Showing posts with label sauce. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sauce. Show all posts

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Why Bother? 2012 - Salad Dressing

I planned the posting date for this Why Bother? challenge very carefully.  With the unofficial start of summer a mere six weeks away, I think this is a good time to start eating lots and lots of healthy salads.  I know that there is a group of people out there who just detest eating salads.  Sitting down to a plate of lettuce just doesn't seem right to them.

And who could blame anyone for thinking that way?  Salads can be boring, unsatisfying and just plain forgettable.  There is another train of thought, the one that I have adopted toward the salad.  Salads can be bright, filling and the main course of any meal, with the right ingredients.  And of course, with the right dressing.

I have had more awful store-bought salad dressings than I care to mention.  The flavors tend to be muted, the salt to everything else in the dressing ratio is way off and the ingredient combinations sometimes wacky.  Sure, there are some pretty delicious dressings out there.  I'm not suggesting you steer clear of the salad dressing aisle completely.  There are just so many reasons to make your own dressings.

1. You know what all of the ingredients are.  As a chemist, I look at the back of a bottle of salad dressing and wonder why they need all of those chemicals.  The main reason?  To make the stuff shelf stable.  Look in your fridge, those bottles have expiration dates.  Granted, they are usually pretty far out from the purchase date.  Please go and throw away all of your old bottles of dressing, you'll have so much more space for the new dressing that you're going to prepare.

2. You can control the salt.  For the same reason that there are so many chemicals in your store-bought salad dressing, there tends to be a lot of salt.  Americans consume far more salt than is necessary for daily life and it affects our health in a negative way.  By making your own dressing, you can add just a pinch of salt (and that's only if it needs it!).

3. Think Fresh.  Those salad dressings sitting on the shelf at your local grocery store can't call any of their ingredients "fresh".  Nothing is better than putting together your own dressing and finishing it off with some freshly chopped herbs (straight from your garden if you're lucky!).  With the flavor that those herbs bring, you'll be leaving the salt shaker on the table.

4. You control the fat.  Along the lines of eating healthy in preparation for bathing suit season, everyone is watching their fat intake.  Store-bought dressings contain primarily soybean oil or canola oil.  There are some true winners out there containing extra virgin olive oil as their main fat source, but you have to be sure to read the labels.  Why settle for flavor-less canola oil when there are so many other delicious options!  From avocado to walnut, there are more options for oils than ever before.

So head out to the grocery store and skip the condiment aisle.  Go to the vinegars and oils section and pick up a few options.  I like to have white wine, rice wine and balsamic vinegar in my pantry at all times.  Specialty vinegars make an occasional appearance and are fun when changing things up, try champagne or pomegranate.

Stock up with a large bottle of extra virgin olive oil, try to catch it when it's on sale!  You'll find other amazing oils, such as walnut, sesame and avocado, often hiding in the natural foods section.  Specialty oils are a little more expensive, but give your homemade dressings amazing flavor.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why Bother? 2012 - Buffalo Sauce

Why Bother?  Because I'm from Buffalo, that's why we bother!  Sure, I haven't lived there in almost ten years, but it's in my blood (we undergo a transfusion of wing sauce as children, it's how we stay so warm in the winter).  Not only am I going to share with you my favorite Buffalo wing sauce recipe, I am going to lay down the rules when it comes to chicken wings.  This is very serious business.  Get a pad of paper and a pen, you'll want to take notes.

Rule #1 - Do not EVER bread your chicken wings!  Buffalo chicken wings are naked, never breaded.  Ever.  While in Madison, WI I ordered some Buffalo wings from my favorite pizza place (Hello Glass Nickel!).  They arrived with a thick, crunchy, bread coating.  I was appauled.  Stick with making your delicious pizza, you're doing it wrong with your wings.

If you bread your chicken wings, I do not know what you are doing.  Perhaps you're making yourself a little fried chicken drumstick?  Maybe you're thinking the sauce needs something to stick to?  Don't be crazy and put down the breadcrumbs.

Rule #2 - If it isn't spicy, it isn't Buffalo sauce.  I have had a series of butter-rich, lack-luster "Buffalo wings" in the past.  There is a place right around the corner from our current apartment that sells Buffalo wings, touted as "Nuclear!"  Either I have fried all my taste buds, or someone forgot to add the hot sauce.  You need the heat!  I'm not telling you that habanero peppers need to be involved, but you've got to sweat a little!  They should be just spicy enough that you think twice about rubbing your eye after eating a wing.

