Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Meatballs in Brown Gravy

New Orleansians like two types of gravy, red and brown. The shades may vary, but it's definitely red and brown. Very few New Orleanians say, "Pasta Sauce" or "Spaghetti Sauce"; it's "Red Gravy". This is kind of a labor intensive recipe, but it is so worth it...the smells, the taste...you have to try this. This is adapted from Frank Davis, a New Orleans television personality and cook.

Meat Balls in Brown Gravy -


2 lbs. ground sirloin

1 cup finely diced onions

3/4 cup finely diced celery

1/2 cup finely diced bell pepper

4 cloves minced garlic1/4 cup finely minced parsley

2 whole eggs

3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs

1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

1 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons Zatarain's Creole Seasoning or (1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne - mix together)


1/2 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 cup finely diced onions

1/2 cup minced celery1

1/2 cup minced bell pepper

4 cloves minced garlic

1/3 cup minced parsley

3 whole, dried bay leaves

4-6 cups chicken broth, as desired

1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet as desired

1 can Hot Rotel Tomatoes with green chilies, minced

2 to 3 pounds “B” size creamer potatoes (new potatoes)

In a large mixing bowl put the meat and all the meatball ingredients. Then work everything together with your hands, you’ll need to get a uniform mix. When you can pick up a portion of meat, you want to be able to easily roll it into a “boulet” (ball) a little larger than a ping-pong ball without it sticking to your hands. When all the meatballs have been formed, place them side by side onto a shallow cookie sheet that‘s been coated with a non-stick spray (or lined with a piece of parchment paper) and slide them into a preheated 450 degree oven to brown. This should take about 12-15 minutes. Just don’t overcook them.

In the meantime, using a 5-quart Dutch oven heat the vegetable oil to high, but don’t let it smoke. Then a little at a time sprinkle in the flour and, with a wire whisk, cook the blend over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until you form a smooth dark roux.

When the mixture reaches the color you want remove the pot from the burner and whisk in the seasoning vegetables—onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and parsley—to flavor it and cool it down. At this point, over a medium high heat, begin adding the chicken broth to the roux to form a gravy, whisking it in thoroughly to get the consistency you desire (you may or may not want to add all of the broth). This is also the time when you drop in the bay leaves.

One word of caution here: if you pour the broth into the pot before the roux has had a chance to cool down, it could splatter and burn you seriously. Now finish up the gravy by whisking in the Kitchen Bouquet and the Rotel tomatoes (including the liquid they came packed in).

Next, remove the browned meatballs from the oven and with tongs submerge them into the gravy. Take care to leave in the pan the excess fat that renders out during the browning stage—you don’t want that in your gravy.

Then reduce the heat under the Dutch oven to low, tightly cover the pot, and simmer the meatballs for about an hour or so. This gives the various flavors a chance to marry and serves to tenderize the meat further. Finally, when they’re done, skim off what little oil floats to the surface during the simmer and serve them piping hot next fork-tender, chopped new potatoes.
Don’t start stirring the gravy once you put the meatballs in or you’ll break them all up and your dish will resemble a “messy chili.” Just let them simmer! They’ll be okay!

For the New Potatoes:

To prepare the “new potatoes,” wash them thoroughly under cool running water then boil them in a pot of water until just fork tender (still a slight bit firm).

When they’re cool enough to handle, peel them with a small paring knife by gently scraping the skin.

When they’ve all been peeled, place them into a very large bowl, liberally drizzle them with lots of melted butter, salt and pepper and toss them over and over and over again in the bowl until each and every potato has been seasoned evenly.

Transfer them to a large sheet pan, arrange them in a single layer, and slide them onto the top rack of a 450-degree oven for about a half hour or until a golden crust begins to form on each of the spuds.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Creamy Cheesecake

Now here's a dessert that will get you motivated on a Monday, Creamy Cheesecake. Cheesecake, the ultimate comfort food. Grab a napkin so you can wipe the drool off your chin and let's get started..

