Author Archives for carlylyn29

About carlylyn29

My life: A proud railroad wife, stay-at-home mommy of two toddler boys, stylist, diy'er, home cook extraordinaire and ...sleep deprived ;) I don't quite know what possessed me to do this, but for some reason here I am. After moving out of state for my husbands job, away from family and everything I knew and loved, I turned to an old love of cooking to pass the time. One thing led to another and I found out I was pretty good at it AND had fun at the same time. Win-win right??! Sooo after a couple years of talking about 'blogging' (wish I would of started when I originally said so) I decided to take the leap! Almost a full time job in itself. So with two toddler boys, bear with me if you see a high chair, toys or a blurry two-year-old running in the background of some of my pics... That's life!!

Green Chile Albondigas Alfredo

MMmmm….meatballs!  Yes, for those of y’all that are not “in the know”, meatballs translated in Spanish is: albondigas.  The more you know.

These said albondigas just so happens to pair beautifully with green chiles and creamy alfredo sauce…they almost cancel each other out to flow just beautifully together.  Not too spicy, not too bland.

I like to serve ours with a bit more cheese and chopped roasted peppers, but however you do it, you’ve made yourself a more elegant, Mexican-inspired meal.  Move over Taco Tuesday!

*You can make your own albondigas (your typical meatball recipe but combined with more Mexican spices: cumin, salsa, carrots, cilantro, Mexican oregano, etc) or you can use a bag of frozen Italian meatballs, both delicious.

*If gets too thick/not to the creaminess you prefer, you can add a splash of milk or heavy cream.

The Starting Lineup

  • 14oz meatballs (homemade or frozen)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 10.5oz can Cream of Jalapeno soup (can sub chicken broth or cream of chicken + seeded/diced jalapenos)
  • 8oz block cream cheese (1/3 fat-Neufchatel is fine), cubed
  • 1 cup water (or chicken broth)
  • 8oz penne pasta noodles
  • 4oz can of green chilies, hot
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste.

Garnish

  • Flat leaf parsley, rough chop
  • Roasted peppers (i.e.. jalapeno, poblano-seeded), finely chopped
  • Parmesan cheese

GreenChileAlfredo.jpeg

1.  Begin by heating a 10″-12″ pan to medium high heat.  (I actually love my cast iron for this, a bit of scraping is needed, but it creates almost a ‘crust’ on the noodles.  Though a non-stick would leave you an equally delightful super creamy version).

2.  To that hot pan, pour in the oil and followed by the meatballs to sear all over, 5-10 minutes.  (I used straight from frozen/fully cooked and work just fine!).

3.  To the seared meatballs, add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes.

4.  Once the onions are about translucent in color, whisk in the cubed cream cheese and can of soup.  Whisk, whisk, whisk!

5.  Next pour in the water/or broth, your 8oz of noodles and can of hot green chiles with juices.  Bring to a quick boil, stir.  Cover and allow to simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes.

6.  Finally, uncover, and toss in the halved cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Simmer on low, uncovered, for 5 more minutes.

Serve:  either individually or family style, top with a bit more parmesan, roasted peppers and chopped flat-leaf parsley.  Enjoy!

GreenChileAlfredo4.jpeg

Texas Bowl o’ Red

True chili, by Texas standards, contains NO beans, which you probably already knew.  It ALSO means no tomatoes and generally no chili powder either…  The famous bowl of red actually gets its vibrant hue and deep smoky, sweet and spicy flavor from a homemade chili paste you can easily prepare.  *Find the dried chiles in your grocers Hispanic section, the spice aisle or the produce sectionThe best dried chiles are not crunchy hard, but still a bit pliable if possible.

Now more often than not, I strictly use just a quite large beef chuck roast…keep with traditions, ya know?  However, I did include the possibility of also adding a thicker ground beef/brisket to the mix.  I say this because it stretches the chili a bit further for large crowds and your beef loving friends.  Plus, using a thicker-grind on your meat, keeps with and plays off of the texture you already have from the cubed chuck roast.

