Category Archives: Recipes

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes…err, Mushrooms

I was perusing Pinterest for a recipe to try, as I have been checking out Pinterest lately for recipes. There is such a variety of culinary adventures to undertake. I do feel guilty ignoring my collection of New Orleans cookbooks, however.

My husband and I don’t normally eat a lot of chicken, though we probably should opt for it rather than red meat or pork. When I saw the recipe for chicken with mozzarella and pasta, I thought that sounded like a tasty combination. Plus, cheese compliments so many dishes, in my opinion.

I want to thank the blog Julia’s Album for this delicious recipe.

Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

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I didn’t take a picture. This photo is credited to Julia and her blog, Julia’s Album.

Side note: I did make a couple of adjustments.

  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small jar (3-4 oz) of sun dried tomatoes in oil (I used a bag of dried sun dried tomatoes)…Note: drain if using sun dried tomatoes in oil, and set aside oil for sauteeing
  • 1 pound chicken breast tenders (The recipe implies keeping them whole, but I think I would chop them next time)
  • Salt and pepper (for seasoning chicken)
  • Paprika (for seasoning chicken)
  • 1 cup half and half (I used heavy whipping cream)
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese (I recommend shredding your own, because it tends to melt better than pre-shredded)
  • 8 ounces penne pasta (I think this recipe would go with cavatappi or rotini as well so all that creamy goodness can work its way through the pasta)
  • 1 tablespoon basil (if dry), or more if fresh
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water
  • Salt, to taste
  1. Note: If using sun-dried tomatoes in oil, use the drained oil to sauté the garlic and sun-dried tomatoes for 1 minute until fragrant….If you did not use sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, just use regular olive oil to sauté.
  2. Remove sun-dried tomatoes from pan and set aside. Don’t be like me and turn away for a moment. I burned some of mine and had to toss some out. Those little things brown quickly, and you don’t want them brown. Lol!
  3. Season the chicken tenders with salt, pepper, and paprika. Add chicken tenders to the pan (or cut them into chunks and add). Cook on high for 1 minute on each side.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions and save some pasta water. Drain and rinse and set aside.
  5. Slice the sun-dried tomatoes and add them back to the skillet. I sliced them prior to initially sautéeing them, because slicing them after would have been more difficult with the oil on them.
  6. Add the half and half or whipping cream (whatever your preference), as well as the mozzarella cheese, to the skillet and bring to a gentle boil. Once the cream starts boiling, reduce to simmer and cook. Stir consistently to make sure the cheese completely melts. The recipe recommends adding some of the reserved pasta water to the sauce to keep the sauce from getting too thick. I did not do this.
  7. Add the basil and red pepper flakes. (I also added some grated parmesan cheese)
  8. Add salt to taste.
  9. Finally, add the pasta into the sauce and fold everything together.

Note: After burning half of my sun-dried tomatoes, I was glad that I had some chopped baby bella mushrooms on hand to add in. I think that this can also be done with fresh spinach as well.

Final word: The recipe was great but after initially cooking the chicken I would take it out to make the sauce and then add the chicken back in again. I found it difficult to stir the sauce while the chicken was in the pan.

 

 

Cream Cheese Crab Stuffed Mushrooms…my first attempt!

I love mushrooms…pretty much any way they come. If there was one thing I could eat everyday and not  tire of it, it would be mushrooms. Some of the ways I eat them are sautéed with steaks and atop burgers…in pasta sauces and stuffed (preferably with cheeses and crabmeat). When restaurants have them, I can’t help but place an order for their appetizer of stuffed mushrooms. At the moment, Maggiano’s Little Italy has my vote for the best stuffed mushrooms, but there are many others I have yet to explore.

