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Ham and Pea Gnocchi with Basil Parm Cream Sauce

Ham and Pea Gnocchi with Basil Parm Cream Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ham and Pea Gnocchi with Basil Parm Cream Sauce

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The other night I needed a quick dinner so went to the fridge and freezer and decided on whipping up gnocchi dish and wanted to go on the creamy side with the sauce over tomato based. I took a ham steak that I had on deck for breakfast and diced it up. For the sauce, I had some Parmesan cheese and Basil Pesto so I had the salty and savory covered and thought by using peas to pop it with some sweetness.

It turned out as a great and rich dish that satisfies on a cold winter night. You could treat this as a soup/stew and pair it with a sandwich or even as a side that could replace elevate a mac and cheese type side.

I do apologize that I have been lazy with my photos. I have two or three more posts that you will have to suffer through and then I will take a little more time to make them more representative of how they taste.

Ingredients:
Trader Joe’s package of gnocchi
1 ham steak (diced)
4 cloves of garlic (minced)
1-2 tbs of Basil Pesto
1 cup of milk
1 tbs of butter
1 tbs of flour
1 cup of fine grated Parmesan Cheese
1 cup of frozen peas

Directions:
1. I started off by dicing my ham steak and putting it in a pot on medium low heat. At the same time that is cooking get another pot boiling for you gnocchi.

2. When the ham takes on some color I added the flour and butter to make a small rue. When the flour turned light brown took the heat down to low and added the garlic and pesto. Cooked it for about a minute to remove some of the bite from the garlic. Then slowly added the milk. IMG_0912

3. Keep some of the pasta water to thin your sauce if it happens to be too thick. Add the gnocchi, peas and grated Parmesan cheese to the sauce and stir it up until everything is coated. I put a dollop of the basil pesto to finish it off. IMG_0920

Pesto Tortellini with Chicken Pea Cream Sauce

Pesto Tortellini with Chicken Pea Cream Sauce

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Pesto Tortellini with Chicken Pea Cream Sauce
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I wasn’t sure what to call this dish but when I spotted the Trader Joe’s pesto tortellini I knew Jill would love it A creamy Parmesan sauce was a perfect complement. Adding the chicken made it a more substantial mean but certainly not necessary. Also when I make a creamy sauce for my pasta I love adding peas because they add a pop of sweetness and freshness.

Given I used packaged tortellini this is one of those restaurant quality meals that you can whip up in a flash. I used two chicken breasts but looking back I would just go with one because we couldn’t eat it all. For the sauce, I will try to remember how much I used of each ingredient but the more important thing for you to do is consider your tastes. Do you like a lot or light amounts of sauces? Do you like it thick or more loose. More cheesy or even use another cheese like Gruyere, swiss, maybe even blue cheese. hmmmm?

Ingredients for 2:
1 Package of Trader Joe’s Pesto Tortellini
1 tbs of flour
1 tbs of butter
1 cup of milk or cream
Parmesan Cheese
Peas
Chicken breast

Directions:
1. Let’s make some chicken. Season both sides with Kosher salt and Pepper. Put a little bit of oil in a medium heated cast iron skillet and cook it until done and make sure you get some nice browning. Remove your chicken and set it aside. IMG_0703

2. Turn the heat down medium low and splash in a little chicken stock or water (pasta water if you decided to cook your tortellini first, to deglaze the pan. Now add your butter and flour to get a rue going. Given the chicken bits are in your rue it will look darker but stir until you get a nice paste. Slowly pour in the milk stirring continuously. I let it thicken up a little bit and then added about a cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese.
Again once you get your rue, you can make more or less sauce by adding only the milk/cream amount you like. If it gets too thick, add some stock, pasta water or even milk. Add your peas and your cut chicken breasts. Stir
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3. Cook your Tortellini until al dente. I chose to pour my sauce mixture over the top versus incorporating them into the sauce with everything else. The reason is that I have had some ravioli or tortellini bust open on me during the stir. I just stirred it while in my bowl.
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Frito Chili Pie

Frito Chili Pie

  • Servings: 10+
  • Difficulty: easy
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Frito Chili Pie
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I am loving the change of weather in Texas. When contrasted against our hot and mostly unbearable summers, that first cooling front excites me like a fat kid over cake. Football on Saturdays and Sundays is just hard to beat. Such a great time of the year.

