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a pittsburgh hippie chick's unbridled love for all things food related

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appetizers

Slow and Low Chicken wings!

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three years ago, almost to the day, funny enough… I stumbled upon these here chicken wings while cruising recipes online.  I love looking at food blogs, and I definitely have my favorites, however this one came from a site I hadn’t visited before.  the dude’s blog was/is called Macheesmo, and I got to clicking around on it back then when trying to locate some great chicken wing recipes for my son, Eli, who is a wing aficionado!  the way he described them being almost effortless struck a cord (i’m all about the path of least resistance in certain instances!) and I decided to give them a go.  well guess what… they were AWESOME, and we’ve been enjoying them ever since!  I take them to parties, and they are usually the first thing to go.  I typically serve them with ranch, mostly out of habit, but honest to pete they are absolutely fabulous right as they are with zero sauce.   you need three pounds of wings.  now this recipe is for the split wing, not the whole wing.   I have always used fresh… (see pic below)- but I am assuming one could thaw a bag of frozen wings and use those just as easily! just pat dry before starting.  ALLOW FOUR HOURS COOK TIME FOR THESE WINGS! that being said, this IS something you have to time out.  the prep is like fifteen mins- and then once they’re in the oven you’re golden- you just have to flip every hour.

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WHAT YOU NEED:

3 pounds of wingettes

1 Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp black pepper

1 Tbsp chili powder

1 Tbsp paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder (NOT garlic salt)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Ranch or favorite dipping sauce

EQUIPMENT:  WIRE RACK AND FOIL LINED BAKING TRAY

 

OK HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

combine all of  the spices into a large bowl.  stir to combine.  take your chicken wings and toss to coat, working one package at a time.  once coated, place them on a wire baking rack that you have placed on top of a foil lined baking sheet for easy clean up.

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place wings into a preheated 275* oven and set timer for 4 hours.   flip them every hour.   they will come out falling off the bone juicy and delicious.  you will love these, and seriously… how easy was that!?  enjoy!

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One of my (many… many) FAVORITE dips…. Warm Bacon and Onion

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i have a thing for dips. salsas, quesos…. pretty much anything you can nosh on at will while waiting for more food to arrive.  let’s be honest… there’s no better place to have a dip than in your own home with your own family. no fretting over double dipping, no scooping a measly tablespoon size of the dip out on to a flimsy little paper plate and having reservations about going back for seconds or ((gasp)) thirds while chatting at a party…  no way Jose.  at home, it’s just you and the dip, in the vessel you prepared it in… eat as much or as little as you like, for as long as you like. you are the boss here.  when I saw this dip on the internet… I knew I had to make it.  except now I cannot remember where I originally saw it to give street cred.  I know I tweaked it heavily (as I habitually do) so it is a twisted version of the original anyhow.  I made it for super bowl sunday. we stayed home to watch, so it was perfect.  I hope you like this as much as I did.

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

2 large Vidalia onions

five pieces of cooked bacon (cool and crumble a bit)

a heaping cup of shredded cheese (I think I used part provolone and part swiss) but you could really go any direction you want to here.  I think the original called for Gruyere- but honest to pete I think a nice hunk of Monterey jack would suit here just as nicely! it’s your rodeo.

a small container of light sour cream (I don’t know what they are, maybe 8 oz??)

a half a cup or so of mayo (I prefer Helmann’s light)

salt and pepper to taste

bread of choice for dipping.  rip it all apart (see pic) and lightly toast it in the oven for eight mins or so to give it a bit of crunch.  pitas or tortilla chips would work fine here as well, I just like the rustic look of the torn bread.  again… you do you.

HERE IS WHAT YOU DO:

HALF AND PEEL YOUR ONIONS: SLICE UP YOUR ONIONS NICELY AND SAUTE THEM IN TWO TABLESPOONS OF BUTTER on medium to low heat until they get going and then reduce heat to low. ten more mins or so until they look beautiful and brownish.  (I used a cast iron skillet here, it is not necessary to do this, but keep after them and low heat if you do- as it retains wicked heat)  Keep in mind: when caramelizing onions…. low and slow. I added my salt and pepper here too.

