Air Fried Yellow Squash

This is an old favorite that I picked up years ago. It’s so good that my husband and kids would eat it without crying because it’s a veggie, let alone yellow.

All you need is a yellow squash, 1 egg, some Pam spray (high heat), and a box of Jiffy Corn Muffin mix. Salt & pepper. That’s it!

Wash and slice the squash into thin pieces…I made a few nuggets in the back just to see how they turned out. Coat each slice in the egg turning in the bowl. Salt and pepper, they drop into a baggie filled with corn muffin mix.

Preheat air fryer to 450. Spray the air fryer basket with a little high temp cooking spray (I used Crisco Grill spray), shake off excess corn muffing mix, but make sure both sides are well-coated. Layer onto the cooking basket and spray the tops with cooking spray. If you don’t have an air fryer, preheat your oven to 450F and bake for about 20 minutes. Just watch them to see how long it takes you oven since this can vary.

Air fry for 5 minutes, flip over and fry for another 2-3 minutes or until crispy and brown on both sides.

Let these cool for a few minutes and enjoy! Low calorie, filling, crunchy, and salty…all good in my book! you could dip these in ranch and I am sure it would be delicious, but I just like mine plain!

Hope you enjoy this recipe! I think it’s smokin hot!

Chix ‘n Sausage Gumbo

My husband and I went to a “chili challenge” on Saturday night, and a friend asked me if I knew how to make gumbo. I absolutely DO! Our beloved aunt Charlie and her family lived in New Orleans, and she could make a mean pot of seafood gumbo! My mother had the recipe, and at a young age I learned to make a good roux. If you want good gumbo, you’ve got to be able to make this most important part of the recipe or it won’t taste like traditional gumbo. Many years ago there was a chef on TV named Justin Wilson. I watched him faithfully back before Food Network was even a thing, and I had his gumbo recipe which included a detailed section on making a roux. He always said it should be dark like the muddy Mississippi River. Another tip he had was not to go overboard on the bell peppers. You can make this same recipe and use seafood (fish, oysters, shrimp, crab, etc.) if preferred. By the way, you can buy roux from some grocery stores, but I have never tried store-bought and can’t attest to the taste. Anyway, here is how I make gumbo:

To make the roux:
To stock pot add:
3 T olive oil, butter or shortening
3 T flour
Sauté over medium/low heat until it looks like chocolate syrup (stir frequently to keep from burning…some people prefer lighter roux) . You may have to stand and stir for nearly an hour depending on the color you want!

Dark like the muddy Mississippi River or Hershey’s chocolate!

In between stirring the roux, you can start preparing the other ingredients, which means a lot of chopping and some measuring. It’s a good idea to have all of your ingredients out ahead of time, and you may even want to chop things before starting the roux. If you prefer multi-tasking, just go for it all at once and pretend like you’re on Chopped or Beat Bobby Flay. There is no right or wrong way to do it as long as you don’t burn the roux!

In a 9-qt stock pot add:
Ingredients:
*4 small chicken breasts, diced
4 slices hickory smoked bacon cut into 1/2″ pieces
*1 pkg turkey or beef smoked sausage (Oscar Meyer), or Andouille sausage sliced into 1/4″ pieces
1/4 c. Canola or olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp oregano
1 tsp black pepper
Sauté all ingredients until chicken cooked thoroughly; remove meat to drain

*If you smoke the meat vs. saute, it will give it a tremendous flavor!


Next, add the “trinity”:

1 whole diced white onion
1/2 diced bell pepper
4 stalks finely diced celery (I peel my celery with a potato peeler to get rid of the stringy stuff)
Mix into the roux. You may need to add a splash of chicken stock here and there to keep it from gumming together. It should be silky smooth.

Ad a little chicken stock when it gets too thick. Stir as you add to keep it silky.


