Saturday, December 29, 2012

Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage

This is a one skillet meal, if you do it right. (I didn't, see my tips and tricks)  It cooks quick and it really packs some great flavor.  This is a meal you can make in 40 minutes.  I got it from Tracy's Culinary Adventures.
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 lb. sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • ¼ t. red pepper flakes
  • 3 C. water
  • 1 (12 oz.) bag of ziti
  • ½ C. heavy cream
  • 2 C. mozzarella, shredded
  • ½ C. Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
  2. You need a large 12 in. skillet with a cover, which is oven proof, to make this a one pan meal.
  3. Set the skillet over medium heat and add the sausage that has been broken into small pieces, about ½ inch thick.
  4. Add the salt and red pepper flakes and cook until sausage is brown, about 5 minutes. 
  5. Use a wooden spoon to break the sausage up and stir occasionally.
  6. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Add the tomatoes and reduce to medium-low heat, cook for 10 minutes.
  8. Add the water and pasta then cover the pan and turn up the heat to medium-high.  (adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a vigorous simmer)
  9. Cook, stirring frequently to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan, for 15 minutes or until the pasta is tender.
  10. Add the heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, and 1 C. of the mozzarella.
  11. Stir to incorporate, and then top with the remaining 1 C. mozzarella.
  12. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown.
  13. Allow the dish to set for 5 minutes, and then serve.
Tips and Tricks:
  • I started this recipe in a skillet that I thought was big enough for this recipe, but when I added the water, I realized there was NO room for the ziti.  I had to transfer to a pot (not a skillet) then I realized the pot wasn't oven proof, so I had to transfer to a Corning ware.  Save yourself the time and cleanup and make sure you start with something large enough to hold about 8 cups AND something that can be put in the oven.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chicken Salad Dip

All Southern ladies have a chicken salad recipe.  I have several and I use each for different things.  This is a finely chopped chicken salad that can be served more like a dip.  It is a combination of a few different recipes.
  • 1 whole fryer
  • 10 C. water
  • 4 celery stalks, cut in fourths
  • 2 onions, cut in half
  • Head of garlic, cut in half
  • 1 T. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  1. In a large pot, cover the fryer with water and add the celery, onions, garlic, and Creole seasoning.
  2. Allow to boil for one hour, then remove the chicken and allow to cool.
  3. Remove the skin and the bones and place them back in the pot and allow them to simmer for another hour. Reserve the chicken meat for the dip.
  4. Strain the contents of the pot and now you have chicken stock.
  • chicken meat of a fryer
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 can water chestnuts
  • ½ C. sour cream
  • ½ C. mayonnaise
  • 3 T. Creole mustard
  • 2 T. Crystal hot sauce
  • 1 T. chopped dill
  • 1 T. garlic salt
  • 1 T. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  1. In a large bowl combine the last 7 ingredients together.  Reserve.
  2. In a food processor, add the chicken and pulse until finely chopped.  Add to the large bowl.
  3. Add the celery, water chestnuts and green onions to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Add to the large bowl.
  4. Combine all the ingredients together and place a cover over the bowl.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, so the flavors can “marry”.
  6. Serve with your favorite crackers or chips.
Tips and Tricks:
  • Cutting the fryer is not necessary if you have a large gumbo pot, just throw the whole chicken in and let it boil away.
  • Green onions sometimes become stringy in the food processor, if you want them to look pretty, don’t process them but cut them by hand.
  • The sour cream and mayo amounts are approximate.  It really depends on how much chicken you have.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Italian Salad

