Categories
Appetizer Main Dish Side Dish Snack

You can’t just wing crispy chicken

Crispy Chicken Wings
Cooking nice, crispy chicken wings in the oven takes some time but is well worth the wait.

Although we had big crowds of folks in our house for the NFL playoff games this season, Super Bowl Sunday was a calm evening without company—something Joey and I were both very much in the mood for after a few busy weeks in a row.

Despite the lack of a table full of food, I still decided to make a traditional football snack for the big game: buffalo wings.

Buffalo wings are one of Joey’s favorite foods, and we’ve spent a lot of time over the years trying to figure out how to make some at home that are crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and aren’t the product of lots of deep frying.

In all our attempts, we generally only attained one or two of those criteria, but I finally figured it out this past weekend, thanks to a blog post by “The Cookful.” You can find it at https://thecookful.com/bake-chicken-wings-crispy/. I will warn you that it takes a good amount of time in the oven to accomplish this, but it is mostly hands-off time, and it’s well worth the wait.

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Crispy Chicken Wings

Cooking nice, crispy chicken wings in the oven takes some time but is well worth the wait.
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Snacks
Keyword chicken wings

Ingredients

  • 20 wing pieces
  • 1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • sauce or dry rub

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  • Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil and place a rack onto the sheet (I just used my cooling racks).
  • Place the wing pieces into a bowl and dump in the baking powder and salt. Mix them with your hands to distribute the powder and salt. (Don’t expect them to look like they’ve been dipped in flour; you won’t be able to see the coating on the wings when you’re done.)
  • Place the wing pieces in a single layer on the rack, spacing them just slightly. Cook them for 30 minutes.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees, and cook for another 45 to 50 minutes or until the wings are brown and crispy.
  • Let them rest for a couple minutes, and then toss them in your favorite wing sauce or dry rub and serve immediately.

My favorite way to coat wings is to put them in a bowl with a lid along with the sauce and then just shake them until they’re coated. I’m not coordinated enough to do it without a lid—unless I want to clean sauce off every inch of my kitchen.

These wings were awesome—exactly what we’d been looking for. It was also nice that any fat dripped down onto the foil, and the wings weren’t swimming in it while they cooked.

I’m not sure what the secret of the baking powder is that makes the wings cook so well, but it was just what I was missing in previous attempts.

They also received the Joey stamp of approval, which is a pretty big deal. He has pretty high standards for what makes for a good wing.

Our Super Bowl snack was awesome. The game, on the other hand, well…maybe it could have used some baking powder.

This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 7, 2019.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Salad Side Dish

Make garlic pasta salad to be the ‘roast’ of the town

Roasted garlic pasta salad has some amazing flavors that meld into the perfect summer side dish.

A few weekends ago, Joey and his best friend decided to fire up our smoker in the backyard and fill it with everything from several racks of ribs to a pork loin.

They tended the fire all day, hanging out in the garage with a set of washer boards to get out of the sun.

Parts of the house still smell a little smoky, and I can definitely tell which clothes I had up to dry while the smoking was going on when I pull them out of the dresser in the morning, but it was very much worth it.

As they wound down their cooking and we prepared to feast for dinner, I decided to whip up a side dish to complement smoked meats and found a delicious one that was even better the next day out of the fridge.

The recipe I made comes from the blog “Budget Bytes.” You can find the post at https://www.budgetbytes.com/roasted-garlic-pasta-salad/. I didn’t feel the need to add anything to this recipe other than suggesting getting a large head of garlic.

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Roasted Garlic Pasta Salad

Roasted garlic pasta salad has some amazing flavors that meld into the perfect summer side dish.
Course Salad, Side Dish
Keyword garlic, parmesan, pasta, ricotta, spinach, tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound small pasta I used tri-color spirals
  • 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Chop the top half inch off the head of garlic and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. Drizzle the top with olive oil and cover the bowl. Microwave on high, one minute at a time, until the garlic cloves are soft (poke them with a fork to save burning yourself).
  • Remove the garlic from the microwave and set aside to cool.
  • Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, but save 1/2 cup of the cooking water and put the pasta back into the pot with the burner now off.
  • While cooking the pasta, squeeze the garlic cloves, and they’ll pop easily out of the skin. Mince the garlic and place it into a mixing bowl.
  • Add the ricotta, salt and pepper, and 1/2 cup pasta water to the mixing bowl and stir until smooth.
  • In the warm pot you cooked the pasta in, add the spinach, ricotta sauce and cherry tomato halves to the pasta and stir so that everything is coated well and the spinach starts to wilt.
  • Add the parmesan cheese and more salt and pepper if needed.
  • You can serve this warm or cold.

