May 7, 2009
My husband shares a disease with a large population of the United States. It is an ailment that I am not fond of and become very frustrated with from time to time. Alex has an aversion to all condiments with the exception of barbecue sauce. He wants nothing to do with mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, or salad dressings. No matter what I add to it or what fancy aioli name I call it, he knows and is unwilling to venture into the strange substance zone.
He will and does put barbecue sauce on almost anything. Carefully crafted flavor profiles get destroyed by that sweet tangy blanket of sauce. I die a little inside every time he does it. This week I made Thai Peanut Chicken Burgers with a Cilantro Lime Aioli. The burgers were perfect; there was a subtle peanut undertone that was a great foundation for the Thai flavor to build on. The meal was complete with oven baked fries and even though the meal was overall healthy, the flavors were causing culinary cherubs to dance on my tongue.
What was Alex doing while I was enjoying this symphony of flavors, pouring barbecue sauce all over every inch of it. I do not think he even tried some without the smoky smothering. His critique: “This is really good. You cannot taste much of the peanut butter though.” I am sure that most of you are rolling your eyes with me now, but that barbecue sauce protects another secret: the burgers were made with carrots, Alex’s arch-nemesis of the vegetable world. So go ahead honey, pour that barbecue sauce on anything you like; those carrots sure taste good now, don’t they?
Peanut Chicken Burger
1 medium carrot, julienned
1 scallion, chopped
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp kosher salt
2 breast of chicken
2 Tbsp chunky peanut butter
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sriracha chili sauce
Place the two chicken breasts in the food processor. Pulse the meat until most of the bigger chunks are gone and you have a smooth chicken paste with some bigger pieces of chicken in it.
Place all the ingredients together in a bowl. Work with hands to mix but to do overwork.
Cook on a griddle (turkey burgers tend not to hold together well on a grill) until done, about 6 to 7 minutes per side.
Serve with lettuce leaves, more julienned carrots & Cilantro Lime Aioli.
- I added the peanut butter, sesame oil, sriracha chili sauce, and ground ginger to food processor after I had pulsed the chicken a few times. This helps to blend the flavors.
-I finished the burgers in the oven after they got golden brown on each side. It took about 10 mins in a 350 degree oven.
Nutritional Info- taken from Spark Recipes (not including the bun or the aioli)
Servings per recipe: 4
Calories: 218.4 Total Fat: 8.5 Cholesterol 71.6 Total Carbs: 4.9 Protein: 29.9
Cilantro Lime Aioli
1 ½ tbsp light mayo
½ tbsp of lime juice
1 tbsp fresh cilantro; minced
1 clove of garlic minced
Dash of salt and pepper
Mix well and top burgers.
Oven Baked Fries
This fries are amazing and they are baked so they are healthier than the alternative.
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 large baking potatoes, 12 ounces each
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves –I omit
Other seasonings to your taste such as paprika, chili powder, Cajun seasoning, or cayenne powder
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Cut the potatoes into 1/4-inch sticks. In a large bowl, toss the oil, potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and spread the potatoes onto it in a single layer. Sprinkle with seasoning to your taste such as paprika, chili powder, Cajun seasoning, or cayenne powder. Bake until golden and crisp, about 35 minutes.
Remove potatoes from the tray with a metal spatula. Toss with parsley and additional salt, to taste. Serve immediately.
Nutritional Info- taken from Spark Recipes
Servings per recipe: 4
Calories: 283.5 Total Fat: 7.4 Cholesterol 0.0 Total Carbs: 50.0 Protein: 5.9
February 10, 2009
Alex and I do not necessarily agree on everything. There are more than a few times that we are on opposite sides of the fence.
One of these times was one of our first dates. Looking back, it was quite romantically corny. Alex brought me to a park on campus. He parked next to a moonlight lake and turn the music up really loud. He suavely unbuckled my seat belt and took me out of the car to dance under the stars. Then, he decided that we should gaze up at those stars from the dock of the moonlit lake. The problem: the dock was over the river and through the woods. I voiced my fearful opposition based on the theory of woodland animals and serial killers awaiting our arrival. But, Alex, convinced of the increased romantic levels that were waiting for him on the dock, disagreed and we set out.
