Tuesday, December 29, 2009


The week of Christmas Adam had off of work and suggested jambalaya made in the crock pot. So I looked around for a good recipe, combined a few together to make what you see below. The night before we chopped the veggies and meat and the next morning we mixed everything together. Adam was in charge of turning on the crockpot, adding the shrimp and cooking the rice. He did a fine job :)
We used Adam's Dad's homemade venison sausage (about 2 pounds of it) and 2 pounds of jumbo shrimp. I was nervous there wasn't going to be enough of liquid/sauce but there was plenty. The recipe calls for 3 pounds of meat total but feel free to add more if you have it. This also reheats nicely the next day.

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch cubes
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced
2 (16 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
a few dashes hot sauce
3 minced garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pound frozen peeled shrimp
cooked rice - Minute Rice does the trick!
In a slow cooker, mix the chicken, sausage, tomatoes with juice, onion, green bell pepper, celery, and broth. Season with oregano, parsley, Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, garlic & thyme.
Cover, and cook 7 to 8 hours on Low. Stir in the shrimp during the last 45 minutes of cook time. Stir in cooked rice before serving.

Photo from Adam's iPhone

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mini Country Loaves

Since we were snowed in last Saturday, I decided it was as perfect a day as any to bake some bread. The last time I attempted homemade bread, it did not turn out well - just not the right taste. But Saturday must have been my day because our little loaved turned out splendidly! I think I owe it to Adam's superb kneading skills.

Our pans were bigger than the recipe calls for so we did 3 loaves instead of 4. I am just disappointed I did not double the recipe because the loaves were gone in no time!

Also I did not have a food processor to use. I used a mini chopper to pulse the oats into flour but the rest I mixed with a wooden spoon and it worked perfectly!

From the December 2009 Country Living Magazine....

Mini Country Loaves
1 package dry active yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
2/3 cup warm (110°F) milk
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats plus 2 T more for sprinkling
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup (up to 1/2) warm water
1 egg white, lightly beaten

In a medium bowl, combine yeast, sugar, 1 cup flour, and milk. Cover bowl with a towel; let yeast mixture rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Using a food processor, grind oats into a fine flour. Add sea salt and remaining 2 cups flour; pulse to combine. With motor running, add yeast mixture, egg yolks, and olive oil. Drizzle in water until dough forms.

Remove dough and knead on a lightly floured surface until supple, about four minutes. Place in a large, well-oiled bowl, turning dough to coat with oil. Cover bowl with a towel; let dough rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Punch down dough and knead for 1 minute. Divide into 4 equal portions; shape into loaves to fit into 5 3/4- by 3 1/4- by 2-inch pans. Cover pans with a towel for 20 minutes.

Place loaves on baking sheet, lightly brush tops with egg white, and sprinkle with remaining oats. Bake until golden, 25 minutes. Cool completely before bagging or wrapping if you're giving as a gift!

Adam kneads away!

Final products! I actually could have made only 2 as you can see they didn't fill up the pans. If once they're out of the pan, they look cute!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

Here is a delicious and easy pasta dish from my friend Mary. The balsamic vinegar and touch of brown sugar gives it a subtle sweetness that is quite different. Chicken and other veggies (like peas) can also be added to the dish.
1 pound asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 pound penne
1/4 pound butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and discard them. Cut the spears into 1-inch pieces. Put the asparagus on a baking sheet and toss w/ the oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 10 mins.
Meanwhile, put the vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer until 3 tablespoons remain. Stir in the brown sugar and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat.
Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling, salted water until just done. Drain the pasta and toss with the butter, vinegar, asparagus, Parmesan, and the remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt. Serve with additional Parmesan

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Alouette Feta and Bacon Stuffed Chicken

A few months ago, the wonderful folks from Alouette cheeses found my blog and offered me some free samples of their products to cook with and review. Well I've finally (I'm a mom now, you know) gotten around to picking up some of the cheese and used it in a recipe last evening. I was reading a magazine (which magazine and what issue - I have no recollection) and found a recipe for feta and bacon chicken but didn't remember the exact directions so I made it up as I went. Here it is for 2 people:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (if thick, pound out a bit)
olive oil
garlic powder
dried oregano
salt and pepper
4 Tablespoons Alouette Feta Garlic and Herb Crumbled
4 strips bacon, cooked (important to cook it before stuffed in the chicken so it's nice and crispy with the tender chicken and creamy cheese)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Place chicken breasts on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil - about a Tablespoon per breast. Season both sides of chicken with garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper.

Place 2 T cheese crumbles on each piece of chicken and top with 2 pieces bacon - you'll have to half the bacon slices. Fold breast over and secure with toothpicks.

Bake for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
Delicious feta! And the crumbles were large - I love that! Makes it easier to work with.

Before baking. I used 3 toothpicks for each piece of chicken.

The finished product served with sauteed broccoli.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Stone Mountain Wine Cellars

A few weekend ago, Adam, his mom and I drove to the Stone Mountain Wine Cellars in Pine Grove. We picked out three bottles of wine - Reisling, Merlot and Strawberry. We had the strawberry wine right after we bought it and to be honest it wasn't my favorite. It was too sweet and almost had a mediciney tinge to it. But over this past weekend we drank the Merlot. It was wonderful! Not too dry and not too sweet - a great wine by itself, with a meal or with dessert. Since I'm a big fan of Reislings, I'm looking forward to Stone Mountain's creation.

The shop is also full of seasonal produce and wonderful recipe cards - not to mention free samples (I tried a delicious miniature pear)!

I know for sure I want to go back here to sample a few more of their wines!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Spinach Artichoke Dip

I had intended on making this for Thanksgiving as an appetizer along with the peanut butter sandwich cookies but I wanted to spend as much time as I could with the pup. Then I wanted to make it Saturday for some friends but once again, the cuteness of little Baxter won me over. I finally made it on Sunday for a lunchtime treat. I've been making this for years now. I started making it in college for parties. It was, and is, always a hit!

1 package frozen spinach
1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayo
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a 8x8 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Place spinach in a microwavable bowl and microwave for 5 minutes. Once the spinach cools to the touch, squeeze all excess liquid out and place in a large bowl. To that bowl add the chopped artichoke hearts, sour cream, mayo and Parmesan. Stir until well mixed. Put into baking dish and spread out evening. Then sprinkle with the pepper jack cheese. Bake 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden brown.

Serve with homemade pita chips.

I got this chip recipe from Giada:

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.

Cut pitas (regular or whole wheat) into 6 wedges. Arrange the pita wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil, then sprinkle with dried oregano, salt and pepper. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes until crisp and golden.

The dip and chips. A great party treat!

Pix from Adam's iPhone