Alex’s Lemonade Stand-inspired wings and cake toppings

This week I have two awesome new recipes for you, inspired by a great charity. I am partnering with friends to support Alex’s Lemonade Stand in San Diego, which is one of the biggest fundraisers in California and one of the top ten Alex’s Lemonade Stands in the country. Since its inception, Alex’s Lemonade Stand has raised over $80 million worldwide for childhood cancer, and has funded more than 450 research projects at 94 institutions. They also help families struggling with childhood cancer through a Travel Fund and an annual Educational Symposium.

If you’re in San Diego, here’s the info for the foundation event:

Saturday July 26: 10:00-6:00 pm
3366 Adams Avenue, 92116 at the Masonic Parking Lot
FM 94.9 Live Broadcast
Bands, lemonade, silent auction, kids’ activities, and more!

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If you can’t attend, please click here to donate. Let’s help the Miller Tribe reach their goal of $15,000 this year, which would be a total of $100,000 for the nine years they’ve been running.

MillerTribe
I’m helping out by participating in the San Diego Food Bloggers Lemonade Online Challenge, sponsored by Melissa’s Produce. In addition to my two recipes (below), more than a dozen San Diego Food Bloggers will be cooking with lemons in support of Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Please check out their lemony recipes online between July 21-28, and make a donation to the Stand through links on their blogs, linked at the end of this post.

I accepted the lemon challenge and came up with a savory and a sweet recipe using the delicious fruit from Melissa’s Produce. I hope you enjoy these. I sure did.

Savory Lemon Challenge:

Epic Lemony Wings

For the savory part of the challenge, I opted for the best recipe I have made all summer, Epic Wings. Seasoned. Smoked. Fried. Tossed in sauce. I’ve made them a number of times so far this summer and you can’t beat them for crowd-pleasing. They’re the best. And as usual, one of my favorite things about this recipe is its extreme versatility.

plate of lemon wings

I decided since I was doing a lemon challenge, the sauce for these Epic babies would be a delicious Meyer lemon sauce. I based mine off of this one, but used more lemon juice and lemon zest, and had a different preparation process.

To really switch up the flavors, I decided to try some different wood chips than I usually use; the Jack Daniel’s brand wood chips, made from the oak barrels they use to age the whiskey. Just remember: Oak chips need to pre-soak a little longer than most.

jack wood chips

Feel free to use any type of wood chips because all of them taste good, and frankly, I don’t think it’s possible to screw up these wings.

Ingredients for the chicken wings:

  • 4-5 lbs chicken wings
  • 2-3 tablespoons of salt-free house seasoning
  • 1 cup bacon grease or vegetable oil
  • wood chips for smoking (your choice)

Ingredients for the Lemon Sauce:

  • 1 cup fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp. corn starch
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • zest from 1 lemon

First, season the wings. Make sure the seasoning you use is salt-free (or at the very least low-salt) because too much salt will dry out the meat during smoking. Prepare your smoker according to manufacturer specifications with soaked wood chips of your choice, and let the chicken wings smoke for at least one hour.

smoked wings

While the wings are smoking, prepare your sauce. You should do this regardless of which sauce you decide to use, but for the lemon sauce, I mix the water and sugar in a pot and bring it up to a simmer. Separately, mix the lemon juice and corn starch, while the liquid is still cold, and add it to the pot, stirring constantly. Add the lemon zest and set aside.

Fry the wings in bacon grease or oil. I don’t really need to tell you why bacon grease is the optimal setting for this, or why you can substitute oil if you so desire. I don’t have a deep fryer so I used bacon grease in a cast-iron skillet, but again, the idea is to deep-fry the wings you just smoked, so it really doesn’t matter how it gets done. If you have a deep fryer, use it. If you have duck fat or something somehow tastier than bacon grease or duck fat, then by all means, fry it in that. They’re already fully cooked in the smoker, and the flash fry will seal in the meat juices and the flavors of your seasoning and smoking, and add a nice crispy edge to your wings so that the last step doesn’t make them soggy.

lemon wings

The last step: Toss the wings in the sauce, and make sure you get them nicely coated. Serve immediately. Sit and bask in the compliments you receive.

