HAPPY BIRTHDAY Uncle Joe!!! It’s our beloved Uncle Joe’s birthday, and boy, is he getting OOOOLD. J/K. He’s not really that old! Joseph is my one-and-only younger sibling, so no matter how old he gets, to me he’ll always be that trumpet-blaring, silly little troublemaker with a bowl-haircut sporting a red bow tie. (We even used to affectionately call him “Problem Child” after that red-headed boy who wore the same bow tie! Remember that movie?) I’d say that besides the haircut, not much has changed… 😛
Some of the fondest and FUNnest memories I have are with my brother….playing at the beach together (by ourselves?!), riding bikes till dinnertime, long drives across the country in one of Daddy’s bright orange Volkswagon vans, camping trips, and so many more! We were best friends. And we were crazy. 😛 I was cleaning out our garage (hooray!), and lo and behold, I came upon a dusty box of old letters- perfect for sending Birthday wishes to our little “Junior.” Back in the day when I was away at College (before E-mail), Joseph would often send me letters written in his flawless handwriting (HAHA) via snail mail and they were hilarious. They brought a smile to my face then, and make me laugh even more now.
Here’s the outside of the envelope:
Joseph would often raid my stationary bin…(don’t you just love Korean stationary?)
I’ll let the letter speak for itself. (If you can make out what it says that is!) And he always wrote out a Bible verse for me. (Who ever thought? kekeke).
Remember Winkipinki? 😛
On the envelopes of many of the letters he would write, “DO NO OPEN or the wrath of ……..(fill in the blank) will be upon you!” (I was afraid we might get contacted by the authorites so I didn’t take a picture of them. Where did he come up with these things I ask you?!
If you look beyond the utter hilarity of his letters, you can sense his sweetness and sincerity even more, and I will cherish them always. Joseph is a softie. He has a big, BIG heart and is always thinking about others. I don’t think anyone will ever forget how he took time out of college to stay home and help take care of Daddy when he had lung cancer, and how he stayed by Mommie day and night, making her meals exactly the way she liked them, reading her favorite Bible passages, massaging her legs and feet, (and moving things around for her :P) when she fought through the very same sickness. He even walked me down the aisle on my wedding day. We’ve been through some of life’s best and most difficult times together, and there’s no one else in the world who will ever know what that’s like in the same way. Besides my own precious family, he’s my one-and-only brother and family now, and that makes him the Bestest Brother in the whole, wide world. I love you Joe! Let’s make Mommie and Daddy proud! 🙂
The kids couldn’t wait to celebrate “Uncle Joe’s Birthday!” and “have a PARTY!” (excitement not exaggerated) for him because they love him so much, he spoils them like crazy, and IS crazy. Their Uncle Joe is just the BESTEST Uncle any kid could ever have.
I love this photo. Hudson is three and they are overlooking the San Diego harbor.
Here he is with our little ‘baldy baby’ Bf.
“Take it from me- I’m Mistah T.” Yes, Jedi. That is indeed Master Yoda on the right (poor Skulls).
In honor of our special birthday boy, we celebrated with chicken wings and his most favorite chocolate cake. Nice and simple. What more could a guy ask for right? I served the wings with hot, steamed white rice (Joe likes it white), kimchi (Korean-style!) and potato salad… and (I’m pretty sure) he loved it. Yay!
Buffalo wings are one of Sweetie’s (and Joe’s!) absolute favorite things to eat. Together, they have (sometimes quite regretfully) put down a good number of them. Personally, I tend to stay away from things that are deep-fried and overly messy to eat (but I guess that’s the fun of it? :P) and let the kids have a skinless taste… Wings are the fattiest part of a chicken! I first tried this recipe out because I had some wings leftover from frying buffalo wings Super Bowl weekend, and wanted to bake them in the oven instead. I had no idea how they would turn out for my love-anything-deep-fried wing connoisseur. Well, S looooved them and declared that he would even “BUY these!” (Whenever he says he would buy something I make means it’s pretty good.) He didn’t even know at the time that they weren’t fried!…well, I guess since there’s the butter. Turns out, Uncle Joe said he would buy them too! They were a hit, and everyone devoured them -including our 3 pups even after eating a full dinner. Bf called them “appetizers,” but it was more like dessert :P.
