Cajun Chicken Meatballs and Fettuccine

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Ingredients

  • 12 oz. dry fettuccine

Meatballs:

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (I make my own, recipe shown here)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley (plus more for serving)
  • 1-1/4 pounds ground chicken (or turkey)

Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced thin, large strips cut in half
  • 8 oz. small brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14.5-oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • Chopped parsley, for serving

Method

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta for 9 minutes until just al dente. Drain; set aside.

For the meatballs:

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with nonstick spray.

In a medium mixing bowl, add the Cajun seasoning, garlic, panko, egg, parmesan, parsley, and chicken. Mix with a fork until just combined; do not overwork. Divide the meatball mixture into 30 meatballs and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes, then flip the meatballs over to brown on the other side; bake another 8 minutes.

Sauce:

While the meatballs are cooking: heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add onions and bell peppers to the pan and saute until just soft, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute until they have released their moisture, about another 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant.

Add tomatoes and Cajun seasoning and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer another 3 minutes or until liquid is mostly absorbed. Stir in half and half and parsley and simmer for another minute until sauce is thickened. Stir in cooked pasta and toss to coat.

Serve pasta in bowls with meatballs on top.

NOTES

Favorite recipe I’ve added to my archive this year (maybe a tie with the red chile shredded beef). So good. I could eat this every other week and never tire of it. The only downside to this recipe is that it takes a bit more effort than my typical weeknight stuff because it involves cooking three separate elements. This is probably one of the only recipes in my permanent favorites list that is like that. But damn is it worth it!

Red Chile Shredded Beef

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Red Chile Shredded Beef

Ingredients

For the sauce:

  • 2 dried New Mexican chiles
  • 2 dried guajillo chiles
  • 2 dried Ancho chiles
  • 2 dried chiles de arbol
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup chicken stock (more, as necessary)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

For the beef:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3- to 4-pound beef chuck roast, cut into two or three pieces, if necessary to fit in the crock pot

Method

For the sauce:

Cut the heads off the chiles and shake out all the seeds. Cut the chiles up with a pair of scissors (or rip them by hand) into large pieces.

Heat a large skillet on medium low. Place the dried chile pieces in the skillet and toast until fragrant, shaking and tossing the chiles to prevent burning.

Bring a small pot of water to boil. Put the chiles into a glass bowl and pour enough boiling water into the bowl to cover the chiles. Place a lid or plate over the bowl and allow to sit for at least an hour, to soften the chiles.

When the chiles are soft, pull them out of the soaking water and place in a blender with the onions, garlic, chicken stock, cumin, oregano, salt, and sugar. Blend until liquefied, about a minute.

For the beef:

In a large pan, heat the oil over medium-high. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add to the beef to the pan and cook for 3 minutes per side, until nicely browned.

Place meat in the slow cooker; add the red chile sauce. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. When the meat is done cooking, remove the crock pot bowl and refrigerate overnight (or at least 8 hours).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Use a spoon to remove the congealed fat from around the beef. Discard the fat. Transfer beef to a large cutting board and either shred with two forks or chop with a large knife until shredded to desired consistency.

Place shredded beef in large baking dish. Stir up the remaining sauce in the crock pot, pour over the beef, and mix well. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Turn the oven to broil on low and place baking dish under the broiler for 5 minutes, turning once to crisp as much of the meat as possible.

Serve in tacos or burritos or with eggs and beans.

NOTES

This is absolutely unbelievable. Out of this world good. Two notes:

  1. This is obviously great for feeding a crowd, but if you’re like me and only have two people in the house, the leftovers also do really well in the freezer! You can reheat the frozen leftovers in a 350F oven for 45 minutes, easy.
  2. If it weren’t for Rebecca at Foodie with Family and her Cuban Pork recipe, I never would have thought to do crock pot shredded meat with the extra steps of refrigerating overnight, removing the fat, and subsequently crisping in the oven. And honestly, it really makes the recipe. Highly highly recommend making the effort to plan ahead and do the extra steps!

Instant Pot Spanish Rice

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Instant Pot Spanish Rice

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce

Method

Heat the oil in pan over medium heat. Add the rice and onion; stir to coat. Saute until rice is starting to brown. Add the spices, stock, and tomato sauce; stir to combine.

Pour all ingredients in instant pot and close lid. Use the Manual/Pressure Cook button  to set it to cook on High Pressure for 5 minutes. After the pressure builds and it has cooked for 5 minutes, turn off the heat and do a 15-minute Natural Release. Release any remaining pressure and open the lid carefully.

