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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Homemade Cajun Chicken Pasta

2016-05-27 18.01.49

Here in Florida, we have a local restaurant and bar that serves this dish. Every time we go I always order the Cajun Chicken Pasta. I just love it so much I needed to recreate it at home. I will say that there is some butter that goes into the making of this dish, but that’s part of the reason it’s so delicious. I think once and a while it’s alright to indulge in a rich and decadent dish!

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Ready less than 1 hour
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: cast iron skillet and a deep sided saute pan.

Ingredients:
4 boneless-skinless chicken breasts
1-1/2 boxes of linguine
1 pint of sliced button mushrooms
4 seeded and diced plum tomatoes
1 finely minced shallot
3 finely minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup of dry white wine
3 tablespoons of olive oil
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
4 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning
2 tablespoons of sweet paprika
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 cup of low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese ( reserve 1/2 cup for garnishing each serving)
Italian flat leaf parsley for garnish

Directions:
In a cast iron skillet, start by melting butter and olive oil. To the skillet add the finely minced shallot and sliced mushrooms. On medium heat, saute the mushrooms and shallots for about 3-5 minutes. Next, add in the minced garlic, and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Add in 1/4 cup of white wine and let this all simmer together until all the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are brown. This process should take another 7-10 minutes. While the mushrooms are simmering and browning, seed and dice 4 plum tomatoes. Transfer the sauteed mushrooms, shallots and garlic with the diced tomatoes to the bowl and mix together.

Place 4 boneless-skinless chicken breast, that have been patted dry, in a large resealable plastic bag. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1 tablespoon of sweet paprika to the bag. Let all the air out of the bag and seal it up. Using your hands, massage the chicken so all the seasoning coats the chicken.

Using the same skillet the mushrooms were cooked in, preheated on the stove on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil along with 2 tablespoons of butter. Let the butter melt and move the butter and oil around in the skillet to coat the entire bottom. Next, place the 4 seasoned chicken breast into the skillet. Cook the chicken breasts for 5-7 minutes per side until almost tender. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside for a minute.

In a large pot, start to get the pasta water ready. Turn the pot on med-high heat to bring the water up to a boil. While that’s happening, slice the chicken breast on the bias.

in a deep sided saute pan with a lid, start the sauce for this dish. On medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter ( this may seem like a large amount of butter, but there is a lot of pasta going into this dish. The pasta needs to be well coated) along with 2 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning and 1 tablespoons sweet paprika. Add 1/2 a cup of low sodium chicken broth. Let this come to a bubble. Reduce the heat to med-low and pour in 1/4 cup of  heavy cream. Whisk the sauce together, then add the sliced chicken into the sauce. Let the sauce and chicken simmer for 10-12 minutes ( enough time to cook the pasta), on med-low heat, while the pasta cooks.

When the pasta is al dente,  transfer the linguine to the pan with the chicken, along with 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese. Turn the heat off and toss together until all the pasta is coated and the chicken is mixed through.The pasta will immediately start to absorb the sauce. Serve in a pasta bowl and garnishing with fresh Italian flat leaf parsley and another sprinkling of the Parmesan cheese. If the dish is not being served right away, place the lid.

 

 

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Chicken, Broccoli, And Rice Casserole

2016-04-20 20.49.53

What a great weeknight meal!  Casseroles are a magical thing. Everything baking together in one dish. Hot and bubbly, with a golden brown cheesy top. What’s not to love about that?  My cheesy chicken, broccoli, and rice casserole will set you on the path to “Comfort Town”.

Not as traditional as most of the chicken, broccoli, and rice casseroles you may have encountered, I like adding mushrooms and a combination of a yellow and English white cheddar to this dish.

Why an English white cheddar you’re wondering? I’ve compared all kinds of white cheddar cheeses in the past, English white cheddar is the best.

I’m fortifying the flavor of my poached chicken for this dish. All that means is that the poaching liquid I’m using is an unsalted chicken broth to enhance the chicken flavor.

