July 30, 2012

Chicken Salads, A Delicious Alternative to a Sandwich for Your Bag Lunch

My friend, Ingvild sent me a message asking for a healthy meal to pack for a long day at work. Whenever we think bag lunch, the first thing that comes to mind is a sandwich. Now, don't get me wrong, there are some great sandwiches out there, but sometimes you want something different.

I have a few wonderful, flavorful and healthy Chicken Salad recipes to add some variety to your lunch bag.

Waldorf Chicken Salad

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 cups chopped cooked chicken, cubed
1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
1 large Gala or Jazz apple, diced
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup honey mustard ( if you don't have honey mustard, mix 1 part honey to 2 parts Dijon mustard)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°. Bake walnuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet 6 to 8 minutes or until toasted. Stir around at the halfway mark.

Mix together chicken, apples, celery, mayonnaise, mustard and walnuts. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I like to serve this on a bed of romaine lettuce or if you prefer a softer green to contrast with the crunchy apples use a bed of watercress.

Now here's my next Chicken Salad:

Chicken Salad with Olives and Couscous

1 cup uncooked Israeli couscous
1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped capers
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed

Cook couscous according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a large bowl, combine olives, parsley, capers, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic, stirring with a whisk. Add couscous to olive mixture; toss gently to coat. Stir in chicken just before serving.

If you're taking it for lunch, put your couscous and olive mixture in a separate container from your chicken and mix together before you eat.


Go, eat!!

If you enjoy the recipes, please share my blog with your friends. If you have a recipe you'd like to share in Friendly Foods, please send it in. Photos are also appreciated! teedycooks@gmail.com

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Halibut with Mushroom and Shrimp Sauce

Poaching fish is something that's very common in Scandinavia. It's a delicious and healthy way of cooking fish while infusing it with whatever spices and herbs you add to the water. Here in Norway, they often make a white sauce or serve the poached fish with butter and plain or seasoned sour cream.

This is my Creole spin on this delicious poached fish. A creamy and delicious sauce made with the stock from the poaching, mushrooms and shrimp. I hope you like it!

Halibut with Mushroom and Shrimp Sauce
Serving Size: 5

2 ½-pounds white fish-halibut, cod, snapper, pollock
1-tablespoon salt
3 bay leaves
1 sliced onion
1-teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon celery seed
1-cup celery leaves
1/3-pound mushrooms


2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sherry
18 shrimp
1-clove garlic
¼ cup butter
½ cup flour
1/8-teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon onion powder
1chicken bouillon cube
1½ cups milk

Wash 2 1/2 pounds of white fish and tie in a cheesecloth bag. Poach gently in 2 quarts of water seasoned with salt, bay leaves, onion, thyme, onion powder, celery seed and celery leaves until fish is firm (about 10 minutes). Remove fish from water, drain (keep fish stock), and remove bones and skin. Cut into individual servings.

Sauce: Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in pan and sauté clove crushed garlic, sherry, shrimp and mushrooms.

Melt ¼ -cup butter or margarine in saucepan over low heat. Stir in flour, pepper, celery salt and onion powder. Remove from heat and slowly add chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup of strained fish stock and milk. Add mushrooms and shrimp.

Butter a baking dish and spread a thin layer of sauce over the bottom. Lay fish on top of the sauce. Cover with remaining sauce. Bake at 350ºF for 15-20 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.


Go, eat!!

If you enjoy the recipes, please share my blog with your friends. If you have a recipe you'd like to share in Friendly Foods, please send it in. Photos are also appreciated! teedycooks@gmail.com

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July 29, 2012

Caribbean Jerk Seasoning

My dear friend Michelle was born and raised in Jamaica but has lived in Finland for over 20 years. She and I enjoy spending time together laughing, drinking and cooking. Her husband, Arto, loves these meetings because he knows that good food is his reward when she and I get together.

I once called her from Norway to ask her to send me some jerk seasoning. It's a flavorful, spicy and unique Caribbean seasoning blend that is used on several types of Jerk dishes. It can be used on chicken, fish, lamb, pork and goat. I've also done Jerk Turkey.

