Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Onion Gravy

Last night we had seasoned, pan fried cubed steaks that were braised in an onion gravy that was just too yummy not to share! It was one of those "let's see what's in the fridge" impromptu recipes that ended up turning out pretty well!

1 large onion, finely chopped (use a food processor if you can)
4 T. margarine
1 T. dried dill (to taste)
3 T. sour cream
1/3 c. red wine
1 T. sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Melt margarine in a skillet over medium, add onions, and cook until golden. Drain off some of the liquid rendered by the onions, then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer. I put the cooked cubed steaks in with the gravy to coat them and allow the meat to absorb some of the flavors of the gravy, but it could just as easily be spooned over the top.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shrimp and Corn Chowder

This recipe is so quick and so good! TJ usually dislikes soup because it was all he could eat when he had his jaw wired shut for 6 months in high school (dang that mosh pit!) but last night he went back for seconds - unheard of! You can use cream of potato soup if you want, but I like the chunky texture of the real deal. It's very rich, so you'll need to go light on the side dishes. Keeps well in the fridge for up to 4 days but I seriously doubt it will last that long!

1 medium onion, diced
2 T. butter or margarine
2 cans potato soup
2 cups milk
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 T. sugar
1 c. frozen corn
1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 c. shredded cheese

In the bottom of a Dutch oven, melt margarine and add onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes until onion begins to turn golden. Add soup, milk, pepper, sugar and corn. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and add shrimp. Cook until shrimp are pink, stirring every so often to keep the bottom from sticking. Stir in cheese and cook until cheese is melted.

Great with a green salad, fruit, and crusty bread!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hot N Nasty Night

So, tonight I made Hot-N-Nasties, a sandwich concoction born in Slidell during my pregnancy. For some reason, it just sounded SO GOOD for dinner tonight! (and NO I'm not pregnant) They are fantastic and simply must be served with crinkle cut fries and sweet tea (or a hurricane, depending on where you live!) So without further ado, here ya go - they're hot, they look nasty, but MAN they're good!

1 french baguette
1/2 lb. deli sliced roast beef
5 slices swiss cheese (we used Sargento)
1/2 cup cajun brown gravy (use Tony Cachere's brand and follow the directions)

Preheat your oven to 400. Slice the baguette in half longways, and spread it open. Spread a substantial layer of mayonnaise on each side, top with roast beef, then cheese. Bake for 7 -9 minutes, until cheese is melted and bread is crispy. Remove from oven and spread gravy down the middle and all over the sides so that it soaks into the bread as much as possible. Fold sandwich back together and cut into 4 servings.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Shrimp in Cream Sauce

1 pkg. frozen shrimp, peeled and deveined
a few tablespoons flour (self rising or all purpose, doesn't matter)
2 T. butter
1 T. oil
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. dry vermouth or zinfandel
salt and pepper

Melt butter and oil in a large skillet over medium. While butter is melting, shake shrimp in a freezer bag with the flour. Immediately place shrimp in a single layer in the melted butter (before flour becomes gummy). Cook for 2 minutes or until browned on one side, then flip and brown on the other side. Cook shrimp in 2 batches if necessary. Remove cooked shrimp to a shallow casserole dish, bowl, or whatever.

After shrimp has cooked, deglaze the pan with the vermouth and cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 4 min. or until mixture has reduced by half. Pour warm cream sauce over cooked shrimp and serve with crusty bread for sopping up extra sauce.

*Cook's Note: I'd thought about adding about 1/2 T. flour to the cream sauce to thicken it up a little but haven't given it a try yet. You may want to test it out and see how it works - leave me a post if it turns out good!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Venison Chili

Well, the first recipe of venison chili has been made for 2009! TJ tasted it last night and almost ate the whole pot full by accident. Here's how I make mine - adjust seasonings etc. according to your taste.

2 lbs. deer burger
3 cans mexican chili beans
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained
1 can tomato sauce
1 can original Ro-tel
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. charbroil seasoning (optional)

Throw it all in a crock pot, cover and cook on low for at least 8 hrs. Make sure to stir every couple of hours or so, until the meat cooks, and break up any lumps. Ladle into big bowls, and top with sour cream and cheese if you've got 'em. Awesome dinner served alongside a roaring fire with crunchy corn pones and a salad.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cheesy Taco Pinwheels

Sorry I don't have a picture to post with this one, but they were gone before I could take one! We had these at a gameday party some friends of ours threw and, may I just say, these are GREAT for watching the game - small enough you can eat it in one bite, and not too messy. Party on!

1 lb. ground beef, drained, seasoned with taco seasoning according to pkg. directions
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. Mexican blend cheese
1 small can diced black olives
1/3 c. diced onions or snipped green onion tops
1/2 c. sour cream
flour tortillas

Cool the ground beef, then mix with remaining ingredients except tortillas. Spread beef mixture evenly over tortillas, roll up, and wrap tightly with cling wrap. Chill for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, cut into pinwheels and serve alongside sliced jalapenos and salsa. Olé!

Monday, August 17, 2009


 After meeting with TJ's dietician, we're going to have to change our eating habits a bit! One of my favorite summer salads is tabouli, which is an excellent light source of grain and vegetable. Try it - you'll like it!

1 pkg. couscous, cooked according to package directions
2 packages fresh mint, chopped
1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
drizzle or two of olive oil (to prevent sticky clumps)
lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together in a big bowl and refrigerate overnight. The lemon juice just MAKES this dish, and really highlights the flavors of the herbs so don't be afraid to be generous with the juice! This dish is really beautiful served in hollowed-out tomatoes or peppers and, as I said before, is a perfect summer dish - flavorful and light.

