Blackened Chicken with Pasta Alfredo

Blackened Chicken_1 on Whisk Together

I am still working on the 250 cupcakes and wedding cake for this Saturday.   Not much else going on … I have almost finished the components of my book project.  I have an ISBN number for my book, too!  Just need to get it laid out now.  For the low, low price of a minimum of $349, I can have someone else do that.  And, guess what?  For the low, low price of $399, I can have someone design the cover!  Yeah….  Guess I’ll be working more in Photoshop myself 🙂   I also found out that a black and white book would cost be about $4 to pubish.  If I make it color, then the book is $12.  So, if you ever wonder why you see a cookbook or other piece in black and white and wondered why they didn’t include color photos… well, it’s because it cost 3 times more.  I think its worth it personally.

Among all this, I was offered a piece to write in the Heirloom Cookie Sheet book that is being published!  I can’t wait to get my package and share the insights on Whisk Together!  My due date is late October, so I should have the details of the recipe by then.  It will be a book of solid cookie recipes made generation after generation.  Yippee!  I love solid cookie recipes.  They are most of my cookie boxes while I try a recipe or two each year.

Recipe Update:  So, I covered one of my favorite Applebee’s dishes earlier: Bourbon Street Steak, and Chicken Fajita Roll-up a few months ago, so this is my last savory copycat from Applebee’s.   The creamy pasta works really well with the blackened chicken and added broccoli for vitamins and fiber.  I haven’t had this dish in years, but I thought it was close from what I remember.

Blackened Chicken_2 on Whisk Together

Blackened Chicken with Pasta Alfredo
serves 4

1 Tb. olive oil, canola oil or grapeseed oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dry thyme
1/4 tsp. white or black pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 – 1 box of fettucini or rotini pasta
1 jar – Alfredo sauce or homemade Alfredo
2 cups chopped broccoli florets
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1.  Stove Method: Heat oil in a large 12″ cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
2.  While the skillet heats up, mix the spices together and sprinkle onto both sides of the chicken.
3.  Place chicken in skillet and cook 5-7 minutes on one side.  Flip.  Cook 5-7 minutes on other side.  Reduce heat to medium and cook until the chicken is done/ reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees.
4.  While chicken cooks, boil water and cook the pasta per the box’s directions.
5.  Drain pasta.  Add alfredo sauce to the empty pot and add pasta.  Let sit on low.
6.  Steam broccoli over water or in microwave until cooked through – about 5 minutes.  Drain and mix into the pasta alfredo.
7.  Slice chicken into thin strips.  Place the pasta alfredo mixture onto the plate and place the chicken on top.
8.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

Alternate method:  Grill the chicken after putting the spices on over medium-high heat.


Blackened Chicken Spice Mix
this will make 4 recipes.  Great to have on hand for chicken, pork or steaks

1Tb. & 1 tsp. paprika (I like smokey paprika)
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. dry thyme
1 tsp. white or black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder

Shake and use!

Spice mix inspired by
Rest of the recipe is my own

Maple and Cayenne Chicken with Sweet Potato Mash

Maple Chicken with Sweet Potato and Apples_21

Book Update:  No time for books.  We got two new kittens this weekend.  They are named Oreo and Bella.  Kittens are the sweetest little things ever!

Anyone who lives near me in St. Louis should check out the Community Helpings Co-op.  You get a huge basket of mostly local produce for $21.50.  I stopped getting this for quite a few months, but I have started up again.  Given that my child is 35 pounds, I can say that the produce equals about 30-40 pounds each week.  Also check out their other items like sweet potatoes and cilantro are much cheaper than the grocery store.

I’ve also bought part of a grass fed cow.  Next time, I will get the entire 1/4 cow.  The meat was fantastic.  Ask around for local farmers or maybe a butcher can help you locate one.  We found ours through a neighbor and the meat is $3.10/lb.

Recipe Update:  This was probably one of the yummiest new dinners we have had and I do wish the photo displayed that.  I love maple syrup and the flavor with the chicken and apples is just divine.  It was really easy to put together, though you do have to brush the chicken a few times to get a good glaze.  And the sweet potatoes with the apples are awesome!!  Good thing those two foods are in season at the same time, huh?

Maple and Cayenne Chicken
serves 4

2 chickens, cut in 1/2  (wing tips, spine and breast plate removed)  or
use 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast or thighs
olive oil
1 cup maple syrup
2 tsp. cayenne pepper (for the kids, I reduced to 1/2 tsp.)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Put the chicken in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Brush the chicken with oil and sprinkle with salt.
3.  Bake chicken for 15-20 minutes.
4.  Meanwhile, put the maple syrup and cayenne pepper into a small saucepan.  Cook this over medium heat.  The maple syrup will boil and reduce by about a half.   It will be thicker.
5.  Brush the maple syrup reduction on the chicken.  Put the chicken back in the oven for another 10 minutes.  Brush your chicken one or two times again during those last 10 minutes.
6.  Rest  and serve.  Chicken should be 165 degrees internal temperature when cooked through.

