Category Archives: dinner

Five Spice Creamy Chipotle Chicken

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We´ve all heard of chipotle-mayo, haven´t we?  BUT have you ever thought about chipotle-mustard?  Ahaaa!  I got to thinking about how good this combination would be, and concocted up this chicken that turned out beautifully.

Okay, so by now you might have noticed I´m a big fan of chipotle peppers.  I use them in a lot of my cooking.  I just love their rich, smoky, almost sweet flavor.  Go with me, here.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ cup adobo sauce
  • 2-3 chipotle peppers, chopped, de-seeded
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp mustard
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup cream cheese

INSTRUCTIONS:

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  1. Once you´ve cubed your chicken, put it in a bowl along with the salt, garlic powder, adobo sauce, chopped chipotle peppers, cayenne, paprika and mustard.  Mix it all together with a spoon, or your hands.  Yes, it´s a little messy, but it smells wonderful.
  2. Melt butter in an open skillet over medium high heat.
  3. Put saucy chicken in the skillet and let it cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.
  4. Add half and half, milk and cream cheese one at a time, stirring well.
  5. Once your sauce looks homogeneous, turn heat down to low.
  6. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes.

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I serve this one over rice with a side of steamed broccoli.  Enjoy!

Creamy Chipotle Chicken Pasta

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I kind of made this one up on the fly based on the ingredients I had around the kitchen, and it turned out lovely. I hope you like it!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup original cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup chipotle cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 can diced chipotle tomatoes, not drained
  • Parmesan cheese for topping
  • Angel hair pasta

WHAT TO DO:

  1. Start your pasta so that it’s ready by the time everything else is!
  2. Salt and pepper your cubed chicken
    Melt butter over medium high heat in a skillet.
  3. Once melted, roast garlic. Once fragrant, toss in chicken. Let it cook for about two minutes on each side.
  4. Add in cream cheeses and parsley and basil. Lower heat to medium.
  5. Stir well so that cheeses melt.
  6. Add in lemon juice and diced tomatoes. Stir well so that the water from the tomatoes makes a nice sauce with the cheese.
  7. Turn heat to low. Cover and let cook for 10 minutes.
  8. Mix into drained pasta.
  9. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Chicken and Chorizo Jambalaya

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I kind of made this recipe up one day, based on the ingredients I had around the house.  Initially I was torn between calling it a jambalaya or a paella–because (this is embarassing) I don´t really exactly know the difference between the two.  I grew up eating both, in New Orleans and in Mexico, and well, they just kind of blend together in my mind.  I know paella has clams and is usually yellow-er, where as I´ve never seen a jambalaya with clams, and I think it almost always has tomatoes, making it redder.  But heck.  Other than that, they´re both rice dishes with chicken and shrimp, right?  And I didn´t even have shrimp when I made this, so I added chorizo and bacon to the mix.  Ahh whatever, call it what you will.  Wikipedia says jambalaya has it´s roots in Spanish paella, which–given the history of Louisiana–would make sense.

I´ve told you about how hard it´s been to find good chorizo, but I came up with this recipe when the chorizo was plentiful.  You can substitute it for any other sausage, no worries.  This dish is pretty easy, and delicious, as always.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into small cubes
  • 2 chorizo links (or any other delicious sausage)
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, chipotle seasoned
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • Optional: 4 strips of bacon, chopped
  • Optional: 1 lb medium shrimp

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Fry up the bacon.  Once it´s about halfway cooked, add in the chorizo.  Remember, if you have good chorizo, it´ll be crumbly once you cut the casing off.  If you´re stuck with terrible chorizo because you haven´t been to Mexico recently, you might have to chop it up.  If you don´t have chorizo, I guess you can substitute in any other delicious sausage.  Do your best.  Let these two cook and release flavorful fat.  Yum.  You can drain a little of the fat if you have a lot, but don´t get rid of all of it.
  2. Add onions and garlic.  Sautee until translucent and aromatic.
  3. Add chicken cubes.  After about 2 minutes, flip the cubes so they seal evenly on all sides.  Season with pepper and paprika.
  4. Add rice and sautee it.  Let it soak in those flavors.
  5. Add can of diced tomatoes.  If you have shrimp, add those now.
  6. Pour in chicken stock.  Mix everything gently so that everything is covered by the stock.
  7. Cover and lower heat to medium low.
  8. Let cook for 25 minutes without opening the lid!

ENJOY!

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Chilaquiles

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Chilaquiles are a common and delicious Mexican dish. There are several things I need to tell you.

