This is a blog of my adventures in the kitchen. I always like to try new things, and I'm looking up different recipes constantly. Some recipes on here will be my own, some will be found recipes. Some will work, some won't. Trial and error, right? I'm no professional and I don't claim to be, I just enjoy cooking. :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pasta with Sausage and Tomato-Cream Sauce

I was planning to make spaghetti last night, but decided that I wanted to try something new. I took my basic spaghetti sauce recipe, and just added a couple of extra touches to it. My husband was a bit skeptical at first, but chose to eat it with a smile. One bite and he was hooked, and actually went back for seconds - then thirds. lol... :)

As usual, I just threw things in so the measurements below are a bit of a guess.

Things you'll need:

1 lb pasta
Italian sausage links (sweet, spicy or both)
1 small to med or 1/2 large onion, chopped
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced (More if ya want)
1/2 C red wine**
2 - 14oz cans diced tomatoes
1/2 C cream
2 Tbsp butter -- yes, butter... ;)
1/2 to 1 tsp sugar
1 to 2 tsp Oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

**If you don't like wine, don't buy an entire bottle of it just for this recipe. You could easily substitute it with some beef broth.

First, poke some holes in the top of the sausage and place it in a pan with about 1/2 inch of water.

Bring it to a boil and let it cook up just a little.

If you like the casings darker, then fry them or grill them instead.

Drain any extra water off, slice the sausage and place back in pan.

Fry until nice and brown.

Put the cooked sausage in a bowl and set aside.

Place the onion in the same pan that you cooked the sausage in, using the oil to saute the onion.

Cook until it starts to just soften and caramelize.

Add the garlic and cook about one more minute.

Then add the wine to deglaze the pan.

Let that cook until it's reduced down to at least half, and no longer has that "wine" smell.

Add the sausage, tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper and sugar.

Start your pasta.

Quick tip, maybe I've mentioned this in past posts, but if you add a little oil (I used olive oil) to your pasta water, it will prevent it from foaming up and boiling over.

Simmer the sauce while the pasta cooks, letting it reduce down and thicken a bit.

When your pasta is done, drain it and place either back in pot or in a large bowl.

Taste the sauce. If it's too acidic add a little more sugar. Add anything else you feel like it needs.

Add the cream and butter to the sauce, and stir until the butter melts. (I didn't have cream, so I used canned milk. Definitely not the same, but it would work in a pinch.)

Mix with the pasta, dish up and top with parmesan.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Crock Pot Chicken a la Criolla

I found this recipe on, and will have a link to it with the recipe. It's fairly healthy, minus the rice. lol...

I didn't do step by step photos, since it's basically just throw it in the crock pot, turn it on, and done. :)

Okay, I'll be honest. This was yummy, but it wasn't my favorite thing ever... Would I eat it again? yeah... Will I cook it again? Probably not.

Crock Pot Chicken a la Criolla

What you'll need:

10 (2 lbs) skinless boneless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 bell pepper, chopped or sliced
4 plum tomatoes
2 tbsp alcaparrado or pitted spanish olives
8 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cumin
salt to taste
1-2 bay leaf
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (plus 2 tbsp more for serving)

Place chicken, onion, garlic, pepper and tomatoes in the crock pot. Season with salt, cumin and oregano. Mix well so everything is seasoned.

Add tomato sauce, alcaparrado (or olives) along with 1 tbsp of the brine, 1/2 cup water, bay leaf and cilantro. Mix well and set crock pot to HIGH 4 hours or LOW for 6 hours. When done, taste for salt and seasoning and adjust spices as needed. Add 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro and serve over rice.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blueberry Scones

Sorry, again I don't have the step by step pictures. I was halfway through with making these before I remembered I wanted to take photos! lol...

I got this recipe from the Taste of Home website. I'll post the URL with the recipe. In the future, I think I'll make a fresh lemon glaze to go over them. Mmmm...

Blueberry Scones

What you'll need:

4 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons sugar (As suggested in the reviews, I used 8.)
4-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk, divided
1-1/2 cups fresh or *frozen blueberries


In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a bowl, whisk eggs and 3/4 cup milk; add to dry ingredients just until moistened. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; gently knead in the blueberries.

Divide the dough in half. Pat each portion into an 8-in. circle; cut each into eight wedges. Place on greased baking sheets. Brush with remaining milk. (I sprinkled a little sugar on top.) Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Serve warm.

