Chicken Spaghetti

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It’s a busy time of year so I figured for my final post of 2018 I’d share one of my favorite make-ahead, enjoy-now or freeze-for-later meals!

Who doesn’t love a good chicken spaghetti, right? It screams comfort food.  Will and I have a difference of opinion on mix-ins or toppings for this one as he, for some strange reason unbeknownst to me, does not enjoy mushrooms and black olives.  So, you’ll see in the recipe how we navigate that craziness 😉

This recipe makes a healthy amount, so I typically bake one smaller dish for dinner and pack another up in a foil pan to freeze for later.  In this case, we even loaded up some small foil loaf pans to freeze for grab-and-go lunch options.  I love having this recipe, in large or small amounts, on hand!

I hope that you have enjoyed the recipes I’ve shared throughout 2018.  I’d love to hear if you have made one or two, how you enjoyed them and what you would like to see into 2019!  For now – sending you best wishes and many blessings this Christmas season and into the New Year!

-Lindsey


Chicken Spaghetti

  • 1 ½ -2 lbs chicken, boiled & shredded -or- 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced (optional)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz Velveeta, diced
  • 8 oz cream cheese, diced/softened
  • 2 cans “cream of” soup – use chicken, celery, mushroom; mix & match
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 1 small can black olives
  • 1 small can mushrooms
  • 16 oz spaghetti

Preheat your oven to 350.

To start, you can make this recipe even easier by using a store-bought rotisserie chicken, I’ve done that often.  This time however, I picked up a whole chicken when they were on special and boiled it before starting the spaghetti.  If you boil your chicken, simply cover the bird with water and then add whatever veggies and seasonings feel right!  This time, I tossed in a couple carrots, one onion quartered up, a couple bay leaves and some thyme, a bit of parsley left from another recipe, freshly ground black pepper and caldo de pollo.  Whatever you do, add in some caldo de pollo – or in other words, chicken bullion.  It will add a boost of flavor to your stock and we’re going to use that stock later down the road.  So heads up – save the stock!

Once cooked, pick and shred the chicken.  Remember – save the stock!

You can use a variety of peppers here – I like the colorful assortment here of poblano and small sweet red, yellow and orange bell peppers.  Dice them up along with an onion and a few cloves of garlic.  Saute the veggies until they are soft, seasoning with salt and pepper.

If you have a family of mushroom-loving people, add the mushrooms in with the veggies and let them cook a couple minutes as the veggies soften.  Since we are a house divided, I hold off on the mushrooms right here.

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As the veggies are cooking, cook the spaghetti to al dente – just so it has a little bit left to it as it will cook a little more as the dish bakes. If you boiled your chicken, strain the veggies and herbs out of the stock and then boil the spaghetti in the stock rather than plain water so the pasta takes in that delicious chicken flavor.  If you are using rotisserie chicken, add a little caldo de pollo (bullion) to the water when it comes up to boil.  This is your chance to flavor the pasta itself.  Important:  when you drain the spaghetti, reserve about a cup of the pasta water/stock.  We’re putting that stock to use today!

In a large bowl, combine the two cream soups, Rotel, olives, Velveeta and cream cheese.  If you are an H-E-B shopper, there is store brand cream of poblano soup that works very nicely here!  For the Velveeta, you can cube up a brick or, as you see below, the shreds work nicely as well.  You do want to be sure the cream cheese if softened so it stirs in nicely.  Give the mix a taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Again, I skip the olives here…

To the large bowl, add the shredded chicken and the cooked veggies.  Give it a really good stir so the warm veggies starts to melt and combine all the cheeses.

Add the cooked spaghetti and stir well again.  This mixture will be thick – add that reserved pasta water/stock a little at a time until you get the consistency you are after. You want it to be well mixed and that water/stock will help to get all the yummy cheese mixture coating every noodle.

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Spray either one 9×13 baking dish or two small dished with nonstick spray and fill ’em up! Here’s where my mushrooms and olives come into play – they go on top of “my half” 😉

For the baking dishes – cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

For the freezing dishes – let cool completely and cover with plastic wrap and foil. Freeze until ready to enjoy!

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Don’t worry – Will totally missed all the olives and mushrooms in the above picture.  😉

What’s your favorite comfort meal and/or freezer meal?  Let me know what you think!


