Before I start on this easy recipe for chicken butternut soup, I’ll just admit right here and now that I know that butternut squash can be intimidating. More than once I’ve regretfully push my cart past the pile of butternuts in the supermarket (okay, the Southern husband was pushing the cart, but the butternut abandonment was all mine. I own that.) because it just looked so dang hard to handle. And more on that later, because there are various ways butternut squash Can Be Conquered. But more importantly were all those days that I was missing out on this thick, hearty soup that is full of tender chicken and spinach and roasted carrots and lots and lots of butternut. It’s one of the most good and good for you soups I know, and I’m here to tell you that you need to brake at the butternut just to be able to cook up this soup. Let’s make it!
The definition of Fra Diavolo is “brother devil,” and whenever you have that kind of language being tossed around in the food category it means this is going to be SPICY. So since I am the least spicy person I know, I’m not sure what compelled me to make this shrimp pasta fra diavolo version. My sister is the spice-loving one in our family, but for some reason I decided to make an exception for this…maybe because I love the exotic name? And since I am the cook and the Southern husband is the clean-up crew, I was able to take it just to the edge of my spice tolerance level. Meaning that mine has just enough naughty heat to make you sit up and take notice, but it won’t have smoke coming out of your ears. If you are a spicier person than I am, or you are my sister, dial up those red pepper flakes!
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day one and all (or as my Irish mama calls it, The Day!)…it’s finally here, and I know all of you are Irish today regardless of where your ancestors hail from. Mine hail from Ireland, which is why you won’t catch me wearing any green today. My Irish grandmother Aileen alway said to me, “Kate, you should never wear green on Saint Patrick’s Day because you don’t need to – you have Irish blood in your veins!” I do eat all the Irish food around me though, including my mama’s scones and brown bread, and of course the classic corned beef and colcannon. But if you want to mix things up a little on The Day, you could also do bangers and mash. These are just as much English as they are Irish, which introduces a little harmony as well. Plus they are easy and delicious, especially when you top them with a little onion gravy.
I love getting fajitas in a restaurant. As a matter of fact, I like when ANYONE gets fajitas in a restaurant. The smoky, sizzling drama of it all – “Be careful!!” Very Hot Plate!!” – in combination with the spicy deliciousness of it all is just plain delicious in every way. However, the thought of recreating the smoky sizzling part at home seems like a direct invitation to my over-zealous smoke alarm to do its thing, and so I came up with a little less dramatic, still just as delicious version of fajitas…a version that bakes up in the oven and lets you scoop it right out of the baking dish into your tortilla. Bake and scoop fajitas!
Ah, pot roast. It can be a wonderful tender dish of hearty and comforting deliciousness, or it can be…dry. And chewy. And I am here to tell you that I have been there at the dry and chewy end of cooking a pot roast for hours, a pot roast that smelled like all kinds of heaven, only to have it taste like all kinds of not-heaven. So in an effort not have this happen ever again to anyone in the universe, I need to tell you about my perfect-every-time in the slow cooker pot roast. Perfect. Every Time.
I have always been completely tempted and so far not brave enough to make beer can chicken. You know, the kind where you place a partially full can of beer inside a chicken’s, um, cavity, and then roast the whole thing on the grill? I hear tell that it makes a lovely, tender, aromatic chicken, but I can’t seem to escape the thought of the chicken exploding out of my grill and into the neighbor’s yard, propelled by the vapors of a can of Bud Lite, ruining my reputation as a food blogger for all eternity. But since the whole idea of chicken and beer has me mesmerized, I took the coward’s way out and came up with a way that involves chicken, beer, a few onions, bbq sauce a slow cooker and not much else. And dang if it wasn’t delectable!