Gochujang Chicken Wings and the Folly of Sticking our Heads in the Sand

On my sister’s suggestion, I have decided to try bullet journaling.  I needed help with getting better organised and following through with projects and ideas.  Including getting back on a schedule for blogging.  So I bought a journal and got the supplies to start it this month, which I did on Sunday.  I designated Mondays as blog post days.  That was the plan, but when the first thing you hear when you wake up to the radio is about the massacre in Las Vegas, the joy goes out of the day.  A cheery post seemed too jarring as the news unfolded.

It’s a sad state when you start losing track of how many times you sit down with your kids and discuss these tragedies as they occur.  When your kids realise that probably nothing will be done as these get worse and worse, you start wondering what the tipping point will actually have to be.  To not be able to reassure your kids that this will stop is depressing.  It seems mind boggling to me that common sense doesn’t prevail and have this country follow the rest of the developed world.

I just hope some day soon this stops.

Gochujang chicken wings 1 2017

Awhile back Chef Mimi of chefmimiblog.com mentioned using an ingredient called gochujang which is a fermented chili paste.  It sounded really interesting and lo and behold our co-op had some.  When I cleaned out the freezer I realised there were a lot of chicken wings to use.  I kept putting it off because my husband isn’t a fan of wings but neither of us like to waste food so I thought it would be a good time to try out gochujang.

Gochujang chicken wings 2 2017

This is a very easy dish to throw together.  In a bowl add a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil and a tablespoon or so of lime juice.  I finely chopped 3 cloves of garlic and snipped 3 chives.  Add a couple of large dollops of the gochujang.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Gochujang chicken wings 3 2017

Taste and adjust the flavours as needed.  The more of the gochujang you add the more heat there will be.  Pour the marinade into a large ziploc bag and add the chicken wings. Toss to coat the wings.  The longer you marinate the more intense the flavours will be.

Gochujang chicken wings 4 2017

Grill on medium heat until the chicken wings are cooked through.

Gochujang chicken wings 5 2017

Because we were still in the middle of a heat wave I served the wings on top of a salad to keep things light.  I really like this ingredient.  I did use it again for a quick stir fry as my husband had a bad cold.  I added a habanero pepper to it.  Let me tell you I may never have a cold again given the heat of those two ingredients!  Wowza.

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Tomatillo Steak Salad

Autumn may be flowing in, thank goodness, but I’m not above having a nice salad.  Even though it wasn’t intended.  How would a salad happen accidentally?  It’s easy when you are having a flighty moment.

I definitely knew I wanted to do grilled skirt steak with a tomatillo sauce.  I was thinking a rustic type of sauce to act as the veg portion of the dinner.  That didn’t work out as you will see.

tomatillo-dressing-1-2016

We didn’t have much luck with growing tomatillos the past few years so we didn’t attempt it this year but luckily the farmer’s market had some.  Our garden has produced a bumper crop of hot peppers.  I just wish tomatillos weren’t so sticky once you peel the papery covering off.  Cut the tomatillos in half and keep the pepper whole.  Fire up the grill and roast the tomatillos and pepper until they start to char.  You don’t want charcoal veg as a result so keep an eye on this as it will cook quickly.

tomatillo-dressing-2-2016

As I said my plan was to have a rustic meal but I realised a grilled potato and a bit of steak wouldn’t cut it.  When I did up the sauce it became more of a dressing rather than a veg side.  So salad it was!  Using a food processor add the tomatillos and pepper.  I kept the seeds to give it a kick.  Throw in a couple of cloves of garlic, a teaspoon or so of cilantro, and a few splashes of lime juice and olive oil.  Blend.

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I kept the steak simple seasoned with sea salt, pepper, and worcestershire sauce.  Because it is grass fed be careful on how hot you cook it.  Sear then lower the heat.  Keeps it tender. Slice the steak and top with the tomatillo sauce. Any leftover sauce can be frozen for later.