This is a great salad to serve with a pizza.  I made this salad for friends when we ordered pizza.  It is supposed to serve 4 – 6 people, but the 3 of us ate it all.  Yeah, it was that good.  Making that creamy Italian dressing really takes it up a notch!
  • 1 C. mayonnaise
  • ¼ C. milk or half and half
  • ¼ C. red wine or balsamic vinegar
  • ½ t. of sugar
  • 1 envelope of Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix
  • 1 lb. Italian blend salad mix or romaine lettuce, torn into bite size pieces
  • 1 (5 oz.) jar of small stuffed green olives
  • 2 oz. pepperoni slices, cut in half
  • 1 (12 oz.) jar of sweet pepper rings, cut in pieces
  • 1 C. Italian blend cheese, shredded
  1. Make the dressing combining all of the ingredients by whisking until fully incorporated.
  2. When you are ready to serve the salad, combine the salad ingredients and pour ¾ C. of the dressing over the salad and toss. 
  3. Serve immediately.
Tips and Tricks:
  • I use an immersion blender to incorporate the dressing ingredients.  It works better and faster than whisking.
  • You can use any lettuce you like for this salad but I have tried it with iceberg and I don’t think it tasted as good.
  • If you can't find Italian blend cheese, just use 3/4 C. mozzarella and 1/4 C. Romano or Parmesan.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Wedding Cookies

These are so Yummy!  I don't know why they are called "Wedding Cookies", but they are light and airy and sweet.  I'm not the best baker, but these are easy to make.  It is a recipe from Trisha Yearwood.
  • 2 ¼ C. all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 t. salt
  • 1 C. (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 C. powdered sugar
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • ½ C. pecans, finely chopped 
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the sifted flour, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter, ¼ C. of the powdered sugar, and vanilla with a mixer.
  4. Add the flour mixture about ½ C. at a time.
  5. Mix until the flour is incorporated.
  6. Stir in the chopped pecans, by hand.
  7. Roll the cookie dough into 1 inch balls, then roll into a tube and create a crescent.
  8. Place each on a cookie sheet.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes, or until slightly brown on edges but still pale on the top.
  10. Remove the cookies from the oven, and then transfer to a cooling rack.
  11. When cookies are cooled, roll them in the ¾ C. of powdered sugar.
  12. Store in an air-tight container.
Tips and Tricks:
  • This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.
  • I use parchment paper on my cookie sheets.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Popeye Dip

This is my friend Marianna's twist on a simple, easy to fix appetizer.  She sautés the red onion and it gives this dip a wonderful flavor.  Thanks for the tip, Marianna.
  • 1 box chopped spinach, frozen
  • 1 can water chestnuts, sliced 
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ C (½ stick) butter
  • ½ C. mayonnaise
  • 1 C. (8oz.) sour cream
  • 1 envelope Knorr or Lipton vegetable soup mix
  1. Cook spinach as directed on box and drain.
  2. Squeeze the excess water out of the spinach and dry with paper towels.
  3. Sauté onions in butter over medium-low heat until soft, about 10 minutes.
  4. Chop the water chestnuts into small pieces.
  5. Add each of the ingredients to a medium bowl and mix well.
  6. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.
  7. Serve with tortilla chips.
Tips and Tricks:
  • I like the Restaurant style Tostitos tortilla chips with this dip.
  • I use an egg slicer to chop the water chestnuts into thinner slices.
  • I use light sour cream.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hot Burger

This is my go to recipe when we grill.  These burgers are juicy and have just the right amount of heat to make me happy.  We grill all year round in New Orleans, but you can make these on the stovetop if you aren't able to grill like we do.

  • 1 lb. ground chuck
  • 1 lb. hot sausage, casing removed
  • 2 packs of Lipton Onion Soup
  • 2 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ C. water
  • ½ T. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  1. Combine the hamburger ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Mix by hand, but don’t over work the meat.
  3. Form 6 hamburger patties.
  4. If you are grilling, place the patties on a cookie sheet and place them in the freezer until you are ready to place them on the grill, so they firm up.
  5. If you are cooking inside, place the hamburgers in a skillet over medium heat.
  6. Cook for 4 minutes per side or until the outside has a dark brown color.
  7. Serve hot on buns with cheese, lettuce tomatoes, and condiments.
Tips and Tricks:
  • These freeze great.  I usually double the recipe and place the leftover patties in the freezer for another meal.
  • I buy the hot sausage that is made fresh at the grocery, but you can also use Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausage if you can't find the fresh made kind.
  • I like to serve these with the Balsamic Onions.  Follow my link to find out how I make mine.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Oyster Dressing

