Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Andouille Biscuits & Gravy

So, I've shared our recipe for homemade biscuits & sawmill (aka white) gravy here before, but the other day we made a really fun (and DELICIOUS) spin on it:

We subbed out the traditional pork sausage for andouille.  Our local meat market has house-made andouille sausage that's pretty on par flavor-wise to what you can find down south.

Now, you won't get quite as much fat drippings from the andouille as you would with pork sausage, but that's okay since we typically discard about 2/3 of the grease when we make it with pork, so less mess/waste.

This go-round we used canned biscuits, but please feel free to make homemade if you have the time. (NOTE: I had a version of this at Surrey's Cafe in New Orleans recently that was made with whole wheat biscuits, if you want to health things up a bit.  ...I also tried their famous Banana's Foster French Toast (recipe behind the link) during this same visit, which was most definitely NOT healthy, but freakin' DEVINE.  Highly recommend.)
*drools* Err...wait...sorry, got distracted.  Back to the gravy.

  • 1/2 lb andouille sausage (this is about 1 large link from our butcher--NOTE: you need the raw andouille, not a fully cooked sausage like Johnsonville)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups skim milk (more or less to desired thickness)
Cook the sausage in a large pan with some salt & pepper to taste. 

Once browned, add the flour & stir. You want enough flour so that it’s still runny in the pan—if it gets clumpy, add more grease to thin it out (you can use bacon grease). 

Mix for 1-2 minutes over medium heat until it becomes a dark brown (but not burnt). But don’t overdo it-- Remember that the roux you’re creating will absorb the milk, so the more roux you make, the more milk you’re going to have to add to turn it into a good gravy. So if you’re not wanting to eat gravy on everything for the next week, err on the side of less. 

Then add milk and continue stirring, about 2-3 minutes. Make sure to scrape the edges of the pan to keep everything well combined. At this point, you can add more milk if you need to thin things out a bit, and you can season with more salt & pepper to taste. Remove from heat when you’ve reached the desired consistency, otherwise it will continue to thicken. 

Spoon onto your biscuits, and chow down. Makes about 3-4 cups of gravy. Nutritional info & servings will vary depending on how heavy-handed you are with your gravy-to-biscuit ratio.

NutriFacts: (assumes 4 servings of about 3/4 cup each)
  Total Fat9.2 g
     Saturated Fat3.1 g
     Polyunsaturated Fat0.0 g
     Monounsaturated Fat0.1 g
  Cholesterol52.5 mg
  Sodium531.7 mg
  Potassium199.4 mg
  Total Carbohydrate13.1 g
     Dietary Fiber0.2 g
     Sugars6.3 g
  Protein14.0 g

Friday, May 15, 2015

Thirsty Thursday: Pina Colada Smoothie or Daiquiri

With the weather warming up, I feel like I should be at the beach.  But alas, I am 12-14 hours from anything even slightly beachy (assuming rocky shores along lakes don't count, and they DON'T).  When temps creep above 70, all I really want is to be by the water with my toes in the sand, a cold drink in my hand, and to hear the lapping of waves in the distance.

Thankfully, this recipe takes care of one of those things.  We developed this smoothie in our second year of The Scoop, and it was a huge hit.  It has a very tropical feel to it, and can very easily convert into a tasty adult beverage with the addition of just a bit of coconut rum.

8 oz frozen pineapple chunks
2 tbsp shredded coconut
1/2 cup Vanilla Greek yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tbsp coconut syrup
1 tsp toasted coconut to top

To Make Daquiri:
Add your preferred coconut rum (Malibu, Cruzan, Parrot Bay, etc) to desired strength--you can replace part of the orange juice or yogurt if you want to maintain a nice semi-thick texture. A friend gifted me with some pineapple honey vodka that is also great in this.

Blend the first 5 ingredients (plus booze, if you're making the daiquiri version) on High until well combined and no large chunks remain.  Then top with the toasted coconut*.

* to make toasted coconut, spread sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes on a cookie pan, then place in a 350F oven for 5-10 minutes until golden brown.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Freezer Meals & Nesting (18.5 weeks & counting)

As noted in previous posts, The Hubs & I are expecting our first little one (well, if you don’t count the dog) later this year.  I’m solidly into my 2nd trimester, and have much more energy than the first 14 weeks or so.  Energy which should probably be used cleaning house and productive things of that nature, but with as pretty as it’s been, most of that energy is getting channeled into weekend canoe trips and hikes at the Nature Center.

