Seafood Gumbo (with Okra)

Last week, I was sick and having soup at least once a day, so I decided to make soup for the week. I had not had sea food in weeks, so this seafood gumbo seemed to be the answer to what I was craving. I am going to be honest – this recipe proved to be my first recipe with major hiccups in a while, so let’s see if it fulfilled my craving.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb of sliced bacon
  • 1 1/2 cup of celery stalk
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1 green pepper chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp of dried thyme leaves
  • 1 lb large shrimp
  • 0.75 lb of Cod
  • 0.5 lb lobster imitation
  • 1 10 oz. frozen chopped okra

The recipe proved to be so difficult – especially because I decided that reading the directions was not a priority at 8 am in the morning on a Sunday. Man, this is exactly like the first time I attempted to crockpot.

Let’s start with the grocery shopping: who knows what okra is? Not me! So that proved to be an issue before even going to the store. The other issue was that I don’t like crab, and the original recipe called for crab, so at the suggestion of a friend I bought cod. While I was looking through the fish section, I saw imitation lobster and I have never had it before, so I thought why not throw that into the mix considering I don’t have enough cod to replace the whole pound of crab.

Now onto the cooking: The first ingredient I read was the 1/2 lb of bacon. I only eat turkey bacon, so I chopped up the bacon and put into the crockpot. I thought it was a little bit weird that the ingredients did not call for cooked bacon, but I was trying to not over think it. (I should have known that all I needed to do, was look down at instructions to find the answer to that question – yes I was suppose to pre-cook the bacon till it was crispy. But as my boss told me, the crockpot hit 165 degrees, so the bacon was cooked even though it was just not crispy. Don’t worry about it.)

Next, I put in the rest of the ingredients in. My confusion came when it said to slice the onion, chop the green pepper, and mince the garlic. I have written about the definition of mincing and how I have had trouble in the past in deciding what all of these terms mean. So this time I decided I was going to put my questions to rest and look up the definitions.

Sliced – “A flat, usually thin, piece of food cut from a larger piece. Also the process of cutting flat, thin pieces” (http://www.bhg.com/recipes/how-to/cooking-basics/glossary-of-cooking-terms/)

Chopped – “To cut foods with a knife, cleaver, or food processor into smaller pieces.” (http://www.bhg.com/recipes/how-to/cooking-basics/glossary-of-cooking-terms/)

Minced – “To chop food into very fine pieces, as with minced garlic.” (http://www.bhg.com/recipes/how-to/cooking-basics/glossary-of-cooking-terms/)

Now, knowing that, I was able to sliced my onion, chop my green pepper and mince my garlic successfully. Then came the spices. The only one of these that I got right was the amount of Worcestershire sauce – 2 tablespoons. Then my dyslexia really got the best of me, and every time I read teaspoon I somehow managed to fill up the tablespoon. So I added WAY more salt and thyme than the recipe wanted…my bad.

When it came to the cooking part, I apparently gave it way too much time in my head and put all of the ingredients in at once. The gumbo only needed 4 hrs to cook and then I was suppose to add the meats. Instead, I put everything in at once (again, this is because I decided that only the cool kids read the directions – so obviously that did not include me on a Sunday morning before work).

To compromise for the 4 hrs of cooking everything else and the 1 hr with meat, I decided to cook the whole thing for 5 hrs. However, I returned home to put the gumbo on warm after 5.5 hrs and then it went straight in the fridge (my day got away from me again – I am going to thank my boss for getting me super distracted).

Review:

My roommate had it first, and as she said, “It’s different. I’ve never had anything like it. It’s not bad, just different.” My opinion, a bit salty but good. Different than a jambalaya (that has sausage as well as the seafood). Next time, I would put less salt in and make the bacon crispy. This was a good attempt, but I don’t know if okra is really my jam so for that reason alone I don’t think I would make the dish again.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $30.00
  • Total time: 30 minutes of prep, 5.5 hrs of cook time – 6 hrs total
  • Serving Size: 12 – 15 bowls with rice

BBQ Pulled Chicken

After 3 weeks of straight pork, I decided that it was time for some chicken. That’s when I found “The Best Crockpot BBQ Chicken,” and really wanted to give it a try. Unfortunately, the day got away from me and I kept the chicken in there a little bit too long. Regardless, the meal still tasted delicious when I paired the chicken with coleslaw and potatoes (baked and broiled with some seasoning).

