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Hi all! Yes, I’m back from China, and more importantly, I’m back to good health after a week-long encounter with some variant of the Chinese flu. I had to take off an entire week from work when I got back! I was in and out of a fever, hallucinations, and a deathly cough. Yuck. Let me tell you, having a fever on a 10-hour plane flight is miserable.

Alas, the stress of traveling, doing the audit, getting sick, work in general – it’s all behind me now.

Which means it’s time to cook!

Last night I made PW’s Cajun Chicken Pasta. I followed her recipe exactly, except I omitted the tomatoes, for Tony’s sake (he has this texture thing). And I used a white onion instead of purple, and spaghetti noodles instead of fettucine, because that’s what I had on hand. And I upped the cajun spices just a smidge. (It still wasn’t hot enough in the end – certain people in the household like their mouths to burn!) A dish rarely, and I mean RARELY, gets the honor of being spicy enough for Tony. He doesn’t even have to say it – once he grabs for his go-to condiment,  Sriracha (Asian hot sauce), I know. Sometimes I wonder why I bother flavoring anything, when it’s all going to taste like Sriracha in the end!

This also has the honor of being the first dish I made in my new Lodge cast iron skillet (Christmas gift – thanks D&B, I love it!) I really like the lid, it’s super convenient. There are so many cast-iron friendly recipes on PW’s site, I can’t wait to try ‘em all!

The circuit breaker to our kitchen lights tripped, and kept tripping after we reset it (indicating a short of some sort), so I haven’t had lights in my kitchen since I got back from China. By the time I get home from work it’s dark, and a dark kitchen isn’t very conducive for cooking :)  However, with hope in sight (an electrician is scheduled to come check out the wiring today), I decided to cook by lamp light last night. “Cook by lamp light” – doesn’t quite have that romantic feeling to it, does it? I actually had to take this picture in my laundry room! The pan is balancing on my washing machine. =)

All in all, it was a quick and easy meal that’s perfect for weeknights. Once everything’s prepped, you can easily have dinner on the table in 30 minutes. Tony loves all things spicy and chicken, so it will more than likely get some repeat action at our house. My only complaint is that my sauce never thickened up, so it was kind of runny and didn’t really coat the noodles well, and the sauce is the best part! I might add a thickening agent of some sort next time.

Also, I’ve learned there’s a fine balance between “blackened” and “burned” – we’re talking like 30 seconds here. I’m still sort of mastering the art of high heat cooking.  There may have been one or two pieces that ended up a bit charcoal-y in the end. I think I’d leave out the butter, and just use oil, because butter only seems to burn.

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