Creamy Cajun Pasta

Creamy Cajun Pasta

 

Creamy Cajun Pasta

1 lb chicken cut into bite sized pieces

4 links smoked or andouille sausage

1 t olive oil

1 1/2 green peppers cut into thin slices

1 c chopped tomatoes (canned or fresh)

1 small onion chopped

1 t chopped garlic

2 t Cajun seasoning

1/4 t cayenne pepper

1 T lemon juice

3/4 c heavy cream

2 t corn starch

1 box fettuccine pasta cooked and drained

Sprinkle raw chicken with 1 t of Cajun seasoning. Heat oil in a large pan/pot. Add chicken and sausage, saute for about 2 minutes, add onion and saute until translucent. add green pepper, garlic and tomatoes,1 t Cajun seasoning and cayenne pepper. Saute until peppers are soft. mix cream with corn starch and add to pot, heat and stir until sauce thickens, add lemon juice and stir.

Creamy Cajun Pasta

 

Add drained pasta to the pot and stir to combine, cook over low for about 5 minutes so that pasta can absorb the sauce. This is on the mild side so add more cayenne if you like you pasta spicy or serve with hot sauce.

Creamy Cajun Pasta

 

 

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Orange Buttermilk Chicken

Orange Buttermilk Chicken

 

I’m a Florida girl, oranges are everywhere so why not with chicken. This chicken is tangy  (And I would say moist except I really hate that word) and flavorful, a perfect to wake up your weeknight meal.

Orange Buttermilk Chicken

4 chicken cutlets

1/2 c buttermilk

1/4 c orange juice (I used Florida fresh squeezed)

1 t hot sauce

1/4 t pepper

1 t salt

1 1/2 c panko bread crumbs

2T olive oil

 

Mix buttermilk, orange juice, hot sauce and salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix together. Place chicken in a shallow dish or large ziplock bag and pour marinade over top, making sure to thoroughly coat all side of the chicken. Cover or close bag and place in refrigerator for 2-8 hours, turning occasionally. Preheat oven to 350. Place bread crumbs on a shallow plate, dredge chicken in crumbs, making sure to coat all sides. Place on a greased baking sheet (olive oil or cooking spray) and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for about 25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. You could also pan fry this and it would be delicious.

Orange Buttermilk Chicken

Orange Buttermilk Chicken

Easy 3 Ingredient Key Lime Pie Dip

3 Ingredient Key Lime Pie Dip

I made Key Lime Pie last week, one of my family’s favorites, and as I was licking the spoon and bowl I had an idea. Why not make this into a dip that I could eat on graham crackers and fruit?  So here it is, tastes just like the pie,I don’t have to lick the bowl anymore and it’s so easy with only 3 ingredients I will be making it all Summer.

Key Lime Pie Dip

1 c sweetened condensed milk

1 c sour cream

1 1/2 T key lime juice

Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl. Garnish with a lime slice and graham cracker crumbs if desired. Serve with graham crackers, apples, strawberries, vanilla wafers etc..

3 Ingredient Key Lime Pie Dip

 3 Ingredient Key Lime Pie Dip

Easy Sunday Dinner: Steak, Hasselback Potatoes and Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

Easy Sunday Dinner: Steak, Hasselback Potatoes and Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

 

Here is a menu for an easy, yet elegant Sunday dinner. Montreal Seasoned Top Sirloin Filets, Cheesy Hasselback Potatoes and Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

For the steak liberally sprinkle both sides with Montreal steak seasoning (found in the spice aisle at the grocery store). Grill to your desired doneness. See so far so easy.

Hasselback Potatoes

5 large baking potatoes

6T melted butter

1 t chopped garlic

1 t dried parsley

1/2 t salt

1/4 t black pepper

1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese

Pre heat oven to 400. Peel and dry potatoes. carefully slice potatoes 3/4 of the way down, making sure not to slice all the way through in 1/4 ” slices (this is the hardest part of the meal) In a small bowl combine butter, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Place potatoes in an oven proof baking dish and pour butter mixture over top making sure to get into all the crevices.

