Monday, August 26, 2013

Homestyle Chicken Cordon Blue with Spicy Cajun Sauce

During a recent menu planning session, my husband suggested a dish with ham, cheese and chicken breasts.

"Hmm", I said, "You mean Chicken Cordon Blue?"

"Yeah, that." he said.

This request, while sounding delicious,  presented a few obstacles for me.  To start with I am gluten intolerant, so the bread crumbs were out. And I wasn't really into the time consuming task of rolling up and securing the precarious meat bundle with toothpicks. Not my idea of a week night dinner.

After some brainstorming for a tasty crumb topping, I opted to make it a little more home-style with potato chips. In past attempts to use potato chips as a breading, I knew I wanted the chips to be a little finer than just crushing in a zip lock bag, so I used a food chopper.

For the chicken breasts, I was happy to just keep them flat. To get them nice and thin I pounded them with a meat tenderizer and made them a cut them in half diagonally.

After dipping the bottom of the chicken into the chips, I placed them into the greased pan. Topped with ham and cheese, being careful to overlap each generously.

Then, I gave each piece with a good coating of potato chips.

I must admit I was a little concerned about skipping the dredging into egg step, but this totally worked. The little bit of moisture on the chicken kept the chips on and were nice and crunchy on top.  The cheese also became a nice "glue" for the topping.

Since I was going all casual on the dish I skipped the Hollandaise and made a tangy, slightly spicy Cajun Sauce.  I used some Cajun seasoning from Phil Robertson. Yep, the Duck Dynasty patriarch has a Cajun seasoning! It's not too spicy, just a nice flavor.

Next time, I would probably add some additional red pepper.  Whatever version of spice mix you use, just go slow to be sure it doesn't get to hot or too salty.  They vary quite a bit in both areas.

Homestyle Chicken Cordon Blue with Spicy Cajun Sauce


For the Chicken

3-4 chicken breasts
10-12 slices of smoked deli ham
8 slices of havarti cheese
1 1/4 cup homestyle kettle potato chips, reduced fat

For Spicy Cajun Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 teaspoon Cajun Spice seasoning


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

2.  Finely crush potato chips and transfer to a shallow dish.

3. Rinse chicken breast and pound out thin with a meat tenderizer. Cut larger breasts in half diagonally and season with Cajun seasoning.

4. Dip chicken breasts into chips and place into pan.

5. Top each piece of chicken with ham to cover generously, followed by havarti cheese and crushed chips.

6.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.

7. While the chicken cooks, prepare sauce.  Heat butter and milk in small saucepan on medium heat.  Once hot and just bubbling, add a slurry of cornstarch and enough water to liquify.  Add to pan and whisk until thick and smooth.

8. Lower heat of saucepan to the lowest setting and add Dijon mustard and Parmesan cheese.  Whisk to smooth and finish with Cajun seasoning.

Note: You will want to watch the heat on the Cajun seasoning.  Start with 1/4 teaspoon and add from there.

Handy Hummus

I call this Handy Hummus because I've adapted a basic hummus recipe to be made with mostly pantry items. These are items I keep on hand. I make this when I have unexpected company or in the mood for a healthy snack.

For gluten free alternative to pita chips, we like the Almond Nut Thins by Blue Diamond, tortilla chips, or veggies.  We especially like it with cucumber slices.


1 19oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, reserve some liquid
2 tablespoons tahini
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 cup rice vinegar, or lemon juice
1 pinch dried lemon peel
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

optional: 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro or 1 teaspoon dried
dash or two of smoked paprika


1. Place chickpeas in processor and coarsely puree.

2. Add rice vinegar and rest of ingredients. I often use about a tablespoon of bean juice to get the right consistency.  If you aren't too concerned with the fat content you could add more olive oil.

3. Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil and a good sprinkle of smoked paprika, if desired. 

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Pulled Pork Chili

Cook an extra large pulled pork and looking for way to enjoy it beyond a bun? Then this recipe is for you.

It's even better if you start with my Mom's Pulled Pork recipe.

The inspiration for this recipe comes from Heather Christo.  Her Pork Chili Verde recipe was decidedly more green. I use about the same proportions of salsa verde, but my pulled pork has a decidedly red rub. The end result is something more like chili with a kick of green.  I also like to use my favorite bean, the black bean. It's still fresh and light enough to eat anytime of the year.