This was a great pairing with the guys’ smoked smorgasbord, and I liked that it was a salad that didn’t use eggs or mayonnaise, so it would be perfect to take to an outdoor party where you may not have refrigeration readily available.

When I make this again, I’ll roast two heads of garlic instead of just one to really amp up the flavor, but it had all the stuff I really like—cheese, garlic, fresh veggies and pasta.

And I was thankful for the guys taking their Saturday to prepare lots of food to fill the refrigerator for awhile. Barbecue leftovers are some of the best kind.

This piece first appeared in print on June 14, 2018.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish Side Dish

Make ‘mushroom’ for lots of fresh veggies this summer

Mixing fresh vegetables and sausage with some simple seasonings makes for a great summer dish.

I’ve mentioned before that my gardening ability is pretty sad to say the least.

Part of that is due to my inability to figure out how much water to dump on my plants, and part of that is due to a thieving squirrel, who convinced me for most of a summer that my tomatoes were vanishing into thin air just before they were ripe enough to pick.

Thank goodness for good friends, local grocery stores and farmer’s markets now that I’ve mostly given up my goals of urban farming.

And with it being the time of year for gardens to begin bursting with lots of great veggies, I’ve started getting really impatient to put them on our dinner table as much as possible.

This week’s recipe is one that Joey and I decided to create while standing in the produce department of our local grocery store last week, so while I’m sure there are dozens of recipes much like it online, we really just made this one up as we went along.

A couple thoughts: if you’d rather make this a vegetarian dish, ditch the sausage and toss in some more veggies. The mushrooms give this a nice, meaty flavor all on their own. Also, once zucchini and summer squash is ready, it would be an amazing addition to this as well, cut into 1/2-inch rounds or half moons.

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Summer Vegetables and Sausage

Mixing fresh vegetables and sausage with some simple seasonings makes for a great summer dish.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Keyword bell pepper, mushrooms, sausage, tomatoes, vegetables

Ingredients

  • 2 bell peppers any color
  • 8 to 10 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 8 ounces whole baby bella mushrooms
  • 3 about 9 ounces bratwursts or sausages of your choice
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • black pepper to taste
  • garlic salt to taste
  • onion powder to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Wash and prepare the vegetables. Slice the bell peppers into 2-inch by 1/2-inch pieces. Slice the mushrooms in half. Leave the tomatoes whole.
  • Slice the sausages into 1/2-inch rounds. (We used a chicken, spinach and feta sausage that was out of this world.)
  • Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread all the ingredients out on it. Drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle on your seasonings.
  • Use your hands to coat the ingredients in the oil and seasonings and spread everything out into as much of a single layer as you can.
  • Bake for 12 minutes and then give the ingredients a stir. Bake for another 12 minutes or until the sausage is done all the way through and the tomatoes are starting to burst.
  • Serve immediately.

We had leftovers of this and ate it a couple nights later after mixing it with a little marinara sauce and serving it over spaghetti. It was awesome.

There wasn’t much spring to enjoy this year, but at least that means summer gardens can get underway.

For my part, I’ll stick to keeping some flowers alive this year and get my veggies elsewhere. That sneaky squirrel will have to go bother someone else for his meals this summer.

This piece first appeared in print on May 24, 2018.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Side Dish

Let’s have a serious ‘stalk’ about grilled asparagus

Grilled asparagus has some simple seasonings that make it a perfect summer side dish.

Last weekend, we decided to go to a late showing of the new “Avengers” movie with a group of friends, so we met early to enjoy the nice weather and grill for supper.

One of our friends walked in with a big bag of fresh asparagus.

“You can do whatever you want with this,” she said, before heading out to the patio.

It’s pretty obvious my friends know me well when they feel comfortable presenting me with a random ingredient and have full faith that I’ll be able to pull something off with it.

I looked online for a way to grill asparagus, since I figured it would easily pop onto the grill next to our steaks, and I discovered one from the blog “Or whatever you do.” The recipe is by Nicole Johnson and is both easy and perfectly seasoned. You can find it at https://www.orwhateveryoudo.com/2014/08/perfect-grilled-asparagus.html.

I will include grilling instructions as well as oven instructions with this recipe, since I ended up finishing the asparagus in the oven, because we managed to run out of propane about halfway through our cooking adventure (the hazards of the first time firing up the grill for spring, I suppose). I also played with some of the amounts a bit.

