Jon Boy can’t stop moving his mouth. By that I mean… he can’t stop eating and talking about eating this lovely bunch of spicy*, savory, shrimpy goodness. I had planned on making a huge batch, freezing half, and enjoying a non-cooking evening one day next week. We ate it all within two days. Lunches and dinners. I think I’ll keep this recipe.

shrimp creole

*Okay, so, it doesn’t have to be spicy if that’s not your jam. Just leave out the red pepper when you’re marinating the shrimp and you should be okidokey-artichokey.

shrimp creole

The tomatoes + the creamy half-and-half that make up this sauce would have your brain tricked into thinking this little number is super bad for you. Think again, little nugget. Each serving (recipe makes 6) is 260 calories, 11g fat, and 25g protein. If you have 3/4 cup cooked rice [pictured], that adds 150 calories.

shrimp creole

Here’s how you make your next favorite meal:

‘Marinate’ the shrimp in some EVOO, Creole seasoning (I love Tony Chachere’s), and some cayenne pepper. *Again, leave out the pepper if spice isn’t your jam.* Make sure to marinate in a glass or plastic dish (not metal), covered, for at least an hour and up to three hours.

shrimp creole

MMMMM baby. Shrimpies. By the way, I always buy the frozen, already peeled + deveined, tails-off goodies. It’s worth the extra $3 per pound to not have to do that mess yourself. Just thaw the shrimp in the fridge the night before cooking.

shrimp creole

Meanwhile, dice your veggies (yellow onion, celery, green bell pepper) and mince or press your garlic.

shrimp creole

Heat some EVOO over medium-high heat in a biggo Dutch oven or skillet. Throw in the veggies (not the garlic yet) and sauté until tender.

shrimp creole

Throw in some thyme sprigs + the garlic. Sauté another minute.

shrimp creole

Meanwhile, whisk together some half-and-half and flour. (Also – hello cute Santa Spoon Holder.)

shrimp creole

Lower the heat, pour in the flour mixture, and scrape the bottom to get up all the brown goodness (fond). Simmer for two minutes.

shrimp creole

Then throw in two cans of fire-roasted tomatoes with their juices. Simmer another 5 minutes.

shrimp creole

Throw them shrimpies in, stir, and simmer until the shrimpies are cooked through (about 5 minutes). Serve over rice, garnish with green onions, and maybe even getchya some garlic Texas toast to soak up the yummy sauce.


Shrimp Creole

2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail off
3 tbs. EVOO, divided
1½ tsp. Tony Chachere’s seasoning (or your own choice of Creole seasoning)
1/8 tsp. ground red cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup half-and-half
2 tbs. all-purpose flour
2 cans fire-roasted, diced tomatoes, undrained
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Green onions, chopped, for garnish

Marinate shrimp in 2 tbs. EVOO, Creole seasoning, and red pepper for about 1 hour in the fridge in a large glass bowl or Ziploc bag.

Heat remaining 1 tbs. oil in large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sauté onion, bell pepper, and celery until onions are translucent (about 8 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and thyme; sauté an additional minute.

Meanwhile, whisk the half-and-half and flour in a small bowl until combined. Add mixture to Dutch oven; reduce heat to low. Stir to combine, scraping bottom of pan to get to the fond (brown stuff). Simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes to pan. Simmer an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add shrimp mixture to pan; cook for 5 minutes or until shrimp are pink and cooked through.

Remove thyme sprigs. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Serve over rice and garnish with green onion.

Click Here for Printable Recipe: Shrimp Creole

I have a confession: I’m pretty sure I’m deep-down a Louisiana native. Not sure how it happened, but I’m pretty sure I was transported or kidnapped or something. Maybe I lived there and worked in some rich guy’s kitchen in a former life. Either way, I love me some Creole cookin’.

red beans and rice

Also, every time I hear or say or think the words “Red Beans and Rice”, I immediately think of the Sir Mix-a-Lot song “Baby Got Back”…

“Give me a sister, I can’t resist her

Red beans and rice didn’t miss her”

I sing it every. single. time. Takes me back to middle school and pretending that I had dance moves.


Food for the Soul

Before I dive into this delicious recipe, I had to share a little goodness with you. Goodness for your soul that is.

Have you heard the name Greg Zanis yet? If you haven’t, let me fill you in on a beautiful story that’s good for the soul. Something we all could use right now in the midst of polarizing politics, hurricanes, and massacres at concerts. Greg Zanis made crosses for each of the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. He delivered them all himself and placed them near the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign to honor those who lost their lives last week. To think of the countless hours it must have taken him, not to mention the money, it really strikes me in the good feels. We need to hear about more of the positive things people do for one another instead of the negative.

