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A little spicy

By Angie Sutton

www.mothersapronstrings.com

With 2016 officially rung in, we are getting back into our regular routine of drop- offs, pick- ups and evening activities. The colder temperatures have definitely got me in the mood to break out a bit spicier recipes!

Both of the main dish recipes this week allow for an easy preparation of two versions if the adults prefer more heat in their entrée. You can add a few more dashes of hot sauce during the cooking process, or offer it on the table for individual addition. Selecting a spicy sausage can definitely heat up the red beans and rice to your liking.

I like the Cajun seasoning for both recipes because it is a well-rounded combination including cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes. You can purchase this spice mix pre-made or create your own allowing you to develop the level of heat that you like.

Homemade Cajun-blend Seasoning

www.mothersapronstrings.com

Ingredients:

1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1 or 2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 to 1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Directions:

Stir together until evenly mix. Store in an airtight container for up to 30 days.


Cajun Chicken Pasta

This dish makes a meal with just a touch of spicy!

Ingredients:

1 lb. angel hair pasta
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
2 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning
2 red bell peppers, chopped
3 green bell peppers, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
Small box of button mushrooms, sliced
4 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
3/4 tsp. dried basil
3/4 tsp. lemon pepper
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. In a large pot, bring lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 6 minutes, or until al dente.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, over medium heat, melt butter. Add chicken slices to skillet and sprinkle both sides of chicken with Cajun seasoning. Sauté chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 7 minutes.
3. Add bell peppers, mushrooms and scallions and cook for 3 minutes.
4. Add heavy cream, basil, lemon pepper, salt, garlic powder and pepper to skillet. Cook until sauce thickens slightly.
5. Drain pasta and add to skillet. Toss until coated. Transfer to a serving platter and top with Parmesan cheese.

Apron Strings Tip:

--Add the amount of pasta your family desires or let each guest put the pasta on their plate and top with the sauce.

--I'm always looking for ways to save time and money. A bag of frozen diced red/yellow/green bell peppers with onions and a bag of frozen sliced mushrooms is an alternative. I defrost them in the microwave before adding them to the skillet.

--I purchased chicken breasts on sale a few weeks ago and slow cooked them. Then I shredded the chicken before stashing them in the freezer. This is a huge time saver if you defrost it and then sauté in step 2 for just long enough to heat it up and infuse the Cajun seasoning.


Easy Red Beans and Rice

Ingredients:

1 tsp. olive oil
1 lb. smoked sausage or 1 (11-oz.) pkg. smoked beef sausage
1/2 c. chopped red bell pepper
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. celery
1 c. white rice, uncooked
1 (14-oz.) can dark red kidney beans, drained
1 (14-oz.) can light kidney beans, drained
2 c. chicken broth
1 c. water
2 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning
2 Tsp. hot sauce

1. In a stockpot over medium-high heat, heat the oil.
2. Cut sausage into 1/2-inch pieces and lightly brown in the skillet.
3. Add vegetables and sauté 5 to 7 minutes. Add the rice and sauté two more minutes.
4. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid, and cook until rice is done, about 20 minutes.

Apron Strings Tips:

Spice this dish up by adding a spicy sausage or a blend of both types.
To save even more time, pick up a bag of diced, frozen Cajun vegetable mix, which includes the red bell peppers, onion and celery.


Sopapilla Cheesecake

Ingredients:

2 (8-oz.) cans refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
2 (8-oz) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Unroll 1 can of dough. Place in bottom of ungreased 13×- by 9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish. Stretch to cover bottom of dish, firmly pressing perforations to seal.
2. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and 1 cup of the sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Spread over dough in baking dish.

3. Unroll second can of dough. Carefully place on top of cream cheese layer. Pinch seams together.
4. Pour melted butter evenly over top.
5. Mix remaining 1/2 cup sugar with the cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over butter. Bake about 30 minutes or until center is set. Cool slightly, about 20 minutes, before serving. Refrigerate for easy cutting. Cover and refrigerate any remaining cheesecake.

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