Thursday, May 29, 2014

Shrimp & Chicken Gumbo Kit's Way : )

In Honor of Fat Tuesday today, I made Gumbo for dinner. I have to admit it's been a while since I last made it, so it took me  a minute to gather my thoughts. It didn't take long for it all to come flying right back to memory and soon we had a luscious Louisiana favorite on the table. It had been so long that my Cajun seasoning had turned to stone and I was left to my own devices as far as spices went. All and all it was a hit and super comforting on this cold and rainy day. Caz hates okra, but he did indulge me by trying it my way...crunchy and fried as a topping instead of slimming the inside of the dish. Give this deliciousness a try.

1 1/2 pounds chicken legs and thighs

1/2 pound breakfast sausage
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 to 4 celery ribs with tops, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup bacon grease or cooking oil for rue, plus extra for cooking vegetables
1/4 cup flour
5 to 6 cups chicken broth
1 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons cornstarch for thickening if necessary
1 pound shrimp, peeled and tails removed

1 cup white rice 
2 cups frozen breaded okra

1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried parsley

In heavy bottom stock pot or dutch oven, poach chicken until thoroughly  cooked, about half an hour or so. When chicken is done, cool, remove from the bone and discard bones. Chop in bite size pieces. Set aside. Remove and save chicken broth in a bowl. This will be your stock.

In the same pot that is now empty, add sausage to pot and brown. If necessary add a few tablespoons bacon grease or oil and turn heat to medium high. Add bell pepper, onion, celery and garlic. Cook until onion and bell pepper is tender and garlic is fragrant, stirring as needed. Turn off heat while you make the rue.

In a skillet on medium high heat, add the bacon grease or oil and whisk as you slowly add the flour. Cook flour mixture until the color becomes a light reddish brown. This may take a few minutes, but do not turn up heat. The flour needs this time to cook the floury taste out and the rue will only burn. When rue is finished cooking, stir into the vegetable mixture. Don't return the pot to the heat at this point. 

In a medium bowl mix all the herbs and spices and add the contents of the bowl to the pot. Add the chicken, broth, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, and the bay leaves to the pot. Return to medium low heat and allow to thicken. If mixture does not thicken to the right consistency, them mix cornstarch with enough water to make a loose paste and add to hot ingredients in pot. 

Add shrimp in at the last and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes on low heat.
Add rice to a pot with 2 cups boiling salted (1/4 teaspoon salt) water. Bring to a boil again and turn heat to simmer. Cover and set timer for 20 minutes. Rice will be perfect and fluffy.
Deep fry breaded okra in a pot of oil on medium high heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels.

To plate, add rice to a bowl or plate and top with gumbo. Top with crispy fried okra. Enjoy!

Monday, April 14, 2014


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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Mama's (Feed A Big Family) Goulash

11/2 pounds Ground Beef
8 ounces elbow macaroni
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
I tablespoon sugar
1 14 1/2 ounce cab diced or stewed tomatoes
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup beef broth
8 ounces elbow macaroni
salt and pepper to taste

In a frying pan, cook diced bacon until crisp.  In the meantime cook macaroni according to package directions, drain and set aside. Once bacon is cooked, pour off excess fat, turn heat to medium and add chopped onion and bell pepper. Cook until tender. Add garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add seasonings and sugar, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and broth. Stir and simmer on low for 25 minutes on low. Taste for seasoning and add accordingly. Serve with salad if desired.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ravioli Bake

So when is Italian NOT a good idea. Oh, that would be NEVER. This baked ravioli and meat sauce is so simple and delicious, you'll want to add it to your monthly menu  now. It's a hit with the kids and the grown ups and add a salad and simple dessert and you've got dinner in a flash. Hot, quick, scrumptious. These are the keys to a happy family. Try it tonight!
1 lb ground beef, sweet Italian sausage or pepperoni
1 1/2 jars (28 oz size) Marinara or pasta sauce (I like marinara best or a mix of  : )
1 8 ounce brick cream cheese, cubed small
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1 large bag frozen beef and cheese ravioli or cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Garnish of sliced basil 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and  grease or spray a 9x13 inch dish with cooking spray.
In a skillet, brown ground meat or heat pepperoni and pour off excess fat, add sauce, seasonings and cream cheese. Continue cooking for 4 to 5 minutes or until cream cheese is melted and smooth. 
Coat bottom of pan with sauce.
Portion in half and layer ravioli, the sauce and the cheese ending with cheese.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until ooey, gooey, stringy and bubbly delicious. Garnish with sliced basil and serve with salad and garlic bread.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Homemade English Muffins

Breakfast just doesn't get any better than English muffins...nooks, crannies and crispy crunchies all in one. OMG! And add homemade to these delectables and you have insanely good muffin crack. After all, they're so versatile, you can eat them alone with butter and jelly or make egg, sausage or bacon sammy's. They even make an amazing cheeseburger melt for lunch or dinner. So how can you go wrong learning to make these amazing bready treasures? You can't! Whether you're a English muffin purest or just looking for the perfect bread to wedge your favorite food between, this is the way to go. Stopping the addition is quite another thing. : )

2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
about 3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
4 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
vegetable or canola oil

In a large bowl, combine1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast.  Heat milk in a sauce pan and 1/4 cup of butter until hot.

