Category Archives: onion

Lightened Up Lasagna Soup

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TGIF!! It has been a long week here. Well, a long couple of weeks actually. This flu that is flooding the country found it’s way to my house and,even though I had the shot, I got hit hard by it. Kevin on the other hand, who didn’t get the shot, was fine. Although there was quite a bit of hand washing, Purell usage, and banishment to the sofa for a few days. It’s OK, I was as comfy as I could be considering the circumstances. A trip to the ER, IV fluids, and Tamiflu helped me to kick the worst of it. But the residual cough is a killer. My heart and prayers go out to everyone that has/is suffering from this! 
Now, on to the good stuff, the food! I was so happy when I was able to (and had the desire to) cook again. It seemed strange to be back in my little kitchen after so long away. But cooking is like riding a bike right? So I jumped back on and peddled away.
I had been eyeing a recipe by Paula Deen for Lasagna soup before my desire to eat anything more than jello and popsicles kicked in. So that was the first thing I wanted to make when I felt better. However, and I do so love Ms Paula, it was packed full of fat and calories! So I tackled the challenge of trying to remove a bit of both from the recipe. 
I am so very happy to announce that even though the fat and calories were reduced, the flavor was not. This is some seriously good soup guys! Even Mr “Soup is not a meal” raved about it and ended up finishing his bowl and part of mine. He was also very happy to package the leftovers in a freezer bag for a future meal. I was, as you cam imagine, very pleasantly surprised! 
I myself referred to this soup as a little bit of heaven in a bowl, so you know how I felt about it. Seriously though, give this soup a try, you will not regret it I promise!!
Lightened Up Lasagna Soup

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound Italian turkey sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I used 1 teaspoon)
6 broken whole wheat lasagna noodles
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, packed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese, plus some for sprinkling

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large sauce pot  Add the sausage, onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is crumbled and browned, approx 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salt, and crushed red pepper. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the noodles, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in mozzarella, basil, and the Parmesan. Ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle with a little extra mozzarella cheese if wanted.

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Philly Cheese Steak Mac and Cheese

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This recipe came about from the request of several people on my Facebook page. I had an impromptu survey asking what Mac and Cheese everyone would like to see me come up with and this was the overwhelming winner. I mean it was a landslide! I was excited. I love Philly Cheese Steaks and Mac and Cheese so the idea of smooshing them together made me a very happy camper. I mean, is there such a thing as too many Mac and Cheese recipes? I think not! I am thinking I should create a label for the blog for just my Mac and Cheese recipes. I am very curious to see how many I have!
For many people, myself included, Mac and Cheese is a comfort food. We know it might not be the lowest calorie dish (ssshhhhh if we don’t say it out loud it isn’t true!), but it isn’t a dish we have all of the time so we can splurge in those times when we just need a warm hug for our tummy right?

I really thought long and hard about this recipe. I mean there are so many views on what a true cheese steak is. Most people I know that are from Philly love the original cheese steak. It is just cheese and steak, usually the cheese being a cheese wiz type product. Some prefer the provolone instead. I have been reminded by my best friend, who is from Philly, that if you order a cheese steak in Philly you do not get onions, mushrooms, and peppers on it. They are items you have to request. So I guess my recipe does not reflect a true authentic cheese steak but I love onions, mushrooms,and peppers, so this is my loose interpretation. To my wonderful Philly fans, you are welcome to leave out the veggies, I will not be offended. But I am telling you, yummmm yummmmm, this was great with those veggies I promise!!
It was hard for me to not just eat this off of the spoon!!
Philly Cheese Steak Mac and Cheese

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cups milk
1/2 cup shredded white American cheese
1/2 cup shredded Provolone cheese
1 cup shredded yellow Cheddar cheese
3/4 pound good quality deli roast beef, sliced as thick as bacon, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small bell pepper, chopped (any color, I mixed green and red)

10 to 12 cremini mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
Butter flavored non stick spray

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt water and cook pasta to al dente.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, mushrooms, peppers, and garlic. Saute for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the mushrooms have softened and given up their liquid. Add the roast beef and continue to cook until the beef is heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Heat a sauce pot over medium heat. Add butter to pot and melt, whisk in flour 1 minute then milk. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, thicken sauce 5 to 6 minutes. Melt 2/3 of the combined cheeses into the sauce.

Preheat broiler.