Full Recipe

Chicken Spaghetti

  • 1 ½ -2 lbs chicken, boiled & shredded -or- 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced (optional)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz Velveeta, diced
  • 8 oz cream cheese, diced/softened
  • 2 cans “cream of” soup – use chicken, celery, mushroom; mix & match
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 1 small can black olives
  • 1 small can mushrooms
  • 16 oz spaghetti

*If you boil the chicken, save the stock to boil the spaghetti in

Preheat oven to 350.

Saute onions, bell pepper, poblano pepper and garlic until soft.

Add the mushrooms and saute a few minutes.

Boil spaghetti (in stock, if available) and cook to al dente.

Reserve about a cup of the pasta water/stock after cooking.

In a large bowl, combine cream soups, Rotel, olives, Velveeta and cream cheese.

Season to taste with s&p.

Stir in shredded chicken and onion mixture.

Add cooked spaghetti to chicken mixture.

Mix well as the cheeses melt.

Add reserved pasta water/stock as need to desired consistency – up to 1 cup.

Grease a large baking dish (or two small pans) with non-stick spray.

Pour chicken spaghetti into dish(es) and cover with foil.

Bake for 45 minutes.

If freezing:  Let cool completely, cover pan with plastic wrap and foil and freeze.  Bake, from frozen, covered with just foil, at 350 for 45-60 minutes.

RoTel Cheeseburger Pasta

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You know those days when it’s time to make dinner and you got nothin’? You open the fridge… nothing.  You open the pantry… nothing. You even open the freezer hoping that in some moment of brilliance you made extra of something else and… nothing.  This recipe is a result of one of those days.

It’s like a “Chopped” Challenge – how do you take the odds and ends of what is in your kitchen and make a dinner? The initial prep went something along these lines:  the ground beef was already defrosting in the sink.  I see enough pasta in the pantry for a dinner, and that can of RoTel is calling to me.  Cheese, of course, makes everything better so we can work with that.

The first attempt was okay, not stellar, but I wrote it down and we played with the portions and flavors a bit until we had it – RoTel Cheeseburger Pasta.

And wouldn’t you know it?  It’s become a family favorite!


RoTel Cheeseburger Pasta

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ½ box linguine, spaghetti, or any pasta
  • 1 can RoTel Tomatoes
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves – minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8 oz. cheddar cheese
  • 2-3 T chopped pickled jalapeno 
  • handful cilantro, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bring a pot of salted water up to a boil and cook the pasta until just shy of al dente, about 6-7 minutes.  You want it to have a pretty decent bite to it still, a healthy “chew”, as it will continue to cook in the sauce as it bakes and you don’t want it to become gummy as it bakes.  I like the linguine for this dish, the flat noodles hold the sauce really well.  However, you can use spaghetti, or really any pasta shape you like.  Drain the pasta well and set it aside when it is ready.

Brown the ground beef with the onions and garlic.

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When the veggies begin to soften, add the RoTel tomatoes and continue to cook to thicken and evaporate the extra juices.

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As the meat cooks, melt the butter in a saucepan.  Whisk in the flour to form a paste and then slowly add in the milk, whisking continuously to avoid lumps.

Whisk until the sauce is thickened then add the cheese.  Continue to stir until the cheese is melted into a smooth sauce.

Combine the ground beef, cooked pasta and cheese sauce together – I just remove the beef skillet from the heat and work it all together in the pan.

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Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.  Add the cilantro, if using, and chopped jalapenos. Cilantro is one of those things, right?  You either love it or hate it? I’m firm in the “love” category and think that it adds a little brightness to the dish.  If you don’t care for it, or just don’t have any on hand tonight, simply skip it.  Chopped green onions or chives would be nice here as well.  If you happen to have a spicy can of RoTel tonight, you may skip the chopped jalapenos – this part is totally to your liking.

Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

This is a great place to stop and either chill or freeze.  You can stick this casserole in the fridge to cook within the next 24 hours or so, or let it cool and freeze the dish for future baking.

Bake the casserole for 20 minutes, or until it starts to bubble and brown.  From chilled, you’ll bake the dish for about 40 minutes.

Let the dish sit a few minutes before serving.

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What’s your throw-together dish that’s become a family favorite?


Full Recipe

RoTel Cheeseburger Pasta

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ½ box linguine or spaghetti
  • 1 can RoTel Tomatoes
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves – minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8 oz. cheddar cheese
  • 2-3 T chopped pickled jalapeno
  • handful cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Grease a 9×13 casserole dish.

Cook the pasta until just shy of al dente, about 6 minutes – it will finish cooking when it is baked.

Rinse well in a strainer.

