Coq Au Vin (My version)

You all know that Coq au vin is just a fancy French way of saying “Chicken Stew”, right? ¬†IDK… many of my friends don’t know that so forgive me when I seem like I need to be “Captain Obvious” ūüėČ

I’ve mentioned before that my Mom’s family is French. ¬†NOT the sophisticated eloquent French that you might be picturing… more like the poor kind. ¬†I’m proud of that though because along with being poor comes the need to be inventive. ¬†We’re ALL inventive when it comes to food. ¬†My grandmother had 10 children and that’s a LOT of mouths to feed when you only have 1 chicken! ¬†Grandma used to go out to her yard and choose a chicken, chop it’s head off and take the feathers off. ¬†Yummy huh? ¬†Thank GOD I never had to SEE it, much less do it. ¬†I’d probably never eat meat if I had to witness something like that. ¬†Coq au vin is one of those recipes that you can make your own and it’s inexpensive. ¬†It just takes a little bit of time.

Here’s my way… which, BTW, has been SO simplified but SO tasty! ¬†This is what we had tonight. ¬†I have to be in the right mood to want to go through a little trouble and tonight, while it’s cold and rainy, I’m in the right mood!

Coq Au Vin (Michelle’s Way)

Ingredients:

2 1/2 to 3 lbs chicken pieces (breasts, thighs or drumsticks) OR a whole chicken, skinned and cut up (I used 3.5 lbs chicken breasts, boneless)

2 TBSP cooking oil

salt and pepper

2 large vidalia or sweet onions, cut into 8 pieces each

1 1/4 cups Burgundy

4 medium, thinly sliced carrots

1 lb sliced fresh mushrooms (optional)

1/4 cup chicken broth (or water)

1 TBSP dried parsley

1 TBSP fresh chopped parsley

1 tsp dried marjoram

2 tsp dried crushed thyme

1 bay leaf

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb smoked bacon, chopped and cooked crisp, bacon grease reserved

5 TBSP flour

2 TBSP butter

16 oz cooked Penne pasta for serving

Directions:

Cook bacon until crisp. ¬†It’s easier if you chop the bacon while it’s still a little frozen. ¬†Set aside.

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, brown chicken pieces on all sides in hot oil, about 15 minutes.  Drain fat.  Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.  Add onions, mushrooms, bacon, carrots, Burgundy, chicken broth, dried parsley, marjoram, thyme, bay leaf, and garlic.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer and cover.  Cook for around 50 minutes or until chicken is fork tender.

Take chicken and vegetables out of pot and set aside.  Discard bay leaf.

Heat reserved bacon grease and the 2 TBSP butter until hot.  Add flour and stir.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  Once roux (bacon grease and flour) is made, add mixture to the juices from chicken.  Cook and stir until thick and bubbly.  Once thickened, cook for 1 minute more.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Garnish with fresh parsley.

Pour sauce over chicken and vegetables and serve over pasta.

*This recipe makes very generous servings for 6 people. ¬†The bacon makes this even more tasty than the other recipes I’ve tried. ¬†Enjoy!

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Roasted Red Pepper Pasta & Broiled Shrimp

And in the midst of ALL this chaos… I’ve still had time to cook! ¬†Sometimes take out just is NOT satisfying and Lord knows we’ve been doing way too much take out lately! ¬†

Last night I made the most amazing dinner. ¬†I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve always steered away from this roasted red pepper sauce because it seems like anything you have to use a food processor with or a blender… well, it’s too complicated and creates too many dishes to wash later. ¬†Yeah, I’m lazy.. so what? ¬†lol ¬†This is WELL worth the extra step of pureeing the roasted red peppers and if you decide to make this, you’ll be SO thankful! ¬†Or maybe you’ve already tried it. ¬†Either way, it was new to me so I have to share ūüôā

Oh and as a side note, teenage munchkin had one of her bff’s over (another daughter to me) last night who is SO hard to please with food. ¬†Usually I have to end up making her a grilled cheese or throw in a frozen pizza because she won’t eat anything new. ¬†HOWEVER and Thank you JESUS, she LOVED this dish and asked me to keep it handy to make it for her again. ¬†Anything Shelby approved is a hit in OUR house ūüėČ

