Sunday, February 24, 2013

Crockpot Chicken Thighs with Beer and Andouille Sausage

Beer Braised Chicken with Andouille Sausage

I was inspired by this recipe while watching Rachael Ray on the Cooking channel.   It looked so good with the Andouille sausage, the beer and the juicy chicken thighs!  However, I was more interested in throwing everything in the crockpot and having it ready when I arrived home from work.   So, I simply put all the ingredients into the slow cooker without all the pre-browning of the vegetable and the chicken and the result was delicious! 
I have found that it goes very well served over mashed potatoes or over wild rice if you want a healthier version.   How can anything with Beer and Andouille sausage be less than stellar?!  The full original recipe can be found at
8 pieces bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (I used 2 chicken leg quarters and it turned out great, we just had a lot of leftover broth and veggies)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 link andouille sausage, casing removed and chopped, or 4 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme ( I used 1 tbsp dried thyme instead for the crockpot version)
1 rounded tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 (12-ounce) bottle lager beer
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes with chiles or stewed tomatoes
2 tablespoons hot sauce (I use Cholula, of course)
Scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced, for garnish
Warm baguette, for mopping
I mix all of the Liquid ingredients in the crockpot first, along with the seasonings, flour and veggies. 
Take the chicken thighs or leg quarters and season them with salt and pepper on both sides.  Place the chicken in the crockpot, making sure that the liquid covers the chicken completely.  Cook for 10 hours on low.  Serve over mashed potatoes or wild rice with slices of warm french bread on the side.  Garnish with sliced scallions if desired.  Yumo!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chicken and Dumplings - Down Home Style

Chicken and Dumplings

You only need five ingredients and a few basic seasonings for this down home chicken and dumplings.  This is a recipe that I learned from my mom.  It's not been written down really until now.... I just eyeball it and I know how I like it.....thick with a gravy-like sauce surrounding the chicken and dumplings!  Soooo good!

I like my chicken and dumplings to be surrounded by a gravy-like sauce, not a watery soup with some chicken and dumplings floating around.  It’s the kind of chicken and dumplings that I grew up with in the South and so I strive to achieve that yummy thick gravy with the finished product.  It goes great served with some hot cornbread on the side! 

No one told me the first time I made this to discard the onions and celery after boiling with the chicken.... But it is essential.  We just want the flavors to be absorbed into the broth.  The result of my first attempt at this dish was a bowl full of chicken, dumplings and way soggy onions and celery.  I quickly decided what I needed to change and the result was delicious!

I have added my own touches to this recipe, such as the poultry seasoning shown in the picture and I use chicken bouillon and water instead of chicken broth in a can to save money.  So if you're value conscious, stop buying those individual cans of chicken broth! It's a waste of money and cans.  I convert my recipes that call for chicken broth to water plus bouillon teaspoon of bouillon to every 1 cup of water.  Best money saving tip I ever learned and it works out great in recipes! 

This dish is best enjoyed in the warmth and coziness of your living room while looking out at the beautiful snow coming down outside.  Well, a sunny day works's so good, you will crave it all year round...... I know I do!

Boiling the chicken

3-4 lb whole chicken
Water to cover chicken
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
Boil for 45 minutes to 1 hour, breast side down


2 2/3 cups Bisquick mix

¾ cup milk   
Seasoning and extra broth

1 tbsp poultry seasoning (I use McCormick Perfect Pinch Garlic and Herb seasoning –Salt Free)
Note: Poultry seasoning contains garlic powder, oregano, rosemary, basil and red pepper, parsley, paprika and onion powder if you want to make your own or buy something comparable.

Chicken broth or chicken bouillon (optional) – I add some extra canned broth or bouillon and water if I find that I don’t have the right amount of liquid leftover from boiling the chicken. 

Place chicken in a 6 quart saucepan and add water until the chicken is just covered.  Add chopped celery and onions, about 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Bring to a boil and boil gently for 45-60 minutes, until no longer pink inside.

Remove the chicken from the broth, cut off the legs and thighs and allow to cool on a plate before deboning the chicken.  Discard the onions and celery, reserving the broth and placing the broth into a smaller 4 quart saucepan for the remainder of the process.  After the chicken is done, you should end up with about 2-3 quarts of chicken broth.

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, separate the meat from the bones and set aside.  Discard the chicken skin, fat and gristle.

Mix the Bisquick mix and milk together just until moistened and combined.  Set the dumpling mixture aside. 

Add the chicken and poultry seasoning to the broth and bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat. 
Add the dumpling mixture to the broth, one heaping teaspoon full at a time.  Lower the heat to a simmer and simmer at medium heat, uncovered for 10 minutes, gently pushing dumplings under broth from time to time but no stirring!

Stirring the dumplings too early will result in the dumplings breaking apart.  If needed, I stir very gently scraping the bottom of the pan in order to prevent sticking (being careful to stir without disturbing the dumplings much).  

Fluffy dumplings after first adding them

Cover, lower heat and simmer an additional 10-15 minutes until dumplings are cooked through.  I sometimes simmer mine a bit longer uncovered if the resulting gravy is not thick enough for my liking.

