Slower

As I sat perusing through regular television channels for something to peak my interest, I stumbled upon one of my favorite channels, WHYY (which I just discovered it’s the acronym for Wider Horizons for You and Yours!). Mary Ann Esposito was cooking with a guest chef, Martin Yan, and they were making Italian and Asian rice dishes, both of which made my mouth water within only a few minutes of tuning into ththe program. From what I saw, her guest made a fried rice topped with mint and crunchy noodles. She then finished up her dish, which was a creamy risotto with saffron that I wanted to jump through the screen and steal the whole pot! 

It was the program following Mary Ann’s Ciao Italia that brought back so many memories, I was inspired to write this post. It reminded me of the times when I felt like I was so bored out of my mind that I sat and watched cooking shows all afternoon, times that I didn’t want to be home, but I didn’t have any other choice- these moments eventually turned into times when I was glad to be tuned in because I had developed a love for cooking. 

Lidia Bastianich is a world known Italian chef that has been cooking since before I was born. Her show that aired today, Lidia’s Kitchen was almost an instant favorite for me. The way that she shared classic Italian recipes with such ease and knowledge, made dishes for each course of the meal, and used a variety of ingredients, challenged me to apply her techniques to my own cooking. 

I even loved the fact that she always told stories about her family and traditions that were passed down through many generations. Another shocking fact that I recently found out, her son is Joe Bastianich from Master Chef (another one of my favorite shows)! Joe was the cold shouldered judge who you really had to impress to get even a small nod at your dish. I actually miss him on the show, but I heard he was doing big things on Master Chef Italy so I’m okay with that. 

For today’s episode, Lidia was cooking everything with some cheese. Maybe I should have told her that this wouldn’t be the best ingredient for me to be using or consuming, but I still went with the flow because she’s Lidia and she knows her stuff. My favorite dish was a cheese pastry she made with a funky cheese, I think Gorgonzola…it looked like a great appetizer or side dish. 

When the show was over I sat there reflecting on those memories I mentioned earlier. Sometimes as children and adolescents we don’t appreciate time for what it is (atleast I can see that I didn’t). We want everything to hurry up instead of taking the time to enjoy each moment. Thank God I have reasons to slow down now. I cherish the times when I can sit and enjoy shows like this, these moments are fewer and farther in between, but more meaningful. 

Slow down,

-Jay

Hot wangz

It feels so good to say that we have been cutting down on our fast food intake! Let me tell you, with life, jobs, kids, etc. it’s so easy to get defeated and pick-up/order something to eat. Some days after work I literally just want to crawl into bed (oh, and I have actually done that a few days last year, but thank God for summer vacation). When we do get take out I try not to go to chain restaurants because I know they are focused more on quantity than quality. So to fill this void, we’ve been trying to make our own versions of our favorite fast food dishes at home! It’s ironic because these dishes aren’t the fastest meals to make, but they are delicious and by making them at home I know that we are cutting soooo many calories. 

Below I am going to share one recipe we have been tweaking at, hot wangz aka wing dings with hot sauce. It’s such a favorite all around for us because I FINALLY realized that I live in a house full of car-ni-vores: bacon, chicken, even turkey does not stand a chance! I can eat my own small share of meat, but honestly I can also be okay without it.

Here’s what you’ll need to make the most delicious hot wangz: 

  • Bag of wing dings
  • Vegetable oil (or the variety you prefer)
  • Hot sauce (Frank’s)
  • One stick of butter 
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Hot pepper flakes
  • Onion powder 

Once you gather all your ingredients, you’ll just need to grab your oven…oh, wait that’s there already. Well get a frying pan, baking pan, mixing bowl, tongs, and paper towels (an essential). 

                             Directions: 

  1. Make sure your wing dings are already thawed out. If not, soak them in cold water or defrost them in the microwave. 
  2. Season your wings with spices: salt, pepper, and onion powder. Completely cover chicken with paprika so that it gets a nice brown color once you fry it. Depending on the level of heat you want, add 1-2 teaspoons of hot pepper seeds and 1/2- 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. (If you desire, marinate the chicken in the seasoning for 30 minutes in refrigerator or until ready to cook.)
  3. Once you have seasoned the chicken to your liking, get your frying pan and turn the heat to medium high heat. It is crucial that you allow the pan to warm evenly before adding the oil or your chicken will cook unevenly (nobody go time for that!). Once the pan has warmed for a minute or two, add your oil to the pan. There should be about 1/2 inch of oil in the pan (a little more than enough to cover the bottom of the pan). 
  4. Allow the oil to heat for a few minutes. Test to see if it is warm enough by flicking a tiny amount of water onto the oil. If it bubbles you’re good to go! If not, wait another minute and then test again. 
  5. Carefully add your chicken to the pan, being sure to give piece enough room to “breathe“. (You may have to cook them in batches depending on how filled your pan gets). The chicken should cook on each side about 7-10 minutes/until it’s nice and crispy (the crispier the better for us). While your chicken is cooking, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 
  6. Layer and lay your paper towel on your baking sheet and place cooked chicken on top to drain some of the oil off. While the chicken is draining you can make your sauce. In your mixing bowl combine the stick of butter with 2 cups of the hot sauce and put in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, until the butter is completely melted into the sauce. Be sure to mix tother the butter and hot sauce for a even coating for your chicken. 
  7. Place your chicken wings into your mixing bowl and toss them around in the sauce. When the chicken is evenly coated with the sauce it’s time to bake in the goodness! Lay the wings evenly on your baking pan and bake them for 5-7 minutes. 
  8. At last, eat and enjoy your “homemade fast food”!!

