Saturday, August 19, 2017

Smothered Chicken

My Mama used to make smothered chicken when I was little and I loved it!  It's a simple comfort dish that happens to be delicious.  It takes a little time, but it requires minimal ingredients and minimal work.  It's one of those recipes that you can make a lot or a little very easily, depending on your needs.  I like to make extra so I can eat it for lunch the next day or debone the chicken to use in other recipes.  Once you see how easy it is, you'll love it too.




SMOTHERED CHICKEN

8-10 pieces bone-in chicken (I like thighs and drumsticks)
1 large onion, sliced (or 2 small)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Creole or Cajun Seasoning (or seasoned salt)
2 TBS oil
1/2 cup water
1 - 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels (this helps the chicken to brown instead of steaming).  Season the chicken with Creole seasoning.




Heat a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat until very hot.  Brown HALF of the chicken at a time.  If you over crowd the pot the chicken won't brown properly.  It should take about 5 minutes per side, depending on the size of the chicken pieces.



When the first batch is done, remove to a plate while you brown the second batch.


Once both batches of chicken are browned, lower the heat to medium-low and add the onions and garlic.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are brown.




Add 1/2 cup water and scrape the bottom of the pot to get up all the brown bits.  This helps make the sauce yummy.


Let cook until most of the water is gone.



Return all the chicken to the pot.


Add enough chicken broth to reach halfway up the sides of the chicken, between 1 and 1 1/2 cups.


Bring it to a boil.  Then, cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.  Remove the lid and let cook 15 minutes more.  This helps the sauce reduce and thicken.



Serve the chicken with the onions and sauce over the top.


This is great with mashed potatoes or rice or pasta.  It has a wonderful caramelized onion, deep, slow-cooked flavor and the chicken is so tender.  It's simple, delicious, old-fashioned goodness.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Bananas Foster Coffee Cake

Bananas Foster is a famous New Orleans dessert of flambeed bananas, brown sugar and rum served over ice cream.  It was invented in the 1950s at Brennan's restaurant.  The owner of the restaurant challenged his chef to create a new dessert using bananas because New Orleans was the major port of entry for the fruit from South America.  The recipe was featured in Holiday Magazine and became a sensation.  It's still served at Brennan's and many other New Orleans restaurants.

This coffee cake is a play on that dessert.  It has similar flavors and is downright delicious!




BANANAS FOSTER COFFEE CAKE

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup of buttermilk (see note below)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 TBS baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

Filling:
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 tsp rum extract
pinch of cinnamon

Glaze:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 TBS milk


NOTE:  If you don't have buttermilk you can make your own very easily.  Put 1/2 TBS of bottled lemon juice (or white vinegar) into a measuring cup and add whole milk up to the 1/2 cup mark.  Let sit 5 minutes.  This will work just like buttermilk in the recipe!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine softened butter and sugar well using an electric mixer or a whisk.  Be sure the sugar dissolves into the butter.  (Save the butter wrapper to grease your cake pan).


Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix well until fluffy.


In a separate bowl blend flour, baking powder and salt.  I stir it gently with a whisk until aerated and well combined.


Add half of the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture and blend on low speed.

Then add the buttermilk and blend on low speed.



Lastly, add the remaining flour mixture and blend just until combined.


Use the wrapper from the butter to grease a 9 inch cake pan.


Sprinkle in a little flour and shake it around to coat the pan entirely.  Discard any excess flour.



In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork.



Stir in the brown sugar, chopped pecans, rum extract and a pinch of cinnamon.


Spread half the batter into the prepared cake pan.


Spread the banana filling on top.


Then top with the remaining batter.  I dollop it all over then spread it out.  Try to get it to cover the filling completely, if possible.



Bake for 25 minutes or until light golden brown.



Let it cool before cutting.

You can see the caramelized banana filling in the middle.



This cake is so moist and delicious but if you want to take it over the top you can make a quick glaze to drizzle on.

Mix the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and enough milk to make it smooth and pourable.  


Drizzle over the cake before serving and it will look like it came from a New Orleans restaurant!

(If you don't have powdered sugar to make this glaze, you can melt some vanilla ice cream and drizzle it over the cake!)