 

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta and Shrimp

Ingredients:

1 lb large shrimp, raw and in the shell

16 oz pasta (I used Penne)

12 oz jar of roasted red peppers with juice

1 TBSP Olive oil

5 cloves minced garlic

2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1/2 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese

1 3 to 4 oz jar of Peproncinis  (Optional for garnish)

Fresh parsley for garnish

Directions:

1.  Shell and devein the shrimp.  Spray a broiling or grilling pan with Pam and place shrimp (separated well) on pan.  Cook in oven on BROIL just until shrimp turns pink.  Immediately take off of pan (to stop cooking process) an place on a plate to cool.

2.  Cook and drain pasta.

3.  While pasta is cooking, remove about 1 roasted red pepper from jar.  Chop and set aside.  Place remaining red peppers with their juice into blender and puree.

4.  Heat olive oil in large non stick skillet.  Saute garlic.  Cook and stir on medium heat for about 2 minutes.  Be sure not to get too brown or it will taste burnt and bitter.

5.  Add the pepper puree, cream, salt and pepper.  Cook on medium heat, stirring until hot bubbly and thick.  About 6 minutes.

6. ¬†Stir in cheese and parsley. ¬†Stir until cheese is melted. ¬†Add shrimp for a second until it’s warm again. ¬†

7.  Add sauce to the pasta and mix.  Top with Peproncinis if you want and extra cheese.

*Tip:  Always boil pasta in salted water so that the pasta has flavor.  When I drain the pasta, I immediately add back into the pan and toss with a little olive oil.  I then add a little Parmesan Cheese to the pasta BEFORE the sauce is added so that the cheese sticks to the pasta.  

 

 

Meet Me In St. Louis Part 2 (still Julia’s 15th bday)

Our first night in St. Louis was SO fun, so now how do we top that? ¬†I left it up to Julia since it was HER birthday. ¬†My intention was to try and take it easy on the money situation but I NEVER ever succeed. ¬†Julia and her buddies didn’t create their itinerary based off of the FREE “things to do” in the city. ¬†Too bad for Hubby. ¬†He never likes to let me lose with the pocketbook. ¬†I’m beginning to understand why! ¬†lol

We woke up late and didn’t get out of the hotel until after noon. ¬†BTW… ¬†should you ever decide to stay at the Hilton Garden Inn near the airport in St. Louis, you should know that just because you spend a million $ on the hotel room, you will NOT be receiving a complimentary breakfast. ¬†Nope. ¬†Not even a stale donut or a box of cereal. ¬†However they DO invite you to partake in their $12 PLUS per person breakfast! ¬†By this time, my oldest daughter joined us so we were now a party of 5. ¬†I couldn’t justify spending $65 a day on breakfast food when we still had cupcakes. ¬†Granted, by this time the cupcakes were fairly hard, but they were still good enough for a bunch of teenagers. ¬†SO, because we were STARVING, we began our very rainy day at “Hodaks” (another St. Louis tradition) for all the fried chicken we could eat! ¬†Hodaks has been around forever and some people would say they have the best fried chicken and frog legs in the world! ¬†It was good but I wouldn’t say it was the best. ¬†The girls DID say it was the best and that made it all worth getting lost in the city ūüôā ¬†Have you ever been lost in a big city where it seems like every driver on the road wants to be in YOUR lane at the same time you are? ¬†Oh and let’s not forget all that AND screaming teenage girls who are literally punching each other in the back seat like a bunch of wild boys! ¬†I told them that THIS was the reason I chose NOT to have boys….

