Monday, December 26, 2011

Cranberry Jalapeno Dip–Perfect for Holidays!

Happy Boxing Day, or, as we usually call it, Recovery & Cleanup Day.  I have spent about 90% of my time today on the couch.  It. Feels. Fantastic. :D

But for the past two days, we hosted Christmas festivities for our family here at the FeauxHouse.  Lots of preparations and cleaning and cooking---ohh the cooking.  Ham, my mom’s chicken & noodles, spiced walnuts & almonds:


…relish trays (that got lost in the back of the fridge, so I’ve been snacking on them today), and a few good helpers to make the rest of the dinner go smoothly:


(for the record, because of an unfortunate incident I’ll refer to as the “FeauxPantry Potato Famine of 2011”, we had to do half instant, half freshly boiled potatoes for our mashed potatoes, but they turned out delicious, as always, because we are Professional Kitchen Improv-ers here.)


And to mix things up a bit, of course a new recipe was in order!  I was supposed to make pepper poppers for a work potluck earlier in the week, but had to miss the potluck due to a family funeral.  So I still had all the makings on hand.  I stumbled across this recipe and HAD to try it.


(LOOK at these colors!  Does this not scream “Merry Christmas”???)



2 cups fresh cranberries

3 green onions, chopped (or a tablespoon of dried chives)

1/8 cup fresh chopped cilantro

1 small jalapeno, seeded & finely chopped

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 tsp cumin

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1/8 tsp salt

1 – 8oz package of low-fat Neufchatel (essentially light cream cheese)

crackers for serving



Using a food processor, chop the cranberries.


(You could feasibly do this by hand, but the processor makes this recipe a snap.  I was done in less than 10 minutes.)


Add the green onions, cilantro, jalapeno, sugar, cumin, lemon juice and salt and pulse until the ingredients are well combined and very finely chopped. Then wrap your processor bowl in saran wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours (or overnight) so the flavors can develop and the cranberries lose just a bit of their tartness.  (This also gives the jalapeno a chance to mellow out as well.)


(I can’t get over how gorgeous this is.  I LOVE those colors!)

Now, a quick note: If you are going to be serving this to people who aren’t keen on spicy foods, no worries—by the time everything had had a chance to rest and we served it, there was hardly any heat left from the jalapenoes, just a nice hint of flavor.  However, if you’re serving this for friends who don’t mind some spice in their food, don’t hesitate to double the amount of jalapeno.  The cream cheese will balance out the capsaicin in the pepper.


About an hour before you’re ready to serve, whip your cream cheese so it gets smooth & a little fluffier.  Then spoon the cream cheese into a bowl (I used two bowls, because I’d be serving it for two different dinners) & then spoon the cranberry mixture on top.


We had 7 people eating the first night & pretty well finished it off, and 6 adults the second night & they ate about half.  So that should give you an idea on servings.


Anyway…you can serve as is, and leave that gorgeous red on top, or you can mix it up a bit so the guests are sure to get enough cream cheese with their cranberry.  (That’s what we did.)



Really loved this, and WILL make it again.  The flavor combination seemed unusual at first but it really worked well.  The sweet from the sugar, tart from the cranberry, a little heat from jalapeno, hint of smoke from the cumin, and of course the cilantro…then you add a buttery cracker and it’s just heaven.

So, happy holidays everyone!  Hope you get a little rest & relaxation in before the New Year!

Shared on 33 Shades of Green's Tasty Tuesday

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve! (Christmas Coffee recipe)

Happy Almost-Christmas, readers!

If you’re anything like me, today is a very hectic day.  We’re hosting Christmas with my family tonight, and tomorrow we’ll be hosting it for my husband’s side of the family.  The gifts are (mostly) wrapped, the house is 90% clean (please forgive the kitchen, but there’s Christmas dinner & snacks in progress), the Christmas lights are on, Christmas music is playing on the stereo…and you’re exhausted.

So here, my gift to you this Christmas Eve Morn…

Eggnog Café!

We bought a quart of eggnog to share with family during the festivities, and while I was making my morning cup o’ joe to revv the engines before I started roasting spiced nuts and making a cranberry-cream cheese dip (recipe later this weekend), I thought:

“I’m out of creamer…hey…eggnog is BASICALLY creamer already!”

So, here’s the plan:

- Brew your favorite cup of coffee at your favorite strength (for me, it’s Community Coffee’s New Orleans blend with chicory, brewed by package directions (1 tbsp grounds per cup of water, which makes a perfectly opaque cup of coffee).  While it’s brewing, enjoy the gorgeous morning sunlight & frost covered view from your back porch (warning—wear socks.  It’s cold.)




- Fill your favorite mug up 2/3 of the way.

- Add 1/3 cup of your favorite eggnog (I like the Silk soy variety).

- Sprinkle top with pumpkin pie spice.

- Sip and enjoy as you run around your kitchen putting the finishing touches on your holiday preparations.