The dumplings are done when they look more dense instead of fluffy and when they start to sink a bit instead of all floating on top.

Salt and pepper to taste. 

Denser dumplings after cooking
I like to add extra cracked pepper to mine just after dishing up my serving.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Easy Lasagna with Meat Sauce

Easy Lasagna with Meat Sauce
This is the first Lasagna recipe that I attempted about 12 years ago and the only one I have made since.  Of course, I made my own additions with the onions and mushrooms and I added an extra jar of spaghetti sauce to make it extra saucy!
I got the recipe from a Skinner Lasagna noodle box and it is super easy.  No need to boil the noodles…..The extra water in the sauce will cook the pasta!! It only takes about 15 minutes to put it all together.  It makes about 10-12 servings and if you are cooking for two, like me, you and the husband can eat on it all week long! 
I made this in honor of parent-teacher conference week last week because I knew that I was not going to get home until 8:20 two nights in a row, ugh!  With a big dish of comfort food like this lasagna, both hubby and I were fed for at least 3 nights and then we had eaten enough lasagna by that point!  It also freezes well if you have leftovers or if you want to freeze some portions for a non-cooking lazy night.  Enjoy!
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped (about 1½ cups)
1 package sliced mushrooms (8 oz.)
6 cups (about two 28 oz jars) spaghetti sauce
1-1/2 cups water
1-3/4 cups (15 oz container) ricotta cheese
2 cups (8 oz) shredded mozzarella or Monterey jack cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 pkg (8 oz) Lasagna noodles, uncooked
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a 3 quart sauce pan, brown meat together with the onions.  Add the mushrooms to the meat and onion mixture when the beef is almost browned.  Allow the mushrooms to get soft and cooked through.  Drain the meat mixture.
Add spaghetti sauce and water; simmer about 10 minutes.
In medium bowl, stir together ricotta, one-half mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper. Set cheese mixture aside

Pour about 1 cup of the meat sauce on bottom of 13 x 9 inch baking dish.
Arrange 3 UNCOOKED pasta pieces lengthwise over sauce; ladle meat sauce over the noodles just to cover them (about 2 cups). I like to make sure and get plenty of meat and mushrooms into this part of process because I like to taste the mushrooms in between the lasagna layers.
Spread one-half cheese filling over sauce.
Repeat layers of lasagna, sauce and cheese filling.

Top with layer of lasagna noodles and remaining sauce; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. I always add some extra cheese on top in addition to what the recipe indicates.

Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes.
Remove foil; bake additional 15 minutes.
Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
I like mushrooms and onions in my lasagna and I sometimes get the garden vegetable spaghetti sauce in order to add some chunkiness. 
What are some different things that you like to add to your traditional lasagna recipe?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Dirty Rice

Dirty Rice - True Louisiana Style

It’s Mardi Gras time again and tomorrow is Fat Tuesday……..the grand climax of the Mardi Gras season.   In Louisiana, it’s yet another occasion to eat too much, drink too much and party down before the start of Lent.  I am not Catholic, but I have always enjoyed the eating and drinking part of Mardi Gras with the best of them!  This year, my friend (who also grew up in Louisiana), threw a party to celebrate the Mardi Gras season.  My job was to make the dirty rice.  Now, I usually would pull out a box of Zatarain’s dirty rice mix if I were cooking for a regular old weeknight but that would not do for the big party.  I found this recipe at Simply and it got rave reviews!   The rice was delicious and I really would not dream of making it without the chicken livers.  They are chopped up so fine and combined with the pork and rice so that you don’t even know you are eating chicken livers (for those who may not care for liver).  Cheers!


1 1/2 cup long-grain rice
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 cup chicken livers
3 slices of bacon, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper or 1-3 jalapeƱos, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
2 green onions, chopped

The photos are of my experience with this recipe and the final resulting dish of deliciousness.   I have listed the ingredients here, but you can view the full recipe at   

My friend Gayle and I

Troy and I at the party

Monday, February 4, 2013

Crockpot Beef Stew

Crockpot Beef Stew with Cornbread
It isn't the most elegant dish, but trust me..........this easy beef stew is a wonderful thing to come home to after work.  The aroma that fills the house is enough to warm you inside and out!  At our house, we like cornbread on the side and a large glass of cold milk to wash it down.  
2 lbs beef stew meat, cubed
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1 can (10.5 oz) cream of mushroom soup
1 can sliced carrots , drained or 3 large carrots sliced
1 rib celery, sliced
1 can corn, drained
1 tsp oregano
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 can stewed diced tomatoes,  14.5 oz can
3/4 cup beef broth
Cracked pepper to taste

Mix liquid ingredients and seasonings together in crockpot. Add in vegetables and meat and stir to combine.  Make sure vegetables and meat are just covered by the liquid.
Cook on low for 10 hours.  It freezes well if you have too much the rest for a day when you don't feel like cooking!

I add even more cracked pepper on top after I serve up the stew into bowls.  Serve with hot rolls or cornbread and even a salad on the side if you are feeling like you need a few greens.