“Anybody Got a Peanut….” Chicken

Who doesn’t love a good classic?  My family loves The Princess Bride.  Though I’m not sure I’m ok with a movie I grew up with being called a classic.  To me those are the black and white films from another era.  I know it’s denial!  But I’m sticking with it.

It’s a film that we love to watch with popcorn reciting the quotes as they come up in the film.  Well to be honest we throw out the quotes even if we aren’t watching the film.  Get to the food you say?  “As you wish….”

Because it’s just been my husband and I for the past month (our kids come back tonight!) we had two chicken thighs left over from the four pack that needed to be used.

Peanut chicken 1 2016

I wanted to go with Asian flavours for this dish.  Prep the marinade for the chicken thighs first.  In a bowl whisk peanut oil and soy sauce (we use gluten free amino acids) in a ratio of 3:1.  Finely chop a clove of garlic, some scallion, and grate about a teaspoon of fresh ginger.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Mix well and coat the two chicken thighs.

Peanut chicken 2 2016

Set aside for at least a half an hour.  While you make the sauce, cook the rice noodles to the package instruction and grill the chicken.  In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil.  Chop 3-4 cloves of garlic and saute them on medium heat.  You don’t want to brown the garlic.

Peanut chicken 3 2016

After a few minutes add about half a cup of chopped scallion.

Peanut chicken 4 2016

Add the leftover marinade from the chicken and 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce.  Bring to a simmer and add a tablespoon or two of lime juice.  Stir in a large spoonful of peanut butter.  I chose chunky to save me a step of chopping up peanuts.

Peanut chicken 5 2016

Add more peanut butter as needed to get the right the balance between the sweetness of the peanut butter and saltiness of the soy sauce.

Peanut chicken 6 2016

When the chicken is nearly done add about a cup of chopped red bell pepper.

Peanut chicken 7 2016

Add the rice noodles with 1/2 a cup of the hot water the noodles were cooked in to thin out the sauce.  Toss to coat.

Peanut chicken 8 2016

Top with the chicken and serve as soon as possible.

I have to say even though our food bill was much lower with the kids off on their adventures I am so excited they will be home.  With huge appetites and all.  🙂

 

Jerk Chicken and What Kind of World

Tragedy brings out the best and the worst of us.  And it was true to form this past weekend.  After the attacks in Paris I, like millions of others, added the French flag to our profile pic on Facebook.  But I also quickly, like many, realised the hypocrisy of not speaking out against the terror in Beirut and many other countries.

And that’s when it started getting ugly.  When you combine fear with bigotry some seriously hateful things start getting posted.  It saddens me no end we have a serious humanitarian situation and we have people running for president saying we should only accept Christians.  Never mind that this isn’t a Christian nation as laid out in the Treaty of Tripoli which said this was a secular nation.  And it was ratified by 100% of the senate of the time.  That concept is being lost to the mists of time.  The West has a lot of responsibility of the vacuum that keeps being created in the Middle East but yet a lot would wash their hands of the crisis.  A situation where you have children so scared they put their hands up in fear because they think the journalist cameras are guns.

I am well aware there aren’t any easy solutions laying about.  But I do wish the powers that be would start thinking of the ramifications before they keep repeating history.  I mean how many times do we put people in power to only have to forcibly remove them.  Or how many times do we change the governments or boundaries without fully understanding the region.

Because not only do I want peace and not have people living in fear, I would love to be able to not have to figure out how to explain to my kids how much humanity is still getting it wrong.

While all this was going on we were preparing for my husband’s birthday party.  The theme?  A pirate murder mystery night.  There was a lot of planning for this as I had to assign characters for our guests and get the packets ready for each person so they knew what their objectives were for the murder and investigation.

One of our friends had great fun with doing themed food of cannon balls, shark teeth, etc.  She also did a great Minecraft themed party for her son a few weeks ago.  This is definitely up her alley.

One of the dishes I made was jerk chicken.  A great time to try using our dried habaneros.  I also used some dried cayenne.  Sinuses would be cleared for miles around.