Drain pasta and return to hot pot. Toss hot pasta with chopped meat and veggies to combine, stir in cheese sauce and coat. Transfer mac n cheese to casserole and top with remaining cheese. Spray the top with the butter flavored spray and sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Brown under broiler 3 to 4 minutes, serve.

ENJOY

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Sausage, Tomato and Spinach Pasta Bake

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This was one of those pantry/fridge clean out recipes. I hadn’t made it out to the store and Kevin was too tired to stop on the way home. When he came in the door he said he was starving and asked what was for dinner. I was quick to begin the search through my supplies to see what I could come up with. I have certain things I keep stocked so I always have them on hand. Canned tomatoes (crushed, diced, and whole), pastas, and sausage (in the freezer) are pretty much always on hand. I had some leftover baby spinach from salads a few days before. Plus of course I am never without several different types of cheeses.
After about the third time of Kevin asking was was for dinner I told him to hush, I mean I never let him go hungry right? Sheesh all the pressure! I still think it is funny when he gets nervous about what I am making. He has told me several times that I have never made a bad meal. Where is the faith and the love? I mean come on, really?
After this was all done and put on the table all he could say is “Wow that looks and smells really good” *sigh*thank you! Seriously, I think he just loves making me crazy but I keep telling him it is a quick trip and he doesn’t want to push it too far too fast!

Anyway, back to the food. This is a great quick casserole for a busy weeknight. It really takes very little time at all and tastes wonderful. Kevin took the leftovers to work for his boss and himself the next day. That always lets me know he liked it!

Sausage, Tomato and Spinach Pasta Bake
8 ounces short cut pasta (I used Penne)
8 ounces Italian sausage (sweet or hot)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup red wine
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1 can 14.5 ounce diced tomatoes
5 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup Italian blend shredded cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta, and set aside.
  3. Add olive oil to a large skillet and cook sausage over medium high heat, stirring to crumble. When sausage is browned add onion, cook until translucent, add the garlic and cook for an addition 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and scrape up the browned bit from the bottom of the pan. Cook for 2 minutes to cook off the alcohol. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in fresh spinach. 
  4. Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, and basil. Place half of the pasta mixture in a small (2 quart) casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Top with the half of the mozzarella and Italian cheese blend. Cover with remaining pasta and top with the remaining cheeses. Bake at 350° for 25 minute.
ENJOY!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

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I have had so many people asking for slow cooker recipes. But with the kids moving out and it just being the two of us here,  my slow cooker has been sadly neglected. As a matter of fact when I went into my pantry to get my slow cooker, I couldn’t find it! I hadn’t used it since we moved several months ago. I finally found it down on a bottom shelf, all by it’s self, lonely and neglected. Poor thing! Right then I vowed to try and do a slow cooker recipe at least once a month. 
Wow I sound like a complete nut job right now don’t I? YIKES! Anyway, moving on….
I know I have gone on and one about my love for Mexican food, and the fact that Kevin does not share my affection. So long story short, I love it, he suffers through it for me. End of story. Poor guy had to have it three times this week though. He must really love me!!
I will say that, in my defense, he walked in the door after work and the first words out of his mouth were “What smells so good”….he couldn’t argue with me after that. Chalk one up for Mexican food and me!!

This is a great recipe and can be easily doubled for more people. I used two good sized chicken breasts and Kevin and I agreed that it would have easily fed four people. I also only used one jalapeno (left the seeds in) and it was not hot at all. Next time I will use at least two.
I also love this recipe because it takes 8 hours (can be shorter if you cook on high) so for people that work full time it is great. You don’t have a meal sitting in your slow cooker on warm for three hours. 
You can top the tacos with whatever you like. I used my guacamole, sour cream, and some Chalula hot sauce. 
Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 jalapeno, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 good sized handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon cumin,
1 tablespoon chili powder
Salt and pepper
juice of 1 lime
1 cup chicken stock
Optional topping:
Sour cream
Hot sauce
Place the chicken in the crock pot. Add the tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, garlic, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper, lime juice, and chicken stock. 
Cook for 4 hours on high, or 8 hours on low.
Serves 4
ENJOY!!

