Cajun Chicken Pasta with Homemade Cajun Spice + Cook with Me (Virtually)

Hi y’all! I am back with a blog post announcing our very first virtual cooking class! My original intention was to host the class on IG live this Sunday but I am going to move it to next Sunday, September 20, 2020 because I want to make sure everyone has time to review the recipe and purchase the ingredients, etc. I really would like this to be an interactive class and everyone actually cooks along with me! For this class we will be making my version of Cajun Chicken Pasta. This recipe is super easy but does require a little prep. I felt this was a great recipe for the class because we could learn how to make our own Cajun Spice (so easy!) and how to chop veggies and make a sauce! These are all skills you can carry over into other dishes you want to learn to make. I really truly hope that I see everyone online in class while we make an awesome Sunday dinner!!! The ingredients need are below. I will be explaining the directions we should follow in class and update this post with that information after the class is over. No worries if you miss it, it will be recorded and able to review on my IGTV barring their isn’t any technical issues.

We will be making our own Cajun spice. This is so simple and most of the ingredients you may already have on hand. If not you can purchase them at your local grocery or dollar store and what I loved most is the spices used are not expensive (I didn’t pay over $2 for any of them) and they are staples you can use to season other recipes.

Ingredients for Cajun Spice:

  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt ( I used table salt but sea salt or Kosher would be better)
  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Paprika ( I used plain but smoky would be great as well)
  • Oregano
  • Thyme

To make mix: Use 2 tbsp of Paprika, Salt and garlic powder and 1 tbsp of Onion Powder, Oregano, Thyme, Black Pepper, and Cayenne Pepper. Mix thoroughly and store in air right container (use and old seasoning jar) or a ziplock bag. This is enough mix for about 2 recipes. It is a tad on the spicy side so if you would like less heat use 1/2 tbsp of Cayenne.

It is not difficult at all to make your own spice mix AND you know exactly what’s in it and can tweak it to your family’s taste.

Ingredients for Cajun Chicken Pasta:

  • 2-3 Chicken breasts cut into about 1 inch cubes (a trick is to not let your chicken fully thaw. Cutting while slightly frozen is easier)
  • Peppers- I used a half of a yellow, red, orange, & green. I would suggest at least using 2 different peppers (1 being a green pepper, they are an important part of Cajun cooking) like red and green or orange and green. However the more color you use the better the presentation will be. Remember we eat with our eyes!
  • 1/2 a medium Red Onion – I would strongly suggest a red onion because the flavor it imparts is outstanding
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes ( this is my shortcut. I use the can that says garlic and basil already added for the additional flavor. You can also use fire roasted or cut up 2 fresh Roma tomatoes
  • Cajun Spice Mix
  • Penne pasta or your favorite pasta
  • 1-2 cups of half and half or heavy whipping cream
  • 2-3 cups of chicken broth
  • 2-3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1-2 stick of butter
  • 4-5 cloves of freshly minced garlic

This class will be detailed and we will be prepping and cooking everything together from start to finish so I would a lot about an hour and a half to join me live. I am soooo excited and I can’t wait to see y’all next Sunday! In the meantime look for more recipes and follow all my other shenanigans on IG @severapeoplesmama

Love Ricki

Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken with Garlic Lemon Orzo

Recently I asked my Instagram peeps what recipes they need to make their lives easier in the kitchen as we return back to our regular routines. Summer is over (insert sad face here) and although it wasn’t the summer we could have hoped for hopefully we still got some fun in. Now it’s back to school and work for some. It’s different because usually this time of year is the start of a lot of extracurricular activities and fall fun but with this virus we don’t have those options. I pray though that everyone is healthy, well and happy in spite of. Food & cooking is always something that brings me joy so maybe I can spread some by sharing delicious & easy recipes. The consensus from my question was easy recipes that are not time consuming. Those include crockpot, instant pot (pressure cooker), sheet pan, one pot and casserole recipes. I plan to bring one or two to the blog every week with corresponding videos on instagram (follow me @severalpeoplesmama) and a few additional recipes I’ll be writing up for volume 2 of Cook Yo Meals which will be out in a few months!

