Easy dinner recipes: It's Friday! Keep it simple with fun finger foods

I love finger foods. I mean, why create an extra mess of dishes and silverware when you don't have to, especially on a Friday? Keep it fun with ginger soy chicken wings, peel 'n' eat shrimp or smoked salmon pizza.

Ginger soy chicken wings: These Asian-inspired chicken wings are a tempting take on the classic finger food. The crunchy, deep-fried wings are glazed in a sticky-sweet soy reduction that gets its tang from fresh ginger. No dipping sauce necessary. 

Peel 'n' eat shrimp: If you don't mind getting your hands dirty at dinner you can't go wrong with the peel 'n' eat shrimp recipe David Lentz of the Hungry Cat shared with us a few years back — large Mexican white shrimp steamed in a spicy beer reduction. They take an hour or two to marinate, so you'll need to plan ahead, but once you get the dish cooking it comes together in about a half-hour, plenty of time for you to lay out the newspaper over the table and ready a stack of napkins!


Smoked salmon pizza: Top a prepared pizza crust with a little sour cream and smoked salmon, along with chopped red onion, fresh dill and capers. It takes all of 15 minutes to whip up.

You can find the recipes below.

And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at


Total time: About 1 hour

Servings: 4 to 6 appetizer portions

Note: Adapted from Beacon restaurant


1/2 cup chicken broth

1/3 cup mirin

1/4 cup sake

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon finely chopped ginger

1. Combine the chicken broth, mirin, sake, soy sauce, sugar and ginger in a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

2. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the sauce is reduced to 1 cup. Remove from heat and reserve.


Vegetable oil for frying

12 whole chicken wings (about 2 pounds), separated at the joints and wing tips removed (save for stock or another use)

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 cup soy-ginger glaze

1/2 tablespoon butter

2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds for garnish

1. Fill a large, heavy-bottom saucepan with enough oil to come 3 inches up the side. Heat the oil until a thermometer inserted reads 350 degrees.

2. Season the wings with the salt and pepper, then dredge with the cornstarch. Fry the wings, a few at a time, until lightly golden and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Drain the wings on a rack.

3. When all the wings are fried, heat a wok or heavy sauté pan over high heat. Add the reserved ginger-soy sauce and bring to a boil, then add the wings, stirring to coat. Cook the wings in the sauce, stirring constantly, until the sauce reduces enough that it coats the wings in a thick, syrupy glaze.

4. Remove from the heat and toss the wings with the sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 355 calories; 18 grams protein; 15 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 22 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 51 mg. cholesterol; 1,377 mg. sodium.


Total time: About 55 minutes, plus marinating time for the shrimp

Servings: About 5 servings (10 shrimp each)

Note: Adapted from chef David Lentz of the Hungry Cat. Mexican white shrimp are available at seafood markets and fine fish counters. Pabst or Tecate is recommended for the beer. The restaurant serves this dish with cocktail sauce.

2 1/2 pounds Mexican white shrimp, defrosted

4 (12-ounce cans) of beer, divided

2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning

1 tablespoon Hungarian


2 tablespoons celery salt

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 head garlic

5 tablespoons best-quality olive oil, divided

1 large white onion, chopped

1 sprig rosemary

1 chile de arbol

2 lemons

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp with the contents of 1 can of beer. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.

2. In a small bowl, combine the Old Bay, paprika, celery salt, kosher salt, cayenne pepper and ground ginger. Set aside.

3. With a sharp knife, cut the head of garlic (with the peel) in half crosswise. In a large stockpot heated over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the chopped onion, all of the garlic, the rosemary and chile de arbol and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons of the spice blend and the juice of 1 lemon, stirring. Add the remaining beer and reduce the liquid by three-fourths over high heat, about 20 minutes.

4. Drain the shrimp and add them to the pot. Cover the pot, and steam just until the shrimp are cooked, 4 to 5 minutes over high heat. The shrimp will be ready when they turn white; be careful not to overcook them.

5. Remove the shrimp to a large baking sheet with sides and drizzle with remaining olive oil. Sprinkle over more of the spice blend to taste (we used 2 tablespoons). Sprinkle with the parsley and the juice from the remaining lemon. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 279 calories; 36 grams protein; 4 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 10 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 339 mg. cholesterol; 888 mg. sodium.


Total time: 15 minutes

Servings: 6 to 8


Note: Adapted from Morton's Steakhouse


1 (12-inch) thin crust prepared pizza crust

1/4 cup sour cream

Scant 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

5 ounces smoked salmon, very thinly sliced

1 tablespoon drained capers

1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the prepared crust directly on the oven rack and heat until the crust is warmed through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the warmed crust to a cutting board.

2. Spread the sour cream over the crust, leaving a one-half-inch border. Sprinkle about half of the red onion over the sour cream and sprinkle half of the dill over the onion.

3. Lay the salmon slices over the pizza to cover the sour cream, onion and dill. Sprinkle the remaining onion and dill over the salmon, then scatter the capers over them. Cut the pizza into wedges and serve at once.

Each of 8 servings: 171 calories; 7 grams protein; 26 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 4 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 11 mg cholesterol; 4 grams sugar; 511 mg sodium.