Category: Dinner


Easy Shrimp & Pasta

Lesson learned: Don’t try to watch Da Hawks during the playoffs and work on blog posts at the same time! I shut down all my web pages by accident and lost my nearly-completed blog post. Boo for not writing my post in Word and copying it into the blog. So…Second time’s the charm, and here’s my abbreviated post. (Apparently I didn’t learn the whole lesson – I’m still creating this draft in the blog.)

Easy ShrimpI saw this recipe on someone’s social media and knew I had to try it. I made it for dinner tonight and I’m glad I did. It’s simple and really good!

My apologies to the original chef. I tried to trace it back to the original website (maybe Judy’s Kitchen?) but couldn’t find it. My recipe is adapted from the original.

I used a lemon and Italian seasoning. I also think orange / Cajun seasoning or lime / New Mexico green chile powder would be great combos so next time I will try one of those!

I inadvertently used a salt-free Italian seasoning and didn’t realize it until after we’d eaten. If you’re not salt-free, add a pinch of salt if your seasoning mix doesn’t already include it. My son’s opinion is it needs a bit of heat, so next time I do the Italian version I’ll add a bit of black pepper.

I served the shrimp and butter sauce over spaghetti. The noodles soaked up the butter so we didn’t miss out on any of that flavor! We got two good servings plus leftovers from 1 pound of shrimp. Depending on what else you’re serving, you might get 2-4 portions.

This is easy enough for a weeknight dinner, and really quick if you prep the shrimp ahead of time!

Easy Shrimp & Pasta

Stuff you need:

1 stick butter (8 Tablespoons)

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 lemon, sliced

1 pound uncooked shrimp, shelled & deveined

2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning blend (found in the spice aisle)

1/2 pound spaghetti noodles, cooked & kept hot

Now what?

Preheat oven to 350.

Line a cookie sheet (with the sides) with foil.

Slice the butter into the pan and sprinkle with garlic. Put in oven for about 3 minutes, until the butter is melted.

Remove pan from oven and lay the lemon slices in the pan. The lemon slices won’t cover the whole pan, and that’s OK.

Layer the shrimp on top and sprinkle with the Italian seasoning.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and serve shrimp and sauce over hot noodles.

 

 

My son’s a fan of those boxed skillet meals. I admit to making them more than I should have when he was younger since they were easy and he ate them up. But now that we’re not on the run all the time, I have a little more time on the weekends to cook.One Pot Andouille Pasta

This recipe appealed to me because we both like andouille sausage and both like pasta, it’s quick, and there was only 1 pot to clean afterwards. Plus all the cheesy goodness you get to put into this didn’t hurt!  😉

If you like spicy food, make it as the recipe says. If you’re feeding children or others who can’t take the heat, use the adjustments in the recipe to tone it down a bit. I wasn’t sure how spicy this would be so I used cheddar instead of pepper jack. Next time I’ll go with the pepper jack cheese. I found some chicken andouille sausage which cut the calories / fat a bit. I wasn’t intentionally trying to be healthier, but it was a nice find.

The recipe was a hit with my son and me! It had great flavor, was cheesy (always a winner in my book!), and filling. It made enough for the two of us plus some leftovers – which I was happy to take to work for lunch.

Quick and easy, you can throw this together on a work night and have a great meal ready in a short time. Give it a try. I think you’ll like it!

One Pot Andouille Sausage Skillet Pasta

From Damn Delicious

Stuff You Need:

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, diced

1 (12.8-ounce) package smoked andouille sausage, thinly sliced [Milder: Use regular smoked sausage. I used chicken andouille sausage.]

2 cups chicken broth

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes [I used petite diced tomatoes because The Pretty One doesn’t like tomato chunks.]

1/2 cup milk

8 ounces elbow pasta

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese [Milder: use cheddar, colby, monterey jack or a combination]

 

 Now what?

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic, onion and sausage, and cook, stirring frequently, until sausage is lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes.

Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes (undrained), milk and pasta. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked through, about 12-14 minutes.

Remove from heat and top with cheese. Cover until cheese has melted, about 2 minutes.

Serve immediately.

I set out to make vegetable beef soup last week, but in my search through the freezer for ingredients I noticed a package of beef stew meat. Since I’m trying to use up my freezer stash, I decided on beef stew instead of the soup.

