Braised Kale with Bacon and Cider

So I had a half a bunch of kale left after that salad the other day, and I didn't want it to go bad while I went out of town this weekend. Thanks to Cooking Light, I made this delicious dish and ate it as the main dish instead of a side. Here y'all go:

Braised Kale with Bacon and Apples, from Cooking Light
Yields 6 servings (2/3 cup each)

3 slices bacon (I used turkey bacon)
1 1/4 c. thinly sliced onion
1 lb. chopped kale
1/3 c. apple cider
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 c. (10 oz.) diced Granny Smith apple (I used Gala)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
(I added a tsp. of minced garlic)

In a dutch oven or large saute pan, cook chopped bacon for 5 minutes or until crispy. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon, reserving drippings in pan. Add onion and garlic to pan and cook 5 minutes or until tender. Add kale and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until wilted. Add cider and vinegar, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove crispy bits, and cook covered for 10 minutes. Add apple, salt and pepper and cook another 5 minutes or until apple gets tender, stirring occasionally. Top with bacon and serve.

I had to add some margarine and olive oil because I didn't have much drippings left from the bacon, but that's not a big deal. I added garlic with the onion, which the recipe didn't call for, and I used a gala apple instead of a Granny Smith, but it was still absolutely delicious. I didn't hae quite as much kale as the recipe called for, either, but it worked out just fine. Y'all seriously need to try this one.

Healthier eating?


I'm working on eating a cleaner diet -- lower in bad carbs and higher in protein -- and I stumbled across this receipe via Sweat in the City. It's pretty damn delicious, and you all should try it.

The Bye-Bye Cravings Chick Pea Salad with Creamy Tahini Dressing
The Salad:
1 can chickpeas
2 cups Kale, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 super crunchy apple, cored and chopped
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
2 tbsp onion, chopped
2 tbsp dried cranberries (preservative free, if possible)

The Dressing
1/2 cup EVOO
2-3 tbsp. Tahini
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. raw honey or raw agave
Optional: 1 tsp. minced garlic

**I added a couple dashes of Tony's and about a tablespoon of Splenda to jazz it up a tad, and I didn't have walnuts so I used pistachios instead. Also, I hate celery, so I omitted that. But it made this gigantic salad, and I could only eat half. And so healthy! Ya'll should try it!
Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Crawfish Remoulade

So I have absolutely no groceries and absolutely no money, and to top it off, Charlie and I are in competition to see who can reach their goal weight faster. Therefore, I'm trying to eat as healthy as possible. To that end, I was looking for something delicious but super healthy for dinner, and here's what I came up with.
It started as crawfish remoulade over lettuce with tomatoes last week, but I had more crawfish in the freezer and a bit of remoulade left. No lettuce though. So instead I cooked some spaghetti, sauteed the crawfish using Pam, Tony's, garlic powder, red pepper, onion powder and seasoned salt, tossed the crawfish in the remoulade, and added a slice of turkey bacon and about a half-ounce of reduced fat feta cheese. I can't tell you how good it was!
Here's the remoulade recipe:
1 tbsp. chopped celery
1 tbsp. chopped onion
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. Creole or spicy mustard
1 tbsp. yellow mustard
1 1/2 tbsp. ketchup
1 hard-boiled egg, chopped
Cayenne Pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Combine crawfish with enough remoulade to coat, and set aside to marinate. Add more remoulade to dish to taste.

Here's the thing: I omitted the celery, and added chopped bell pepper the first time I made the remoulade. I thought I wouldn't have enough for the second dish so I made more, but I didn't have an egg or lemon juice. I just sort of combined the old remoulade with the new remoulade, and I added a bit of extra ketchup because it didn't look the right color. Anyway, you can make it as spicy as you want, and I also added some capers to the pasta. Super delish.

King Ranch Chicken

Well hello, ladies! I decided it's been far too long since I've posted anything here, especially since I cook at least one big meal a week. So let's start this gig back up.
I needed something to do with all the massive amounts of turkey leftovers my mom sent me home with, because, to be honest, I really don't eat much meat. Especially not by itself. I'd rather have a salad or soup or something like that any day. So I decided to make King Ranch Casserole with turkey instead of chicken. It turned out pretty good, although the turkey got a bit dry (I always find turkey dry, however) but I also had to leave it in the oven a bit longer because my guests were late to dinner...and I took a nap on the couch. But it's really simple, so here you go.

1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can Rotel tomatoes and chiles
1 can chicken broth
2-4 chicken or turkey breasts (I had a good 2 lbs. of turkey, white and dark meat, but it really was too much. Two breasts would be about right.)
1 package corn tortillas
Shredded Cheddar cheese
Granulated garlic
Red pepper

Mix together both cans of soup, Rotel and about 1/2 to 3/4 of the chicken broth in a large bowl, and add salt, pepper and garlic to taste.
Boil or saute chicken until done, or use leftover chicken.
In a separate bowl, pour remaining chicken broth. Cut tortillas in half, dip in chicken broth until wet, and layer the bottom of a casserole or baking dish until covered.
Spread 1/3 of the soup mixture over the tortillas, enough to cover them, and sprinkle half the meat on top. Then sprinkle one or two small handfuls of cheese, just enough to stick.
Repeat layer a second time the same way, and then finish with a layer of tortillas and soup mixture only. Add the rest of the cheese until covered, and bake uncovered in a 350-degree oven for about 40-45 minutes, until cheese is golden and bubbly.
Let stand about 10 minutes, and serve with sour cream and salsa on top.

