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!