Baked Buffalo Wings

Who doesn’t love Buffalo Wings? They go perfectly with watching football.

Baked Buffalo Wings

Baked Buffalo Wings

But they are something that usually are enjoyed at a restaurant because most people don’t have a deep fryer in their home kitchen.

Breaded and deep fried Buffalo Wings are super high in fat, so they are not something you should eat everyday.

But what if there a way to enjoy Buffalo Wings in your own home? And what if they had far less fat than the traditional sports bar appetizer, yet had all the great flavor?

That was the challenge I came up with for myself. The result were these delicious baked Buffalo Wings.

While chicken wings are still higher in fat than low-fat diet staples like boneless skinless chicken breast or ground turkey, because these Buffalo Wings are baked instead of submersed in hot cooking oil they have less fat and fewer calories than those found at Hooter’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, or your favorite watering hole.

Chicken wings are also some of the least expensive proteins you can buy. Usually, you can find them for $.99/lb or less.

Only a few decades ago, chicken wings were either thrown away or used to make chicken stock.

But back in the 1970s, a woman named Teressa Bellisimo – owner of the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York — invented them on the spot to feed a bunch of hungry college students her son Domonic brought home unexpectedly. She threw a bunch of wings in a deep fryer then tossed them in a mixture of cayenne pepper sauce and butter, then served them up with blue cheese dressing and celery sticks.

They quickly became a fixture on sports bar appetizer menus everywhere.

Franks Wing Sauce

Franks Wing Sauce

My reduced fat recipe uses the same sauce — melted butter and Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce — but the wings are baked instead of fried, then tossed with bread crumbs and baked again.

The result is a delicious, reduced fat version of this classic appetizer. And just in time for the NFL playoffs!

Baked Buffalo Wings

1 lb. Chicken Wings (about 8 to 10 wings)

Sea Salt

Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, melted

1/2 cup Franks Buffalo Wing Sauce

1 cup Bread Crumbs (I used Panko, Japanese-style breadcrumbs that are larger than traditional breadcrumbs)

Celery Stalks

Blue Cheese or Ranch Dressing

1/4 cup Blue Cheese Crumbles

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Separate wings  at the joint. If the wing tip is included, you can either save it for stock or discard it because it doesn’t have enough meat on it to make it worth keeping. Spray a baking sheet with pan spray and lay out the chicken wings. Season with S&P, flip over and season the other side. Bake for 20 minutes and remove from oven.

2. Combine melted butter and wing sauce in a mixing bowl. Add chicken wings and toss so that all are thoroughly coated. Add bread crumbs and toss again. Return wings to sheet pan and return to oven for another 10 minutes.

3. Remove from oven. Combine dressing and blue cheese crumbles. Serve on the side with celery stalks.

A question for my foreign readers: Are Buffalo Wings strictly an American phenomenon or are they popular elsewhere as well? I’m just curious!

Sesame Chicken

There is a Chinese restaurant literally five doors down from where we live, so we can get takeout anytime we want.

The best thing about Chinese is that it’s never very expensive and you get enough food to feed you for days. The downside is that it’s not always very good, and our local takeout shop tends to be hit and miss.

Homemade Chinese is always so much better, anyway. And this simple Sesame Chicken recipe is no exception.

It’s also really quick to throw together, especially this dish which finishes in the oven while you can do other things.

I’m not going to tell you that I found it on How Sweet It Is because you probably knew that already. Can I just rename this blog “Recipes I stole from Jesssica” and get it over with!

I must be losing my mind as I grow older because as a classically trained chef, I always make sure I have my mise en place completely ready before I get started putting together a dish. But it was only after I had this one cooking that I realized I didn’t have any rice!

The same thing happened again this morning when I was making pumpkin spice waffles and realized I had no milk! What’s going on?!

Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have some tri-colored quinoia that I had bought some time ago at Trader Joe’s, which actually worked out even better. In addition to the quinoa, I served this Sesame Chicken with a quick sautee of white onion, green and red bell pepper, and jalapeno. The peppers are among the last from this year’s garden (bonus!).

I also used boneless, skinless chicken thighs because the local Food 4 Less wanted $4.38/lb for B/S chicken breasts. Wait, what?!

Simple Sesame Chicken

2 lb Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (or thighs if you’re not the Rockefellers)

1/2 tsp Sea Salt

1/2 tsp Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

3 TBS All-Purpose Flour

2 TBS Sesame Oil

1 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 Garlic Cloves, minced

1 TBS Low-Sodium Soy Sauce

1 TBS Corn Starch

1 TBS Brown Sugar

1 TBS Rice Wine Vinegar

1/2 cup Reduced Sodium Chicken Stock

2 TBS Toasted Sesame Seeds

1. Preheat oven to 400F. In a bowl, whisk together chicken stock, brown sugar, corn starch, 1 TBS sesame oil, garlic cloves, soy sauce and vinegar. Set aside. In a separate bowl, toss the diced chicken with the salt, pepper and flour.