Chipotle Chicken Braid

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This meal has been fighting me for a while. A few weeks ago I mentioned on my Facebook page that I was making this dish and several people expressed interest and said they couldn’t wait for the blog post and recipe. That night I set about the task of getting this all cooked up and must have lost my brain for a bit during the process because I forgot to add the salsa and the cheese. We just added them on top afterward and it tasted wonderful, but I didn’t feel right taking a picture and posting if I didn’t make the dish exactly as the recipe I am posting calls for. So I knew I had to make it again, and soon.
A few days later I was talking with my son’s girlfriend about how much we missed seeing them and asked her if they would like to come over for dinner. I figured I could kill a few birds with one stone, see the kids, make the dish again, and have more guinea pigs tasters available. In the end it was a fantastic night. I saw my kiddos, I prepared the dish correctly, and everyone loved it!! But then my camera batter died and I ended up using my iPhone to take the pictures! It fought me, but I won!!

I modified this from a recipe I found on Pintrest. I loved the idea of it, but wanted to add some flavor that I just felt the dish was lacking. I knew I didn’t want to just go for jalapenos and blow peoples heads of with that kind of heat. So I went with chipotle, and nice warm heat. The kind that makes your mouth tingle, but in small amounts is just nice and warm. If you are extremely sensitive to spicy food you can cut the chipotle chili powder in half, or even use regular chili powder in its place. But I can tell you we all love the flavor of this dish as is.
I have made this dish with puff pastry dough and crescent roll dough. I was able to stretch the puff pastry dough much more so I was of course able to add more chicken mixture to the braid. The second time I used the crescent roll dough. It was smaller so I reduce the chicken mixture from my original recipe. It worked out well both ways. With the crescent roll braid I was able to comfortably have 4 entree size portions.  

Chipotle Chicken Braid
adapted from a recipe on pilsbury.com
serves 4


1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations® refrigerated seamless dough sheet
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small bell pepper, any color, sliced thin 
1 small onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small, or one large boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 jar chunky salsa (I used a 16-ounce can of a specialty white corn and *black bean salsa, medium heat), drained
2 cups Mexican blend cheese
1 egg white, beaten


Heat oven to 375°F. 

Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray. Unroll dough onto cookie sheet; press to 8×12 inches

In a small bowl, mix the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and salt. Set aside

Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers and sautee until the onions begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes then add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the chicken and sprinkle the chili powder mixture over the contents of the skillet. Stir to combine and cook just until the chicken begins to turn slightly white on the edges (it will finish cooking in the oven). Remove from heat.

Spoon chicken mixture in 4-inch strip lengthwise down center of dough. Top with salsa; sprinkle with cheese. With a sharp knife, make cuts 1 inch apart on long sides of dough within 1/2 inch of filling. Alternately cross strips over filling; press edges to seal. Lightly brush with egg white.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. If the dough begin to get to dark to quickly cover with foil to stop the browning process.

*The first time I added black beans to the mix, but since I found the black bean salsa I omited them this time. You can drain a can of black beans and add them if you want a higher protein/fiber content

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Spicy Steak Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions

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The other night I made one of my favorite soups, Cream of Mushroom with Port Wine. It has been cold and rainy as usual here in the Pacific Northwest, so I was craving something creamy, rich, and warm. But, like I have said in the past, if I try to put soup on the table and call it dinner Kevin thinks I have lost my mind. So my new plan is, when I want to make soup (which will be a LOT this winter), I will make some kind of a sandwich for him. That way we can both be happy right?
Well I can tell you he was very happy when he found out that I was making Steak Sandwiches. It was not only meat, but it was nice thick cut beef. You would think I gave him a million dollars when I handed him this sandwich! Hhhmmm maybe that is the answer to what to give him for Christmas. Naaa I can’t wrap up steaks, they would go bad. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

He was actually happy with the soup as well. He loves mushrooms and with the port wine in the soup it has such a rich deep flavor it complimented the steak very very well. He even took a sandwich and soup for lunch the next day. I told him he would really appreciate that soup when he was cold at work and it was warm and creamy. I was right. Well why would he even doubt me?
I have to say that I blew it on the picture gang. Fist I am still having problems with my lighting so that is always an issue. But, and I will blame this on Kevin wanting his sandwich right away, this sandwich does not have the caramelized onions on it! UGH!! I didn’t realize my mess up until we had already started eating and he asked where his onions were. So you will have to take my word that they looked scrumptious!!
Also, I am very excited to announce I have been nominated for 2012 Best Food Blogger!! I can’t tell you how shocked I was when I received the notification. So if you could just do me a favor by clicking the little “love” button at the top right corner, or just click on the name of my blog in the same area, you will be able to give me a vote. Thank you all so much!!
Spicy Steak Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. olive oil 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1 1-1/4 lb. flank steak 
4 large sandwich rolls, split 
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup light mayonnaise 
3 tablespoons horseradish 
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Mixed greens  


Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat until hot, or heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high.
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the onion slices and sautee the onions until they begin to brown lightly, approx 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Season the steak with salt and pepper and grill, flipping once, until cooked to your liking. Approx 5 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Thinly slice the steak across the grain
Toast the rolls cut side down on the hot grill pan until lightly browned.

