Monday, February 28, 2011

Busy Monday...for all!

I am on the run today so I am just checking in with an update on our Purple Martins, our pair from last year have arrived back to the condo!

My husband is in New Orleans for meetings so I took a few pics to show him.  

And an added surprise, our wood ducks have returned for another spring!

Our Red Birds are happy too!

(Sorry for the grainy picture, I took it from my screen porch)

Have a great Monday!!


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Want to cook Southern? Put Pecans on it!

Pecans...a southern thing!

Why celebrate the pecan?

 Well, for one thing, many area farmers grow the crop, and pecans were native to the area. Pecans were staples of the diets of the local Native Americans, and when the settlers began arriving here from the Carolina's, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, large plantations grew pecans along with their other crops. Wild pecans were grafted and new varieties cultivated, and soon the crop flourished in the rich river land soils. Local homesteaders also benefited because almost every yard had one or two trees that produced enough pecans to “keep some and sell the rest”, providing them a small money crop in the fall.

Most people eat pecans only during the holiday season or in the form of candies, but the nut can be enjoyed all year round and the fact of the matter is that they contain such a great nutritive value that these nuts can be eaten on a daily basis. And it dawned on me that cooking "Southern" doesn't have to be complicated...just put pecans on it! 

In honor of this tasty Louisiana staple, I decided to make an easy Pecan Cheesecake Pie.   

You will need:

1 prepared pie crust, thawed
1  (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
4  large eggs, divided
3/4  cup  sugar, divided
2  teaspoons  vanilla extract, divided
1/4  teaspoon  salt
1 1/4  cups  chopped pecans
1  cup  light corn syrup

Place the prepared pie crust on a baking sheet

1. Beat cream cheese, 1 egg, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, and salt at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour cream cheese mixture into pie crust; sprinkle evenly with chopped pecans.

2. Whisk together corn syrup and remaining 3 eggs, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla; pour mixture over pecans. 

3. Bake at 350° on lowest oven rack 50 to 55 minutes or until pie is set. Cool on a wire rack 1 hour or until completely cool

This would be a great pie for Thanksgiving this year, but if you love pecans as much as I do you'll be "thankful" you made this cheesecake anytime of the year!


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Your Place or Mine?

It's Mardi Gras season and I have made our beloved Muffaletta into a easy breezy recipe great for a casual dinner, party or tailgating anytime!

It's as easy as stacking the ingredients on french rolls. I made individual sandwiches, enjoy them now and freeze some for later, however they won't last long!

     What you will need:

1  (32-oz.) jar Italian olive salad
12  small deli rolls, cut in half
12  thin Swiss cheese slices
12  thin deli ham slices
12  thin provolone cheese slices
12  Genoa salami slices

Spoon marinated olive salad on each side of rolls, allowing some of the marinade to soak in bread. Layer cheese, ham, salami, cheese generously on rolls or bread. Serve sandwiches at room temperature. If you made individual rolls and want to freeze, put foil wrapped sandwiches in a large freezer bag.


History of the Muffaletta...Central Grocery, New Orleans.
These sandwiches can be found all over New Orleans from delis to pool halls and the corner grocery stores. It is an Sicilian sandwich that consists of a round loaf of bread (about 10 inches across) filled with Italian salami, olive salad, cheese, Italian ham, and freshly minced garlic (I didn't add the garlic because the marinated olive salad as enough flavor already!) . The key ingredient is the olive salad which gives the sandwich it's special flavor and makes it appealing to the eye. 

Central Grocery's Original Muffaletta,  Abita Beer and Zapp's Spicy Creole Chips

The Italian Market, the Central Grocery on Decatur Street, claims to have invented this sandwich in 1906. Italian immigrant, Signor Lupo Salvatore, owner of the Central Grocery, started making the sandwiches for the men who worked the nearby wharves and produce stalls of the French Market. The sign over the covered sidewalk proudly proclaims, home of “The Original Muffaletta.”

