Monday, November 30, 2009

Creole Seasoning Blend # 1 + A Great Cajun Lunch !

Cajuns like their seasoning, spicy and sometimes spicy and hot. They love well seasoned cuisine, from meat, to seafood, to bread, to vegetables, and the secret is all in the seasoning blend. Since I've had so many requests for a recipe for Cajun/Creole seasoning mix, I've decided to post one of my faves. I use both homemade and commercial Cajun and Creole seasoning when I cook, mainly depending on what type of dish that I'm making. Here is one of my favorite homemade, easy Creole blends that I make in batches and store in an airtight container and use as needed.

Creole Seasoning Blend

1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tbs.'s paprika
1 tbs. cayenne pepper
1 tbs. black pepper
1 tbs. chili powder

1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. celery seed

Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until well blended.
Store in air tight container and pour into a shaker, as needed.

Note: For a milder version, cayenne pepper may be cut to 1 tsp.
Also, salt may be reduced by half, for those on low salt diets.


After a gorgeous warm and sunny weekend, we woke up this morning to rain and much cooler temps. Perfect gumbo weather! So a colleague and I went out for lunch at T-Coons Restaurant. This was the best chicken and sausage gumbo that I've had in a while! Cest bon, cher!


Hope that you all have a wonderful week!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cajun Men Cook + Ragin' Cajuns Tailgate Party!











 

It was a beautiful, warm day in Cajun Country, just perfect for tailgating! We had an absolute blast at the U.L.L. Ragin' Cajuns tailgating party, today! The Ragin' Cajuns playing the Troy Trojans, tonight at Cajun Field, in the final home game of the regular season. As I made a pass around the huge tailgating arena, I marveled at just how many Cajun men were out there cooking, the most delicious looking and tasting Cajun cuisine that you could imagine.




Here were a few of my favorites.


Some Cajun buffalo wings and sausage. This was some mighty 
good stuff!

 
This guy was grilling up some venison sausage and pork chops. Cest bon, cher!

These guys were cooking up a giant pot of spicy Cajun chili. Look at the size of that pot! Keeawww, cher!


And quite a few pots of gumbo, too. This one was duck and sausage. Pooh yie, cher!



And what would a Cajun party be without some live Cajun or Zydeco music. The Leon Chavis Band was entertaining the crowd.










Oh the life of a Cajun, is oh so good!! Hope that ya'll are having fun, too! Let the good times roll, cher, and have all the fun you can !

video

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Black Friday - A Nice Normal Day !

The day after Thanksgiving, better known as Black Friday, inspires some people to line up in front of stores at 5 am, to get the best deals of the season. It would take a bomb going off to get me out of bed at 5 am, after I didn't go sleep until 2 am! After 5 days of baking and cooking, I am ready to kick up my heels, party a little, and go dancing. I need to dance off all the extra calories from the praline sweet potatoes, the cornbread dressing, the kaluha brownies, etc. ( see my previous post for full menu). Nuff said!! It was a wonderful day and it was great to see the family and reminisce and catch up on each other's lives.

More on that will be coming up, but meanwhile, a few old friends are dropping by tonight and we've decided to have our own little dance party with a great sound system , tons of fabulous cd's, lots of good food, wine, beer, and a few gallon size frozen margueritas. These are my Zydeco buddies, so we're going to crank up the cd player for our favorite Zydeco band with the rockin sounds of Geno Delafose & French Rockin' Boogie. Let the good times roll, cher!



And Friday night, I am going "out with the girls", to the Thanksgiving Dance at Lake View Park, in Eunice, Louisiana. For fans of Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, this event is a must see and is guaranteed to be a blast! See ya'll there! Yes, tomorrow will be a nice normal day, a little afternoon shopping and best of all, NO COOKING! Woo hoo!
Happy Black Friday and shopping!

********
Here's a little clip of Geno and his hotter than hot, band French Rockin' Boogie. Just one Zydeco dance will cancel out all of the desserts that I ate today, cher and never mind if he's singing in Cajun French and you can't understand what he's saying. Trust me, it's all good! This clip was taken in Simi Valley, California and I promise you that most of the people dancing are NOT Cajuns. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Turkey Day - Only Two Days Away!

