Friday, September 30, 2016

Crawfish and Shrimp Etouffee

Our neighbors held their annual crawfish boil this summer and I am so delayed in posting that I am just now getting to share with you.  It is such a fun event....great food, fine wine and beer, wonderful neighbors, great conversation and lots of laughter!  I am blessed to have so many great neighbors.

The crawfish is shipped in from Louisiana each year and even though this happens in the heat of our summer, the cooking crew hits the patio outdoors with huge pots and paddles to prepare the crawfish, shrimp, sausages, potatoes and corn for the feast!

The meal was delicious!  The next day my neighbor came over with a large zip lock filled with crawfish and shrimp.  I immediately knew what our dinner was going to be!

Crawfish and Shrimp Etouffee
adapted slightly from Emeril Lagasse

1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 pound peeled crawfish tails
10-12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tsp minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup water
1 tsp Kosher salt
Pinch of cayenne
2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
3 Tbsp chopped green onion

Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium high heat.  Add the onions, celery and bell pepper and saute until the vegetables are wilted, about 10 -12 minutes.

Add the crawfish, shrimp, garlic, and bay leaves to the vegetable mixture.  Reduce the heat to medium.  Cook the mixture for another 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Dissolve the flour in the water.  Stir it into the crawfish mixture along with the salt and cayenne. Continue stirring until the mixture thickens, about 4-5 minutes.  Stir in the parsley and green onions. (Reserve a few teaspoons of parsley and green onion to use as garnish.)  Cook for an additional 2 minutes.  Remove the bay leaves.

Serve the etouffee over steamed rice.


I am sharing at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Chili-Lime Chicken Fajita Salad

Sometimes, simple is best.  I was reminded of that the evening I served this colorful, salad topped with tender and juicy chunks of chicken breast, perfectly grilled peppers and onions, and creamy ripe avocado slices!

It was a light and refreshing meal. Which was what we were looking for.  Terry didn't have much of an appetite so I thought he might be enticed to eat when he saw this colorful salad....and he was!

You will love this chili lime marinade that also doubles as a dressing.  It was so tasty that I can see it appearing frequently!

Chili Lime Chicken Fajita Salad
adapted from CafeDelights

Yield:  Serves 3-4 dinner portions

Chili Lime Marinade and Dressing
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Kosher salt

1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided, for frying
2 chicken breasts, cut into chunky slices
1/2 red bell pepper, seeds and veins removed, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeds and veins removed, thinly sliced
1/2 medium onion, sliced (Slices cut in half)
5 cups Romaine lettuce, chopped
1-2 avocados, sliced

Garnish: Cilantro leaves and sour cream, if desired.

Combine the marinade/dressing ingredients by whisking briskly.  The mixture will be divided into two parts.  Pour half of the mixture into a small jar. Refrigerate to use later as the salad dressing. Pour the second half of the marinade into a zip lock bag.  It will be used as the marinade.

Place the chunky chicken slices into the zip lock bag with the marinade.  Allow the chicken to marinate for at least two hours

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet.  Add the chicken pieces and cook over medium high heat. Grill the chicken until golden brown, crispy and cooked through.  Grill in batches to prevent steaming the chicken.  Remove the chicken to a small plate to rest.

Quickly wipe the pan with a paper towel.  Add about 2 teaspoons of oil to the skillet.  Quick-fry the onion and pepper strips to desired doneness.

Cut the chicken chunks into small slices, if desired.

Place chopped romaine into each serving bowl.  Top with chicken slices, pepper and onion mixture, and sliced avocado.  Remove the dressing from the refrigerator.  Shake the jar to mix.  Drizzle the dressing over the top.  Serve garnished with cilantro and sour cream, if desired.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pacific Coast Clam Chowder

Everybody has their preference when it comes to clam chowder. I don't mean in regard to red vs. white. I mean to say that all bowls of Pacific Coast (white) Clam Chowder, are not created equal.  At our house the clam chowder must be thick.  It must have lots of clams, potatoes and bacon along with some celery, onion and thyme.  When reading a recipe that's pretty much what I look for.