My daughter went on and on about how awesome this cake was.  I ate it for breakfast today with a cup of coffee and wasn't even sorry.  Make this.  Trust me.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Hey Y'all.  I've been talking to a lot of people lately who believe they can't cook or bake.  They think it's super complicated so they don't even try.  That's not the case at all.  I have lots of recipes that are so easy anyone can make them.  Here is a super simple cookie recipe.  It uses a box of cake mix.  I mean, come on, how easy is that?  




TRIPLE CHOCOLATE COOKIES

1 box chocolate cake mix (I used Swiss chocolate mix)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in the microwave or in a pot on the stove.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, melted butter, egg and vanilla extract.  You can use an electric mixer on low, but if you don't have one, just stir it until it's thoroughly combined.



Add the chocolate chips and stir to mix them in well.



Drop by rounded tablespoon onto a cookie sheet, leaving room between them.  An easy way to do this is to use two spoons.  Scoop with one spoon then use the second spoon to scrape the dough off and onto the cookie sheet.


Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven (you want them to go into a hot oven so be sure it's preheated) for 9-11 minutes or until the edges are just starting to brown.


Let them sit on the baking sheet for 1 minute after you remove from the oven.  Then use a spatula to transfer them to rack to cool.  Yields 4 dozen cookies.



These cookies are really yummy and chocked full of chocolate chips!  Awesome with a glass of milk.  Plus, it's so easy!  A great recipe to make with kids or for a party or anytime, really.  So, if you are one of those who think they can't bake, please give this a try.  You'll surprise yourself.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Smoked Sausage Stuffed Bell Peppers

I'm always looking for ways to use leftovers.  For two reasons:  1. I really hate wasting food and 2. It cuts down on cooking time.  You can get supper on the table faster and easier.  This recipe uses leftover rice (which I always have in the fridge) plus some other staples that are usually in my kitchen.


   

SMOKED SAUSAGE STUFFED BELL PEPPERS

1/2 lb smoked sausage, diced
4 large bell peppers
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, sliced
1 TBS tomato paste
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp hot sauce
4 cups cooked leftover rice (cold)
salt and pepper to taste
Beef broth (or chicken broth)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the tops off the bell peppers.


Clean out the seeds and ribs from inside the peppers.



Remove the stems from the tops.



Dice two of the tops to use in this recipe.  The other two tops can be saved for another recipe.  You can refrigerate them in a zip top bag for a few days.  You can even freeze them for a few months and just thaw out what you need.


Meanwhile, steam the cleaned bell peppers in the microwave for 4-5 minutes.  If you don't have a microwave steamer, you can boil a pot of water and then place the peppers in the boiling water for 5-7 minutes.  You just want to soften them a little.  Not too much, though.  They still need to hold their shape.

In a big skillet over medium-high heat, brown the diced sausage.



Once browned, remove the sausage to a plate.  Next, add the onion, garlic, green onions and diced bell pepper tops to the skillet.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes until softened.


Return the sausage to the skillet.


Add the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.  Stir.



Add the cold, cooked rice and stir to mix thoroughly.



Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Then, add enough beef broth to make the rice wet but not swimming.  I used about 1 cup.  You don't want the rice to be dry because if it's dry before it goes into the oven, it will be VERY dry when it comes out of the oven.  (You can use chicken broth, but I like the depth of flavor the beef broth adds).



Place steamed bell peppers into a baking dish.


Fill the peppers with the rice mixture.


If you have any leftover (or if you have a picky eater who won't eat a bell pepper) you can add some rice straight into the dish.  (You could also fill a hollowed out tomato or onion, whatever you have on hand).


Cover the baking dish with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.


These stuffed bell peppers are delicious.  The peppers impart great flavor to the rice dressing.  It almost tastes like a jambalaya, but much faster and easier to make.




This recipe is so easy to double or half, depending on how many mouths you're feeding.  You could use Italian Sausage or breakfast sausage, even ground beef, whatever you have in your kitchen.  The next time you make rice, make a little extra so you can whip up this easy dish.

My Pickiest Eater Ever Son ate the rice that was not in a pepper (shocking, right?) but he ate.  My Old School Italian Husband, who's not a big bell pepper fan, said "Wow, that was really good," as he went back for seconds.  I'd say this one's a winner!