Variations:

  • I make some barbecue hot wings for the kids and myself if I’m not feeling like all the spociness of the wings. Just use little to none of you hot sauce mixture and/or smother with Sweet Baby’s sauce instead. 
  • You could also bread your chicken by coating it with egg and then flour after seasoning. 
  • Use a different parts of the chicken, such as breasts or thighs if you don’t feel like dealing with bones. It will be much easier to quickly eat them this way (warning)!
  • Instead of baking in the flavor from the sauce, you could take those wonderful pieces straight to your plate or belly. I’ve done this plentttyy of times. 

Salsa!

I love myself a good salsa! Not too spicy (mild), slight crunch, and just the right amount of lime. I looked online and tried a few different recipes. Below is the best combination of ingredients that works for me. Enjoy! 

          Ingredients

  • 4 large slicing tomatoes 
  • 4 bell peppers (choose the color of your liking) 
  • 1 large red onion (or 2 medium onions)
  • 2 jalapeño peppers
  • 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup cilantro 

Directions:

  1. Chop tomatoes into small portions as shown. This should yield about 4 cups.  Throw them into a large bowl. 
  2. Chop peppers into smaller pieces than tomatoes. Add them to your bowl. 
  3. Chop onions into bite size/manageable pieces. (Somehow I found a giant onion in the bunch that got the job done all on its own.)
  4. Your heat tolerance will determine the amount of jalapeños you add. Please know that adding an entire pepper and seeds is very hot, half a pepper and pinch of seeds is mild.  
  5. Adding the limes and cilantro to the mixture will help even out the heat and cool your mouth at the same time. The juice from one lime will get the job done. Be sure to chop the cilantro into small pieces so you don’t end up with huge pieces in your mixture. (Cilantro has a weird taste, no?)

Enjoy, 

Jay 🖖🏾

Warm it up

I have a love for food that changes constantly. What I want in one moment could be trashed in the next. Literally- I can prepare my lunch the night before, go to retrieve it from the fridge in the morning, take one look at it and wind up dumping it faster than you can take your next breath. You could say this is a little strange, but it’s how I operate. 

In my healthier phases I love a good salad, usually with little to no dressing. A southwest salad from Chick-fil-a, caesar salad from my local pizza place, or BLT salad from Wawa. Trust me they’re all wonderfully delicious and approved by yours truly. 

If I really want to kick it up a notch I throw together a few of my kitchen staples and make a warm kale salad. I’ll tell you how you can tweak the recipe later. 

Ingredients: Kale (bagged or fresh), 2 colored bell peppers (red, orange, yellow, etc.), 1 red onion, 2 tablespoons of butter, and salt. 

Instructions: 

  1. Be sure to remove any stickers from vegetables and clean them under warm running water. 
  2. Chop peppers and onions length wise into equally sized pieces (about half an inch). 
  3. Cut kale into 2 inch pieces. You could also rip kale into smaller pieces, it doesn’t have to be precise. 
  4. Add butter, peppers and onions into pan and begin to sauté for 3-5mins on medium/high heat. 
  5. Throw in kale with other vegetables and cook until leaves have darkened in color, but still have a crunch. Salt to to taste. 
  6. Serve and enjoy. 

Now let’s get to the variations. 

  1. Swap out butter for low fat cooking spray. I use either one, but I prefer the butter for taste. (That artificial stuff just doesn’t cut it!)
  2. Red for white onions-I like the color and kick of the red onions!
  3. Garlic! Fresh, powder, minced, whatever…throw in some garlic. 
  4. Cut the salt and opt for no sodium seasoning like Ms. Dash. 
  5. Add in some protein. One day I threw in some turkey pepperoni because I was being lazy and that was my protein/salt for the day. Chicken and bacon also work well. 

Thank you to my 2nd mother for this recipe. 

        -Jay 🖖🏾