Cajun Chicken Pasta and Focaccia Bread for a Lazy 4th of July Weekend

Happy 4th of July!  Klaus chose to spend the majority of his holiday weekend perched in his favorite spot on top of our recliner chair. Jake and I decided to spend the holiday weekend getting various errands done such as, working on our monthly budget, grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning and of course catching up on the TV shows Jake missed while he was gone. Yesterday afternoon was devoted to being curled up on our couch and watching this week’s SYTYCD (So You Think You Can Dance). I am happy to report that my season’s favorite, Melanie Moore and her partner, Tadd Gadduang, are “the team” to beat this year!

Next on our lazy day marathon was watching The Fighter, which had arrived from Netflix. Jake and I closed our laptops and pushed play. I am not sure about you, but I know that I have a very hard time just sitting and watching a movie or TV. I feel like I have to have my laptop open, checking (which if you haven’t visited this site before I highly recommend that you do), checking Facebook, chatting with someone on gmail and looking at my google reader. I am trying to get better at not feeling like I have to be connected to the world 24-7. This however, is no easy feat for me.

Some of you may know that while in high school, I was a cook at Minervas, in Sioux City, IA. I had been working for my dad at ElFredo’s since I could remember when, and wanted to get away from being around my family ALL the time. For the first three months I worked in the salad/dessert area which entailed me prepping and plating all of the salads, desserts and some of the appetizers. I was then approached by our head chef who thought I would be do well working in at the “pastas” station. Working in pastas not only meant prepping the dishes, but also running the 1o burner stove. Pretty intimidating. Oh and did I mention that it was a “guy only” area. Meaning no female had succeeded in running that station because well, the guy’s were not the friendliest to work with and wanted it to remain a “guy only” station, but also because it meant a lot of fast-paced, hard work. Challenge accepted.  Long story short, I made it. I got past all of the little pranks the guys tried to pull, and held my own. One of my favorite pasta dishes I made, and that is still on their menu today, is their Cajun Chicken Linguini. This pasta dish features cajun chicken, veggies and linguine tossed with a homemade alfredo sauce.

Fast forward to a few years ago when I was living in Colorado. I was craving this dish and well, hopping in to my car and driving to Minerva’s wasn’t an option. However, making it was. Over time I have added a few variations but continue to be pleased with this dish. As I was planning our weekly menu, this dish popped in to my mind and I realized I have never made it for Jake before.  Thus, Sunday night was Cajun Chicken Pasta night. And what of course is a pasta dish without bread?! So, I decided to try my hand at making focaccia bread. Now to some making focaccia bread might seem like a daunting task, but trust me, it is quite simple and quite delicious.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

What you need: 

Serves 4 (Or Jake, Libby and some leftovers )

1/2 a box of linguini pasta. I used Barilla Whole Grain

1 large chicken breast or 2 smaller ones

1 Tablespoon of Cajun seasoning

1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

1/2 red bell pepper sliced

1/2 yellow bell pepper slice

4 baby carrots sliced

1 roma tomato diced

1/4 white onion sliced

2 garlic cloves

1/2 Pint heavy cream

1/4 cup chicken stock or water with 1/4 piece of chicken boulion diluted

1/4 cup white wine


1.  Set a large pot of water to boil. *Over the years I have found that adding salt and placing lid on water helps water boil faster.

2. Slice chicken breasts into thin strips.  Place in a tupperware bowl with lid and add cajun seasoning and cayenne pepper. Shake until all pieces are coated.

3. In a large/deep skillet, heat olive oil on medium. Move pan around to coat bottom. Once oil is heated, add your cajun coated chicken slices. Cook until 1/2 way done.

4. Add your garlic and veggie slices. Sautee for a few minutes. You don’t want them to be super soft, but not crunchy.

5. Add white wine, chicken stock and heavy cream. Cook over med-high heat until cream bubbles. The cream should begin to become thicker.

6. Once pasta is done cooking, drain and add to the sauce. Continue cooking until the sauce is the consistency you want.

*You can use any combination of veggies. I often times use green bell peppers, mushrooms and broccoli. Feel free to get creative!

Basil Garlic Focaccia Bread

Warning! Extremely garlicky.

What you need: 

2 cups flour

2/3 cup warm milk

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon honey

4 garlic cloves minced

small handful of basil leaves

1 envelope of yeast

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

1/2 teaspoon of oregeno

1/2 cup parmesan cheese I used shredded, but any kind will work.

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, mix your flour and salt together

3. In smaller bowl, add yeast, honey and warm milk. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes to allow the yeast to proof.

4.  Once yeast is done proofing, add it to your dry ingredients. Mix until well incorporated. At this point add your oil, basil, garlic and 1/4 cup of your parmesan cheese.

5. Knead your dough for about 5-7 minutes

6. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with damp paper towel. Let dough rise for 20 minutes.

7.  Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface until 1/2 thick. Place dough on a pizza stone or baking sheet. On top of dough, coat with a thin layer of olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt, garlic powder and parmesan cheese.

8. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes until a light golden brown. 
* Bread can be served with olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, cracked pepper and balsamic vinegar. You could also use marinaria sauce or use it to clean up your bowl from your alfredo pasta sauce.

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