I like my coffee pretty sweet, but the eggnog is already so sweet that I didn’t have to add any sugar.  DEELISH!

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year from the FeauxKitchen!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Howsabout some Louisiana Christmas music?

I know, it’s not even Music Monday!  But it IS almost Christmas, so I’ve been listening to some of my Cajun & Jazz Christmas CDs (because I’m too busy lazy to move them onto my iPod).  Figured I’d share with all of you!

Joyeux Noel, folks!


Benny Grunch & The Bunch–12 Yats of Christmas. A New Orleans classic!!!


The Cajun Night Before Christmas, as read by Tee Jules


Allen Toussaint–The Day It Snows On Christmas


Christmastime in New Orleans!


Merry Christmas Readers!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Spiced Pecan-Crusted Salmon.


Yes, you read that right.  We took the last recipe, chopped some of ‘em up, and used them in another recipe.  How’s that for a two-fer?

This was all kinds of easy, and delicious.  Between the fish, the pecans, and the sauce, there’s tons of flavors and textures and it just worked so perfectly.  I am definitely making this again at some point.

Makes two servings.



2 4-oz salmon filets, without skin

2 tablespoons Light Miracle Whip (sorry, we’re not a mayo household)

1/2 cup finely chopped spiced pecans

1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon parsley

1/2 tablespoon cajun seasoning

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tablespoon butter, melted

Sauce ingredients:

1/2 cup fat free sour cream

1/2 teaspoon dried dill

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 tablespoon lemon juice



1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Combine pecans, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley and butter in a small bowl.

3. Place salmon filets in a baking dish.  Put 1/2 tbsp of the Miracle Whip on the top side of each filet & spread evenly.  Spoon the pecan mixture over the top & pat down, making sure it’s well coated.  Then flip the filet & do the same to the other side.


(Inside the oven, ready to go!)

4. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until it flakes easily with a fork.  Once they’re cooked through, put them back in the oven and switch your oven over to broil for just a couple minutes so the crust gets nice & golden on top. (Keep an eye on it—you don’t want the crust to burn.)

5. While that’s cooking, make your sauce.  Just combine all the ingredients in a small bowl & let chill. 


6. Serve with some steamed veggies & dig in!!!



Calories 426.5

  Total Fat 26.4 g

  Saturated Fat 5.9 g

  Polyunsaturated Fat 7.6 g

  Monounsaturated Fat 9.7 g

  Cholesterol 78.7 mg

  Sodium 603.6 mg

  Potassium 657.4 mg

  Total Carbohydrate 18.1 g

  Dietary Fiber 2.2 g

  Sugars 5.4 g

  Protein 29.3 g

Shared on 33 Shades of Green's Tasty Tuesdays

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Spiced Candied Pecans.

We had pecans left over from the chocolate pecan pie, and I was needing a snack, so I whipped up a batch of spiced candied pecans.  Super easy, so long as you watch them while they’re cooking, lest you burn the cr@p out of them (which I’ve done, many a time).

Pecans in any form make a great snack, as they’re high in monounsaturated (aka healthy) fats, omega-3 & 6 acids, vitamin E, thiamin, copper, and manganese, have zero cholesterol, and one ounce contains about 3 g of protein. 

A lot of people typically either make sweet candied pecans, or spicy pecans.  Me, I like to use as many of my taste buds as possible, so I make them sweet AND spicy.  Taste buds = BLOWN.



2 cups pecan halves

2 tbsp melted light butter

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp nutmeg


1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Combine all the above ingredients in a large bowl & toss until well combined.

3. Pour coated pecans onto the cookie sheet & bake for about 20 minutes or until you can start to smell them cooking.  Keep an eye on them—if your oven is sometimes distempered, start checking on them periodically around 15 minutes in. 

4. Fill a 1 quart ziploc bag with 1/2 cup of white sugar.

5. Once you take the pecans out of the oven, let them cool for about 5 minutes, then scoop them into the ziploc, close it up, & shake liberally to coat with the sugar.





Makes about 8 servings (1/4 cup per serving).



Calories 225.0

  Total Fat 20.7 g

  Saturated Fat 2.0 g

  Polyunsaturated Fat 6.5 g

  Monounsaturated Fat 11.4 g

  Cholesterol 0.0 mg

  Sodium 24.0 mg

  Potassium 134.5 mg

  Total Carbohydrate 12.9 g

  Dietary Fiber 2.6 g

  Sugars 10.2 g

  Protein 2.5 g

Shared on 33 Shades of Green's Tasty Tuesdays

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: Primo Edition

Today’s Thirsty Thursday is dedicated to my cousin Primo, who graduates this weekend from University of New Orleans…


(Geaux Privateers! …it’s also one of my alma maters.)

…with his Bachelors in Interdisciplinary Studies (Geography & Urban Planning).  Along with this piece of paper, he also snagged a top-notch job at a consulting company there in New Orleans.


