Friday, November 30, 2012

Too Hot For You

Like it spicy?

Are you a Tabasco fan or are you faithful to the lovely Cholula?

Just how much heat can you take?

Well, my Sriracha Chicken Tenders may not be as hot as the sun, but that's entirely up to you.  Want to burn your taste buds off?  Go for it.  I made a basic tender recipe that allows you to bring the heat up to forest fire status if you so desire, or keep it warm and cozy.

What is sriracha, you ask?  It's a Korean chili paste with garlic, to put it mildly, and that is putting it mildly.  It's darn hot, and it takes courage to eat it like my dear sister does. Straight out of the bottle and onto pretzel sticks.  You go, girl.

You can keep the recipe as is for a little heat, or, make a sriracha glaze by melting a little butter and adding the sriracha to it, then gently drizzling or brushing it onto the tenders halfway through cooking.  I added some extra sriracha on the side for dipping.  Yumm...  If you do add more sriracha to your marinade, taste it in segments, as too much sassy stuff will not only make it hot and destroy the flavor, but it will also turn bitter while baking.

Please note - I only used two chicken breasts and it made many tender pieces.  You could easily feed four people the normal serving size of protein with the pieces I had, as they equaled about a pound.  Double the marinade if you use more chicken, and feel free to use it on white or dark meat.  They're baked, not fried, and I added no salt.  Consider these a great alternative to greasy hot wings.

Sriracha Chicken Tenders


1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 6 oz. container fat-free Greek yogurt
2 tsp. Sriracha (add more if desired, taste in segments)
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. red curry powder
1/8 tsp. garam masala
1 clove garlic, pressed
Pinch of grated lime zest
2 cups Japanese panko crumbs
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper


Pound chicken breasts until very flat, then cut into strips.  Mix yogurt, sriracha, ginger, masala, garlic, and lime zest into bowl.

Spread over chicken pieces and refrigerate for at least one hour, two hours being optimal.  

Press coated chicken pieces into panko crumbs, then place on foil-lined cookie sheet (I use non-stick foil).  Drizzle olive oil over chicken pieces, then crack pepper over chicken.  Preheat oven to 425 and allow the chicken to sit while oven heats.  This keeps the breading from falling off and it is on the delicate side.

Cook for 12 minutes on one side, then 12 on the other.  Flip one last time to make sure all is done, for about 5 minutes.  (If you use the basting sauce idea listed above, go easy on the sauce or your crumbs will turn to mush).

Serve with veggies to cool the tongue and more sriracha to start things up again!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lowcountry Suppertime

I know, it's been a while.

Sorry for the lack of posting, things have been a tad hectic here in our household.  That being said, it's time to get back to cooking.  I may change this blog to, "Duncan's Dinners", or make an additional blog, one that caters to feeding two people on a budget. Your input is appreciated!

In the meantime, let's get going on tonight's dinner.

I'm whipping up a lowcountry soup.  Roasted chicken breast, chicken andouille sausage, okra, corn, and file powder (pronounced "fee-lay" and should have an accent on the 'e').  This recipe is a variation on chicken and sausage gumbo.  I am not a huge fan of rice, so I've left that out and am serving this with a whole grain baguette.

The inspiration for this dish came from my upbringing in the great state of Georgia.  I miss it every day!

Since I cannot be there in person with my Georgia pals, I can be there in spirit and this meal has loads of sassy spirit!!  I used pre-cooked sausages, browning them to lend flavor to my soup pot.  The Cajun seasonings added were used sparingly, as to cut down on sodium. If you want to further cut down on sodium, find a salt-free Cajun mix (I was unable to) and use chicken broth instead of stock.

To stay thankful to my Carolina living, I'm serving Highland Brewing Company's St. Terese's Pale Ale to go along with the soup and French bread.  

So stay dry, warm, and nourished today!

April's Lowcountry Sizzle Soup

Serves:  A Bunch o' Folks


1 pound chicken breast meat, roasted and shredded
(using the whole package will make it greasy and too spicy)
3 cans diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 carton chicken stock (like Swanson's Chicken STOCK, not broth)
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1 cup frozen okra
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 tsp. file powder


Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in large stock pot.  Add sausages and brown on all sides.  Remove sausages and drain on paper towels, and once cooled, chop into bite-sized pieces.  Add celery/onion/pepper mixture and cover, sauteing for about 5 minutes or until soft.

Add canned tomatoes, stock, and 1/2 tsp. seasoning.  Simmer for 15 minutes, then if desired, lightly blend with an immersion blender.  

Add frozen okra and corn, as well as the sausage and shredded chicken.  Simmer for 15-30 minutes.  

Add 1/4 tsp. file powder.  Serve with your favorite sides, including a beer or sweet tea!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

That's Rubbish!

My dinner tonight was inspired by garbage.  Lots and lots of garbage.  And no, this isn't an episode of Hoarders...not exactly...

As a stay-at-home mom, sometimes you do what is normally categorized as husband chores.  In this case, I cleaned out our garage today.  (insert enthusiastic cheering here)  My husband hates this chore, yet it doesn't bother me much.  So as an early birthday present to him, I took the job off his to-do list.

Six black bags of garbage later and lots of choking on dust and debris, the garage sparkled.

Unfortunately, Cinderella still had all her "regular" chores to do.  This included dinner.  I got to thinking about all the garbage I'd tossed and suddenly, I was inspired.

A little bit of chicken, some Cajun chicken sausages, some veg, some beer, some blackening seasoning and - BAM - you have Cajun Trash for dinner.

