Monday, September 26, 2016

Easy Hot Chicken Wings

When Mr. Handsome was in school and living on his own, he had a rotation of four or five simple meals that he prepared for himself each week. And after having them hundreds of times, they are still on his list of favorite meals. So I try to be a good wife and make them a few times a month.

One of those meals is hot chicken wings with butter, hot sauce, and, well, that's it. At first glance, it sounds quite unhealthy, but you only have to add as much of each ingredient as you desire. I was able to find a brand of hot sauce (Frank's RedHot) that only contains cayenne pepper, garlic powder, vinegar, water, and salt. And I always add veggies to the meal.

If you live in the United States, you are aware that tonight is the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. We try our best to be informed citizens, so we will be eating our hot chicken wings while we watch the debate. Here's the recipe...

Easy Hot Chicken Wings

Chicken wings (frozen, not fresh)
Hot sauce


Arrange chicken wings in an empty crock pot, and cover with hot sauce. We use about 1/2 cup hot sauce per 15 chicken wings. You can adjust the amounts, but I wouldn't recommend cutting it down too much. (No one likes burnt chicken wings...LOL.)

Cut butter into chunks, and place on top of chicken wings. I use 1/2 stick of butter.

Cook on high for 6 hours. If you are home and are able to gently "stir" the chicken wings after three hours, that's great. If not, just "stir" them 20 minutes before serving. The chicken falls off the bone quite easily, but beware of little pieces of bone and cartilage. Let us know what you think of the recipe!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Homemade Apple Butter Tutorial

It has been several weeks since my sugar-free peach canning tutorial, so Mr. Handsome and I decided to take on another project: apple butter!

We found an apple orchard that was changing owners and selling golden delicious apples for $0.50 per pound, so we decided to stock up. In just 30 minutes, we picked 70 pounds of apples!

Our KitchenAid attachment didn't arrive on time, so my dedicated hubby spent Saturday afternoon smashing apples by hand into a mesh strainer. After two hours of work, we ended up with two pints of apple butter.

Then on Monday, Mr. Handsome came home from a nine-hour day at work and barely even sat down before joining me in the kitchen for five hours. Using the KitchenAid attachment was WAY more efficient. By the time everything was said and done, we had made 35 pints of apple butter.

Working on the project with my man was a blast. He spent the first 11 years of his childhood on a 75-tree orchard and has lots of great memories making apple butter, applesauce, and apple cider with his family.

And now for the tutorial! :)

Homemade Apple Butter

Step 1: Load apples into the kitchen sink, and rinse. You will also need to sterilize your jars. This time, we ran our jars and rims through the dishwasher sterilize cycle and washed the lids in hot, soapy water. (We used pint-sized jars.)

Here is a note from the Ball/Kerr website on sanitizing your canning lids: "Our Quality Assurance Team performed comprehensive testing to determine the need for pre-heating lids. Ultimately, we determined that it’s completely safe to skip pre-warming lids in the canning process. While it’s still safe to simmer your lids before use, you should never boil them. Our recommendation for over 40 years has always been to simmer (180°F) - not boil (212°F) - the lids."

Step 2: Chop apples into quarters, and add to a pot of boiling water.

Step 3: Boil gently until soft, and remove from water using tongs. (We transferred ours into a colander with a bowl underneath to catch drips.)

Step 4: Process apples using the KitchenAid Food Grinder and Fruit/Veggie Strainer attachment.

If you don't have a KitchenAid, you can smash apples through a mesh strainer by hand. Another method is to peel, core, and quarter the apples before boiling and then run them through a food processor after boiling.

Step 5: Dispose of core/peel waste, and transfer applesauce to a large pot. Add the following ingredients per ten cups of applesauce:

1/2 teaspoon cloves
1-1/4 teaspoons allspice
1/2 teaspoon ginger
4 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup molasses
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar

Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. When apple butter is HOT, remove from heat, and add to HOT, sterilized jars using a clean spoon. (Jars should be sitting on a clean towel while filling with apple butter.)

Leave 1/4 inch of empty space at the top of each jar. Using a clean knife, remove any visible air pockets.

Step 6: Wipe rims of jars with a clean towel to remove any drips. Place lids on jars, and screw rims on firmly (not too tight). Using a jar lifter/canning tongs ($3.00 in the Walmart canning aisle), load jars into waterbath canner (or a large pot that is tall enough to allow jars to be covered with 1-2 inches of water). Jars should not touch each other.

Bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. If you live at an altitude of 1,000 feet or greater, you will need to add to the processing time. Click here to see the Ball/Kerr altitude chat.

Use tongs to remove jars, and place undisturbed on a towel for 24 hours. (Make sure jars don't touch each other.)

Lids should seal within 30 minutes. To check if they have sealed, press down on each lid. If they don't bounce back, they are sealed properly. Jars that don't seal within 24 hours should be refrigerated and eaten within 7 days.

Have you ever made apple butter?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Adventure-Themed Wedding Shower

Over Labor Day weekend, Mr. Handsome and I (along with his parents and three youngest sisters) attended an adventure-themed wedding shower for my brother and his fiance. My mom and the maid of honor spent many hours planning this family event.

