Sweet & Spicy Baked Chicken Wings

I can’t explain why, but I had not made chicken wings, ever…until recently, that is. We had gone to a friend’s home for a potluck, and I fell in love with the wings they served. My friend shared the recipe she used, and I’ve tweaked it a little bit and made it spicier since my husband loves his spice! It’s based off of Food and Wine’s recipe from Carmel-based chef Tim Wood.

And this is the first recipe that I’ve tried, tested, and loved. Perhaps it was my fear of eating fried food, but this recipe is BAKED! Yet, you end up with a beautifully crisp, sweet, and spicy chicken wing done just right.

Serve this at your next party has a main dish accompanied by a side or noodles, and you’re all set – people will be raving and asking for your secret recipe! 😉 Enjoy!

Love,
Priyanka

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Yields: Approximately 4 servings
Ingredients
3 pounds chicken wings
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder (if you want this to be more kid friendly, you can omit the chili powder)
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Garnish: 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Preheat your oven to the ‘broil’ setting (if your oven does not have this setting, no problem! heat it to 500 degrees F).

In a large bowl, toss the chicken wings with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the wings on a sheet pan and place on lower rack of oven. Broil for 45 to 50 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces over using tongs once every 15 minutes, until the wings are cooked through and crisp.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, crushed red pepper, and chili pepper. Heat over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer (this will happen quickly!). Simmer for 1 minute. for 1 Take it off of the heat and let it cool completely (to quicken the cooling process, pour out the mixture into a glass bowl). Once cool, whisk in the honey and soy sauce.

In a large bowl, carefully toss the chicken wings with the honey-soy mixture. Transfer the wings to a platter, sprinkle with the scallions and serve HOT! 🙂

Oven-Roasted Lamb Kefta (Meatballs)

I love this recipe because of it’s simplicity, ease of putting together, and bold flavor profile. The spiciness of the chili powder contrasting with the rich flavors of the cinnamon, cumin, and garlic literally create a party in your mouth. My signature on these meatballs is the addition of fresh pesto – in my opinion, adding the pesto adds a nuttiness and a little fattiness that keeps the meatballs incredibly moist and divine.

You can serve these alone with some fresh yogurt to dip into (or get fancy and serve it with some tzatziki for an authentic Greek feel!). Make it a meal by stuffing whole-wheat pitas along with some lettuce and tomatoes and there you have your lunch and/or dinner ready! Or you can even throw these delicious meatballs into some tomato sauce and simmer them until ready, and you have a gorgeous lamb meatball in tomato-sauce dish that you can serve over cous cous or rice.

The options are endless, and I see this healthy, oven-roasted lamb kefta as a base recipe that can serve as a one-bite appetizer at a fancy party, or as the filling of a sandwich the next day for lunch (although it is highly unlikely there will be any leftovers of this recipe) 😉

Enjoy! And be sure to share this one with your family and friends, as all good food should be!

Love,
Priyanka

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Yields: Approximately 12 appetizer-sized meatballs

Ingredients

1 pound ground lamb (can substitute ground chicken, beef or turkey and still get a great result!)
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons of homemade pesto (or any store-bought pesto works great too!)
1 medium white or yellow onion, minced
1 egg
1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint (or you can use dried mint)
Garnish: fresh mint leaves

Directions

Place lamb, cumin, paprika, chili powder (optional) garlic powder, celery seed, seasoned salt, cinnamon pepper, pesto, onion, egg and mint together in a bowl.

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Mix evenly using clean hands [I prefer putting on clean, disposable gloves and then mixing. For some reason, mixing ground meat with your hands is the best way to incorporate all the ingredients! No kitchen tool can replicate what your hands can do :)]

Mix gently until evenly combined. Form mixture into 12 meat balls (I use a 1/4 cup measure for each meatball – or you can use an ice cream scoop or melon baller, size of your choice). Round off each meatball in your hands using a circular motion, and place each meatball on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Chill kefta until ready to use (up to 2 hours in refrigerator).

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Note: There are two ways to cook the kefta – you can lightly fry them on the stovetop or bake them in the oven.

Method 1: Heat extra-virgin olive oil in sauteé pan. Once the oil is hot, add meatballs (be careful not to overcrowd the pan with too many meatballs (if needed, cook in batches). Turning the meatballs occasionally for even cooking, cook for about 6-8 minutes until desired exterior crispness and interior doneness.

