creamy cajun pasta

cajun pasta

Some people don’t like pasta. My sister doesn’t like pasta. And I’m all like, “Okay…uh…I mean, that’s cool, I guess..”, but in my head I’m really thinking, “Weirrrdooo….”. Not really. But I do love pasta. Pretty much any time I get a craving it’s for either pasta or a biscuit and let’s be honest: those are basically the carbiest carbs ever. So, sometimes when I make pasta I like to toss in some chopped up vegetables and a protein and I think, “Okay…so…this is pretty balanced.” And then I throw in a bunch of parmesan and heavy cream and ruin the whole thing.

cajun pasta

This dish is a favorite in our house. It’s spicy and flavorful. And it’s simple and quick and really hits the spot when I’m wanting something rich and feel-goody. And it’s super personalizable. Use whatever veggies you have on hand and switch up the amounts if you want to. Get crazy if you feel like it. Mmhmm.

cajun pasta

creamy cajun pasta
serves 4-6
12 oz andouille sausage, sliced
1 cup trimmed and cut fresh green beans
1 cup chopped fresh broccoli
1 small yellow squash, quartered and chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 lb mini farfalle (or the pasta of your choice), cooked according to package directions

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the sausage slices and cook until both sides are browned, about 10 minutes total. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add the green beans, broccoli, squash, and peas to the pan and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the vegetables and set aside.
Add the butter to the pan and allow to melt. Stir in the minced garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the heavy cream. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and allow to simmer until the cream is thickened and reduced slightly, about 7 minutes. Stir in the cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme, salt, and pepper. Add the parmesan cheese and stir until completely melted and smooth.
Return the sausage and vegetables to the pan, add the cooked pasta, and stir until everything is well coated with the sauce. Serve immediately.

cajun pasta

vegetarian tortilla soup

tortilla soupTHERE’S A BABY COMING TO OUR HOUSE. No, not for a visit. For like…ever. I know. I know! It’s crazy. But also really cool and really exciting. And, come to find out, there’s a lot of weird things that happen to a pregnant woman’s food life during the time that she’s growing a baby (who knew). You always hear stories of the ravenous pregnant lady who eats anything that comes within 10 feet of her or the one who eats and eats and never gets full. They’re lies. All lies. Not really, but my experience has been pretty different. I went through the “Let’s see if i can keep this down today!” phase and now I’m in a “I have no appetite” phase. And for a foodie, this is pretty troubling. To see glorious food and simply say, “…meh”.

vegetarian tortilla soupBut. BUT. There are some foods that I encounter these days that still lift me into the air and drag me across the room with their aromas. French fries. Southern biscuits. And this TORTILLA SOUP. I sorta wondered if my body was going to be interested in it when I thought about the recipe because Mexican food, in the beginning, was my you’ve-crossed-the-line-now food that my body rejected 100% of the time. But I always wanted it. So I kept eating it. And my body kept saying, “…ahaha….No.”. So, I wondered if this soup was something my body would turn its nose up at. IT WAS NOT.

vegetarian tortilla soupSo, let me encourage you. If you’re reading this and you’re 1. pregnant, 2. have no appetite, or 3. simply are in a blah mood, this soup may be able to do wonders for you. Because it’s delicious. And it’s filled with yummy flavors and textures and warmness. And you get to top it with crispy tortilla strips. Crispy tortilla strips.

tortilla soupvegetarian tortilla soup
serves 6-8
1 bell pepper
1 jalapeno
1 poblano pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
15 oz black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups corn kernels
optional toppings:
tortilla strips (recipe follows)
sour cream
Move the rack in your oven to the top shelf and set the oven to broil. Place the peppers on a baking sheet and broil until slightly charred, about 3-4 minutes. Let the peppers cool, remove the seeds from the bell and poblano, and dice. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and let cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until the onions are soft, about 3 minutes more. Add the cumin, chili powder, paprika, and salt and pepper and cook for a few more minutes until everything is coated and fragrant.
Add the tomatoes and tomato paste to the pot and stir until well combined. Add the vegetable stock, cilantro, and broiled peppers and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
Optional: At this point I took an immersion blender to the soup to make it slightly creamier. I blended about half of the soup so that some of it would be smooth, but there would still be chunks left. If you like your soup chunky, it’s totally fine to leave it how it is.
Add the black beans and corn to the soup, cover, and let simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot with toppings.
tortilla strips:
5 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips
2-3 tbsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 450º. Place the cut tortillas in a baking sheet and toss evenly with the oil. Bake for 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt.

tortilla soup

chicken pot pie

This (beat) is (beat) the best (beat) chicken pot pie you will ever eat.

