About conniecockrell

Connie Cockrell began writing in response to a challenge from her daughter in October 2011 and has been hooked ever since. Her books run the gamut from SciFi and Fantasy to Contemporary to Halloween and Christmas stories. She's published two novels, The Gulliver Station series, three collections of short stories and has been included in three different anthologies. Connie continues to write about whatever comes into her head. If you’d like to know more, go to http://www.conniesrandomthoughts.com or to Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ConniesRandomThoughts.

Arroz con Pollo (Rice with Chicken)

Arroz con Pollo

No pasta this month, it’s rice instead. I saw this recipe on Food Network’s, Farmhouse Rules with Nancy Fuller. An upstate girl myself, I enjoy Nancy’s show and this one was shown around Cinco de Mayo, of course! Anyway, I haven’t made a chicken and rice casserole in I can’t remember when. So while I missed doing it on May 5th, it was shortly thereafter and on a rainy, cold day. I was grateful to have that lovely smell of rice, chicken and saffron filling the house and the heat of the oven making things all warm and cozy.

Serves 4 – 6.

Hardware

Cutting board

Knife

Cast Iron Dutch Oven

 

Ingredients

Ingredients

1/4 c olive oil

12 bone-in, skin on, chicken pieces (I used 6 pieces, thighs and legs)

1 large onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

3 bay leaves

1/2 cup diced tomato

4 cups chicken stock

One 12-ounce bottle lager beer

2 cups arborio rice

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1 pimento, chopped (jarred pimento is fine, about 1/4 cup)

Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Brown the chicken

Heat the olive oil in the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Add the pieces. My Dutch oven held 3 pieces without crowding. So I browned 3 at a time, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, holding the browned pieces until they were all done.

Onion, Pepper, and Garlic

Add the onions and peppers to the pot and cook until the onions are translucent, 2 – 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for about a minute.

Add Spices

Add the paprika, cumin, saffron and bay leaves, stirring until incorporated.

Liquids and Chicken

Next, add the diced tomatoes, chicken broth, beer, rice and another teaspoon of salt. Mix well. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Return the chicken pieces to the pot, cover and transfer to the oven for 20 minutes. Notice how the saffron is already giving the dish that lovely, golden hue.

Add peas and pimento

Remove the pot from the oven, add the peas and pimentos, then cover and return to the oven until the rice is completely tender, another 5 to 10 minutes.

The chicken was falling off the bone tender and hubby really enjoyed the meal.

Enjoy.

Notes: I used brown rice which has a longer cooking time than arborio rice. Adjust your cooking times to fit the rice you use.

I used the exact amounts of herbs and spices as recommended since this was the first time I’d used this recipe. In the future, I’ll increase the cumin and paprika and perhaps add a spicy pepper to bring up the heat a little. As it is, it’s not as savory as I would have liked, but very tasty never-the-less.

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Do you have a favorite rice or chicken supper? Please tell us about it in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Mysteries, and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

Shrimp Scampi: Chicklets in the Kitchen Post

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I seem to be on roll with the pasta recipes but I don’t care. I love pasta. I was thinking about what to do differently this week for our Saturday pasta night and it occurred to me that I could do a shrimp scampi. Was I watching an Olive Garden commercial at the time? Maybe. Anyway, I looked on the internet and for a fancy dish, shrimp scampi is surprisingly easy to make.

Serves 2 – 4.

Hardware

Large frying pan

Cutting board

Knife

Serving Bowl

Pot for Spaghetti

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Ingredients

2 Tblsp butter

1 cup shredded parmesan

1 lb shrimp, rinsed and patted dry

2 Tblsp minced garlic

Salt and Pepper to taste

3 Tblsp Lemon juice and the zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup Pinot Grigio

In a large pot, cook 12oz spaghetti according to package directions.

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While the water comes to a boil and you cook the spaghetti, melt the butter in the frying pan.

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When it begins to foam up, add the shrimp, garlic, salt and pepper.

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If you’re using raw shrimp, cook about 2 minutes per side. If you’re using already cooked shrimp, just a minute per side to warm it through.

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Remove from pan to serving bowl, then toss in the lemon juice, zest and wine. Bring to a boil and let reduce a little.

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Add the parsley.

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Return the shrimp to the pan.

Drain the cooked pasta, put in serving bowl, add the shrimp scampi and toss to coat.

Enjoy.

 

Notes: I didn’t think the scampi had enough sauce to coat the spaghetti so I added 2 Tblsp each of butter and extra virgin olive oil and tossed again.

I also added shredded parmesan cheese to my bowl. I know the rule is no cheese in seafood dishes but I really like parmesan cheese.

