Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Gumbo weather has arrived!

Gumbo Time!

We are having incredible weather here in Louisiana and it's the perfect time for gumbo.  As you can tell from my blog, I do most of the cooking around here and happy to do so. However, my husband has a few specialties up his sleeve and I am more than willing to let him take the lead and cook. One of his specialties is Gumbo, he makes a delicious Chicken and Sausage Gumbo and my favorite Seafood Gumbo.  We are having very cool weather this week so he has made a batch and I am so excited. My husband made this a day ahead of time which gave it time to really get flavorful. So go ahead and make it before your company comes to town so you can relax and enjoy the gumbo with them!

I documented the whole process and snag his recipe to share...

Chicken Sausage Gumbo

(2) 5 lb whole chickens 
1 1/2 lb. smoked sausage, sliced
2 cups chopped seasoning blend (if you buy frozen, defrost and drain)
3 bay leaves
1/2 cup of prepared roux
10 cups of chicken stock (you will have this from boiling the chickens) 
1 tsp. dried tarragon
1/4 tsp ground pepper
4 chicken bouillon cubes 
1/2 cup of chopped green onion
1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley
Hot Sauce, to taste

Boil the chickens in water with a little salt and pepper for an hour. Remove chickens and place on tray to cool, reserve broth.

After the chicken cools, cut up in to large pieces (I did the breasts and thighs and picked the rest of the meat off the bones). In a skillet, brown off the chicken pieces in a little oil and drain on paper towels.

In another stock pot or cast iron pot brown off the sausage in a little oil, then add veggies and cook till soft. Add prepared roux and stir, let simmer on very low for 15 mins stirring occasionally. Pour in chicken broth and stir till blended.  Add the cut up browned chicken, bay leaves, tarragon and bouillon cubes. Simmer on low for 2 hour. 

Check your gumbo for seasoning and add if needed.


Serve with rice and for a real treat have potato salad on the side. 

Creole Potato Salad 

Make your basic potato salad, but add chopped boiled eggs, Creole mustard and Creole seasoning to taste. Garnish with chopped green onions. 



Monday, September 26, 2011

I'm so ready for fall, y'all!!!

Well it's been another great summer here in Louisiana, long days filled with boating, swimming and grilling.  But what I love most about our move here is that we do get season changes and my favorite time of year is fall.  I have never been a big Halloween person much to my kids dislike each year. We always handed out candy and the kids went trick-o-treating but my decorating focuses on harvest scenes instead of ghosts and witches. We have already had a few slight cool snaps here this year, just a tease though! Its a great time for the change of summer fare and sun tans to Jambalaya, cozy sweaters and of course SEC Football!!

My husband's famous Pastalaya!!

Oh and how I love going to the mailbox each month and discovering my new Southern Living magazine...its like a gift to me, from me each month. And my latest October issue did not disappoint.  Inside it is filled with great Fall decorating ideas, seasonal recipes and total inspiration.  But one article in particular totally amazed me, it was an introduction to the Dallas Arboretum for their annual Autumn at the Arboretum.

Not sure I will get there this year, but it is definitely on my "bucket" list!

Happy Fall!!!



Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Southern Love Letter...

Spread The Love!

There is nothing more fitting than a post about barbecue this Fourth of July weekend! But this post is extra special because it allows me to introduce you to a new company and an old friend.  I fought the Facebook fascination for a long time vowing to not participate and get "sucked in".  But then I had so many family members and friends on the site that I gave in and gave it a try. With that decision, it opened up the path to reach more wonderful readers for my blog and to highlight products worthy of a love letter.

I love people with passion, those that take a passion for something and go for it! That is exactly what Spread The Love is all about, a father and daughter collaboration (it doesn't get any better than that!) with a passion for food, family and fun.  

Spread The Love celebrates the individual by offering made-from-scratch, artfully created, and delicious hot sauces. They use quality ingredients and creative execution to deliver a hot sauce that is not only tasty, but full of personality! 

