Thursday, September 30, 2010

Shrimp Salad

Back in the early 80's when I was working as a dental assistant, a friend of a co-worker opened a little lunch place not far from our office. To help her jump start her business, we all went there for lunch on her opening day. I had the Shrimp Salad and it was nothing like any one I had ever eaten but I couldn't discern what made it so special as she had run the ingredients through a meat grinder. For years, I have looked and looked for a recipe that was close to what I thought hers was. Two weeks ago, I happened upon probably her identical recipe while surfing the internet. I made it this past weekend and Yep, it's the one! At Last....(conjurning up Etta James)! Here you go! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

1 pound shrimp
3 boiled eggs
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
Zatarain’s liquid crab boil
Lemon pepper

Peel then boil shrimp on the stove or in the microwave with some Zatarain’s liquid crab boil and salt. Boil, cool and peel eggs. Chop celery, green onion and mince the garlic and place in medium size boil. Remove egg yolks from whites and break them apart with your fingers or a fork into bowl. Chop egg whites, add to bowl.

When shrimp are cooked and cooled, chop and place in bowl. Add mayo, lemon pepper, salt and Tony’s, mix well.
Check seasonings and add more or add mayo as needed. Cover and refrigerate to let the flavors all meld together. Serve on a bed of lettuce. I prefer finely shredded lettuce with this recipe. It’s also good on tomato slices.

*** You can coarsely chop all your ingredients, but I really like them finely chopped. This is the one recipe that makes me really miss my Cuisinart!!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

French Onion Soup

I didn't go to college (LSU) until 1986 when I was 25 and I put myself through school with the help of my wonderful grandparents. That following November, when I was 26, I came down with the chicken pox. Yes, you read that correctly! Let me repeat it....Twenty-six years old with the chicken pox...UGH. Even when the Board of Health and Hospitals called they didn't believe it, they kept asking for my mother! We went round and round until I finally convinced the woman on the line that YES, I am an adult and YES, I have the chicken pox! Needless to say, it took me a long time to recover, it's true when they say childhood illnesses hit adults particularly hard. I was covered, densely, from head to toe with those little devils!

Fortunately, after several weeks (yep, that's true too), I was recuperating fairly well but I was still contagious and couldn't get out yet. I was bored as heck and bouncing off the walls! My dear friend and neighbor offered to pick up some groceries for me when she went shopping so I gave her a small list. Since it was December by this time, and cold, I inventoried my pantry and decided I had most everything to make a big pot of French Onion Soup.

I had never made it before and was interested in doing something fun to help allieviate my boredom without being too involved as I was still regaining my strength. French Onion Soup is pretty easy to make and is really inexpensive, not to mention soul soothing which was just what I needed. I've tried several recipes over the years and modified them until I came up with the following. The first time I made it and ever since then, I've served it with my Gourmet Chicken Salad with Snow Peas and Water Chestnuts. They make a great combination!

6 large sweet onions, halved lengthwise then sliced
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 stick butter
3 tbl flour
1 cup white wine
8 cans beef broth or equivalent (ie boxed broth)
Salt and ground pepper, to taste
Sliced Gruyere (have the deli slice it for you, it’s free of charge!)
Sliced Parmesan cheese (have the deli slice it also)
Sliced Swiss cheese
1/3 cup Cognac, dry Madeira or dry sherry
6-8 slices toasted, buttered French bread

Slice and caramelize onions in oil and butter. To do this, just add the oil and butter to the pot, heat, then add onions and saute until brown and wilted. You can sprinkle some salt in it to dry up some of the liquid and speed up the process. Usually the onions will not get really dark.

Sprinkle flour over onions and blend well. Slowly add broth, stirring well to blend with flour to avoid lumps then add wine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook at a slow simmer until done about 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hours, onions should be completely clear.

Ladle into oven safe bowl. Put 1 slice of toasted, buttered French bread into bowl and top with the cheeses. Broil in the oven until brown and bubbly.

***Simply for ease, I just place the cheeses in the bottom of a regular soup bowl, ladle the soup over it, heat it in the microwave until the soup is hot and the cheese is melted, while toasting French bread or a sourdough bun with butter. Then I dip the bread in the soup while eating rather than broiling it all in the traditional method. I love it either way!

Saturday, September 18, 2010


How many times have you needed to open a bottle of wine but didn't have a corkscrew because you either forgot it or it broke? Well, here is your solution! You don't need to know French to understand this video! Tres' Bien!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


It was deer hunting season, and I was spending a long weekend at a friends house out in the country. Her husband had several hunter friends, myself included, out hunting on the property late one afternoon. I had paired up with another hunter friend, Ronnie, to hunt off his stand and we were out in a gully on our way when we heard a thunderous noise. Before we even had a chance to think, a huge herd of cattle was stampeding towards us kicking up a wall of dust, dirt clods and debris; it looked like a storm. Ronnie tried to scare the cattle in a different direction but it didn't work and I dove under the roots/base of a large fallen tree at the head of the gully while he dove behind a large tree nearby. From where I was, it felt and sounded like an earthquake. I glanced up and could see the undersides of the cattle jumping over wrong move and one of them could have landed right on me. I was terrified.