(We finally found Hodaks. ¬†Literally, people who move away from St. Louis and come back for a visit… HAVE to come back to Hodaks for the fried chicken. ¬†I know people who visit this place every time they’re in town)

(Not very fancy but tasty! ¬†I didn’t like the slaw at all and I thought it was funny that the chicken was served on top of a piece of white bread in order to soak up the grease! ¬†lol ¬†But despite the not-so-fancy plastic plates and such, the chicken was SO juicy and seasoned just right! ¬†And by juicy, I don’t mean greasy)

After stuffing ourselves with as much fried chicken as we could all eat, Julia wanted to go to Laclede’s Landing on the riverfront. ¬†No matter that a monsoon decided to visit us on this day. ¬†Anything for MY princess! ¬†lol ¬†If she wants to walk around WITHOUT umbrellas in the pouring down rain, then BY GOD, that’s what we’re going to do! ¬†Just as soon as we found a parking spot and stepped out into the rain, my oldest daughter flagged down a horse drawn carriage driver. ¬†If you’re ever in St. Louis and you want to take a carriage ride, you should know that you CAN negotiate a price with the drivers. ¬†They usually charge around $40 for as many people as we had with us. ¬†My daughter got them down to $25! ¬†Which is good because I hadn’t planned on spending ANYTHING on carriage rides! ¬†We did that LAST year! ¬†ARGH! ¬†It wasn’t HER money, it was just Mom’s, so who care’s right? ¬†lol ¬†Oh and don’t forget that your carriage driver works for tips. ¬†I didn’t realize that (even though there’s a big sign inside the carriage) so I walked off to hear our driver talking to another driver about how PISSED she was to have gone down on the price, yet she STILL wasn’t tipped! ¬†lol ¬†Ooops. ¬†Don’t worry! ¬†I made my oldest daughter tip her! ¬†It was only fair since it was oldest daughter’s idea ūüôā

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(Here’s our carriage driver trying to rustle us up some more blankets so my precious angels wouldn’t be so cold in the St. Louis rain! ¬†She really was nice to us even if she DID get a little perturbed that we didn’t know to tip her)

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(The angels all snuggly and warm with their blankies)

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(Mama Bear and her Birthday Princess)

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(The Martin Luther King Bridge over the Mississippi River… a view from our carriage ride through the Landing)

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(And because I love bridges… ¬†The Eads Bridge… ¬†BTW… check out that cobble stone road!)

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(This is my favorite of the MLK Bridge)

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(Laclede’s Landing)

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(And because I love old clocks too ūüôā

So the reason we were on The Landing in the first place was so that Birthday Girl could experience the creepy St. Louis Wax Museum. ¬†I HATE wax museum because they scare the crap out of me but that was the exact reason birthday girl wanted to go! ¬†I found a good deal on Groupon so it ended up being inexpensive. ¬†Thank JESUS something was a good deal! ¬†lol ¬†The people who ran the Wax Museum were SO nice too. ¬†They’re updating the place so some of the displays were in disrepair. ¬†Apparently, they’re in the process of getting all new wax creatures.

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(Here’s oldest daughter with her idol, Michael Jordan. ¬†She LOVES basketball and still plays every chance she gets ūüôā

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(I had to get this one of “little bit” with Mark McGwire because it WAS here birthday and all about the year 1998, when a few months after she was born, Mark McGwire broke the home run record in St. Louis – I know… it was all too controversial… but STILL cool cause it happened right here in St. Louis AND in the year 1998!)

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(Okay… so this may be in bad taste but it looks like they have Patrick Swayze embalmed here! ¬†We all LOVE Patrick Swayze but this was way too creepy and helped set the mood. ¬†We were beginning to be VERY afraid. ¬†We had to walk through 3 floors of dark and very scary hallways)

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(I’m not sure who this one’s supposed to be. ¬†Possibly Tina Turner? ¬†She was from St. Louis so maybe? ¬†Whoever it is, she sure is CREEPY… Again there’s THAT word! ¬†lol)

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(Again in bad taste… the kids said this one reminded them of me and all my stomach surgeries. ¬†They have NO sympathy for me!)

