Saturday, March 31, 2012

Strawberry Salad

When Spring has sprung, so do Ponchatoula Strawberries.  This is a great salad recipe from my friend Brenda.  We had dinner parties when we were all newlyweds.  I've made it every year when the strawberries are ripe and delicious!

  • 1 C. sugar
  • ½ C. vegetable oil
  • 1 C. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ T. Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T. kosher salt
  • ½ T. black pepper
  • 1 t. Accent
  • 1 small head of red leaf lettuce, torn into bite size pieces
  • 1 small head of green leaf lettuce, torn into bite size pieces
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 2 pts. strawberries, sliced
  • 1 can mangerine oranges
  • ¾ C. almonds, slivered
  • 2 bags of ramen noodles
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place the ramen noodles, that have been broken up, on a baking sheet with the slivered almonds and bake for 20 minutes or until browned
  3. Make the dressing combining all of the ingredients by whisking until fully incorporated
  4. When you are ready to serve the salad, combine the salad ingredients and pour the dressing over the salad and 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; baby greens are nice with this also.  I have tried it with iceberg and I don’t think it tasted as good. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cabbage Rolls

We caught a lot of cabbage at the St. Patrick's Day parade this year.  I have wanted to make Cabbage Rolls using Dirty Rice for the stuffing, so this was my opportunity.  I used the cabbage I had, but a recipe of Emeril's calls for the Savoy cabbage, the leaves are bigger and easier to roll.

  • 1 head of Savoy cabbage, 16 nice leaves for rolling
  • 4 C. Dirty Rice
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 C. onions, chopped
  • 1 (28 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • ½ t. black pepper
  • 1 C. cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Remove the core of the cabbage and place the whole head in a large pot of boiling water
  3. Remove after 3 minutes and place in a large bowl filled with ice and water
  4. In a medium sauce pan, sauté the onions in the butter over medium heat until tender
  5. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper, allow to simmer for 1 hour
  6. Cut the heat , add the cream and stir well, reserve
  7. In an 13’ x 9’ baking dish, ladle 1 C. of the tomato/cream sauce in the bottom of the pan
  8. Roll ¼ C. of dirty rice in each leaf of cabbage and place the rolls seam side down in the sauce, cram all the rolls together side-by-side in the pan
  9. Ladle the remaining tomato/cream sauce over the rolls
  10. Seal the baking dish with foil
  11. Bake for 1 hour
  12. Serve hot!
Tips and Tricks:
  • Follow my link to get the Dirty Rice recipe.  You only need 4 C. for the cabbage rolls, so just make ½ of the full recipe. I make the Dirty Rice the day before and refrigerate it, so it dries out.
  • I use a bag of frozen chopped onions for this recipe.  A 10 oz. bag is 2 C. of onions.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


"Refuel" in uptown New Orleans introduced Donald and I to this wonderful concoction.  I searched several recipes online and reworked several to ultimately make my own version.  We LOVE it.  Hope you do too!
  • 12 eggs
  • ¼ C. half and half
  • 1 t. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • 1/3 C. vegetable oil
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 Plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 C. cheese
  • ¼ C. cilantro, chopped
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, and Creole seasoning, then set aside
  2. In a small skillet over medium heat, heat oil and fry each corn tortilla just until crisp, about 30 – 45 seconds, drain each on a paper towel and chop tortillas, then set aside
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the olive oil with the butter, add the onions and the peppers, cook for 3 – 5 minutes until they start to brown
  4. Add the jalapeños and the tomatoes, cook until tomatoes start to wilt, about 2 minutes
  5. Reduce the heat to low and allow the pan to cool before pouring the egg mixture
  6. Stir all the ingredients together and when the eggs are starting to set, stir in the cilantro and cheese
  7. Serve with tortillas and black beans
Tips and Tricks:
  • The cheese choice is yours.  Cheddar, pepper jack, or Queso fresco.
  • A whole jalapeño is great, but the sliced, picked jalapeño will work well also.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Zucchini Gratin