Method 2: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the 12 meatballs on the baking tray you prepared them onto and bake on the center rack of the oven for 15-20 minutes until browned as desired. Serve hot with yogurt, red onions, and cucumber slices! Pair with flatbread, pita bread, or fresh rice for a whole meal! 🙂

Avgolemono (Egg-Lemon-Chicken Soup) with Orzo

This is by far my favorite mediterranean soup recipe – if I ever see this on a menu, I order it without blinking. If I am ever craving something rich, creamy, tangy, and yet healthy, this is my go-to recipe in the kitchen. The creaminess of this soup comes from the eggs and flavorful chicken broth. It is a light soup, that is decadent at the same time. It can also be made in under 20 minutes, thanks to store-bought rotisserie chicken that is hard to replicate in your every day kitchen! Why waste 30-40 additional minutes cooking or boiling chicken for this recipe when you can buy gorgeous, roasted chicken meat at your local Costco or grocery market? 🙂

My favorite flavor in this soup is the citrus from the lemon juice – it is gorgeous against the meaty, starchy nature of the chicken and orzo. This is truly a one-pot meal that you can always accessorize with toasted bread and/or crackers to complete it. Perfect for that weeknight family meal, or as an appetizer for your worldly weekend dinner spread!

Enjoy! 🙂

Love,
Priyanka

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Yields: 6-8 portions
Ingredients
8 cups chicken stock (or to make vegetarian, use vegetable broth)
3/4 cup orzo pasta (optional)
2-3 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken (already cooked) – depending on how ‘meaty’ you like it (can omit to make vegetarian)
5 eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh dill

Directions

In a large saucepan, bring stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and add orzo. Cook uncovered until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Five minutes before pasta is done, add chicken.

Meanwhile, place eggs in mixing bowl. Whisk eggs while adding lemon juice. Stir in zest. Whisking constantly, slowly pour a ladle of the hot stock into the egg mixture to temper (this is to ensure that your eggs don’t curdle – you have to keep whisking constantly so that the room temperature egg mixture does not cook!).

Reduce heat to very low. Then, while whisking the soup in pan, slowly pour in the egg mixture (continue to whisk constantly!). Soup should thicken slightly. Add salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with parsley or fresh dill. Serve hot!

Japanese Broiled Fish

Have you ever been in a rush to put together a delicious meal? Well, I certainly have. And there have been many (perhaps too many) nights where I’m craving a delicious, yet healthy fish dish but I don’t have the energy to marinate overnight or be fancy about things. This is by far, my favorite and quickest Asian-style fish recipe that makes my taste buds tickle with happiness. The beautiful color of the fish and the charred bits from the grill are the most beautiful part of this dish. The simplicity of the flavor (and low calorie count) make this recipe a true winner!

Try it out – you won’t be disappointed! 🙂

Love,
Priyanka

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Ingredients

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 tablespoon miso paste (yellow miso, not red miso)
1 fish filet of your choice (can use salmon sea bass, cod, or even mackerel)
Kosher or sea salt, to taste

Directions

Method: You can either broil the fish in your oven, use an indoor grill pan, or use an outdoor grill! I like putting my fish indirectly on the flame as pictured below, which I am told is the best way to cook the fish! [Note: if you cook it the way I did, remember to line your stove with aluminum foil as I did for a quicker clean-up!]

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Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl and marinate your fish filet while you heat up your grill (up to 20 minutes, but less is fine!). Once your grill (or oven) is hot, cook the filet for about 5-8 minutes, flipping and basting occasionally until the fish is flaky and cooked to your liking.

Sprinkle a little salt on top of the fish and serve on top of a fresh arugula salad and squeeze a lemon wedge over your fish and salad. Dinner is ready! 🙂

Chicken Salad Sandwich with Herb & Saffron Mayo

The thing I love about rotisserie chicken is that it cuts down my cooking time of most dishes to under 20 minutes. Being a working woman with mouths to feed, it’s almost like a dream come true that I can hopscotch over to the nearest Costco or Safeway and pay anywhere from $4.99 to $6.99 for a whole, fresh bird cooked to beautiful perfection. Not only do I get to do fun things with the meat like make a delicious chicken salad sandwich, but I also reserve the bones and skin to make a robust homemade chicken broth that completely elevates the taste of many of my dishes. I am true believer in not wasting food, and chicken bones are definitely never found in my trash bin unless I’ve simmered the heck out of them over a low flame while making a broth! 🙂

This chicken salad (sandwich) is an ode to the classic lunch box fare. However, the salad is perfect as an appetizer on top of a crostini or even as a picnic lunch with a fresh baguette in hand. Scoop up some of this chicken salad with a cracker if a baguette is nowhere to be found, and you’re sure to please your taste buds even then!

Enjoy! 🙂

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Ingredients
1 rotisserie chicken, bones and skin removed
2 stalks of celery, chopped (chop up the leaves too! why waste?)
1 can of pitted olives, drained, rinsed, and halved
1 bell pepper (color of your choice), seeded and chopped into small pieces
1/2 red or white onion, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup Priyanka’s herb & saffron mayo
Kosher salt, to taste
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Variation: Add bacon bits or crunchy potato chips to your chicken salad for an additional crunch!
Garnishes to assemble sandwich: avocado, tomato, cheese, fresh spinach

Directions

Remove the meat from the rotisserie chicken, reserving the skin, bones, and dark meat for making your own homemade chicken broth, if desired! Otherwise, discard and place only the boneless meat in a large bowl. Add in the celery, olives, bell pepper, onion, and anywhere from 1/4-1/2 cup of Priyanka’s herb & saffron mayo.

