Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tomato Bisque to Warm You Up!

Good morning!  I’m just sittin’ here……freezing my butt off.  It is cooooold here!  But we finally got a good amount of snow, which I keep hearing is a good thing.  I’m on the fence about that.  While I do like to have water to drink….I really don’t like to deal with snow.  So it boils down to me being inconvenienced versus dehydration.  I call it even.

This cold weather made me want soup!  It always does.  And I’ve been wanting to try a recipe that I got from my girlfriend, Janna.  She is a fantastic cook…..and she doesn’t mind that I steal her recipes;) 

I was at Janna’s house a couple of weeks ago, and she had made a yummy tomato bisque.  I, of course, loved it because it has heavy cream in it.  Anything that has cream in it is a winner in my book.  The great thing about this recipe though….you can leave out the cream and it is still crazy good.  But I would never leave the cream out.  That’s crazy talk.

Here is a little sneak peek…..

I will list all the ingredients that you need.  They didn’t all want to pose for a picture at the same time.  Divas.

Chicken Broth
Canned diced or chopped tomatoes
Flat leaf parsley
Bay leaves
Heavy cream
Black Pepper

Phew…..that seems like a lot, but this soup is easy and reheats well.  You could totally make it when you have the time and eat it at another time.

Let’s start this.

This bisque starts with bacon and butter.  Automatic winner.

You will only need one or two strips of bacon.  Freeze the rest.  Your family will thank you when you bust out the remaining bacon on a Saturday morning.

I chopped the bacon and cooked it up in the butter.  Once it was browned, I removed it with a slotted spoon.  I really just wanted the bacon fat….so you can do whatever you want with the cooked bacon.  It would be great as a garnish for the bisque, but unfortunately, I ate mine before the soup was done.  Oops.

So yeah, remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and keep the fat in the pan.

These guys go in the pot next.

I threw these into the pot and sautéed them in the bacon fat butter combo for about 8 minutes.  And I didn’t actually throw them.  That could cause some serious grease burns on my pretty little face.

BTW-I also seasoned the veggies with salt and pepper.

The next three ingredients are flour, chicken broth and chopped tomatoes.  My package said “chopped”.  Yours might say “diced”.  Same/same.

I added the flour to the sautéed veggies.  This will make a roux to thicken the soup.  I stirred constantly for about 3 minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste.

Then, I added the broth and tomatoes.  I whisked this until it boiled.  It is important to “whisk” as this point to avoid flour clumps.

Next step….some herbage.  Above is the parsley, bay leaves and thyme.  You can put the thyme in as is.  The leaves will fall off the stem, and you just pull the stem out later when you pull the bay leaves out.

I added the herbs to my boiling soup.  I lowered the heat and let this simmer for 30 minutes. 

Once the soup was cooked, and I had pulled out the bay and thyme stem, I went after it with my immersion blender.  I blended until smooth. 

If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can let the soup cool a bit and use a regular blender. 

Hot soup will explode in your blender, so let it cool, and hold the top on with a kitchen towel.  Or let it rip and spend the next few hours cleaning soup off your ceiling.

To make the soup even smoother, as bisque should be….I pressed my soup through a sieve.  You will end up with a silky smooth bisque.

I returned the smooth soup to the pot and added the nectar of the gods….heavy cream.  The soup just needs to heat back up (and check for seasoning) and it is done!  But I have one final garnish for you…..

On my foil lined baking sheet, I dropped little mounds of parmesan cheese.  I flattened them a bit, and I baked this at 400 degrees for 5 minutes.

The parmesan cheese melts and becomes a little parmesan “crisp” that is perfect on soups and salads.  Or by themselves.  I accidentally ate about 5 before the soup was done.  Seriously, it was an accident.  They fell into my mouth.

This soup is so good!  It is smooth, creamy and it tastes really fresh because of the herbs.  And the parmesan melts in….Yum!!

See how smooth that is?  You must try this.  It is the perfect winter soup.  It warmed me up…..even after shoveling my driveway!

