Tag: Spicy

Mourning Pie & Hot Wings [Dark Horse Bar and Eatery]

I love my home state of Minnesota. I miss Minnesota. But gosh darn was it nice to step out of the car into 65 degrees and sunny St. Louis. We’ll be back soon, though, and this time there will be snow.

This past week, we made a short trip to the Twin Cities to attend our relative’s funeral. Burrell wasn’t our grandma but she’s been like our grandma for the past seven years. We celebrated her 100th birthday last spring. Even until her later years, Burrell kept her wits about her and remained sharp as a whip. Her hearing never declined either, and she’d often holler her reply from another room if someone was whispering about her. Burrell was a very loving person and, in turn, many people loved her.

She’s my inspiration to pursue balance in life. To strive for a better attitude, seek fresh air and move my body a lot. To keep on enjoying my morning coffee, pats of butter here and there, and a glass of wine in the evenings. At the funeral, her daughter shared a beautiful letter. The part that really stuck with me summarizes the lessons Burrell demonstrated to her loved ones: Be courageous. Be kind. Be hopeful. Be curious.

While we were home, we also celebrated birthdays with Jake’s family at Dark Horse, a new restaurant in the Lowertown area of St. Paul, Minnesota.

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The menu is really eclectic and draws from many flavor profiles, from Thai to Ethiopian cuisines. Our friendly server guided me to one of her favorite whiskeys before we shared several appetizers. While my dining party’s opinions about their dishes ranged, we shared a unanimous enthusiasm for the wings. The menu mentions they’re seasoned with berbere and their special Dark Horse Sauce.

One half of our group requested mild wings while the rest of us devoured the hot. They were really, truly hot; the hottest, most delicious food I’ve eaten since we visited this Thai restaurant on Lake of the Ozarks. My lips burned long after the last wing was gone. Besides the heat and flavor, the wings were large with crisp, rendered skin and tender meat. I haven’t met a better hot wing. They arrived with a light, creamy sauce that everyone wanted more of.

PicMonkey Collage

Top: Dark Horse Wing + sauce. Bottom: Posole with egg and pork + tostada. Pleasantly spicy, very tart.

Laughter over whiskey, mourning over pie. Reverse or juxtapose or repeat. Run it out, talk it out, and sweat it out over heart-achingly spicy food. That’s what I do, at least.

Not Quite My Mom’s Artichoke Dip

Way Better Snacks sent me a complimentary box of chips to try – I did not agree to write a blog post in exchange for the chips but I am mentioning them below. 

My mom’s artichoke dip made an appearance every Christmas.

Her version only contained canned artichoke hearts, mayonnaise, garlic powder, onion powder and parmesan cheese which she baked the dip until bubbly and kept warm on a hot plate. We always ate the dip with water crackers. In fact, artichoke dip-time was the only time we saw water crackers so they were super special.

This dip never lasted long. I seem to remember it was one of the foods my cousin Brian and I fought over for leftovers. Whoever happened to be the college student at the time got to take them home.

Jake is a die-hard Vikings fan and so I made my own version of mom’s artichoke dip to commemorate the Viking’s first preseason game. Of course, I kept the mayonnaise (Hellman’s for me), but swapped fresh garlic and onion for powdered, and added grated carrot, herbs, and a local jalapeno pepper from the farmers market.

Minneapolis-based company Way Better Snacks found me on Twitter and kindly sent us a whole box of their gluten-free, sprouted corn chips. After enjoying them ourselves and bringing them to parties, we polished off our last bag eating this dip.

artichoke dip

2 cans of artichoke hearts, whole or quartered
1 small carrot, peeled and shredded
1 jalapeno, chopped into small pieces. Keep some of the seeds and ribs if you want it extra spicy.
2-3 tablespoons minced or grated onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 handful parsley, finely chopped
1 handful chives, finely minced
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1/2-1 cup shredded or grated parmesan cheese ( or a mixture of whatever you have on hand).
1 dash white pepper
Black pepper, to taste


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375℉.
  2. Cut artichoke hearts into bite-sized pieces. Gently squeeze to remove the extra liquid.
  3. Mix artichokes with shredded carrot, jalapeno, onion, parsley, chives, garlic, mayonnaise, cheese and softened cream cheese.
  4. Stir in cheese. My mom’s recipe calls for 1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese, but I added 3/4 cup of parmesan and swiss because they were available in my fridge.
  5.  Season the dip with white pepper and black pepper to taste.
  6. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the dip is bubbly and golden brown around the edges.
  7. Serve with your favorite chip, cracker, or crostini.

Brined & Roasted Chicken Legs for Two (Adapted from The Pioneer Woman) + Curry Mayo

I was a hesitant Pioneer Woman fan.

When her cooking show first aired, I wasn’t sure I liked her. Soon, I found myself watching her show with surprising regularity and setting my DVR to record it. And when she made those darn hand cookies, well, I just found myself wishing I could make hand cookies with her, too.

I recently watched an episode where Ree prepared Spicy Roasted Chicken Legs and decided to give them a try even though Jake’s not crazy about chicken pieces with bones. He prefers boneless-skinless chicken breast, which I hate. Slowly but surely, I’m trying to change his perspective by feeding him as delicious chicken thighs as I can prepare. He may still prefer white meat, but at least he doesn’t hate those thighs anymore.

I needed to thaw my chicken legs and remembered how Danelle, of My Total Perspective Vortex suggested defrosting meat in brine. I based my brine on Michael Ruhlman’s Quick Brine Recipe and let the chicken soak for two hours. This was enough time to ensure the meat was juicy and flavorful from the inside-out.

A Cook’s Notes
The excess butter may drip onto the pan and smoke. I transferred the chicken legs onto a clean pan and reduced the heat to 375℉ to avoid setting off my smoke alarms. After they cooked for 1/2 hour, I broiled them until the skin was crispy.

I served the chicken with basmati rice cooked in chicken stock with sautéed onions + sliced brussel sprouts sautéed and then steamed until tender with Asian flavors like ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and a little sugar. I also whipped up a quick curry mayo for dipping. 

Pioneer Woman Chicken Legs

Here’s my take:

6 chicken drumsticks (1 pack)

Chicken Brine:
5 cups water
2.5 Tablespoons of salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 bay leaf
Tablespoon dried sage

Chicken Butter:
1/2 stick butter
1/3 teaspoon seasoned salt
Cayenne pepper, a good dash
1 teaspoon hot madras curry powder
Lemon juice, about two tablespoons

Our Favorite Curry Mayo for Dipping
Mix together mayonnaise (could substitute greek yogurt, sour cream, or a combination), hot madras curry powder, cayenne, garlic or garlic powder, a spritz of lemon juice, and a little dash of sugar. We like it spicy so I use a lot of curry and cayenne.


  1. Prepare the brine for the chicken by mixing the water, salt, sugar, bay leaf and safe until combined. Mine doesn’t follow Ruhman’s Quick Chicken Brine in exact proportions because I can’t do math, but it’s close enough. Allow the chicken to soak in the brine for a couple of hours. Remove the chicken and pat dry.
  2. Prepare the chicken butter by melting the butter, salt, cayenne, curry and lemon juice in a small saucepan. I love hot Madras curry and add it to everything, but you can use whatever seasonings you like.
  3. Swish the chicken legs around in the butter and place them on a baking rack set on a baking sheet. Baste with butter, again.
  4. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. You might need to replace the pan underneath and reduce heat to 375 if the butter and juices smoke too much.
  5. If the chicken isn’t browned enough after cooking, broil until the skin is crispy and golden brown.

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