At the State Fair you see these bags of Fritos Corn Chips cut open and chili, cheese and onions added to your liking and given a spork to eat it right out of the bag. We haven’t had chili in a while so I made my a version of my Uncle J’s chili and topped it with fresh shredded cheddar and Fritos The other nice thing about it is that you can freeze the left overs or use it on other dishes (burgers, dogs, enchiladas,) and/or eat it throughout the week.

Ingredients:
Bag of Frito Corn Chips
Fresh block of extra sharp cheddar cheese
Uncle J’s Chili https://whiskeynwry.com/2014/12/29/uncle-js-chili-103/

Directions
1. Follow my recipe for my Uncle J’s Chili or your own favorite chili recipe. I catch grief being from Texas and using beans. Don’t know why it’s a big deal down here but I like what I like. Top it with chips and cheese and enjoy it with your favorite beer.

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Fried Shrimp Po-Boy Sandwich

Fried Shrimp Po-Boy Sandwich

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Fried Shrimp Po-Boy Sandwich
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We hit up this fish joint occasionally for Po Boys and Fish Ceviche. It’s a total joint with picnic tables and waxed checkered table cloths on the indoor tables. You make your own Red Sauce at bar with all the usual suspects, fresh horseradish, ketchup, lemons, Worcestershire, Tabasco and Tampico.

Jill always gets the shrimp Po Boy and has me make her sauces nice and spicy. Topped with ribbons of thin cut Iceberg lettuce and pillow soft rolls. We sit and linger sipping beer and finishing our fries and saltines slathered with our spicy red sauce.

Jill was having a long and tiring week so I surprised her with my own version of a Shrimp Po Boy. I made a sauce that consisted of Dukes Mayo, Sriracha, Horseradish and Ketchup. I replicated the ribbons of Iceberg lettuce and made a southern style batter for the shrimp that was spiced up with some Slap Ya Mama seasoning. As a side I baked some fries and used my Fry Salt.

Ingredients:
Fresh uncooked, shelled and de-veined Shrimp
Fresh Rolls
Thin cut ribbons of cold Iceberg lettuce
Frozen Fries
My fry Salt

Shrimp Marinade
1/2 cup of milk
2 beaten eggs
2 tbs of Yellow mustard
Slap Ya Mama seasoning

Sauce
1/4 cup of Dukes Mayo
1 tbs of Ketchup
1-2 tbs of Sriracha
Horseradish to taste

Shrimp Breading
1 cup of Corn Meal
1/2 cup of AP Flour
2 tbs of Slap Ya Mama Seasoning
1 tbs of Old Bay Seasoning
1 tbs of black pepper
Pinch of salt.

Directions:
1. The thing that will take the longest is your fries so put them on a sheet tray and season them with my Fry Salt and bake according to the package.

2. In a cast iron skillet or deeper cast iron pot, heat oil on Medium to Med-High until it hits 375 degrees. Shrimp cooks super fast so basically you are cooking the coating more than the shrimp. If you want a darker and crunchier crust on your shrimp, bump up the heat a bit and cook in smaller batches where the shrimp doesn’t touch each other while cooking.

3. Take your shrimp and let them soak in your shrimp marinade to flavor and tenderize them. Before ready to fry, take the shrimp from the wet mixture and bump off extra wetness (oil and wet are not friends). Coat your shrimp in the breading mixture. I added them all slowly until they were all coated to the point they were dry to the touch.

4. Working in small batches, carefully load your shrimp into the hot oil. Be careful and consider using a tool to put the shrimp in the oil. These babies cook in about 3-4 minutes. I move them around during the frying process. Remove them and place them on a paper towel and then transfer to a wire wrack until you are finished cooking everything. IMG_0625

5. Mix up your sauce and cut your lettuce. Slather both sides with the sauce, add the shrimp and lettuce. Add your fries and you are ready to go.
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Pan Roasted Herb Chicken, Potatoes, and Carrots

Pan Roasted Herb Chicken, Potatoes, and Carrots

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Pan Roasted Herb Chicken, Potatoes, and Carrots
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I am getting behind on my posts and have several queued up. This one is pretty boring and simple but I think it goes to show you can create a healthy meal without a lot of fuss but that passes the taste test. I think roasting chicken is probably my favorite way to cook it. Somehow it comes out with concentrated flavors and retains its juices really well. The root veggies come out with little crispy edges with super tender inside.

