Monday, February 20, 2012

Meatless Monday...PW's Cajun Pasta

Last night B cooked.  I know right?  He was all, "Babe, I thought you'd like a break so why don't I cook?"  To me, that was the most romantic thing he could have said, and way better than roses and chocolate.  Oh, and being the amazing man that he is, he even made it meatless...swoon.

He decided to make PW's Cajun Chicken Pasta sans the chicken.  Oh, my was it yummy!  We've made it a few times before with the chicken, but honestly with all the yummy peppers we didn't even miss the meat...

For those who may not like spicy food, I should note that this wasn't spicy at all.  You can really give it a kick by adding cayenne if you'd like, but it's equally good without it (this coming from a girl who LOVES spicy food!)

The recipe calls for 'Cajun spice mix' so we used Tony Cachere's which you can find pretty much anywhere.  I grew up on this stuff as when I lived at home my mama made homemade gumbo quite a bit.  The directions on the back say to "Use it like salt.  When it is salty enough, it's seasoned to perfection."  This is pretty accurate...I used a bit too much once, and my food was way too salty!

Hope you enjoy this!  Better yet, I hope your spouse makes it for you!

PW's Cajun Pasta (meatless)

1 lb. fettuccine
1 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
3 tsp Cajun spice mix
1 whole green pepper, seeded and sliced
1 whole red pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 C. vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 C. white wine
1 C. heavy cream
cayenne pepper to taste

*Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.  Do not over cook.  Drain and set aside.
*Heat olive oil and butter in pan.  Toss peppers and onions with Cajun spice mix and saute in pan until seared and tender.  Add tomatoes and cook an additional 30 seconds.  Remove from pan and set aside.
*With the pan over high heat add wine and chicken broth.  Cook for 3-5 minutes scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze.  Reduce heat to medium/low and add cream, whisking constantly until mixture begins to thicken.
*Add vegetables to sauce and stir to cook 1-2 minutes.  Add drained fettuccine and toss to coat.  The sauce will be fairly thin, but will thicken as it sits a bit.

We serve ours with a little extra Cajun spice mix and shredded Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Way back before there were two miniature Jacksons, there was just Brent and Nikki.  A couple of college students doing the long distance dating thing.  There were lots of sweet notes and e-mails sent back and forth.  At first we signed Love, Brent and Love, Nikki, but after a while, we developed a sort of shorthand and began signing Love, B. and Love, N.  I's like rocket science or something.  It's never left us and we still just sign our initials when we write to each other.

But you know something?  There is something in all of those years of simply typing our initials that I never noticed, but B did and used it to make the best Valentine's Card ever.  We've always been side-by-side...

I will share just a brief bit of what he wrote on the inside:
I guess it's poetic that as one intends to type 'B' or 'N' they accidentally 
type the other, but it's no accident since we are a unified pair.

It is amazing how God intricately weaves us together with the mates HE created for us.  Many of my friends have shared time and again that their husband is their perfect match.  Strong where we are weak.  An encouragement as we walk through life side-by-side.  Unified as one.

I'm grateful that in God's perfect creation of marriage, he intended for an unbroken unity.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Meatless Monday: Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownies...

**I originally posted this recipe in September of 09'!  A friend reminded me of it today, so I decided to re-run it!  I suppose my adventures in healthier eating began earlier than I had thought!** 

So, this is my newest recipe adventure: Black Bean Brownies. Doesn't it sound like some dirty trick you played on your best friend in high school? "Here, try these brownies...he he he. You're going to love them...he he he." Not that I would know...I never, ever pulled pranks like that...

**Anyway, we tried these, which is a stretch for us. They taste really good, but I think I just can't get my mind to forget about the beans. They have a texture very much like 'flourless chocolate cake'. Very moist, fudgy, not chewy like a traditional brownie. I encourage you to give the recipe a shot and tell me what you think. B and the little Mr. enjoyed them. They like them with vanilla-bean ice cream...kind of a theme here I guess.  Oh, and a plus...they're gluten-free!!!


