Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings

Every January, my eldest child gets another year older. I have tried to prevent this from happening but alas time marches onwards and the little boy I used to know as a toothless, grinning, drooling baby who refused to even attempt to crawl until he was 14 months but still managed to roll across the floor and raid my pantry cupboards just to steal an entire head of garlic (true story) is now a tall, smart, funny 9-year-old boy with quite the mouth full of large, fully grown adult teeth.

Although another year older with some continually developing tastes, there are some things that haven't changed when it comes to Matthew. He still enjoys Thomas the train. He still wants to be a paleontologist when he grows up as his obsession with dinosaurs has not waned over the past four years. He still hates unmelted cheese for some strange reason. He will never turn down the opportunity to build a good puzzle. He still hasn't mastered making his bed as soon as he wakes up each morning. He still snuggles with monkey every single night and occasionally sneaks him along on various outings by ensconcing him inside his pocket.

Then there are other things that are continually changing and evolving about Matthew that show me and Paul that he is in fact growing up. His love of reading has continued to blossom as he has moved away from picture-heavy books and now reads larger chapter books and biographies. After watching The Greatest Showman, he wanted to learn more about the real P.T. Barnum and checked out a biography on his life from the library and devoured it within a few days. His current favorite fiction author is Roald Dahl. One of the items we purchased for his birthday was a big boxed set of all the Roald Dahl books and it was his favorite gift!

Matthew's sense of humor is also really starting to blossom. He has been known to make some truly witty observational remarks that have left Paul and me in stitches. He's also been more adventurous with activities. He's always up for a new experience or activity, whether it be a hike, a bike ride, a new sport to try, skiing, you name it. He always throws himself in 100% with full enthusiasm and confidence. A most recent example of this is skiing. Paul is so proud about how Matthew just throws himself down the mountain, determined to race everyone in sight to the bottom of the hill. Never mind that he has suffered crash after crash, including a few "yard sale crashes" where the impact dislodged all his ski gear - gloves, skis, goggles, hat, etc. - to litter the side of the mountain, Matthew's confidence will not be swayed. We love this about him.

I also love how Matthew laughs first and hardest at all my jokes, even the ones that are over his head. At prayers every night, we always go around the room and have everyone name something they're thankful for. Matthew has thanked God "that Mommy is so funny" on more than one occasion.

For his birthday this year, all Matthew wanted to eat was meat. Meat, meat, and more meat! I remember when he was a toddler and we couldn't get him to eat a single piece of meat. It was all fruit and carbohydrates for the first few years of his life. But now that he is a growing boy, he loves to stock up on protein. He loves barbecue - especially ribs - and hot wings. So, we took him out to a barbecue joint that had caught his attention due to the name "Rib City" so he could get his fill of ribs. I was alarmed by how much he did eat. About twice as much as Paul. And he licked those bones clean. Makes me fearful for what his eating habits will be like when he's a teenager!

Since we had a late lunch, most of us were less than enthusiastic at the prospects of dinner, but Matthew insisted that we make Buffalo Wings for his birthday dinner. Even Paul wasn't hungry. But, being the good father he is, he dutifully made some baked wings for Matthew and they were phenomenal! Matthew ate probably a good two pounds of wings, leaving the little bones piled in a bowl as a showcase of the spoils of his meal. At one point while eating, Matthew turned to Paul and said, "You know what I bet goes great with wings, Dad? An ice cold beer."

Excuse me, what?

Either way, Paul took the hint and helped himself to a selection from his current stock of beer from New Belgium brewing company. And he agreed that it went great with the wings (duh). But those wings would have gone great with anything. They were out-of-this-world fantastic. Matthew dipped them in ranch dressing and we bought one of those veggie trays from Costco and just served that along with the wings and we had a meal! Easy and very, very delicious! Since the little girls do not like anything hot, we served a pound of the wings untouched by the spicy Buffalo sauce and they ate them with a side of barbecue sauce for dipping.

I'm out of town for the Superbowl and already Matthew and Paul are making big plans for making a huge batch of these wings for the game. I love how they bond over licking the tiny bones of chickens clean.

Happy Birthday to my growing son, Matthew! We are proud of you! But your Dad is probably most proud of how much of a carnivore you've turned out to be...

Baked Buffalo Wings
adapted from Cafe Delites

For the Chicken Wings:
4 pounds chicken wings cut, wing tips removed and cut into drummetes and flats
1 tablespoon baking powder (NOT baking soda)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder

For the Buffalo Sauce:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup Frank's Original Red Hot Sauce
A generous dash of honey

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminium foil and set a heat-proof wire rack inside.

Pat dry chicken wings liberally with paper towels, squeezing out as much moisture as you can. Transfer them to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the baking powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper together, whisking well to combine, and sprinkle the mixture over the wings. Toss wings through the baking powder mixture until evenly coated.

Arrange on rack, leaving about 1-inch of space between each wing.

Bake for 30 minutes; flip and continue to cook until crisp and golden brown, (about 20-30 minutes longer), until golden browned and crispy.

While wings are cooking, whisk together hot sauce, butter and honey. Toss wings through the sauce to evenly coat.

Serve wings immediately with ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing and plenty of crudites.

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