Barbecue Spaghetti

In my cooking rut the other day, I decided to try something new that sounded somewhat crazy: BBQ spaghetti. I had seen it while in Memphis and also watched The Neelys make it on their show, and I figured my mom's BBQ sauce is so damn delicious that it was worth a shot. It was really rich, so I could only eat small portions at a time, but I'm going to consider that a good thing. The BBQ sauce takes the longest to make, so I made that the night before, as well as the potato salad. Then, when I was ready to eat, I simply cooked the pasta and meat and dug in! Here's the deal:

For BBQ Sauce:
1 medium white onion
2 tbsp. butter
2-3 cloves of garlic (depending on preference and size)
Large bottle of Ketchup (that super-large one)
1/2 c. White Vinegar (cider vinegar works here too)
1 1/2 tbsp. dry Mustard powder (if you don't have this, you can use two tbsp. of yellow mustard)
1 small box of brown sugar
2 12 oz. cans of lite beer
1 small can of tomato sauce or paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
Large dash of Worcestershire sauce

Add chopped onion, garlic, vinegar and butter to large pot and cook until onions are translucent and soft (be sure not to burn the garlic.) Add mustard and entire bottle of ketchup, then brown sugar. Stir and let cook for about 10 minutes, then add beer, salt, pepper, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce. (I added one can of beer and it was fine, but two probably would've been better. This is up to you.) If sauce is thin, add tomato sauce/paste. If not, leave it out.
You may need more sugar depending on whether the sauce is too vinegary. This varies depending on how long you let the vinegar cook out at the beginning. Just taste and see, and if it isn't sweet enough, add granulated white sugar.
Cook for an hour to an hour and a half, stirring often. Be careful not to let it bubble too much or burn.
This recipe makes A LOT of sauce. You can keep the sauce in the refrigerator for about a week or two, but it freezes really well. Then, when you want to defrost some, you can simply spoon out what you need and microwave it. YUM!

For Spaghetti:
3 cups BBQ sauce
Pam cooking spray
1 lb. spaghetti
1 tbsp garlic
Salt, pepper
1 lb. ground pork (or chicken would work great too!)
1 med. onion, chopped

Cook spaghetti as directed to al dente. Spray bottom of nonstick pan with Pam and brown onions. Add garlic, ground pork (or chicken) and brown, adding salt and pepper. If you have BBQ seasoning, now would be a good time to throw some of that in too. Once meat is fully cooked, drain off excess fat. Add BBQ sauce and stir until warm. Drain pasta and add straight to skillet, mixing everything together. ENJOY!

Ladies! I'm stuck in a food rut! It's so bad that I invited people over for Sunday night dinner/True Blood watch party, and I'm seriously considering ordering pizza instead of cooking. This is definitely not a good sign for me.
I considered making some delicious gourmet burgers, and then I considered making The Neelys' BBQ spaghetti...but it all just sounds like so much work! When did I get too lazy to cook?!
I feel like if I find the right recipe/motivation, I can get back into it. It's like working out: once you get into the rhythm and see the results, you can't stop. So I need your help, ladies. Throw me some good recipes that will kick-start my cooking drive!

Sunday Fried Chicken

I woke up this morning with an uncontrollable craving for fried chicken. Maybe because I've spent the week in Louisiana and being in the South has taken over my mind, I don't know. I haven't fried chicken in years, but I decided to roll up my sleeves and fry a little chicken today.

-- Chicken pieces, I had thighs, but you can pick your favorite pieces
-- About two cups of milk
-- Two eggs
-- 2-3 cups of flour
-- Garlic powder
-- Black pepper and salt
-- Red pepper
-- Oil, I use vegetable but you can easily sub peanut or shortening

For gravy:
-- Three tablespoons flour
-- A can of evaporated milk
-- Water

Tools --
I used a large sized pot, but any pot size will works
A candy/frying thermometer
A meat thermometer

Place all of the chicken in a bowl and cover with milk. Let chicken sit in milk bath for at least an hour. You can let it sit overnight in the fridge if you would like.

Place flour and all seasonings in a ziplock bag. I like lots of garlic, but you can season to taste.

Beat the eggs in a separate bowl.

Remove chicken from milk bath one piece at a time, dipping in milk and then dropping into seasoning bag. I put three pieces in at a time and then shook the bag. Flour all chicken.

Pour oil to pot so there is about 4-5 inches deep but not more than halfway full. It should at least be as deep as the thickness of your chicken pieces.

Attach the candy thermometer to the pot so you can monitor the heat of the oil. Heat the oil to about 275-300 degrees.

Place chicken pieces in pot so that no pieces are on top of one another, but each have a place on the surface.

Cook for about 15-18 minutes for dark meat or about 13-16 for white meat, monitoring the temperature so it remains between 275-300. When done use a meat thermometer to ensure your chicken is 180 degrees.

Let sit about 5 minutes before eating on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels.

I made a white gravy to go with the chicken. Here's how:

Take about 1 cup of the oil used to fry the chicken. I put it into a second smaller pot. Try to get some of the crispy chicken pieces that are good and brown in the bottom of the pot.

Heat the oil and add about 3 tablespoons of flour, if you have left over flour from seasoning, you can use that.

Brown the flour in the oil over medium heat, continuously stirring with a whisk. Begin to add evaporated milk while continuing to stir the gravy. It will get really thick really quick. Keep adding milk until it looks like grits or oatmeal.

Then slowly add water, still stirring, until it is the consistency you want (thin enough to pour but not too thin).

I like to taste mine and then add the same seasonings I used on the chicken if it's not tasty enough.

I served mine with mashed potatoes and cooked some artichokes, that I wasn't 100 percent pleased with.