Homemade Granola


Found a cool homemade granola recipe online and thought I'd try my hand at it - it was super easy, but made more granola than we'll be able to eat in a month! I'm considering making a batch to give away as Christmas gifts, and must assure you that it's really, REALLY good (especially warm, right out of the oven!) Serve between layers of yogurt and fruit for a healthy way to start your day!

1 box uncooked oats
1 2 lb. box trail mix (I used cranberry, almond, sunflower seed)
1/2 c. honey
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. applesauce
2 T. canola oil
Preheat oven to 300. Mix all ingredients together and spread half on a rimmed cookie sheet in a single layer. Bake 45 min., stirring every 10 min. When first batch is done, place in a gallon size zip bag and start cooking the 2nd batch. Make sure to vent the bag as the granola cools! 

Friday, August 14, 2009

Blackened Tilapia

Check out Gollum's blog for other Foodie Friday recipes!

Ok, so on to this week's recipe . . . Love, love this stuff - and SO easy and quick, and PERFECT for humid summer weather! I keep a bunch of fresh cilantro in a plastic cup of water in the fridge door for occasions such as this, and love whipping up a tasteful, healthy meal that's not too "heavy"! Serve alongside a tossed salad or right on top, skipping the salad dressing.

Serves 4
Start-to-finish: 15 minutes or less

Blackened Tilapia:
4 frozen tilapia fillets, thawed
1 T. blackened seasoning (our favorite is Paul Prudhomme's Blackened Redfish Magic)
1 T. olive oil or 1/4 stick butter

Homemade "Salsa":
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/4 to 1/3 c. fresh cilantro, chopped (small handful)
1/2 a small onion, chopped
lemon juice

Heat oil or melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium until hot. After fish has thawed, sprinkle half the seasoning over the fillets and place, seasoning side down, in the skillet. Sprinkle the rest of the seasoning on the top. Cook on one side until a brown crust has formed, then flip and cook on the other side until it crusts over.

NOTE: This part takes patience! I have to *make* myself leave them alone and not check for crust for at least 4-5 minutes. If you turn them too soon or check too often, the fillets will break into pieces or the beginnings of the crust will be disturbed and fall off - not good!

While the fish is cooking, mix the tomatoes, cilantro, onion and a squeeze or two of lemon juice in a bowl to make the salsa.

After fish has cooked, serve with the salsa spooned over the top. It's amazing how the fresh cilantro and lemon cut through the rich, smoky flavor of the blackened fish - truly a delight!

* If you're feeling adventurous, make a fruit salsa of tomato, mango, pineapple, and cilantro with just a *tad* of onion; or if you're really in a hurry, a "tropical" fruit cup, drained, with or without fresh herbs stirred in.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hot Wing Dip


After discovering a version of this recipe in the Moms League of Birmingham cookbook, I altered it to suit our family's tastes. It's become one of my most-requested recipes, even from one friend who works in the hotel and restaurant industry! If you're as big a fan of hot wings as we are, this dip is sure to quickly become one of your favorites.

1 12.5 oz. can chicken in water, drained
1/2 cup hot sauce (We use Frank's or Crystal)
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1 8 oz. block cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a small skillet, combine the drained chicken and hot sauce and heat over medium. Break the chicken up with a fork, and cook until thoroughly combined and heated through. Meanwhile, soften cream cheese in the microwave. When chicken/hot sauce is hot and bubbly, pour it over the cream cheese and stir in ranch dressing and shredded cheddar. Mix to combine, and turn into a small crock pot (dip size). Serve with celery sticks or assorted crackers.

Truck Stop Breakfast Bowl


One of TJ's favorite weekend rituals is when I wake up and make truck stop breakfast bowls. I don't know why it's such a big deal - they're one of those things that you just put together on a whim, but I guess it's become a weekend "thing" now that I just can't stop! Since TJ can't eat the original truck stop breakfast because of his sharp limitations on carbs, this tides him over until the day when he can have biscuits again. (By the way, I don't eat this - too much fat and grease for me, but TJ LOVES it!)

6 slices (1/2 lb.). thick-cut bacon, fried and drained
2 eggs
3 slices cheese

Fry the bacon, then remove to a paper plate to drain. With drippings still hot, crack two eggs in the pan and fry in the bacon grease, then remove and drain. In a bowl, lay down one fried egg, top with 1 slice of cheese, then 3 slices bacon. Make another layer of egg, 1 slice of cheese, then bacon. Finally, top with cheese and microwave about 30 sec. on HI to melt the cheese on top.

I rocked the "original" truck stop breakfast during my pregnancy, when insomnia had me up at 3 am making biscuits from scratch. Since TJ had to get up at 4:30 or so, I usually had him a hot breakfast sandwich to take with him, consisting of a fried egg and a piece of cheddar between two slices of fried bologna sandwiched within the aforementioned biscuit. One time I got fancy and put grapes on the side - he wanted to know why I tried to mess up his breakfast with something healthy! :-)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Kahlua Cake


I first experienced this wonderful cake while staying with my host family at Alabama's Junior Miss state finals in Montgomery in 1997. Diane Brown, consummate hostess and Mom #2, had whipped up this delight and invited another host family over for dessert and coffee. It looked so pretty on the plate, I just knew it'd taken her hours to make - wrong!

Sadly, Diane passed away this year, but I will always think of her when making Kahlua cake - the twinkle in her eye like she was always "up to something", her loving spirit of generosity and kindness, and the pleasure she took from giving joy to others. I know she's up there in heaven laughing WITH me, AT me, and FOR me!

2 boxes ice cream sandwiches
2 tubs Cool Whip
1/2 cup Kahlua
chopped Heath Bars
Hershey's syrup and/or cocoa powderfor garnish

Fold together Cool Whip and Kahlua, set aside. Create a layer of ice cream sandwiches in the bottom of a baking dish, add a layer of the Cool Whip mixture, then repeat with another layer of sandwiches and more Cool Whip "fluff". Top with a sprinkling of chopped Heath bars and freeze overnight. To serve, cut into squares and drizzle a zigzag pattern with the Hershey's syrup and/or add a light dusting of cocoa powder. If you've got one on hand, a little mint sprig is pretty too.