Combine the cheese, mayonnaise, horseradish, and cayenne in a small bowl and spread it on the bottom halves of the rolls.

Divide the onion, steak, and greens among the rolls and serve.

ENJOY!!!

Cheesy Poblano Chicken for #SundaySupper

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I was so excited when I found out the theme this week for #SundaySupper was favorite celebrity chefs! If you know my story you know that this whole journey into cooking and blogging came from my love of Rachael Ray. She made cooking seem easy and I didn’t feel overwhelmed  watching her. She specializes in comfort food that is quick and easy to make. That was right up my alley!! So I jumped into my kitchen and haven’t left. That was about 7 years ago.
In November of 2010 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and ended up having to have surgery the following January. During my healing process I was not allowed to push, pull, lift, etc. In other words I was bored out of my mind! My kids had pushed me to start a blog a few years back but I thought there was no way anyone would be interested in reading what I had to say, but with all of my spare time I thought “What the heck, if no one reads it no one reads it but it will keep me sane (somewhat)”. I started my first blog and called it Bobbi Renee and Rachael Ray. My plan at that time was to cook my way through her 365 No Repeats cook book. With Kevin’s help chopping and lifting the blog was started and I was hooked.
I have since gained the courage to start writing my own recipes, something I would have never thought I could do, and can’t imagine doing anything else! All thanks to Rachael Ray!! I sure would love to give her a hug!

 Cheesy Poblano Chicken
adapted from a recipe by Rachael Ray
Serves 2

  • 2 medium poblano peppers, seeded and stemmed, chopped 
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • A small handful cilantro leaves plus a few leaves for garnish 
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

In a blender or food processor, combine peppers with stock, onions, garlic, cumin, oregano, cilantro, salt and pepper; purée. 
In a saucepot over medium heat, melt butter and whisk in flour. Add milk and yogurt, and raise heat a bit. Add poblano purée and simmer to thicken and cook sauce, 20-25 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
While the sauce is cooking, place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and brown 3 to 4 minutes on each side then transfer to casserole dish. Pour poblano sauce over the top, cover with cheese and bake 15-20 minutes, depending on size of chicken pieces. Dish should be brown and bubbly on top.



Starters or Snacks :
Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog – Oyster and Brie Soup and Wine Pairings for Celebrity Chef #SundaySupper
Linda at The Urban Mrs. – Inspired by Bobby Flay, Lobster Chowder with Roasted Corn Salsa
Erin from Dinners, Dishes and Desserts – Rachael Ray’s Cinnamon Popcorn
Cindy over at Cindy’s Recipes and Writings – Jamie Oliver’s Bread and Tomato Soup
Jeff at The Catholic Foodie – Drop Biscuits – Breakfast with Chef John Besh
Renee over at Kudos Kitchen By Renee – Giada De Laurentiis’ Garlic Toasts With Red Pepper Aioli
The Main Dish:
Sheila at Cooking Underwriter – Paula Deen’s  Chicken in a Crock Pot w/ Sauerkraut and Apples
Laura over at Small Wallet Big Appetite – Martin Yan’s Beef Chow Fun
Claire at The Realistic Nutritionist – Alton Brown’s 40 Cloves and a Chicken
Sarah over at Crispy Bits & Burnt Ends – Michael Symon’s Lola burger with crab tater tots
Susan at The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen – Ina Garten’s Baked Shrimp Scampi
Katy over at Happy Baking Days – Mary Berry’s Treacle Tart
Tammi at Momma’s Meals – Lee Drummond’s Sloppy Joe’s
Lane over at Supper for a Steal – Bobby Flay’s Rosemary Bricked Chicken
Tara from Noshing with the Nolands – Michael Symon’s Pork and Apple Scallopini
Shannon at Country Girl in the Village – Simple Red Sauce over Rigatoni. Inspired by,  Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos
Kris over at In the Kitchen with Audrey and Maurene – Rachael Ray’s Muffin Tin Meatloaf
Nicole from The Daily Dish Recipes – Paula Deen’s Slow Cooker Pulled Pickled Pork Sandwiches
Becca from It’s Yummilicious – Ina Garten’s Grown Up Mac & Cheese
Alice at  Hip Foodie Mom – Sunday Pot Roast with Risotto Cakes from Kelsey Nixon
Jen over at  Juanita’s Cocina – The Neely’s White Turkey Chili
Brianne from Cupcakes & Kale Chips – Crockpot Beef Pot Roast with Mushrooms inspired by Giada DeLaurentiis
Isabel at Family Foodie – Polenta with Garlicky Shrimp inspired by Chef Todd English
Wendy from The Weekend Gourmet – Shrimp Penne in Pesto Cream Sauce, From Emeril Lagasse
Bobbi over at Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen – Cheesy Poblano Chicken
Patti at Comfy Cuisine – Tyler Florence’s Chicken Francese
Chris from Sustainable Dad – Pork Tenderloin with Jerusalem Artichokes and Negroni Vinaigrette
Roxanne over at The Roxx Box – Jambalaya Pasta with Penne, Chicken, Shrimp and Andouille
Sue from Sue’s Nutrition Buzz – Rachael Ray’s Spicy Corn Chowdah Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Jamie at Mama Mommy Mom – Penne with Asparagus, Smoked Gouda and Prosciutto. Adapted from, Giada De Laurentiis’
Tora over at Tora’s Real Food – Pork and beans with Alton Brown’s pickled pork


