Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Oven Baked Sweet Potato “Fries”! (Sweet or Spicy)

This is one of my favorites, because it’s super-simple and makes a great side dish for, well, anything! 

As you know, I love potatoes.  That being said, I love fries.  I’m the gal who goes to a restaurant with the intention of getting a really beautiful salad that’s chockablock full of spiced pecans and dried cranberries & strawberries and jicama and other fruits and goat cheese crumbles, and comes with some sort of honey-lime-cilantro-basil-walnut-balsalmic vinagrette…. the type of thing I’m typically too lazy to make at home:


…and then I see something like a “Gryo Wrap with side of fries”,


and I get that instead.  Fries are seductive like that.  Because I can eat ketchup with them.  I cannot eat ketchup with a salad.

So I like to make oven-baked fries at home—that way I still get the satisfaction of dunking warm wedge o’ potato in ketchup (or cocktail sauce.  Don’t judge, it’s delicious).

Sweet potatoes are better for us than regular ol’ Joe Idaho, because they are high in wonderful things like beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and vitamin C; fiber, thiamine, niacin, potassium and copper. They are also a good source of protein, calcium, vitamin E.  Plus, this is a Louisiana food blog, and there are no fewer than 22 yam & sweet potato shippers in Louisiana, and everyone’s favorite Bruce’s Yams are headquartered in New Iberia, Louisiana.


So, recipe, shall we?


4 sweet potatoes (Or, if I’m just making a few to munch on for myself, I just use one), peeled & sliced at your preferred fry thickness.

butter-flavored cooking spray

For Sweet Version:

2 tsp white sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon



Preheat oven to 450 degrees F, and take a medium size cookie sheet out.  Line with slightly crumpled aluminum foil, and then lightly spray the foil with the butter spray.

Once you’ve sliced your potatoes, put them in a large bowl & cover with cold water.  Let sit for 3 minutes.

Remove the potatoes from the bowl, & let drain on a stack of paper towels.  Place on the cookie sheet & lightly spray with butter-flavored cooking spray.  Place in the oven on the middle rack & bake for 25-30 minutes or until well browned on the outside (the ends might get a little dark since they cook faster).


In a baking dish (I use my bread loaf pan) mix the sugar & cinnamon.  When the fries come out of the oven, give one more light spritz with the cooking spray, and then toss them into the dish with the cinnamon sugar. cover the dish & shake well to coat.  Serve them up & you can sprinkle what doesn’t stick over the tops of the fries for presentation.



OR—if you’re not craving sweet, how about spicy?  This is another favorite blend of mine.


Cut the fries same as above, but this time, before cooking, toss them in the following spice mix:

For Spicy Version:

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder (or Pampered Chef’s Chipotle seasoning blend)

1/8 tsp cayenne

1/4 tsp Cajun seasoning

1/2 tsp onion powder

Bake for the same amount of time.


The awesome thing about this?  You can have a whole potato’s worth of fries to yourself…for 150 calories.


Calories: 150

Fat: 0.5 g

Protein: 3.6 g

Total Carbohydrate: 37.3g

Dietary Fiber: 5.9g

Starch: 12.7g

Sugars: 11.7g

Vitamin A: 692% daily value

Vitamin C: 35.3 mg

Vitamin B6: 0.5mg

Calcium: 68.4 mg

Iron: 1.2 mg

Magnesium: 48.6mg

Potassium: 855mg

Shared on: 33 Shades of Green

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

More Thanksgiving Goodness: Cranberry Orange Sauce

You’re thinking: Cranberries have nothing to do with Louisiana.

You’re mostly right…the only real correlation is that cranberries are grown in bogs, which is kind of similar to a rice field…or a swamp…in that there’s a lot of water, and you have to wear waders to go into one.

image image

(See?  Basically the same…right?)

Okay, so no…not really.  But: here’s the connection for me.  Until I moved to Louisiana, I had never eaten cranberry sauce.

I had SEEN cranberry sauce, or what passes for it, anyway…I mean, how is this even remotely appetizing?


(Yes, Mom, please pass me some of that red-colored tin can, thanks.)