 

lemon epic wings recipe card

 Sweet Lemon Challenge:

Key Lime and Lemon Swirled Curd

For the sweet lemon recipe, I wanted to make a nice lemon curd like this one I used from Linda Ziedrich’s book called “Jams, Jellies and Other Sweet Preserves.” It’s simple and delicious, and a beginner like myself can make it. My box of produce from Melissa’s Produce had two kinds of lemons as well as Key Limes, so I opted to make a curd from Key Limes, a curd from lemons, and then swirl them together for a fun dessert topping.

lemonlime curd on angel food cake

Yum!

First of all, I would recommend, especially if you are cooking with Key Limes, that you get yourself an assistant. Preferably one with strong hands. Or when you plan your cooking, add at least a half-hour for juicing. For the curd recipe, you need 2/3 cup of lemon juice (or lime juice if you’re making lime curd), and for those tiny Key Limes, you’ll need about a dozen to get 2/3 of a cup.

juicing

I added a bit of green food coloring to the Key Lime-flavored curd, because with the egg yolks and eggs, the finished product looked too yellow. In the end, the lemon curd and the lime curd together was lovely on top of a fluffy angel food cake.

lemonlime curd on angel food cake

A Purpose Driven Wife
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Becky Charms
Confessions of a Foodie
Deleting the Adjectives
Family Spice
Frugal Nutrition
Golden State Mom
Jinxi Eats
Kirbie’s Cravings
Making It Sweet
Recipe Renovator
The Plain Jane
The Seaside Baker
Three Dog Kitchen

Event Partners:
Alex’s Lemonade Stand
Adams Avenue Business Association
Blind Lady Ale House
FM 94.9, broadcasting live all day
Melissa’s Produce

Curd, curd, curd, curd, curd.

Sounds gross. Tastes not-gross. One step away from a Hollandaise sauce. Great on cookies, breads, scones, muffins, biscuits, and some day, God willing, my sister’s homemade eclairs.

Once again I am blown away by the ease with which this recipe can be made. I really believe that television cooks and celebrity chefs — for the most part — try to psyche the general public into believing something is harder to make than it really is. The best example of this is a conversation I had with my brother-in-law when he asked me if I would be preparing a brine for a turkey I was making. Immediately, I said no, brining is too complicated, it’s too many ingredients, it’s too much work. It was, in fact, none of those things, as I gathered from looking at his face when he raised his eyebrows and said “Yeah? Ya don’t know how to boil water?”

Well, touche, sir.

Think curd is too hard? Hollandaise is for the gourmet chefs? Think again. If I can do it, anyone can.

Got lemon juice? Stir 2/3 of a cup of it with 2 eggs and 2 egg yolks. (Learn how to separate the white from the yolk here. It’s easier than it looks, and this guy makes it look pretty easy. And you know what? If there’s a teensy bit more white than yolk, the world won’t even end.)

Now, in a double boiler (read: a bowl over a pot of boiling water), melt 6 tablespoons of butter. Add a cup of sugar. Then whisk in the lemon and egg mixture. When I did this, I was using a wooden spoon because the recipe from Linda Zeidrich I used said that to stir for 5 minutes in the double boiler, and that when it was ready I would be able to know it was thick enough by running my finger down the spoon — it creates a path when it’s ready. But after about 30 seconds, I could see little pockets forming that looked dangerously close to scrambled eggs (big no-no). I switched to a whisk and whisked the mixture briskly for a couple of minutes, then went back to using the wooden spoon. Sure enough, by the 5-minute mark, the curd was perfect.

My crowning achievement that weekend was a batch of tiny cheesecakes topped with homemade lemon curd. It was epic.