So now that you’ve read this….are you wishing you had an immersion blender?  Well you came to the right place!  I am giving one away to one lucky reader.  All you have to do is refer one friend (or more!) to my FB page.  They must “like” my page, and leave a comment telling me who sent them on over.  Not only does that get you an entry, your buddy will also get one too.

This immersion blender is way fancier then mine!  It has a whisk attachment and a chopper!  I will send it to the lucky winner!  This contest ends on Tuesday, March 13th.

Here is the recipe, straight from Janna:
Tomato Bisque
 1 strip bacon, chopped
 4 tablespoons butter
 2 carrots, chopped
 2 celery stalks, chopped
 1 yellow onion chopped
 5 cloves garlic, chopped
 7 tablespoons flour
 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
 28 oz. chopped canned tomatoes
 Sprig of thyme, sprig of parsley, 2 bay leaves
 1 cup heavy cream
 Salt and pep
Melt butter in large stockpot, in the butter-sauté bacon pieces for 2 minutes to render the fat. With slotted spoon, remove bacon and discard. On medium heat, Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and sauté for about 8 minutes. Add flour and stir constantly for 3 min. Add the broth and tomatoes and whisk constantly until it boils. Add parsley, thyme and bay leaves. Lower heat and simmer for 30 min. Remove from heat and let cool.

Once soup is cool, work in batches, transfer soup to blender and purée. Place a sieve over a large bowl and strain the purée into the bowl. Put soup back in pot and reheat. Once hot, remove from heat, whisk in cream and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Oscar Party...Take Two

Hi everyone!  Happy Thursday!  Let’s get right to it today…..As promised, I have the remainder of my Oscar Party menu for you today.  On Tuesday, I showed you how to make Mrs. O’ Brien’s Rumaki (Tree of Life), Midnight in Paris’s Frenchy Mushroom Tart, and the Parisian Cocktail that I would like to think that all the actors from the movie “The Artist” drink on a daily basis.  Today, I am going to show you a quick and easy Hawaiian appetizer in honor of “The Descendants”, a mini chocolate pie in honor of Minny from “The Help”, and lastly….amazing caramel corn in honor of “Moneyball”.  I will also show you the tattoos I have in honor of Best Actor nominees, George Clooney and Brad Pitt.  I’m kidding….they are in a place you aren’t allowed to see.  I’m kidding again!  I don’t have tattoos in honor of them.  Relax mom.

Have you been to Hawaii?  OK, how about a Hawaiian restaurant?  When I lived in California, there was a phenomenal Hawaiian restaurant called “Kilohana” down the street from me.  My favorite thing to get was a “Loco Moco”.  A Loco Moco is basically a couple of scoops of white rice, topped with a hamburger patty and a fried egg.  The whole thing gets covered in a brown gravy.  It was Ah.May.Zing.  And I am sure….super bad for me.  Since the movie “The Descendants” takes place in Hawaii….I thought “Perfect!  This is my chance to make a Loco Moco and not feel bad about it because it is party food.  You can’t count calories for party food!”  Plus, I am making it in a mini version, so even less calories and fat!

Let’s start with the hamburger patties that top this amazingness.

For the burgers and gravy, I used ground beef, Portuguese sausage (Linguica), beef broth, flour, butter, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and garlic salt.

A regular Loco Moco doesn’t have Linguica in it.  I added it for a little extra zip because it has garlic and paprika in it.  At the McDonald’s in Hawaii, they serve a breakfast that consists of Linguica, eggs, and rice.  My husband was obsessed with it when we were in Hawaii.  They also serve a Saimen noodle bowl that tastes like rubber boots.  But that is a story for another time.

Now I only made 8 mini Loco Mocos….so I didn’t need much meat.  If you want to make more, or make full size patties, you will need to double or triple this recipe.

I mixed the ground beef, linguica, garlic salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce together with my hands.  I busted the linguica out of its skin first.

I fried my little baby burgers in a large sauté pan, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.  I also had added a smidge of oil to the pan first.

Once the burgers were done, I took them out of the pan and set them aside.  I covered mine with foil to keep them warm and cozy, and to hide them from my hungry animal-like children.

