Southern Alabama Specialties

Recipes and folklore from the Gulf Coast. Like this favorte recipe, Garlic Shrimp Linguine, gets a nod from Creole cookery and blends new and old world flavors in making one fine dinner.

Grilling Year-round on the Gulf Coast

Life is good on the Gulf Coast as you'll find folks grilling and barbecuing all types of fine foods. Burgers, dogs, steaks, wings, ribs, pork, chicken, beef, seafood, gator, heck ... if it lives around here, we eat it!

Cake Making in the South

A real classic ~ Lemon Pound Cake with Citrus Glaze.

Sunday Dinners are Sacred in the South

An establishment in these parts, sitting down at the dinner table for a family meal is a way of life for many of us. It is quality time well spent sharing our blessings. Enjoy our recipes.

Gulf Coast Seafood Recipes

Platters like this are often on tables around Mobile Bay especially when there is a Jubilee. A Jubilee only occurs in Mobile Bay - find mouth-watering recipes under the Fish and Seafood categories.

February 27, 2011

Quick Sausage, Spinach & Pasta Skillet

right dab-in-da-middle of Carnival

Folks, forgive my absence, or my lack of normal communication with so many of you but hey, it's Mardi Gras and well, I'm a little busy. Not only enjoying the festivities but also preparing for the so many activities during these l-o-n-g weeks of carnival. As many of you know, our company provides decorations, scenery, stage sets, standing and hanging props, tablescapes, oversees lighting & sound and so much more for the many Mardi Gras balls, events and parties, even wardrobes for the Kings & Queens.  Yep, it's a busy time...

Some nights I need something quick to 'throw together', something that's delicious and something not from fast-food establishments. I try to avoid those places no matter how tired I am. This is one of those meals, an all-in-one skillet meal, (except for cooking the pasta) that goes together quickly and comes out so very tasty. Enjoy!

Quick Sausage, Spinach & Pasta Skillet

1 pound farfalle (butterflies) pasta, cooked and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 -16 oz package sweet Italian sausage
1 large leek, washed thoroughly and white & light green part divided
1 tablespoon margarine
2 tablespoons brown flour*
Fresh ground black peppercorns
1 cup chicken broth
1 -9 oz package baby spinach, rinsed and dried well
4 green onions, diced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Slice the leek into thin pieces separating the white from the green part.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Remove casings from sausage, add to skillet and cook, breaking sausage into small bite-size pieces. Let sausage brown. Add the green leeks and cook for about 5 minutes stirring  until softened. Add the white part, stir for a minute and then stir in the margarine. Sprinkle the flour over the meat mixture and stir to mix. Season with a few turns of the pepper mill and add the broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low.

Toss in the pasta, stir to mix well and add spinach, green onions on top of mixture. Cover and let steam for 5 minutes. Stir to incorporate and plate. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese to serve.

*Note: I keep a jar of brown flour handy for when I need a quick thickener just like this one. You don't have to worry about having to cook the flour taste out. Simply add a cup or two to a large cast iron skillet, heat in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes until light to medium brown. You have to stir every 5 minutes during the last 15 or so minutes to keep it from scorching. This is also a quick jump-start when making roux.

and this is the float from the Inca parade last week that my nephew rode... took the pic before he bombarded us with beads...

February 23, 2011

My Top 20 Mardi Gras Foods

Breakfast Bread Pudding

More Mardi Gras Fun 

Parades started last week and will continue until Fat Tuesday, March 8th, and there is so much fun to be had, I just can't stand it. As you all know, one fun thing I enjoy is eating and here are a few of my favorite foods during the season. Enjoy!

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary by TastyTrix
Chef David Guas' Buttermilk Beignets
Crispy Creole Callas and savory fritter versions
Jalapeno Hash-Brown Casserole from Cajun Delights
Cajun Chef Ryan's Florentine Omelet
Lana's Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

Parade Time

Shrimp Pate
Marinated Shrimp & Mushrooms 
Easy Appetizer - Crab Louie Bites
Delicious Bean Dip from Sweet Life
For shrimp lovers - Shrimp Pate
Claudia's French Bread Pizzas
Gulf Coast Seafood Gumbo, how we do it in Mobile
Tina's Pasta with Seafood Sauce, sort of...
My take on bouillabaisse, Bayoubaisse

After the Ball
Cajun Biscuits

Milk Punch - actually 2 recipes, here & here
Cajun Biscuits with Green Onion Mayonnaise
My Shrimp & Grits, two ways
Marguerite's Fabulous Cajun Breakfast Bread Pudding
Mardi Gras Cajun Ham
Hearty Grillades over stone-ground grits, my favorite