Today I am sharing my version a crockpot meal that I’ve been wanting to try for awhile along with an easy tasty side dish. Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken is soooo good and even tho it requires a little more work than the normal dump and go crockpot recipes we’re used to, it is worth the extra effort! Let’s cook!

Ingredients for Tuscan Chicken:

  • 3-5 cloves of fresh garlic minced or 2-3 tablespoons of Jared minced garlic (y’all know how I feel about the jar of minced garlic, however since this cooks in the crockpot for a few hours this would be an exception to use it, I still didn’t but you can)
  • 1-2 tbsp of butter
  • 1-2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 bag of fresh spinach
  • 8-10 skinless bone in chicken thighs (you can use boneless but the bones add great flavor which is needed in a crockpot recipe)
  • 1-2 cups of chicken broth
  • 2-3 cups of half and half (can use a cup of heavy whipping cream with milk or chicken broth)
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese (and more if you like it cheesier but I wasn’t going for an Alfredo sauce, just a taste of Parmesan)
  • 1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes chopped (I used the jar in oil)
  • Various seasonings, I used what was pictured
  • Fresh basil chopped (optional but makes a difference!
  • Juice from half a lemon (optional)

Directions:

Start by adding a tablespoon of butter and the olive oil to a non stick pan on medium high heat. Then season chicken thighs generously. Remember this will cook in a sauce and chicken broth in the slow cooker for a few hours so you still want to taste the seasoning. Add chicken thighs to pan and sear about 3-5 minutes each side. Side note: in most of the recipes I researched they did not sear the chicken. Not searing the chicken is not something I recommend but it’s not necessary. However searing the chicken adds a deep flavor that you would define miss if you didn’t. After chicken has seared, add to your sprayed slow cooker insert. After all chicken has seared it’s time to make the sauce. Turn heat to medium. Pour out all but a tablespoon of oil for the pan. Add another tablespoon of butter. Add garlic stirring quickly, we don’t want it to burn. Sauté for about 20 seconds and then add half and half. Stir until heated thru. Add seasonings to taste and then add sun dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice. Taste for any additional seasoning and let simmer for 23 minutes. Turn off heat and allow sauce to thicken as it cools. Once thicken led (should coat the back of a spoon easily) pour sauce over thighs in slow cooker. Add 2-3 cups of chicken broth to slow cooker and mix in. You want the sauce and chicken broth mixture to almost cover the thighs. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Towards last 20 minutes turn slow cooker to high and add fresh spinach til wilted and also half and half if you’d like the sauce thicker. Make sure you taste to see if you’d like anymore seasoning but you should be good. Once spinach is wilted you are ready to serve over the orzo.

Ingredients for Garlic Lemon Orzo:

  • 1-1/2 cups of orzo
  • 2 cups chicken broth/water (I used 2 cups broth and the rest water)
  • 1-2 cloves of fresh minced garlic (no jar! Lol)
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • Garlic salt and Italian seasoning, fresh basil can be added but it is optional
  • 1-2 tbsp of Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

Heat heavy bottom pan or pot on medium high. Add butter and olive oil. Add fresh garlic and sauté for about 20 seconds. Add orzo and sauté for about 2-3 minutes. If you fear burning garlic (like me) add your garlic after your orzo. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for about 3-5 minutes and then turn I low until orzo is cooked thru. Add seasonings, lemon juice and Parmesan if using and stir.

Add your chicken with sauce over this lemony orzo pasta and you have a complete meal with so much flavor from cooking for hours. Also with the addition of spinach you already have a veggie built in!

The Tuscan Chicken is keto/low carb friendly and you can just add a salad, serve over zucchini noodles or roasted veggies instead of the orzo to keep it that way.

We enjoyed this meal so much and it is being placed on our dinner rotation as we speak. Because this dish requires a little extra prep time this would be perfect for Sunday dinner and then make extra for an easy Monday of leftovers. If you know me you know I don’t like cooking on Mondays so this is a trick I use often since most folks are off and have a little more time.

Let me know if you tried this recipe and as always tag me on Instagram. In the comments let me know what other recipes or ideas you’d like to see on the blog. I always appreciate and take y’all’s input into consideration!

