First-place appetizer: Moxie chicken wings

Makes 36 wings

5 pounds chicken wings, tucked into triangles
2.5 liters Moxie, divided
4 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely chopped and divided
Juice and peel of 1 orange
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 cup favorite barbecue sauce

Add 2 teaspoons ginger and orange to 1.5 liters Moxie to make marinade. Season wings with salt and pepper and place in two-gallon plastic sealable bags; add marinade and refrigerate for 24 hours.

In a saucepan, combine 1 liter Moxie, brown sugar, vinegar, remaining 2 teaspoons ginger and a pinch of red pepper flakes to make a glaze. Simmer for approximately 1 hour, stirring occasionally until it becomes the consistency of syrup. Strain and return to saucepan. Stir in barbecue sauce.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season wings with salt and pepper and place in a single layer in a large baking pan(s). Place in oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees. Roast for 30-45 minutes, turning once. Remove wings from oven and pour off drippings. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and spoon glaze over wings. Roast for another 15 minutes, turn wings, and spoon on more glaze.

First-place main dish: Brian’s buffalo chicken balls

Makes 25 (1 1/2-inch) meatballs

Fat from 1 pound bacon for frying
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
1 1/4 cups panko crumbs
1 large egg
1/3 cup each celery and carrot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Celery leaves for garnish

In a large skillet, cook one pound of bacon. Remove bacon from skillet and reserve for another meal.
Combine all ingredients except celery leaves in a large bowl. Shape into 25 (1 1/2- inch) meatballs. Brown on all sides in hot bacon fat until cooked through. Toss with sauce in a large bowl and serve with blue cheese dressing, celery and carrot sticks, and dinner rolls.

Sauce:
16 ounces Moxie soda
12 ounces Frank’s Red Hot Original Buffalo Sauce
1/2 cup melted butter

Cook Moxie in a saucepan at a slow boil, stirring occasionally until liquid is reduced to 4 ounces. Stir in buffalo sauce. Add butter a bit at a time to mellow out the flavor and keep tasting until you have the level of heat you desire.

First-place dessert: Moxie cheesecake

Makes 12-14 servings

Crust:
6 medium-sized gluten-free chocolate cupcakes, homemade or store bought
Filling:
8 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (4 pounds total)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
.25 fluid ounces gentian root extract*
1/3 cup Moxie soda

Crumble cupcakes and press firmly into the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add sugar a bit at a time, mixing until well-incorporated. Blend in 1 egg at a time. Beat in gentian extract and Moxie. Spoon filling over crust.

Bake in preheated 325-degree oven for 60-75 minutes, until firm. Cool completely on rack then refrigerate until ready to serve. This can also be kept in the freezer for a few weeks.

Topping:

6 cans (72 ounces) Moxie
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Reduce Moxie at a slow boil to 12 ounces. Stir cornstarch into Moxie reduction to thicken to the consistency of jelly. Spoon into a plastic condiment bottle with a spout and pipe onto top of cheesecake before serving. (This can also simply be spooned onto top of cheesecake before or after slicing.)

* Gentian root extract can be found in health food stores or wherever other herbal extracts are sold. Because it is considered to be an herbal remedy, be sure to read instructions regarding use and side effects.

Winner of the Crowd Pleaser Award: Moxiemisu

Makes 10-12 servings

3/4 cup egg substitute
Moxie reduction**
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces mascarpone
1/4 cup espresso or strong coffee
3/4 cup Moxie soda
32 lady fingers
Cocoa powder

With an electric mixer, beat egg substitute, 1 tablespoon Moxie reduction and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Add mascarpone and beat until well-combined.

Stir espresso/coffee and soda together in a shallow bowl and dip in lady fingers to moisten, then layer in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with the mascarpone mixture followed by a drizzle of Moxie reduction. Dust with cocoa powder. Refrigerate overnight.

**Moxie reduction: Bring 2 cups Moxie to a boil; simmer over low heat until reduced to 1/3 to 1/4 cup and is the consistency of maple syrup, about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool and store in air-tight container in refrigerator for up to two weeks. If you need a larger amount, adjust measurements accordingly.


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