Goodcookbecky's Blog

Letting the juices of life (or food) drip from my chin!


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Cajun Chicken Pasta

This recipe is both easy to prepare and easy to eat! My husband and I love the balance of spices.  I think it is well worth buying the Konriko brand Creole Seasoning to make this dish.  I posted information about it on my previous entry.  It used to be available in the grocery stores, but lately I can only find them online.

The recipe calls for linguine pasta, but any pasta will do.  We find the Penne pasta to be the easiest to pick up and eat and Barrilla’s penne has ridges so the sauce stick to it a bit and it quite good.  I found this recipe in an old Taste of Home Magazine.  They had a column called “I wish I had that Recipe” that featured a recipe of a restaurant.  It truly is a favorite of ours.  I hope you enjoy it too.

Cajun Chicken Pasta – Taste of Home Magazine
Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 large Chicken Breast halves — cut into strips
  • 2 tsp. Cajun or Creole Seasoning (Konriko brand Creole seasoning is wonderful)
  • 2 Tbsp. Butter
  • 8 slices Green Pepper
  • 8 slices Red Bell Pepper
  • 4 large Mushrooms  — sliced
  • 1 green Onion, sliced
  • 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/4 tsp. dried Basil
  • 1/4 tsp. Lemon Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/8 tsp. Pepper
  • 4 ounces Linguine — cooked and drained (or other pasta)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions
Place chicken strips and Cajun/Creole seasoning in a bowl or resealable plastic bag; toss or shake to coat.
In a large skillet over medium heat; saute chicken in butter until almost tender about 5-7 minutes.  Add peppers, mushrooms and green onion; cook and stir for 2-3 minutes.  Reduce heat.  Add cream and seasonings; heat through.  Add linguine and toss, heating through.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy (I usually double the recipe and have left overs).  This recipe serves two, but you may increase it to the size of your family.

I usually prepare a separate batch of chicken without Creole seasoning for my kids who do not like spicy foods too much, but every family is different.

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My Favorite Lasagna

I love Lasagna.

Nothing screams comfort food to me more than lasagna.  Something about it — I think it’s the carbs – call out my name and say “Eat ME!”  My oldest daughter turns 13 this week and this was her requested Birthday meal – well, we started off with her favorite breakfast: blueberry pancakes, then had subway for lunch and lasagna for dinner.  This is about the lasagna!

One of my friends gave me the recipe for Spinach Lasagna.  It has been a recipe in our family for about 15 years now.  I like having meat in my lasagna, so now I make the same recipe but add a package of cooked mild Italian sausage to the mix.  I use the Barilla brand noodles because they are flat, but you could use any pasta you want.  The best part of this is: you DON’T have to COOK the pasta ahead.  Just lay them down in the lasagna dry!  Terrific and easy to make!  Even easier to eat.  It is a great way to sneak in those vegetables that the kids won’t go near, but when mixed with cheese and pasta they don’t seem to notice.

Nan’s Spinach Lasagna – Nan P.

Ingredients

  • 15    ounces    Cheese, Ricotta
  • 2    cups    Cheese, Mozzarella — shredded
  • 1    large    Egg
  • 10    ounces    Spinach, Frozen, chopped — thawed and drained
  • 1    tsp    Salt
  • 3/4    tsp    Oregano
  • 1/8    tsp    Pepper
  • 1    clove    Garlic — minced
  • 2    cans    Sauce, Spaghetti — 28 ounce each
  • 8    ounces    Lasagna noodles — uncooked
  • 8    ounces    Sausage, Italian, Sweet — optional

Instructions
Mix 1 cup Mozzarella, ricotta, egg, spinach, garlic, spices together. In a greased 13x9x2 inch baking dish, layer 1/2 cup sauce, 1/3 of noodles, cheese (optional cooked sausage), Repeat with sauce, noodles, cheese, noodles, sauce.  Top off with remaining cup of mozzarella cheese. Cover tightly with foil.  Bake at 350° F for 1 hour 15 minutes.  Let stand, covered, for 15 minutes before serving.

