An Apple Primer

With the air getting lighter and the temperatures getting cooler, the cravings for all things apple and cinnamon slowly fill the void left in blueberry and strawberry season’s wakes. Thanks to some farming friends, we’ve been getting some sweet, fresh apples from a farm in the north eastern part of Louisiana.

We had too many apples to snack on one a day, so I set about finding a way to use them all while they were still at their freshest. I spent one afternoon in my kitchen filling the house with fragrant fall smells of warm apples, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. At the end of the day, I had stocked the fridge with small servings of fresh apple sauce perfect for school lunches; jars of velvety apple butter to share with the neighbors; and a pitcher of sweet and tangy apple cider to sip on while watching the game. You’ll want to cut these out and save them in your repertoire of things to make instead of buy. All of the following recipes are easy to prepare and can be doubled as needed.

Read more at or pick up a copy for free at stands around town soon!

All of these recipes can be doubled to make good use of a whole bushel of apples. You can also keep the cider and apple butter longer, up to three weeks or more, if you process each in a boiling water bath. A quick note about peeling: Apple peel contains many nutrients, so keep it on whenever possible.

appleciderApple Cider
5 apples, quartered
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup brandy (optional)

Core and quarter apples; you don’t have to peel them. Place apples in a large stockpot and add enough water cover by at least 2 inches. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Bring to a boil. Boil uncovered for 1 hour. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours more. Strain apple mixture though a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth, pressing out all the liquid, while not allowing too many solids through. Discard solids or cook for 15 to 30 minutes to make apple cider butter.

Despite the all the draining, fresh cider will be cloudy because it is not processed with commercial equipment. Add the brandy before storing, if desired. Cider must be refrigerated, but it can be served warm or chilled.

This recipe makes about 1 pint of cider. It takes about 36 apples to make 1 gallon of apple cider. If you refrigerate it in an airtight container, your cider should keep for about seven days.

4 medium cooking apples (don’t peel) cut into fourths and cored
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar

Core and cut apples into fourths. Don’t peel. In 2-quart saucepan, heat apples and water to boiling over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are very tender. Drain the apples and reserve the juices to use in other recipes like apple butter. Add sugar then puree the apples a few spins in the food processor. Add more sugar, cinnamon or other spices if desired. Store covered in refrigerator.

applebutterApple Butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla puree
5 medium apples

Cut apples into large chunks. They can be peeled or left unpeeled, cook’s preference. Combine all ingredients in a Dutch oven. Cover and cook over medium-low heat 30 minutes or until apples are very tender, stirring occasionally. Strain through a sieve or cheese cloth. Blend in the food processor. Return mixture to pan. Cook apples uncovered over medium-low heat 15 to 30 minutes more or until thick, stirring frequently. Let cool and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Serve over warm toast or biscuits, pancakes or even savory pork.


Gourmet Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese has been a favorite among children since it was first made in the 1920’s. Later, during the Depression era, it became a household staple when sliced bread and processed cheese were introduced as more affordable grocery items. Since the beginning, grilled cheese has been considered one of America’s most popular comfort foods.

In more recent years, the basic preparation of a grilled cheese has evolved to include more than just the original American cheese. You can grill everything from brie to feta on your sandwich. You can also throw on a whole host of toppings that perfectly complement your choice of cheese. Endless experiments in grilled cheese are being served in restaurants and homes all across the country today.

Whether you remember enjoying a grilled cheese sandwich as a child or maybe it was the first thing you learned to cook, there’s no mistaking the comforting power of warm toasted bread and smooth melting cheese. No matter what fancy fixings are being added to it today, there’s still nothing like a simple grilled cheese sandwich.

Read more at or pick up a free copy coming soon to stands near you!

