lola rugula sesame honey chicken wings recipe

spicy honey sesame wings

If you’re looking for a great chicken wing recipe with just a hint of heat but a ton of flavor, these are your wings. And, if you don’t subscribe to the “wings have to be nuclear” line of thought, you might also love my spicy apricot wings, because they’re pretty delicious without being crazy hot, also. And don’t be tied down to doing this recipe with wings, because it’s a great sauce for legs, thighs, and even chicken breast, you’ll just have to adjust your cooking time accordingly.

I happened to have hung with a crowd from the Buffalo, NY area during the original Buffalo-style chicken wings heyday back in my New Haven days, and I can tell you they didn’t actually involve much more than deep frying the wings and then tossing them in Frank’s Red Hot, butter and (shhhhh) a shot of Amaretto while they were still hot. True story.  Not very exciting but that’s my story. I still swear by Frank’s Red Hot if you want hot wings because it’s a great, flavorful base to making a tasty hot chicken wing.

I’ll state here that I’m not in the camp of breading chicken wings or deep frying them; I like roasting mine in a hot oven and, if needed, crisping them up for a couple of minutes under the broiler. Less grease, less mess and a wee bit healthier. I also can’t stand a soggy-skin chicken wing. Char it a little and crisp up the skin or don’t bother giving it to me.

Chicken sauces are fun to play around with, as you can do so much in the way of flavors, so I try and mix things up once in a while. The sliced scallions and sesame seeds are key toppings with these wings because they add a huge burst of flavor and crunch to the overall dish. Mostly though, these are just chicken wings…have fun with them for Pete’s sake.

lola rugula sesame chicken wings

spicy honey sesame chicken wings recipe

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon Thai hot chili garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 3.5 lbs chicken wings, cut at the joints, wing tips reserved for making stock at a later time. (about 3 lbs wing and drumettes)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

In a large bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients (garlic through rice vinegar) and whisk together well.  Add chicken wings, toss well and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 425º

  1. Brush a large baking sheet with olive oil.(for easy clean-up, line with aluminum foil first)
  2. Place wings on baking sheet, skin side up. Reserve any extra marinade.
  3. Roast wings for 10 minutes. Turn wings over and brush with some of the reserved marinade.
  4. Roast 15 minutes, turn wings over and brush with remaining marinade.
  5. Roast for about 10 more minutes, until wings start to char a bit on the edges.
  6. Remove from oven and transfer to a serving bowl or platter. Sprinkle with sliced scallions and sesame seeds and serve.

lola rugula spicy honey sesame chicken wings

These are just about the perfect chicken wing recipe. Spicy, crunchy and full of sweet, hot flavor. If you want more heat, just add some more Thai garlic chili paste. If you don’t have the chili paste, feel free to add some minced jalapeno, habanero or other hot pepper.

lola rugula sesame honey chicken wings

Of course, if you want to lessen the heat, don’t add any chili paste or hot peppers at all..it’s just that simple.

lola rugula sesame honey chicken wings recipe

These babies are sticky, so be sure and serve them with plenty of napkins. 🙂  And if you have to have a dipping sauce with your wings, these will still do just fine alongside your cup of ranch or blue cheese dressing.

Another variation on these is to do them with chicken tenderloin pieces on skewers. They still make a great meal or appetizer this way, but without the mess of bones.

Never, ever be afraid to play with your food.

Enjoy!

lola rugula sesame honey chicken wings recipe

roasted garlic and vegetable soup

This is one of my clean-out-the-fridge soups. I hate to see veggies go to waste and honestly, sometimes I just buy too many and end up with more than I know I’m going to use before they reach their death-by-lack-of-use phase.

This is super simple and can be used with a myriad of veggies, so use what you have and love. Roasting the vegetables first just gives this a nice, deep flavor…much more so than just tossing veggies in a pot and simmering them. (Not that I’m opposed to that, because it’s also a delicious way to make soup). And yes, this is loaded with roasted garlic so feel free to take it down a notch if you want.

roasted garlic and veggie soup recipe

  • 6 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced (Yukon Gold’s are great in this)
  • 1 medium leek, white and tender green, cleaned well and sliced
  • 2 cups small cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (preferably homemade)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat oven to 400º

Place garlic and veggies on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss everything around to coat well.

Roast for 30 minutes, tossing everything around about halfway through the cooking time.

