Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Baked Chicken Taquitos

I needed to go grocery shopping but didn't have time.  When suppertime rolled around I thought about just giving the kids a bowl of cereal and calling it a day.  But then I felt bad.  So I raided the pantry, then the fridge and threw this recipe together.  It's true what they say, necessity really is the mother of invention.  These taquitos were easy, delicious and made with stuff I always keep around.


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 flour tortillas (soft taco size)
1 can refried beans
1/2 cup salsa
Pepper jack cheese (or cheddar or jack-whatever you have)
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup oil
Red pepper flakes
Chili powder
Onion powder
Garlic powder
*you can use taco seasoning instead of all the spices if you want

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.  Place chicken breasts in a large pot.  Cover with water (just enough to cover the chicken).  Add a little red pepper flakes and salt to the water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken to a plate and let cool for a few minutes.  Meanwhile, mix refried beans and salsa in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave for 1-2 minutes until warm.  Season to taste with chili powder, cumin, onion and garlic powder.  Set aside.  Wrap tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds.  Shred chicken.  Take a tortilla and spread a little of the bean mixture down the center.  Top with some chicken, then pepper jack, then Velveeta.  I like to use both because the Velveeta melts really well and the pepper jack has a great kick.  But use whatever you have.

Roll the tortilla and place it seam side down in the baking dish.  Repeat.  This should make 8.

Once you've made all 8 taquitos, crack a clove of garlic and put it in a microwave safe mug with the 1/4 cup oil.  Microwave for 30 seconds.  This infuses the oil with garlic flavor.  Brush the tops of the tortillas with the garlic oil.  Then sprinkle on a little chili powder, salt and pepper.  

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until light golden brown and crisp on top.

I served these with salsa and sour cream for dipping.  The family approved (and were happy not to get cereal for supper).

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Crockpot BBQ Pulled Chicken

Hello everyone!  I have been doing some maintenance on my blog and found that, by far, the most popular posts are about crockpot recipes.  Makes sense.  People are busy and want easy-to-make dishes that are ready and waiting at dinner time.  So, I'll share another one.  Bonus, this one is not only delicious, but low-fat, too!  Woo-hoo!  Plus, it's really easy.  With just a few ingredients, you'll make something the whole family will love.


2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup BBQ sauce (I love Sweet Baby Ray's)
1 cup chicken broth
1 small onion, quartered
1 stalk celery, quartered
salt/pepper to taste (or seasoned salt)

Season the chicken with salt/pepper.  Put it in the crockpot.

Place celery and onion on top of the chicken.  Whisk BBQ sauce and broth together well and pour on top of chicken.

Place the lid on the crockpot and cook on high for 3 1/2 hours.  (I have not tried this on low, but you could probably cook it on low for 6-7 hours)

After 3 1/2 hours on high, remove the chicken to a plate and shred with two forks.

Discard the onion and celery (or eat it if you'd like).  Then, place the shredded chicken back into the sauce in the crockpot and stir well.

Let sit a few minutes before serving on buns.

This is even better the next day!  And you will be surprised how much meat you get from 2 chicken breasts!

My family gave me the thumbs up on this one.  My son says when everyone is quiet at the table it means the food is good (too busy eating to talk).  Tonight, only the sound of napkins wiping mouths.  It's a keeper!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Blackened Catfish (and what to do with the leftovers)

I grew up on the river.  Literally.  My front yard was a river and my back yard was a swamp (our house was on stilts).  I know, I know, typical Louisiana stereotype, but true.  It was a great childhood.  We played outside constantly and went fishing everyday.  My Daddy would catch it, then clean it and my Mama would cook it for supper that night.  That's fresh seafood!  Once you've had fish that fresh, it's hard to eat anything else.  However, not everyone has access to just-caught seafood.  So, if you're buying it from the store just make sure you follow a few simple rules to be sure you're getting fresh fish.   If you are buying a whole fish, look at his eyes.  They should be bright and clear, not dull and gray.  The skin should be shiny and metallic-looking, not spotty or discolored.  If you are buying fillets and they have the skin still attached, the skin should be shiny just as a whole fish.  If there's no skin on the fillet, the flesh should look vibrant, not dull or discolored.  If there is liquid on the fish, it should be clear, not milky.  Milky means it is starting to rot.  And above all, the fish should not stink!  Fish should not smell fishy.  It should smell like fresh water or the ocean.

