STARTERS
SERVES 4 | 1 HOUR TOTAL

JUST WING IT



The best days in Chicago are the ones that bring the heat just like these wings.

Ingredients
Ranch from Miyoko Schinner:
1 cup vegan mayo
½ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice
8 oz soft tofu
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
NOTE: LASTS UP TO TWO WEEKS IN THE FRIDGE

Buffalo Bites:
1 15.5 oz can chickpeas
¾ cup vital wheat gluten
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon veggie broth
Flour
Constartch
Almond milk
Egg replacer
Vegetable oil for frying
Buffalo sauce
NOTE: BEST SERVED IMMEDIATELY. LASTS TWO-THREE DAYS  IN THE FRIDGE. TO REHEAT, HEAT ON STOVETOP TO PRESERVE CRISP.


Method
Combine all ingredients for the ranch dressing in a blender and purée until smooth. Place in serving bowl and set aside in fridge to cool

Combine chickpeas, vital wheat gluten, and veggie broth in food processor.

Transfer into a bowl and form mixture into bite sized wing pieces.

To dredge, dunk each piece first in almond milk, next in ½ flour ½ cornstarch mixture, then in egg replacer and finally back in your flour/cornstarch mixture.

Heat oil in skillet to fry bite sized wings. Fry each buffalo bite 4 minutes on each side.

Toss bites in buffalo sauce and serve.



Last year, Greer and I participated in a silent auction during a fundraising event for a dear friend of ours. While we placed our bets down on a few different prizes, we really only had our eyes set on one grand event: a free stay at a hotel in downtown Chicago. Now, you would think others might have their sights set out on the spa outing or new set of golf clubs but we were sadly mistaken. Not only did we have an all-out auction battle with other friends of ours, but additional strangers as well. It was a long night, and after we placed our last bet we made our way home thinking someone else might’ve snagged the staycation. When we got notice that we won, we didn’t know the events surrounding our hotel stay would make for one of our favorite summer days in Chicago.

Let’s set the foundation of our itinerary.

Friday 11am: We made our way to the Radisson Blu and checked in with our special certificate granting a free nights stay. If you haven’t tried a staycation in the city you live, we highhhhhly recommend. An intimate little night where you can pamper yourself and not make the bed in the morning. You get to drink a little drink, take a little dip in the pool or walk around in a robe all day (because you can). Alternatively, you could take a luxurious bath (but be very careful about the water temperature or you might sit around the tub for hours completely naked because the water is too hot) or have friends stop by for dinner and drinks. Hell, the hotel might even have a basketball court where you spend three hours talking smack about how great of a player you are, only to play one-on-one and completely forget how to play the sport you once played for 8 years. Needless to say, we had a packed 24 hours at our staycation. You would too if you only had one night in luxury.

Saturday 8am: We woke up from our beautiful slumber, extremely cozy in the oversized king bed we slept in. This wasn’t our first rodeo, though. No, no, no, we made sure to plan this little staycation around an event where we had to be downtown. Otherwise, why would you go into the core of the city? Thankfully, we managed to line up this staycation with a boat outing planned with some very dear friends of ours. Did you know on Chicago’s riverfront they let just about anyone rent a boat AND DRIVE IT? Well, after we watched the two minute boat “how-to” video we were practically experts. We drank, we set sail, and while the intimate details of what happened on that boat will forever remain between the crew,  let’s just say after the two hour boat ride we had enough mimosas in us to feel no pain.

Saturday 1pm: We arrive home in a happy limbo. What do we do? Nap? Stay awake and ride it out? Is there some place we can go? BINGO! There’s a White Sox game at 5 o’clock. It’s even the perfect amount of break time to fit in a nap. Now that we have the “pep” back in our step, we make our way down to Comisky Park. Our boat intoxication phase definitely validated our decision to spring for the pricey tickets that landed us right behind home plate. While we maybe nursed one beer the whole nine innings, (it’s a marathon not a sprint) we did find a way to spend almost $200 at the team shop. Of course the $40 muscle tee had to be bought.

Saturday 10pm: The game is over but we can’t go home now, we need we more beer and more friends. Where are the friends? Probably in their natural habitat...at a bar. We hop on the redline and zoomed off to meet the pals. We danced, played darts, and drank the night away.

Sunday 2am: We finally arrive back home, finally tired. Sometimes the best nights are the ones where you just wing it.

CAUTION: ADDICTIVE RECIPES   CAUTION: ADDICTIVE RECIPES   CAUTION: ADDICTIVE RECIPES   CAUTION: ADDICTIVE RECIPES   


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Mark