Next, add:
1/4 c chicken stock
Gradually thinning it down
Next, add:
1 small can tomato paste
2 can Ro-Tel tomatoes
2 bay leaves

1 T. Worcestershire sauce

1 T Old Bay seasoning


Continue to simmer and bring to low boil. You can add a large can of crushed tomatoes if you don’t want the Ro-Tel flavor. You really can’t mess it up from here.


Add:
1 small pkg whole kernel corn
1 small pkg sliced okra
4 c chicken stock (more depending on how thick/thin you like it)

1/2 c white wine (optional)

2 T. Tabasco or Louisiana Hot Sauce


Cover and simmer for about 30-45 minutes, or you can let this simmer for several hours if you want, or even cook in a slow cooker. Just make sure not to let anything stick to the bottom of the pot and scorch.


Last step, add:
Cooked meat and simmer for 15 more minutes
Remove bay leaves
Serve with Jasmati rice, New York Garlic Toast or saltine crackers, and maybe a little Chardonnay !

If you want to use seafood, remember that sea critters cook fast and are easy to overcook, and if using shrimp make sure not to add it too soon or it will be rubbery! When adding shrimp, for example, I peel and clean them, set aside, and add in the last 15 minutes. When they turn bright pink, they’re done! Honestly, I would rather cook the shrimp separately and add to my bowl of cooked gumbo just to make sure it isn’t overcooked.

I hope you’ll give this smokin’ hot gumbo recipe a try! It will warm you up on a cold winter night, for sure!

Grillin’ chix in the kitchen

Happy Friday! Last night was cold, windy and rainy, so I was not going outside to cook. But no problem, because I used my indoor grill! If you have not tried one of these gadgets let me tell you about it! It’s called the Ninja Foodi and I ordered mine from Amazon. It does just about everything, and for those of you who know me well, I have nearly every kitchen gadget on the market! In addition to air frying, the Foodi serves as a grill, roaster, dehydrator, and oven. I purchased the 6 qt size. I also watched several YouTube video reviews before I bought it, and I highly recommend doing this when you plan on buying any such product. So far, this is one of my favorite appliances. It has even earned a spot on my counter which has been a taboo practice for me.

Contrary to some of the recipes I post in Recipe Island on Facebook, I typically cook healthy meals. And, since there are normally just two of us, there is no need to cook for an army as I have always seemed to do in the past. Tonight it’s chicken breast and broccoli, which sounds extremely dry and boring…..but I’m going to tell you how I spiced it up to make us want more!

Preheat the Ninja to 500F on the Grill setting. It will tell you when to add the food. Notice the removable, dishwasher-safe grill plate inside.

Preheat the Foodi on the Grill setting. Amazingly, you don’t have to set a temperature, because it is programmed to automatically set the temp to 500F. This is adjustable. It only takes a few minutes to preheat, and the Foodi will tell you when to add food. All of the removable parts are dishwasher safe which is a bonus!

Chicken breast can be super boring, and broccoli…well, anyway….let me tell you what I did to give both some personality. I decided to go with a little Asian flair, but I still wanted the smokey flavor. I put the chicken into a bowl and seasoned with about 1/4 c. Coconut Aminos (you can use soy sauce, but I recommend low sodium), 1 T. vegetable oil (or use oil with a high smoke temp, such as avocado or coconut), 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika, and a light dusting of salt and pepper on both sides. Coconut aminos are a good alternative to soy sauce. It is made from the sap of aged coconut blossoms plus salt, and contains much less sodium than soy sauce. I turned the meat over several times in the bowl to make sure that it was well-coated, then placed on the Foodi grill for 5 minutes, turned, and cooked for another 5 minutes.

Complete with grill marks! No smoke, either!

With my cheap Walmart meat thermometer I checked the internal temp of the meat to ensure that it was at least 165F, removed from the grill, painted on some Go Chu Jang sauce (a hot/spicy, sweet Korean ketchup-type sauce) and wrapped in foil to let it rest while I worked on the broccoli. Wrapping in foil holds the heat in and keeps it moist. Believe it or not, the meat continues to cook when wrapped. I use a heavy foil. You can also use pink butcher paper, but I honestly prefer the foil.

