Friday, February 12, 2016

Round Up: Budget Meals

Although it's tax season, it's always a good time to have a list of budget friendly recipes on hand all through the year! Here's a handful of some of our faves which includes pastas, sandwiches, soups, stews, casseroles - all of which will please both appetites and wallets! Did you have a budget friendly meal you fall on?

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Chicken & Sausage Etouffeé

Happy Mardi Gras! Hope you had a wonderful Superbowl weekend with quite an exciting game and half time show to watch. We immediately went into Chinese New Year mode yesterday, so a belated "Gung hay fat choy!" to you as well! And today we switch gears to celebrate Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. I especially enjoy Mardi Gras because it's the perfect time to make some New Orleans inspired food, as the Cajun and Creole flavors certainly are highlighted. I've made a few Cajun and Creole dishes in the past and this year, I've added yet another classic dish to the list - Chicken & Sausage Etouffeé. Chicken and Andouille sausage take the stage as it simmers in a thickened and seasoned roux with the classic 'trinity', served over fluffy rice...

So a common question is - What's the difference between etouffeé, gumbo and jambalaya?

It's easy to confuse the dishes since they involve similar ingredients. However, the main difference is the roux and thickness of the sauce.

Etouffeé - is commonly made with chicken, sausage and/or shrimp (or a combination of these three) where the sauce is thick, much like a stew. It's often served over rice.

Gumbo - is commonly made with chicken, sausage and/or shrimp (or a combination of these three) where the sauce is thin, much like a soup. It's often served with rice on top or on the side to stir into the gumbo.

Jambalaya - is commonly made with chicken, sausage and/or shrimp (or a combination of these three) where there is no sauce, but rather rice is cooked along with the mixture. It's more similar to a Spanish Paella.

So there you have it - an explanation of how these popular New Orleans dishes are different! Now let's get cooking and eating to celebrate this grand day...

Chicken & Sausage Etouffeé
recipe adapted from Cooking Light

4 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped celery
garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound chicken breast, cut in bite sized pieces
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt-free Cajun seasoning
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound cooked Andouille sausage, cut in bite sized pieces
2 2/3 cups hot cooked long-grain rice

In a Dutch oven set over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter and sauté onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic and chicken until softened and tender; transfer to a bowl and set aside. 

In the now empty Dutch oven set over medium heat, melt remaining butter and whisk in flour, stirring to pick up any bits and pieces. Continue cooking and stirring until flour mixture (roux) turns a deep rust brown color. 

Whisk in Cajun seasoning, thyme, and chicken broth; cook for 1 minute. Return add onion an chicken mixture and Worcestershire to the pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until thick.

Add green onions, salt, and sausage; cook for 10-12 minutes or until sausage is warmed through, stirring occasionally. Serve over hot cooked rice. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Round Up: Sexy Chocolate

It's February and that means love is in the air! If you are a chocoholic, this is the month for you as chocolate is everywhere due to Valentine's Day. Here's a round of up of some of my favorite chocolate recipes that is sure to get you in the mood...

Monday, February 1, 2016

Korean Scallion Pancakes

We love mixing things up at our house by putting an ethnic spin on classic dishes. Breakfast for dinner is a staple meal and this time, we channeled our love of Korean cuisine in a fun take of "steak & eggs." With the help of our favorite Krusteaz buttermilk pancake mix, we made Scallion Pancakes that were light, fluffy and savory with the addition of garlic powder and fresh green onions or scallions...

It's easy to make sweet pancakes, but I highly recommend making some savory pancakes too! The pancake mix makes for a great blank canvas to take on any seasonings and spices for a savory twist. For my Korean scallion pancakes, I used garlic powder and fresh scallions to add flavor and color. They're delicious as a unique side dish or even as a main meal. For our Korean spin of steak and eggs, we enjoyed them with beef bulgogi and a fried egg. Be sure to grab this Krusteaz pancake coupon for additional savings for $0.50 off any one pancake or waffle mix!

Scallion Pancakes

Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 10-12 minutes

Servings: 4-8 pancakes

1 cup Krusteaz Buttermilk Pancake Mix
2/3 cup water
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions or green onions

Get the full recipe on Krusteaz's website HERE!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Round Up: Tasty Touchdowns

Are you ready for some football?! The Superbowl is a big event at our house, especially with a husband who loves his sports lol. We have had some themed Superbowl parties in the past but our favorite theme would have to be BBQ ribs. Whether it's pork or beef, we are equal opportunity BBQ lovers! If you're thinking about preparing ribs for the upcoming Superbowl, here are some of our most loved BBQ rib recipes with some pork chops and even salmon thrown in the mix!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tequila & Lime Steak Fajitas

With our busy family schedules, often times I find our menu rotates around the same meals or same types of cuisines - anyone else in the same rut? So every now and then, I'll throw in a twist to their favorite, just to keep them on their toes and their tastebuds in check! These Tequila & Lime Steak Fajitas were a hit with my husband who loves fajitas. A little kick of tequila in the marinade, it amps up the flavor and makes for an easy weeknight meal...

This is a nice spin on the typical fajita recipes I've tried. Using tequila and lime juice really helps tenderizes the flank steak while imparting a bit of flavor. Using a mix of red, yellow and green bell peppers makes it a colorful dish too. You can serve this with your favorite fajita garnishes and toppings, but we especially liked sour cream and chihuahua cheese on ours!

Tequila & Lime Steak Fajitas
recipe adapted from Juan-Carlos Cruz/Food Network

4 limes, juiced
1/4 cup tequila
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound flank steak, sliced into thin strips
2 teaspoons + 2 tablespoons canola oil
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
tortillas, warmed for serving
fresh cilantro, minced (optional)
sour cream for serving (optional)
shredded chihuahua cheese for serving (optional)

In a gallon sized storage bag, combine the lime juice, tequila , chili powder, and garlic. Add the steak strips to the bag, seal and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Remove steak from marinade and discard marinade.

In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add the oil. When hot, about 2 minutes, add the bell peppers and onion, sauté until tender but slightly crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer mixture to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to keep warm.

In the now empty skillet, add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Saute steak in the sauté pan for about 5 minutes or until cooked through. Add bell pepper mixture to the pan to warm through, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide steak amount warmed tortillas and garnish with fresh cilantro, sour cream and/or cheese if using.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Round Up: Cajun Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is just around the corner and if you plan on celebrating, do so deliciously with the flavors of Cajun Country! Here's a round up of 10 recipes perfect to incorporate into a Mardi Gras inspired Superbowl party or to make on Mardi Gras - Tuesday, February 9th...

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