From the website:

   "Spread the love is a  father, daughter collaboration. Charles DiBella has been working in the food industry for 25 years and has included his daughter Angela in everything. They share a passion for creating food together and this has been a project both are very excited about".   

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to sample a few of their flavors...Bourbon Peach BBQ and the Tequila Lime. Both offer a unique fresh taste that not only "brings the heat" but a flavor to compliment any beef, chicken or seafood dish. The beauty of the sauces is that while they will add heat to your dishes it won't burn your mouth and make your dish inedible as so many hot sauces on the market do!

Here are a few dishes I have made this weekend to entertain and delight my family and friends...

Grilled Hot Wings by the pool...

Bourbon Peach and Tequila Lime Wings

We like to keep our wings whole but you can certainly cut them in to the more traditional wing and drumette pieces.  I marinated the wings for a few hours in a small amount of olive oil and two kinds of seasoning blends. I separated the wings to allow for two flavor options...Bourbon Peach and Tequila Lime.  I coated one batch with a Table Blend seasoning and the other with a Caribbean Citrus both offered by Mrs. Dash. I also added fresh lemon and lime juice to the Caribbean Citrus batch.  We grilled the marinated wings and at the end coated each batch with the hot sauce using a barbecue brush. I used the sauce sparingly on some to add just a "hint of heat" and generously to "turn up the heat" on others.  But regardless of the amount of heat you enjoy on your food these hot sauces brought the flavor!  I served with celery and carrot sticks with a side of our favorite Blue Cheese and Ranch dressing.   

Tip: Anytime you use a sauce to barbecue put the amount you need in a bowl so that you don't contaminate the rest of jar!   

Pulled Pork Sandwiches...after a day of boating! 

Bourbon Peach BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I wanted to participate in all the boating fun with my family and friends so I took advantage of my crock pot to ensure that I could! I bought a 4-5 pound lean Boston Butt, rubbed it down with a pork rub from McCormick and coated it with the Bourbon Peach BBQ Sauce. I put the meat in the crock pot before I started my day (around 8:00 am), turned it on low and hit the lake for some sun and fun! I cannot even put in to words the smell in the house when we returned around 4:00! I can use one word...Ahhmazzing!!
The meat just pulled apart using two forks to separate and did I mention the flavor...I think I heard angels...:-)

I served on delicious onion rolls with our favorite specialty store coleslaw and fresh steamed corn on the cob straight from the farmers market. I had planned baked beans on the side as well but everyone got so excited about the pork that I forgot to put them in the oven...okay so there goes the Martha Stewart!     

Tip: Put your fresh un-husked corn wrapped in a damp paper towel in the microwave for 7-8 minutes. You will get perfectly steamed corn in minutes and the husk and annoying silk will just fall off!     

Spread The Love Hot Sauce offers a variety of delicious flavors and are packaged individually or in a variety pack. 

Spread The Love with your family and friends, I know mine are so glad I did!! And I cannot wait to try them all!!

Have a Happy and Safe 4th of July and God Bless America!


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"America The Beautiful" series on the Today Show highlights Cajun Country!

Atchafalaya River Basin

TODAY contributing correspondent Jenna Bush Hager visits the Atchafalaya River Basin in central Louisiana. It's America’s biggest river swamp and boasts bountiful landscapes and beautiful backwater lakes.



Thursday, June 23, 2011

A very special family reunion!

Making Memories...

Recently my husband and I attended his Aunt Bernie's 90th birthday celebration. It was not only an opportunity to honor a wonderfully spirited lady but a chance to reconnect with my husband's family.  Aunt Bernie's two daughters Mary Ann and Betty Lou hosted this wonderful event at Keith Young's Steakhouse in Madisonville, LA.  It is a quiet sleepy town that has won my heart for it's hometown feel and simplicity.   

We visited with many family members and friends as they toasted Aunt Bernie and recalled all the childhood memories...some hilarious but most brought tears to my eyes from stories of the "old days". 

