Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cajun Chicken Pasta

I've been spending a lot of time on The Pioneer Woman website.  If you've never visited it before, it's a great site for cooks of all abilities.  If you're unsure about how she does a recipe, she offers wonderful step-by-step instructions with pictures.  When I found this recipe I knew I needed to try it!  I cooked this with my good friend, Stacy for a Saturday night dinner.  The overall taste was wonderful, and the leftovers were outstanding but next time I will make a few adjustments.  First, if you love heat and spiciness, add more of the Cajun spice.  A few extra teaspoons really kicks this up a notch.  Also, use a little less pasta and simmer the cream and chicken broth until it thickens up a lot more.  We felt that the sauce was a little too liquidy and we were getting it all over our clothes.  All in all, though, a great recipe that I will definitely try again for my husband with some minor adjustments.

Source:  The Pioneer Woman


3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Cubes
3 teaspoons Cajun Spice Mix, More To Taste
1 pound Fettuccine
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
½ whole Large Red Onion, Sliced
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
4 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced
2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
½ cups White Wine
1 cup Heavy Cream
Cayenne Pepper To Taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
Salt To Taste
Chopped Fresh Parsley, To Taste


Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente; do not overcook!

Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice over chicken pieces. Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate.

Repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken, leaving pan on high heat.

Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from the pan.

With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste. Sauce should be spicy!

Finally, add chicken and vegetables to sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine.

Top with chopped fresh parsley and chow down!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Chocolate Cobbler

I love making (and eating!) fruit cobblers, but when I found this chocolate recipe, I knew I needed to try it!  This was pretty tasty and paired with the vanilla ice cream, it was like eating a combination of a fudge brownie and a chocolate lava cake.  Make sure you eat it while it is warm!

Source:  Pioneer Woman, A Tasty Kitchen


1 cup All-purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
¼ teaspoons Salt
7 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder, Divided
1-¼ cup Sugar, Divided
½ cups Milk
⅓ cups Melted Butter
1-½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
½ cups Light Brown Sugar, Packed
1-½ cup Hot Tap Water


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

First stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, 3 tablespoons of the cocoa, and 3/4 cup of the white sugar. Reserve the remaining cocoa and sugar.

Stir in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla to the flour mixture. Mix until smooth.

Pour the mixture into an ungreased 8-inch baking dish. I prefer my small oval Corning Ware glass dish.

In a separate small bowl, mix the remaining white sugar (it should be 1/2 cup), the brown sugar, and remaining 4 tablespoons of cocoa. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the batter.

Pour the hot tap water over all. DO NOT STIR!

Bake for about 40 minutes or until the center is set.

Let stand for a few minutes if you can hold yourself back. Serve with homemade ice cream using the gooey sauce to spoon over all.

Chicken and Veggie Tortellini Stew

Crock Pot day!  This was an exhausting weekend full of good times with friends so I wanted to make something that would not take much time out of my only relaxing day.  Although it's still summer, I felt like making a stew since I was only cooking for myself tonight.  My husband is out of town and isn't crazy for stews or casseroles so these next few days are for making those sorts of dishes!  This was a tasty meal and makes wonderful leftovers for later.  A must-try recipe for this upcoming cold season!

Source:  Pillsbury, 2009 Casserole Book


2 medium carrots, sliced (about 3/4 cup)
2 cloves of garlic finely chipped
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 can (19 ounces) of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1 3/4  cups chicken broth
2 cups of water
1 package (9 ounces) of refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini
2 medium green onions, sliced (2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon of dried basil leaves
2 tablespoons of shredded parmesan cheese

Spray slow cooker with cooking spray. In cooker, layer carrots, garlic, chicken, and beans. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour broth and water over top; stir to combine.

Cover; cook on low heat setting for 6 to 8 hours.

Stir in tortellini, onions and basil. Increase heat setting to hight. Cover; cook 15 to 20 minutes longer or until tortellini are tender. Sprinkle servings with Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Raspberry Cream Pie

I have to admit, if I had to choose between a chocolate or fruit dessert, I would most likely choose a fruit one.  Most of my friends would have to disagree with me on that one, but I'm still a sucker for fruit.  When Pioneer Woman posted this recipe, I knew I had to try it.  It was so easy!  From start to finish, the recipe took a total of 20 minutes and the results were incredible.  I brought the pie to work and people were cutting pieces before I could even take a picture!

Source:  Pioneer Woman


25 whole Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
4 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
1 cup (generous) Raspberries
3 Tablespoons Sugar
2 containers (6 Ounce Each) Raspberry Yogurt
1 package (3.4 Ounch) Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
Extra Raspberries For Garnish


To make the crust, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crust cookies in a food processor (or smash in a Ziploc bag with a rolling pin). Stir in melted butter until all combined. Pour into a regular pie pan and press crumbs all over the pan and up the sides. Bake for 3 to 4 minutes—just long enough for it to set. Cool crust completely.

