Cookaholic Wife is going on Vacation!

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Vacation! It is finally here!

My mom and Rodney go on cruises nearly every year and they had been asking us to go along with them. We tried to pull something together for 2016 but there were too many expenses and not enough time to plan, so we decided to push it out until March 2017.

I have thought about this cruise for over a year. We're going on the Norwegian Dawn and our ports of call are Costa Maya, Mexico, Cozumel, Mexico, Harvest Caye, Belize and Roatan Island, Honduras. I chose the cruise because the ports of call weren't your standard ones and I thought it would be awesome to visit Belize and Honduras.

Harvest Caye, Belize - Caye created by Norwegian 
image courtesy of ncl.com

Initially we were going to be on another ship and we were supposed to leave out of Florida, but about six months ago we were contacted by Norwegian saying that the ship has been chartered (more on that later) and they were providing us with two choices; we could leave the same week out of the same Florida port and go to other ports of call, or we could leave a week later out of New Orleans and keep the same ports of call.

image courtesy of Wikipedia

The ports of call were the selling point of the cruise so in a matter of minutes, we all decided that New Orleans was the correct choice. Rodney mentioned to me never having been to New Orleans before and maybe we could go down a few days early to see the city. My cousin Rishelle, her mom/my aunt Mikey and Rishelle's friend Mallory all agreed that it would be amazing to get two vacations in one.

So we found a house on Air BNB, rented it and started taking suggestions of places to go, foods to eat and things to do while in the wonderfully colorful city of New Orleans.

image courtesy of Drodd.com

I've shopped, researched, packed and planned and now it is finally here! I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am for this trip.

As I mentioned, Tom and I recently (randomly) bought a house and if everything goes through at settlement and it really is ours, we're going to be spending the next few years on housing projects so this is really our last vacation to enjoy for some time.

So, I guess this is just a really braggy way of telling you all that I won't be posting recipes for the next week or so since we're doing a very limited internet package for emergencies (work and pet related) only. Okay, fine and Instagram posts because how in the world am I going to wait until we return back to Louisana and I get my regular cellular service back to post pictures?

If you want to see all of the cool stuff we do, and likely a TON of food, follow me on Instagram

#FillTheCookieJar: Lime Bars

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I don't know what the weather has been like near you, but we have had quite a few days that have been unseasonably warm and spring-like. For a year that has been filled with a lot of uncertainty and depression and a winter that has left everyone sick for weeks or months at a time, this little break to warmer weather surely seemed to improve everyone's moods.



People were out and walking around my neighborhood, grinning as they passed each other. People at red lights sang along to music with their windows down and damn near everyone I talked to seemed to be giddy at the prospect of an early spring.



It's time for #FillTheCookieJar again and the theme for March is green/spring, which I decided to really play into by making these green colored lime bars that are light and delicious and remind me of spring.

Fill the Cookie Jar is a monthly blogging event where bakers come together and share cookie (or bar) recipes based on a theme. Our host is Cynthia of Feeding Big.



Lime Bars
Source: Yummy, Healthy, Easy
Servings: 16
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • For the Crust:
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
    • ½ cup powdered sugar
    • ½ cup vanilla yogurt
    • For the Filling:
    • 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
    • 4 eggs
    • ⅔ cup fresh lime juice
    • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • ½ tsp salt
    • zest of 1 lime
    • 3-4 drops green food coloring
    • powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish with an inch of overhang on two ends.
2. In the bowl of your mixer, combine flour, butter, powdered sugar and yogurt until crumbly. Press into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
3. Bake for 20 minutes then remove from the oven and allow to cool
4. In the bowl of your mixer, beat sweetened condensed milk and eggs until fluffy, then add in the lime juice, flour, baking powder, salt, zest and food coloring.
5. Pour over the cooled crust and bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the filling is set and the crust is a light golden brown.
6. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate 1-2 hours until the filling is fully set. Lift out the bars with the overhang parchment paper and cut into 16 squares. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top and serve. 




Lime is a fruit that I definitely find being underused in recipes. I rarely ever bake with them and if you are like me, these bars might just change your mind. Perfectly sweet and tart with a crumbly crust, these lime bars will have your taste buds singing! 




#FoodieExtravaganza: Chicken, Sausage and Shrimp Paella

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Happy first day of March! I cannot believe we are already three months in 2017! Time sure is flying by, especially with how crazy busy I've been lately.

It's time for me to participate in #FoodieExtravaganza again, a monthly blogging event where each theme comes from a National Food Holiday. In celebration of Spanish paella day, the theme for this month is paella. Our host is Sue of Palatable Pastimes.

I first learned about paella in seventh or eighth grade during Spanish class when we began discussing foods. At the time, I had a very picky palette and I had no idea if I was going to like a dish that combined proteins together along with rice and vegetables. A few months later my family was visiting my aunt and uncle at their house at the beach and my uncle announced that we were having paella for dinner. I was super excited to try it since I knew what it was!



Does it ruin the story if I tell you I can't remember if I liked it or not? Sorry, but that's the truth. I'm fairly certain I did, but the memory I have is more about recognizing the dish and talking to my uncle about the ingredients included in it.

Now that I'm much less picky, I know that I'm going to the dish and was thrilled to be able to make it again for this event. Paella comes in different versions; vegetarian, seafood, Valencia and mixed, which means a combination of sea and land proteins. I decided to do a mixed paella simply because I had all three proteins in the freezer.



Chicken, Sausage and Shrimp Paella
Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 6
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • For the Chicken:
    • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
    • 1 tsp olive oil
    • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
    • 2 tsp oregano
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp black pepper
    • For the Sofrito:
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 white onion, diced
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 6 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
    • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
    • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
    • For the Rice:
    • 2 cups white rice
    • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
    • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1 tsp turmeric
    • 1 bay leaf
    • zest of 1 lemon
    • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock
    • Other Ingredients:
    • 4 spicy sausage links, cut into ½ inch rounds
    • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails left on
    • 1 green pepper, diced
    • 1 red pepper, diced
Directions:
1. Combine the chicken, olive oil, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper together, tossing until well coated. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. In a large shallow pan, prepare the sofrito by heating the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, then add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Stir in the fresh parsley, paprika and crushed tomatoes and cook until all of the liquids have evaporated from the pan. Remove from the heat and set aside. 

3. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to another pan over medium heat. Cook the sausage until browned on both sides, 3-5 minutes. Remove from the pan and then add the chicken. Cook for 5-7 minutes until the chicken is browned. Remove the chicken and add the shrimp, cooking for 1 minute on each side until just barely pink. (It will finish cooking later.)
4. Push the sofrito to the side of the pan and add the rice to the other. Cook for 1 minute, allowing the rice to become lightly toasted. Stir in the smoked paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, turmeric, bay leaf, and lemon zest.
4. Add the sausage, chicken and bell peppers to the sofrito and rice along with 2 cups of chicken stock. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, shaking the pan but not stirring the rice. Add more chicken stock if it cooks off too quickly. The rice should be al dente in 20 minutes.
6. Place the shrimp on top of the rice, but do not stir in. Cover with foil and increase the heat to medium for 1-2 minutes to develop the socarrat, the caramelized crust of rice on the bottom of the pan, then remove from the heat.
7. Allow the pan to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. 





I know that looks like an insane amount of ingredients, but paella has a ton of flavor and that flavor needs to be developed over time. To make this a weeknight recipe I would prepare the sofrito, cook the sausage and marinate the chicken ahead of time. 




Paella is traditionally served in the pan it is cooked in so you can bring it right to your table as is, or your can divide out portions onto plates.





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