Crosses for Las Vegas Victims - Gregory Bull

Image Cred: Gregory Bull / AP

See the full story HERE.


Food that Feeds My Soul (+ My Belly)

If I could choose one last meal to have before I go on to whatever lies next for me, I’d hands-down ask for Red Beans and Rice. It has to be authentic, slow-cooked in a Louisiana kitchen, spicy, comforting Red Beans and Rice. None of the boxed stuff.

red beans and rice

I actually used to really, really, realllyyyy love the Zatarain’s Red Beans and Rice mix (like for years and years and years). In my older years *adjusts weight using the cane in hand* I’ve found that I just can’t handle all the sodium that comes with the boxed stuff. It used to do the job, but now, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to this absolute epitome of Southern comfort food.

red beans and rice

I’ve tried A LOT of Red Beans and Rice recipes. This is a compilation of years of drooling, cooking, sweating, and dreaming about my favorite dish. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Here’s the breakdown:

The night before, soak yer beans with some Kosher salt + water at least 2″ above the tops of the beans. Cover with dish towel (because no one likes flies in their food) and set on your counter for up to 18 hours before you want to cook. Drain and rinse them before cooking.

red beans and rice

The next day, they should look nice and plump like these lovelies. Pick out any bad ones – like that one rebel in the middle of my bowl. Poor little halfling. He’s gotta go.

red beans and rice

It’s very not traditional to use chicken sausage, but I had to adjust the recipe to fit our diet. Regular andouille sausage is just a little too fatty for us, so I swapped it out for the andouille chicken sausage. Still tastes yummy and sausage-y to me! Feel free to use the real stuff though if you’re a purist.

red beans and rice

Sauté the sausage in vegetable oil until it’s browned.

red beans and rice

Throw in your vegetables and cook ’em down until they’re tender.

red beans and rice

Add your spices, herbs, beans, and some water. Stir it up, cover it up, and make it boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a medium-low-low setting (no other technical way to say that) so that it’s at a bare simmer. Cover and cook for at least 3 hours or until beans are tender.

red beans and rice

Serve with some white rice, your fave hot sauce, and garnish with green onions. Maybe even a little garlic toast on the side if you’re feeling crazy.

One other thing I love about Red Beans and Rice (at least this version) is that it’s relatively healthy. This recipe makes 6 big servings that come in at about 260 calories per serving with 5.7g fat and 29.4g protein (not counting rice). Not so bad for such a soul-filling dish.

red beans and rice


Red Beans and Rice

1 lb. dry red kidney beans
Kosher salt
1 tbs. vegetable oil
4 andouille chicken sausage links, sliced into discs
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
Freshly ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tbs. ground cayenne pepper (more or less depending on how hot you like it)
1/2 tbs. fresh sage, chopped
6 springs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
1 smoked ham hock (optional)*

Place beans in a large plastic or glass bowl with 2 tbs. Kosher salt. Add cold water until the beans are covered by at least 2”. Cover with a dish towel and let sit for at least 8 hours and up to 18. Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a large Dutch oven or skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned (about 5 minutes). Add onion, bell pepper, and celery. Cook until vegetables have softened, stirring occasionally (about 8 minutes). Add 3/4 tsp. Kosher salt and 10-15 grinds of black pepper (depending on how much spice you want). Add the garlic, stir, and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add cayenne pepper and sage, stir, and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add beans and 8 cups water, thyme, bay leaves, and ham hock (if using). Stir to combine, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a bare simmer (medium-low-low heat) and cook until beans are tender (about 3 hours).

Remove thyme stems, bay leaves and ham hock. Stir and cook an additional 20 minutes without the cover on. If the mixture is too thick, add 1/2 cup water, cook another 5 minutes. Repeat an additional time if necessary.

Garnish with green onions. Serve over white rice with hot sauce on the side.

*I usually can’t find a good ham hock, so I leave this out most of the time.

Click Here for Printable Recipe: Red Beans and Rice

If you were to look at my DVR, you’d be a little concerned at the number of Food-based shows I record and watch. Religiously. It’s like a crack for me.
I love, love, love the show called, The Chew. If you’ve never seen it, record one episode! Please. You’ll love Mario Batali’s incredible food knowledge and spicy attitude, Michael Symon’s hilarious laugh and delicious meals, and Clinton Kelly’s fantastic smile and amazing demeanor.