In the same pan that I had cooked the patties in, I added another tablespoon of butter so that I had about 2 total tablespoons of fat in the pan.  If you do something weird, like make these with ground turkey, you will need extra fat….and therapy.

Once the butter melted, I whisked in some flour.  I used equal parts fat to flour.

Once that was smooth, (this is a roux, folks), I poured in some beef broth.  I whisked that all together and let it thicken.

I also seasoned my gravy with more Worcestershire sauce and a smidge more pepper.  See how thick mine is?  If you want yours thinner, add more broth.

Now we fry our eggs.  You all know how to do that right?  And oh yeah, you should also have rice cooking during all this.  But again, you know how to do that yourself.

When I took my eggs out of the pan, I made them into perfect tiny circles with a small round cookie cutter, making sure not to break the yolks.  This helps for presentation.  I at least need these to look pretty since I am asking guests to eat a Loco Moco at an Oscar Party.

So again, the order is rice, hamburger patty, egg, and then smother the whole thing in gravy.

Do you think George Clooney wants one of these?  I would be more than happy to make one for him…so pass that along if anyone knows him.  His girlfriend can eat elsewhere.

I am so in love with the wonder that is a Loco Moco.  You will be too.

My next little treat is a mini chocolate pie, in honor of “The Help”.  I really took some poetic license here, in the sense that my pies have chocolate, but nothing else in common with Minny’s pie.  I actually used my recipe for chocolate truffles that you can find here:

The only thing I did differently was give them a roasted marshmallow topper.

After my chocolate ganache had hardened in the cookie cups (in the fridge, you want these cold), I piped marshmallow fluff onto the top of each cookie.  Then, I popped them under the broiler until the marshmallow fluff toasted.  The cookies and filling were cold, so the marshmallow toasted without the chocolate melting.

Yum!  Almost like a S’more!

These are the perfect little finger-food dessert!  Look at all that chocolate!!  Don’t spill on your couture, although chances are…you already have egg and gravy down the front of you;)

Lastly, I wanted to make one more little treat that is perfect to set out to munch on during the show, but it would also be so cute bagged up to take home as a favor.  And that little treat is…..Cinnamon Caramel Corn.  Yep, that is in honor of Moneyball.  Get it..popcorn…baseball?

This recipe is easy, and it is, by far, the best caramel corn you will ever eat.

For the caramel, I used butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, light corn syrup, salt, vanilla extract and baking soda.  Are you appalled that I am feeding my family corn syrup?;)

I also used 3 bags of microwave popcorn, 3 ounces each.  Popped, of course.  I also mixed in about 3 cups of mini marshmallows.  I laid the popcorn/marshmallows out onto baking sheets that were covered in foil and sprayed with cooking spray.  I used 3 baking sheets.

I made the caramel by melting the butter with the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt.  I brought this to a boil, over medium heat, stirring constantly.  I let it boil for 5 minutes.  Then, I removed it from the heat and stirred in the baking soda and vanilla.  It will foam up, but stay smooth.

I poured the caramel evenly over my popcorn.  I stirred it all together, very carefully.  Then, I baked this at 250 degrees for 40 minutes.  I took the trays out halfway through to stir the whole thing up.  Shake it around, stir it up, etc.

When it was done baking, I let it cool for a while, and then I broke it up into pieces.

Oh man, this stuff is good….and addictive. 

Don’t you think this would be the perfect party favor?  Maybe throw an Oakland A’s tag on it that says “Thanks for coming!”.  After all, Moneyball might be the only movie that your male guests have seen;)

I hope you try some of these recipes…..and let’s discuss the Oscars next week.  I already know that I will hate Michelle William’s dress, hair, etc.;)

Mini Loco Mocos…All for George

2 cups white rice, cooked

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

½ pound ground beef

¼ a link of Linguica or “Portuguese Sausage”, taken out of casing and crumbled

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, divided

2 teaspoons garlic salt, divided

1 teaspoon black pepper, divided

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 ½ cups beef broth

8 eggs

In a mixing bowl, mix together ground beef, linguica, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon garlic salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper.  Form 8 mini patties.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Fry patties, about 3 to 4 minutes each side, or until cooked through and browned.  Remove patties and set aside.  In same pan, add 1 tablespoon butter to remaining fat.  Whisk in flour until smooth.  Slowly pour in beef broth, whisking until mixture comes to a boil and thickens.  Whisk in remaining Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt and pepper.  Keep gravy warm over very low heat.

