Saturday, February 28, 2015

Skillet Shrimp, Sausage and Rice

Dinner was  ready in a record 35 minutes tonight.   I took some shrimp, andouille sausage,  an onion, some garlic, a red pepper, rice, chicken broth, white wine, and some seasoning and cooked them in a skillet.   They cooked for about 25 minutes.    After everything was cooked, I tossed in some tomatoes and sprinkled fresh parsley over the top.  

The shrimp and sausage tasted wonderful together and the creole seasoned rice added an extra boost to this flavor packed dinner.  Easy, delicious, and quick.  A perfect recipe for a wonderful meal.

Skillet Shrimp, Sausage and Rice
From Woman's Day magazine

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 ounces fully cooked andouille sausage, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red pepper, cut into small, thin pieces
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup long-grain white rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons creole seasoning
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
12 ounces large peeled and deveined shrimp, tails discarded
12 ounces plum tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 tomatoes)
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the sausage and cook until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side; transfer to a plate.
2. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes.  Add the pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are just tender, about 5 more minutes.
3. Stir in the rice, then the wine and seasoning and bring to a simmer.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 12 minutes.
4. Fold the sausage into the rice mixture, then nestle the shrimp in the partially cooked rice and cook, covered, until the shrimp are opaque throughout and the rice is tender, 4 to 5 minutes more.  Fold in the tomatoes and sprinkle with the parsley before serving.

Serves 4

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fettuccine Alfredo With Asparagus

Fettuccine Alfredo is  a dish enjoyed by everyone at my house.  I like it because it is quick and easy.  The family enjoys the flavor.  Pasta noodles coated in a rich cheesy sauce. I decided to change the recipe a bit and add some fresh asparagus.  I was at the store and found some fresh asparagus which were nice and fresh.

As I stated earlier, this dish is quick and easy.  I started by cooking the pasta according to the package directions.  During the last 4 minutes of cooking, I added my asparagus to the pasta pot.  As my pasta  was cooking, I made the sauce.  A stick of butter with some heavy cream was heated in a saucepan over low heat.  I seasoned the mixture with some salt, white pepper, and a little nutmeg.

Once the pasta and asparagus were cooked, I drained them and tossed them in a large bowl with the sauce and part of the cheese.  Once it was tossed, I added the remaining cheese and tossed again.

The result was a satisfying meal that everyone loved.

Fettuccine Alfredo With Asparagus

3/4 pound fettuccine noodles
1 pound fresh asparagus, cleaned, trimmed, and cut into1-inch pieces
1 stick butter
1 cup heavy cream
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese - divided

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.  During the last 4-5 minutes of cooking add the asparagus.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Add the cream and warm through.    Season with salt, white pepper, and nutmeg.
3. Place 1 cup  of the Parmesan cheese in a large bowl.  Pour the warm cream mixture on top.
4. Drain the pasta and asparagus and pour over the top of the cheese and cream.  Toss to coat the pasta well.
5. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and toss to combine.  Serve.

Makes 6 servings

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Southwest Skillet Chicken & Rice

Last night's dinner was simply, quick, and good.  Everything you need, you probably have in your kitchen.  Chicken breasts, instant rice, black beans, instant rice, frozen corn and some Chili Powder and Seasoned salt.

Start by sprinkling some Chili Powder and Seasoned Salt on the chicken breasts.  Brown the breast in some oil.  Once the chicken breasts were  browned, I removed them to a plate and stirred in the beans, tomatoes, corn, rice, water and some more seasoning in the skillet.   Then I nested the chicken breasts in the rice, covered and brought to a boil.   Once it was boiling (it doesn't take long) I reduced the heat and cooked for about 10 minutes.  The recipe stated 5 minutes but the rice and chicken weren't quite cooked yet.  Let the dish sit for about 5 minutes and serve.

That's all there is to it.  Your Skillet Dinner is ready to enjoy.

Southwest Skillet Chicken & Rice
From McCormick


2 teaspoons  Chili Powder
2 teaspoons  Seasoned Salt
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon oil
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup instant white rice
1 cup water


1. Mix chili powder and seasoned salt in small bowl. Sprinkle chicken with 1 teaspoon of the seasoning mixture.
2. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add chicken; cook 5 minutes per side or until lightly browned.
3. Stir in beans, tomatoes, corn, rice, water and remaining seasoning mixture. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut chicken into serving size pieces. Fluff rice mixture with fork before serving.