Broccoli, or “trees” as my children once called the florets, can be a little bland, as well. The oven was preheated to 375F. I cut the broccoli into spears, rinsed well, drained off the excess water and placed into a bowl. Next, I drizzled the spears with extra virgin olive oil (about 1 T) and tossed to coat all the pieces. On a foil-lined baking pan, I arranged all of the broccoli spears in a single layer, dusted with salt and pepper, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper flakes. Next is the good, possibly not-so-healthy part….I melted 2 T butter and drizzled over the spears before plopping them into the oven.

Set the timer for 30 minutes, depending on how “done” you want the broccoli. I like mine to be a little crisp on the edges, so go the full 30.

Once the broccoli is ready, remove your chicken from the foil and plate this stuff! Unfortunately, there is no final picture of the plated product because we ate it. The chicken was nicely spicy and the broccoli had just the right amount of zing, plus the butter gave it a “brown butter” flavor that’s a little nutty. Also, the red pepper flakes really come to life in the oven, and the oil is released making the flakes super yummy.

The chicken had a nice sear on both sides and was moist all the way through. I have to say, this was some smokin’ hot chix!

I hope you give this one a try, and feel free to email me at smokinhotchix.com if you have questions about how to use the Ninja Foodi, or any of the food products that I use. My blog site is a work in progress, and I appreciate you stopping by today and leaving comments! Now, go get smokin’!

Mexican Street Corn

This side dish is addictive, to say the least! I could eat it with every meal!

So, what is a really good side dish to eat with smoked or grilled meat? Mexican Street Corn, of course, and who doesn’t like corn? Well, my son for one…he actually despises it, but I think it’s safe to say that most of us can’t get enough of it. In fact, my mom once said that we were pigs in a past life because we loved it so much.

The BEST corn dishes are the ones where you cut kernals straight from the cob, and I like the to use the yellow/white sweet ears of corn. Since it is a little time-consuming and messy to do it that way, I made this version with frozen whole kernal corn from Sam’s Club. You can also use canned corn, but drain it really well before you make the recipe or it will be runny.

This is my personal recipe for Mexican Street corn, and it is a tad different from any other that I have found online or in cookbooks.

Here is what you’ll need for a recipe to feed 6 people:

20-24 oz. pkgs of frozen whole kernal corn, depending on the brand you purchase (or 3 cans, drained; 6 ears fresh cut)

1/2 stick of butter softened at room temperature (I used salted)

4 oz. cream cheese, softened at room temperature (I used 1/3 fat Philly)

1 fresh jalepeno, chopped (this is optional – leave in the seeds if you want it really hot. I removed 1/2 of them)

1 T. chili powder

1/4 tsp smoked paprika (make sure it is smoked)

1/4 tsp granulated garlic

1/4 tsp granulated onion

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp granulated sugar

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/2 cup grated colby jack cheese (fresh grated is best; the pre-grated is too dry but will work)

1 tsp chopped cilantro

Grease a casserole dish with about 1 T of the butter. Put the remainder of your butter into a nonstick skillet. Add the cream cheese and melt these together on low-medium heat so as not to burn the butter. If you are using frozen corn, steam it in the microwave per pkg instructions and drain the water off through a colander. I shake mine around to get the extra water out of it. Add the corn to the skillet and mix well. Next, add the jalepeno and spices. Stir until all of the spices are well-incorporated into the corn. Lastly, remove from the heat and add the grated cheese. Stir this together well and pour into the casserole dish.

Top with a little more grated cheese, jalepeno slices, and a light dusting of chili powder to make it pretty.

Bake in a preheated oven at 375F for 30 minutes, and garnish with cilantro.

