Roast Chicky-Bird

When I started chickening (in the last four years now—after having been vegetarian for nearly 20), I found these Smart Chicken whole birds at Woodman’s. Their gimmick (if you will) is they air-chill and don’t add water. I have no real idea what this means but can only assume you’re not paying for the weight of water when you buy their chickens.

I can also assume that they’re a pretty alright company because Jeni St Market switched from Bell and Evans (a very alright company) to Smart Chicken (because of some distro and stocking problems for the small store).

However, the whole fryers are usually somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5 lbs and are $10-13. The organic version of the bird is similarly sized but twice as much.

Thankfully, Woodman’s also carries birds that aren’t Tyson or Gold ‘n’ Plump. Namely, Gerber’s Amish Farm chickens. These hefty fellas are 4ish lbs and $7ish. Plus, you usually get a neck and a pair o’ kidneys, the use of which we’ll get to in another post about the best chicken gravy you will ever smell, make, or taste.

During these last four years of roasting chickens, I’ve settled on a way that incorporates a little from GOOP, Ottolenghi, and a new favorite, Sam the Cooking Guy, and I’m here to tell you all about it.

It’s at this point that I always thank the bird for letting us eat him.

You start out with a bird on your favorite raw-poultry-only cutting board and, instead of rinsing him off (which has been purported to simply spread the possibility of salmonella* around the kitchen), take a couple of paper towels and pat dry all over, getting in the pits and inside the cavity.

*It’s good to be safe because the effects of the bacteria mean you won’t be eating chicken any time in the near future.

Into the cavity, shove a couple of quartered lemons, and if there is room, cut the top off a head of garlic and put that in there, too.

Preheat the oven to 425° and get out your carbon-steel pan (or cooking sheet, or whatever you roast in).

Now, as the Joy of Cooking puts it so annoyingly, perform a simple truss! It’s never so simple, and I usually cut the string too short. But, I’ll attempt to explain it so maybe I can remember myself and can stop referencing the drawings in the book.

First, measure out at least two feet of string, but probably more, and start by wrapping the middle of the string around the Pope’s nose and give it a tie. Then, hold the two legs together (where there were once feet) and wrap the string around them so they’re very close, or even crossed. This is when I begin to lose patience; track the string under the thighs and up toward the wings. Some people (who cut their string long enough) wrap around the wings a couple of times, but in the reference photos, I appear to only have used the string to keep ’em close. Which is the point, really. You just don’t want them flapping about because they’ll burn.

All trussed up and nowhere to go. Except for the oven.
Sticking his neck out!

Tie the string at the neck and go wash your hands.

Mix equal parts garlic powder, salt (there’s a difference), and ground pepper and hold about 12 inches above the bird and sprinkle all over until it’s healthfully covered. The bird up there is shiny because he was spritzed with avocado oil, a practice I have since halted. They render enough juicy fat that really, no extra oil is needed.

That’s it! Stick him in the oven at 425° for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 385° and after a total of 40 minutes, get out your baster and start basting. Tip the pan with the cavity opening toward you so you get the lemon juices and baste for a minute. Put the bird back in for another 30 minutes and then check the temperature of the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding the bone, which will be significantly hotter). You’re looking for 165° or higher. Though, I’ve read some chef claim he “likes [his] chicken a little pink” and thinks it’s fine at 150°. I do not.

Lately, I’ve been sticking a chef’s knife into the cavity and tilting it into the pan so the juices run out there instead of on my cutting board. This also allows me to use the grease plus lemon juice as an amazing salad dressing. I did get myself a not-raw-chicken board with a deeper well and a slant, so the juices run toward the back and not all over the counter. I’ve used it once and it worked swimmingly. Get it?! Swimming in chicken juice.

Ahem.

The next really important part here is to let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes, 15 if you can stand it. This is why it’s good to temp the chicken higher (180°) because it’s going to sit for a while and you don’t want to serve lukewarm chicken.

The next post about chickens will be the carving process, which is made so much easier after it rests. The fibers settle down, the juices get settled where they need to, and it’s not going to burn your fingers.

Roasted Chicken

The easiest things since sliced bread.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr 10 mins
Resting Time15 mins
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 1 4lb chicken patted dry
  • 1/2 lemon quartered
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper finely ground

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • Stuff the cavity with lemon slices and truss.
  • Mix spices together and sprinkle over the bird in an even coat.
  • Bake at 425° for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 385°.
    After a total of 40 minutes, baste the bird with its juices and return to the oven for another 30 minutes. When it registers 165° in the thigh, remove from heat and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Gwynnie’s Detox

I was first introduced to Gwenyth Paltrow as a cookbook author some many New Years’ Days ago (according to my records, it’s been only four years) at a friend’s house. One of the hosts’ sister was an editor at the publisher I think? Anyway, I poured over the simple layout, recipe ingredients, categorization, funny description of the “conscious uncoupling” between her and her kids’ daddy (something to do with Coldplay, I think?).