MAYBE I’d have eaten it sooner if the first time I’d seen jellied cranberry sauce, it was presented like THIS:



Because any kid can look at that & say “Hey!  Red Jello with fruit!  MMmm!” (quickly followed by “can someone get the grass off of it?”)

But no, at our Midwestern family dinners, we had that sad blob of red tin can, that when sliced, looked far too much like pickled beets for me to even consider snagging one. 


And my parents didn’t eat them either…I’m actually not sure WHO in our family DID eat them, I just know it showed up on the table every year out of some sad tradition. (My cousin & I had our own tradition—we demanded that a bowl of Spaghetti O’s be among the holiday feastings every Thanksgiving & Christmas.  Even though we’re now in our 30s, it’s still part of our family tradition if we’re both going to be there, for ol’ times sake….which is why we also have matching Spaghetti O’s ornaments on our tree that I made back in 2009):


(Not the greatest photo…sorry.  I could’ve sworn I had a closeup. But you get the idea.)

I’ll be honest… until I moved to Louisiana, my concept of cooking/trying new foods was pretty limited.  Yes, I watched Food Network incessantly, yes, I worked at a pizza place where I was free to experiment with different flavor combinations (Pineapple & Italian sausage FTW!), but my version of “exotic” food was a Chinese buffet.  Not even a good Chinese buffet…we’re talking about being happy because I could get my pepper steak with lo mein noodles rather than fried rice, and because they always seemed to have fried potatoes on the bar.

But then I moved to New Orleans, and got a job at Martin’s Wine Cellar in the gourmet foods department.  That sounds fancy, but it mainly means I sliced a lot of meat & cheese.  Granted, yes, I can slice prosciutto paper-thin (assuming I had a well sharpened meat slicer in my house…which I don’t) and I occasionally word-vomit around party cheese plates (“Oh!  You got the Humboldt Fog!  I love this cheese.  SO good with Sundried Tomato Wheat Thins.  How much does it sell for now?  It was $17.99/lb when I was at MWC…”) 

However, the job had its perks.  I did gain about 10 pounds trying all of our delicious products over the year that I worked there (hey—can’t properly sell it if you haven’t tried it—and admit it, if you had access to free dark chocolate-covered almonds that usually sell for $12.99/lb, you’d be occasionally noshing too), and thanks to some great local coworkers who had grown up in New Orleans, I began to branch out.  First pate? Right there in MWC (Les Trois Petite Cochons Mediterranean Pate, which sadly, isn’t part of their lineup anymore…sad, because it was GOOD, and didn’t actually have any liver in it.)  First caviar?  Good ol’ MWC.  First cheese that didn’t come from a cow?  MWC.   First time eating sushi?  New Orleans’ own Rock-n-Sake.  First time eating Pho?  Pho Bang on Vets.  First non-buffet Chinese?  5 Happiness on Carrollton (mmmm…shrimp toast—and ”shrimp toast” is something I wouldn’t have tried on my own without outside coercion).  First Indian food?  Masala Indian Kitchen in Lafayette.  Mediterranean food?  Lebanon’s Cafe in NOLA.  I could go on, but I’m already drooling on myself.

So—cranberry sauce.  I had it for the first time Thanksgiving of 2005 at a friends house.  It was fresh, homemade by my friends’ mom.  It looked like cherry pie filling, and I timidly tried a spoonful.  Slightly sweet, deliciously tart, beautifully ruby in color.  There couldn’t have been a better first cranberry.


OKAY.  This year, in the spirit of trying new things, I made my own cranberry sauce for the first time.  Used fresh Wisconsin cranberries (which were on sale for 99 cents a bag at Aldi’s) and a recipe from a friend. It couldn’t have been simpler.


2 cups orange juice
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
4 cups fresh cranberries
1 orange, zested


(Seriously… isn’t that just the most gorgeous color?)


Combine juice, nutmeg, and sugar in a medium pot over medium-low heat.  Cook until sugar dissolves, stirring.

Add cranberries, cover, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. 


Then cook without stirring until cranberries pop—watch the pot or it might try to boil over.  Remove from heat and mix in orange zest. Pour into a serving dish and chill at least 4 hours. 

I nom’ed on it with some of our TurkeyDay leftovers.