For lunch, guests feasted on a smorgasbord of Middle Eastern food (pita bread, humus, baba ghanoush, beef schawarma, saffron chicken, salad, and rice. It was different, but it turned out to be delicious!

 My mom (Lily) and me

 Gift table

Suitcase card box

 Table decorations
 Food table

 Dessert table

Festive treats

Mr. Handsome decided to add a little bit of comic relief to the party. Outside the room where it was held, he created this display...

Monday, September 19, 2016

Our Visit to Noah's Ark

A few weeks ago, Mr. Handsome, myself, and four of our friends visited the Ark Encounter, a theme park located in Williamstown, Kentucky. The park, which opened in July, currently houses a petting zoo and a life-size replica of Noah's Ark but will eventually feature other attractions, including a walled city and a replica of the tower of Babel.

At 510 feet long and 80 feet high, the Ark is the largest timber-frame building on the planet. As we walked through the multiple-story museum located inside, we could smell the sweet scent of freshly cut wood.

The $90 million ark was funded by donations, bonds, and memberships (appropriately called "boarding passes"). The structure was constructed using the latest environmental technologies, making it one of the largest "green" building projects in the nation.

Mr. Handsome and I were amazed by the sheer size of the ark replica, and we thoroughly enjoyed walking through the exhibits and learning more about the history of the original structure. The top floor of the museum featured several dozen manuscripts of the Bible printed over the past two thousand years.

If you're looking for a family-friendly getaway, we highly recommend visiting this northern Kentucky attraction. The Ark Encounter is just a day's drive away from 2/3 of all Americans, as well as millions of Canadians.

As we were leaving, a storm blew in and made for an epic photo op!

Here's a video that shows an aerial view of the ark...

Friday, September 16, 2016

Protein Powder for My Hubby

Earlier this week, Mr. Handsome asked me to buy him a new container of whey protein powder for working out. During a Walmart run yesterday afternoon, I stopped by the vitamins/supplements section to choose a product but noticed that every single one was advertised as "naturally and artificially flavored."

Glancing at the ingredients lists, I was shocked to find a host of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Discouraged, I headed home and spent about 20 minutes researching all-natural why protein powders. I found one on Amazon that was a decent price and had great reviews. Mr. Handsome said he was game to try it, so I placed the order.

Thanks to Amazon Prime, our Bodylogix Natural Whey arrived the following day. We both tasted it and thought it was great!

What are your thoughts on protein powder?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Mr. Handsome's [Non]Casserole

Last night, Mr. Handsome prepared a breakfast dish that he came up with during college. I do most of the cooking in our house, so he was extremely proud to be able to whip something up that I had never made.

As the oldest of seven children, Mr. Handsome has eaten a lot of casseroles in his lifetime, and he has really come to detest them. So when I called this dish a breakfast casserole, he immediately corrected me.

"No, no," he explained. "It's not a casserole. A casserole is a disgusting mess of mushy ingredients all mixed together. This is totally different."

"Then what should we call it?" I asked him.

"The ultimate breakfast sandwich," he announced.

It's incredibly easy to make. Here's the recipe:

The Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich

6-8 pieces of whole wheat bread, toasted and buttered
1 lb. of ground sausage, browned
8 eggs, scrambled with a bit of milk
Fresh or canned mushrooms, sauteed (optional)
Shredded cheddar cheese

-Line a 9x13-inch pan with bread slices.
-Evenly distribute eggs, sausage, and mushrooms over bread slices.
-Cover with shredded cheese. *
-Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

*The beauty of this dish is that you can assemble it the night before, store it in the fridge (covered with plastic wrap), and bake it the following morning.

Mr. Handsome would love to know what you think of his dish! Oh, and I looked up the definition of casserole ("food baked together and served in a deep dish") and I still think this qualifies. LOL.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

How to Plan a Clean Bachelor Party

As many of you know, my brother-in-law, Joseph, is getting married on the East Coast in a couple months. Mr. Handsome is the best man, so it was his responsibility to plan the bachelor party. 

Mr. Handsome had a great time at his boating bachelor party, which took place the day before our wedding, but he wanted to come up with something unique for his brother. After much thought, he decided to throw the ultimate, 24-hour man gathering.

The party started at 11am last Saturday and finished at 11 the following morning. Twelve guys--which included Mr. Handsome's two brothers, father, and brother-in-law (Anne's husband)--attended. They started off at the lake on our grandparents' property, where they enjoyed fishing and target shooting.

After roasting hotdogs and s'mores over a fire, they headed to a park district gym to play basketball for three hours. (Thankfully, only a couple minor injuries were sustained.) For dinner, they picked up ribs and then went back to our grandparents' home to spend the evening playing games and watching sports. (Our grandparents graciously spent the night at another family member's house so the guys could have full run of the house.)

They planned to have cereal for breakfast, but our grandmother surprised them with eggs, bacon, and pumpkin-flavored pancakes. Everyone had a blast and agreed that it was the best bachelor party they had ever been to.