Monday, February 25, 2013

Creole Seasoning

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It's official!

Crawfish season has officially begun here in Houston.  The big yellow signs are now up all around town, screaming in bright red bold lettering, CRAWFISH!

Pre-kids, Brian and I used to go out and eat crawfish on Sundays all the time.  I could (and can still) tear through 2-pounds of crawfish in record speed.  I usually was done with my first pound by the time Brian finished peeling two mud bugs.  He's such a slowpoke.

In these experiences, I've learned a few things.  One, is to never, ever wear white when peeling crawfish.  It doesn't end well.  I have also learned to always wear my glasses; taking out my contacts after a day of crawfish peeling is a painful experience.  Trust me.

Since we are now responsible adults, we bring the crawfish home to eat these days.  Open the windows, put newspaper on the counter, and go-to-town on those bad boys.  My son likes the look of them, but he wouldn't eat them to save his life.  My daughter, on the other hand, ate half of mine.  It looks like next time we bring them home, we'll have to increase our poundage.

If you bring these home, you will still need some extra spice, depending on where you get your bugs.  This recipe is a clear winner.  No Tony Chachere's here.  No way.   This recipe is so easy, it will keep in your spice cabinet for a few years, and it can be used for various recipes to add some kick.  The best part is that I know exactly what is in the spice, with no weird-sounding anti-caking ingredients.

Wait, that's not the best part.  The best part is being able to lick this off your fingers.  It's that good.


Creole Seasoning

1/2 cup salt
1/3 cup paprika
1/4 cup granulated garlic
1/4 cup onion powder
1/3 cup black pepper
3 T. white pepper
2 T. cayenne pepper
2 T. dried thyme
2 T. dried basil
1 T. dried oregano

Combine all ingredients in a large container.

** Linked up to Watch Out, Martha's Martha Monday, A Pinch of  Joy's Busy MondayKeeping it Simple's Motivate Me Mondays, Chef in Training's Tuesday Talent Show, Naptime Creations Tasteful Tuesday, and Skip to My Lou's Made by You Monday.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Baked Beans

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Recently, much to my dismay, my husband has gotten back on the bratwurst bandwagon.

He fell off for a while, but now that the weather is warming up a bit, the grill is starting to get a workout from all the brats he makes.

Did you notice I said, "much to my dismay"?


When we first started dating, he was so excited to let me taste the real veal brats at, of all things, the Renaissance Festival.  Seriously. We walked around the festival for hours and watched live jousting, Medieval comedy, and every once in a while, we'd see an unfortunate looking woman parading herself around the countryside in chain mail.

It was, to say the least, a very eventful afternoon.

The highlight of the day for him was when he found some veal bratwurst for me to try.

Since we were still in our beginning stage of dating, I choked it down.  I also decided I would rather gnaw on a turkey leg instead. 

Anyway, now that bratwurst season is apparently in effect, I decided to make him a great side dish to go with his brats; something special for his white, disgusting, smelly brats (Incidentally, if the grill is not an option, he boils them, sears them in butter in a skillet, then douses them in ketchup.  Imagine that smell.).

While I'm not really a brat fan, I am a fan of these.  So is Brian, which makes me very, very happy.  Having him love these almost makes it worth the brat smell.  Almost.....

** On another note....does anyone, anyone, know how I can respond to comments in Blogger?  I want to respond to some lovely comments, but whenever I hit "reply" nothing happens.  Suggestions?

Baked Beans
Adapted from Paula Deen's Southern Baked Beans

2 11-oz cans of pork and beans
1/2 onion, chopped
1 T. mustard
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. maple syrup
2 T. ketchup
1 T. lemon juice
1/2 lb. bacon, cut into 1/2 inch strips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large casserole dish with a lid, combine all ingredients except the bacon.  Once the bean mixture is mixed well, top with bacon strips.

Cover and bake for 45-60 minutes.

** Linked to High Heels and Grills Work it Wednesday, Momnivore's Delimma's Creative Juice, The 36th Avenue, Watch Out, Martha's Martha Mondays, Chef in Training's Tuesday Talent Show, The Country Cook's Weekend Potluck, Naptime Creations Tasteful Tuesday, and Miz Helen's Country Cottage's Full Plate Thursday.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Shredded Fiesta Lime Chicken Tacos - Crockpot

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The greatest invention of all time, in my opinion, is the crockpot.  Bold statement, I know. But for those of us who relentlessly burn ourselves, the crockpot is sometimes the only option if we don't want to have yet another scar.

I burn myself all.the.time. Not, "oh, haha, I burned myself again." More like, "I wasn't expecting to burn myself that way tonight."