Jerk chicken 1 2015

The recipe I used as a guide was from food.com and I followed it for the most part.  I didn’t have bay leaves but I’m not a fan of that ingredient.  I didn’t have any dried thyme either.  But I have to say the ingredients weren’t missed.

In a spice grinder, finely grind 3 habaneros and 2 cayenne peppers that have been dried.  Add that to a medium sized bowl.  Then grind rosemary and allspice so you have about a tablespoon of each.  Again add that to the bowl.  Add a tablespoon of ground ginger and a tablespoon and a half of sea salt.  Next you will need 1 1/2 teaspoons each of onion powder, black pepper, and ground cinnamon.  Add 3/4 teaspoon of each of ground nutmeg and paprika.  Finish with 1/3 cup sugar, a juice of a lime, and 1/3 cup of olive oil.

Jerk chicken 2 2015

Mix well and add about a pound and a half of chicken that you have cubed.  Make sure the chicken is well coated.  Then remember not to touch your eyes.  Ahem.  Even after washing your hands.

Jerk chicken 3 2015

Let this marinate for a couple of hours.  I chose to grill this on the stove top.  But given the potency of the hot peppers I should have done this outside.  It was like I pepper sprayed the kitchen!  What a way to welcome guests.

Jerk chicken 4 2015

I did want to do a mango dipping sauce but the mango I bought refused to ripen so it was just the chicken.

Jerk chicken 5 2015

This was a hit.  Fortunately our friends could handle the heat.  Because, while the flavours were balanced, this is not for the weak of heart.

 

Grilled Thai Steak and Ever So Grateful

It was a very long week last week but everything went well with my dad’s surgery.  Yesterday they discharged him from hospital and now he is recuperating at home.  We were all breathing a sigh of relief.  Still are if you want to know the truth.

So he’ll be causing trouble for a good long while now and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

As you can imagine I’m a bit backed up with blog posts and getting everything else back on track.  Kids are back at school this week so we’re winding down the summer the next couple of days.  Making sure they get back into the routine of things.

Last weekend I was in the mood for Thai flavours and decided to do a grilled steak with rice noodles.  We have had some success with growing fresh garlic this year and we also had ginger and cilantro on hand.

Grilled Thai Steak 1 2015

In a bowl mix 2 tablespoons peanut oil, 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, 2 tablespoons amino acid, 1 tablespoon lime juice, one to two teaspoons of fresh chopped cilantro, a large clove of garlic, finely chopped, and salt and pepper.  Add the steak to marinate for at least an hour.

Grilled Thai Steak 2 2015

When it is time to cook, heat up a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil.  Add a few cloves of garlic, finely chopped, and a couple of scallions, chopped.  Saute until the garlic starts to soften.  Add a cayenne pepper.  When slicing use gloves, saves on burning skin.  We keep the seeds but some may find that too hot.  Saute for a few minutes.

Grilled Thai Steak 3 2015

Add a cup of chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  I made the mistake of adding the rest of the veg too soon.  I like my veg on the crispy side.  If you like them soft then add the peppers and mushrooms when you add the stock.  Also add carrots.  I added a couple of tablespoons of green curry paste, a tablespoon of oyster sauce, a tablespoon of amino acids, and a splash of lime juice.  Continue to simmer.  As it cooks adjust the flavour to your liking.

Grilled Thai Steak 4 2015

Grill the steak to medium rare.

Grilled Thai Steak 5 2015

Take the leftover marinade and add it to the skillet and continue to simmer.  While the steak is resting add half a cup light coconut milk.  Add a few more teaspoons of freshly chopped cilantro at this stage as well.

Grilled Thai Steak 6 2015

While this is being created cook rice noodles according to the package.  Toss the noodles in the sauce and serve.  Top with the steak and peanuts.

Grilled Thai Steak 7 2015

I enjoyed this dish.  The heat was mild but you could always add more hot pepper as you cook.  Tonight we are doing Pad Thai for dinner.  Another one of our favourites!

