Posted by: Laurie | June 21, 2010

Black Bean Dip

Benjamin’s birthday party was yesterday, and I made a few dips for the adults. I tried a new one, a black bean dip, and it was delicious. I started with the original recipe from She Wears Many Hats and made a few adjustments. It simply wasn’t flavorful enough, but the base components were there!

Black Bean Dip

2 – 15 oz cans black beans, slightly drained
1 – 8 oz can tomato sauce
¼ tsp cumin (I used ½ – ¾ tsp)
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp salt (I used ½ tsp)
¼ tsp pepper (I used 1 tsp)
1 C cheddar cheese

The following addition was made by Mark. I think it worked out perfectly!
6-7 splashes hot sauce (I use Crystal)

Over medium heat warm beans until they begin to simmer. Mash beans (we used our immersion blender). Add tomato sauce, spices and stir. Add cheese and mix well.

We served this after it had slightly cooled in the refrigerator and it was delicious. We ate the rest today (cold from the fridge) and it was even better! Next time I’ll definitely make it ahead of time and let all of the spices meld overnight in the fridge!

Posted by: Laurie | June 16, 2010

Grilled Black Drum “On the Half-Shell”

Been a while! We’ve been, um, busy…busy eating things not worth blogging about. But that’s all changed with tonight’s menu!

My sister recommended a cookbook called “Real Cajun: Rustin Home Cooking from Donald Link’s Louisiana” – and at first we were skeptical. I mean, we’re from Louisiana, and most things that say “Real Cajun” just aren’t. But after flipping through it, and trying a few of the recipes, we’ve decided this is the real deal. This guy, Donal Link, he knows what he’s talking about!

The recipe we tried tonight originally calls for redfish. But it says in the notes that substituting drum is fine. My sister’s fiance caught some black drum this past weekend and brought it over tonight for Mark to cook.

Grilled Black Drum “On the Half-Shell”:

6 fillets of drum, skin and scales on
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
Scant 1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Scant 1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
4 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
1 T coarse sea salt
1/2 C chopped Italian parsley
Two large lemons, halved

Rinse the fish fillets and pat them dry with paper towels. Place the fillets on a baking sheet, season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Top the fillets with the sliced garlic and drizzle with half of the olive oil. Use your fingers to distribute the oil and seasonings evenly over fish, then set the fish aside to marinate while you heat the grill.

Fire up your grill to a medium-high setting. (If you are using charcoal, the coals should be mostly white.) Place the fillets scale side down on the hot grill. Cover the grill and cook the fish without moving for 7 to 10 minutes, until it is just cooked through; it will flake easily when tested with a paring knife. (You can also cook the fish “on the half shell” on an oiled baking sheet in the 475 degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes.)

Using a metal spatula, transfer the fillets to serving plates and top with the sea salt and parsley, a little extra olive oil and lemon juice.

We served the fish (which was DELICIOUS) with home-made garlic mashed potatoes and grilled corn.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes:
1 head garlic, toes separated (but not peeled) and cooked for 8 t0 10 minutes in oven
4 baking potatoes (my mom uses Yukon Golds, but I had baking potatoes at home)
Onion Powder

Peel and cube potatoes and place in a pot. Cover with water and cook until soft. In a large bowl, put garlic cloves and potatoes. Mash with a potato masher. Add butter, milk and seasonings and stir until creamy. Taste and re-season if needed.

Grilled Corn:
4 ears of fresh corn

Tear a square of aluminum foil large enough to wrap each ear of corn individually. Season corn with salt and add a tablespoon of butter on top. Wrap corn tightly and grill until done.

Posted by: Laurie | April 20, 2010

Blackened Catfish

This is something we have done in the past and felt like giving it a shot on the website.

Here are the ingredients to the spice mix:


We have sugar, thyme, cayenne, black pepper, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, paprika and salt. (The original recipe came from For The Love of Cooking) I omitted the nutmeg; it didn’t seem to fit. I also doubled the amounts, and since we love that extra kick I used the full amount of cayenne.

We originally started with three very large catfish filets. When Laurie’s sister and fiance decided to join us, they brought along two more filets to add to the pile.

catfish filets

I drizzled a little bit of olive oil over the filets and put a heavy coat of the spice mix on the filets.

coated filets

A little forethought went a long way during the cooking process. I decided to cook the fish outside on the BBQ. If you haven’t blackened food before, there is a tendency for it get quite smokey. For this, as should everyone, I used our cast iron skillet. I cranked the heat up on the BBQ and let the skillet get quite hot before I put in the fish.

cast iron

I tried to get a picture prior to the first filets where I had a few pats of butter melting, but here is one after the first two filets were done.

I started spice side down and flipped them after a minute or two. I cooked the fish until it started to flake.