Beef StewIf you’ve never made stew before, you’ll be happy to know it’s easy and very forgiving. Use the recipe as a starting point, but add and subtract ingredients to suit yourself. If you like root vegetables, chop and add some more. Mushrooms would probably be good in this as well, if you’re a mushroom person.

I adapted the recipe from a slow-cooker recipe. I’ve never liked slow cooker recipes that require browning the meat first. I’m lazy and don’t like cleaning that extra pan. 🙂 I have a 7 qt. dutch oven I absolutely love. And when I say I LOVE it, I’m not exaggerating. It’s my go-to for soups, chili, pot roasts, etc. I can use it on the stove top or in the oven. Or, as in this case, I can brown the beef on the stove and finish the dish in the oven. No need for the crock pot, and only 1 dish to clean!

If you want to use your slow cooker, please do so. Just follow the first few steps and instead of putting the pot in the oven, transfer the mixture to your slow cooker and turn it on low for 4-6 hours.

So back to this beef stew. I know it’s turkey season, but you only need so many turkey dishes, right? Beef stew makes a great change of flavor from the traditional holiday meals, and with the weather cooling off, it’s a welcome dish. If you have leftovers, they’re great to pack up for lunch at the office.

This stew is rich and flavorful, a nice hearty meal if you serve it with a salad and warm rolls. It was everything I was hoping it would be! Tender beef, tasty carrots, potatoes and celery in a broth that thickens as it cooks. Try this and let me know what you think!

Very Delish Beef Stew

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Stuff you need: 

1-2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes [My package was 1.3#]
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3-4 Tablespoons cooking oil, separated
1 Tablespoon minced garlic [I used garlic from a jar.]
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 onion, chopped
4 cups beef broth
3 potatoes, diced
4 carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 teaspoon Steak Dust, optional [In the spice aisle]

 

Now what?
If using the oven method, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the flour, seasoned salt and pepper.
Heat 1 T cooking oil in your dutch oven (or skillet if using crock pot method).
Brown the beef in batches. Toss 1/3 of the beef in the flour mixture and put in oil to brown. Do not crowd the meat – brown the meat in batches for best flavor. [When browning meat, leave space between the cubes. Let the meat sit in the oil until it’s browned, then turn the pieces to lightly brown the other side. This is where a lot of the flavor will come from.]
When browned, transfer meat to bowl and set aside and repeat with another 1/3 of the oil and beef until all beef is browned.
Set aside the meat.
Add 1 T oil if needed and drop the garlic and onions in the oil. Let them sizzle about 30 seconds then stir.

[At this point, if you are using your slow cooker transfer the meat, onions and garlic to the slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients and cook on low for 4-6 hours.]

If continuing to use the dutch oven, stir in 1 cup beef broth. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the pieces. Add the remaining broth, browned beef, and remaining ingredients.

Cover the pan and put it in the oven. Bake for 2 1/2 hours.
Be careful when you take the lid off – steam is HOT!!

Stir and enjoy!

On the way to making the cider-glazed chicken in the original recipe, I got derailed by some beautiful pork chops in the meat case and had to make the change!Cider-Glazed Pork Chops with Brown Butter Pecan Rice

This dish has some really great complementary flavors. The cider-glaze is a bit tart if the pork chops were to be eaten by themselves, and the brown-butter rice would be a bit rich/ sweet if eaten alone. However, when the two are combined they come together beautifully and create this interesting flavor profile!

I doubled the sauce because I’m a sauce addict and next time would probably make even more. Even with the original quantity of sauce doubled, there really wasn’t much. I wanted enough to drizzle into my rice. When it comes to sauce, more is better!

Use good pork chops for this, not the super-thin, super-inexpensive pork chops. You will not regret it! If you don’t care for pork chops, use chicken. Eventually I might try it with chicken, but it was so successful with the pork chops that I’ll probably do that again.  🙂

 

Cider-Glazed Pork Chops with Browned Butter-Pecan Rice

Slightly adapted from My Recipes

Stuff you need:

1 (3.5-ounce) bag boil-in-bag brown rice (such as Uncle Ben’s)
2 Tablespoons butter, divided
1 pound good pork chops or chicken breast cutlets (about 4 cutlets)
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup refrigerated apple cider [Cider, not apple juice.]
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Now what?

Cook rice according to package directions in a small saucepan, omitting salt and fat; drain.

While rice cooks, melt 1 teaspoon butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork chops with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add pork chops to pan; cook several minutes, depending on how thick your chops are, on each side or until done. Remove from pan.

