Sticky Korean Chicken Wings

Chicken wings are without a doubt the best finger food ever. Over the years I have steered towards the sweet and salty sauces opposed to the original buffalo sauce, I find it to be a little boring.  I used a dry rub and a sauce for these and it made them much more addicting. The Gochujang gives them a lingering spice that lends an umami sweet heat.

To lessen the clean up, I grilled the wings; leaving only the saucepan in my workload of dishes.

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INGREDIENTS

18 Chicken wings or around 2 lbs.

Dry Rub

2 tablespoons baking powder

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tsp EACH ginger powder, garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

Korean Sticky Sauce

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup water

3 tablespoons Gochujang (you can find this at most Asian markets and I have also seen it at Vons)

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine or Mirin

1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons of chopped scallions

DIRECTIONS

Stir rub ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add half of the rub to a large freezer bag with half of the wings and shake until coated evenly.  Set wings on a large cutting board or a vessel to transfer to the grill. Continue with remaining rub ingredients and wings.
Meanwhile heat the grill to medium-high heat.
Grill the wings until cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.
While the wings cook, start the sauce. Whisk together all of the ingredients in a small saucepan, simmer until thickened about 8 minutes.
Place the rested wing into a bowl and toss with the sauce until they are evenly coated. Garnish with green onion or sesame seeds.
*Note, these can be baked in the oven if you prefer. Heat oven to 400, line baking sheets with foil and top with a baking rack. Line wings on the prepared rack and bake 35-45 minutes or until cooked through. Follow as is, with the sauce.

 

 

Holiday Break

Christmas came a few days late, it had to wait for all of us to get back home. Once we were all back together, it was off to the races.

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Santa brought way to much this year, waayyy too much. I’d like to say it’s all put away by now, but I’d be lying.

Wearing her new Sombrero, Averi helped me make cinnamon rolls. I made a semi-home version using pre-made bread dough and then just whipped up some cream cheese frosting. They were amazing and the pan was empty by the end of the day.

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The week felt like 10 years, I swear you guys. We went to plenty of parks, we cooked, and we made this weird candy that Santa brought. There was sushi, donuts and waffles;  I am actually shocked the girls ate it, strange stuff.

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AND we also sang Karaoke, yes we have apologized to the neighbors.

My family came over for a nice family belated Christmas. We had a taco bar, the annual Sherry cake and played games. Sadly everyone chickened out on their time to be a singing star. Averi however has found her niche.

Averi also got what she asked for from Grandma and Grandpa, a horse. It’s getting a lot of use.

 

 

 

Cancun {Part 3}

This was our first Christmas away from our kids which is in part why we decided to get away. I couldn’t imagine just sitting in our living room without them. We woke up a tad gamey on Christmas morning, luckily we had a special in room mimosa breakfast ordered for 8:30. Then we planned our attack to hit up Isla Mujeres. We went back and forth with just hopping on a Catamaran right outside our hotel to cut out the trip off of  the resort grounds and down into town to catch the Ferry. Buuuut, we weren’t keen on being on someone else’s schedule and having them choose where we were going to have lunch. In the end we decided to just do it ourselves. We hopped in a cab and jumped on the ferry.

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Once we were off the ferry they had people renting golf carts. We quickly grabbed one and within minutes we were in ours heading south down the island. Only 7 km long, its an easy trip around the island. Our friend at the resort told us to go to The Joint, a bar that someone he knows, knows someone else that might work there. Or so that is how the story went. About ten minutes into our cruise we unexpectedly and surprisingly ran straight into….

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That was some luck. We parked and went up to this outdoor bar. There were a couple guys playing some Sublime and a local bar dog. Shawna ordered a mango margarita and I ordered the best espresso martini of the entire trip, you guys it was so good. So good in fact that I ordered another to go. It’s legal there, well I assume it was since the bartender put it in a to-go cup for me.

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Not a terrible view to sit with a bevi.

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Once back in our cart we continued around the island. It’s just beautiful.

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We stopped every so often to walk down the the water and then I was able to get some cell service so we stopped at a cemetery and I called my girls to wish them a merry Christmas.

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Once we made it around the island we parked near Playa Norte. This is where there were restaurants and the beaches had chairs to rent. We had a pretty good lunch on the beach and I was very confident that it was el fin of tequila for me on this trip.

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After lunch we walked up the beach until we reached some open beach chairs. We plopped down, set our alarm and here is the best part. Fell asleep.

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We woke to the alarm and headed back to the mainland with plans of playing pool volleyball. But once we were back we ended up skipping it and just sat in the jacuzzi chatting with people.

For dinner we got all fancied up and went for one last Italian meal. Their garlic cream soup was so incredible you could bathe in it. I will see if I can recreate now that we are home. They had a Christmas show that night, once that was over I was beat.