Pulled Pork Chili

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 cups pulled pork
1 cup salsa verde
1 cans white beans
2 cans black beans
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoons chili powder
Kosher Salt
Garnish with Green Onions and Cilantro
Good sprinkle of Arizona dreaming from Penzey's or other Mexican seasoning
Dash of chipotle powder


1. In a large heavy pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat and add the onion. Sprinkle with kosher salt and let cook until soft and translucent.

2. Add the pulled pork to the onion and cook about 5 minutes.

3. Add the salsa verde to the pork and onions and simmer together.

4. Rinse and drain the white & black beans.  Add the beans to the chili.

5. Add the cumin, chili powder and seasonings to the pot.

6. Add the chicken stock, put a lid on the chili and simmer for an 30 minutes to an hour. 

7. Season to taste with kosher salt, if necessary. Because my pork was well seasoned I didn't need to add extra salt.

8. Garnish with green onions and cilantro and serve immediately.

9. Top with Colby jack or Monterrey Jack cheese and serve with tortilla chips, if desired.

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Italian Trio Pasta

This is an easy, hearty pasta toss that features three meats, chicken breast, Italian sausage and bacon or pancetta, hence the name. 

During the summer months, I tend to grill the sausage and chicken to save on cleaning separate pans.

The cream sauce is easy to make and is naturally gluten free.  

This recipe is a real winner at our house. I'm sure it will be at yours too! My husband says it's just as good as his version of "Make your own" pasta at Macaroni Grill. Nothing but meat and sauce!

Italian Trio Pasta


1 8oz light (Neufchatel) cream cheese
1 c grated Parmesan, or 1/2 Parmesan and 1/2 Romano, if you have it
1 1/2 cup Half and Half, fat free versions work or evaporated skim milk

(For special occasions try 1 cup whipping cream, 1/2 cup milk
2 cloves garlic
1 pkg turkey italian sausage
1 lb chicken breast
1/4 cup chopped pancetta or 6 slices of bacon
10 oz of pasta or gluten free pasta
3/4 frozen peas (optional-sometimes I add them sometimes not)


1. Cook sausage according to directions. Cook chicken seasoned with salt, dried basil and oregano in a grill pan or in the microwave on 60% power until done. Chop both and set aside.

2. If using bacon, cook as desired.  Reserve some grease to heat the garlic in a large non-stick skillet.  If using pancetta, cook until brown and then add garlic to the heavy skillet until aromatic.  Either way don't let the garlic burn.

3. Start the water boiling and cook noodles according to package directions. If adding peas, cook noodles for half the allotted time and add them to the pot.

4. Add milk and cream cheese to the bacon/pancetta garlic, cook over medium heat, mixing well. (May need to whisk.) Add Parmesan and Romano cheese once the mixture is creamy. Finish with a few sprigs of flat leaf parsley, basil and fresh black pepper.

5. Add chopped meats to skillet and cook on low until pasta is ready and drained.

6. Add a ladle of sauce to the bottom of a large pasta bowl, add prepared pasta, top with rest of sauce. Toss and serve with extra cheese if desired.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Mom's Pulled Pork

This is my mother's excellent technique for making pulled pork in the oven. It's one of those fail proof recipes you'd expect to get from your mom. :) Love you, mom!

My mom and her husband love to smoke meat.  They regularly smoke salmon, alligator and turkey so it was suprising to me, when I asked her for a recipe for pulled pork, that she would tell me she makes hers in the oven.  I had my doubts, but this is the best!

After a few years, of following her recipe exactly, I decided to forgo her rub that included a soup mix and other spice mixes and use basic spices to make my own rub.

The crusty outside that comes from a higher temperature of the oven followed by a nice, slow and low approach is completely no-fail.  

As far as a cut of pork, I use a pork butt roast most of the time. I haven't noticed a difference with bone in or not.  I do tend to cut the roast in half. It cooks a little bit faster and there is more surface to add the rub to!

I know many people like the convenience of pulled pork in a crock pot, but I much prefer it cooked in the oven.  The crusty outside is the absolute best and I don't think you can get that from a crock pot. 