February 20, 2011

King Cakes at Mardi Gras

Fun facts about
Mardi Gras

What does it mean if you find the baby in the king cake? To understand what the fuss is about, you must first know what a king cake is I guess. And who better to explain than my good friend Ryan Boudreaux known to all as Cajun Chef Ryan. This is what he posted last year:
  "The typical King Cake is an oval or round shaped dough which is formed from a yeast risen sweet dough similar to cinnamon roll or Danish dough. Recipes vary from bakery to restaurant to grocery, but the basic King Cake dough is laced with lots of cinnamon and sugar and topped with icing and then sprinkled with tinted sugars of purple, green and gold. Many variations of fillings are available also depending on the shop, but some of my favorite fillings are cream cheese, raspberry, lemon, cherry, blueberry and my all time favorite is my chocolate filled King Cake. Inside each king cake is a small plastic baby, which the baker gently hides after it is baked and cooled."

Find Ryan's complete article including the history of the king cake here.

Chef Ryan's King Cake recipe and article on Twelfth Night (plus his updated 2011 version recipe) .
Marguerite's (Cajun Delight) King Cake recipe.

Read the article by Matt Cuthbert from about the meaning of finding the baby and to find recipes including a gluten free one and cupcakes too.

And here are more recipes supposedly by John Folse, Kit Wohl, the Times-Picayune, John Besh ... all from Mr. Lake's Nonpompous Food Forum ... (no lie).... the Mr. Lake's New Orleans Forum... Enjoy!


February 18, 2011

Cajun Pepper Loaf

Taste-bud tickler

Meatloaf seems to be a go-to-food for me, at least this time of year anyway, when I'm craving homey good foods and the weather still has a nip in the air. Yep, the nights are still a bit cool down here, somewhere between the forties to mid fifties even though just last week we were into the twenties like so many times this past season. But the good news is that the trees are starting to bud and the robins are moving through which means even warmer, spring time weather is on the way.

Now, back to meatloaf. I know of a few recipes I have already posted, Momma's vegetable packed version with Mushroom gravy, individual mini loaves with a tomato Creole sauce and a classic Cajun loaf with sweet pepper sauce. Believe it or not, this one is altogether different, Cajun in flavorings with a spicy blend of peppers that comes out super moist and delicious. Enjoy!

Cajun Pepper Loaf

1 tablespoon oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup minced jalapeño peppers
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
2 small Creole or Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
2 teaspoons Creole or Cajun seasoning
2 teaspoons Worcestershire
1/3 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup finely crushed saltines
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin beef1/2 pound ground bulk sausage, mild or hot
2 eggs, beaten

Glaze of brown sugar, molasses and ketchup, if desired

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat and add onion, celery and garlic. Sauté until onion softens. Add the jalapeño, the bell peppers, tomato and the seasoning. Cook another few minutes and stir in the Worcestershire, chili sauce and milk. Remove from heat and spoon into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the crackers to firm up the mixture.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Crumble the ground beef and sausage over the mixture. Add the eggs and mix together with a large wooden spoon blending well. Divide mixture into two oblong loaves about 1 1/2-inches thick and place on a on a shallow baking sheet.

Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and if desired, spread with a glaze and bake another 5 or 8 minutes to brown. Remove from oven and let rest for about 10 minutes before slicing in 1-inch sections.

Good with tomato gravy, Creole salsa or of course, on top of homemade mashed potatoes.

February 13, 2011

Johnny Marzetti

This one's for me

Hey, what do you want to do on Valentine's Day? Want to go to Ruth Chris? How 'bout heading out on the causeway for some seafood? Or would you prefer to stay home and maybe I'll throw some lobster tails on the grill.. whattaya say Drick?

Folks, when it comes right down to it, if I had my way, I'd settle for relaxation and a simple dinner dish, a one-pan meal would be just fine. And since I am a meat and potatoes kind of guy,  as long as you're asking, something like this Johnny Marzetti resemblance would be just fine.

I first posted this recipe back in 2009 - it is a favorite of mine and of many of you as well; it gets a lot of attention from time to time. I mean really, it has everything going for it; a great, well flavored taste appeal - a tomato base meat sauce, egg noodles substituting unnoticeable for potatoes, very little if any vegetables, scattered creamy layers of saucy cheese plus a top layer of more cheese and a blend of seasonings that makes you go back for more.

This is what I wrote back then and I think is still appropriate for today, on Valentine's Day:
Ladies, this casserole might not get you a new car, a diamond bracelet or that new fancy mink but it will sure put a smile on your face when your family (and man in your life) gets down to eating. Who knows, it might just get you that new kitchen appliance. It goes by many names but I think the title I chose is more direct, at least as far as I am concerned, more to the point – give Daddy what he wants!

And as I mentioned, this recipe is most famous in the Panama Canal Zone area since the time of World War II and where most down there are surprised to know, it did not originate there but from Columbus Ohio. Back then and even today, it is still a simple but good choice to please the man in your life, in this case, me. Enjoy!

