Friday, November 8, 2013

Cajun Pasta

The reason this blog is called Hot Southern Mess is because I am definitely a mess!  I have been dealing with continuing issues with this ankle and have to go through yet another surgery (this will be my 6th on this ankle).  So, I won't be blogging for a while.  Since I won't be blogging or cooking for a while, I thought I'd better leave you with something good.  Here goes:

*Note:  I have a picky husband & son so I saute the shrimp separately and then add it on top of the pasta for those who want it.  If you don't deal with picky eaters, you can saute it in the same skillet after you add the garlic (just be careful not to overcook it!)


1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small cubes
1/2 lb. small shrimp (peeled and deveined)
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 small bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced  (+ 1 more if you are sauteeing shrimp separately)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 TBS canola oil  (more if you are sauteeing shrimp separately)
1 TBS butter  (more if you are sauteeing shrimp separately)
1 cup chicken broth  (more if you are sauteeing shrimp separately)
1/2 cup half & half (or heavy cream)
Worcestershire sauce
hot sauce
Cajun seasoning (Tony's)
1 lb penne pasta

Cook pasta to al dente.  Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil and butter.  Season chicken with Tony's then brown in the skillet.  Once browned, remove to a plate and set aside.  Add onion, celery and bell pepper.  Saute for 5 minutes.  Add garlic.  Saute for 2 minutes, careful not to burn the garlic.  Add chicken back to the skillet.  Add a good splash of Worcestershire sauce and a few dashes of hot sauce (depending on how hot you like it).  Add chicken broth.  Bring to a boil then lower heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes to let flavors concentrate.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet add 1 TBS canola oil and a cracked garlic clove.  Heat on medium heat, stirring garlic until brown.  This infuses the oil with garlic flavor.  Then discard garlic clove.  Add 1 TBS butter.  Once melted, add shrimp (seasoned with Cajun seasoning) and a little chicken broth (a big splash).  Saute until pink (about 5 minutes).  Do not overcook!  Set shrimp aside while you finish the chicken.

Add the half & half and the parsley to the skillet with the chicken and stir.  Taste the sauce to see if it needs salt/pepper.  If you feel you need more liquid in your sauce, you can add a little of the pasta water.  Toss with the hot pasta.  Let sit for a few minutes so the pasta can absorb the sauce.  Stir before serving with or without shrimp on top.

I've been making a version of this dish since I was a teenager.  It's evolved over the years, of course.  But it still brings back memories of a time in my life when I was footloose and fancy free.  Let's hope my surgeon doesn't cut my foot loose next week!  (sorry, bad joke)  I have found that it helps tremendously to laugh your way through these things!  So, wish me luck as I recover and please say a little prayer that I'll be up and cooking again real soon!  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Alex's Apple Crisp

My sweet neighbor brought us a bag of apples the other day.  My first thought?  Apple crisp!  So, today when my daughter, Alex, and I were home alone (the husband and son were gone to a baseball tournament) I asked her if she wanted to help me make one.  She offered to make the apple crisp all by herself.  Who am I to argue?  Especially when she offered to do the dishes too!  What a sweet kid!  How'd I get so lucky?  Here's how she did it:


5 medium apples
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oats
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease an 8 inch square baking dish.  Peel the apples and slice into thin slices.  To keep them from turning brown, put them in a bowl of cold water with some lemon juice added. (or you can use a bowl of lemon-lime soda)

Spread the apples in the baking dish.

In a big bowl, stir brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice together.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork until well mixed.  

Sprinkle this mixture over the apples.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Let cool for a bit before serving.

Alex did a great job on this apple crisp!  It was warm and gooey and spiced just right.  It made the entire house smell phenomenal, too!  Easy, delicious and perfect for Fall!  Give it a try, I know you'll like it!