Mac&Cheese Grilled Chipotle Mac and Cheese
12 ounces elbow macaroni pasta
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 block of cream cheese
1 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 to 2 chipotle peppers (2 if you like it spicy)
1 teaspoon adobo sauce from the peppers
1 tablespoon butter
8 slices Texas toast
4 avocados, sliced

Boil the pasta for about 5 minutes, or until al dente, then drain. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy sauce pan or Dutch oven. Melt in the cream cheese and stir in the cream. Then melt in the shredded cheddar. Stir in the seasonings, pepper and adobo. Fold in the pasta and keep warm.

Heat a large griddle or flat top to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter four slices of toast and place on the griddle, butter side down. Spoon macaroni on top of each slice until covered. Top with slices of avocado. Butter the remaining slices of toast and place them on the sandwiches butter side up. Gently turn the sandwiches to brown. Heat just until the bread is lightly toasted and golden brown on both sides. Serve warm. Makes four sandwiches.

Grilled Goat Cheese, Strawberry and Basil with Balsamic GlazeStrawberry
1/2 cup goat cheese crumbles
1/2 cup strawberries, diced
1 tablespoon butter
2 croissants
2 tablespoons balsamic glaze
3 to 4 large basil leaves

Heat a large skillet or griddle to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the goat cheese and diced strawberries together in a small bowl. Butter the bottom of both croissants. Place the croissants down on the heated surface. Spoon half the strawberry and cheese mixture onto each bottom half of the croissant. Drizzle the balsamic glaze over each sandwich. Roll the basil leaves together, cut the basil into ribbons with kitchen shears then sprinkle on top of the sandwiches. Butter the top half of the croissants and place them onto of the cheese, butter side up. Gently flip the sandwiches to brown the top side. Heat just until the bread is lightly toasted and golden brown and until the cheese starts to soften. Serve warm. Makes two sandwiches.

MuensterGrilled Muenster, Spinach and Apple Bourbon Chutney with Bacon
4 slices of bacon
1 garlic clove, diced
2 teaspoons bourbon
2 teaspoons apple jelly
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon butter
2 Kaiser or onion rolls
1 block of Muenster cheese, sliced thinly
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach


Heat a griddle to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the bacon into small pieces and start browning with the garlic in a small skillet. Stir in the bourbon, jelly, brown sugar and vinegar. Cook together until the bacon is done. Butter the bottom of the roll and place it on the griddle, butter side down. Cover each bun with cheese slices. Wilt the spinach on the griddle and place on top of the cheese. Using a slotted spoon, spoon the bacon chutney over the spinach. Butter the top of the bun and place it over the bacon, butter side up. Gently flip the sandwich over to brown the top. Heat just until the bread is lightly toasted and the cheese starts to melt. Serve warm. Makes two sandwiches.


Grilled Brie with Caramelized Onion, Pecans and Fig Jam
Brie2 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
2 whole wheat rolls
1 brie cheese
2 tablespoons fig jam

Sautee the onions and pecans in 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-low heat for 15 minutes or until the onions are brown and start to smell sweet. Remove from heat. Heat a large skillet, griddle or flat top to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter the bottom of the wheat rolls with half the remaining butter. Remove the rind from the brie and slice it. Pile the brie onto the bottom rolls. Spoon the onion and pecan mixture over the cheese on each sandwich. Spread one tablespoon of fig jam over each of the insides of the top buns. Place the top bun onto the sandwiches and butter the outside of the top bun. Turn gently to toast the top side of the sandwich and heat just until the bread is golden brown and until the cheese softens. Serve warm. Makes two sandwiches.

Festive and Fresh Fourth of July Desserts

It’s time to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day! We certainly have no trouble finding plenty of red, white and blue decorations for our picnics and barbeques. Why not decorate with what’s on the menu, too? During the summer there are so many fresh berries and fruit that almost beg to be part of your table on the Fourth of July.

These recipes shared here are not only festive in color, they’re fresh and even refreshing! Take advantage of all the delicious fruit we have available to us this season.

Read the full article and so much more in our upcoming July issue. Look for it soon on stands around town!