I am not brave. I do not pretend to be brave. If a serial killer attacked, I would throw you in front of him in hopes of making my escape successful. I clung to Alex during that five minute walk scanning my surrounding in search of impending doom. Each step was accompanied by a whimper. Every foreign sound warranted a plead to turn back. I was convinced that we were becoming the opening scene to some horrible B-rated horror flick. Alex disagreed.
We maneuvered our way down the dock. It creaked and swayed below our feet thus adding to my sense of security. We stood there for a moment and I began to relax. Then, right as we were getting ready to sit down and gaze up at the non-menacing stars, it happened. The forest shook and something or someone moved through the bushes. I reacted and pushed Alex out of my way and ran down the dock. Heart racing, I turned around frantically looking for my hunky protector. Alex was going to be no help to me though. He was knee deep in water pointing at a raccoon that had just wandered out of the woods. I explained my reasoning for sacrificing him while helping him out of the lake, all the way back to the car, and while I loaded his jeans into the washer. That we were in infinite peril and I reacted convinced he was stronger of the two with more of an opportunity to survive the supposed zombie attacker. Alex disagreed.
Honey Mustard or Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches
Just another thing Alex and I disagree about. If you would like to try the fabulous Honey Mustard goodness like I do, that recipe is first. The stupid barbecue one that Alex enjoys is second. We both rate these sandwiches an 8.5. There is nothing better than this and a good beer to finish off a long work day.
Today’s Recipe is adapted from the brilliant mind of the Pioneer Woman
Honey Mustard Marinade
½ cup of Dijon Mustard
½ cup of Honey
Juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon Paprika
½ teaspoon Salt
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
2. Whisk until smooth.
½ cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
½ cup Honey
Juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon Paprika
½ teaspoon Salt
Sprinkle of Cayenne and Red Pepper Chili Flake
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
2. Whisk until smooth.
2 Big Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
3 Strips of Bacon
Your favorite kind of Cheese (I use Sharp Cheddar for Honey Mustard and Pepper Jack for BBQ)
2 Hearty Can Hold Onto a Filling Rolls
1. Rinse the chicken breast and pat them dry.
2. Butterfly the chicken breast and cut down the seam. This will give you two halves of equal width.
3. Place the chicken breast in marinades, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 to 3 hours.
4. When ready to make the sandwiches, fry up some bacon. When finished cooking, reserve ¼ cup of the bacon grease and clean out the skillet.
5. Preheat the oven to 400.
6. Return about a tablespoon of the bacon grease to the skillet along with 1 tablespoon of Canola Oil. Place the pan over medium-high heat.
7. Remove the chicken from the fridge and drain off the extra marinade.
8. Place the chicken in the pan and cook 1 to 1 ½ minute per side until the chicken starts to brown.
9. Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a cooking sheet.
10. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and cook chicken about 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
11. While the chicken is cooking, prepare your roll. You can toast or untoast and add lettuce, mayo, tomato, onion etc. I like to eat the Honey Mustard with a little honey mustard sauce.
12. Place a few pieces of bacon on top of the chicken and sprinkle generously with cheese.
13. Return the pan to the oven and cook for additional 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Place the chicken on the prepare roll and enjoy!
Honey Mustard Sauce
¼ cup Mayo
1 ½ tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 ½ tbsp Honey
Splash of White Vinegar
1. Combine all ingredients ( taste is very subjective you can add more mustard or honey as needed) and whisk.
January 27, 2009
I am normally a delightful person. Some adjectives I have heard that describe me are charismatic, loveable, kind, funny, or an example from which all other humans should live. However, I will admit that there are certain microscopes under which I am studied, that I do not come out looking so lovely. One of those lenses would be when I become a victim of the common cold, the flu, or any other illness with the potential to cripple me.
I am not a nice sick person nor am I a mean sick person that sleeps when she is sick. No, I am a bored, whiney, bow to my every whim, don’t want to take medicine, I can’t believe you made me cry sick person. I am always surprised that I still have a husband after the snot departs, the medicine fog dissipates, and the what did I do to deserve this feeling goes away. And even though I might physically being feeling better, my guilt over my behavior is another story.