Recipe from Anne Burrell on Food Network

Sweet Potato and Apple Mash
serves 4

3 large sweet potatoes
3-4 apples, cored and sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 T butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
dash of allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped pecans, optional

1 .  Cook sweet potatoes until they are cooked through.  I use my microwave on the “potato” setting.  Or you can roast them in the oven for 45 minutes.  Or, peel and chop them and boil them like mashed potatoes.
2.  Take the mashed potato and discard the peel.  Put this into a 7×11 baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3.  Sprinkle  the apples, brown sugar, butter and spices and salt on this potatoes.  Sprinkle pecans last if you are using them.
4.  Bake covered with foil for 15 minutes.
5.  Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes.  Stir  and serve warm.

Applebee’s Bourbon Street Steak Copycat Recipe

Bourbon Street Steak

Book Update: I finally finished most of “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.”  It was probably one of the most technical “science” book I have read in 10 years, but it was worth it.  I know more about glucocorticoids than I ever thought possible… since I never even heard of them before.  If you want to know anything about stress, psychology and physiology and managing stress, then this might be the book for you.  Make sure to read the footnotes – they have some of the funniest parts.

I would write more… but my spacebar is not working right.  Makes it a little hard to type.  If only I was married to someone who worked on computers…  😉

Recipe Update:  This is one of those recipes I have made 10 or more times over the past 5 years and just realized I never posted it.    Applebee’s Bourbon Street Steak is one of my favorite meals there.  It’s fun to be able to make this for when people come over or have a nice family dinner that cost $6 instead of $40.  (Well, because Sirloin steak was on sale this week for $3.99/lb!)  You could also use this marinade for chicken or for making kebabs.

Applebee’s Bourbon Street Steak
2 large servings

Marinade for 2 (10 oz.) top sirloin steaks:
2 Tb. Worchestershire sauce
2 Tb. soy sauce
4 tsp. chili powder
4 tsp. minced garlic
1 and 1/2 tsp. meat tenderizer (McCormick makes it.  Or substitute with salt)
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
1-2 cups water

Serve with:
3 Tb. butter, melted
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
pinch salt

1 Tb. olive oil
1 Tb. butter
2 onions, sliced thin
2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1-2 cups water

1.  Combine the marinade ingredients in a bag.  Store in the fridge for 2-24 hours.  The longer the better of course.  But, you still get good flavor if you are short on time.
2.  Discard the marinade and grill your steaks.  I always salt and pepper mine before putting them on the grill as well. To Grill a steak:  preheat your grill on high 15 minutes.  Clean the grill if needed.  Keep one burner on high and the other on medium-low.    Grill 3-5 minutes on the high burner.  Flip.  Grill 3-5 minutes on high.  Move to the cooler side of the grill and cook until desired doneness.   Rest the meat 5-10 minutes.
3.  Meanwhile, get a small saucepan or skillet and melt the 3T of butter and garlic powder and salt on low.  Keep warm.
4.  In a large skillet, make the onions and mushrooms.  Heat the oil and butter on medium heat.  Add your onions and cook 2-3 minutes.  Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper.  Cook another 2-3 minutes.
5.  Plate your steaks after they have rested.  Pour a little garlic butter on top and serve the onions on the side.

Recipe from Todd Wilbur’s Top Secret Recipes

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken and BBQ Sauce

Book Update:  I finished “The Secrets of Happy Families” by Bruce Feiler while on vacation since it was a suggested book by Amazon.  I think a lot of it could be applied to classrooms as well – especially elementary classrooms.  The book is thoroughly researched with hundreds of books and authors referenced that are the top of their fields.  Some of the things I found unconventional … and therefore interesting were:

1.  Creating a family manifesto
2.  Family meetings (I’ve seen these mentioned in magazines before)
3.  Family dinner is important.  Like really important.  Family dinners resulted children with higher self-esteem, better vocabularies, higher academics, fewer behavioral problems, and more resilience.  It doesn’t have to be dinner.  It could be breakfast or a late dessert.
4.  Kids should not be allowed to “duke it out” before age 8.  They really should have parental assistance in their squabbles before this age.
5.  You can have kids pick their own punishments, check off their own chores, etc.
6.  Adapt.  Adapt  Adapt.  My notes: I wonder if this is the most pressing flaw in Education – mainly public.  It is so large (and government funded) that it is simply is difficult to adapt to the changing times and changing children.  Similarly, families have to adapt to their growing children as well.  A smart board does not make a smart child.

Recipe Update:  This was quick and easy.  I liked it with added toppings below and trying to use different cooking methods for similar recipes in order to create one recipe that you can make several ways depending on time constraints.  The BBQ sauce was thin after cooking, but could be boiled a while to thicken it if you wish for a sauce.