So…with the now cool to quite cold weather, football season still in full swing and wanting that pot of heartiness on your stovetop all afternoon, I suggest you give this a try.  Yes, feel free to tweak to your hearts content, aka tastes, but remember….NOOOO beans!!!..or tomatoes 😉

**Now I am one to add quite a bit more chiles than even my recipe calls for, but I’m a hot-head (not in personality, just tastes ;).  That being said, do your research on what dried chiles you’d prefer if you have a mild palate or just reach for the “smoky or sweeter” flavored peppers.  If you make quite a bit of chili paste, reserve, as you can always stir in more to the pot and/or drizzle over top your served bowl….or just make as instructed below!! 🙂

***Masa Harina: is basically finely ground corn flour used to make tortillas, tamales etc.  Now this ingredient is kind-of-optional, but not only does it help to thicken and tighten up your chili, it also provides an earthy flavor to the mix.  If you do not have any on hand or do not want to purchase a small bag, you can omit it.  You can also easily thicken with a flour or cornstarch paste as well.  It’s just a bit less Tejas that way, ok?

The Starting Lineup

  • 2-3 lbs beef chuck, boneless, cut in 1/2″-1″ chunks
  • 1 lb “chili-grind”, ground beef/brisket (it’s a much thicker texture grind), optional
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bottle Shiner Bock beer 
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp each ground pepper and kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1tsp dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp El Caldo de Pollo (low sodium chicken bouillon) 
  • 5 Tbsp vegetable oil, (or lard if on hand)
  • 2 Tbsp masa harina
  • 8-10+ whole dried chiles  – a mix from either Ancho, de Arbol, New Mexico, Guajillo, Pasilla, etc.  

Garnish

  • Sour Cream
  • Jalapenos
  • Shredded cheese
  • Lime wedges
  • Warmed tortillas
  • Cheese enchiladas….yes, I said that, two cheesy ones right on top baby!

Place the chiles in a large skillet over medium-low heat and gently toast until fragrant, about 2 minutes per side. Do NOT let them burn or they’ll turn bitter. Place the chiles in a bowl and cover them with almost boiling water.  Cover tightly with plastic-wrap and soak until soft, 15 to 30 minutes.

Remove the softened chiles from the water (reserve that “chile-water“), halve them and remove stems and seeds. Place the seeded chiles in a blender and add the chicken bouillon, cumin, mexican oregano, black pepper, salt and 1/4-1/2 cup of the chile water.  Purée, adding more water as needed (and occasionally scraping down the sides of the blender), until a smooth, slightly fluid paste forms.

Pour this now liquid chile mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and set aside, removing any skin from the peppers.  Feel free to taste for seasoning (salt)…careful as it MAY be spicy/wash hands thoroughly.  *Tip:  The soaked chiles and chile water are likely still hot in temperature when you begin to blend.  So place a kitchen towel over the lid on your blender, hand holding down, as the warmth will make it expand and want to pop that lid off…no one wants hot, spicy chiles all over them and their kitchen.

In a large heavy bottomed pot/dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the oil or lard. When it begins to slightly smoke, add in half of the cubed beef.  Brown, about 4 minutes per side, reducing the heat if the meat begins to burn. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with 2 more tablespoons of oil/lard and the remaining beef.  *Same with the large grind ground beef (cooked through), if using.

Now over medium-low heat add in the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil/lard in the skillet if necessary; add the onion and garlic and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Pour the Shiner Bock beer in, scraping up all of the brown bits at the bottom of your bot..flavor!!!

Next, add the beef stock plus 1 cup water and gradually whisk in the masa harina to avoid lumps. Stir in the reserved chile paste (again, taste for it’s spicy level prior) and then add the reserved, seared beef (and any and all juices in the bowl) and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to the barest possible simmer (just a few bubbles breaking the surface) and cover, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender but still somewhat firm and sauce has thickened a bit…can easily simmer for 2-3 hours.

Finally, you will thoroughly stir in the brown sugar and add more salt to taste; gently simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes.  Now, it may still look like there is excess sauce, so turn off the heat and let the chili stand for at least 30 minutes, during which time the meat will absorb about half of the remaining sauce in the skillet, leaving the meat bathed in a thick, somewhat fluid sauce. Stir in additional broth or water if the mixture seems too dry. If the mixture seems a bit loose and wet, allow it to simmer a bit more.  As always, it’s a must to taste as you go for salt and seasoning.