Baked Beans


Growing up, my paternal grandmother, Polly, was known for her baked beans. We usually had them at our Easter meal at their house, accompanied by white bread sandwiches with homemade baked ham, potato salad, assorted "col'drinks" and lemon icebox pie. After stuffing ourselves, my sister and I impatiently awaited permission to go out in the front yard and hunt the eggs our parents had hidden in the creeping phlox that swept across the front of the property. More than once, we also found some "spring peepers" - the summer's singing frogs. (Always picked them up gently and put them right back - mom would've had a fit to find one in our pockets!)

Polly's beans are probably the best baked beans I've ever had. They're sweet, not overly smoky or onion-y like some homemade baked beans, and *should* retain the shape of the spoon when cooked correctly. (Thanks Joe B. for coining that reference last night - so, so true!) Mix up a batch and try them for yourselves!

2 regular-sized cans of pork and beans
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup ketchup
2 T. yellow mustard
1/2 lb. bacon, cut into small pieces.

Mix all together in a big bowl, turn out into an oblong baking dish (9x13 works great), and cook at 350 for an hour.

Summer Slaw


My maternal grandmother used to have a big fish fry at least once a summer, complete with homemade slaw, baked beans, sliced homegrown tomatoes, deviled eggs, sweet tea, banana pudding and crappie fried light as air. We'd sit outside on weathered, barn-red picnic tables, chase each other around the yard with sparklers and catch lightning bugs after dinner. It was one of those memorable experiences you don't really think about until you're older, and hope to someday recreate.

I've never been a good fish-fryer, but could manage the rest well enough, save the homemade coleslaw. One day, a hankering for my MeMe's coleslaw snuck up on me, and I called her for the recipe - thinking all this time that making homemade slaw was a difficult and time-consuming endeavor. Pshaw! With only 4 ingredients, her peppery vinegar-based slaw is simply awesome with pulled pork barbecue, fried fish, burgers, or country vegetables. It takes less than 5 minutes to put together, unless you shred your own cabbage, and will instantly transport you to a back yard glittering with lightning bugs, real metal sparklers and the 4th of July.

1 head cabbage, finely shredded
2 small or 1 large bag pre-shredded angelhair coleslaw mix
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup white vinegar
dash of salt
pepper to taste

Put the coleslaw greens in a deep bowl. Measure out the vinegar in a measuring cup, add the sugar, and mix with a fork until slurry. Pour vinegar/sugar mixture over the coleslaw, add a little salt, and pepper to taste. I usually use at least 1T. of pepper but keep tasting to see how much works for you. Mix it all up, set it in the fridge overnight, and mix again about an hour before serving. Make sure to use a slotted spoon! Should serve 6, but don't count on it.

Check out Gollum's blog for other Foodie Friday recipes!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Skillet Coffee Cake

I love me some Skillet Coffee Cake! Technically, you're supposed to slice it into miniscule, dainty little wedges and serve at bridal teas and baby showers. However, I like to slice off a big hunk to go with a steaming mug of coffee on the weekends. It is so stinkin' good - try it!

Additional note: This recipe was originally printed in "Cotton Country Cooking", first published in 1972 by the Junior League of Morgan County, Alabama to raise money for local charities. Cotton Country is practically the Bible of Southern cooking, and my family's business, Decatur Printing, printed the very first edition!


3/4 C. butter
1 1/2 C. sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 C. flour
1 pinch salt
1 t. almond extract

For topping, mix together: 1/2 C. sliced almonds with 1/4 C. sugar

1) Preheat oven to 350° F

2) Melt butter and add to sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add flour, salt almond flavoring mix well. Line a cast iron skillet with 2 layers of aluminum foil extending up over sides, and spray foil with nonstick cooking spray (Pam). Pour batter into lined skillet.

3) Sprinkle topping mix on top (duh!) Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, allow to cool, remove from skillet and foil slice and serve warm.

* I have substituted vanilla flavoring for the almond extract, and pecan halves for the sliced almonds with excellent results!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Quick Chicken Quesadillas

Don't you just hate it when you're hungry and don't want to wolf down a whole bag of Pringles by yourself? I usually hit this stage around 6 pm when the Bean is attached to my leg, the house is a wreck, and TJ's no where to be found. So what's an industrious girl to do? Create a new recipe, of course! Check out this remarkably tasty concoction. . .

1 12.5 oz. can cooked chicken in water, drained
1/3 white onion, finely chopped (I use my mini chop food processor and do the onion and mushrooms together)
1 small can mushroom stems and pieces, chopped
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 flour tortilla
palmful of shredded cheese
olive oil

Put the drained chicken in a small nonstick skillet and break it up with a fork. Add the onion, mushrooms and poultry seasoning, then heat over medium until onions are cooked and translucent, stirring every now and then. Remove chicken mixture from the skillet and wipe the skillet down with a damp paper towel. Put a teensy bit of oil or melted butter in the bottom of the skillet and swirl it around. Put the tortilla in there, spread some chicken mixture over HALF of the tortilla, then top the chicken mixture with the cheese. Fold over the other half of the tortilla to make a half-moon shape, and cook on one side until golden brown. Flip, and cook on the other side until it's equally golden.

* This would be GREAT with leftover Thanksgiving turkey, shredded, and a little cranberry sauce on top. Fancy, fancy!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Egg Muffins


We have recently discovered a wonderful, easy recipe for the most fabulous little Egg Muffins! Since TJ is limiting his carbs, these are perfect to keep in the fridge for breakfast on-the-go. They also freeze well for up to a month. Seriously, he loves them and they are very quick and easy, plus very adaptable to different flavor combinations. (Combos will be listed at the end of this post)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a muffin pan with two foil muffin liners and spray generously with Pam or similar cooking spray.