Brown the ground beef with the onions and garlic.

Add the tomatoes.

Melt the butter in a saucepan.

Whisk in the flour.

Slowly add the milk and whisk until thickened.

Add the cheese and stir until melted.

Combine the ground beef, pasta and cheese sauce together.

Add the cilantro and jalapenos.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour mixture into the prepared casserole dish.

**At this point, you can cool down the dish and refrigerate until cooking or freeze for future baking**

Bake for 20 minutes until it starts to bubble and brown.

**From chilled – bake for 40 minutes**

Crawfish Etouffee… but really, Swamp Fries

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Will and I love a good road trip.  It’s one of the best things ever to get in the car and go exploring for the day or pack up for a quick weekend getaway to a more familiar location.  We will make a run to the Hill Country for a boot fitting, aim a little more South to find a new Texas winery, find restaurants or farmer’s markets in Houston, load up Silver Sadie Wonderdog for an overnight beach trip, or head to dozens of other places just a drive away.

One of our favorite roadtrip getaways is in Lake Charles.  Say what you like, but I am a sucker for a good penny slot machine or some video roulette.  Craps and Blackjack tend to call Will’s name. Depending on the weather, our favorite place to stay offers a lazy river to float during the day and a lovely wine and tapas bar with live piano music to wind down in at night.  All that said… it’s never a trip to Lake Charles without a visit into town to Steamboat Bill’s.  The pistolettes are perfect.  The gumbo is amazing.  The winner though?  The Swamp Fries. Cheese fries smothered in shrimp etouffee.

Will may have been just a touch hesitant the first time we ordered them.  Etouffee goes on rice, right?!?  Y’all.  We get these every stinkin’ time now.  The etouffee is so tasty and pairs so well with a crispy, hot cheese fry.  We’ve since made them at home with our own version of a crawfish etouffee and every time they take me right back to Lake Charles.

Did you just hear that slot machine ding???


Crawfish Etouffee – Swamp Fries

  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • ½ cup bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • Salt, pepper
  • Cajun seasoning – such as Salt-free Tony Chachere’s
  • ½ stick butter
  • 2-3 drops Tabasco (more, to taste)
  • 1-2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tsp garlic
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 4-6 cups seafood/chicken stock
  • 1 lb crawfish tails, peeled and deveined
  • 2 bay leaves
  • french fries, shredded cheese, sour cream and green onion for serving

Etouffee is a fairly simple recipe that takes just a little bit of time to bring on big flavors. It’s great post-crawfish boil to use up some leftover tails but you can easily sub in small shrimp instead.

To start, season the diced veggies with salt, pepper and cajun seasoning.  In cajun cooking, these three veggies are known as “the Cajun trinity”.   This combo of veggies is essentially the base for most cajun dishes and more often than not, added to roux as the beginnings of gumbos, soups, stews and jambalayas.  Typically, the bell pepper is the traditional green bell pepper – we often use red, yellow and orange peppers though for their variety in sweetness and color.

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Melt the butter in a skillet until it browns and begins to smell nutty.  You’ll see the fats in the butter starting to foam around the edges as well.  Add the seasoned veggies and saute until they begin to soften.  Add Tabasco, worcestershire and garlic to the skillet and saute another couple of minutes.

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Add the flour to the veggies and cook until it is light brown in color.  Whisk in the stock slowly and carefully to avoid creating lumps in your roux.  Add the crawfish tails and bay leaves.

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Simmer 20-30 minutes, until the etouffee has reached your desired thickness.  Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves when you are done simmering!

You can go traditional and serve with rice…

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…or you can go SWAMP FRIES!  Plate your french fries and top with shredded cheese.  Pour the etouffee over the fries and top with sour cream and diced green onions.

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There you have it – one ticket to Steamboat Bill’s Lake Charles.  Enjoy the ride and let me know how your penny slots pay off 😉


Full Recipe

Crawfish Etouffee

  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • ½ cup bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • Salt, pepper
  • Cajun seasoning – such as Salt-free Tony Chachere’s
  • ½ stick butter
  • 2-3 drops Tabasco (more, to taste)
  • 1-2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 tsp garlic
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 4-6 cups seafood/chicken stock
  • 1 lb crawfish tails, peeled and deveined
  • 2 bay leaves

Season chopped veggies with salt, pepper and cajun seasoning.

Melt butter in skillet and brown until it smells nutty.

Add chopped veggies, saute until beginning to soften.

Add tabasco, Worcestershire and garlic to veggies, saute another couple of minutes.

