Saturday, February 20, 2010

Crawfish Etouffee...Pizza


I have my first follower! Hi Michelle, thanks for following my blog. I'm all giddy now. I'm also nervous because somebody's actually reading this thing!

Last night the guinea pig and I were watching "The Best Thing I Ever Ate - Pizza" on Food Network. He wasn't impressed with anything the chefs talked about (he's not really a "foodie"). So I asked him what would impress him. "Crawfish Etouffee Pizza," says he. "Hmmm, okay, that's different."  We've had crawfish pizza before, nothing new there, but never an etouffee based pizza. So I pull out my trusty Crawfish Etouffee recipe, look over the ingredients and come to the conclusion that this could work. I figured I could make the etouffee for dinner and make a small 8-inch pizza to see how it tastes.

So, was it any good? Yes and no. It was okay but next time I'm going to do a couple things different. The etouffee however, was great. This is my father-in-law's recipe and it's the best I've ever had. 

First you start off by chopping up your veggies and sauteing them over medium heat in a stick of butter. 

I know it's a lot of butter but you do need ½ cup for the sauce. If you must, you can use olive oil, scaredy cat! 

Let the veggies turn a golden color, takes about 5 minutes.

Then add a heaping tablespoon of all-purpose flour. Let that cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. 

Add a cup of chicken stock (or water) and cover. Drop the heat down to low and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes.

While the etouffee simmers, make some rice.

Super easy...except I had a DOH! moment. Yeah, after the etouffee was done and I turned the heat off, I started working on the pizza and questioning the guinea pig and trying to figure out what it needed and didn't need and got caught up in a stoopid! episode of Cheaters and yelling at the crazy fools on the tv and an hour and a half later I realized my etouffee was still simmering! I didn't turn the heat off. NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

Lucky for me it didn't burn. It just turned a deeper brownish color, but the flavor was still good, a little more intense than usual. I just pretended it was supposed to be that color.

So for the pizza, I took the easy way out and bought an 8-inch ready made crust. I used the sauce from the etouffee and spread it over the crust. Next I put on some shredded mozzarella. I found some smoked mozzarella at the store so I thought that would be really good on it too. Wrong - the smoked mozzarella was too strong and you could barely taste the etouffee. I only used a little bit but next time I'll just stick with the plain mozzarella. Then I put on the crawfish and veggies and sprinkled on the Tony's. Since crawfish season is just now starting up, I used frozen crawfish. It's okay but not nearly as good as crawfish that comes from the crawfish boil and that would've made a big difference on the pizza.


It's not my favorite pizza but I'd definitely make it again.

So I'm putting the food away and cleaning up the kitchen and the guinea pig comes in and says "Hey, do you think you could make Crawfish Etouffee Ravioli?" Hmmm...I think I'll try that one after the first crawfish boil.


1 lb  crawfish tails
1 stick butter
1 large white onion, chopped
¼ of a bell pepper, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon  all-purpose flour
1 cup water or chicken stock
salt & red pepper, to taste

Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning, to taste

Saute onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic in butter until golden.  Stir often.  Add flour, stirring continuously for 5-10 minutes or until well blended.  Add tails and mix thoroughly.  Season to taste.  Add 1 cup water or chicken stock and cover.  Simmer about 20-30 minutes until meat is tender.  Add or cook off water until gravy is consistency desired.  Serve over rice.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Batter Fried Scallops

I've had this craving for batter fried scallops ever since my mom took me to Red Lobster for my birthday. I got the Admiral's Feast and it had these awesome batter fried bay scallops. I just used a batter for fried shrimp and added a little panko for extra crunch. This is super easy. Serve with tartar sauce.

Wash off the scallops and make sure there are no icky ones in the bunch.

Dry them off with paper towels.

Mix the oil, egg, milk, flour, sugar, salt, pepper, tony's & a little panko together in a bowl. Dip the scallops in batter. Sorry, you're going to have to get a little dirty.

Add some panko to a small dish and dip the battered scallops in the panko. Roll them around a little to get nice and coated.

Heat oil to 350°F. Carefully drop scallops in and let them swim for about 2 or 3 minutes. They'll float to the top and turn golden brown when they're ready.

Drain them on paper towels.

Batter Fried Scallops Recipe

1 pound scallops
1 tablespoon oil
1 egg, beaten
½ - 1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup panko crumbs
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt 
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Tony Chachere's Cajun Spice, to taste
panko crumbs for dipping
Oil for deep frying

Preheat oil to 350°F in a deep fryer or deep saucepan. Whisk together egg, milk and 1 tablespoon oil in a bowl. Mix together flour, sugar, salt, pepper and Tony's. Add to egg mixture and beat until smooth. Add some panko to a small bowl. Dip scallops into batter, shake off excess batter and then dip into the panko crumbs.

