Monthly Archives: June 2015

Maple Dijon Chicken

This easy, minimal ingredient recipe I cannot take full credit for…though what I can take credit for is how often I make it.  This is always, always, always a hit.  So good that I had to share it with y’all.  

I tweaked it just a hair to suit my family’s taste preferences.  I will tell you too that my boys ate every bit of it up.  So don’t be scared of the word ‘Dijon’ with younger palates…the maple syrup sweetens it up just enough for all taste buds!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 package chicken breasts 
  • 1 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (the real stuff, no aunt jemima here)
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (plus a dash more if you prefer)
  • Rosemary (fresh best if possible), roughly chopped 
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • Cornstarch (optional to thicken if desired..)
     

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  *I also slightly butterflied my two chicken breasts pictured above.  I made two smaller ones off of my two larger ones for my toddlers.  Perfect amount of food for them, while cost effective for me!

In a small bowl, mix together the Dijon mustard (not spicy brown or ballpark yellow..Dijon!), the REAL maple syrup, rice vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. 


Place your chicken breasts into a double-foil-lined casserole dish.  I use a smaller dish (8×8 or 9×9, etc for my 4 Breasts)…If your casserole dish is too large, with not enough chicken in it, the sauce will just burn off and basically disappear. 

Pour about 3/4th of your prepared sauce over your chicken.  Reserve the remaining 1/4 for the finished product.  Flip the chicken breasts over to fully coat and then sprinkle a bit more salt & pepper on top of the chicken. 

  

 

Pop this baby into your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, uncovered.  *mine above took 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop up a bit of fresh rosemary for garnish along with the remaining sauce. *here is also where I’m preparing my side dishes.  Time management!!

My 1/4 of ‘reserved’ sauce is actually newly made^^…I didnt make enough in the beginning. Oops!!

Ding!!  Your chicken is now finished and cooked through.  When plated drizzle with a bit more of the sauce and a sprinkle of fresh rosemary on top!  

We serve ours with roasted and ‘smashed’ Rosemary new potatoes and a side of garlic & wine sautéed spinach with mushrooms.

 
  

Hot Ham & Cheese Pretzel’wich

Wow!  Scratch made pretzel rolls will make anything taste good.  Guaranteed.  Which is why this normal ‘boring’ ham & cheese sandwich just got taken to a whole new level!  Served hot with the melting cheese and salty crust of your warm pretzel roll…to die for.  Ok..that may be a bit extreme, but you get the idea.

The Starting Linup

Pretzel

  • 4 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 packet Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for garnish
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and divided 4/1
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • Egg wash (1 egg beaten with splash of water)  

Sandwich Filling

  • 1 lb Quality deli ham (I prefer Black Forest)
  • 8 slices cheese (I.e. muenster, Swiss, cheddar)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard (I prefer Dijon or spicy brown)
  • Dill pickle slices  

Making homemade pretzel rolls really isn’t as hard as one may think.  If you have a stand mixer and an hour & a half to spare, you’re sure to impress your family with these!

In your mixing bowl, combine the warm water, yeast packet and both sugars.  Gently give it a quick stir and let sit for 10 minutes.  It will foam up a little bit. 


Fitted with the dough hook, add in the flour, salt and 4Tbsp of the melted butter.  Mix on medium speed till just combined.  *preheat your oven to 350.  Once ready, turn oven off.  You just want the back of your stove to be slightly warm. Scrape edges of bowl as necessary to incorporate all ingredients into the dough.  

Cover the bowl with Saran Wrap and a tea towel.  Place covered bowl on the back of your stove to rest and rise for 1 hour.  *now you have an hour of free time!..or in my case, time to fold the laundry or pick up toys..

  


After the hour is up, your dough will have appeared to almost double in size!  Uncover your dough and literally give it a soft punch.  I love this part.  It will deflate just a bit. 

 

Transfer the dough from the bowl to a clean, lighty floured counter top.

Here your going to divide into 8 equal parts.  Form into a ball with your hands and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  They should be a good 1″ apart from each other, I stagger them.  Recover with Saran Wrap and the tea towl and place back into the stovetop for 30 minutes for its 2nd rise.

  
When those are getting close to done with their 2nd rise and have almost doubled in size, bring about 2 quarts of water to a low boil.  Also, preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  

  

exciting pic isnt it?…

Once the water has reached its low boil, remove from heat.  Slowly (and I do mean SLOWLY) add in the baking soda.  I’d say just a tbsp at a time or you’ll have a huge overflowing mess.  *you didn’t know you’d be doing a science experiment did you??  Return the baking soda/water to the stove top on a simmer.  Add in the risen dough balls about 2-3 at a time to the water.  I usually float them for 30 seconds, turn over for another 30 seconds and then transfer them back to the baking sheet. 

