Chicken Spaghetti

Sometimes, the name of a dish alone is enough to pique your interest to want to try it.

This, however, is not one of those times.

Just kidding.

I actually had a version of Chicken Spaghetti about 4 months ago, and was absolutely mortified when I found out what goes into making it.

Seriously.

Talk about unhealthy … processed cheese, canned soup, canned broth…….. no how and no way.

So I did a leeeetle bit of experimenting, combining several different recipes, and voila:

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Yes I know – worst picture ever.

But don’t pay attention to that. Pay attention instead to the fact that this was made with homemade béchamel sauce, real cheese, pasta, and assorted vegetables.

Deeeee-licious.

One thing I’ve learned with baked pasta dishes, though, is that you should always always ALWAYS make more sauce than you think you need. And thin that sauce out with additional milk. Otherwise, it gets too dry and gummy and then no one wants to eat it.

Including me. 

However, as proof that this was really good, here is the same dish after dinner:

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Granted, Alexander and his 15 year old boy metabolism did 80% of the damage.

Chicken Spaghetti – adapted from several sources on the internet

  • 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 1 lb thin pasta, cooked for about 4 minutes (or half the recommended cooking time)
  • 3 cups béchamel sauce, thinned with 1/2 to 1 cup additional milk (see below)
  • 2 cups grated white cheddar cheese (or any cheese, really)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients (reserving one cup of cheese for the top) and pour into a greased baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese, and bake at 375 degrees until bubbling around the edges and lightly browned on top – about 30 minutes.

Bechamel Sauce 

5 tbs. butter
4 tbs. all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
2 tsp black pepper
Directions

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook whisking constantly, for about 3 minutes. Add the milk slowly to the butter/flour mixture, whisking constantly until very smooth. Bring to a full boil, then remove from heat. Season with pepper, and set aside until ready to use. Thin with additional milk if the sauce gets too thick.

 

 

Fresh Strawberry Bread

One thing I’ve noticed since our move to Austin is the lack of “stuff” in the freezer. At this very moment, there are a few containers of ice cream (Alexander’s favorite), a few quick breads (that’s a given), and ice.

seriously.

So imagine my complete and total surprise when I discovered a container of sliced strawberries in there the other day. I mean, where did they come from? I have no recollection whatsoever of procuring said container. Strange. Yet…. there they were.

I did the only thing I could think of (aside from turning them into a smoothie), which was to make this bread.

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And may I say, that was an excellent move on my part.

Fresh Strawberry Bread – adapted from saveur

3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1¼ cups canola oil
4 eggs
4 cups roughly chopped strawberries

Heat oven to 350°.  Grease a 12 cup bundt pan with baking spray and set aside. Whisk flour, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large bowl; set aside.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk sugar, oil, and eggs. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Stir in strawberries and pour batter into prepared pans. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 40 hour. Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Indoor Jerk Chicken

Sabrina and I have been on our own this past week, since Alexander is in Florida and J is working in NY (lucky devil), so she and I have had free rein to kick up our heels, paint the town red, and stay out till dawn.

Yeah right.

Truthfully, we took the time to visit the Texas State History Museum, had lunch downtown at a food truck she saw on TV, have completed lots of art projects, and caught up on our movie-watching.

And gone to bed early every night.

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Clearly we are out of control….

So with all of our dinner options, we have been tossing around multiple ideas (strangely, going out to eat wasn’t one of them), and made these pork chops one night last week…

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Although I was concerned that the sauce would be too spicy, it was perfect – and truthfully, I really liked how fast everything came together. We will definitely be making this again.

Indoor Jerk Chicken – adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 1 Scotch bonnet or habanero chile, stemmed
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbs. packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 tbs. ground allspice (I used half this amount, since I don’t care too much for allspice)
  • 2 tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbs. lime juice
  • 2 tbs. vegetable oil, plus more for grill
  • 2 bone-in pork chops (or chicken)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
In a food processor, puree chile, scallions, garlic, thyme, brown sugar, allspice, soy sauce, lime juice, and oil. In a large zip-top bag, combine chops with paste. Refrigerate at least 1 hour (or up to 1 day).
Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-low. Clean and lightly oil hot grill. Grill chops, covered, turning often to prevent charring, until cooked through, 20-25 minutes

Happy July 4th!

It’s the Fourth of July… which means today we celebrate the fact that we are legally allowed to blow things up.

Oh, and American Independence Day, too.

However, much to my chagrin, fireworks (or explosives of any kind) are banned in the development we are currently residing in.

Dang it.

Armed with that knowledge, Sabrina and I are off on a mission this morning to find explosive materials fireworks, and set them off on the ranch. Right now, it’s still a very large piece of dirt, so there is no danger of setting fire to anyone or anything.

We hope…..

Anyway, Sabrina is especially excited about today, it’s one of her favorite holidays and she really goes all out – in fact, her ensemble consists of flag Converse hi-tops, a sequined flag tank top and flag aviator sunglasses.

It’s intense…. just like her sometimes……

Happy July 4th!

 

 

 

Red Velvet Banana Bread

Ok …. we need to sit down and talk. Do you have a moment?

For real.

Apparently, I am the only person on this entire planet that doesn’t think that “red” is a flavor.

It’s not.

However, in the interest (or Pinterest, in this case) of keeping Sabrina happy, I acquiesced  to buying a cake mix (!!) and preparing this for her.

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She’s come to accept (notice I didn’t say love, I said accept) banana bread, and therefore specifically sent this pin to me last week, with the not-so-subtle caption “I would really like to try this”.

Subtlety has never been her strong point……….like her grandmother…. I’m still convinced they are the same person……

Anyway, the verdict, in her exact words…….. drum roll please…… “It’s good – not overly banana-y, but kind of sweet.

But my question remains……. do you taste the red? And if so, what does red taste like?

Much like the owl from the Tootie Pop commercial……the world may never know….

Red Velvet Banana Bread – adapted from pinterest / something swanky

  • 1 red velvet cake mix (just the dry mix, not the other ingredients on the box)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
  • optional: powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray a 9″ loaf with a non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Mix together cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil and bananas until well blended, then pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from loaf pan.

Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.