Monday, June 29, 2015

Creamy Cajun Pasta

Hello all, I am posting again, at least for the moment.  This pasta is one my family clamors for.  We have made it at least 3 times recently.  I love all the vegetables, combined with the spiciness of the Cajun seasoning; it is perfect for summer.  We have also used the Cajun seasoning just for grilled chicken, without the pasta, and we love it.  It makes for a bright and summery, flavor-filled dish.  It tastes like something the Cheesecake Factory restaurant would serve.   I think you will love it. I do admit that it takes a bit of time to pull together, but I think it is worth it.

In this version, I made it without mushrooms.  Some of my family like mushrooms, and some do not.  In this dish, I love the mushrooms.

Creamy Cajun Pasta
 Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy, originally from All Recipes
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
6 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, divided, recipe listed below
12 ounces linguine or fettuccine pasta
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons flour
1-1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 medium red bell pepper sliced into thin strips, and then halved (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 medium yellow bell pepper sliced into thin strip,  and then halved (about 1-1/2 cups)
1/2 cup red onion, sliced into strips
2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
Fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish

Cajun Seasoning Recipe

2-1/2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1-1/4 teaspoons dried oregano, 1-1/4 teaspoons thyme, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you want additional heat)

Creamy Cajun Pasta Preparation Instructions

1.  Grilling the chicken:  Heat a grill to medium high.  Brush chicken with 1 tablespoon olive oil and rub with 2 teaspoons of the Cajun seasoning.  Grill chicken until cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes.   Transfer grilled chicken to a plate.  Cover chicken with foil, let rest for 5 minutes, then cut into strips.  Set aside.

2.  Pasta Cooking:  Cook pasta according to the directions on the package in salted water. 
Reserve 1/3 cup of pasta water, to be used to thin pasta sauce, if needed.  Set aside.
3.  Making the Creamy Cajun Sauce:  In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Stir in garlic and flour, and cook one minute whisking constantly.  Slowly pour in milk, while whisking constantly to smooth out any lumps in mixture.  Stir in 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning.  Bring mixture to a boil, while stirring constantly, then reduce to low heat.  Stir in Parmesan and cream, and cook until Parmesan has melted.  remove from heat and set aside. 

4.  Preparing the Vegetables:  Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add red and yellow peppers and red onion and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add 1 teaspoon of the Cajun seasoning and the mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes longer. 

5.  Putting the Dish All Together:  In a large serving bowl, toss the drained pasta with the creamy Cajun sauce, adding reserved pasta water, one tablespoon at a time, to thin as desired.  Toss in vegetables and chicken.  Serve warm with parsley as a garnish and additional Cajun seasoning, if desired. 

Thanks for dropping by the Couch.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Peanut Butter S'mores in a Jar

Hello Dear Red Couch Readers!  These little goodies will be so much adored for the Summer S'mores Season.  A graham cracker crust, with gooey marshmallows and brownie, and a drizzle of peanut butter, make these little individual desserts really delicious   A friend bought one by for me, and I fell in love.  It was such a fun little dessert to receive.  Enough with the gushing.  Look below for an update on my son.

I found these little jars at Hobby Lobby.  They were on sale and were a little bit over a dollar.  There is a rubber ring in the lid that you need to take out before baking.  Any glass container, such as a canning jar, with about an 8-ounce capacity will do.

Update on my son:  After a year-long illness, we feel that we have turned the corner on his bone infection.  He has had five PIC lines, three emergency hospital visits, stayed in four different hospitals in 2 states for a  total of 26 days, 3 ambulance rides, and two breaks in his legs, one severe, and one not so severe, physical therapy, both in-home, and in-clinic, and 18 weeks on crutches or with a walker.  The plate and nine screws are out, a titanium nail, or rod is in. During the last surgery in April to place the titanium rod in his femur, his leg was broken when they placed the rod.   We hope and pray for the best. Tomorrow they are pulling the PIC line. Hopefully, soon he will be off crutches.  It has been an adventure. 
 Recipe for Peanut Butter S'mores in a Jar Recipe

Adapted from Taste and Tell, Originally from September 2014 Family Circle

1 sleeve graham crackers, nine whole crackers, finely crushed
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon sugar
1 (7-ounce) container marshmallow cream
1 box (18 ounce) brownie mix, plus ingredients called for on the box
1/4 to 1/2  cup chocolate chips
4 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 cups miniature marshmallows ( I did not use this much.)
 1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare the brownie batter, as directed on the box and add chocolate chips.  I used a Ghiradelli Double Chocolate mix.  Do not bake batter at this point.  2.   Place 8 (8 ounce) oven-proof jars on a baking sheet.  3.  In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar, and mix well.  Reserve 1/4 cup of graham mixture for topping the desserts.  Press remaining mixture into the bottom of the 8 jars.  Use a spoon for pressing.
4.  Microwave the marshmallow cream for about 8 seconds.  Place a large spoonful, divide evenly, in each of the jars on top of graham cracker crust.  Try to get the marshmallow cream to touch on the sides to anchor it in place, to minimize the marshmallow layer from rising above brownie layer. 
5.  Divide the brownie batter between the 8 containers, placing it upon the marshmallow layer.
6.  Bake containers in oven for about 30 minutes, or until the brownie mix is done.  The marshmallows may rise, and the brownie layer may fall after baking  This is okay.
7.  Remove from the oven, and allow to cool slightly.  Place the peanut butter in a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.  Drizzle 1/2 tablespoon on each cooked dessert. Place reserved graham crackers on each dessert.  Place mini marshmallows on top and broil in the oven until marshmallows are lightly brown.  Watch carefully to avoid burning.   Serve warm or cold.
I hope you enjoy this yummy dessert

Friday, May 1, 2015

Greek Burgers Like Wolffy's

Right next to the campus of Gonzaga, there is a little diner frequented by the students of Gonzaga and the community of Spokane.  (Gonzaga is a perennial basketball powerhouse, and don't even think of pronouncing it wrong.  The "zag" is pronounced like "zig-zag." )  At Wolffy's, there can't be more than 20 seats, and there is counter seating where you can view the employees cooking the food right in front of you.  This little diner has been around for many years serving up burgers and fries and shakes .
You might want to add the Greek Burger to your summer hamburger repertoire.  All you need is feta and pepperoncini.  The only secret to their Greek burgers, is cooking the pepperoncini on their grill, right along side the hamburgers.  This kind of tones down the pepperoncini.  All my family loves these burgers, I hope you will try them. 


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