This makes such a nice presentation.  The Barefoot Contessa comes through again.  It's rich and decadent.   Get out the forks!
  • 4 T. butter
  • 2 onions, cut in half and sliced ¼ in. thick
  • 4 zucchini, sliced ¼ in. thick
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 1 t. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  • ¼ t. ground nutmeg
  • 2 T. flour
  • 1 C. hot half and half
  • 1 C. bread crumbs
  • 1 C. Gruyere cheese, grated
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a Dutch oven, melt the butter over low heat and sauté the onions for 15 minutes, until soft but not browned
  3. Add the zucchini and cook covered for 5 minutes
  4. Add the salt, pepper, Creole seasoning, and nutmeg and cook uncovered for 5 minutes
  5. Add the flour and stir in the hot half and half, cook for a few minutes until it makes a thickened sauce
  6. Pour into a shallow baking dish and sprinkle the bread crumbs and Gruyere over the zucchini
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and browned
  8. Allow the Gratin to set for 10 minutes before serving
Tips and Tricks:
  • Squash can be substituted for zucchini in this recipe or use a combination of both.
  • I heat the half and half in the microwave for 2 minutes.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Chicken Liver Pate

I treated myself to some homemade pate.  The picture is from a lunch picnic at my desk! Pate is not a favorite of most people, but for those of us that like it, nothing can take it's place.
  • 1 lb. chicken livers, cleaned
  • 1 C. milk
  • 1 stick of butter, unsalted, cold, and cut into pieces
  • 1 C. onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 t. thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 T. capers
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • ½ t. cayenne pepper
  • ¼ C. white wine
  • ¼ C. brandy
  1. Soak the chicken livers in milk for 2 hours, then drain well
  2. In a large skillet, melt 4 T. butter over medium heat and sauté the onions for 5 minutes
  3. Add the garlic for 1 minute, then add the chicken livers, thyme, bay leaves, capers, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper
  4. Cook for about 3 minutes, until the outside of the livers are brown
  5. Add the brandy and the wine and cook until the liquid reduces by half
  6. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaves and let cool slightly
  7. Place all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until well blended
  8. Add the cold butter and pulse again until well blended
  9. Pour into ramekins, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours
Tips and Tricks:
  • I serve this pate with a baguette that has been sliced and a soft cheese like brie or havarti.
  • I like the pate better when it is almost room temperature.  If you are serving this for guests I would recommend taking it out of the refrigerator at least an hour before serving.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Enchilada Casserole

This is not a guilt-free recipe, but it does get some veggies in on the action.  The meat is mixed with zucchini to create the filling for these enchiladas.  It is so GOOD!  I took this recipe from the Recipe Girl, thanks for trick!

  • 1 lb. ground beef or turkey
  • 1 ½ C. onions, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ C. zucchini (2 medium), finely chopped
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 2 ½ C. enchilada sauce
  • 2 C. cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 C. pepper jack cheese, shredded
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Spray a 13” x 9” pan with cooking spray
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground meat , then drain and crumble, reserve
  4. Add the onions and zucchini to the skillet with oil and cook for 3 minutes on medium-low heat
  5. Turn off the heat and add meat back to the skillet with 1 C. of enchilada sauce. 1 C. cheddar cheese, and 1 C. pepper jack cheese
  6. Stir well and add ½ C. of enchilada sauce to the baking pan
  7. Assemble enchiladas by placing 1/3 C. of meat/cheese mixture down the center of each corn tortilla
  8. Wrap each tightly and place seam side down in the pan, cram all of the enchiladas into the pan
  9. Pour the remaining 1 C. of enchilada sauce over the enchiladas and cover with the remaining cheddar and pepper jack cheese
  10. Bake for 30 minutes
  11. Cut into 8 squares and serve with sour cream
Tips and Tricks:
  • I call this Enchilada Casserole because MY enchiladas never stay round in the pan.  They ALWAYS bust open!  It all tastes the same, but they are NOT nice round enchiladas!
  • The zucchini is such a great ingredient in this dish.  Even if you don’t care for zucchini, I encourage you to try it.  It makes a wonderful filling for the enchiladas.
  • Follow my link to make your own homemade enchilada sauce!  It's so much better than the can.

Enchilada sauce

Why use canned enchilada sauce, when you can make your own that tastes so much better.  It is a easy recipe, so get ready to make some enchiladas!
  • ¼ C. vegetable oil
  • 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 2 T. chili powder
  • 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ C. chicken stock
  • ½ t. ground cumin
  • ½ t. garlic powder
  • ½  t. garlic salt
  • ½ t. kosher salt
  1. In a sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat, then add flour and chili powder
  2. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring constantly, so flour does not burn
  3. Add tomato sauce, then stock and spices
  4. Cook for 10 minutes
Tips and Tricks:
  • This sauce can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for 3 – 5 days.  You can also freeze this sauce.
  • This makes about 2 ½ C. of enchilada sauce which is what you need to make enchiladas.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Crabmeat Cheesecake

My sister-in-law, Donna made this for our family on Christmas Eve and we devoured it.  It makes a beautiful presentation and can be served as an appetizer with crackers or as an entree in slices.