Since that NYD four years ago, I’ve obtained and filed away for reference three of her four* cookbooks and look to them at least once a week.

The Amazon-required links were terribly interruptive in my text, so here they are: one, two, three, four.

I began to learn about her brand, GOOP, and the contingent of folks who are staunchly against it. Jade eggs, luxurious and expensive week-long spa-like conferences where the color of your bracelet indicates the level of your monetary investment in the event, the $6,500 t-shirts, the brain dust and cordyceps required for the quintessential GOOP morning smoothie.

I’m not really sure how I feel about those things (except the smoothie—I had one this morning and it was pretty alright), but what I am sure of is that no one cares how I feel about those things.

All that is to say that I keep my interests on the food side of Gwyneth Paltrow, including the annual detox her team has published for the past few years.

I just completed my third and I think this one was the most effective, enjoyable, interesting, and easy of the three.

Effective: Because I mentally prepared, I wasn’t so stressed out about removing certain things from my routine, and I kept telling myself it was only five days and I wasn’t going to die without my single cup of coffee in the morning. That hot lemon water was no substitute, though.

Enjoyable: I was able to not only share the dinners with my partner, I found that the menu was tasty and got us to try a couple of new things.

Interesting: The red curry almond butter dressing/dip/sauce was very versatile and I actually liked the kelp noodles.

Easy: While each day required one or more of my myriad of kitchen implements, and used several bowls, plates, and containers, I have a partner who keeps up with dishes and, while his stamina was tested, this really helped make it easy.

If you follow the menu and shopping list (note that the list is missing both pitted dates and nori sheets), and think about how to substitute, and aren’t too hard on yourself for using agave nectar plus Bragg’s amino acids because you don’t want to spend $12 on 8 oz. of coconut aminos, then you can get through this.

If nothing else was learned, I liked her roasted chicken instructions and will use it frequently.

Get a 3-pound chicken, rub it all over with 1 tablespoon of salt (no oil necessary—the natural fat in the skin will render and keep the meat moist). Roast it in a 425°F oven for 1 to 1½ hours, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F and the juices run clear.

-goop
Red Curry Almond Butter Chicken Lettuce Cups turned Salad

I had to make the lunches easy on transportation and assembly, so the lettuce cups became a salad.

Roasted Sweet Pot, Two Ways

The sweet potato for breakfast happened twice in the five days and the first time (day two), I found it to be the most delicious thing I’d ever eaten. I must have been mildly delirious, because, by the second time (day four), it was not so amazing. But it was good.

Crunchy Salad

This salad took me over an hour to finish. I was determined to do so because I didn’t want to throw any of it out, and since I eat at my desk, it’s easy to dilly-dally the lunch meal.

Salmon and Spinach

We did The Big Shop before breakfast the Saturday before I started this adventure, so I was kind of hungry. This means that a recipe for 2 to 3, which calls for a 1.75 lb. salmon filet ended up being 2.25 lbs of salmon. I could not finish mine, but it. was. delicious.

Creamy Butternut Soup

The butternut squash soup came on the fourth night and was to be lunch on the fifth. It was really good and filling, with boiled cashews as the “cream”. If you’ve ever read Isa Chandra Moskowitz, then you know that vegans should Always Be Soaking [raw cashews] in the event of a creamy soup emergency. These did the trick, but I think I would have blended it for about 2 minutes longer. I was hungry, though.

So, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! It was a good challenge, and I learned a couple of new tricks. I could probably piece together a summer version of a detox from the recipes in her cookbooks. She kindly labels them as Elimination Diet, Vegan, Protein-Packed, etc.

If you have the gumption, time, and support system, I recommend this as a personal challenge*.

*I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or expert in anything related to food or eating or diets. If you feel like you want to discuss this with a trained professional, then you probably should.

Brunchy Mary 🥃


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This one goes out to my friend, Don.

What seems like another lifetime ago, I spent A LOT of time at Mickey’s Tavern. So much time, in fact, that I married one of the bartenders and after that didn’t work out, dated another. That’s an entirely different blog altogether, though.