 

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Do you have a favorite pasta supper? Please tell us about it in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Mysteries, and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

Avocado Pesto: A Chicklets in the Kitchen Post

Avocado Pesto

I was scrolling through the channels the other day and landed on Food Network’s Trisha Yearwood’s show, Trisha’s Southern Kitchen. She had a vegetarian guest on and they were making Avocado Pesto Toast (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/trisha-yearwood/avocado-pesto-toast). I didn’t copy the recipe down and I didn’t go back to look it up when I made this for dinner but my recipe and hers is pretty close.  Next time I’ll remember the lemon. That would be even better.

Why avocado pesto? Some people, my daughter included, find a full basil pesto too much. Basil is a powerful flavor and it can be overwhelming. Cutting down on the basil with avocado (or Swiss Chard, Spinach, Arugula, Asparagus, or some other green) is a really good alternative. The avocado lends the sauce a smooth, rich mouth feel and is good for you too!

The best thing is that this is a no cook sauce and serves 2 – 4.

the ingredients

Hardware

Blender

Serving Bowl

Pot for Spaghetti

 

Ingredients

2 oz package of pine nuts

1 package fresh basil (about 1/2 cup) stems removed

1 cup shredded parmesan

1 4oz package avocado (guacamole that is just avocado) (or 1 whole fresh avocado)

1 Tblsp minced garlic

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and Pepper to taste

Lemon juice (2 Tblsp Optional)

In a large pot, cook 12oz spaghetti according to package directions.

It’s All in the Blender

While the water comes to a boil and you cook the spaghetti, add the pine nuts, cheese, garlic, basil and guacamole to the blender.

Add the oil and pulse to puree.

Blend until smooth drizzling in the olive oil. Add the lemon juice if you so desire. If it’s too thick, add up to 1/2 cup of water. Adding more oil can make the pesto too greasy and the avocado is already pretty fat.

It’s smooth and creamy!

(Note: I probably should have spun the dry pine nuts a few times to break them up first, then added the basil, then the rest but, it all worked out in the end.)

Time to Mix it Up!

Drain the cooked pasta, put in serving bowl, add the pesto and toss to coat.

Enjoy.

My hubby loved the meal. He didn’t find the basil overpowering and the avocado gave the meal a nice rich feel.

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Do you have a favorite pesto supper? Please tell us about it in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Mysteries, and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

Roasted Veggie and Shrimp Salad

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Roasted Veggie and Shrimp Salad

I first saw this in my facebook feed and it looked so good I had to try it. Taken from http://www.buzzfeed.com/mercedesandoval/this-roasted-shrimp-and-veggie-salad-is-perfect-for-a-filling-lunch, when I tried going to buzzfeed to find the actual link, I couldn’t find it. However, a very similar recipe is https://www.buzzfeed.com/alixtraeger/sheet-pan-steak-and-rainbow-veggies?utm_term=.dulwdZ8ry#.ap2yL27Bo. Either way you’re going to end up with a really good meal. Serves 2.

Hardware

Sheet pan

Cutting Board

Knife

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

 

Ingredients

1 pound raw shrimp thawed, rinsed and patted dry

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 cup carrot, shredded

1 cup yellow bell pepper, large dice

1 cup red onion, large dice

1 cup asparagus, large dice

Olive oil

Chili powder

Oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Lime juice (at least 2 limes)

Mixed Greens

Chili Lime Vinaigrette Dressing:

3 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F or 200 degrees C

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Add the cut vegetables to a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings to your preference. Toss. Bake for 10 minutes.

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Move veggies to the side to make space in the center of the baking sheet and add the shrimp in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings and lime juice. Toss. Bake for 5 – 8 minutes until shrimp is fully cooked. Be careful not to overcook.

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Mix dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.

In large salad bowl, combine the mixed greens, roasted shrimp and veggies and vinaigrette.

Enjoy.

 

What I did differently: I substituted dried thyme for the oregano because I didn’t have any. I substituted left over whole green beans for the asparagus because I forget to get the asparagus. I added the beans to the sheet pan with the shrimp since they were already cooked. I used a baby greens salad mix and when I put the hot veggies and shrimp in on top, the greens wilted some. If you don’t care for that, let the hot shrimp and veggies cool a bit. My hubby loved the meal.

 

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Do you have a favorite salad supper? Please tell us about it in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Mysteries, and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

Finger Paint: A Chicklets in the Kitc

It’s the winter doldrums. The kids no longer want to go play in the snow. You are tired of them either being underfoot or want them off of their electronics. What to do?

