I’m Really Here! And I’ve Made Buffalo Chicken Wings!

Wow, I haven’t posted since JanuaryUnbelievable! But I have a few good reasons…

We finally moved. In February. We are back in town, not too far from where my fiance works and my children go to school. It has been an amazing transition and a wonderful release of stress. My kids have been doing a lot better with school since we moved, and things seem to have calmed down for me, as far as being an emotional basket-case. I’ve had more time to do other things recently, like go back to school. I will have my degree in a year – finally!

So with this extra time, you would think that I would be able to come up with new recipes and post them, right? Well, that hasn’t exactly happened, if you can’t tell. I’ve been insanely busy with work, and school has taken some time (obviously). But I have had some time to try some new recipes and experiment a little bit. I haven’t really been too focused on experimenting in the kitchen lately; my job and schooling has had to take priority over that lately.

The chicken wing recipe that I have found is really easy. The first time I made it, my family killed the entire pan of chicken wings in about thirty minutes, and I have been getting the industrial-sized packs of chicken wings from Sam’s Club. I haven’t been using the small chicken wings, either. I’ve been getting the big Tyson packs of chicken wings. I have thought about using the smaller chicken wings, but the family really likes the crunchiness of the skin on the bigger chicken wings after I cook them, and I really do, too. Yesterday I made two batches: one that was more crunchy than the other. The crunchier skin won out during the taste test.

I found the sauce at Wal-Mart, which was great since we now have a Wal-Mart about two blocks away from us. Frank’s Redhot Buffalo Sauce is awesome! I was a little concerned about it at first, because it has butter flavoring in it, and I try really hard to stay away from artificial flavorings. But we needed a change in this house because we were eating the same foods over and over again! So we decided to give it a shot and see what happened. And the result was great!

So here is the recipe for the Buffalo Chicken Wings:

1 package of chicken wings (if you use the smaller wings, follow the cooking directions on the bottle of Frank’s)

1 bottle of Frank’s Redhot Buffalo Sauce

1 Ziploc bag to toss the wings

Preheat oven to 425. Place the chicken wings in the Ziploc bag and pour sauce liberally over them. Close the bag and toss the wings to coat with the sauce. Put the sauce-coated wings on a baking sheet and bake for 50 minutes. When there are about 15 minutes left of the cooking time, take the wings out and apply another coat of sauce to them. Place them back in the oven to finish cooking.

Enjoy!

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Chicken with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Wow, it has been a while! But then again, I told you that it would be. I have been busy trying to get my side business off the ground – so busy, in fact, that I am taking a little break from it to try to clear my head. It has been very great and very rewarding so far!

Luckily, throughout all the craziness, my Paleo lifestyle has remained intact. I always say that this is the easiest “diet” to stick to! It does have its moments, though. I went to my conference last month and did pretty well, except for lunch. I made the best choices that I could – the best choice probably would have been to bring something to have, but I decided not to go that far. It affected me a little bit, and before I was even over the effects of that, I made a couple of really poor choices at Red Robin when I was there for my teenager’s cast party for their production of Romeo and Juliet. I have just in the last 12 hours gotten over that, and that was two weeks ago! I should really know better – I have been an emotional wreck for these last three weeks (when you count the aftermath of the conference). I seriously think that if I ever stopped eating Paleo, the people around me would have something to say about it, simply because I am so crazy when I make the wrong choices.

My teenager seems to agree with me on that front. While she was doing the play, she had a hard time staying Paleo. She told me that she couldn’t wait until the play was over so that she could start eating better. She said that she felt less stressed and less emotional when she was eating Paleo, and she always seemed to be happy. Who would have thought that bread and grains, which are said to release serotonin when you eat them, could have such a negative effect on your mood?

She turned her grandparents on to Paleo when she stayed with them over the summer, and her grandmother went to Costco and bought me a huge supply of extra virgin, organic coconut oil. It has definitely been a change from the cheap stuff that I have been getting because it has a more coconut-y  aroma and flavor. It has taken some getting used to, but it is heavenly. I may have to get a membership to Costco to get some more, because I haven’t seen anything like that at Sam’s.

One of the reasons why I bring up the coconut oil is because it is a key element of this recipe. If you are using the cheap stuff, then you have nothing to worry about. Usually mushroom cream sauce is made with butter and heavy cream, and I have made it many, many times. My fiance loves the stuff. I thought I was out of luck until a lightbulb went off in my head this past week and I realized that I could use coconut oil and coconut milk. However, since I am using really good coconut oil, the mushroom cream sauce comes out tasting a little coconut-y. Not a problem for me, the coconut freak. But some people may be turned off by it. So keep that in mind.

Another thing to keep in mind: I do not know how long to tell you to cook the sauce. When cooking it, the oil and milk will start to meld, and then it will condense and get a little thicker. Beyond that point, the oil and the milk begin to separate again and it actually starts to look quite nasty. I have kind of figured out where that line is, but I can’t give you a set amount of time before that happens. I had to learn about that as I went.

Chicken with Mushroom Cream Sauce

4 or 6 chicken breasts

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms

1/2 cup coconut milk

 

Melt the coconut oil over medium heat and then cook the chicken breasts in the oil until they are tender and there is no longer any pink. Make sure you turn them occasionally so that they will brown on both sides.

When the chicken is done cooking, take them out of the pan and add the mushrooms to the remaining oil. Cook and stir them for a few minutes (the longer you cook them, the more mushroom flavor your sauce will have). After the mushrooms are soft, stir in the coconut milk and boil, stirring to mix the brown bits off of the bottom of the skillet. Boil for about three minutes, until thickened. Spoon (or pour!) the sauce and mushrooms over the chicken and enjoy!

