Sunday, September 27, 2015

Crawfish Boil Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

A few weeks ago I posted about making bacon-wrapped crawfish stuffed jalapenos using leftovers from a crawfish boil.  We didn't quite use up the filling we made with the jalapenos, so I decided to use the rest to make this side dish!

We added some sweet corn to the filling to round out this dish and make it truly reminiscent of a crawfish boil.

INGREDIENTS (makes 4 servings):
2 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 cup crawfish tails
1.5 Tbsp low fat cream cheese
1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 green onion, sliced
1/4 cup sweet corn
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

Heat the oven to 350F.
Wash the potatoes, stab with a fork and nuke in the microwave for 3-4 minutes or until tender.
Combine the rest of the ingredients, minus the mozzarella, in a small bowl.
Cut the potatoes in half, then mash the guts with a fork, pressing the potato flesh to the sides to make a hollow for the filling.  Fill each of the potato halves with 1/4 of the crawfish filling, and then sprinkle the cheese over the top.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is browned & melted.

Serving suggestion: baked or grilled chicken and a green salad.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Adventures in Pepper Jelly: aka Smoked Pineapple Jalapeno Refrigerator Jam

As I mentioned in my last post, we were recently bestowed with an ENORMOUS stockpile of jalapenos & banana peppers.  I decided, "hey, I've never made pepper jelly before, and I have a Cajun food blog--I think it's about time!"

And so began my adventure.  Let's just state for the record--I have little to no jelly-making experience. I've made some cranberry-pineapple refrigerator jam which turned out pretty well, but in general, my homemade jam experience primarily involves magical childhood memories of enjoying strawberry freezer jam made by my Nana over warm Amish-made sourdough bread.  So...mostly I just have experience with EATING a lot of fridge & freezer jam.

As with most cooking adventures, I started on Pinterest.  The first recipe I tried resulted in an absolutely beautiful product that tasted lovely...but was the consistency of roof tar.  I couldn't even clean out the jar to try & reuse it.  *sniff* So sad.  

Lesson learned: Not all pectins are the same.  I have a jar of INSTANT pectin SPECIFICALLY for making fridge & freezer jam, meaning it's not intended to go through the boiling process.  I'm sure if you try this recipe with the RIGHT pectin, it would be fabulous.  

So for Attempt #2, I went straight to the Ball Website to find a pepper jelly recipe for my type of pectin.  And I did!  We decided to tweak this just a little bit: instead of green peppers & canned chilis, we went with our fresh jalapenos, and we grilled the pineapple & jalapenos first to add an extra layer of flavor.  

Lesson learned:  You are not as bad@ss as you think you are.  Remove at least SOME of the seeds before you puree.  We ended up having to puree more pineapple and add in a bunch of pineapple juice in order to bring this down to an edible level--and even then it was really ONLY tolerable with cream cheese to kill the capsacin.

THIS is exactly why I only make one jar of things, rather than a whole batch.

So...we made ONE MORE BATCH, using all our lessons and tinkering, and THAT'S what I present to you today.  

(Served over cream cheese for our most recent work potluck luncheon.)

INGREDIENTS (per 8oz [pint] jar):
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp INSTANT Pectin (for fridge/freezer jams)
About 8 oz of pineapple slices (we did use canned for our last batch and it still tasted fine)
3 jalapenos, seeds & ribs removed (you can leave the seeds in one if you like heat)
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/2-1 tsp Liquid Smoke (optional, to taste)
Pineapple Juice (as needed--grilling removes some of the moisture so you may need to add a little juice to get a full jar)

Have a clean, sterilized pint jar ready (as always, we used EasyClean, but you can also use your dishwasher or any of the other sterilization methods)
Grill your pineapple rings & jalapenos until they have a light char.
Stir the sugar and pectin together in a medium bowl, set aside.
Add your pineapple, jalapenos, lime juice, and Liquid Smoke to a blender or food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Then pour the mixture into the bowl with the sugar/pectin and stir for 3 minutes.  Taste & decide if you want to add more of the Liquid Smoke (a little goes a LONG way, but we think it ups the smoky flavor from the grill).

Transfer the jelly into your pint jar, and add a little pineapple juice if you need in order to get a full jar, and mix well.  Stick in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to thicken.  You can keep it in the fridge for about a month or in the freezer for a year.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Refrigerator Pickled Banana Peppers

Some of our friends recently moved into a house with a small garden.  It's currently overflowing with tomatoes, jalapenos, banana peppers, basil, cantaloupe, and some really randomly huge cucumbers (we're still not sure if they're SUPPOSED to be that big or if they just sat on the vine too long without being picked).  

We GENEROUSLY volunteered to help them get rid of some of the peppers (because we're good friends like that).  First, I used a modified version of my Garlic Dill Pickle recipe to make a small jar of pickled jalapenos (left out the dill, but the rest of the recipe is the same).  I also made some pepper jelly (we'll discuss that next time--it's a whole adventure worthy of it's own post), and then diced & froze the rest of the jalapenos for future cooking.

The banana peppers we decided to pickle as well--but The Hubs requested a "no frills, just basic" pickling recipe for those.  So we kept it super simple.  Also, I LOVE that the peppers started to turn colors a bit before I had a chance to slice & pickle them---these colors are so beautiful & just SCREAM early fall!!!

We had about half a pound of peppers and it made about one quart-size jar.