Add fillings of your choice till about half full, then top with your choice of cheese to be 2/3 full.

Beat together 10-12 eggs with a little milk (like 1-2 T.), season with salt and pepper, and spoon into muffin cups. We fill about halfway, then let it settle a few minutes, and add more to fill to the very top.

Bake for 30 minutes. "Muffins" will be tall and poufy when you take them out, but will fall within a few minutes like a soufflé.

Store in zip bags in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze for up to a month.

Suggested filling combinations:
• crumbled bacon with chopped tomatoes and bleu cheese
• cubed ham with finely chopped apple and havarti
• taco seasoned shredded chicken with chopped onion and mexican blend
• pulled pork barbecue with a hearty cheddar
• smoked salmon with a little onion, cream cheese and capers
• tiny cubes of leftover steak with diced fresh mushrooms and swiss

Keep on mind that you can always add veggies and fresh herbs of your choice! See what unique flavor combinations you can come up with - and enjoy being a mad kitchen scientist!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Foodie Friday - Chicken Stuff


I'd thought I'd posted this before, but since it was mentioned in the Husband MeMe I posted on my other blog, I figured I'd better put it in this one. It's also my Foodie Friday post, so check out Gollum's blog for more tasty recipes!

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1 10 oz. package frozen broccoli flowerets
2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonnaise (you can use heavy or lite mayo, just not fat free)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1.5-2 cups bread crumbs
black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350. Boil the chicken cubes in water until done. While chicken is cooking, cook the frozen broccoli in the microwave for 3-5 minutes until defrosted and slightly cooked. Drain the broccoli and layer it in the bottom of a square baking pan. Chicken will probably still be cooking, so go ahead and mix up the cheese, mayo and soup in a mixing bowl and add black pepper to taste. After chicken is done, drain it and create a layer of cooked chicken on top of the broccoli. Spread the cheese/mayo/soup mixture over the chicken to create the final layer. Top with bread crumbs and squirt the top of the casserole with some spray butter or margarine if you have any. Bake for 30-35 minutes until crumbs are toasted and casserole is bubbly around the edges.

Since this is a rich one-dish meal, side dishes (if you choose to serve them) should be light and refreshing - good choices are a crisp green salad, congealed salad, or fruit.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Lamb Stew with Olives - Emeril's Way


Back in my more adventurous days, I liked to cook "weird food" for kicks. Somehow, I stumbled on this recipe for a Moroccan Lamb Stew with Olives on and, I have to say, it's awesome. I have a "thing" with cooking lamb around Easter because lamb has been a historical and Biblical symbol of Christ. I only make this recipe once a year mainly because it's really hard to get good lamb in Alabama unless you special order it from your meat market, and also because all those spices can get really expensive! However, if you have a good number of them already in your pantry, I will be calling the meat dept. at Publix to order some lamb this week - maybe they'll order a little extra for you too!

1 pinch ground saffron
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1 T. minced garlic
1 T. salt
3 T. olive oil
3 lbs. lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into cubes like stew meat
1 cup grated yellow onions, rinsed and squeezed dry
more black pepper
3 cups chicken stock
2/3 c. chopped parsley
1/3 c. chopped cilantro
1 lb. crack green olives, drained & pitted
3-5 T. lemon juice
cooked couscous

In a small food processor, combine the saffron, ginger, 1 tsp. black pepper, cumin, paprika, garlic, salt and 2T. oil. Process until smooth. Place cubed lamb in a big bowl and toss with the spice mixture to coat evenly. Heat the remaining 1T. oil in a cast iron pot over medium and add the lamb to sear 2-3 minutes. Stir in the onions, season with additional black pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the stock, add herbs and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours. After an hour and 45 minutes, heat oven to 450. After the 2 hours have passed, use a slotted spoon to remove the meat and put it in a shallow ovenproof serving dish and cook until the meat is slightly crisped, about 15-20 minutes. While the lamb is in the oven, it's time to re-focus on the sauce. Remove any scum that has risen to the surface of the liquid. Add the olives, increase heat to high, and boil for 10 minutes until it's like a really thick gravy. Stir in lots of lemon juice and reseason if necessary.

Spread the couscous in the bottom of a large, pretty serving dish, top with the cooked lamb, then pour the olive gravy over the top. This dish is very rich, and seldom makes it to the refrigerator as leftovers.

* Tips and Tricks: To pit the olives quickly, smash them with the flat side of a broad knife then just pick out the pits and discard.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pimento Burgers

I never liked pimento cheese until I started making it myself. For some reason, the consistency and flavor of the store-bought stuff just repulsed me and I began to take matters into my own hands. I have no idea why it took me so long to discover how good pimento burgers can be, but I saw on a website today that it was a fave among many so I tried it out for myself tonight. And let me just tell you, after 1 bite TJ asked me to make him his own serving so he didn't eat all of mine! Y'all, this is really, really good - even if you don't like pimento cheese.

To make a batch of pimento cheese, stir all the following ingredients together and refrigerate overnight:
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. mayonnaise
1 4 oz. jar chopped pimentos, drained (could use 2 if you want)
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. onion powder
several good shakes of ground red pepper
1-2 T. lemon juice

Feel free to adjust seasonings to your taste, this is just what I use and what we like at our house.

Take 1 frozen hamburger patty and cook it on the George Foreman grill until it's not bloody anymore. Place cooked patty on a microwave-safe plate and top with a good dollop of pimento cheese. Microwave 20 seconds on high to melt the cheese a little, and serve on hamburger buns or just by itself.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tortilla Pizza


We are having a hard time with vegetables at our house, mainly that the Bean won't eat them. In the absence of refrigerated pizza dough coupled with the lack of desire to make a whole pizza, we've started eating tortilla pizzas. They would probably be better if we had a pizza stone to crisp up the bottom, but are really tasty even without it.