Well, Michelle told me there was no need for her to send me Jerk Seasoning, she said I probably had everything I needed to make my own. Here I share this fantastic blend of Caribbean goodness

Caribbean Jerk Seasoning

1 tablespoon onion -- finely minced
2-teaspoons garlic -- finely minced
1-teaspoon kosher salt
1-teaspoon allspice -- ground
¼ teaspoon nutmeg -- ground
¼ teaspoon cinnamon -- ground
2-teaspoons brown sugar
2-teaspoons black pepper
2-teaspoons cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Mix together minced onion, garlic, oil and spices and rub over meat. If using for chicken or fish rub the mixture inside and out.

Makes enough rub to coat a whole pork, beef or lamb roast. Makes enough rub for a whole chicken or a large, whole fish.

If you want to make a rub for later use, use dried minced onions & garlic instead of fresh. Fresh onions & garlic can create harmful bacteria if stored with the other ingredients over a period of time.


Go, eat!!

If you enjoy the recipes, please share my blog with your friends. If you have a recipe you'd like to share in Friendly Foods, please send it in. Photos are also appreciated! teedycooks@gmail.com

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July 27, 2012

Banana Curried Chicken

This is my take on a fantastic Caribbean chicken dish that I tasted many years ago while performing at a World Music festival. The dish was creamy and slightly spicy. The bananas gave a delicious mild sweetness to the dish. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

The trick to cooking savory dishes with banana is to make sure they're only slightly ripe. You want them yellow with a bit of the green still showing. Too ripe and they turn into mush in the dish.

Banana Curried Chicken
Serving Size: 10

2 onions -- chopped
2 tablespoons cooking oil
¼ cup all purpose flour
1-cup chicken stock
1-teaspoon salt
2 pounds cooked and cubed, boneless skinless chicken
5 sliced slightly ripe bananas
2 grated firm green apples
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1-tablespoon raw sugar
2 tablespoons Jamaican curry powder
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup sliced green onion
1-cup cream

Fry onions in oil until light brown. Add flour and mix well. Add chicken stock gradually while stirring. Add the rest of the ingredients, except cream, Cover saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Mix in cream and green onion just before serving. Serve on a bed of steamed rice.


Go, eat!!

If you enjoy the recipes, please share my blog with your friends. If you have a recipe you'd like to share in Friendly Foods, please send it in. Photos are also appreciated! teedycooks@gmail.com

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July 25, 2012

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake (Friendly Foods)

Greg was always a welcomed part of the Boutté Clan when he lived in New Orleans. It didn't hurt that he could make some of the best authentic Italian desserts in town! Here's a little demo of that talent.

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake
Makes 1-9" cake
Submitted By Greg Duva

I grew up in a New York Italian family in the NYC area, and ate this often growing up, before the little Italian-American bakeries in New York City and its metro area started to disappear.

I recently started making it again after my friend Tommy Lavin (himself a very good cook) complained to me of "traditional" American cheesecake recipes being too sweet. When I dusted off this recipe for him, I realized I hadn't made it myself in many, many years, so I started making it myself again. Good choice.

Simple and quick to prepare, the time for this recipe is largely consumed by the baking and then cooling the cake under refrigeration overnight, which it really should be if the texture is to be the best it could be. Enjoy!

Set 2 pounds of ricotta cheese out to get to room temperature.

Whole-milk ricotta is best, but part-skim will work as well. I've found that the cheapest ricotta works the best. If the American industrial brand Polly-O is all you can get, use it, but be aware that it contains an excessive amount of moisture, and you may have to reduce the eggs in the recipe. It's a judgment call you'll have to make.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust, I like to use 3 slices of fresh sliced bread...pulse the bread in a food processor or crumble between your hands until you get crumbs of the consistency you like. Crumbs do NOT have to be fine if that's not what you dig. Melt about 3 tbsp beurre. Add 2 or 3 tbsp of dark brown sugar to the crumbs in a mixing bowl, a tiny pinch of salt, a shot of fresh, real vanilla and toss to combine evenly. Add the melted butter slowly and mix until the crumb mixture just holds together. You may NOT need to use all the butter. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9" spring form pan. You can press it about 1/2 inch up the sides, but it's not necessary to have much of a side-crust. Place the spring form pan with the crust in the center of a 350 degree oven and bake for 10 mins. Remove and allow to cool while you are preparing the filling.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Scrape all of the room-temperature ricotta into a large mixing bowl with a rubber spatula. Add 2/3 c of sugar (refined white is fine, but I use organic sugar or turbinado sugar), 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tbsp of fresh vanilla, 1/3 cup Amaretto di Saronno, and the zest of 1 lemon, and use a heavy whisk to combine, being careful to make sure the mixture is smooth and free of lumps.