The latter was (and still is) in charge of the very popular bloody mary mix, having to make at least 20 gallons each weekend (more often in the summer). Over the years, I helped out enough to know how it’s done and keep the recipe close because it’s his pride and joy.

Anymore, I find the bloodys there to be a little too chunky for my taste, so I’ll share with you the recipe that I enjoy now (made for me by my current boyfriend—who is neither an employee of Mickey’s nor a bartender).

The many containers that bring the drink to life.

A wide-mouth pint jar is my favorite bloody vessel. Into it goes ice and vodka, a few turns of salt and ground pepper. Then about 2 teaspoons of ground horsey, a shake of Annie’s Worsh sauce (it’s vegan!) and a couple of blops of Valentina (I find other hot sauces to be too vinegary).

Seasonings.

Fill up the jar with a little can of V8, stick a pickle, and trim a celery stalk.

YUM

If you’re feeling extra, you could add some jalapeño salt, which we just discovered and find to be amazing.

Bloody Mary

A simple but elusive beverage.
Prep Time10 mins
Servings: 1

Ingredients

  • 1 can V8
  • 3 counts vodka
  • 2 tsp prepared horseradish
  • 1 tsp Annie's Worchestershire
  • 1 tsp Valentina
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pickle
  • 1 celery stalk

Instructions

  • Mix everything except vegetables in a glass. Serve with pickle and celery.

Tasty Tostadas 🌮


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There isn’t much that’s more satisfying than a crunchy corn tortilla slathered (you heard me) with beans, topped with diced onions, cheese, tomato, and lettuce.

First, though, I need to hop on my high horse, so gimme a boost here. OOMPH, thank you!

WHAT in the ACTUAL F*&K are food dyes doing in CORN TORTILLAS? Woodman’s carries five or six brands of tostada shells and all but two have artificial food dyes. I have a long-standing personal grudge against and will go out of my way to avoid buying foods with added yellow, red, and/or blue in them. Especially considering that a corn tortilla is, and only needs to be: corn, salt, and water. I mean, it doesn’t need to be YELLOWER.

HOT TIP: Full Circle uses turmeric instead of yellow #5 in their pickle products.

Whoah, Nellie! *hops off horse*

Aaaanyhoo, the El Milagro brand is without weird substances: stone-ground corn, corn oil, salt, and Cal (about which I just learned). They also have the best soft corn and flour tortillas in the world (or at least in my world).

The little tostada army.

Choose your tortilla pairs carefully because they have to sort of stack together. The curvy bendy of them makes this a little like a puzzle, but you’ll get it. Find (or make!) your favorite refried beans and schmear enough to cover the top of each of the bottom half of the pair (that was confusing… let’s look at a photo):

The Four Bottoms. A band name, perhaps?

Top the bottoms with diced white onion and cheese and grab the tops and schmear the bottoms of those with more beans! This is getting nuts. Or beany.

Finally, more beans go on top of the top, along with more onions and cheese. We like beans, onions, and cheese in this house.

In the oven that I remembered to preheat (this time!), these go for 10 minutes and then get another three or four, depending on hunger and cheese meltage.

While they’re getting toasty, chop the tomatoes and lettuce, and gather your assortment of topping notions.

I like that green chile salsa so much, I buy two jars at a time.

Top, serve, eat.

Tostadas con Frijoles Refritos

Quick, easy, delicious. You CAN have all three!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Hispanic
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 8 tostada shells
  • 2 16 oz. refried beans, canned
  • 2 c white onion diced small
  • 1 c mixed cheeses shredded
  • 1/2 c tomato diced
  • 1/2 c romano lettuce chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350º and line a cookie sheet with parchment (this is not entirely necessary, but I don't like washing cookie sheets).
  • Spoon a layer of beans onto half of the shells, cover with onions and cheese. Spoon a layer of beans onto the other half and make a bean sandwich and spoon beans onto the top of those shells. Cover with onions and more cheese.
  • Bake for 10 minutes and then check cheese for the desired doneness. If you like it meltier, leave 'em in for three to five more minutes.
  • Remove from oven and plate; top with tomatoes, lettuce, salsa, sour cream, and any other thing you'd like!

Airy Onion Rings 🧅


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At some point in my twenties—earlier than it should have—fried food began to disagree with me. Fried cheese curds, fish, mozzarella sticks, mushrooms… and onions. Although, I never really like onion rings because they were usually embarrassing to eat; the breading slid off in my hand while the soggy, greasy onion hung out of my mouth like a cow’s tongue. I paint a pretty picture, don’t I?

To be honest, it’s okay. We all know fried food isn’t very healthy.