This stuff is good straight out of the oven, and I promise, your people will be standing at the counter waiting for the timer to say “It’s done”! It’s even better the next day, just sayin’!

Remember, recipes are meant to be altered, so if you want a little more chili powder, go for it! If you like it sweeter, add more sugar. Make it taste the way YOU and your peeps like it!

Hope your day is smokin’!

Smokin’ some HOT chix!

I like to call this one “Date Night”!

On Monday, I got up and got the 5 gallon bucket out because I felt like brining and smoking some chicken. If you’ve never smoked a whole chicken, let me recommend spatchcocking it first.

Spatchcocking is a technique used to remove the spine from the chicken. It sounds like a laborious process, but really is not difficult at all. You will need some sharp kitchen shears or a good boning knife. My shears came from the grill section at Lowe’s and cost under $20.

So, I start at the “butt” end of the bird and start snipping at the right border of the spine all the way to the neck. Then I do the same on the left side until it is completely cut away and discard (I seal mine in something so the trash won’t smell).

Next, let’s brine some chicken! I had a whole bird plus a small package of skin-on thighs and wings since the “adult kids” were here. In a 5-gallon bucket (from Lowe’s with a fitting lid), I mixed 1 cup of sea salt, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and about 3 liters of tap water. But that’s not all….I added some pickle juice (about 1 cup) that I had been saving just for this day! You would not believe how good pickle juice is to brine with! Mix everything until the granules dissolve and add the chicken. Seal with a lid.

The chicken needs to come to room temperature before the smoking begins. If you don’t allow this you’ll have a gray-looking chicken which is not too appetizing. Remove it from the brine, shake off as much liquid as you can, and arrange on a large baking pan with an edge. Drizzle with olive oil or vegetable oil, paint the oil on with a silicone brush, then season with your favorite spices. I used Tony Chachere’s, Lawry’s seasoned salt, smoked paprika, and fresh ground black pepper.

Oiling the meat will keep it moist in the smoking process.

Preheat the smoker to 225F (I used a Pit Boss pellet smoker with fruit pellets this time), arrange the whole chicken spineless side down and the other pieces skin side up.

Smoking between 200F – 225F will keep the meat from drying out. Remember, low and slow!
I have placed a digital thermometer into the thick part of the breast against the breast bone, and into the thickest of the thighs against the bone.

You want to reach an internal smoking temp of at least 165F to kill salmonella bacteria and make the meat safe for eating. For this batch of chicken it took 1.5 – 2 hours. I turned the heat up to 300F for the last 30 minutes until reaching the desired internal temp, them wrapped tightly in heavy foil to let the meat rest. Increasing the heat will also crisp the skin if you’re into that. I hear the collagen is good for you, but some may get a little grossed out by chicken skin!

The way my daddy taught me was this: When the meat is done you can stick a fork in it and it will easily pull away from the bone. The juice should be clear.

Check that beautiful color on the skin! This chicken is full of flavor!
The legs and thighs were about to fall off of this big girl! When she breaks apart easily, she’s done!

Now, I don’t know about you, but this makes me hungry just looking back at the pictures! I hope you have enjoyed my tips on smokin’ some real hot chix! After all, that’s why I’m here! Go get smokin’!

Weekend at the smoker!

So, it was an amazingly beautiful weekend in the north Dallas area! On Saturday, I decided to try out a recipe for Smoked Chili from one of my online mentors, Susie Bulloch [Hey Grill Hey! (heygrillhey.com)]. If you don’t know about Susie’s site, please go and take a look! She competed and placed 2nd on Food Network’s BBQ Brawl with Bobby Flay and Michael Symon. I subscribe to her private site which is worth every dime, as she shares so many great tips and recipes!

So, about the Smoked Chili…let’s get smokin’!