Serve by large ladle full into a bowl and top with your standard sour cream, cheese, onions, lime wedges, tortillas…or as I mentioned, make tray of super cheesy enchiladas and lay a couple bad boys right on top!  Enjoy with your remaining Shiner Bocks!!

TexasChili

 

 

 

French Onion Chicken Poutine

What kind of comfort-food-sort-of-blogger would I be without a plate full of hot salted fries, topped with a rich gravy and melty cheese chunks?  Not one that I would like to know…

Now here in the states, we fondly know of this dish as Disco Fries (main difference being the variety of cheese overtop), but it’s more commonly known everywhere as “Poutine” thanks to our friends north of the border, eh Canada?  That main difference, again, is the use of real cheese curds…and please choose the white variety for more authenticity.

Now myself, I find the cheese curds in the gourmet cheese/deli section, but if you just cannot track them down, you can substitute torn full-fat mozzarella chunks (NOT the fresh mozzarella you’d make a pizza with) as you actually do not want these cheese chunks to completely melt.

Now to add my weird twist on the forever popular dish, I made a classic French onion soup combined with chicken (my boys always HAVE to have their protein) and turned it into a poutine.  So whether you prefer to eat this with your hands or a fork, you will NOT be unsatisfied!  It’s also equally great as leftovers!!

 

The Starting Lineup

Chicken

  • 2-4 (about 1lb) chicken breast or thighs, skinless/boneless
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced into rings
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup plus 4 tablespoons beef broth, divided
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • ¾ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Cheese curds
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped, for topping (optional)

French Fries

  • Frozen bagged fries are fine or….
  • 4 very large russet potatoes, skin on, cut into 1″ wide fries
  • Vegetable/ or Canola oil, to fil a large skillet/pot 2″ (or deep fryer)
  • Kosher salt

Begin by cleaning and cutting your potatoes, if making homemade fries.  Add the cut potatoes to a large bowl of ice water and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.  This helps to remove the starch, resulting in a crispier fry.  *Completely pat dry before frying.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large oven-safe skillet, over low heat, melt butter. Add onions and 4 tablespoons of the beef broth; sauté onions till a buttery brown in shade and are rich and caramelized, about 20+ minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm.

While onions are cooking, prepare the chicken by drizzling with oil, then seasoning with salt & pepper and the Italian seasonings. Once onions have finished cooking and are removed from the pan, cook chicken for 4-5 minutes on each side over medium-high heat (don’t clean out the pan between the onions and chicken) until browned on both sides. (Chicken may not be fully cooked through yet, that is okay).  Remove from pan.

To the skillet, pour in the beef broth over medium-high heat to deglaze and stir while scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Next, turn down to medium-low heat and whisk in the flour thoroughly for 5-6 minutes until smooth; taste for seasoning.  Add the sautéed onions and browned chicken back in.  Cover the chicken with the Swiss cheese slices and transfer, uncovered, to the oven for 10 minutes, till cheese is melted and bubbly.

*Meanwhile, pat dry (between two towels) and fry up the sliced potatoes.  Salt and keep warm. **After you fry, transfer each batch to a paper towel/baking rack lined baking sheet and straight into a 225 degrees preheated oven.

Remove the skillet of your French Onion Chicken from the oven and either shred or slice the chicken in pan.  Ladle the rich gravy and chicken over your fries and top with the fresh, chopped parsley and cheese curds!  Enjoy!…because I so know you will!!

Poutine

 

Creamy Crockpot Cocoa

‘Tis the season!  This is a fairly popular recipe for the beloved mug of Christmas cheer and my family’s favorite!  So much so that I’ve been known to make a batch for our Christmas Eve party and another within 24 hours for Christmas Day!  Plus, besides the rich and creamy flavor, the large batch (can be doubled even) allows you to enjoy the gathering and NOT the kitchen while making individual cup by cup for your guests.

If serving for a party, make sure to set up a “Hot Cocoa Bar” with marshmallows, sprinkles, candy canes, flavored syrup and perhaps some Baileys or Schnapps’ for the adults!