I decided that it was time to go it on my own. I took to Pinterest to find a recipe. The one I found had cream cheese, crabmeat and herbs…sounded perfect. I improvised a bit based off of the following recipe:

stuffed mushrooms

Cream Cheese Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

12 Large White Mushrooms
6 oz. Whipped Cream Cheese (because it’s softer and lighter) (I used 8 oz of reg cream cheese and let it get to room temperature)
1 Tbls Cream or Milk (I used skim milk)
1/4 cup Crab meat (I used a can of lump crabmeat, to save money, which can be found near the canned tuna in the grocery)
1/4 cup green onions chopped small, use some of the greens – it’s about 5 green onions
2 garlic cloves minced (I used the minced garlic in the jar…3 teaspoons)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese + some for the tops (all I had on hand was grated which worked out well)

Directions:

1. Destem the mushrooms and place on a baking sheet or in an baking dish…make sure there is a lip around the edge to catch any liquid…also I notice that the mushrooms toppled…you may want to put a layer of dry beans down to keep them stable

2. Combine the cream cheese, milk, crabmeat, green onions, garlic, and parmesan and mix well

3. Using a small spoon (like a baby spoon if you have one hanging around), fill each mushroom evenly, be generous so that all the filling is used between the 12 mushrooms. Also, a ziploc with the tip cut off is helpful to pipe the mixture into the mushrooms
4. Top with parmesan cheese.

5. Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes until the cheese starts to brown.

These are quite rich. If there is any mixture left over I would put it in a ramekin or small dish and eat with crackers. It can go either way really.

 

Crescent Roll Blackberry Rugelach…a Practice Run

I recently had a sweet and flaky pastry known as a rugelach. In all my years living in New Orleans, I have never seen one. I have lived in Austin, Texas for over four years and I have finally tried one after seeing them on my frequent trips to the grocery. A rugelach is a Jewish pastry eaten almost any time of the year and is traditionally made in the form of a crescent using dough rolled out in the shape of a triangle (Schocken, 2004). Many fillings can be used such as nuts, chocolate, raisins, or preserves. The one I tasted used raspberry preserves and it was light, flaky, and sweet!

I tried to make my own using Pillsbury Crescent Rolls (which were a bit difficult to work with) because I used Blackberry jam…use preserves as they hold in the oven much better. In addition I sprinkled crushed walnuts atop the jam and rolled the dough. I baked them in the oven using the time recommended on the crescent roll package. It did not turn out as planned but they were very tasty.

My recommendation: Use preserves…and try phyllo dough. Next time I will be placing the ingredients on a few sheets of phyllo dough and rolling it in jelly roll fashion. Update to follow on that experiment.

Here is a picture of a rugelach by Yair Rand

by Yair Rand

Chicken & Chorizo Paella

Chicken-chorizo paellaMy husband has often asked me to make paella, which I have never made, often because I thought that I needed a proper paella pan and also because I thought it would be a lot of work. I decided to take on the recipe this weekend and learned that neither of my presumptions were true. First, I searched Google to see if a proper paella pan was necessary and I found the most people used a cast iron skillet as an ample alternative. Being that I already have a 12″ skillet, I was set. Next, came the ingredients, so off I went to the store.

Before getting into the details, I must note that I was inspired by the following recipe. Besides the skillet, I needed the following:

  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3-4 saffron threads (I purchased the actual saffron threads from my local spice shop)
  • 2 c. short-grain white rice (I used Aborio)
  • 4 c. chicken broth (which is a 32 oz. container…there are low sodium varieties as well)
  • 1 lb. chorizo, cooked and diced
  • 1 lb. chicken, cooked and diced (I shredded a store bought rotisserie chicken which saved time and steps)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced (I used a pint of grape tomatoes)
  • 1 c. thawed peas
  • 4 tsp. smoked pimentón (Spanish paprika)
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. oregano
  • salt + freshly ground black pepper (season to taste)
Preparation:
  • Over medium heat, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil into the pan and sprinkle in saffron threads. Heat until fragrant
  • Add garlic, onion, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Cook until soft.
  • Add remaining olive oil and pour in rice. Stir well making sure all rice is coated in oil.
  • Add chicken broth.
  • Bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat.
  • While the mixture was simmering, you can cook your chorizo in another pan. It finishes up in perfect time.
  • After about 15 minutes add chicken, chorizo, and peas.
  • Cook about another 30 minutes and stir often to make sure all rice is getting cooked and nothing is sticking.
  • Season with smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, oregano, salt, and black pepper and serve.

