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Blackened Chicken Broccoli Tortellini

Here you have a family pleasing meal that can be made on a hectic weeknight, because…it take’s just 30 minutes!  Yep, a 30 minute meal that didn’t even use a jar of sauce to create a creamy yet more dreamy alfredo sauce!

To offset the richness of the cheese tortellini and sauce, the blackened chicken gives just the right amount of kick and since you basically are just blanching the broccoli, it keeps a great crisp texture!  Even my 5 year old had seconds AND leftovers for lunch the next day, score!!

*You can use any noodle of your choosing if not a tortellini fan; you can also use fresh broccoli if available.

The Starting Lineup

Chicken

  • 1-1/2 lbs chicken, I like the thin cut breasts
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic power
  • hefty pinch of kosher salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Pasta

  • 16oz  package frozen cheese tortellini
  • 10oz frozen broccoli
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 container parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

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In a small bowl, mix together all of the seasonings to create a blackening rub.  Pat some olive oil all over each chicken breast and then coat in the blackening seasoning.  *Often, if I am using thin cutlets of chicken, I will just coat one side.  If using larger chicken breasts, coat both sides..

Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil and either bring your grill to medium high heat or a cast iron pan to screaming high heat.

Now, I used our grill, so once ready I made sure the grates were oiled and cooked each side of the thinly sliced chicken for about 2 minutes and then transferred to a plate tented with foil to let rest.  *If using a pan, do the same, just remember to turn your vent on as it WILL smoke a bit inside your kitchen.  Cook till the juices run clear.

Meanwhile, add the tortellini to the boiling water and cook to package directions.  The last 2 minutes of cooking, toss the frozen broccoli right in with the tortellini.  Drain in a large colander.

In a large pan, melt the butter and whisk in the heavy cream.  Add in the cooked tortellini and broccoli.  Sprinkle and fold in all of the parmesan cheese and a bit of salt and pepper to taste.  *I like lots of pepper.

Hey, you’re DONE!!  Slice the blackened chicken and lay overtop the broccoli tortellini alfredo and you have yourself a tasty dinner!  Serve with garlic bread, a side salad and vino of course!!

 

Cheesy Jalapeno Bacon Brussels

Well, we’re under a tornado watch here in Texas.  Ah the beauty of Spring in the south, right?  That all being said, I’m not really keen on taking my boys and I outside to play this fine afternoon, so I figured it was time to update my other love.  My food blog.

This spin on one of my favorite recipes by Lisa Fain, aka The Homesick Texan, will even have your “I loathe Brussels sprouts” friend’s socks knocked right off!  I’m not kidding…I am a Libra and I do not lie, I am fair and loyal and tell no tales.  It’s damn good!

So next time you see those intimidating sprouts waiting for your approval and love in your local supermarket, please do your dinner party and that loathing friend a favor.  It’s easy, unique and impressive.  It’s Cheesy Jalapeno Bacon Brussels Sprouts!

*If you do not have a cast iron pan, pour the mix into a broiler proof baking dish prior to placing in the oven. 

**You can remove the seeds and pith from the jalapeno if desired…but I always ask, “why??” 😉

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved/quartered
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (1 Tbsp grease reserved)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapenos, minced
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 heaping Tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 8oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 4oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  • a  hefty pinch each of salt, pepper, cayenne and cumin

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Begin this tasty side dish by crisping up your bacon, while also bringing a stock pot of salted water to a boil.

Once the water has begun to boil, add in the prepared Brussels sprouts (stems trimmed and halved or quartered) and let cook for 6-7 minutes.  Once tender, pour into a colander and run cold water over to stop the cooking.  *Also set aside the now cooked bacon.

Preheat your ovens broiler and place a rack about 6″ from the top.

