Sticky Sesame Wings

I always know a recipe is good when Ron requests that I make it again as soon as we’re done eating… and I know it’s especially awesome when he requests I make it for his birthday dinner! This recipe from Smitten Kitchen is one of those awesome recipes. In my book Deb over at Smitten Kitchen can do no wrong… I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am that she’s writing a new cookbook! This dish is so simple, pretty much foolproof, and perfect for a weeknight dinner, or birthday feast!


Sticky Sesame Wings

Serves 4 (in theory……)


3 lbs chicken wings (I used the small party wings from Whole Foods- in my opinion they are the perfect size)
1 large garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp honey (more or less to taste)
1 tsp sesame oil
Pinch of cayenne pepper or a dash of sriracha
1 1/2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1 scallion, finely chopped


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with baking foil, and spray with nonstick cooking spray or oil.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, salt, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, honey, sesame oil, and cayenne or sriracha. Add the wings, and mix until well covered with sauce. Place in a single layer on the baking sheet, and pour any sauce that remains in the bowl on top.

3. Bake for about 35 minutes, turning once.

4. When cooked through, toss with the toasted sesame seeds and scallions.

Source: Smitten Kitchen


Southwest Skillet Ragu

Hello friends! One of these days my goal is to get back to regular posting. I swear just when I think things will get back to normal, something else comes up that keeps me incredibly busy. This time it’s a move!! My boyfriend and I have lived in the same apartment for over 6 years now, and while we love a lot of things about it, when we got word of another place opening up, we jumped on the chance to take it. This time we will be renting the 2nd floor of a two-family house which has a lot more character than the generic apartment we live in now, and I think has a lot more potential for customization… also, I’ll be getting my own office/study/craftroom space which I am super excited about, and there’s space for a decent sized garden!!!! Anywho, our move out/move in date is January 1st, and that is rapidly approaching. With work keeping me busy much of the week, I’m using most of my spare time packing and getting ready for the move. It’s amazing how much we’ve accumulated in the 6+ years we’ve lived together.

With all the craziness around here, I’m searching for quick and easy meals that require few pans, and minimal cleanup. Okay, that’s what I’m always searching for, but even more so these days. This meal fits the bill perfectly. Two dishes, few ingredients, and all around comfort, this dish is a winner. Goulash is such a comforting food to me (it’s one of the first I started making on my own when Ron and I moved into our apartment), and this take on it with the southwest flavors of chili powder and cumin is really yummy. Definitely recommended.

Southwest Skillet Ragu

Southwest Skillet Ragu

Serves 4-6


1 cup elbow macaroni

1-1.5 lbs ground beef or turkey

1 large onion, diced

1 red (orange, yellow or green) bell pepper, chopped

8-12 oz white button or baby bella mushrooms, quartered

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (optional)

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, with juices

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded, plus more for serving

Salt and pepper


1. Place a pot of water to boil, salt the water, and cook pasta according to directions. Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water when done. Drain pasta and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, place a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add 1 tsp of olive oil, and add the ground meat. Cook until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes, remove the meat from the pan and set aside, and drain off most of the grease. Leave a small amount just to coat the bottom of the pan.

3. Add the onions, and 1/2 tsp of salt, and cook about 5-6 minutes until softened and beginning to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook 5-6 minutes until golden brown. Add peppers, and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, spices, and 1/2 tsp of salt and cook 30-60 seconds until fragrant.

4. Add the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a boil. Add back browned meat, and simmer for about 5 minutes more until the sauce has thickened.

5. Add the pasta and cheese, and stir until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of the pasta cooking water until the sauce is to your desired consistency. Serve, topping each serving with more cheese if desired.

