Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cajun Turkey Burgers

I really hate it when someone dumps a bunch of cayenne pepper on a dish and calls it "Cajun".  There is much more to Cajun cooking than heat.  It's about flavor.  These burgers are full of flavor!  Bonus:  they are wrapped in bacon!  (Leave it to me to take something relatively healthy and wrap it in pig fat) 😜

But, like I always say, everything in moderation.  I don't eat burgers everyday, but when I do they better be good...and these are.  The bacon infuses throughout the burger so every bite is smoky and delicious.  The bell pepper, garlic and green onion add flavor and moisture, which is important because turkey has a tendency to be dry.  These burgers are moist and juicy!  Yum!  OK, I will stop rambling and tell you how to make them.

CAJUN TURKEY BURGERS

1 lb ground turkey
1 egg, beaten
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning (any Cajun seasoning)
1/4 of a red bell pepper, diced
1 green onion, diced
1 small clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup bread crumbs
6 slices bacon

In a large bowl, combine egg, Worcestershire sauce, Tony's, bell pepper, green onion, garlic and bread crumbs.  Add turkey, mix well.  Shape into 6 patties.


Wrap a piece of bacon around each patty.


Spray a broiler pan (with holes so the fat drips away) with cooking spray.  If you don't have a broiler pan you can use a rack on a cookie sheet.  Place the patties on the broiler pan.


Turn your broiler on high.  Place the patties about 3 to 4 inches below the broiler heat.  Broil for 8 minutes then flip the burgers and broil another 8 minutes on the other side.






If I didn't blather on enough earlier, I will say it again:  These were absolutely delicious!  Smoky, moist, flavorful.  Yum!  Although, it's hard to go wrong when you wrap things in bacon.  Please make these for your family and friends.  They will think you are a rock star chef.  If only they knew how simple it was.  Don't worry, I won't say a word.  I can't, my mouth is full!  😚

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Strawberry Filled Easter Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Easter is such a wonderful time!  It's all about rebirth, new beginnings and celebrating the resurrection of Christ. Spring has sprung (well, usually, this year it's crazy cold) plus it's crawfish season.  So many fantastic things to revel in this time of year.  We have yet another reason to celebrate this week, my goddaughter's birthday.  She just turned three and we are combining a birthday party with our Easter get-together.  Since she is a three year old girl, she loves pink, anything and everything pink.  So, I am making strawberry-filled cupcakes with cream cheese icing that I will, of course, color pink.

Usually, when I need to bring cupcakes somewhere, I cover a box with aluminum foil to carry them.  (I know, not the cutest look in the world)  So, I asked my daughter to go out and find me something fun to transport cupcakes.  She came home with this:



How cute is this?  I cannot wait to show up with this at my goddaughter's party.  She will be in pink heaven.

Now, here's how to make the cupcakes:

A quick note on how to make a boxed cake mix taste like it's from scratch:  Add an extra egg (if the box says 3, use 4) and replace the water with milk (if it's a chocolate cake you can even use chocolate milk).


*Here's a hint to help you make moister, more delicious cupcakes - let your ingredients come to room temperature.  Measure out your milk and leave it out on the counter, along with the eggs, for about a half hour.  This isn't necessary, but really helps!


STRAWBERRY FILLED CUPCAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING

Cupcakes:
1 box yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup oil (I use canola oil)

Filling:
2 pints strawberries
6 heaping TBS sugar
4 TBS water
2 TBS cornstarch

Icing:
1 8oz block cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Food coloring

The first thing you need to do is prepare the strawberries for the filling.  Clean the strawberries and slice them.  Put them in a bowl and sprinkle the sugar on top.  Let them sit so the juices comes out and they break down a little, at least 20 minutes (this can be done the day before and kept covered in the fridge).

To make the cupcakes:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 muffin tins with liners.  Place cake mix, eggs, milk and oil in a large bowl.  Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds or until just combined.  Then, mix on medium for a full 2 minutes.  Use a small ice cream scoop to fill cupcake liners (that's a great way to make them all even).  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Mine took 17 minutes.

While the cupcakes are in the oven, make the filling.  Place the prepared strawberries (including the juice) in a small pot.  Bring to a boil.


Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix water and cornstarch until completely dissolved.


Pour the cornstarch mixture into the boiling strawberries.  Stir.  Bring back to a full rolling boil, then lower heat and simmer until thick (only takes a few minutes or so).


Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, scoop out the middle of each cooled cupcake using a melon baller or small spoon.




Once the filling has cooled down, spoon it into each cupcake.



Finally, frost the cupcakes with the cream cheese icing.  Here's how you make it:

Place softened butter and cream cheese in mixer bowl.  Beat on high to cream them together and get them fluffy.


Add in powdered sugar and vanilla and mix slowly to incorporate then switch to high to whip until it's a spreadable consistency.
Tint the color you want by adding in drops of food coloring and mixing until you reach the desired color.  I went with pink.