Fry a few scallops at a time for 2 to 3 minutes (depending on size) or until golden brown. Turn as needed. Drain on paper towels. Serve with tarter sauce.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

Cooking is a little depressing for me right now. For the past year and a half I've been living with most of my stuff scattered across the country. When my husband deployed in 2008 we were living in Kansas. I packed up our house and put everything in storage and moved in with my parents in Louisiana for the year. When he got back in 2009 he only had 2 months left in the army, so instead of getting an apartment we moved into a hotel, stuffless. Now we're back in Louisiana living with my father in law. Some of my stuff is here, some of it is at my mom's and the majority of it is at Fort Polk waiting to be delivered to us. We're going today to rent a storage building close by and get ALL of our stuff in one place. I can't wait! I miss my dishes and my blender so much. Once we figure out where in the world we want to live (Tennessee) and find jobs (stupid bad economy!) we can get our own place again and I'll finally be reunited with ALL my stuff.

So, what does this have to do with Shepherd's Pie? Not a damn thing, I'm just venting. It's just a little depressing when you want to make cupcakes but your FIL doesn't own a cupcake tin. Sure I could go buy one, but I have a perfectly good one waiting for me at Fort Polk. I don't have kids so owning more than one (ok, I actually own 5, but that's not the point) isn't necessary. Ok, I'm done now...back on to the Shepherd's Pie.

Shepherd's Pie is the ultimate comfort food. It's like beef stew with mashed potatoes. It doesn't get better than that. I use a Rachel Ray recipe that I've tweaked a little bit. You can find the original recipe here. This is a super easy dish to make, the only thing I'm not crazy about is that it takes a lot of pots and pans so hopefully you have a dishwasher.

I like to add butternut squash to my potatoes. So first thing you want to do is get your veggies peeled and cut up. Cut up the potatoes and squash into small chunks and boil in salted water until tender, about 12 minutes.

Start browning your ground beef and drain off fat. Add the onions, garlic & carrots and cook for about 5 minutes. Normally, I use canned carrots, but if you use fresh like I did this time, cut them thin and you'll need to cook this a little longer than 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and Tony's. Add in the sweet peas toward the end of the cook time.

In Louisiana we use Tony Chachere's on EVERYTHING. It's pronounced Satch - uh - reez, but we just call it Tony's. I've never had any problem finding it outside of Louisiana. Walmart carries it in the spice aisle.

In saucepan #3 over medium heat you're going to melt 2 tablespoons of butter and add 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Whisk for at least 2 minutes, just long enough to get rid of the raw flour taste. You don't need to brown this like you would for gravy. Add 1 cup of beef stock and 2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce. Let this cook about a minute longer to thicken and then pour over the ground beef mixture.

Your potatoes and squash should be ready to mash now. Drain off the water in a colander and add the potatoes and squash back to the pot. Mix 1 stick of butter (I'm Southern, it's in my genes... it's in the other jeans too, unfortunately), the cream, a dollop of sour cream and the egg yolk. Mash together til smooth and creamy. The egg yolk will help the potatoes brown under the broiler.

Preheat your broiler on high. Empty the meat mixture into a casserole dish. Spoon the potatoes over the meat mixture and spread out evenly to completely cover. Sprinkle more Tony's over the top and broil 6 to 8 inches from the heat until the potatoes are evenly browned. Enjoy!

Shepherd's Pie

This is my adapted recipe of Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Shepherd's Pie.

Shepherd's Pie

2 pounds potatoes, such as russet, peeled and cubed

1 half butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 stick butter

2 tablespoons sour cream or softened cream cheese

1 large egg yolk

¼ cup cream, for a lighter version substitute vegetable or chicken broth

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan

1 3/4 pounds ground sirloin 

1 can carrots

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup beef stock or broth

2 teaspoons Worcestershire, eyeball it

1small can sweet peas

1 teaspoon Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves


Boil potatoes  and squash in salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and pour them back into the pot. Combine butter, sour cream, egg yolk and cream. Add the cream mixture into potatoes and mash until potatoes are almost smooth. (The butter, sour cream, cream and egg yolk are optional and the amounts can be adjusted to your liking.)

While potatoes boil, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil to hot pan with beef. Season meat with salt, pepper and Tony's. Brown and crumble meat for 3 or 4 minutes. Add carrot, onion and garlic to the meat. Cook veggies with meat 5 minutes, stirring frequently. In a second small skillet over medium heat cook butter and flour together 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and Worcestershire sauce. Thicken gravy 1 minute. Add gravy to meat and vegetables. Stir in peas.