*This can also be made in a large pot on the stove top in only 30-40 minutes!  You can serve from there or you can quickly make and transfer to a slow-cooker to keep warm!! 🙂

The Starting Lineup

  • 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1.5 cups of heavy cream
  • 2 cups of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

So simple!  To your crockpot, add all of the above ingredients, cover and set on low, stirring ever so often till combined, 2-3 hours.  Set on warm and serve with your favorite accompaniments.  Makes about 12 large mugs/24 smaller cups.  Can be doubled if a large party.

CreamyCrockpotCocoa

 

OPTIONAL:

*Peppermint Marshmallow Stir Sticks:

  • Chocolate chips (I prefer semi-sweet, but you could even use white!  Milk chocolate is too bland and artificial, to me), melt in a bowl in the microwave.  Stir every 30 seconds until melted.
  • Stir Sticks or skinny candy canes (stick halfway into the large marshmallow)
  • Large marshmallows
  • Crushed peppermints or sprinkles, etc. 
  • Wax paper

    Dip the “marshmallow-on-a-stick” at least halfway into your melted chocolate of choice, drizzle off excess and the roll into the crushed peppermints or sprinkles or leave as is.  Transfer, stick up, bottom of coated marshmallow down onto a sheet of wax paper.  This can also be refrigerated for quicker hardening of the chocolate.

Marshmallow-Dips-Variety-590x412

*Borrowed pic, courtesy of @RoseBakes. as I forgot to take one!  Oops!

Cheesy Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Potatoes

If you’ve ever been to my casa for a get-together you know I love to make this spinach artichoke dip (bubbling hot in a cast-iron skillet with torn fresh baguette and tortilla chips…insert drooling), because I know that you love to eat it!

So while one night with just my family of 4 at home and the “diet-angel” on my shoulder telling me to NOT make just a skillet of this with spoons for our dinner, I figured I would stuff a fluffy potato with my party go-to!  Also worth noting, my husband must eat meat with every meal, so I shredded some blackened chicken in the mix and yessss mam!!

*If extra occurs, please keep!  Warm and serve with veggies, bread or tortilla chips…or that trusty spoon! 😉

The Starting Lineup

  • 4-6 Large russet potato’s
  • Olive or canola oil
  • Kosher/rock Salt
  • 4 Tbsp butter, (1/2 stick) unsalted
  • 14oz can artichoke hearts, drained, rough chop
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves (can use 10oz frozen, just thaw and drain)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 2 cup parmesan, shredded
  • 16oz light sour cream
  • 4oz can diced jalapenos, chopped
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (topping, optional)
  • Chicken, cooked and shredded/chopped (optional)

SAPotato.jpeg

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and poke holes in your rinsed and patted dry potatoes with a fork.  Rub the olive oil and salt all over the outside of the potato.  Place directly on the top rack of your hot oven.  *Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack to catch any drippings.  Bake for 45 minutes or until tender; depends on size of potato.   You’ll have crispy, salted potato skin and a fluffy interior.

Cook your chicken now as well (grill, blacken, bake, simmer and shred, etc) if desired.

Spinach Artichoke Filling:

In a skillet over medium heat, melt together 8oz cream cheese, 16 oz sour cream, 1/2 stick butter, 2 cups parmesan cheese, and minced garlic, stirring frequently until melted and an even consistency.

Stir in coarsely chopped artichoke hearts, drained jalapenos and fresh or drained spinach (remember to remove excess water).  Finally, stir in the cooked chicken (if using).

Serve:

Cut a slit in the top of your potato and I prefer to scoop out a bit of the flesh.  Fill with a large ladle full of Spinach Artichoke filling and if desired, top with some shredded mozzarella and place on the baking sheet in a 375 degree oven until cheese is melted.  Enjoy!

SAPotato4

BBQ Bacon Ranch Meatball Subs

Frozen meatballs are always a staple in my freezer for easy & quick last-minute dinner or appetizer ideas.  However, most of my friends and family get stuck in the rut of only using them for Italian flavored meals, which is great, but let’s change it up just a bit!

Awhile back when trying to think creatively, something struck me when my 6-year-old son asked for BBQ (we do live in Texas and a giant smoker owns our back porch) for dinner.  Well, I hadn’t made my weekly grocery run yet but I did have meatballs in the freezer, a slow-cooker and a few jars of barbecue sauce in the pantry…change my thinking and the standard marinara sopped hoagie was about to receive a southern twist!  After a few ingredients were added and the smells were filtering through my house (did you see there’s bacon too??), I just KNEW I had a winner on my hands!  Boy did I ever!