    Only two more days to complete the preparations for Thanksgiving. Since one of my dear friends has so kindly offered to fry a turkey for me, this year, that will relieve me of a huge responsibility and the rest of the meal will be a piece of cake. But when you're talking about making everything from scratch, including appetizers, sides, rolls and muffins, and desserts, it can be a bit labor intensive. But, I will have my dear cousin helping me and it will be SO worth all the effort. I haven't finalized my menu, yet, but here is what I have so far. Do you think I'll have enough or should I add more items?

    Appetizers   
    Jalapeno Chicken Poppers   
    Creole Sausage Bites 
    Broccoli Cheese Dip w/ pastry shells   
    Fresh Veggies w/ ranch dip 

    Dinner 
    Cajun Fried Turkey w/ giblet gravy  
    Cajun Oyster Stuffing  
    Mama's Cornbread Dressing 
    Cajun Rice Dressing  
    Spinach Madeleine  
    Cajun Corn Casserole  
    Nanny's Sweet Potatoes w/ Praline Topping  
    Candied Cranberries
    Add to this: 
    Garlic Butter Rolls  
    Mama's Cornmeal Biscuits 
    Cranberry/ Orange Muffins  
    Pumpkin Muffins

    Desserts  
    Pecan Pie  
    Pumpkin Cheesecake  
    Chocolate Bread Pudding w/ Praline Sauce  
    Kahlua Brownies

    *******
    These delightful muffins are the perfect finishing touch for your Thanksgiving dessert table. I love to make and freeze these ahead of time and take some out to have with coffee, in the mornings. Cest bon, cher!

    Spiced Pumpkin Muffins w/ Cream Cheese Frosting

    1 1/2 cups flour
    3/4 cup sugar
    2 tsp.'s baking powder
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/2 tsp. each, ground cinnamon and nutmeg
    a sprinkling of ground cloves
    1/2 cup buttermilk or milk
    1/2 cup canned pumpkin
    1/4 cup melted butter
    1 large egg
    1/2 cup chopped pecans

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Grease 12 muffin cups or use paper liners. Mix all ingredients, until just mixed.

    Fold in pecans and stir gently. Fill muffin cups, 3/4 full and
    bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

    Cream Cheese Frosting
    1 stick butter
    2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
    8 oz. cream cheese
    1/2 tsp. vanilla

    Cream the butter and the cream cheese together for about 3 minutes . Stir in vanilla. Add the powdered sugar, gradually until desired consistency is reached. Frost cooled muffins.

    Here is the recipe for my dear mother's Cornmeal Biscuits. Enjoy, these are fabulous!

    Mama's Cornmeal Biscuits
    1 1/2 cups flour
    1/2 cup cornmeal
    3 tsp.'s baking powder
    1 tbsp. sugar
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1/4 cup butter
    1/2 cup milk, plus a little more if needed

    Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Cut in butter until mixture becomes coarse. Stir in milk. (dough will be stiff )

    Place dough on lightly floured surface and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Use a 3 inch round biscuit cutter to cut the biscuits. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake in a 450 degree oven for about 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Serves 4.



    Hope that everyone has a wonderful and fun holiday! I am so thankful for each and every one of you! Merci beaucoup for visiting!

    Happy Thanksgiving Ya'll !

    Saturday, November 21, 2009

    Decadent Cajun Desserts!

    Oh yes, it's time to start the baking for Thanksgiving! If I don't start now, I'll end up at Poupart's Bakery, buying everything in sight, at this divine little bakery shop! Which wouldn't be such a bad idea, except that Thanksgiving is about family and tradition, and I love to make my family's faves and make some of the cherished holiday recipes of my dear mother and grandmother. It is an annual ritual to bake on the weekend before Thanksgiving, and I thought that I would share a few of the desserts that I'm serving.

    It doesn't get any better than this for easy and decadent!
    Mais cher, I could eat a whole one of these!


    Marguerite's Pecan Pie

    1 (9 inch) prepared or homemade pie crust
    1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
    1/2 cup sugar
    4 tbs.'s butter
    1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
    3 lightly beaten eggs
    1 tsp. vanilla
    Dash salt

    In saucepan, combine corn syrup, sugar, and butter, and bring to a gentle boil, and cook uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.

    Place pecans in bottom of pie shell. Combine eggs and vanilla with mixture and pour over pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Heaven!



    ******
    Next is one of my all time favorites, at the holidays or on any day, this luscious bread pudding is a wonderful addition to your holiday dinner table or buffet.