I saw this recipe on The Chew a few weeks ago, and it had two of my favorite things: Mario Batali + Cajun food. Nothing could be better for me. Truly. Okay, maybe if I were to ever eat Cajun food with Mario Batali, that might be better.

Jambalaya
This recipe is extremely simple and delicious {and cheap to make}! It’s perfect for a crowd, too. If you’ve got more than 8 folks coming for dinner, just double the recipe. The only thing you’ll need to do is make sure you’ve got a big enough pot.
Andouille can sometimes be hard to find, but it’s usually located in the section near your bacon in your grocery store. Here’s the kind I used:
Jambalaya
I would definitely suggest making the Creole seasoning. I tried substituting with Tony Chachere’s seasoning, and it just did not taste that great. With the Creole seasoning, you have a lot more control over the salt you’re putting into the meal, whereas with Tony’s… it would basically turn out to be a salt lick in the form of rice and meat!

Jambalaya

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 pound Andouille sausage, sliced
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 green bell peppers, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeños, sliced (or leave out if you don’t like super spicy)
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
4 cups chicken stock
3 dashes of your favorite hot sauce (I used Tabasco)
1/2 cup green onions, sliced (plus more for garnish)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Creole Seasoning
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons cayenne
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Mix all ingredients for the Creole seasoning, divide in half, and set aside.In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tbs. olive oil over medium-high heat. Season chicken and shrimp with half the Creole seasoning, Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set shrimp aside (or put in the fridge). Cook the Andouille sausage and chicken in batches in the Dutch oven until browned, remove, and drain on paper towel.

To the Dutch oven, add 2 tbs. more oil (if needed). Sauté the onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic and jalapeños and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add remaining half of spice mixture, tomatoes, bay leaves, rice, stock, and hot sauce. Fold in the sausage and chicken, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally, but do not over work the rice.

**If you are entertaining, you can keep the jambalaya warm at this point until about 10 minutes before serving. Just cover the pot and remove from the heat. It will stay warm for a while. If needed, you can also put the pot in a 170 degree oven. Just make sure when you put the shrimp back in that your pot is warm. Feel free to put the pot back on the stove for heat to cook the shrimp, too. The bottom line is, there’s plenty of time for you to spend entertaining before you come back to finish the cooking.**

Remove the Dutch oven from the heat. Add shrimp to the pot, stir gently, cover again, and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes, just until shrimp are pink and tender. Discard bay leaves. Garnish with green onions and serve.

Adapted from my hero’s, Mario Batali, recipe

Creole and Cajun food are my happy. I love New Orleans – the easy way of life, the amazing food, the incredible people, and being able to walk around with a bev in hand on the street.
chicken piquante
I found this recipe a few years ago and have tweaked it to make it my own. I’d never heard of it, but found it in a Creole cookbook of my dad’s that looked like it had been used way more than once. That’s always a good sign!
Chicken Piquante (sometimes called Chicken Sauce Piquante) is basically a super flavorful, somewhat spicy dish served best over rice. The essentials are, of course, the holy trinity: onion, pepper, and celery. You must also get a good roux going so that your sauce is thick and delectable.
chicken piquante

Chicken Piquante
1½ tbs. salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
½ tsp. ground white pepper
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. chile powder
1 tsp. paprika
3 – 4 lbs. chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 small poblano chile, seeded and diced
1 tbs. finely chopped garlic
5 plum tomatoes, diced
2 cups canned tomatoes
5 cups chicken broth
1 tbs. dried thyme
4 bay leaves
4 dashes of hot sauce (Tabasco)
Steamed rice
Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish
Whisk together the salt, peppers, chile powder, and paprika in a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces and use your hands to toss until evenly coated; set aside.
  
Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke slightly. While the oil heats, toss the chicken with flour to coat.
Shaking off the excess flour from the chicken, transfer the pieces to the hot oil and fry until golden brown on all sides. Fry the chicken in two batches so you don’t over crowd the pan – the chicken should be in one layer, and not on top of each other. Reserve the leftover flour. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a deep plate, leaving the oil in the pan.
Add the remaining flour to the oil and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes to create a medium-brown, peanut butter-colored roux. Add the onion, celery, poblano, and garlic and cook 5 minutes more. Add the chicken, tomatoes, broth, thyme, bay leaves, and hot sauce. Simmer over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened to a light gravy and the chicken is tender enough to shred with a fork. 
Garnish with scallions. Serve over steamed rice with crusty bread. And a hurricane.