Peanut Satay and My Rain Dance isn’t Working

The dirt is dry.  Bone dry, just puffs of dust.  It does not bode well that we are struggling already and May isn’t over.  Usually we don’t have issues with rain.  But this season we desperately need some rain to fall from the sky.

This past weekend was Memorial Day Weekend in the states and that is also the start of serious planting in our zone.  It also means we have a ton of plants to get into the ground.  We are facing a semi-disaster with the peppers.  Half of the seedlings were small because I was behind the eight ball at the front end in getting them started in the first place.  I tried getting enough water into the raised bed but the small seedlings immediately went into shock and died.  We have some more to try so fingers crossed we succeed because I was really hoping for some home grown habaneros.

We’ve spent every day since trying to soak the beds.  It’s frustrating because we soak them leaving puddles and do that a few times but when we poke the soil it’s still dry!  This could be a long season.

This past Friday I wanted to make one of the dishes my family made for me on Mother’s Day.  Grilled chicken with a peanut satay sauce.  We had plenty of the satay sauce left over so it needed to be used up.

The recipe I got influence from was from the “Appetizers, Finger Foods, Buffets & Parties”.

For the satay mix the following:

2T each of smooth peanut butter, soy sauce, and lime juice

1T of sesame oil and brown sugar

2 finely chopped scallions and garlic cloves

Mix well and set aside.

Peanut satay chicken 4 2015Next the marinade for the chicken needs to be made.

Peanut satay chicken 1 2015Ignore the large onion.  I was originally going to use it because I didn’t have any scallions for the marinade.  But I felt the onion would be too much.  And I forgot to retake a photo!  Ah well.

In a bowl mix 4 tablespoons of peanut oil, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce or amino acids, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of lime juice.  Grate about an inch/2.5cm square of fresh ginger and finely chop 3-4 cloves of garlic.  Next add a small handful of chopped cilantro and a chili pepper, chopped.  Deseed it for this recipe because you don’t want the heat to overpower the other flavours.

Peanut satay chicken 2 2015

I chose to use chicken thigh meat instead of breast meat.  One it’s less expensive and two it has more flavour.  Cut it so it is in cubes keeping the pieces in a similar size.  Marinate for at least an hour.

Peanut satay chicken 3 2015

Skewer the chicken and heat up the grill.  Cook the chicken while turning to cook the chicken evenly allowing them to sear on each side.

Peanut satay chicken 5 2015

Serve with the sides of your choice. I like making baked potatoes on the grill, just keep them up off the flame.

Peanut satay chicken 6 2015

Spoon the satay over the chicken and enjoy!  And keep your fingers crossed for some rain!

Tostadas and That Boy has My Number

It’s Mother’s Day stateside tomorrow.  Luckily we have the kids this week and I suspect I might be spoiled once again with fabulous food and having fun with playing games.  Perfect if you ask me.  🙂

As a parent there is always the worry that your child will resent you for being, well, a parent.  I constantly worry about that being a step-parent.  Yesterday, as my son and I were going a few rounds of I forgot my water bottle at school and I forgot my homework, he showed me what he had to do for writing a short paragraph.  The assignment was to write about what he appreciated.  It was all about how he appreciated his two moms because we help with his homework, we care, we teach him street smarts, and we love him.  You can not stay annoyed with your child when presented with this!  I even missed the words that were misspelled.  Does he know how to play me or what?  LOL  It also means the world to me when I get to read stuff like that.  Being bonus mum to our two kids is such a gift.

This past Monday, in the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, I thought I’d make homemade tostadas.  I’ve been playing round with fresh corn tortillas but haven’t really liked them.  Well I should say they worked for soft tacos but I was underwhelmed with the flavour.  I was wondering if I was doing something wrong.  Recently we went to an authentic Latin restaurant that had amazing food and wouldn’t you know it, I’ve been making them correctly!  So I decided to play with adding some ingredients to punch up the flavour first.