Enter the air fryer! We’ve got the breaded fish pretty well down, so putting an onion ring atop a turkey burger seemed like the logical next step.

Our first attempt was without using a recipe and it didn’t turn out so well. I documented it to show that not everything turns out as expected, and that’s okay!

Onion rings, take one.

They weren’t *awful*, they were just a little overdone and stuck together and not breaded correctly. You get the idea.

Take two involved following a recipe of sorts. The air fryer came with a cookbook that has a bloomin’ onion, so we co-opted it for only a few rings. One of the tricks is to soak the onions in ice water until you’re ready to use them. I’m pretty sure this is to prevent them from getting “soggy”.

A cold onion makes for a stiffer fry.

The second trick is to coat with the egg, then cover in the seasoned flour mixture, then dredge in the egg, and cover again with the flour mixture. The third trick is to only put as many onions into the fryer that will fit in one layer without touching.

In order to test the efficacy of this bag of tricks, we did a test batch before starting on the second version for the burgers. The results were positive.

Two rings in the 3qt fryer.

The double-dredge and some avocado spray helped the breading stick and make it the color we expected (I wanted them to look nice on turquoise plates):

This iPhone has an amazing camera.

Atop the turkey burgers again they went. – Yoda.

Don’t be jelly.

The addition of the onions made for a beautiful burger, but its presence was a bit lost among the rest of the amazing tastes and textures. I think if we try it again, we should try them on a couple of Beyond Burgers.

Air-fried Onion Rings

A top, side, front, bottom, or rear for any of your main dishes!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Servings: 2

Equipment

  • Air Fryer

Ingredients

  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • avocado oil spray
  • 2-4 white or yellow onion rings cut an inch in height

Instructions

  • Soak raw rings in ice water until ready to cook.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 400º for 5 minutes.
  • Prepare the onions by first dipping and coating them in the egg wash, then dip into the flour, then back into the egg, and back into the flour.
  • Place rings into an air fryer basket, not allowing them to touch (as much as you can manage) and spray with avocado oil. Fry for 7 minutes, flip and spray again, fry for another 7 minutes.
  • Eat by themselves or wherever, really.

Chrissy’s Chicken & Dumplings 🥣🍗


This is yet another Teigen recipe fan-post. Her second cookbook garnered more than twice the post-its as her first book, and this recipe would get four; if there were that many sides of a piece of paper!

Not Chrissy’s, but an indication of what a good cookbook looks like in my house.

Cozy, homey, comfy, round, buttery, and well worth the extra effort of browning, brothing, and shredding the chicken, letting the soup become soup, and dumping the dumplings.

There’s enough chicken called for to have to work in batches. I think I used just a little shy of 3lbs, though the recipe calls for 4. Once all the chicken pieces are sufficiently crispy, you add water and herbs and let the magic happen over the next 60 minutes.

This part was a surprise to me as I’m used to making broth in a slow cooker over the course of 12-24 hours, but that renders the chicken meat pretty useless, and that is the opposite of what we want here.

After an hour, grab your favorite strainer, strain into your favorite large bowl (it needs to hold at least 8 cups), and discard the herbs. Fish out the chicken (see what I did there?) and use two forks to pick the meat off. We’re not going for a shred… more like sumptuous pieces.

Discard the bones and skin—this was very difficult for me—and set the meat aside.

I shouldn’t do this part when I’m ravished.

Back into your Dutch oven, or another vessel, goes carrots, onions, celery until soft, then stir in some flour until it browns slightly.

In goes the chicken, broth, and a potato! Boil then simmer for 20 minutes.

While the soup becomes a magical display of smooth, comforting goodness, prepare the dumpling dough. It’s important to be gentle (read: don’t overwork) with the dough. So, mix those ingredients *just so* and make sure you fret about it! I kid. Cooking shouldn’t make a person fret. I think those energies get into the food and that is why you get tough dumplings.

Dumpler dough!

I used two spoons to size ’em up and drop ’em in. In retrospect, I made them a skosh too big. Less than a tablespoon of dough would have been ideal; they expand more than you’d think. At least more than I thought they would.

After the dumplings dance around and soak up the delicious liquid for about 15 minutes, you’re ready to serve.

This picture doesn’t do it justice. Yum.