INGREDIENTS: (makes 1 quart jar)
1/2 lb of sweet banana peppers, sliced
1.5 cups white vinegar
1 cup water
1 Tbsp salt (kosher if you have it--if not the pickling liquid can get a little cloudy)
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 clove garlic, minced (if you have pre-minced jarred garlic, rinse the oil off first)
1/4 tsp citric acid (helps keep the pickles crisp)

Sterilize your jar(s) and lid(s)--we use EasyClean just because we have it & it's quicker than doing hot sterilization.
Once clean & dried, add the sliced peppers, garlic & citric acid to the jar.
In a small pot, heat the vinegar, water, salt and sugar just until the solids are fully dissolved--you don't need to boil it.  Then let the liquid cool to room temp.
Pour the pickling liquid over the pickles--it should come up to about 1/4-1/2 inch from the rim of the jar.  Add the lid and shake to distribute the garlic & citric acid.  Then place in your fridge!  

Let them brine for at least 24 hours before eating, but the longer they sit in the fridge, the better they'll taste!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Baby Prep: Nursery Finally Complete!

And so, at 37+ weeks, after many showers and much shopping and rearranging and organizing, the Just Beachy Nursery for Future FeauxBaby is complete!

Future Nursery: Before (as an office)

And NOW!

It's little, but cozy, and has everything the Lil' Man will need.  A place to lay his head (Crib: Graco Freeport), a mobile/projector (found at a consignment sale for $8 new in box--retail would have been $47!), a comfy glider for feedings (from Craiglist--we won't go into the miracle it took to get that beast inside this room), and a lovely window for plenty of natural light.  The crab & blowfish print above the crib is from my awesome & crazy-talented friend Naomi, and the two small canvases I painted.

 Across the room we have the dresser/changing station, along with a cubby full of toys & books.  Not even born yet and already a book hoarder!  Totally my child. :)  We got a diaper R2-D2 at one of our showers, and I just haven't had the heart to fully break him we'll just keep it there for him to enjoy.

Found some great drawer organizers on Amazon--top right drawer has diapers, wipes, etc, and the top left has newborn & 0-3 month clothes, socks, hats, mittens, etc.  

Just a quick closeup of the decor area over near the changing station.  The whale is a bank!

A few weeks ago, The Hubs & I went to Firehouse Pottery so we could each make something for our lil' guy.  I made the bank, and his dad made that adorable little octopus.  Love it!

 A closeup of the mirror/net.  Thought about adding a bunch more shells & finding some little Feaux crabs, but just these three seemed to flow pretty well.

 The "message" inside the bottle is from us to him to discover once he can read.  And there's room to add more over the years if we like! (Bottle: $2.99 from At Home)

 The room has this little alcove over the closet, and there's an outlet up there--perfect place for our video monitor.  And we have a storage tote up there for things we won't need for a while (boxes for things we can resell once he outgrows them, his CARES airplane harness, etc).  Closet is full of 3-6 month clothes (like, literally full--people gave us more 3-6 month than anything), and everything bigger than 6 months is in another tote under the crib.  And you can kind of see our ridiculous diaper stockpile in the closet--people gave us tons!

 Another shot of the nursing area.  The blanket was made by my grandmother, and the little pillow is from our wedding.

Now we just need a baby to put in it!  (But...just not quite yet.  We're okay with letting him bake just a LEEEETLE bit longer.)
Previous Adventures:

Monday, September 14, 2015

Turkey Aloo Keema

My cooking lately has been pretty intermittent—some weeks, I cook three dishes…some weeks we just dine out or get pizza.  It all depends on my energy level—which is pretty intermittent too.  Just hit 37 weeks!  No turning back!

I have been pretty stoked to find that spicy foods don’t bug me or cause me heartburn (about a hundred OTHER things will cause heartburn, but not spicy foods for some reason).  So I’ve definitely been enjoying some spicy chili, pepper jelly, “kicked up” pasta dishes, and this Indian dish, which is my favorite.

Indian food is obviously not Cajun…BUT—if not for my time in Louisiana, I probably never would have acquired a taste for Indian food.  Back in about 2008, my friend Sean took me to eat at Masala Indian Kitchen in Lafayette, and I fell in love.  And not just with their AMAZING house vinaigrette salad dressing (which I used to ask for extra servings of to take home with me).  EVERYTHING I tried, I liked.  But their chicken keema was my favorite.

While I haven’t been able to master their exact recipe, I do love this version that uses ground turkey in place of chicken (cheaper & a little easier to find) and adds in potatoes.  Because it has potatoes and I always serve it with pita or naan bread, I opt to not make rice to go on the side, but you totally could & I wouldn’t judge.

INGREDIENTS: (makes about 4-5 servings)

  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 14 oz can sliced or diced new potatoes, drained (you can go with fresh cooked if you prefer, but this is what I had on hand)
  • 1 chili or jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt & pepper to taste

    In a large skillet, heat the coconut oil & sauté the onions for about 6-8 minutes.  Then add the garlic & ginger & sauté for about 2 minutes more.  Add the ground meat and dried spices, and let the meat brown, mixing well. Once the meat is cooked, add the potatoes, chili pepper, cilantro, tomato sauce, bay leaf and about a 1/3 cup of water.  Stir well, drop heat to Low and cover, letting simmer for about 15 minutes.  Finally, add the peas and cook for another 5-10 minutes while checking to see if you need more salt or pepper.
    Serve with pita or naan bread (I find naan at my local Aldi’s pretty reasonably priced) that’s been lightly toasted in the oven.  I like to lightly spritz the top with olive oil & then dust with either garlic or onion powder.
    Rice can also be added, but is entirely optional.


    • Calories 254.0
    • Total Fat 12.1 g
    • Saturated Fat 6.8 g
    • Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
    • Monounsaturated Fat 0.3 g
    • Cholesterol 64.0 mg
    • Sodium 364.8 mg
    • Potassium 428.3 mg
    • Total Carbohydrate 16.9 g
    • Dietary Fiber 3.5 g
    • Sugars 4.2 g
    • Protein 20.9 g