We feasted on steak, chicken and husband and I each chose something different, I the Mahi-Mahi and he chose the steak. Both dishes were out of this world and the restaurant is as full of charm as the city where it is located.

Check it out and if you are in the area be sure to visit!

Us with Aunt Bernie

Great Family Time+Great Food=Happy Times!


Monday, May 30, 2011

To My #1 Son...

This post is dedicated to my son, Bradley-U.S.C.G
Thank you for all your sacrifices...Love You!


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Your Place or Mine?

It's all about the BBQ this weekend, so I wanted to share an easy and delicious side dish that will be a hit with anything you have planned for the grill!

 Grilled Stuffed Vidalia's

It's that wonderful time of year when Vidalia's are in season and this recipe will satisfy the sweet and savory tastes we love!

Scoop out a center hole in each small-medium size sweet onion, save the scooped out onion for other dishes.

Brush each onion with olive oil.

Sprinkle each onion with your favorite seasoning, we used a Cajun seasoning...of course!

Stuff each onion generously with Feta cheese, I used a Tomato-Basil flavor.

Top each onion with a small dollop of butter.

Wrap onions individually in foil. 

Place on grill for 30-35 minutes at medium high heat...350-400.

You'll be using this side dish with everything...:-) 

Happy Memorial Day!!
God Bless Our Veterans and Troops 


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Your Place or Mine?

It's Grilling Time!

My husband and I use our grill outside more than we use our oven year-round.  If I could figure out how to bake in the grill I probably would never use the oven.  We are fortunate to have our grill close to the kitchen door and under a covered patio so it makes cooking a lot easier!

Recently I tried a few new ideas on the grill that I thought you would enjoy...and a few little tips!

Grilled Ribeye with Rosemary
Season room temperature steak with fresh rosemary, ground pepper and sea or kosher salt on both sides. 
Tip: All meat should be room temperature before cooking. Allow meat to rest covered in foil for 15 mins prior to serving and cutting.

Grilled Artichoke and Green Onions
Rinse fresh artichoke thoroughly. Trim Stem. Boil whole artichoke for 30 mins. Let cool and cut in half lengthwise. Remove choke (hairy middle) with spoon. Drizzle artichoke and whole green onions with olive oil, sprinkle with seasoning salt or your favorite seasoning and pepper. Grill on foil turning halfway for 15-20 mins.   

 Grilled Rosemary Potato Wedges with Feta Packets
Peel Baking Potato and cut into wedges, in a bowl combine potatoes, fresh rosemary and crumbled feta cheese. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Make individual foil packets and grill for 20 mins.
Tip: Make individual packets, this will allow the potatoes to cook faster and each person has their own serving. Easy clean-up!

Grilled Corn with a Twist
Husk the corn, place each ear on it's own foil square. Spread mayonnaise (I use light) on each ear of corn, generously cover with grated Parmesan cheese and sprinkle with your favorite seasoning (I used Cajun seasoning). Wrap up each ear in foil and grill for 15 mins, turning occasionally.
Tip: Using the mayonnaise will replace the need for butter, I promise!




Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!!

Easter is a joyous time everywhere, a time to reflect and count all our blessings! And in Louisiana it is no exception, your can especially feel the sense of family and community.

Wishing you and your families a Happy Easter...

And for a little Easter fun this morning, check-out our local paper's "Peep Show" contest, they are really cute and some are very impressive!

One of my many favorites...

Have a wonderful day...:-)


Sunday, April 17, 2011

You'll find me on my "Soap Box" today!

Earth Day shouldn't be observed only one day a year!

Whether you are celebrating Earth Day today in Louisiana or on April 22nd worldwide, it should be a reminder of the responsibility we have to each other in Louisiana and throughout the world.  Earth Day is a time to consider that everything we do affects others and impacts our environment. Whether we choose to recycle an aluminum can, use less at our homes or offices or limit our driving, all of our actions have consequences. Environmental education is key to helping all of us better understand our place on Earth and the necessity of promoting good habits within our workplaces and families. It is my hope that all of us take responsibility of our actions and learn valuable information on how we can improve our lives and those around us. 