I am just ridiculously proud of him, and being my only relative who lives in the state of Louisiana, he gets top honors today, and we celebrate both him, and his favorite drink:

Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka & Water. 

50/50 mix (wedge of lemon for garnish is optional):

image (Drink photo snagged from this delicious-looking blog, since I’ve been sick all week.)


So raise a glass & toast to the health, wealth, & general well-being of one of my favorite relatives, whether you know him or not.  ‘Cuz he deserves it.

image(Navy Veteran, former Missourian, college grad, and Dive Buddy Extraordinaire!)


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Recipe: Creole Dirty Rice!


I’ve been told that “true” dirty rice is only made with chicken livers and gizzards.

Firstly: Ew.

Secondly: The oldest Cajun cookbook I own calls for pork roast, no gizzards or livers to be found. 

Therefore, I believe that leaves this dish open for interpretation.  And so, in this incarnation, we’ll be using lean ground beef. 

Also, because we were short on rice in our pantry, we used pearled barley in this dish as well (yay for Kitchen Improv!).  If you haven’t worked with barley, it’s a great fluffy whole grain with tons of soluble fiber (8g per 1/4 cup), vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, and lysine.  And it soaks up the flavor of whatever you put it in, so it’s a perfect rice replacement

The base for today’s recipe comes from Chef John Folse’s “After the Hunt” cookbook—one of my faves.



3 cups prepared brown rice

3 cups prepared quick barley

1lb 96% lean ground beef

2 tsp cajun seasoning

1 tbsp oil

1 cup onions, diced

1 cup celery, diced

1 cup bell pepper, diced

2 tbsp minced garlic

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup green onions

1/2 cup chopped parsley

salt & cracked black pepper, to taste

garlic powder, to taste



Prepare rice & barley (I mad them together, since both the quick barley & minute rice have the same prep method & about the same prep time):


In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high.  SautĂ© the beef, Cajun seasoning, onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic until the beef is fully cooked and the onions are translucent.


Add the chicken stock to the pan & bring to a low boil until the liquid has reduced by half.  Fold in rice, barley, onions, & parsley.  Season to taste with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Then…DIG IN!!!


Serves 6-8.


Calories 250.4

  Total Fat 4.5 g

  Saturated Fat 1.7 g

  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0 g

  Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g

  Cholesterol 32.5 mg

  Sodium 122.6 mg

  Potassium 210.3 mg

  Total Carbohydrate 34.8 g

  Dietary Fiber 4.0 g

  Sugars 1.0 g

  Protein 16.5 g

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Recipe: Cajun Cabbage Rolls

My friend Sharon in Lafayette introduced me to stuffed cabbage rolls a few years ago.  I had never tried them before until she brought some into work.  They have great flavor, nice texture, and as long as you use a leaner meat for the stuffing, they’re quite healthy!

Well, the hubs bought a head of cabbage the other day, so I finally had an opportunity to try them out for myself!




There are a couple different methods of cooking cabbage rolls, but I went with the stovetop, rather than the oven.  Cooking times are about the same, but if you use the stovetop, you don’t have to cook your rice before hand, so that saves some prep time.



1 head cabbage

1 lb ground lean pork sausage (or spicy turkey sausage)

1/2 cup green onions, chopped

1 stalk celery, diced

1/2 bell pepper, diced

1 tbsp parsley

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp cajun seasoning

1 cup uncooked brown rice

1 jar (23 oz) pasta sauce




Remove the core from the cabbage head and then place the cabbage head in the microwave to steam for 5-6 minutes.  Peel the larger outer leaves off the head of the cabbage (8-10 leaves).  The inner leaves will probably be too small to roll up.

Mix sausage, onions, celery, pepper, parsley, garlic, salt & pepper, seasoning, and rice together in a large bowl:



Then scoop about 2 tbsp of the mix into the base (thicker) part of the leaf, fold in the sides, and roll up.


(Fold base over on top of mixture…)


(Fold sides in…)


(Then roll & place a toothpick through the roll to hold it together.)

Place the rolls in a large pot, nestling them tightly together.


Place the pot on a burner, add pasta sauce, and enough water so that the sauce barely covers the rolls (to make sure they cook evenly).  Heat over medium-high until it starts to boil, then lower to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 1.5 hours.  The sauce will thicken as it cooks.



After 1.5 hours:


Serve with a light salad & enjoy!


Note: these are also great with a white cream sauce, in which case you cook them in chicken broth, then remove the rolls from the pot, and add sour cream & seasonings to the remaining broth.

Serves 4-5 (2 rolls per serving)



Calories 276.2

  Total Fat 4.1 g

  Saturated Fat 1.4 g

  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g

  Monounsaturated Fat 0.1 g

  Cholesterol 56.0 mg

  Sodium 706.3 mg

  Potassium 231.3 mg

  Total Carbohydrate 35.2 g

  Dietary Fiber 7.8 g

  Sugars 13.7 g

  Protein 24.6 g