I’m not going to post the recipe here because of the unwritten rule of food bloggers, but you can google the name to find the ingredients and instructions, or you can support me (and Chrissy, theoretically) by buying her second cookbook through that link. 🎉

Elotes y Arepas 🇲🇽 🇻🇪 🌽


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Madison, WI is famous for its summer festivals. There is at least one grand one per month that attracts a hungry crowd. You see, at all of these fests, there are a lot of food carts. Some of these are extensions of restaurants that most people can’t get to for lunch. Some of these are carts all on their own with specialties like cheese curds, falafel, more falafel, and 42 other places that I can’t think of right now.

While celebrating what bookends the season for me at the Willy St. Fair this summer, I had the pleasure of experiencing, for the first time, arepas—an unassuming corn disc stuffed with black beans, plantains, and cotija cheese—from the Caracas Arepas food cart.

Sometimes, when I discover something new, I get kinda pissed off that it took so long for me to find it. This exact thing happened with the aforementioned falafel, nearly 20 years ago at the same festival.

I get a little fixated on certain things, and this little maize pocket of goodness is no exception. So, I set about recreating this “simple”, homey, delectable delight—I quoted simple because it only has three ingredients, but it needs to be perfect.

Pre-cooked corn flour.

I spotted the flour on the bottom shelf at Woodman’s and my eyes lit up like a kid’s on Christmas morning. I had pictured looking for one of those little boxes of polenta, but A WHOLE POUND?! Do you even KNOW how many arepas that will produce?! I don’t, actually. But I know it’ll be a lot.

I let a couple of weeks go by cuz I like to ruminate over some things (and elope to Mexico over others) and then decided it was time to dive in. I whipped up a batch of Braulio’s beans and got to work searching YouTube for instructions. I found The Frugal Chef and her arepas video. Water, a little salt, and flour. “Simple.”

I don’t have an action shot of me making the patties, cuz it takes two hands, but it’s important not to overwork the dough cuz that makes them less fluffy inside and then they won’t want to become pockets (you’ll see my solution to this shortly).

Happy, happy, corn, corn.

I pulled out my Green Pan griddle (holy crap, it’s more than twice the cost now) and let some butter dance around on it before gently placing these cakes of wonderfulness onto the surface.

One of them is smiling at me!

After a short while—probably five minutes—I flipped them and put some more butter down in case Side A soaked it all up. Side B should look roughly like the above, and if done correctly, you should be able to slice it crossways and stuff it with beans. This batch turned out a little close-textured (as Mary Berry might condescend), so instead of putting the beans inside, I simply plated them on top! Problem solved. I’m not letting a little overworked dough get in the way of putting these in my face.

Not too shabby.

Top with cotija cheese and dig in.

Since I will never tire of Mexican or Hispanic foods, I thought I ought to throw together some Elotes.

Wisconsin’s corn on the cob season was quickly drawing to a close, but we were still able to grab a few ears. My intention was to grill them on the, well, grill… but, it wasn’t a beautiful summer evening (in fact, it was a freezing fall night), and fixing up the grill for corn seemed too much work. So, I used the next best thing: a gas stove!

I just realized my kitchen is the same color as corn.

Five roasted cobs later, I carefully sliced the kernels off into a bowl. A bowl already prepared with Mexican crema, mayonnaise, cotija, and Chili powder. Stir it up, throw in a little salt and pepper, and serve.

Elote seasoning.

Elotes y Arepas

Tasty, corny, and very much worth the effort*.
*This recipe does not include ingredients or instructions for whatever you want to put in, on, or around your arepas.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Hispanic, Mexican
Servings: 3

Equipment

  • Flat-top Griddle

Ingredients

Elotes

  • 5 cobs corn
  • 1/3 c mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c crema
  • 1 tsp chili powder chipotle, preferably
  • 1/3 c cotija cheese

Arepas

  • 2 c masarepa (precooked corn flour)
  • 2 c warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp butter

Instructions

Elotes

  • Roast the cobs either on the grill or gas stovetop until an appropriate amount of grill marks appear. Stand a cob on one end and slice the kernels off from top to bottom, leaving none behind. Repeat until cobbed out.
  • While the cobs are roasting, mix together the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl.
  • Stir in kernels and pop into the fridge to cool.

Arepas

  • In a large bowl, dilute the salt into the warm water. Gradually add flour and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough is pliable enough to use your hands. Mix with hands, being careful to not overwork the dough. Leave to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Make a ball with the dough and work between hands to form a patty—mix oil and water in a bowl to coat your hands to keep the dough from sticking—keeping the edges smooth.
  • Heat a griddle and melt butter. Put patties on the griddle until golden brown spots appear on one side. Keep flipping until both sides are nice and golden.
  • Slice and stuff with your favorite anything and eat it like a sandwich. Alternatively, top with that same anything and eat it with a fork. Adiós!