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We woke up on our last day to rain. Once we were all packed we went down to the cafe for breakfast. Our flight wasn’t until later that day so were able to spend a little more time with friends at the pool until it was time to say our goodbyes. The trip home was a piece of cake and we were back in our own bed by midnight. It was a really good trip, just long enough. If we decided to do another all inclusive I would focus more on going where the food and wine is a bit better. But It’s going to be hard to go back to a hotel that isn’t all inclusive, that is definitely the way to go.

Cancun {part one}

A couple of weeks back we left San Diego before the sun was even awake, viva Mexico. We headed to Cancun for an adult only Mexican holiday. It was a long day of travel but we had the best seat companion, Lily the dog.

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By the time we got our luggage, hopped into our ride and barreled through the traffic it was late into the evening. We chose to stay at Secrets Playa Mujeres, an adult only all-inclusive resort. North of the hotel zone where it’s more quiet. We were greeted with Champagne and shown to our room.

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Our room was nice, we had a soaking tub in the bathroom and the patio, a rain shower with all the amenities one would need. After we dropped off our stuff, we headed down to the first restaurant we saw for dinner. Sadly, we were not impressed with our dishes and had our fingers crossed that this wasn’t setting the bar for the rest of our meals. After dinner we went back to the room to unpack and shower. We decided dessert was a necessity. We put on pj’s, ordered room service and ate in bed while binging the Investigation Discovery channel. Pretty sure that channel stayed put all week, those stories are horrifying.

The next morning we ordered breakfast and ate it on our patio amongst the breathtaking views. We sat and wished the clouds away.

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The weather didn’t heed our wishes and the rain came on and off and ON for the next couple of days. Not that that hinders anyone, everyone was still doing their thing while we sat out in one of the many jacuzzi’s. When it did stop, we moseyed down to the beach to drink in the beautiful grounds.

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This was our first all inclusive experience. Since cash wasn’t needed (aside from tips for the staff) I was sort of hoping that they would have a set up like Great Wolf Lodge. A bracelet that has your room key and a credit card that you wear the entire time. Leaving you not having to worry about a lone room key. When I asked the concierge if I needed to carry the key everywhere, she replied, “you do if you want to get into your room.” Side eye. So no matter what, we were stuck with a key to carry around all day and night.

There were around 7 restaurants on the grounds. steakhouse, seafood, Asian, French, Italian a buffet/cafe, an upscale Mexican and coffeehouse. Plus 24 hour room service. The food was hit or miss. Some things were incredible and some were incredibly bad. Case in point…This shrimp dish was delish.

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This potato soup served during the same meal, was absolutely not delish. It tasted like raw potato water.

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Each night we ended up at the dance club which is a really strong word for what it actually was. Some nights were busy but most were quiet. They did have a couple of pool tables but the sticks weren’t taken care of so after the second day we gave up.

We had a really good meal at the seafood restaurant the following day. We ordered the whole fried fish, the octopus, the chocolate crepe cake and the apple crumble. I was excited to have all this with a cold Chardonnay but the wine was very underwhelming. They poured a basic brand from Chilé and honestly none of the varietals were good. But I guess that’s what happens when we are so spoiled with wine where we live.

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We ended the day on the patio in the tub with wine. We learned that if you want to order a bottle of something through room service they will charge you, but if you just order 4 glasses of wine, it’s included. Brilliant.

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To be continued.

Chrissy’s Chicken Satay

I made this recipe on a whim. It was a what can I make that doesn’t require the grocery store recipe. Turns out I did have to run to the store for the pepper sauce ingredients, sigh…but this dish was totally worth dragging three children to the store. I definitely suggest you make all three recipes because all together it’s phenomenal. It has the makings of a really good salad. We have to talk about the peanut sauce real quick. I have made hundreds of different versions from using coconut milk, to heating all the ingredients. This one is the best I have ever made, and it’s so easy.

This paired well with a rosé and a soccer match. Kids optional

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Ingredients for Chicken Marinade

1 pound chicken boneless and skinless chicken thighs cut into good size pieces

8 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons brown sugar

4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

14 oz. canned coconut milk

Ingredients for the Peanut Sauce

½ cup creamy peanut butter

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

3 tablespoons Soy sauce

1½ tablespoons Sriracha

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

 

Ingredient for the Sweet Hot Pepper Sauce

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon distilled vinegar

1 Shallot finely chopped

1 Fresh Thai Chile, minced

Kosher Salt to taste

Directions:

Marinade the chicken: In a bowl, combine the coconut milk, garlic, cilantro, brown sugar, salt, turmeric, and ginger in a bowl. Add the chicken and cover, and marinate for at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours in the refrigerator. *Soak wood skewers for at least 30 minutes before grilling.

