Category Archives: Recipes

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

In South Louisiana, everyone and their mama has a secret family recipe for gumbo. This is my family’s recipe. Gumbo is a veritable one-pot wonder, and has its origins in Choctaw, African, Cajun, and Creole traditions (to name a few). It can be thickened with okra, roux, or gumbo file powder; I personally use all three. While this recipe uses chicken and andouille sausage, you can use any variety of proteins: shrimp, oysters, crabs, tasso. Be warned: this is an all-day process. On football game days, we wake up early and cook it, then bring it to the tailgate. I would encourage everyone to set aside a day to try their hand at making gumbo. It’s hard work that proves worthwhile.

Ingredients:

  • One whole chicken (can be bought as a pre-cooked rotisserie)
  • 4 links andouille sausage
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 7 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bag (16 oz) frozen okra
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes 
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4-5 Tbs. flour
  • 2 Tbs. Tony Chachere’s Seasoning
  • 2 tsp. red pepper
  • 2 Tbs. garlic powder
  • 2 Tbs. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. file powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 cups rice
    Makes 8-10 servings.

If you are opting to roast your own whole chicken, prepare this beforehand and let cool. As gumbo is a labor-intensive process to begin with, I usually buy a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. Remove the bones, cartilage, skin, and any fat and put it all in a pot. Shred the white and dark meat into bite sized pieces.

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In the pot with the inedible chicken parts, fill it almost full with water. Set on the stove top and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for at least one hour to make the broth. When done, strain the broth into a clean pot.

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Meanwhile, saute or grill the andouille sausage, then cut into bite size pieces.

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Now time for the roux – this is a butter and flour mixture, cooked until dark, that serves as the base and thickener for the gumbo. Melt half a stick of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle 4-5 tablespoons of flour into the butter, and whisk or stir with a wooden spoon.

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Don’t leave the stove for 15-20 minutes. Constantly stir the mixture so that the flour doesn’t burn. By 20 minutes, the roux should be the color of brick red-brown.

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Add the bell pepper and onion to the roux, and mix well. Saute for 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for an additional 2 minutes.

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Remove vegetables from pan and set aside. Melt another half-stick of butter in the skillet. Add the okra, still frozen, and cover. Every few minutes, stir. It will be very gooey and gummy.

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After 10-15 minutes, once most of the gumminess is gone, add the can of Rotel tomatoes and cook for 5-10 more minutes.

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Now assemble everything – roux/onion mixture, okra and tomatoes, sausage, and chicken – into the pot with the broth. Add all of the spices. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for at least 1-2 hours, up to all day long. The longer it cooks, the more nuanced the flavors.

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Serve over rice.

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If you’re doing it right, you should see some variation of this:

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From my family’s kitchen to yours – enjoy!

Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs

This was a recipe I made up as I went along; and in this case, spontaneity proved worthwhile. I used ground turkey instead of ground beef to create a leaner version of this classic, but didn’t sacrifice any of the moistness or flavor. I also made the tomato sauce chunky with myriad vegetables – a sneaky way to make kids unknowingly eat their vegetables. Japanese Panko bread crumbs are used in lieu of traditional bread crumbs to make the meatballs less dense. Topped over spaghetti, this meal is well-balanced (with lean protein, vegetables, and carbs!) and takes just over thirty minutes to whip up.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus extra for garnish
  • 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, plus another 2 tsp.
  • 2 Tbs. dried oregano (x2)
  • 1 Tbs. dried basil (x2)
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (x2)
  • 2 tsp. anise seed (x2)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 Tbs. garlic powder (x2)
  • 1 Tbs. onion powder (x2)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste (x2)
  • 2 carrot sticks, diced
  • 1 cup button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • Jar of marinara
  • 1 lb. spaghetti
    Makes 6-8 servings.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix first 13 ingredients (up to salt and pepper) in a large bowl with your hands. Use only 2 tsp of olive oil – this will help to keep the meatballs moist. Be sure not to over-mix, as this will render the meatballs tough.

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Form into small meatballs, about 1.5-2 inches thick.

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Drizzle olive oil into a large skillet, and brown the meatballs for several minutes on each side over medium-high heat. Transfer the meatballs to a sheet pan and cook in the oven for 15 minutes.

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Meanwhile, drizzle more olive oil into large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Saute carrots, mushrooms, and onions for 6-7 minutes. Add garlic, and saute for 1-2 more minutes.

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Add jar of marinara, in addition to all of the herbs and spices used in the meatballs. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.

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Meanwhile, boil spaghetti in a large pot. Salt water liberally, and add olive oil so the noodles don’t stick together. Drain.

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Remove meatballs from oven, and nestle into the tomato sauce. Cover, and cook another 5-10 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

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Serve over spaghetti, with 2-3 meatballs a person. Top with parmesan cheese.