**My camera battery died, so this is a phone photo.**

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken on Whisk Together

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast
16-18 oz. BBQ sauce (purchased or one of my favorite recipes for BBQ sauce is below)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tb. Worcestershire sauce
Optional toppings:  smoked gouda cheese, red onion slices and cilantro

1.  Mix the sauce, sugar, vinegar and sauce in the slow cooker.  Add chicken.
2.  Cover and cook HIGH 3-4 hours or LOW 4-6 hours.
3.  OR  you can bake in the oven in a sprayed 7×11 or 9×13 pan at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
4.  Serve and eat!  Toppings are delicious, but optional.  To melt the cheese I placed them on top of the cooked chicken and placed a piece of foil over the whole pan.  The cheese melted in 5 minutes and the chicken stayed hot.

BBQ Sauce

2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 Tb. light brown sugar
5 Tb. sugar
1/2 Tb. black pepper
1/2 Tb. onion powder
1/2 Tb. ground mustard (I think I omitted this once because I didn’t have it.  Still tasted good!)
1 Tb. lemon juice.
1 Tb. Worchestershire sauce

1.  Dump all this stuff in a sauce pan over medium heat.  Boil.  Reduce to simmer.
2.  Simmer for 75 minutes.  Since it is a sauce you can store it in the fridge, or freeze in bags for later!

BBQ sauce recipe from The Neely’s on the Food Network

Dewey’s Pizza Crust – Copycat Recipe

Dewey's Pizza Dough on Whisk Together

Book Update:  Our book club finished discussing “Skeletons in the Zahara” by Dean King, and as usual I came back enjoying the book even more.  You have to get passed the boring introduction of the desert and Colonial America.  Then, they get shipwrecked and the story becomes more interesting.  The trials and tribulations Captain Riley and his crew suffered after shipwrecking on the western coast of Africa are just unimaginable.  Even more astounding is the crew’s faith, especially Captain Riley’s, throughout the horrific ordeal.  I would go into more detail, but it doesn’t seem quite right to do so in a post about food.

For August, we are reading “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin.  I broke out in a fit of hysterical laughter because well… we just read “Skeletons in the Zahara” and the contrast just seemed very amusing to me.  It was also funny because I checked this book out just a few months ago.  But, due to the bad reviews of it on Amazon I took it back to the library.  I’ll have to give it another go.  I need a babysitter in October for when the third book of the Divergent series comes out.  I can’t wait!  Veronica Roth – write faster!

Dewey's Pizza Dough_6 on Whisk Together

Recipe Update:  I love love love Dewey’s Pizza.  Their crust, toppings, everything.  Especially the crust.  A lot of popular pizza dough recipes I have found like Pioneer Woman’s and Money Saving Mom yield a very thick crust.  I don’t want thick  – I want thin (but not too thin) and chewy.  This one is it!  It makes 2 dough balls.  Of course, you can freeze them and use them later or bake to your heart’s content.

The crust is very malleable.  I think if I had let it rest at room temperature a little longer I could have gotten the crust thinner than posted.  Plus, I really stink at rolling out pizza dough….  But, still.  The chewy crust held up nicely.  The yeast flavor was well developed and the inside of the crust looks very similar to Dewey’s.  The back of the crust does not.  But I’m also cooking this in a toaster oven and not a 600+ degree pizzeria pizza oven.  If it were not hot outside, I would have turned the oven and pizza stone up to 500 degrees.  I guess I could have grilled it…Doh!

The ingredient ratios for this recipe originate from someone who took a pizza making class at Dewey’s Pizza.  I created my own directions based on the fact that it is rumored online that Dewey’s also uses a 2 day cold rise.  Apparently, there are whole entire websites dedicated to finding out the best of each different type of pizza crust: Chicago style, New York style, etc.  I think it is quite fascinating how a handful of 6 ingredients can create such different results.

Dewey's Pizza Dough_7 on Whisk Together

Dewey’s Pizza Dough – Copycat
makes 2 – 12″ pizzas

1 ½ cups of warm water (105-110 F) (but not hotter than 115 degrees or the yeast will die)
2 Tb. Sugar
1/2 to 1 tsp. of yeast (for a 2 day cold rise; if using same day, use the full packet of yeast of 2 and 1/4 t.)
1 ½ tsp.  Salt
2 Tb.  Olive Oil
4 cups (18 oz) bread flour (you can substitute AP flour, just won’t be as chewy)

1.  In your measuring cup, measure out the warm water.  Add the sugar and yeast.  Wait 10 minutes to make sure the yeast is alive and foaming at the top.

2.  Add your salt, olive oil and bread flour to a large bowl or mixing bowl.  Stir together.

3.  Add your yeast/water mixture.  Stir together to form a dough.  Knead on a floured surface for 10 minutes, OR put your dough hook on your mixer and let the mixer do the work for you.  Once done, split it into two dough balls and place them in an bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray or wiped down with olive oil.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap.

4.  For a shorter rise time and using the whole 2 and 1/4 tsp. of yeast, allow to rise 75 minutes.  For a longer rise time and about 1 tsp of yeast, store in the fridge for 1-2 days.

5.  Roll out each dough ball into a 12″ circle.  Add toppings.  Preheat oven with a pizza stone to 500 degrees.  Or use a cookie sheet with parchment around 450 degrees.  Bake 7-10 minutes.

Dewey's Pizza Dough_5 on Whisk Together

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