Pumpkin Cream Rigatoni

In the fall, we love using pumpkin for all things tasty, but most generally in desserts. I really wanted to find a delicious savory pumpkin recipe that I could make every year during the autumn time. Upon searching the World Wide Web, I found this recipe and made a few adjustments to make it my own. This dish is absolutely a hit. It’s easy to make and pairs nicely with chicken or pork, we did both pan seared chicken thighs as well as an herbed roasted pork loin, the two times we made it this season. And don’t forget, shredded parmesan on top!

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1, 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2–4 teaspoons salt
  • juice of 1 whole lemon, approx. 3 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, dried or fresh
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary, dried or fresh
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. rigatoni (you will have extra sauce, will be enough for up to 1.5-2 lbs rigatoni if serving a crowd)

Instructions

  • Cook according to package directions. reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain in colander.
  • While the pasta cooks, heat the butter in a skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant.
  • Add the pumpkin and broth, simmer until smooth. Add the cream, salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary, simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Add the lemon juice. Add cooked pasta to the sauce.
  • Serve pasta in shallow bowls with a sprinkle of shredded parmesan.

Pork Chops in a Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Cold weather recently has me in the mood for complete comfort food. I love this recipe and have made it several times since discovering it. It’s very easy to whip up on a weeknight for the family and makes great leftovers. The key to keeping pork chops moist is to buy thick cut pork chops and searing each side quickly, being careful not to overcook. Pork is notorious for becoming dry during the cooking process because many people assume that it must be cooked like chicken, to 165F degrees internal temp because people feared trichinosis, which is extremely rare today. The minimum cooking temp is 145F degrees, like a medium steak. So don’t be afraid to leave your pork chops a little pink to keep them moist and tender! Note: My hot sauce of choice for this dish is Texas Pete’s, it is not spicy and yields a wonderful flavor. Serve with white rice or wild rice if you choose! Will include link below!

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 4 boneless thick cut pork chops 
  • ¾ tsp salt or to taste
  • ¼ tsp black pepper or to taste
  • ½ tsp paprika or to taste
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter divided
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 8 oz mushrooms sliced
  • ½ medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp hot sauce (Texas Pete’s)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tbsp parsley optional garnish

Instructions

  1. Season pork chops with salt, pepper and paprika. Heat 1 Tbsp butter and 2 tsp oil in a large pan over med/high heat. Once hot, sear chops 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown. Remove pork chops and cover to keep warm.
  2. In the same pan, add 1 Tbsp butter and sliced mushrooms. Cook 2 minutes over medium heat, or until lightly golden.
  3. Add 1 Tbsp butter and onions. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook 3-4 minutes, until onions are tender. 
  4. Add minced garlic and saute 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Add flour and stir vigorously for 30 seconds.
  5. Add the chicken broth, hot sauce, whipping cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 2 minutes, or until cream begins to thicken. Add pork chops back to the skillet and cover with the mushroom sauce. 
  6. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5-8 minutes, allowing the pork chops to become tender and the flavors of the mushroom sauce to penetrate into the pork chops. Garnish if desired and serve. 

Seared Mahi Mahi with Avocado and Red Pepper

This is such a healthy and easy weeknight meal and can also impress your dinner guests! It’s unbelievably fresh and flavorful and can be made in less than 30 minutes, served hot on the table! I’ve made this recipe twice now and it has easily become one of my favorite Mahi Mahi recipes that I will make again and again. The red bell can be changed to different bell peppers if you want different colors!

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe avocado, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 cup minced red onion
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • Mahi Mahi– marinade for 30 mins
  • 4 Mahi Mahi portions, approx 6 oz each
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a saute pan. Add sliced red pepper and minced red onion to saute until tender.
  • Toss avocado chunks in lime juice, cilantro, and salt. Set aside.
  • Pan sear the mahi mahi. Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet or nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the mahi mahi and sear undisturbed until well browned on the bottom and the sides are cooked just past halfway up the fillets, about 4 minutes. Flip the fillets and continue to sear until just cooked through and the flesh flakes easily, 2 to 4 minutes more depending on the thickness of the fillets.
  • On a serving plate, place your seared Mahi Mahi fillets, top with the avocado lime mixture, and then finish topping with the sautéed red peppers and onions.
  • Enjoy!

Blackened Catfish

One of my favorite weeknight dinners is blackened catfish and pairing it with roasted broccoli or brussel sprouts. I love the flavor of the spicy cayenne, smoky paprika, herbal basil, thyme, and oregano, with savory onion and garlic, all seared to a buttery perfection with light flaky fish. It’s so satisfying and fulfilling, and it’s healthy! I wanted to make my own blackened seasoning instead of using store-bought, and after making this, I will never buy store bought again! It has the perfect ratio of seasonings and spice and just the right amount of salt. This batch recipe yields leftovers, so you can save in a jar for the next time you make it!