Ingredients:
2 free range chicken breasts (I went boneless skinless but for more flavor go bone in and skin on)
Two potatoes (cut into same sized pieces)
2 carrots (cut into same sized pieces)
Fresh Rosemary and thyme
Kosher Salt and Pepper
splash of chicken broth

Directions:
1. This is a bit embarrassing because it’s stupid simple. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a pan add your chopped carrots and potatoes along with the chicken breasts. Rub your chicken breasts and veggies with olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Roast until the juices run clear. I add a splash of chicken broth about half way through when I flip everything.

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Utah-like Fry Sauce

Utah-like Fry Sauce
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There is a chain of burger joints in Utah called the”Artic Circle” who claims to have invented the sauce in 1948. The goal of the sauce was to create a thinner thousand island type sauce. So instead of diced pickles, pickle juice is used to impart that pickle flavor. It really is a nice fry sauce. Nice balance of sweet and tang. I have seen recipes that use ranch dressing versus straight mayo. Sounds interesting.

Here is how I made mine.
1/2 cup Duke’s Mayo
1/4 cup Ketchup
1-2 tbs of Pickle Juice
1 tsp onion powder
Pinch Cayenne Pepper
Dash of Tabasco

Combine the ketchup and mayo until pink. Then add the rest slowly, tasting along the way to get it to click with your taste buds.

Asian Chicken Noodle Kale Salad

Asian Chicken Noodle Kale

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Asian Chicken Noodle Kale Salad
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We were watching Ree, the Pioneer Woman, the other day and her show was about using foods that represented the colors of summer. We hear all the time that foods that are colorful have more health benefits. Of course Kale makes an appearance because it is “such the thing to eat these days”. Truth be told I love collard and mustard greens more than Kale. I find it tough and too chewy so I cut it finely and use it as a supporting character vs the lead of my dishes. Maybe it’s a bit mental too, because the Kale zealots can really be annoying and I tend to have allergies towards people who take a food too far.

I took Ree’s idea and recipe and used it as my foundation. I marinated two chicken breasts overnight in soy and rice wine vinegar. The next day I hammered the to a consistent thickness and grilled them outside until done. I let them rest and sliced thinly and included them on the side of my salad.

Red Cabbage, carrots and Kale have a lot of structure but I found that the “dressing” mellows the stark rawness The flavors were terrific with blends of soy, Sriracha, garlic, ginger, rice wine vinegar, hoisin sauce and hints of fish sauce and sesame oil. Really a nice healthy salad that can easily be converted to Paleo, Clean, Whole30 etc..

Ingredients:
2 free range chicken breasts
3 tbs of GF Soy
3 tbs of Rice Wine Vinegar

Salad
Pre-packaged Kale salad
1 small head of shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup of pre-shredded carrots
1 red pepper sliced thinly
Angel Hair Pasta for two (cooked and cooled)
handful of peanuts rough chopped
4 green onions (minced)
Handful of Cilantro (rough chopped)

Dressing
1/4 cup of Hoisin Sauce
1/3 cup of GF Soy Sauce
1/4 cup of Rice Wine Vinegar
1 tbs of Sriracha Sauce
1 tsp of Fish Sauce
2 tsp of Sesame Oil
1 tsp of Chili oil
1/4 cup – 1/2 cup of Olive Oil
2 tbs of Brown Sugar
3 cloves of garlic minced
2 tbs of ginger minced

Directions
1. Marinate your chicken at least 3 hours and up to overnight in soy and rice wine vinegar.

2. Get your grill fired up to about 350-400 degrees. Put your chicken on the grill and while it is cooking get to chopping your veggies and dressing. IMG_0369

3. Make your dressing by mincing your garlic and ginger and then add the rest. Whisk it violently until it is well combined. Put it in the fridge and chop your veggies.

4. Boil your angel hair pasta (or any noodle you prefer) to package directions. When done, strain them and run cool water over them to cool them off.

5. So now you have your chicken chopped, your veggies chopped and in a large bowl, your dressing ready, your noodles ready and your rough chopped peanuts. Pour half the dressing into the veggies and toss them until well coated. Slowly stir in your cooked noodles. Taste it and dress accordingly (you can always add more dressing but you can’t undress and overdressed salad) I put a little dressing on my grilled chopped chicken and served it on the side of my salad so that I could control my protein/veggie bites.
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