Whoa, startin’ out a little strong there, are we? No story? No “this is what I did today”? No “I ate this with my grandmother when I was six years old”?

Self, calm down. The truth is, growing up, I didn’t like chicken pot pie. What the hey, right? I’m not sure what it was. Maybe I thought gravy looking white stuff tasted icky. Maybe I didn’t like cubed carrots. Maybe it was because the only chicken pot pie I ever ate was at school, where the crust was the consistency and taste of a spray-painted egg carton. All unnecessary negativities aside, I’m an adult now (psh, hah, let’s all laugh at that) and I absolutely enjoy, and crave, chicken pot pie. Let’s think for a minute. It includes two of my total favorites. 1. Sauce. It’s kind of like soup. You all know how I feel about soup and all of those ingredients mashed up into one spoonful. And 2. Biscuits. The top isn’t really a biscuit, but it’s like a thin flaky and doughy one. Goodness, why are all of my cravings centered around butter and cream and carbohydrates? I’ve a feeling I’m not alone in this.

It should come to no surprise that I’m, once again, referencing Ina Garten. This time, though, she’s got a co-star: Smitten Kitchen! Oh, how I love them both, both filled with foundational references that are good enough to keep coming back to over a lifetime. This recipe is going to be, kind of, an adaptation of Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, which is an adaptation of Ina’s recipe.

chicken pot pie
2 whole (4 split) hormone-free chicken breasts, with bone and skin
3 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
5 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 onions, chopped
3/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups frozen peas

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, diced
3/4 cup (or more) ice-cold water
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water, for egg wash
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350º. Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet and rub with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and roast for 40 minutes (or until cooked through). Let the chicken rest until cool enough to handle and pull the meat from the bones and discard skin. Shred the meat with your fingers and set aside.

Heat the chicken stock in a small saucepan. In a large pot, melt the butter and sauté the onions with salt and pepper (and, if you’re like me, a little cayenne) on medium-low heat until translucent, about 10 or 15 minutes. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock and simmer over low heat, continuing to stir, for 1 minute until thickened slightly. Stir in the heavy cream. Add the chicken, carrots, and peas and mix well.

To create the pastry, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the diced butter (this butter should be COLD. Like, real cold. The non-melted fat in the precooked dough creates little pockets of air in the postcooked dough. We know those little pockets as flakiness!) to the flour mixture and quickly crumble the butter pieces into the flour, until it resembles little peas. Add the ice-cold water and fold it all until it just comes together to make a dough (you may need to add more water; just add small amounts until it all holds). Turn the dough onto a floured surface and quickly knead it into a ball. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375º. Divide the filling equally between 4 oven-proof bowls (or, in my case, coffee cups). Divide the dough into 4 quarters and roll each one into an 8″ circle. Brush the outer edges of each bowl with egg wash and place the dough on top. Crimp the dough to fold over the side, pressing it to make sure it sticks. Brush the dough with egg wash and cut 3 slits in the top. If you’d like, make little personalizations (like initials or hearts) with dough scraps and add to the top. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and bake, on a baking sheet, for 1 hour or until the dough is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.

Like I said, this pie is what’s up. I can picture you all hovering over your bowls, building forts around it with your arms and cereal boxes and daring anything moving to come toward you. Protect it with your spoons and elbows and the threat of its boiling, molten lava-like temperature. That may not work, though. My tongue is still burned from dinner. And that was (looking at watch) six hours ago. Oh well. Time for another pie.