This is my Mom’s recipe that she changed for my Dad.  She always made Oyster Dressing with French bread, but my Dad preferred a cornbread dressing.  Well, her recipe developed into a Cornbread/French bread Oyster Dressing.  The dressing mix is my shortcut.
  • 1 Jiffy cornbread, prepared, cooled, and crumbled
  • 1 loaf of French bread, stale
  • 2 C. onions, chopped
  • 1 C. bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 C. celery, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch of green onions, finely chopped
  • ½ C. of fresh parsley finely chopped
  • 1 pt. fresh oysters, drained and pureed (save the oyster liquor)
  • 1 lb. of Savoie or Richard’s Dressing Mix
  • 1 T. of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  • ½ t.  of cayenne pepper
  • ½ C. vegetable oil
  • ¼ C. (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 egg, scrambled
  1. Soak 1/2 of the French bread in 1/2 C. of the oyster liquor until soft and soggy, reserve.
  2. In a Dutch oven, sauté onions, bell peppers, and celery over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add dressing mix and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the oysters and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the green onions, parsley, Creole seasoning, and cayenne and cook for 3 minutes.
  7. Add some cornbread, french bread, and then some oyster liquor, alternating and scrapping the bottom of the Dutch oven often. (you might not need all the cornbread or all of the oyster liquor)
  8. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes and continue scrapping.
  9. Remove the dressing from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  10. Add the butter and the egg and stir well.
  11. Transfer to a casserole dish and sprinkle with bread crumbs.
  12. When you are ready to serve, bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Tips and Tricks:
  • Make the cornbread the day before you make the oyster dressing.
  • You need a really sturdy spoon to stir this dressing.  It gets thick as it cooks, but it’s important to keep it moving.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Italian Sausage Sandwiches

This is a quick fix supper.  I made this one up.  It's good, try it out for yourself.
  • 5 hot Italian sausages, casing removed
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced into rings
  • 1 (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • ½ C. water
  • ½ T. sugar
  • 1 t. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  • Provolone cheese, sliced thick
  • Lettuce
  • 5 hoagie rolls

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a large skillet, sauté the onions over medium heat for 5 minutes or until they start to wilt.
  3. Cut the sausages in half and remove the casing.
  4. Add the sausages to the skillet, moving the onions to the side so each sausage can touch the bottom of the skillet.   Arrange the onions on top of the sausage and allow to cook for 5 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the paste, water, sugar, and Creole seasoning.
  6. Pour over the sausage and onions and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. While the sauce is simmering, toast the hoagie rolls for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
  9. Serve each sausage on a hoagie roll with the sauce and onions.  Cover with a slice of provolone cheese over the top and then add the lettuce.

Tips and Tricks:
  • I use Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausage.  I have also used Zia Hot Italian Sausage.  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Frito “Salad”

This is a great party recipe.  I think it will go over well at a barbecue.   I made it for a tailgating party and everyone liked it.  It is a Paula Deen recipe, but I had to make a few changes of my own with the Ranch seasoning and green onions, instead of red onions.
  • 1 (10 ½ oz.) bag of Fritos, crushed
  • 1 C. mayonnaise
  • 1 (11 oz.) can of Green Giant Niblets yellow corn, drained
  • 1 (11 oz.) can of Green Giant White Shoepeg corn, drained
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 envelope of Ranch seasoning
  • 2 C. sharp Cheddar cheese,  shredded

  1. Combine all of the ingredients, except the Fritos; stir until all are well coated with the mayonnaise.
  2. Place the ingredients in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. When you are ready to serve the “salad”, toss the Fritos into the mixture and serve.