Using a mixer on low speed, beat liquid into dry ingredients until incorporated.  Beat 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl down. Beat in egg and 1 cup flour. Batter should be thick. If needed add a bit more flour until mixture is thick. Beat for 3 additional minutes. Dough should be very thick.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead just until combined. Shape dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Turn dough ball until completely greased.. Cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm place, until dough is doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Pour cornmeal into a plate and set aside.
 Punch dough down and turn onto lightly floured surface. Cover with a towel for 20 minutes. Lightly flour your rolling pin and surface.  Roll out dough about 3/4 inch thick. Using a a 3 inch round biscuit or cookie cutter, cut dough into circles. Dip each side of the dough circles in the plate of cornmeal and place dough rounds on cookie sheets. Cover cookie sheets with a dish towel and let rise in a warm place, until doubled, about 45 minutes.

 Lightly grease or brush a pan with oil. Over medium heat, heat skillet until hot. Place muffins in pan a cook for 7 to8 minutes on each side or until browned. Cool on wire rack. When cool, slice open, toast if desired and slather with butter, jelly or wedge your favorite breakfast foods like eggs, bacon, ham or lunch meats between these amazing muffins and enjoy. Use caution. They are addicting!

Enjoy Enjoy Enjoy!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Cajun Shrimp & Sausage with Cheesy Grits

Is there anything better than comfort food on a cold winters day? One of my all time favorites is creamy grits  and Cajun shrimp and sausage. Tummy warming and delicious!  This is my quick version of traditional Cajun dish. Enjoy!

1 cup of instant grits
1 cups water
3 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper or to taste
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 to 1 1/2 pounds precooked, shelled frozen medium to large shrimp (leave tails on)
10 ounces smoked sausage, your choice, sliced  medium thin and diagonally 
6 sliced thick applewood smoked bacon, diced
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning or to taste
4 scallions, sliced thinly

For the Grits:
Bring water, milk, 2 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper to a boil. Slowly stir in instant grits and reduce heat to medium. Cook 6 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly. When grits have thickened, stir in cheese until melted, remove from heat and set aside. If grits are too thick, add milk. Too thin, continue to cook until the mixture thickens.

Add diced bacon to a skillet. Fry crisp, remove and drain on paper towels. Drain off most of the bacon fat. add sausage and  garlic. Fry until sausages are browned and garlic is tender.  Add shrimp and cook until pink or 3 to 4 minutes. Add seasoning and remaining butter. Stir to incorporate. Add bacon to pan and toss. Spoon over grits and sprinkle with sliced scallions.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fall is finally in the air here in East Texas albeit late as usual.  Crisp mornings and cooler evenings. Time for piping hot soups, hearty stews, chowders and chili's. I couldn't wait a moment longer, so last night I rummaged through the pantry and frig and came out with the ingredients to make a tummy warming pumpkin bisque recipe. Creamy, woody and savory. Perfect for a chilly Autumn evening. Grab a stock pot and make some tonight. Then gather a soft throw, a good book and a hot toddy. It's time to cuddle down.
Happy Fall Friends and Family~   

Pumpkin Bisque
Serves 6 (or more)
3 to 4 tablespoons of Olive Oil
 1 white or sweet yellow onion, rough chopped
2 cloves of Garlic, chopped
4 large woody Mushrooms, chopped (I used button. It's what I had on hand)
4 to 5 cups of vegetable or chicken stock (I used chicken and started with 4 cups-ending up with abt. 5)
2 teaspoons Goya Sazonador Total or a complete seasoning
1 large (29 ounce) can Libby's Pumpkin Puree (or you favorite brand)
2 cups heavy cream or 1 can evaporated milk

If you wanted to you could easily boil or roast your own pumpkin, butternut or acorn squash, remove the skins after cooking and smash. Maybe 2 pounds? Use your own judgement : ) But if your tired and just wanting the luxury of homemade fast, then go with a can of puree like I did. 
Add oil to a stock pot on medium high heat and add onion and garlic. Cook until semi-translucent and fragrant. Add mushrooms and cook until tender. Add half of the broth, stir in (Goya) seasoning and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to medium and cook another 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Pour into a blender and puree the vegetables and broth to an ALMOST smooth consistency. You may have to do this in a couple of batches. Return contents to the pot and add the remaining stock. Stir well to combine. Turn the heat to low and add the cream. Stir until well combined. Serve hot with crackers and garnish with a drizzle of heavy cream or sour cream. Sip it up and savor the deliciousness of the season.  
 Hugs and Love~

Side note: Recipe halves well for a smaller pot of soup. The Goya seasoning is really just extra garlic onion and herbs mix. You could just throw in a mix of equal parts of garlic and onion powder, oregano and cumin and get the same results or play with the herbs.