2016-04-20 20.49.53

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Yields: 6-8 servings
Equipment:  9 x 11 x 2 baking dish

Ingredients:
1 quart of unsalted chicken broth (poaching liquid)
4 boneless-skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon of good olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1 pint of cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon of a Fresno chili (approx. 1/2 a Fresno chili, seeded and minced)
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 1/2 cups of cooked white rice (Success, boil-n-bag rice, 2 packets, now available in brown rice)
2 1/2 cups of thawed frozen broccoli florets, roughly chopped
3 cups of cooked diced chicken (4 boneless skinless chicken breasts)

Cheese Sauce:
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons for the topping
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup (8-ounces) Philadelphia Whipped original cream cheese, room temperature (or substitute 1 cup sour cream)
2 1/2 cups of whole milk, heated
1 3/4 cups of grated English white cheddar
1/4 cup of grated yellow cheddar
2/3 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, plus 4 tablespoons

Directions:
Spray a 9 x 11 x 2 baking dish with cooking spray.

Note: Make sure the frozen broccoli florets are completely thawed. Transfer the broccoli florets to a large plate lined with paper towel and pat dry as much as possible. Transfer the florets to a cutting board and give them a rough chop. Place into a bowl and set aside.

In a large sauce pot, on medium heat, add 4 boneless-skinless chicken breasts (in a single layer), dried thyme, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Pour 1 quart of unsalted chicken broth, enough to cover the chicken. Once the liquid comes to a boil, turn down the heat to a low simmer and cover. This process should take anywhere from 10-15 minutes.

While the chicken is poaching, start with the boil-in-a-bag rice. Follow the instructions on the box. Once the rice and water are brought to a boil, boil for 8-10 minutes, remove the rice from the bag and transfer to a large bowl, set aside.

The chicken should be opaque in color and have an internal temperature of 165-degrees. Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid and transfer to a plate. Next, dice the chicken into 1-inch cubes. Transfer the diced chicken to a bowl and set aside.

Next, in a large sautè pan on medium heat, add the olive oil. Add the diced onions, cook 3-4 minutes, until soft and translucent. To the onions add the sliced mushrooms, minced Fresno chili, and dried thyme, cook for another 4-6 minutes. Continue sautèeing until all the liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are nice and brown. This is the time to add the Kosher salt to the pan, stir through. Finally, add the broccoli florets and continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Transfer the broccoli, mushroom, and onion mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add to that the cooked rice and diced (cooked) chicken. Toss all the ingredients together and set aside for the time being.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.

Directions For Cheese Sauce:
In a 3-quart saucepan,  over medium heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter. Add 1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt and whisk. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until mixture turns blonde in color. Start by slowly whisking the hot milk in about 3 tablespoons at a time, until smooth and combined. Continue by slowly adding the remaining hot milk and whisking until the sauce thickens. Bring to a boil then turn the heat down to low, switch to a wooden spoon and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

First, add the cream cheese, stir until smooth and combined. Next, add the grated Parmesan, white, and yellow cheddar, again stir to combine. Transfer the cheese sauce to the large bowl containing the chicken and vegetables, mix together.

Pour into a 9 x 11 x 2 greased baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle 4 tablespoon of the grated Parmesan cheese over the top. Dice 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter into tiny cubes. Take the tiny cubes of butter and *DOT the top of the casserole.

Bake for 25 minutes or until completely heated through. Turn broiler to the ON position and cook another 3-5 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

*DOT: a food process involving the placement of small bits (butter) and/or pieces of food to evenly distribute particles over the top that are to be melted or absorbed.

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Homemade Plum Crumble

2016-03-31 15.33.32

I guess it must be the English and Italian in me that makes it impossible to resist a fruit crumble. I never really understood the difference between a fruit crisp and a fruit crumble, but I do now. The difference is the oats that go into the topping. It makes the topping extra special. There’s the English. Now I’m guessing the Italian part are the plums. My grandmother always had plums in her house.

My Homemade Plum Crumble is perfect when you’re hosting a dinner party.  Stored in the refrigerator, the topping can be made a day in advance. Hot, room temperature, or with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream, it’s the perfect ending to a meal.