Fortunately, we came out unscathed. Ronnie drove us back to our friends house and upon entering the kitchen, we were so shell shocked and weak in the knees, we both collasped on the kitchen floor in tears. It was the first time I ever saw this grown man cry. We sat there holding each other in total silence, teary and emotional until someone came home and jolted us back to reality. We were terrified realizing how close we came to being killed. Needless to say, that was the last time I went hunting!! Thanks Ronnie!

My friends father had already planned to cook a nice brisket for everyone that night for dinner. He had already done the prep work and it had been marinating overnight. When he got in from the hunt, he took it out and fired up the grill and cooked the most succulent, fork tender brisket I had ever eaten. We planned to have a sit-down meal after the hunt but with the "excitement" of the day and that wonderful brisket, we were having cocktails and talking so much that we stood around eating the entire meal standing up, just picking at the food and eating the meat slice by slice before we realized everything was all gone! And it was wonderful that way too! Gotta be flexible!

This can be done entirely in the oven, but it's better to follow the recipe. This marinade recipe can cook 2 large briskets, so mix it all then freeze half if you are only cooking one brisket.

2-3 bottles of soy sauce
1 lg can pineapple juice
1 sm bottle Italian dressing
1 bottle worchestershire sauce
½ cup brown sugar
1 tbl garlic powder
lemon pepper (this makes it good!)
1 large brisket

Mix all ingredients together except lemon pepper. Divide quantity and freeze half if not preparing 2 briskets. Marinate brisket in refrigerator for 24 hours. Remove brisket and place on broiling pan and season generously with lemon pepper and more garlic powder. Cover entire broiling pan & brisket with foil and seal well (I used a 9x13 pyrex casserole dish). Cook in oven at 250 degrees until 2/3 done, about 1 –1/2 hours. Take the remaining marinade the brisket was in and pour into a sauce pan and simmer on stove or on the pit while brisket cooks in the oven. Take brisket out of foil (***SAVE JUICE) and place on BBQ pit over low burning coals. When brisket is browned well on both sides, wrap in foil again and cook on pit for another 30 min per pound. When done, slice brisket. Combine juice and pan drippings, pour over meat and serve.

**** If you choose to cook the brisket entirely in the oven, just keep it covered and cook it at 250 degrees until done. It will take a few hours but is well worth it.

Homemade Vegetable Beef Soup

In the mid 1990's I was living in Dallas and was leaving to go home to Louisiana for a visit during a particularly blustery and cold winter. I stopped to fill up my gas tank at a station just down the street from my house. While there, a Hari Krishna man handed me a carnation through my car window and wanted to discuss his religion with me. I politely declined but he gave me the flower anyway. I set it on the passenger seat with the intention of throwing it away at my next fill-up in North Louisiana. I forgot. I drove with that flower in the car next to me for the next 7-1/2 hours until I arrived at my mother's house. Unbeknownst to me, that Hari Krishna had the flu! Thirty-six hours later I Ugggghhhh.

Fortunately, my mother had dinner at a friend's previously in the week, in which the friend served a wonderful Homemade Vegetable Beef Soup. Mom called her friend, got the recipe and made it for me. Oh My Gosh, it was divine! It warmed me up, soothed my sore throat, helped clear my stuffy head and was hearty enough to fill me up for awhile, gave me a little energy and was very comforting. It was the best vegetable beef soup I ever had. Upon my return to Dallas, when I finally felt up to it, I called Mom and got the recipe. I've been making this soup ever since....winter, spring, summer or fall...doesn't matter, I love it anytime of the year and all the time! The quantity of this recipe is very large so I like to put half of it up in the freezer for later use. To make this recipe you will need a large soup pot.

4 pkgs of stew meat or 1 lg roast, cubed
1 12 oz can tomato paste
5 stalks celery chopped
1 lg onion chopped
½ bellpepper chopped
1 bag peeled baby carrots (I use a large bag)
6 cloves garlic (I coarsely chop mine)
1/4 cup Worcestershire
2 tbls salt
2 tbls cayenne pepper
2 tbls Tony’s

Place all above ingredients in a large soup pot and fill pot with water to cover 3" over, stir, bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Allow to cook down thoroughly, approximately two and a half hours, stirring occassionally.

1 can yellow corn, drained
1 can lima beans, drained
1 can green beans, drained
1 can early peas, drained
1 lg bag shredded cole slaw (1 lb)

Cook for another 2 hours or until vegetables are cooked and tender. Recheck seasonings and serve with buttered and toasted french bread.

****The secret to any good soup, especially this one, is to slowly simmer it for hours. I start it early in the afternoon so it's ready by dinner or cook it on the weekend for the next week.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Chicken Enchiladas

In 2002, I moved to Phoenix, AZ and began to learn a lot about my new environment and city. Yes, I am a southern belle and I was born and raised in south Louisiana, a lush sub-tropical environment. However, the desert has its own beauty at all different times of the year and I enjoyed discovering the nature there as well as learning about the western and Mexican cultures in my new home. Eventually, I met and began dating a local chef. From him, I learned many new things in the kitchen but I just loved his Chicken Enchilada's!! One lazy Sunday afternoon, we spent some time in the kitchen and he taught me his secret recipe. This is adapted from his restaurant recipe into a family kitchen recipe.

