Top Drawer Joyce Clark Hicks finds the best for your home and garden

Top Drawer

CorrespondentFebruary 1, 2014 

Use a cup of Texas Pete chicken wing sauce to make Durham reader Anne Thompson’s Tangy Chicken Bacon Bites.

Best for photos

Make your very own canvas photo display with this do-it-yourself project from the Budget Decorator blog. We’ve excerpted the steps here:

You will need:

Canvas value packs (from a craft store)

Mod Podge (matte)

Foam brush

4-by-6-inch (or your preferred size) borderless black-and-white, matte prints (Smaller photos produce a “cool and more modern” look.)

Step by step:

1 Using a foam brush, coat the back of the print with Mod Podge.

2 Apply your print face up onto the center of the canvas. Smooth it down with another coat of Mod Podge over the face of the print.

3 Apply a coat of Mod Podge to the entire front of the canvas.

4 Let it dry and hang, or lean and layer them on a shelf or mantel.

Check out a step-by-step pictorial at

Super recipe

Thanks to Durham reader Anne Thompson, who wrote in to share her favorite appetizer just in time for Super Bowl gatherings. It’s called Tangy Chicken Bacon Bites.

You will need:

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1 pound bacon

1 cup Texas Pete chicken wing sauce (or your favorite brand)

2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 tablespoons chili powder

Dash or two of cayenne pepper

Step by step:

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

•  Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces, roughly one-inch cubes. Place in a large Ziploc bag and add the chicken wing sauce. Refrigerate for one hour.

• Slice bacon into thirds. Wrap each chicken bite with bacon and secure with a toothpick.

• Mix brown sugar, chili powder and cayenne pepper in a pie plate.

• Roll the bacon-wrapped chicken in the sugar mixture, coating all sides. Place on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

• Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

Reader’s best

Raleigh resident Julia Bagwell wrote in to sing the praises of Woolite Oxy Deep stain remover for troublesome laundry spots. “(It) is the best cleaner for laundry stains, carpet and furniture stains. If used promptly, it will remove fruit stains, wine stains and other food stains.”

Seeking our readers’ best

If you have a favorite cleaning, gardening or organizing tip, or a simple, favorite recipe, we want to hear about it. Send them to Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best tips” or “best recipe” in the subject line. If we use your tip, you’ll be entered in our quarterly drawing for a gift card.

Best for memories

Have you ever wondered what you were doing on this day a year ago? In 2011 or 2005? Well, so did a busy mom of three who writes the Modern Parents Messy Kids blog. She devised an easy way to preserve memories after an exhaustive Web search, and its simplicity is just what busy folks need to record memories on the run. You can get a complete explanation and pictures of project at Look for the entry dated Jan. 20. Here’s an excerpt:

“The basic idea here is to have an index card for every day of the year. At the top of each card, place a piece of colorful washi tape with the day of the month written on it. Then on the lined side, write the year and something memorable that happened that day. This could be an adventure you went on, a funny quote, or a milestone one of your kids hit that day. On the back of the same card, place a photo from that day.” For example:

Jan. 3rd

2011: Kids made their first snowman.

2012: New Year’s resolution: Get house ready to sell.

2013: Went skiing with kids for the first time.

Best of the tube


Bachelorette Pad: High school teacher and cheerleading coach Ariana is ready to strike out on her own, and with help from her contractor father, she hopes to find a two-bedroom home she can put her personal stamp on. Property expert Egypt Sherrod promises to find a fixer-upper in Westchester County, N.Y. But real estate in her parents’ neighborhood is pricey, and Egypt warns that Ariana will have to be flexible to get what she wants. Tune in to see how she keeps her dream investment from becoming a money pit. “Property Virgins” airs at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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