And here is the finish product.

cooked fish

You could use this same spice mix on almost any fish, and it would still be very good.

Laurie and her sister fixed some sautéed new potatoes and zucchini to go with the fish. They also made a nice fruit salad that complemented the spicy bite of the fish.


Posted by: Laurie | April 8, 2010

Hamburger Steak

Sorry for the absence, folks. We went to Spring, TX to visit my brother-in-law. Amazingly, we cooked quite a bit there, and I wish I had taken pictures to blog about the cinnamon rolls I made, but my photographer was otherwise occupied with a sick and cranky baby while I slaved away making the cinnamon rolls. So that will be a post for another day…

And, hey, if you like Mahi Mahi and spinach, you ought to go here and try the Mahi-Mahi with Chopped Pecans Warm Spinach Salad. It was delicious. You should try it. Right now.

Or, you could try this:

Hamburger Steak
1 pound ground meat (I used 80/20 today, but I usually use a leaner meat)
1 yellow onion, half thinly sliced and half diced
Garlic, 2 toes minced
Mushrooms, roughly chopped
Garlic powder
Tony’s (Cajun Seasoning)
Water (between 1/2 – 1 C)
Beef Bouillon cubes

This is an “original” recipe of mine. In quotes because, seriously, it’s not a hard little meal to make, and I know that a million people before me have made Hamburger Steak (and probably have made it better). It’s a favorite of Anthony’s; until recently, this was his meal-of-choice at Piccadilly (his favorite restaurant). But tonight I was in the mood for comfort food, and this fit the bill perfectly.

Slice half of the onion thinly and dice the other half. Mince the garlic.

Season the beef with garlic powder and Tony’s; add diced onion and half of the minced garlic. Mix well and form into patties. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Cook the sliced onion, half of the minced garlic and the mushrooms in a bit of olive oil in a large cast iron skillet.

Remove the onion mixture from the skillet and set aside. Cook the patties in the same skillet until brown on both sides, and cooked throughout.

Add the onion mixture back into the skillet just as the patties are finished cooking. Remove the patties once done and put them in the oven to keep warm.

Pour about 1/2 C of water into the skillet and use a whisk to scrape the bottom of the skillet. If the gravy seems thin, add about 1 tablespoon of flour. Season the gravy with salt and pepper to taste. Add a beef bouillon cube if the gravy seems to be lacking in flavor (the last time I made this, I had to add the bouillon. This time I did not).

If you’re like me and have a habit of over seasoning things, add another 1/2 C of water and tablespoon of flour. It will all be fine. Trust me. (That silver circle in the picture is a ladle, by the way)

As a side dish tonight, I cooked homemade mashed potatoes. This is seriously simple:

Mashed Poatoes
This will probably feed four adults.

2 medium – large white potatoes

Wash, peel and cube the potatoes. Place in a large pot and cover with water. Season with salt. Boil the potatoes until they are soft. Drain. Mash with milk and butter to make them creamy. Add more salt if necessary.

I also served the meal with some corn that I cut off the cob. I had boiled some corn last week and just added this last minute to throw a veggie into the meal.

Thoughts about the meal:
Mark: Less onion in the patties

Laurie: More mushrooms. Always, more mushrooms.

Anthony: Mphpmmpmmmhmpmm… (translation: this is delicious, Mom)

Benjamin: wouldn’t touch the meat until we took it off the plate and put it directly on the high chair tray. Then the food diseappeared.

Posted by: Laurie | March 28, 2010

Strawberries and Alcohol? Yes, Please!

Mark was browsing through some websites and came across Our Life in the Kitchen. The website was featuring a week’s worth of strawberry recipes, and when he saw this one, he knew I would love it.

Louisiana strawberries are in season, and they are delicious! When we were at our local produce stand yesterday, I bought a flat of strawberries and decided immediately that I needed to try this drink. It has no name, yet, but I’m suggesting that it be called:

Not Your Sonic Strawberry Limeade (long, I know):
3-4 large strawberries
sugar (or simple syrup)
Malibu rum
Bacardi (or other) rum
Club soda
Lime wedge
1 small(ish) strawberry

Are these not the most beautiful strawberries? Just looking at them makes me want to eat some…so I will!

Please be sure to wash your strawberries first! Then cut up 3-4 large strawberries and put them in the bottom of a tall glass.

Add the sugar (or simple syrup; I didn’t have time to make any simple syrup, so I just used sugar. Next time I’ll make the syrup!) and mash the strawberries in the glass.

Fill the glass with ice.

Add a shot of Malibu, a shot of the other rum, and fill the glass with the club soda. I do not own a shot glass (I know, I know! That will be remedied), so I just poured in what looked like the right amounts. I, um, overestimated on the rum…whoops!