Amazing Sides:
Elizabeth over at The Hand That Rocks The Ladle – Emeril’s New Orleans Style Red Beans & Rice
Megan from I Run For Wine – Curtis Stone’s Acorn Squash Roasted with Thyme
Sandi over at Midlife Road Trip –  Gabriele Corcos’s Gnocchi di Patate
Shelby at  Diabetic Foodie – Orange Pecan Black Rice, adapted from Ina Garten
Katie from She likes Ruffles, He likes Truffles – Chef Fabio Viviani’s Spinach and Artichoke Risotto
Sweet Endings:
Kim over at Cravings of a Lunatic – Chocolate Cream Puffs with Hazelnut Filling
Renee over at Magnolia Days – Brownie Tart
Connie at The Foodie Army Wife – Inspired by Ree Drummond – Scrumptious Apple Coffee Cake
Paula over at Vintage Kitchen Notes – Bill Granger´s Cherry Tart
Pam from The Meltaways – Savannah Sheet Cake
Amber at Mama’s Blissful Bites – Huggy Buggy Bread Pudding
Jaime over at Mom’s Test Kitchen – Southern Tea Cakes
Amy over at Kimchi MOM – Crack Pie, I Can’t Quit You
Lyn from The Lovely Pantry – Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Squares
Melanie at From Fast Food to Fresh Food – Sand Tarts
Wine Pairings: 
Please join on us via Twitter for #SundaySupper on December 2, 2012, throughout the day. In the evening, we will meet at 7 PM EST for our weekly #SundaySupper live chatAll you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag or you can follow us through TweetChat.

Gumbo with Chicken Sausage, and Shrimp

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By now you know about my obsession errr love for soup. You also know that my dear boyfriend does not share this love with me. In fact it has gotten to the point that I don’t even mention I am making soup until the last minute. That way he can’t try to figure out something else to make for dinner! This little dilemma has led me to try to compromise a bit here and there. There either needs to be meat in the soup or I need to make something else on the side. 
Once I let this idea sink in (and stopped pouting because I wanted things to just go my way), I realized this wasn’t such a bad idea. I have been asked for more sandwich recipes, and soup and sandwiches is a nice casual dinner or lunch idea right? I mean I love going out and getting the soup and sandwich combos. So I started writing ideas and looking online and through my books/magazines for even more. Gumbo just popped into my head as a great place to start. I have been wanting to make it for one, and there is a ton of meat in it. I mean how could he argue with a meal that has chicken, sausage, and shrimp in it? Right, he can’t!

I found a recipe in Saveur (I love them) for a basic Gumbo, but I knew there were things I wanted to add. Mine might not be a “traditional” Gumbo, but it packed full of flavors with that little zing that we both love. I added shrimp and jalapeno, as well as some Franks Red Hot to boost the flavors. I already had andouille sausage and chicken thighs in the freezer so it was on!!