  1. How to pronounce chilaquiles. It’s easy. Ready? CHEE-LAH-KEE-LES. See? You did it!
  2. This is a breakfast food. And you say, “but it’s not eggs and cereal and pancakes!” And I say, “doesn’t matter. Where I come from, this is breakfast.”  Okay, okay, in my house we eat it for dinner, but traditionally, it´s a breakfast food.
  3. Chilaquiles should NEVER EVER ever ever ever be a casserole. Never ever. It’s not a “Mexican lasagna.” Something like that might be tasty, but it is not chilaquiles and it is definitely not authentic.

So what are Chilaquiles? I think it’s fair to compare it to spaghetti and meatballs in that it’s carbs, meat, red sauce, cheese. Except it’s tortillas, chicken, red sauce, cheese. …And sour cream and avocado.
Mmmm it’s delicious okay?! Let’s leave it at that until you try it. In fact, it’s so delicious that we served this at our wedding.*

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10 tortillas (I prefer flour but you can use corn if you´re more of a traditionalist.)
  • 1 cup shredded chicken breast (I often cheat and start with a rotisserie chicken.)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup chunky salsa
  • 1 tsp Tony’s
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 1/4 cup cheese (you really want queso fresco but a mild feta will do. I used mozzarella because that’s all I had.)
  • 1/4 cup cream (here you want crema or maybe creme fraiche but I use sour cream and dilute it with a bit of milk.)
  • 1 sliced avocado

TORTILLAS:

  1. Cut tortillas into about one inch squares and toss them into the deep fryer.
  2. Deep fry them for one minute at 350°.
  3. Drain them on paper towels.

CHICKEN:

  1. Shred your chicken. You can grill your own chicken for shredding but I usually cheat and start with a rotisserie chicken.

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SAUCE:

  1. In a wide open skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat and sauté garlic.
  2. Add tomato sauce and chunky salsa.
  3. Season with Tony’s, paprika and chili powder.
  4. Stir well and bring to low heat.

ASSEMBLE!

  1. Wait to assemble until you’re ready to serve, because you don’t want your tortillas to get soggy!
  2. Stir the tortillas into your sauce, enough for them to be coated, and then quickly scoop them out onto your plates. (See above.)
  3. Top with chicken and onions.
  4. Drizzle with crema and cheese.
  5. Top with thin avocado slices.
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I couldn´t find any good avocados at the store so we had to make do without :-/

Enjoy!

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*We had a beautiful wedding in Mexico. The mass was at the church I was baptised in, the reception at a beautiful hotel. In Mexico, reception parties last many hours… Ours was maybe eight hours long? This might sound terrible, but it’s not! We had a great time! Cocktails and pictures, then dinner and dancing and cake… And then second dinner and more dancing! What? It’s true. Wedding venues always offer a second meal for 50% of the guests, knowing your guests will be hungry from all that dancing! Michael chose chilaquiles for the second meal just because they’re his favorite dish.

In case you’re curious if our first meal was super Mexican, too, the menu was as follows: Appetizer: Pulled chicken tarragon tostadas; Soup: Lobster bisque; Entree: Angus Skirt Steak with potatoes and Chambray onions; Argentine sausage and mango habanero chimichurri on the side, side dish of herb mushrooms; Dessert: Tequila-drizzled lemon sorbet.  Our wedding cake was Tres Leches (my favorite) and second dinner was Chilaquiles (my husband´s favorite).  Mhmmm  🙂

Honey Sriracha Shrimp and Bacon and Grits

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Honey Sriracha Shrimp and Bacon and Grits

Yummm!  This is one of my favorite dishes!  And it´s pretty easy, too–yum yum yum.  Before I married Michael, I never ate or cooked with sriracha at all.  I´m kind of a disgrace to my Mexican/New Orleanian family because I don´t really like very spicy food.  Because of this, I had avoided sriracha most of my life.  I had only ever having seen it at pho restaurants, anyway, and I know exactly how I like my pho–no use messing with a good thing.

Well!  As it turns out, sriracha is delicious.  It´s not just generic spicy like Tabasco is, it´s got a wonderful flavor.  It´s peppery and garlicky and vinegary and very rich.  A few months ago there was a rumor that the sriracha factory outside of Los Angeles might shut down.  Apparently the residents in the community were complaining about the fumes, but then the sriracha people reworked their ventilation system, and all was well.  Apparently the factory has even become a bit of a tourist attraction now.  Anyway, during that intermediate period, people were afraid that there would be no more sriracha, and in fact, Walmart ran out of it briefly.  Our household (that is, my husband) was in a panic.  And then one day, I received an email that seemed to be heaven-sent!  World Market had sriracha!  I rushed over there on my lunch break and got several extra large bottles for us to keep.  I also discovered this lovely sriracha mayo they carry.  (This became Michael´s favorite sandwich condiment.)