For example during my last bout with the flu, Alex was preparing my shot of Nyquil in the hopes that the monster would drift off into slumber. The monster had other ideas though. I roared and thrashed in the bed when attempting to turn over and knocked the bottle right out of his hands. I knocked the full Cherry Nyquil bottle from his apparently weak grip onto him, myself, and our brand new white down comforter. Then, I promptly blamed him, began to cry, and fell asleep. I am quite the catch I tell you.
So today, I prayed to the laundry gods, bleached the duvet cover and set out to make it up somehow. The easiest way to do this: food. I made Jambalaya for my doctor and it worked. Somehow I am forgiven, I think it helps that I am cute and Alex realizes that monster only comes out once… three… maybe five times a year.
Alex rates this recipe an 8 because he has had real jambalaya with rue and this is not that. I rate it a 9 because I love the spice and flavor in this dish. My only issue is all the prep work (chopping) it requires. Definitely not a 30 minute meal; well maybe if I had a fully staffed prep kitchen it would be.
- 2 cups enriched white rice
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 pound boneless, skinless white or dark meat chicken (I used boneless white)
- 3/4 pound andouille, casing removed and diced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
- Several drops hot sauce or 2 pinches cayenne pepper
- 2 to 3 tablespoons (a handful) all-purpose flour
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1(14-ounce) can or paper container chicken stock or broth
- 1 teaspoon (1/3 palmful) cumin
- 1 rounded teaspoon (1/2 palmful) dark chili powder
- 1 teaspoon (1/3 palmful) poultry seasoning
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 pound medium shrimp, raw, deveined and peeled (ask for easy peel at fish counter) (I normally leave it out to make the dish cheaper; I have made it both ways and don’t miss the shrimp at all)
- Coarse salt and black pepper
- Chopped scallions, for garnish
- Fresh thyme, chopped for garnish (Did not use)
Cook rice to package directions.
Place a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and butter to the pan. Cube chicken and place in hot oil and butter. Brown chicken 3 minutes, add sausage, and cook 2 minutes more. Add onion, celery, pepper, bay, and cayenne.
Saute vegetables 5 minutes, sprinkle flour over the pan and cook 1 or 2 minutes more. Stir in tomatoes and broth and season with cumin, chili, poultry seasoning, and Worcestershire. Bring liquids to a boil and add shrimp.
Simmer shrimp 5 minutes until pink and firm. Remove the pot from the heat and place on a trivet. Ladle jambalaya into shallow bowls. Using an ice cream scoop, place a scoop of rice on to the center of the bowlfuls of jambalaya. Sprinkle dishes with salt, pepper, chopped scallions, and thyme leaves.
January 18, 2009
There are some dishes in life that you have to commit to making. They require you complete devotion and attention throughout the cooking process or the entire dish is subject to becoming a culinary disaster. Risotto is the quintessential dish of this category. You can imagine with my “Oh Look Shiny” syndrome that I am amazing at these dishes. Incase you are missing the sarcasm, I am not. After a few minutes, my eyes glaze over and I am somewhere else completely. And usually whatever day dream I have ended up in, is much more interesting than stirring a pot of rice for 30 minutes.
But this is why Alex and I make such a good team; he is a master of recognizing the haze. He can even recognize it out in public when I am listening to someone drone on and on while I make the customary nods and “Oh really’s”. Alex’s muffled laughter from across the room can usually snap me back to reality. This skill comes in handy at the Risotto pot. When the haze takes over so does Alex, he gentle removes my hand from the now stagnant spoon and begins to stir. I will then skip off and indulge in me newest magazine, an episode of The Office from the DVR, or making Spike chase a laser around the house (he likes shiny too). Five to ten minutes later, I realize that I am suppose to be making dinner and take the spoon back from Alex and the dance begins again.
Somehow when this process has been completed two to three times, we have this perfect pot of risotto that is rich and creamy. I am certain that is because of my excellent cooking skills and has nothing to do with my husband’s haze identifying ability.
Fontina Risotto with Chicken
This dish comes from my Food Network Magazine but you can also find the recipe here.
I found this dish to have a really nice texture with all the creaminess you would expect in Risotto. I also thought it may have been a little too cheesy. Alex thinks that nothing is too cheesy and the dish should remain the same. I would probably reduce the Fontina to ¾ of a cup.
