Saturday, March 19, 2011

Louisiana Chicken Pasta

I'm always looking for my next good recipe.  I got this recipe off of Annie's Eats, one of my go-to blogs for recipes and ideas.  I'm really into spicy things lately--I'm loving anything with some spice and heat in it--though not too much spice because I am a little bit of a wimp.  So this recipe sounded like a winner when I read it and saw pictures.  And I'm happy to say that it's a keeper!

Louisiana Chicken Pasta
Source: adapted from Annie's Eats
Print Recipe Here

For the Chicken:
1 pound large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
Salt and pepper
Cajun seasoning

For the Pasta:
16 ounces bowtie pasta (I used penne)

For the Sauce:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

To cook the chicken, heat a small amount of butter or olive oil and in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and a generous sprinkle of Cajun seasoning.  Add to the skillet and cook until lightly browned and cooked through.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Bring a pot of salted water to boil.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain the cooked pasta and set aside.
Meanwhile, return the skillet to medium heat and heat butter and olive oil until butter has melted.  Add the bell peppers and onion to the pan.  Mix in the salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning and cayenne pepper.  Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 6-8 minutes.  Add the half-and-half and heavy cream to the pan and bring to a simmer.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water, and add to the skillet once the cream mixture has started to bubble.  Allow to cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
When the sauce has thickened, add the cooked pasta and chicken pieces to the pan.  Stir well to combine and cook at medium-low heat just until the chicken is warmed through.  Adjust the amount of Cajun seasoning if necessary to suit your taste.  Top with additional Cajun seasoning if desired.

Amy's Notes:
I made this over two weeks ago.  But now as I am writing this, I really want some again.  This pasta is really good.  It is spicy but not too spicy.  It is great warm but could also be made ahead, chilled and served as a salad.  You could also make it without the chicken for a pasta side dish. I will be making this recipe again soon!

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patty's Cake Pops

Remember these green velvet cupcakes I posted yesterday?  They were mini cupcakes and I made 24 of them.  The other half of the cake I made as a nine inch round cake so I could use it for cake pops.  The recipe I used makes more than a normal batch so my round cake was huge!  I ended up making about 40 cake pops from it.  With the cake part of the cake pop being green, I had to go with the theme and make St. Patty's cake pops!

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Green Velvet Cupcakes

What better way to celebrate St Patrick's Day than with green cake?!!  How do you make green cake, you ask?  Easy. Make red velvet cake, but add green food coloring instead of red food coloring. Or if you are not a red velvet fan, you might be able to make white cake and add green frosting, but I've never tried it. 
Hope you all have a great St. Patty's Day tomorrow.  And don't forget to wear green!

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Friday, March 11, 2011

This is Genius

This is genius.

Sadly, 1) I didn't think of it first and 2) I don't have $200 to buy it.  I guess I'll have to keep on using my cookie scoop.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Carrot Cupcakes

I have so many recipes for cupcakes I've been wanting to try and this was one of them.  I love carrot cake but you just don't see too many carrot cupcakes so I thought I should find a recipe and make some.  I found this recipe on Martha Stewart's website which meant it had to be good!

Carrot Cupcakes
Source: Martha Stewart
Print Recipe Here

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, spoon and leveled
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups grated carrots

1 package (8 Ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line muffin tin with paper liners.
In large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg; set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, egg, yogurt, and vanilla.  Stir in carrots.  Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture until well combined.  Divide among muffin tin.  Bake 25-30 minutes.
Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
To make frosting, use an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar until smooth, beat in vanilla and orange zest. 

Amy's Notes:
Note that this recipe is for 12 cupcakes.  I ended up doubling it, but wasn't quite thinking and didn't have enough ingredients to double the frosting.  So I improvised, but my frosting wasn't as good as it could have been if I would have followed the recipe.  The cake of these cupcakes is very good.  I love carrot cake but don't like all the chunks that some people put in it, so this recipe is great for me.  Next time, I am going to spend the extra money and buy the bag of pre-grated carrots because, ugh, I hated grating them!

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

BBQ Jalapeno Poppers

For Christmas, I got "The Pioneer Woman Cooks" cookbook, which is awesome and highly recommended.  This is the first recipe in the book and I'd been trying to find a reason to make it ever since I saw it.  The Super Bowl was my perfect reason (I know this post is a bit late!).  These would be great party food and even can be prepared ahead of time!

BBQ Jalapeno Poppers
Source: The Pioneer Woman Cooks Cookbook
Print Recipe

18 fresh jalapenos
1 8 ounce package cream cheese
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 green onion, chopped
18 slices thin bacon, cut into halves
bottled barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Begin by cutting jalapenos in half lenghwise (you might want to wear rubber/latex gloves while doing this or be prepared to to deal with a little burn later from the jalapenos).  Try to keep the stems intact. 
With a spoon, scrape out the seeds and light-colored membranes.  Remember: the heat comes from the seeds and membranes, so if you can handle the sizzle, leave some of them intact.
Now, in a bowl, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese and chopped green onion.  Mix the ingredients together gently. 
Stuff each hallowed half with the cheese mixture. 
Wrap bacon slices around each half, covering as much of the surface as you can. Be careful not to stretch the bacon too tightly around the jalapeno, as the bacon will contract as it cooks.
Brush the surface of the bacon with your favorite barbecue sauce.
Secure the jalapeno with toothpicks and pop them in the oven for 1 hour, or until the bacon is sizzling.
Serve hot or at room temperature. 

Amy's Notes:
The Pioneer Woman says that these can be made a day ahead of time and kept in the fridge before cooking.  Or they can even be cooked ahead of time and frozen, then reheated in the oven.  A full batch of these makes A LOT!  I made them for the Super Bowl where we had about 6 people and with all our other food, we had a lot of these left over.  I would probably make a half batch next time.  I used thick bacon when making this and it took much longer to bake because of that so I will use thinner bacon next time.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Broccoli Salad

The entire time I've known my husband, he's never like broccoli.  Until about two months ago when he ordered steamed broccoli as a side at a restraunt.  Since then, he says he likes broccoli and asked me to make this salad because he was 'craving' it.  Ha!  So, we made it together!

Broccoli Salad

2 bunches broccoli
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup red onion, chopped
1 pack bacon, cooked and crumbled
3/4-1 cup mayo (or Miracle Whip)
2/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons (or more) vinegar

Combine broccoli, cheese, onion, and bacon in bowl. 
Mix mayo, sugar and vinegar in seperate bowl.  Pour over broccoli mixture.  Combine well and serve.

Amy's Notes:
This is one of those recipes that I ask my mom to make when I go home to visit my parents.  I don't know why I don't make it more myself because it's not hard to make, just a little labor intensive because of all the chopping involved.  It's also a salad that everyone has their own recipe--some people add raisins or sunflower seeeds with various ingredients as the dressing.  But this is what I grew up with so it's the variation that I like the most!

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