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Grilled Asparagus

Grilled asparagus has some simple seasonings that make it a perfect summer side dish.
Course Side Dish
Keyword asparagus, garlic, grilled

Ingredients

  • about 1 pound fresh asparagus
  • about 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine

Instructions

  • Preheat the grill to about medium-high heat or preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  • Wash the asparagus and trim off the ends.
  • Fold a tray out of aluminum foil with raised sides to house the asparagus (put it on some kind of tray to use to carry to the grill or on a baking sheet if it’s going in the oven).
  • Place the asparagus into the tray, spaced just a little apart, and drizzle with olive oil. Use your hands to coat the asparagus in the oil and then sprinkle with the garlic salt, onion powder and pepper and mix around again to evenly distribute the spices.
  • Cut the butter into pieces and dot it along the top of the asparagus.
  • Place the aluminum tray right on the grill grates or leave it on the baking sheet in the oven and cook for about six to eight minutes for stalks that are pencil-size or smaller or about 10 to 15 minutes for larger stalks.
  • Serve immediately. The asparagus won’t stay warm for long.

We had a fantastic dinner, despite having to finish both our steaks and asparagus back in the house. At least our patio table was ready to hold our plates as we enjoyed one another’s company before our late-night movie.

Once the propane tank is full again, I’m planning on giving this recipe another try. I’m excited to fire up the grill, pull out my shorts and finally enjoy summer.

This piece first appeared in print on May 3, 2018.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Side Dish

Just ‘fry’ to resist these scrumptious potatoes

Italian fried potatoes are a relatively simple recipe with lots of flavor.

When I was younger, I knew it was going to be a great supper if I saw my mom’s electric skillet sitting out on the counter.

That meant we were having fried potatoes as our side dish for dinner. I can still smell them cooking when I think about that skillet. It was one of my favorite things.

Mom would cut Russet potatoes into about quarter-inch rounds and add them with oil, garlic salt and pepper into the electric skillet.

They always came out creamy and delicious—especially if you got one of the crispy potatoes that was just a bit thinner than the others.

Now I’m making myself hungry.

Well, in the spirit of my Mom’s tried and true potato recipe, I decided to try one that’s extremely similar but adds Italian frying potatoes (or whatever long, mild green pepper you can find) into the mix. I wouldn’t recommend bell peppers for this, but if that’s all you can find, go for it.

I found this recipe on a blog with a fantastic name, “Panning the Globe.” You can find the post at www.panningtheglobe.com/2016/11/02/italian-fried-potatoes-peppers/. I added more seasoning to my version.

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Italian Fried Potatoes and Peppers

Italian fried potatoes are a relatively simple recipe with lots of flavor.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword garlic powder, onion powder, peppers, potatoes

Ingredients

  • about 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 5 large Russet potatoes
  • 4 long mild green peppers (I used Anaheim)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon onion powder or to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Slice your potatoes into rounds as thinly as possible or no bigger than one-quarter inch. If you have a mandolin slicer, this would be a good time to pull it out. Slice the peppers into one-by-one-inch strips and remove the seeds.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet with a lid over medium-high heat. (It may feel like a lot of oil in the pan, but the potatoes will soak it up as they cook. You’ll want somewhere around 1/4-inch of oil in the bottom, but if you want to use less and just keep an eye on it, go for it.)
  • Once the oil is hot but not smoking, add the potatoes and seasoning into the pan and stir to coat the potatoes.
  • Don’t stir them again for another three to five minutes—letting the bottom get nice and browned with the lid on the pan.
  • Add the peppers into the pan, and flip the pan’s contents so the browned potatoes end up on top.
  • Put the lid back on and let things set for another three to five minutes. Repeat that process until your potatoes are all either crispy or nice and fork tender.
  • Add more seasoning to taste.

I didn’t peel my potatoes for this, but if you’re not really into potato skins, you’ll probably want to. They’ll mostly separate from the potatoes into long strips in the mix.

These potatoes also reheated really well, which was good, because it made tons and tons of food. It certainly wasn’t my healthiest week of lunches to take to work, but I tried to rationalize the fact that I was also taking meatless lunches made it better somehow.

You might want to decrease the number of potatoes and peppers if you’re not planning on feeding a small army, though.

The only disappointing part of this recipe is that this was definitely not as good as my mom’s. I may have to sweet talk her into firing up that electric skillet again sometime soon.

This piece first appeared in print on March 8, 2018.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Side Dish

Get in the ‘spear’it with fresh asparagus

Balsamic potatoes and asparagus highlights fresh vegetables and simple flavors.

The other day, I was standing in the produce section of the grocery store, staring at a big bag of beautiful, fresh asparagus.

I had no idea what I wanted to make with the stuff, but I knew immediately that I wanted to make something.

So I stood to the side with my phone and scrolled through Pinterest and found one that looked delicious. I was especially excited about it, because it used balsamic vinegar. I have a huge bottle of it sitting in my pantry from a recipe I made long ago, and I haven’t had much use for it since.

The recipe I found is from the blog “Wallflower Kitchen.” You can find it at http://wallflowerkitchen.com/balsamic-roasted-new-potatoes-asparagus/. I simplified the amounts and swapped out an ingredient to make this easier and cheaper.