After I pull the pork, I make sure to mix the meat with all the delicious juices at the bottom of the pan.

I never use any BBQ sauce on my bun.  My boys, on the other hand, like to top it with a sweet bbq sauce.  To each his own!

Mom's Pulled Pork


Pork Butt Roast, Boston Butt
Liquid Smoke

Dry rub
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tbsp chili powder
Good dash cayenne pepper
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp ground pepper
1 tbsp paprika
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp smoky BBQ seasoning, like Penzey's BBQ 3000

1/2 tsp Tony Chachere's

1. Trim extra fat, rinse and dry the pork butt roast. If over pounds, I generally cut the roast in half to allow it to cook faster and give more surface for a crusty outside.

2.  Coat outside of pork with Liquid Smoke. 

3. Prepare dry rub in small dish. 

4. Sprinkle rub onto pork with a spoon and rub into medium coat.

5. Place in large pan and cook in oven uncovered 375 degrees for 2 hours. Lower oven to 200 and cover with foil for 2-3 depending on the size. Add water in the pan if the pork is very lean. 

6.  Once the center of the pork reaches a temperature of between 190-200 degrees remove from oven and allow it to rest at least 15 minutes.

7. Pull the pork into shreds using two forks. Mix the pork in all the juices in the bottom of the pan. Enjoy with buns and top with your favorite BBQ sauce if you must.

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White Chicken Enchilada Casserole

This is a fantastic short cut recipe for White Chicken Enchiladas.  I've always love enchiladas, but I feel like I roll all those enchiladas in neat little rows only to accidentally cut them while serving. Maybe I just need better enchilada serving skills?

Either way, I developed this recipe when I was a Pampered Chef consultant, where I highlighted making this in the microwave, but the omission of rolling and stuffing the tortillas saves just as much time as using the microwave.  

I thought about totally rewriting the recipe without the microwave instructions, but it does get dinner on the table faster.  And obviously, if you don't have these products, just make the substitutions necessary. (This is not a Pampered Chef recipe.)

I pretty much use the oven and stove top now because we prefer the brown cheese.  That browned cheese goodness on the top that only comes from the oven.

Here are some how to photos using a 9x13 pan.

After you make the Salsa Verde white sauce, add a small amount to the bottom of an 9 x 13 pan and top with torn tortillas.  Each layer will take about 6 small corn tortillas.

Next add the black beans.

Follow with sauce, Monterrey Jack cheese and another layer of tortillas. Top that with chicken breasts that have been pulsed in a food processor or a chopped rather finely with a food chopper.

Finish with more sauce on top of chicken and top with cheese.

Cook in oven for 20 minutes at 375 degrees followed by 3 minutes under the broiler if you need to. My oven does not get a nice brown top unless I use the broiler. I must thank my dear friend, Carrie for that tip!

If you are using a microwave and the Deep Covered Baker, finish with cooking for 2-4 minutes with lid on.  Because the baker is smaller and taller you will use more layers. 

This recipe is written with gluten free options and that's also the way I make it.

White Chicken Enchilada Casserole


24 Corn tortillas, about
1/2 cup onion chopped, optional
1 can black beans

1/4 tsp cumin
2 tbsp lime juice
2 cups cooked, chopped grilled chicken
4 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

1 cup shredded Colby jack cheese
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour or 1 1/2 tbsp corn starch
1 1/2 cups chicken broth or 1 cup if using cornstarch
1 cup sour cream
6 tbsp green salsa verde

Chicken Marinade

1 tbsp fresh Cilantro, chopped
Mexican seasoning, enough to sprinkle lightly on both sides
Cumin, enough to sprinkle lightly on both sides
lime juice, about 1/2 lime
Salt and chipolte pepper

1. Marinate chicken in a little lime juice and Mexican spices (I used Mrs Dash Southwest seasoning, salt, and cumin). Grill, either using a grill pan or an outdoor grill.  Cool and chop chicken with finely with a food chopper or knife.

2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9x13 casserole if using oven. Otherwise, if using microwave, spray deep covered baker with cooking spray.

3. Drain beans and cook with about 2 tbsp lime juice, salt and 1/4 tsp cumin
in a microwave in bowl/pot for 2 minutes on high.