Add cider and mustard to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until syrupy. Add pork chops to pan, turning to coat. Remove from heat; set aside.

Melt remaining 5 teaspoons butter in saucepan over medium-high heat; cook for 2 minutes or until browned and fragrant. Watch it closely so it doesn’t burn!

Lower heat to medium; add pecans, and cook for 1 minute or until toasted, stirring frequently. Add rice and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; toss well to coat. Serve rice with pork chops. Sprinkle with parsley.

I made dinner with a blender and a crock pot! I’m not sure I’ve said that before.  🙂  

Last weekend I was looking for something new and different to make for dinner, something I could make ahead and re-heat for easy dinners on my late nights. I found this Plum-Sauced Chicken in Tortillas in my Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook.Plum-Sauced Chicken Tacos

I love plums but I’ve never had them with chicken, or anything savory, for that matter. The recipe sounded interesting, but the kicker was how easy it looked! This was the one to try.

I followed the recipe as written, but because I’m me, next time I will make a tweak or two. Chinese Five Spice Powder is a mixture of five spices used primarily in Chinese cuisine. It may include star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, fennel seeds, ginger root, nutmeg, turmeric, licorice, black pepper, mandarin orange peel or other spices. It can be a bit sweet, depending on the mixture in your particular jar. Mine is sweet, which I like. However, I will add more grated ginger next time for some pop. The fresh ginger mellows a little when it’s cooked.

I could only find a large can of plums, so I used half the can of drained plums and saved the remaining plums to throw in my morning protein shakes. I’ve never used tapioca before, and think the little beady things are cute, but if they get loose they roll all over your counters!

This is really an Asian chicken taco, and who doesn’t like tacos, right? Be sure to top them with the broccoli slaw or some bean sprouts or something crunchy that complements the chicken and tortillas.

I liked the flavor of this for something different! Sometimes I get in a cooking rut and a new recipe adds some spice. Or five spices, in this case.  😉 I don’t know that I’ll make it often, but it’s a nice change of pace from my usual flavor profiles.

This would be a great addition to a buffet menu. Your guests will be wondering what’s in them! They’re easy to throw together, easy to cook, and easy to clean up. Perfect-o!

Plum-Sauced Chicken in Tortillas

Slightly adapted from Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook

Stuff you need:

16 ounces canned whole, unpitted purple plums, drained
1 cup hot-style vegetable juice
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
5 teaspoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 -3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoons 5-spice powder
1 – 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
6 x 7-8 inch flour tortillas
2 cups packaged shredded broccoli or packaged shredded cabbage with carrot

Now what?

Remove pits from plums. Place plums in a blender container or food processor bowl. Cover and blend or process until smooth. Add vegetable juice, hoisin sauce, tapioca, ginger, and 5-spice powder and briefly blend until mixed.

Transfer plum mixture to a 3 1/2 or 4-quart crockery cooker. Stir chicken into crockery cooker.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours, or high for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove chicken from cooker, reserving sauce.

Spoon about 1/3 cup from the chicken mixture onto each warm tortilla just below the center. Drizzle with the reserved sauce. Top each with 1/3 cup shredded slaw mix. Roll up Tortillas.

* To warm up tortillas, wrap a stack in foil. Heat in a 350 degree for 10 minutes to soften.

Indulgent Brown Butter Scallops

OK, let’s just get this out there. Scallops are an indulgence. Why? Sea scallops – especially good, dry-pack scallops – are pricey. They cost more than a good t-bone steak. But worth it? Oh yeah. They’re worth every penny!

Brown Butter ScallopsYears ago I worked at a fresh seafood restaurant in West Des Moines, Iowa. Yes, I said fresh seafood and Iowa in the same sentence.  🙂  It was called 8th Street Seafood Bar & Grill, and that’s where I learned that all seafood and all fresh veggies were not evil tasting. In fact, I learned some of them were very tasty! My experience with seafood to that point had been frozen white fish (full of bones) topped with lemon butter and baked. Blech. That turned me off from eating seafood! And veggies? They mostly consisted of canned veggies dumped in a pan and heated up. Again, blech.

One of the rules at the restaurant was we all tried all new dishes. Since we opened the restaurant from scratch we were all new and we all tried everything. My stint at 8th Street really opened up my eyes and my taste buds to a whole new world. To my surprise, I liked quite a bit of it! (I STILL don’t like lemon on fish because it makes it taste “fishy”, but I like lime on it.)