Place raspberries on a plate or in an empty pan. Smash them with a fork, then sprinkle on 3 tablespoons of sugar. Stir together and allow to sit for 15 minutes.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine raspberry yogurt with the instant vanilla pudding mix (just the powder itself.) Beat on low until combined, about 1 minute. Pour in heavy cream and whip on low for 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Turn mixer on medium-high speed and beat for two minutes, or until mixture is thick.

Turn off mixer, then fold in raspberries until just combined. Pour into cooled pie pan and spread evenly. Freeze for two hours, or until very firm. Cut into slices and top each slice with cookie crumbs, dollops of whipped cream, and extra raspberries. Keep in freezer, allowing time to thaw before serving.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Grilled Herb Shrimp

"Wow!  Just wow!! Amazing!! Wow!!"  These were several phases that I said aloud as soon as I tried these shrimp.  I couldn't believe how wonderful they tasted, it was literally heaven in my mouth.  The marinade was so simple and with my husband's wonderful grilling skills, we had one of the best meals of the summer!

Source:  Pink Parsley, adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties!


2 pounds shrimp (16-20 count), peeled and deveined, but tails left on
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, minced
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 teaspoon sugar


Combine all the ingredients and toss to coat the shrimp. Allow to marinate at room temperature for 1 hour, or in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Prepare grill. Thread the shrimp on skewers, and sprinkle one side with sugar.

Grill the shrimp, sugared side down, for about 2 minutes, then flip skewers and grill until cooked through, an additional 1-2 minutes.

Cornish Hens with Rosemary and Thyme

Since starting this blog, I tend to spend a lot more time browsing at the grocery store while I am shopping.  One of my favorite areas to browse is the meat section.  I discovered the cornish hens a few months ago, but was unable to find a recipe that I wanted to use.  I finally found a recipe that also allowed me to use my new roasting pan.  Both the recipe and my new pan were fabulous because the hens were extremely tender and moist.  If you're unsure about trying Cornish hens, don't be afraid because they tasted like chicken to me!

Source:  Ashley's Little Kitchen


2 Cornish Hens
Sprigs of rosemary
Fresh thyme
¼ cup butter, melted
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Put fresh rosemary in the cavity of each hen.

Brush butter all over the skin of each Cornish hen (leave some butter for recoating throughout the roasting process).

Sprinkle thyme, salt and pepper and any other herbs you would like all over the outside of each hen.

Place the prepared Cornish hens in a roasting pan and roast for 45-50 minutes, or until cooked through, occasionally basting with leftover butter to keep skin from drying out.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Individual Meatloaves

This was another recipe that allowed me to come out of the hole that I am apparently living in because I have NEVER made meatloaf, yet I love it and often order it at restaurants.  This recipe was phenomenal, and I loved how my husband and I could have our own smaller loaves instead of cutting pieces off a large hunk of meat.  The glaze was great too and I loved how there was a little heat to it and it wasn't just plain old ketchup.  I highly recommend you try this one today!

Source:  Pink Parsley, adapted from Ina Garten
             Glaze from Cook's Illustrated


1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 cups chopped yellow onion (2 large onions)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 1/2 pound ground beef (I used 85/15 ground sirloin)
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

For the glaze

1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon hot sauce
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander


Preheat the oven to 350. Wrap a wire rack with aluminum foil, and poke holes with a skewer or fork. Set atop a baking sheet.

Heat oil in a skillet. Add the onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme, and cook until softened and translucent,but not browned, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the Worcestershire sauce, chicken broth, and tomato paste.

Crumble the ground beef into a mixing bowl, and add the onion mixture, breadcrumbs, and eggs. Lightly combine using a fork, being careful not to mash the mixture. This will keep the meatloaves from being dense and tough.

Divide the mixture into six 10-11 ounce portions, and shape each into a loaf. Line them on the baking sheet. At this point they can be refrigerated for several hourse, or frozen.

Bake 25-30 minutes, or until they reach 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Meanwhile, combine the ketchup, hot sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and coriander in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook until the glaze is thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes.

Using half the glaze, brush the tops and sides of each meatloaf. Allow to cook an additional 5-10 minutes, or until they reach 150-155 degrees. Brush with remaining glaze, and place under broiler. Broil an additional 5-10 minutes, and remove from oven.

Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Blueberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Our refrigerator always has a large amount of blueberries.  We eat some everyday for on our cereal, or for just a snack every now and then.  I'm a big fan of fruit cakes so as soon as I found this recipe, I knew I had to try it.  The lemon flavor was divine!!  It matched the sweetness of the blueberries perfectly.  If I can get my husband to make me a cake for my birthday this year, I definitely will have to have him make this!  Also, I had a little kitchen mishap where I dropped one of the three cakes on the floor so this cake turned out to be two layers.  Don't be confused when you see you have enough batter for three cakes.  I am just a little klutzy at times!

