Tag Archives: Pasta

Cajun Chicken Pasta & Cajun Spice Mix Recipe

Tonight, I took on a recipe from The Pioneer Woman.  This spicy chicken stir fry is meant to be served over pasta, but it works well as a wet, soupy stir fry too.  Perfect for me and Scott Bobleo, who is currently on a low carb kick.  I cooked up some pasta on the side and we both had it our way.  The spice of this dish is totally adjustable, depending largely on the Cajun Spice Blend you are using.  I like it to be pretty hot, so when I blended my spices it was with a heavy hand on the Cayenne Pepper.  I even went so far as to toss in some Red Pepper Flakes toward the end.  Mwa ha ha.

Here’s the blend I created for this dish.  Naturally, I didn’t use all the spice, so I stored the rest in an empty spice jar that I had cleaned out and set aside last week.  Now next time I need some Cajun Spices they’ll be just a reach away.

Cajun Spice Blend

Cajun Spice Mix

Scheming the Spice Blend

  • 1/8 cup Salt
  • 1 tbsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 2 tsp. White Pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 2 tbsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp. Basil
  • 1/2 tsp. Chili Powder
  • 1/8 tsp. Thyme
  • 1/8 tsp. Clove Powder
  • 1/8 tsp. Mustard Powder

When you blend your own spices make sure to mix them well.  Many spices can clump up or settle to the bottom.  I throw mine into a mortar and pestle to make sure they are well blended.  You could also use a kick-ass blender or food processor. (Like a Magic Bullet.)

Due to necessity I had to change a few things from Pioneer Woman’s original recipe, but it still turned out really delicious.  It has a rich flavor that sings even under the heavy blanket of spice.  No fresh tomatoes, so I used a can instead. (I drained them as well as I could though)  And, sadly, I had no fettuccine, but I did have some angel hair.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

This particular meal was so good that Scott Bobleo has asked me to mark down his fondness for it.  That way, he’ll know what to call it next time he wants to eat it.  Oh and he wanted me to relay a huge “thank you” to The Pioneer Woman for inventing his new favorite meal.

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Filed under Cajun, Pasta, Poultry

Saucy & Thrifty!

Making homemade marinara sauce is pretty ding dang easy, and it can save you a load of cash, especially if you make large batches. Marinara freezes well, and spends most of it's cook time simmering unassisted, needing only the occasional stir to keep it on the right track. Easy, peasy, and amazingly cheap.

Here's how I make mine:

  • 1 Giganto Can of Diced Tomatoes
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Olive or Veg. Oil
  • 3-4 Small Onions (or 1-2 Large Onions)
  • A Few Tabelspoons Minced Garlic
  • Some Random Herbage
  • Extra Ingredients as the Mood Strikes Me (Red Pepper Flakes, Roasted Peppers, Cheese, etc.)

Sauce 1

Pictured above are some of the basic ingredients. I also use 3-4 small onions, and some Olive Oil. (Vegetable Oil can also be used instead.) Most folks already have at the very least a shaker of "Italian Seasoning" hanging around in the cupboard. This alone will do just fine, but if you want a little more control, try picking up some basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, and/or cumin. Having fresh herbs on hand is awesome, but not necessary. If you love using fresh herbs, but want to make it more economic, you can freeze any unused portion inside a slightly dampened paper towel and a plastic bag.

Simple sauce can also be jazzed up with other ingredients. I like to make it a little different each time by adding things like Roasted Red Peppers, Parmesan Cheese, or by spicy Red Pepper Flakes.

Sauce 2

Start out by adding a few tablespoons of Olive Oil to a large pot. Load up the pot with plenty of minced garlic, and whatever seasonings you like.  Turn the heat onto a lo simmer and cover the pot.  Allow the herbs and garlic to infuse their flavors into the warm oil for about 15 – 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, dice up some onions.  Turn the heat to around med-low and add the diced onions.  Allow them to slowly cook until they begin to clear.

Sauce 3

Now, open your massive can of Diced Tomatoes and pour them into the pot. Stir the mixture well, and turn it up to med-high. Keep an eye on the pot as it comes to a boil, stirring now and then.  When it finally starts bubbling, bring it down to a simmer and let it cook for about 30-45 minutes with the cover off. You should check on it occasionally, but there is no need to hover over the pot. Let it be, and do something more exciting with yourself while it simmers. (Tip: Opening giant cans really sucks. If it's an option, make your husband/boyfriend/domestic partner do it. If that's going to happen, put on your best Rose the Riveter face and come at the can like you caught it using your good sewing shears to open blister packs of electronic gadgets.)

Sauce 4

Now that the sauce has gotten some cook time in, it's time to smooth it out.  This can be done two ways: the easy way, and the hard way. The easy way is to stick an immersion blender (or stick blender) in the sauce and blend it until it is smooth. This takes around 30 seconds.  If you don't have a stick blender, you'll have to do it the hard way.  Allow the sauce to cool down, then put portions of it in a normal blender and blend. After you've blended it all, return it to the pot and reheat it. This takes, like, forever. Alternatively, you could blend the tomatoes before adding them to the sauce. Also annoying, but less time consuming. (Tip: Stick blenders can be purchased for as little as ten bucks at Big Box stores. I love my fancy stainless stick blender, but I also have one I use for soap making that cost about ten bucks at a Walmart <insert GASP here>. It works just fine.)

After blending the sauce, let it simmer on low heat for another 30-45 minutes with the cover off. Cooking it down makes it nice and thick. Quit cooking it as soon as it is thick enough for your own taste. If you love it dense, you can just keep on cooking for as long as it takes. If you like it thin, you won't have far to go!

Sauce 5

And that, my friends, is all there is too it.  Let the sauce cool, and jar it up! If you want to freeze it, be sure to package it in plastic tubs or in freezer safe glass.

By the way, this recipe makes about 3 jars worth of sauce. (Give or take, depending on how far you cook it down.) If you really want to save time, get a bigger pot and double this recipe.  6 jars lasts an awfully long time.  Based on how much I pay for my ingredients, the cost of each jar works out to about $1.00 – $1.50. Most folks will already have spices, oil, and garlic at home, but even if you started with nothing, you'd only need to make an investment of around 20 bucks to stock your pantry with everything needed to make sauce on a regular basis.(Tip: Save yourself some heartache and confusion by marking the date the sauce was made on the lid. Washable Crayons/Markers, or blank sticky labels work quite well.)

Happy Saucemaking! If anyone has special homemade sauce tips, please share them in the comments.

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