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Crawfish Boil and Beautiful Weather!

It's that time of year here...beautiful weather and Crawfish!

You can buy Crawfish live or cooked every day now through Easter, but this weekend we decided to cook them ourselves. It's a great gathering for family and friends to hang-out and anticipate them going from the pot to your tray... 

Our daughter, Alexa learning how to wash the Crawfish...part of the training here...:-)

All done!

Abita Beer and Crawfish...YUM!  


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Your Place or Mine??

Friday Night-Date Night!

We are now observing Lent, so it's all about seafood on Fridays, however, my family has traditionally always had seafood on Fridays. And now living in Louisiana it is a way of life here during the Lenten season.

So before my husband got home from work I headed off to our favorite seafood market, Cajun Catch. It was about 2:00 in the afternoon and the parking lot was full and there was a line out the door.  As soon as I got out of my car and hit the front door I could smell that oh so familiar smell of a Crawfish boil.  But we will save the Crawfish for Saturday or Sunday by the pool.  I was in the market for crab and shrimp but not quite sure what I was going to do with them yet.  Originally I thought about making crab cakes but they had already sold out of the lump crab meat so this is what I decided to do...

Tomato-Mozzarella Salad...cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped fresh basil (from my garden), sprinkle E.V.O.O and balsamic vinegar...dash of s/p. Don't refrigerate your tomatoes and serve the cheese at room temp.

                                                  Marinated Crab Fingers...I use two small cast iron skillets, butter, minced garlic, chopped green onion and a dash of Cajun seasoning. Put under the broiler for just a couple of minutes.

Stuffed Shrimp

I used (8) Jumbo Shrimp and butterflied with tails left on.
 Saute 1 cup of seasoning blend and 2 cloves of minced garlic in butter
1 beaten egg
1 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 c of chopped fresh parsley

Mix the above to make your stuffing. Top each shrimp with mixture and then top each with a small pat of butter. Broil in the oven for 5-7 minutes until stuffing cooked and shrimp are pink.

    Out of the oven...

I served with some fresh garlic knots from our bakery and Sangria...:-)



Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Magical Evening...

Don't you just love when a plan comes together...

When my husband and I have the opportunity to spend time together in cities he is working in I always take the time to make some thoughtful plans. And even though this trip would take us to NOLA, I started planning our evenings weeks ago. It is always a task that I enjoy doing but also take very seriously since his down time is precious to us.  And as many of you know, NOLA does not lack in dining options throughout the city. In doing my research for my blog and FB page, I came across a hotel in the French Quarter that my husband and I had visited over our Christmas weekend. The hotel posted a special dinner offered in their restaurant "Roux on Orleans" that intrigued me since we have a love for Louisiana crab...Louisiana Crab Lover Dinner.

The Bourbon Orleans Hotel...history from their website:

Since the beginning, food, music, dancing and gaming have been an integral part of New Orleans society, served by a multitude of restaurants, bars, ballrooms and gaming rooms. In 1817, entrepreneur John Davis hoped to make his mark on this rich social New Orleans scene. He did just that, opening what would become the famed Orleans Ballroom, where for the next 20 years, the city's love affair with dancing played out.
This early success led him build the Orleans Theater on an adjacent plot of land. Here he earned lasting recognition as he established French Opera in America and continued on to open opulent dining and gaming rooms that equaled the best in Europe.
But Davis' endeavors were soon lost as war destroyed most of the city's nightlife. By 1881, both the Orleans Theater and Ballroom had been acquired by the Sisters of the Holy Family for use as a school and convent. For the next 83 years they remained, until the need for expansion pressed them to sell the property to hotel interests. New additions would replace structures built by the nuns but the Orleans Ballroom would remain and begin a life more closely attuned to its opulent beginnings.
The Bourbon Orleans New Orleans Hotel is locally owned and committed to preserving the history and character of the Hotel for generations.

