Crispy Cajun Chicken with Creamy Avocado Pasta

Apparently I’ve gotten really lazy about posting new recipes lately… I’ll blame it on the fact that I’ve had allergies or a cold for about a month now. But really, I’m probably just lazy. I have several new recipes that I’ve even taken pictures of, I just haven’t gotten around to sorting/editing the pictures and writing up a blog post. Maybe I’ll get a burst of motivation and have lots of new posts soon! Or more likely they’ll trickle in eventually…

But here’s a recipe for the delicious Cajun-inspired meal I made last night. It was so simple, and so delicious, I had to share it!

Cajun chicken pasta with creamy avocado sauce

Crispy Cajun chicken, pasta with a creamy avocado sauce, grilled corn, and all topped with sharp white cheddar.

To get started, put a pot of water on the stove to boil for the pasta. Then flatten out the chicken breast with a meat mallet.

time saverI love meat mallets! Seriously, one of my favorite kitchen gadgets! Cooking a whole chicken breast on the stove or grill can take a long time, especially the huge, thick ones you always seem to get these days. And cutting raw chicken is 1) gross and 2) time consuming. But flatten it out a bit with a meat mallet, and it cooks so much faster! Then if you need it in smaller pieces, slice it up after it’s cooked.

crispy Cajun chicken recipe

Then rub the Cajun seasoning and corn meal into the chicken, and toss it in a pan with a little olive oil.

crispy Cajun chicken

Once the bottom side is nice and crispy and browned, turn it over and keep cooking until golden, or even slightly blackened. The corn meal gives it a nice crispy texture on the outside.

While the chicken is cooking, get the pasta cooking, grill or pan-roast the corn, and make the sauce. To make the sauce, put the avocado, tomato, lime juice, garlic, cilantro, and Cajun seasoning in the blender, and puree until smooth. (I love using avocados to make “cream” sauce – they’re so creamy, but with that delicious avocado flavor!)

creamy avocado Cajun pasta

When the pasta is done cooking, drain it and return it to the pan. Stir in the sauce, and heat through. It doesn’t need to really cook, just heat.

crispy Cajun chicken pasta

Slice the chicken, cut the kernels from the corn, and shred the cheese.

grilled corn

Serve the pasta onto plates, and top with chicken, corn, cheese, and a few extra sprigs of cilantro. Enjoy!

crispy Cajun chicken with creamy avocado pasta

I also make my own Cajun seasoning because the packaged stuff is soooo full of salt and other random preservatives, which is silly because it’s just spices and spices don’t have them. Anyway, you can just use a store-bought Cajun seasoning, or make your own. This will make more than you need for this recipe, but you can save it for other recipes, like Cajun fries!

Cajun Seasoning

1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp bay leaves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp pepper

And now for the main event:

Crispy Cajun Chicken with Creamy Avocado Pasta and Roasted Corn

1 large chicken breast
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 Tbsp corn meal
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup dry pasta, such as bow ties or shells
1 large avocado
1 small tomato
1 lime
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 clove garlic
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 ear corn
1/2 cup shredded sharp white cheddar

1. Put a pot of water on the stove to boil for the pasta. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Flatten the chicken with a meat mallet, and rub with the Cajun seasoning and corn meal, and add to the frying pan. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, then turn and continue cooking.

2. When the water come to a boil, add the pasta and cook according to package directions.

3. While the chicken and pasta cook, grill the corn. (I used a George Forman grill, but you can just put it in a frying pan and turn it occasionally.)

4. Make the sauce by putting the avocado, tomato, cilantro, lime juice, Cajun seasoning, and garlic in the blender. Puree until smooth.

5. When the pasta is done, drain and return to pan. Stir in the sauce and heat through. Slice the chicken and cut the kernels from the corn.

6. Serve the pasta onto plates and top with chicken, corn, and shredded cheese.

Makes about 4 servings.

One note – because the sauce is avocado-based, it doesn’t reheat very well. It can be saved and reheated, but it’s much better eaten fresh!

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Mango Avocado Salsa

Mexican food was a staple of my diet all growing up. Mangos, unfortunately, were not. So now I find any excuse I can to sneak mangos into my meals (or salsa) because they’re rather delicious.

mango avocado salsa

If you shop at Costco, you’ve probably seen the mango salsa they sell there. It’s pretty good, but nothing ever quite compares to making it fresh. Especially when you can find good mangos for a good price! One of the keys to making good mango salsa is starting with good mangos. How do you choose a good mango? Find one with as little green as possible! The more red, the more delicious! It should be mostly red, with some yellow (and probably a little green, cuz let’s face it – you’re probably not going to find a perfect one unless you go to the tropics) and it should be somewhat firm but not hard.

So once you’ve got your mangos, you might be wondering what exactly to do with them. They can be a bit tricky, with their big, weird-shaped seed in the middle, and the skin that needs peeled off, but once peeled the mangos are super slippery. Well, let me share what I’ve found to be the easiest, fastest way to cut up a mango:

time saverStart by slicing down one side of the seed, starting at the top towards the middle, and curving outward around the seed, down to the bottom.

how to cut a mango 1

Repeat on the other side, so you end up with two slightly curved pieces that you cut off, and the seed (with some usable fruit still).

how to cut a mango 2

Cut a cross-hatch pattern into the fruit, cutting dow to the skin but not through.

how to cut a mango 3

Then flip it inside out, pushing the fruit up and out of the skin. Some pieces will probably just fall out, and the rest you can just run the paring knife as close to the skin as possible.

how to cut a mango 4

Repeat these steps on the other two sides of the seed (there is much less fruit here, but still enough to be worthwhile).

how to cut a mango 5

And now you’ve got lots of delicious mango bits!

mango salsa recipe

Now it’s salsa time! Chop up the green onion, crush the garlic, seed and chop the tomato and pepper, and cut up the avocado.

To seed the tomato, just cut it in quarters lengthwise, and then run a knife from one end to the other, just under the seeds, and they should fall right off.

mango salsa recipe deseed tomato

To cut up the avocado, basically follow the same method as cutting the mango, but just slice it in half instead of cutting around the seed. Or look at this post for some pictures and tips.

Stir everything up, let it sit for at least 15 minutes so the flavors can mix a bit, and enjoy!

mango salsa

(I know, it doesn’t have any avocado yet here… but it’s still delicious and beautifully colorful!)

Just eat it on chips, or put it on tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos….

mango avocado salsa burritos

We made chicken burritos with leftover rotisserie chicken, some refried bean, and the mango avocado salsa, and it was super yummy! So simple, and a great use for any leftover chicken!

mango avocado salsa chicken burrito

Mango Avocado Salsa

2 large ripe mangos
1 roma (or other small-medium) tomato
1 large avocado
1 red pepper
2 green onions
2 garlic cloves

1. Peel and chop the mangos (see tips above). Seed and chop the tomato and pepper. Cut up the avocado. Slice the green onions. Mince or crush the garlic. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

2. Let sit for about 15 minutes (or longer if you want) for the flavors to mix. Stir and serve!

Makes about 2-3 cups salsa.

change it upAdd a jalapeno or other chili pepper for a spicier salsa. Or add some chopped cilantro! (I just didn’t because my husband doesn’t like it!)