1 10 in. flour tortilla
5 T. pizza sauce (We use Ragu cause that's what was in the pantry)
shredded cheese
toppings of choice (mini pepperoni, diced veggies, pineapple tidbits, whatever!)

Preheat oven to 400. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray and lay out your tortilla. Thinly spread the pizza sauce around the tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 in. away from the edges. Add cheese, pepperoni, veggies, etc. Bake for 5-6 minutes until cheese is melted and "crust" is crispy. Cut into 8 pieces - the Bean usually eats 3 small slices with pineapple on her favorite Princess plate. (Can't you hear me say "This dinner is brought to you by the letter P?")

Friday, February 27, 2009

Jessica's Lenten Crawfish Monica

Since there's no meat-eatin' during Lent, my dear friend Jessica shared one of her favorite ways to get through the Lenten season - with crawfish! Although I haven't tried her recipe, she swears it's marvelous. And knowing Jessica, there's no doubt that it's anything less than spectacular for a fancy meal at home or an impressive dish for a dinner party. Get out your fancy dishes, y'all!

1 lb. crawfish tails, boiled and peeled (preferred)
OR 1 lb. shrimp, peeled OR 1 lb. lump crabmeat OR 1 lb. oysters, drained and quartered

1 stick butter (the real stuff- don't be foolin' around with margarine!)
1 pint half-and-half (Look, relax. Just don't eat this every day..)
1 good-sized bunch green onions, chopped (tops, too)
3 - 10 cloves garlic, chopped (to your taste)
1-2 tbs Creole Seasoning
1 lb. cooked fresh rotelli pasta (Dry is fine if fresh is not available.)

Cook pasta according to the directions on the package, drain, and rinse under cool water. Drain again, thoroughly. Melt the butter in a large pot and sauté onions and garlic for 3 minutes. Add the seafood and saute for 2 minutes. Add the half-and-half, then add several big pinches of Creole seasoning, tasting before the next pinch until you think it's right. Cook for 5 - 10 minutes over medium heat until the sauce thickens. Add the pasta and toss well. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so over very low heat, stirring often. Serve immediately, with lots of French bread and a nice dry white wine.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Joelle's Spicy Chicken with Spaghetti


A friend of mine from work passed along this recipe with the warning that it is SO GOOD, but makes a ton of food. WOW, I thought – that’ll make it a lot easier when I make casseroles for my pregnant friends this spring! BTW, frozen casseroles are one of the BEST gifts to give a pregnant woman – she won’t have to cook when she gets home from giving birth, and if hubby can turn on the oven and timer they’re set! Anyway, here’s the recipe from Joelle:

2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
¾ of the big block of Velveeta (you can use Lite, but not fat-free)
4-6 Chicken breasts, boiled and shredded
garlic salt and black pepper, to taste
1 can EACH regular and spicy Ro-tel (or 2 cans regular if you prefer)
1 pkg. spaghetti noodles, cooked and drained

Combine all ingredients in a gigantic bowl, then divide into 2 9x13 casserole pans or several 9x9 square pans for freezing. When ready to cook, thaw overnight and bake for 45 minutes on 350.

Marshmallow Popcorn Balls


Combining the best elements of popcorn balls and rice krispy treats, Marshmallow Popcorn Balls are awesome at Halloween or any time of year. I even made them for one of TJ’s presentation meetings at work! We doubled the recipe and made one batch with peanuts and another with M&Ms. It’s a 2-man job, but LOADS of fun and really messy!

1 stick butter or margarine
1 large pkg. mini marshmallows
1 family size bag microwave popcorn
Lots of Pam or other nonstick spray
stir-ins of your choice: M&Ms, salted peanuts, Reese’s pieces, jelly beans, gummi bears

Melt the butter and marshmallows in a nonstick pot over medium-low heat, stirring to combine, until mixture is smooth and of an even color. Stir every few minutes or so to make sure it’s melting evenly, and to prevent scorching. While this is going, cover a section of your countertop with waxed paper and nuke the popcorn according to the package directions, throwing away any un-popped kernels. Spray a large pot or bowl with nonstick spray and dump in the popcorn. When butter/marshmallow mixture is ready, pour this mixture and any stir-ins over the cooked popcorn and stir with a large spoon to distribute evenly. Spray your hands with nonstick spray, and work quickly! Form balls with the popcorn mixture, pressing slightly to keep them together, and lay out on waxed paper to “congeal” before wrapping individually in cling wrap. You should have 8-10 baseball-sized popcorn balls when you get finished, depending on how big you want to make them.

The Original Cowboy Lemonade


I have absolutely no idea how TJ formulated this concoction, but it’s been a hit with our friends for ages. We even had it at our wedding reception in Louisiana in one of those swirly daiquiri machines, and the whole machine was emptied in less than 30 minutes. It was insane. Anyway, here’s the recipe for what’s sure to be a big hit at your next hoedown.

1 12 oz. can frozen lemonade concentrate
12 oz. vodka (fill the empty lemonade can up)
1 can of beer
lots of ice

In a blender, combine lemonade, vodka and beer. After all have been combined, pour off half of the mixture and fill the blender back up with ice. Chop ice/blend to slushy consistency. Repeat with other half of lemonade mixture. If you want to make “Super Cowboy”, add 4 shots of bourbon to first mixing.

"Healthy" Roasted Potatoes


I made these for Thanksgiving this year and they were a big hit. I was so honored when my grandmother asked for the recipe! Anyway, it’s a healthier way of cooking potatoes because there’s not cheese, sour cream or butter involved and it’s just as good. We also cook vegetables like eggplant, zucchini and summer squash like this and they’re awesome! Feel free to adjust the seasoning amounts to your liking – this is just a starting point.