*You can leave the bacon in strips or chopped.  Ill often do simple crispy strips for my husband and I, but the chopped is easy for lil mouths.

*I also go back and forth with sliced cheese or shredded…sliced is gooey’er but shredded works in a pinch!  I still say cheddar is best here!

*If you’d like this as more of an appetizer you can make them into sliders or just pour onto a serving dish, sprinkle with bacon, cheese and green onions.  Keep toothpicks & cocktail napkins handy!

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 package frozen fully cooked home-style meatballs 
  • 2 jars of your favorite barbecue sauce
  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning packet
  • 1 onion, rough chop
  • 1 package bacon, rough chopped and cooked
  • Sliced or shredded cheese (i.e. Cheddar, Jack, Colby)
  • Sub/hoagie rolls, lightly toasted

BBQRanchMeatball1.jpeg

Simple, simple, simple!  First, lightly spray your slow cooker with a non-stick spray and then add in the chopped onions.  Next, add in the frozen meatballs, sprinkle on the ranch dressing dry mix and pour the bbq sauce over top.  Toss to coat.  Cover and set on low for 4-6 hours.  Yep, you’re done until it’s time to assemble the subs!

Fast forward to dinner time…….this is how I serve ours:

I preheat my broiler and line a baking sheet with foil.  I first halve the hoagie buns lengthwise and give a light toast under the broiler (watch veryyyyy carefully as it goes quick!).  Then, buns still on baking sheet, I scoop on about 4-5 of the meatballs along with extra bbq sauce onto the toasted rolls from the slow cooker.  Finally, top with the crunchy cooked bacon and then copious amounts of cheese.  Place back under the broiler until the cheese is melted and bubbly…enjoy!!

BBQMeatballSub4

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta

Like the years before, halfway into Fall, I actually begin to crave something other than rich soups, stews and casseroles…weird, right?  I also did not want to take the time needed to make a few of those yummy, indulgent dishes.  So instead, it was back to a favorite, trusty 30-minute meal!  Another plus, it’s a bit on the healthier side compared to the latter mentioned too!   Keeping myself in check for that Thanksgiving feast this week!

*Another great thing about this dish is you can easily make it to your liking by choosing regular or gluten-free noodles, chicken, shrimp, halibut or no protein at all!  Please make it your own!

The Starting Lineup

Blackened Chicken

  • 1 lb Chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • cooking oil
  • Fresh lemon

Pasta

  • 12oz pasta noodles of choice, boiled and drained
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jar Roasted Piquillo (or red) Peppers, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup chicken (or vegetable) broth
  • 1/2 cup (8oz) heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled, plus more for garnish
  • Kalamata olives, no seeds
  • Chopped fresh basil

MedP1.jpeg

 

CHICKEN:

In a bowl, blend all of the dried and ground herbs together.  Squeeze the fresh lemon and a bit of cooking oil over the chicken breast and sprinkle the spice blend evenly over the chicken.   You can pan sear, bake or grill the chicken till cooked through and juices run clear.  Tent with foil and set aside as you prepare the sauce.

NOODLES:

Prepare about 2 minutes less than package directions.   Drain.  Set aside.

SAUCE:

Have a large skillet and your food processor (or blender) at  hand.

In your skillet over med-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter.  Next, add in the onions and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes or until softened.  Next, add the chopped and drained piquillo/red peppers and cook for another 3 minutes.

Transfer the veggie mix from the skillet to a food processor or blender.  Blend till fairly smooth, some chunks left are ok!

To that same large skillet, melt the remaining butter over med-high heat and pour the pepper puree back in.  Next, whisk in the broth, and a pinch of salt & pepper.  Finally, whisk in the heavy cream and parmesan cheese till smooth.

Add the cooked pasta, Kalamata olives, 1 cup feta cheese and fresh cut basil to the sauced skillet, toss to coat.

Serve with the blackened chicken, sliced, over top and sprinkle with a bit more feta and fresh basil.  Enjoy!

MedP4

 

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