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Balsamic Potatoes and Asparagus

Balsamic potatoes and asparagus highlights fresh vegetables and simple flavors.
Course Side Dish
Keyword asparagus, balsamic vinegar, potatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds small potatoes I used yellow
  • 1/2 pound fresh asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 390 degrees.
  • Cut the potatoes into quarters and cut the asparagus into two-inch pieces.
  • In a 9-by-13-inch pan, combine the potatoes, olive oil, vinegar, garlic powder, salt and pepper and toss to coat the potatoes.
  • Roast for 20 minutes and check the potatoes by piercing them with a fork. You’ll want them fork tender before you add in the asparagus, so keep checking on them every 10 minutes until they’re pretty well cooked through and then mix in the asparagus.
  • Roast for another 15 minutes or until the asparagus is done to your liking.
  • Season with more salt and pepper if necessary.

This was a great side dish for dinner, and since I actually ended up purchasing about three pounds of potatoes and a pound of asparagus to make this, I had lots of leftovers to heat up over the next week for lunch, too.

If you do decide to up the amounts a bit, I’d recommend spreading it out on a big, rimmed baking sheet instead of in a 9-by-13-inch dish so that it cooks faster.

I was super excited with how this recipe turned out, and it was an excellent way to enjoy some fresh asparagus. It would be a great one to store away in the recipe box for when gardens are in full swing.

And I was once again reminded what a sucker I am for fresh produce when I’m out grocery shopping while hungry. I supposed that’s why it’s a good idea for me to avoid the candy aisle.

This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 15, 2018.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Breakfast Side Dish

Here’s an easy potato recipe you’ll really dig

Home fries use leftover baked potatoes and are a good side dish for any meal of the day.

While spending summer days alone at home, between bouts of trying to kill each other, my sister and I would often spend time creating stupid videos that our parents tactfully refused to watch when they came home (good move), playing with the farm cats outdoors and pretending to be world famous chefs as we prepared the few lunches we knew how to make.

Generally, lunch consisted of a sandwich, a bowl of canned soup, boxed macaroni and cheese or baked potatoes from the microwave, but that didn’t stop us from boldly describing our flavor choices as we mixed orange powder into our freshly boiled noodles.

I’ve always loved a good baked potato, and especially on cold days like we’ve been having, cutting into a hot potato and watching the steam escape makes for a comforting meal.

This past week, I had several leftover baked potatoes in our fridge, and I decided to do something more interesting with them than just warming them back up in the oven.

Apparently, a lot of diners use their leftover baked potatoes to make home fries, which explains why diner home fries are so delicious.

To get those same awesome flavors at home, I tried a recipe from “The Creekside Cook.” You can find it at http://thecreeksidecook.com/twice-baked-oven-home-fries/#_a5y_p=1845571. I didn’t change much, but I did decide to take out the amounts for the spices. I’d recommend just giving a good sprinkling of each. If you’re nervous and want to measure, I’d say you should start with about 1/4 teaspoon of each and then bump it up from there if you want more flavor.

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Home Fries

Home fries use leftover baked potatoes and are a good side dish for any meal of the day.
Course Side Dish
Keyword baked potatoes, fries, potatoes

Ingredients

  • Two to four leftover baked potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon butter or oil
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • onion powder to taste
  • garlic powder to taste
  • paprika to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with an oven-safe skillet already in the oven (I used my 12-inch cast iron pan).
  • Cut your baked potatoes into about one-inch cubes. Remove the skins if you like (I left them on, because I love a crispy potato skin).
  • Once the oven is done preheating, carefully remove your pan and melt/heat up your butter or oil and swirl it to coat the pan.
  • Add the potatoes, stir them around a bit to distribute the butter/oil, and get them in as much of a single layer as possible.
  • Pop them in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and turn the potatoes so that they evenly brown and pop them back in the oven for another 10 minutes. (Keep an eye on them so they don’t over-brown.)
  • After the second time in the oven, if they still need some browning time, give them another stir and let them go another five minutes or so at a time until you’re happy with the color on them.
  • Once they’re browned to your liking, pull them from the oven and stir in the spices to your taste (throw in some cayenne, too, if you like things spicy). Let the potatoes hang out in the pan for just a moment to let the heat release some of the spices’ aroma and then serve.

We ate these for brunch over the weekend with over-easy eggs and hot coffee. It was a good way to warm up.

So if you decide to bake up some potatoes one of these cold evenings for dinner, I’d recommend tossing in a couple extra for home fries later in the week.

Just be sure to really sell your chef skills while you’re making them. I’d recommend a poorly done French accent. It seems to help.

This piece first appeared in print on Jan. 18, 2018.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

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