I won’t give away Susie’s recipe, but I will tell you this…..smoking your meat and vegetables prior to assembling chili is now a MUST at our house! I have a Kamado Joe smoker (similar to the Big Green Egg), and used cherry wood for the smoke. The KJ or BGE is a smoker that you MUST invest in because of its versatility, insulation, and “smokability”. I heated it to 225F and smoked lean ground beef and ground chicken breast for about 1.5 hours in an iron skillet.

I also chopped up onions, green and red bell peppers, and fresh garlic and smoked them in an aluminum pan with a little olive oil which I balanced on the skillet handle with the meat. Like it HOT? Add a chopped jalepeno, seeds and all…it’ll kick up the heat! The veggies and meat can all smoke at the same time. If you don’t have a KJ or BGE, no worries…you can use a pellet smoker and get a similar effect. If you don’t have either, just add about a tablespoon of Liquid Smoke to the meat and veggies. It won’t taste exactly the same, but it will give you a “smoked” flavor.

Now, you can use a chili spice mix from the local grocery store, or you can make your own. I like to use things like ground cumin, chili powder, garlic and onion powder, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika in mine. You also want to include a good salt (pink Himalayan or a good sea salt) and fresh ground black pepper. BUT, if that is too much trouble just get a box of something like 3-Alarm or Williams Chili kit and go for it. Season the meat and veggies before putting them on the smoker. Your neighbors will be trying to sneak a whiff of this from over the fence, I promise!

After you have smoked the meat and veggies, use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the skillet and transfer into a large stock pot. Break the meat up as much as possible and heat on medium setting. Put the veggies into a food processor and chop until they are still a little chunky and not mushy (unless it’s your preference…it will still taste good!). Add these to the meat mixture.

As far as making the “soupy” part, you can use whatever you like, but I like the flavor of Campbell’s Beef Consomme best and use 2 cans of this plus a 28 oz can of tomato puree, 1 can of Hot Ro-tel tomatoes, and a small can of tomato paste. If you want a sweeter chili, try using a bottle of Heinz ketchup in place of the tomato puree. Sounds terrible, but just remember, if you get it too sweet add a little salt. If too salty, add a little sugar. This is YOUR chili, so flavor it how you like it!

Once I have stirred all of that together I add a stout beer or two, depending on how thick or thin we want it. Bring to a slow simmer, cover, and reduce to low heat for about 1-2 hours. It will thicken up, but if it’s too thin for your liking, mix a tablespoon of cornstarch or flour in cold water, mix it well, and drizzle into your chili at the very end. This usually does the trick!

We make a batch of cornbread to eat with our chili, and we garnished the chili with shredded Colby Jack cheese, sour cream, and sliced jalepenos. I can tell you, this was the BEST chili I have ever made, and we have been eating the leftovers up!

I hope you have enjoyed this tip for making chili! Come back again and I will teach you how to spatchcock, brine, and smoke a chicken! After all, this is Smokin’ Hot Chix!

Smokin’ Hot Chix

This isn’t what you think!

Welcome to my new site, Smokin’ Hot Chix! Where did I come up with such a name? At the smoker, of course, while smoking whole chickens and wings! But, I am going to tell you about more than just smoked chickens on this site. I want to lead you on a continuous food journey and teach you how to prepare great home-cooked meals! With that said, grilling and smoking meats will certainly play a BIG role on this site, because that is what inspired me to do this in the first place!

Since I was a little girl, the kitchen has always been a place of comfort for me. I come from a long line of exceptional home cooks, and rather than open my own restaurant or food truck, I believe the best place to reach people like YOU is right here!

Perhaps you are familiar with my Facebook page, Recipe Island, which has been up and running for about three years now? Friends and I post personal recipes, as well as links to recipes that look…well…good enough to eat! My intent is for Smokin’ Hot Chix to be an extension of Recipe Island, but with more teaching enhancement, such as the use of videos.

I really hope that you want to come back and stay for a while! Thanks for stopping by to check this site out! Now, let’s get smokin’!!