Shared on: 33 Shades of Green

Monday, November 28, 2011


No music post today, but I do have video for you!

Backstory:  My dad has discovered the History Channel show “Swamp People” and LOVES it.  He & his buddies regularly go to Wisconsin salmon fishing every fall, but now he’s decided they need to go to Louisiana one year & catch an alligator.  (Nevermind that I spent 6 years LIVING in the state of Louisisana trying to convince him he needed to come fishing down there, and got shot down every time…apparently he needed to see it on Prime Time TV to know that I was right.  But no, I’m not bitter…)

Anyway…the History Channel hosted a Swamp People marathon on Thanksgiving Day, so that’s how we spent the better portion of our Turkey Day.  Watching Bruce and T-Buddy and Jay Paul and the Guist Brothers & all the rest, shooting alligators and losing appendages.


Having lived in Louisiana, I’ll admit—prior to this Thanksgiving, I had seen only one episode of Swamp People.  I mean…I lived there.  I worked there.  I saw alligators and rode on airboats.  You would think the show would appeal to me, but I guess I just saw too many stereotypes. 

My mom says, “I’m so glad they write the words on the screen because I can’t understand half of what they say!”  I’m not sure if I should be proud or said that I understood every word, whether I was looking at the TV or not. :D

This marathon culminated in the broadcasting of the episode: “SWAMPSGIVING”. (Videos of the episode in the link.)  It showed the stars of Swamp People out hunting for their Thanksgiving dinners (because of course, Thanksgiving comes after the alligator season, so they weren’t too busy with their regular jobs.)  One group was after alligator gar (to smoke) & frogs (for frog legs….duh), another pair was hunting turkey*, the oh-so-lovable Guist Brothers were after squirrel & rabbit—though they couldn’t get a squirrel & ended up trading for a couple snapping turtles (to make a rabbit sausage gumbo & turtle sauce piquant), and another team was after a feral hog (to pit roast w/stuffing).

My husband, who has only been to New Orleans once for spring break, furrowed his brow.  “They act like everything’s in season down there!”

Well…yeah.  It’s not called “The Sportsman’s Paradise” for nothing!

Squirrel Season: October – February

Rabbit Season: October – February

Feral (Wild) Hog Season: October – February, year-round on state Wildlife Management Areas

Snapping Turtle: No season.  They’re plenty abundant.

*HOWEVER: Turkey season is in the spring.  No where near Thanksgiving.  Way to go, Hollywood.



The show, while Hollywooded to death (hunting turkey, OR feral hogs, with a camera crew?  Anyone who’s been hunting smelled the fake rolling offa that…plus they bagged a hen, which is illegal any time), did make me hungry and a bit southsick for my Cajun friends and family.


(Crawfish etouffee, macque choux, and green beans—proof that some of the tastiest food in the world comes from gas stations in South Louisiana.)  


Thankfully, I have to fly down there next week for work, so keep your eyes open for some authentic Louisiana food posts!

Recipe: Sugar Free Chocolate Pecan Pie

My dad is diabetic, but he has quite the sweet tooth. So I made this pecan pie for him for our family Thanksgiving.


One 9-inch deep dish premade pie crust

1-1/3 cups pecans, roasted (if yours are unroasted, heat the oven to 350, and in a small bowl, mix 1 tbsp melted butter together with your pecans until well coated.  Then bake on a cookie sheet for 5-7 minutes or until you can smell them cooking.  Be sure to keep an eye on them, as they can easily burn) 

Four eggs, (egg substitute equal to four eggs)

1/3 cup unsalted butter

¾ cup Splenda (sugar substitute), with 1 tsp. brown sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder – unsweetened (NOTE: original recipe called for 1/4 cup, but since I used maple syrup, I added extra to make sure the chocolate flavor would be more predominant.  If you are able to find the sugar-free corn syrup, you can probably stick with just 1/4 cup…or go for 1/2 cup if you want it to be extra chocolately!)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

1 pinch salt

1 cup light sugar-free corn syrup, or sugar free maple syrup (my store didn’t have sugar free corn syrup, so I used maple)


Heat your oven to 325 and pre-bake your pie shell for about 5-10 minutes (I’m recommending this because I DIDN’T do it & the bottom of the crust was still a little doughy when we served it.)  Set crust aside to cool and spread the roasted pecans across the bottom of the crust.  Break into pieces if the halves seem too large.  Turn your oven up to 400 degrees F

In a small bowl, beat eggs with a fork until well mixed.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, Splenda and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in the cocoa and the salt. Gradually add to the egg mixture, making sure all is mixed well. Then stir in the sugar-free corn syrup. Mixture will be thick. Pour mixture carefully over the pecans in the crust. If any pecans do not get completely covered, push them down with a spoon.