2. Place a large Dutch Oven over a medium-high heat. When hot, add EVOO. When smoking, add the chicken and cook until browned, stirring occasionally, about five minutes. Pour chicken stock mixture over the chicken, turn off heat and cover. Place entire pot into oven and cook 20 minutes.

To serve, spoon the chicken mixture over rice, noodles or quinoa. Arrange sauteed vegetables of your choosing along the side, then garnish all with the sesame seeds.

Chicken and Biscuits

When I was growing up, there occasionally would appear in my family’s cupboard a product called Chicken in a Biscuit.

These were crackers that tasted like chicken. I think my dad liked them. Even as a very young child, I knew that something about this just wasn’t right. Crackers aren’t supposed to taste like meat!

Chicken in a Biscuit crackers frighten me in some primal way, even though I now know they simply have a little chicken base mixed into the cracker dough. Still, I do enjoy the flavors of chicken and biscuits. And with yet another hurricane heading for poor, embattled New Orleans, I felt it was a good time to make some comfort food.

I debated whether to make fresh biscuits for this dish, or simply used the kind that comes in a tube. I’m still a little cautious about my own biscuits, scones and other quick breads, seeing as how I thought they nearly killed me once.

In the end, I opted for the store-bought variety due to time constraints. I’m glad I did because these biscuits were more like puff pastry, with layer upon layer of butter dough.

This is a very simple and old-fashioned dish. The innovation I added was to cook the biscuits right on top of the chicken stew, sort of like a chicken pot pie. Given the biscuits’ puff pastry-like qualities, it essentially was chicken pot pie.

Only I forgot to add the frozen peas that I bought. Oh, well. Something to make it better next time.

Chicken and Biscuits

1/2 lb Cooked Chicken, pulled from bone and chopped (I used leftovers from BBQ Chicken I made the night before)

2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 White Onion, medium dice

2 Carrots, peeled and medium dice

2 Celery Stalks, medium dice

14oz can Chicken Broth

4 TBS All-Purpose Flour

1 TBS Chicken Base

1 cup Frozen Peas, thawed (which I bought but forgot to add!)

1 tube Buttery Biscuits (makes 8 biscuits)

Sea Salt

Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

1. Put an oven-safe pot over a medium heat. I used my Dutch Oven. When hot, add EVOO. When smoking, add onions, celery and carrot. I threw in a diced green bell pepper from our garden because we are up to our ears in them, but they aren’t usually a part of this recipe. Stir around, cover and cook until onions are translucent, about five minutes. Stir in chicken, cover and cook another minute or two to heat the chicken through.

2. Add flour and chicken base to the chicken/vegetable mixture. Stir around until the flour begins to brown a little, about two minutes, then hit it with the chicken stock. Stir, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 30 minutes, stirrring once or twice. The stock will thicken during this time. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Preheat oven to 350F. Place uncooked biscuits directly on top of chicken mixture then put the entire pot, uncovered, in the oven and cook until biscuits are browned on top, about 25 minutes.

To serve, remove or two of the biscuits to get at the chicken stew, ladle some of the chicken mixture into a bowl and then cap with the biscuits.

This chicken and biscuits is so much better than a box of crackers!

Greek Chicken

In a past life, I must have lived in Greece because I love anything Greek.

Its food, its wine, its culture are all among my favorites. Its economy? Okay, maybe not so much.

I even love that movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. “If you give me any word, any word at all, I … will show you … how its root … is Greek!” That scene still cracks me up!

In cooking, some of my favorite ingredients that I use the most are from Greece. I’m always willing to pay a little more for authentic Greek extra virgin olive oil, or for the creamy Feta cheese imported from the Thousand Islands. And I’ve already made my feelings clear about imported kalamata olives.

This recipe for Greek chicken pretty much includes them all, as well as fresh lemons and Greek oregano, which continues to grow robustly in my herb garden. This is also a great meal for late Spring, early Summer because it’s light and super easy and fast to throw together.

I served this chicken over some homemade tomato pasta, which I made with my new pasta maker. I just used the standard pasta dough recipe (cup of flour, 1 egg, dash of salt) and added about a tablespoon of tomato paste to it. It turned out terrific.