Rule #3 - Serve 'em with a side of blue cheese.  I do not want to hear of anyone eating their buffalo sauce with ranch dressing.  It is so very, very wrong.  This is a mistake that I have seen many a midwesterner make.  It most often happens when someone offers you a Buffalo chicken sub sandwich.  To get it clear, a Buffalo-style chicken sub should be as follows (and no different) - crispy chicken tenders slathered in wing sauce, lettuce, blue cheese dressing and provolone cheese.  Make this sandwich now, it will change your life.

That's it.  Those are my simple rules about chicken wings.  If you don't want to follow the wing rules, you must call your food "chicken wings" sans the Buffalo. 

If you want to take your wings to the next level, you make your own sauce.  This is the wing sauce that my family has been making all my life.  It's spicy, sweet and tangy.  If you are lacking one or two of these ingredients, I'm okay with the tried and true "melt a stick of butter, add a bottle of hot sauce" method.  You might even be able to find the original Buffalo sauce on the shelf at your supermarket.  If you come across "Anchor Bar" Buffalo sauce, that's the one, the original.  Buy the hottest variety that they sell and whip up a batch!  Just don't bread your chicken.

Are you originally from the Buffalo area too?  What are some of your Buffalo wing rules?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Italian Sweet & Sour Chicken

When you move, you try to use up all of your ingredients.  It's no fun to try and move bottles and bottles of oils, vinegars and sauces.  In the last few weeks in your old house, your meals are planned around whatever you have sitting in the cupboard, and frozen in the freezer.  The bottles are emptied as you make salads with champagne vinaigrette, Chicken breast with balsamic glaze and soy sauced vegetables.

When you arrive in your new home, you have to start from scratch.  Collect your oils and vinegars all over again.  And sometimes you plan your meals around items that you think you own, but in fact, do not.  Like when I was trying to make this sweet and sour chicken.  I was in need of a simple red wine vinegar.  While making the grocery list I thought to myself "Of course I have red wine vinegar, I didn't use it all before I left New Haven."  Wouldn't you know, Tuesday night came around and I was without red wine vinegar. 

I did however have a bottle of balsamic vinegar!  So we went in a different direction with the flavors in this dish, more italian, less asian.  It worked out so well, because I recieved a box goodies from the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program!  Inside the box were these delicious items...

Look, risotto!  That will work perfectly with my italian sweet and sour chicken!  And it was perfect.  While it's not going to equal spending a half hour at the stove, Bird's Eye did a pretty good job!  The mushroom risotto was what I decided to pair with our chicken dinner.  (Boyfriend ate the rest of the items while I was out of town this weekend!  He said they were good and that the risotto was his dinner one night!)  Apparently they are coming to stores in September, aka, tomorrow!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Honey-Basil Chicken

You may have noticed that I've been missing recently.  I'm three weeks into my first job and things are a little crazy.  I'm working on balancing my work, life, blogging schedule.  I've actually been cooking a lot, since I need to feed boyfriend and myself, I just haven't had the time to get the deliciousness from the camera to you! 

It's been a little tricky to feed both boyfriend and I.  We both eat very different types of food.  He's a HUGE fan of all things pasta, creamy and cheesey.  I like chicken in light sauces.  He doesn't eat seafood, I don't eat beef.  I like to pile my plates high with vegetables and he orders his sandwiches without lettuce or tomatoes. 

Luckily, we can agree on a number of things.  Chicken is a staple in our house, leaving me to find more and more delicious chicken recipes.  That is, until I can convince boyfriend to eat food my way.  I think I need Jessica Seinfelds cookbook...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Balsamic BBQ Chicken

Sometimes you need a quick dinner and this week it was extremely important. Several thirteen hour workdays this week have lead to dinners of lettuce, a bagel and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (three different nights). I partially blame daylight savings time for my longer work days and I also blame my project deadline of April 7th.

Maybe you’ve been having the same issue as I have. I’ve gotten so used to the sun going down at 4 o’clock that I think it’s so much earlier than it actually is. It was six thirty before I realized how late it was, and then it was quarter to nine before I headed out the door. It’s been going on like this all week, I get distracted by the loads of work I have to do and all of the sudden it’s dark out. By the time I get home I’m all glassy-eyed and hungry, with no energy left.

Last night I decided, no more! I need some real food! Then twenty minutes later I had this sitting on my plate. I’m in love with these new Steamfresh pasta meals. In four minutes I had a side dish that worked well with my balsamic BBQ chicken, which was pretty delicious on it’s own. Try it out the next time you’ve got no time!
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