Remove from oven and transfer veggies to a stockpot.

Squeeze roasted garlic from their skins and add to pot.

Add stock and thyme and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool about 10 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, blend about 5 minutes until soup is smooth. Seriously, I do this for about 5 minutes, tilting the pan and really blending it. I like this smooth and creamy.

lola rugula roasted veggie soup

Easy, right?

This is so good with all kinds of veggies. Think squash, asparagus, zucchini, onions, cabbage, Brussels sprouts…don’t be afraid to just use what you have and love here. Make this soup yours and don’t be afraid to add different herbs. Rosemary, chives, tarragon…go with what you like.

Soups on…who’s ready?

lola rugula sesame honey chicken wings recipe

shredded beef and pork ragu

I’ve had a craving for a meaty ragu ever since the weather started to turn cold and, as is typical with me, I was inspired to go with what looked beautiful at the meat counter as opposed to what I traditionally do with my meat sauces. My local grocery had some lovely beef bones with lots of meat on them and hefty country-style pork ribs on sale, so I grabbed a couple of the soup bones and a 3 pack of ribs and carted them home.

I also picked up a 4 pack of Italian sausages because, honestly, that’s just the mood I was in. Apparently, my body already thinks it needs to bulk up for the winter ahead.  🙂

This makes a humongous family or dinner size batch so if you want to reserve some of the ragu for freezing, only cook one pound of pasta and then freeze the rest of the sauce.

lola rugula pasta and ragu

shredded beef and pork ragu recipe

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 beef soup bones with meat – about 3/4 lb. each
  • 3 pork loin country-style ribs, bone-in, about 1 lb. total
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth, preferably homemade
  • 6 cups whole, peeled cooked Roma tomatoes with their juice
  • 18 oz. tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 Salsiccia sausages (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm half and half
  • 2 lbs. bucatini or other thick pasta
  • Freshly grated Parmesan for serving
  • Fresh parsley, minced, for serving

Season beef and pork all over with salt and pepper.

In a large stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add beef bones and brown on both sides, about 10 minutes per side, until well browned. Remove to a plate.

Add pork ribs and brown well on all sides, about 15 minutes total. Remove to plate.

If excessive grease, drain off leaving 1 teaspoon in pan. Be sure and try to leave all the crispy bits, because that’s where the flavor is. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat.

Add garlic, onion, carrots, and celery. Saute over medium heat for about 7-8 minutes.

Add red wine, stirring and scraping the crispy meat bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce until wine has almost evaporated.

Add beef stock and bring to simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add back beef bones and pork ribs.

Add tomatoes and tomato paste, hand-smashing the tomatoes as you add them.

Add grated nutmeg and stir everything together well, until tomato paste is well-incorporated.

Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 3 hours.

Using tongs, carefully remove beef and ribs to a plate.

If using, add sausages to the sauce.

Using 2 forks, shred the beef and pork from the bones. If desired, also scoop out any remaining marrow from the beef bones. Discard bones and any excess fat, and add beef, marrow, and pork back into the sauce.

Simmer for 1 more hour or until almost all of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce is nice and thick.

While the ragu is nearing its finished time, pour half and half into a small pan and heat until warmed through.

Cook pasta and drain.

Add hot half and half to sauce and stir well.

Toss hot pasta with sauce. Transfer everything to large bowl or platter, sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan and minced parsley and serve.

lola rugula ragu with shredded beef and pork

Like most homemade meat and tomato sauces, there’s some prep and long simmer time involved but it’s totally worth it. This is a rich and hearty sauce, full of flavor.

The sausages may take it into overdrive but again, so worth it. My husband made a fantastic sandwich with one of the sausages, some sauce, and French bread. What could possibly be bad about that, right?

As I always say, don’t be afraid to play with your food. If you’d rather lighten this up a bit, why not try using chicken and pork, or even some ground or shredded turkey.  Or try replacing the sausages with chicken or turkey sausage. Don’t be a slave to specific recipes – mix them up to fit your tastes and lifestyle.

Winter is coming, so make it a warm, delicious one.

Enjoy!

lola rugula sesame honey chicken wings recipe

Baked Chicken Breast Recipe

As part of my “back-to-basics” series, I’m sharing my baked chicken breast recipe. I had a long-time aversion to chicken breast because it’s often overcooked, dry and tasteless. Then, after much trial and error, I finally figured out how to bake chicken breast and still keep it flavorful and juicy.