Greek Chicken

1 Chicken, cut up into eight peices

3 TBS Extra virgin olive oil

2 Garlic cloves, crushed

2 TBS Fresh Greek Oregano, chopped fine

1/2 cup Black Olives, sliced

1 tsp Lemon zest

Juice of 1 Lemon

Sea Salt

Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

1/2 cup Fresh Imported Feta Cheese

1. Drizzle olive oil onto bottom of baking dish. Add garlic, oregano, lemon zest and olives and use a spatula (or just your hands if no one is looking) to spread it all around. Place the chicken peices skin side down onto the mixture, then turn them over. Squeeze the lemon juice over the top of the chicken the season with salt and pepper. At this point you can either let it marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours, or put it right into the oven.

2. Preheat oven to 375F. Bake chicken uncovered for about 50 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with Feta and return to oven for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest a few minutes before serving.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go watch that movie again!

Chicken Salad

The other day, Sandi and I were eating at our favorite neighborhood diner, Les Brothers, when a waiter walked past with a plate of chicken salad.

It was served old-school style inside a cut-up tomato. I don’t think I’ve seen chicken salad presented like that since the Reagan administration. I instantly knew I had to try it.

Serving compound salads — chicken, tuna, ham, egg, etc. — in hollowed out tomatoes used to be pretty common. But I suppose it had been done to death so people stopped doing it.

Well, I’m bringing it back! It not only is visually appealing, but it fits with my efforts to reduce the amount of white flour and white sugar I eat. Plus, now it’s nostalgiac. Bonus!

I served it with an Israeli cous cous salad. I wanted to make a macaroni salad, but Sandi wrinkled her nose at that, so I made this instead. But the joke’s on her because cous cous is simply a small, granular shaped pasta, so it’s exactly the same thing!

So much for my avoiding white flour, however.

Finally, I added one of my homemade dill pickles and garnished the plate with a few black, seedless grapes. I think it looks pretty elegant and wouldn’t be out of place on a posh lunch menu.

Chicken Salad

1 lb Chicken, cooked (I used half a baked chicken from dinner the night before), diced

1/2 cup Reduced-Fat Mayonnaise

1/2 cup Fat-Free Sour Cream

Juice of 1/2 Lemon

1 Garlic Clove, crushed

2 stalks celery, small dice

1/2 Red Onion, small dice

1/3  cup Dried Cranberries

1/4 cup Walnuts, chopped

1/4 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

1 Large Tomato

1. Combine chicken, celery, onion, cranberries and walnuts in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice and garlic. Mix a little of the dressing at a time to the chicken mixture until you get the proper chicken salad consistency, holds together but not too soggy. Season with seasoned salt. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld together.

2. Use a paring knife to make alternate zig-zag cuts around the perimeter of a tomato. Pull it apart then use the knife to remove some of the core from each half. Lay flat on the plate and use an ice cream scoop to place a large dollop of chicken salad in the center of the tomato half.

To plate the cous cous salad, I simply spooned the salad into a ramekin and patted it down. Then I placed the serving plate on top of the ramekin, turned the whole thing upside down and removed the ramekin. The salad will then hold the shape of the ramekin.

What kind of old school foods would you like to see come back into fashion? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. And thanks for looking at my blog!

 

Oven Fried Chicken

Fried chicken is one of those things I only get to eat once or twice per year, usually at  family parties.

But I look forward to it because, in my opinion, chicken was meant to be fried. The crispy golden breading that comes from immersing the chicken into a pool of smoking hot oil goes perfectly with the moist, rich texture of the meat.

Sadly, because it’s too high in fat, in my house we don’t eat legitimately fried chicken. I remember one time I burned the dinner so I went out and bought some Popeye’s chicken. My wife simply refused to eat it.

But this recipe is lower in fat, doesn’t require a deep fryer or a dangerous pan full of hot shortening, and still results in a crispy delicious chicken.

Although I love to eat fried chicken for dinner, what I love even more is wrapping the leftover chicken in wax paper the next day and bringing it on a picnic. This recipe is suitable for both.

I served this oven fried chicken with some smashed potatoes and with a red cabbage cole slaw (recipe to follow) to round out a perfect summertime dinner.

Oven Fried Chicken

1 Chicken, cut into 8 peices

1/4 cup Unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp Paprika

1 tsp Granulated garlic

Pinch of Cayenne pepper

1 tsp Sea salt

1/4 tsp Fresh cracked black pepper

1/3 cup Margarine (or butter for the truly indulgent)

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Rinse chicken peices and pat dry with paper towels. In a bowl, combine flour, paprika, gran garlic, cayenne, salt and pepper. Dredge chicken peices so that they are completely covered with seasoned flour mixture. If you prefer, you can use the “Shake and Bake” method by putting all the dry ingredients into a large plastic bag, then putting the individual chicken peices in the bag, sealing it and shaking it around so that each peice is completely covered with the coating. You will get the same result.