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(Thank GOD my oldest found herself a man! ¬†I was beginning to worry because she’ll be 29 this summer! ¬†I wonder if Obama knows his image is being tossed around this way? ¬†lol)

So the Wax Museum was Birthday Girl’s favorite thing to do all weekend! ¬†Who would have figured? ¬†I couldn’t get out of that place fast enough! ¬†I couldn’t wait to get back outside in the monsoon to visit Gibbol’s Magic Store¬†(Gibbol’s Novelty & Costumes)! ¬†Carriage Ride lady told us there was a Magic Man there who would do magic tricks for us FREE! ¬†Well, by God, if it’s FREE, we’re going! ¬†Magic Man goes by the name of Andy G and has a separate business where he puts on private magic shows with a partner. ¬†It’s called Shift Reality. ¬†You can reach Andy G at #415-952-6394 or 415-95ANDYG… ¬†clever, huh? ¬†lol ¬†He’s pretty good and kept ALL of us fascinated and entertained with his free magic tricks! ¬†I’m pretty sure the owner of Gibbol’s couldn’t WAIT for me to get my destructive girls the heck OUT OF THERE though. ¬†Who knew girls could be into so much trouble? ¬†I only turned my back for a minute! ¬†lol

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(Here’s Andy G doing a card trick for Birthday Girl)

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(Hannah was SO mad when Andy G wouldn’t tell her how he did a trick. ¬†It drove her CRAZY trying to figure out what he’d done LONG after we left this place! ¬†lol ¬†He explained that, as a magician, he had to purchase magic trick secrets. ¬†He just couldn’t go giving his secretes away. ¬†He’d be glad to SELL us a secret though! ¬†lol)

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(And of COURSE the biggest instigator of trouble was the 28 year old daughter! ¬†She can’t help herself from trying on every pretty little thing! ¬†lol)

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(I never laughed so hard in my life! ¬†BIG TROUBLE daughter helped herself to the theatrical makeup and talked with Andy G as if this were her normal face! ¬†She didn’t even crack a smile so I’m thinking he really thought she wore her make up like this! ¬†He was having a lot of trouble looking her in the eye but SHE had no problem looking Andy G in the eye! ¬†lmbo ¬†Later the owner told us that they SOLD that make up and it cost money for them to apply it to our faces. ¬†So, in other words, my daughter helped herself to some free make up… ¬†I was laughing too hard to be embarrassed! ¬†No wonder I have trouble keeping the younger one’s in line! ¬†We’re not good at setting proper examples! ¬†lol)

Good day but SO long and cold and rainy! ¬†I couldn’t WAIT to get back to the hotel and read in my warm bed. ¬†THAT didn’t get to happen though! ¬†The girls wanted to go swimming. ¬†Oldest daughter and I took them for a little bit and left them at the pool. ¬†At 15, they’re old enough. ¬†PLUS the pool was only 4 ft deep. ¬†How was I to know that when I left they’d set off the alarm at the pool, use the handy cap chair lift and then set off more alarms on the elevator? ¬†I was notified BY SECURITY that my girls needed to be accompanied by an adult at ALL times! ¬†ROFLMAO ¬†Which translates to NO reading in my warm snuggly bed.

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(Because I’m pretty sure Hannah was behind us getting into trouble with the hotel management, I’m going to show you all some lovely pics of her mascara lineds face in the hot tub ūüėČ

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(Looks like they’re plotting trouble to me!)

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(Okay… so I MIGHT have known about them using the handicap chair lift. ¬†Shhhh….)

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(And you thought your BOYS were messy? ¬†Honestly, I didn’t know girls could be such nasty slobs! ¬†How did toilet paper get ON the floor by my side of the bed???? ¬†But this is what I had to contend with after I left the pool BEFORE security notified me! lol)

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(Don’t feel sorry for them! ¬†They TOTALLY deserve my invasion of their privacy! ¬†FINALLY, we got them to go to sleep. ¬†And then we picked at them until we disturbed their slumber. ¬†Check out Julia’s extreme annoyance in the black and white ūüėČ

So all’s well that ends well! ¬†2 days down and 1 day to go! ¬†This old mama’s getting too old for so much activity! ¬†At this point, the nursing home is beginning to sound like a vacation ūüôā

Eden Isle Chicken

In the midst of Skyping with my new Scottish friend Shaun and his sweet wife Dawn, baking cookies for the girls bake sale for charity and getting ready for Easter…. dinner still had to be made. ¬†Here’s another easy chicken recipe and OMG, so tasty! ¬†Anything with bacon, chicken, cream cheese and sour cream HAS to be good, right?