Hasselback Potatoes

 

Cook for 1 hour, basting the potatoes every 15 minutes. Using a hot pad, tilt baking pan to the side and use a spoon to catch the butter, spoon back over potatoes.

Hasselback Potatoes

 

Remove from oven, sprinkle cheddar cheese on top and place back into the oven until cheese is melted

Hasselback Potatoes

 

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

16-20 spears of asparagus

4 slices of Prosciutto Ham

 

Preheat oven to 400. Bundle 4-5 spears of asparagus together and wrap with prosciutto. Place on a baking sheet.

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

 

Cook for about 10 minutes or until ham is crispy.

Serve meal with sour cream and bernaise sauce if desired.

Easy Sunday Dinner: Steak, Hasselback Potatoes and Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus

 

 

 

Ham and Cheese Casserole

Ham and Cheese Casserole

 

Do you have ham you need to use up, leftover lunch meat or ham from brunch? Here’s and easy comforting casserole to try.

Ham and Cheese Casserole

16 0z box ziti cooked and rinsed

2 T butter

2 T flour

1 t dijon mustard

2 c milk

1/4 ham cut into chunks or bite sized pieces

1/2 cup canned corn

1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 c shredded swiss cheese

1/4 t black pepper

 

Preheat oven to 350

In a medium saucepan melt butter over low heat, stir in flour and cook 1 minute. slowly add milk, stirring constantly and turn heat up to med high. When sauce begins to bubble turn back to low and stir until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. add dijon mustard, and both cheeses. stir until cheese is melted. add pepper and stir.

add cooked pasta, chopped ham and corn to a large baking dish. Pour cheese sauce over top and combine. Bake for 25 -30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and crust form on top.

If you want  you can add breadcrumbs or more shredded cheese on top before putting in the oven.

Ham and Cheese Casserole

 

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

 

Potatoes are my favorite food!

 

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

1 bag small (petite) yukon gold potatoes cut in 1/8″ slices

1/4 c green onion or chives chopped

5 sliced cooked bacon

2 t salt

1/2 stick of butter

2 c milk

1/4 c flour

1 c shredded cheese

 

Pre heat oven to 350

Add potatoes, green onion and bacon to an oven proof baking dish

in a sauce pan melt butter over med heat, add flour and stir. Slowly add milk and continue cooking over med high heat until mixture starts to bubble, turn heat to low and continue stirring until liquid thickens into a sauce. Add salt and cheese, stir until cheese is melted. Pour mixture over potatoes in baking dish. Cover with foil and cook for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender, remove foil and cook 15-20 minutes more or until top is golden.

Loaded Baked Potato Casserol

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

 

Camping Food: S’mores with Nutella

S'mores with Nutella

I apologize about the photos, but we were actually camping. Our family went camping this past weekend at Myakka River State Park, just east of Sarasota, Fl. Packing food that will keep in a cooler for a couple days is always a little tricky, it can be brutally hot here in the afternoon. I made a large batch of chili that we made nachos, chili dogs and quesadillas out of, even considered putting it on our eggs one morning. It was perfect. I also pre baked a bunch of Mojo chicken legs and brought those ( I don’t like to bring any raw meat for fear of cross contamination) They were great for snacks, lunch and dinner, and easy to eat, no utensils needed. But like all good campers we needed to roast marshmallows and make s’mores. I always find that it is hard to keep the chocolate bars from melting in the heat, or if you put them in the cooler they get too hard and won’t melt in the s’mores, so that is where the Nutella comes in. I spread some Nutella on graham crackers and put them on a plate, then as we roasted the marshmallows we put them on top and added a top cracker and pulled the skewers out. Easy and so much less mess than traditional s’mores. I meant to bring bananas to slice and add too but I forgot. Doesn’t matter, they were still delicious. From now on I will be leaving the candy bars at home and bringing the jar of Nutella camping, besides it does double duty on sandwiches, apples and crackers for snacks.

