One of the things that challenges all of us is the juggle: how to make time for work, family, friends, and ourselves. I’m lucky to be involved in 2 groups that give me time with friends every month: my book club and my bunco group. Both meet monthly and are filled with great people. We take turns hosting and the hostess of the month is responsible for food, wine and other libations. This month, I’m up as bunco hostess. I like to take October, since my house is decorated with pumpkins and witches and all things Halloween.
For the uninitiated, bunco is a game in which a set of three dice is thrown. You roll ones, two, threes, etc and get points if you roll the correct number. Three of a kind for the number that we are rolling will cause the lucky roller to yell out, “Bunco!” Our group also makes the winner don a ridiculous hat or a hot pink feather boa. We are real big spenders-all in at five dollars per person. Since we talk, play and eat, I like to set out snacks on each table where we are rolling the dice in addition to setting up an appetizer/dessert buffet in the kitchen.
Right before I was scheduled to host, I got some menu help in the form of a package in the mail filled with different varieties of Sante nuts. These were the perfect accompaniment to our dice rolling at the bunco tables: sweet, fresh and salty. They are hand roasted and use less oil than other roasted nuts. In addition to candied pecans and walnuts, I also got to try roasted salted pecans and garlic almonds. They were outstanding-in fact, I have to confess that the candied pecans never made it to bunco night because John and I devoured them beforehand. We were nuts about these nuts! They would be great for game day, your book club, or any other gathering at home. Sante has graciously offered to pass along a discount to Jersey Bites readers who order them online. If you visit www.SanteNuts.com and enter the code 2011-Blog-175, you will get 25% off of you order if you order by December 16, 2011.
Since I needed more than the nuts to feed my hungry bunco crew, I decided to make some foods with a Halloween theme. One of my favorites was devilishly good: a recipe for deviled chicken wings from “The Joy of Cooking.” They are easy to throw together and not greasy at all. I didn’t want to be accused of throwing the bunco game by causing everyone to have butter fingers, which are not conducive to dice rolling.
Deviled Chicken Wings
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a large baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Set out 1 ½ pounds of chicken wings.
Stir the following together in a large bowl:
½ cup honey
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Next, combine these ingredients on a plate:
2/3 cup dry plain bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon red pepper
Toss the wings in the honey mixture. Roll one at a time in the bread crumb mixture, shaking off any excess. Place wings on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 20 to 30 minutes. Make sure that you turn the wings over with tongs about halfway through the cooking process. Serve hot or at room temperature. Easy peasy!
I always love getting new ideas for my book club and bunco nights. Let us know in the comment section or on our Jersey Bites Facebook page if you participate in similar gatherings. If you want to share a favorite easy recipe, so much the better!
Beth Christian, Burlington County Regional Editor subsisted primarily on cheeseburgers and liverwurst sandwiches during childhood and refused to try most new foods. Her culinary horizons were expanded during her college days in Schenectady, New York, where she learned the joys of trying slow-simmered Italian dishes, Szechuan cuisine, and everything in between. When not engaged in the practice of law in Monmouth County, Beth is busy scouting out interesting restaurants, farmer’s markets and food purveyors near her home in Burlington County. Beth’s primary dining sidekick is her husband John, but she also enjoys having her daughter Meghan, son Michael and her wonderful friends come along for the ride. Email Beth at BChristian@JerseyBites.com