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WHILE THESE ARE GOING YOU CAN SHRED YOUR CHEESE.  IF YOU PURCHASED PRE-SHREDDED CHEESE, WELL THEN POUR YOURSELF A BEER OR SOME SHIT, I DUNNO.

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COMBINE ALL OF THE LISTED INGREDIENTS INTO A BOWL BIG ENOUGH FOR MIXING. MIX IT UP YO. THEN ADD IT TO A CUTE LITTLE OVEN SAFE DIP VESSEL OF YOUR CHOOSING.  TOP WITH FRESH BACON CRUMBLES, AND PUSH SOME OF THEM DOWN INTO THE DIP A BIT SO THERE IS BACON IN THE MIDDLE AS WELL. BAKE THIS UP UNCOVERED AT 400* FOR ABOUT 25 MINS OR SO.  (if taking to a party, take it right up until the bake it part, and then bake when you get there) SERVE ASAP!  ENJOY!!

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grilled chicken bacon poppers ~ whoa good!

everyone is entitled to an opinion... except those who don't like BACON.
everyone is entitled to an opinion… except those who don’t like BACON.

ok people… I have said it before, and i’ll say it again… I DON’T trust people who don’t like bacon!  I like it in the morning, I like it at lunch on a BLT or on a big fat beefy burger when out indulging with friends.  I like it wrapped around fat juicy scallops… there isn’t an end here people, so I will just stop.  I recently discovered this FUN new trick with bacon so I thought I’d share it with ya’ll.  Chicken tenderloin bites wrapped in a half a piece of bacon, and secured on skewers for ease of grilling.  Pop them off the skewers once cool enough, and serve them as the main squeeze, as an appetizer with friends (we dipped in BBQ sauce… but think ranch, think a Sriracha/Maple syrup dip, anything goes here) or a couple of them alongside a juicy burger as an over the top addition!  however you serve them… you’re gonna like them.

WHAT YOU NEED:

CHICKEN TENDERLOINS (CUT INTO BITE SIZED CHUNKS)

BACON (CUT IN HALF)

SKEWERS

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wrap them as shown and skewer them to secure.

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ADD FRESH BLACK PEPPER  IF DESIRED

GRILL THESE OVER MEDIUM HEAT AND CHECK OFTEN. they will be dripping a lot so the flames will be dancing upward. Careful not to burn the bacon.  if needed, place over indirect heat. You will work it out.  Once chicken is cooked, you are golden.  allow to cool for a few mins and then remove to a platter.  Enjoy!!

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these are great with freshly sautéed asparagus as well.
these are great with freshly sautéed asparagus as well.
or as I mentioned... alongside this big fat son of a gun.  YUMMO.
or as I mentioned… alongside this big fat son of a gun. YUMMO.

ten minutes to fresh hummus

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“A healthy snack in minutes… literally… you won’t believe how easy it is.”

The first time i made hummus two thoughts popped into my head.  one- – you have got to be kidding me… this easy??!! there has to be something else, some complicated step….  and two- –  i will never ever pay 4$ for a small container of hummus again!!   Hummus is one of the most versatile dips/ condiments… call it what you will- out there today in my opinion.  it can be your first layer when building a veggie sandwich or pita, it can be carried from dish to mouth on pretzels, carrots, zucchini strips, bell peppers, celery… the possibilities are endless.  use it instead of mayo on your next chicken sandwich  or wrap and you have saved yourself some fat and added some protein!  the fat that hummus does contain comes from the olive oil and the tahini (ground sesame seeds) which are the heart- healthy fats you should be getting more of anyway.  hummus is a staple in Middle Eastern diets, but it has certainly gone mainstream over the past few years, so much so that it is served weekly in my daughter’s elementary school lunchroom as “ha ha hummus” ! (i love it)  the taste is very distinct… even i will admit that- but somehow, it works. it is delicious, and becomes as addictive as those packaged sour cream and chive dips we all grew up noshing to our heart’s content (or discontent, lol) with greasy potato chips at every family gathering.  chickpeas are the main ingredients in hummus, also known as garbanzo beans, and they are truly a staple in most vegetarian and vegan diets today. they have no cholesterol, and in studies have actually been shown to prevent the build up of cholesterol in blood vessels. they are high in protein, and have no saturated fat.  they are both filling and satisfying at the same time, and can be cooked in with rice or stews or thrown on top of salads – taking the place of meat with ease.  enough about chick peas. let’s get down with the hummus.