Eden Isle Chicken

Ingredients:

6 chicken breasts, fat trimmed

1 lb package of smoked bacon

1 jar of dried beef

1 1/2 ups sour cream

3 oz cream cheese

2 cans cream of chicken soup

black pepper

2 tsp dried thyme

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. ¬†Wash and dry the chicken breasts. ¬†Sprinkle top and bottom of each breast with pepper (NO salt). ¬†Wrap each breast in bacon. ¬†Place the dried beef in the bottom of a greased 9×13 baking dish. ¬†Arrange the bacon wrapped chicken on top of dried beef. ¬†Meanwhile, mix sour cream, softened cream cheese, soup, black pepper and thyme. ¬†Pour mixture evenly over chicken. ¬†Cover dish tightly with foil. ¬†Bake for 2 hours. ¬†Now warm oven to 400 degrees. ¬†Uncover dish and bake until slightly browned on top (approximately 10 minutes). ¬†Serve with rice.

*Some people serve over a bed of mashed potatoes or pasta.

Oven Baked Parmesan Meatballs with ALL the Fixen’s! (plus a little brag thrown in for good measure)

Today marks the end of my lil teenaged Munchkin’s self imposed “fast”! ¬†I can’t TELL you how excited she’s been to eat real people food! ¬†lol ¬†For those of you who don’t know, she made a commitment to sacrifice or “fast” for 2 weeks. ¬†It was something she felt she needed to do to show Jesus how much she appreciates his dying on the cross so that we can go to heaven. ¬†She’s also been praying for His grace and guidance. ¬†Fasting for Julia means that she eats only healthy food and mostly just raw vegetables, boiled eggs and lot’s of fish. ¬†The best thing she’s had in the past few weeks was on Sunday, when I made chicken and rice soup! ¬†Poor baby.

So today, she wants meat! ¬†Lots and lots of meat! ¬†hahaha ¬†I let her choose what she wanted me to make. She chose meatballs and french fries. ¬†NOT the most gourmet of meals but something I can do quickly, before she and her friend Hannah¬†go to church tonight. ¬†I need to stop here and tell you how EXTREMELY proud that she still looks at church as a fun, social activity. ¬†ESPECIALLY when I’m just learning that another one of her bff’s (also 14) might be PREGNANT! ¬†Once again, reminding me that it can ALWAYS be worse! ¬†Wow.

Oven Baked Parmesan and Herb Meatballs

(revised by me from Pinterest)

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup milk or half and half

1/2 cup grated Parmesan (fresh is ALWAYS better)

1 cup Panko breadcrumbs (or regular but Panko is better)

1 small onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried parsley

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together using your hands.  Form into golf ball sized meatballs .  Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or foil.  Bake in preheated oven, 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

* ¬†I’m eating these right now and they’re SO freaking tasty! ¬†I wish you could smell my house ūüôā ¬†Smells like home! ¬†lol

Okay, next I made my easy oven baked asparagus.  This is pretty much the ONLY way we ever cook asparagus anymore.

Oven Baked Parmesan Asparagus

Ingredients:

1 bunch of medium to small stemmed asparagus (with woody ends cut on the diagonal)

About 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

About 1/4 to 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (eyeball it)

2 tsp salt

About 1 tsp garlic powder

Directions:

Toss asparagus with all other ingredients.  Make sure each piece of asparagus is covered with oil and seasoning.  Place asparagus onto a foil lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until bright green and cheese is melted.

Easy as THAT and I have 2 very happy munchkins and a husband that can’t wait to get home and eat it all up! ¬†I’d tell you about the Ore Ida frozen french fries…. but I’m pretty sure you won’t be impressed with how I threw those babies in the oven for 30 minutes with season salt! ¬†lmbo