Add flour to the veggies and cook until it is light brown in color.

Whisk in stock carefully to avoid lumps.

Add crawfish tails and bay leaves.

Simmer 20-30 minutes, until it has reached your desired thickness.

      *Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves.

Serve over rice or french fries.

Crawfish Cornbread

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Crawfish boils are one of the best things about springtime. Typically they involve warmer weather, piles of peel-and-eat mudbugs, various veggies that have soaked up all the good spice, dirty rice, lots of napkins, drinks and good friends.  Minus the warm weather, we had all that this past weekend.

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Towards the end of the night, I start hoping for leftovers.  That’s because something tasty comes the day after a boil… Crawfish Cornbread.  This recipe comes from a family friend of Will’s and it has now become a post-boil tradition in our little home. It’s easy to make and makes a potentially forgotten and leftover mudbug shine as a new dinner option.

Fun fact:  Will also won the Friday Night Feast event at a local cookoff with this recipe.  It’s award-winning cornbread!

Do you love a good crawfish boil?  What’s your go-to for leftovers?


Crawfish Cornbread

  • 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Cajun spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 C cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ C chopped green onions
  • ½ C chopped bell pepper, or small can of diced green chiles
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 lb crawfish tails

Preheat the oven to 375.

In a large bowl, or using a mixer, combine the cornbread mix, melted butter and eggs.

Stir in the creamed corn.  Add the baking soda, Cajun spice*, salt, pepper and shredded cheese.

*For Cajun spice, we tend to use something along the lines of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning.  If you are into making your own blends, I like to follow the recipes for Emeril Lagasse’s seasonings.

At this point, I usually take the bowl off the mixer stand and do the rest by hand. Stir in the chopped veggies and the crawfish tails.

Pour the mixture into a greased 9×13 baking dish.

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Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is a golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Easy, right?!

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Full Recipe

Crawfish Cornbread

  • 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Cajun spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 C cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ C chopped green onions
  • ½ C chopped bell pepper, or small can of diced green chiles
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 lb crawfish tails

Mix all ingredients and pour into a prepared baking dish.

Bake at 375 for about 45-50 minutes.

Roast Chicken, Gruyère Bread Pudding and Roasted Brussel Sprouts

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In case you didn’t already know… Will and I love food.  We love to stay at home and cook and we love to go out.  We find new restaurants to try, we hit up our favorite places multiple times, we are on a mission with another food-loving couple to go to as many of the Houston’s Top 100 restaurants as we can, we indulge in both Houston and Galveston Restaurant Weeks every year… basically, we love food.

In trying new places we try many new dishes.  Sometimes you just gotta try what the restaurant boasts as their specialty, right?  However, every now and then it’s all about the basics.  I mean, if the restaurant is good their roast chicken should be pretty darn good , right…?  I like to test this theory sometimes.

Will and I had the opportunity to travel to Colorado in the summer of 2016.  We stayed with a fabulous friend in the mountains for a few days and planned an anniversary dinner at Acorn in Denver our last night of the trip.  We shared a couple small plates to start but then landed on the their oak roasted chicken with a savory bread pudding, seasonal vegetables and whipped potatoes.  It was amazing – the whole meal was!  When we got home, I played with a recipe until I got what I am sharing today – Roast Chicken, Gruyère Bread Pudding and Roasted Brussel Sprouts.  Any one of the three recipes is a stand-alone stunner.  But together, they will always remind me of a special anniversary dinner we shared at a cozy spot on a wonderful vacation.

To me, recipes and memories make the best souvenirs. And a signed menu, of course 😉

Acorn dinner


Roast Chicken, Gruyère Bread Pudding and Roasted Brussel Sprouts

*For this recipe we are brining the chicken. We typically let a whole chicken sit in the brine overnight.  If you are using bone-in chicken pieces, let the pieces sit in the brine 3-4 hours.

