Honey Sriracha Lime Chicken Wings

We now have another cooking device on our kitchen counter. We plan to put this combination air fryer and toaster oven through its paces. How better to get started than this Super Bowl Sunday recipe for chicken wings?

This recipe comes from ninjakitchen.com. We have made these wings twice to rave reviews. If you can’t find the link, here are the ingredients and directions.

Ingredients

3 Tbsp sriracha sauce

¼ cup honey

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp ground ginger

Zest and juice of 2 limes

2½ lb. fresh uncooked chicken wings

Directions

In a bowl, stir together all ingredients except chicken wings.

Coat chicken wings with half the sauce in a large resealable plastic bag; reserve remaining sauce. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

Select AIR FRY, set temperature to 400º F., and set time to 25 minutes. Preheat the unit.

Place air fry basket on toaster sheet pan, then place wings in basket, making sure they are not crowding each other.

When unit has preheated, slide the basket and pan into the oven at the same time.

After 10 minutes, use tongs to flip the wings. Return pan to oven and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until desired level of crispness is achieved.

When cooking is complete, toss wings in reserved sauce and serve immediately.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Marinate: 1-24 hours

Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

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Pear Upside Down Cake

Here is the second pear recipe we made recently. This is a variation on pineapple upside cake, which has long historical roots. So does the cast iron skillet in which this cake is prepared. Here is one relevant online history:

“Centuries ago, cakes were cooked in cast iron skillets over an open fire.  It was easy to add fruit and sugar to the bottom of the skillet and pour  batter over the mixture. Once cooked, flipping it over onto a plate not only released the cake from the skillet, but showed how pretty the caramelized fruit was.  

“In the 19th century, Americans made cakes over an open fire in a spider (a cast iron skillet with legs).  So by the mid 1800’s these were called spider cakes.  As the home oven (which was iron) became more commonplace, the flat bottomed cast iron skillet emerged.

“Around 1911, on of James Dole’s engineers came up with a machine that cut the pineapple into perfect rings. It wasn’t long before these convenient rings were used in the upside down cake to add flavor and color.” (Source: rabbitcreekgourmet.com)

Here’s Martha Stewart’s take on the classic. She still uses a cast iron skillet, but has substituted pears for pineapple. She also leaves out the maraschino cherries. Nonetheless, we thought the results were impressive. This is the link. We included the ingredients and directions below. No offense to Martha, but we upped the spices in the batter and sprinkled more cinnamon into the topping.

Ingredients

For the topping:

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar

3 ripe pears, such as Bartlett or Anjou, peeled and cored

For the batter:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs, separated

1/2 cup whole milk

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Directions

Make the topping: Melt butter in the bottom of a 10 1/2-inch cast-iron skillet over low heat. Add brown sugar, stirring until dissolved. Swirl to coat the bottom; remove from heat, and cool. Cut pears into 1/4-inch-thick wedges, and arrange them in a circular pattern over the brown-sugar mixture to cover completely; set aside.

Make the batter: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla extract; beat to combine. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating to combine.

Alternating with the milk, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and mix, on low speed, just until the flour is incorporated.

In a large bowl, beat reserved egg whites and the cream of tartar with a hand mixer until stiff but not dry. Using a rubber spatula, fold egg whites into the batter. Transfer to skillet. Using an offset spatula, spread the batter evenly, being careful not to disturb the pears.

Bake until well browned on top and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Run a knife around inside of pan, and immediately invert the cake onto a serving dish. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: makes one ten-and-a-half-inch cake

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Garam Masala Poached Pears

We received some excellent pears as gifts for Christmas. It was a nice problem to have, but we needed to find some way to use the pears before they went bad. We found two great recipes; this one we served on Christmas Eve for dessert.

This recipe came from the Spice House blog’s section on Christmas dishes. The link is here. By the way, Spice House is a great place to get high quality fresh spices for all your cooking and baking. Take our advice, check the Spice House website, and look at their new “flat pack” options. We’re enthusiastic supporters of this option!