Serves: 6

Friday, February 20, 2015

Slow-Cooked Boeuf Bourguignon

Tender morsels of beef that practically melt in your mouth.  These pieces of beef are paired with some carrots, mushrooms and onions cooked in a broth of wine and some beef stock.  The result is a wonderful aromatic and deletable stew that is sure to please even the pickiest palate.

Small cuts of beef are cooked for about 8 hours in wine, and beef broth/stock with some carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and herbs.   After the meat is tender, add your mushrooms and bacon to the slow cooker and heat until warmed through.  Serve over noodles or with a crusty bread.  I had noodles and bread for the family to eat with this dish.  I ate mine with some homemade french bread and it was great to sop up the leftover broth with.

Note:  This recipe also has instructions for making this dish in the oven.

Slow-Cooked Boeuf Bourguignon
From The Kitchn

8 ounces thick-cut bacon (5-6 slices), diced
2 1/2-3 pounds beef chuck roast, round roast, or other similar cut, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups good red wine , divided (See Recipe Note)
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
3 medium yellow carrots, diced
3 whole stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup chicken or beef broth, plus more if necessary (See Recipe Note)
1 pound white button mushrooms, sliced

To serve:
Chopped parsley, to garnish
Cooked pasta
Crusty baguette

Warm a stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat has rendered and the bacon is golden and crispy. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Pour off all but a tablespoon of bacon fat from the pan.

Return the pan to medium-high to high heat. Pat the beef cubes dry and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. When the bacon fat is shimmering and you see a wisp or two of smoke, add a single layer of beef cubes to the pan to sear — do not crowd the pan; sear the meat in batches. Let the beef sear without moving until it releases easily from the pan and the underside is golden-brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Flip the pieces and sear on the other side. Again, let the meat sear without moving for 1 to 3 minutes until they release easily from the pan. (Read more here about How to Sear Meat Properly.)

Transfer the seared meat to your slow cooker or a clean bowl. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of the wine. Scrape the dark glaze and any crispy bits from the bottom of the pan as the wine simmers. When the pan is clean, pour the wine over the seared meat.

Add 1 tablespoon of leftover bacon grease to the pan. Continue to sear the meat in batches, deglazing the pan between each batch.

When all the meat is seared, add another tablespoon of bacon grease to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the onions with 1/4 teaspoon of salt until soft and browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots and celery, and cook until softened. Add the garlic and tomato paste, and cook until fragrant. Transfer the vegetable mixture to the slow cooker or bowl with the meat.

Wipe the pan clean and warm 1 tablespoon of leftover bacon grease over medium heat (use vegetable oil if no more bacon grease remains). Cook the mushrooms with 1/4 teaspoon salt until they have release all their liquid, the liquid has evaporated, and the mushrooms are golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a clean bowl and set aside — keep the mushrooms separate from the meat and onion mixture (they get added later).

Slow Cooker Method: Stir the beef cubes and vegetables together in the slow cooker with 1 teaspoon of salt. Tuck the sprigs of thyme and the bay leaf into the mixture. Pour the stock and the remaining wine over the beef and vegetables — the liquid should come about 3/4 of the way to the surface of the ingredients.

Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. When finished, the beef should fall apart easily with a fork.

Oven Method: Heat the oven to 300°F. Transfer the beef and vegetable mixture to a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed 6-quart pot with a lid and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Tuck the sprigs of thyme and the bay leaf into the mixture. Pour the stock and the remaining wine over the beef and vegetables — the liquid should not quite cover the beef and vegetables; the ingredients should still be poking from the surface of the liquid. Add additional stock if necessary.

Cover the pot and place in the oven. Cook for 2 hours, then begin checking the meat every 15 minutes. The dish is done when the meat falls apart easily with a fork. Exact cooking time can vary.

Both Methods: Once the meat is cooked, stir in the reserved bacon and mushrooms. Cook with the slow cooker on high or simmer in the Dutch oven over medium heat until the mushrooms are warmed through, about 10 minutes.

Serve in bowls over noodles or with crusty bread on the side. Sprinkle with parsley before serving. Leftovers will keep for up to a week or can be frozen for up to three months.

Makes 6 servings

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats

Oatmeal is a breakfast I serve my family on a regular basis.  Not only is it tasty, it is economical,  nutritious, and you can add a variety of toppings to satisfy individual tastes.  At my house, we are fans of steel cut oats.  We love their chewy texture and nutty flavor.  What I run into on busy mornings is time to prepare the oatmeal.  It needs to cook about 35 minutes before serving.