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Dry-Rubbed Spare Ribs

We love to gather around our Weber grill on a leisurely Sunday afternoon and grill up good, old fashioned ribs for our friends and family. There are different philosophies to seasoning ribs: some prefer wet (i.e., with BBQ sauce), and some prefer dry (i.e., with a dry rub). We fall into the latter category. We use a unique blend of spices and an interesting cooking technique to achieve lip-smacking, fall-off-the-bone ribs. We often buy a rack of spare ribs that we can find at Ralph’s for only $8, but feel free to use baby-back. This is a cookout classic you’ll keep coming back to.

Ingredients:

  • Rack of spare ribs
  • 2 tsp. ground paprika
  • 1 Tbs. red pepper
  • 2 Tbs. cumin
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 cup of granulated garlic
  • 2 Tbs. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. ground sage
  • 1 tsp. ground oregano
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. seasoning salt (we like Tony Chachere’s)
  • 2 Tbs. salt
  • 2 Tbs. black pepper
  • 1 bottle of beer
    Makes 4 servings.

Mix all spices together in a bowl.

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Massage into both sides of the ribs, and let sit for at least an hour (up to overnight).

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Prepare your grill with hot charcoal on one side, and a pan filled with beer on the other. For 3-4 hours, place the ribs over the side with the water pan and cover. This grilling technique is known as the “2-zone setup” and helps to lock in moisture. For a more detailed explanation, click here. After the ribs are tender to your liking, place on each side for just a few minutes over the hot coals to caramelize the rub.

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Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Note: We personally are not skilled at grilling. We came up with the rub, but the true grill master is Betty’s boyfriend. Email us in the contact form for any questions you may have for him!

Creole Jambalaya

I was born and raised in South Louisiana, and jambalaya was a staple in our diets. It only takes about 30 minutes to cook, and is a veritable “one-pot-wonder” that includes nearly every food group (as is custom in Louisiana cuisine). Save for the andouille, we almost always have these ingredients on hand. We are able to find Aidell’s Andouille Sausage here in California, but if you’re in the south, my favorite truly authentic brands are Savoie’s and Richard’s! If you can’t find andouille, save the recipe for another time…italian sausage or brats simply just won’t do. I hope you enjoy adding a little creole flavor to your dinner table!

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 links Andouille sausage
  • 2 cups white rice
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 6-7 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3-4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tbs. paprika
  • 2 tsp. red pepper
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
    Makes 6-8 servings.

Saute or grill the andouille for about 8 minutes, until browned on all sides. Chop into bite sized pieces.

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Sautee the bell pepper and onion in olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes in a large pot. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute, until fragrant.

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In a separate skillet (or the same one, if it’s big enough), heat oil, then add 2 cups of rice. Stir it around until it develops a bit of color (about 5-10 minutes). This step is optional, but I think it adds a nutty, more nuanced flavor to the rice.

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Add the rice to the pot with the vegetables. For firmer rice, add 3 cups of chicken stock; for softer rice, add 4 cups of chicken stock. Add the andouille and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes.

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Do not lift the cover during the cooking process! Once most of the liquid has evaporated and the rice is the desired firmness, fluff with a fork and serve. Your guests are sure to love this creole staple!

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Lemon Rosemary Salmon Filet with Rosemary Potatoes

This is a healthy and well-balanced meal that takes only about 30 minutes to whip up. I bought a frozen salmon filet because it was cheaper (about $8 for the whole thing!), but you can certainly use fresh salmon. I also used small golden potatoes that have a smooth, buttery flavor. While the salmon and potatoes were in the oven, I whipped up a salad with the greens I had on hand. You can use any variation of sides with this salmon; I just went with rosemary potatoes to tie into the rosemary I used to season the salmon.

Ingredients:

  • Filet of salmon
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1.5 lemons, sliced
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
    Makes 4 servings.

If using frozen salmon, thaw in fridge overnight, or in cold water for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place skin side down on a sheet pan, and season with olive oil, pepper, rosemary, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Top with lemon slices.

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Bake for approximately 20 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Important: Do NOT season with salt until after it is baked. Doing so before can dry out the salmon.

Simultaneously, cook the potatoes in the oven.

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes:

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 small golden potatoes, quartered
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
    Makes 4-6 servings.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place all ingredients in a pan, and toss with hands. Bake for 30 minutes.

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For the salad, I simply mixed arugula, grapes (halved), slivered almonds, and feta, and topped it with a simple lemon vinaigrette (lemon juice, dijon mustard, honey, olive oil). You can use any greens and veggies you have on hand – I just thought the plate could use some vegetables. Enjoy!

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Penne with Spinach, Mushroom, White Wine Sauce

This is one of our go-to recipes for a quick and easy weeknight meal. We almost always have the ingredients on hand. It only takes 20 minutes, but it tastes like a gourmet pasta dish! Plus, we like to exclude meat from our diets at least one day out of the week, so this is a great meal for Meatless Mondays and for vegetarians. Follow these instructions for a dish you’ll come back to over and over!

Ingredients
Makes 3-4 servings.