Tips and Tricks:
  • The fact that this recipe is for Frito Salad is funny, that’s why I put the word SALAD in quotes.  As you can see from the ingredient list, it is NOT a salad, but it is Yummy!
  • I am a Green Giant fan.  You DO NOT have to use Green Giant corn for this recipe; a 15 oz. can of any other corn will work.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Acorn Squash Soup

This tastes like Autumn in a bowl.  It is rich and creamy and a little bit spicy.  It's a Guy Fieri recipe.  It is exceptionally good with a cold Abita Amber or Newcastle Brown Ale.  I thought of you while I ate this soup, Erin, Enjoy!
  • 3 large gold acorn squash
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • ½ C. (1 stick) butter, softened (6 T. for squash and 2 T. for sautéing the onions)
  • 3 shallots, whole, peeled
  • 6 garlic cloves, whole, peeled
  • 1 T. kosher salt (6 – ½ t.)
  • 1 T. pepper (6 – ½ t.)
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 4 C. chicken stock
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1 t. sage
  • 1 t. thyme
  • ¼ t. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ t. white pepper
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 C. heavy cream
  • ½ C. Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cover a baking sheet with foil, and then cut the squash in half.
  3. Scoop out the seeds and place them in a bowl filled with water, if you want to roast the seeds, if you don’t then just pitch them out.
  4. Place the squash halves on the baking sheet with 1 T. of butter in each squash half (coat all the squash flesh well).
  5. Place 2 garlic cloves in 3 of the halves, and 1 shallot in the other 3 halves.
  6. Cover the garlic and shallots with 1 t. of olive oil and ½ t. of salt and ½ t. of pepper, in each half.
  7. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the squash is caramelized and soft.
  8. Allow the squash to cool and then scoop the flesh out of the squash halves, including the garlic and shallots, and place in a bowl.  Discard the skin.
  9. Melt the additional 2 T. butter and 1 T. olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat, and then add the onions and sauté until clear, about 10 minutes.
  10. Add the squash, shallots, garlic, and chicken stock and bring to a low boil.
  11. Reduce the heat and then add the salt, cayenne, white pepper, sage, thyme, and Worcestershire sauce.
  12. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes and then puree with an immersion blender.
  13. Finally, add the heavy cream and Parmesan cheese and then stir well and serve hot with Roasted Squash Speeds or croutons.
Tips and Tricks:
  • Roasted Squash Seeds make a great snack.  They are crunchy and flavorful and rich in vitamins and minerals like vitamins A & C, folate (which is nature’s version of folic acid), potassium, calcium and iron.  Follow my recipe which can be made while the squash is roasting in the oven.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

This a a great holiday casserole, but don't wait for the holidays.  It is easy to prepare and makes about 8 servings.  It's very easy to double the recipe, if you need to feed more.  It is an Emeril Lagasse recipe that I've slightly tweaked.
  • 4 large baked potatoes
  • ½ C. half and half or evaporated milk
  • 2 C. sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ½ C. sour cream
  • ¾ C. green onions, finely chopped
  • 6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
  • ¼ C. (½ stick) butter, plus 1 T. to grease the casserole dish
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1 t. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  • 1 egg, scrambled
  • Fresh chives
  1. Peel and coarsely mash the baked potatoes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, cream, 1 C. of the cheese, sour cream, green onions, bacon, butter, salt, and Creole seasoning.
  3. Mix well until all ingredients are incorporated and then add the scrambled egg.
  4. Grease a casserole dish with 1 T. butter and then transfer the potato mixture to the casserole dish.
  5. Cover with the remaining 1 C. of Cheddar cheese.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
  7. Serve hot.
Tips and Tricks:
  • The best way to bake potatoes is without foil in a 450 degree oven.  Depending on size, they usually take about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  • I’ve tried making this recipe with Colby, mild Cheddar, and sharp Cheddar cheese.  Sharp Cheddar is my favorite, but use what you like.
  • I like to add chives when serving.  Chives are NOT green onions.  They are milder and thinner than green onions.  Chop the green onions to cook IN the casserole and the chives to serve ON the casserole.   You can find them by the fresh herbs in the produce section.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pepper Jelly Spinach Salad

This is my version of the Zea's Pepper Jelly Spinach Salad.  I added the candied pecans, and I think I hit it "Out of the park".  You try it!  What do you think?
  • ½ lb. of fresh spinach
  • 10 kalamata olives, halved
  • ¼ C. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped in slivers
  • ¼ C. candied pecans
  • ¼ C. golden raisins
  • ½ C. blue cheese, crumbled
  • ½ C. pepper jelly vinaigrette
  1. Toss all the ingredients together with the pepper jelly vinaigrette 
Tips and Tricks:
  • I make the candied pecans the day before I make the salad.
  • I toss the salad with the dressing about 15 minutes before it is served.  The spinach leaves start to wilt a bit with the dressing (that’s the way I like it).
  • Adding a roasted or grilled chicken breast to this salad is excellent.

Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette

This is my version of the Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette from Zea's Spinach Salad.  I changed the recipe a bit because I think the original recipe is too oily.  This makes it just right! 
  • 1 C. olive oil
  • ½ C. balsamic vinegar
  • ½ C. pepper jelly
  • ½ T. Dijon mustard
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1 t. garlic powder 
  1. Combine all ingredients using an immersion blender or traditional blender
  2. Can be refrigerated and used for 2 weeks
Tips and Tricks:
  • I use the RED Tabasco Pepper Jelly.
  • The Dijon mustard it what allows this vinaigrette to “stay together”.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Oyster Patties

My Mom made these every year for our New Year's Open House.  Sometimes we had them for other occasions also.  They are the perfect hors-d'oeuvres.  Pop open a nice bottle of wine or champagne and ENJOY!
  • 1 pt. oysters, drained and puréed (save the liquid)
  • ¼ C. oyster liquor
  • ½ t. salt
  • ½ t. cayenne pepper
  • ½ C. (1 stick) butter
  • 1 bunch of green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ C. flour
  • 1 can Campbell's cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 /3 C. bread crumbs
  • 48 small patty shells
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Sauté the onions in the butter, over medium heat, until soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the flour and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Add the oysters, oyster liquor, salt, and cayenne, cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the soup and cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat, stir in the bread crumbs and allow to cool.
  8. Place the patty shells on a cookie sheet.
  9. Using a teaspoon, fill the patty shells with the oyster mixture.
  10. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Tips and Tricks:
  • Oyster liquor is the liquid that is inside of the shell with the oysters.  It is salty and an important ingredient in this recipe.
  • I order my patty shells from Haydel’s Bakery.  They are flaky and delicious.
  • You can substitute 1 lb. of diced fresh shrimp in the place of the oysters to make Shrimp Patties.  You might not need the bread crumbs if you use the shrimp.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Caesar Salad

I love a Caesar Salad, and this homemade dressing is what makes this salad EXCELLENT.  It is worth the effort.  It's from Kittencal's Kitchen (online).
  • 1 large head of romaine lettuce or a 1 lb. bag
  • 1/3 C. parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 ½ C. garlic croutons
  • ½ T. anchovy paste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 C. mayonnaise
  • ½ C. sour cream
  • ¼ C. half and half or milk
  • 1/3 C. parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 T. fresh lemon juice, or juice of one lemon
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ t. black pepper
  1. In a food processor, add all of the ingredients for the dressing and process until all ingredients are incorporated (about 30 seconds).
  2. Refrigerate the dressing.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, cheese, and dressing.
  4. Top with the croutons.
Tips and Tricks:
  • Make the dressing the day before you want to serve the salad.  The dressing will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
  • You can add the meat of your choice to this salad.  Rotisserie chicken, grilled chicken, or grilled or fried shrimp are GREAT.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Shrimp Etouffee

This is Cajun comfort food.  It is my Mom and Dad’s recipe that I tweaked.  I like a creamy Etouffee, so that’s where the heavy cream come into the picture.  It’s spicy and rich and creamy.
  • 1 stick of butter (8 T.)
  • 1 C. of chopped onions
  • ½ C. of chopped bell pepper
  • ½ C. of chopped celery
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • ½ C flour
  • 1 can of Rotel tomatoes with chilies
  • 4 C. shrimp stock
  • ¼ C. of Crystal Hot Sauce
  • 2 T. of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  • 2 lbs. of fresh medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 C. heavy cream
  1. Season the shrimp with the Creole Seasoning and refrigerate.
  2. In cast iron pot, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the onions, bell peppers, and celery for 15 minutes
  3. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add flour and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add Rotel, hot sauce, and shrimp stock and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 45 minutes.
  7. Add shrimp and heavy cream, cook for 10 minutes.
  8. Serve hot over rice.
Tips and Tricks:
·     Peel the shrimp and save all the shells and heads to make your own Shrimp Stock. 
·     If you don’t have a cast iron pot you can make this in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven instead.  The trick is to stir constantly while making the roux.  You can NOT multi-task during this step.  This is where the base of flavor for your etouffee comes.
·     The ¼ C. of hot sauce might have you scared.  Don’t be!  The shrimp will soak up the flavor from the hot sauce and the heavy cream will mellow it all out.
·     This freezes well.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Asian Boston Butt