    Chocolate Bread Pudding w/ Praline Sauce

    1 stick butter
    1 loaf french bread, torn into small pieces
    1 large can Pet milk
    4 semi-sweet chocolate squares, chopped
    4 large eggs, beaten
    2/3 cup light brown sugar
    1 tsp. almond extract  

    Melt butter in large heavy pot on medium heat. Add bread, and stir constantly until golden. Place mixture in a buttered 13x9 inch baking dish and set aside. Bring milk to a boil in medium saucepan. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate and blend till smooth. Add eggs, brown sugar,and almond extract. Mix well and pour mixture over bread mixture, blend gently and let stand for 15 minutes. Cover with vented foil and bake at 325 degrees, for 30 to 35 minutes or until set. Let cool and serve with warm praline sauce. Serves 8

    Praline Sauce
     
    1 cup light brown sugar
    1 small can Pet milk
    3 tbs.'s butter
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1/4 cup chopped pecans

    Combine brown sugar, milk, vanilla, and butter in heavy saucepan. Cook on low heat until smooth. Stir in pecans and vanilla. Serve warm over bread pudding. Enjoy!



    *******
     And for those of you who missed my Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe, I've decided to post it, again here, because it definitely smacks holiday and Thanksgiving! Sinfully good!

    Pumpkin Cheesecake

    1 (15 oz.) can or 2 cups fresh pumpkin, strained
    1 (1/2) cups graham cracker crumbs, (crushed fine)
    5 tbs.'s melted butter
    2 tbs.'s sugar
    2 (8 oz.) pkg.'s cream cheese, softened
    1 cup brown sugar
    1/4 cup flour
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1 1/2 tsp.'s pumpkin pie spice
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    3 eggs, lightly beaten

    Crust

    In large bowl, stir together, graham cracker crumbs, butter, and 2 tbs.'s sugar. Mix well and press mixture onto bottom and about 1 inch up sides of a 9 inch spring form pan. Bake 5 minutes @ 350 degrees, then set aside to cool. Then chill until ready to use.
    Note* I have also used chocolate graham crackers for this recipe.

    Filling

    In large bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until well blended and smooth. Gradually add sugar and mix until smooth. Mix in pumpkin, flour, pumpkin pie spice, and continue mixing until well blended. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well, after each one. Scrape bowl and beat in vanilla extract. Pour filling into pie crust and sprinkle evenly with topping and place springform pan on a cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes @ 350 degrees. Lower heat to 325 degrees and continue to bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

    Topping

    1/2 cup pecan pieces
    1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
    2 tbs.'s brown sugar

    Mix together and sprinkle over top of the filling before baking.


    ********
    And what would any holiday be without a few batches of these sinfully delicious brownies? This great recipe is from the "Something To Talk About" cookbook, compiled by the Junior League of Lafayette. So easy to make and worth the calories, I assure you, cher!

    Kahlua Fudge Brownies

    2/3 cup butter
    3 1 oz. squares unsweetened chocolate
    3 eggs
    1 - 2/3 cup sugar
    1/4 cup Kahlua
    1 -1/2 cups flour
    1/2 tsp. baking powder
    1/2 tsp. salt

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Combine butter and chocolate in a microwavable safe bowl. Microwave on low until melted, stirring frequently. In large bowl, combine eggs and sugar in and mix well. Stir in the chocolate mixture. Add the Kahlua and stir. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix well. Pour into a greased 10x13 inch baking pan. Bake for 23 minutes. Center will be moist. Cool and cut into squares. Serves 12.

    Divine, cher! Absolutely, divine! Bon appetit!
    Happy Baking, Ya'll!

    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    Rockin' on the Levee + Bayou Stomp

    Last weekend was such a wild and crazy weekend in Cajun Country, with so much going on that, I had to split it into two posts. If you didn't read my first post , Cajun Weekend Lagniappe, last weekend, you can click here, to see it. It was about my Cajun adventures on Thursday and Friday nights. There was so much more fun to come!

    On this past Sunday, we took a ride to the Atchafalaya Basin to get out to nature a bit, before going to the weekly dance at Whiskey River Landing. After riding the levee, we stopped in at Turtle's Bar, for a little refreshment and ran into some friends who were going to the dance. The more the merrier!



    Geno and French Rockin' Boogie

    From there, we headed over to Whiskey River Landing, where Geno Delafose and French Rockin' Boogie were really rockin' the crowd. Zydeco heaven! If you've been to Whiskey River, then you know what I mean, cher! If you haven't, then you need to go! It will be one of the best times you've ever had!