It was at 8th Street that I discovered scallops, in the form of Coquille St. Jacques. Yum! I really enjoyed the mild, creamy flavor of the scallops, and I was encouraged to try scallops later on when I visited other seafood restaurants. But it wasn’t until recently that I cooked them for myself. I was thrilled to discover how easy they are to make!Brown Butter Scallops

My scallops were tender and delicious. The brown butter sauce adds a nice, carmelized flavor. I like a bit more of a sear on my scallops so next time I will cook them either at a higher temperature or for a little longer before flipping them and adding the butter. However, that means I will have to watch them VERY closely so they don’t burn or become tough, and I’ll have to remember to reduce the heat when the butter is added so it doesn’t burn. A little squeeze of fresh lime over the scallops adds a citrusy brightness and contrast to the creaminess of the brown butter sauce.

If you’re new to cooking scallops, this is a great recipe to start with. It’s simple yet sophisticated. If you’re not feeling the breadcrumbs, I think the dish is still excellent without them. You’ll lose the texture contrast but if you serve the scallops with something like a kale salad, you’ll be fine.

Note that scallops cook very quickly, so it’s important to do all your prep work before you start cooking! Keep all the ingredients close at hand.

Like I said in the beginning, this is a pricey indulgence, but since you only need 3-4 scallops per serving it’s not ridiculous. I will make these again and I’m excited to try a couple more scallop recipes I’ve got tucked away! 

Brown Butter Scallops with Crispy Breadcrumbs

Very slightly adapted from Framed Cooks

Stuff you need:

2 slices white bread
1 Tablespoon melted butter
2 Tablespoons white wine
2 Tablespoons olive oil
8 sea scallops (A good number is 3-4 per person, but feel free to add or subtract as you like!)
Salt and pepper
3 Tablespoons cold butter, sliced
1 small lemon or lime, optional [I used lime.]
Now what?
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Put bread slices in food processor and process until you have breadcrumbs. Mix crumbs with melted butter and white wine (don’t worry if it looks mushy) and spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden and crispy, about 10 minutes.
3. When crumbs are done, make scallops. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and season both sides of scallops with a little salt and pepper.
4. Add scallops to skillet and sear on one side for about 3 minutes. Don’t move them once they are in the pan to get a nice firm sear. [I did mine for 4 minutes. My heat may not have been as high as the original blogger. Keep an eye on yours and do what’s best.]
5. Turn the scallops over (tongs work best for this) and add the sliced cold butter. Stir the butter around and dribble some of it over the scallops. Do this for about 2-3 minutes until the butter turns brown.
6. Divide the scallops among warmed plates, drizzle the butter from the skillet over the top and scatter generously with breadcrumbs.
7. Add a small squeeze of lemon or lime juice if desired.

Typically I’d agree with my friend’s assessment of homemade Chinese food: “Homemade is never as good as the restaurant!” Typically. But recently I made this Orange Chicken and I think it really IS as good as the restaurant version!

Orange ChickenI’m a sauce girl. It has to be good, and there has to be plenty! No skimping on the sauce – I want to drench my rice or pasta in it! Well, this sauce is near perfect. It’s got great flavor, and with this recipe, there’s plenty of it. The recipe only calls for 2 chicken breasts but there was enough sauce for 3 good-sized chicken breasts or 4 small ones.

The original recipe includes a recipe for fried rice. I’m lazy and I really wanted pasta that evening so I made orzo instead. Honestly, I liked the orzo better than rice, but I have never really a big rice fan.

The recipe, the way it’s written, is delicious but takes some time and the frying makes a mess! I consolidated some steps when I made it, and next time I’ll make an even  more streamlined version. I liked the heat of the dish, but if you don’t tolerate spiciness it can be toned down, so don’t let this recipe scare you off! See the tips below for a simpler recipe and for a milder version.

Streamlined Version

I followed the recipe and fried my chicken. I won’t lie. It was good, but it made a mess! I know the restaurant version is fried but if you’re pressed for time or you don’t eat fried food, you could skip the breading and frying part. Sautee your chicken in a little oil, use 3-4 cups of a rotisserie chicken, 3-4 breasts of baked or broiled chicken, or even leftover turkey. It’ll be faster and healthier!