1-5 lb. bag of red potatoes, cubed
1 c. olive oil
2 T garlic salt
1 T. pepper
1 T. paprika
1 tsp. ground red pepper

Preheat oven to 425. Mix all ingredients except potatoes together until slurry. Dump cubed potatoes out onto a rimmed baking sheet and baste with 1/3 of the olive oil mixture. Bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, take the potatoes out and mix them up with a spatula. Some will probably stick to the bottom of the pan; that’s okay, just scrape them up and mix them all around. Baste again and return to the oven for another 15 minutes. Repeat the spatula mixing and basting process again and cook for a final 15 minutes.


Yes, this wonderful delicacy was simply dubbed “sandwich” by my adorable husband, who professes that this is one of his favorite things in the world. Perfect for feeding friends during a spirited football game, “sandwich” is easy to prepare and really good!

1 lb. hot bulk pork sausage
1 lb. ground beef/chuck/whatever’s on sale
1 onion, chopped
2 T mustard (or more, depending on how much you like mustard)
16 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 eggs, beaten
2 baguettes or twin loaves of French bread (we use Pepperidge Farm)
spray margarine
garlic salt

Preheat oven to 375. In a skillet, cook sausage, beef and onions until done, making sure to break up the meat into little bits, and drain. While meat is cooking, cut the loaves in half and hollow out the middle on both sides, leaving a shell similar to how you’d hollow out a twice-baked potato. Place the loaves on a large sheet of aluminum foil. When meat is cooked and drained, pour it into a big bowl and add mustard, cheese and eggs. Mix to combine, and spoon mixture into the hollowed out bread loaves. Do the next steps for both loaves: Use the foil to help roll the top of the loaf onto the bottom, and push any mixture that has “escaped” back into the bread. Spray the top with spray margarine and sprinkle lightly with garlic salt. Form the aluminum foil around the sandwich to help hold in the stuffing, making sure to leave the top open so the sandwich can brown on top. Bake for 35 minutes and cut into fourths. Serves 8.

Betty's Dip


TJ’s mom acquired this recipe many years ago, and passed it on to me because it’s one of his favorites. When I mentioned making it for a party last night, his eyes lit up and he was actually excited about going grocery shopping.

1 jar Armour dried beef
1 small can chopped black olives
1 small can mushroom stems and pieces
1 bunch green onions, green part only
3 tsp. Accent
3 8 oz. tubs whipped cream cheese

Put beef, mushrooms and onions in food processor and chop VERY fine. Put chopped ingredients in a large bowl and add olives, cream cheese and Accent. Stir to combine thoroughly, cover and refrigerate overnight. This dip is very thick, so choose a sturdy chip (Fritos Scoops are great) or toasted baguette slices, carrots or celery sticks.

Drunk Mushrooms


This is so, SO good over pork chops, chicken breasts, and especially steaks or other red meat. It’s very easy to fix, doesn’t take a lot of time, and looks (and tastes) much fancier than it is. We like ours with LOTS of dill, so be sure to taste along the way to make sure you’ve got the seasonings like you like ‘em!

2 8 oz. pkgs. whole or sliced white mushrooms
1 cup red wine
1 beef bullion cube
1 and a half sticks of butter
1 T. dill or more, to taste
Salt & pepper to taste
Sprinkling of dried sage
A few tablespoons of soy protein powder or flour (optional)

Cook all together over medium heat until mushrooms are softened and have absorbed some of the cooking liquid, turning them a darker brown color. If you prefer, thicken the gravy by sprinkling in 1 T. soy protein powder or flour at a time, combining thoroughly and letting the flour taste cook out before adding more.

"Somewhat Italian" Wedding Soup


Got the original recipe from the Mayo Clinic website and thought it could use some improvement! It’s still pretty low-carb, very flavorful and tasty, and perfect when you want some comfort food that won’t require that you let out your belt. If you’re looking for a more traditional style Italian Wedding Soup, just throw in a little uncooked orzo pasta or rice at the end, and cook 5-8 minutes until pasta/rice is done.

1 lb. mild Italian sausage
½ white onion, minced fine
1 box frozen chopped spinach, cooked & squeezed dry
¾ cup frozen crinkle-cut carrots
1 32 oz. carton chicken broth
1 T. Italian seasoning
1 palmful fresh chopped parsley

Cut open 1 end of the casing of the sausage and pull out little blobs of the sausage. Shape into 1” balls and brown on all sides in a skillet with a little olive oil, like you would a meatball. When the sausage meatballs are cooked, place them in a large soup pot and add the rest of the ingredients. Cook over medium to medium-high until the carrots are soft, and serve with crusty bread.

Summertime Tomato Pie


In the summertime, it seems like everybody you know is trying to give you homegrown tomatoes. But what do you do with them? This pie is a great way to use up the sackfuls of tomatoes that I end up with every summer, and is great as a side dish or for brunch. Caution! It’s VERY rich!

1 deep-dish pie shell
4 medium tomatoes, sliced
¼ c. chopped green onions of a few snipped chives
12-14 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt & pepper
1 c. light mayonnaise
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
½ lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled

Put the tomato slices over a plate or colander lined with paper towels and lightly salt. Let the tomatoes drain for 15 -30 minutes, then layer them in the bottom of the pie shell. Sprinkle basil, onions and half the bacon over the tomatoes and season with salt & pepper to taste. Mix mayonnaise and cheeses together and spread over the top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes until crust is lightly browned. Top with more bacon pieces and serve warm.

Laura's Green Game Day Dip


What a great dip for game days! When you don’t have tickets and it’s just TOO dang hot to tailgate, have a tailgate party in your own living room with yummy dip, hot wings, and a big screen TV. After all, it counts as a veggie, right?