I also pan fried cubes of chicken instead of buying deli chicken. I cooked the chicken in some butter ( you could also use olive oil) and seasoned with salt, pepper, red pepper flake, basil, parsley, and de-glaze the pan with a little bit of white wine. I thought this added another dimension to the Risotto. Overall, I would rate the dish an 8 and Alex rates it an 8.5.
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme ( I used 1 ½ teaspoon dried)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup coarsely grated fontina cheese, plus more for garnish ( I would change to ¾ cup)
- 8 ounces deli-smoked chicken breast, diced (about 11/4 cups) (I used pan fried chicken)
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
Bring the broth and 4 cups water to a simmer in a saucepan; keep warm.
Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion; cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and thyme; cook, stirring, until the rice is glossy, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Ladle in the hot broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly, allowing all of the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. Continue until the rice is just tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the thyme. Stir in the parmigiano, the remaining1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Gently stir in the fontina and chicken. Divide the rest among bowls; top with parsley and more fontina.
The leftovers for this dish can be turned into Risotto cakes.
January 5, 2009
In this house, there are some meals that are referred to as “Time Out” food. This is for the simple reason that my lovely, adorable, and slightly psycho kitten ends up in time out before the preparation of the meal is over. You may think it is a little silly to put a cat in time out, but most of you have never met Spike. He is lucky he does not live in time out especially after the banana in the Christmas tree incident of two weeks ago. But, I digress.
These shells are amazing. They were the first dish to succumb to the hungry masses at Family Dinner and have since been made twice because someone had to have them. They are one of those dishes that will be forever in protective plastic sleeve of the sacred three of binder of my recipes. But, this recipe is not without its downside and that downside’s name is Spike.
You see, I make one change to this recipe; I do not throw the chicken into the food processor with the other filling ingredients. No, I shred the oven roast chicken and then fold it into the creamy, cheesy filling. This is where it happens. Every since Spike got a taste of poultry on Thanksgiving (by his own means of scaling the cabinets and settling next to the resting bird in perfect ninja execution) he cannot get enough of it.
So we play this game, the shredding gets done on the kitchen table (because of my inadequate counter space) usually by Cindy, my sister and Spike waits. He lays at the other end of the table and twitches his tail back and forth almost counting down the seconds to his attack. You watch him with one eye because you are aware of the carnal terror that is coming. Then, your brother in law starts doing a impression of a penguin and you are distracted by the laughter caused by his waddling and Spike attacks. Chicken goes flying and by the time you look up Spike has returned to his previous place on the table, but now he has this smug look of victory. What he does not realize is, it is this look that lands him in time out. I can handle theft and deception but I cannot handle mockery.
Another note: Do not attempt to sample the shred chicken your sister is producing after Spike’s stunt or you will find yourself in time out with him. She is a mean kindergarten teacher.
Courtesy of Blogchef.Net
1 box jumbo uncooked pasta shells
6 garlic cloves (minced)
2 chicken breasts (cooked and shredded)
1 (30 oz) container ricotta cheese
1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 ½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 ½ teaspoons dried parsley
6 basil leaves (torn)
1/3 cup half and half
28 oz pasta sauce
¼ cup parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
Step 1: Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta shells according to package directions. Rinse with cold water, separate and set aside.
Step 2: Combine garlic, chicken, ricotta cheese, bread crumbs, half and half, salt, pepper, parsley, and basil and parmesan cheese in a food processor. Process until combined. If you don’t have a food processor, mix well with a spoon.
Step 3: Pour half of the pasta sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish. Stuff shells 1 by 1 with the chicken/cheese mixture and place in rows into the baking dish on top of the sauce. Top the shells with shredded mozzarella and pour the over half of the sauce over the top of shells. Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.
(Makes 4 servings)
Notes: Every time I have made this, the recipe has produced more than 4 servings and that is with Alex’s appetite. Also as mentioned, I do not put the chicken in the food processor. I fold the shredded chicken into the ricotta mixture.
I will be submitting this recipe to Joelen’s Foodie Films: Big Night-Italian Blog event
November 25, 2008
There are two truths about me. Well, there are more but this is relating to the kitchen. Well, even there, there are more but we are going to discuss two today.