This is the email I got from World Market

And so, due to the abundance of this fine sauce in our tiny house, I´ve started becoming creative with its usage.  I remembered seeing this Martha Stewart recipe, and decided to modify it a bit and give those flavors a spin.  I came up with Honey Sriracha Shrimp and Bacon and Grits–and it´s become a household favorite.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 6 strips of bacon*
  • pinch of garlic
  • 5 tbsp sriracha
  • 6 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup + 1/8 cup cream cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • cilantro
  • 2 servings grits
  • 1 tbsp butter

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Peel your shrimp.  If you´ve got some extra time on your hands, butterfly them.  They look prettier this way.
  2. Cut bacon into little pieces.  I use scissors and cut them into tiny strips, about 1/2 inch long.
  3. Heat skillet over medium high heat, spread bacon pieces evenly on skillet to ensure even cooking.  Cook bacon til pretty crispy, about two minutes per side.
  4. Move bacon to the edge of the skillet, add shrimp.  Let the shrimp soak in the bacon flavor.  They cook pretty quickly, so keep a good eye on them.
  5. After about two minutes of sautéing the shrimp in the bacon grease, use a slotted spoon to get the shrimp and the bacon out of there.  I let it all drain on a paper-towel lined plate.
  6. Pour out most of the excess bacon grease, leaving just a little to coat the skillet.
  7. Sautee garlic until fragrant.  Add sriracha and honey and stir.  Add 1/4 cup cream cheese to thicken consistency of sauce.
  8. Add salt, pepper, cilantro to taste.
  9. Lower stove heat to medium.  Add shrimp and bacon back in to sauce, stir to coat.

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ABOUT THE GRITS:

Make them however you like.  I used to use instant grits until Michael found out, now he makes me make real “old-fashioned” grits the slow way, swearing he can taste the difference.  Whatever.  I think they taste the same.  However you make your grits, though, add salt, pepper and butter, for sure–but (this is my super secretI always add a little cream cheese here, too.  It makes them creamier and generally more delicious.  For two servings of grits, I add 1 tbsp of butter and 1/8 cup cream cheese.

Serve saucy shrimp and bacon over grits and enjoy!

I made some GREEN BEANS on the side.  I drain a can of green beans and heat them in a little melted bacon fat.  Add Tony´s and some hummus (I feel like this is another of my super secrets), mix it all around, and flavorful, easy green beans result!

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*About the bacon:  Before I got married, I never really ate bacon, either.  But then Michael talked me into buying some normal bacon, and then our friend from high school started his own gourmet bacon delivery company, and well, I´m hooked.  The real story is that he was a lawyer and hated it, so he quit his job and road-tripped across the country, buying local butchers´ bacon and mailing it to his subscribers.  It´s been great.  He´s on hiatus now, but will be accepting new orders soon–I highly recommend this.

So Much Squash

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So Much Squash

A few weeks ago I discovered Good Eggs. They’re this great company that provides grocery delivery in New Orleans and select other cities, but what’s special about them is that all they sell are locally grown and produced foods. I like to describe it as having the farmers market delivered to my door. Amazing for me because of my unpredictable work hours, which makes it almost impossible to go to a farmers market regularly.

The most interesting thing I’ve tried from Good Eggs is getting a produce bundle. Basically, this means I give them a set fee ($20 or $30) and they deliver me a variety of seasonal fruits and veggies. I don’t have any ability to choose what I want so sometimes I get weird things. Like in my last box I got muscadine grapes. Now I know those are actually super common in Louisiana but I had no idea they could be used for anything other than wine. (But FYI, roast them with a little balsamic vinegar and eat with Gorgonzola, yum).

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Yesterday I received my second produce bundle from Good Eggs and this one was full of goodies from Stoney Point Farm, a family owned farm in Washington Parish. I got some lovely bell peppers, purple hull peas, sweet potatoes, assorted greens, some preserved pears and a shit load of squash. (All for $20! Amazing!)

Now, I’ll be honest with you, I’m not a huge fan of squash. I actually didn’t know what varieties I had and I had to do quite a bit of research to find out what to do with all these squash. So after about half an hour of Pinterest research, I found out I’ve got an acorn, a couple butternut, a spaghetti squash and some summer squash. Today I’ll show you how I used the acorn squash.