In a separate skillet, fry eggs.

Assemble mini Loco Mocos with rice on bottom, then patty, then egg, cover in gravy.

Makes 8

Mini Chocolate Marshmallow “Pies” for “The Help”

24 “Mini” chocolate chip cookies –dough from grocery store refrigerated section

¼ cup heavy cream

1 cup chocolate chips

Marshmallow fluff

Bake cookies according to package directions, but bake in mini muffin tins that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  As soon as cookies come out of the oven, create a well in each with the end of a wooden spoon.  When cookies have cooled, remove from mini muffin tins.

In a small mixing bowl, microwave cream for 45 seconds to 1 minute.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth.  Fill each cookie well with chocolate.  Place in refrigerator until firm.

Preheat broiler.

Top each cookie cup with marshmallow fluff.  Place in broiler until fluff has toasted, less than one minute.

Makes 24

MoneyBall Caramel Corn

Three 3 ounce bags of microwave popcorn, popped

3 cups mini marshmallows

1 cup brown sugar

¼ cup light corn syrup

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

½ cup butter, or one stick

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a medium sized pot, melt butter with brown sugar.  Add corn syrup, cinnamon and salt.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Boil for 5 minutes, stirring the whole time.  Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla extract.

Lay popcorn and marshmallows out on 3 banking sheets that have been covered in foil and coated with cooking spray.

Pour caramel mixture evenly over popcorn.  Mix.

Bake at 250 degrees for 40 minutes total, stirring after 20 minutes.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Academy Awards...Who Are You Wearing?

Hi everyone!  Happy Fat Tuesday!  Laissez Bon Temps Rouler!  That means “let the good times roll.”  So I hope they are rolling for you.  As for me….I have moved on to the Academy Awards.  Yes folks, the Oscars are this Sunday.  If you are anything like me…you could care less about the actual movies and you just tune in to see what the ladies are wearing.  And I bet you are just like me;) 

I do, however, still like to keep up with what movies are nominated for “Best Picture”.  This also helps me plan my Oscar menu.  Big surprise, but I prefer to plan my whole menu around finger foods.  I think it is more fun, and besides….nobody wants to eat a big meal when wearing couture.  What’s that?  You don’t wear your best gown when viewing the Oscars?  Tell me you at least put on your fake eye lashes!

So Like I said above, I like to use the Best Picture nominees to plan my menu.  I would love to have a dish for each movie, but there are nine nominated….and I ain’t makin’ that much.  But I do have 5 recipes planned.  Today I will show you two of them, plus a cocktail recipe.  But first….here are the nominees:

The Descendants

Midnight in Paris


The Help

The Artist


Tree of Life

War Horse

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Have you seen any of these???

Let’s get started with my first appetizer recipe. I took my inspiration from Tree of Life for this one.  I like to think that if Mrs. O’Brien was attending a cocktail party, back in 1960’s Texas, she would bring this……I am going to show you how to make Rumaki, which was HUGE during the 60’s.  Any housewife worth her salt had a recipe for this.  It is basically chicken livers and water chestnuts wrapped in bacon, and broiled until the bacon is crispy.  It is also marinated in a yummy sauce before it gets cooked.  Ok, relax….I didn’t use chicken livers.  I know you were freaking out.

What I did use was bacon, pineapple, water chestnuts, ginger, soy sauce, garlic, rice wine vinegar, and brown sugar.

I love the addition of pineapple to this.  Plus, anything Hawaiian was popular at cocktail parties back in the day.  I think it was considered different and exotic.