Here's what the finished cupcakes look like:




And here is what the inside looks like (brace yourself for the deliciousness):


Oh my word!  It's like strawberry shortcake had a baby with a cheesecake.  They are beyond delicious.  There is not a word that is yummy enough to describe these.  You'll just have to make them and taste for yourself.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Shrimp and Corn Soup

Shrimp and corn soup is my absolute favorite kind of soup ever!  When I go out to eat at a restaurant, if it's on the menu, I order it.  I just love the spiciness mixed with the sweetness of the corn, plus the creaminess.  Yum!  It's just plain delicious.  I had a recipe from years ago, but it was made with cream cheese and half and half, so it was very heavy.  I wanted to make a little bit of a lighter version.  Here's what I did:

SHRIMP AND CORN SOUP

1 lb small shrimp, peeled and deveined (I like to remove the tails, too)
1 stick unsalted butter
6 TBS flour
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
4 cups milk (I used 2% but whole is good, too)
2 cups chicken broth (or seafood stock if you have it)
2 cups frozen corn
Tony's (cajun seasoning)
2 green onions, sliced

Cook onion and bell pepper in butter until tender.  Season with Tony's.



Once the veggies are cooked down a bit, sprinkle in flour and let cook, stirring, for a few minutes.





Whisk in milk and broth.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.




Add corn and shrimp.  Cook until the shrimp are pink.  This doesn't take long at all.  Season again to taste.




Garnish with green onions.




This soup is awesome!  So delicious I couldn't stop eating it!  Plus, it's easy to make for a crowd, just double or triple the recipe.  If you like shrimp, this is a must try for you!  Perfect for the Lenten season and beyond.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Beef and Caramelized Onion Pasta

When I first moved out on my own and had to cook for myself, well let's just say I wasn't making haute cuisine.  I was so proud that I could make boxed macaroni & cheese and Hamburger Helper.  Oh how times have changed. Those mixes (not that there's anything wrong with using them) have a lot of sodium!  If you read the nutritional labels you'll be shocked at just how much.  But I do like the convenience of a quick beef pasta dish that everyone likes.  So, I made my own.  It may take a little more time than the box mix (not much more), but is just as easy and tastes way better!  Plus, you control the quality of the ingredients and the amount of salt.

BEEF AND CARAMELIZED ONION PASTA


1 lb ground beef
1 onion, sliced
Salt and pepper
8 oz egg noodles, cooked
1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup water
8 oz sour cream

Brown ground beef in a large skillet.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Remove the browned beef and drain all but about a teaspoon of the fat.  Add sliced onion and cook on medium-low heat until caramelized, stirring often.  It will take about 20 minutes or so but it's so worth it!  The onions become golden and sweet and delicious!






After the onions are caramelized, add 1/2 cup beef broth and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Add water and return beef to the pan.  Season again to taste.  Cover and simmer 10-15 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook egg noodles.


After the beef has simmered, remove from heat then stir in the sour cream.  It's important to do this off the heat so the sour cream doesn't curdle.


When the noodles are done, drain them and add them to the beef mixture.  You can garnish with chopped fresh parsley if you like.




This dish is just as easy as any boxed mix, but tastes so much better.  Give it a try and see for yourself.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Cook A Whole Chicken In The Crock pot

Have you ever picked up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store because you just didn't feel like cooking supper?  Or didn't have the time to?  Well, here is an idea that will let you get that same convenience and tender, juicy chicken with minimum effort.  Cook a whole chicken in your crockpot!

When I first heard of this, I was skeptical.  Obviously, the skin can't get crispy.  But, you know, I didn't miss it.  I deboned the chicken and shredded it to use in other recipes and it was perfect!  Plus, it was so easy to do.

CROCKPOT ROTISSERIE CHICKEN

1 whole chicken, cleaned
your favorite seasoning (I used Tony Chachere's)

Place a foil ring into the bottom of your crockpot.  You don't need any liquid because the chicken will make plenty on it's own.


Clean the chicken and remove any giblets or parts that might be in the cavity.  Season well, inside and out.  Place the chicken, breast side up, on top of the foil ring.  The ring keeps the chicken from sitting in too much of its own juices.  Otherwise it will fall apart and be too difficult to get out in one piece.  You could also use vegetables in place of the ring.  Cut up some carrots or celery or potatoes (or all three) and sit the chicken on those.  Bonus: they add more flavor and you have a built-in side dish.



Put the lid on and cook on low for about 8 hours.  My chicken weighed 4.5 lbs.  If yours is bigger it may take a little longer.  You can check for doneness after 8 hours by wiggling a leg.  If it's loose, it's done.  But don't keep opening the lid.  Every time you do, it adds another 20 minutes to your cook time.  But 8 hours on low should do it unless you have a ginormous chicken.


As you can see, it was so tender that it just fell apart as I was removing it from the crockpot.  Which was fine with me.  I carved some up for supper that night, then shredded the rest.  I used it to make quesadillas and a quick chicken pot pie later in the week.  Super time saver!


If you are busy and need a way to get a jump start on supper, this recipe is for you.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.