Source: The Kitchn



Taco Pockets

A few years ago Ron’s mom gave me a cookbook filled with recipes she loves and uses frequently in her own kitchen. It is wonderful!! It has recipes for things like chicken stock, beef stock, vegtable broth, buttermilk dressing, homemade mayonnaise, pasta sauce and a bunch of other great recipes! She put it all in a binder so that it’ll be easy to add more recipes throughout the future. These taco pockets are one of the recipes she included, and has told me many times how great they are, but it has taken me til now to make them! I blame my terrible tendency to procrastinate. I am so glad that I finally made them though. They are just as good as she said they were, and Ron and I both thoroughly enjoyed them, They are a spin on a burger, but they are spiced up with taco seasonings, and wrapped in a tortilla instead of a bun. A very fun twist on a couple of my favorite things- tacos and burgers!

Taco Pockets

Taco Pockets

Serves 4


1 lb ground sirloin, turkey, or chicken

1/2 medium Spanish onion, grated

2 tsp water

2 Tbsp ground cumin

2 Tbsp chili powder

A pinch of cayenne pepper, or a dash of hot sauce

1 tsp garlic powder, or 2 cloves minced fresh garlic

1 tsp salt

4 12-inch flour tortillas

4 oz. cheese (Monterey jack, pepper jack, cheddar or smoked cheddar)

1 head Romaine lettuce, shredded

1 large tomato, chopped

Chopped fresh cilantro, optional

Avocado or guacamole, optional

Salsa, optional


1. In a medium bowl, combine the ground meat with the water, onion, spices and salt. Form into 4 patties.

2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray, or brush with a little oil. Place the patties in the skillet and cook about 5-7 minutes on each side.

3. To assemble pockets, place a tortilla on a plate. Put any toppings you’d like in the center of the tortilla, and then lay the patty on top. Fold the tortilla over the patty on all four sides. Flip over, and cut in half.

Source: Adapted from Rachel Ray

Simple Beef Chili with Kidney Beans

Simple Beef Chili

I made this chili a couple of weeks ago on one of those days where winter was still trying to keep its grip on us. Chili is the perfect comfort food- it is on the same plane as soups and stews. My dad makes a mean chili. Growing up chili was usually a meal for a Sunday. I remember coming downstairs in the morning before church, seeing the crock-pot sitting on the counter, already simmering away as my dad always wakes up super-early, and getting very excited about the deliciousness that would await us later. I loved coming home from church to the delicious chili-scented air. I’m pretty sure he never follows a recipe, adding a little of this, and a little of that, and having it be the same but also unique each time (if that makes any sense).

Me… I’m sure I could throw together some chili without following a recipe as well, although I’m not sure it’d live up to my dad’s, but I really love trying out the numerous chili recipes out there as well. The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook alone has 6 different recipes for chili, and I fully intend to try them all! I decided to make this one first, as I was lured in by the ingredient list which includes pretty much all pantry staples in my home. Ron says this is the best chili I’ve made yet (and I’ve tried a bunch of recipes), so it was definitely a success! It’s very simple (as the title states), but it still takes its time to cook, so it’s definitely best for a weekend or day off. I made it on a weeknight, and so we didn’t end up eating until 9:30 this particular night… the wait was so worth it though!

Simple Beef Chili

Simple Beef Chili with Kidney Beans

Serves 4-5


1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped fine

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp chili powder

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 lb 85% lean ground beef

1 (15-oz) can red kidney beans, rinsed

1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes

1 (14.5-oz) can tomato puree



Lime wedges

Cheddar cheese

Tortilla chips

Diced avocado



Sour Cream


1. Place a Dutch oven over medium-heat, and add oil. Heat until shimmering. Add onions, bell peppers, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, oregano and cayenne pepper. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and slightly browned.

2. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the ground beef. Cook until no longer pink, about 3-4 minutes, stirring and breaking up with a spoon.

3. Add the beans, diced tomatoes (with juices), tomato puree and 1/4 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for an hour, stirring occasionally. Then remove the cover, and cook for another hour, stirring occasionally. (If the mixture begins to stick, you can add up to 1/2 cup water.)