I downloaded this graphic years ago and though it says Easie Peasie on the bottom, a website search did not reveal an actual link to give you. So, with my apologies to the actual author, enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Do you have a favorite craft? Please tell us about it in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Mysteries, and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

A New Year’s Breakfast: Chicklets In the Kitchen Post

paleo-breakfast

It’s the new year and to be honest, I’ve kind of let my weight get the better of me. That has to stop. It doesn’t feel good at all. So, the first day of the year I decided to change my eating and get some more exercise. I know. Everybody does that. But it’s true. Time for me to make a change. Since I have been suffering from plantar fasciitis and from tendonitis in both feet, doing my usual hiking and aerobic exercise can’t be done. So I went to the local community college where they have a gym and as a senior, I get free membership. I signed up for a trainer to help me develop a training program that allows me to exercise without pounding on my feet, allowing me time for them to heal. Yay! I’ve even scheduled the workouts on the calendar, like appointments. No being wishy-washy. It’s important.

So what’s that got to do with breakfast? It’s the other side of the coin, of course. Good fuel, good workout, happy author. Actually this breakfast hash is so simple I’m almost embarrassed to post it but a lot of people box breakfast up into a tiny space when it could be so much more.

Today’s breakfast is customizable. If you don’t like one thing in the ingredient list, substitute another. You don’t have a particular ingredient on hand, not a problem, put something else in. You’ll notice the breakfast is heavy on the veggies and has only moderate protein. That can be adjusted as well.

And paleo? A recent diet that eliminates grains, dairy and most sugar. Heavy on the vegetables and lean protein, it is said to resemble a cave-man diet. I’m not sure about that but I do know this combo works for me, just as for my grandma. Eliminate the carbs and the weight comes off, especially with a moderate amount of exercise.

Besides that, it’s good!

Hardware

Cutting Board

Knife

Medium frying pan

 

Ingredients

2 oz (1/3 cup) diced raw sweet potato

1 – 2 oz diced sweet pepper

6 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 green onion, sliced

1 oz fresh baby spinach leaves

1 – 2 oz ground breakfast sausage

1 T butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Other options: 2 oz sliced mushrooms, washed and patted dry, ham, eggs, celery, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, dried Thyme, oregano, sage, your favorite veggie.

 

In the frying pan, add the butter, melt. Add the sweet potato and sweet pepper. Sauté until nearly tender.

Add the onion, tomato, spinach and sausage. Cook till hot through and the spinach is wilted.

Plate and enjoy.

 

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Do you have a favorite breakfast? Please tell us about it in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Mysteries, and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

Chicken Scallopini with Mushrooms and Brandy Sauce: Chicklets in the Kitchen Post

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Here’s the thing. Aren’t we overwhelmed with food right now? I know, but chicken scallopini is an easy to make, impressive dinner that can be used for any holiday meal and wow your guests. Turkey could most certainly be substituted if you want to use a more traditional holiday protein.

Hardware

2 bowls or pie tins for breading process

Cutting Board

Knife

Cookie sheet with cooling rack

Large frying pan

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

 

Ingredients

1/2 pound sliced mushrooms, washed and patted dry

¼ cup diced onion

2 med garlic cloves, minced

Two full chicken breasts, butterflied and cut in half

2 T Olive oil and 2 T butter

2 eggs, whisked and put in one pie plate.

Cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper.

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup half and half or heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

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In the large frying pan, add the olive oil and butter, melt. Add the mushrooms. Saute until browned, remove from heat.

Dice the onion and garlic.

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Dredge the now 4 chicken breast pieces in the flour. Dip in the egg, dredge in the flour.

Add more butter and or oil to the pan.

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Drop in the onion, garlic, and chicken pieces.

Saute until the chicken is browned but not done. Put the pieces on the cookie sheet and place in the oven.

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Raise heat to high on the frying pan. Pour the broth in the pan and scrape to deglaze. Turn down the heat. Add the half and half, stir to combine. Add the mushrooms.

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Let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes, then add the brandy and the chicken breast.

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Cook on a simmer another 10 minutes.

Plate and drizzle the sauce over the scallopini.

NOTE: I have served this with rice and asparagus, mashed potatoes and broccoli, whatever your family likes.

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. Do you have a favorite holiday meal? Please tell us about it in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Mysteries, and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

Hassleback Potatoes – A Chicklets in the Kitchen Blog Post

hassleback006

This is the time of year for entertaining and while I’m a mashed potatoes kind of girl, once in a while it’s nice to change things up. Hassleback potatoes are named for the Austrian restaurant that developed them. Deceptively simple to make and very elegant on the plate, these are delicious.