Let pie stand for 2 or 3 minutes—if bubbles come to the top, pop them with a toothpick.



Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. Then, reduce temperature to 350 degrees F.

Remove the pie and add a pie shield to the edges to prevent burning.


Then bake for another 35-40 minutes, or until the edges are cracked and risen, but the center slightly jiggles when shaken lightly.

Serve with whipped cream or (my fave) Dreyer’s Slow Churned lower sugar ice cream.  We opted for good ol’ vanilla.  The pie ended up being wonderfully rich, but because of the extra chocolate, the pecans didn’t float all the way up to the top (they were hidden just under the surface).  The top looked like a brownie, and the pie had almost a chocolate mousse flavor.  The plain vanilla ice cream helped cut some of the richness.  Everyone really liked it.


Makes 12 servings.

Nutrition Info:

Calories 206.8 (Hershey’s recipe for Chocolate Pecan Pie without low-sugar alternatives is 390 calories per slice)

  Total Fat 17.0 g

  Saturated Fat 4.2 g

  Polyunsaturated Fat 3.3 g

  Monounsaturated Fat 7.3 g

  Cholesterol 86.7 mg

  Sodium 190.8 mg

  Potassium 105.1 mg

  Total Carbohydrate 14.6 g

  Dietary Fiber 2.2 g

  Sugars 1.8 g

  Protein 4.4 g

Makes a great reward for getting all those Christmas decorations out of the attic & up on the tree! :D


Did you get your Christmas decor up this weekend?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thirsty Turkey Day Special: The Drunken Pumpkin!

Happy Turkey Day, folks!  Now that you’ve filled your bellies with massive amounts of turducken, dressing, sweet potatoes & pecan pie…howsabout a nice cocktail to wash it all down with?

I’ve got just the thing.

Commander’s Palace in New Orleans makes a cocktail called “The Drunken Pumpkin”.  It’s unusual list of ingredients includes the following:

2 oz Wood­ford Reserve Bour­bon
1/2 oz Fee Bros. Cor­dial Pump­kin Spice Syrup
1/4 oz Man­darin Napoleon
2 drops Black Cherry vinai­grette
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz sim­ple syrup
Fresh rose­mary sprig

Many of which aren’t exactly things that you can find just laying around the house (at least not MY house…but maybe you have a nicer pantry than I). 

When I decided I wanted to recreate this one the first challenge was “where in the world do I find pumpkin cordial?”  I had read you can order it from Fee Bros. directly, but then I didn’t see it on their website…so I wonder about availability?  Given the recent pumpkin shortages, it makes me wonder if their supplies are limited or if they weren’t able to make it this year.

So I found a recipe for making pumpkin syrup at home!  Normally, this would be way too much effort for just a cocktail, but it’s actually really versatile—mix it with some milk and BOOM—homemade creamer for your coffee.  It’s also pretty awesome in hot cider, and as a syrup over pancakes or drizzled on the Pumpkin Cranberry Scones from last week…

So—how do we make it?  Super simple.

Heat one small saucepan & add

1.5 cups water

1.5 cups white sugar

Stir til dissolved.  Then add:

4 cinnamon sticks (or about 1 tbsp of ground cinnamon)

2 whole cloves (or 1/8 tsp if you don’t have whole)

1/2 tsp ginger

1 tsp nutmeg

3 tbsp pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin. 

Heat for about 6-7 minutes while stirring, but don’t let it boil. Then strain—use a metal sieve or strainer.  For some stupid reason, I thought I’d be able to filter this with a coffee filter, but it’s WAY too viscous for that.  And since we couldn’t find the regular metal sieve, we had to use a pasta strainer (don’t laugh, it sorta worked).  And here’s our beautiful, delicious, golden end result:


(Once we find the strainer, we’ll have to refilter, as you can see.)