The beauty of cooking chicken breast in the oven is that:

  1. It’s easier than standing over a frying pan
  2. It’s less messy than frying
  3. It’s more reliable than cooking on the stovetop
  4. See  reasons 1, 2 and 3

It’s a habit of mine to cook chicken breast on the weekends so we have it for our lunches during the week. It’s low in calories, healthy and delicious if you cook it right. I cook it for other dishes too, obviously, but here’s how I cook just a simple, baked chicken breast in the oven.

This works best with a big baking sheet or pan and only 3-4 chicken breasts. If you overcrowd them, they will steam instead of roasting and you’ll miss out on the beautiful, delicious golden crust that comes with baking only a few of them at a time.

Also, once again, I highly recommend a probe thermometer, as this is really the only way to be able to gauge when the chicken breasts have reached their ideal temperature.

lola rugula how to bake chicken breast

baked chicken breast recipe

  • 3-4 chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1//2 teaspoon kosher salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450º

Line a baking sheet or pan with aluminum foil. Place chicken breast on pan, leaving at least a few inches in between each of them. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Rub all over the chicken breasts and then flip and rub again.

Place probe of the thermometer into the thickest part of the thickest piece of chicken. Place pan in oven, with the thickest piece of chicken in the back of the oven.

Bake until the internal temperature of the thickest part of chicken has reached 140º,  remove probe, flip chicken breasts, re-insert probe and bake until temperature reaches 160º. Remove from oven, wrap foil around breasts and let rest at least 20 minutes.

Slice and serve with pan juices.

Now, for the record, a little bit of butter in place of olive oil adds a wonderful (buttery!) flavor. You can also rub the breasts down with the spices of your choice or smother them in the sauce of your choice, it’s all up to your preference.

That’s it. Not overly exciting but the best way to cook chicken breast in the oven without ending up with dry bookends.

I use my baked chicken breasts in salads, tacos, enchiladas…the possibilities are seriously endless.

Stop spending so much time in the kitchen and get out there and enjoy life. 🙂 Ciao!

lola rugula sesame honey chicken wings recipe

perfectly cooked roast beef

I’ve  been having so much fun posting some of my classic back-to-the-basics lately, such as my Summer Garden Gazpacho recipe, my Cucumber Salad recipe, my simple Refrigerated Beets recipe, and my Classic Potato Salad recipe, that I’m considering making it a new category on my blog. It’s always good to have some simple, easy-to-execute recipes in your arsenal; recipes that are versatile and don’t take a gazillion ingredients to prepare.

Adding to my classic recipe collection is this (in my opinion) perfectly-cooked medium rare roast beef. The beauty of this roast is that you don’t need an expensive cut of meat to make it. I’ve done this with top round roasts and bottom round roasts and they’re both delicious when cooked this way.  The roast in my photos below is a small 2 pound bottom round roast, an inexpensive cut but very tender and flavorful when cooked and sliced correctly. The bottom round roast typically has a little more marbling than a top round, so it tends to have better flavor, plus it’s usually cheaper than top round. Score.

You can season this however you like, although salt and pepper at the bare minimum is highly recommended. A little bit of oil rubbed all around helps to keep the edges from drying out in the initial high-heat sear. I love the flavor rosemary adds to this, but all kinds of herbs will work – go with what you love. This works best with a fresh roast, as freezing meat tends to draw out some of the moisture. If you can get a higher-end Black Angus cut, go for it…it’s worth it.

The key to any great roast is a probe thermometer; if you don’t have one, it’s worth your money to invest $15-$20 and have one on hand.  It will more than pay for itself in just a few no-more-over-cooked meals.

Behold a big platter of sliced roast beef.

lola rugula perfectly cooked medium rare roast beef

This is one of my “it’s a technique more than it’s a recipe” posts. Why? Because it really doesn’t matter the size of the roast, what matters is this:

  1. a bit of oil and seasoning rubbed all over
  2. let the meat sit at room temperature for at least an hour, so the roast slow-cooks evenly
  3. an initial sear in a very hot oven
  4. a slow roast at a low heat
  5. a probe thermometer to tell you when it’s done
  6. a long resting period
  7. slicing very thinly against the grain with a sharp knife or meat slicer

bottom round roast beef recipe

These are the instructions for the roast pictured here – again, you can use a top round roast if you’d rather. These cuts don’t typically have a lot of fat on them but if it does, you can trim off any excess. Remember though…the fat keeps the roast from drying out.