- I usually cook from a recipe. It helps the control freak/planner in me to relax.
- Once a recipe is mastered, I start to get a little bored with it and turn into a mad scientist of sorts.
Sometimes my frankensteining pays off and sometimes it goes horribly wrong. When I was 7, I thought I could trade in my beloved tarter sauce for grape jelly when eating my fish sticks. Horribly horribly wrong. At 13, I made chicken and dumplings for my father. I incorporated a plethora of ingredients into the dumpling dough including cheese and bbq sauce. Horribly horribly wrong. At 18, I started frankensteining with mixed drinks and alcohol. A bartender I am not but a toilet cleaner I became. Horribly horribly wrong.
Eventually, I hit my stride though and now, I can modify recipes with the best of them like this stuffed chicken recipe from Alton. The original recipe was for stuffed flounder and I have made it with that and tilapia and now chicken. And I promise you I have left my “culinary frankensteining” in the past and this is just Good Eats. (I crack myself up)
Baked Stuffed Flounder (Or whatever)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for the sweat and for seasoning fillets
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 (10-ounce package) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning fillets
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 10 ounces grated Cheddar
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds flounder fillets
- 3 cups leftover cooked rice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium saute pan over low heat, melt the butter; add the onion and a pinch of salt and sweat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute. Add the spinach and lemon zest and cook until just heated through. Season with the salt and pepper, add the parsley, and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
Place the heavy cream and wine into a saucepan over medium heat. Once the mixture begins to simmer, gradually add the cheese and stir until melted. Set aside and keep warm.
If the fillets are large, cut in half. Season each filet on both sides with salt and pepper. Divide the spinach mixture evenly among the fillets and roll the fish around the mixture. Place the rice into a 2 1/2-quart casserole dish and spread evenly. Place each roll on top of the rice, seam side down. Pour over the cheese sauce and place in the oven for 25 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
For chicken: Cut a pocket into the chicken breast and insert the cooked spinach mixture. Use toothpicks to secure the pocket closed. (Be sure to remove those later). Sear the chicken in a pan over medium/high heat until no longer pink on the outside. Lay on top of rice and pour the cheese mixture over the chicken. Cook for 40 minutes or until internal temperature is 165.
November 8, 2008
As most young married couples do, Alex and I discuss the future and what each of us sees in it. In the beginning, we saw a different number of little people running around in our future. We have since comprised and resolved this issue, but the possibility of what could have been still haunts me to this day.
You see, Alex comes from an amazing, fun, and outgoing family of 5 children and he wanted to mirror the parent to child ratio in our family. I, on the other hand, come from an amazing, fun, and outgoing family of 2 children and was quite content with our little number. My opposition to the family of 5 was rooted in logic and mostly monetary but honestly, I was and still am scared.
If history repeated itself, I would end up with a large number of boys and in this imaginary family of 5, our children, while loving and kind possessed the not so stellar qualities of their parents. Intelligent, sarcastic, opinionated, stubborn; you name it and these kids had it in spades. And the recurring vision I was having while envisioning this happy future was my husband coming home to find that the children have outwitted me. Tied to a chair, probably some prisoner of their imaginary game, completely helpless in enforcing any type of discipline; destruction and anarchy were running the house and I was forced to watch from the comfort of my dining room chair prison. The thought still sends shudders down my spine.
Do not worry this fate should hopefully not become mine. Alex and I have comprised to a magic number that will hopeful allow me to keep chaos from reigning. But, I also discovered that I have a super power, if my boys are anything like their father I can lull them into a state of calm with my food; just like putty in my hands. I think I will start saving recipes in the For Emergencies Only file and this pasta is definitely going in.
Tonight’s recipe comes from a blog I frequent almost every day: Good Things Catered
Baked Chicken Sausage Pasta with Spicy Tomato Cream Sauce
1 box pasta of choice
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
4 links of chicken sausage with spinach, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds (I use chicken sausage meatballs see below)
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes, crushed with back of spoon (I add another 15oz can of diced tomatoes)
1/2 tsp salt
splash heavy whipping cream
1/4 c. flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
1 c. fontina cheese, grated
1/2 c. garlic and her bread crumbs
-In large Dutch oven of lightly salted water, cook pasta according to directions to just al dente (still firm).