I solved this problem by cooking the oatmeal in a Slow Cooker.  The family breakfast cooks while we sleep.  In the morning we wake up to a nutritious and tasty breakfast.  I usually put out a variety of toppings for the oatmeal - butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, dried fruits, nuts, etc.  Whatever I have on hand and think will be good.

Slow Cooker Steel Cut Oats
From BHG

6 cups water
2 cups steel-cut oats
1 teaspoon salt
Toppers, such as dried cherries, cranberries, raisins, or snipped apricots; coconut; chopped nuts; brown sugar; maple syrup; and/or milk, half-and-half, or light cream

In a 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker combine the water, oats, and salt. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 5 1/2 to 6 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
Top each serving with desired toppers. Serve warm.

Makes 9 servings

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Salted Caramel Strawberries

Yesterday,  Tim(my youngest) and I made some Salted Caramel Strawberries for the family.  I love salted caramel.  These strawberries are very easy to make and they taste wonderful.  The creaminess of caramel with the sweetness of strawberries -mmm.  Add some chopped nuts and you will taste love.

Take some fresh strawberries, dip them in salted caramel and roll I some chopped nuts.  Let the strawberries set for about 15 minutes.  Serve or chill them for later.  Perfect for parties, family get togethers, or just to enjoy yourself with your family.

These strawberries are perfect for kids to make.  They require little adult supervision.

Salted Caramel Strawberries
From My Recipes

20 large fresh strawberries
40 caramels
3 tablespoons whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped mixed nuts
Wax paper


1. Pat strawberries completely dry with paper towels.

2. Microwave caramels, 3 Tbsp. whipping cream, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a 1-qt. microwave-safe bowl at MEDIUM (50% power) 3 1/2 minutes or until smooth, stirring at 1-minute intervals.

3. Dip each strawberry halfway into caramel mixture. Roll in nuts, and place on lightly greased wax paper. Let stand 15 minutes. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 8 hours.

Makes 20 strawberries

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Valentine Magic Cookie Bars

Don't these cookies look delectable? Chocolate, coconut, M&M's sprinkles, condensed milk - mmm, all this goodness in one great bar.  I used to make a version of this recipe known as Seven Layer Cookies.  These cousins to the original bars have most of the same ingredients only they are kicked up a bit with M&M's and Sprinkles.

These cookies starts with a crust made from butter and graham cracker crumbs.  Next, and I must say my favorite ingredient, sweetened condensed milk is poured on top of the crust.  Some coconut is sprinkled over the milk followed by some chocolate chips, M&M's, and finally some sprinkles or nuts.  I used the sprinkles.

These bars are then baked in a 350 degree F oven for 25-30 minutes or until the bars are lightly browned.

These cookies are great for kids to make with minimal adult supervision.

Valentine Magic Cookie Bars
From "Love From The Oven" adapted by "From My Southwest Kitchen"

Cooking Spray
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (14-ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup plain M&M's

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and butter in a small bowl.  Press the crumbs into the prepared baking dish.
3. Pour the Sweetened Condensed Milk evenly over the graham crackers.
4. Sprinkle the coconut over the milk, followed by the chocolate chips, M&M's and the sprinkles.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly brown.  Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
6. Cut into squares and enjoy.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Baked Ziti

Pasta coated in a rich meat sauce and tossed with three different cheeses.  Baked until bubbly.  When you bite into this delicious dish your taste buds go into overdrive. This dish is perfect for large crowds, pot lucks, family dinners, or just for your family.  It comes together nicely and is easy to make.

Ziti pasta ( you can use penne) is cooked, drained and tossed with a ricotta cheese mixture.  Then some cooled  tomato sauce is mixed in.  The mixture is then placed in a large casserole dish and layered with the remaining cheese and sauce.  Put in the oven and bake until bubbly - about 30 minutes.  If you wish you can also make this dish ahead of time.  Store it in the fridge and bring to room temperature and baked accordingly.  This recipe serves 12.