Mix up that egg wash.  Using a pastry brush, coat the dough rolls alllll over.  *I always end up just using my hands.  Rub that egg wash all over them and slighty reshape the dough into a round shape.  With a sharp knife, make a slight score on the tops of each dough roll.


Bake these bad boys in your 425 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes or until tops are a golden brown.

Remove from the oven and coat the tops with a bit of the remaining tbsp of melted butter and a sprinkle of kosher salt. 

 

Assembly time!!  Make these your own with any variety of meats and cheeses, but here is how I did ours..

With a serrated bread knife, I cut each pretzel roll in half horizontally.  I topped each side with a good slather of mayonnaise and mustard.  I then placed the bottoms only back onto the baking sheet.  

Next, I added the ham with a slice of yummy, melty cheese.  Place this back in your oven to melt and become gooey.  *I use the broiler setting, but watch closely. 

 Remove from the oven.  Top off with a few slices of dill pickles and the pretzel roll top…enjoy!!! 

 

Pork Chilé Verde 

Does everyone know that I just adore mexican food by now??  Yes, we eat this Latin culture’s goodies at least thrice weekly.  Salivating now.

What seems like a complicated, difficult and time-consuming dish, actually isn’t.  I prepped this meal in 30 minutes and then was free to walk away for hours.  HOURS my friends…all while my house took on the most heavenly aroma…

The Starting Lineup

  • 3-4 lb pork butt/shoulder
  • 1 1/2 lbs tomatillos 
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 2 jalapeño peppers
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 8 cloves garlic (divided 5/3)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp mexican oregano
  • 2 Tbsp cumin (divided 1/1)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • EVOO   

Alright, let’s rinse and prep those veggies!  Mince the garlic cloves, chop the onions….rinse and pat dry the hot peppers and husk and rinse the tomatillos (these are actually kind of ‘sticky’, just an fyi ;)) 

 Set your oven to broil and line a baking sheet with foil.  Cut each husked tomatillo in half horizontally.  Lay these cut-side DOWN onto the sheet, along with the poblanos, jalapeños and 5 of the garlic cloves (leave the skin ON the garlic here).  

 

^^^Watch closely while broiling.  Turn the peppers as needed, let ‘blister’ all over (the peppers are often done before the tomatillos).  Also, if needed, turn your sheet pan 180 degrees occasionally during the broiling period.^^^

When peppers are good and done, place in a paper lunch sack and close.  Allows to steam in bag for 10 minutes, while tomatillos finish broiling.

Onto the blender!  Add in the roasted tomatillos (skin and all), cilantro, roasted garlic (squeeze out of the papery skin), the roasted and steamed peppers (waxy skin removed), 1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp salt.  Blend!! 

  

Your verde sauce is now complete!  Easy right??!  We’ll keep this in the blender and set aside.

Ok, pork prepping time.  Chop up the two onions and mince the remaining 3 cloves garlic. 

 

With a sharp knife, carefully cut the pork into rough 1″x1″ cubes.  Season liberally with kosher salt & pepper and a bit of cumin.

Heat a large heavy bottomed pot with 2 Tbsp’s of EVOO to med-high heat.  Once hot, add in the pork (about 1/4 at a time, do not overcrowd).  Sear the pieces on each side for 1 minute and set aside. 

 Once the pork is finished searing, add the onion to that same pot.  As it starts “sweating” and releasing its juices, scrape up to those delicious brown bits from the bottom of your pan. *please use the proper utensils to not scratch your cookware.  Toss the seared pork back into the onion filled pot along with the minced garlic. 

 
Ok, we’re almost ready to walk away for a few hours…just a couple more steps!

Pour in the verde sauce you made just minutes ago…looking and smelling good, isn’t it?? 

 

Next, add in the 2 cups of chicken stock and the mexican oregano.  Stir.  

   Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover.  Let the Pork Chilé Verde simmer on low for at least 3 hours…the longer the better really!!

I like to serve ours with a dollop of sour cream, garnish of fresh cilantro and warm tortillas..enjoy!! 

 

Buffalo Shrimp Po’Boy

This is a naughty, messy and oh so tasty sandwich!  Toasted, crusty bread.  Spicy & smooth buffalo sauce.  Battered, fried shrimp.  Cool, tangy Bleu cheese spread.  Omg.  

The Starting Lineup

Shrimp

  • 15-20 Large shrimp, (cleaned, peeled, deveined)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning blend
  • 1 Tbsp creole mustard
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • Canola oil
  • Crusty bread loaves
  • Mayonnaise 
  • Lettuce, chopped
  • Tomatoes, sliced
  • Celery, finely diced 

Buffalo Sauce

  • 1 cup your preferred hot sauce (Crystal, Franks, etc)
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Bleu Cheese Mayo

  • 1 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1/2 cup Bleu cheese crumbles
  • 1/3 cup Celery, finely diced
  • Salt & Pepper

Batter

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp+ Cajun seasoning blend  

Make sure to properly clean, devein and remove all the shell/tail from your shrimp.  ….and wash those hands!

