Farewell Tea Party

Last week, we had a farewell tea party for my girls and their New Jersey besties.

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We started with an amuse-bouche of sweet popcorn in condiment bowls and then had cucumber sandwiches and white chocolate fondue.  Next time, no fondue forks.  Those things are sharp and everyone just dips fruit directly into the barely warm chocolate anyway.

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My helper setting the table:

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Every civilized tea party has handwritten place settings.  (If Kate Middleton uses any of the names above, there will be another, much larger consolidated tea party and baby shower.  If Kim Kardashian uses any of them, we’re going to Canada.)

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A great time was had by all.

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– Catherine

Guys DO make passes at girls with mustaches

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We hope you have your Valentine plans ready to go for tomorrow.  There is nothing worse than being that guy or girl running into CVS at 6:15 p.m. on February 14.  The card selection will mostly be wiped out and your only option will probably be a Valentine’s day card for your great-grandmother or  “from all of us” to your boss.  And a tube of toothpaste or a box of condoms doesn’t send a message of love.  Well maybe it does, but probably not the way you mean it.  Or maybe that is what you mean.   In any case, we would like to offer a card that you can use if you find yourself in a pinch.  This poem is an original, written by my husband.   Now I can truly call him a warrior-poet.   (If you use it, please give props where they are due.)

I found the mustache mold at Michael’s and used Wilton candy melts and lollipop sticks to assemble what I hope will be the most original Valentine’s Day sentiment in my son’s classroom.

Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go clean out my bathroom of any hair removal products.  Apparently, I don’t need them anymore.

– Andra

Wing Tips. You don’t wear ’em, you eat ’em!

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Did you read the 2013 Wing Report issued by the National Chicken Council?  They put to rest the rumors that there would be a chicken wing shortage this year but also reported some startling facts, like, did you know that the price for chicken wings is at an all time high?  And, that the chicken wing is now the most expensive part of the bird?  Inviting the crew over for a platter of wings seems a little extravagant now, doesn’t it?  You don’t want your friends to think you’re putting on airs by serving a bucket of wings.  Maybe filet would be better.

Keeping in mind the high price of this party food, it would make sense to use every part of the wing and ignore recipe instructions that say “throw away the tips”.   It turns out that most of the American wing tips, or flappers as they are called in the industry, are sent to Asian countries.  This article, In Praise of Wing Tips, by Paul Lucas for Saveur magazine makes these little extra bits sound really good.  We gave it a try and they weren’t bad.  My husband said it reminded him of  pork rinds.  It’s like a little chicken skin lollipop.  And that is a real thing in fancy restaurants now.  At Yusho in Chicago an order of chicken skin goes for $4.50.

Give it a try.   It’s not going to fill you up, it’s more of a bar snack.  They are easy to make and will make you feel good that you aren’t throwing away food that people in China would be happy to have.

-Andra

Roast Flappers

Preheat oven to 425°.  Place wing tips on a rimmed baking sheet.  Generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for 20 – 30 minutes, turning over halfway through baking.  Serve.

They’re better #naked

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Chicken wings.  What did you think I meant?  We’ve got ourselves a real marketing team now.  Her name is Ashley and she’s wicked smaht.  (She is the author of another great blog you should check out called, acuteredhead.)  Luckily for us, she is a marketing and research expert, that also happens to be my sister-in-law.   She has graciously offered to help us grow our little blog.  Otherwise, we would still be floundering in the sea of  “The Intranet” and “The Google”.  Among other things, she taught us the value of the hashtag.   Imagine what that title, #naked, has done for our readership.  Look for our next post, titled  “#blowjob:  Easter decorating starts here”.