Baked Ziti
From The Pioneer Woman Cooks adapted by From My Southwest Kitchen

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 pound Italian Sausage
1 pound ground beef
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (24-ounce) jar Marinara Sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
16-ounces Ziti pasta
1 (15-ounce) carton Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
6 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1 egg
Cooking Spray

1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onions and saute until starting to soften.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
2. Add the Italian Sausage and ground beef.  Cook until browned.  Drain off some of the fat - not all.
3. Add the crushed tomatoes, the Marinara Sauce, basil, oregano, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes.  Stir and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Remove the bay leaf.
4. Remove 3 cups of the sauce and set aside.  Let the sauce cool for about 15 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
6. Cook pasta according to package directions for Al Dente.  Drain and rinse under cool water.
7. While the pasta is cooking, in a bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, 2 cups of the shredded mozzarella, Parmesan, and  egg.
8. Pour the drained pasta into the cheese mixture.  Toss the pasta to combine.  Add the cooled meat sauce and toss to combine.

8. Spray a 15x10x2- inch baking dish (4 quart oblong) lightly with cooking spray.  Add half of the coated pasta to the baking dish.  Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the top, then top with half of the remaining mozzarella cheese.  Repeat with another layer of the coated pasta, the sauce, and the mozzarella.

9. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbling.  Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Makes 12 servings

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tapioca Pearl Pudding

A rich and creamy pudding.   In reading over the recipe it stated that the concentrated dairy flavor from milk powder, adds richness without fat.   You would think you were eating a rich custard instead of Tapioca.

This recipe uses small pearl tapioca not the instant or quick-cooking tapioca.  You have  to let the tapioca hydrate for 30 minutes in a mixture of cream, milk, salt, and milk powder.  After the tapioca has hydrated, you add some sugar and cook the mixture for about 10-12 minutes.  The mixture will be slightly thickened.  As you chill the pudding it will thicken up.  Serve with some grated nutmeg.  Delicious and so easy.

Tapioca Pearl Pudding
From Bon Appetit

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup small pearl tapioca (not instant or quick-cooking)
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk, beaten to blend
Freshly grated nutmeg (for serving)

1. Whisk milk, cream, milk powder, and salt in a medium saucepan; add tapioca and let sit 30 minutes to hydrate.
2. Add sugar to tapioca mixture and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until the consistency of a thick soup, 10-12 minutes.
3. Whisk in egg yolk and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes (it will thicken slightly).  Let cool, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
4. Divide among small glasses.  Chill pudding until cold (it will thicken), at least 2 hours.  Serve topped with nutmeg.

Serves 6

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Red Velvet Scones

Red Velvet Scones are perfect for Valentines Day.  These heart shaped scones are moist and have a nice subtle chocolate flavor.  The scones are served with a Mascarpone Cream which is just delicious.  It really compliments the flavor of the scones.

I adapted the directions a bit in this recipe.   The butter was cut into the flour mixture. I like to grate my butter and work it into the flour mixture with my fingertips.

 I did not have  heart-shaped baking pans but  I did have a heart-shaped cookie cutter. The cookie cutter was about 2 1/4-inches across. What  I did with the dough was roll it out to 1/2-inch thickness and cut out the hearts.

Also, instead of sprinkling the sparkling sugar on the scones, I dipped one side of the scones in the sugar.

This recipe made 18-20 scones.

Red Velvet Scones
From Teatime Magazine

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold salted butter, cut into pieces or grated
3/4 cup cold heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon red liquid food coloring
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon white sparkling sugar
1 recipe Mascarpone Cream (recipe follows)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Spray wells of 2 (6-well) heart-shaped baking pans with nonstick cooking spray.  Set aside.  Omit if you are using a cookie cutter.
3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, whisking well.

4. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Set aside.  Note:  I grate the butter into the flour mixture and work with my fingertips until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
5. In a liquid-measuring cup, combine cream, food coloring, and vanilla extract, whisking to blend.

Add to flour mixture, stirring to combine. If dough seems dry, add more cream, 1 tablespoon at a time until dough is uniformly moist.  Working gently, bring mixture together with hands until a dough forms and is evenly red.

6. For Heart Shaped Baking Pans:  Using a levered 3-tablespoon scoop, divide the dough evenly among wells of prepared pans.  Pat dough into wells to create a level surface.  Sprinkle scones with sparkling sugar.
For Heart-Shaped Cookie Cutter: Place the sparkling sugar in a shallow dish.  Roll or pat dough into 1/2-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut out scones and dip one side in the sparkling sugar.   Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
7.  Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the centers comes out clean, approximately 15 minutes.  Let the scones cool for 5 minutes.  Remove from pan and serve warm with Mascarpone Cream.

Mascarpone Cream
1 (8-ounce) carton mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine mascarpone cheese, cream, confectioner's sugar, and vanilla extract.
2. Beat at medium speed with a mixer until smooth and creamy.
3. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator until serving time.