Fluff the rice with a fork, then serve.

NOTES

None. Perfect as is. I finally have perfect Spanish rice again!!

Tostadas

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Tostadas

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef, venison, or turkey
  • 1 teaspoon each salt, ground cumin, Mexican oregano, ancho chile powder, and New Mexican chile powder
  • 1 cup (one-half of a 16-oz. can) refried beans
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 box tostada shells (I buy the El Paso 12-pack, but any 10- or 12-pack will do)
  • Topping options:
    • Shredded cheese
    • Shredded lettuce
    • Diced tomato
    • Diced onion
    • Jarred pickled jalapenos (usually called “nacho slices”)
    • Sour cream
    • Salsa or hot sauce

Method

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat (if using venison or turkey, I recommend adding a tablespoon of oil as well). Add the ground meat and cook, breaking into chunks with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the spices, refried beans, and water; stir to combine. Simmer until the water is just evaporated, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Spread mixture over tostada shells and serve with desired toppings.

NOTES

I could eat these every week. The only reason I don’t is because the toppings can be a bit of a hassle to put together, especially for work leftovers. Still, I can’t go long without putting them on my menu.

Pro tip (although not shown this way in the photo above): if you want sour cream on your tostadas, smear the sour cream on the shell FIRST, then put the meat on and top with everything else. It’s virtually impossible to “spread” sour cream on after the fact, so this is a good alternative.

Garlic Beef and Vegetable Ramen

img_59571Garlic Beef and Vegetable Ramen
slightly adapted from Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, separated
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 ounces snap peas
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 lb. flank steak, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon cornstarch, separated
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef stock or broth
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 packages (3 ounces each) ramen noodles (discard seasoning packets), cooked, drained, and rinsed under cold water
  • Chopped scallions, for serving

Method

Place 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large skillet or wok and add the mushrooms, snap peas, carrots, and red bell pepper. Cook over medium high heat until crisp tender; transfer to a bowl/plate.

Toss the meat to coat with 3 tablespoons cornstarch in a large plastic bag. Make sure all of the meat is well coated in cornstarch.

Add another 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the pan. Heat until the oil is shimmering and then add in 1/2 the beef in a single layer. Cook without moving until the beef is well seared, about 1-1/2 minutes. Continue cooking while stirring until the beef is lightly cooked but still pink in spots, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate.

Add in the last remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the pan and heat until shimmering. Add the remaining beef and cook without moving until the beef is well seared, about 1-1/2 minutes. Cook for another 30 seconds. Transfer the rest of the beef to the plate.

Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, beef stock or broth, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes to the pan. Stir and cook over medium-high heat until sauce thickens a bit and reduces by about a third, about 5 minutes.

In a small dish, whisk together remaining 1 teaspoon cornstarch with 1 teaspoon water until smooth. Whisk into the sauce.

Add the cooked vegetables, cooked meat, and drained ramen noodles into the sauce. Toss to coat and top with the chopped scallions. Serve.

NOTES

I cannot tell you how many times in the last 18 months I saw this recipe in my Facebook feed/Tumblr dash before finally biting the bullet and making it, but I am so glad I did. The only changes I made to the original were to cut the oil in half and add a third package of ramen noodles. It was utterly delicious – and Steve went absolutely nuts for it, more of a rarity for him with a stir fry. Big win.

Broccoli Rice Casserole

 

img_8204img_8201Broccoli Rice Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces broccoli florets, steamed until tender
  • 3 cups cooked rice (yield from 1 cup dry)
  • 4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup half and half

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a medium sized casserole dish with nonstick spray (or grease dish with butter).

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until just soft. Add remaining ingredients and stir until cheese is melted. Put mixture in casserole dish and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

 

Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad

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Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad
slightly adapted from Creme de la Crumb

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 lb. cheese tortellini pasta, fresh or dried, cooked per package instructions
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 (14-oz. can) quartered artichoke hearts, drained, roughly chopped
  • 4 oz. sliced kalamata olives
  • 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Greek Dressing

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Method

Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar, cover and shake well.

In a large bowl combine tortellini, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, artichoke hearts, olives, feta cheese, and basil. Pour dressing over the top, then toss to combine.

Serve or refrigerate immediately. Best fresh but can stay good 4 to 5 days.

NOTES

I cannot. stop. making this. Best pasta salad I’ve ever made. Awesome contribution to a potluck, sure, but I keep making it over and over for lunches and dinners just for myself – and probably will keep doing so for years to come. SO GOOD.