4. Season with salt to taste. Serve with any optional condiments desired!

Source: The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Avocado Ranch Dressing

Buffalo chicken has to be one of my favorite foods ever…. and of course it’s one of my boyfriend’s favorites! I love it in pretty much any incarnation, whether it be the classic buffalo chicken wings, or a twist on the classic, such as a topping on a pizza, inside egg rolls, in potato skins, etc. If it has buffalo chicken in the title, it can pretty much be guaranteed that I’ll try it.  When this recipe popped up on Smells Like Home a month ago, I immediately put it at the top of my “make after this detox” list. Ron was all for it because even though it’s a healthy salad, buffalo chicken makes everything exciting!

The buffalo chicken in this recipe is baked, which cuts the guilt down even further. It’s breaded in a toasted panko breadcrumb coating, and baked on a wire rack, which ensures that the chicken will stay crispy, rather than soggy.  The creamy avocado ranch dressing is a perfect accompaniment to the salad, although if you wanted, you could certainly serve it with a regular ranch or blue cheese dressing. I will most definitely be making this regularly. Ron has already requested a repeat of this meal, and I will be fulfilling that request soon.

Buffalo Chicken Salad
Serves 2-4 (Depending on how hungry you are!)

1 recipe buffalo chicken (recipe follows)
Avocado ranch dressing (recipe follows)
Cherry or grape tomatoes
Blue, feta or cheddar cheese
Crumbled bacon(optional)
Scallions or red onions (optional)
Celery (optional)

1. Assemble individual salads. Place buffalo chicken on top. Drizzle dressing over salad.

Buffalo Chicken
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
3 large egg whites
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp Dijon or whole grain mustard
1 tsp minced fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
Cooking spray
1 lb chicken tenderloins ( or boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 3/4-inch strips
1 cup buffalo wing sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot Original)
3 Tbsp salted butter

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil, and place a wire rack on the sheet. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add canola oil and breadcrumbs. Toss together and stir until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Place in a shallow dish or pie plate when toasted.
3. In a second dish or pie plate, stir together the flour, garlic, salt and cayenne pepper, if using. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg whites, water, mustard and thyme.
4. To prepare chicken, dredge each piece in the flour mixture, then the egg whites, then the breadcrumbs. Place on the prepared wire rack on the baking sheet. When all the chicken is coated, spray the tops with nonstick cooking spray. (I highly recommend getting an oil mister- that way you can use your own oil, without all the other ingredients that the cooking spray usually contains.)
5. Place the chicken in the oven and make for 10-12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, and the coating is golden brown.
6. While the chicken cooks, place the butter and the wing sauce in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30-second increments until the butter is melted. Whisk together to combine.
7. When chicken is cooked, dredge each piece carefully in the buffalo sauce to coat.

Avocado Ranch Dressing

1/2 avocado, removed from skin and diced
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
Up to 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 small bunch of chives, or 1 scallion, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Place avocado, mayonnaise, sour cream, olive oil, lemon juice, 1/4 cup buttermilk, chives (or scallions), parsley, garlic, salt and pepper to taste, in a blender. Blend for about 10 seconds. Scrape down side, add more buttermilk if desired to change consistency, and blend until completely smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source: Smells Like Home

Buffalo Chicken Previously: Buffalo Chicken Melts

Here are some other buffalo chicken recipes from around the web that I’d love to try!
Buffalo Chicken Monkey Bread (Confections of a Foodie Bride)
Buffalo Chicken Bites (Tracey’s Culinary Adventures)
Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls (Smells Like Home)
Buffalo Chicken Sliders (Country Cleaver)
30-Minute Buffalo Chicken French Breads (How Sweet It Is)

A Memorial Day Meal: Part Deux

Here is the promised second half of my Memorial Day feast… the side dishes.

