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.

Almost Braulio’s Beans

This is a highly-modified version of the black beans that Braulio used to make for Mickey’s brunch when he had time. Being the frugal Mexican that he is, he would use dried beans, soaked overnight, and twice-cooked them; his were also vegan. I use canned beans and chicken broth. Those are the biggest differences between his and mine.

I don’t have a long, drawn out post to make about these. But, I do miss my friend since he moved to Beloit to help take care of his mother-in-law.

Beans sharing the spotlight with a bunch of other good eats.
Huevos Rancheros featuring these delicious beans.

Almost Braulio’s Black Beans

The tastiest black beans that I know how to make. Use them as a side with breakfast eggs, inside a burrito, or by themselves for lunch. I won't judge.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Breakfast, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 3

Ingredients

  • 1 14.5 oz. can black beans rinsed
  • 1 4 oz. can diced green chiles
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp broth chicken or veggie
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Instructions

  • Heat sauce pan over medium and add tomato paste and broth. Stir to dissolve the paste.
  • Add beans, green chiles, cumin, oil, and garlic. Stir.
  • Stir in salt and pepper, to taste. Leave on stove for about 15 minutes.

Three-Ingredient* Tomato Soup 🥫


This is a quick side, a lifesaver on a cold winter day, and we can’t be friends if you don’t have the ingredients available in your pantry (actually, I don’t care for it when folks make that exclamation, so we can still be friends, regardless).

Butter, onion, tomatoes.

That’s it, have a great day!


JUST KIDDING!

Grab your 3- or 4-quart Dutch oven (even if you’re only making a small amount, I’ll explain later) and put some butter in there over medium heat.

Slice an onion into very large pieces and sauté for five minutes or until soft.

Dump in one can of diced tomatoes for every two people who will end up with a serving. For each pair of folks, fill up one can with water, veggie, or chicken broth and pour into the vessel (*this is where the three-ingredient-claim kinda falls down, but I would contend that the recipe is great, even if it’s four ingredients).

Bring to a simmer, cover, and set a timer for 30 minutes.

Grab your immersion blender and zip it into a smooth soup. This is where using the smallest Dutch oven isn’t the best idea. Immersion-blending it in a 2-quart will result in splattered shirts and faces.

Serve with a side of grilled cheese or tuna melts.

Three-Ingredient Tomato Soup

A throw-together soup with ingredients you hopefully have.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Side Dish, Soup
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2

Equipment

  • Dutch oven
  • Immersion blender

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp butter unsalted
  • 1/2 medium white onion sliced large
  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz. can can-full of broth or water

Instructions

  • Heat Dutch oven over medium-high and add butter.
  • Place sliced onion and stir to coat.
  • Dump in the tomatoes, fill can with water (or broth of your choice) and empty into Dutch oven.
  • Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Use immersion blender to mix to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

How-to Corn 🌽

Sweet corn stands on back highways are the epitome of summertime in Wisconsin. Ears and ears stuffed in a brown paper bag for $6. You’d be silly not to get some, cook, and freeze it for January when the mere thought of wearing shorts gives ya chills.

Woodman’s has three-for-$1 right now, so we’ve been enjoying the treat each Sunday night with chicken on the grill.

Put all three ears (why are they called ‘ears‘ anyway?) in the microwave and set it for six minutes. When it beeps, grab the ears with a hot pad and lay on a cutting board with the business end ready to cut.

The “business end” is opposite the strands at the top.

More about those strands, or “hairs”: there’s one strand for every kernel on the cob, so that’s a bit of an indication of how many healthy kernels there are, hiding in there.

After you slice the end off, grab the other end (with a hot pad), and slowly squeeze the ear out of the husk.

Squeeeeeeeze.
Keep on keepin’ on!

Pushing the cob out keeps the hairs from sticking around, which makes it so much easier to eat.

Mostly strand-free.

Butter and salt (if you’re like the fella), plate. Crunch.

How-to Mango 🥭

I mentioned in my avocado post that I wished someone would have told me how to mango much earlier in life. If you’re in the same boat, please keep on reading.

The first tip I learned was to locate the dimple. This tells you where the pit lays inside, in relation to the rest of the fruit.

Pit-dimple.

After you locate the pit, make two parallel cuts on either side, removing the “cheeks” to which they’re so fondly referred.

This is where it starts to get frustrating… because you just spent $2 on a mango and all you get are two little cheeks of meat! It’s true. Which is why I try to enjoy them when they’re in season.

Take a cheek in your hand and make four slices down the length of the inside, not cutting through the skin. Turn it 90° and repeat.

Flip the cheek inside out and enjoy some cubes of yum.

Mango!

How-to Avo 🥑

I remember the first time I figured out how to deal with a mango. It wasn’t that long ago, and I wish that I’d had read someone’s post much earlier in life. This is my version of that non-existent post but in avocado form.

You start by cupping the aguacate with your non-dominant hand and, with a reasonably sharp knife, slowly slice through the thick, outer skin from the top until you hit the pit.

The initial cut.

Then spin the fruit around in whichever direction is more sensible to you and keep the knife against the pit while you slice the fruit in half around the longer edge (I’m pretty sure I roll mine away from me).

After you have a clean slice all around, set down the knife and grab ahold each half of the fruit and twist it “open”.

Keeping the pitted half in your non-dominant hand, grab the knife again and give the pit a good smack with the blade, cutting far enough into the it to get some leverage.

Pit extraction.

You should now be able to twist the pit using the knife to turn. Oddly, I think I do this counter-clockwise. Pop the pit out and into the composter.

Take a spoon and make horizontal cuts across the meat. This will help scoop it out in edible pieces.

Now slide the spoon between the skin and the meat and shimmy it around the circumference in order to get the yummy avo goodness onto a plate.

It may not be pretty, but it was delicious.

There. Now you can avocado.