This is a really easy and quick recipe.  I started by making the marinade.  I mixed together the soy sauce, minced garlic, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar and ginger.  I grated my ginger in with a little hand grater/zester.

Then, I wrapped two sliced water chestnuts and chunk of pineapple up in half a piece of raw bacon.  I secured mine with a toothpick that had been soaking in water.  That will help keep it from setting a fire in the oven.  Backdraft isn’t nominated this year…..ba doom boom boom.

I marinated these little bundles in the sauce for about 20 minutes.

I broiled my Rumaki in the oven for about 13 minutes. 

Yum!  Mrs. O’Brien would absolutely bring these to a party!  If she was attending parties at all….she did lose a son during this, so parties might have been few and far between for her.

I don’t think this movie will win, but this Rumaki will.  It rocks.  It is sweet, savory and completely delicious.  I totally wouldn’t have been feelin’ the chicken livers though.

My next recipe is an ode to “Midnight in Paris”. Midnight in Paris is the story of a few Americans visiting Paris.  Some are there for business, some for pleasure….It is a Woody Allen film, so that tells you something right there. 

 I am making a yummy mushroom tart with blue cheese.  They would totally snack on this in Paris;)  Maybe at a bistro while sipping wine…..

I used frozen puff pastry, a couple of cups of sliced mushrooms, Gourmet Rooster Caramelized Onion and Chardonnay Spread, Blue Cheese, and butter.

I used regular white mushrooms because that was what my store had.  You can use whatever type of mushroom you like.  Fancy ones would be great in this.

Let’s start with the puff pastry.  I defrosted it according to the package directions.  Your box will most likely have 2 pieces in it.  Use both. 

I drew a line around the perimeter of the pastry, not cutting all the way through.  This will score the pastry and give you a puffed border.  I also poked holes in the center part to keep that from rising too much.

I tossed this in the oven for about 13 minutes to let it start to brown.  If you are feeling ambitious you can put an egg wash on yours.  It will brown with or without it, so it’s up to you.

I sautéed my mushrooms in butter for a few minutes over medium heat.  Once they were softened, I added the Gourmet Rooster spread.  You can also salt and pepper your mix, but the spread is heavily seasoned…so taste first.

I spread the mushroom mixture all over my puff pastry.  Then, I sprinkled on the blue cheese.  I popped this back in the oven to melt the cheese and to let the pastry finish browning.  Blue cheese and mushrooms are amazing together.  But I am a firm believer that blue cheese goes with anything.

Oh man…..I would go to Paris for this.  If it was free and an airplane wasn’t involved.  My fear of flying doesn’t lend well to me ever seeing Europe.  Midnight in Paris might be as close as I get.

Onto cocktail time….as Sandra Lee would say;)  This cocktail is not my recipe.   Instead it is a pretty famous one that has been around forever.  It is called “The Parisian” and I am pretty sure that all of the actors from “The Artist” would enjoy one of these.  Although The Artist is set in Old Hollywood, it is a French film, chock full of French actors.

This is totally my Oscar cocktail of choice.  I will give you the recipe at the end of this post.

On Thursday I will show you a mini “Loco Moco” in honor of The Descendants, mini chocolate pies (hold the poop) in honor of The Help, and I will also include a Moneyball party favor.  Tune in!

Mrs. O’Brien’s Rumaki

12 slices bacon, cut in half to make 24

14 ounce can of pineapple chunks, you will need 24 chunks

2 eight ounce cans sliced water chestnuts, drained

½ cup soy sauce

3 Tablespoons rice vinegar

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated

Preheat broiler.

In a mixing bowl, stir together soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, garlic and ginger.  Set aside.

Wrap 2 sliced water chestnuts and 1 chunk of pineapple with 1 half piece of bacon.  Secure with a toothpick that has soaked in water to prevent burning.  Place bundles in marinade.  Let marinade for 20 minutes.

Broil bundles in broiler or 500 degree oven for 13 minutes, or until golden brown.