When Kevin came home from work the first thing he said when he walked through the door was “What smells so good?” YES….chalk one up for me!! Wow do I sound like a little kid or what? Oh well, I don’t care, I like winning hehehe!

Sorry for the awful pictures, this was taken right when we first moved and there were boxes everywhere and no place but the dimly lit kitchen to take the pic. 
Gumbo with Chicken Sausage, and Shrimp
adapted from a recipe in Saveur Magazine
½ cup canola oil
1 lb shrimp, peeled and cleaned

2 lb. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 oz. andouille sausage, cut into ½” pieces
4 slices bacon, cut into ½” pieces
1 cup flour
3 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 tsp. cayenne
1 28-ounce whole peeled tomatoes in juice, drained and crushed by hand
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
10 oz. bag of frozen sliced okra
4 cups chicken stock + more stock if needed to thin soup (can use water)
Several dashes of hot sauce to taste (I used Franks Red Hot)
Cooked white rice, for serving



Heat ¼ cup oil in an 8-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, season chicken with salt and pepper, and add chicken to pot; cook, turning once, until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add sausage and bacon, and cook, stirring, until their fat renders and bacon is browned, about 5 minutes; transfer to plate with chicken. 


Add remaining oil, and reduce heat to medium-low, stir in flour, and cook, stirring constantly, until this mixture is reddish caramel, about 8 minutes. Add celery, onion, and pepper, jalapeno, and cook until soft, about 6 minutes. Add thyme, cayenne, tomatoes, garlic, and bay leaf, and cook for 3 minutes. Return chicken, sausage, and bacon to pot along with okra and stock, and bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, okra is tender, and gumbo is thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove and shred meat, and stir meat back into gumbo. Season with salt and pepper and hot sauce, and add shrimp. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the shrimp is pink through. Serve with white rice on the side. 

Serves 4 to 6

ENJOY!!!

Maple Bourbon Pork Chops and Whipped Potatoes with Apples and Onions

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Maple Bourbon Pork Chops and Whipped Potatoes with Apples and Onions

Do you ever have those moments when you are doing something and out of the blue ideas for something else just pop into your head? This has been happening to me quite often lately. When I am driving ideas for a recipe will just BANG hit me,which is awesome right? Well it would be if my ADD wasn’t so dang bad. I mean just driving is a serious challenge for me at times. I have been known to be driving somewhere that I have been to a million times before, and at some point take the wrong exit on the freeway or turn down a wrong road. It is bad enough when I am alone, but when someone is with me it is a tad bit embarrassing! SO when these ideas pop into my head I have to say the ingredient list out loud over and over to try and help me remember. Again, not so bad when you are alone but if you have passengers they really think about exiting the car once it slows down to about 30 MPH!!

This idea started out because when we went shopping the other day, Kevin picked up a couple packs of buy one get one free center cut pork loin chops. He loves pork chops but I don’t make them very often, A-because he constantly complains that the pork chops now aren’t as good as the old ones were. He loved big fatty pork chops and hasn’t seemed to accept the health news that fat is bad for you. Although the fat is pretty darn tasty!! And B- well I just haven’t been that moved by pork. My Dad wasn’t a big pork fan and neither were my kids so unfortunately Kevin was out numbered. Now that it is just the two of us he gets his way much more often. In fact I think he is getting a little spoiled. I had better make sure he doesn’t too cocky about getting his way!
Now, due to my lack of pork cooking, I was a tad clueless as to what I wanted to do with them. I can make a mean roast but my extent of chop cooking was, regretfully a throw back to the old days of smothering them in a can of pork and beans, or frying them. I know that is OK once in a while (p.s. I will be frying the other batch soon!) but I wanted to make them special

After racking my brains for a while I just put it to rest and went off to run some errands. In mid drive the light bulb went off in my head BING I knew what I wanted to do with them. The true test was to remember the plan and then run it past Kevin to see what he thought. Since the chops really were for him I wanted them to be something he would really enjoy. In other cooking he doesn’t get as much of a vote. So I was pleasantly surprised when his face lit up with a smile when I ran down my game plan. He even got into the kitchen with me to help get everything together. 
The result was one fantastic meal. The sauce for the chops was so tasty, sweet with that little bite of bourbon flavor, and the mashed potatoes with the onions and apples? YUM! Mixed with the sauce from the pork chops they were heavenly. I had made 3 chops and it is a good thing because Kevin went back for seconds, after cleaning my plate!!
Maple Bourbon Pork Chops and Whipped Potatoes with Apples and Onions
Served 2
3 1/2″ inch center cut pork loin chops 
1/4 onion, minced + 1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 strips of bacon, chopped
4 tablespoons butter, separated

