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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cajun Chicken Salad



This chicken salad has a smokey flavor because of the sausage, sweetness from the sundried tomatoes and apples, crunch with the celery, and brightness from the lemon juice.  It's great as a sandwich, or alone with crackers or over mixed salad greens.


Ingredients:
3 - 4 cups cooked chicken, minced into small pieces
 (feel free to use a cooked rotisserie chicken or cook your own)
1/3 lb smoked andouille sausage
1/2 cup onions, chopped fine
1 Tbsp butter
4 green onion tops, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/3 cup apple, finely chopped
1 handful sundried tomatoes, chopped small
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
to taste salt, pepper, Creole seasoning



step-by-step
Saute chopped onions and andouille sausage in butter until onions are soft and translucent.


Saute onions in 1 Tbsp butter.

Add smoked sausage and saute until soft.
Meanwhile, chop sun dried tomatoes, apples, celery, and dice up chicken.
Sun dried tomatoes.  A big handful.

Cooked, rotisserie chicken.
Add the chopped chicken, sausage and sauteed onions to food processor and blend until desired consistency.   
Add sauteed sausage and onions to chicken.

Pulse to blend.
Add other ingredients and then season to taste.
Sun dried tomatoes.

Green onions.

1 stalk of celery.

About 1/3 cup apples.

Juice of one whole lemon.

1 cup reduced fat sour cream.

1/4 cup mayo.
Salt, pepper, Creole seasoning.
This chicken salad has a smokey flavor because of the sausage, sweetness from the sun dried tomatoes and apples, crunch with the celery, and brightness from the lemon juice.  It's great as a sandwich, or alone with crackers or over mixed salad greens.
Shown here on a Kaiser roll with butter lettuce, provolone cheese, and a little mustard on the side.

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Written Directions
Saute chopped onions and andouille sausage in butter until onions are soft and translucent.
Add the chopped chicken, sausage and sauteed onions to food processor and blend until desired consistency.  Add other ingredients and then season to taste.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sour Cream Banana Nut Bread

This is the perfect cure for buying too many bananas!  In our house, I usually only buy a few bananas at a time, as our family rarely eats a whole "bunch" of them; but when I sent my sweet husband to the store with a grocery list, he came back with practically the whole tree! When bananas are really ripe and sweet, there are few things better to do with them than this. Banana nut bread is a great snack, with a great balance of nutrition.  This recipe will make 1 large loaf, but these little individual loaves are super cute, and just the right size for a bake sale, teacher gifts, neighbor thank you gifts, a quick breakfast, etc.

This recipe came from one of my favorite cookbooks, Celebrations on the Bayou, given to me some 20 years ago by a dear friend.  I've been making this ever since then... and when my oldest child was a toddler, it was sometimes the only thing I could get him to eat.  Today, I looked at my youngest (3 years old) and asked if she wanted to make banana nut bread.  Almost instantaneously, that big voice (almost 15 years old now) came from another part of the house... "Yes!!"  Ha!  The allure of this super easy recipe apparently still works like a charm!


Click for Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I use the "light" version)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans




Step-by-step
Cream together the butter and sugar.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
Cream together well.

Add eggs and mix well.
2 eggs
Mix well.
Sift together:  flour, soda, and salt.
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour
Sift.
Get the last bits out! Ha Ha!

Combine the flour mixture with the butter mixture.
Combine.
Add the bananas, sour cream, and vanilla and mix well.
3 large bananas - peeled, of course, and mashed.
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
Add the chopped nuts.
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Pour the batter into a greased 9x5x3 loaf pan or several smaller loaf pans (or muffin tins).

Bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour for 1 loaf, or around 20 minutes for muffins or small loaves.

Mmmmm......

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Written Directions: 
Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add eggs and mix well.  Sift together:  flour, soda, and salt.  Combine the flour mixture with the butter mixture. Add the bananas, sour cream, and vanilla and mix well.  Add the chopped nuts. Pour the batter into a greased 9x5x3 loaf pan or several smaller loaf pans (or muffin tins). Bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour for 1 loaf, or around 20 minutes for muffins or small loaves.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Crawfish Monica

When we hit New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (Jazz Fest), this is our favorite dish! If you can't make it to Jazz Fest, bring a little of the Jazz Fest to YOUR house! It's creamy, "spicy as you want it to be," and puts those Springtime Louisiana crawfish to good use. Sources say that this dish was invented by Pierre "Pete" Hilzim, the president and head chef of Kajun Kettle Foods.  He supposedly named it after his wife.  Crawfish Monica has been served since 1982 at Jazz Fest, and for a long time, I think this may have been the ONLY place you could get it.  

At the fairgrounds, they make is SUPER spicy; but I know that would be too much heat for my family, so I scaled back on the Cajun seasoning.  I also added smoked sausage in my dish to add an extra dimension to my flavor profile. For those adverse or allergic to seafood, this would be nice with some good old chicken, too.   Now I am pretty sure that "the" official recipe for Crawfish Monica is kept in a secret vault somewhere, maybe under a barrel of Louisiana Hot Sauce... but here is my version.