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Zesty Italian dressing
  • 1 cup  BBQ sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts

This recipe was very straightforward. The hardest part: finding everything to be gluten free. Grocery shopping took the longest time, because not all BBQ sauce and Italian dressings are gluten free. I probably spent about 20 minutes looking at the labels just trying to make sure that what I did end up buying was 2 things: 1) gluten free and 2) not extremely expensive. Now, while I was grocery shopping, I remembered that I had some chicken breasts at home so I didn’t buy any – mistake!

The recipe called for 2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, and apparently in my freezer were only 1.29 lbs of chicken. I think this made the chicken to sauce ratio a bit off, but in the end I don’t think that it was a big issue, because I left the chicken and the sauce in the crockpot for close to 6 hrs instead of the 4 hrs that the recipe originally stated.

Review:

The chicken was a bit dry, and the sauce was a bit burnt from being in the crockpot for way too long. The group consensus was that it was good, but for sure over cooked. Next time, I will cook it for less time and find a gluten free bun to make it with. The coleslaw was a nice pairing, but needed more flavor so instead of mayo, I recommend putting in ranch or celery seed. Also, next time I would cook the potatoes on the skillet, instead of in the oven.

Citrus Taco Chicken

After last week’s successful shredded pork tacos, I decided I wanted to do tacos again this week for lunch. Instead of going with a traditional chicken taco mix though, I found this recipe which gives a different take on the traditional chicken mix by having some oranges and lime juice.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless and skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 oranges – squeezed so it’s just the juice
  • 2 limes – squeezed so it’s just the juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Overall, this was a very smooth recipe that I literally threw together and let cook. After prepping the chicken (removing any and all excess fat), I put it in the crockpot. Then I squeezed two oranges worth of juice into the crockpot. Now squeezing fruit is much more of an activity than I thought. Honestly, it took me a couple of minutes per each half of orange just to make sure I got all of the juice out of it without using a machine. The limes, now that’s a different story.

Did you know that limes can dry out? I don’t know if scientifically it can, but one of my limes would not squeeze out juice. I had to squeeze out each individual part of the lime. This took forever, and not a lot of juice came out of the lime. In fact, maybe a teaspoon worth of juice from each half.  I literally felt like I was trying to squeeze out a baseball or something. Nothing was working. So I think that this recipe could have had more of a citrus/lime flavor, if I didn’t have one dried out lime (I only had two limes and I didn’t want to go back to the store for another one, so I just made it work).

The rest of the recipe went down without any issues. Minced garlic, (not chopped because I didn’t read the recipe right), chili powder, cumin, oregano (leafy oregano because I don’t know what the difference is between oregano and leafy oregano), salt and pepper. I put the crockpot on low for 6 hrs, but after 5 hrs the house smelled too good to not check on the recipe and the chicken was ready.

For the last step, I separated the chicken and put it on a baking sheet. Then I poured 1/4 cup of juice onto the chicken and put it in the oven under the broil for 5 minutes. Then I flipped the chicken, poured 1/4 more cup of juice over the chicken and put it back under the broiler for 5 minutes. Then I put the chicken in a container with 1/4 more of a cup of juice. The product – a nice and juicy chicken option for tacos.

Review:

A good chicken mix with tacos. The hint of citrus is really nice, and pairs well with some orange bell peppers, red onions, avocado, cheese and cilantro. I enjoyed it! I will be making this again for chicken taco mix because it did not require a pre-made taco mix, making it cleaner and more natural (because one can control how much salt goes into the mix).

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Total Cost: $23.00
  • Total Time: 15 minutes to prep, 5 hrs to cook, 15 minutes to crisp – 5.5 hrs.
  • Serving Size: 12 – 16 tacos (at 2 tacos per a person) so 6 – 8 tacos.

IMG_0025
The final Product, crispy chicken tacos.