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
Equipment: a ceramic pie dish or a 9 x 13 baking dish, rimmed baking sheet pan

Ingredients:
2 pounds of large dark red plums, pits removed, cut into 8 slices per plum (6 cups of sliced plums)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of orange zest
1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons of organic apple juice

Topping:
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup of packed light brown sugar
Pinch of Kosher salt
1 cup of whole oats
2 sticks of cold cubed unsalted butter, reserve half for the top of the crumble.

Directions:
Butter a baking dish really well. In a large bowl throw in your sliced plums. To the plums add granulated sugar, flour, apple juice,  orange zest, and a pinch of Kosher salt. Mix all this together so all the plums are coated nicely. Transfer the plums to a buttered baking dish. I like my fruit crumbles to be piled high. It gives it an old fashion look.

In another large bowl, add the ingredients for the crumble topping. Flour, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, ground cinnamon, whole oats, a pinch of Kosher salt. Whisk all those ingredients together before adding in the cold cubes of unsalted butter. Reserve back 1/2 a stick of the butter to dot the top. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it looks coarse meal, shown above.

Sprinkle the crumbled topping evenly over the plums. If a little of the crumble topping slips down between the fruit, that’s fine. If some of the plums are showing through that’s also fine. Using the reserved butter cubes to dot the top. Using a baking sheet to place under the pie dish, bake for 50 to 60 minutes, at 350-degrees F., until the plums are tender and bubbling, and the top is golden brown.  Let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Serve my Homemade Plum Crumble, hot or room temperature. Don’t forget the ice cream!

 

 

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Homemade Ciabatta Croutons

Tuscan Sausage, Kale And Potato Soup

Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata

There is nothing better than Homemade Ciabatta Croutons. Whenever I make croutons, they’re usually made from cutting up a special Artisan bread I bought from my local bakery. Ciabatta bread is my favorite. Specifically the Tuscan garlic loaf. Whole roasted garlic cloves are baked right into the bread.

Let me say this if you love good bread, and you’ve made your own croutons, you’ll never buy the store-bought brand again.

Above are a few of my recipes where I’ve added Homemade Ciabatta Croutons.

There are my Tuscan, Chicken, and French onion soups, my Stuffed Acorn Squash, a delicious Panzanella Salad, and finally, my Sweet Italian Sausage, Mushroom, And Asparagus Strata.

I think in the future I’ll be making a sweet bread pudding using another variety of  Ciabatta bread. They are just so many recipes that start out with great Homemade Ciabatta Croutons.

Let me show you my basic crouton recipe using the Tuscan Garlic Ciabatta.

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So, there are two methods for making great homemade croutons.

The first one is, baking them off on a sheet pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, Kosher salt, and black pepper. You could also get crazy and add some, garlic powder, and maybe even dried herbs. I’d first toss them with the olive oil, Kosher salt, and freshly cracked black pepper to make sure they’re all coasted nicely. Spread them out evenly in a single layer, on a sheet pan. Bake them off at 350 degrees F., Toss the bread cubes once, until they’re are browned on all sides, about 10-15 minutes.

The second, way I love is to use a large sauté pan. Make sure the recipe doesn’t require more than 4-6 cups of bread cubes. Using butter with olive oil just adds extra flavor to those delightful little cubes of bread. On medium heat, season with Kosher salt and black pepper, tossing frequently, until the bread is evenly toasted and browned. To add even more flavor, while the croutons are still hot, transfer them to a large mixing bowl, add freshly chopped herbs and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

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Yields: 4-6 cups (1 loaf of Tuscan garlic Ciabatta)
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
4-6 cups of bread cubes, 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes (1 loaf of Tuscan Ciabatta garlic loaf, or plain Ciabatta)
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Freshly chopped fresh herbs, optional
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions:
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the bread cubes making sure they’re in on layer in the pan. Season with Kosher salt and black pepper. Toss all the bread cubes around so they absorb the butter and olive oil. Sauté for a couple of minutes without turning. Once a golden brown, on the first side, then toss them again until brown all sides. This takes about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

While the croutons are nice and hot this is the time to add freshly chopped herbs, grated Parmesan cheese, or both. Toss to combine.

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