1 small box frozen chopped spinach
1 can artichoke hearts, packed in water – NOT OIL
1 8 oz. block cream cheese, softened - reduced fat is fine
1-2 c. shredded Italian-style cheese blend
½ c. mayonnaise
1 T. minced garlic
¼ to ½ lb. crisp-cooked bacon, crumbled

Cook spinach according to package directions and drain. Wrap several thicknesses of paper towels around the spinach and squeeze or press out as much moisture as you can. Put the spinach in a large mixing bowl. Drain the artichokes and add them in. Add the cream cheese, Italian cheese, mayonnaise, and garlic. Mix thoroughly, making sure to break up the artichoke hearts as you mix. Turn into a 9 x 9 casserole pan or pie plate. Bake until cheese melts and mixture is hot & bubbly, and then top with crumbled bacon. These are excellent with white corn tortilla chips.

* If you wanted to be really fancy, you spoon the mixture into hollowed-out peppers, tomatoes, eggplant or mushroom caps, top with toasted breadcrumbs and serve as an appetizer or side dish.

Thai Meat with Crispy Beans

This is truly a strange-sounding recipe, but it’s really good no matter what meat you choose to use.

1 lb. pork, chicken or shrimp, cut into bite-sized pieces
3-4 T. olive oil
1/4 c. Equal or Splenda
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (the kind you find at pizza restaurants)

Coat meat with olive oil. Mix sugar substitute with red pepper flakes and coat meat in this mixture. Add a few swirls of olive oil to a nonstick skillet or wok and cook meat over medium until done. Really good with Crispy Beans (below):

Crispy Beans
1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed
1-2 T. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. minced garlic
Olive oil

After you cook Terrific Thai Meat, wipe out your stir fry pan and add olive oil, soy sauce and minced garlic, stirring to combine. Add trimmed beans and swish them around a little to coat them with the sauce. You can cook them 2 ways – stir fry until crisp-tender over medium high heat, resulting in a very crisp cooked bean that retains more of its vitamins and innate “green bean-iness” OR cook over medium, covered with wax paper and finish over high heat, resulting in a mushier, more flavorful green bean. Either way, they remind me of the green beans at the Chinese buffet – one of my faves!

Hot Rhonda's Hot Vegetable Casserole


I got this recipe from mom several years ago (I won’t say how many!) and it’s always been a hit! It’s another recipe from Aunt Tene - a GREAT casserole and has never failed to impress both kids and adults. I like to serve it with ham, and it’s even good cold and leftover the next day. . . seriously! TJ’s Uncle Johnny ate about half the pan by himself at the Joseph family Christmas party one year.

1 8 oz. bag frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, green beans, etc.)
1 c. mayonnaise (you can use light, but NOT fat free – yuck!)
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
½ c. finely chopped celery
Salt to taste
1T. or more black pepper
1 stick butter or margarine, melted
1 sleeve buttery crackers, crushed

Preheat oven to 350. While oven is heating up, microwave the vegetables according to package directions and drain. Place into the bottom of a 9 x 9 casserole pan. In a bowl, combine, mayonnaise, cheese, celery, salt and pepper. Spread mayo/cheese mixture over the vegetables. Now for the “tastes really good, bad for you” part – mix the melted butter with the crushed crackers and spread evenly over the top. Yep, add more butter to buttery crackers! Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or so until the top of the casserole is browned and the innards are bubbly. Even confirmed vegetable haters will ask for seconds – I’ve seen it in real life.

Aunt Tene's Mac N Cheese


TJ surprised me one night by calling to ask for my mom’s mac and cheese recipe. Seems he’d told his co-workers he made the best mac n cheese ever, so Kraft in the blue box simply wouldn’t do. Mom said she got this recipe from her Aunt Tene (Mac’s sister), who is well known for being an AWESOME cook. By the way, TJ said he had NO leftovers the next day, and I can promise that you won’t either!

1 box macaroni noodles, cooked and drained
1 block Colby cheese, shredded OR 2 c. shredded Colby Jack in a pinch
1 egg, beaten
1 c. milk
Salt and pepper to taste (we use LOTS of pepper)
coupla good shakes of red pepper
1 c. shredded cheddar
¼ stick of butter, cut into very small pieces (dots)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix cooked noodles, shredded Colby or Colby Jack, egg, milk, and seasonings in a bowl and turn into a greased 9 x 13 casserole pan. Top with shredded cheddar and butter dots and bake until bubbly around the edges. If you really want to get MaMaw with it, throw a good handful of buttered breadcrumbs on top before you pop it in the oven.

Fake Mashed Potatoes


1 c. chicken stock (check carb count) or 1 cup water w/ a bullion cube dissolved
1 head cauliflower, cut into flowerets
¼ stick butter, softened
Garlic salt

Cook the cauliflower in the bullion until you’ve cooked it into submission! It should be VERY mushy. Drain off the bullion and put the cauliflower in a bowl. Mash together with the butter, or process cauliflower and butter in a food processor until smooth. Season with garlic salt and pepper to taste. It’s also good with a little shredded cheese and crisp, crumbled bacon stirred in.

Sausage-Stuffed Mushrooms


What a great discovery! The grocery had some great-looking mushrooms on sale and buy one-get one free sausage, so I thought – what can I do with this? It’s a cross between TJ’s favorite game day sandwich and stuffed mushrooms, plus it’s Atkins-friendly at only 3 carbs per serving.