Preheat broiler to high. Fill a small rectangular casserole with meat and vegetable mixture. Spoon potatoes over meat evenly. Top potatoes with Tony's and broil 6 to 8 inches from the heat until potatoes are evenly browned. Top casserole dish with chopped parsley and serve.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

First Cold of the Year

Mmm, mmm good!

It never fails, I always end up sick on my birthday...I think it psychological! Anyway, I've been nursing this cold for about a week. I feel better now but still have the stuffiness and cough. I'm also sick of canned soup. So yesterday I went on a net search for The Best Chicken Noodle Soup for a cold. Nothing fancy, no bells and whistles, just something to make me feel all warm and snuggly inside.

I found a few cool food sites that I hadn't come across before, but no soup that called to me. Then it happened..."Chicken Noodle Soup for the Sick One" popped up on the search engine. If that's not a sign from above then I don't know what is. Maxine from Chew On That posted a Chicken Soup recipe that she had adapted from Tyler Florence. It was perfect! This was the best chicken noodle soup that I've ever had. The title says it all. It's quick, it's easy and it's good! I made a few tiny changes but basically stuck to Maxine's version which can be found here. This recipe is a definite keeper!

Yum...Ninja Vegetables

Yeah, I'm a big cheater with the celery. I really detest celery so I only used about a tablespoon instead of 2 ribs. But I did use SOME.

How good does that look! I added a tablespoon of butter to the olive oil to saute the veggies cause everybody knows Butter Makes It Better!

I bought a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and shredded the meat with a fork and cut it up into bite size pieces. Save the carcass and freeze it. You can use it to make your own chicken stock.

I used medium-sized egg noodles and cooked them separately until they were about 99% done. I don't add noodles to any soup while the soup is still cooking. The noodles soak up all the juice and become mushy and the starch in them thickens the soup up and it just becomes one big mess! I let the soup cool just a bit and then add the noodles. This was exactly what I needed.

And this was exactly what I didn't need...

I was BUZZED! This is one of Davey's RC Copters. His new favorite pasttime is buzzing me while I cook. I'm really getting tired of this thing hoovering above my head! The first time it flies into my face, he that's his ass!

Check out what my mom got me for my birthday...

Isn't it pretty! I love it! Thanks Mom! Love ya bunches!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez! Watch out for the flying pigs!

I never thought in a million years the the Saint's would win a Super Bowl. Bourbon Street will never be the same! I guess it's fitting that my first recipe post is the Mardi Gras King Cake.

I was raised in North Louisiana and we really didn't start celebrating Mardi Gras in that area until the early 1990's. The one thing I always looked forward to was the King Cake. It is so ooey gooey good. After my husband joined the Army and we moved out of the state we really missed the cake. I looked into having one delivered but it was a little out of our price range. So I figured "How hard can it be to make one?" Well, it's not actually. The hard part is finding a recipe. If you've ever done a search for one on the net you'll find plenty. The problem is that most of these come out tasting bland or too yeasty (is that a word?). It took a few years and a few duds but I've finally got a recipe tweaked to awesome. Oh, there is one other hard part -- the filling. The filling can literally be ANYTHING you can imagine. If only my husband and I had the same taste! He likes a chocolate ganache filling I did one year. It was good but for some reason not my favorite. I like a cinnamon apple filling, but he hates apples. I'd end up making 2 cakes every year but with it being just the two of us, that's a lot of cake. Good thing single soldiers are always hungry. Now that he's out of the army and we've got no soldiers hanging out at the house we're back to that being a LOT of cake. I finally came up with a cinnamon filling that we both love. I've included the recipe but you can do anything you want. You wouldn't believe the different filling combinations I've see lately.

The key to the King Cake is that the dough has to have flavor too. You can't rely on just the filling for your flavor factor. A lot of people will use nutmeg or cinnamon in the dough and that does taste great, but after just coming off the holiday season, you tend to get a little burned out on nutmeg. I like to use Mace instead. I'm not talking about the stuff you spray in peoples eyes! If you're not familiar with it, mace is the strange covering you see on fresh nutmeg. It taste similar to nutmeg but is a little more subtle. You can use it in place of nutmeg in any recipe.

I'm about to do something I swore I would never do. I'm giving away my secret ingredient...and it's only the first post! I'm sure many of you probably already use this too, but it's "so secret squirrel" to think you have a secret ingredient that no one else knows about. It's Amrula Liqueur. I use it in place of Vanilla Extract in EVERYTHING!!! This stuff is the Drink of the Gods! If you've never had it you must get some now! Right now! Run along, I'll wait...