Raspberry Sherbet with Blueberry Compote
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon freshly chopped mint leaves

For the compote:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 or 3 mint leaves
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Wash the raspberries then place them in a blender or food processor. Puree the raspberries then press through a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth over a large clean bowl to remove the seeds. Discard the seeds. You should have about a cup of raspberry puree left. Whisk in the sugar, milk, half and half and mint until blended.

If you have an ice cream machine, pour the raspberry, sugar and cream mixture into the machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Depending on your machine, you may need to freeze the sherbet awhile longer in the freezer. If you do not have an ice cream machine, you can freeze the sherbet in a metal loaf pan, covered with plastic wrap, for about 5 or 6 hours or until firm. Stir the mixture occasionally, if needed. Makes about 3 cups sherbet.

While the sherbet is freezing, rinse the blueberries. In a medium sauce pan, heat water, sugar and lemon juice to boiling and sugar is dissolved. Carefully add blueberries and mint leaves. Return to boiling and simmer stirring often for 10 minutes to 15 minutes or until berries break down. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest. Chill for 2 to 3 hours then pour over raspberry sherbet just before serving. Makes about 1 and 1/2 cups compote.

Fresh Berry TartsBerryTart1
1 sheet frozen puff pastry or shells
1 cup light sour cream
8 ounces light (Neufchatel) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup apple jelly
2 cups fresh mixed berries

Allow the puff pastry to come to room temperature then cut into nine even squares. Butter the bottom of a muffin tin. Invert the pan so that it is facing down; place each square of dough over the outside of a cup. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on the pan completely.

Beat the sour cream, cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice just until incorporated. Too much will curdle the cheese. Place each pastry onto a plate and press down gently so that it sits evenly. Spoon a tablespoon or two of the cream mixture into the well of each. Pile on the fresh berries of your choosing. Whisk the apple jelly until smooth. Brush the jelly over the berries to brighten their color and sweeten them slightly. Serve immediately. You can make each component ahead of time and assemble before serving. Makes nine desserts.

WaterMelonDrinkWatermelon Bourbon-ade Punch
3 pounds watermelon chunks, seeded
1/2 cup bourbon
1 cup Sprite
1 can frozen pink lemonade concentrate
Pinch of salt

Puree watermelon a blender. Add bourbon, Sprite, lemonade and salt. Pulse just once or twice more. Pour over ice, or pour into a freezer safe pitcher and freeze for 3 hours. Take the punch out of the freezer a half hour before serving or just long enough for it to be slushy. Serve in Mason jars or jelly jar glasses garnished with festive paper straws or fresh berries.

Top 10 Recipes

I’ve been fortunate enough to write the Stirring It Up column for ten years now. Over those years, I’ve found the following recipes are popular with my family and guests. This month, we’ll look back at the top ten recipes we’ve shared in the column. (Our newest favorite is the roasted carrots recipe.) Thanks so much for reading and cooking with me for the past decade. Here’s to many more! Cheers!

Read more in the May issue of City Social Magazine online or pick up your free copy in stores all over town!

BrisketSmoked Brisket with Pepper Crust
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon chipotle powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon cumin
1, 3- to 5-pound brisket

Mix spices in a small mixing bowl. Rub all over brisket. Coat the smoker rack with vegetable oil. Wrap brisket in foil. Smoke for 4 to 5 hours or until 160 degrees Fahrenheit in the center. Serves six to eight.

Pain Perdu Stuffed with Apricot CreamFrench Toast
1 French bread loaf
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup apricot preserves
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter

Cut bread into 1-inch slices. Cut a slit in the top crust of each bread slice to make a pocket. Mix cream cheese and preserves in a small bowl. Spoon some cheese mixture into each bread pocket. Whisk eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon in a pie plate. Melt one tablespoon butter on a non-stick griddle or skillet over medium heat. Dip stuffed bread slices into the egg mixture, coating completely. Add dipped bread to the skillet. Cook until golden, about one minutes per side. Serve with syrup and dusted with powdered sugar.