If you don’t have a Garam Masala spice blend already (Spice House does!), here is a link for a common mix. The ingredients and directions are listed below. We hope you enjoy the pears as much as we did (with cinnamon ice cream)!

Ingredients

6 pears, peeled

2 cups white wine

2 cups apple cider, or juice

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

2 tsp garam masala, ground

Directions

In a medium-small pot, combine wet ingredients with sugar and spices.

Bring to simmer, whisking until the sugar dissolves.

Poach the pears for 15 minutes, until they are soft, stirring and turning them every so often.

Remove the pears from the liquid and set aside.

Let the liquid reduce for another 20-30 minutes, forming a nice syrup.

Serve room temperature, with whipped cream or ice cream. Drizzle the syrup over last.

Slice the pears in half, scoop out the core, and slice away the calyx at the bottom for an easier dining experience.

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Glazed Meatloaf

Here is an improvement on the humble meatloaf. Not a fan? Well, we recommend you give this recipe a look. Julia Collin Davison of America’s Test Kitchen fame, shared this recipe recently on the Home & Family show on the Hallmark Channel. In no particular order, the changes she endorsed were: adding soy sauce to improve the umami feel to the meatloaf, sautéing the onion and celery with some of the spices before adding them to the meat mixture to enhance flavor, and baking the loaf on a rack rather than in the traditional loaf pan.

Here is the link. We also include the ingredients and directions below. We increased the garlic. Trust us, this one is worth the effort!

Ingredients

For the meatloaf:

3 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded on small holes of box grater (1 cup)

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 onion, finely chopped

1 celery rib, finely chopped

2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme

1 tsp paprika

1 garlic clove, minced

¼ cup tomato juice

½ cup chicken broth

2 large eggs

½ tsp unflavored gelatin

⅔ cup crushed saltines

2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp Dijon mustard

¾ tsp table salt

½ tsp black pepper

1 lb. 90% lean ground sirloin

1 lb. 80% lean ground chuck

For the glaze:

½ cup ketchup

¼ cup cider vinegar

3 Tbsp packed light brown sugar

1 tsp hot sauce

½ tsp ground coriander

Directions

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread Monterey Jack on plate and place in freezer until ready to use. Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet. Fold sheet of aluminum foil to form 10 X 6-inch rectangle. Center foil on rack and poke holes in foil with skewer (about ½ inch apart). Spray foil with vegetable oil spray.

Melt butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat; add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add thyme, paprika, and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and add tomato juice. Cook, scraping up any browned bits, until thickened, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to small bowl and set aside to cool.

Whisk broth and eggs together in large bowl until combined. Sprinkle gelatin over liquid and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in saltines, parsley, soy sauce, mustard, salt, pepper, and onion mixture. Crumble frozen cheese into coarse powder and sprinkle over mixture. Add sirloin and chuck; mix gently with your hands until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Transfer meat to foil rectangle and shape into 10 by 6-inch oval about 2 inches high. Smooth top and edges of meatloaf with moistened spatula. Bake until loaf registers 135º to 140º F, 55 minutes to 1 hour, 5 minutes. Remove meatloaf from oven and turn on broiler.

For the glaze: While meatloaf cooks, combine glaze ingredients in small saucepan; bring to simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring, until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Spread half of glaze evenly over cooked meatloaf with rubber spatula; place under broiler and cook until glaze bubbles and begins to brown at edges, about 5 minutes. Remove meatloaf from oven and spread evenly with remaining glaze; place back under broiler and cook until glaze is again bubbling and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Let meatloaf cool for about 20 minutes before slicing.

Serves 6-8.

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The Best Swedish Meatballs

Classic Swedish meatballs include bread (often day-old) soaked in milk. This recipe appealed to us because the milk product (heavy cream) goes into the gravy, not the meatballs. And the gravy is the star of the show! No disrespect to the meatballs, which are also superb. We liked the combination of spices—savory but not overpowering.

This recipe comes from Alyssa Rivers on her blog, The Food Critic/Tried & True. This is the link. She also includes a link to her mother’s recipe for Swedish meatballs. We hope you enjoy the dish as much as we did this recent Christmas Eve.