  • 1 C. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 C. bread crumbs
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 C. onions, finely chopped
  • ½ C. green pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ C. red pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 T. Crystal hot sauce
  • ½ T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T. Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning
  • 2 T. lemon juice, or the juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 lb. of lump crabmeat
  • 3 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ C. heavy cream
  • 1 C. of smoked Gouda shredded (4 oz.)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine the Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, and butter until blended
  3. Spray a 9 in. springform pan with cooking spray
  4. Press the bread crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan
  5. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onions and peppers for 5 minutes
  6. Add the garlic, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Creole seasoning, lemon juice, and crabmeat to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes
  7. Remove the skillet from the heat and reserve
  8. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and eggs with an electric mixer until frothy about 5 minutes
  9. Add the cream, Gouda, and finally the crabmeat mixture
  10. Mix until incorporated well, about 2 minutes
  11. Pour into the springform pan and bake for 1 hour
  12. Allow cheesecake to cool, then release the cheesecake from the springform pan and serve at room temperature

Tips and Tricks:
  • Put a cookie sheet under the springform pan while baking.  You don’t want to deal with the mess I had in my oven after baking this cheesecake!
  • I use a 1 lb. container of Creole seasoning from the produce section to speed up this recipe.  Creole seasoning generally has onions, green peppers, celery, garlic, and parsley.  The celery and parsley added does really change the taste of this recipe.
  • This recipe makes a big cheesecake.  I bought 2 (6 in.) springform pans and make two smaller cheesecakes with this same recipe.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Breakfast Pizza

This is a great breakfast when you have overnight guest to feed.  It's quick and easy and feeds 8 people (2 servings each).  My friend Karen shared this recipe with me.

  • 1 can of crescent rolls
  • ¼ C. of chopped green onions
  • 1 lb. of breakfast sausage
  • 10 eggs
  • ½ C. sour cream
  • ½ T. Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning
  • 2 C. shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the breakfast sausage for 10 minutes or until fully cooked and crumbled
  3. Remove from the skillet and allow to drain on paper towels
  4. Spray a 13” x 9” baking pan or corning ware with cooking spray
  5. Press the crescent rolls into the bottom of the pan
  6. Sprinkle the green onions on top of the crust and press them into the crust
  7. Sprinkle the breakfast sausage on top
  8. In a large bowl, scramble the eggs, sour cream, and Creole seasoning together
  9. Pour the eggs in and bake for 30 minutes
  10. Remove from the oven and add the shredded cheese
  11. Bake for an additional 10 minutes
  12. Remove from the oven and allow to set for 5 minutes
  13. Cut into pieces and serve

Tips and Tricks:
  • I use an immersion blender to scramble the eggs with the sour cream.  They are light and fluffy this way.
  • I use Jimmy Dean’s Hot pork sausage,
  • I cut the breakfast pizza into 16 pieces.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tomato Basil Soup

Don't you love that "Tomato Basil Soup" at La Madeleine?  I do and this is a "Copy Cat" recipe.  Easy to make and delicious!  Enjoy!
  • 4 C. of crushed tomatoes
  • 4 C. of tomato juice
  • 14 fresh basil leaves, cut into small strips
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • ½ t. cayenne pepper
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 C. heavy cream 
  1. In a Dutch oven, sauté onions over medium heat in olive oil until translucent, about 10 minutes
  2. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute
  3. Add tomatoes, tomato juice, basil, salt, and cayenne pepper and cook for 30 minutes
  4. Add the butter and cream and stir well
  5. Serve hot with a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan cheese
Tips and Tricks:
  • I use canned tomatoes for this recipe, but fresh tomatoes can be used.  Peel the tomatoes first before crushing them. 
  • When chopping the basil, stack the basil leaves one on top of another and then roll the leaves into a tube.  Slice into thin ribbons.
  • This soup is great with a grilled cheese sandwich.  I make a Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich.  Follow my link to see how I make mine.