I also enjoy learning about the history of certain cuisines and recipes. This one without a doubt has strong cajun/creole roots, a perfect reflection of Louisiana culture! I loved reading about Chef Paul Prudhomme, the original inventor of “blackened” fish. Read more here!

Homemade Blackened Seasoning

  • 2 tablespoon smoked paprika (or use regular paprika)
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne powder (use more for a spicier blend)
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Mix all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl until they are well combined. Store the seasoning blend in an airtight container. 

Ingredients for Blackened Catfish

  • 2 large catfish fillets
  • 2-3 tbsp homemade blackened seasoning
  • 4 tbsp salted butter
  • 2-4 lemon wedges

Instructions

  • Heat a large cast iron skillet (recommended) or heavy aluminum skillet over high heat for 10 minutes.
  • Coat both sides of fish with spice mixture, using about 1.1.5 tbsp spice mixture for each fillet.
  • Melt butter in skillet, then place the 2 fillets in the hot skillet.
  • Cook until the spices are burned onto the fillets and the catfish is opaque and flaky inside, about 3 minutes per side. 
  • Serve with lemon wedges!

Mango Pineapple Habanero Mahi Mahi

I had the ultimate pleasure of enjoying this seafood delight with Bernard’s Gourmet Mango Pineapple y Habanero roasted salsa! I connected with the Bernard’s on Instagram, and they were so kind to mail me two of their most popular award-winning salsas. They are a family-owned company out of McKinney, Texas, and are now sold in H-E-B! I absolutely love Texas-made products and supporting Texas businesses and families. After receiving my package, I couldn’t wait to try them so I could conjure up some creative recipes. The Mango Pineapple y Habanero roasted salsa is to DIE for. It is packed with flavor, a little heat, and tastes clean and fresh. That is what I love most about their brand, it is truly a clean label, no added sugar and all natural; it is almost like a neighbor handed me a homemade jar of salsa they made that afternoon. I am so happy I connected with this family, because I will continue to buy their products and try the variety of delicious salsas! When I tasted this, I immediately thought it would pair perfectly with seafood. Let me say, the sweet flavor profile of Mahi Mahi, with the sweet spiciness of the salsa and pico, took you to a different place for just a moment, as if I were dining at a beachside cafe enjoying fresh gulf-caught fish. Definitely recommend their salsas, I will add links to their website below. Happy Cinco De Mayo!

History of Cinco De Mayo

Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, is a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s May 5, 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. The day, which falls on Tuesday, May 5 in 2020, is also known as Battle of Puebla Day. While it is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Keep reading on History website!

Ingredients

For the Mango Pico De Gallo

  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2  jalapeño, seeded and cored
  • 1 mango, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 3 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  • First, in a shallow container, place both mahi mahi fillets with the 1/4 cup Mango Pineapple Habanero salsa to marinade for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
  • Begin preparing the mango pico de Gallo.
  • Cut the red pepper in half, core and remove stem and seeds. With a knife, remove the white interior membranes, then finely dice the pepper. Place in a large bowl. Repeat with the jalapeño.
  • Peel the mango, then slice fruit from the pit. Finely dice the fruit and add to the bowl. Finely dice the onion and add to the bowl with the cilantro, lime juice, and salt.
  • With a large spoon gently toss the ingredients together, being careful not to bruise the fruit. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary with more salt or lime juice. Place in refrigerator covered to keep cool.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the fish with salt, to taste. Cook the fish for 3 minutes, then turn and cook until just opaque, about 3 to 4 minutes more. 
  • Remove fillets from heat onto plate. Top with approximately 1 tbsp of Bernard’s salsa per fillet, and then the mango pico de gallo.
  • Serve immediately! Enjoy with Calabaza Squash Sauté

Slow Cooker Carnitas

Ok seriously, this was one of the best Mexican style recipes I have EVER made. My boyfriend and I were in awe and couldn’t believe how flavorful and delicious this turned out! We said, “who needs Mexican restaurants when you have your own kitchen!” We continually ate the leftovers for days… and the juices marinated further, creating a better tasting dish by the day. I cannot emphasize how good this recipe is, how easy it is, and how impressed your guests will be if you decide to host a Mexican Fiesta!

Ingredients

  • 1 (4-5 pound) lean boneless pork roast, excess fat trimmed, cut into 3-inch chunks
  • 1 cup beer (or chicken stock) * I used 1 bottle of Dos XX
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, minced) *use canned
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt * or to taste

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients to a large slow cooker and give the mixture a stir to combine. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours until the pork is completely tender and shreds easily with a fork. * I cooked 8 hours on low.
  • Serve immediately in tacos, burritos, salads, or whatever sounds good to you!  This pork can also be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or frozen in a sealed container for up to 3 months.