Considering I had no idea how this dish would turn out, I’m pretty happy with the results. The squash itself was super tender and slightly sweet, which played nicely with the spicy sausage. I definitely think you could use an acorn squash as a mashed potato replacement.

Sausage & Rice Stuffed Squash

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Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1/4 lb ground hot sausage
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 oz sliced mushrooms (I used baby portabellas)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/4 shredded cheese (I used an Italian blend)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cut squash in half, remove seeds.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on baking sheet then cover tightly with foil.
  4. Roast in preheated oven until tender, about 35 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, brown sausage. Once browned, drain fat and set aside.
  6. Melt butter and sauté minced shallot until translucent. Then add mushrooms and saute until soft.
  7. Add a cup of cooked rice and browned sausage. Stir and heat through.
  8. Stir in 1/4 cup italian shredded cheese.
  9. Once squash is tender, remove from oven and flip over so the whole you removed seeds from is facing up.
  10. Spoon rice mixture into whole, sprinkle with a little more cheese.
  11. Place back into oven for 5 min, just to melt cheese on top.

Serve with roasted veggies (mine are some of Stoney Point’s sweet potatoes and butternut squash) and a light citrus-dressed salad.

Delicious Spaghetti and Meatballs

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Delicious Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and Meatballs is one of my favorite comfort meals.  When I was a kid and I had been out with my mom all day, and she´d be pressed for time to make dinner, she´d make spaghetti and meatballs because it was fast and easy and delicious and I loved it.  Later in life I learned the reason it was fast and easy for her was because she´d buy the meatballs frozen at Sam´s and she´d have them ready to go at a moment´s notice.  *whomp whomp*  I didn´t learn the truth here until I got married and demanded she tell me her secret.

I thought I had fond memories of us making meatballs together.  Nope.  It was hamburger patties I was remembering.  Oh well.  The result is that I make hamburgers the same way I make meatballs, just about.  I used to love making hamburgers with her because I loved sticking my hands in the meat and squishing it all around.  I thought it was brains and how cool was that?!  To be fair, being Mexican, I grew up unafraid of eating all kinds of things like tongue and blood sausage, so why not brains?!  It seemed logical to me at the time.

Anyway, I still love squishing my hands around in ground beef.

My sauce isn´t from scratch, really, it´s modified tomato sauce and Prego.  Don´t judge.  It turns out really well.  A note I’ll mention: all my meals are made for two people, but we usually have some leftovers.

MEATBALL INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp Tony´s
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded mozarella cheese

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil.
  3. Put everything in a bowl and mix it up with your hands.  If mixture seems too moist, add more breadcrumbs.  But not too much with the breadcrumbs because then the meatballs will be dense and terrible.  If you accidentally overdo it with the breadcrumbs, add more ketchup and worchestershire to even it out.  But don´t go crazy. IMAG0861 IMAG0862
  4. Make little meatballs with your hands and place on lined cookie sheet.  I make mine about 1.5in in diameter, but you can make them bigger if you like.  They do turn out smaller after you cook them, so don´t make them too small.  I get about 16-18 meatballs.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.

While that´s in the oven, start your pasta.  I prefer angel hair–always–instead of spaghetti.  Salt and butter in the boiling water, don´t forget!  About 1 tsp salt, 1 tbsp butter.

Sauce time!  I like to use a lot of the same seasonings in the sauce to echo the flavors in the meatballs.  Whatever.  I kind of use the same seasonings for everything over and over.

SAUCE INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup Prego sauce, “Flavored with Meat”
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp Tony´s
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup half and half (or milk)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat saucepan over medium high heat.  Once hot, add olive oil.
  2. Once olive oil is hot, add garlic.  Stir til fragrant.  These guys tend to burn quickly so keep an eye out.
  3. Add Prego sauce.  Stir continuously.
  4. Season with chili powder, basil, oregano, parsley, Tony´s and paprika.  Keep stirring.
  5. Lower heat to medium low.
  6. Add tomato sauce, keep stirring.
  7. Add half and half.  You can substitute milk.  Tonight I used skim milk because that´s all I had.  I prefer half and half because it makes the sauce creamier, but work with what you´ve got.  Stir stir stir.
  8. Lower to low heat while you wait on everything else.

Around this time, your pasta should be about done.  Drain it and set aside.  Meatballs should be ready, too.  Put ´em on a cooling rack.  Some people dump the meatballs into the sauce, but I don´t like doing that.

ASSEMBLE IN LAYERS

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  1. Pasta
  2. Meatballs
  3. Sauce
  4. Mozarella cheese

Enjoy!

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