Daddy’s Delight or my Johnny Marzetti
Serves 8 to 10

1 1/2 pounds ground round beef (85/15)
2 tablespoons bacon grease or oil
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 -10.75 oz can tomato soup
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
dash of cinnamon
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 -8 oz package cream cheese
1 -10 to 12 oz plain yogurt
1 -12 oz package narrow egg noodles, cooked & drained
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Brown the ground beef over medium heat in a large skillet. Drain any grease and add the bacon grease or oil, bell pepper, onion, celery and garlic. Cook until onions are crisp tender. Add the tomato soup, salt, pepper, sugar, chili powder and just enough cinnamon to say you thought about it. Simmer for 10 minutes.

In a bowl, mix the yogurt, cream cheese and scallions to blend.

In a well-greased 2-quart baking dish, sprinkle the noodles, meat mixture and yogurt mixture in several layers. Sprinkle the two cheeses on top.

In a 350 degree F oven, bake for about 20 minutes or until heated and cheese has slightly browned. Serve immediately and make Daddy happy.

February 11, 2011

Scramble Eggs, Peppers & Tortillas with Mexican Hash Browns

My kind of breakfast

Now if someone were to prepare breakfast for me, say for a lazy Saturday, a sleep-in Sunday or even heaven-for-sake Valentine's Day, this would be my request. I mean, I hope they would at least ask my preference.

I can not think of many platters of breakfast foods I would like better than a scramble of eggs seasoned with mild chiles and roused in harmony with tomatoes and cheese. This recipe is one I found a while back from one of Martha's mags and immediately liked the added crunch of the tortillas.

The fried potatoes are my version of everyone's favorite side and sweetened with sautéed bell peppers, green onions and seasoned with the smoky taste of chipotle and flavors of Mexican sausage.

Scramble Eggs with Peppers & Tortillas

about 4 servings

1/4 cup shortening, vegetable or olive oil
8 -5 inch corn tortillas, cut into odd, small shapes
1 poblano chile, seeded and diced
2 green onions, diced
3 small garden tomatoes or ripe Romas. diced
8 large eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup Mexican shredded cheese blend
Salsa Fresca (Pico de Gallo) or table salsa

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add tortillas, tossing to cook evenly until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.

Discard all but 2 tablespoons of oil and add pepper and onion. Toss to coat in oil and cook until tender and soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato and cook until in starts to melt down a bit, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the eggs, tortillas and the cheese. Cook stirring constantly until eggs are set, about 3 minutes.

Serve with salsa fresca and Mexican Hash Browns

Mexican Hash Browns
 about 4 servings

1 link Chorizo or smoked sausage (10-inch), diced
2 baked potatoes, cut into small dice
Teaspoon flour
Seasonings: chipotle chili powder, salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/4 x 1 inch pieces
3 green onions, diced

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat and cook the sausage until brown stirring to cook evenly. Remove sausage to drain on paper towels.

Toss the potatoes with the seasonings and flour. Add enough oil to make about 1 tablespoon to the skillet. Toss in the onions and peppers and cook until onions are clear.

Toss in the potatoes and cook, not stirring until potatoes are brown on the underside. Yep, you will have to check with a spatula. Flip potato mixture over, sprinkle on the sausage and brown the other side. Do not stir while potatoes are cooking, something I tend to do, but trust me, just let them alone to reach a nice, gold brown color.

Remove skillet from heat and hold until plating or to a warm platter to serve tableside.

February 9, 2011

Kiss Me Truffles

taste of home photo

Oh yeah, baby

A delightful and very smooth truffle that is absolutely delicious. Makes a haughty, kissable gift for anytime but especially favored for Valentine's Day. 

Easy to make and a great treat. There are many variations of this recipe with many varying tastes, but I like this one I modified last year, creamy with a nice mint burst of flavor. Enjoy!

Kiss-Me Truffles
makes about 8 dozen

1 tablespoon butter plus 3/4 cup butter, divided
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
2 packages (4.67 ounces each) mint Andes candies
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow crème
1 tablespoon peppermint schnapps
22 ounces white baking chocolate, divided
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Food coloring, optional

Butter a 15 x 10 inch pan with 1 tablespoon butter and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, milk and remaining butter. Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Reduce heat, cook and stir until a candy thermometer reads 236°(soft-ball stage). Remove from the heat. Stir in candies until melted and mixture is well blended. Stir in marshmallow crème and schnapps until smooth. Spread into prepared pan, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Make 7
equally spaced cuts lengthwise down the mixture. Make 11 equally spaced cuts opposite cutting candy into 96 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Mixture will be soft. Place on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet.

