Christmas Eve Menu

Every year, around Thanksgiving, I ask my Christmas Eve guests what they want at our annual soiree.

This year we settled on fairly simple, yet tasty menu:

Oven Fried Buttermilk Chicken 

This will be a tweaked recipe – kind of combining two of my favorite recipes. I’ve done a couple of practice batches – can’t have too much oven fried chicken! – and once I have it perfected, I’ll post.

Loaded Mashed Potatoes

I’m doing my no boil mashed potatoes (recipe here) and serving it fully loaded with sour cream, bacon and cheddar cheese. Also gravy.

Cajun Gravy

This will be a spicy mix of sausage, bacon, minced chicken hearty gravy.

Bacon, Tomato, Green Beans

Pretty simple – tossing green beans with bacon (and bacon grease) and sliced grape tomatoes in a skillet until tender.

And finally, dessert will be the ever popular Ice Cream Sundae Bar

Premium vanilla bean ice cream served with choice of toppings – caramel, chocolate, peanuts, walnuts and sliced bananas

Photos and recipes to follow.

 

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Mix It Up

Cucumber SalsaI did quite a bit of cooking this week, but it’s been busy enough that I haven’t put together the recipes or taken a lot of photos. So tonight I’m highlighting some past favorites.

Pictured above is Crisp Cucumber Salsa, always a hit when I make it. Recipe here.

Baked Ziti is my go-to for dinners to take to events or share when condolences are needed – I often take it unbaked so it can be fresh and hot when needed. It’s also a great make-ahead dinner for weeknights. Recipe here.

This week’s dinner menu is Cranberry Pepper Steak and Bleu Cheese Mashed Potatoes, click here for menu and recipes.

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This yummy photo is from JeffreyW – it’s Bacon Dill Potato Salad – instructions here.

What’s on the menu for you this weekend? Grilling yet? Have anything fun planned?

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Tonight’s featured recipe is another quick but tasty dinner entry. When I was a kid I used to love the Friday nights my mom said, I’m tired of cooking let’s just have hamburger goulash – which was basically hamburger, tomato sauce and elbow macaroni with some spices thrown in. This recipe is like an adult version of that, with some real flavor.  Still easy to put together.

Pasta Jambalaya

  • 12 oz penne pasta
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp Cajun or Creole seasoning
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4 oz can chopped green chilies
  • 4 oz smoked sausage, sliced (I like Andouille)
  • 4 oz shredded Mexican 4-blend cheese

saucepan

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well. In the saucepan, heat oil and then sauté onion, pepper, celery and carrots until onions are translucent and celery soft. Add garlic, Cajun seasoning, tomatoes, chilies, beans, carrots and sausage. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat, add pasta and let simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with cheese as garnish.

Note: When a recipe says to add 1 tsp to 1 tbsp, or to taste of a spice, add it in small increments, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp at a time. Remember you can always add more, but it’s pretty tough trying to remove what you’ve added. 😉

That’s it for this week. We’ve finally gotten rid of the clouds and it looks like a great weekend to spend outdoors Have a great weekend. – TaMara

 



 

Mmm… jambalaya

DSC_0483 (1600x1060)It’s rainy today here in Beautiful Southern Illinois™ and so I passed some time looking around for something to fix for dinner.  Found some of the Andouille sausage I made a while back and thought jambalaya might hit the spot.  I try to link to this guy whenever I can, he’s my goto guy when I do anything Cajun-style.  The link goes to a jambalaya recipe that informed my take on it today, you could do worse than spend a little time looking over his recipe collection.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Not Just For Mardi Gras

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We are prepping for the big storm (ok, not New England BIG, but looking at 8-16 inches of big wet flakes) and I almost forgot it was Friday. Since it was Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras this week, that always puts me in the mood for some Louisiana-style recipes and a trip to Lucille’s restaurant for their beans and rice (and boy am I going to miss living within walking distance when I finally move – and I am so tired of house hunting).

When I can’t get there, I make my own Washday Beans and Rice, recipe and full dinner menu here.

A trip to New Orleans a few years ago gave me my first taste of authentic Beignets at Cafe Du Monde and Po’boys at Johnny’s, I liked the sandwiches so much, I hunted down some recipes, (click here).

Looking for something fancier? How about Trout Amandine with Creole Meuniere Sauce (recipe here).

What’s on your menu for the weekend? I’ll be scanning travel sites looking for somewhere warm to vacation!

Tonight’s featured recipe (pictured above) is from JeffreyW:

Shrimp and Andouille in a Creole Mustard Sauce

  • 1 pound uncooked peeled deveined large shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon Creole or Cajun seasoning (recipe below)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, cut crosswise on diagonal into 3/4-inch-thick pieces
  • 1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/3-inch-wide strips
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 5 tablespoons Creole mustard
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Toss shrimp with Creole seasoning in medium bowl to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add sausage pieces, cut side down. Cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer sausage to bowl. Add shrimp to skillet; cook until browned and just opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl with sausage. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, bell pepper, and thyme to skillet. Sauté until vegetables are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add broth, mustard, and vinegar. Stir until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Return sausage and shrimp to skillet. Simmer until heated through, stirring occasionally, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Creole Seasoning

  • 1/3 Cup Paprika
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Garlic
  • 4 Tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1/3 Cup Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 Tbsp White Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Dried Thyme
  • 2 Tbsp Dried Basil
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Oregano

Combine all ingredients and place in an airtight container.

Makes about 10 oz.

Bixby hit 115 lbs this week and I’m thinking that raising a Great Dane puppy should be considered an Olympic sport. He exhausts me and then is so damn cute, I’m ready for another day of puppyhood. I’ll see if I can get him to do a diary update later this weekend. That’s it for this week.  Stay warm – TaMara

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Cajun Crawfish Mac ‘n Cheese

DSC_9668 (1600x1060)I  had a few crawfish tails left over from last night’s pizza I needed to use pretty soon so I had that in the back of my mind as I idled through a few searches this morning.  No one chimed in with an answer for my question “what would be considered a typically Cajun cheese’ so I entered “Cajun” + “cheese” into the search box hoping to stumble across an answer.  What I got were dozens of recipes for “Cajun mac and cheese”.DSC_9671 (1600x1060)This seemed a perfect place to use up those extra tails.  The crawfish already had a goodly amount of Creole seasoning so I added more and minced a jalapeno for extra fun.  Those are the last of my ridged jumbo elbows so I’ll be needing to make another run to the country store.

Crawfish and Andouille Pizza

DSC_9663 (1600x1060)I wish this had worked out better.  I tried to carry the Cajun theme too far and made a sauce of celery, green pepper, and onions with a ton of garlic and butter.  The crust just didn’t support the load when I added the crawfish tails atop that, too much moisture for the thin crust to manage.  Lots of Cajun seasonings.  It had pretty good flavor but it was just too soggy.  Back to the drawing board!  I have some of the tails left but no idea right now what to do with them.  Cajun tacos?  hmm…

We Love Our Gumbo!

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I’m happy enough with how my gumbo turns out that I don’t much use a recipe anymore.  The fellow over at NOLA Cuisine always gets my nod when someone asks for recipes for these sorts of dishes, be sure to take a tour of his place – click on his recipe page for sure.

This one has genuine Louisiana made Andouille sausage and chicken thighs.  (Link goes to a Cajun Grocer’s page.)  I ordered one of their turduckens to have on hand for the upcoming holiday.