Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I have been quiet....(Recipe: Cajun Chicken Pasta)

I have been quiet during the month of September-not posting as much as I had been in the past few months.  There was a change that stirred inside of me.  A change in interests perhaps...I have always enjoyed cooking and baking but there are other things that hold my attention as well.

Now, with Baking Tot growing older, I find myself eyeing crafts we can do together.  And as the season changes (elsewhere-I might add) I have found myself curled up on the couch clinking knitting needles together as a pale pink skein of alpaca yarn transforms into a hat.  I long for the change in season, I long for mountains and snow.  It seems like I can't get my mind off of it.
A toddler hat
I even find myself venturing off to new blogs.  Blogs that reflect a lifestyle amongst nature, displaying the most beautiful scenery and I want to be there.

But have no worries, I will still be here my friends.  And there will always be a recipe.  But my posts may not be solely focused on food itself, as there are other things in life to discover.

Cajun Chicken Pasta
This was a recipe I clipped when I was a teenager.  It has been around for a long time and is a family favorite.  For some reason my mom calls it Garlic Chicken-even though it only has an 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder in it.  It drives me nuts when she calls it that! :)
serves four
2 chicken breasts, cut into thin strips and seasoned with salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
8 slices each, red and yellow bell peppers
1/4 of an onion, sliced
1 cup half-n-half
3/4-1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4 ounces linguine or spaghetti, cooked and drained
Parmesan to garnish
  1. Over medium heat, saute chicken in butter until golden brown, 5-7 minutes.  Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
  2. Add peppers and onion to pan; cook and stir until vegetables are softened.
  3. Reduce heat.  Add half-n-half, and dry spices and bring to a soft boil to reduce sauce, stirring or swirling pan constantly, about 3-4 minutes.  Add pasta and toss; heat through.  Top with grated cheese.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Welcoming the rain (Freezer Friendly Crisp Topping)

As I walked out from under our porch, I felt tiny drops of rain fall onto my shoulders.  Could it be?  Oh, my long lost friend how I've missed you!  Even if you are here for a little while, I will welcome you with open arms!  I paused for a moment listening to church bells in the distance.  Could their sweet song be a hymn of rejoice solely because of the rain?  I'd like to think so.

During the transition from summer to the much anticipated autumn I find myself longing to bake with apples, pears and warm spices and prematurely pushing summer out the door with a peach-berry crisp.


I make crisp topping and store it in the freezer to ease my cravings for last minute desserts.  I toss fruit with a sprinkling of flour, sugar, cinnamon and let it sit for 30 minutes to macerate.  Then top the fruit with the crisp mixture and bake.  The house smells so delicious!


Crisp Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
  1. Combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 minute, until the mixture is in large crumbles. Store in the freezer for up to one month or sprinkle evenly over the fruit, covering the fruit completely.  
  2. Bake 350 for 45 minutes to an hour, or when fruit juices are bubbly and topping is golden brown.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I recommend you NOT eating this...(Homemade Play Dough)

Today was a day spent indoors.  Although it was bright and sunny, the wildfires affecting this area has left our air quality poor.  We pick and choose our outdoor days wisely, yesterday, being one because it was Baking Tots "Super Hero Pool Party".  So that left today filled with indoor games, singing, cuddles, tickles and play dough.
The Baking Tot has spent the majority of our day playing with play dough.  After I shaped them into various fruit shapes he has carried them around as if they were gold.  He even wanted to take the apple & orange with him to nap time.
Last year I had made homemade play dough for the Baking Tot's birthday favors and forgot to share it with you dear readers.  I don't remember how much it makes, or where I even found the recipe but I do remember it is really easy and fun to make.  The dough is soft and supple and the colors can be as bright and vibrant as you want.  Try it with your little one-it will be a hit.

Play Dough
4 cups of plain flour
1 tbsp cream of tartar
2 cups table salt
4 cups of water
1 teaspoon vegetable or canola oil
Food coloring (I prefer using gel based food dyes)
  1. Combine the dry ingredients together.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients in a large pan and heat it over medium heat.
  3. Stir constantly until the dough feels like stiff, smooth, mashed potatoes. At this point, take it off the stove. Once it has cooled enough (about 2-5 minutes), knead it until it is blended smoothly.
  4. Divide the dough into several balls. Add food coloring to each ball and knead until color is blended in. This works best if the dough is still warm. 
  5. Store the dough in an airtight container or bag.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

When it all seems so small (Bastrop Fires)

The Bastrop Texans know (photo credit:  kempix;
The Bastrop the rest of the world knows (photo credit:  CenTexPhotoGal;
Moments like these make those small troubling times throughout your day seem so insignificant.  Six hundred homes destroyed, 5,000 residents displaced from homes, 30,000 (yes! thirty-thousand) acres burning, and 0% of the fire contained.  That means by the time you read this, more homes and land will be destroyed.

My uncle had a beautiful property in Bastrop and sold it three years ago.  It was a wonderful property with a small thicket behind the house, a trail encircling the outskirts of the land and a small pond down the hill from their home.  We would gather there for Thanksgiving and I was so sad to hear they had sold it.  Now I am doubly sad to know it is gone.  According to the devastation map, it is smack dab in the middle of it.

I will be gathering up the Baking Tot's old clothes and toys and will be donating them to the victims.  If you would like to donate something, anything, please link here to the American Red Cross of Central Texas.  If you are in the Austin area, here is a list of donations centers and drop offs.