I was short on a few of the other ingredients as well, so this is what we used.  It took some trial & error, playing with the ratios (since I’m not much of a bourbon person, and it just didn’t have enough pumpkin flavor for me at first):

2 oz bourbon

2 oz pumpkin syrup

1/2 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz Grand Marnier

3 dashes Montmorency tart cherry juice

fresh rosemary, removed from the stem.

Put all ingredients into a shaker w/ice, and shake vigorously until cold.  Strain & pour into a highball w/ice (I split mine with the hubs):


(Mad props to Raised Spirits for the pumpkin syrup recipe.)

Verdict?  Mighty tasty & deliciously spicy…but perhaps a bit thick (due to our upping the dosage of syrup to increase the pumpkiny-ness).  If we’d had some on hand, I would have added a bit of seltzer water to lighten it up & add a little fizz.

So, there you go. 

Now, inquiring minds want to know: What’s your favorite part of your turkey day feastings?  For me, it’s my mom’s chicken & noodles.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wednesday’s Word(s) of the Day: Dressed Up!

We’ve got two words today, because Louisianans love to play dress-up…with their food, that is.

Our words are “dressed” and “dressing”.

The first refers to sandwiches.  If you order a sandwich in Louisiana, your server is going to ask, “you want that dressed?”  No, he/she does not mean this:




Rather, it refers to what you want ON your sandwich.  A dressed sandwich has lettuce, tomato & mayo on it.  Order it undressed, and you’ll just get meat…maybe cheese if you ask for it. 

Simple enough, right? Suuuuuure…. Took me a while when I first moved here.  I got a lot of really bald sandwiches.


(dressed up & ready to hit the town!  Err…I mean…get in your belly.)


Moving on to: DRESSING.

I grew up in the Midwest, and as much as we try our hardest to proclaim our independence from the rest of the Yankees (“We were an independent territory!  My ancestors had farms & slaves!  I’m probably related to Jesse James! I love catfish & fried food!!!”), in some ways, we are very Yank-ified.  I grew up with “stuffing”. 


(“Stuffing.  Stove Top Stuffing.  Shaken, not stirred.”)


Whether it was cooked in the bird or outside the bird, it was still STUFFING… I mean… it’s ON THE BOX.  “Stuffing Mix”.


But south of the Mason-Dixon line, “stuffing” is considered an unpleasant word, too harsh for genteel southern ears.  So, like they dress their sandwiches, they dressed their turkeys as well. 


And boy-howdy-keeyau, did they dress them.  While Midwesterners like me were raised with good ol’ Uncle Stove Top at every holiday meal, during my time in Louisiana I learned that not all side-dishes come from a box.  I know…shocker, right?

Oyster dressing, cornbread dressing, shrimp & crab dressing, jalapeno dressing, chicken dressing, turkey dressing, sausage dressing, boudin dressing… All of it, fantastic.  Because, hey, while stuffing/dressing isn’t potatoes, it’s still my second favorite sidedish.



Now—I have a confession.  I have never MADE dressing myself, from scratch (alternately, I’ve made enough Stove Top to choke about 5 cows over the period of my lifetime)….this is because my cousin Manda once watched/helped our Nana make stuffing from scratch, and she then told me it was the most disgusting process she’d ever experienced.  (We were teenagers at the time…she may have had worse life experiences since then.)  But since I LOVE stuffing, the idea of being disgusted by it scared the crap out of me.  SOOOO….I never made it.


Maybe one day…. one day….

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday Timbits: Turducken!

Happy Thanksgiving week folks!

Given the holiday, we can’t possibly talk about any other Louisiana product OTHER than this.  Some people see it as an abomination, some as a mastery of culinary creations. 

In case you’re not familiar with this creation (my friend told me yesterday she thought it was just a joke), the turducken is a deboned chicken, inside a deboned duck, inside a deboned turkey…with some delicious stuffing in the middle for good measure.  Some turduckens actually have stuffing between each layer o’ bird.