S'mores with Nutella

The Monsters of Templeton: Stuffed Tomatoes with Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

The Monsters of Templeton

This month’s book club selection was the Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff. I admit this was an ambitious piece of literature, family secrets, ghosts, sea monsters, a complete family lineage going back several generations, a student’s affair with her professor, a best friend dealing with a terrible disease, an unwanted pregnancy, and a girl’s search for her father. However this was just way too much information for one book. the main idea was so watered down by the enormous cast of characters that I ended up just not caring about any of  them.It made it a difficult book to read but that also made it a great book for book club. There were many things to discuss and dissect. I think the discussions are always better when everyone doesn’t love the book. (usually I am the everyone, I can be a bit critical)

Some of us even dressed as “The Running Buds, a group of friends that have run together for years and who may or may not be important characters in the book. They were just the easiest costume, headbands, running shorts etc… Unfortunately I don’t have a sea monster outfit in my costume box. The food didn’t jump right out at you in this book but there was a lot of it if you paid attention ( I didn’t really ) I chose to make my version of Tomatoes Farci, Willie mentions this is her favorite dish when her mother makes it for her. We have quite a few vegetarians so I stuffed my tomatoes with goat cheese and mushrooms instead of meat. Another great one was a Huevos Rancheros casserole, Willie’s mom also makes this during an eventful breakfast in the book.

Stuffed Tomatoes with Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

10 Campari Tomatoes ( or 4 large for a meal)

1 T olive oil

1 cup finely chopped mushrooms, (I used baby bellas and porcini)

2 T chopped shallot

2 cloves garlic chopped

1/4 c chopped tomato

2 T chopped parsley

1/4 c white wine ( I used Pinot Grigio)

1 T balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

1/4 c panko bread crumbs

1 3 1/2 oz log goat cheese

Core tomatoes and remove seeds and pulp, leaving just a shell.( if using a large tomato, cut top off and scoop out insides, leaving a bowl) In a large pan. Add oil and saute mushrooms, shallot and garlic, until mushrooms are soft and shallot is translucent. add tomato, wine, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add bread crumb, cheese and parsley. Let cool.

IMG_7416 IMG_7418

Stuff tomatoes with the cheese and mushroom mixture , place in an oven safe dish and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until cheese slightly browns on top.

Stuffed Tomatoes with Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

(oops, so excited for book club I didn’t take a picture of the final product, but they looked the same with a slightly brown top)

Old is New Again: Pimento Cheese

Pimento Cheese

There has been a lot of “buzz” about pimento cheese lately. It is turning up on restaurant menus, in food magazines, and in the dairy section of my grocery store. I remember having it as a kid and I remember hating it. I tried it on our trip to St. Augustine last week on top of broiled oysters, not half bad. So now if you know me I have to make it myself. It’s just my thing. I of course do things the hard way which means roasting my own red peppers, (they sell them in a jar right next to the pickles in my store). Not at all required, but yes I did it, also I like a little heat so I roasted some of the jalapenos from my garden, again not necessary, add some red pepper flakes or hot sauce to your cheese and I am sure it will be just as good. But in case your like me here is what I did.

Wash and dry 3 red bell peppers and 2 jalapenos. Turn on the grill ( mine is gas) You can also do over the stove if you have gas or under the broiler.  Place the peppers on the grill and close the lid, roast pepper until skin is completely black, turning occasionally  to get all sides.

IMG_7413

When all sides are charred place in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap, leave for about 15 minutes, this helps the skins peel off easily

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using your fingers or small knife peel all the black parts off of the pepper.

roasted red pepper

Then chop the top off of the pepper and removed the seeds, chop into tiny pieces.

IMG_7422

Now you are ready to make the cheese.

