and helmets,(and colored them in the teams’ colors).

In other words, I went nuts.
There is no need for all of that, really.(OK, I will admit; I made the cheeseball when I made the one for New Year’s Eve; it is in the freezer and it will come out for the SuperBowl. But see? Many things, most things, can be made ahead of time. )

Chili is a traditional food here for the SuperBowl…and I will let you in on my shameful secret: It’s McCormick’s Mild Chili mix in a packet. I brown one pound of ground beef, drain it, add one can of petite diced tomatoes and one can of kidney beans .That is it. I usually two pounds and then it is two cans of tomatoes, two packets of mix and one can of light red kidney beans and one can of dark. How creative can I get?
If you make your own chili, good for you; I have never made one that I like as well as this easy recipe. It is ready in no time, (especially if you have pre-browned the ground beef; it will last in your refrigerator for days, or you can pre-brown the beef and freeze it. You can freeze the chili, too, but it takes almost as long to warm it as it does to toss it together in a pot and simmer it for a short time;that’s all it takes.)
Texans may get really get upset with me; they claim chili has no beans. Here, people add spaghetti; I have no idea why. If you are into trading ground turkey for beef, that is up to your taste but as far as I am concerned, there is not enough chili powder in the world to hide the fact that it is turkey. I don’t dislike turkey at all, but I do not believe that it is a substitute for beef in any recipe.

Do you know all of your guests well? Do you know their tastes and dietary restrictions? Is there any chance that someone will be bringing a guest whom you don’t know? Always have meatless alternatives; always have dairy and gluten-free and low sugar ones. It’s a nicer to have a variety and it’s healthier, too.
Don’t forget to look for ideas for more foods in the Meatless Protein Combinations [Sept.Archives]

No matter what you make, keeping the hot food hot and cold food cold is a challenge that you must meet. Depending on how for your TV is from your kitchen, you can keep food hot in pots on low heat on the stove, or in oven-proof stoneware or bakeware in your oven , set on 200F.(SuperBowl isn’t a time for your finest china and  your crystal anyway.) You can use slow cookers, warming trays, buffet servers and even press electric frying pans and rice cookers into warming service. Just make sure that you have a sturdy table and place it against a wall. Never have electric cords where anyone needs to walk by or around or where people have to reach over hot pots or servers to get to other foods and drinks.

ways to keep food warm for serving

ways to keep food warm for serving

Borrow slow cookers, or warmers if you must, but
you should have at least one slow cooker; you can get them for under $20. The big one here was about $35 and came with the little warmer as a bonus. The mini buffet-style warmer I have here was under $30, (and was given to me by my sister); the warming tray was left behind by the previous tenant and found when I moved into a place nearly thirty years ago. The electric frying pan was my mother’s.(Quality lasts.) If you anticipate doing entertaining, look for sales; you can get many of these at even lower prices. They make things easier, but are not necessities.(That is my rice cooker in the middle.)

It is easier to just prepare to put out small portions of cold foods and replenish the serving dishes, or if you have the room, prepare several dishes/platters and switch them out before the food becomes room temperature. Use a picnic cooler for extra storage room,(and place outside if the weather is cold).

You don’t want to miss the game and the fun …and let your guests see you working too hard; be a gracious host.

Make sure you hit your local dollar market/stores and pick up extra small, covered plastic storage containers for leftovers and for sending some home with your guests. YOU WILL HAVE LEFTOVERS ; that is a commandment! Never underfeed guest and never underestimate the appetite of sport fans, (especially male ones!) You may also want to pick up some covered, compartmentalized ‘carry-out’ containers; men love these and you can find them at dollar stores in packets of 10 for a dollar.
I often keep covered carry-out or pre-made item’s plastic containers in which to give away food. (“Recycle, Reduce, Reuse”). Foil pans are in all stores, (and cheap in dollar markets), and are also good for giving away food. Try never to give food on plates or in containers that you want to keep; you may not get them back. People may be too rushed to remember, or embarrassed if they break, or give them ‘back’ to the wrong person.(My aunt ‘returned’ my mother’s best cake dish to her next door neighbor.The woman took it and never told my aunt that it wasn’t hers!). If you want to use ‘real’ plates or bowls, use any odd pieces you may have or buy some at your local dollar store or  from you favorite charity thrift store. And put a note on your gift to pass the plate/bowl along.

Some people consider chicken wings another ‘must have’. My next post (I hope) will be on chicken wings and how easy it is to make them and how to make a variety of them.

 

3 Potato Skins  (9)

Make your own Potato Skins; make them healthier and wow ’em in the process.
Scrub potatoes and peel them in long strips. Place the strips in cold water and make mashed or Parsley Potatoes [December Archive], withe the insides, especially if you are making the Ham Casserole or other recipe for the party.

Line a flat baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Brush with vegetable oil of your choice,(I prefer regular olive or peanut oil), and sprinkle with salt,(preferably sea salt, but any will do).
Place the potato skins outside-down on the prepared baking sheet, brush the insides (top) with  vegetable oil and sprinkle them with…whatever you like! Some ideas are: Cheddar cheese; Pepper Jack cheese, parsley/ paprika/rosemary; chipotle; garlic/oregano; chives, with salt and pepper; Italian seasoning, (parsley, basil, marjoram); turmeric/ garlic; garam masala; or any group of herbs you like; mix or match them with cheeses, too.

Bake at 400F until very firm. When cool, these may be frozen wrapped well, with paper or plastic between the layers, and after thawing, can then be re-crisped in a hot oven before serving.

Don’t forget a fruit. A fruit tray is not hard to make and much less expensive if you do the slicing yourself. Fruits that will quickly oxidize,(turn brown), like bananas, apples and pears, will not do so as rapidly if they are dipped in either citrus soda or pineapple juice.Some people use lemon juice,[wince!].
If even THAT is too much trouble or you don’t feel that you will have the time, make a fruit salad, and feel free to use canned/jarred pineapple, plums, peaches, mandarin oranges, berries,(or frozen, thawed berries).This can be made a day or two ahead of time, and you’ll be glad it’s there.

Have plenty of ice and non-alcoholic drinks…good water, coffee, sodas and teas, with sugar and sweeteners on the side. Limit the alcohol if serving and cut it off long before your guests need to leave.Make sure they eat and drink plenty of clear fluids before and after.

Make sure there is a variety of chips, pretzels and/or popcorn or other non-sugary snacks. Avoid messy desserts and melting ones, such as those with whipped cream or ice cream, puddings and ‘molten cakes’. You are better off with cupcakes, muffins or bar-type cakes,(brownies, etc.), than a cake you need to cut. Cakes are seldom  pretty once they are  cut and are often a sticky mess; men, especially, don’t want to deal with the mess, (and you don’t need it on our floor or in the rugs).Plus, it takes up a lot of table room, you can put muffins and bar cookies stacked or in a basket.

I hope to get back with more recipes; if you have any questions, please shoot them my way! And no matter who wins or loses, I hope you at least get a kick out of the SuperBowl ads, like I do