My coworker tells me you can now get them wrapped entirely in BACON:


But I think that might be a little overkill.  Not to mention, pigs don’t fly (yet) and that sort of ruins the whole “bird” theme. (Though I’m sure it’s DEELISHUSS.)

While stuffing dead carcasses of animals with the carcasses of other, smaller animals is not purely Louisianan in origin, since the idea has been documented as early in history as the Romans, the actual American origins of the Turducken can be traced back to Hebert’s Meats in Maurice, Louisiana, just outside of Lafayette. 


(Official Hebert’s turducken.)

Now, you can special order these bird trifectas from various producers across the country—our local Price Cutter even carries them this time of year.  However, having HAD an Hebert’s bird, I can say, they would win as the “one Turducken to rule them all” contest.

And while it’s a little late for your Thanksgiving feasting, you can order yourself a world-famous Hebert’s turducken for Christmas online!  And the nice thing about Hebert’s is that they offer a variety of different stuffing options, like pork sausage, cornbread dressing, andouille sausage, shrimp & crab dressing, chicken sausage, jalapeno sausage, crawfish etouffee, broccoli & cheesy rice, dirty rice, even boudin (mmmm…boudin…but that’s a different Louisiana product for a different Tuesday). 



Monday, November 21, 2011

Music Monday: Tab Benoit.

I first heard Tab Benoit in 2006— not live, but as one of the musicians who contributed music to the film  “Hurricane on The Bayou”.  Saw it at the New Orleans Imax (and bawled—we evacuated for Katrina, but to see the aftermath on the Imax screen, larger than life…it was pretty overwhelming); if you haven’t seen this movie, you need to rent it ASAP.  The filmmaker began filming it in early 2005.  The original theme was just centered around the erosion of the wetlands of Southern Louisiana, and was intended to sound an alarm as to what could happen if a major hurricane hit New Orleans…then Katrina & her sister Rita arrived, and there were no more hypotheticals.

Tab was one of the featured musicians, interviewed in the film, as he’s also the founder of the Voice of the Wetlands festival which has been around since 2004.

A person doesn't have to be from the region to feel empathy for people who are losing their land and their natural protection from Mother Nature. One of my first professional projects was doing a land loss study of the parishes southeast of New Orleans from the time before and after the hurricanes. I saw first hand in the data that I worked with for 6 months--tens of thousands of acres, just GONE. Islands eroded away to nothing. Valuable habitat for land creatures converted to shallow mudholes--the grass ripped from the earth like a bad bikini wax.

...sorry....that's my soapbox pirouette for the evening. :D

ANYWAY...I wish I could find a clip from the film, showing this scene, but it just stuck with me ever since that moment, and despite his laundry list of CDs and other great songs, that first song I heard is still my favorite.  Slow and passionate and slightly haunting, it’s just one of the most beautiful songs I know…possibly because there could be no more perfect song to have been played in conjunction with a film about the flooding of New Orleans and the disappearing wetlands, than “When A Cajun Man Gets The Blues”:


I’ve seen Tab perform a dozen times since then, either at the VOW festival, or at public concerts in Lafayette/Houma.  I could post any number of videos here, but I’ll just let you search the YooToobs yourself.  However, here’s Tab singing one of the more “well-known” Cajun songs:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bonus recipe: Pumpkin Cranberry Scones

Scones will forever & always remind me of the year I lived in New Orleans, thanks to Maurice’s bakery.

Let’s travel back in time, shall we?  To 2004: I was a post-grad student at University of New Orleans, working part time as a grad assistant on campus, and part-time as a gourmet foods associate (read: cheese monger) at Martin’s Wine Cellar in Metairie. Jean-Luc, the owner of Maurice’s, was a regular at our store, and like any true Frenchman, he favored the ooey, gooey, nasty, sweaty-foot-stanky French cheeses we carried.  You name it: Camembert, Munster, Pont l’Eveque, Vacherin… if it got gooier & stinkier with age, Jean-Luc loved it.  I’ll never understand that, especially since there are so many delicious non-stanky french cheeses (like the beautiful Brin d’Amour, a slightly tangy sheep’s milk cheese that’s coated in dried rosemary & other herbs… but I’m getting off-topic…)  Anyway, despite his taste in cheese, he was a really wonderful person & always pleasant to talk to.