Pimento Cheese

8 0z grated yellow cheddar

8 oz grated white cheddar

3 roasted red peppers chopped finely

2 roasted jalapenos seeded and chopped finely (omit if you don’t want the heat)

3/4 c mayo

1 T dijon mustard

2 t sweet paprika

1/4 t cayenne

Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir, and stir until the cheese starts to get pasty. cover and chill. Sprinkle with paprika and serve with crackers or celery or try it on a grilled cheese sandwich.

Pimento Cheese

Heading North to Get South: Finding Florida

The Floridian Restaurant St. Augustine

Florida is a unique state, it’s it the most Southern state geographically but probably the least Southern state in the South. In fact, in Florida, the further South you go the less southern charm there is, this leads us to a small identity crisis. We have lots of outside influences because many residents are from somewhere else, they came here on vacation and decided to stay. So we don’t have a lot of traditions or local delicacies, we are mostly chain restaurants and strip malls.

This past week my family and I headed North to St. Augustine, a city on the East Coast of Florida just South of Jacksonville. I had been there before and have to admit I was slightly disappointed. I thought it would be this great town with charm and history, real traditional Florida, and instead I found a tourist trap. It was complete with day glow t-shirts and cheesy attractions, just like most of Florida. Most of the restaurants there offered fried shrimp and hamburgers, all frozen from Sysco I am sure. There was beautiful architecture and beaches but it was all marred by neon signs and wax museums, not at all what I was looking for.

I am glad I gave it a second chance, this time I stayed away from St. George Street (the biggest neon offender) and hung out on the outskirts of Old Town and I was rewarded. Our first great find was a restaurant called The Floridian.They are doing what I thought was impossible in Florida, serving delicious traditional Southern recipes made from local, seasonal and sustainable food. Not only that, but the menu is full of options, you can make many of the dishes gluten-free or vegetarian. We started with some local beers, Red Brick’s Hoplanta (yes it’s from GA, but I had never had it and it’s close enough) and Intuition’s I-10 IPA. Intuition’s was more to my liking , more of a West Coast style IPA.

Red Brick's  Hoplanta and Intuition Ale Works  I-10 IPA

Then we had some appetizers, Fried Pickles, house made pickles spiced with the locally grown Datil pepper ( think a sweeter version of a habenaro) Served with buttermilk herb dressing.

Fried Pickles

and the  Oysters Floridian, broiled Oysters with  home-made pimento cheese ( a southern staple that is making a comeback) and pickled slaw.

Oysters Floridian Broiled Oyster with Pimento Cheese

For my main course I chose the N Grits with Shrimp ( other options besides the shrimp were blackened or grilled fresh catch or tofu.) The grits were actually polenta cakes topped with the shrimp in a creamy remoulade sauce with fresh strawberry salsa and local feta cheese.

N Grits with Shrimp

My husband and son also had great meals, Waffles with Pulled Pork, and a Fried Green Tomato Hoagie.

The next day my son and I tried another local eatery called Yard Bird Cafe. It is a cute cafe hidden in a plaza on King Street, it is only open for breakfast and lunch. I would call it southern favorites with a college twist. It is across the way from Flagler college and I imagine a lot of students and staff frequent this restaurant, large portions of hearty homemade food that is inexpensive and unique. Black eyed pea hummus, Peanut butter and banana french toast, Chicken with peach and fennel salsa to name a few.

I had the homemade Chicken and Biscuits, delicious, and they came with a side of collards, my favorite, made even better with the local datil hot sauce. Yes, there are biscuits under there. My son had a pulled pork cuban sandwich.

Yard Bird's Chicken and Biscuits

So this time instead of coming back from St. Augustine disappointed, I came back re-energized and inspired for my home state, I even made my own pimento cheese. We do have great local farms and dairies (and breweries), we do have traditions and local cuisine. We just need to seek it out, embrace it and make a name for ourselves. We may not be a true Southern state, but we may be something better if we try.