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Taco Bites! What to do with leftover chicken

May 22, 2015
Taco Bites

Forget your other finger food, appetizer, and various hors d’oeuvres options.  These taco bites are all you need. Perfect salty, savory, filling, crunch, cheesy, nom-nomy taco bites.  Bonus, they use up baked or rotisserie left overs too – plus healthy black beans!

Remember my awesome chicken enchiladas?  Just add black beans to that filling and continue with the recipe below.  I’ll put that stuff in the ingredients list but this really is a supreme way to use up leftovers.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups leftover shredded chicken or turkey
  • 1 Tbsp Taco Seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup salsa
  • Bag of scoop or bowl shaped tortilla chips
  • 1 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese, divided

 

Instead of the chicken, seasoning, and salsa above you can use leftover filling from Easy Weeknight Chicken Enchiladas! Just add the black beans, stuff in shells, top with cheese and bake.

Spread your shells on a large baking sheet or two if you are making the whole batch at once. You will have a quarter of a bag of shells left after making one full recipe (Assuming you didn’t have a lot of broken ones that wouldn’t work.)

Mix chicken, seasonings, beans, salsa and half of your cheese together in a bowl.

Taco Bite Filling

Stuff filling in tiny shells with two spoons – one to scoop and one to push the filling off the spoon into the shell.

Mini Taco Shells Stuffed

Top with remaining shredded cheese.

Taco Bites Ready to Bake

Bake at 350 degree for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.  Cool for 2-3 minutes and start eating!

Taco Bites Baked

If you want to turn these up to 11, add a dollop of sour cream on top and one pickled jalapeno. Perfection! (and pretty)

 

 

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Debris Po’Boy Sandwich NOLA In Your Mouth

May 7, 2015
Debris Sandwich

So now you can make a phenomenal pot roast, right?  Good!  Now take the bits and jus (juice from the roast & cooking liquid) and make the world’s best sandwich:  The Debris Po’Boy! I fell in absolute, head-over-heals, love with these at Mother’s in New Orleans.  They are damn good.  Good enough to make the pot roast for in the first place, that’s for sure.  I mean sure you can eat slices with nice side dishes of vegetables and mashed potatoes… but once you wrap your lips around this sandwich you’ll be making roasts just for these.  Trust me.

Before we begin, let’s talk about bread.  New Orleans French bread is a thing of beauty. A gift from whatever God you believe in… just perfect.  If you’re like me, you can’t find nice airy and hearty bread in your area.  It’s a tragedy I know.  If all you can find is mega-mart dense, doughy, “French/Italian/We Aren’t Sure/It all tastes the same no matter the shape” bread you CAN make do.  Just pinch out a bit of the center.  It’s not ideal but you’ll still get a good sandwich.

 

Ingredients

  • Two cups shredded pot roast
  • 1 cup pot jus (cooking juice from the roast)
  • Two hearty rolls, slit down the center in the middle, not all the way through – see photo
  • Yellow Mustard to taste
  • Mayonnaise to taste (keeps your bread from turning to absolute mush)
  • A hungry belly

 

Slit the rolls in the center middle, not all the way through either side or back.

Split the Roll Debris Sandwhich

Fill with mayo and mustard.

Fill with Condiments

Use tongs to stuff those puppies full of meat.  Pour in half the juice between the two.  Use the rest for dipping if you desire.

Debris Sandwiches

Now eat.

 

Super simple. Super good.

Debris Sandwich

Pot Roast: Two Hours Stove Top Method – GF, Paleo

April 28, 2015
Pot Roast Braising

Slow cookers are wonderful, truly. I love them. I cannot sing their praises enough.  However, there are certain things that can be made even better when you skip the slow cooker.  Pot roast is one of those things.  Well, pot braise really.

What is a braise? Braising is wet roasting (for the super short explanation). It is not unlike how the slow cooker cooks everything… but slightly different.  Braising allows for even, slow cooking without drying out the meat.