1 lb. hot bulk pork sausage (If you count carbs, check the carb count – some are made with sugar/fillers)
½ medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
5-6 white button mushrooms, chopped
2 T. mustard
1 egg, beaten
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
8 slices deli-style provolone cheese
4 Portobello mushroom caps

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet, cook the sausage, onion, pepper and mushrooms together until the sausage is cooked through. Make sure to break up the sausage into small chunks as you cook it. Drain off the fat and mix in the mustard, egg and mozzarella. Place mushroom caps gill-side up in a glass baking dish and pile sausage mixture on top. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil, top each mushroom with 2 slices of provolone and continue cooking 7-10 minutes until cheese is good and melty on top.

Parmesan-Puffed Tilapia


For someone who professed a dislike for fish, TJ sure fell in love with this tilapia recipe. It’s easy, quick, and really looks impressive! (Feel free to church it up even more and sprinkle some chopped parsley on top – whoo, fancy!) But don't be tempted to make this without the lemon juice - it adds a citrus "zip" that balances out the creamy parmesan sauce.

1 pkg. tilapia filets
1/2 c. mayonnaise
2 T. lemon juice, plus extra for garnish
½ tsp. dill
½ c. grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to broil. Thaw the tilapia, rinse in cold water, drain and place on a broil pan. Mix the mayo, cheese, lemon juice and dill and spread a little dollop on top of each fillet. Broil until the sauce puffs and turns golden brown. Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the top right before serving for a light, fresh finish.

Shrimp Alfredo


When we lived in Slidell, a neighbor had fresh-caught gulf shrimp for $3/lb. and we bought a TON! Of course, we had to pick out the grass and baby crabs ourselves, but that's an entirely different story. I had to call upon my inner Bubba Gump to figure out how to get rid of all that shrimp, and developed this kick-butt recipe for one of my favorite dishes - it's good, and super easy too.

1 to 1-1/2 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
3/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 box fettuccine noodles
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1T. olive oil
1/2 stick of butter or margarine
3/4 T. minced garlic
Good pinch of ground red pepper or cayenne

Boil the noodles until al-dente. While noodles are going, melt butter with the olive oil in a skillet or sauté pan. Add garlic and cook the garlic for a few minutes to infuse the flavor into the oils. Add shrimp and cook until pink and opaque (don't overcook or they'll get tough). Add cream, parmesan, mozzarella, and pepper. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly (should take 3-4 minutes or so) When noodles are done, drain and pour into a large low pasta bowl. Pour sauce over and serve with a salad and crusty bread.

Pinto Beans and Chile-Cheese Cornbread


Every so often, especially when good “football weather” hits, I feel an overwhelming urge for a big pot of pintos and cornbread. TJ makes the most fabulous chile-cheese cornbread, and I have to say the pintos aren’t half bad either! It’s easy to make even on weeknights if you plan ahead, and will leave 2 people with leftovers for at least a day or two.

Get out a sack of pinto beans and discard the ugly, broken ones. Pour the beans in a big bowl, cover with water, and let it sit overnight. Cut up a big onion and cut the meat off a ham hock. Put this in a bowl or zip bag to use in the morning.

In the morning before you go to work, drain the beans and pour them in the crock-pot. Add the onion, ham, and the following seasonings:
1T minced garlic
1-2 T. chili powder (use smoky-style flavor, if you can find it)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste

Add enough water to cover the beans (about 3 cups), turn the crock-pot on low, and leave for work. When you get home, the kitchen should smell awesome, beans will be ready, and all you need to do is mix up some chile-cheese cornbread and you’re done!

Chile-Cheese Cornbread
¼ c. solid shortening
Self-rising cornmeal
1 egg
Shredded cheddar cheese
Small tin of chopped jalapenos

Preheat the oven to 450. Put about ¼ cup of solid shortening (Crisco) in the bottom of an iron skillet and put it in the oven to heat. Follow the directions for regular cornbread (not buttermilk) on the back of the self-rising cornmeal box, and add 1 good handful of shredded cheddar cheese and ½ of a small tin of chopped jalapenos. Pour the batter in the hot skillet (the shortening should’ve melted, leaving a lovely pool of liquid in the bottom of the pan) and bake until the top is slightly browned. When it’s ready, put a dinner plate over the top of the skillet and turn it over – the cornbread should slide right out. Serve hot with lots of butter.

Mike's Chicken Veggie Casserole


Our friend Mike comes to visit and work on TJ’s various vehicles every so often, and knows first-hand my love for a good southern casserole. One day, he’s sent me a text message requesting a casserole with “chicken, vegetables and bread”. This was the result – a cross between chicken divan and Hot Rhonda’s Hot Vegetable Casserole!

1-2 lbs. chicken tenders or boneless skinless breasts, cut into 1” pieces
2 bags frozen vegetables (I used Roma variety mixed veggies from Publix)
1 c. mayonnaise
½ c. sour cream
1 tsp. red pepper and/or 1T. Black pepper
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
¾ c. Italian breadcrumbs, Italian style Pando breadcrumbs, or combination of both

Preheat oven to 350. While oven is preheating, boil chicken pieces until thoroughly cooked, drain, and place in the bottom of a 9” x 13” casserole pan. Cook vegetables according to package directions, drain, and layer on top of the chicken. Mix mayo, sour cream, pepper and cheese in a bowl and add a layer on top of the veggies. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and bake for 20-30 minutes until cheese is melted, sauce is bubbly, and the kitchen smells good!

Pork Rind Salmon Patties


I was surprised that TJ liked these so much, but was relieved because they’re so easy. Try it with stewed squash and onions one night!

1 pouch Chicken of the Sea boneless, skinless pink salmon (get the pouch, not the can)
½ bag original flavor pork rinds
½ bag hot pork rinds
1 egg
1 tsp. dill
¾ c. mayonnaise

In a food processor, chop pork rinds until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients to combine well. Shape into patties 2-2.5 inches wide and place on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes, until you start smelling fish in the air and the patties are slightly browned on top. They won’t be as crispy as fried salmon patties unless you make the patties really thin, but they’re just as good. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the top – yummy!