For the chicken:

  • ½ cup Turbinado or raw sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup pink Himalayan salt
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 2 T whole peppercorns
  • bundle of fresh rosemary
  • bundle of fresh thyme
  • bundle of fresh oregano
  • Tea kettle of boiling water
  • 4-5 lb whole chicken, innards removed
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1-2 lemons

For the bread pudding:

  • Olive oil
  • 2 stalks leeks, or 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 12 c cubed, day-old bread (Challah, Brioche, French)
  • 3 c Gruyère (or Swiss) cheese, shredded
  • ⅓ c chives, chopped
  • ⅓ c parsley, chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 c chicken stock
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 T freshly ground pepper
  • 2 T scallions, chopped
  • kitchen twine

For the brussel sprouts:

  • 3-4 strips bacon, chopped
  • Brussel sprouts
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar

Start with brining the chicken.  A basic brine is 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of salt and 1 gallon of water.  We’ve tweaked this one a bit with some more flavor.  (see note about brining a little further down)

Mix the sugars, salts, peppercorns and 4-5 stems each of the fresh herbs together in a large container.  For a whole chicken, we use a plastic 8-qt container with lid.  Don’t have raw sugar?  Sub in some brown sugar.  Don’t have pink Himalayan salt?  Well, you just aren’t living right.  Just kidding – double up on the kosher salt.

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Pour the boiling water carefully over your mixture and stir to combine and melt sugar/salt.  Set it aside to cool or add some ice to bring the temperature back down before adding the chicken.

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When the brine has cooled, submerge the chicken.  You may need to add more water to the brine as you want the entire chicken to be covered.  Before placing the lid on the container, we used a coffee cup under the lid to hold the bird down a little.

Cover and chill overnight, or 3-4 hours for bone-in chicken pieces.  When ready, remove the chicken from the liquid and discard all leftover brine.

So – can you roast a chicken without brining it?  Definitely.  You can simply start here in the recipe for a flavorful chicken.  Will swears by brining though and I’d have to agree – he’s made some killer chicken and smoked turkey in many a cookoff.  Soaking poultry in a brine not only seasons the meat itself but keeps the bird moist as it roasts/cooks.  Try it at least once!

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and set aside.

Finely chop 3-4 stems of each fresh herb.  In a food processor, mix the room temperature butter, the chopped herbs and a pinch of salt until it is all evenly combined.

Work the butter under the skin of the chicken, all around the bird.  Use your fingers to gently loosen pockets around the breast, legs and wings then massage the skin to move the butter all around.  Get the butter all over the chicken until you have used the entire stick and a half.

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Quarter the lemon(s) and fill the cavity of the chicken with the lemon and any remaining fresh herbs.  Since we are using leeks later in the bread pudding, we also stuffed an extra stalk of leeks in here, you could also use quartered onion here.

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Truss the chicken to keep the wings and legs tight against the body.  Don’t be scared – that basically means use some kitchen twine to tie the legs together and to pin the wings to the breast so they don’t flap around or hang out while cooking. We may not truss the same way every time… but it gets done.  Here’s a good tutorial if you’d like to check it out.

This past Thanksgiving we moved our family time out to Sargent beach and took a Big Easy oil-less fryer with us for turkey-cooking.  We fell in love with it!  It produced a juicy, delicious turkey on Thursday, followed by a wonderful prime rib on Friday.  Since then, it’s been a go-to for roasting/”frying” meat.  We use it here but you can certainly oven-roast your chicken nicely.

We placed the buttered & trussed chicken in the basket of the Big Easy and roasted for about an hour and fifteen minutes before checking the internal temperature of the bird.

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To oven roast your chicken, place the bird on a rack over a sheet tray to catch the drippings. (Bonus: if you have any potatoes, carrots, root vegetables etc, you can place those under the rack to catch all the drippings or use them as the ‘rack’ itself!  Pile the veggies up and place the chicken right on top.  You just want some air to be able to get to the bottom of the chicken so that all sides crisp up while cooking).  Roast the chicken at 425 for an hour and 15-30 minutes, checking the internal temperature in the last 15 minutes.

**Food safety by definition means that chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees to be considered safe to eat.** Will usually pulls chicken closer to 145-150 and gives it some resting time before cutting into it.

Remove the chicken from the cooker/oven and let it rest a few minutes before carving.

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While the chicken is cooking, get the bread pudding and brussel sprouts going.  To plan ahead, both have about a 15 minute prep time and will bake for a total of 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the bread pudding, place the day-old cubed-up bread in a large bowl.  You don’t have to be precise about cubing the bread – you can even just tear it up with your hands.  The size and shape of the bread is up to you!

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In a medium skillet heat about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Saute the leeks (or sweet onion), the red onion and the garlic until soft.  Remove from heat.

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*Leeks can be fairly gritty.  To easily clean them, chop off the dark green tops and discard (you can use them for making stock, but they are too tough to eat).  Cut off the root end and then slice the stalk lengthwise.  Chop the stalks down to your desired size, then swish the chopped leeks in a bowl or sink of cool, clean water.  The grit will sink to the bottom leaving the clean leeks at the top to strain and dry*

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, stock, cream, salt, and pepper.  