MushroomsCrabmeat Stuffed Mushrooms with Horseradish & Dijon
1 egg
1 heaping tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound crabmeat
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
24 large mushrooms (each about 2 inches across), stems removed

1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons half and half
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 teaspoon liquid crab boil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter 10×15-inch baking pan. Whisk egg, mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt and
pepper in medium bowl. In another medium bowl, combine crabmeat and breadcrumbs. Pour egg mixture over crab mixture and mix gently. Stuff mushroom caps with crab mixture, mounding in center. Arrange mushrooms in baking pan. Bake 18 minutes.

Whisk together all sauce ingredients and chill. Serve mushrooms topped with sauce or on the side.

Baked Grits with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and AndouilleGrits
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 cup quick-cooking hominy grits
3/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup diced, sun-dried tomatoes
8 ounces andouille, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/8 cup chopped chives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously butter a small casserole dish. Bring broth, butter and garlic to boil in medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits and return to boil, whisking occasionally. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 8 minutes until grits are thick and almost all broth is absorbed. Whisk in cream; simmer until very thick, about 8 minutes. Sauté sausage over medium-high heat until brown. Add sausage, tomatoes, thyme, 1/4 cup goat cheese and chives to grits. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining goat cheese on top. Bake 15 minutes. Serve warm.

ColeslawSweet and Spicy Coleslaw
1/2 cup sweet pepper jelly
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 small head of cabbage, shredded
1 cup carrots, shredded
1/3 cup green onions, finely chopped
1 cup crispy chow mein noodles

Wisk together the jelly and vinegar, then add fresh ginger. Toss together cabbage, carrots, green onions and noodles. Pour in dressing and toss to lightly coat. Serve topped with more noodles.

Easy Black Bean SoupBlack Bean Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 10-ounce can diced Rotel tomatoes and green chilies
1 or 2, 8-ounce cans of MexiCorn, drained
3, 15-ounce cans black beans, drain one.
2 cups chicken broth
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon ground cumin

Heat oil in heavy stock pot over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic. Stir in Rotel, corn and cumin. Add beans and broth. Bring soup to boil. Reduce heat to medium; cover and simmer about 15 minutes. Stir in cilantro. Season to taste with salt, pepper and cumin. Ladle soup into bowls. Top with sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro or jalapenos. Serves eight or freeze for later.

MoussePumpkin Mousse
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 package low fat cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh pumpkin puree

In a chilled bowl, beat whipping cream with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Cover and refrigerate. In medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, spices and salt on medium until smooth and creamy. Turn the mixer down to low and mix in pumpkin until blended.

Gently fold most of the whipped cream (reserve some for topping) into pumpkin until evenly distributed. Serve or store in an airtight container up to two days. Before serving, top each with whipped cream and a little nutmeg. Serves eight.

Southern AmbrosiaAmbrosia
8 fresh navel oranges
1 fresh pineapple
1/3 cup shredded coconut
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup brandy
1 small jar maraschino cherries

Peel, section and cut the oranges and pineapple into chunks. Squeeze out juice with the back of a spoon and reserve. In a large mixing bowl, toss the fruit chunks with
cherries and shredded coconut. In a small bowl, whisk together the juice with the sugar and brandy. Pour over the fruit and serve.

SangriaWhite Peach Sangria (Courtesy of Brenton Day, house bartender and brewmaster)
1 bottle peach schnapps
1 large bottle Moscato wine
4 ounces vodka or white rum
8 ounces peach nectar
2 or 3 cans Sprite
Frozen peaches

Pour all ingredients into a pitcher and stir until blended. Serve in wine glasses with peach slices or in a dispenser.

Chipotle Pulled Pork SlidersPulled Pork
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon cumin
1, 5- to 6-pound pork shoulder
1 onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves
2 chipotle chiles in adobo
1 cup barbeque sauce
20 to 32 split dinner rolls

In small bowl, whisk together brown sugar and seasonings. Rub over pork. Place pork in slow cooker and sprinkle sliced onion. Cover; cook on low 7 to 8 hours. Remove pork; place on cutting board. Skim fat and reserve liquid. Shred pork and return to cooker. Mince garlic with chipotles and 1 teaspoon adobo in a food processor; whisk into barbeque sauce, then pour over pork. Stir in some of the reserved cooking liquid for desired moistness. Serve warm on rolls.