  • 1/2 box of penne (or pasta of your choice)
  • 1.5-2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup of chopped button or crimini mushrooms
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

While penne is boiling, chop mushrooms and garlic. Sautee mushrooms in olive oil for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and saute for an additional minute.

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Add white wine, and let reduce for about 5 minutes. Then add spinach and saute until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and red pepper.

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Drain the pasta, and toss in the saucepan. Serve, and top with grated parmesan cheese.

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Notes: For some added protein, you can throw in some grilled chicken. You can also nix the pasta and cut the wine and garlic in half for a delicious spinach mushroom side dish!

Sloppy Joes

Sometimes, we like to make a meal that’s highly nostalgic – for instance, sloppy joes! In this recipe, we ditch the canned Manwich and make a savory and sweet sloppy joe in the crock pot. Plus, we make it much leaner with ground turkey instead of beef. This is a meal kids and adults are sure to love.

Ingredients:
Makes 6-8 servings.

  • 1.5-2 lbs ground turkey (or beef, if you prefer)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup of ketchup
  • 3 Tb. of Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tb. of hot sauce
  • 2 Tb. of mustard
  • 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 
  • Hamburger buns

Chop vegetables. Saute bell pepper, celery, and onions about 5 minutes in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Add garlic and saute for one minute.

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Add ground turkey, and cook until browned.

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Transfer the turkey and sauteed vegetables into your slow cooker. Add the rest of the ingredients (until hamburger buns) into the slow cooker and set on low for 8 hours.
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Toast your hamburger buns, and top with the sloppy joe. Enjoy!
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Chicken Enchiladas

This recipe is probably my all-time favorite, and is also my mom’s original recipe. Not only is it delicious (probably because it’s so cheesy!), it’s also insanely easy. Although this is a semi-homemade recipe, these enchiladas are so amazing and taste so authentic that any Mexican guest, or anyone for that matter, would surely give it two thumbs up! And because it’s so simple to put together, you might just make it a weeknight favorite.

Chicken Enchiladas
Serves 4-6

  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (alternatively, you may use a whole roasted chicken)
  • 1 16 oz bottle Herdez® Salsa Verde
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 19-20 6″ corn tortillas (if using a 13″x9″ pan)
  • 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

If you are using uncooked chicken breasts, place them on an ungreased baking sheet and season the chicken (I like to use Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning, but you’re welcome to use whatever you’d like). Broil for about 30 minutes, or until cooked all the way through. Let the chicken cool then shred into fairly small pieces.

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Meanwhile, heat the salsa verde in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the 1/2 cup of sour cream (adjust to fit your/your family’s heat tolerance). Cook until the salsa and the sour cream mix together well, about 5 minutes. At this time, preheat your oven to 375°F. Ladle in some of the salsa into the pan and spread it around so the salsa thinly covers the bottom of the pan.

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Heat 5 tortillas at a time in a paper towel for about 40 seconds. The tortillas will be very hot when you take them out, so be careful! Place some shredded chicken into a tortilla and roll it up. Place into the pan, seam-side down. Repeat until the pan is full.

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Cover the enchiladas with the rest of the salsa (or as much as you want) and top with the Swiss cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes, remove the aluminum foil and broil until the cheese is bubbly and brown.

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Serve hot with sour cream and enjoy!

 

Cuban-Style Picadillo

Picadillo is a Cuban dish (but makes many other Latin American countries its home) that is a staple in my house. My mom makes the easiest, most delicious Picadillo – and she’s not even Cuban! When my All-American mother married my Mexican father, she learned how to make many of his childhood dinners from his Cuban-Sicilian mother. My mother absorbed these recipes like a pro, and this recipe is so easy that you can too!

I love this dish not only because it represents part of my heritage, but also because it has olives and capers! Serve this on a bed of rice and do not forget to squeeze some extra lime juice on it at the end – the acidity cuts through the oiliness of the meat perfectly and pairs well with the capers.

Note that I suggest you use Mexican oregano. Although it tastes similar to Italian oregano, Mexican oregano is actually a completely different plant. However, do not feel obligated to run to several different stores to find Mexican oregano if your local grocery store doesn’t sell it. Using Italian oregano won’t throw off the taste of the dish.

Makes 4-6 servings

  • 1-1.5 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2-3 Russet potatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp Mexican Oregano, crushed
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 10 (or so) olives
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

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(The green pepper is missing from the photo above but don’t forget it in the dish!)

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Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Add the ground beef and cook over medium-high heat. Once the beef is mostly browned, add the green pepper and finish browning the meat. Once the meat is browned, add the tomatoes in juice.

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Stir in the potatoes and add the oregano, bay leaves, lime juice, and capers. Make sure the potatoes are submerged in some liquid. Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste, then simmer over medium-low heat until the potatoes are cooked, about 20-30 minutes. Stir in olives (as many as you’d like!) 5 minutes before serving.

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Serve hot with rice and beans. Enjoy!

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