Love Ricki

Alice Spring Chicken – Copycat Recipe

Confession: I have never actually heard of Alice Spring Chicken before I actually made it. I have never actually ate at Outback Steakhouse either. I stumbled upon this recipe when I was searching Pinterest trying to find something different to do with boneless skinless chicken breast. It seemed like it would be delicious except the mustard part so I decided to adapt it for my family’s taste and make it keto/low carb friendly. We like mustard but only a touch on a sandwich or in our foods. Also the recipes I found called for honey but I decided to use pre made honey mustard (not the dressing) to cut the carbs. We definitely don’t like it to overpower a dish. Here is my version of Alice Spring Chicken.

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, butterflied ( I would also take an extra step and pound it thin) You should end up with 6 thin breasts
  • 1/2 tbsp of honey mustard
  • 1/2 tsp of Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 tbsp of mustard
  • 1/2 packet of dry ranch dressing mix
  • 1 tbsp of minced onion
  • 5-6 slices of bacon
  • 1 1/2 cup of fresh sliced mushrooms (I used white)
  • 2 cups of Colby Jack Cheese
  • Seasonings: I used onion and garlic powder and Tony’s seasoning
  • 1/2 cup of fresh green onions chopped (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Mix the Dijon and honey mustard with the mayonnaise and add the dry ranch dressing mix and dry minced onion. Mix thoroughly and set aside. Spray enameled Dutch oven or oven safe pan (if you don’t have an oven safe pan that’s okay, just start with a pan and transfer to a bacon dish at the end) with oil spray and then add bacon on medium high heat. While bacon is cooking season chicken and spread mustard/mayo mixture on each side. Set aside. You can marinate the chicken ahead of time in this mixture for a few hours or o/n but again we didn’t want a strong mustard taste. After bacon is crispy remove from pan and add mushrooms. Once mushrooms are cooked removed from pan and set aside. Turn heat to high and add chicken searing on both sides. Turn heat off and top chicken with mushrooms, bacon (crumbled) and cheese. Cover with lid or foil and bake in oven for 35-40 minutes until chicken is cooked thru. I was just gifted a meat thermometer so that is an internal temp of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Lol get a meat thermometer! It’s awesome!

Surprisingly the kids loved this meal. I enjoyed it to and was something different that we could all enjoy since I’m currently on the keto diet. The hint of mustard was just enough for us so if you’re not a big mustard fan you can try this and enjoy it.

If you do give this meal a try, make sure to tag me on Instagram @severalpeoplesmama

Love Ricki

Chicken Parmesan my way!

Winner, winner chicken dinner!!! And this meal was definitely a winner! We enjoyed this take on Chicken Parmesan and I actually made it low carb by not using breadcrumbs and using grated Parmesan cheese instead. If you use a low carb marinara sauce and serve over zoodles you have a keto friendly version. Let’s get to cooking!

Ingredients:

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts- butterflied (split in half) and pounded thin
  • Jar of marinara sauce
  • 2 cups of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 eggs beat in a shallow dish
  • Seasonings – I used season salt (Tony’s), garlic and onion powder, Italian seasoning and Italian dressing seasoning mix. I add seasoning to my raw chicken and the beaten eggs.
  • 1-2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

Directions:

Butterfly (cut in half lengthwise) and pound out 3 chicken breasts fairly thin (you should end up with 6 thin breasts total. Season chicken and set aside. You will now set up your breading station. Beat 2-3 eggs in a shallow dish with seasoning. In another dish add 1-1/2 cups of grated Parmesan cheese. Take the seasoned chicken and put in egg mixture and then cheese immediately following. Add to pan with olive oil on medium heat. Pan fry chicken on both sides until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes)and then add to baking dish. Chicken will finish cooking in the oven. Top chicken with marinara sauce, then cheese and Italian seasoning. Bake in oven on 350 for 20-25 minutes. Top over pasta and serve with salad or veggie.

This meal was delicious. I did add mine to the broiler for about 2 minutes because I like my cheese a little brown lol. This will be an alternative to spaghetti or spaghetti Mac for my family. If you try it make sure to tag me on IG @severalpeoplesmama! It really makes me so happy when y’all do!

Love Ricki