CarrotsRoasted Carrots
2 pounds baby carrots, peeled
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Romano cheese & parsley, garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place carrots on a baking pan. Whisk together all other ingredients and pour over carrots. Toss gently to coat. Roast 15 to 20 minutes, stirring midway. Garnish and serve warm.

10 Years of Stirring It Up!


Testing/Picture taking day…what a mess!

Wow, all I can say is that I cannot believe I’ve been writing the Stirring It Up cooking and entertaining column in City Social Magazine for 10 whole years. Where does the time go? I know, it went into some vacuum called life. In those 10 years I’ve done a lot of cooking and a lot of learning. My style of cooking has certainly evolved from a packed pantry to a packed fridge. My kitchen gadgets have dwindled and my camera equipment has doubled, er, tripled. In short, I cook more like my grandmothers did 50 or 60 years ago, before cake mixes and pop tarts. (I’m not picking on anyone here, carry on.) On occasion, I get to preserve what I made in the form of a naturally lit photograph that I hope shows the beauty in food.

Here’s a brief rundown of the last 10 years writing Stirring It Up:

  • At least 360 recipes tested.
    (I’m not counting the botched ones – I’m a home cook, not a chef, thank you.)
  • 120 deadlines…100 of which have been narrowly missed.
    (Sorry editors, one day I’ll learn)
  • A minimum of 90,000 words from 3 computers.
    (Viruses are the devil)
  • 7 neighbors who have seen me on one of myfront porches taking pictures of food in my pajamas.
    (Doesn’t everyone?)
  • 2 point-and-shoot cameras. 1 digital SLR camera. 2 lenses. 1 external flash.
    (Bye old friend Kodak, hello Pentax)
  • Roughly 7,200 pictures taken.
    (Still wish I really knew what I was doing)
  • 1 pie safe full of mismatched dishes from antique and thrift shops
    (I’m sure my grandchildren will wonder what the heck those were for one day)
  • 3 guinea pigs: Brenton, Emily and Anna
    (without whom, I’d have nothing)

I’d like to offer a special “thank you” to Janell O’Halloran for giving me the opportunity to combine my two loves of cooking and writing into a creative outlet that has flourished over this decade. Much thanks to you and the City Social staff for putting up with me for all these years. I hope spend many more as a contributor to this beautiful publication.

I’ve done this little gig, quietly plugging away, for half my time as a Baton Rouge citizen. I know there is more to come. I hope there have been a lot of you out there reading, trying recipes and making them your own, just as I have. Oh right, recipes! Tune in tomorrow for the top 10 recipes from the past 10 years!

Enough rambling….I’m off to see what’s left of July’s test dishes in the fridge.

All the best,

Happy Derby Day

Here’s a little sweet and saucy treat for you!

Bacon Bourbon Pecan Tarts with Bourbon Cream Cheese
1 refrigerated pie crust or use your favorite recipe
4 slices of bacon
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup light or dark corn syrup
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2 cups pecan halves, toasted, very coarsely chopped
1 cup chilled whipping cream
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat the bacon with the 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, then bake the strips on a wire rack in a baking pan until crispy. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out rounds of the pie dough. Place the rounds in mini muffin tins. Brown the tart crusts, along with the bacon if you want, until they are slightly golden.

Whisk eggs in large bowl. Whisk in both sugars, then next four ingredients. Stir in pecans. Crumble bacon and gently fold into the filling. Spoon the filling into the mini crusts. Bake tarts until filling is puffed and just set in center, about 20 to 30 minutes. Cool completely on racks.

Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients until it holds peaks. Spoon a dollop over each tart. Serve tarts at room temperature. You can also make these in tartlet pans.