1/2 cup bourbon
1/4 cup Maple Syrup (can add more if you want a sweeter sauce)
1/4 whole grain mustard 
salt and pepper

2 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 apples (I used honey crisp), peeled, cored, and chopped into chunks
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (if you want a bit of tang in the potatoes)
1/3 cup corn starch
1/3 cup warm water


Place chopped potatoes apples and onions in a large pot and add enough water to cover them. Boil until potatoes are fork tender. Drain in a colander and return the potato mixture back to the hot pot. Add 3 tablespoons of butter and whip the mixture with a hand mixer until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the Greek yogurt if desired.

Meanwhile, salt and pepper chops and set them aside. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the fat renders. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. 

Cook the pork chops in the skillet, about 3 to 5 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the chops  and the doneness you desire(we like our chops a bit pink in the middle now that it is safe to do so). Remove chops to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. 

Add 1 tablespoon butter to the pan and once it has melted add the minced onion. Cook onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Return the bacon back to the pan and continue to cook another minute or so. Add the bourbon to the pan (remove pan from heat while adding then return to heat), then add the maple syrup and mustard. Mix completely and bring the sauce to a simmer. Adjust seasoning adding more syrup if desired. 

Stir the cornstarch into the warm water and pour into the sauce. whisking until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat. Carefully place sauce into a blender or use and immersion blender to blend the sauce and break down the onions, garlic, and bacon. 

Place a scoop of potatoes on a plate, top with a pork chop and pour sauce over them both.

ENJOY!! 

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

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I know today is supposed to be Tinsel Tuesday, but I had several of my Facebook followers ask for this recipe when they found out I was making it yesterday. This year I am trying to get as many things done ahead of time so I am not in a time crunch on Thanksgiving day. I am entertaining my son’s girlfriend’s family, so there will be anywhere from 10 to 15 people here at the house. Small kitchen + lots of people = I need to try to de-stress as much as possible! I have a 26 pound bird to cook so that has me stressed out enough!
The whole time I was cooking up this gravy Kevin kept saying “Wow it smells good in here” and it did. It smelled like Thanksgiving in my kitchen! Talk about  making you hungry? I wanted my turkey right then and there. That is the downside of make ahead gravy. This recipe takes a bit of time but creates such a rich flavorful gravy it is worth it!! Kevin and I were dipping bread in the remnants at the bottom of the pot!! I think we could have easily made that dinner had there been much more in the pan (the gravy in the rubbermaid container was off limits!).

The recipe I use makes about 8 cups of gravy total. You could cut it in half, but I seriously doubt you will have to worry about leftovers!!
Make Ahead Gravy
4 pounds turkey wings (can substitute chicken wings)
2 onions, quartered
6 carrots, cut in large chunks
6 stalks of celery, cut in large chunks
1 bottle dry white wine (I use Chardonnay)
2 quarts chicken stock (plus more if needed)
10 fresh sage leaves
9 cups water
3/4 cup corn starch
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Place the wings, onion, carrots, and celery in a roasting pan and roast for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the wings are a deep golden brown. Remove the wings and veggies from the roaster and place them in a large soup pot   or dutch oven (8 quarts or  more) along with 2 quart of stock, 8 cups of water, and the sage leaves. 
Place the roasting pan on the stove top and heat over high heat. Add the wine and using a wooden spoon scrap up any browned bits that are on the bottom. Continue cooking until the wine cooks down to 1 cup of liquid. Add the wine to the pot with the wings. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours uncovered.
Strain the broth into a large bowl, discard solids and skim any fat from the top. If broth is less than 8 cups add enough stock to bring it up to 8 cups. If it is more than 8 cups, return to soup pot and heat until reduced to 8 cups.
Bring the broth to a boil. Meanwhile whisk corn starch into the last cup of water. Whisk into boiling broth. Cook until mixture thickens. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cool and store in plastic container. You should have approx 7 cups of gravy. Refrigerate up to 5 days.
On the day you want to serve the gravy. Add the gravy to a large pot to reheat it. Add the strained drippings from the turkey and additional stock if needed to thin the gravy.  
ENJOY!!