* If using frozen blueberries, use without thawing to avoid discoloring the batter.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Egg-less Chocolate Cupcakes

After eating the shrimp etouffee and dirty rice, my husband made the comment that some chocolate cake would finish it off perfectly. You'd think he'd learn to never encourage me to make ANYTHING chocolate, but apparently not. ;)

I didn't want to spend the time on an entire cake, so I found this simple cupcake recipe and used it instead.

I didn't do step by step photos on this one. Sorry...

Chocolate Cupcakes

What you'll need:

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup oil
1 cup water (I used milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vinegar

Mix all ingredients together until moist and well blended.

Put in cupcake cups and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Frost with your favorite icing*.

*I made a chocolate buttercream. I didn't use exact measurements, so these are kind of guesses:

2 sticks butter, softened
1 lb powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3-1/2 C cocoa powder
enough milk to desired consistency

Put the butter into a mixing bowl and add the vanilla and a little milk (maybe 2 Tbsp). Mix it up until blended and smooth. (I used a wire whisk beater on my Kitchen Aid mixer)

Slowly add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder, adding milk as needed.

Test the consistency and add more milk if you'd like.

Beat/whisk for another minute to fluff it up and frost your cupcakes.

Shrimp Etouffee and Dirty Rice

So, this is a two-part'er. I love etouffee, and wish I would have had some crawfish for it, instead of shrimp, but still good. Etouffee is yummy just on plain rice, but put with dirty rice and... wow! :) I'll start with the dirty rice, since I made that first. It can cook while the etouffee is being made. Both of these recipes were found online when I was looking for recipes similar to Pappadeaux dirty rice and crawfish etouffee. Mmmm... I'll post the URL with the original recipe, and then mine are just slightly altered.

Dirty rice

What you'll need:

3 cups uncooked long grain rice.
2 tablespoon dirty rice seasoning (see below)
1/2 cup onion, medium dice
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon garlic, minced fine
1 pound ground meat mixture (see below)
6 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup green bell pepper

Seasoning mix:

2 tsp cayenne pepper (if you don't like spicy, cut this back.)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/4 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves

Meat mix:
(I used 1 lb ground sausage, though I think I'll use the following mix next time.)

Equal portions and ground chicken livers, gizzards, and pork.

First, brown the meat. Use the oil if you're using something lean. I didn't use oil.

Stir in seasoning mixture and the bay leaf and saute about one minute.

Add vegetables and saute 3-4 minutes on high heat, stirring frequently.

Add the uncooked rice and mix in well, then add the chicken stock.

Turn heat down to a simmer, and let it simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is done. If it gets dry before the rice finishes, add some water.

Shrimp or Crawfish Etouffee

This is DEFINITELY not for the health conscious. lol...

2 Sticks plus 3 tbsp unsalted Butter
3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp all purpose Flour
1 1/4 tsp Paprika
Scant teaspoon Cayenne pepper
Scant 1/2 tsp black pepper
Scant 1/2 teaspoon Red pepper
2 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped Celery (I forgot to buy celery, so mine doesn't have it)
Scant cup chopped green bell pepper
4-5 tsp chopped garlic
3 cups plus 3 tbsp Water
5 tsp Shrimp or lobster base (if unavailable, use Knorr fish buillon)
Additional 3 tbsp all purpose flour (if necessary)
3 tbsp diced red bell pepper - again, didn't have it.
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 pound Crawfish or Shrimp(peeled and deveined)

Saute the shrimp with a little oil.

When they've turned pink and are cooked through, put the aside in a dish and save the liquid from the pan in another dish.

Make a roux by melting the butter over medium high heat in a large, heavy sauce pan. Add flour gradually and stir well to blend.

Slowly cook flour, stirring frequently (a wire whisk is helpful) until it reaches a medium dark brown color (similar to chocolate milk). When the roux reaches this color, add the paprika, cayenne, black pepper and red pepper; stir well and cook for 1 minute.

Add the onion, celery, green bell pepper and garlic and saute appoximately 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the vegetables are tender.

While the vegetables are sauteing, bring the water to a boil.

Pour the boiling water into the sauce slowly, stirring constantly with a whisk. I didn't photo this part because you really do have to whisk, or you'll get lumps. As soon as the water hits the roux it's going to instantly thicken, so you want to be quick on this one.

Bring back to a simmer and add shrimp (or fish) base. This is where I used the saved juices from the shrimp earlier.

At this point, taste to determine how much salt is required, and for consistency. If the etouffee is too thin, add the additional 3 tbsp of flour, whisk to incorporate, and continue simmering. Too thick, add water. When the sauce is ready, add the red bell pepper and parsley for color.

Add the shrimp just before time to serve.

Now just spoon some of the etouffee over the rice and you're done. :)