Dry Rub Chicken Pasta featuring SweeetHeat All Purpose Rub

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Proper and quality seasoning is the cornerstone to any stovetop recipe. So when I come across one that is a cut above the rest, my interest is immediately piqued. That was the case with SweeetHeat All Purpose Rub.

I was introduced to the owner of this fantastic product, Demond Mullen, via Facebook. A caterer, chef and creator of Sweeetheat brand, his passion and heartfelt belief in his product was resounding. He emphasized their versatility and how they were more than just spices, rubs and BBQ sauces, instead he presents them as an essential condiment to any kitchen dish. From using his BBQ sauces as a base on pizzas to giving his deviled eggs a savory pinch with his seafood spice, Demond was able to provide color to what differentiates his brand.

Allowing me to put his confidence to the test, he sent me his suite of sauces and rubs which included bottles of his Spicy Homey Honey, Sweeet St. Louis and Kansas City Classic BBQ sauces as well as his Savory Seafood Spice, Southern BBQ Blend and All Purpose Rub. The sauces and spices have become a quick go to for a number of dishes in my household, which have include using the Sweeet St. Louis sauce as a dressing for pasta salad, and seasoning my roasted vegetables with the Southern BBQ blend. Of all the SweeetHeat offerings, which will now be a mainstay in my kitchen, my go-to has been the All Purpose Rub.

 SweeetHeat’s All Purpose Rub includes a blend of sugar, Spanish paprika, sea salt, oregano and bells seasoning. Its hint of sweetness is what makes it extra special, and  Ihave found it pairs well with any meat, especially well ribs, steak and of course, chicken! Although I have made several dishes with this rub, one of my favorites was a one-pot chicken pasta made with a parmesan creme sauce.

As a child my mother would always add a little sugar to our pasta sauces, and as an adult, pasta just doesn’t seem right to me without a little sweetness. Using the SweeetHeat All Purpose Rub to season the chicken for this pasta took me back to my childhood, while getting to use these wonderful product in an unconventional way. Gathering a little inspiration from my good friend Quin, who made an awesome Cajun Chicken Pasta on her blog Butter Be Ready, certainly helped to bring this recipe to life!

Check out my recipe for Dry Rub Chicken Pasta below, and grab some SweeetHeat to upgrade your dishes!

Dry-Rub Chicken Pasta with SweeetHeat All Purpose Rub

Ingredients

  • 2 Large Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (Cubed)

  • 2 Tablespoons SweeetHeat All Purpose Rub

  • 1 Tblspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 1 Tblspoon Minced Garlic

  • 2 Servings or 1/2 Box of Penne or Cavatappi Pasta (or any pasta of your choosing)

  • 1 Red and Green Bell Pepper

  • 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream

  • 1 Cup Parmesan Cheese

  • 1 Teaspoon Crushed Red pepper

Instruction

  1. Cut the chicken breast into cubes, and season with SweeetHeat All Purpose Rub. Place in the refrigerator to marinade for up to 1 hour.

  2. In a cast iron skillet on high heat, heat the olive oil, add in red and green peppers and cook until they begin to soften (approximately 5 minutes).

  3. Reduce the heat to medium, and add marinated chicken and garlic to skillet and cook until it is brown.

  4. While the chicken is cooking prepare the pasta  (use package instructions) and parmesan sauce (use the package instructions).

  5. To prepare the parmesan sauce, pour heavy whipping cream into a medium sized saucepan and heat on medium heat until it come to a boil. Using a whisk, stir in the parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper until it thickens.

  6. Drain and place cooked pasta into the skillet.  Pour the parmesan cheese sauce overtop of all the pasta, cooked chicken and peppers. Mix together with a wooden spoon until all ingredients are well coated.

  7. Serve in a bowl topped with additional parmesan cheese.

Happy eating!