A Frustrated Rant

I am frustrated this morning. Mad, really.

Let me back up and give you some context. Hopefully you will then understand my frustration and be mad with me.

Last weekend my fiance, his mom, and I went to Sam’s Club to shop for groceries for a few weeks. We bought a lot of meat because there are a lot of people in this house, so we go through meat rather quickly. Especially now that half of us in the house can really only eat meat and veggies. None of us had been to Sam’s in quite a while, so we spent three hours going through the majority of the store, trying to figure out what we could save money on if it were purchased there rather than somewhere else. When we went through the freezer section, we saw some bags of frozen Tyson chicken that looked pretty convenient. The price didn’t seem too bad, either. The chicken has been so convenient that the bag is already empty. I had my first piece of it last night. I only ate one piece that my sister-in-law had grilled, with some zucchini and onions that I sauteed. And after I ate dinner I promptly passed out for four hours. When I woke up, I felt groggy and unfocused, and I had a hard time going back to sleep.

There is only one substance on the face of the planet that does that to me. This substance is found in pizza and pancakes, and this effect of those food products was one of the main reasons why I wanted to stop eating them.

I looked at the bag to try to figure out the mystery of my sudden need for sleep. The results are somewhat inconclusive, but the bag states that the chicken is flavored with chicken broth. The bag also does not say what the ingredients of the chicken broth are.

I have no proof that the chicken is what caused me to need sleep like nobody’s business. But I do know by the nature and quality of the sleep, the kind of dreams that I had, and the way that I felt when I woke up that there was something wrong with something that I ate. This is where a lot of people around me think that I am crazy and pick on me mercilessly, but when you cut so much crap out of your diet, you are much more aware and sensitive to the effects of that crap when it manages to sneak it’s way back in. All I have to go on in this case is a bag of frozen chicken, because it is the only food aspect of my entire day that I did not have complete control over.

While it is sad that I can’t even trust a bag of frozen chicken when it comes to this diet, I also should have known better. I was looking for convenience; what I found instead was that there is a price for convenience. No one said that this diet is convenient; I work hard every weekend to make sure that I have smart choices throughout the week, as well as variety in those choices. I cook everything. I make sure that everything I eat is as natural as I can afford for it to be. But we have come to a place in society where everyone places convenience over their health, which is what leads companies to put out products that are unhealthy and are ultimately killing us. What makes it extremely sad to me is that I look at a label of frozen chicken, assume by the label that it is fine, but ultimately pay a price for eating it. That price was time away from my kids and household responsibilities because I was so zonked out that I couldn’t even try to get out of bed when my daughter came in to tell me that she needed a fork, which she needed because dishes needed to be washed and I couldn’t do it – because I was so zonked. And it is too early to tell, but I am sure that I will spend the weekend feeling sub-par as well, until whatever nasty culprit that I consumed makes its way through my system.

But in the end, I learned a valuable lesson: convenience is not worth the price you pay. Next time, I will be sticking to the same old chicken that I always cook and has proven to not knock me out like a prize-fighter would.

I Miss Summer

I never thought I’d say it. I’ve hated summer for as long as I can remember – probably as long as I’ve been overweight. But since I’ve started cooking the way that I have, I have been very sensitive to how the weather affects what produce is in season.

I MISS MY SUMMER SQUASH!

I put a chicken in the crock pot today, and all I wanted to go with it were the little yellow eight-ball squash that I had been using with chicken and roast before fall came and took them all away. But I didn’t have any of those. All I had was a butternut squash, and I’ve never cooked that in the crock pot with any meat before. So I peeled it (a very tedious and not fun task, by the way), cut it up, and put in in the bottom of the crock pot, put the chicken on top of it, and added my spices. I usually throw some paprika, poultry seasoning, garlic, salt, pepper, and rosemary into some oil, pour it on top of the chicken, and spread it all around. Set the crock pot on high for six hours (the chicken is less likely to completely fall apart this way) and let it go.

I guess we will see how the squash does. I’m hoping that it will be really good and a nice change. I was in love with roasted butternut squash for the beginning of fall, but that is getting very old. I tried some roasted butternut squash mixed with roast (along with the yummy roast juices) about a month ago, and that was really good.

I really need to find some new winter recipes. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Crusty Chicken

About a week ago I cooked chicken drumsticks. I was looking for a new chicken recipe, and this one seemed to be pretty good. At least it was different.

It was good, but it wasn’t impressive. One thing that I like about cooking Paleo is all of the options available as far as spices go. I love sauces because they add big, bold flavor to food. While sauces aren’t forbidden on a Paleo diet, it is hard to find sauces that add wonderful flavor without added sugar or crap ingredients. But spices are totally okay on a Paleo diet, and they are so versatile – you can mix up spices in different ways and create entirely new dishes with your creations.

This is what I did with my chicken tonight. I looked at a few different recipes, got an idea of what I wanted to do, and began to mix it up. I can honestly say that this was a huge experiment since my knowledge of what spices work together is pretty small, but it worked so well that my fiance named the resulting dish “Crusty Chicken.” So, here is the recipe:

Crusty Chicken

4 to 6 chicken quarters

3 tbsp coconut oil

2 tsp paprika

4 tsp garlic powder

3 tsp poultry seasoning

1 tsp cayenne pepper

Salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375. Melt the coconut oil, then mix the all of the spices into the oil. rub the spice mixture onto the chicken quarters and place in a shallow cooking dish. Cook for one hour.

You may want to watch the chicken as ours came out a little dry. I’m considering trying the recipe again using a baking bag for the chicken. However, I do like the crust of the spices on the skin of the chicken – it gets kind of crunchy which adds a nice texture. I know that I won’t get that with a baking bag.