Mixed thoroughly, but gently, until all ingredients are well-incorporated. Taste the salad and adjust seasoning, per your taste. Refrigerate in an air tight container for up to 2 days.

Serve chicken on toasted bread or hamburger bun, accompanied by avocado slices, tomato slices, pepper jack cheese, and fresh spinach. Add some bacon, sriracha hot sauce, or spicy brown mustard for a fun twist! Serve alongside baby carrots, potato chips, or fresh fruit for a complete meal! 🙂

Chipotle Marinade – Chicken or Tofu!

I know there has been a lot of recent buzz around ‘Chipotle’ food having a lot of sodium and calories – and being unhealthy, in general. So, what better way to tackle those cravings than to make your own, delicious ‘chipotle’ meats at home? 🙂 Sites like LiveStrong.com, and others, have posted tips on how to keep your calorie count low while eating at a Chipotle (e.g. ‘How To Eat Healthy at Chipotle‘) too, in case cooking at home isn’t an option.

However, for those of you that can spare a few minutes, this chipotle marinade recipe of mine is AMAZING on proteins like chicken, fish, and even tofu! This can be a spicy dish, depending on how much chili powder you put, and how much spice you can handle, so try the marinade BEFORE you put the chicken into it to make sure you can handle it! This marinade keeps incredibly well in the fridge for up to a week in case you make a little extra and keep it away before you use it on the chicken. It’s also great to brush onto fish when on the grill! 🙂

I hope you try this out – Enjoy!

Love,
Priyanka

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Ingredients
1/4 cup chipotle pepper, from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon adobo sauce, from the canned chipotles
4 tablespoons olive oil
10 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 large white onion
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup water

Protein: chicken (cut of your choice: drumsticks, legs, thigh, etc) or cubed firm tofu

Directions

Add all ingredients a food processor or blender and process until well-combined and pureed.

Transfer mixture to a bowl or ziploc bag, add chicken (or tofu) and let sit in marinade overnight. [Note: if you don’t have time to marinate, no problem! It will still be delicious!]

Grill chicken for 6-8 minutes per side on a hot grill, or roast in the oven at 400 degrees F for approximately 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches at least 165 degrees F. Let it rest, covered with foil, for 10-15 minutes to allow the juices to settle (you will end up with a much juicier and tender chicken!)

Elegant Arugula and Heirloom Tomato Salad

Who said that we can’t get fancy in our own kitchens? I certainly think that it is a lot of fun to dress up a meal by simply enhancing the presentation. After all, if the eye likes what it sees, then it is more appetizing, and in turn, tastes better to us too!

One of my favorite seasons is heirloom tomato season, and right now, Trader Joe’s has these beautiful mini heirloom tomatoes that are perfect in every way. The blend of colors of these different-colored tomatoes creates such a beautiful salad that is anything other than one-note. The pepperiness of the arugula paired with the earthy cannellini against the sweetness of the tomatoes is delicious. And the crispy toast topped with the tangy, yet creamy goat cheese seals this dish as the perfect start to any meal, fancy or informal!

The flash fried bread (feel free to oven toast for a healthier version!) adds the perfect amount of crispiness and smokiness that I think lends beautifully to this dish.

Try this at home and you don’t regret it! Just don’t forget to serve it immediately after dressing your salad, or you’ll end up with a very soggy (and sad) salad! 🙂

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Yields: 4 individual appetizer portions

Ingredients

4 slices of bread (can be wheat, white, whole-grain, whatever you prefer!)

Topping
1 cup grape, cherry, or small heirloom tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on their size
1.5 cups loosely packed baby arugula
1/4 cup of organic, canned cannellini beans, washed and drained
2-4 tablespoons goat cheese, depending on your taste
2 tablespoons high quality extra virgin olive-oil, extra to drizzle if desired
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt, to taste
Variation: Add thinly sliced red onion to the salad mixture for an extra crunch!

Directions

Cut out circles out of the slices of your bread using one of the following: a metal ring mold, the open end of a glass jar (the kind tomato sauces come in at the grocery store), or even an empty metal can (from the cannelloni beans!).

Heat olive oil in a small pan and when the oil is hot, flash fry the circles of bread for about 5 seconds on each side until golden brown. Drain and set aside on a napkin-topped plate to allow it to crisp.

Combine all of the topping ingredients EXCEPT the goat cheese, and toss well to coat.

On your serving plate, place the crisp bread and spread a dollop of goat cheese over it. Top with the salad mixture. If you like cheese a lot, feel free to add another dollop of goat cheese on top of the mixture! Serve immediately and enjoy! 🙂