Happy Eating to you ūüôā

Chicken Soup for the Soul

Have I told you that the teenage munchkin is “fasting”? ¬†Actually, maybe I’m not supposed to be talking about it but she didn’t tell me NOT to and she should know that nothing is sacred unless specifically stated! ¬†lol ¬†She’s fasting because she wants to show God that she’s open to sacrificing for him the way Jesus did for our sins (her words). ¬†She tells me that she wants to be open to receiving HIS wishes for her life. ¬†She does NOT get this from me. ¬†I’ve never really been a disciplined person and I’m ashamed that I’m the one who believes that God can’t see me sneak that cookie or piece of candy. ¬†Julia isn’t fasting for just a day. ¬†She’s been only eating non processed foods for 2 weeks now. ¬†Mostly she eats boiled eggs and raw vegetables and fruits. ¬†Every day, I try to cook her fish but she can have VERY little salt so everything tastes bland. ¬†I’m proud of her though because, for the most part, she’s not trying to argue about what kind of food she can have. ¬†Yesterday, she kind of pushed the ticket. ¬†She’d forgotten that she told me she couldn’t eat pasta because it was a starch. ¬†So NO starches, right? ¬†She thought I wouldn’t notice when she started frying potatoes and green peppers last night! ¬†lol ¬†Her reasoning? ¬†Potatoes are a vegetable grown from the ground and so were green peppers. ¬†What about the starch thing, Julia? ¬†Oh THIS starch is okay, I’m SURE of it. ¬†What about the fact that potatoes really don’t have nutritional value and you’re eating them in order to feel full? ¬†Oh that’s okay too. ¬†God will understand. ¬†Well OKAY then. ¬†I guess the rules change when you’re really hungry?

Today I’m making her some of Paula Deen’s chicken rice soup. ¬†There’s NOTHING in this soup that she CAN’T have and since it’s cold and snowy AND she’s working hard painting and cleaning, it just FEELS like a soup kind of day. ¬†Everything comes from God’s earth and the chicken is even healthy, right? ¬†This will be the only time in the past 2 weeks that she’s eaten chicken though. ¬†She tells me that this is like a 5 star meal for her! ¬†And then I reminded her about those fried potatoes last night. ¬†Was that like a 4 star meal? ¬†lol

By now you know that I get my recipes from SOMEWHERE. ¬†Lately it’s bee from the great Paula Deen. ¬† ¬†However, I rarely stick to a recipe. ¬†This one is revised by me but comes mostly from her. ¬†Everyone’s got their own way of doing chicken soup. ¬†Soup is just one of those foods that you can’t mess up PLUS it’s good for what ails you! ¬†If you feel bad physically or emotionally, I PROMISE you’ll feel better after a great big bowl of this!

Cure – All Chicken Rice Soup

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, cut up, rinsed and patted dry (mine was 5.5 lbs)

6 celery stalks, washed (use with the green leaves)

6 large carrots chopped into coins

2 lrg Vidalia onions (halved through the root end)

6 cloves garlic (minced)

2 tsp dried thyme

4 bay leaves

5 tsp salt

2 chicken bouillon cubes

2 tsp black pepper

2 tsp tarragon (dried)

2 cups long grain white rice

2/3 cups chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

In a large stockpot, combine chicken, 12 cups water, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, bay leaves, salt, black pepper, tarragon and thyme.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through (around an hour).

Remove the chicken and carrots from stockpot and set aside.  Strain the remaining liquid and discard the solids.  Return the strained broth to the pot, stir in rice and bring to a gentle simmer, cook until the rice is tender about 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, once the chicken is cool enough to handle, pick meat off the bones, discarding skin and bones.  Return the chicken and carrots to the pot.  Simmer for another 5 minutes.  Adjust seasoning and stir in parsley right before serving.

*The bones make the soup! ¬†You can always use boneless chicken breast. ¬†I do if that’s all I have on hand but if you want REALLY good soup, full of flavor, you’ll want to use chicken on the bone.

*This recipe is a double batch. ¬†It will serve 12-18 people generously. ¬†I always double recipes because I can freeze a batch for later. ¬†It saves time and money ūüôā ¬†Enjoy!