Make the peanut sauce: In a bowl (or I used my bullet blender so I didn’t have to mince garlic) combine the peanut butter, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, Sriracha, vinegar, and 1⁄4 cup water, thinning with additional water if you prefer a thinner sauce.

Make the sweet hot pepper sauce: In a bowl, combine the sugar, 1⁄2 cup water, the vinegar, cucumber, shallot, and chile. Season to taste with salt.

Heat grill to medium high heat.

Thread chicken onto the skewers and grill until cooked through. About 5-6 minutes for side.

Serve with the peanut sauce and hot pepper sauce. Make sure you eat all three together and then  be prepared swoon. SO GOOD!

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Pavlova with Passion Fruit Whip and Mango

A little tidbit about me and this blog, the titles are the hardest part. So I apologize if you are underwhelmed with them, some days are better than others.

I have so many fond memories of my grandma. She loved me, she loved my grandpa, she loved to please and I am not sure if she loved to cook but that is one thing she was always doing, at least that’s one thing I remember. I remember fresh orange juice, scrambles eggs, homemade buttermilk ranch dressing, red hot cinnamon applesauce and strawberry shortcake.

Here is where it gets fuzzy. You see my grandma died before I was mature enough to really appreciate all that she was and did. But one of the many things I remember vibrantly is a dessert she made. Meringues with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.  I remember the dessert as “strawberry shortcake” but I may have made that up. However I have talked to my parents and they were no help, sigh. (LOVE YOU PARENTS)

This is where I am going with the story if you are nodding off; dad cough cough. As I grew older my friends, not naming names (Jess) told me about how they loved strawberry shortcake, I thought; OMG, (well I didn’t say that because I was only 10) I also love strawberry shortcake.  Turned out, their version of (can we condense it to SSC?) SSC was not the same as my memory of the dessert. Years and years went on and another SSC I did not order.

As time went on, cooking classes were taken and the words “Eton Mess and Pavlova” crept in. I wish so hard that my grandma was alive to answer all of my questions I need to ask her about one damn dessert. But since she isn’t with us anymore I must give you my own findings. The dessert was her own creation, half Pavlova (meringue dessert with a crisp crust and soft, light inside, usually topped with fruit and whipped cream) AND half Eton Mess. (dessert consisting of a mixture of strawberries, meringue, and whipped cream). I think the thing I am asking myself is this….how has it taken me so long to make this dessert? Such a strong fond memory but yet, so distant.

I put a tropical twist on it using passion fruit, mango and some dragon fruit. It was incredible.

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Meringues

6 egg whites, room temperature
1.5 cups white sugar
2 tsp corn starch
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice or distilled vinegar
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract

Combine cream, sugar and vanilla and nectar in a chilled mixing bowl and beat until soft peaks form. 
Smother your Meringues with passion fruit whipped cream and top with anything you want. I used mangos and dragon fruit but it will be good with anything or nothing at all. I promise.

 

 

 

 

 

Cheese & Cherry Tomato Puff Pastry Tart

Puff pastry, who doesn’t like puff pastry? It’s so versatile and can be used for anything. I usually have some tucked in my freezer just in case the urge to make this Tommy Tart recipe appears. I didn’t veer far from that recipe, but instead of using Boursin cheese, this time I used mozz, gruyere and parm.

Listen, this is recipe you need in your back pocket. When your neighbors, you know the ones you kind of like but don’t ever hang out with. They suggest you “stop on over” for some wine. And well, duh, if there is wine, then you are there! But you can’t show up empty handed. SO, you are welcome.

Here is what you are going to do, pull out the puff pastry you have in your freezer (see what I did there). Set it on the counter to defrost while you either, break up the siblings fight in the other room or struggle with the common core math that the 7 year old brought home. Now you really need that wine AND your puff pastry is now ready; set GO!

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Ingredients

1 sheet of frozen Puff Pastry

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped herbs, basil, oregano

1/3 cup  shredded mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup  grated Gruyere cheese

1/3 cup  grated Parmesan  cheese

olive oil + salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

The puff pastry needs to be defrosted, leave out on the counter for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place them in a colander over a bowl or in the sink. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and let drain as you prepare the following.

Place a sheet of parchment on a cookie sheet. Place the thawed puff pastry on a lightly floured counter.  Unfold the flaps.  Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the pastry and, with a rolling pin, just slightly roll the dough so the seams are not so prominent.  Transfer the dough to the baking sheet.

With a sharp knife, score the puff pastry all along the sides about 1/2 inch, to  make a small border.  Sprinkle the cheeses with the herbs and  top with the tomatoes. Drizzle with (good) olive oil.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden. Cut it up and now you have a dish to bring to (said) neighbor. Maybe they will invite you back or maybe they wont. Either way, it wont be this recipe that disappoints, just saying.

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