On this day, I was going through some of my pins and spied Cathy's recipe and decided to give it a try.  Cathy is the chef par excellence at Wives with Knives.  Her recipes are spot on and always tasty. And, while her recipe didn't call for thyme, that was easily remedied.

This chowder bowl was absolutely amazing...delicious....wonderful....  I guess you can tell that we loved it!  You really must give this a try.

Pacific Coast Clam Chowder
adapted slightly from Wives with Knives

1/4 pound thick sliced bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
3/4 cup celery, diced
3 cups unpeeled baby white potatoes, washed, chopped (Russets may be used but they should be peeled.)
3-4 cans minced clams, drained (retain the juice in a measuring cup)
1 1/2 cups clam juice or chicken stock
2-3 cups half and half
1bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp thyme leaves
1/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup half and half
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Garnish:  Chopped bacon and/or oyster crackers

Fry the bacon in a soup pot until crisp.  Removed the bacon and drain on a paper towel.  Remove all but about 3 tablespoons bacon fat and saute the onion and celery until translucent.

Add the potato and 1 1/2 cups of the retained clam juice or use 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, if preferred. Add the bay leaf and the thyme.  Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.

When the potatoes are tender, add 2 or 3 cups of half and half, your preference.  Heat until the soup is barely simmering.

Melt 1/4 cup butter in a medium saucepan.  Stir in 3 tablespoons flour and blend well.  Cook the mixture for 2 minutes, then gradually whisk in 1 cup of half and half.  Stir constantly until the sauce is creamy and thick.

Add this mixture slowly to the simmering soup until it is the consistency that you like.  Add in the reserved bacon.  Keep a few pieces for garnish, if desired.  Simmer the soup for 5-10 minutes.

Serve garnished with a sprinkle of chopped parsley, some of the reserved bacon and oyster crackers.

Note:  If you prefer, fresh clams may be used.  You will need one cup or more fresh clams, shucked and diced.  Prior to adding them to the soup, they should be simmered in a little salted water for 5-10 minutes, until firm.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Just a Basic Peach Cobbler!

What is a basic peach cobbler?  For me it is one that is easy and the peaches and their syrup are spread on top of the batter.  It is the way that I have made cobbler for quite a few years.  It is not like my mom's.  It is not like my mother-in-law's.  Both of those ladies had the corner on the market for making cobblers.  But, I did what I usually do...make the batter and spread the fruit on top.

That said, this time, Terry said that he didn't like cobbler prepared that way. only took forty years for him to tell me. He likes a more crisp time.  He must have been thinking about his mom's delicious very yummy!  The crust had a crispness on the top but underneath it was gooey and wonderful.  I liked her cobbler too.  (She didn't use a I know what she did?  Nope, not the slightest idea.)

Just a Basic Peach Cobbler

Yield:  8 Servings
Preheat oven:  375° F.

5 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 cup half and half
4 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla

Place butter in a baking dish (9 X 13 inches) and melt in the oven.

While the butter is melting, whisk the flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt together in a medium  bowl.  While continuing to whisk, gradually add the half and half.  Whisk until smooth.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, toss the peaches with the brown sugar, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla until combined.  Set aside.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and pour the batter over the batter.  Do not stir.

Pour the peach mixture over the batter and gently spread with a spatula.

Bake 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.  Top with vanilla ice cream, if desired.


This recipe is a little bit different from my go-to recipe.  I have no idea where the recipe came from.  It was one that I had tucked away in a cookbook.

From my perspective, enjoying peach cobbler is one of the finer moments to be had during the summer!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Roasted Tomatoes with Balsamic Vinegar and Fresh Basil

I answered the telephone to find my friend calling as opposed to the usual telemarketer.  That was a very nice treat!  She called to ask me if wanted some tomatoes.  Well, yes, I would love a few tomatoes.  Her concept of a few tomatoes was a huge box (apple-size box) of freshly picked Roma tomatoes!  How lucky is that!!!