Easter Parties

After weeks of depriving ourselves of some things we love and working extra hard to help those in need, the time has finally come to celebrate. Easter Sunday is not only a holy day; it also signifies that it is finally safe to celebrate life coming back to the outdoors. So whether you are celebrating for religious reasons or simply celebrating the beauty of spring in full force, Easter Sunday deserves a gathering of friends and family over delicious food and fellowship.

Center your main menu on fresh, seasonal ingredients like farm raised crawfish and locally grown vegetables. Check the farmers market to see what is available to get some inspiration. Also, go to your favorite meat market for fresh cuts of lamb to roast or a juicy ham to bake. Or serve a bevy of heavy hors d’oeuvres like our crawfish ball recipe shared here. Of course, there’s always room for an egg-based dish or two, like quiche or deviled eggs, at an Easter gathering.

Read the full article at or grab a free copy of the April issue around town!

Crawfish BallsBalls1
4 ounce bottle of canola oil for frying
1 pound cooked crawfish tails
8 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
8 ounce box of panko bread crumbs, Italian style

Heat the oil in a deep fryer or just two inches deep in a Dutch oven (you won’t need all the oil in this case). In a large food processor, mix the crawfish, cream cheese, salt, pepper, Tabasco and egg. Add the chopped parsley and green onions and pulse two or three more times. Take the mixture out and fold in 1 and 1/2 cups of the panko. Pour the rest of the panko in a separate bowl for dredging. Take a cookie scoop or spoon and form the crawfish mixture into a ball. Roll each ball in the panko then gently place into the hot oil. Fry 10 to 15 minutes or until the crawfish balls are golden brown. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels then serve warm with pepper jelly, if desired.

Quiche2Crustless Roasted Broccoli Quiche
1/2 head broccoli
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
6 large eggs
1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded Gouda cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the thick stems from the broccoli and separate the florets into small sections. Place the broccoli on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil then sprinkle with salt, pepper and cumin. Roast broccoli in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until it is tender and slightly brown. Set broccoli aside to cool and reduce the oven temperature to 375.

Whisk the egg, milk and cream together in a large bowl. Chop the broccoli coarsely. Fold the broccoli and the cheese into the egg mixture. Line a mini-muffin tin with small paper liners. Spoon the egg mixture into the each paper. Bake the quiches at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes or until they poof and brown slightly on top – Don’t worry if they fall. Transfer to wire racks to cool and serve warm.

Lemon Basil Shortbread CookiesLemonBasil2
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons sliced fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, powdered sugar, basil, lemon zest and salt. Cut in butter and lemon juice with a pastry blender, or mix everything in a food processor, until large, moist clumps form. Scoop up tablespoon-sized balls and roll between your palms. Place ball on a large baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Gently press the cookies with the back of a measuring cup or the bottom of a glass, lightly dust the bottom of the glass or cup with powdered sugar to prevent sticking. Bake about 20 minutes or until edges are brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Friday Night Bites

If you’re a Catholic living in South Louisiana, abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent doesn’t always feel like a sacrifice because we live so close to the Gulf of Mexico and in an area rich in Mississippi Delta soil leaving us to enjoy the abundance from both. We also have access to fresh farmers markets and produce stands to cook what’s in season locally and try things from all over the world. Finding new and different Lenten dishes for your family or your guests is easier than ever. Now, giving up dessert for forty days is whole other matter!

Read the full article at or pick up a free copy of our March issue around town.

Kale Kale Chips
1 large bunch of kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons bread crumbs or panko

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash, dry and roughly chop the kale and place in a large bowl. Shake the olive oil and vinegar together in a bottle. Drizzle the oil and vinegar over the kale and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Place the kale on a large cookie sheet. Be careful not to let the kale leaves overlap. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir the kale and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes until the kale is crispy but not too brown.