**You can also use a small amount (1 teaspoon or less) of ground cinnamon as flavouring. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. Alternatively, if you can find a good, pure cinnamon oil, you can add a drop or three (be careful, it's very strong!) of oil as a flavouring. Experiment, see what you like!

Now, add 5 eggs ONE AT A TIME, mixing thoroughly each time you add another egg. As I noted above, if you're using American industrial ricotta and/or a brand that looks to be very moist, reduce the eggs to 4 in this recipe.

When the mixture looks to be lump-free, add 1/3 farine (All-Purpose flour) and mix well to combine. You don't want to over-mix and develop the gluten in the flour, which will make for a tough and non-tender cake, but do make sure the flour is evenly combined with the ricotta mixture.

Be sure to taste the mixture before you turn it into the prepared crust.

When the ricotta mixture looks to be smooth and lump-free, use a rubber spatula to scrape into the prepared spring form pan. Place into the center of the oven (NO water-bath is necessary), and bake for 35 minutes before rotating completely. Be very careful as you rotate the cake!

Check the cake with the blade of a thin-bladed knife after the second 35 minutes of baking time. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. If not (and this is most likely the case), continue baking for another 10-15 mins. Until knife comes clean.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for an hour or so, then place the cake in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

I like to serve some good, fresh wild strawberries made into a sauce of their own juices. To prepare this, top the strawberries (save the tops and leaves to use in strawberry iced-tea) and slice into a mixing bowl. Slice one fresh vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds from the bean (and your fingers) into the strawberries, and dust the top of the strawberries lightly with sugar. Toss GENTLY by hand to combine the strawberries, sugar and vanilla. Lightly dust the top of the strawberry mixture with sugar a second time, and gently toss again. Place the bowl under refrigeration for at least 30-45 mins. To allow the juices to render and combine with the sugar and vanilla. The wild strawberries make their own sauce this way.


Go, eat

If you enjoy the recipes, please share my blog with your friends. If you have a recipe you'd like to share in Friendly Foods, please send it in. Photos are also appreciated! teedycooks@gmail.com

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July 24, 2012

It's All About The Grill (with Photos)

Summertime was always special around my house when I was growing up. My mom was a grilling machine! She didn't care what the weather was, if she could get the fire started, she was going to grill. Rain or shine.
I inherited that same desire to grill, no matter the weather. I have to tell you, living on the west coast of Norway, makes this a continuous challenge. The weather is often wet and windy in the summer. And yet, I persevere! My neighbors used to look at me quizzically when they'd see me lighting the grill when the clouds of impending rain were overhead, but now they just smile and make the polite Norwegian, "ooh, that smells good" face. Norwegians are far too polite to come over and say, " girl, that's smelling good! What you got going on over here!?" Everyone who knows me, understands that I'd be happy to share the grub!! That's what it's all about!
Peto and I are big fans of Veggie Packs on the grill. Vegetables love the grill. You don't only have to skewer them to cook them on the grill. Below I have some lovely Veggie Packs,
A Lovely Leek...
Leeks are a delicious sweet and mild part of the onion family. I first cut off most of the green top and slice it straight down the middle.

Then rinse in lots of cold water. Leeks and green onions (scallions) tend to have sand hiding in between their layers. It's not cool to crunch on sand while you eat.
Then, I cut the washed halves into halves and place it on double layered heavy duty foil.

Drizzle over good olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and a light pinch of Creole Seasoning. Don't over season, you want to taste this lovely vegetable. Lay some sprigs of your favorite herb on top. I chose oregano.
Oh, it's so pretty! I can't help myself. One more!
Wrap up the leeks in a nice package and sit aside.

Next Veggie Pack is zucchini with mushrooms, garlic, red onion, a little bell pepper and basil.