Serves 4-6. Enjoy!

Oven Baked Blueberry Pancake!

 

I was looking for something different to do for breakfast. I never make pancakes at home so decided to try it. Like omelets, pancakes are something that can be customized and changed up. I just purchased some a pint of fresh blueberries from the store so I though I would use that. I was inspired by the following recipe.

oven baked pancake

To make the batter, the following ingredients were needed:

  • 4 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt 3 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • powdered sugar, for sprinkling

At the time, I was short on vanilla and baking powder, so I will admit that I used Bisquick Shake n Pour for my batter.

Preparation:

  • Take a cast iron skillet (I used a 10″) and put it in a 450 degree oven with 4 tbsp of unsalted butter, allowing it to melt
  • Once the butter has melted, pour in the batter.
  • Once the batter is spread evenly throughout the pan, sprinkle whatever berries you have on top (I used blueberries)
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes until top starts to brown
  • I used a toothpick to check the inside of the pancake for doneness.
  • Sprinkle powdered sugar…the finished product was so moist I barely used any syrup.

Now I am armed with vanilla and baking powder to create my next pancake from scratch.

Salmon with Eggplant and Arugula topped with Alfredo

I stopped at the local farmer’s market on Wednesday where there was an assortment of vegetables including fresh organic eggplant, arugula, basil, tomatoes, potatoes and so much more. I ended up buying some small eggplant, arugula and some basil. Of course, I knew not what I would do with these items…I just knew that the veggies were appealing and the prices were great!

My next stop was to the seafood market where I got some beautiful wild Salmon. I love salmon. The intense color and the Omega-3 goodness of that fish gets me so excited. As I left the market with salmon in hand, I knew what to make for dinner!

Here is the recipe for Baked Salmon atop Arugula with Eggplant and Alfredo (photo courtesy of Maria Takumi)

Ingredients:

  1. salmon, but works with rainbow trout as well, for their mild flavor
  2. heavy whipping cream, 1 pint
  3. parmesan cheese, 8 oz, shredded
  4. arugula or other greens such as spinach
  5. red wine vinegar
  6. extra virgin olive oil
  7. 2 fresh lemons
  8. stick of butter
  9. 4 small eggplants or 1 large eggplant
  10. salt, to taste
  11. pepper, to taste
  12. basil, to garnish
  13. parsley

Fish:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees for the fish

Season the fish with a little salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. Make sure that your pan is non-stick or sprayed with Pam or brushed with olive oil to avoid sticking. I also like to add a couple of lemon slices on top of the fish.

Once the oven is ready, place the fish inside. I don’t like my salmon overly done, so I cook it for about 20 minutes or so.

Eggplant:

While the fish is cooking thinly slice the eggplant into rounds and sprinkle with salt to get the bitter taste out. You will notice that the eggplant will start to sweat after awhile. That is the salt removing that bitter taste. Coat a dish with oil and season eggplant with salt, pepper and lemon juice and place in oven until the edges begin to wrinkle

Alfredo sauce:

For the alfredo sauce, get a skillet. Turn on med to med hi heat. Add 1 pint of heavy whipping cream, and one stick of butter. Stir until butter melts into cream. I like to add a drop of Zatarain’s liquid crab boil for extra kick. Add shredded parmesan, not grated. You can find shredded parmesan (shredded melts well) in the cheese section of your local grocer. If you have time, you can grate your own (it is less expensive). Add the cheese to the sauce and stir continuously but slowly letting the cheese dissolve into the sauce. Add some pepper and parsley after the sauce has thickened.

To prep the arugula, wash it thoroughly, and place in a bowl. Toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a little salt and pepper.

To plate: Place arugula on the plate. Top with a piece of salmon, add eggplant. Drizzle alfredo on top.

Note: Pasta can also be added to this dish. However, I was full without the pasta.

ENJOY!!!!

Salmon dinner