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Boston Market Meatloaf

Boston Market Meatloaf!  Mmmm

I don’t know about you, but I love the meatloaf at Boston Market!  I think the name of the chain used to be Boston Chicken, but they changed the name in the 90’s.  I always wanted to be able to make it at home.  I don’t think it is spot on but it does come close! — I’ve had issues with the meatloaf falling apart on me in the past, though that has been less of a problem when I added an egg to the mixture for binding.  Our family has nicknamed it “lumpy meatloaf” for the very reason that it does not keep its shape very well.  But that is forgiven, because it does have a really good flavor!

The recipe originates in one of the books by Todd Wilbur (Even More Top Secret Recipes: More Amazing Kitchen Clones of America’s Favorite Brand-name Foods).  If you do not have the series of books, I think they are worth picking up.  He has copycat recipes by common and popular food chains.

http://www.toddwilbur.com/

Boston Market Meatloaf – Todd Wilbur

Ingredients

  • 2    cups    Sauce, Tomato
  • 3    Tbsp    Barbecue Sauce — Kraft Original is good
  • 2    Tbsp    Sugar
  • 1 1/2    lbs    Sirloin, Ground — 10% fat
  • 6    Tbsp    Flour
  • 3/4    tsp    Salt
  • 1/2    tsp    Onion Powder
  • 1/4    tsp    Black Pepper — ground
  • dash    Garlic Powder

Instructions
For Sauce: Combine Tomato sauce, Barbecue sauce and sugar. in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Heat the mixture until it begins to bubble, stirring often, then remove from heat.
Preheat oven to 400F
In a large bowl, add 1 cup of Tomato sauce to the meat.  Use a large wooden spoon or your hands to work the sauce into the meat until it is well combined.
Combine the remaining ingredients with the ground sirloin – flour, salt onion powder, ground pepper, and garlic powder.  Use the wooden spoon or your hands to work the spices and flour into the meat.
Load the meat into a loaf pan (preferably a meatloaf pan with the 2 sections that allows the fat to drain. but if you don’t have one of those a regular pan will work.  Wrap foil over
the pan and place into the oven for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, take the meatloaf from the oven, remove the foil and if you aren’t using a meatloaf pan, drain the fat.
Using a knife, slice the meatloaf all the way through into 8 slices while it is still in the pan.  This will help to cook the center of the meatloaf.  Pour about 2 Tbsp of reserved tomato sauce over the meatloaf and let it stream down the center. (do not spread the sauce)
Place the meatloaf back into the oven, uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until it is done.  Remove and allow it to cool for a few minutes before serving.  Serve with remaining sauce.

Changes I have made: add an egg.  I doubled the sauce because I like to have extra on the side.  You can vary the flavor by using various BBQ-sauces.

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Sliders without the price of a Restaurant

 

I made sliders yesterday evening.  I had tried a recipe that an Aunt had given me, but to be honest the burgers were pretty salty, but in case you are interested the ingredients are:

Castle Burgers

  • 2 3/4 lbs ground beef
  • 2 envelopes Lipton Onion Soup Mix
  • 2 tsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup milk

Combine all ingredients.  Shape into small patties.  Bake in a 350 degree F. preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.  Top with cheese and serve on mini burgers.  Sara Lee makes nice mini burgers.  They come in packages of 12 which is perfect for this recipe.  You will have some mini burgers left, but double stack them if you dare!

Serves 12 mini burgers (Sliders)

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Lemon Chicken

One of the best sites for new recipes in my opinion is http://allrecipes.com. Today I made a wonderful Lemon Chicken Recipe (Lemon Chicken II on the site: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Lemon-Chicken-II/Detail.aspx)  I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out wonderfully!  My entire family loved it.

I did use peanut oil to fry the chicken because I had it on hand and it can go to a high temperature without burning.

Here is the recipe:

Lemon Chicken II
Serves 6

INGREDIENTS:
3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast meat
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Breading:
2 eggs
2 cups vegetable oil
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
For the Sauce:
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 lemon, sliced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl combine the chicken, sherry, soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix together, cover and refrigerate. Let marinate for 15 to 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, 1/4 cup cornstarch and baking powder to form a batter. In a wok, heat 2 cups oil to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat chicken with batter and fry in wok until browned. Cut into bite size pieces and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, broth, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix together and add lemon slices. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in wok and slowly stir in lemon sauce mixture. Cook, stirring, until sauce is clear. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Lemon-Chicken-II/Detail.aspx

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Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, who can resist them?  With Valentines Day coming up. Here is a favorite that I make several times a year.  They also make beautiful presentations if you skewer them on bamboo skewers and present them like long stem roses.