A New Orleans Haunted Hotel

Stories of the rooms and corridors of the Bourbon Orleans Hotel being haunted are about as old as the hotel itself. Prior to the hotel's existence, the site was home to the historic Orleans Ballroom and the Orleans Theater before being converted into a convent in the late 1800's. Ghosts who roam the halls and rooms of the Bourbon Orleans today, lived in all different eras of this building's history. There is the story of the Confederate Soldier or "The Man" that surround both the sixth and seventh floors. The ghost children and female apparitions found at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel are most likely from the era when the Sisters of the Holy Family operated a convent, girls' school, medical ward and orphanage. The famous Orleans Ballroom, home to the grandest social events of the nineteenth century, is also home of a lonely ghost dancer, seen dancing underneath the ballroom's crystal chandelier. The Bourbon Orleans Hotel ranks as one of New Orleans' top haunted hotels.

A beautiful and charming hotel that will take you back in time...
Check-out their website and FB page:

Roux on Orleans

From the moment my husband and I entered the restaurant located in the hotel lobby we were made to feel welcomed in a way that takes you back to the days when southern hospitality was a way of life. The hostess was warm and all smiles as she accommodated our pick of a beautiful table located by opened french doors.

It was a mild evening, with a nice breeze flowing through the restaurant.  And even though Bourbon St. is just one block over, we felt completely elegant as we watched others walk by in what seemed to be total envy.

We relaxed and enjoyed a few cocktails as we admired the menu and all it has to offer. Our young server was poised beyond her years with manners that would make any Mother very proud. However, on this night we were there for the crab lovers dinner which offers 4 courses from appetizer to dessert.

Louisiana Crab Lovers Dinner
served until April 10th

Salpicon of Jumbo Lump with Mango and Avocado
Salpicon is a term in French cuisine applied to a preparation consisting of one or more ingredients, diced or minced, and bound with a sauce.

Bursting with flavor!

Smoked Corn and Crab Chowder

The corn had the perfect amount of texture, still having a fresh crunch, filled with crab meat and just enough hint of heat to represent Louisiana.

Pan Seared Soft Shell
topped with Jumbo Lump Creole Meuniere and served with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and French Green Beans

I am at a lost for words...just looking at this picture makes my mouth water and brings back the memory of the amazing flavors in every bite! Perfectly prepared soft shell crab, generous topping of jumbo lump crab meat, a delicious buttery sweet sauce, fingerling potatoes offer just the right amount of starch to this dish and fresh french green beans with just the perfect amount of crunch with a hint of garlic.

Madagascar Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
Topped with a fresh Blueberry Compote

 One of our favorite desserts and by this course we could of gladly shared this generous portion. Just a perfect ending to this amazing dinner! 

I know my pictures express the thoughtful presentation of our experience, however I cannot stress enough the quality of each course and the generous portions the Chef has waiting for you!

We were honored to meet Executive Chef Guy D. Sockrider during our visit, pretty amazing that he took the time to greet us.  After meeting him for only a few minutes it all made sense how Roux on Orleans not only exudes his passion for culinary excellence but also a sincere appreciation for us lucky customers that walk through those doors...   

You'll want to join their FB page for all the upcoming events:

And Chef Sockrider offers a wonderful blog: I have added him to my Fav Blog List!

If I haven't blown you away already, the entire 4 course dinner is offered for only $38 a person...really, how is that even possible!  

In today's times we all want to spend our money wisely, the quality of this experience both in taste and service far out way the cost of the evening...and that's refreshing!




Friday, March 25, 2011


Our first stop for dinner while visiting NOLA this weekend is Irene's Cuisine. My husband and I have been waiting to try this very popular local spot, and it did not disappoint!

We were seated in the Wine Room...perfect!

My husband chose one of the specials...Osso Bucco, I chose the Mussels and a classic Caesar Salad. 

 Risotto on the side...YUM! 

I wasn't as good as you may be thinking, I did use the warm delicious french bread on the sauce...:-)

Beautiful and intimate restaurant...the staff are amazing and extremely friendly!

Check-out the fan page:

Get there early!

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