One of my coworkers, Ozzy, also worked for Jean-Luc at his bakery, so occasionally on Sunday mornings, she’d bring in a few pastries with her to the morning shift at Martin’s, which I always worked.  Maurice’s scones are now, and will always be, the epitome of scone perfection (particularly the cranberry-orange).

Well, I had some dried cranberries and roasted pumpkin laying around, so I figured: why not make some scones?  Found a base recipe, and with a few modifications, we have this:



  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup golden brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup light butter, chilled
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup canned or roasted pumpkin
  • 1 egg white
  • sugar (coarse if you have it)
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.

    In a mixing bowl, combined the first 6 ingredients & mix.  Cut in butter with a pastry cutter (or I just used my Kitchenaid) until the dough looks like coarse crumbs. 

    Add cranberries, egg, pumpkin, milk, juice to the dry ingredients and mix until moistened. 

    Knead on lightly floured breadboard until nearly smooth (several seconds).  If it gets too sticky, add extra flour as you knead.  Roll dough into a 12x9 inch rectangle. Using a pizza cutter, cut dough into 4x3 inch rectangles; cut each rectangle in half to form triangles.

    Place on ungreased cookie sheet. In a small bowl, mix egg white with a a little water & beat well.  Brush over the scones with a pastry brush and then sprinkle sugar over the top.

    Bake for about 12 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on rack for 5 minutes. Serve warm with butter (we had a few with apple butter or pumpkin butter which was also quite nice.)

    Calories 217.1
    Cholesterol 59.2 mg
    Sodium 280.0 mg
    Total Carbohydrate 26.9 g
    Dietary Fiber 1.2 g
    Sugars 5.5 g
    Protein 3.7 g

    Crockpot Red Beans & Rice.

    I seem to have a love-hate relationship with red beans & rice…I love to eat them, but have a devil of a time trying to make them, as evidenced by my first ever entry in this blog, when I attempted to make “quick” red beans & rice in my microwave (which ended up taking still about 30 minutes in the microwave and a lot of *DING!* *open microwave door & stir* “nope, still not done…”).  Red beans is a “low & slow” type dish, so I figured, what better than the Crockpot?

    Sadly, perfect red beans eluded me again, but thanks to some quick thinking, I was able to salvage the dish.  I will give you the amended version here, to save you the heartache that I went through.


    2 cans seasoned red kidney beans
    1-2 cups water
    2 links smoked sausage, sliced and cut in half
    1 cup, cubed ham (I bought a ham shank for cheap, cut the ham off the bone & then threw the bone into the pot for extra flavor)
    1 cup, each, chopped onion and bell pepper
    2 stalks celery, sliced thin
    2 tsp. minced garlic
    1 tsp. dried thyme
    2 tbs. or more Cajun seasoning
    2 bay leaves
    1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce

    1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
    3 cups hot cooked brown rice (we like to use Minute Brown Rice)

    Combine the first 12 ingredients in your Crockpot, & mix well.


    (Photo taken before the water was added in.)

    Cover & heat for 5 hours on high, or 8 hours on low. (We started it in the morning before work around 8am, set on Low, and I got home at 6pm.)  Then discard bay leaves and mash some of the beans (also, if you used a ham bone, remove it now & give it to your dog--he will love you FOREVER); add green onions and additional Cajun seasoning or some Tabasco to your taste, and cook for 15 more minutes. Add a little water, if necessary.

    At this point, you have options—you can either serve your red beans poured over rice, or you can integrate your rice into the crockpot.  If the beans are still a little soupy, I recommend the latter—good red beans have a nice, thick, creamy texture—thus the smashing of the beans to really get the starches out.


    Serve with french bread, some extra green onions, and a nice salad.