On Lent, Catholic Guilt and Shrimp Etouffee’…

Fridays during Lent, for a Catholic usually mean dinner without meat. ¬†Or fish fries. ¬†For some reason, it’s okay to eat fish, just not meat. ¬†It’s no secret that I HATE eating fish. ¬†I’m not a picky eater but I can’t think of any one food that will actually make me gag more than fish. ¬†I can eat shell fish all day long (especially crab legs drenched in butter or shrimp scampi) just not the kind of fish that you have to “scale”. ¬†lol ¬†NOT a good Catholic. ¬†I was raised very strict Catholic and we upheld the Lenten rules. ¬†We were told that it was a way of “fasting” to show Jesus that we appreciate his dying on the cross so that we can go to heaven. ¬†I’ve fallen away from the Catholic church for the most part but I still DO observe some of their teachings. ¬†The “Catholic Guilt” has never left me though.

All my adult life, I’ve not observed Lent. ¬†I just felt like it was stupid to believe that Jesus wanted us to eat fish only on Friday’s during Lent. ¬†Another thing we do is “give up” or sacrifice something that we really enjoy all through the week (again, only during Lent) but we get it back on Sundays. ¬†Who comes up with this stuff? ¬†I feel like a good “fast” is fine and even can be productive but why do we do this kind of thing only during Lent? ¬†IDK… ¬†I’m not knocking it for other people but it just didn’t make sense for me. ¬†So yeah, I’m a very bad Catholic. ¬†AND I feel guilty about it. ¬†lol

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Crazy girl Esme’

Tonight, my 4 year old niece is coming over to spend the night with her adoring Aunt Michelle (me) and she is being raised very strict Catholic, just like my brother and I were. ¬†Did I mention that I’m also her Godmother? ¬†That means that I’ve promised before God and our family and friends to help raise little Esme’ Catholic. ¬†It’s Friday so we’re not allowed to feed her meat so what do I do? ¬†I consult the Great Paula Deen is what I do! ¬†lol ¬†I’m going to make Creole style shrimp etouffee for the second time in my life! ¬†It’s actually delicious! ¬†What makes it Creole and not Cajun? ¬†The fact that tomatoes are added. ¬†True Cajun Etouffee’ does not have tomatoes and it calls for crawfish, not shrimp. ¬†Originally, I mean. ¬†Now days, they throw a little of everything in the pot. ¬†Etouffee is the French word for “smothered”. ¬†Anything smothered.

Food historians trace back Louisiana crawfish etouffee to the crawfish capital of the world, Breaux Bridges, Louisiana. According to culinary history, etouffee was first served in the Hebert Hotel in the early 1920s when Mrs. Hebert, along with her daughters, Yoli and Marie, made crawfish etouffee using crawfish tails, crawfish fat, onions and pepper. Later on, the Heberts shared their recipe with their friend, Aline Guidry Champagne. Ms. Champagne later opened a restaurant, the RendezVous Café, and began serving the dish there.  Now days, the recipe has been altered.  We use a thicker sauce and we use oil and NOT crawfish fat.  Yuk.  We also use other types of shellfish.

Here’s the recipe:

Shrimp Etouffee (Creole Style)

Adapted from Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible

Ingredients:

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 large yellow onion (I always use Vidallia or sweet)

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 cup chopped celery

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp Creole seasoning

1/2 cup finely chopped scallions (green onions) (plus extra for garnish)

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley (optional)

2 or 3 dashes of hot sauce (or more if you like more heat)

1 8 oz bottle clam juice

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies

salt

2 lbs small or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

4 TBSP (1/2 stick) butter

6 cups cooked rice (for serving)

Directions:

1.  In a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan (or Dutch oven), combine the oil and flour over low heat to prepare the roux.  Whisk the flour into the oil to form a paste.  Continue cooking over low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture turns a caramel color and gives off a nutty aroma.  15 to 20 minutes.

2.  Add the onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic and cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the black pepper, white pepper and cayenne pepper, Creole seasoning, 1/2 cup green onions, parsley and hot sauce.  Pour in the clam juice and diced tomatoes, stirring to blend. Add salt, starting with 1 teaspoon, then add more if you like.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

3. ¬†Add the shrimp and stir. It will take only about 3 minutes for the shrimp to cook, so be sure you don’t overcook them (they’ll be rubbery if you do). ¬†Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the butter. ¬†The heat from the dish will melt the butter. ¬†Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.

Serves 6 to 8 as a main course

Happy Friday and enjoy YOUR fish during this Lent season!