Makes 24

Midnight in Paris Mushroom Tart

1 package puff pastry sheets

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups sliced mushrooms

4 ounces Gourmet Rooster Caramelized Onion and Chardonnay Spread

4 ounces blue cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lay puff pastry out on baking sheets.  Using a knife, score around the edges, about 1 inch in.  This will make your “shell”.  Poke holes in the center to keep it from rising too much.

Bake at 400 for about 13 minutes.

In the meantime, sauté mushrooms in butter over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until mushrooms soften.  Add spread and heat through.

Divide mushroom mixture evenly over puff pastry sheets.  Sprinkle evenly with blue cheese.  Return to oven for 5 more minutes to melt cheese.

Serves 12

The Parisian

1 ounce dry vermouth

1 ounce gin

¼ ounce crème de cassis

Shake all ingredients together in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Strain into a martini glass.

Serves 1

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mardi Gras Part Two...Dinner!

Good morning!  This is the first time in a while that I have gotten up off my ass and posted in the morning!  Yeah me!  Maybe it is because I am so excited about the recipes I am going to show you today……

Like we talked about on Tuesday, this Tuesday (the 21st) is Fat Tuesday….the biggest day during Mardi Gras.  I think it’s as good of a reason as any to celebrate.  Why not?;)  At least you can get some good food out of it, and Cajun/Creole cuisine is some of the best in the world.  Today I am going to show you a main dish that you can make, pretty easily, to eat this Tuesday.  I will also show you a yummy dessert that is crazy easy, but also crazy delicious.  Let’s start with the main dish…..

I am going to show you how to make Chicken Etouffee….or rather, my version of it.  Etouffee just means that whatever you are cooking, whether it is chicken, shrimp, crawfish, etc. is smothered in gravy.  The gravy is made of a roux.  I think we have discussed this before, but in case you mentally blocked it….a roux is a mixture of fat and flour that is cooked together.  This mixture will thicken a sauce, and give it a nutty flavor.  I have a cool trick for making a roux that I will show you in a bit.  My other cool trick is that I cook my etouffee in my slow cooker.  Hello easy!

Another yummy thing about etouffee is that it is heavily spiced with hot sauce, cayenne pepper, Cajun seasoning, etc.  You can adjust the seasoning and spice to your liking.  I went pretty mild since my kids were eating this and sometimes they are complete babies about spice.  Or actually, I am.  But it is easier to blame it on them.

Normally I would show you a picture of all the ingredients that I will be using.  There are too many in this recipe so I will list them instead.  Don’t be intimidated….there are a few steps to this recipe, but it is still easy!  You could just wake up a few minutes early this Tuesday and get it all in the slow cooker so you come home to a feast!

·         Butter

·         Vegetable Oil

·         Flour

·         Chicken half breasts on the bone

·         Creole Seasoning

·         Salt

·         Pepper

·         Onion, diced

·         Bell Pepper, diced

·         Celery, diced

·         Bay Leaves

·         Garlic, minced

·         Concentrated Chicken Stock

·         Worcestershire Sauce

·         Hot sauce

·         Beer

·         Crush Tomatoes

Whew…I think that’s it.

Let’s start with the roux.  I used a combination of butter and oil.  The oil will keep the butter from burning since this roux cooks for a long time.  For etouffee, the roux is normally cooked till it is chocolate brown….which takes a long time.  I only cook mine till it is the color of peanut butter.  The darker a roux gets, the less thickening power it has.  Since this all cooks in the slow cooker, which can cause whatever you are cooking to get soupy, I wanted my roux to thicken.

On the stovetop, I melted the butter with the oil.  Then, I whisked in the flour. 

Here is the cool trick….Once the roux looks like this….I popped it in the oven at 350 degrees.  I cooked it for about 20 minutes.  I never stirred it or opened the oven.  After 20 minutes…it looked like this:

Hello beautiful roux that was super easy to make!  I didn’t have to spend 45 minutes stirring this while standing at the stove.  I sat and read a magazine while mine cooked.

As for the chicken, I sprinkled each breast with creole seasoning, salt and pepper.  I browned each breast in hot oil on the stove top.  This will give it great flavor, but you can totally skip this step if you are short on time.  Or lazy.