    NOTE: The original recipe called for MUCH more water, so I’m assuming that chef intended the recipe to be made with dry beans, not canned/precooked, although it wasn’t specified. So when I came home, it was too soupy & hadn’t cooked down nearly enough. To salvage it, I (thankfully) had extra cans of beans in the house, so I smashed two extra cans of beans & tossed them in, & let it cook down for another 20-30 minutes on High without the lid on.  It was still thinner than I wanted, so I also mixed our rice in to help soak up some of the juices.  This got it to a thick enough texture for us to eat  without it feeling like soup (and serve to my in-laws, who I originally hadn’t been expecting for dinner), and then we let the rest continue cooking on Low until that evening when it really thickened up. 

    And it worked out well in the end, because I had all the more servings to accommodate our unexpected guests, and still more than enough to take to work the following day for a potluck, while still saving back a few servings for my husband & I.

    Serves 8.

    Amount Per Serving

    Calories 316.1

    Total Fat 7.0 g

    Saturated Fat 2.5 g

    Polyunsaturated Fat 0.6 g

    Monounsaturated Fat 0.7 g

    Cholesterol 42.9 mg

    Sodium  1,235.2 mg

    Potassium  530.8 mg

    Total Carbohydrate  42.1 g

    Dietary Fiber  10.2 g

    Sugars 2.3 g

    Protein 20.3 g

    Linked to: 33 Shades of Green

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    (Fishy) Friday Facts: Louisiana Commercial Fisheries.

    I was going to discuss the oil industry in Louisiana, but I figured, hey, this is a food blog—let’s talk about something we can actually EAT!  And when I think Louisiana, I think SEAFOOD.  Beautiful, fresh, delicious seafood.

    Crawfish, oysters, shrimp, crabs, alligator, freshwater fish, saltwater fish… Louisiana is known officially as “The Sportsman’s Paradise” with a wide array of recreational hunting & fishing opportunities (I like to think the motto of the average Cajun is “you kill it, I’ll cook it”), but it’s also home to a LOT of commercial fisheries.  So here’s an assortment of facts about commercial fishing in Louisiana:

    • One out of every 70 jobs in Louisiana can be attributed either directly or indirectly to commercial fisheries. The Gulf of Mexico produces more shrimp and oysters than any other area in the US; in 2010, Louisiana shrimpers harvested for 74.1 million pounds of  shrimp, second only to Texas and their much longer coast. 
    • Earnings from commercial fisheries amount to approximately $385 million.
    • In Louisiana, there are approximately 350 permitted and inspected wholesale seafood processors/distributors.
    • Commercial catches in the Gulf represent approximately 25% of the total U.S. domestic commercial fishing revenue.
    • The Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries (LDWF) manages approximately 1.7 million acres of public state water bottoms for the purposes of oyster fishing and issues private leases for harvesting oysters; in 2006, private leases accounted for 392,118 acres of water bottoms with over eight thousand active leases.


    (Taken while working.  We were doing an oyster assessment to evaluate quantity & size of oysters per square meter…usually we have to dive in order to do this---thus the wet suit—but my coworker got really lucky this day.)

    • Louisiana is one of the national leaders in oyster production, averaging over 12.8 million pounds of oyster harvests, worth approximately $35-50 million in annual revenue.
    • In 2010, nearly 110.9 million pounds of crawfish were raised, with a total value of more than $168.5 million. 


    (…it takes a lot of time (and beer) to train your crawfish to conga…)

    • Blue claw crab production runs on an average of 50 million pounds annually, along with about 100,000 pounds of soft shell crabs. (Mmmm, BBQ soft shells…)
    • As if having an estimated 1.5 million wild alligators roaming the bayous wasn’t enough, approximately 500,000 of the giant reptiles are raised on alligator farms each year.  Louisiana alligator hunters harvest over 30,000 wild alligators annually and farmers harvest over 280,000 farm-raised alligators annually. Raw meat and hide values are estimated at over $10 million for the wild harvest and over $33 million for the farm harvest in 2005.


    (Taken while working in Louisiana…I think I should have gotten hazard pay.)

    • Common sport fish in Louisiana offshore waters include blackfin tuna, yellowfin tuna, wahoo, red snapper, mangrove, cobia (also called lemonfish or ling), blue marlin, mahi mahi, amberjack, and shark.

    imageLING! (Caught by my former boss for the 2007 Tibby Faulk Tournament…definitely not by me.)

    • While fishing in Louisiana, you may be privy to absolutely beautiful scenery.image