1 can black beans (*I used salt free drained/rinsed)
3 eggs
1/3 C. melted butter
1/4 C. cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt (omit the salt if your beans are not salt-free)
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 C. + 2 Tbs sugar (I used organic cane juice sugar but regular white sugar is fine)
1/2 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 C. chopped walnuts

Pre-heat oven to 350 and lightly butter an 8x8 glass baking dish.
In blender or food processor, puree beans, eggs, butter, cocoa, salt, vanilla and sugar until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Bake 30-35 minutes or until center is set. I pulled mine after 25 oven runs a bit hot.


**update...we've made these many times since, and really enjoy them.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Tale of Two Fish...

So one day (several months ago) I received a phone call from my mama that went like this, "So, I was thinking of what to get the kids for Christmas and your dad and I thought fish would be a great idea."  I laughed.  And said, "No." She came up with some fairly convincing reasons why a fish would be good for our household, but I still laughed and said, "No."  I know what happens when a person takes on fish...the story usually ends with a trip to the toilet and an explanation of whether or not fish go to Heaven.  No thank you.  Then it was her turn to laugh, saying something about passing the baton of parenthood.

My mama is a persistent lady.  It's one of her God-given gifts.  Persistence.  For several weeks leading up to Christmas, she would randomly ask me if I had considered her proposition and I would again say, "No."  I said "No" many times before I finally gave in and begrudgingly said "Yes".  See?  Persistence = her God-given gift.  This would be the point when she could have rightfully thrown out a certain Charlie Sheen quote.

So, after Christmas our children became the proud owners of a new fish tank.  We took ourselves down to the local Petsmart and bought the fixings for the fish tank using a gift card from my parents that was specifically designated for keeping the fish alive.

We came home with our new fishy family members:  Elmo, Alvin and Sheldon the snail.  Things were going along swimmingly for several weeks (Oh, yes.  I'm all over that pun).  We fed them and kept them alive.  Until this week.

You see, there was a hollow tube that was in the center of the tank. It filtered this color changing light that the kiddos were obsessed with.  They would stand in front of the tank quickly pressing the button making the colors change rapidly all the way through Roy G. Biv.  Why this hollow tube never caused concern, I'm not sure.  I should have recalled scenes from "Finding Nemo" and how easily fish get themselves into precarious situations.  Anyway, Elmo (whom I sort of pegged as a trouble maker early on) chose to swim down the tube...and couldn't make his way back out.  All he had to do was swim back up the tube and out, but it was more than he could handle.  I'm guessing he watched this scene from finding Nemo and was following horrible advice to keep swimming down:

Elmo managed to swim down the tube and under the support tray, trapping himself.  So to rescue him, I had to scoop out Alvin and Sheldon and place them in a bag.  I scooped out the rocks and foliage from the 3 gallon tank, then I put the stopper in the kitchen sink and poured out the whole fish tank until Elmo fell out from under the tray and into the sink.  I replaced the rocks and faux sea foliage then filled the tank back up with fresh water.  Finally I put Elmo, Alvin and Sheldon back in their home and mumbled how lucky they were.  Lucky I tell you!

About 10 minutes later Elmo started acting crazy.   He was swimming erratically and flipping around (not in the thankful to be alive sort of way) and before I knew it he was upside down.  I figured the stressful circumstances were his demise, until another 10 minutes went by and Alvin started doing the same dance...And then there were none.  The lone survivor was Sheldon...the bottom feeding snail who seems to have a strong will to live.

The kiddos did surprisingly well considering the circumstances. The little Mr. just patted my shoulder and said, "It's okay mama.  I know you did your best.  You didn't mean to kill Alvin and Elmo."  Such a bummer.  Poor little guy.

I kept trying to piece together where things went wrong, when I realized I had forgotten to add the all important tank conditioner drops to remove the harsh chlorine from the tap water.  Sheesh.

So, a big fat parenting fail this week.  We're taking ourselves back down to Petsmart to pick out a new Alvin and Elmo.  I will give this two more rounds before I throw in the towel and declare Sheldon the winner and let him have the tank all to himself.