 Central Grocery
    923 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70116

You will be making these yummy and easy sandwiches all the time and not just for Mardi Gras! 


Friday, February 25, 2011

A Southern Love Letter...

See Ya Later Alligator!

As I mentioned in an earlier post,  I just love to visit arts/crafts shows to experience local talent and find unique finds for our home. We knew when we up-rooted from Florida and moved to Louisiana that we would incorporate the spirit of this state wherever we could. But let's not get carried away, my husband's prized stuffed ducks are safely hung in his "man cave" a/k/a the garage! 

One sunny spring day last year, we visited a Baton Rouge art market. This market is one of the larger ones in the area so it made for a full day just trying to see it all. But amongst several of my favorites was a very unique booth called Swamp Dog & Friends. What first drew us in was the site of cypress frames initially and then as we got closer the fine photography stopped us in our tracks.  The pieces were unique and quirky but also had a beauty to them because of the way the photographer, Robin Bell, incorporates the charm of Louisiana.

And with so many to choose from, I was drawn to this guy, an alligator. We had the perfect spot for him at the bar in our home. 

Don't judge, who hasn't been there after martini night! 

Swamp Dog & Friends has many wonderful options to choose from but it will be hard to pick one because they are all full of personality, charm and unique beauty!

Here is the sweet story from their website:

The story of Swamp Dog is a sweet and simple one. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, she was found on an old gravel road between the banks of Bayou Lafourche and a sugar cane field near a small village called Napoleonville in South Louisiana. No one knows for sure if she was a victim of the Great Hurricane or simply a victim of sad circumstances, the kind that finds so many strays abandoned and alone. Her rescuer, a good man from the swamp took her home and made her whole again. He named her Shiloh unaware of the journey he would soon take with her, a journey from her humble beginnings as his little stray hound of questionable heritage and pedigree into the world of Swamp Dog.

Swamp DogShiloh began her career in front of the camera rather suddenly. One day, Robin Bell and her business partner, Jennie Alexandry traveled to the swamp to visit the man. Their sole purpose was to photograph an old blue pirogue soon to become firewood for an upcoming bonfire. The man tied the little blue pirogue for towing then helped the two women into his boat. When the perfect photo-shoot location was found, the small boat was tied to a large cypress knee. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Shiloh came running through the brush on the lake’s bank. The man from the swamp had forgotten his new family member and, apparently, she was not going to stand for it. Without warning, Shiloh jumped into the shallow water and proceeded to swim through the cypress knees towards the little blue pirogue. When she reached the boat, she climbed in, desperately trying to inch closer to her Papa. Before long, Shiloh was standing over the side of the boat. The photograph that was soon to become Swamp Dog was staring right back at the three surprised onlookers. Shiloh cried, barked and begged for Papa; then, just at the right moment, Robin did what she does best – she snapped a memorable photograph. After Shiloh’s impromptu photo-session, Robin turned to the man from the swamp and remarked, “Do we have a picture to give your wife for Christmas”! Yes, he did have a unique Christmas gift. And as for Robin, Jennie and Swamp Dog, well as they say, the rest is history.

Robin A. Bell is a self taught photographer who currently lives in Thibodaux, La. She currently works as a child psychologist in Napoleonville, LA. Swamp Dog & Friends was conceived and developed by Robin and her friend and colleague, Jennie T. Alexandry.  And we would be remiss not to mention Arch A. Bell, Robin's father who is the Woodcraftsmen and Frame Designer, considering his work was what drew us to this wonderful booth in the first place! 

Check out the website, it's so worth a look!

   My next one? I'm thinking the Blue Crawfishtini...:)


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Top Chef Season 8 - Episode 11: For the Gulf - Photo Gallery - Bravo TV Official Site

Bravo's Top Chef honors Gulf Seafood!

A great thing for Louisiana!


Christmas in February?

So now that I have your attention...