    After dancing for a few hours, we drove over to Pat's Fisherman"s Wharf Restaurant and dove into a fried seafood platter! Cest bon, cher! There was a Swamp Pop band playing in the Atchafalaya Club, which has one of the biggest dance floors in Louisiana. Swamp Pop was very popular in Cajun Country, in the 60's and still is, today! It's a timeless style of music that incorporates Cajun, blues, and 60's pop music. The slow songs are romantic and remind me of a few guys I used to dance with, back when. Here's a little clip that I took of Cookie and the Cupcakes. Let the good times roll, cher!

    Cookie and the Cupcakes

    video


    And finally, here is the long lost video from last week's Downtown Alive that I was finally able to upload! It was dark, but I hope you can see me dancing! Oh, the life of a Cajun is oh, so fun!!

    Chubby Carrier and  the Bayou Stomp Band

    video

    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    More Cajun Thanksgiving Sides!


    Now that we are getting ever so closer to Thanksgiving, I thought that I would post a few of my favorite vegetable side dishes that are a tradition at my house. It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without them. The first is a wonderful dish that is on my table throughout the year and was served at my daughter's wedding, as well. First published from the River Road cookbook, by the Junior League of Baton Rouge, and adapted to my taste, it's divine blend of cream and spicy cheese will compliment everything you're serving, and have your guests begging for the recipe. Cest bon, cher!

    Spinach Madeleine

    2 pkg.'s frozen chopped spinach
    4 tbs.'s butter
    2 tbs.'s flour
    1 small onion, chopped
    1/2 cup half and half
    1/2 cup spinach liquid
    1/2 tsp. black pepper
    1/2 tsp. each, celery salt and garlic salt
    6 oz. Velveeta Mexican or Pepper Jack cheese, sliced into 1/4 inch cubes
    1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
    1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

    Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain and reserve liquid, and place spinach in a buttered casserole dish. In medium saucepan, on low heat, melt butter and saute onion until soft. Add flour, stirring until blended and smooth, but not brown. Slowly add half and half, spinach liquid, and Worcestershire sauce, stirring constantly, until smooth and thick. Add seasonings, and cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Combine with spinach and top with seasoned breadcrumbs and dot with butter. Bake @ 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly.Divine! Serves 8 Enjoy!

    *******
    This second dish is an all time favorite, also, with a buttery taste that will have you going back for more! Le bon manger'!

     Cajun Corn Casserole

    1/4 cup butter
    1 can cream style corn
    1 can whole kernel corn
    1 tbs. sugar
    2 eggs beaten
    1 tsp. salt
    1/2 cayenne pepper
    1/2 cup water
    1 6 oz. pkg. Mexican cornbread mix

     
    Melt butter in small saucepan. In large bowl, combine melted butter, corn, sugar, eggs, salt and pepper, water and cornbread mix and blend well. Spoon into a 9 by 13 inch baking dish and bake @ 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serves 8 Bon appetit!

    Saturday, November 14, 2009

    Cajun Weekend Lagniappe + N'awlins Creole Shrimp Gumbo

    The good times have really been rolling, for the past few days here in Cajun Country. And the weather has been gorgeous, (sunny and upper 70's) which just makes a good time, even better. On Thursday night, we went to the Blues Jam, at Artmosphere, a charming restaurant/art gallery/and live music venue, all rolled into one place. The crowd was feisty and the music was great!

    Then last night, it was on to the T.G.I.F weekly block party at Downtown Alive, with Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band. When I tell you that this band was hot, you know that I mean it, cher!
    They had the crowd rockin' with their contemporary style of Zydeco/Rock n' Roll music and spicy performance. The scrub board player was awesome and the band really had it going on!
    I stopped by the "Slap Ya Mama" ( a fantastic Cajun seasoning) booth and was given a free "Slap Ya Mama" coozie, when I told them I was taking a photo for my blog. You see, there are perks for blogging.
    ************************************************************************************

    Here's a great video on how to make a roux and a Creole Shrimp Gumbo. Since a roux is the basis for so many Cajun dishes, it is wise to master this step. It's really easy, once you get the hang of it, and Chef Poppy shows you how! Cest bon, cher! Bon Appetit!


    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    A Real Cajun Breakfast + Bayou Boogie!