  • 1 2 lb. bottom round roast
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary (or 3 tablespoons fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 healthy teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Unwrap the roast, pat it dry and set it inside a large, low-sided roasting pan or on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt, and pepper. Drizzle with oil and then rub the oil and seasonings all over the roast. Let sit about 1 hour at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 500º

Place roast in oven and roast at high heat for about 12 minutes.

Remove roast from oven, reduce oven temperature to 275º, and insert the probe of the thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the roast. Set the alert temperature to 122º. I don’t insert the probe during the initial searing process, due to most probe thermometers shouldn’t be used in temperatures over 450º.

Let roast slow-roast until the probe thermometer tells you the thickest part of your roast has reached122º.

Remove from oven, cover loosely with a  piece of aluminum foil, and let rest at least 30 minutes. Remove the probe and wipe clean.

Transfer the roast to a platter or cutting board or, using a meat slicer, slice thinly across the grain with a very sharp knife or meat slicer. My trick is to cut it starting at a corner, so you cut a corner off and keep going from there. You can slice it very thinly or shave it, whichever’s your preference.

You now have perfectly cooked, tender, medium rare roast beef. Enjoy it as a dinner, with a bit of horseradish and your choice of sides or pile it onto sandwiches, bruschetta, etc.

This is, seriously, the best deli-style roast beef you can make.

 

Life’s too short to eat over-cooked roast beef. 🙂

If you’re cooking a larger roast, up the sear time to 15 minutes but don’t go any longer than that. The slow roasting is really the key.

So now you know how to cook a top round or bottom round roast to medium rare. Easy, right? Put that slow cooker away!

The other beautiful thing about this recipe is the roast cooks pretty quickly.  You can cook a 2 lb. roast in under an hour and that’s a wonderful thing with a busy schedule.

Are you hungry yet?

lola rugula sesame honey chicken wings recipe

In the Veggie Garden 2017

Autumn has arrived yet again and I want to share with you some of the wonderful things I grew in my veggie garden this year. I wish that I could have featured all of these in recipes but in a gardening and cooking blogger’s life, everything in one’s head (and garden) doesn’t always make it to print. I know you’ll recognize some of these though, so I wasn’t a total slacker.

While it may sometimes sound like I’m a paid spokesperson for certain seed companies, I assure you I’m not. One of my favorite seed companies, which I’ve mentioned in previous posts, is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. They have a fantastic selection of heirloom and unusual seeds and I typically have very good luck with growing their vegetables.

Early in the spring, I started with planting their Garden Pea Desiree Dwarf Blauwschokkers (say that 3 times fast!). These are gorgeous purple peas that can be harvested young and eaten like snow peas or left to mature and eaten as regular peas. The packet states they don’t require staking, as they’re a dwarf variety, but I think mine appreciated the fence support I gave them.  Even their blooms are beautiful.

lola rugula purple snow peas photo

Here’s a shot of the peas on the vine after a rainfall:

lola rugula purple snow peas 2 photo

And here’s my first harvest of them:

lola rugula purple snow peas 3 photo

My first few harvests, I picked them young and then my last I let them go to regular pea size. Here in zone 5, I planted them in early May and they were done by early July.

Early spring I also planted their Aurora Mixed Orach which, if you’ve never grown or seen it, is simply gorgeous. I’ve read where some people plant it strictly as an ornamental which, in my opinion, is a waste of a delicious green.

lola rugula orach photo

Orach is also called “saltbush” and “mountain spinach” and one the great things about it is that it’s slow to bolt, unlike real spinach. It’s very versatile, as you can enjoy it raw as a green (or purple, if you will) or cook it like you would spinach or Swiss chard. (Here’s my easy Swiss Chard Recipe, which works great with Orach)

Some other greens I grew this year were spicy mustard greens and my usual microgreens for fresh salads. Mustard greens have some serious kick when eaten raw, but it mostly disappears when you cook them.

lola rugula garden greens photo

My husband and I love beets just about any way you can serve them.  Roasted is our favorite and easiest way to enjoy them, but I also make a Grated Beet and Carrot Slaw and Refrigerator Pickled Beets out of them when I have an overload and want to preserve them. I like to grow the rainbow variety, for their beautiful colors.

lola rugula pickled beets small batch recipe

Fennel is another early summer favorite; it’s delicious raw and roasted and easy to grow. Be careful of planting them too close together though, as they won’t form a nice bulb if you do. I still always pick some early, because I’m too impatient to wait until they’re all fully mature.