I have never been faced with that many tomatoes!  The only logical choice was to share a few with a neighbor and then start roasting!  I faced a similar situation at my daughter's house last year.  She had so many tomatoes that I didn't know where to begin.  Ina Garten came to the rescue then as she did now.  In Ina's cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, it is suggested that olive oil and balsamic vinegar be drizzled on the tomatoes....that sounded great to me.  So I gathered everything together and after heading to the herb garden to trim the basil plant, all was ready!

My plan was to roast and freeze for use in the winter when store-bought tomatoes taste like cardboard!  This recipe only yields a serving for 4 to 5 people.  I just increased the amounts based on how many tomatoes I had on the baking sheet.

Roasted Tomatoes with Balsamic Vinegar 
and Fresh Basil
adapted slightly from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

Yield:  4-5 Servings
Preheat oven:  450° F.

12 plum tomatoes, halved, seeds removed
1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, mince
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
10 large fresh basil leaves, julienned

Preheat the oven to 450° F.

Arrange the tomatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer, cut sides up.  Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the tomatoes. Then sprinkle them with the garlic, sugar, salt ad pepper.

Place the sheet in the oven and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes begin to caramelize and the flavors are concentrated.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with julienned basil leaves.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

NOTE:  Since I was freezing the tomatoes for future use, I allowed them to come to room temperature and then placed them into freezer bags.  

I varied the herbs that I used.  Some trays featured oregano and rosemary!  Just remember to add the fresh herbs after taking the tray from the oven.

I roasted fifteen trays of tomatoes!  I do believe I have enough tomatoes in the freezer to last for a very long winter!  You will notice that, in the picture of the first tray, I got a bit excited about the basil and sprinkled it on before baking....not a good idea!!  Do wait!

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Bahamian Rum Cake - SRC

Ellie at The Hobo Kitchen says that this is not a true Bahamian Rum Cake, but she posted it anyway. I don't know what a true Bahamian Rum Cake is supposed to taste like and since she was born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas, I figure she would know.  But....I do know that this cake is boozy, ever so good, and one that I will make again!

Ellie also said that she rarely posts anything that starts with a box cake mix. She made an exception this time and I am so happy that she did!  From my point of view, there isn't anything wrong with starting from the known.  It can help shorten the process and if the end result is tasty, then it shouldn't matter.  Wouldn't you agree?

In making the cake, I did get a bit nervous about the volume of glaze that I was incrementally putting on the cake.  I knew that it was supposed to soak into the cake but, as I said, I got nervous so with about 1/3 left, I halted.  I think I should have gone ahead with the entire amount.  You can see the variation in the color of the cake in the picture.  That tells me that I wasn't overdoing it, it was absorbing just as it should.  I am not beating myself up because the taste was great!!  But, next time I won't panic.

Bahamian Rum Cake
slightly adapted from The Hobo Kitchen

Yield:  12 servings
Preheat oven:  325° F.

Cake Ingredients
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 15 oz. box yellow cake mix
1 3 3/4 oz box vanilla instant pudding and pie filling
4 eggs
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup Bacardi Dark Rum (or any dark rum)

Glaze Ingredients
1/4 lb. butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Bacardi Dark Rum (or any other dark rum)

Powdered sugar to dust the cake (optional)

Make the Cake
Preheat the oven to 325° F.

Prepare the bundt pan:  Thoroughly grease a standard-sized bundt pan with butter.  (It was suggested that cooking spray also be applied.  I did not.) Dust the inside with about 1 teaspoon flour.  Shake to distribute evenly.

Sprinkle the nuts on the bottom of the pan.

Mix the remaining ingredients in a mixer bowl.  Beat on medium until everything is incorporated.

Gently pour the batter into the bundt pan trying not to disturb the layer of nuts.

Bake 45-55 minutes.