In a heavy saucepan or microwave-safe bowl, melt 18 oz of the white chocolate and the chocolate chips. Dip balls in melted chocolate and place on waxed paper to harden. Melt the remaining white chocolate adding food coloring if desired. Drizzle over truffles. Store in an airtight container.

February 6, 2011

Valentine Cookies

Perfect pairings

There is something special about giving a treat, be it candy or a cookie, that when it is homemade, it means so much more. It just taste better not to mention it is appreciated more too. Thanks Marilyn.

This cookie recipe comes from outside my family and makes one of the best sugar cookies I have tasted. Simple, pure and old-fashion goodness. A shortbread-like crispness which I favor in a cookie.

The icing is one my Momma used from time to time, nothing more than a royal icing with flavoring, in this case a refreshing slightly minty sweetness to add to a perfect cookie. I think the two makes a perfect pairing too. Enjoy!

Granny Rogers Sugar Cookies

2 1/2 cups A/P flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 stick margarine (4 tbsps)
1 cup sugar
2 extra large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

For decorations:
Additional egg whites for brushing cookies & plain or color sugars
Cookie Icing –see below

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together.

Blend shortening with the margarine and stir in the sugar. Mix in the eggs well.

Fold in the dry ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to chill.

Roll out as thin you can, 1/8-inch thick if possible.

Cut into desired shapes and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

If decorating with sugars, brush with egg whites and sprinkle with sugars of choice.

Bake 12-15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven or until edges begin to brown.

Note: For softer, thicker cookies, add an additional teaspoon of baking powder and roll to 1/4-inch thickness. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or increase temperature to 375 degrees F.

Mint Cookie Icing
photo from Joy of Baking

3 ounces pasteurized egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon peppermint or spearmint extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar
Food coloring

In a large bowl, combine egg whites with extracts and beat using a mixer until frothy. Gradually add sugar mixing on low speed until incorporated and mixture becomes shiny.
Increase speed to high and beat until it forms stiff, glossy peaks, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Add food coloring if desired and ice cookies with a thin coating.
To pipe decorations, transfer to pastry bag (or zip-lock bag with a corner clipped).
Can store covered tightly with plastic wrap in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Note: Use fresh lemon juice instead of extract if desired.

February 4, 2011

Mixed-Up Corn Nachos

And yet another appetizer...

It may sound a little crazy, maybe a little off the wall for some, but this is one appetizer that is some kind of good.  

Mixed-Up Corn Nachos 

1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper 
1/2 cup finely chopped onion 
3/4 cup whole kernel corn 
4 ounces diced green chilies 
1 cup sour cream 
8 ounces cream cheese, softened 
2 tsp. chili powder 
2 tsp. ground cumin
Cayenne pepper to taste 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 
Tortilla chips 
4 slices bacon, fried crisp, drained and crumbled 
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (8 oz.)
Chili powder and cayenne pepper 
Thinly sliced jalapeño peppers
    In large skillet heat oil and sauté red pepper, onion and corn until onions are soft. Stir in green chilies, put aside. In medium bowl, blend together sour cream, cream cheese, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper. Fold mixture into sautéed vegetables. Place chips on two 10 inch oven-proof platters. Cover chips with vegetable mixture. Sprinkle crumbled bacon and cheese on top. Add additional chili powder and cayenne pepper, if desired. Arrange jalapeño peppers on top. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until cheese melts.

    February 2, 2011

    Vegetable Totasdas Stacks

    Who ever heard of such 
    - broccoli & cauliflower - cooked up and passed as Mexican food. Personally, I probably would include a little browned ground beef and chorizo, but that's just me. But after all, this is about eating vegetarian foods.

    Vegetable Tostadas Stacks 

    2 tablespoons cooking oil
    3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
    3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    1/2 cup Picante sauce
    1 cup broccoli florets
    1 cup cauliflower florets
    1 large bag round-shaped Tostadas chips
    1 can refried beans
    2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
    2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar Cheese
    Garnishes: Green and red bell pepper rings, pitted black olives, Picante and sour cream
      Heat oven to 350 F. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium high heat. Add chopped green and red peppers and onions; cook and stir until crisp-tender. Drain. Stir in 1/2 cup picante sauce. Cook broccoli and cauliflower until crisp and tender in boiling water. Drain, cut up large pieces if necessary. Place chips side by side on two large un-greased cookie sheets. Spread each with about teaspoon of the pepper mixture. Top each with another chip. Divide vegetables evenly with between tostada stacks; sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of the Monterey Jack cheese. Add a teaspoon of refried beans and top with remaining pepper mixture. Add another chip and sprinkle each with a little cheddar cheese. Bake at 375F for 5 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. To serve top with green and red pepper rings, ripe olives, picante sauce and sour cream.