Before we get to the tortilla bit the meat has to be prepared first.  I chose to slow cook the steak in the oven like I did with the pulled pork.  Preheat the oven to 300F/150C.  I did a quick mixture of 2 tablespoons of chili powder, a couple of teaspoons of cumin, salt and pepper, and a few dashes of adobe seasoning.  Rub the steaks and put into the baking dish.  Add 1/2 a cup of chicken stock and a couple of tablespoons of fresh lime juice.

Tostadas 1 2015

This needs to cook for about 4 hours.  Like the pulled pork you want the meat to easily be shredded.  This is the most difficult part of the dish.  So you can see this is an easy dinner to make!  I wanted to make twelve tostadas about 4in/10cm in diameter.  In a bowl add 1 1/2 cups of masa, a tablespoon of chili powder, and a pinch of salt.  For the liquid you need a cup.  I added a tablespoon of lime juice and then the rest was water to make up that cup.

Tostadas 2 2015Mix well and then knead until the dough is fully incorporated.

Tostadas 3 2015Divide into 12 equal pieces and form them into balls.  Line both sides of the tortilla press with cling film and place a ball of dough in the middle.

Tostadas 4 2015

Press down to flatten.

Tostadas 5 2015

Heat up a dry skillet on medium high.  Cook the tortillas about 30-45 seconds on each side.  They will puff a little bit and start to brown.

Tostadas 6 2015

Wrap the cooked tortillas in a tea towel until it is time to fry.  This keeps them warm and soft.  Set aside as you prep the rest of the meal. Shred the beef and add chopped pepper and onion to the beef and cook for a few minutes.

Tostadas 7 2015Keep the beef warm while frying the tortillas in vegetable oil.  As you fry them transfer them to a plate lined with kitchen roll.

Tostadas 8 2015

Once done layer all the ingredients.  For mine I layered sour cream, cheese, salsa, tomato, lettuce, and avocado over the beef.

Tostadas 9 2015

This was a fun meal to have.  It is super easy to make and it’s fun for the kids to assemble their own with what they want.  And the lime and chili in the tostadas worked really well.

Asian Meatballs and the Education System

Mind boggling.  That is how I felt last night when we were talking about school.  Both kids had tests yesterday.  Both mentioned how they had to finish them today.  I asked what they meant finishing it a day later.  Apparently that is the norm in our school system.  If you don’t finish it in time that is ok.  This just blew my mind.  Growing up if I didn’t finish a test in the set amount of time that was on me.

This really concerns me because as a parent I want the best education for our kids.  I don’t want education to be a limiting factor to whatever progress our kids make.  Last year the US was ranked 14th in the world when it came to education.  The past couple of years think tanks have mucked about with different ways the kids should be taught without really vetting the programs.  Common core has been a nightmare.  I’m sorry 2+2 does not equal 5!  I get that kids should learn to think through the process and understand how they got to the answer but it is not ok if the answer is wrong.

It is hard for me to understand the overall disconnect between what I see our teachers doing locally and how our students stand vs other countries.  The teachers our kids have, bar one, have been amazing.  They are dedicated to our kids, they work long hours, they work to try to tailor lessons for each student, and communicate with us.  So I have to think our system is held back at the higher level.  For example there is an OK senator who wants to cut funding to the AP History classes because it “teaches students what is bad about America”  It doesn’t promote “exceptionalism”.   Constantly chanting “We’re #1” isn’t leadership, it’s insecurity.

To rise back up the ranks, kids need to have positive learning experiences while being prepared for the real world.  They need to stop being let down by those who forget separation of church and state actually exists, to be allowed to actually learn science and the truth about history, and to know that 2 + 2 doesn’t equal 5.

We are fortunate that our kids love to learn and seek out ways to learn new things.  But not all kids have that support.

We did have a nice meal to go along with the enlightening conversation.  I was in the mood for meatballs and wanted an Asian flair.  And guess what my husband found at the co-op?