Why take the roast out of the slow cooker?  First, you don’t get a nice cut of meat that just falls to pieces.  Sometime (like with pulled pork) you want your meat to lose all structural integrity.  Other times you want a nice slice of meat.  With pot roast you want slices, not hunks that barely hold together. It looks better on a plate and is much easier to serve.  Second, and really most importantly, FLAVOR.  You can dirty up every pan in your kitchen and sear a roast before putting it in the slow cooker and only add your vegetables at the last hour, but really – HOW is that supposed to be MORE convenient?  Convenience is the best feature of the slow cooker – if you overcomplicate the recipe you’ve lost the value.

So here it is. The way everyone used to do it. (When not actually roasting in the oven – that’s a different cut of meat and another day’s recipe).

 

Ingredients

  • 2 lb beef top round roast or London broil.  (Shaped like a huge steak, not the large cube or cone shaped cuts)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (For GF and Paleo you MUST check your ingredients on this item!)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt with parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1-2 bay leaves, dried
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 small potatoes, 1 inch cubes, skin on
  • 4 carrots, peeled and coined evenly

 

In your heaviest, largest, lidded pot – heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high.  Season your roast with salt and pepper liberally.  When oil is hot, place roast flat side down in the center of the pot.  Sear for 2 minutes without touching it.

Pot Roast Seasoned

Flip and sear the other side.  After 1 minute of cooking on the second side, add the Worcestershire sauce and minced garlic. Add a bit of the broth so the garlic and Worcestershire don’t scorch, then add in the rest of the veggies and spices.  Add the remaining broth and cover at a bare simmer for 2 hours.

Pot Roast Searing

Pot Roast Ready to Braise

Pot Roast Braising

Remove the lid and let cook for an additional half hour if you want to reduce the jus (liquid in the bottom).

Remove the bay leaves and discard. Remove the roast to a cutting board and let rest 10-15 minutes tented in foil.  Slice a quarter to a half inch thick and serve with vegetables and jus.  Enjoy!

Pot Roast Ready to Eat

This makes EXCELLENT debris sandwiches… so save every single leftover bit!

You’ll notice there is no onion in this recipe… just onion powder.  I like this dish to be savory through-and-through.  I don’t like the sweetness that well-cooked onions add.  If you DO like this, simply add one medium onion, diced when you add the carrots and potatoes. I also use chicken broth rather than beef broth – this too is a personal preference.  I find store bought beef broth tastes too artificial; I’d rather use my own chicken broth since I know exactly what’s in it or even store bought chicken broth just because it tastes better.  I never have beef bones to make homemade beef broth – thus the chicken!

Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake

April 15, 2015
Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake Ready To Eat

Lemon means Spring to me. I know that’s silly since you can get good citrus all year, I guess it’s just something about the freshness of it.  It’s like waking up your taste buds from a long winter’s nap. Today I have a nice lemony, decadent pound cake for you.  Not only does it have the dense, tight crumb of a pound cake, it has richness added by sour cream and that lovely dose of freshness and flavor added by the lemon.  Don’t skimp on the lemon zest either! I think the cake actually gets more flavor from the zest than it does from the juice.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 regular sticks) butter, room temperature!
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs, room temperature!
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel (zest lemon with a micro plane before jucing)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup full fat sour cream

 

Preheat your hot box (oven) to 325°F. Butter two bread pans, the long narrow kind – yes, even if they are non-stick!

In your handy electric mixer cream the butter and sugar together until it lightens in color – 2- 5 minutes on medium.  Add eggs one at the time until they incorporated into the mixture. Next goes the zest and juice. Toss in your salt, baking soda and mix till combined – then start slowly adding your flour on the lowest speed.  Once all is incorporated add the sour cream and mix lightly until no white streaks show.

Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake Batter

Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake Ready For Oven

Spread into two prepared bread pans. Try to flatten the tops and keep the batter off the sides. Bake for 1 hour but start checking at 50 minutes.  Insert a toothpick into the center of each. The cakes are done with the toothpick comes out clean and the tops are a gorgeous golden color.