INGREDIENT LIST:

one can of chick peas (organic if able please)

one bottle of tahini (you only use a quarter cup- this will last for six months or more in your fridge- shake well before using)

olive oil

garlic cloves

lemon juice (fresh if able please- one lemon will do- put the rest in your water for the rest of the day)

salt if desired

OK HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

get out your food processor or heavy duty blender (i’ve never made it in the blender, but i’m sure it would work out fine.) Open and rinse your can of chick peas.  Add them to the food processor. Shake your container of tahini well, and add a 1/4 c atop the chick peas.  Squeeze 2-3 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice into the mix (careful not to add seeds).  Peel and crush 2 cloves of garlic and add.  Add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.  Add a generous pinch of salt if desired.  Attach the lid and fire her up.  process until smooth, adding water a Tablespoon at a time if you desire a more thin consistency.  turn it out to a serving dish and enjoy!! store in an airtight container in your fridge for up to two weeks, stir well each time before snacking.  this is the basic recipe… feel free to add some sundried tomatoes, using the oil from the tomatoes instead of the straight olive oil and adding a tsp of oregano.  this would give it an italian flare.  go greek with a half cup of feta instead of the tahini- and a cup of baby spinach leaves in place of the garlic.  like roasted red pepper?? go there. the possibilities are endless.  happy blending yo!!

the tahini i chose
the tahini i chose
everybody in the tub!!
everybody in the tub!!
process until smooth
process until smooth
turn it out to a bowl and enjoy!
turn it out to a bowl and enjoy!

Roasted Rosemary Marcona Almonds

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The first time I was introduced to Marcona almonds was in the middle of a typical crazy busy shift at work.  My co-worker had a bag of them from Trader Joe’s, and they were ‘roasted with rosemary.’   The taste blew me away, but more than that… was the texture. These almonds are SO different from the ‘usual’ almonds you and I are used to.  They are smaller, more rounded, and more crunchy. Way more crunchy!  As in, Macadamia nut crunchy.   Marcona almonds come to us from Spain, and are said to be the best almonds ever by all who have tried them. You can get them pretty easily at your local Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, as well as specialty stores I’m sure.  I’ve read about them being roasted or toasted with Thyme, or simply toasted and sprinkled with sea salt… but I could not get over the perfection of the Rosemary roasted ones I tried at work.  I bought myself a container of almonds, had Hubby bring me home some fresh Rosemary from work, and got busy.  The first thing  you do is preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Second, line a heavy duty baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil (mostly for easy clean up).  Spread  your marconas out over the sheet as evenly as possible.

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Next take a generous handful of fresh rosemary and roughly chop it with a sharp knife. Sprinkle it over the almonds, and then drizzle with some olive oil.  Lightly toss to coat. sprinkle with salt, and pepper if desired.  Place in 350 degree oven, and set timer for 5 minutes. stir/ flip around with a spatula – and continue to roast, checking five minutes later. Stir and flip around once again. Watch them carefully at this point, as they burn easily. I would maybe go another minute, and then remove them to the stovetop. Pour them into a big bowl to cool completely. If you taste them now, while they’re warm, they will feel a bit chewy… this is why you have to let them cool, so they can regain their crunch.  continue to toss here and there in the bowl to help cool evenly. Once cooled, serve to guests, hide them in your pantry in an airtight container, eat them all up while you watch ‘Orange is the New Black’… anyway you slice it, they are amazingly addicting.  enjoy!!

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