Even boiling water is a hazard for us 'burners.'

Tonight, I was trying to pour the pot of hot water with noodles into the colander to drain them.

Who knew that hot water would actually scald through a t-shirt? It's a new one, even for me. I have two burns right below my belly-button that hurt so badly, I might not be able to sleep tonight.

My husband is aware of all these things, and knows he has to be the one who brings casserole dishes out of the oven, he's the one to turn, flip, or rotate cookie sheets while still hot, and apparently, he has to drain pasta for me now.  Oof.

One year, he even bought me the Ove-Glove. Yes, I have one. And yes, I totally wish I could wear a body-suit-type Ove-Glove while I cook.

So, you see, for people like me, the crockpot is a lifesaver. Burning yourself is almost impossible!

This recipe?  FAN.TAS.TIC.

Brian thinks it's better than any Mexican chicken dish at a restaurant, and I tend to agree. The onions are sweet, the chicken is spicy, and the language in our house is less vibrant due to lack of burns, but it's totally worth it. I'm sure my son's kindergarten teacher thanks us, too.

Fiesta Lime Chicken Tacos

3-4 pounds of chicken breasts, bone-in and skin on - I used frozen
3 limes
1 onion, sliced
4 T. taco seasoning (see below) - you could also use store-bought
1/4 cup chicken broth
avocados, sour cream, salsa, shredded cheese - whatever you need for tacos

Taco Seasoning:
Taco Seasoning source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe
1 T. chili powder
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. onion powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. paprika
1 1/2 t. ground cumin
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper

Combine all seasoning ingredients and store in an airtight container until necessary.  Double this mixture if you have the ingredients.  It's really, really good!

Place the sliced onions in the bottom of your slow cooker.

Squeeze the juice of one lime over the onion, then place the chicken on top.

Sprinkle 2 T. of taco seasoning over the top of the chicken; turn chicken over and sprinkle remaining tablespoon of seasoning.

Squeeze the juice of the remaining two limes over chicken and onion, then add the broth.

Cover and cook on high for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Take out the skin and bones (they should fall right off) and shred the chicken.  Put it back into the juices in the crockpot.  Serve with tortillas and avocados. 

This chicken also freezes exceptionally well!

** Linked to Chef In Training's Tuesday Talent Show33 Shades of Green's Tasty Tuesday, Pint Sized Baker, Blessed with Grace's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Miz Helen's Country Cottage's Full Plate Thursday, Momnivore's Dilemma's Creative Juice, High Heels and Grills Work it Wednesday, The 36th Avenue, The Country Cook's Weekend Potluck, and Naptime Creation's Tasteful Tuesday.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Stuffed Shells

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It's bowling season at our house.

No, no, no....we don't go to the local bowling alley with the kids.  We're serious bowlers.

It's all about the Wii. 

We could play any number of other games on the system, but we only bowl.  It could just be called the Bowling Game instead of Nintendo Wii Gaming System.

But, that's how we roll (muhahahaha).

The thing is, though, we really do take it seriously.  The kids get involved during the day, but at night it's betting time.  Brian and I bet that whoever wins, the winner gets to pick out the music until their next loss. 

Of course, I torture him with copious amounts of "Glee" songs, Sugarland, and I throw in a few Britney Spears jams just to throw him off his game.

When he wins, I'm the one tortured with REO Speedwagon, The Eagles, and God help me, Foreigner.

These competitions go on for quite a while, and when it's all said and done, we are hungry and ready for carbs.  We are athletes, you know. 

These little stuffed shells are perfect for bowling nights.  Make a big batch one time, then freeze 6-8 at a time for a quick refuel after your games.

Yes, both of our hamstrings are sore the next day quite often.  We are in stellar physique.

Stuffed Shells

12 oz jumbo shells
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. dried basil
1/2 t. oregano
1/2 t. garlic salt
1 cup mozzarella cheese, divided
24 oz. jarred spaghetti sauce


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Boil the shells in a large pot of salted water as directed on box.

While the shells are boiling, in a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg, pepper, basil, oregano, garlic salt and 1/2 a cup of mozzarella cheese.

Once the shells are cooked, drain and rinse with cool water.

In a 9" x 13" baking dish, spoon a little of the spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the dish.  Just a little - this will help keep the shells from sticking.

Spoon about a 1/2 T. of the cheese mixture into each shell and place them in the prepared dish.  Continue until all shells are complete - or until the cheese runs out.

Pour remaining spaghetti sauce over the shells, and top with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.

Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

** Linked to The Country Cook's Weekend Potluck, The Gingerbread Blog, Mom's Test Kitchen Test Meal Mondays, and Just us Four's Pinworthy Projects. **