Earlier this week we found out gender:

IMG_20150505_084325-1  IMG_20150505_084315_2

Funny how this is the only situation when this sort of photo isn’t considered pornography…

We’ve picked up & been gifted a few items for Baby Boy, but haven’t been going too crazy.  A lot of time has been put toward the effort of “where to put the nursery” and “what to do with the giant king size bed that’s in our guest room”.  We’ve got a 3 bedroom house which is plenty of space for a small family, but since my husband works from home, that means we have a) a master, b) a guest room, and c) an office occupying those rooms.  So, now begins the effort of trying to figure out how to combine the office & guest rooms so they can both function appropriately…which is not a possibility with the giant king bed that we have in the spare room.  I suggested just not getting a crib and just laying the baby in the middle of the king bed (I mean really…it’s huge, he’ll be tiny—where can he go?), but apparently that’s frowned upon.  :)  We also don’t want to co-sleep or have a basinet in our room for very long because it just makes sleep training them later on that much harder.  Then of course there’s the option of moving…but buying a new house just so you don’t have to sell your guest bed seems a little silly, no matter how comfy it is (NOTE: It is VERY comfy…but too soft for The Hubs’ back.)

I found a pretty cool site online called HomeStyler that allows you to drag & drop room plans with tons of options on furniture, so that we could match up sizes appropriately.  It’s been a lot of fun to play with and I think we’re getting close to having some good options:

room A pullout loveseat is also an option, if we can find one that’s relatively comfortable.

With grandparents who’ll want to visit the baby (and hopefully stay a while to help out), NOT having some sort of guest bed isn’t an option.

I’ve also decided to get a jump start on prepping freezer meals. I figure it makes sense to start working on it now, a little at a time, while I have energy, and it’s not the crazy hot outside, and I don’t have a B.O.B. (big ol’ belly) in the way.  Thankfully we bought a small chest freezer last year, so it’s a perfect place to stow away meal prep!


This is the stockpile I’ve accumulated over the last few weekends of work, just prepping 3-4 meals at a time.  Most are Pinterest finds, though some are recommendations for friends. I’ve got a good stockpile of recipes ready to make, but have been prepping up whatever’s on sale that week to save some $$$.  Only a couple of these are ready-made, pop in the oven to heat up—the rest are Crock Pot meals, with all the ingredients in a bag to be thrown into the pot overnight or at the start of the day.

Recipes Made So Far:

Crockpot Beef Fajitas

Crockpot Chicken Teriyaki (I added some sriracha & green onions as well)

Crockpot Chicken Chili (chicken was on sale, if you haven’t guessed) :)

Crockpot Honey Dijon Pork & Green Beans (I used Creole Mustard in place of Dijon)

Crockpot Hot Pepper Pork & Butternut Squash (with Tabasco Red Pepper Jelly, of course!)

Ginger Peach Chicken (with added sriracha) [Note: this is a great link—there’s several others I’ll be making later on.]

Sausage Mac & Cheese (no actual recipe for this one—we made cheese fondue the night before and had a ton left over, so I boiled some rotini, tossed it in with the cheese sauce, & added about 1/2 lb of smoked sausage) 


…and my tater tot casserole.  I think tater tot casserole is one of those things everyone has a slightly different recipe for, but here’s mine.



1 lb lean ground beef

1 onion, diced

1 tsp olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

1/2 tbsp Tony Chacheres Instant Roux Powder

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

(1) 15 oz can corn, drained (or frozen)

(1) 15 oz can peas, drained (or frozen)

(1) 8 oz can mushroom pieces, drained (or you can chop up some fresh ones & cook in with your meat—just whatever’s more convenient for you

1 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder

6 slices 2% American cheese (or 1 cup shredded cheddar if you prefer—I use whatever I have on hand at the time)

most of 1 bag of tater tots



In a large skillet or pot, saute the onions in the olive oil with a dash of salt, until they start to get tender.  Then add the ground beef, cook until browned.

Add the roux powder (this helps turn any fat into a nice sauce & binder) & Worcestershire sauce, stir well, and then add salt & pepper to taste.  If it’s a little salty, don’t worry, since you’ll be adding veggies as well.

Mix in the veggies and cornstarch and toss until well combined.

Transfer into a 9x13 pan (aluminum if you’re going to be freezing for a while, so you’re not tying up one of your pans for a few months), spread evenly, and then top with the cheese.

Then, add the tater tots.  (NOTE: You do not have to be as OCD as me about arranging your tots---I just do it because it makes it easier to portion, and because I have the time.  If you don’t, don’t worry about it.  Haphazard tots still taste awesome.)


When it’s time, cook for 30-40 minutes at 400F.  If you’re going to be freezing for a while, I recommend topping with aluminum foil first, and then wrapping in a couple layers of plastic wrap as insurance against freezer burn.


If you’re interested in some additional freezer meal recipes, here’s another post I made last year when we were prepping for the opening of our seasonal business.

If you’ve got a freezer meal you love, please share a recipe link with me in the comments section!