PortobelloCroissantPortobello & Goat Cheese Croissants with Blackberry Preserves
1 8-ounce package sliced Portobello mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 croissants cut in half
4 ounces goat cheese
4 tablespoons blackberry preserves
Spring greens

Sautee the mushrooms in the olive oil until tender, set aside. Heat a griddle to 325. Butter both sides of the croissants. Lightly toast the croissants inside down on the griddle. Flip the croissants and place a few mushrooms topped with a tablespoon or two of goat cheese on each bottom half. Heat until the goat cheese starts to melt. Spoon one tablespoon of blackberry preserves over the goat cheese, top with greens and cover with the croissant top half. Serve warm. Makes four sandwiches.

Lenten Louisiana LasagnaLasagana
4 tablespoons butter, plus 1 stick of butter
1 pound Gulf shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1 pound Louisiana crawfish tails, peeled and cleaned
8 ounces lump Gulf crabmeat
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 to 2 cups flour
4 cups of milk
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 egg
15 ounces ricotta cheese
2 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 cup fresh parsley
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
1/2 pound (9) lasagna noodles
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a Dutch oven. Sautee all the seafood in the 4 tablespoons of butter until the shrimp are slightly pink. Remove from the pan and set aside in a dish lined with paper towels. Melt the one stick of butter in the pot. Brown the garlic slightly in the butter. Add flour and brown two to three minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in one cup of milk at a time until the white sauce has as few lumps as possible. Season with sugar, sea salt and pepper. Reserve 1 cup of the white sauce. Stir the cooked seafood in the pot with the white sauce.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg. Then whisk in the ricotta and Parmesan cheeses with the parsley and Italian seasoning blend. Set aside.

Boil the lasagna noodles according to the package directions, usually about 10 minutes. Butter a 9×13 casserole dish. Spread 1 cup of white sauce in the bottom of a pan. Arrange 3 cooked lasagna noodles in the pan and spread all of the Ricotta mixture over the noodles, covering completely. Add another layer of noodles. Top with half the seafood and white sauce mixture. Add a third layer of noodles and cover them with the rest of the seafood mixture. Cover the lasagna with all of the mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered until bubbly and golden, about 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Heart Healthy Dinners

February is Heart Month! Make sure you take good care of your sweethearts by adding more heart healthy meals to your kitchen repertoire. Almost any dish can be made heart healthy. Lowing the salt you add, replacing the oils you use and substituting a few ingredients are just some of the many ways you can make some of your favorite dishes a little kinder to the arteries.

Pick up a free copy of February’s City Social around town or read it online at!

SalmonPan Seared Salmon with Wilted Spinach
2 center-cut salmon fillets (6 oz. each)
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil

For the spinach:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves

Place the salmon fillets on a plate. Season with sea salt and pepper then sprinkle with lemon juice. Let rest for 15 minutes. Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Place the filets skin side down and cook over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Cover the pan and cook until the salmon is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes more.

Meanwhile, combine the oil and vinegar, then toss with the spinach. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Place leaves in a skillet over medium low heat. Turn the leaves with tongs until they are slightly wilted. Place on the plate and top with salmon before serving.

Mashed Turnips with Horseradish
1 Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into cubes
4 to 6 turnips, peeled and cut into cubes
1/4 cup fat free half and half
2 tablespoons horseradish
1 to 2 tablespoons low sodium vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the turnips first for 10 minutes then add the potato. Boil the vegetables for 10 to 12 minutes more or until they are tender. Drain the vegetables in the pan. Cook them over high heat, shaking the pan, for 30 seconds, or until any excess liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat. Mash the potato and turnips then strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. Return to the pan and whip in the half and half, horseradish and broth of liquid is needed. Salt and pepper to taste.

Slow Cooker White Chicken ChiliChili
3 chicken breasts
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups low salt chicken broth
1 7-ounce can salsa verde
1 pound dried white canelli or Great Northern beans
Shredded mozzarella cheese.

Spray the bottom of a large slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray or coat with olive oil. Place the chopped onions on the bottom of the pot. Season the chicken breasts with cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Place the chicken over the onions. Slowly pour in the broth, careful not to splash the seasoning off the chicken. Pour in the salsa verde. Finally, add the beans. Cook the chili on low for 6 to 7 hours.