Catfish is my favorite fish.  It's a white, flaky fish that can be fried, baked, grilled, put in a court bullion (that's a red gravy made with fish), etc.  Very versatile and delicious.  Plus, it's what I ate the most of growing up so it reminds me of home.  Here's my favorite way to cook it:


4 catfish fillets
1 TBS butter
1 TBS canola oil
2 TBS paprika
1 TBS Cajun seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Mix together paprika, Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and kosher salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Here's what it looks like:

Use a paper towel or two to dry the fish well.  This is very important!  If the fish is wet, it will steam in the skillet instead of blackening.  

Sprinkle the seasoning all over the fillets.  Then flip them over and season the back side.  You may not use all of the seasoning.  Just be sure they are seasoned well.

A cast iron skillet is ideal for this recipe.  It retains heat and will blacken the fish perfectly.  If you don't have one, go buy one.  You'll love it.  But if you must, you can use a regular heavy-bottomed skillet.  Make sure you preheat the skillet and get it smoking hot.  Seriously, you want the skillet on medium-high to high heat for at least 5-10 minutes.  Then, add the oil and butter (the butter gives flavor, the oil keeps the butter from burning).  It will melt right away.  Then, add your fillets.  Once they are in the skillet, don't touch them or try to move them around.  And don't crowd the pan!  I do two at a time because I don't want the temperature of the skillet to go down.

Let them sear for 5 minutes or so (depends on the size of the fillets, mine were pretty big).  You will notice the edges starting to turn white.  Then, using a large spatula, carefully flip the fish over so it can sear on the other side.

You can see in the above photo how the pan will smoke a little.  That's what you want.  There's a fine line between blackened and burnt.  Be careful not to cross that line!

Once the second side has seared for about 2-3 minutes, lower the heat to medium or medium-low.  Cook the fish a few more minutes (again, it depends on the size of the fillets) until done on the inside.  It will be white and flaky on the inside when done.

This recipe is so good!  If you have any leftovers, I have a great way to use it up.  If you like crab cakes, try this:


2 cooked catfish fillets
1/2 cup crushed cracker crumbs
1 TBS mayonnaise
1 tsp spicy brown mustard
1 egg, beaten
Cajun seasoning to taste
canola oil

In a big bowl, mix egg, cracker crumbs, mayo, mustard, and Cajun seasoning.  Shred the left over fish with a fork.  Add the fish to the bowl and gently mix everything together.  Form into small cakes or patties.  Set aside.

Heat a skillet (cast iron is best) over medium heat and add enough oil to coat the bottom.  Once it is hot, add the catfish cakes.  Cook until browned on each side, about 5 minutes or so.  Remove and drain on paper towels.


2 TBS mayonnaise
1 TBS ketchup
splash of lemon juice
splash of worcestershire sauce
black pepper, to taste
Cajun seasoning, to taste
hot sauce, to taste

Mix everything together, seasoning to taste.  This makes a small amount, but it's very easy to scale it up if you need more.

So, there you have it.  My favorite way to eat catfish and my favorite way to eat leftovers!  I hope you try this and love it as much as I do.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Crockpot Lentil Soup

I gotta be honest.  I had never tasted lentils until my Mother-in-law made lentil soup for dinner one night.  They just weren't a part of my Mama's cooking repertoire.  But, I did eat a lot of black eyed peas growing up (one of my favorites).  You know what?  They kind of hit the same flavor notes.  Very similar tastes.  I really liked them.  Plus, when I looked at the nutritional value of lentils, I liked them even more.  They are low in fat and calories, full of fiber and a great source of protein!  Good for vegetarians and meat eaters alike.  Hint:  I use chicken broth in my recipe.  But, you can make this recipe vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth or water.


1 lb dried lentils
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 quart chicken broth
2 cups water
Salt/pepper to taste

Spread the lentils out on a cookie sheet and look through them for any debris.  Rinse them well and drain.  Place chopped onions, carrots and celery in the crockpot.

Add the lentils.  Then, add the chicken broth and water.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cover and cook on high 3 1/2 hours or on low 6-7 hours, until everything is tender.

This soup is easy, yummy and so good for you!  Win, win, win!