Emeril’s Oven-Roasted Chicken Wings
These are a nice chance from your typical buffalo wing recipe. They have a nice herb-y taste to them and I may even add some freshly grated lemon zest (why waste?) to amp up the lemon flavor next time too. This time we used 2 lemons Sweetie picked fresh off of our tree! (Oooo, organic.) I had to use bottled lemon juice the first time I made these and you couldn’t tell the difference. I also cut down on the thyme just a bit because I didn’t want them to be “Thyme-Roasted Chicken Wings.”
Then there is the fun job of having to cut the wing-tips off of the wings, (which I think I’ve gotten better at over the years), but how come this time the wings were still on the frozen side so my left hand nearly fell off due to frost bite!?! It IS easier to cut when chicken is slightly still frozen but I seriously had to run my hand under steamy HOT water to thaw it afterwards! So besides an almost-trip to the emergency room, these take no time at all to toss together. You could just hear them sizzling in that hot oven, and they smelled oh-so-gooood. They started browning so fast I had to flip them over quickly with a spatula and re-arranged them with tongs (some of them get stuck to the bottom of the pan- you wouldn’t want to lose any part of those succulent little morsels)! Don’t they look tasty though? 😛
*We have found that Costco has the best deal on chicken wings. They can be pretty pricey at grocery stores. That also means you’ll have ALOT of wings to (freeze for later?) cook though… which is hardly of a problem in our house! Good thing I roasted the entire 6.5 pack of wings because there was barely enough left to take home after!
- 4 pounds chicken wings, cut in half at joint (wing tips removed-make sure they’re not too frozen! :P)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons or bottled lemon juice)
- 1 tablespoon ground pepper (I use plain ol’ pepper- it’s easier to measure and distributes more evenly?)
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme (to your liking)
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more for spicy eaters like Joe!)
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- Blue cheese or ranch dressing, or barbecue sauce, for dipping..(or serve with hot rice and kimchi on the side!)
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. In a large bowl, toss chicken wings with lemon juice. Add pepper, garlic and onion powders, and salt. Add thyme, crushing it between your fingers as you go. Add cayenne and melted butter. Stir mixture thoroughly, then arrange wings in one layer on baking sheet.
- Cook 20 minutes, then rotate sheet and flip wings. Cook until wings are browned and cooked through, 10 minutes. Serve with desired dipping sauce.
(Don’t you just love tiny rainbow-dot sprinkles? They make me happy.)
Rich and Decadant Chocolate Cake
I make this chocolate cake for Joe EVERY YEAR on his birthday (sometimes in between on special-request), and besides the shape, (one year it was a football), I always make it pretty much the same. This time, I did a little bit of experimenting and changed the frosting up a bit to make it lighter and fluffier. The cake recipe is the recipe everyone makes (or should) because it’s so quick and easy to throw together and it ALWAYS tastes decadent and rich, just like a chocolate cake should. Both the cake and frosting are simply made by doctoring up store-bought ingredients…Lawd knows we all want/need things to be quick and easy! The best part is it tastes just as good as a made-from-scratch cake! Feel free to substitute applesauce for some of the oil and used reduced fat sour cream if you’re trying to cut down on the calories.
- 1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix
- 1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I prefer to use the mini-morsels, they melt better into the cake)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into ayour pan/s of choice- I used 2 8-inch pans and baked for 40-45 min. (adjust baking time accordingly).
- Bake for 50 to 55 minutes (for bundt cake pan), or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake thoroughly in pan at least an hour and a half.
Recipe Source: AllRecipes
Easy Peasy “Whipped” Chocolate Frosting
Instead of my usual thick and creamy chocolate frosting, I tried to make more of a “whipped” version. Because the cake itself is so rich, this frosting balances out the flavor making it lighter and giving it more of a contrast in texture and sweetness. It isn’t as stiff as regular frosting, and didn’t turn out as fluffy as I hoped it would be so it dripped down a bit giving it a more “runny” effect. I rather like the way it cascades down the sides of the cake. 😛 Everyone liked the change though and I think I just may make it this way from now on!
– 1 tub of store-bought chocolate frosting (you can use any flavor you like)
– 1/2 8oz. (or more, if you don’t mind “runny”) container of Cool Whip, defrosted
(It doesn’t get any ‘easier peasier’ than this, folks! 2 ingredients? Mix together? Yessss.)
Place both ingredients in a mixer or bowl and use hand-blender. Mix on slow setting, scraping bowl in between until thoroughly blended. Refrigerate for 30 min. or so until it’s not as runny (I didn’t and just let it run down the sides of the cake then refrigerated it), then frost your cake! If making a layered cake, frost between each layer, then the top and sides. Keep refrigerated until serving.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY UNCLE JOE!!!…