2. Place margarine in a 9″x13″x2″ casserole pan and place in oven. When melted, remove from oven and arrange chicken peices in the bottom of the pan, skin side down. Return to oven and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven, turn peices over and bake another 15 minutes.

Red Cabbage Cole Slaw

4 cups  Red Cabbage (about 1/2 head)

1 Carrot, peeled

1/2 White onion

1/2 Green bell pepper, ribs and seedes removed, fine dice

1/2 cup Reduced fat Mayonnaise

1 TBS Apple cider vinegar

2 tsp Granulated sugar

1 tsp Whole celery seed

1/4 tsp Sea salt

Fresh cracked black pepper to taste

1. Use a box grater to grate the cabbage, carrot and onion into a mixing bowl then add the green pepper. In a separate mixing bowl, make the dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, celery seed and salt.

2. Combine the dressing and the cabbage mixture and toss together with a spatula until it has a consistent texture. Season with pepper to taste. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving so that flavors can meld together.

Ironically, up until a few months ago, there was a fried chicken restaurant at the end of our street (It recently closed and was replaced with a cash for car titles business!). Whenever I would walk the dogs past there, I would linger a few moments so I could absorb the smells of the frying chicken.

A fella can dream, can’t he?

 

Chinese Chicken Salad

This salad could go either way. It could be called a Chinese chicken salad or it could simply be called a chopped salad.

The only real difference between the two is the dressing and the crunch.

In the past, I’ve used dry, fried chow mein noodles to achieve the crunch. In restaurants, I think the guest expects this. But because I’m trying to cut down on white flour (and fried foods), I substituted a little fresh cabbage.

There was definitely less crunch, but it wasn’t really missed in the texture. And the cabbage added better flavor than chow mein noodles, which to me always taste kind of sawdust-y anyway.

The other difference is the dressing. On a chopped salad, I would use a simple vinaigrette or a low-fat creamy dressing. But because I was going for an Asian feel here, I used a fat-free sesame soy ginger vinaigrette I picked up at Trader Joe’s.

My sesame soy ginger vinaigrette is delicious, but it is not fat free. I wanted to try TJ’s version, and although it was sweeter than mine, I found it to be delightful.

On both a chopped salad and this Chinese chicken salad, all the ingredients are cut into small peices. This gives it a texture that is a little different and is easier to eat.

Any salad can be made into a chopped salad, including a Caesar salad, a Salade Nicoise, a Cobb salad or a chef’s salad. It’s all about the size that you cut the ingredients and it makes for a nice change of pace once in awhile.

This salad also is sometimes called a garbage salad, although I’ve always stayed away from that name on my menus. It just has kind of an off-putting connotation to me: “And here’s your plate of garbage, madame!”

Chinese Chicken Salad

1 Boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and small dice

1/2 head Green leaf lettuce, chopped fine

1 cup Shredded green cabbage

1 large Tomato, ribs and seeds removed, small dice

1/2 Red onion, small dice

2 Green onions, sliced thin

1/2 Green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, sliced thin

1/4 cup Crumbled Blue cheese

1/4 cup Crumbed Feta cheese

For Sesame Soy Ginger Vinaigrette

1 TBS Sesame oil

1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil

2 TBS Rice wine vinegar

2 tsp Low-sodium soy sauce

1 tsp honey

1 TBS Fresh ginger, chopped fine

1 clove Garlic, crushed

Sea Salt

Fresh Cracked black pepper

1. Combine the oils in a bowl and mix. In a separate bowl, combine the vinegar, soy sauce, honey, ginger and garlic. Slowly add the oils to the vinegar mixture, starting with a drop at a time and slowly building, until dressing is emulsified. Then season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Combine all salad ingredients in large bowl. Dress with vinaigrette and mix throroughly. To plate, use a tongs to pile the dressing high in the middle of a large salad or pasta bowl, trying to attain as much height as possible. Make sure large peices of the chicken are visible.

A word about lettuce: In this salad, I used a green leaf lettuce, which is my lettuce of choice, along with red leaf. You also could use Romaine, a spring mix blend or a mixture of escarole and any other kind of lettuce to get a great texture and a healthy salad.

One lettuce I would never recommend is iceburg lettuce, which ironically is the most popular because it also is the cheapest. Iceburg lettuce is composed almost entirely of water and that’s exactly what it tastes like. Also, it has almost no nutritional value.

It pains me to say this because this is supposed to be a budget cooking column, but where’s the savings if the flavor is poor and there aren’t any usable vitamins or minerals? Do yourself and your family a favor and spend the few extra pennies for greens that not only taste better but are much better for you!