Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey kids!  I wanted to wish all of you and your families a bountiful, relaxing and warm Thanksgiving.

I've been busy with my brothers helping my my Mom pack and move up here to East Tennessee.  I found an amazing condo for her and we got her all moved in last Thursday.  Unfortunately, Saturday evening when I when I picked her up and bring her to my house for dinner and to watch the LSU vs. Ol' Miss game, I wound up taking her to the emergency room.

We knew my Mom's lung cancer had come back last May and she received radiation treatment on two tumors in her upper left lung.  One shrunk and one didn't.  Evidently her disease is progressing since her oxygen level is low and her carbon dioxide level is high.  She's still in the hospital as her doctor is trying to get her O2 level up and her CO2 level down.  She is progressing, but very slowly. 

So I haven't disappeared and I am making an easy but amazing Thanksgiving dinner.

Also, my oldest homegirl works for American Eagle and over the Christmas Season, AE is hiring friends and family.  My baby homegirl, my oldest homegirl's boyfriend and I are working Black Friday.  Yikes!  But, I could pass up a once in a lifetime opportunity to work along side my babies even if one of them will be my boss!  We are working tomorrow evening from 8:45 PM until 5:00 AM Friday morning. 

Love and hugs to all of you! 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Spicy, Crunchy Tailgatin' Wings

One of the many things I look forward to in the fall is football season.  Friday night lights, college, or pro; it's all good.  Besides walking out of the stadium celebrating because your team was beasting it up, the pre-game hype or tailgating before the game is my favorite.  Socializing with friends and making new friends, ribbing your fellow tailgaters who are sporting the colors of the opposing team revs up the excitement. 

Then there's the food, it's all about the food.  Oh yeah, we all pass up the salsa and chips, the veggie tray and knock people over to elbow our way to the buffalo wings because they are the bomb, but spicy, well-seasoned, crunchy wings totally rock!  Serve a bold dipping sauce on the side and you totally score!

Well football season is far from over so don't you dare skimp on any of the spices!  I know, I know, you're shaking and thinking WOW!  These wings have a subtle, pleasant BAM!  I promise these wings will not set your tongue and internal organs on fire.  I promise you will be able to enjoy the flavor and not just taste fire. 

Get Your Crunch On:

1 tablespoon Lawry's Seasoning Salt
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes, divided
3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
3 teaspoons cayenne pepper, divided
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon lemon-pepper
2-1/2 lbs. (2 packs) chicken drummettes or whole wings cut at the joint, toss the little end section
2 eggs
2 tablespoons Louisiana Hot Sauce or Frank's Hot Sauce
1-1/2 cups AP flour
Canola or vegetable oil for frying

Whisk together the seasoning salt, 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons black pepper, 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, poultry seasoning, and lemon pepper. Remove about 2 tablespoons of the seasoning and set aside for later.

Place the chicken in a large baking dish (don't use metal).   Season the wings evenly with the seasoning.  Cover dish with plastic wrap and let them chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour but no more than 2 hours.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator, uncover and let them sit out for about 15 minutes.  While the chicken is sitting out, in a large shallow dish, whisk the eggs, hot sauce, the remaining red pepper flakes, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.   Place the flour in another shallow dish.

Fill cast iron skillet halfway with oil and heat over medium heat to 350 degrees or alternately use a deep fryer.

Coat the chicken with the egg batter then dredge through the flour. Carefully place a few pieces at a time into the hot oil.  Be careful not to crowd the skillet.  Fry until golden brown, turning about every 3 to four minutes.  Place the cooked wings on a paper towel lined platter.  Sprinkle with the reserved seasoning immediately after placing the cooked chicken on the platter.  Then continue on cooking the chicken in batches.

If you like to dip, here a fantastic dipping sauce to serve along with your wings:

1 cup light or low-fat sour cream (don't use fat-free)
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon chili sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt freshly ground black pepper

Whisk everything together and serve along side your wings.

Save the trees, use less paper napkins!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cane Syrup Glazed Acorn Squash

The first time either A.J. or I had acorn squash was last fall.  I saw the Neely's prepare this with maple syrup and thought I was game to try it.  I don't know why I haven't blogged this before because in the fall we have this just about every Saturday night.  I don't know why neither of our mothers ever made this either.  More things to ask my mom, "Why?"

This one of the easiest sides to make and if this is really a vegetable, which I have my doubts, your picky eaters will think you've lost your marbles and are feeding them dessert.

I've made this using Steen's Cane Syrup which is what I grew up on in New Orleans and I think you can buy it online, and I've made this once with real maple syrup which is kind of pricey.  We like the cane syrup better but it has a deeper and richer flavor and more body.  I bet you could even use a half and half combination of dark corn syrup and molasses if you have them in your pantry.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons light  brown sugar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
2 small acorn squash, cut in half, seeds removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Butter, for topping (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Mix the olive oil, brown sugar, and cane syrup (or maple syrup) together in a small bowl. Put the acorn squash, cut side up, in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush the glaze on the flesh of the squash and season with salt, and pepper, to taste.

Put the squash in the oven and roast it until tender and golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven and transfer it to a serving dish. (Option, top with butter and serve.)

The combination of the savory and sweet is a winner! 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Caramelized Onion and Apple Tarts with Gruyere

Two words that can stop me in my tracks are "Caramelized Onions".  Then add some melted cheese and slap a flaky, buttery piece of puff pastry under it, you've just become my new best friend. 

If you're looking for a special appetizer to completely blow away your friends and family, you have found it!  I was given a sample of one of these little pillows of all that is good at a gourmet cooking gadget store last weekend.  We were told this was one of their sales associates' creations and they were giving out copies of the recipe with no name on the paper, just the words, The Slanted Door.  So I couldn't wait to make these babies for our little LSU/Alabama football get together last night.  They were a huge hit, even with the teenage picky eaters.  You can bet they will be on the menu for Thanksgiving!

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium sized sweet yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
2 tablespoons butter
2 tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 cups  shredded Gruyère cheese
2 tablespoons minced scallions
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 package frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons water

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm up the oil. Add the onions and sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon salt and saute, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to carmelize, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and aloow the onions to cool.

Place your oven racks, one in the upper third and the other in the lower third of an oven.  Preheaoven to 400 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the same skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the apples and sprinkle with the sugar and stir to coat the apples. Saute, stirring, until the apples are just starting to caramelize and have softened, about 10 minutes.

Transfer to the bowl with the onions and stir in the cheese, chives, thyme and a dash of pepper.

Cut the puff pastry into 2-inch squares and place on the prepared baking sheets.  Space the squares about 1 inch apart. I used a flutes pastry cutter, thinking the pastry would look really pretty once it was baked. When it was all said and done, the edges were smooth, but it helped me cut them evenly.

Slightly beat the egg and blendin the 2 tablespoons of water.  Brush the egg mixture on each pastry square.

Place 1 heaping tablespoon of the filling in the center of each square. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking, until the pastry is crisp underneath and golden brown on top, about 25 minutes. When you rotate the pans, the pastry make seem to deflate a little bit, but don't worry, your tarts will be just fine.

Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the tarts cool to room temperature. Serve at room temperature.

Go make these.  Try them before Thanksgiving, it's important.