Cut a lime into wedges and squeeze one lime wedge into the drink, then toss the lime into the drink! (You put the lime in the coconut…)

Give it a little stir and take a taste! Then laugh when your husband has the first taste and his eyes bug out of their sockets. Yeah, it was a little strong. So we sipped off the top and added more club soda.

Make it pretty by cutting a slit into a small(ish) strawberry and adding it to the rim of the glass.

This is definitely going to become a summer favorite for me!

Not Your Sonic Strawberry Limeade
3-4 large strawberries
sugar (or simple syrup)
Malibu rum
Bacardi (or other) rum
Club soda
Lime wedge
1 small(ish) strawberry

Wash 3-4 large strawberries and slice. Place in the bottom of a tall glass. Add a teaspoon or so of sugar (or a drizzle or two of simple syrup) and mash the strawberries. Fill the glass with ice. Add a shot of Malibu and a shot of rum. Fill the glass with club soda. Squeeze a lime wedge into the glass and then toss the lime wedge in. Give the drink a stir and garnish the glass with a small(ish) strawberry.

Posted by: Laurie | March 27, 2010

Picture Poll

Posted by: Laurie | March 20, 2010

Teriyaki Glazed Shrimp

Being Catholic, we try not to eat meat on Fridays during Lent. It’s a tough job down here in Southern Louisiana, trust me. 🙂 Seafood can be found in abundance here, and shrimp just might top the list of my favorites! Don’t get me wrong; I love boiled crawfish as much as any good Louisianian should, but the season has been pretty bad this year what with all that cold weather. So we have to suffer with shrimp (and Gulf shrimp only, please!).

Last night we kind of needed a “last minute meal” idea. I had worked late and didn’t feel like frying any shrimp (my go-to Friday night meal). So Mark found a recipe at The Pioneer Woman’s website for Pineapple Skewered Shrimp. We had all of the ingredients at home and the shrimp only needed to marinate for an hour or so.

Teriyaki Glazed Shrimp
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 can pineapple chunks

1/2 C Teriyaki sauce
2 whole green onions, sliced
3 T garlic, minced
1 T sugar (optional) (We didn’t put any in; the pineapple chunks were in heavy syrup – I don’t normally buy that kind, so I was glad to use it here)
Pineapple juice, reserved from the can of chunks
1 dash lemon juice
1 dash Kosher salt

In a bowl combine teriyaki sauce, green onions, garlic, sugar, pineapple juice, lemon juice and salt. Mix these together well and set aside.

Wash, then peel and devein the shrimp. Stir the shrimp into the marinade and marinate at least a couple of hours. (We did one hour, and they came out fine.)

Skewer pineapple chunks with the shrimp and grill until done, about 1 to 2 minutes per side on a very hot grill. Flip again and cook until brown to just slightly blackened.

We reserved the marinade and boiled it in a pot on the stove while the shrimp were grilling. As long as you allow the marinade to come to a brisk boil and let it boil for about 5-10 minutes, you don’t have to worry about any “yuckies” the shrimp may have been harboring. We used it as a sauce for the rice and then also dipped some left over French bread in it.

Last night’s meal was a quick meal for us; we didn’t want to spend much time working at the stove, so this worked out perfectly. I used some left-over rice I had in the fridge and also served the boys some mac ‘n’ cheese that we had left over from dinner at my parents’ house earlier in the week.

Changes we’ll make to the recipe next time:
1. Red pepper flakes: in the marinade, for sure; we’ll just hope that some of those flakes stick to the shrimps!

2. More salt: probably directly onto the shrimp once they’re skewered on the sticks.

3. More black pepper: both in the marinade and on the shrimp directly

Posted by: Laurie | March 19, 2010

Andouille Cornbread

Strap on your boots, folks, this is a recipe you’re going to want to try immediately. We’ve made it before, and we’ve made no changes to it. It’s perfect as it is (OK, I can think of a few things I’d add, but I haven’t been brave enough to mess with the recipe’s near perfection).

Today’s recipe comes from Elizabeth’s Edible Experience. Her Andouille Spoonbreadrecipe will blow your mind.

Andouille Spoonbread
1 T vegetable oil
1 pound andouille or other pork sausage, finely diced
1 C finely chopped onion (I use one large onion)
1/2 C finely chopped bell pepper (I use one large bell pepper)
2 t salt
1/4 t cayenne
1 T garlic, minced (I use four cloves)
2 T plus 2 t chopped parsley (just grab a handful and chop it up, please)
1/4 C chopped green onion, green parts only (no need to measure; eyeball what looks good to you)
1 t butter (seriously? make it a tablespoon. You’ll be happier. We’ll all be happier)
4 large eggs, separated
2 C heavy cream
1 C milk
1 1/2 C yellow cornmeal
1/2 C Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (I use Parmesan, and I NEVER measure it – just dump in/on as much as you want)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, and cook for 3 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the onions, bell pepper, salt and cayenne and cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in 2 T of the parsley and all of the green onion.