Chop your vegetables in thick chunks except for the garlic and bell pepper, mince those.


Place the vegetables on doubled heavy duty foil and season them as desired and drizzle with olive oil. Then, sprinkle whole basil leaves over the top.

Gorgeous!! Now, wrap it up in a nice package and set aside to wait or the grill.

I place the Veggie Packs around the edges of the grill before I begin to cook the meat or fish. They need to go a bit longer in the packs.
I get my grill prepared and if the weather is good, I set up outside in our pavilion.


After about 25-35 minutes my packs are ready to come off the grill.



I served my Veggie Packs this day with Ginger & Maple Smoked Pork Chops and Honey & Soy Drumsticks.


Go, eat!!
If you enjoy the recipes, please share my blog with your friends. If you have a recipe you'd like to share in Friendly Foods, please send it in. Photos are also appreciated! teedycooks@gmail.com
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Baked Fish in Brown Paper Bag (with Photos)

This is a great fish dish. I also like to add other veggies, like fresh string beans or asparagus. It's also tasty to top with small shrimp or crawfish tails. The photos are done with shrimp and asparagus.

Baked Fish in Brown Paper Bag
Serving Size: 2

2 large fish fillets (use a hearty, firm fish. I used sea bass)
1 medium brown paper lunch bag
Olive oil
1/2 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into small cubes
2 medium red potatoes, washed and cut into small cubes
2 teaspoons garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon shallots, finely minced
1 bunch green onion, sliced
Fresh grated ginger, about 2 teaspoons
Salt & cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Wash the fillets and put aside. Take the paper bag and spread oil (1-3 teaspoons) all over the inside, outside and bottom of the bag so that it is shiny, but not dripping with oil.

Spread the minced garlic, shallots and ginger over your fish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover the fish with the diced potatoes and rutabaga. Top with sliced green onion. If you add shrimp, add before root veggies.

Now, place the filets into the oiled bag. Fold the open end of the bag over several times to make sure it is well sealed. Place the packages on a cookie sheet when done.

Place cookie sheet in the oven and cook for about 35-40 minutes. The paper bag puffs and turns a darker brown. When you open it up, remember, it's been steaming inside, so watch your hands and face! Be Careful! Enjoy!


Go, eat!!

If you enjoy the recipes, please share my blog with your friends. If you have a recipe you'd like to share in Friendly Foods, please send it in. Photos are also appreciated! teedycooks@gmail.com

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Teedy's Crispy Crunchy Boneless Fried Chicken!

My dear friend Paula from Canada, thinks that she's kitchen impaired. She has tried to make fried chicken unsuccessfully and she sent me a message asking for help. Now, what you should know about Paula, she is always there to help others. Moments after Hurricane Katrina she and a group of her friends were on they're way to New Orleans. They arrived and helped as many people as they could, try to sort out and clean up their lives in the chaos. She's a good, good soul. So, the least I could do is sit down and go through my brain and put my recipe for boneless fried chicken onto my blog.

Frying bone-in chicken takes more knowledge and a lot more oil. For those who don't know what they're doing, it can be dangerous. This is a much easier way to get that delicious crispy fried chicken, without setting yourself or the kitchen ablaze!

Teedy's Crispy Crunchy Boneless Fried Chicken

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika powder
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon fine white sugar
2 cups Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 cup tempura mix
1 tablespoon plain yogurt
1/2 cup water
Enough vegetable oil to fill heavy skillet, leaving 2 inches to the rim

In a bowl mix all of your dry spices and thyme. This creates a flavor of Creole Seasoning mix. It's very helpful if you don't have easy access to prepared Creole Seasoning.

I like to slice my chicken breasts into nice thick strips. It fries a bit faster. You can leave them whole if you prefer. Place your chicken in a dish where they touch and season with the spice mix you've made, saving half for your tempura batter. Set it aside.

Fill a large skillet with vegetable, leaving at least 2 inches from rim, over medium-high heat.

In a shallow dish, put 1 cup of the tempura mix, the remainder of your spice mix and the yogurt. Slowly add cold water, mixing well with a whisk. You want your batter slightly thinner than paste, so that it coats the chicken well. To runny and it won't coat properly.

Place Panko in a shallow dish.

Set up your dredging station right next to your skillet of hot oil. This is a bit messy, so you want to have everything close.

Prepare a large platter with several sheets of paper towel to place the chicken when it comes out of the oil.

Dredge chicken evenly in the tempura, and then into the Panko. Immediately place chicken in the oil from the Panko. Its ok for the chicken to sit in the batter while you're working.

Don't overload the skillet, it will drop the temperature of the oil. If your chicken is cut into strips, no more than 4 pieces at a time. If its whole, 2 at a time. Fry for 6-7 minutes on each side until its golden brown.

Place chicken on the platter to drain on the paper towels. When crumbs gather in the oil use a slotted spoon to remove. Repeat until all of your chicken is done.

The left over chicken, if there is any, is great for snacks or on a crispy chicken salad. To store the chicken, I wrap it in a few sheets of paper towel and put it in a plastic bad or air tight container. To reheat, warm slowly in the oven. The microwave is not a good idea for this.


Go, eat Paula!!!!

If you enjoy the recipes, please share my blog with your friends. If you have a recipe you'd like to share in Friendly Foods, please send it in. Photos are also appreciated! teedycooks@gmail.com

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July 23, 2012

Hibiscus Flower Margarita

Hibiscus Flower Margarita

1 cup dried hibiscus flowers (or 4 bags hibiscus tea)
1 cup sugar
4 cups water
1 cup tequila
Boil water and place the hibiscus flowers or tea bags into the water. Let it simmer for 10 or 15 minutes. Strained through cheesecloth or remove the tea bags and stir in sugar until dissolved. Put the hibiscus water in the refrigerator to cool.
To serve, add the tequila (more, if you’d like). Mix and pour over ice. You want to be able to taste the hibiscus, and you don't want it too sweet. You may want to add a bit of water if it is too sweet or strong.


Go, drink!!

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Eggs In A Basket (Friendly Foods)

More tasty goodness by the Rooneys. Those two are dangerous in a kitchen. Good, good, good!

Eggs in a Basket
By Jennifer Rooney
serves 12

* 2 tablespoons butter, melted
* 24 wonton squares
* 12 slices shaved prosciutto, chopped
* 12 large eggs
* 12 tablespoons grated Parmesan
* 1 roasted red pepper, cut into thin strips
* 12 fresh tarragon leaves
* Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Brush the muffin cups with butter and line each with 1 wonton square. Brush the squares with more butter and place the second wonton on top of the first at an angle so that all of the points show. Divide the prosciutto among 6 of the muffin cups. Break 1 egg into each muffin cup. Top with the Parmesan, lay a tarragon leaf on top and, using 2 slices of red pepper each, form an "X" on top of each egg.

Sprinkle all with a little salt and pepper and place in the bottom half of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the egg white is firm but yolk still liquid. Remove from the oven and let sit 5 minutes before carefully removing the baskets from the tin. Arrange on a decorative platter and serve immediately.

*If you don't have prosciutto, you can used shaved ham (Chisesi is best). If you want to make them vegetarian, put a chunk of brie in the bottom instead of the ham. Almost any combination will work. Be Creative!!


Go, eat!!

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Sweet Creole Parishioner's Pie (Friendly Foods)

This scrumptious morsel was submitted by the Angel of Awesomeness, Vatican Lokey!!

Sweet Creole Parishioner's Pie
Submitted by Vatican Lokey

2 large or 3 medium Louisiana Yams or sweet potatoes, or any sweet red or yellow tuber will do, to make enough for 6.

8 cups chicken stock or water with chicken bouillion.

2 lbs. extra lean ground beef, buffalo, or bison.

1 lg. yellow onion, finely minced.
2 stalks celery, also finely minced
1/2 cup kale, well-rinsed and finely minced
3/4th cup of carrots, finely sliced
1 lg. bell pepper...also minced.

1 stick or 8 tbls. high quality salted butter
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
13 X 9 glass baking pan
Oil sprayer

1Tbs. each garlic & onion powders
1/4th tsp. pure stevia extract
1 tsp. each ginger & nutmeg
salt to taste

1 cup shredded low fat cheddar cheese & 1/2 c. low fat ground parmesan, asiago, or romano cheese.
1/2 cup dry brown roux flour
1 1/2 cup of warm chicken broth or bouillion (from potato boil)

3 Tbs. nutritional yeast flakes
3 Tbs. liquid amino acids (if using this, omit the salt in the potatoes)

Finely mince your vegetables, and set aside in separate containers.
Peel & boil potatoes in chicken broth for 20 minutes or until tender. While that's happening, put 4 tbs. of butter into a skilled over a medium-high heat and begin browning the butter, about 5 minutes. Stir continuously with spatula until golden brown, then add onions. Toss to thoroughly coat with browned butter and bring back to a solid bubble, about 5 minutes. Add 1tsp sea salt & 1 tbs. cane syrup or half parts corn syrup and unsulphured molasses. Stir in well By the spoonful, add tablespoons of the hot potato broth boil to the onions, stirring well after each spoon. When the liquid evaporates, drop another spoonful of broth in until the onions are completely carmelized. Set aside.

Spray your baking dish with a thin layer of oil and set aside.
Also, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Place 2 tbs. of olive oil in pan along with minced celery, kale, and carrots. Saute thoroughly until pan takes on yellow-green caste, then toss in minced bell peppers. Cook together for another two minutes before removing the vegetables from the fire.

Toss in another tablespoon of olive oil into the pan and add your ground meat. Brown the meat until just barely pink inside and then remove from heat. Add in all vegetables, season to taste with creole seasonings. Set aside.

Remove the potatoes from the broth boil, reserving a cup & a half of the broth for later. In the mixing bowl, add powdered onion, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, stevia, & salt and 1 tbs. butter. You may also add the optional ingredients at this time. With a food processor or a hand-held mixer beat until smooth and stiff. You may add more of the broth or evap milk to gain the desired texture. Set aside.

In a separate saucepan, brown the remaining butter and then add the dry roux. If there is not enough fat for the roux, add a little olive oil. Get the roux to the desired consistency and then add the remaining chicken broth to the sauce. Stir constantly until it is creamy and thick. Remove from the heat.

Arrange the meat-vegetable mixture on the bottom of the baking pan. Cover the bottom. Add the gravy to the pan by the spoonful, being careful not to innundate the meat-veg mix, but compliment it. From there, spread the mashed sweet pototo mixture over all, finalizing with a good coating of the low-fat cheese mixture. Place the dish uncovered into the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. If the cheese has not browned in that time, add an additional five minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6

Go, eat!!

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The Perfect Brown Rice

Cooking "true" brown rice can be daunting to some. You boil it and boil it for hours and it's still crunchy. Converted brown rice (ie, Uncle Ben's Brown Rice) takes the guess work out, but this super healthy grain loses so much in that process. You can make perfect brown rice but you have to be willing to spend the time. It's worth it. I suffer with terrible digestive problems and white rice can give me serious stomach troubles. Brown rice is a staple with me and it's beautiful nutty flavor makes it worth the extra time. The plus side, you can make a large portion and it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 days in an airtight container or split between freezer bags and frozen and thawed for later. The steps I have listed below are NECESSARY in order to get perfect brown rice.

Measurements: 1 part brown rice to 2 parts liquid.
So, if you use 1 cup brown rice, you'll use 2 cups broth or water.

In a stock pot put 1-3 tablespoons of oil, depending on how much rice is used. You want the oil to coat the rice, but you don't want it floating in oil. I like to use olive oil. You can choose for yourself.

Put your rice into the oil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. You will begin to smell a wonderful nutty aroma coming from the rice. Do this for about 5 minutes. If pieces of rice start to puff, remove from heat. This step is one of those absolutely necessary steps I referred to.

When the rice is browned and smelling wonderful, pour your broth or water over the rice.

Now, I use the rice as a side with meats, fowl and fish but I also have it with an egg for breakfast or with steamed veggies for lunch, so I like to season my rice. I add:

1/2 bell pepper (any color) diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

I add these ingredients when I pour the liquid over the rice. Bring the rice up to a full boil. When it's at a full boil, turn the fire down to the lowest setting and cover. Set a timer for 40 minutes and let it simmer on low. DO NOT OPEN THE LID!!! I know the desire to peek and stir eats at you, but don't do it!

When your timer goes off in 40 minutes, remove the pot from heat, STILL COVERED, and set the timer for 20 minutes. Do not open the lid!!

At the end if the 20 minutes, open the lid and stir the rice to release the heat and leave it uncovered to let it cool down. Do not recover until the rice has cooled.

If you follow these steps, you will have perfect brown rice.

Brown rice is one of the most beneficial starches you can eat. Each 1/2-cup serving of brown rice provides a slew of good nutrition, including 5 percent of your daily protein requirement, 8 percent of your daily fiber requirement and good amounts of the minerals iron, thiamin, niacin and folate.

Go, eat!!

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Shrimp & White Beans (Photos)

Shrimp & White Beans

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 pound smoked bacon, diced
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons dry thyme
2 bay leaves
1 pound white beans, rinsed well and soaked overnight, drained
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
2 teaspoons Creole Seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons dried parsley leaves
1/2 cup chopped green onion
Cooked rice, I prefer brown rice, but most New Orleanians like long grain white rice


In a heavy stock pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add the bacon and cook until lightly golden, around 5 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and bay leaves and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans, chicken stock and water and bring to a boil. Partially cover the pot, reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender and creamy. It takes about 2 hours. 

When the beans are tender, season with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the Creole Seasoning, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the black and red pepper flakes and stir well. In a small bowl toss the shrimp with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon Creole Seasoning and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and mix until the shrimp are coated with the seasoning. Add the shrimp, parsley and green onions to the beans and stir to combine. Remove beans from the heat, cover them, and allow to sit for 5-7 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink and just cooked through.  

Stir well and serve beans right away, spooned over cooked rice. 


Go, eat!!

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July 22, 2012

Grillades & Grits! (Friendly Foods)

My fantastical, magical, über talented friend, Vatican Lokey sent me this delicious recipe of a New Orleans classic!

Grillades & Grits!
submitted by Vatican Lokey

2 lbs. veal or beef round, about 1/2 inch thick
1/2 cup whole wheat flour with 2 Tbs. corn meal, 1 Tbs Zatarain's
4 Tbs. butter
1 cup minced onion
1/2 cup each minced celery, green peppers, carrots
1 can (16 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 Tbs. chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. thyme
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup good red wine
1 cup grits
4 oz. Velveeta or other processed cheese spread
Onion powder, garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste

Pound veal or beef with a meat mallet until 1/4th inch thickness. Cut away any gristle or extra fat while slicing up meat into 1 inch squares. Douse in seasoned flour & cornmeal until covered. Sift away excess. In a deep skillet, melt down half of the butter until it begins to brown then add meat and brown together. Remove meat to separate platter. Use remaining flour & butter to make a roux. Add onions*, peppers, celery, & carrots and cook until soft, around 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Return the meat to the pan and add tomatoes, parsley, thyme, & 1/2 cups of broth & red wine. Stir together slowly while bringing mixture to a boil. Cover & simmer for an hour (you may need to add more broth & wine during cooking.)

20 minutes before grillades are ready, bring remaining chicken broth & milk to a boil & add grits. Return to a boil, then simmer uncovered on medium-high heat until grits are smooth & creamy. Remove from heat, then add processed cheese spread, onion powder, garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste.

Spoon grits onto a warmed plate, then serve grillades on top. Serves 6 regular people or 2 Orleanians.

*I like to carmelize the onions before I add them to the dish. In that instance, only toss in the celery, peppers, & carrots to soften, then add the carmelized onions last before simmering.

Go, eat!!
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David's Crawfish Bread (Friendly Food)

I have lots of friends who are major foodies. David & Jennifer Rooney are masters of tasty goodness! Here's a little something from David

David's Crawfish Bread
submitted by Jennifer & David Rooney

* David uses his favorite pizza dough recipe, slightly different than this dough, any pizza dough recipe works great. Shrimp works good if you don't have access to our wonderful Louisiana crawfish tails.

