It felt like autumn today. Okay, maybe not autumn autumn. But autumn-like.
The sun never came out and a cool breeze blew throughout the afternoon. Oddly enough, the leaves on the cherry tree in our backyard are beginning to turn yellow and fall.
Yes, the same cherry tree that just grew berries two weeks ago. I'm sad to say that it has suddenly died. The fruit shriveled up seemingly overnight. So much for my sangria.
The chilly weather inspired me to cook a belly-warming dinner. I got a good deal on chicken wings & drumsticks over the weekend and have been waiting for the right night to bust them out of the fridge.
The last time I tried to make my own wing sauce (sesame-soy glaze) I ended up in the emergency room. (Who ever heard of being allergic to sesame seeds? Not me!) So I decided to stick with something histamine-friendly and create a buffalo sauce that rivals Hubby's favorite wings from Domino's.
So with our chicken wings and a pepperoni pizza, we settled in for an evening of Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Netflix.
Just your typical chilly July evening in Ontario.
Homemade Buffalo Sauce
This is a base recipe for a mild sauce. For more heat add crushed red
pepper flakes that have been minced finely, one teaspoon at a time.
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup cayenne pepper hot sauce (Frank's Red Hot is my preferred brand but Tabasco or Texas Pete are good too)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Whisk together all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 3 minutes on medium heat.
Remove from heat and cover until ready to use. For chicken wings, place cooked chicken in a large bowl and pour the sauce over top. Toss until evenly coated and serve with ranch or bleu cheese dressing.
* This also makes a yummy pizza dipping sauce. And I like to brush it over corn on a cob. It's really good with so many things; don't be afraid to experiment!
We hadn't seen each other in two weeks and it felt like forever. My friend Katie and I were catching up over salads at Panera.
She was filling me in on her latest dating adventures and I was a captive audience. I hadn't heard such blissfully complicated & charmingly comical dating stories since Sex & the City was on the air.
"I'm sorry I'm talking so much," she said in between stories. "My life must sound really dramatic."
I told her she was so wrong - I love living vicariously through her stories! Hubby and I had gone antiquing and shared a plate of French fries over the weekend, and I had thought that was exciting.
It was then that I realized just how married I feel. Not that there's anything wrong with that - I love Hubby's and my quiet, drama-free life. But it certainly pales in comparison in the excitement department when compared to some of my single friends.
In our house, something as simple as homemade dessert is cause for celebration. Seriously. It's super exciting when the dinner dishes are washed and put away, and we remember that there's something sweet and frosted sitting on a pretty plate on the counter. I've been known to bust out a happy dance while slicing cake in the kitchen.
We had these frosted Funfetti bars on a warm summer evening after a barbecue. We curled up on the couch with our plates in our laps and watched Property Brothers on HGTV as the sun set.
I have to admit, although it wasn't at all dramatic, it was still pretty fabulous. Small celebrations are some of the best.
Frosted Funfetti Bars
If you're crunched for time or don't have the ingredients
on hand for the buttercream, don't despair! These bars are
just as amazing unfrosted - just change their name to
Funfetti Blondies, grab a glass of milk and enjoy!
for the cake
1 box Funfetti cake mix
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease an 11 x 7 baking pan (or the closest size pan you have, keeping in mind that you'll have to adjust cooking times accordingly if it's larger or smaller than 11 x 7).
Combine the cake mix, oil and egg in a large bowl. Add the milk slowly and stir gently by hand until just combined. (The batter will be dense & thick - this is okay!)
Pour into the prepared baking pan and sprinkle the sprinkles over the top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until edges are just turning brown. The cake should appear jiggly in the center when you pull it from the oven -- this is a good thing! It will continue to cook in the pan once removed from the oven, plus you want it to be a little gooey in the center so they have a blondie-like texture.
Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes so the center sets before frosting and cutting into squares.
for the buttercream
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar (also called 'icing sugar' in certain regions)
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
salt to taste
1 drop red food coloring (optional)
With a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the softened butter on medium speed until creamy (about 2 minutes).
Add the sugar, cream and vanilla extract with the mixer on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes.
*If you feel the icing is too thin, add more powdered sugar.
*If you feel it's too thick, add more cream.
*And if it's too sweet, add salt one pinch at a time.
Beat in the drop of food coloring (you can go with any color, I just thought pink looked especially whimsical).
Frost the bars with the buttercream and top with sprinkles.
Using a very sharp chef's knife (not a serrated knife) cut the bars into squares. The trick to neat, clean squares is to wipe the knife off with a paper towel after each cut.
We'd been debating what was growing on the tree in the backyard for about a week. The fruit were the size and color of cranberries... but don't those grow on shrubs? Or in bogs? Certainly not on trees in southern Canada. I think?
Whatever it was, the birds and squirrels were enjoying them, leaving mushy, red skins in the shaded grass beneath the tree. The berries were growing bigger each day, taunting me with their mysteriousness.
One afternoon I worked up the courage to just eat one. Given my susceptibility to food allergies, I was nervous. But I just had to know. So, EpiPen in hand, I marched up to the tree and plucked a juicy red berry from its branches, practically daring it to make me sick.
The fruit was both tart and sweet and it dissolved in my mouth, leaving behind a gooey pit. It was a cherry! No hospital visit for me after all!
I've never had my very own fruit tree before, so the idea of stepping into my backyard and filling my apron pockets with fresh, warm cherries just tickles me. And best of all, they're free! Cherries have a short season (late June to August) so they're generally one of the more rare and expensive fruits to purchase from a grocer.
I decided that my first cherry recipe would be a simple, relatively healthy one. I adapted Gordon Ramsay's Banana Oat Muffin recipe to include my new bounty. I added cherries and pumpkin pie spice for flavor and Greek yogurt to moisten them.
For next time, I might go with a cherry cheesecake. Or even a sangria! Oh, the delicious possibilities.
Cherry Banana Oat Muffins
As far as muffins go, these guys are a bit dense and cake-like
so they're best served warm, with a pat of butter and a fork.
yields: 12 muffins
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 beaten egg
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup cherries, pitted
Heat oven to 350 F. Butter a muffin pan or place liners.
In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients: oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice and brown sugar.
In a separate bowl, mash the bananas and stir in the wet ingredients: egg, butter and yogurt.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the cherries but be sure not to overstir or the batter will toughen.
Scoop into the prepared muffin tin and bake 18 - 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove muffins from the tin immediately and let cool on a wire rack.
Welcome! I'm a pie-baking, dog-loving, antique-hunting patriot. I'm a fan of rustic home cooking, the Yankees and scenic drives through the mountains.