As many of you know, I lost my mother last October to cancer. I had stopped posting around August of last year and didn't have the energy to start blogging again till early this year. And just the other day I was looking at my pictures from Christmas and found our trip in New Orleans. Every year my husband and I plan a trip to the French Quarter the weekend before Christmas and just hang out. We make a reservation for a Revellion Dinner, go to St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square for carolling and of course shop!

Last Christmas we stayed at the beautiful Hotel Monteleone and attended dinner at Muriel's right in Jackson Square...the city was decorated so beautifully I couldn't resist sharing them with you'all...:)

Hotel Monteleone Tree in Lobby

Decorated shop window

If these reindeer's were for sale, they would of come home with me! 

Manger in Jackson Square

Restaurant entrance decorated

Decorated French Quarter home

Love It!

Carolling before dinner...:)

Hope you enjoyed, better late than never!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Your Place or Mine?

Our weather has finally warmed up and we are loving it! Although it may be short lived considering it is only February, the warm sunny days does make you start thinking about swimsuit friendly meals. We have been grilling year round for quite some time but it is always more fun when you can hang-out outside and have a cocktail on the patio while you're cooking.

Grilled Redfish with Lemon Shrimp Topping

I paired the grilled fish with grilled red potatoes (make small foil packets with sliced red potatoes, chopped green onion, salt/pepper and drizzled with olive oil: 15 min on grill)

What you will need:

2-4  Redfish Fillets    
Creole Seasoning
1 pd. of small peeled & deveined Louisiana Shrimp
Olive Oil
1/2 cup of chopped green onion
2 fresh lemon
1 cup of light Margarine ( I used: I can't believe its not butter) 
1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese
2 cloves of chopped garlic
1/4 cup of white wine
1 tbsp of tarragon

Drizzle each fish fillet with olive oil, fresh lemon and Creole seasoning. Grill fish on non-stick foil or spray foil with cooking spray. Cook fish on medium heat for 4 mins on each side.  

Seasoned Redfish Fillets

Redfish Fillets on foil

In a small saucepan, melt margarine and saute garlic on low heat. Add the tarragon, juice of 1 lemon, wine, 1 tbsp of Creole seasoning and shrimp. Saute only for a couple minutes, shrimp will turn pink. Remove from heat, add Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup of green onion. Spoon over grilled fish. Garnish with sliced lemon.   

1 pd of Louisiana shrimp

Sauteed Shrimp

Lemon Shrimp Topping

I served with a simple green salad...



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bless Our Nest...and their's too!

Location, Location, Location...

Soon after moving to South Louisiana my husband started talking about becoming a landlord, well a landlord for Purple Martins, that is! I can't say that I opposed the idea because I love birds, hearing them in the mornings on my porch with my coffee and watching them on the bird feeder. We are fortunate to have many species of birds at our house, from the very small hummingbirds to larger species such as the Great Blue Heron that visits our property in the mornings to fish in our pond. 

But the Purple Martin is a very unique bird, they rely almost exclusively on human-provided housing. And like some of those aggravating folks who line up even before the plane arrives at Southwest Airlines, the purple martins migrate early because of the competition for housing. The earlier the bird arrives the greater the chance of getting the location they find desirable. And late January to early February is when the older birds show up in Louisiana to scout for the top housing. Our neighbor across the pond had already put his condo up for rent, so we had to get our waterfront condo ready for occupancy too!  But this year, in addition to our martin condo, JT had to prepare the gourd houses I purchased for him as his Valentine's gift.

Here are some pics...

15 ft pole and 6 gourd houses

Preparing the site

Quickcrete for the pole

Fresh pine needles in the gourd houses

Going up...

Look at the view, they are lucky birds!

We have already had a few scouts checking out the housing, can't wait to be landlords! Too bad we can't collect the rent, but having the birds pick our housing is priceless to my husband...:)

I hope to post pics of our tenants soon!!


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