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Shrimp Boil Foil Packets

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This year while many of my friends and family members hosted or attended cookouts, my husband and I celebrated our holiday by preparing a meal together. Battling the mid-week blues this July 4th holiday brought us, we decided to continue an annual summertime tradition of curating a surf and turf feast.

In exploring ways to make our dinner a little less labor intensive (as it has been in the past), I came across a  simple recipe for  foil packets made with shrimp, potatoes, hot sausage and corn on the cob. I modified the recipe to add a little "Geo flare," adding some spice and minced garlic to give the packets a more savory punch. Fortunately, they were an instant hit with the hubs and will now be a staple in our household.

We paired these with medium-rare New York strip steak, and snow crabs legs to complete our surf and turf dinner. Check out the recipe below.

Shrimp Boil Foil Packets Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Raw Shrimp, Deveined
  • 2 Ears of Corn (Cut into 4 pieces each)
  • 1 pound Marble Mixed Potatoes
  • 1 Package Hot Italian Sausage (Sliced Thinly
  • 4 teaspoons Minced Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

For the seasoning (yields 4 tablespoons)

  • 4 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • 4 Teaspoons Dried Parsley
  • 2 Teaspoons Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoons Paprika
  • 1 Teaspoons Chili Powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 Degrees. While the oven heats, cut four sheets a foil (about 1 foot long) and divide shrimp, corn, mixed marble potatoes, and hot Italian sausage evenly among the four packets
  2. In a small bowl blend together kosher salt, paprika, chili powder, dried parsley and crushed red pepper to make the seasoning. 
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of the seasoning, 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of minced garlic to each packet. 
  4. Fold all sides of each packet, and securely seal. Shake packets to ensure even coating of seasoning and olive oil. Place foil packets in oven and bake for 20-22 minutes* (or until potatoes are cooked through).

Enjoy!

3 Summer Salads to Upgrade your BBQ

Although it's hard to believe, summer will be making a swift exit in the next few weeks to make way for the cool winds of Autumn.  Before we store away our grills, and cover up the patio furniture, there's still ample time to celebrate by planning an end of summer BBQ.

As  you peruse your grocery story for hotdogs and hamburgers, and check out your local farmers market for the most ripest seasonal fruit, remember that no summer soiree is complete without a summer salad! From old time favorites of the potato or pasta variety to salads that add some flare to the freshest fruits and veggies, everyone I know has their favorite they look forward to indulging in this time of year.

If you are feeling adventurous, and want to take a little excursion from your traditional summer salads,  here are three salad upgrades that are sure to win your heart.

Photo by Geo Darwin

Photo by Geo Darwin

Grilled Corn & BLACKBERRY SALAD WITH BALSAMIC VINAIGARETTE

( Recipe c/o Korena in the Kitchen )

Best when made with corn fresh off the cob, this unlikely pairing is the perfect marriage of sweet and savory. Tossed lightly in balsamic vinaigrette gives this salad and extra special punch!

Photo by Food Network

Photo by Food Network

 

 

Cous Cous Salad with Tomato and Mint

(Recipe c/o Food Network )

Pasta move to the side, Cous Cous may just be the new winner. A  simple Mediterranean salad complimented with some mint. 

 

 

 

 

Photo by My Recipes 

Photo by My Recipes 

GEORGIA Shrimp and Radish Salad

( Recipe c/o My Recipes )

For the seafood lovers looking for a bit a flare this is one to try. The radishes pairing perfectly with fresh shrimp creates an amazing texture and flavor to die for!

Home-Cooked: Strawberry Guacamole

After many years of internal debate and unnecessary apprehension, I can finally say that I am an avocado lover. My initial reservations about this lovely green fruit were washed away when it was perfectly paired with it's berry cousin: the strawberry! I owe this to a local Mexican restaurant that prides itself on it's robust "guacamole" menu.

The menu at this restaurant covers a wide span of flavor profiles from sweet to savory or spicy to mild. This means that there is a type of "guac" for every type of food lover!  As I have eaten my way down the list sampling all the varieties, none compare to the first one I had the fortune of trying: Strawberry Guacamole.