    Every once in a while I love to go out to a big Cajun breakfast. Like every other Cajun meal, this first meal of the day is planned out to the last detail and takes several hours to prepare, when you're talking about feeding half of Lafayette for breakfast. As in, T-Coon's Restaurant, on the corner of Pinhook Road and Kaliste Saloom Road, which has become Lafayette's latest hot spot for a real authentic Cajun breakfast, the kind your Maw Maw used to make. From the beignets, buttermilk biscuits, and bread, to the smoked sausage and boudin, to the crawfish omelettes, all cest bon, cher!! And of course , everything is HOMEMADE and served with a smile, with plenty of good old Mello Joy coffee to go with it.



    And T-Coon even has his own seasoning called "The Stuff" which is highly recommended! (Click here to visit the website). He calls his style of cooking, "Zydeco Cooking", but make no mistake about it, T-Coon is a Cajun and his
    restaurant is fabulous! The eggs, grits, sausage, bacon , biscuits, and beignets were divine! And from the looks of the lunch buffet that they were setting up, I will go back soon, for lunch!

    After ordering, my companion and I sipped a cup of Mello Joy and read, The Times, a weekly newspaper that gives details of upcoming events in Cajun Country. I saw that Joe Hall and the Canecutters are going to play this Saturday morning at the Zydeco breakfast at Cafe Des Amis, in Breaux Bridge, so that will be the next breakfast out in 2 days! See ya'll there!
    ************************************************************************************

    Here is a little clip of some Bayou Boogie that I took of Joe Hall and his talented band, The Canecutters, at Festival Acadiens in October. Let the good times roll, cher! Enjoy!



    video

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    Turkey Day - Only Two Weeks Away !

    It's that time of year again, to begin preparing for that big Thanksgiving dinner! I've gathered all of my treasured recipes that I will be using for my Cajun Thanksgiving feast and have begun to shop for and order the ingredients. I will be making mostly traditional Cajun dishes, with maybe a few nouveau Cajun recipes, for variety. Here are the first two, in a series, of my favorite T-day recipes that are guaranteed to please your guests. The first was my dear godmother's recipe and the second, was my dear mother's, and and they are both really quite fabulous, cher! Absolute family favorites, any time, but especially at Thanksgiving. Cest bon! Le bon manger!


    Nanny's Praline- Sweet Potato Casserole

    8 medium sweet potatoes , peeled, chopped, and boiled until tender
    1/4 cup half and half
    1/4 cup cane or maple syrup
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    2 tsp.'s cinnamon
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1 egg, lightly beaten

    Whisk half and half with brown sugar, syrup, cinnamon vanilla, salt, and egg, in large bowl. Add the cooked, drained, sweet potatoes and beat with electric mixer until smooth. Coat a 13" by 9" baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon in sweet potato mixture and set aside. Make topping.

    Praline Topping

    1 cup chopped pecans
    3/4 cup light brown sugar
    1 small can Pet (evaporated) milk
    4 tbs.'s butter
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    1/2 tsp. nutmeg

    Melt butter in 2 qt. saucepan. Stir in brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, Pet milk, and pecans. Cook and stir, constantly, on low heat until blended and smooth and thick. (about 5 minutes) Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Spread evenly over top of sweet potato mixture. Cover with foil and bake @ 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 more minutes. Serves 8 Cest bon!

    Mama's Cornbread Dressing

    Dressing Mix
    1 lb. ground round beef
    1/2 lb. fresh ground pork
    1 1/2 cups beef broth or stock
    1 cup each (onions, bell peppers, and celery), chopped
    2 cloves garlic , minced
    1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
    Salt and Tabasco to taste
    1 or 2 tbs.'s Cajun seasoning
    2 tbs.'s Worcestershire sauce

    In a large Dutch oven, season beef and pork with salt and Tabasco, and cook on medium heat till browned. Skim excess oil. Add the chopped vegetables and garlic and stir over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add beef broth or stock, Worcestershire sauce and seasonings, cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, make cornbread. Add a little more Cajun seasoning to dressing mix, before mixing with cornbread.

    Cornbread

     
    2 large eggs
    1 cup buttermilk
    1 cup vegetable oil
    1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
    1 tbs. baking powder
    1/2 tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. salt
    1 tsp. cayenne pepper

    In a large bowl, beat the buttermilk, eggs and oil. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Mix well and pour into a greased cast iron skillet and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Mix cornbread, gently, with the prepared dressing mix and turn into a buttered casserole dish. Heat thoroughly, in oven, before serving. Serves 8

    Everyone just loves this dish and I receive more compliments on this cornbread dressing than anything else on my Thanksgiving table. Bon Appetit!