The recipe is originally from allrecipes.com one of my favorite web-sites.
Don’t buy the overpriced chocolate dipped strawberries in the stores – they are so easy to make and delicious!  Makes about 3 packages of strawberries.  If you have chocolate left over use them to drizzle over cookies, or dip other fruit.  Very good.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
Ingredients

  • 16 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries with leaves

DIRECTIONS
1. Insert toothpicks into the tops of the strawberries (washed and completely dried!).
2. In a double boiler (bowl over hot water in a pan), melt the chocolate and shortening, stirring occasionally until smooth. Holding them by the toothpicks, dip the strawberries into the chocolate mixture.
3. Turn the strawberries upside down and insert the toothpick into styrofoam for the chocolate to cool. (or in this case, I used cupcake papers and just put a berry in each.  Enjoy.

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Greek Orzo Salad

This is a wonderful refreshing dish that I love to serve at our home.  My husband and I seem to always battle for the last bowl when the late night munchies hit.  We end up sharing!

It is an easy dish to put together, chop your veggies and such while the pasta cooks and then cool the orzo under running cold water and it is a flash to assemble.  The beauty of this dish is you can put any veggies in you want.  My mom made this with green beans once and broccoli another time. Both were delicious.  I happen to like this combination the best.  But if you did not like artichokes, or cucumbers – substitute away!

Greek Orzo Pasta Salad
Serves 6-8

  • 3/4 lb Orzo Pasta (I love the Barilla Brand)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced (I like the hot house or English ones they are most consistently good)
  • 1 can artichoke hearts
  • 1 can black olives (Greek style if you desire, but can be made with just regular olives if you wish)
  • 1 package cherry or grape tomatoes (chopped tomato is fine too)
  • fresh basil, chopped (to taste or 1 tsp of dried basil works in a pinch)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled or cut in cubes if you like larger pieces of feta
  • 1/2 jar roasted Red Peppers (optional)

For the Dressing:

  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. mint
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Cook the Pasta according to the directions.  Prepare the vegetables, and put in a large bowl.  When the pasta is cooked, drained and cooled, add to the chopped veggies.  Combine the ingredients of the dressing and pour over the pasta salad.  Combine.  Add the feta cheese last, it seems to hold together better then.  Enjoy.  This really is quite addicting.  I think you will find it is as well.

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Bread Sticks

Bread Sticks

My daughter’s science teacher gave us a recipe to make for extra credit. I made it twice that weekend. The first time a single recipe the second time we doubled the recipe…and then I gained 2 lbs! They are quite delicious. My daughter sprinkled them with poppy seeds, but kosher salt, sesame seeds, or Parmesan cheese are also great on them.

Mrs. B.’s Bread Sticks/Pizza Dough

Preheat oven to 425F

  • 1 pkg. yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • a few tsp. sugar

Mix above ingredients together and wait until mixture becomes bubbly

  • add 2 1/3 cups of flour (white, wheat or a mixture)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • olive oil

Stir the flour and salt in thoroughly until the dough sticks together in a big ball (I rub some olive oil on my hands to prevent the dough from sticking to me) Coat the dough with olive oil, cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Set the dough in the bowl aside in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.

After the dough rises, form it into either bread sticks or into pizza. Let the dough rise for 10 minutes if you are making pizza, top with toppings and put in oven.

Bake for approx. 20-23 minutes. Bread sticks may need less time. Remove from oven when ready

Coat bread sticks with butter after baking and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired. Dip in tomato sauce.

One recipe is enough for one batch of bread sticks, but I often double or triple the recipe.

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Festive Tossed Salad

Here is a salad I had at a friend’s house and just HAD to have a copy of the recipe! It has a strong dressing, but is quite delightful! I have to say though, it can upstage your main course — so if you are not eating it as a main meal – which you could, serve it with something like Spaghetti and Meatballs – not your elaborate meal. It is really good. I have an immersion blender which makes the dressing a snap to make – a regular blender would do the job too though! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

The combination of spiced nuts, feta cheese, Craisins and the dressing is really outstanding! The kids may not care for the dressing though — serve it on the side – it is a good idea anyway that way you don’t overpower the lettuce greens… Start with a couple of teaspoons of dressing and toss and see where it takes you.. you can always add more, but not take it away!


