Caramelized Baked Chicken and Chayote SquashHave I ever cooked chicken wings? I don’t believe I have. I tended to disregard chicken wings as bar-top finger food that weren’t worth the “trouble” to prepare. But when I saw the recipe for “Caramelized Baked Chicken,” from Allrecipes.com -- with its short ingredient list and simple instructions -- I decided it’s about time I cook them. My results? This was a sticky, tangy, almost exasperating experiment. The wings were very messy to pick up and eat, but they were quite good!

Two pounds gave me 12 chicken wings. I cooked them for 55 minutes, covered in their sauce of olive oil, soy sauce, ketchup, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper. I imagine you could increase this recipe to yield dozens of wings, in order to set your ballgame friends into a sticky frenzy. Have fun.

I also cooked the “Chayote Squash Side Dish,” from Allrecipes.com, although I couldn’t locate the chayote squash, which is the size and shape of a very large pear, with furrowed, pale green skin and white, bland-tasting flesh surrounding one soft seed. According to Epicurious.com, chayote’s mild flavor requires assertive seasoning, and the squash is a good source of potassium. So I instead used kabocha and butternut squashes, which brought an orange color to the plate. The firm texture of my chosen squashes required their being cooked for 17 minutes. I even covered the pan for the last 10 minutes of cooking time. I used a total of 2 tsp. of salt. My final squash was warmly flavored, especially when sprinkled with even more salt. The dish, however, was a bit too spicy for my young child (watch those red pepper flakes!).

RECIPES: sticky and tangy chicken-wing fun is hard to beat, and spicy squash is an enjoyable switch
PREP TIMES: these wings need an hour to cook, but the squash will be ready in less than 30 minutes
TASTES: the key word for the wings is “caramelized”; the squash becomes sweet/spicy

Next time, I want to have some vegetarian fun. I’ll cook the “Vegetable and Tofu Stir-Fry,” from Allrecipes.com, along with “Sesame Won Ton Wedges,” from the February 2005 issue of Vegetarian Times. Come back to my site on Saturday, August 1, to witness my results.