Add the butter to a large cast iron skillet. Place in the oven and melt the butter.

Whisk the egg yolks, milk and cream together in a large bowl. Add the cornmeal and whisk until the batter is smooth. Fold the sausage mixture into the batter.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric mixer until very stiff peaks form, then fold into the cornmeal mixture.

Pour the batter into the cast iron skillet and sprinkle 1/4 C of the cheese on top.

Bake until it sets, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 5 minutes. Spoon out onto a serving plate and serve. Garnish with remaining cheese and parsley.


Changes I might make:

I love corn bread with creamed corn in it, so I might try that one time. Also, to add a different kick, I might eliminate the cayenne and dice up a jalapeno pepper very small and saute that with the other veggies.

Posted by: Laurie | March 13, 2010

Magically Delicious!

One of the magazines that Mark and I subscribe to is Disney’s Family Fun. There are always cute crafts and good, kid-friendly recipes in each issue! Anthony and I have made many of the crafts and they’re easy but interesting to do.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, Baton Rouge has a St. Patrick’s Day parade the weekend before the actual day. I decided to try out a recipe I found in the Family Fun magazine: Rainbow Cupcakes. They turned out GREAT and are adorable!

Rainbow Cupcakes
White cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
Food coloring (red, yellow, green, blue)
Muffin cups
Frosting for the tops (optional)
Sprinkles (optional)

Prepare the cake mix according to the package’s instructions. Divide the prepared batter evenly among six bowls. (I used just less than 1/2 C for each bowl, and it divided almost evenly). Dye each batter according to the list below:

Red: 18 red drops
Orange: 12 yellow and 4 red drops
Yellow: 12 yellow drops
Green: 12 green drops
Blue: 12 blue drops
Purple: 9 red and 6 blue drops

Line muffin pan with cups. Evenly distribute the purple batter among the cups, then the blue, green, yellow, orange, and finally the red. As you go, gently spread each color of batter over the top. (I didn’t do this; I just used a kitchen spoon to drizzle the batter over the top – and that pretty much evenly coated each layer)

Bake the cupcakes according to the package’s instructions. Allow to cool slightly in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

If desired, cover each cupcake with a frosting cloud and sprinkle rainbow sprinkles on top.

My box mix only made 12 cupcakes. I had to cut the tops off of the cupcakes so they’d be easier to ice. I iced them using Duncan Hines whipped frosting. I put the frosting into a ziploc bag and cut the end off. I tried to do a swirl on top of the cupcakes, but I’m not so great at that!

These were easier to make than I thought they would be.

Now I’m searching for ideas on how to make Anthony think that leprechauns came to visit him over night on St. Patrick’s Day. Last year I dyed his milk green, but he had a hard time drinking it! I think they will bring him Lucky Charms cereal again (he loves them, but I don’t usually buy them) and maybe they’ll leave him a pot o’ gold or something. Any suggestions?

Posted by: Laurie | March 9, 2010

Penne Pasta with Meatsauce

Last night I cooked a recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s website. Ree Drummond amazes me with her ability to just whip up a new recipe.

We’ve made Pasta a la Marlboro Man before, but last night I made a few modifications.

Here’s my version of her recipe:

1 medium white onion, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
olive oil
2 pounds ground meat
28 oz can of diced tomatoes, with juices
6 oz can of tomato paste
salt and pepper, to taste
ground thyme, to taste
Parmesan cheese
Penne pasta

Dice the onion and mince the garlic.

If you don’t have a garlic zoom, I suggest you run out and buy one, right now. At least you should, if you hate mincing garlic as much as I do!

Swirl that around in a large pot with the olive oil (a couple tablespoons of olive oil will do) until the onion starts to turn translucent…about 3 or so minutes.

Then add the ground meat and cook until browned. Drain off the grease (I just tip the pot on its side and drain it with a large spoon into another bowl). Season with salt, pepper and thyme and stir the mixture around.

Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and allow to cook for a few minutes. Give it a taste to make sure it’s well seasoned.

Cook it, covered, for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Give it another taste and re-season if needed. Cook it, uncovered, while you boil the water for the pasta. Cook the pasta until it’s al dente and drain. Right before I drained out the pasta, I added some Parmesan cheese to the meat sauce.

Serve the meat sauce over the pasta and add more Parmesan cheese.


What the family thought:

Mark: I’ll take a small smackerel for lunch tomorrow!
Anthony: Mmmmm…can I have some for lunch tomorrow, too?
Benjamin: MORE!
Me: This is good, but if I was making this for just ME, I’d have added mushrooms, too!

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