Use what you have for this.  That's the fun part.  Actually, drinking the remaining beer was the funnest part of all, but we'll keep that our little mommy secret :)

Cajun Trash Heap
Serves at least four

1 small bag of Dutch yellow baby potatoes (or use baby new potatoes), quartered
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, pressed
4 links of Johnsonville Chicken Cajun Sausage
4 pieces chicken thighs, boneless skinless, cut into chunks
1 bottle beer, any kind
2 tsp. blackening seasoning (or Cajun, or whatever you'd like)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. honey
Salt for potatoes
Non-stick tin foil


Preheat oven to 425.  Line a large cookie sheet with non-stick foil.  In a measuring glass, pour 2/3 cup beer. Combine with the olive oil and seasoning.  Stir gently or it will foam up.

Place chopped potatoes, onion, apple, and garlic on cookie sheet.  Using your hands, combine veg and apple.  Pour half the beer mixture over.  Season mixture with salt.

Place sausage pieces in potato mixture.  Add chicken and remaining beer marinade in a small bowl.  Add honey, mix well.  Let sit for five minutes, then add chicken to the cookie sheet.  Discard remaining beer mixture.  Add more seasonings if desired.

Roast at 425 for 35-45 minutes, turning a few times to prevent burning. Potatoes should be fork tender and yes, sausages will split open and be crispy.  Just how we like 'em!

Enjoy your no-wash clean up, as you've used foil.  Or, you can hoard that foil in case you need it for later.

Just kidding :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Well, Bless My Roots!

It may be August, but the weather looks like an Irish spring day.  Cloudy, wet, and everything is green.  On days like these, I like to honor my Irish/Scots roots and do a wee bit of kitchen magic.  A spot of music, a cuppa of Irish Tea, and I almost feel as though my kitchen looks like this one:

And the music!  Not just any songs will do.  Check my playlist out:

Old Town - The Corrs
Dimming of the Day - The Corrs
Love You Till The End - The Pogues
If I Should Fall From Grace With God - The Pogues
Black Is The Colour - The Corrs
If I Ever Leave This World Alive - Flogging Molly
Radio - The Corrs
Only When I Sleep - The Corrs
Bodhran - The Young Dubliners (video is blank)
The Long Black Veil - The Chieftains and Mick Jagger
I Know My Love - The Chieftains and The Corrs
Spancil Hill - The Corrs

That should get you started! :)

Today, you get two recipes to bring you some comfort.  Whether it be the clouds or the world that brings you down, these luscious lovelies will lift you up!  So put a kettle on and get out your slow cooker for a day of kitchen magic!  The first is a tea brack, a tea bread made without butter and oil.  My hubster likes to call it raisin bread, and it pretty much is, but I've put a nice spin on it.
The second is a classic Irish stew, made with beef and Guinness.  I've included "neeps" (turnips) and "tatties" (potatoes).  I prefer only one turnip and two parsnips.  Parsnips taste like a wonderful lemon/ginger carrot.  I prefer them over carrots.  You can use whatever you like, however, and whatever's on hand.  I know a lot of Guinness stews have raisins and caraway seeds, but I think rosemary and thyme make this stew stand up and do a fancy jig!

Cranberry Tea Brack
Makes 1 loaf
(adapted from Homemade: Irresistible Homemade Recipes for Every Occasion by Clodagh McKenna)


2 cups dried fruit, I used raisins and cranberries
1 1/4 cup tea, I used Republic of Tea's Comfort and Joy
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 egg
2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. pumpkin or apple pie spice
Vanilla sugar (optional)

Soak fruit for at least two hours in tea. The original recipe calls for them to be soaked overnight, but I found them bitter, so I only soak them for a few hours.

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a bread pan with butter or olive oil cooking spray.

With a wooden spoon, quickly stir egg and sugar in a large bowl, until the combination has turned a lemony yellow and is a tad frothy.

Sift in the flour, baking powder, and spice.  Stir just until most is incorporated, but it will look mealy.

Add fruit and tea mixture.  Stir just until combined.

Pour into prepared pan (sprinkle with vanilla sugar if so desired) and bake for 55-60 minutes or until done when tested with a toothpick.

Guinness Stew with "Neeps" and "Tatties"


Peel and chop the following:
2 onions
1 turnip
2 parsnips
2 cloves garlic
(do not chop or peel) 1.5 pounds baby yellow potatoes
2 pounds lean stew meat
1 sprig rosemary
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup flour
salt and fresh black pepper
4 cups low-sodium beef stock
1 (12 oz.) bottle of Guinness Stout
1 sprig rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup cold water
1 tbsp. cornstarch

In a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil and place one sprig of rosemary in the oil.

Toss the meat with salt and pepper, then toss with the 1/4 cup of flour.  Place meat in heated skillet with rosemary and brown on all sides.

Place peeled and chopped veggies in the bottom of a slow cooker.  Pour in the stout and nearly all of the stock, reserving about 1/2 cup to de-glaze the skillet.  Add rosemary, thyme, and tomato paste to veggies.

De-glaze skillet, stirring meat around to make a sort of gravy.

Carefully, with oven mitts, pour the beef and gravy over the vegetables and stout. Add any remaining stock to slow cooker.  Stir carefully.  Simmer on high for an hour, then cook on low for five more hours.  Stir the cornstarch into the cold water and pour in the last five minutes of cook time to thicken.

(If you do not have a slow cooker, brown meat and then add veggies/stout/stock/tomato paste mixture into a large Dutch oven and roast - covered - for four hours at 325)