Yesterday was Valentine’s Day; the day when millions of people declare, show, and reaffirm LOVE.  I believe every love story is wonderfully unique and today, I am sharing ours as it relates to celebrating this special day.

Our first “official” Valentine’s Day was celebrated in 2002.  From the beginning, it was clear that neither Brett (my hubby) nor I bought into the commercial notion of this holiday: restaurant wait times, hiked up prices, and dinner crowds were not our cup of tea.  So, it was the perfect time to start our own tradition:  a simple, candle-lit dinner at home, with a delicious, fried chicken twist.

From 2002 until 2007 this involved KFC’s mouthwatering bucket o’ chicken with many, many sides.  And a bottle of wine. And fruit dipped in chocolate.  And candles.

Starting in 2008, when we discovered that Brett had issues with MSG (and that we should avoid it anyway) and that KFC breading included it, we traded our chicken bucket for Tysons frozen chicken strips.  And a bottle of wine. And fruit dipped in chocolate.  And candles.

Yesterday, after a decade of store-bought chicken strips, it was time to graduate into adulthood – and that is how my first chicken frying experience began.

When I first told Brett I was going to fry my own chicken, he said “Really?  That’s super hard to do!”  I thought, how hard could it be?!  Well, it could and it was – an epic, wonderful, and tasty mess, with more breading left on the various dishes than the chicken itself.  But hey, it was a proud, memorable adulting moment!

The frying was done in 3 batches because we also upgraded our hungry Valentine’s Day participants from 2 to 9 – our entire, lovely family!

All chicken legs had the delicious marinade involving buttermilk and spices (see recipe link below for details).

The first batch of 6 chicken legs was done according to the “American Buttermilk-fried Chicken” recipe from Tasty.co (check out their app, it is awesome!).  This made me realize that the breading, of course, fries a lot faster than the chicken legs.  By the time I ensured the meat was no longer pink, the breading was not a golden brown, but more of a lightly charred brown.

The second batch of 8 legs was coated in a delicious combo of Utz chips and Trader Joe’s gourmet fried onions.  Then, it was baked in the 400-degree oven for 45 minutes.

The third batch of 10 legs was baked in the same oven, but “coatless” (no breading).  After 45 minutes of baking, it was flash fried in peanut oil for just a few minutes to crisp up.

In the end, we ended up with 24 totally tasty chicken legs, bodacious broccoli salad, perfectly baked french fries, and for dessert, my sister’s famous palačinke (aka french crepes) with Nutella and rose hip jam.  The leftovers were minimal, so I claim success!

Three generations of love in one “not Instagram quality” photo

It was the feast fit for a loving family, full of laughs and good cheer!  Each of us also got small chocolate with a wise message on the inside wrapper, Sage Abbey style.  Here are a few heard around the family table:

“For things to come together, they must first come apart.”
“Be YOU-nique!”
“Compliment someone.  It will make them feel good and you even better.”

And if you start wondering why this family photo is less than Instagram-perfect, remember Frank Sinatra’s My Funny Valentine:

“You’re my funny valentine,
Sweet comic valentine,
You make me smile with my heart.
Your looks are laughable, un-photographable,
Yet, you’re my favorite work of art.”

From our fun loving family to yours, we hope you are loved every day in your own YOU-nique way!

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