Hardware

Cutting Board

Knife

Baking pan (I was cooking for two so I only needed an 8-inch square pan)

Large metal or wooden spoon

Small saucepan for melting butter

 

 hassleback001

Ingredients

4 whole, peeled Yukon gold potatoes (Other recipes I saw called for baking potatoes (russets) or even sweet potatoes.) The potatoes I used were small so we had two each. Judge your needs accordingly.

1 stick butter

Salt and Pepper

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Melt the butter over low heat.

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Place the potato in the bowl of the spoon and make horizontal (1/4 inch’ish apart) cuts in the potato down to the spoon being careful not to cut all the way through.

Repeat with all of the potatoes.

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Place in the baking pan and using a spoon, drizzle half of the butter into the cuts on each potato. I ended up using my fingers to get the butter into each cut. Salt and pepper to taste.

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Bake at 425F for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle the remaining butter over the potatoes and cook another 20 minutes.

Remove from oven, test for doneness, then plate.

Optional: Mix together 1/2 cup of bread crumbs and 1/2 cup of grated parmesan and romano cheese, top the potatoes with this mixture, doing your best to get it into the leaves of potato, at the 40-minute point then drizzle with the remaining butter. Finish baking for 20 minutes.

Serves 2 – 4 based on potato size.

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. What is your favorite kind of potatoes? Please tell us about it in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Mysteries, and a lot of other things and you can find links to all my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

Cranberry Orange Relish: Chicklets in the Kitchen Post

Cranberry Orange Relish

Cranberry Orange Relish

I’m jumping the holiday gun just a little. Since my posts appear on the 25th, I wanted to share this before your Thanksgiving holiday meal. This is the cranberry sauce I grew up with. It used to be right on the back of the 12 oz Ocean Spray fresh cranberry bag but this year when I looked, it wasn’t. I had to go to http://www.OceanSpray.com where it, and a good many other holiday recipes, are located and download it. This is also great because there’s no cooking, freeing up a burner on your stove for other things, like gravy!

Hardware

Food Processor

Cutting Board

Knife

Bowl

Rubber Spatula

 cranberryrelish001

Ingredients

1 12oz bag fresh cranberries

1 navel orange, unpeeled, cut into eighths and seeded

3/4 to 1 cup sugar

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Place half the cranberries and half the orange slices in food processor container. Process until mixture is evenly chopped. Transfer to a bowl.

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Repeat with remaining cranberries and orange slices. Stir in sugar. Store in refrigerator or freezer.

Makes about 3 cups.

NOTE: May also be prepared in a food grinder.

Per Serving: (1/4 cup) Cal. 67 (3% DV), Fat Cal. 0, Pro. 0g (0% DV), Carb. 17g (5% DV), Fat 0g (0% DV), Chol. 0mg (0% DV), Sod. 0mg (0% DV), Vit. A 4RE (0% DV), Vit. C 10mg (16% DV), Vit. E 0mg (0% DV), Calcium 6mg (0% DV), Folate 4Ug (0% DV), Zinc 0mg (0% DV), Pot. 40mg (1% DV), Dietary Exchange: Fruit 1

Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. What is your favorite holiday recipe? Please tell us about it in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Mysteries, and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.

Tomato Soup: Chicklets in the Kitchen

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It’s the end of summer and I have a glut of tomatoes, especially cherry tomatoes. Fortunately, the variety I chose for this year has that cherry tomato sweetness but isn’t too sweet. What to do with a giant bowl full of cherry tomatoes? Why tomato soup, of course! A few random Amish Paste and Early Girls found their way into the soup as well but it’s all good. The batch ended up making 3 pints of soup. Half a pint made it into my lunch but the rest I froze for future meals. Happy cooking and eating.

Hardware

4 Quart Pot

Cutting Board

Knife

1 or ½ pint freezer containers

Immersion Blender

 

Ingredients

Bowl full of cherry tomatoes, washed

¼ cup sliced onion

2 med garlic cloves, sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Slice the onion and garlic. Cut the tomatoes in half.

Add ½ cup of water to the pot.

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Drop in the onion, garlic, and tomatoes, and salt and pepper.

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Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about an hour.

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Right in the pot, use the immersion blender to blend the mixture until smooth. Serve up bowls full for lunch or supper. Freeze the rest.

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NOTE: I did not strain the blended soup to remove the seeds. I kind of like the seedy chew but if you don’t, go ahead and strain the seeds out.

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Thanks for stopping by Chicklets in the Kitchen. What do you do with your tomato abundance? Please tell us about it in the comments box below if you feel so inclined.

My name is Connie Cockrell and I write SciFi, Fantasy, Mysteries, and a lot of other things and you can find links to all of my books at www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com.