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Back to the chicken wings.  Again, while Catherine was here, (yes,we barely came up to breathe), we made chicken wings for the playoff game. (The outcome has left us with nothing to do on Sunday except to eat chicken wings, naked.)   We like Buffalo style wings but as much as we like butter, we are a little turned off by the amount of fat and calories this adds to food that comes prepackaged with it’s own source of delicious fat.  What we were after was a Thai curry chicken wing.  We  roasted the wings with nothing more than salt and pepper sprinkled over them at about 425° for 1 hour, or until they were golden brown and crispy.  Then we pulled them out and tossed them with Thai red curry paste that we had mixed with a little fish sauce and lime juice.  They were good, but not great.

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What was great though, were the wings with nothing on them except for their golden brown salty and peppery flesh.  Naked is the way to go.  If you are still looking for extra flavor profiles, set up a series of dipping bowls that the wings can be dipped in.  You get the best of all worlds with no soggy skin.   Soggy skin isn’t sexy and as we all know, #sex sells.

-Andra

Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings

4 pounds of chicken wings, drumettes, flats and wing tips, separated.  Save wing tips for another recipe.

Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 425°.

Spread chicken wings on a metal, high sided baking sheet so that none of the wings are touching each other.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Bake for 1 hour or until the wings are golden brown and crispy.  Serve alone or with sauces to dip into.

Secret Sauce – I’m sorry.  I can’t give you a recipe for the Secret Sauce.  You can read why, here.

Thai Green Curry Sauce

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 tablespoon Thai green curry paste

1 tablespoon grated ginger (we like a lot of ginger.  Adjust according to taste)

Heat coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in curry paste and ginger and heat until curry paste is incorporated and the mixture smells fragrant.

Hoisin Sauce

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce

1 teaspoon of rice wine vinegar

a few drops of sesame oil

2-3 tablespoons of water

Combine all ingredients and adjust according to your taste.

Buffalo sauce 

1/4 cup melted butter

1/4 cup Texas Pete

Mix until well combined.

Trick-or-treat

Do you remember coming home from trick-or-treating and sorting out your candy?  The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups got a pile, the PayDays got a pile, Heath and Skor bars-special pile, all those miniatures got a pile and then there were those weird things, loose Raisinetes, pennies, obviously last years Christmas mints, stickers and Bit-O-Honeys.  As a kid, I didn’t spend a lot of time trying to super sleuth where those lame treats came from.  I didn’t have to because Catherine would come up behind me and say “OOOOHHH, is that a Bit-O-Honey?  I’ll trade you my peanut butter cups for your Bit-O-Honeys and pennies!”  But, now that I’m the one buying the Halloween candy I wonder, who, besides my sister, is buying the Bit-O-Honey?

Here’s a treat for the few Skor and Heath bars that might make it home tonight.  (Tell your kids what I’ve told my kids about these candy bars.  That they are made with the leftover meat parts that can’t be put into hotdogs.)   These cupcakes are really good.  I made them fun sized, especially for Halloween, so that the adults would have a treat until the kids got home with the rest of the candy that we’ll pretend  not to eat while they’re at school.  -Andra

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Frosting  Adapted from Ina Garten

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½  teaspoon baking soda

½  teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½  teaspoon ground ginger

½  teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 large eggs

1 cup canned pumpkin purée (8 ounces), not pie filling

½  cup granulated sugar

½  cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

½  cup vegetable oil

Maple Frosting (see recipe below)

½  cup coarsely chopped Heath bars, for serving (2 1.4-ounce bars)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush or spray the top of muffin tins with vegetable oil or  line them with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.  In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin purée, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vegetable oil. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined.

Divide the batter among the prepared tins and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, for regular sized muffins tins or 10-12 minutes for miniature muffin tins until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Set aside to cool completely.

Spread the cupcakes with the Maple Frosting and sprinkle with the chopped toffee bits.  Makes 10 regular sized cupcakes or 24 miniature cupcakes.

Maple Frosting

6  ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

3  tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

¼  teaspoon Boyajian Natural Maple Flavor

½  teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese and butter on low speed until smooth. Stir in the maple flavoring and vanilla extract. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

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