3 pkgs chicken breasts
2 lg pkgs Shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 lg. onion, chopped fine
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
2 small or 1 large carton sour cream
1 small can chopped green chilies, drained
2 cans mild red enchilada sauce
2 pkgs flour tortillas
olive oil
Fajita seasoning, dry shake-on
salt and pepper

Rub chicken breasts with a light coating of olive oil and sprinkle both sides with fajita seasoning and Tonys. Roast in a casserole dish at 350 degrees until done, cool and cut into bite size pieces, set aside. While chicken is roasting, mix soup, sour cream, green chili's, more fajita seasoning, Tonys, salt and peppper in a medium bowl and set aside. Chop onion and set aside.

When chicken is cool and chopped and set aside in a different bowl, add pan drippings (from the casserole dish they were baked in) to the sour cream/soup mixture and stir.

Open flour tortillas and put a line of chicken down the length of the center of a tortilla, do the same with the onion and some cheese. Fold/Tuck/Roll up each tortilla and place seam side down in the same casserole dish the chicken was baked in. Sprinkle any remaining chicken and onion on top. A second casserole dish may be necessary to accomodate all.

Pour the soup/sour cream and chili mixture on top of enchiladas. Spread until all are coated well. Pour and spread enchilada sauce over all and heavily sprinkle cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is brown and all is bubbly.
These make great leftovers and they also freeze well!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Vegetable Boil

Yes, we boil crawfish, we boil shrimp, we boil crab but we also boil vegetables! One of the things I like to do is gather some great vegetables together and boil them in seafood seasoning. Sometimes I serve it with just a store bought shrimp cocktail but mostly I serve it with a broiled or grilled meat or fish or something I have leftover. What a healthy and tasty meal! Any type of vegetable will do as long as it will hold up. Here is what I generally boil.

1 large Sweet Onion, quartered
3 stalks Celery, cut into thirds
2 Lemons, halved
4 large Red Potatoes, cut into chunks
4 Corn on the cob (I use the small frozen ones)
2 Squash and/or zucchini, cut into chunks
2 Artichokes, halved or quartered, top to bottom (cut out heart fibers)
1 bag Baby Carrots
1 lb Fresh Green Beans
1 container Baby Portabella Mushrooms
1 head Garlic, peeled
1 bag Zatarain's Seafood Boil
1/3 bottle Zatarain's Liquid Seafood Boil
1/2 cup salt

Put seasonings, lemon and garlic in a large soup pot and add 1/3 pot of water. Boil for 5 minutes. Add vegetables and then add water to cover 1". Bring to a boil and cook until done. Allow to sit in seasoned water for 15 min. Drain and serve. Butter or margarine may be used on corn and potatoes. Good stuff!

***These make good leftovers too!


Jambalaya (pro: Jum ba Lie ah) was an attempt by the Spanish to make paella in the New World. With the French influence, two different types of jambalaya developed: Creole or Red Jambalaya which includes tomatoes and Cajun jambalaya which does not. I've had many different types of jambalaya from wild game jambalaya's to seafood jambalaya's and all were excellent. However, the one I make the most is a cajun recipe made with chicken, pork and sausage.

How I came about this recipe is a story in itself. I attended a casual rehersal dinner for a family member. The host/hostess served jambalaya and it was wonderful, one of the best cajun meat jambalayas I've had. Repeatedly, I tried to get the recipe from the host and all he would say was that a friend had cooked it and that it was a basic recipe with a few special secrets. Well, that just egged me on to find out the secrets! I picked through the dish for the ingredients and taste tested each bite in an effort to discern the items that made this particular recipe so good! When I thought I had finally figured it out I wrote it all down. A few days later, I cooked a big pot of my "new" jambalaya recipe and it was perfect!!! Here it is...

1 pkg chicken thighs
1 pkg pork chops
3 8 – 10” links good quality Pork sausage, sliced (I prefer Manda's)
1 lg onion chopped
3 stalks green onion chopped
4 stalks celery chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
1 stick butter
1/3 cup oil
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
2 cans chicken broth
salt, pepper, Tony’s to taste
3 cups parboiled rice

Remove pork from bone and cut it and chicken into bite size pieces. Season chicken and pork chops with salt and pepper. Melt butter and oil in large pot. Add meats and cook until brown, remove from pot. Add vegetables to pot, cover and cook down. Add seasonings and soup to pot, blend well. Return meats and pan drippings to pot and cook about 5 min. Add rice, blend well and cook another 5 min. Pour in chicken broth and add water to cover 1” above mixture. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer without lifting the lid or stirring again until all rice is cooked and water has evaporated, approximately 40 minutes. Stir again before serving. See Tips and Information on Manda's and parboiled rice.