Source:  Bakin and Eggs, adapted from Bon Appetit


2 cups plus 6 tablespoons cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (double for a more pronounced lemon flavor)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar (I used 3 1/4 c)
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel (I added 1 tablespoon of lemon juice for more lemon flavor)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 8- or 9-inch diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper and butter paper. Dust pans with flour and set aside.

Sift cake flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Transfer 1 tablespoon flour mixture to separate bowl and add fresh blueberries. Toss with flour to coat and set and blueberries and remaining flour mixture aside.

Stir together whole milk, vanilla extract and grated lemon peel in small bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using electric mixer, beat butter in until light and creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in flour mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour. (Flour, milk, flour, milk, flour.) Gently fold in blueberries with a spatula. Divide batter equally among pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 23-25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks for 10 minutes and then run knife around pan sides to loosen. Turn cakes out onto racks to cool completely. Peel off parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar (tasting as you go – you might not want all four cups of powdered sugar due to sweetness). Beat in lemon peel, juice if using and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until just firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes.

Transfer one cake layer to platter. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over cake layer. Top with another cake layer; spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with third cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. (Cake can be prepared up to one day ahead of time, covered and refrigerated. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.) Decorate cake as desired and serve.

Yield: 10-12 servings

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

I love having a little bit (sometimes a lot) of heat in my food.  This casserole was no exception and it was really fun to make as well!  This dish didn't photograph as well, so if the pictures aren't encouraing you to try this recipe, please ignore them!  Just think about the wonderful flavors that await!

Source:  Pink Parsley, adapted from Cook's Illustrated


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied into halves (4 halves total)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp. minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1¾ cups chicken broth
5 cups tortilla chips, broken into large pieces
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro


Pat the chicken breast halves dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a 10-12 inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides (chicken does not need to be fully cooked at this point.) Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining oil, shallot, garlic, chipotle, and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth, scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a simmer.

Stir in half of the tortilla chips. Nestle the chicken into the broth and cook over medium-low heat until cooked through (reading 160° F on an instant-read thermometer), about 10 minutes. Transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a cutting board and shred into bite-sized pieces when it is cool enough to handle.

Return the shredded chicken to the skillet with the tomatoes, ½ cup of the shredded cheddar cheese, and 1 tablespoon of the cilantro. Stir in the other half of the tortilla chips until they are incorporated and moistened.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and place the pan under the broiler until the cheese is melted and browning, about 2-3 minutes. Top with remaining cilantro and serve, allowing the casserole to cool 5 minutes before serving.

Summer Scalloped Tomatoes with Croutons

Do you love tomatoes like I do?  Yes?  Okay, then either go to your garden or nearest produce store to get some beautiful tomatoes and make this dish.  It was so simple and it brought out the wonderful sweetness of the tomatoes.  I also thought this was a great recipe to use to make some quick croutons for a salad. This will make a great side dish for a variety of dishes, so try this soon!

Source:  Smells like Home, adapted from Ina Garten


2-3 tbsp Good olive oil
3 cups (1/2-inch diced) bread from a French boule or baguette
2 lbs tomatoes, local if you can find them
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup julienned basil leaves, lightly packed
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat olive oil in a large (12 inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the bread cubes and stir to coat with the oil. Cook over medium to medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the cubes are evenly browned.

Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. When the bread cubes are done, add the tomato mixture and continue to cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil.

Pour the tomato mixture into a shallow (6 to 8 cup) baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan cheese. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly. Serve hot or warm.

Summer Orzo Salad

Okay, so I decided to be a little adventurous with this recipe.  Perhaps my adventurous side needs to slowly progress.  This salad turned out exactly the way it was supposed to, but I had a hard time liking the flavor of the fresh mint.  So, I think if this is a recipe you want to try out, you have two options.  Either follow the recipe exactly or take out the mint, some of the fresh basil, halve the garbanzo beans, and perhaps use an italian dressing.  Although, I did really enjoy the red wine vinaigrette dressing so I encourage you to use the dressing!

Source:  Giada de Laurentis, Giada's Family Dinners


4 c. chicken broth
1 1/2 c. orzo
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 c. red and yellow teardrop tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
3/4 c. finely chopped red onion
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 c. chopped fresh mint leaves
3/4 c. Red Wine Vinaigrette, recipe follows
salt and freshly ground black pepper


Pour the broth into a heavy large saucepan. Cover the pan and bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Stir in the orzo. Cover partially and cook until the orzo is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring frequently, about 7--9 minutes.

Drain the orzo through a strainer. Transfer the orzo to a large wide bowl and toss until the orzo cools slightly. Set aside to cool completely.

Toss the orzo with the beans, tomatoes, onion, basil, mint, and enough vinaigrette to coat.

Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper, and serve at room temperature.

Red Wine Vinaigrette


1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp honey
2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 c. extra-virgin olive oil


Mix the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender.

With the machine running, gradually blend in the oil.

Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with more salt and pepper, if desired.

Yield: 1 3/4 cups