-Transfer pasta to large colander and set aside to drain.
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-In Dutch oven, now empty, add olive oil and bring up to almost smoking.
-Add chicken sausage, and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
-Add garlic and crushed pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
-Add diced tomatoes and salt and stir to scrape up all browned bits
-Bring to boil and reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
-Add cream, stir to combine, add pasta and parsley, toss for one minute.
-Sprinkle on cheese and then bread crumbs and bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until bubbly.
Tip: Often I do not or cannot find Chicken Sausage. So I make my own
Chicken Sausage Meatballs
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts chopped up into chunks
1 package of frozen spinach defrosted and drained (make sure all the water is out)
½ cup Parmesan Cheese shredded
2 tbsp Panko breadcrumbs
1 clove garlic minced
To taste: Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flake, Basil, and Parsley
Pulse in the food processor until chicken is minced and all is combined. Sometimes I will also add a little half and half if it is not wet enough. Then form into balls (I use a small ice cream scoop) and sauté in a pan with a extra virgin olive oil until brown and cooked through.
November 6, 2008
There are so many memories that clutter the halls of mine and Alex’s courtship. Ranging in emotions, there are humorous ones like the time he called me the wrong name; absurd ones, that would be when he attempted to put my car on blocks as a joke; sad ones like when he held me after my beloved Gus Gus died, but my favorite memories are the ones where our love shines through. The way our love appears may be retarded or corny, but it is there, like the time he first made dinner for me.
I will confess that I am a bit of a control freak in the kitchen, maybe in other areas too, but definitely the kitchen. I would also assume that this over-observance when someone else is in my kitchen might make someone anxious when cooking for me. And I will concede that this was probably the case when Alex made me his Cajun Chicken Pasta.
The recipe was simple enough. Cook pasta and drain. Cook chicken in a pan with spices such as red pepper flake and pour a jar of Ragu Alfredo sauce over the concoction and serve. There was just one problem. The sifter lid on the red pepper flake was missing. I was not given the opportunity to tell him because I had been banned from the kitchen. (Not my fault) The result about 4 tablespoons of red pepper flake went into the dish.
Completely unaware of the hiccup, I began to eat the pasta like a dutiful girlfriend and I attempted to put on the greatest show. I may have been successful too, but you see I am somewhat of a light weight when it comes to heat. I hang out in the shallow end of the Scoville scale. Through my comments of delight, my body began giving me away. I became red all over, big fat tears began falling from my cheeks, and I began gulping down my Coke. Alex jumped into action and began to wash off my chicken pieces, hoping to rid them of flake while he profusely apologized. But it was too late, the damage to the sauce was done and the pizza man was called. We spent the rest of the night recovering and laughing and I realized a few things:
Alex was a man I could let take care of me for the rest of my life
Our love was a real; it all of its dorky glory it actually existed
I was a really big baby when it came to heat
And I needed to find a Cajun Chicken Pasta recipe quickly
I found one and it has become one of our favorite meals. For the food and the story behind it. It is not health food; I warn you of this now, it is all I want to do after is sleep because it was so good and I ate too much food.
Tips: I put the sun dried tomatoes in the food processor to get them a little bit smaller. I also only use about a ½ cup. You really need to blacken the chicken if you do this indoors turn on your hood. I use Emeril’s essence because the Paul stuff, you cannot find and if you do there is a warning not to use it inside.
4 (5-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup blackening spice (recommended: Paul Prudhomme’s Chicken)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup roughly chopped marinated sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup white wine
3 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound cooked fettuccine
1/2 cup sliced scallions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Dredge the chicken breasts in the blackening spice and place in a cast iron skillet over very high heat. Blacken both sides of the chicken and place in the oven for 10 minutes, or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Slice in strips on the bias and set aside.
In a saute pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Add garlic and lightly caramelize. Then add the sun-dried tomatoes and the chicken slices. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Add the heavy cream, increase the heat to a simmer, and reduce the cream sauce by half.
Nest the pasta on large rimmed plates, pour sauce over pasta, and garnish with scallions and the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.