Spicy Potato Wedges

Russet potatoes (1- however many you want, but 1 potato per person is a good idea)
Olive oil
Garlic Powder
Cayenne Pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut potatoes into wedges.  I’d recommend cutting into 6-8 wedges per potato depending on their size.
3. Toss the wedges in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, add a sprinkling of the salt and the other spices, and mix together to coat the potatoes.  I didn’t measure these, and it’s really up to your individual taste- like them spicy?  Add more cayenne.  Like them garlicky?  Add more garlic powder!  For a rough guide, I’d say for 4 potatoes you can use about 2 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper.
4. Place potatoes on a baking pan, in a single layer.
5. Cook about 40 minutes, flipping the wedges once.

Tomato, Cucumber and Feta Salad

2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes (quartered if cherry, halved if grape)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced into 1/2 inch chunks
1-2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced

1. In a medium bowl, toss together tomatoes, salt and sugar.  Let sit for about 30 minutes.  Put the tomatoes in a salad spinner, and spin for about 1 minute, to remove seeds and juice.  Stir the tomatoes around several times while spinning.  If you don’t have a salad spinner, place the tomatoes in a bowl, cover securely with plastic wrap, and shake gently to loosen seeds, and release liquid.  Strain the liquid from the tomatoes through a fine mesh strainer into a measuring cup.
2. In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the reserved tomato liquid, garlic, oregano, shallot, and red wine vinegar, and heat on medium.  Simmer about 6-8 minutes, until the mixture is reduced.  Remove from the heat, pour into a small bowl, and let cook to room temperature.  When cooled, whisk in the olive oil, and season to taste with the black pepper.
3. Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, feta, parsley and dressing in a medium bowl.  Toss to combine.

Source: Annie’s Eats, originally from Cook’s Illustrated


  • I used grape tomatoes in my salad, halving them.  It may take a bit of extra work to get the liquid and seeds to release from these, so you may have to toss the tomatoes around a bit more and squeeze them gently to release their seeds and a little more liquid.  I actually only got about 1/4 cup of tomato liquid for my dressing, but it still turned out perfectly fine, so don’t fret if the same happens to you.
Cheddar Cheese Biscuits
Makes about 8 biscuits

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, placing over rack in upper middle position.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Stir in cheese.  Pour 1 1/4 cup of the cream in, and stir together for about 30 seconds, or until it forms into dough.
4. Remove dough to a lightly floured surface.  Leave behind any dry pieces of flour in the bowl.  If there is extra flour in the bowl, combine with the remaining 1/4 cup of cream, in tbsp increments, until moistened.  When moistened, add them to the rest of the dough.  Knead for about 30 seconds, by hand, until the dough is smooth.
5. To make biscuit rounds, flatten the dough into a 1-inch thick circle.  Use a round biscuit cutter to make bisuits, and place them on baking sheet.  Reform circle with leftover dough, and cut more biscuits.  This will make about 8 biscuits.  You can also make biscuit wedges by placing the dough in an 8 inch cake pan, and flattening evenly.  Remove dough and place on lightly floured surface, and cut into 8 wedges.
6. Bake biscuits for 15-18 minutes.

Source:, originally adapted from Baking Illustrated

  • When making my biscuits, I didn’t have any remaining flour in my bowl, so I ended up only using 1 1/4 cups of cream, so you may not need to do this step either. 
  • I ended up doing wedges because I realized as I was making these that I don’t have a biscuit cutter.  I’m sure I could have used something else to make a circle shape, but wedges are cool, so that’s what I went with.  I loved the cake pan trick, because it made a perfect circle with no effort, and so it was super easy to make equal sized wedges.
  • You can make these into regular biscuits by just omitting the cheddar cheese, the amount of the other ingredients remains the same- but why wouldn’t you want cheese?!?!?!?  I also think that adding bacon or scallions would be awesome in these biscuits.
  • Using diced cheese, rather than grated cheese, was an awesome idea- it gives you these little pockets of wonderful cheesy goodness.  I have to say these are the best biscuits I have ever made- although I still have yet to try duplicating Red Lobster’s biscuits…