In 2 shallow dishes…Dish A.  Combine the pepper, garlic powder, Cajun seasoning blend and salt.  Dish B.  Beat together the egg and creole mustard.

In a large freezer bag, have your cornmeal, flour and Cajun seasoning evenly mixed. 

Pour the spice blend over your shrimp and toss to coat..next up, the egg/mustard mixture.  Finally, after a thorough coating of all of that, place the shrimp into your cornmeal batter and shake.  Set aside while warming the oil. 

 

In a large heavy bottomed pot, skillet or your deep fryer, heat the cooking oil to 350 degrees.  Also set your oven broiler on.

While those are preheating, let’s prepare the garnishes!

  • In small sauce pan, simmer together the hot sauce, butter, lemon juice and garlic powder.  
  • On to our Bleu Cheese Mayo spread!  Super easy, just combine all of the ingredients (mayo, Bleu cheese, celery, salt & pepper).  Mix well, cover and refrigerate till time to use.  *If you do not like Bleu cheese, simply use just mayo or even ranch dressing. 
  • Chop, shred, tear, whatever…that lettuce.  Slice up your tomatoes and if you have any extra celery, finely dice up a bit more of that! 
  • Lastly, the crusty bread!  Slice in half lengthwise and slather a good amount of mayonnaise on the inside of each roll.  Lay (mayo side up) on a baking sheet. *yes, I said mayonnaise.  NOT butter.  Mayo will make it a golden brown with a crust, where as butter will make it too soggy and soft.  This sandwich needs to hold up to the buffalo shrimp.  Place the rolls into your oven about 6″ under your broiler.  Watch carefully.  These will brown in just a minute or two. 

Ok, that oil should be hot and ready to go!!  With about 1/3rd of the shrimp at a time, carefully place into the hot oil.  Cook the shrimp batches for 2 minutes on each side.  Set on a paper towel lined plate to drain any extra grease.

Assembly time!  Let’s make ‘dem Po’Boys!

Slather a good amount of your bleu-cheese-mayo onto your toasted roll.  Toss the now cooked & battered shrimp into your buffalo sauce and place an even amount on each sandwich.  Garnish each with a layer of tomato slices, shredded lettuce and a sprinkle of celery.  Dig in friends!!…you’ll also need a napkin or 5 for this tasty Po’Boy, enjoy!!!! 

Served with a side of Zapp’s chips of course!

 

Open Face Caprese Chicken Sandwich

Alright, now THIS is one of my “easy” meals!  There’s almost no actual skillet required (truth be told, you can broil the chicken as well instead) which makes this fantastic for these warm summer months we’re in.

Secret:  Take it up a notch, for flavor too, and cook on your outdoor grill…every bit of it!!  Plus, your home never heats up at all!

  • 1 pckg Chicken Breasts, cut in half lengthwise 
  • Jar of premade Basil Pesto
  • Mozzarella Cheese, sliced 1/2″ thick
  • Fresh, ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/2″ thick
  • Ciabatta Bread, sliced 1″+ thick
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
  • 1-2 Tbsp EVOO 
  • Balsamic Vinegar Reduction (optional)

In my usual prep method, let’s slice the chicken breasts in half length-wise.  Only a thin cutlet is needed here AND it doubles your serving amount for the same price! 👍 Season both sides of your chicken with kosher salt & pepper and set aside.  (Wash hands ;))


In a skillet over medium heat, drizzle a bit of EVOO in pan (heat) and then add your chicken.  These are thin cuts, so cook just 2-3 minutes per side.   Once finished, set aside on a dish for use a bit later.

Now is time to slice your tomatoes (sharpen that knife!) and cut your bakery fresh bread loaf into your ideal thickness (serrated bread knife if you have one).  *Also, chop that garlic. 

Set your oven’s broiler to high..on a baking sheet lay your ciabatta bread slices down.  Drizzle each slice with a bit of EVOO, a bit of your chopped garlic and a sprinkle of salt & pepper.  Place your baking sheet about 6″ under your broiler, watch this CLOSELY and broil until JUST a light golden brown. 

 Assembly time has come once again!!!  With an oven mitt…take your baking sheet of browned, garlicky ciabatta bread out of the oven.  Leave on baking sheet.

Layer on top of the bread the (cooked) chicken cutlet, the tomatoes and then the mozzarella slices.  I like to sprinkle a bit of S&P on both my tomatoes and cheese.  More flavor my friends..

Place this back in the oven under ther broiler for another few minutes.  Watch closely again, as to not burn the bread, but for the cheese to start melting and become gooey.  Gooey cheese=some sort of heaven, I’m sure of it! 

