Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

In honor of my wonderful husband on his first Father's Day, I made him a special treat. This is something I would never in a million years make, except he loves it. I do not. Which means that this whole entire pie is his. I wonder how long it will take him to eat the whole thing?

When I first met my husband, his love of all things coconut grossed me out. Macaroons, German chocolate cake, coconut cream pie. Anything with coconut is loved by him. I do not love coconut (the texture is odd to me). I have learned to like it over the years, but I still do not love it. If it's placed in front of me in dessert form, I will eat it. I can't not give my husband his favorite thing, so off to make a pie I went.

He gets a German chocolate cake every year on his birthday. This year for his first Father's Day, I tried my hand at a coconut cream pie. I never realized how easy a cream pie was to make. I assumed I had to boil the filling to make it thick. This particular recipe required no boiling. I just needed to measure and mix.

This morning, at 7:00 am, while the wee one was sleeping, I went to work on the pie. It took me a grand total of 15 minutes to make. I will fully admit that I did not make the pie crust from scratch. If I had, it would have added a significant amount of time to my pie baking adventures.

The pie baked up beautifully, but it's missing something. I realized after about an hour what is missing: Whipped cream on the top. Don't coconut cream pies usually have a ginormous mound of whipped cream on them? Thankfully, I have some whipping cream in the refrigerator from a recipe a couple of weeks ago. Because I am a good wife, I will whip that up and top the husband's pie. He darn well better not ask for Cool Whip.

Here is the lovely pie before the whipped cream.

How did this taste? I have no idea. I don't like coconut remember? The pie sure looks pretty (with the exception of a little burnt edge. My oven has hot spots).

Coconut Cream Pie

1 pie crust
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons butter
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup flaked coconut

1. Mix together sugar, flour and nutmeg. Beat in eggs. Add milk and butter and stir. Stir in coconut. Pour filling in unbaked pie shell.

2. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

Here is the lovely pie after the whipped cream. I would like to point out that by the time I took this picture, half the pie was consumed.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cajun Night

Although I doubt many Cajuns eat a lot of pasta. At any rate, this recipe is called Cajun Chicken Pasta. I found it from the Pioneer Woman's website. I don't even remember what I was looking for on her site, but I stumbled across this. I never say "no" to a good pasta dinner, so I made this.

I don't know if there was something in the water last weekend, but I swear, my cooking kind of sucked. My cornbread topping didn't turn out (see last post) and when I was making this recipe, my cream sauce never thickened. Oh well. You can't win 'em all!

I have never made a recipe from the Pioneer Woman before, but I plan on making more! This pasta was really good. Even better? Eat it warmed up the next day. Both my husband and I agreed that it was better the next day.

I did a couple of things differently from the recipe. First, I didn't cook the chicken in batches. I have a huge pan so I decided to just cook it all at once. It was much easier for me this way. Also, I didn't have white wine, so I just used a bit extra of the chicken broth. I also made my own Cajun seasoning. It was very simple. Salt, pepper, paprika and some other seasonings. I used more than what the recipe called for since we love things spicy in our house. I am glad I used more too. There was the perfect amount of heat on the veggies and chicken.

This recipe was more time consuming than I am used to these days. That is not to say that it would be time consuming for you. After all, I purposely look for recipes that take less than 30 minutes because I am usually watching the wee one. I need simple. This was simple for sure. It only took a little bit longer than my regulation 30 minutes. It was very much worth it though!

I love pasta so I am glad I found something that had protein to make the husband happy, tomatoes and pasta to make me happy, and spicy to make both of us happy!

Cajun Chicken Pasta

3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
3 teaspoons Cajun spice mix
1 pound fettuccine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 whole green pepper, seeded and sliced
1 whole red pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 large red onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 whole Roma tomatoes, diced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
cayenne pepper to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
chopped fresh parsley, to taste

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta when it's al dente. Do not overcook!

2. Sprinkle 1.5 teaspoons of the Cajun spice mix over the chicken. Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate.

3. Add remaining butter and olive oil. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Add tomatoes and cook an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from pan.

4. With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high 3-5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in the cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and add freshly ground pepper and cayenne pepper and/or salt and pepper to taste. Sauce should be spicy!

5. Finally, add the chicken and vegetables to the sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture is bubbly and hot. Add the drained pasta and toss to combine. Top with the parsley.

Not Quite a Hit

Well, I should have known. Any time I try a recipe in the crockpot that calls for a biscuit or cornbread topping, I am disappointed. You might recall a post from a couple of years ago that was a disaster. The cornbread topping was mush. It never set up. This time, it set up, but it was almost chewy/gummy.

I am still going to post the recipe because the filling was a hit. The cornbread topper? Not so much.

I found this from the wonderful blog of 365 days of crockpot recipes. If there is something I want to try in the slow cooker, I know I can find it there. The last few recipes I made were a hit, so I thought I would try this one. What drew me to it was the fact that it took minimal "special" ingredients. Meaning, I could use most of my pantry staples and not have to buy any extra (aka: expensive) items. What did I have to buy? A sweet potato and a new container of barbeque sauce. Seriously, that's it. I had everything else on hand.

Funny story about the sweet potato. I bought it at the grocery store. It was in a bin labeled sweet potato. When I peeled it, it wasn't orange like I am used to. It wasn't a regular potato either. I honestly have no idea what the darn vegetable was, but I used it anyways. I figure it can't be so horrible since it looked like a potato, but it wasn't orange or yellow-ish like a regular potato. Anyone have a clue what it could have been?

This was very easy to put together. I pre-cooked the chicken like I usually do when a recipe calls for already cooked meat. I also cubed the vegetables earlier in the day so all I had to do was throw everything in the crockpot and hit go. Jack kept me company in the kitchen in his ExerSaucer while I cooked. I am going to have a mini chef on my hands in no time! He seems very interested as I talk him through what I am doing.

I was skeptical about the cornbread topping and whether or not it would set up. Surprise, surprise! It did. However, it didn't taste very good. I had a normal cornbread flavor, however, it was an odd consistency. I suppose that's because I put it in the crockpot, duh!

The chicken mixture was fantastic though! If I were to make this recipe again, I would double the chicken mix and serve it alongside some cornbread from the oven. Or, you could eat it with rice if you wanted to. The chicken mixture was just spicy and sweet enough. The addition of my unknown potato made it thick and slightly creamy. Plus, I love that you get some healthy veggies alongside the chicken.

If you are brave and want to doctor this recipe up to try and make the cornbread edible, I commend you! Heck, for all I know, it was operator error. It could be my fault that the cornbread didn't turn out very good.

Crockpot Barbeque Chicken and Cornbread Casserole

1 pound of cooked or practical cooked chicked, cubed or shredded
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cubed into 1-inch chunks (optional)
1 red onion, diced (optional)
1 cup frozen or fresh corn
1 bottle of your favorite barbeque sauce (18 oz)
1/4 cup hot water

Cornbread topping:
Use a mix and follow the directions on the box (minus the oil or butter), or mix together the following:

3/4 cup corn meal
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking powder

* Spray the inside of your stoneware with cooking spray. Cut up the chicken and sweet potato, and add to the crock. Add the corn. Empty the contents of the barbeque sauce bottle, and then add the 1/4 cup hot water to the bottle, shake, and pour that in too. Mix well with a spoon.

* In a separate bowl, mix together the cornbread topping. You don't need to mix well. Spread the topping on the chicken mixture.

* Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours.