Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cajun Halloween Treats !

Parties, parties, everywhere in Cajun country this weekend, and two festivals to boot!  And a nice cool front that put me in the mood to bake! Here are a few of my favorite Fall treats that I made to take to a Halloween party that some friends were having, last night. The first one has that yummy blend of pumpkin and chocolate that I just can't seem to get enough of, lately. And the praline glaze is just heavenly and gives it that little extra touch of decadence. Cest bon, cher! Bon appetit!

Chocolate Chip-Pumpkin Bread w/ Praline Glaze 
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp.salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
3/4 cups canola oil
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Combine the flour, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and  baking soda in large bowl. In separate bowl, beats eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin. Stir into dry mixture, until just blended. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour into a greased 8x4 inch loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until toothpick in center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes and remove to a plate. Note: I covered with foil for the last 20 minutes.


Meanwhile make the Praline Glaze .

Praline Glaze
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans

In heavy saucepan, heat butter, brown sugar, and pecans, on medium heat, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and pour over top of warm Pumpkin Bread. Slice and serve with your favorite latte or cuppa.


*******
And what would any holiday be without a few batches of these totally decadent brownies?!
Warning: These are addicitve!

Amaretto Brownies

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

Combine butter and chocolate in a microwavable safe bowl. Microwave on low until melted, stirring frequently. In large bowl, combine eggs and sugar and mix well. Stir in the chocolate mixture. Stir in the Amaretto . Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix well and add to the chocolate/Amaretto mixture. Blend well and pour into a greased 9x11 inch baking pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool and cut into squares. 

Sinfully delicious and worth every calorie, cher! 


Wishing you all a very Happy Halloween! Merci for coming by!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ragin' Cajuns Tailgate Heaven + More Dancin'


We had an absolute blast on Saturday at the Ragin Cajuns, homecoming tailgating party! As far as the eye could see, there were Cajun delicacies, cooking, grilling, and simmering. It was pure tailgate heaven and the Cajun spirit was greatly evident at every tent!  Oh, cest bon, cher! So many divinely delicious concoctions that it boggled the mind! Here were a few of my faves.




These two guys at the Iberia Bank tent really had it going on, with these succulent ribs. And the smothered potatoes with tasso and sausage were out of this world! Poo-yie, cher!




Big pots of Cajun delights were everywhere, but this one with chicken and sausage jambalaya was my favorite! This guy really knew what he was doing and had it seasoned just right. Cest bon, cher!




And this pot of red beans and sausage got my vote, too! Lots of flavor in this pot too!


The guys at this tent were having a cochan de lait ( a Cajun pig roast) and roasted a whole pig!  Here is the chef, preparing the pork for serving. It was out of this world and the Cajun rice dressing and baked beans were fabulous!








This was one scrumptious plate! Le bon mange, cher!


 This one was grilling some chicken wings and pork steaks!  Lawd have mercy, they were good!





And what would a Cajun tailgating party be without a little music and dancing! The great "Louisiana Red" band was entertaining the crowd with their super rock n' roll show..


Louisiana Red


I ate a sample at each booth so I was thoroughly stuffed by the time I got to the dance area, but trust me, I walked, danced, and sweated off every calorie and was starving by the time the game was over!! Oh the life of a Cajun is so much fun!

Hope ya'll are having a fantastic week! Merci beaucoup for stopping by!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Great Dinner Salad + Cajun Fun on the Bayou !

Since we are still having very warm weather, here in Cajun country, I like to grill several chicken breasts and a few pounds of shrimp every week and keep them in the freezer for use in dinner salads. What could be easier and more delicious than a nice big flavorful, healthy salad! Here is one of my faves.  Cest bon, cher!

Cobb Salad w/ Jalapeno Ranch Dressing

 1 head of bibb lettuce, torn
2 grilled chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces or 1/2 lb. grilled shrimp
1 large avocado, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped 
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
5 strips bacon, fried crisp and crumbled, optional



Arrange ingredients in layers in a large salad bowl. Serve with Jalapeno Ranch Dressing. 