With the bread cubes, combine the Gruyère, chives, parsley, and cooked onion mixture. Stir it all around, it’s okay if the cheese starts to melt a little bit.

Pour egg mixture over bread mixture. Using the back of a spoon, press bread to soak up liquid.  Let the mix sit 8 – 10 minutes or until bread has absorbed all liquid.

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For the brussel sprouts, rinse the sprouts and cut them in half lengthwise.  Smash and peel the garlic cloves, leaving large pieces to roast.

 

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and dump the veggies on top. Drizzle the veggies with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste, mixing well.  

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Butter a 3-quart casserole dish, or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer the bread pudding mixture to the casserole dish and cover with foil.

Place the bread pudding and the tray of brussel sprouts in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Toss the sprouts a bit about halfway through.

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While those are cooking, saute the bacon for the brussel sprouts until cooked about ⅔ done – think chewy bacon, not crispy.  

After 30 minutes, add the cooked bacon to the sheet of sprouts and stir.  Remove the foil from the bread pudding and cook both dishes another 15-20 minutes.  The bread pudding should be nice and brown across the top.

During the last 15 minutes of cooking, add the balsamic vinegar to a small pot. Over medium-low heat, reduce the vinegar by about half, until it is thick and sweet, about 10 minutes.

Let the bread pudding rest and set a few minutes after coming out of the oven, then sprinkle on scallions before serving. Drizzle the reduced balsamic vinegar on top of the roasted sprouts before serving.

Look at this lovely meal!

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Play with the flavors of butter for the chicken – you can use any combination of herbs, any citrus or onions for stuffing.  You can roast a combination of veggies as a side and change up the cheese and onions in the bread pudding for different flavors.  This meal is a classic by nature but so very comforting and brings back a couple of my favorite travel memories.

What’s your favorite food souvenir?


Full Recipe

Roast Chicken, Gruyère Bread Pudding and Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Roast Chicken:

  • ½ cup turbinado (raw) sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup pink himalayan salt
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 2 T whole peppercorns
  • bundle of fresh rosemary
  • bundle of fresh thyme
  • bundle of fresh oregano
  • Tea kettle of boiling water
  • 4-5 lb whole chicken, innards removed
  • 1 ½ sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1-2 lemons
  • Kitchen twine

 

Mix sugars, salts, peppercorns and 4-5 stems of each herb in a large container.

Cover with boiling water and stir to mix, set aside to cool to room temperature or add ice to drop the brine temperature.

When cooled, place chicken in brine.

Cover with enough cool water to submerge chicken completely.

Cover and chill overnight (3-4 hours for pieces of chicken)

Remove chicken from brine and pat dry; discard brine.

Finely chop 3-4 stems of each fresh herb.

In a food processor, mix the butter, herbs and a pinch of salt until thoroughly combined.

Work the butter under the skin of the chicken, all around the bird.

Quarter the lemon(s) and fill the cavity with the lemon and any remaining fresh herbs.

Truss the chicken to keep the wings and legs tight against the body.

Using the Big Easy oil-less fryer – 1 ½ hours; oven roast 425 for 1 ½ hours

Let rest, serve.


Gruyère Bread Pudding:

  • Olive oil
  • 2 stalks leeks, or 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 12 c cubed, day-old bread (Challah, Brioche, French)
  • 3 c Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • ⅓ c chives, chopped
  • ⅓ c parsley, chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 c chicken stock
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 1 T salt
  • 1 T freshly ground pepper
  • 2 T scallions, chopped

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil.

Add leeks, onion(s) and garlic and cook until soft, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool a while.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, stock, cream, salt, and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine bread, Gruyère, chives, parsley, and reserved onions.

Pour egg mixture over bread mixture.

Using the back of a spoon, press bread to soak up liquid.

Let sit 8 to 10 minutes or until bread has absorbed all liquid.

Butter a 3-quart casserole dish, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Transfer bread mixture to the casserole dish, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove foil and bake until hot and browned on top, 15 to 20 minutes more.

Let rest 15 minutes, then sprinkle on scallions before serving.


Roasted Brussel Sprouts:

  • 3-4 strips bacon, chopped
  • Brussel sprouts
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 350

Rinse and half the sprouts.

Smash and peel garlic, leaving large pieces to roast.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and dump the veggies on top.

Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste, mixing well.