Lemon Pound Cake Baked

Lemon Pound Cake Cooling

Cool for 15 minutes in the pans. Then turn cakes out onto a cooling rack and cool completely before storing.  Cakes will store in the fridge for a week or two days on the counter if you’re a planner!

This cake is excellent by itself or serve with strawberries and whipped cream.  Delish!

Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake Ready To Eat

Buttery Almond Toffee

April 10, 2015

Toffee is one of my favorite things. I mean, sugar and butter – what could be better? Oh, you’re going to cover it in chocolate and almonds.  Sweet! (Literally)

I’ll admit, I bought toffee for YEARS.  I mean, melted sugar is like LAVA; isn’t that dangerous? Isn’t it going to be a pain to clean?  Nah. Turns out it’s easy, you don’t need many ingredients and it cleans in a snap.  Who knew?

So below you’ll find my toffee recipe. It’s as advertised, buttery and delicious!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole almonds
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup (the clear kind)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (half a normal sized bag)

 

Buttery Toffee: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast almonds in a skillet or on a baking sheet till fragrant, about 10 minutes (medium on stove top, 350 in oven). Cool almond and coarsely chop.

Use half the nuts by spreading on the bottom of a buttered sheet pan, 10×13 is perfect, or use a large pan and cluster the nuts in the center in a single layer. Save the other half for the topping!

In a medium, heavy pot combine the brown sugar, water, butter, and corn syrup. Get your baking soda and vanilla extract ready. Seriously, have them ready!  Sugar heats quickly and can go from perfect to burned in a big darn hurry! Bring the mix to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar – I usually don’t go over medium-high heat. Then cover the pan with a lid for about a minute.  Why so short?  Do I really need to do this?  YES!  It lets the mix “Sweat” little beads of water on to the sides which “washes” them back down into the melted sugar.  Errant sugar still in its crystal form and cause the mix to re-crystalize and get grainy if they fall in later in the process.

Making Toffee

After removing the cover, put a candy thermometer in the mixture, making sure it isn’t resting on the bottom.  Use the kind with the clamp on the side – you can’t hold it the whole time over hot-lava-sugar – you will steam your hand! Now leave it alone and let it cook, no stirring, until it reaches 285 degrees. This is called “soft crack” – your thermometer might tell you as much.  I suggest watching it – not just letting the new-fangled thermometers beep at you when at 285 because the temp will CONTINUE to rise. Remove from the heat at 280 – it will still rise to 290 which is what we want.  When it OFF THE HEAT reaches 290 add the baking soda and vanilla extract and stir.

Melting Chocolate on Toffee

Pour your liquid toffee over the nuts on the baking sheet.  Sprinkle your chocolate chips over the top – do not touch! It’s still REALLY hot. Leave for 5 minutes and then spread the chocolate with a spatula. Then sprinkle with your left over almonds. Now refrigerate for 30 minutes and you are ready to go! Break it up or cut and eat.

Butter Crunch Toffee Cut Up

If you can manage to keep any around, you can store in a plastic or glass container with a tight lid in the fridge for about two weeks. It might help to separate layers with waxed paper. I’ve never had any left… so I don’t know!

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, N’awlins in a bowl!

February 26, 2015
Gumbo on Rice

Chicken and sausage gumbo… mmm… makes me want to hop on a train to NOLA.  In fact, last time we visited that’s all my husband ate! Needless to say, this is one of his favorite meals I fix at home.  It takes a little prep time and a lot of simmer time but it is so worth it!

In the South, gumbo is almost like holiday dressing – infinite ways to make it and everyone has the “right” way.  Just ask someone about their favorite gumbo recipe, you’ll see!

