A Love Affair: Buffalo Wings

My love affair with buffalo wings began my freshman year of college. Off campus, there was a little spot called Cosmos Pizza, a popular hangout for students and townies. During my first weekend at school, a few of the girls from my floor invited me out for a bite to eat. We ended up at Cosmos, stuffed into a small booth, laughing and sharing first impressions. One of the girls ordered hot wings and promptly passed them around. Curious, I decided to give it a try. Until then, I had never had hot wings. I know, I know, how is that even possible?? Sure, I’d had fried wings and wings with Spanish rice, but that was pretty much the end of it. The moment I bit into that Cosmos wing, I couldn’t believe what I had been missing. The flavor was unbelievable, the heat just right. I had never even tasted hot sauce before! Was this what is was like?? I devoured the wing and eagerly grabbed another. There was no going back.

From that point on, I never passed up the opportunity for hot wings. Luckily, I got my fix at least once a week, courtesy of the dining hall. Thursdays were wing night at Brockway Dining Hall, with enough chicken wings to feed an army. My girlfriends always knew to call my room on Thursday evenings, just in case I had fallen asleep after class. Heaven forbid I should miss out on my wings! More than a decade later, I still love hot wings. There’s nothing like that first bite into crispy skin, the taste of the sauce on your tongue, the heat that starts to creep up on you, licking your fingers after devouring each wing. The sign of a successful wing fest are the sniffles you get from the cayenne sauce. Yeaaah. Make sure to keep a cold glass of milk nearby. It helps put out the fire party in your mouth.

No wing joint nearby? Make your own! They’re super easy.

Buffalo Chicken Wings

What You’ll Need:

3 lbs small chicken wings, drumette and wing separated, tips cut
1 cup cayenne pepper sauce (I LOVE Frank’s Original RedHot!)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
Canola oil, for frying
blue cheese sauce, for dipping (Recommended: Marie’s Premium Super Blue Cheese

Using a deep fryer or large pot, heat oil to 350 degrees. Fry the wings until golden and crispy, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place wings on a wire rack over a sheet tray lined with paper towels.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the hot sauce and stir until well combined and heated through. Pour the sauce into a large bowl, then add the wings. Toss until well combined and the wings are completely coated. Serve with blue cheese sauce for dipping. Enjoy!

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Korean Chicken Wings

Need a wing fix? Looking for something other than traditional Buffalo Wings? These spicy babies pack sweet heat that will have you licking your fingers and asking for more. My husband, who purposely seeks out all that is fiery, couldn’t get enough of these.

Korean Chicken Wings

Adapted from Not Quite Nigella

What You’ll Need:

For the Marinade:

4 lbs chicken wings, drumette and wing separated, tips cut off
2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
3 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, finely chopped

For the Coating:

4 tablespoons Korean curry powder (I used Ottogi)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch

For the Sauce:

3 medium onions, finely diced
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup sweet chili sauce
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups water
6 teaspoons red chili flakes
3 tablespoons Canola oil
sliced green onion (optional)

In a large bowl, combine the marinade ingredients, then add the chicken. Place in the refrigerator for one hour.

While the chicken marinades, prepare the sauce. Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the oil and saute the onions until translucent. Add the tomato sauce, sweet chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, water and chili flakes. Let simmer, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the sauce thickens and becomes a rich red. This will take about 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the fridge. Drain and discard the marinade.

Heat the oil in a fryer or large pot to 325 degrees. While the oil heats, coat the chicken.

Combine the curry, flour and corn starch in a large bowl. Working in batches, toss the chicken wings in the mixture until well coated. Set aside on a large tray until all the wings are prepped. Fry the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes. Make sure not to crown the fryer. Work in batches, if necessary. Once all the wings have been fried, heat the fryer to 350 degrees. Fry the wings a second time for another 3 to 4 minutes until golden.

Once the second frying has been completed, transfer the wings to the pan and coat them thoroughly with sauce. Serve topped with green onions. This recipe makes a lot of sauce, so you can serve the remainder on the side for dipping. Enjoy!

Savory Beef Empanadas

Empanadas are a savory treat that have been a favorite of mine since I was a young girl. My mother would make them often, as a midday snack or sometimes for dinner, filling them with chicken, beef, seafood or cheese. I usually preferred a combination of beef and cheese, biting into the flaky crust while it was still hot, then watching the cheese ooze out.

For those of you not familiar with empanadas, they’re basically turnovers filled with meat. In some Latin American countries, they’re often referred to as pastelitos. I grew up calling them empanadas, so that’s what I continue to call them! They make a great appetizer, snack or side dish. Many people make their own dough, but there are so many great, pre-made doughs out there that I save myself the time and purchase Goya Discos. Empanadas are also a great way to use up any leftover meat — shredded chicken, ground beef, pork — the possibilities are endless! Give this recipe a try. I guarantee your mouth will water at the sight of these flaky turnovers packed with flavor.

Savory Beef Empanadas Over Moros y Cristianos

Beef Empanadas

Beef Turnovers

What You’ll Need:

1 cup picadillo
1 14-oz package Goya Discos, thawed
vegetable oil, for frying

On a lightly floured surface, using a rolling pin, roll out each disco until about 1/2″ larger in diameter. Place 1 tablespoon picadillo in the center of each disco. Moisten the edge with water, then fold the disc in half, using a fork to crimp the edges and seal it.

Fill a deep frying pan with 2 inches of oil, then heat over medium-high heat. Fry the empanadas until golden brown, turning only once. Make sure not to crowd the pan or the temperature of the oil will drop, resulting in greasy empanadas. Fry in batches, if necessary. Transfer to a plate with paper towels to drain. Serve hot. Pairs well with moros y cristianos.

Note: These empanadas can also be baked, if preferred. After assembling each empanada, brush the tops with an egg and water mixture. Bake in a preheated, 375 degree oven for 10 minutes.