Roast 30 min, tossing halfway through.

While the sprouts are roasting, saute the bacon until cooked about ⅔ done.

After the first 30 minutes of roasting, add the cooked bacon to the sheet and stir.

Roast another 15 min.

Add the balsamic vinegar to a small pot.

Over medium-low heat, reduce the vinegar by about half, until it is thick and sweet, about 10 minutes.

Drizzle the reduced balsamic vinegar on top of the roasted sprouts and serve.

Breakfast Two Ways: Savory & Sweet

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I love a good breakfast – eggs and bacon, biscuits and gravy, chilaquiles or migas, pancakes, oatmeal, toast with jelly, grits – there are so many options.  Or, even better, brunch.  With brunch you typically get to mix and match several tasty food options… and there’s usually the added bonus of mimosas 🙂 Either way you go, it’s a time to enjoy the best both worlds of savory and sweet foods.

In this post, we’re looking at both options.  For the savory, we have Breakfast Cups.  This recipe originated from a friend back in Weslaco.  It quickly became one of our family favorites for a few reasons – they are quick to make, great for brunches/showers/food gifts, and they freeze really well for a fast breakfast option during the week.  To satisfy a morning sweet tooth we have Quick Cinnamon Rolls. Will loves cinnamon rolls while I am fairly picky about them. These work for both of us and take advantage of packaged crescent roll sheets to bake quickly for a no-fret breakfast option.

What’s your favorite breakfast or brunch treat? Grab a cup of your favorite coffee and try these two out!


Breakfast Cups

  • 1 tube flaky biscuits
  • 2 C shredded cheese (Cheddar, Mont Jack, whatever your preference)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lb breakfast sausage

Preheat oven to 325.

Cut each biscuit into thirds.  Spray two muffin tins with nonstick spray and place 1/3 of a biscuit into each muffin cup.

*Note:  I like these best with flaky biscuits.  However, at the time of this post, all I had on had was a tube of buttermilk biscuits.  They work fine as well – your end product just won’t be as tall since the buttermilk biscuits won’t “puff” as much as the flaky option.  There were 10 buttermilk biscuits in the tube, flaky has 8 in a tube, so 6 muffin tins ended up with an extra 1/3 biscuit in them.

Brown the breakfast sausage and drain off any excess grease.  You can use any flavor of breakfast sausage here – my go-to is the sage, but I do like the spicy option now and then.

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Remove your pan from the heat and stir in the eggs and shredded cheese.  This mixture will be very thick but you don’t want to cook/scramble the eggs, just get it all mixed up together.

Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the mixture on top of each biscuit piece.

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Bake for 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven, let the tins sit just a minute or two, then pop the Breakfast Cups of out the muffin tin and place on a cooling rack if you are not serving them right away.  If you go straight to a plate when they are right from the oven the bottoms will get a little soggy.

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Breakfast Cups are so versatile – they are awesome straight from the oven, great as they cool down a little, and perfect reheated for 30 seconds straight from the freezer.  I have often made these the night before a brunch or breakfast meeting or froze half the batch for a quick breakfast grab on weekdays.  Try them out!

*Note: when I made both the Breakfast Cups and the Easy Cinnamon Rolls at the same time I set the oven at 350 and started with the Breakfast Cups.  They baked for just over 20 minutes instead of 25 and the cinnamon rolls went closer to 13-14 minutes.


Easy Cinnamon Rolls

  • 1 pkg refrigerated crescent roll sheets
  • 1 T butter, melted
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup finely chopped pecans
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 tsp orange juice or milk

Preheat oven to 375.  Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray, or line it with parchment paper.

Unroll the crescent roll sheet but do not separate the strips just yet.  If you can’t find the crescent roll sheets, just use the normal crescent rolls.  You can press the seams together after unrolling the dough and cut them into strips later, or just roll them up like normal crescent rolls.

Brush the dough with the melted butter.

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In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the dough, then sprinkle the chopped pecans over as well.  Gently press the pecans into the dough – you want them to stick a bit but not deflate the crescent dough.

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Tear out each crescent strip, using a paring knife if necessary to cut along the seams.  Roll each strip into a spiral and place it on the baking sheet.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and cool slightly on the pan or a wire rack.

In a small bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, vanilla and enough of the orange juice or milk to make an icing.  You want it to drizzle off the spoon easily but be thick enough to not completely melt when it hits the warm rolls.  Drizzle this over the cinnamon rolls.

Serve warm and enjoy!