Here is the recipe if you cannot connect to the link. As Ms. Rivers indicates, the recipe can be served over egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or rice.

Ingredients

1 lb. ground beef

¼ cup pinko bread crumbs

1 Tbsp parsley, chopped

¼ tsp ground allspice

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

¼ cup onion, finely chopped

½ tsp garlic powder

⅛ tsp black pepper

½ tsp salt

1 egg

1 Tbsp olive oil

5 Tbsp butter

3 Tbsp flour

2 cups beef broth

1 cup heavy cream

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a medium sized bowl combine ground beef, panko, parsley, allspice, nutmeg, onion, garlic powder, pepper, salt and egg. Mix until combined.

Roll into 12 large meatballs or 20 small meatballs. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and 1 Tablespoon butter. Add the meatballs and cook turning continuously until brown on each side and cooked throughout. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil.

Add 4 Tablespoons butter and flour to skillet and whisk until it turns brown. Slowly stir in beef broth and heavy cream. Add Worcestershire sauce and dijon mustard and bring to a simmer until sauce starts to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste.

Add the meatballs back to the skillet and simmer for another 1-2 minutes. Serve over egg noodles or rice.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

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World’s Best Lasagna

Christmas lasagna may be a new tradition here. As we pointed out in a recent post, we decided to pay homage to the traditional Italian menu featuring first a pasta course, then a meat course. However, our all-American guests decided to have both courses served at once.

The origins of lasagna are unclear, but there is some evidence to suggest the dish came from the name of the kind of cookware in which the lasagna was prepared. Furthermore, the earliest variations on the recipe had no tomatoes. Tomatoes came from the Western Hemisphere, and arrived in Italy from Spanish traders.

This recipe, modestly called “World’s Best Lasagna,” comes from John Chandler on allrecipes.com, has plenty of tomato: crushed, paste, and sauce. Here is the link. We made our version with the no-cook lasagna noodles, because the local stores seemed to be out of the others. If you don’t have the mix on hand, here is a recipe for Italian seasoning. We also doubled the spices called for in this recipe.

We include the recipe ingredients and directions here, too.

Ingredients

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage

¾ lb. lean ground beef

½ cup minced onion

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes

2 cans (6 oz.) tomato paste

2 cans (6.5 oz.) tomato sauce

½ cup water

2 Tbsp white sugar

1½ tsp dried basil leaves

½ tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1½ tsp salt, divided, or to taste

¼ tsp ground black pepper

4 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

12 lasagna noodles

16 oz. ricotta cheese

1 egg

¾ lb. mozzarella cheese, sliced

¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about 1½ hours, stirring occasionally.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley, and ½ teaspoon salt.

Preheat oven to 375º F (190º C).

To assemble, spread 1½ cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9 X 13-inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. Spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. Spoon 1½ cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers, and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil: to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Serves 12.

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Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

If you are old enough, you may have bad memories about Brussels sprouts from your childhood. Turns out, you have some justification for such memories. Not only were your tastebuds less well refined back then, but Brussels sprouts were different back then. In the 1990’s Hans van Doorn, a Dutch scientist working for Novartis, isolated the compounds in Brussels sprouts that contributed to the bitter aftertaste. Dutch seed companies crossbred cultivars to get most of those compounds out of modern varieties of Brussels sprouts. So, today’s Brussels sprouts truly do taste better!

We tried this recipe for Christmas eve dinner. We were able to roast the sprouts in the oven along with another dish. The recipe comes from allrecipes.com. This is the link. Even if you’re still squeamish about Brussels sprouts, remember this dish includes bacon and maple syrup. You can’t go wrong with those ingredients!

Here is the recipe if you cannot find the link. Many people (including us) recommend a shorter baking time and using less olive oil. We also recommend lining your baking dish with aluminum foil to make cleaning up easier.

Ingredients

1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp pure maple syrup

4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400º F.

Place Brussels sprouts in a single layer in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup; toss to coat. Sprinkle with bacon; season with salt and black pepper.

Roast in the preheated oven until bacon is crispy and Brussels sprouts are caramelized, 45 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Total time: 55 minutes

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