Creamy Cheesecake -

In a small bowl, mix together 1-1/4 cups of graham cracker crumbs, 1/3 cup of melted butter and 1/4 cup of sugar.

Press mixture down evenly in the bottom of a spring form pan.

In a large mixing bowl, beat two 8 ounces packages of cream cheese until fluffy, add in 8 ounces of room temperature sour cream. Once the sour cream and the cream cheese is blended, pour in one 14 ounce can of condensed milk, the add 3 eggs (one at a time), and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Pour Mixture into pan and bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Cool cheesecake and remove from pan. Let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Garnish any way you like your imagination is your limit. We sprinkled some graham cracker crumbs on top and topped that off with a couple of rasberries.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tamale Pie

This was somewhat of a difficult dish for me to prepare. It smelled so dog gone good while it was cooking that I wanted to start eating it before it made it to the casserole dish.

Tamale Pie -
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter Dutch oven and sauté 1 medium onion chopped, 1 cup baby bella or white mushrooms, and 1 cup of thinly sliced green onions over high heat until softened, about 4 minutes.

Then drop in 2 lbs. of lean ground meat, and cook it down until it fully browns. Strain the beef and veggies and set it aside. Remove all the juices that accumulated in the pot and put the pot back on the burner, and add to it the 2 cans of Rotel tomatoes. I used one can of original Rotel tomatoes and 1 can of Rotel with lime and cilantro. Cook the tomatoes for about 3 minutes on high heat or until the liquid reduces slightly.
Put the meat back into the pot and stir into it the 2 cloves of minced garlic, 3 heaping teaspoons of chili powder, 2 level teaspoons of cumin, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce, 2 cans Mexican corn, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Combine everything well and simmer the meat mixture covered for about 5 minutes.

While the ground beef is cooking, butter an 9x13 Pyrex baking dish and sprinkle with 12 broken taco shells evenly over the bottom.

In a small bowl prepare two packages of Jeffy cornbread mix.
Set both aside temporarily.
Remove the cover from the pot and stir in 1 can of black beans with the liquid. Fully incorporated the beans into the meat. Cover the pot and simmer for 5 additional minutes.

Spoon out the meat mixture over the taco chips, spread 1 cup of sour cream over the meat, spread the cornbread mixture over the sour cream, sprinkle cheddar cheese or a blend of cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese.

Bake in a pre-heated 450 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the corn bread is golden brown. Serve piping hot!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

White Chicken Chile with Beans

White Chicken Chile with Beans, say that really fast three times! I'm not a chili person. I'll eat a little of it, I don't crave it and have only cooked it once or twice. My husband on the other hand, is a chili eating man. He asked me to make white chili. I laughed, I thought he was messing with me. I really didn't know there was such a thing as white chili. Yes, I felt very ignorant.

I scoured cookbooks and online sites and this is kind of a copy of one recipe I read from a chili cook-off that took place before a football game. I searched for it again to print it, but I couldn't find it. I remembered 2 ingredients, tequila and cloves. This chili came out so good, just the right amount of heat and taste... very, very different than red chili. I really like this and can't wait to make it again on a cold mountain Sunday.

White Chicken Chili with Beans -

Soak 1lb. of great northern beans over night.

Using 1 to 2 packs of chicken breast tenders, place the chicken in a container that can be covered cover or in a re-sealable plastic bag and sprinkle with the zest of 1 lemon and the juice of that lemon. Pour 1/2 cup of gold tequila over the chicken and 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon pepper flakes over the chicken and marinate for 3 hours.

Heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in stock pot and add 1 large onion chopped and saute for about 10 minutes until translucent over medium-high heat. Add the 3 cloves of minced garlic, 2 cans of Ro-Tel tomatoes with green chilies, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1 clove and saute for 10 minutes. (I don't know what the clove does, I remember thinking that this was unusual, so I added it.)

Add the drained beans and 4 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the beans are tender, about 2 hours.

Heat grill after the chili has simmered for about 2 hours. Grill the chicken for 5 minutes and pour remaining marinade over the chicken on the grill. Turn the chicken and grill the second side for 4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the grill and cut into small cubes.

Add the cubed chicken and 1 cup of Monterrey Jack cheese or Cheddar/Jack blend to the chili and stir until the cheese melts. Season with course salt to taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Ladle into bowls and top with a sprinkle of cheese, chopped green onions, and sour cream.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Easy Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Easy Pulled Pork Sandwiches -

Aggie at Aggie's Kitchen had a Food and Football Roundup on her blog this weekend. You need to check it out because she featured some fabulous food from amazing cooks. Her sister-in-law's Easy Pork Sandwich caught my eye and I couldn't resist giving it a try. We had BIG games going on Saturday, especially the LSU/Auburn game! Geaux Tigers!!! This sandwich is slow cooker easy, so full of flavor and I even got high fives from my hubby and the homegirlz.

We used a 3lb. Boston Butt. A hint here for easy clean-up anytime you use your slow cooker, use the slow cooker bags!

In a large bowl, mix together 2 bottles of your favorite barbecue sauce (We had 1 bottle of K.C.'s Masterpiece Original and 1 bottle of Jack Daniel's Original BBQ sauce), add 1 cup of chopped onions, 3 to 4 tablespoons of honey and 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes. Have your sweetie pour the sauce over the roast and let it cook for 8 to 9 hours on low.

Remove the cooked roast to a pan and shred.

Skim the fat from the sauce left in the slow cooker. I had some time, so I poured the sauce into a bowl and put the bowl in the freezer for approximately 1 hour so the fat would congeal and I could de-fat the sauce more accurately, then I re-heated the sauce on the stove. Pour 1 cup of sauce over the meat and toss.

Dress with your favorite condiments and your favorite sides - TOUCHDOWN!!!!

Thank you Duckie at A Duck in Her Pond for this adorable and thoughtful award!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chicken Stroganhoff

Ok, this is a long story...

My favorite cookbook in the whole world is a book originally published in the mid-fifties by the Junior League of Baton Rouge called River Roads Recipes. My Mother gave me this treasure for Christmas one year long before I was married. Over the years the cover somehow got torn off, the pages were tattered and spattered. My husband gave me River Roads II, a Second Helping and I treasured this book also. I lost both of those books when our home flooded during Hurricane Katrina. About a year after Katrina, my husband took the girls to New Orleans for a visit. We had only been living in East Tennessee for a few months and I wasn't able to go because I had just started a new job. My husband returned with a brand spanking new copy of River Roads Recipes, River Roads II, a Second Helping and River Roads III, A Healthy Portion along with beautiful Fleur de Lis bookends. There's no way I can describe in words how happy and whole I felt again.

I had to tell you that story to tell you this story. In River Roads there are two recipes for Beef Stoganhoff. One is horrible and the other is very good. For the life of me, I couldn't remember which one was which. The other dilemma, I wanted to try and convert it using chicken in lieu of beef. I lucked out and picked the right one, this recipes is full of flavor and a must try.

Chicken Stroganhoff -

Cut 1 pack of boneless, skinless chicken fillets into chunks and season with salt, black pepper, and poultry seasoning. Then dredge them in flour seasoned with salt, cayenne, garlic powder onion powder and sauté them in a large pot that can go into the oven or a dutch oven in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Saute in batches over high heat until browned.

When browned remove them from the pot and drop into the pot the 4 tablespoons of butter. Note: After doing this, 2 tablespoons of butter is plenty.

Add in 1 cup sliced Portabella mushrooms, 1 cup roughly chopped onions and cook the mixture over medium high heat until the mushrooms begin to soften and toast slightly. When the toasting occurs, stir in 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Then sauté the mix until everything is fully blended.

Now remove all the ingredients from the pot and set them aside.

It’s now time to deglaze the pot by pouring in 1/2 cup sherry and scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen the debris. When this is done, simmer the “deglaze” over low heat until the wine is almost evaporated. At that stage, pour in 1 cup chicken broth and drop the chicken pieces back into the pot.