Asian meatballs 1 2015

Galangal!  How cool is that?  In a bowl I mixed up a half pound of beef with a few tablespoons of freshly grated galangal.  I found it to be very dry and flaky.  I also added chopped chives and couple of teaspoons of amino acids.  Otherwise known as gluten free soy sauce.  Then roll the meat into meatballs about an inch to an inch in a half in diameter.  In a skillet heat up a few tablespoons of peanut oil.

Asian meatballs 3 2015

Brown the sides of the meatballs then finish off in an oven heated to 350F/175C.  Meanwhile, saute chopped veg of your choice.  I did up peppers, scallions, garlic, carrots, and mushrooms.

Asian meatballs 4 2015

I messed up on the portion of sauce vs the portion of rice noodle.  I made enough sauce for two people but enough noodles for 4.  So I would double what I’m putting here.  Otherwise the dish ends up bland and trust me, the sauce wasn’t bland!  I added 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, a couple of teaspoons of amino acids, a few splashes of fresh lime juice, and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes.  Bring to a simmer and add a cup of homemade chicken stock.  Reduce down a bit then add the meatballs.

Asian meatballs 5 2015

Cook the rice noodles per the directions then serve with the meatball sauce.

Asian meatballs 6 2015

Next time I make this I will definitely increase the sauce because the flavour was amazing.  Just wish the rice noodles hadn’t dulled it down.

Spicy Crab Salad with Crispy Shallots

When we were in Austin I had the most amazing raw oysters with a spicy cold “broth” that I would love to recreate but I’m not sure how to be honest.  So instead I would use it as inspiration for a crab salad.

We had a get together with friends that we usually do every autumn this weekend. It’s a potluck so we always eat well and there is always too much food!  A good time to try out a new recipe.  🙂

Crab Salad 1 2014

I used the claw meat as it was a lot less expensive than the lump meat and it’s still tasty.  In a small mixing bowl add a few spoonfuls of chilli garlic paste, a few squeezes of lime juice, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.

Crab Salad 2 2014

Chill for a few hours in the fridge.  Just before serving thinly slice a shallot and fry in vegetable oil until golden brown.  I chose not to flour the shallots because several of us are doing gluten free or low gluten.  After frying place them on a paper towel to blot the extra grease and season with salt and pepper.

Crab Salad 3 2014

The crab salad can top anything you like.  I used lentil crackers with sea salt.  Funny I really don’t like lentils but these crackers are delicious.

Crab Salad 4 2014

While not quite the raw oysters this was delicious and easy to make.  Which is perfect when you are getting ready to host a party.  🙂

Grilled Sockeye Salmon with an Asian Flair

The local co-op had some lovely fish for sale which put me in mind to grill some salmon.  I got all excited when I saw the Scottish salmon but then I paused when I saw it was farm raised.  What popped into my head was the thought how humane can it be to farm raise salmon, never mind fish in general?  Salmon go miles in their life cycle.  So how can you properly raise them in the cages?  Plus there are places that do GMO farm raised salmon and thus far the label laws in the States are appallingly lax it makes sense to avoid farm raised.  Which is such a shame as Scottish salmon is amazing.

However all was not lost!  They also had some wild sockeye salmon which is fabulous.  As it is seasonal I look forward to this time of year when it shows up in our stores.

I had a bit of oyster sauce left over so I thought I’d an Asian inspired marinade for the salmon.

Asian salmon 1 2014

I chopped up a small scallion and 2 cloves of garlic.  In a small bowl, mix 1-2 tablespoons of peanut oil, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, a splash of fresh lime juice, some grated fresh ginger and 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce with the scallion and garlic.  Mix well.

Asian salmon 2 2014

Season the salmon with salt and pepper.

Asian salmon 3 2014

Earlier this year I started grilling the salmon on lemon slices.  I love how it adds citrus notes to the meal.

Asian salmon 4 2014

Grill until it’s cook to medium.  Serve with the grilled lemons.

Asian salmon 5 2014

My daughter and I enjoyed this with grilled corn and potato while my husband and son had jalapeno chicken sausages.  All in all a great meal!