Make the Glaze 

When the cake is almost finished baking make the glaze.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan.

Stir in the water and the granulated sugar.  Stir to dissolve the sugar.  Bring the mixture to a boil. Boil, stirring constantly, for five minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat.  Stir in the rum.  The mixture will spatter and froth up as you stir in the rum.

Finish the Cake
Watch the cake closely. When the cake is a golden brown and pulling slightly from the edges of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, remove it from the oven.  (My cake was done quite quickly so do keep an eye on it.)

Immediately, gently run a thin knife around the outside edges and the center of the cake.  (I just pulled gently around the edges.)  Using a toothpick or wooden skewer, poke many holes into the cake.

Begin spooning the glaze over the cake while it is still hot and in the bundt pan.  Do this in 3 or 4 stages, allowing the glaze to absorb into the cake.  Wait about 5 minutes between each stage.

When the last of the glaze has been used, allow the cake to sit for 5 minutes. Turn the cake over onto a large cake plate or cake stand.  The cake should slide out of the bundt pan and onto the plate.  Allow the cake to cool fully.

Sprinkle the cake or the individual servings with powdered sugar before serving.

NOTE:  The flavor improves over time.  I recommend allowing the cake to sit overnight or at least six hours before serving.  

I learned about Ellie's blog through The Secret Recipe Club.  She was my assignment this month. When you visit The Hobo Kitchen you will find a variety of recipes, I know I did. I was tempted to make the Mocha Bread with Espresso Glaze and the Chicken Pesto Pizza and I will probably still do both...starting with the pizza!

I was really happy with the Bahamian Rum Cake and even though it may not be totally authentic, it worked for me and I fully intend to make it again!  Thank you, Ellie, for sharing!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Mustard-Roasted Chicken

I love to thumb through cookbooks.  I have so many that it seems I never run out of cookbooks to read through and recipes to try out.  Now, whether or not I actually do more than flag the recipe for "another time" is the issue.  I have a tendency to "over-flag" cookbooks.  In fact, I think I have flagged more recipes than there are days in a year!  But when I saw this recipe and had chicken thawing in the refrigerator, I leaped!

I was reading through Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Foolproof when I found Crispy Mustard-Roasted Chicken.  She said it was easy and moist which sound good to me. We weren't disappointed. I can see myself making this white the crispness of panko....sounds as though it goes on the rotation!

Mustard-Roasted Chicken

Yield: 4 servings
Preheat Oven:  350° F.

4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup dry white wine
3-4 pounds skinless chicken (I used a mixture of breasts and thighs.)

Fit your food processor with a steel blade.  Place the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper into the processor bowl.  Process until the garlic is finely minced.  Add the panko, lemon zest, olive oil and melted butter.  Pulse a few times to moisten the breadcrumbs. Pour the mixture onto a large plate.  Whisk the mustard and white wine together in a shallow bowl.

Trim the chicken of excess fat.  Pat dry and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Dip each piece of chicken in the mustard mixture to coat on all sides.  One side of each piece is then placed into the breadcrumb mixture, press down so that the crumbs adhere.  Place the chicken on the baking sheet, crumb-side up.   The chicken may then be topped with any remaining breadcrumbs.

Bake the chicken for 40 minutes.  Raise the heat to 400° F. and continue baking for an additional 10 minutes, until the crumbs are browned and the chicken is cooked through.

Serve the chicken hot, warm or at room temperature.

Note:  This is a great way to prepare chicken ahead for a backyard get together!


This has been different for us.  Instead of enjoying the outdoors, traveling to the coast and enjoying the patio with friends, we have found ourselves in the construction zone, taking care of my mom's house, helping her adjust to her new surroundings or addressing medical issues.  I am anxious to get back into a blogging routine.

That said, we are looking forward to a great vacation.  We are leaving in two weeks for Spain and Portugal.  It is a cruise and there are other ports to explore also, but Barcelona and Lisbon have us especially excited!