Baked Salmon & a Salad 🐟🥗


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Sometimes I decide to make something for dinner because it’ll be a challenge, or we have an ingredient or leftover to use up. And, sometimes I want to make something simple so we can enjoy two episodes of Better Call Saul instead of just one.

This meal *almost* falls under “too easy to blog about”, but I know there are folks out there for whom anything can be overwhelming or proverbially out of reach. This one’s for you.

Woodman’s has a package of inexpensive, frozen, wild-caught salmon that comes as two large, skin-on, separately-frozen fillets. This is basically all you need, but we’ll dress it up a little, to make it look fancy.

Preheat the oven to 400° and get our baking sheet and parchment paper ready. If you don’t have a lemon handy, a little lemon juice will work. Cracked some pepper and salt, sprinkle capers around, and top with sprigs of thyme (this is the fancy part).

Practically Michelin-star!

I usually bake it for 10 minutes and check the flakiness, then put it back in for 2 to 4 more.

I’d like to note here that salmon and eggs have something in common: albumen. It’s the white protein that surrounds an egg yolk, which keeps the baby chicken safe during incubation. It also seeps out of a salmon steak or fillet when cooked. This can be kinda gross to people who aren’t expecting it, so I usually try to scrape as much off as I can before plating.

While the fish is cookin’, grab your favorite medium bowl and whisk together white wine vinegar, lemon juice, canola oil, and a little agave nectar. Cut up some radishes, carrots, cucumber, and tomatoes and toss in the bowl with a whole bunch of spinach. There are some fancy sprouts pictured, too, but those aren’t required. I almost forgot to tell you to salt and pepper the salad, but you know to do that already.

Lots of tossing and stirring will turn 4 cups of spinach into a manageable salad.

Everything comes together so quickly! Plate and eat.

Salmon and Salad

English is weird; the "L" isn't pronounced in one of those words.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Main Course
Servings: 2

Ingredients

Salmon

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1/2 lemon sliced
  • 1 Tbsp capers drained
  • salt, pepper

Salad

  • 4 c baby spinach
  • 6 radishes sliced
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • 1 c grape tomatoes halved
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp agave nectar

Instructions

Salmon

  • Preheat oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place filets and cover with lemon slices and capers. Salt and pepper to your liking.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, check and return to oven for 2-4 more minutes.

Salad

  • Whisk liquids together, toss vegetables around and let wilt.

Party-Hearty Winger-Dingers 🎉🍗🌶🎊


Despite my cooking prowess, I have been known to repeatedly order out (often enough to Facebook-friend the delivery guy) when I find something I *really* like. Extra-hot buffalo chicken wings were one of those repeated orders (this was way before Facebook, though).

Wings from Pizza Extreme (which appears to be now owned by Pizza Pit) were the catalyst for my transition from sorta vegetarian to completely vegetarian in 1999.

I used to order the 1 lb. wings and the 1/2 lb. fries (checking the current menu makes me feel a little ill) and would mostly finish them. Thankfully, this was when I was merely 20—an age when routine digestion and regularity weren’t as important or, lack thereof, surprising.

That fateful, final order must have come during a time of self-reflection—or extreme delusion (I was 20, after all; both of the previous could have been true)—as I distinctly remember picking up a wing and seeing a handful of pinfeathers. I threw the piece back into the round, aluminum container and put it in the fridge for my then-boyfriend… if he wanted to hear about it while eating them later. Thus began my un-chicken, total vegetarianism for, what would turn out to last roughly 20 years (more on that later).

Fast-forward to now! *cue fast forward tape noise from the 80s* *put hair up in pony-tail and put on blue eyeshadow!*

I’m an adult now, so I can exercise conscious decision-making when selecting the food I choose to eat. And, since Costco’s chicken is damn inexpensive, I buy a lot of it. A lot. And I freeze it for next time. And then I buy more, because, as we say in this house, “IT AIN’T GUNNA GO BAD!”

I’ll get to the actual food now since we are all witness (see above) to what happens when I let a month go by without writing a recipe.

The secret “sauce” in this is actually dry ingredients.

Many recipes suggest rinsing and patting the chicken dry before commencing. I’ll do this for the wings because I want to get the packaged liquid off, and the dry rub (well, toss) as close to the skin as possible.

Grab your favorite metal bowl and mix together 3 Tbsp arrowroot flour, 1 tsp each cayenne, garlic powder, and some salt and pepper (I almost typed “to taste”, but don’t taste this mixture cuz it’ll be like chalk).