Trisha’s Festive Tossed Salad

Serves 4 Main Dish Portions or 6 Side Salads

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Pecans — coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 12 cups Mixed Baby Salad Greens — torn
  • 3/4 cup Craisins
  • 4 ounces Cheese, Feta — crumbled
  • 1/4 cup Vinegar, Red Wine — Dressing ingredient
  • 1/4 cup Oil, Vegetable — Dressing Ingredient
  • 1/2 cup Parsley, Fresh — Dressing Ingredient
  • 1/4 cup Onion, Red — chopped Dressing Ingredient
  • 2 cloves Garlic cloves — Dressing ingredient
  • 1/2 tsp Oregano, Dried — Dressing Ingredient
  • 1/8 tsp Salt — Dressing Ingredient
  • 1/8 tsp Pepper — Dressing Ingredient

Instructions

In a skillet, cook and stir pecans in butter until toasted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in sugar, pepper and salt. In a salad bowl, toss the greens, cranberries, cheese and walnuts.

Place the dressing ingredients together in a blender; cover and process until smooth. Drizzle desired amount of dressing over salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

(Word to the wise, the dressing is quite potent so use with caution.) This salad was renamed “killer salad” by my family. I always have requests for it when I bring it to potlucks or have company over.

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Chicken Fried Steak

There is something special and comforting about this dish.  I have tried them in various restaurants, but never made them myself.  A few months ago, I ate a rather poor version of Chicken Fried Steak in a restaurant… and it was a POOR version, combined with the fact that it was really poor service that day and they didn’t bring the gravy out with the steak and I had to wait 5 to 10 minutes for them to bring it and by then my steak was less than perfect.. so I went to look for a version I can do myself.  This certainly isn’t diet food!  I am on a semi diet though — so I had a small piece.
I made the mistake of buying two family packs of cube steak there were two huge steaks in each pack, but I could have just purchased one..as I cut them into smaller pieces to make them manageable.  I followed the recipe from allrecipes.com exactly, but seasoned up the gravy with a few dashes of Tabasco sauce to get the taste where I like it.
I also drizzled lemon juice over the steaks for extra flavor, but did not find it to give it much flavor, I think next time I will squeeze some over the steaks after they come out of the cast iron skillet (if you have one, this recipe is perfect for it!)  I served this with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans, sorry about the lighting in the picture.  This makes plenty of Gravy!  My husband and I loved it.  The kids preferred it without gravy (I have sick children I know!)
Here is the link: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/The-Best-Chicken-Fried-Steak/Detail.aspx
The-Best-Chicken-Fried-Steak

  • 4 (1/2 pound) beef cube steaks
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce (e.g. Tabasco™)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups vegetable shortening for deep
  • frying
  • Gravy:
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste (1 Tbsp salt, 1 tsp pepper)
  • 5 dashes of Tabasco (Becky’s change)

Pound the steaks to about 1/4-inch thickness. Place 2 cups of flour in a shallow bowl. Stir together the baking powder, baking soda, pepper, and salt in a separate shallow bowl; stir in the buttermilk, egg, Tabasco Sauce, and garlic. Dredge each steak first in the flour, then in the batter, and again in the flour. Pat the flour onto the surface of each steak so they are completely coated with dry flour.

Heat the shortening in a deep cast-iron skillet to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Fry the steaks until evenly golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Place fried steaks on a plate with paper towels to drain. Drain the fat from the skillet, reserving 1/4 cup of the liquid and as much of the solid remnants as possible.

Return the skillet to medium-low heat with the reserved oil. Whisk the remaining flour into the oil. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula to release solids into the gravy. Stir in the milk, raise the heat to medium, and bring the gravy to a simmer, cook until thick, 6 to 7 minutes. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Spoon the gravy over the steaks to serve.

Recipe Notes
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in 40 minutes
Serves 4

Becky’s NOTES:
After dredging the cube steak in flour and buttermilk and then in flour again it is a pretty gloppy mess!  I stacked my steaks on a plate, but as I got toward the end of frying I didn’t know where the steak began to pick it up, next time I will put wax paper between each steak so they don’t stick to each other and pull the breading off other steaks.  Will make again!

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