Herbed Butter Roasted Chicken

For Easter Sunday, I made a roast chicken dinner complete with scalloped potatoes, roasted broccoli with lemon, and homemade cornbread. It was just my sweet boyfriend and I at home, maintaining social distancing from our family and friends. It was perfect with just the two of us and our delicious hearty meal. When I think of a warm Sunday dinner, I often think of a roasted meat, green vegetable, potato dish, and bread… a staple meal in the South and perhaps all over the country. We had the honor of cooking this roast chicken for the very first time using Logan’s Grandmother Evelyn’s vintage navy blue speckled roasting dish. She recently passed away, and out of all the things he wanted most… it was that roasting pan. So many meals made with that pan and lots of family memories surrounding it. I was so excited to used such a “lucky dish”, seasoned from many years of kitchen love.

This roast chicken recipe is an adaptation from my turkey recipe, using an herb butter to season it under the skin and on top of the skin, with fresh herbs also being key. It’s simple, moist, and full of savory flavors. This can be made time and time again for any occasion, casual or formal, and everyone will be left feeling full and satisfied.

Herbed Butter

  • 1 stick salted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

Chicken

  • One whole chicken, without giblets 4-5#
  • 1 yellow onion, quartered

Instructions

  • In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, whip your softened butter with the fresh rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika. Set aside.
  • Rinse your whole chicken under cold running water. Dry your chicken with a clean dish cloth or paper towels.
  • Using your fingers, run them underneath the skin, in between the skin and the muscle of the chicken until the skin has separated. Once skin has separated from muscle on the chicken (breasts, thighs, and legs), begin to stuff the underside of the skin with your herbed butter mixture. Use your fingers on the outside of the skin to massage the herbed butter underneath to spread.
  • Use remaining herbed butter on top of the chicken, no need to be precise, but centered so that when it melts it will melt op top of the breasts.
  • Stuff the inside cavity of the chicken with the one of the onion quarters.
  • Use the remaining parts of the onion as a base for the whole chicken to rest on in the roasting pan.
  • Assure chicken is breast side up, and place uncovered in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until internal temperature is 165 degrees.
  • Remove from oven, and baste with melted butter and drippings. 
  • Let rest, covered, for 30 minutes before carving and serving.

Gravy

  • 2 tablespoons fat from pan drippings
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth or milk
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Gravy From Drippings

  • Heat fat over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until any solid bits in the drippings are well-browned. Add flour and whisk until lightly golden, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Slowly pour in the broth or milk, whisking out any lumps as they form.
  • Whisk continuously until thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Add butter. add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Strain gravy through fine-mesh strainer if desired. Serve and enjoy!

Southern Shrimp and Grits

This delightful southern staple originated in oceanic Georgia and the coast of the Carolinas, intended to be a wholesome Fisherman’s breakfast. This dish is typically served for dinner with many versions that have been adapted from its original place of creation. I used freshly caught Gulf Shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, purchased at a Bait, Tackle, and Seafood Market in Port Isabel, Texas. I believe using large gulf brown shrimp was key in making this dish authentic and delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coarsely ground grits
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 pounds uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • salt to taste
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 5 slices bacon
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Instructions

  • Bring water, grits, and salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan with a lid. Stir in half-and-half and simmer until grits are thickened and tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
  • Sprinkle shrimp with salt and cayenne pepper; drizzle with lemon juice. Set aside in a bowl.
  • Place andouille sausage slices in a large skillet over medium heat; fry sausage until browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.
  • Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat, turning occasionally until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Retain bacon drippings in skillet. Transfer bacon slices to paper towels, let cool and crumble.
  • Cook and stir green, red, and yellow bell peppers, onion, and garlic in the bacon drippings until the onion is translucent about 8 minutes.
  • Stir shrimp and cooked vegetables into the andouille sausage and mix to combine.
  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat; stir in flour to make a smooth paste. Turn heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is medium brown in color, 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully, the mixture burns easily.
  • Pour the butter-flour mixture into the skillet with andouille sausage, shrimp, and vegetables. Place the skillet over medium heat and pour in chicken broth, bacon and Worcestershire sauce, cooking and stirring until the sauce thickens and the shrimp become opaque and bright pink, about 8 minutes.
  • Just before serving, mix sharp Cheddar cheese into grits until melted and grits are creamy and light yellow. Serve shrimp mixture over cheese grits.