Jalapeno Ranch Dressing 
1 (1/4) cups, no-fat buttermilk 
3/4 cup light mayo
1 tsp. Creole mustard
2 tsp.'s white vinegar
2 tbs.'s  lime or lemon juice 
1 tsp. crushed garlic
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tbs. fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
Salt to taste

Whisk ingredients together in the order given, in a mixing bowl. Store in a sealed glass container in refrigerator, for up to one week. Shake well before each use.

^^^^^^
Cajun Fun on the Bayou
 
We jump started our weekend a little early, on Thursday evening, at the weekly "Rhythms on the River" concert in Town Square at River Ranch. Gorgeous, summer-like weather really brought out a huge crowd that was enjoying an evening of great Cajun fun!


Some were having a cold drink to unwind, after a stressful work week. Others were having a bite to eat, on the patio at the City Club Bar and Grille. Cajuns love to eat, drink, and be merry, cher, and spend time with family and friends! It's called the Cajun  joie de vivre!



And they LOVE to dance, more than anything,  and pass a good time! The fantastic Fifth Avenue band was entertaining the crowd and there was a whole lotta dancin' going on! 


Then on Friday evening, we went to Happy Hour at Agave' Mexican Restaurant and Cantina and had a round of Margarita's, before heading across the street to this week's T.G.I.F. block party, at Parc Sans Souci, in downtown Lafayette. It was a blast and Louisiana Red was rockin' the crowd!





*******************************************************************************
I've had a few more requests for some more festival clips so here's a little clip that I took of a Zydeco number, with Horace Trahan and the Ossun Express, movin' the crowd at Festival Acadiens. Crank it up and let the good times roll, cher!
Horace Trahan and the Ossun Express


I am heading out to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Ragin' Cajuns,  Homecoming tailgating party, and you know what that means! Woohoo! Lots of wonderful Cajun food, music, and fun! What are your plans for the weekend? Whatever you have planned, hope that ya'll have a fun, fabulous time! Cheers! Merci for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Bread Pudding w/ Chocolate-Bourbon Sauce + More Pumpkin Delights

It's that time of year again, for all things pumpkin and it just would not not be Fall without making a few of my favorite pumpkin delights! Here's one of my faves that is so rich in flavor and texture and will melt in your mouth! Just heavenly! Cest bon, cher! Enjoy!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding w/ Chocolate Bourbon Sauce

1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1/2 cup each, sugar and brown sugar
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 loaf "day old" French bread, torn into pieces

Whisk together the first seven ingredients, in large bowl. Add bread and mix well to coat. Spoon into a buttered 9x13 baking dish and cover with foil. Place into a larger baking pan, filled with 1 inch of water. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven, for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes or until a knife comes out clean. serves 8.


Serve with Chocolate-Bourbon Sauce and top with whipped cream, if desired. Divinely delicious!

Chocolate Bourbon Sauce

8 (1 oz.) squares semisweet chocolate
1 tbs. butter
6 tbs.'s whipping cream
1 shot of bourbon

Combine all ingredients in saucepan and stir and cook over low heat, until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and drizzle over warm bread pudding.
*******
I also wanted to share a few of my other favorite pumpkin delights that some of you may not have seen. This recipe for Pumpkin Muffins was handed down to me from my dear Godmother and are out of this world, delicious, especially when served with my Cream Cheese Frosting! So good for breakfast with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

 Nanny's Pumpkin Muffins
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 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

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups or use paper liners. Mix all ingredients, until just mixed. Fold in 1/2 cup pecans, if desired, and fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake in a 350 degree oven, for twenty minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 pkg.(3 oz.) cream cheese
2 tbs.'s butter
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Combine cream cheese and butter in mixing bowl. Microwave on high for 15 seconds. Beat in sugar. Frost muffins and enjoy!

******
And last but not least, is my Pumpkin Cheesecake, which is guaranteed to please your family and guests and have them coming back for more! This is my family's favorite pumpkin dessert and surely, it will become a favorite of yours, too. Cest bon, cher!