It is so nice to come home to the smell of a wonderful dinner being cooked.  You can!  This dinner cooks while you are at work or running errands.  It's a combination of several different recipes that I've found online.
  • 1 T. kosher salt
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 4 lb. boneless Boston Butt Roast
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large onion, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 t. ginger powder
  • 1 T. Sriracha, Hot Chili Sauce
  • ½ C. bourbon
  • ¼ C. soy sauce
  • ½ C. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ C. water
  • 3 T. corn starch
  1. Rinse the Boston butt in cold water and dry with paper towels.
  2. Heat the oil over a medium-high heat in a Dutch oven.
  3. Season the meat well with the salt and pepper.
  4. Sear the meat on all sides in the Dutch oven, about 5 minutes per side.
  5. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, Sriracha, bourbon, soy sauce, and vinegar to the Crock Pot.
  6. Place the Boston Butt on top and cook on low heat for 10 hours or on high for 5 hours. 
  7. Remove the roast from the Crock Pot and place it on a platter, cover with foil.
  8. Using a ladle, remove 3 C. of the cooking liquid to a sauce pan.
  9. Combine the water and cornstarch and add to the pan.
  10. Cook for 5 minutes for until thick and bubbly.
  11. Serve the roast with Jasmine rice and gravy.
Tips and Tricks:
  • Do not open the Crock Pot for the first 8 hours or 4 hours.
  • Add water to corn starch, NOT corn starch to water.  It makes a difference.  Whisking helps also, you don’t want lumps.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


I love soup.  Soup is supposed to be HOT, not cold, except for Vichyssoise or Gazpacho.  I don’t like Gazpacho, but I do like Vichyssoise and I think you might like it too.  Try it.  If you don’t like it cold, you can always eat this soup hot, it’s good both ways.  This is the combination of an Alton Brown recipe, with the addition of the Boursin that comes from Emeril.

  • 4 leeks (medium to large),  cleaned, ONLY dark green section removed, and sliced into ¼ inch pieces
  • 4 T. butter
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes (about 6 small), peeled and diced small
  • 8 C. chicken stock
  • 1 C. heavy cream
  • 1 C. buttermilk
  • ½ t. white pepper
  • ¼ t. cayenne pepper
  • 1 (5.2 oz.) Boursin cheese, garlic and herbs
  • 1 T. chives, snipped
  1. In a Dutch oven, melt the butter over low heat, and cook the leeks with the salt for 20 – 25 minutes (don’t let the leeks brown)
  2. Add the potatoes and the chicken stock and turn the heat up to medium-high
  3. When the stock begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and allow the soup to simmer for 45 minutes
  4. Using an immersion blender, or a traditional blender in batches, blend the soup until it is a thick, creamy consistency
  5. Add the heavy cream, buttermilk, white pepper, and cayenne pepper and stir well
  6. Add the Boursin cheese and stir well to melt
  7. Serve hot with chives as a garnish
Tips and Tricks:
  • To clean leeks, slice them open vertically. Fill the sink with cool water and allow the leeks to soak in the water.  Separate the leaves and scrub the sand out of layers.  Drain the water and allow the water to run over the leeks, and then dry with a clean dishcloth.
  • This soup can also be served cold.  Vichyssoise IS normally served cold, but this soup is very good hot.
  • I have made this with half and half instead of the heavy cream and buttermilk.  If you do, add 1 T. of fresh lemon juice to 2 C. of half and half, to mimic the buttermilk.  Buttermilk is tart and the lemon juice does the trick.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pecan Tarts