Better than Marie Callender’s Chicken Pot Pie

Growing up, one of my absolute all-time favorite meals was chicken pot pie. I loved the Marie Callender’s frozen personal pot pies so much, it was ultimate comfort for me with a glass of milk on the side. My Mom was a from-scratch cook, but every once in a while she would have cheat meals such as this, and kept the frozen pies on hand for me for when I wanted to make a weekend meal on my own. To this day, Marie Callender’s pot pies are still a favorite for me, as they bring back a lot of nostalgia. But my tastes buds have evolved and so have my cooking abilities, so I wanted to find a recipe that gave me that same comfort I always had, but made by me. The creamy and savory gravy, fresh vegetables, and pulled dark and white meat chicken inside a flaky and buttery crust takes me back and brings me all the good feels. This is perfect anytime but especially on a chilly winter night!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sliced carrot
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 1/3 cup sliced celery
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 cups shredded or diced chicken from white and dark meat pieces
  • 1 cup peas
  • 2 refrigerated pie crusts
  • 1 egg beaten together with 1 tablespoon water to make an egg wash

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Place carrots in a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil for 5-8 minutes to soften. Drain.
  • Melt 1/2 cup butter in a large sauté pan. Add onions and celery and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add salt, pepper, thyme, and poultry seasoning. Sprinkle flour on top and cook for 1 minute, stirring to evenly cook the flour.
  • Gradually whisk in chicken broth and then milk. Add carrots and let simmer for a few minutes to thicken. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if desired.
  • Stir in chicken and peas. Turn heat off.
  • Fit 1 pie crust into the bottom of a deep dish pie plate. Pour filling into pie shell.
  • Place second pie crust on top and trim excess. Press the two pie crusts together to seal and crimp edge using your fingers.
  • Brush egg white on top of the pot pie and use a knife to cut 4 slits to let steam escape.
  • Place on a baking sheet and place in oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Garlic Herb Butter Roast Turkey

It’s that time of year again, families across America will be serving this bird to celebrate thankfulness and togetherness. Some look forward to this experience, some lean more towards the alternative meat option, ham. Inevitably, amateur and experienced cooks alike will work very hard to perfectly roast a turkey for their guests, and will over-cook it, leading to a dry and sad piece of poultry. I prefer breast meat which tends to be the first to dry out. This recipe is a turkey game changer for me as it turned out perfectly moist and flavorful in all the right ways. I was so impressed how easy it was to create and turned out like I slaved over it for hours. This recipe does not require brining your bird for days in advance, or repeatedly basting throughout the cooking process. If you want a fool-proof crowd-pleasing recipe, this is for you!

Ingredients

Roast Turkey:

  • 12 pound whole turkey, skin on (fully defrosted, washed, giblets and neck removed)
  • 3 heads garlic cut in half horizontally divided
  • 3 lemons divided
  • Sage, rosemary, and thyme sprigs to stuff inside
  • 1/2 yellow onion

Herb Butter:

  • 2 sticks salted butter, melted
  • 6 sprigs thyme, chopped
  • 4-5 sage leaves, chopped
  • 6 sprigs rosemary, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Half a lemon, squeezed
  • Salt
  • Cracked Pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325°F. Lower oven shelf to the lowest part of your oven.
  • Combine the Herb Butter ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  • Line a large roasting pan with foil or parchment paper. Arrange halves of garlic cut-side down on the bottom of the pan with sprigs each of thyme and rosemary, and slices of lemon.
  • Thoroughly pat turkey dry with paper towels. Stuff with the remaining heads garlic halves, lemon slice, quartered onion, and herbs.
  • Rub melted butter all over the turkey and generously under the skin. Season all over with salt and pepper. Place turkey on top of the garlic and herbs in the pan. Tent the turkey with foil to cover.
  • Roast 2 hours for a small turkey under 10 pounds, 3 hours for a  10-14 pound turkey, or 4 hours for large turkey over 14 pounds.
  • Pour any remaining juices over your turkey.
  • For extra crispy skin, broil for a further 10-15 minutes, keeping your eye on it so it doesn’t burn, until the skin is crispy and golden browned all over, when internal temperature reached 165°F your bird is done.
  • Allow it to rest for 15-30 minutes before carving and serving.
  • Remove 2 1/2 cups of the liquid from the pan juices (top up with stock if you need too), strain and reserve for your gravy. 

Turkey Gravy Recipe

  • 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups pan juices (top up with chicken stock if needed)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper, if needed
  • Heat oil in a small pot over low-medium heat. Whisk in the flour and allow to cook for about a minute or two, while whisking. 
  • Pour in 1/2 cup of the pan juices from Roast Turkey and whisk until it forms a paste. Add remaining liquid in 1/2 cup increments, whisking in between, until the gravy is smooth. 
  • Allow to simmer over medium heat until thickened. Take off heat and season with salt and pepper (if needed). The gravy will continue to thicken as it cools.