This recipe uses sausage and chicken.  Again, there are so many gumbo recipes with varied ingredients but these two are easy to get an any mega mart in any part of the country so we’ll start here.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices on a bias
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Vegetable oil, or duck fat, or bacon fat
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 quarts chicken broth (two of those vacupack boxes)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • Hot cooked rice

Sausage Cut Up For Gumbo

Chicken for Gumbo

Cut up your chicken and sausage into nice bit size pieces. Cut the sausage on a bias so it’s a bigger bite but a thin slice, that way you get more sausage in every bite.  The chicken should be about half-inch cubes. Get out your gumbo pot.  Don’t have a gumbo pot?  Get out your largest Dutch oven and heat to medium high.  Cook sausage until browned and remove from pot.  Make sure to use a slotted spoon to reserve as much Andouille grease as possible.  Treat the chicken the same way.  It only needs to get white on the outside with a little brown – it won’t be “done” – that is, cooked through.  It will continue cooking in the simmer stage so don’t worry.

 

Once chicken is removed, add enough vegetable oil or duck fat or bacon fat to get up to ½ cup in your Dutch oven. Add your AP flour and cook over medium, stirring constantly until you get a chocolate roux. What is a chocolate roux?  Well, you want the flour paste you’ve made to turn the color of chocolate.  This takes a minute, like 20… so don’t be fooled.

Gumbo Roux Early Stages

Gumbo Roux Early Stages

 

Gumbo Roux Almost There

Gumbo Roux Almost There

 

Stir in your veggies. Yes, they will sizzle.  If you cut them small enough they’ll cook in roughly 5 minutes. The roux will start to seize up and that’s ok.  After the veggies are softened add you chicken stock. Then add your seasonings and garlic.  Add the meat back in and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook, covered for 2 hours.

Vegetable Cooking in Gumbo Roux

Simmering Gumbo

Simmer for an additional 30 minutes uncovered if you’d like a thicker gumbo (don’t forget to remove your bay leaves!) or serve as is over rice.  Either way you have a mighty fine gumbo!

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Cast Iron Apple Pie

February 18, 2015
Cast Iron Apple Pie Baked

Apple Pie!  I really should make more of them throughout the year, but sadly I usually only make 2 or so. That’s a shame, apples are already so tasty, plus buttery crust and cinnamon? Yes please! The cast iron not only adds a bit of nostalgia (+ dose of iron) but also make the recipe less fussy and easier to complete.

This apple pie is easier than apple crisp even, I swear.  It has the ease of a crisp with the dumping of the ingredients in one pot but the buttery crust reward of a pie since you plop a ready-made pie crust on top.  You can add a streusel topping if desired too.  Om nom nom.

So are you ready for an easy pie?

 

Ingredients

  • 5 Pie apples: Braeburn, Golden Delicious, or Granny Smith – peeled, cored, wedged and cubed
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup AP flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 5 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 ready-made pie crust (not the kind already in a pan!)

 

Streusel Topping

  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons AP flour

Cut Up Apples

Peel, core, and wedge your apples. Cut each wedge into three equal pieces.  Melt butter in the bottom of a 10 inch cast iron skillet with high sides (chicken fryer) or a 12 inch skillet.  Toss in apples as they are cut.

Cooking Apples

Dump sugars, salt, and spices on top of apples and turn to coat.  Let cook for 15 minutes on medium heat. You will have a nice collection of juices in the bottom. Don’t worry! Add your quarter cup of flour and stir.  Place the crust on top and up the sides of the pan as necessary to fit.  Cut four steam vents in the top of the crust.

Cast Iron Apple Pie Steam Slits

Bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until crust is beginning to brown if adding streusel – if going without, bake 40 minutes total.

If you wish to include streusel, now is the time. Melt the tablespoon of butter in a small bowl. Combine flour and brown sugar until all the butter is incorporated.  Spread over the top of the crust and bake for 10 more minutes.

Cast Iron Apple Pie streusel topping

Remove from oven and let set.  The best apple pie is served slightly above room temperature but not hot.  It tastes the best at that temp (like how cheese has more flavor at room temp rather than fridge temp) and holds together the best.  If you’re like me thought you like ice cream on top of your pie and you want it to melt.  You still need to let the pie set up! Seriously, it’s worth it.  If it’s not pie shaped when you serve it then you just made cobbler, and poorly!  Cool the pie for 30 minutes.  Microwave the pie slice and THEN add the ice cream, it will melt.

Cast Iron Apple Pie Baked