Here is my video tutorial to making this dish!
  • 1 pound of dried rotini pasta
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) of butter
  • 2 - 3 green onions, sliced
  • 2 - 3 Tbsp yellow onion, minced
  • 1- 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 7 - 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 cups of half and half (or heavy cream)
  • 1/3 pound of smoked sausage (the smokier the better) 
  • 1 1/2 tsp of Cajun seasoning (I used Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning)
  • 1 pound fresh, cooked (or frozen) crawfish tails
  • sprinkle of parsley
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce



 Step-by-step
    7 -8 cloves of garlic, minced.  This dish NEEDS LOTS of garlic!
    2 -3 green onions, sliced on a bias.
    2 - 3 Tbsp diced yellow onion
    1/3 pound smoked sausage
    Fresh cooked or frozen (shown here) crawfish tails.  Allow the tails to thaw out in the sink in cool water. 
    1 - 2 cups quartered grape tomatoes.
    I prefer to rinse my crawfish tails. If you want to leave the "fat" on them, be my guest.
    Add the rotini pasta to boiling water.. 
Cook to al dente - about 9 minutes.
    Drain and rinse under cool water to prevent them from sticking together.
     
    Now... let's put it all together:

    This is going to go fast! Get your music going!!
    Melt the butter in a heavy pan.
    1/2 cup butter (8 Tbsp)
    Add minced garlic and cook about 1 minute.  We don't really want it brown.
    7 - 8 cloves garlic, minced
    Add diced yellow onion.  Cook another minute.
2 - 3 Tbsp diced yellow onion
Add smoked sausage and tomatoes.
1/3 pound smoked sausage
1 - 2 cups quartered grape tomatoes
Let this cook down a few minutes.

Add in the green onions and tomato sauce.
2 - 3 chopped green onions
Let them all cook down a bit together.
Pretty, huh?
Add in the half and half (or cream).  All it to come to a boil and cook down a little to start thickening.

Make it soupier than you think you will want it in the end, because the noodles will absorb a lot of the sauce.  - and it's nice to have it "saucy" and creamy in the end.
3 cups half and half
Add in the Creole seasoning.  Start slow here!  Perhaps add 1/2 tsp at a time and taste, then add more until you get it to the heat level you want. Add half of the Parmesan cheese.
1 1/2 tsp Cajun or Creole seasoning
Add in the rinsed noodles.

1 pound cooked, drained, rinsed rotini noodles
Add the chopped parsley and adjust seasonings to sauce.
a small handful of chopped fresh parsley
Finally... add in the rinsed crawfish tails.
1 pound rinsed cooked crawfish tails
Washing your crawfish seems to be a hotbed of contention among my readers.  Many feel you should not rinse them.  Let me again reiterate that this is a personal choice.  If you want all the flavor of the fat, don't rinse.  If you are like me and bristle at the smell when you first open that package, then be guest to rinse them. 

If you live in an area where you can not find local, Louisiana crawfish.  You can purchase them online at CajunGrocer.com and they will ship them to you.
Adjust salt and pepper....
kosher salt to taste
fresh cracked black pepper
Make any final adjustments to heat, salt, pepper, etc.  Add a few more fresh green onions if you'd like.
Final adjustments
When the sauce is "saucy," the seasonings right, and the tails tender.... get ready to serve!  Serve immediately with some of the left over Parmesan cheese and some good, hot French bread!  .... and listen to some good Jazz!

I hope you enjoyed this recipe!

There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

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Looking for more awesome pasta recipes? 
Here are just a few bonus recipes to get your salivary glands going!
Spicy Garlic Shrimp

Creamy Chicken Piccata
Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Pesto Penne
Mediterranean Chicken Pasta 
Coconut Lemongrass Chicken

Written Directions:

You can do much of this prep ahead of time.  This is a pretty fast dish, but there are some things you could do to really hasten getting dinner on the table.
For prep ahead.... One thing you could do ahead is to cook the rotini pasta to al dente according to package directions (about 9 minutes).  Drain and rinse it well under cool water. Set it aside.  You could do this ahead of time, add a bit of oil to it and put the pasta into the fridge if cooking the dish later.  I wouldn't cook the noodles "all the way" done, as they will finish cooking in the sauce; and you don't want overcooked, mushy noodles.

Prep you your veggies ahead of time.  That way, you are ready to throw it all together. Store them in a ziptop bag and you will be ready to go when you get home.  Slice your sausage and store it in a ziptop bag for later as well.

Melt the butter in a heavy pan.  Add minced garlic and cook about 1 minute.  We don't really want it brown.  Add diced yellow onion.  Cook another minute.  Add smoked sausage and tomatoes. Let this cook down a few minutes.  Add in the green onions and tomato sauce. Let them all cook down a bit together.  

Add in the half and half (or cream).  All it to come to a boil and cook down a little to start thickening.  Make it soupier than you think you will want it in the end, because the noodles will absorb a lot of the sauce.  - and it's nice to have it "saucy" and creamy in the end. Add in the Creole seasoning.  Start slow here!  Perhaps add 1/2 tsp at a time and taste, then add more until you get it to the heat level you want. Add in half of the Parmesan cheese.

Add in the rinsed noodles.  Add the chopped parsley and adjust seasonings to sauce.  Finally... add in the rinsed crawfish tails.  Make any final adjustments to heat, salt, pepper, etc.  Add a few more fresh green onions if you'd like.   When the sauce is "saucy," the seasonings right, and the tails tender.... get ready to serve!  Serve immediately with reserved Parmesan, some good, hot French bread!  .... and listen to some jazz!

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