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*Note: when I made both the Breakfast Cups and the Easy Cinnamon Rolls at the same time I set the oven at 350 and started with the Breakfast Cups.  They baked for just over 20 minutes instead of 25 and the cinnamon rolls went closer to 14-15 minutes.


Full Recipes

Breakfast Cups

  • 1 tube flaky biscuits
  • 2 C shredded cheese (Cheddar, Mont Jack, whatever your preference)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lb breakfast sausage

Preheat oven to 325.

Cut each biscuit into thirds.

Grease a two muffin tins and place ⅓ of a biscuit in each cup.

Brown sausage and drain off excess grease.

Remove pan from heat and stir in eggs and cheese – mixture will be thick.

Spoon a heaping tablespoon of mixture on top of each biscuit piece.

Bake for 25 minutes.


Easy Cinnamon Rolls

  • 1 pkg refrigerated crescent roll sheets
  • 1 T butter, melted
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup finely chopped pecans
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 tsp orange juice or milk

Preheat oven to 375

Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray, or line with parchment paper.

Unroll the crescent sheet, do no separate.

Brush dough with melted butter.

In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the dough.

Sprinkle the chopped pecans over the dough and gently press them into the dough a bit.

Tear the crescent strips, using a paring knife if necessary, and roll each strip into a spiral.

Place each spiral on the baking sheet.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool slightly on pan or wire rack.

In a small bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, vanilla and enough of the orange juice or milk to make an icing of drizzling consistency.

Drizzle over the warm rolls.

Serve warm.

Grits and Greens Casserole

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I’m not going to lie… I have categorized this as a side dish but have totally eaten this for my dinner.  Like, last night.  Also, I’ve may have made a pot of greens solely for the purpose of putting them in this dish. It’s just so good!

Greens are amazing as leftovers.  The flavors just keep developing.  However, sometimes you need a little pep in that leftover step, right? This casserole is a great option for leftover greens.  It’s pretty simple to put together and bakes into a lovely side for a whole new dinner. I’ve even made this for our Bunco group as it is pretty easy to put together and have ready-to-go for a crowd. If you kept your greens meat-free you can easily use veggie stock in the grits to keep this casserole vegetarian as well.  As a bonus, this dish freezes well and travels nicely for potlucks, housewarmings and the like.

What are some of your favorite “reuse recipes”?


Grits and Greens Casserole

  • 1-2 c cooked greens, drained from the pot liquor
  • 1 cup uncooked instant yellow grits
  • 4 cups vegetable/chicken stock
  • Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups grated white melting cheese, such as Gouda or mozzarella
  • 3 large eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a medium pot, bring the chicken or veggie stock up to a boil.  Whisk the grits in slowly so that they do not clump.  Full disclosure:  I’ve not listened to my own advice here and managed to get some gritty clumps.  Don’t you just love an immersion blender in these moments though? 😉

Stir the grits until thickened and season with salt and pepper.

Pour the grits into a large bowl and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallots and garlic and saute until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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Add the cooked greens and saute to remove any excess water, about 2-3 minutes.

To the cooked grits, stir in the heavy cream, sour cream, greens and half of the cheese.

At this point, before adding the eggs, taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning as you like.  This is a great point for a few shakes of Tabasco if you’re into that 🙂

Stir in the beaten eggs.  If your grits mixture is still fairly warm, be sure to stir them up quickly so that you don’t end up scrambling the eggs before they are incorporated.

Pour the mixture into a baking dish.

Top with the remaining cheese and bake until the center is just set and the top is golden brown, 40-45 minutes.

Let the casserole rest a few minutes before serving.

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Mmm… make this soon!  You’ll thank me!


Full Recipe

Grits and Greens Casserole

  • 1-2 c cooked greens, drained from the pot liquor
  • 1 cup uncooked instant yellow grits
  • 4 cups vegetable/chicken stock
  • Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups grated white melting cheese, such as Gouda or mozzarella
  • 3 large eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring stock up to a boil; whisk in grits slowly so they do not clump.

Stir until thickened; season with s&p.

Remove from heat.

Heat the EVOO in a skillet over medium heat.

Add the shallots and garlic and saute until tender, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the cooked greens. Saute to remove excess water, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place the cooked grits in a large bowl.

Stir in the heavy cream, greens, sour cream and half of the cheese.

Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Stir in the eggs and pour into a baking dish.

Top with the remaining cheese and bake until the center is just set and the top is golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes.

Let rest a few minutes before serving.