In a 10-inch cast iron skillet on low heat, melt the butter along with the reserved bacon grease.  Add in the minced jalapenos and let sweat down for 2 minutes, followed by the minced garlic for the last 30 seconds.  Next, add in the flour and whisk for about 1-2 minutes till browned and then pour in the whole milk while, again, continuously whisking.  Stir ever so often for the next 5-7 minutes as the mixture thickens.  Careful not to let it come to a boil.

Stir in 1/2 of the shredded cheese and the spices.  Keep stirring allowing for the cheese to turn into a real gooey cheese sauce.  Make sure to taste test here; I always add a bit more salt and cayenne than you may think needed.  Next fold in 3/4th of the cooked bacon and the par-cooked Brussels.

Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 of shredded cheese all over top of the Brussels and place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes.  Careful to watch closely and do not let burn!  Every oven is so very different!

Once browned and bubbly, remove, sprinkle with the remaining bacon crumbles and allow to rest for a few minutes..it is hot!!

Serve warm and ENJOY folks!!

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Mexican White Bean Tuna Salad

Those who know me well, know that I’m not a huge fan of mayonnaise.  Like, at all.  I’m not going to be annoying and not eat a sandwich when a friend makes one for me (who am I kidding…that never happens), but mayo is a huge reason I never opt for the tuna salad at most places.  *and yes, I cook with it when necessary, just not in abundance. 

Now THIS!!! THIS I can do!!  It has a bit of tang, a bit of heat, a real freshness and zero of that creamy mayo!  Sold!!!  It’s a much lighter take on the traditional version that you can still eat between sliced bread, a pita or a tortilla..or simply eat it on its own as the ‘salad’ that it is!

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 packets/cans tuna, drained
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained AND rinsed
  • 1/2-1 calabacita (Mexican squash), halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4″
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds & pith removed, finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup cilantro, rough chop 
  • 1/8 cup green onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin, to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil, drizzle (1 Tbsp/ optional)
  • Kosher salt & ground pepper, to taste 

This really can’t be any easier…per usual, prep all of the veggies and protein. 

Next, in a large bowl, combine ALL of the above ingredients and toss together.  Yeah…super easy, right??  *you can cover and refridgerate or eat right away!  

I like to serve ours with sliced and seasoned tomatoes, lemon and lime wedges, pita bread or tortillas….and maybe a margarita or two.  Enjoy!!!

Chewy Lemon Curd Cookie Bars

I’m a HUGE junkie for lemon anything…some of my fondest memories are from when we’d eat at Marie Callendars restaurant as a child (when they were still everywhere) and my parents would let me order a big slice of Lemon Meringue pie…or even their Sour Cream Lemon (drooling!!) after my dinner.   I could also eat it all and not gain an ounce, not THATS a great memory in itself!

Anyway.  On the other side is my husband and he is a cookie fanatic..similar to the Cookie Monster if you will (I mean that in the nicest of ways 😉  So with this quick to assemble recipe I was thinking of both of us…and we both loved it indeed!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted (1/2 cup)
  • 10oz jar lemon curd
  • Powdered sugar, garnish  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, melt the butter in the microwave (30 second increments).  Next remove the bowl of melted butter and whisk in the granulated and light brown sugar till just combined. 

 Now stir in the flour to finish off the crust and crumble topping (*reserve about 1 cup for the “crumble”). 

 Grease roughly a 9×9 greased baking dish and spoon in the crust mixture while pressing it evenly into the dish with your fingers. 

 Next simply pour the lemon curd overtop of your pressed in crust (*use a rubber spatula or back of a spoon to gently spread).  Sprinkle the remaining dough overtop of the crust in that crumble fashion 😉 

    Pop the now filled baking dish into the oven for 35-40 minutes (uncovered) and then allow to cool for 15 minutes.  Place in the refridgerator for about 45-60 minutes to fully cool (here is where you eat dinner to pass the time ;)).

Cut into bars and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  These slighty crunchy, super chewy, sweet & tart delights will go fast! 

 

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!! 

 

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…. 😉 

 

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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