*This will usually take about 3-5 minutes.

Woohoo!!  This super easy and tasty meal is done!  Let’s just dress it up a bit with a spoonful of the basil pesto and a drizzle of the (optional) balsamic reduction.  Did I mention the word “heaven” yet…. 😉 

 

Cajun Crawfish Cakes

I have had a hankering for seafood like you wouldn’t believe!  I also have been wanting to do a spicy crawfish boil…so naturally I combined the two!  You have the traditional crabcakes, but this version is amped the heck up with Cajun spices, real crawfish and a spicy sauce over a southern, savory rice.  It’s damn good!  I hope y’all enjoy as much as we did!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1lb crawfish tails
  • 2 eggs (or one extra large)
  • 5 Tbsp butter, divided (2 Tbsp/3 Tbsp melted)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced 
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced 
  • 1/3 cup green onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise 
  • 1 Tbsp creole mustard
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning 
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil   

You know the drill…prep your veggies!! 

 In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion in the 2 Tbsp butter for 5-6 minutes.  Once softened, add in the red and green bell peppers.  Sauté for another 5-6 minutes.  Lastly, toss in the minced garlic.  Cook for 1 more minute and take thepan off heat allowing to cool down. 

 

While the veggie mix is cooling down, we’ll start the Cajun Crawfish Cake mix!  

In a large bowl, add in the mayonnaise, creole mustard, lemon juice, green onions, salt, ground pepper, crushed red pepper and Old Bay seasoning.  Taste 🙂

Next add in your eggs and whisk to combine.  Finally, add in the Panko, cornmeal, the cooled veggie mixture, the 3 Tbsp melted butter and that delightful crawfish!  Gently fold together with a rubber spatula. 

  

 

In the same skillet that I cooked the veggies in, I added 3 Tbsp of vegetable oil and heated to med/med-high (depending on your skillet). 

With an ice scream scoop, I formed the crawfish mixture into balls and then with my hand a gently formed into a patty shape.  I cooked about three patties at a time.  Do not overcrowd the pan. 

   

Cook the crawfish cakes for about 4 minutes (golden brown) on one side, CAREFULLY flip with a thin spatula and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to a serving dish as they finish.

I prefer to serve ours over a southern yellow rice and drizzle the Cajun Crawfish Cakes with a spicy remoulade sauce and extra chopped green onions!  Delish!!!   

*EASY REMOULADE SAUCE

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise  
  • 1 Tbsp horseradish 
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce (I.e. Crystal)
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Dash of cayenne 

Whisk all together and done!! 

Creamy Poblano Rice

I have a deep affection to the poblano pepper.  Yes, I am 100% more of a spice girl, but these richly colored and medium heat peppers are so versatile that everyone can enjoy them.  (My three year old ate two full helpings of this dish it’s flavorful, not hot).

Everyone I know grew up eating the traditional orange-y ‘Spanish rice’ with their tacos…why didn’t we ever change up the flavor??  Ok, I know in my childhood home it was because rice-a-roni didn’t make it, but still!

That being said, this recipe takes about 30 minutes to make and boxed rice takes about the same…so give it a try!

*and if your really not into making homemade rice, at least make the creamy poblano purée and add it to some cooked, instant rice.  Done! ☺️👌

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 3 poblanos, seeded and roughly chopped 
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime, the other half for garnish
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1tsp kosher salt
  • Canola oil  

Like usual, we start by prepping our produce.  This always makes everything go smoothly and quickly!  Rinse and cut each as instructed. 

     In a skillet, add together your chicken stock and the poblano peppers.  Bring to a low boil and semi cover.  Allow the peppers to soften for about 10-12 minutes. 

 

We’ll now add in just 1/2 of the heavy cream, cilantro, lime juice and salt.   From here you can either use an immersion blender (straight into the pan) OR pour this mix into a blender or food processor.  Blend till smooth, a little chunky is ok 🙂  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

  

 

Next…in the same skillet, quickly wipe clean with a paper towel.  Add in a Tbsp of canola oil on medium heat.  

Now goes in the rice and chopped onion.  Stir around until the rice takes on a white appearance. (About 5 minutes).  Add in the minced garlic and cook for 1 more minute. 

 

The last step has arrived (pretty easy so far right?),  pour your creamy poblano mix into the rice and coat.  *here is where I’ll add the other 1/2 cup heavy cream and if needed another 1/2 cup chicken stock.  

Turn heat down to medium-low, cover and allow to simmer for about 15-20 minutes till tender, but still with a chew.  Mushy rice is yuck.  You can stir it once or twice, but try to keep that steam heat in with the lid on. 

 

All done!!  Serve along side a mexican inspired dish, chicken, pork or fish with a lime wedge garnish!  Enjoy! 

 

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