Less Spicy Version

I never seem to get the heat of cayenne correct and this was no exception. I had no idea what the peppers are that were called for in the recipe, so I substituted 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. I would have used crushed red pepper flakes but I didn’t have any in my pantry. I used fresh ginger which I grated directly into the pan – without measuring – so it’s hard to say how much of the kick came from the cayenne and how much came from the ginger. Maybe I should have measured. Nah!  😉   It had a pretty good bite to it. Not unbearable, but it would have been too spicy for someone who doesn’t like spicy food. Anyway, if you don’t like ginger, don’t have fresh ginger, or don’t want all the bite, you can substitute ground ginger. It still provides flavor, but it doesn’t have the bite of fresh ginger root.

Orange Chicken

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Stuff you need:

3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts or alternate as suggested in the Streamlined Version notes above
¼ cup cornstarch [if you are frying the chicken]
Salt and pepper
1 cup fresh orange juice [I used a good bottled orange juice.]
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 strips orange zest – 1″ wide by 2″ tall OR 1 Tablespoon grated orange peel
½ cups lightly packed brown sugar
½ teaspoons fresh minced or grated ginger (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons light soy sauce
4 whole dried red chilies, broken in half OR 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoons cornstarch, for the slurry
2 Tablespoons water, for the slurry
Cooked rice or noodles

Now what?

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat about an inch of vegetable or canola oil to about 375F.
In a large zip top bag, combine the cornstarch, salt and pepper. Add the chicken chunks and seal the bag. Toss to coat completely.
Add the coated chicken to the hot oil in two or three batches. Cook until lightly golden and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 F. Transfer the cooked chicken to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Hold the chicken in the oven or microwave, covered.
Drain the oil from the pan but don’t wash it.
In the same saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, orange juice, lime juice, lemon juice, vinegar, orange zest, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and dry chilies. Stir to combine and stir the bottom of the pan to dredge up the leftover chicken bits.
Bring mixtsure to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let the sauce reduce by 1/3. [This step is VERY important. If you don’t let the ginger and garlic cook, you will have very raw flavors, not the mellowed-out flavor that the simmering brings about.]
In a small bowl, prepare the slurry by combining the cornstarch and water until smooth. Pour the mixture into the sauce and whisk until the sauce thickens. If it doesn’t thicken up, make more slurry and add it a bit at a time until the sauce is thick.
Add the chicken and heat through. Remove from heat and serve over rice or noodles.

Meatloaf.

Almost Classic MeatloafA couple of weeks back I decided I needed to make meatloaf. Not Mexican Meatloaf like I make for The Pretty One, but classic meatloaf.

It doesn’t sound so hard, yet so often meatloaf turns out dry or blah. I wanted mine to have the “Mmmm!” factor, so I asked friends & family for a good meatloaf recipe. This is a variation of the Kitchen Kween’s recipe.

Meatloaf is very forgiving, so if you don’t like or have one ingredient, you can leave it out or switch it up with something else. Except for the meat – without meat, it’s not meatloaf! I use 90 or 93% ground beef (low fat), so I didn’t use a lot of breadcrumbs. If you use a less lean meat, adjust the breadcrumbs to about 1 cup.

I used hot Italian sausage because that’s what I had on hand. Because I only used about 1/2 pound, the finished product wasn’t too spicy. But you can always use mild Italian sausage instead. The Kitchen Kween is right about the sausage: you don’t really taste it as Italian sausage, but it gives the meatloaf another level of flavor.

I used Tone’s Steak Dust Seasoning but you could use any steak seasoning you have. It’ll add a richness to the beef, so try to use something similar if you’ve got access to it.

Other than that, add what you like, eliminate what you don’t, and serve it up! I made mashed potatoes and brown gravy for ours; I don’t care for ketchup and mustard on meatloaf. If gravy isn’t your thing, top the meatloaf with BBQ sauce before baking. Or do like our dad did – top the meatloaf with ketchup, then write something in mustard over that.

The Pretty One and I really enjoyed this meatloaf. It hit the spot! I’d love to hear how you like to eat your meatloaf!

Almost Classic Meatloaf

Stuff you need:

1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Italian sausage (hot or mild, about 2 links), casing removed
1/2 onion, chopped
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs [Use 1 cup bread crumbs if you use meat that is less than 90% lean.]
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
3 teaspoons Tone’s Steak Dust Seasoning or other steak seasoning

Now what?

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Use your hands or put everything in a large zip bag and smoosh it together.
Shape into a loaf and put the meatloaf in a loaf pan. [Press into loaf shape but don’t compress too tightly.]
Bake in 350F oven for about 50 minutes. Check for doneness and bake until the center is no longer pink.
Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Crock Pot Jambalaya

Crock Pot JambalayaLike a little zip in your food? Then this just might be the thing for you!