Toss a handful of the wings in the bowl to coat, place on a prepared baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and repeat until you run out of wings.

I keep a separate cutting board for poultry. You should, too.

This is usually the point at which I realize that I’ve forgotten to turn on the oven. So, preheat the oven to 400° before you start the tossing process. When the oven is ready, put ’em in and set a timer. Mine goes something like, “Alexa? Set a chicken timer for fifteen minutes.”

While they’re enduring the first round of heat, you can make the blue cheese “cooling sauce”. Who am I kidding? This is just an excuse to get cheese into a meal that would otherwise be just fine without.

This takes some mayo, Mexican crema (or sour cream, or Greek yogurt), lemon juice, a couple of drops of Worchestershire, and crumbly blue cheese. We used celery and cucumber slices to deliver the sauce to our mouths. You can use whatever you have on hand.

“Cooling sauce” and sauce shovels.

The hot sauce is up to interpretation, so I’ll tell you how I make mine and you can adjust to your liking. Put a stick of butter in a small bowl and just barely melt it in the microwave, then squirt about a tablespoon of Sriracha in the bowl and stir it up.

By now, the timer should be going off, tell Alexa to hush, pull the wings out and flip each one over and set a ten-minute timer. Dance around the kitchen for ten minutes, pull the wings out and apply the hot sauce lovingly to each wing and put them back in for five more minutes.

Delicious, gooey, buttery hot wings.

Now, some folks would tell you to let them rest, but I say, throw caution to the wind! Plate ’em up and watch ’em go.

Before the party.

Hot Party Wings

Chicken wings for a party or just for dinner.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Wings

  • 4 lbs chicken wings party-sized
  • 3 Tbsp arrowroot flour
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt, pepper
  • 1/4 c butter melted
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha

Blue Cheese

  • 1 c mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp Worchestershire
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 c sour cream, crema, or greek yogurt to desired consistency
  • 1/2 c blue cheese crumbled
  • vegetable variety celery, cucumbers

Instructions

Wings

  • Preheat oven to 400°, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Rinse and pat dry the chicken, lay on poultry-safe cutting board.
  • Mix everything from arrowroot to pepper in a metal bowl.
  • Toss chicken in dry rub until coated. Place on the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, flipping after 15.
  • Melt butter and mix with Sriracha. Brush onto wings and bake for 5 minutes more.

Blue Cheese Sauce

  • Mix everything together. Serve with celery and cucumbers.

Fishy Sands 🐟 🥖


This is gunna be a three-parter. One part recipe, one part product review, and one part local business promotion.

I’ll start with Lake Edge Seafood. A relatively new, unassuming fishmonger and restaurant in the Lake Edge strip mall off Buckeye and Monona. They took over the corner spot held by an upscale second-hand store and I hope they do well. The interior is nice; full of the sort of tables everyone gets for their new restaurant. It’s not overly ocean-themed (like a place that rhymes with Bled Blobster), and while it smells fishy, it’s a good fishy. Like, Gramma’s-been-cleaning-bluegill-all-afternoon-and-that’s-what’s-for-dinner fishy.

I stopped in last weekend, on a whim, to get some fish and found their deli case to be clean, crisp, well-stocked (for a Saturday, seeing that they’re closed Sundays and Mondays), and the wares were all very good-lookin’. I’d gone in the search for cod, but they didn’t have any, so I asked for enough tilapia (at $10/lb) for two hefty sandwiches. The guy said it was cheap enough that he’d recommend two fillets and we may end up with extra. I said that we’d contend with that challenge.

In order to get the scoop about bluegill (a fish that I love, adore, and wish there were more of), I asked if they ever had any on hand. He said if I called a day ahead of time, they could get some and that they’d have to order 5 lbs but wouldn’t be opposed to putting whatever I didn’t buy into the cooler for sale. Since then, I’ve been considering the possibility of putting in a 5 lb order, packing it all up nicely, and freezing it. I’ll let you know if this happens.

If you’re in the neighborhood, stop in and take a look around. They have some dry goods for sale as well. Unless I think of something else, I’ll move on to the second part: the product review.

I am both methodical and spontaneous in my decision-making. Contradictory, I know. Just ask everyone around me. Or don’t.

I had been considering, researching, vetting, questioning, and otherwise obsessing over air fryers for at least the last year… basically, since I purchased Gina’s Skinny Taste, One and Done and sorta skipped over the chapter that is specifically air-fried because I don’t really care for fried foods (crinkle-cut potatoes are the exception). I don’t care for fried foods because they make my stomach hurt and I can feel the grease hanging out in my mouth… I can feel the breading seep into and out of my pores… not super enticing, right?