This is a recipe I got when I bought a Mini Muffin Pan from Pampered Chef almost 20 years ago.  I make them around the holidays and they are a family favorite.
Tart Shells:
  • ½ C. butter or 1 stick, softened
  • ½ block of cream cheese or 4 oz.
  • 1 C. all-purpose flour
  • 2 T. butter, melted
  • ¾ C. brown sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ C. chopped pecans
  1. In a medium bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth
  2. Add the flour and mix until a soft dough forms
  3. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  5. Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces, rolling each piece into a ball
  6. Place the balls of dough into a mini-muffin pan and form a tart shell for the filling, by pressing the dough against the sides of the pan
  7. Combine the filling ingredients in a medium bowl
  8. Fill each tart shell until level, (don’t over fill)
  9. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until light golden brown
  10. Remove from the muffin pan and allow to cool
Tips and Tricks:
  • This tart shell can be used with lots of fillings.  It is flaky but durable.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Pan Fried Trout with Lemon Butter Sauce

This is SO good.  It really is one of our favorite dishes. My brother is a fisherman and when he shares his bounty with us, this is what I make!  Thanks, Al!
  • 10 trout filets
  • ½ C. flour
  • ½ T. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • ½ C. vegetable oil
Lemon Butter Sauce:
  • 1)         ½ C. white wine
  • 2)         ¼ C. lemon juice or the juice of 1 ½ lemons
  • 3)         4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4)         2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 5)         ½ T. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  • 6)         1 t. kosher salt
  • 7)         ½ t. black pepper
  • 8)         1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 9)         1 T. Crystal hot sauce
  • 10)       ¼ C. heavy cream
  • 11)       1 stick of butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
  1. Get the ingredients ready for the lemon butter sauce in batches (that’s why I numbered the ingredients)
  2. In bowl one: combine 1 – 4, in bowl two: 5 – 9, in bowl three: 10 and in bowl four: 11            
  3. Heat a medium skillet over high heat, when the skillet is “Screaming HOT” add bowl one
  4. Cook for 3 minutes, whisking constantly
  5. Next add bowl two and cook for 3 minutes or until the mixture is like syrup, continue to whisk
  6. Add the cream (bowl three) and cook for 1 minute
  7. Remove the skillet from the heat and then whisk in the butter (bowl four)
  8. Let the sauce rest while you cook the fish
  9. In a large frying pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat
  10. Combine the flour, Creole seasoning, and salt in a shallow bowl
  11. Dredge the trout fillets through the flour mixture
  12. Pan fry the fish about 3 minutes per side or until golden brown
  13. Remove and allow to drain on a cooling rack
Tips and Tricks:
  • It is important to have the ingredients for the sauce ready in batches, because it cooks at such a high heat.
  • I serve this with pasta because the sauce can be used on both the pasta and the fish.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Chez Helene Chicken Nuggets

This is my attempt to make the nuggets that everyone loves, but NOT everyone wants to go get because of all the controversy lately.  They are very close in taste and exact in texture.  I got this recipe from Amy at “my name is snickerdoodle”.
  • 6 chicken tenders or 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 egg, scrambled
  • 1 C. milk
  • 1 C. all-purpose flour
  • 2 T. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 T. kosher salt
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 1 C. canola or vegetable oil (for frying)

  1. Cut all fat, skin, or tendons from the chicken and cut into 1 inch cubes
  2. Combine egg and milk in a bowl and add the nuggets
  3. Allow to marinate for 2 – 3 hours in the refrigerator
  4. Drain the nuggets in a strainer
  5. Preheat canola or vegetable oil to 350 degrees or until a little sprinkle of flour fizzles in the oil
  6. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and pepper in a gallon Ziploc bag and add the nuggets to coat each one well
  7. Using tongs, add several nuggets, but make sure each has enough room to move
  8. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes total, flip around so all sides are browned
  9. Remove all and allow the nuggets to drain on a paper towel lined plate
  10. Serve immediately

Tips and Tricks:
  • I serve this with Honey Mustard or Pepper Jelly Sauce.  Check out my recipe for each.
  • The confectioners’ sugar is the SECRET ingredient for this recipe.  You won’t taste that it is there, but you’ll miss it if you leave it out.