Amarula is a South African Creme Liqueur. It has hints of caramel, vanilla and CHOCOLATE. How could you ever go wrong with that? It's made from the fruit of the marula tree which only grows on the African plains. Elephants eat the fermented fruit and supposedly get drunk...I'd love to see that! It has recently become popular here in the states and it's a lot easier to find now. I saw it in Albertson's the other day.

Ok, back to the King Cake. I use Cardamom in the filling. Cardamom cost a fortune at the grocery store so I buy it online at Penseys Spices . It's much more affordable there. You can skip it if you want , but it really does add an extra little umph. The ingredient amounts make a large cake which is good for the braided technique. However, if you'd like a smaller cake just half the ingredients. If you do, I'd recommend that instead of braiding the dough, just roll it tight lengthwise like you would for a cinnamon roll recipe. Make sure it's tight. If it's not, the air trapped inside will make huge caves in the center. Make a circle with the dough and pinch the ends together. I only use the baby (or Mardi Gras coin) if I'm making the cake for a party. You would not believe how many people get freaked out by the baby! Of course my sick little sense of humor never seems to help that situation. Somehow I always ended up the black sheep of the FRG. Don't worry if some of the filling leaks out.

Hope you enjoy it!

Mardi Gras King Cake

1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup milk

1/3 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon mace

4 teaspoons dry yeast

1/3 cup warm water (110° - 115°F)

4 eggs, room temperature

6 cups bread flour (All-Purpose can also be used)



Colored Sugar: Yellow (Power), Green (Faith), Purple (Justice)

In a saucepan on low heat, combine butter, milk, 1/3 cup sugar and mace. Stir until butter melts. Take off the heat and let cool to lukewarm.

In a large mixer bowl combine 2 tablespoons sugar, yeast and water. Let stand until it gets spongy, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Beat eggs into yeast and add milk mixture. Stir in 5 cups of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Use reserved cup of flour for kneading surface.

Knead dough until smooth, about 5 to 10 minutes. It will probably take the whole cup of reserved flour. (If you have a stand mixer, use the dough hook to knead the dough, it goes a lot faster.)

Place the dough in a large bowl greased down with nonstick spray, turn once to grease the top, cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Make the filling while the dough rises.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

On a flat surface, punch down dough and divide in half. Turn 1 portion of dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll to a 20 by 10-inch rectangle. (Just eyeball it.)

Spread half the filling lengthwise down one half side of the dough. Fold the other half over the filling side. Roll it with the rolling pin to flatten it a little more and get any air pockets out. Take a pizza cutter and cut lengthwise into 3 equal strips. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer the strips to the baking sheet and braid the 3 strips together, leaving both ends loose. Form into a half circle. Now repeat the process for the other half of the dough. Connect the end pieces by pinching them together and finish the circle.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, til golden brown. Start checking it at 20 minutes.

While the cake bakes, make the glaze. Let the cake cool for about 10 to 15 minutes and then pick a spot to hide the baby. Do NOT bake the baby! Drizzle all over with glaze.Sprinkle the colored sugar over the glaze, alternating colors all the way around.

Cinnamon Sugar Filling

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons Vietnamese Cinnamon

1 teaspoon Cardamom (optional)

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

Mix well with a fork.


2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon Amarula Liqueur or Vanilla Extract

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Stir until smooth. If it's too thick just add more condensed milk. Use a fork to drizzle it all over the cake.

To make the colored sugar, you'll need 3 ziplock bags. Add about 1/4 cup granulated sugar and a few drops of gel food coloring in the desired color to each bag. Close bag and scrunch up sugar by hand to mix the color in. Keep adding more color til desired shade is reached.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The First Step Is Always The Hardest!

WooHoo!!! My first post. Welcome to my blog. After lurking for years in the many wonderful food blogs on the net, I've finally worked up the courage to share some of my favorite foods with you. I developed my love of baking from my mom. I started out helping her in the kitchen when I was a little kid...somebody had to lick the bowl. I think I was four when she bought me a Holly Hobby oven for Christmas; who knew baking with a light bulb could be so much fun.

My food heroes are my mom, Alton Brown and Paula Dean. I'm a die hard chocoholic and always have a cup of coffee nearby (if you can call 20 oz. a cup). I love to create and experiment with food and I'm not above using my husband Davey and family as my little minion guinea pigs.

Ok, I'm off to go shop for the ingredients to my first food post. I can't wait to share it with you. I hope you enjoy the blog and thanks for stopping by.