Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Quick Weeknight Dinner: Cajun Chicken Pasta, from The Pioneer Woman

Last night, my oven died.  (Bows head for a moment of silence .)  That means that the recipes I had planned for the week need to change.  I miss my oven.  Dr. Craig says that the thingamajiggy that ignites the gas needs to be replaced.  Sigh.  At least the stove works, so I could finally make one of the Pioneer Woman's recent recipes she posted.  I liked the idea of using a Cajun mix of seasoning, so I bookmarked this one. Pasta is one of my favorite fast food dinners, after a busy day at the office.  Bell peppers are a vegetable that I always have in the fridge. I can hardly wait until summer, when I can grow my own again. I'm slowly learning to turn up the spice heat a little more, because my husband loves spicy food.  This is truly a 29 minute meal. Ready? Start a pot of water to boiling. I grabbed a box of fettuccine.  Don't forget to salt the water! Cook the pasta to al dente.  In the meantime:

You need chicken, red bell pepper, green bell pepper (I had red & yellow), red onion (I'm sure any kind of onion is just fine), minced garlic, and Roma tomatoes (canned can work, too).  I made my own Cajun seasoning like the one I used to make my version of Red Beans & Rice.  I use 1 Tablespoon each of sweet paprika,  garlic powder, Lawry's Seasoning Mix and oregano and one teaspoon cayenne.  You can find lots of Cajun seasoning mix, but I like to control my own sodium.

In some olive oil and unsalted butter, sear the meat; remove the chicken to a plate. Add the vegetables, garlic and Cajun seasoning and cook for a minute or two.  I added half the seasoning, using the rule of logic-- you can always add more heat, but you can't take it out!  Remove the vegetables and pile them on top of the chicken. Deglaze the pan with some white wine or vermouth.  Loosen up the bits of brown flavor and let it reduce for a few minute.  Add some heavy cream (or half & half) and let it thicken a little bit more. Don't fret (like I did) if the sauce doesn't thicken a lot. Taste the sauce for seasoning and adjust with salt & pepper.  The Pioneer Woman says to add lots of black pepper.  I didn't, because I don't like lots of black pepper. But that's the beauty of this recipe-- you can add whatever you want!

Pour the chicken, vegetables and all the yummy juices back into the pan. Add the cooked and drained pasta pasta and combine all that flavorful goodness.

Garnish with a some fresh parlsey...
This dish reminds us of a Blackened Chicken Fettuccine that my husband orders at our favorite local restaurant.  This version doesn't have as many fat grams, though!  It's also a lot cheaper to make for six people, than one restaurant serving for $18.95. My boys loved it a lot. They had heaping seconds.  I even think that mushrooms would be great in this dish.

How hot was it?  I'm a bit of a wimp about hot and spicy food.  The cayenne pepper said "hello", in my opinion, but I wasn't breathing fire.  I actually liked it.  My husband said it could have been hotter. All he had to do was to add the remaining spice and everybody was happy.

Three more days till the weekend-- and we get one more hour of daylight.  I'm so looking forward to that!

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