Pumpkin Cheesecake
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, (crushed fine)
5 tbs.'s melted butter
2 tbs.'s sugar
1 (15 oz.) can or 2 cups fresh pumpkin, strained 
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.



Worth every calorie, cher! Bon appetit and happy baking!
Hope that ya'll are having a wonderful week! Merci beaucoup for coming by!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Time for Seafood Gumbo! + A Cajun Two Step

There was a chill in the air this morning in Cajun country, and with dinner guests coming tonight, I thought, what could be more perfect than a big pot of seafood gumbo?! This is one of my favorite recipes that I have perfected over the years into a delectable, flavorful dish, chocked full of fabulous seafood, vegetables, and spices. When I tell you that it's the most sinfully delicious thing that you will ever eat, then you know that I mean it, cher! Oh, cest bon, cher!

Roux
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour

First you make a roux. Melt butter in a large heavy skillet on medium-low heat. Slowly add flour and stir constantly with a spatula until a medium brown color is reached. Remove from heat and set aside. If roux looks too thick, carefully add a little water, because it will be very hot.

Note: ( How long it will take will depend on what kind of skillet you are using. I use a heavy cast aluminum or cast iron skillet , which will brown a roux in 10 to 15 minutes. A lighter skillet will take twice as long, and will have to cook on low heat.)  I also make roux in larger batches and store in airtight containers in the fridge or freezer, for use in other dishes. This is a real time saver.

Stock
3 tbs.'s vegetable oil
3 cups Cajun trinity, (onions, bell peppers, and celery), chopped
3 tsp.'s minced garlic
1/2 cup green onions, including tops, sliced
1 can diced Rotel tomatoes, w/ green chilies
2 quarts seafood, chicken, or vegetable stock
1 lb. fresh or frozen okra, sliced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbs. dried thyme
3 bay leaves
2 tbs.'s Cajun seasoning, divided
1 tsp. Tabasco
Salt to taste

 Seafood

1 1/2 lbs. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb. lump crab meat
1 bag gumbo crabs, if available
1 lb. crawfish tails, if available
1 pint fresh oysters
Note: If gumbo crabs and crawfish are unavailable, increase shrimp to 2 lbs.


In a large, 6 quart stock pot, saute the Cajun trinity in the vegetable oil, until soft. (about 10 minutes) Add the garlic, tomatoes and stock, and bring to a boil. Add the okra, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, 1 tbs. Cajun seasoning, salt, and Tabasco, and reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Carefully add the roux to the stock, mix well, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Season shrimp, crawfish, crab meat, and gumbo crabs with other tbs. Cajun seasoning and add to the pot. You can omit this other tbs. of Cajun seasoning, if you prefer a less spicy gumbo. Mix well and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Discard bay leaves.

Add the oysters and green onions and continue cooking on low for 10 minutes. Add more seasoning, if desired and a sprinkling of gumbo file' and garnish with green onions.

Serve with a scoop of hot cooked rice, potato salad, and hot French bread.
Out of this world! Serves 8. Bon appetit!

********
A Cajun Two-Step

Here is another little clip that I took at the festival of The Pine Leaf Boys, playing a Cajun two-step. The couple dancing to the left, at the beginning of the clip, were really stirring up some dust! The lovely blonde with the pony tail, in the pink halter dress, and cowgirl boots is my darling daughter! She may look like her Daddy, but we all know where she got her love of dancing from! This one is for you, cher! Let the good times roll!

The Pine Leaf Boys



Hope you're all having a wonderful weekend! Merci beaucoup for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Grandma's Buttermilk Biscuits + Festival Fun - Part II

Here's a tried and true recipe that my dear grandmother used to make, early in the morning before everyone woke up. Waking up to the wonderful aroma of these heavenly biscuits was such a treat and a great way to start the day. Especially when served with her homemade blackberry jam. So simple and easy, but oh, so good!
Cest bon, cher!