So, I hemmed and hemmed (I don’t “haw” very well) and waited for a while. My hesitation came from a place of efficiency and practicality. “Why,” I said to myself, “do I need a Vitamix, an Instant Pot, a Pizzaz, two (that you know of) slow cookers, and an air fryer?” I contend that everything has a use, and some things can be stored because they are used less often. So, the Pizzaz went into a cupboard, and the tiny slow cooker found a home next to the huge one in the basement, which means I now had room for the air fryer.

But it wasn’t until one fried fish taco Tuesday when the results were delicious but they hung with me for a while, that I decided if fried fish tacos were going to be in my life, then it was air fryer time.

Still not completely convinced, I looked again at the ones I’d been eyeballing and all of the negative product reviews cited melting, smoking, and otherwise defective machinery. A friend suggested one of the Phillips’ models, but those were about three times more than I wanted to spend on something I wasn’t *absolutely* sure would make making food better.

With a 36oz Nalgene nearby for scale.

I finally settled on a $50 version: the GoWISE USA 2.75qt. According to my purchase history, I’ve had this for less than a month and I’m pretty sure we’ve used it three times a week, on average. It continues to impress, and I look forward to thinking up creative meals, but for now, the fried fish sandwiches using fresh tilapia from Lake Edge Seafood are the current stars of the show.

Now it’s FINALLY recipe time. This may seem simple, but sometimes simple is needed, just to see what you’re dealing with.

You’ll need two buns, some mayo, dijon, relish, leaves of romaine, slices of tomato, two tilapia steaks, an egg, a cup of panko, some cayenne, salt, and pepper. And the air fryer.

At $10/lb, these two came in a little over $6.

I usually make the tartar sauce first, both because it’s easy, and to get it out of the way and in the fridge so the flavors can marry. If you only need enough for these two sandwiches, I’d use 1/3 c mayo, 1 tsp squirt of dijon mustard, and however much relish you like your tartar to have. If you want to make extra, it’ll keep at least a week in the fridge; I mean, it’s mayo, mustard, and pickled stuff.

This lasted us four sandwiches and two breakfast fishes worth.

Now you need a small bowl for the egg, but big enough to sloosh the fish into. Also, grab a plate, the panko, and spices.

Egg wash, panko breading. It really cannot get any easier!

Onto the plate of panko, sprinkle a generous amount (2 tsp) of cayenne, a couple turns of ground pink Himalayan salt, and a couple turns of freshly ground peppercorns.

Mix it all up with a fork, whisk that egg, and preheat your air fryer. Most of the recipes I’ve seen suggest running it at temp for 5 minutes before cooking in it.

Dip the fish in the egg to coat on both sides and lay on the panko plate. I usually use my fingers to get panko on the top side so I’m not shaking the fish and getting panko all over the kitchen.

That’s a soon-to-be-tasty fillet under there.

Cook each piece separately (if you bought a smaller fryer) for about 7 minutes on the first side and 4 to 5 on the second, storing the first piece under a piece of foil on a plate. When the second piece is done, place the first on top and cook them together for 5 minutes so they’re both hot.

One fillet.
Two fillets, pieced.

Last night, we made the executive decision to cut down the middle of each fillet and that made it much easier to handle. It also revealed that an entire fillet per sandwich was a bit much, so we had the rest with eggs for breakfast.

Toast, heat, or otherwise warm the bun and top with tartar, romaine, and tomato slices. Place fish and serve with crinkle chips.

Fishy Sands

A good recipe for getting to know your air fryer.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2

Equipment

  • Air Fryer

Ingredients

Tartar Sauce

  • 1/3 c mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp sweet relish or more, if you're keen on it

Fishes

  • 2 tilapia filets or other whitefish in a hoagie shape
  • 1 c panko
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper powder
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 egg
  • 2 long buns hoagie, brat, etc.
  • 4 romaine leaves
  • 2 beefsteak tomato slices

Instructions

Tartar Sauce

  • Mix all ingredients together, store in the fridge until ready to use.

Fish

  • Preheat air fryer on 400º for 5 minutes.
  • Mix panko and spices together on a plate or other dredging vessel. Whisk egg in a small bowl.
  • Coat a piece of fish with the egg, and dredge in the panko mix. Place in the fryer for 7 minutes, flip and cook for another 5. Repeat with the second piece. Put the first piece back in with the second for another 5 minutes, checking frequently for good color.
  • Assemble buns, tartar sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, fish. Serve!