1 envelope active dry yeast
1 TBS sugar
2 TBS plus 1 tsp vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups warm water (110F)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsps salt
1 TBS unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 TBS finely chopped red bell pepper
1 TBS finely chopped yellow bell pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds peeled crawfish tails (drain well)
1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 pound Monterey Jack cheese with jalapenos, grated
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Combine the yeast, sugar & 2 TBS of the vegetable oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the warm water. With the mixer on low speed, beat the mixture for about 1 minute to dissolve the yeast.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour & 1 tsp of the salt. Add 1/4 cup at a time to the yeast mixture, mixing on low speed until the dough lightly comes together. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, forms a ball & climbs up the dough hook. (*NOTE David makes the dough by hand, not with a mixer)

Coat a large bowl with the remaining 1 tsp vegetable oil. Put the dough in the bowl and turn to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, set aside in a warm, draft-free place & let rise until doubled in size; about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, the remaining 1 1/2 tsps salt & the cayenne. Cook, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the crawfish tails and cook, stirring for 5 minutes.

Remove the dough from the bowl and turn it onto a lightly floured work surface. Push it down, then, using your hands, pat it out to flatten it. Roll it out to a 20 X 15 inch rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick.

Combine the cheeses in a medium sized mixing bowl. Sprinkle hald of the cheese over the upper half of the rectangle, leaving 1/2 inch border. Spoon the crawfish mixture evenly over the cheese. Top with the remaining cheese.

Fold the other hald of the dough up over the filling, forming a half-moon shape and pinch the edges tightly to seal completely. Fold the edges over & crimp.

Carefully transfer the dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (David uses a silpat mat.) With a sharp, pointed knife, make 3 slits on top, about 6 inches apart. Brush the surface of the dough with the beaten egg & sprinkle with the kosher salt & black pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled in size; about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Remove the plastic wrap & bake until golden brown, 30-35 minutes. Let cool slightly. Cut crosswise into 12 equal portions & serve warm.

Go, eat!!

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I'm In A Pickle! (Photos)

This was my first try, ever, at making pickles. Honestly, you can use almost any veggies to make pickles. The real trick is the pickling liquid. Getting that right is the key to great pickles. Mine were ok, but a bit too much oregano. It's a really powerful herb.

My second try was a hit! When Peto (my husband) says that something tastes "perfect", it's the one. I adjusted the vinegar, sugar and herbs. This photo is before the pickling liquid was added.

This photo is when they are officially pickles!

I'm In A Pickle!

6 cups water
4 cups mild white vinegar
3 tablespoons coarse white salt (kosher, if available)
4 tablespoons sugar
Veggies, cut if needed, scrubbed
2 red chilies, roughed (optional)
8 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons mixed peppercorns
4 bay leaves
1 large bunch of dill, washed
2 sprigs oregano, washed

1. In a large pot, bring water to a boil with the salt, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and add the vinegar.

2. Prepare jars by running them through the dishwasher or filling them with boiling water, then dumping it out.

3. Pack the veggies vertically into the jars, making sure they’re tightly-packed. As you fill the jars, divide the garlic, spices, and herbs amongst them.

4. Fill the jars with brine so that the cucumbers are completely covered. Cover the jars with cheesecloth, secured with rubber bands, or loosely with the lids. Store in a cool, dark place for 3 days.

5. After 3 days, taste one. The pickles can ferment from 3 to 6 days. The longer the fermentation, the more sour they’ll become. Once the pickles are to your liking, refrigerate them.

Try different herbs and spices for your pickles. Adjust the ingredients to your liking. Pickles are delicious along with lots of different dishes, not just next to a sandwich!

Go, eat!!

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Some Of My Yummies! (Photos)

This is an Agnes Anne Salad

Agnes Anne is a name I call my dear friend and fellow foodie, Katja Toivola. She taught me the trick to making delicious salad dressings. After I get the clearance from her, I'll post the recipe!

I served this salad with a delicious stir fry of Norwegian Smoked Summer Pork Chops

This next photo is of a Cold White Bean Salad

Just about all beans and peas can be made into a delicious, healthy salad. In this one there's marinated feta, sun dried tomatoes, pickled garlic, fresh basil, crushed red pepper flakes, olive oil and lemon juice.

I served it with steamed cod for a light and very healthy lunch.

More to come...

Go, eat!!

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