Grandma's Buttermilk Biscuits


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tsp.'s baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk
Bacon drippings

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Add butter and buttermilk and mix to make a sticky dough. Knead lightly on a floured board. Form a smooth ball, and roll into 1/2 inch thickness, and cut with a biscuit cutter into 3 inch rounds. Place biscuits on a cookie sheet greased with bacon drippings or cooking spray. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 12 biscuits. Enjoy!

*******
Festival Fun- Part II

Day 2 of Festival Acadiens was a little cooler, with a nice breeze, and turned out to be quite a beautiful day. We started out at The Bayou Food Festival, for some sinfully delicious Cajun food. With over 40 booths from local restaurants, it was hard to choose.




My friends wanted some fried seafood boudin balls and a hot sausage poboy!
Ke-aww, cher, both were scrumptious, but the seafood boudin balls were fab!


I ordered a decadent crawfish enchilada from the Pat's Downtown booth and it was out of this world! To see my recipe for Crawfish Enchiladas, click here.



And I just had to get a Crawfish-Spinach Breadbowl, too, you know, to get my daily veggies in. Sinfully good! To see my recipe for Crawfish-Spinach Breadbowls, click here.


After shoring up our energy supply, we headed over to the main stage, Scene Ma Louisiane for a Cajun waltz. Ryan Brunet and Les Malfacteurs were entertaining the crowd. I took this little clip! So much fun!


Ryan Brunet and Les Malfacteurs


Then we made the trek over to the Boomer Tent, where Kevin Naquin and the Ossun Playboys were reving up the crowd. My favorite Mardi Gras Krewe, the Krewe de Canaille were really cutting up and dancin' the day away! This group sure knows how to party!


Next up was the hotter than Tabasco band, the Lost Bayou Ramblers. The fiesty crowd was loving this band and was getting a bit crazy. Lots of HOT jitterbuggin' going on there, too!


And finally, it was time for the final act of the festival. The crowd doubled in size as everyone made their way over to Scene Ma Louisiane to hear the great Wayne Toups, whom this year's festival was dedicated to. He really blew it out, and the crowd went absolutely wild and was dancin' up a storm! I almost got knocked down a few times, while taking this clip. Until next year, or at least till next weekend, let the good times roll, cher!


Wayne Toups and ZydeCajun



Hope ya'll are having a great week! Merci beaucoup for coming by!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Festival Acadiens Fun - Part I

We had an absolute bon ton at the kick-off party for Festival Acadiens, on Friday evening, at Parc International in downtown Lafayette. The Lost Bayou Ramblers were rockin' the crowd, and the dancers were really cutting the rug!



On Saturday, the party moved over to Girard Park for the first day of the 28th annual Festival Acadiens et Creole. Gorgeous, summer-like weather brought out thousands of festival goers and you cannot imagine the fun that was being had!


The main stage, Scene Ma Louisiane, had a terrific musical  line-up, and was partially in the shade. With temps. around 90 degrees, this was a major attraction.


The drink booths were working overtime and the Bayou Food Festival was serving up more than a few Cajun delights. Here were a few of my faves.




The third stage, La Salle De Danse was attracting a large crowd. It had a big tent, fans, and a wooden dance floor. A nice respite from the intense Louisiana sun.


Walter Mouton and the Scott Playboys were getting down, cher and there was a whole lotta dancin' going on inside of that tent!


The dance area at Scene Heritage was in full afternoon sun, but that didn't stop these Cajuns from kickin' up some dust. They were pulling out all the stops for Roddie Romero and the Hub City Allstars! Burning off some calories, for sure!



Since this video was taken in full sun,  it's not the best quality, but will give you an idea of the nitty-gritty dancin that was going on, cher!. I took so many videos, that it's a miracle my camera didn't blow up!

Roddie Romero and the Hub City All-Stars


Now you know why we HAVE TO eat so many calories!! And we get to do it all over again, today! Oh the life of a Cajun is oh so FUN! Wish ya'll were here, but hope that you all are having a fun weekend, too! Merci beaucoup for stopping by! To be continued.........