4. For a gluten free meal, use cornstarch and heat butter and chicken broth in a small saucepan. Once hot and bubbly add starch mixed with 1/2 cup water or chicken broth and allow to thicken.

Flour Version: In a sauce pan, melt butter, stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add broth and whisk until smooth. Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly.

5. Stir in sour cream and green salsa. Do not bring to boil, you don't want curdled sour cream. Add cilantro.

6. If using a 9x13 casserole, spray with cooking oil.
Layer pan starting with a little sauce and torn tortillas to cover pan. Next spread the beans and top with sauce and cheese. Add another layer of tortillas and top with chicken pulsed in a food processor or food chopper. Finishing with sauce and cheese.

If using a deep covered baker,  starting with a little sauce and torn tortillas to cover pan. Next spread half of the beans and top with sauce and cheese. Add another layer of tortillas and top with most of the chicken, sauce and cheese. On the last layer, distribute beans and chicken over layer of tortillas. Top with sauce and plenty of cheese.

7. Bake 30 minutes at 375 degrees and then under high broil for 3 min, to brown the cheese if necessary. Or if using the microwave in Deep Covered Baker, covered for 2-4 minutes with lid on.

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Zesty & Crunchy Broccoli Salad


I recently needed to bring a side dish to a BBQ and remembered that my dear friend told me about a recipe for broccoli salad she had made. She was out of town at the time, so I had to wing it.  Here's the recipe I came up with.  I'm happy to report is was a big hit!  I even got several requests for the recipe.
The one thing I wanted to avoid in the salad was any kind of dried fruit.  Don't get me wrong I'm not a raisin or dried cranberry hater, I just don't enjoy sweet salads.  I wanted something a little more zesty.  I think the lemon and basil are subtle changes that fresh and new!

Zesty & Crunchy Broccoli Salad

8 slices of bacon
7-8 cups broccoli florets, from about 3 heads
2/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 pinch dried lemon peel or 1 teaspoon lemon zest
6 oz grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup sunflower seeds, roasted unsalted
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced 
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Toss salad ingredients together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour over salad and toss to coat. 

Chill for 1 hour or longer before serving. Best made and served the same day, but totally enjoyable as leftovers. Trust me, there was only a little left after the picnic and it was still very good.

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Creamy Shrimp and Cheese Grits with Spicy Andouille

Quite a few years ago, I visited a dear friend in Charleston, South Carolina.  The sites, scenery and the food were almost as enjoyable as getting a chance to reconnect with my friend.

Each time we ate out, I ordered Shrimp and Grits.  Each time the dish was as delicious as I hoped they would be, but interestingly enough each dish was quite different.

One version featured a creole gravy, the next featured bacon and butter, but if I had to pick a favorite, it was probably the one with a spicy cream sauce.

And that's what this dish is trying to recapture.  It's been too long to remember all the flavors, but this recipe best fits my memories. I can't tell you whether my memory is correct I or not,but I can tell you this is downright scrumptious, a very special treat.

If at all possible, find gulf shrimp to use in this recipe.  The shrimp from China or Vietnam is just not the same. Blah!

Of course, this dish is naturally gluten free.

Creamy Shrimp and Grits with Andouille

Shrimp Seasoning

1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
Cajun Seasoning to coat, preferably Tony's Chacherie's


3 tablespoons butter
12 oz andouille cut into small pieces
1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 large clove garlic
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons green onions
1 tablespoon fresh parsley

For Cheese Grits
2 cups stone-ground grits
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper


Season shrimp and set aside.

Begin cooking Cheese Grits while browning andouille.

Cheese Grits
Bring chicken stock and milk to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When liquid begins to boil, slowly whisk in grits; cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes.

Stir in both cheeses until melted and well combined. If grits seem a little too thick, add more stock to loosen. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

This makes more than enough to have leftover grits the next day!

Shrimp and Cream Sauce

Melt butter in pan and brown andouille on medium high.  Remove sausage and set aside.  With grease still in pan, saute shallots and celery until almost tender.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant.

De-glaze pan with white wine and add shrimp and andouille and cook for a minute or two. Just long enough for the shrimp begin to pink up.

Add cream and green onions and once heated through, and thickens slightly. Finish with parsley and  serve over cheese grits.

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