And then it’s “oven time.” Take the pot, tight-fitting cover snugly in place, slide it into a preheated 325 degree oven, and let the chicken braise for about 45 minutes undisturbed.

Remove the pot from the oven and immediately fold in the mushrooms and the onions. Then cover the pot tightly and bake for a final 15 minutes.

When you’re ready to eat, whisk together in a small bowl 3 tablespoons sour cream and 2 teaspoons of finely chopped dill. Serve this Stroganhoff over hot buttered noodles topped with a dollop of dill sour cream. Of course, you just got to have a basket full of hot yeast rolls for the final sopping!


To make buttered noodles, simply boil them in lightly salted water containing a touch of olive oil for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Then drain them, toss them lightly with 2 tablespoons of butter, and serve them hot, topped with the Chicken Stroganhoff.

Friday, September 19, 2008


April at Abby Sweets has REALLY blown me away! She gave me the following awards that she received and I'm going to pass them on to 5 people.

From the looks of things, many of you have some of these awards already. I just want you all to know that you inspire me in various ways and am honored that you take the time to read and comment on my posts.

1. Lanny at Lagniappe

2. John at My Viewfinder

3. Gigi at Afterthoughts

4. Candy at The Courageous Cook

5. Debbie at Mocha Me

What a way to start off the weekend!!! Thank you so very much April.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Garlic Herb Chicken

My husband grew tomatoes this summer, in fact we are still picking them daily. I am beginning to wonder if this is ever going to end. Don't get me wrong, I am glad his two tomato plants are producing, but he's the only one in our family that eats tomatoes raw. The female portion of the household loves catsup, tomato sauce, pizza sauce, etc., but please don't let a raw tomato slime our salad or sandwich.
I gave a load of tomatoes to one of our neighbors who knows of my aversion to the raw product. She diced, seasoned and stewed the tomatoes and returned them to me in a jar. the jar was still warm when he handed it to me and of course I couldn't resist opening it and let me tell you, the smell was out of this world. I had to use those tomatoes in a dish tonight!!!
Garlic Herb Chicken -
Boil 1/2 lb. penne pasta in salted water and drain.

Rough cut 1 package of chicken strips into chunks, season with salt and pepper and brown in a skillet with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil for about 3 minutes.

Then season with 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves, 1 heaping tablespoon dried sweet basil and 2 tablespoons minced garlic. Dried herbs are more concentrated than fresh and give this dish a little more depth.

Add a jar or 16 oz. can of diced stewed tomatoes with Italian seasonings and combine.

Add a really generous handful of grated Parmesan, a little drizzle of olive oil and you're in business for a great meal!

Take a plate to your neighbor!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Banana Pecan Bread

Fall is in the air and it's time to take the bull by the horns and bake some Banana Pecan Bread. These little loaves are packed full of flavor and are great for breakfast, brunch or late night munchies! You can even deliver them to your friends during the holidays. I can't wait, let's get started!
Banana Pecan Bread -
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1-1/2 sticks of butter and let cool. Lightly spray two 8 x 4 loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1-1/2 teaspoons of baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoons salt; set aside.

Mash 2 over-ripe bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture; set aside.
Using an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip 2 other over-ripe bananas and 1 cup of sugar together for a good 3 minutes; you want a light and fluffy banana cream.
Change mixer to batter paddle and add the melted butter, 2 room temperature eggs, and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract; beat well and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.
Fold in 1/2 cup chopped pecans...
... and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Give the pan a good rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.

Talk about make your home smell gooooooood while it's baking! Bake for about 1 hour, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Don't get nervous if the banana bread develops a crack down the center of the loaf; it's normal. Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes or so, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
Serve with a light dusting of confectioners' sugar.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Lanny at Lagniappe honored me with this award. She is originally from Louisiana and is a regular visitor to my blog. Lanny's blog is a very interesting and sweet blog with lots of humor. Stop by and visit Lanny's blog. You'll also see really cute baby pics from her blessed new addition to her family.

So here's the rules:
*Choose 5 bloggers that you feel are kick-butt bloggers.
*Let them know.
*Link back to Mammadawg.
*Link back to the person who gave you the award.

I'm awarding this award to:
Prudy- her constant encouragement and because gave me my first award.
Marjie -she amazes me daily...check out her blog!
Michele -she shares fabulous recipes and great stories.
Greg - his stories will split your sides and yes, Greg you are always right!
Aggie -I'm a freak for Italian food and her blog makes me drool!

Like Lanny, I could list pretty much all of the blogs I stalk...tough pick narrowing it down to five.

Great BIG Thank You Lanny!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Chocolate Pots de Creme

April at Abby Sweets gets credit for this dessert that is just too good for words. This is one of the easiest desserts to prepare and a definite keeper for your dessert arsenal. You can make it with different types of chocolate which makes this dessert very versatile. So let's have a French lesson...it's pronounced "Po de Krehem"; but you knew that already. Pots de Creme is nothing but chocolate goodness. One thing I did change from Aprils recipe is I added a bit of strong coffee to the mixture. In my humble opinion, coffee enhances the chocolate flavor. While I was making this, the homegirlz couldn't do enough to help around the house...they were folding laundry, feeding the pup, setting the table. Wow, take out a back of semi-sweet chocolate chips and people get busy in my house! I love it.

Chocolate Pots de Creme -

Mix together eight egg yolks and 1 cup of sugar.

Mix at a low speed until the yellow color becomes somewhat pale.

In a heat-proof measuring cup, add 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of heavy creme. Heat to boil in the microwave and very slowly incorporate to the the egg mixture.

Add to the mixing bowl, 1-1/2 cups of melted semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1/2 cup of strong coffee or espresso.

Pour the chocolate mixture into ramekins, place ramekin into a baking pan and fill the baking pan halfway up the ramekins with water. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Since my ramekins were not shallow, the baked for 40 minutes. A shallow ramekin would probably take about 30 minutes.

Let them cool, then place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.

Garnish and enjoy. One note...make an extra one for you and stash in the back of the fridge - hey you can always do Pilates later!

Thanks April!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Roasted Broccoli

I am going to try and share the emotions that I feel everytime I taste these simply delicious roasted broccoli florets. Roasted broccoli has a nutty taste, very different from steamed and raw versions. Right now our grocery store has piles of broccoli at a really great price. Sometimes it's hard to know what to do with broccoli besides steaming it or covering it with cheese. So grab some broccoli from the grocery and make this quick and easy side. Hey, it's broccoli, you can feel good about serving it to your family and have fun watching their faces squirm when they see you grab it from the fridge.

Roasted Broccoli -
Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. Rinse and drain the broccoli stalks and cut off the stalks. You want florets with very little stems. Place the florets on a baking pan lined with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Season the broccoli with 1 tablespoon of grill seasoning (preferably McCormick's Montreal Grill Seasoning), 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes and about 2 to 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Toss the florets with your hands to evenly coat the the seasonings and olive oil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the florets are tender and slightly brown.
Your family and friends will become broccoli believers.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chicken Pastina

Have you seen the mini pastas the grocery stores are selling? I learned from an Italian friend that the mini pasta is called "pastina". The mini pastas cook a little faster which is great when you're in a little bit of a hurry. I used the mini farfalle (bowtie), you can use your favorite pasta shape and size. This is the easiest, most awesome and quick chicken dish that will wow your family and friends. It's pretty economical too!
Chicken Pastina -

Chop one medium onion and 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsely.

Cube one package of chicken tenders. Cook 1/2 lb. of mini pasta to al-dente in salted water. Butter a 9x9 baking dish.

Add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil to a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and 2 cloves minced garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 - 7 minutes more.

Pour chicken mixture into buttered dish add 1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes (with juice), 1 cup, 1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

In a small bowl mix together 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs and 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter.
Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree for about 20 minutes to melt the cheeses and then place under the broiler for a minute or two until the top is golden brown.