I’d bought some andouille sausage and threw it in the freezer because I didn’t use it right away. When I found this recipe, I remembered that spicy sausage in my freezer and knew I had to try it!

This was a crazy-easy recipe! The hardest part was chopping the onion and green pepper. Other than that, everything is just tossed into the crock pot and then you wait. I even stuck the chicken in the crock pot when it was still frozen!

Easy enough, right?

And I’m sure you want to know if it was good. Well, here’s what The Pretty One had to say (excuse the texting language):

“What the [whoops!] did you put in this soup my mouth catches on fire every bite i love it

i couldn’t taste anything for a week [he’d been sick] then I ate this and flavor exploded in my mouth!”

How do you like that endorsement? I had to agree with him – it was really good!

Crock Pot JambalayaNow I’ve got to say if you aren’t a fan of spicy food, you can cut back the heat but still keep the flavor profile. You can reduce or eliminate the cayenne pepper, and cut back the Cajun seasoning. I’d still use 1 teaspoon Cajun / blackened seasoning for the flavor.

And you can always start mild and add more Cajun seasoning or cayenne later. Or pass those and everyone can add more spice if they like more of a bite.

Andouille sausage is a bit spicy, but I wouldn’t call it “hot.” It’s got great flavor so if you can handle some spice, I’d use it. If not, you can swap it out for regular smoked sausage.

This recipe is definitely a winner — great flavor with minimum effort. That’s how I like to cook!!

 

SLOW COOKER JAMBALAYA

Slightly adapted from Cats and Casseroles

Stuff you need:

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast [I used frozen chicken breasts and stuck them in the pot still frozen.]
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced [I used Eckrich or Johnsonville.]
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons Cajun (blackened) seasoning
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 c instant rice

Now what?
Place all ingredients except rice in slow cooker. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.

Remove chicken and shred. Return to crock pot.

Cook rice according to package instructions. Add rice, as desired, into each individual serving of jambalaya. Store rice separately from rest of stew.

Classic Chicken & Biscuits“This chicken thing is amazing”

Does it need any endorsement besides that? This was my first try at chicken and biscuits, and based on that text, The Pretty One liked it as much as I did!

I had a chicken pot pie last weekend that was pretty tasty and thought about making one at home. But somehow my mind switched over to chicken and biscuits. Why? I have no idea because I don’t think I’ve had the dish before. Anyway, I couldn’t get it out of my head, so I was off on a search for a good recipe that didn’t require canned condensed soup.

I found this recipe on the Taste of Home website. I admit I cheated because I didn’t make homemade biscuits. I was lazy.  🙂 But I made the sauce from scratch, so instead of an A for effort, I’d say I get a B for effort – and an A for flavor!

This isn’t a difficult recipe, and the from-scratch sauce is definitely worth the effort! You can cook the chicken in advance or purchase a rotisserie chicken. I baked my chicken the night before and seasoned it fairly well with garlic powder and a spicy chicken blend. Be sure to use spices that compliment the basil and thyme in the sauce. And speaking of the sauce, it’s mild and creamy and allows the flavor of the chicken, vegetables, and basil to shine through.

This is family-friendly comfort food I think you’ll enjoy. I know we did!

Chicken and Biscuits

Adapted from Taste of Home

Stuff you need:

1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2-1/2 cups fat-free milk
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
1 package (16 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 can biscuits OR recipe below

BISCUITS:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup fat-free milk
3 Tablespoons canola oil
1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Now what?

In a large skillet, saute onion in oil until tender.
Stir in the flour, basil, thyme and pepper until blended.
Gradually stir in milk and Worcestershire sauce until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and STIR [so it doesn’t scorch] for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Stir in the vegetables, chicken and cheese; reduce heat to low. [If using canned biscuits, cook over low heat for about 5 minutes.]

If using canned biscuits, cut 5 or 6 biscuits in half. You won’t need the full package, so bake up the rest separately following package directions.

OR

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, combine the milk, oil and parsley; stir into dry ingredients just until combined.

Transfer hot chicken mixture to a greased 2-1/2-qt. baking dish.
Top with biscuit halves or drop biscuit batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto chicken mixture.
Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 30-40 minutes or until biscuits are lightly browned. Yield: 6 servings.