I chose chicken breasts still on the bone, with skin, because I think this will stay moister in the slow cooker.  I detest plain chicken breasts in the slow cooker.  I think they end up tasting like dry erasers.  I always use chicken on a bone, or chicken thighs.  You do what you want, but if you use plain boneless breasts and they end up dry….don’t come crying to me;)

While the chicken browned, I tossed the onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, bay leaves, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and concentrated chicken stock into the slow cooker.

That blob you see at the top is the concentrated chicken stock.  Like I said above, I don’t want this too soupy, so I chose the concentrated chicken stock.  All flavor, no liquid,

I also added the crushed tomatoes and chicken to the pot.  Then, I poured in the beer and roux.  I popped the lid and let this go for about 4 and ½ hours on low.  My house smelled amazing!!

Before serving, take chicken out of the slow cooker.  Once it cools enough to touch it, remove the skin and bones and shred the chicken.  Add it back into the slow cooker.

I served my etouffee over rice, which is pretty typical.  This chicken ends up so moist, and almost has a nutty flavor from the roux.  The sauce is thick and delicious too.  I served mine with bread to sop up the extra sauce.  I also licked the plate but you don’t have to do that.

So yea, this takes a few steps, but none of them are hard.  And it is so worth it…..especially if you want to celebrate Mardi Gras like a New Orleanian.  New Orleaner?  New Orleanite?  Whatever.  Party like you are from Louisiana.

To top off this yummy dinner….I have a really quick dessert.  I will show you how to make an easy version of Bananas Foster.  Not that Bananas Foster is hard, but my version doesn’t involve open flames.

Bananas Foster is a dessert that was invented in New Orleans.  It is bananas, cooked in a brown sugar and butter sauce….then lit on fire with banana liquor and rum.  The fire cooks off the alcohol and leaves a rich sauce.  It is usually served over vanilla ice cream.

All I used was 3 bananas, butter, rum extract, cinnamon and brown sugar.  I chose rum extract to avoid ignition.  I don’t like fire.

I melted my butter on the stove top, and then stirred in the brown sugar, cinnamon and rum extract.  I let this cook for a bit while the sugar melted and the sauce thickened.

Then, I added in my sliced bananas and let it cook till the bananas softened a bit.  The sauce will turn into a caramel like texture and coat the bananas in deliciousness.

Yum!  All the deliciousness of real bananas foster with no need for a fire extinguisher. 

This is also amazing over French toast, pancakes, waffles, etc.  Pretty much anything. 

I hope you try these recipes!  Even if you don’t make them on Fat Tuesday…..I’ll be Ok with it if you try them another day.  You won’t regret it!!

Chicken Etouffee

4 Tablespoons butter

4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil, divided

½ cup flour

2 Chicken “Half Breasts” with skin and bones

2 Tablespoons Creole Seasoning (Tony Cachere’s)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 small onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

¾ cup celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pouch concentrated chicken stock

3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Hot sauce to taste

12 ounces beer

1 cup crushed tomatoes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In an oven proof pan, melt butter with 2 tablespoons oil.  Whisk in flour.  Stir until smooth.  Place pan in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Roux will be the color of peanut butter.  Set aside.

In a large pot, heat remaining oil over medium high heat.  Sprinkle chicken with creole seasoning, salt and pepper.  Brown chicken on all sides, about 2 minutes per side.

Place chicken in slow cooker with remaining ingredients.  Add roux and stir.  Cook on low heat for about 4 to 6 hours.

Remove chicken from pot.  Remove skin and bones and shred chicken.  Return shredded chicken to slow cooker.

Serve over rice.

Serves 4 to 6 people.

Bananas Foster

3 bananas, still firm

6 tablespoons butter

½ cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons rum extract

2 teaspoons cinnamon

In a large sauté pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon and rum extract.  Cook until brown sugar is melted and mixture has thickened.  Add bananas, stirring to coat.  Cook over medium heat for about 3 to 4 minutes to let bananas soften slightly.

Serve over vanilla ice cream.

Serves 4