The chicken should shred easily in the pot. If not place it on a cutting board and pull it with two forks in opposite directions, then return it to the pot to re-heat it. Serve each bowl topped with mozzarella cheese.

SweetPotatoBlack Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
4 small to medium sweet potatoes
1 can black beans
1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chilies
1/2 cup light or fat free sour cream or plain yogurt
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice (one lime)

Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the sweet potatoes 40 to 50 minutes or until tender. While the potatoes finish baking, drain the beans and Rotel tomatoes in a colander together, then transfer them to a medium sauce pan. Heat the bean and Rotel until warm stir in the cilantro and lime juice.

Once the potatoes are done, cut them in half and top each half with the bean mixture and a small spoon of sour cream or yogurt. Garnish each stuffed potato with fresh cilantro and serve.

Little Black Dress Parties

Ever since Coco Chanel debuted the very first little black dress on the cover of Vogue in 1926, the fashion statement has exemplified simple elegance. Why not translate this statement into planning an elegant party? A little black dress, or a Breakfast at Tiffany’s, theme party is one of the latest trends for bridal showers, Oscar parties and even milestone birthdays. In my opinion, a sassy little black dress and some elegant hors d’oeuvres beats that tired “over the hill” theme any day.

Read more in the January issue of City Social. Online and in stores soon!

BloodyMarySoup Bloody Mary Soup Shots
4-5 ripe tomatoes, seeded
1 clove garlic
1 cup Bloody Mary mix
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tablespoons horseradish
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon Pickapeppa sauce
1 teaspoon Chipotle Tabasco Sauce
Pickled vegetables as desired

Quarter the tomatoes and take out the seeds. Chop the tomatoes and garlic in the food processor until the mixture is the consistency of a thick sauce. Pour into a large mixing bowl, preferably with a spout. Whisk in the other ingredients, adding more or less hot sauce and horseradish as desired. Pour into shot glasses or other small cups. Garnish with vegetables and serve. Makes 8 to 10 shooters depending on glass size.

Shrimp Summer Rolls with Sweet Soy Dipping SauceShrimpRoll
1 pound boiled shrimp
2 carrots
2 cucumbers
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
6 green onion tops
8 sheets rice paper or spring roll skin
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar

You can purchase boiled shrimp to save time or boil your own. Cut vegetables in half then slice into long, thin strips. In a large skillet, pour just enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Cook the vegetables over medium heat about 8 to 10 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Season with sea salt and black pepper while cooking. Place vegetables on paper towels to drain and set aside to cool.

To assemble the rolls, fill a large bowl with warm water. Soak the rice papers one at a time in the water until they are pliable, but not too soft. Lay the sheet down on a paper towel and blot the water off the top with another towel. Place a few strips of the vegetables an inch or two from one corner or side of the paper. Then place about three shrimp, depending on their size, over the vegetables. Roll halfway diagonally, then fold in the top and bottom corners of the wrap over the vegetables, then continue rolling, tightly, but gently. Finally, with a very sharp knife, slice the roll diagonally across.

To make the sauce, whisk together the soy sauce, water, vinegar and sugar until sugar dissolves. Place in small, shallow dipping bowls and serve with the rolls.

Strawberry Champagne Floats
1 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon
1/2 cup water
1 cup fresh strawberries
2 pints strawberry ice cream
2 cups chilled sweet Prosecco or sparkling wine

Slice the strawberries and sprinkle with the 1 tablespoon of sugar. Cover tightly and chill at least one hour to overnight. Next, make a simple syrup. Bring to a boil 1 cup sugar with water in a small, heavy saucepan. Let boil for 2 minutes or until the sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside to cool.

Place a few strawberries in the bottom of each glass. Top with one small scoop of ice cream, then more strawberries. Add a second scoop of ice cream and top with more strawberries. Drizzle in the simple syrup into each glass. Top with one scoop ice cream, drizzle with additional simple syrup and pour chilled Prosecco into the glass. Serve immediately.