After many attempts to recreate this dish for my own purposes, I've finally landed on my own recipe worth sharing. It's quick and easy, and has become a hit at potlucks, parties or cookouts. The recipe can be found below!

STRAWBERRY GUACAMOLE

Ingredients

  • 2 Ripe Avocados (Medium to Large Sized, Pitted and Scooped)
  • 1/2 Cup - Chopped Strawberries (Fresh and Ripe)
  • 1/8 Cup - Chopped Black Olives
  • 1 tablespoon -  Minced Garlic
  • 3 tablespoons - Chopped Cilantro
  • 1 Lime (Finely Zested, Juiced)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large bowl mash the avocados with a fork or potato masher until coarsely mashed. 
  2. Fold in strawberries, black olives, minced garlic, cilantro and lime until well mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  3. Garnish the top with some olives and chopped strawberries.
  4. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate.

 

 

 

 

 

28 Days of Soul: Curried Shrimp Cakes and Parmesan Tomato Grits

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This month Geo Table's presents "28 Days of Soul" a celebration of black history and community through cuisine. Today, I am happy to present to you the first of a weekly segment  called the "Evolution of the Black Kitchen."  In this segment, I will present a modern or innovative twist on classic soul food dishes.

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This week's dish was inspired by a few recipes in The Black Family Reunion Cookbook. The Black Family Reunion Cookbook celebrates African American cuisine from across the United States and contains almost 250 recipes.

This cookbook was a staple in my grandmother's (and many of my friends' grandmothers) homes. If you are truly interested in learning about African American cuisine, it is definitely worth the buy.

If ever forced to select my FAVORITE brunch dish, then Shrimp and Grits would top the list. Although this delectable combination was rose to fame in the early 1980s, it's origins began much earlier in a part of the United States affectionately known as the  "Grit Belt" ( the Carolinas to Louisiana). The dish was commonplace among fisherman who lacked a diversity of food options, and the meal was typically eaten for breakfast due to it being hearty and filling. It was often served with scraps of bacon.

For a full history on Shrimp and Grits, this is an article worth reading. 

Today, the dish has been modernized in a number of ways and can be found on countless menus across every corner of the United States. In creating my "personal take" I decided to step out of the box to  give my dish an more worldly flare. Relying on curry powder, diced vegetables, chopped shrimp and panko to fry the shrimp in a way this is unconventional for this dish.  I then paired them with a  tomato based grit topped with parmesan cheese.  This turned out much better than expected and this version will make regular appearances at my dining room table.

The recipe can be found below:

CURRied SHRIMP CAKES AND PARMESAN TOMATO GRITS

For the Curry Shrimp Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound large raw shrimp ( peeled, deveined )
  • ·1 large egg
  •  1 small red onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  •  1 tablespoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  •  1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  Pinch of ground black pepper
  •  2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)  
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) canola or vegetable oil

1.      Chop shrimp in the food processor. Place in a bowl with egg, red onion, lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, curry powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Mix well.  Add 1 cup panko and mix well. Form mixture into 10-12 (approximately 3-inch-diameter) cakes. Roll cakes in remaining 1 cup panko; transfer to waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.  (Note: These can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours before making).

2.     Heat 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry cakes until cooked through and golden brown on both sides, adding more oil to skillet as needed, about 6 minutes

For the Grits

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 cup coarse grits
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Add water, milk, butter and marinara to a large pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Once liquid is simmering, whisk in grits in a slow stream. Whisk constantly to make sure the grits don’t clump together.
  2. Whisk mixture constantly over low heat until it thickens substantially. It should take 15 to 20 minutes to thicken. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the grated parmesan cheese. Continue to stir until cheese is melted. 
  3. Place in bowl, and top with parmesan cheese. 

I hope you enjoy!