We toss our fennel right on the grill or pop it under the broiler to roast it. Raw, we enjoy it in salads or by itself.

My simple Fennel, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad is a favorite in our house. Cool and crisp, it’s an easy summertime salad.

lola rugula fennel tomato and cucumber salad

lola rugula tomato fennel and cucumber salad recipe

Even I’m willing to admit that I went a little bean crazy this year, but Bakers Creek had such a nice variety that I got a little carried away. Pictured below from left to right are Red Swan beans, Green Bush beans, and French Velour beans. As a side note, the Red Swan and French Velour all turn green once cooked but their flavors are distinctive. The Red Swan beans are very buttery if picked while young and the French Velour beans have a sharper, grassier flavor. They all worked well in my Sesame Green Bean Recipe, which I made quite often this summer.

lola rugula garden beans photo

If you’re a fan of peppers with a little heat, shishito peppers will not disappoint. They mature quickly and continue to produce all season, turning red (and hotter) as the season winds down.

lola rugula how to grow shishito peppers

Roasting or charring them is the easiest way to prepare them – check out my recipe for Charred Shishito Peppers for the full scoop on making them.

lola rugula how to cook shishito peppers

This year was one of the best tomato seasons that I’ve had for a number of years, despite the cooler-than-normal August temperatures and very dry end of summer.

My selection this year was Roma-style Corleone tomatoes, smaller Black Vernissage, big, beefy Paul Robeson’s and Blue Gold Berries cherry variety.

Here’s a photo of the first three:

lola rugula garden heirloom tomatoes photo

And here’s a shot of the Blue Gold Cherries:

lola rugula golden gazpacho

And here’s a photo of the gorgeous Golden Gazpacho I made with them:

lola rugula garden gazpacho

What do you do with a ton of tomatoes? Well, if you’re a regular follower of mine, you already know some of the easy ways I like to enjoy and also preserve them. Here are my current top 10 tomato recipes:

  1. Homemade tomato sauce recipe
  2. Easy, no-cook tomato sauce recipe
  3. Garden fresh gazpacho recipe
  4. Golden yellow heirloom gazpacho recipe
  5. Roasted tomato and garlic soup and gazpacho recipe
  6. Fried green tomatoes with fresh tomato salsa recipe
  7. Trinidad scorpion pepper salsa recipe
  8. Chunky canned tomato salsa recipe
  9. My famous ghost chili salsa recipe
  10. Pasta with shrimp, fresh tomatoes, and basil

Whew! See, I know what it’s like to have an overabundance of tomatoes.

A new favorite pepper of ours is the ajvarski pepper. I don’t always have great luck with my peppers turning red in large quantities but these sure did. Large, heavy-skinned and extremely fragrant, I’ll be growing these for years to come.

lola rugula ajvar bulls horn peppers

My husband and I have fallen in love with making ajvar from these and, since we also grow our own eggplant, it’s an easy dish to make fresh from the garden.  Roasted peppers, eggplant, and garlic, blended together with vinegar and olive oil is a healthy, easy spread to enjoy with a loaf of crusty bread and a glass of wine.

lola rugula ajvar

Another Baker Creek pepper I had great luck with this year are these Sweet Yellow Stuffing Peppers:

lola rugula sweet peppers photo

Yes, my peppers are orange and not yellow, but I’m not complaining. As you can see in the photo, they go from green to pale yellow to bright orange, which is when I harvest mine. I’m not sure why they’re called “stuffing peppers”, as they’re only a few inches tall but they’re very sweet and ripen very quickly – a definite garden win, in my book!

Also, a note on my peppers and tomatoes – I start my pepper plants indoors in mid-February and my tomatoes in mid-March. This way, I have a headstart on the growing season.

So now, we’re almost to October and some plants are being pulled as the growing season winds down. My tomato and pepper plants are always my last holdouts, as I’ll take whatever I can harvest before the first frost.

Soon enough, I’ll be planning next year’s garden and seeing what new vegetables I can find.

Happy Autumn everyone!