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.

December 31, 2013

Breakfast Egg Bake with Tomato, Spinach and Cheese

Great way to start a day.

There is something about breakfast that we just love and many times it is eating it at night for supper (that's informal dinner down in the south for my non-USA friends).

This is a really simple way in preparing eggs and I know all you have made it similar many times but I just wanted to share with you our love for eating and mixing fresh vegetables in with so many things, even omelets and in this case, a simple egg bake. You can use whatever you have on hand and whatever you like. We like the taste of fresh spinach and vine-ripe tomatoes (in the summer) with ours. In this case, being winter, I used the little Campari tomatoes which are juicy, sweet and almost summer tasting.

There is no real recipe to this, but I know 'anony' will write asking for it so it goes like this....


Quick and Easy Egg Bake
for 2

4 whole large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon half-and-half
salt and black pepper to your taste
1 tablespoon extra light olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped small sweet onion / shallot / or white part of leek
1 tablespoon finely chopped green bell pepper / serrano / jalapeno
1 cup baby spinach leaves (not packed) rinsed and dried
1/3 cup cheddar cheese / Queso or Asadero / Monterrey Jack
3 small ripe Creole / garden / Campari tomatoes
3 or 4 strips crisply cooked smoked bacon, crumbled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray a large ramekin or small casserole with cooking spray.

Heat a small saucepan over medium high heat adding the olive oil. When at shimmer, add onion, bell pepper and saute until onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add to the casserole.

In a bowl, whisk eggs along with half-and-half, salt and pepper until well combined. Tear spinach in half or thirds and add to bowl. Fold in cheese. Pour egg mixture into casserole. Add tomato and push tomato to mix in with the eggs.

Bake for 20 minutes or until eggs are set. The center should not jiggle. Mine set in the oven too long :-(

Remove, slice and serve with the bacon on top along with a side of cheese grits and as shown, biscuits covered with sausage gravy.

December 24, 2013

Prime Rib for the Holidays

A Prime Entrée for Southerly Celebrations.

If at all possible, purchase a first-cut beef rib roast (from the smaller end), 3 to 5 ribs (about 7 to 12 pounds) and allow it to render a crust from the savory spice rub overnight. Then be sure to allow it to reach room temperature (2-3 hours) before slow roasting. Tie it tight on the rack of its bones before roasting. The bones not only add to the flavor but also become the stationary cooking plate.

This method of cooking the rib-eye roast slowly is the reason why it is called Prime Rib, not because of the cut of beef which, by the way, is somewhat a misnomer. However, I do recommend buying prime beef grade over choice for this type of cookery. The taste on the tongue of a prime grade rib roast is like no other, and if cooked properly, prime beef will actually ‘melt-in-your-mouth’.

I think this recipe would work well on the grill too, in fact, the Beef Rub should enhance brilliantly with the flavors of the grill.

To make Prime Rib, you will need:
a beef rib roast with at least 3 ribs
Southern Prime Beef Rub
Horseradish Cream

For My Southern Prime Beef Rub:
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed thyme
2 teaspoons crushed oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried minced garlic

Your butcher should cut the meat away from the rack of ribs but if that didn’t happen, use a sharp knife and cut the bones away from the rib roast starting with the rib ends and cut to within a half-inch to the opposite side leaving the ribs hinged to the roast as shown.

Season the meat area with some of the Beef Rub.

Position the roast back onto the rib bones aligning them perfectly. Use butcher’s twine to secure the roast back onto the rack of ribs tying between the ribs tightly. Cover roast all over with the remaining rub mixture.

Refrigerate overnight or at least 12 hours.

Remove from refrigerator and allow to rest at room temperature for 2 hrs (3 hrs for 9+ lbs).

Adjust oven rack to low position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Place roast bone side down on a roasting rack and into a rimmed pan or a roaster. When oven is ready, center roast on lower rack and cook until meat registers 130 degrees (for medium-rare), about 4 hours (may take 5 for larger cuts).

When ready, remove roast to a cutting board and tent with foil. Allow to rest 20-30 minutes. Remove and discard the twine. Slice the roast in nice, 1/2and serve inch slices and immediately serve with the horseradish cream.

For the Horseradish Cream:
1 cup chilled heavy cream
2/3 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
1 1/4 cups prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh herbs like chives and/or parsley -minced

Pour cream into a medium bowl and using a whisk or a hand-held mixer, whisk to just under soft peaks (a line should form on the surface but peaks will fall). Fold in remaining ingredients.

Note: In some grocers, the meat department may call this cut of beef a standing rib roast but I doubt it will be of the prime grade, however, choice ain’t too bad when that’s all ya got. Just be sure to ask if it is from the first cut of the rib section. The size of the bones and the roast itself will probably tell if it is from the smaller end which is the most desirable and is the most tender.

December 15, 2013

Smokin' Nut Mix

Smokin' Good Christmas Gift

Folks, I know I have been quiet as a mouse lately but that doesn't mean I haven't been watching, and listening....

For all the good and naughty out there, here is a recipe I came up with to share with our neighbors this year, and with you too. It is sooooo very good and sooooooo addictive. For cocktail parties, go ahead and add the rounded levels but watch out and drink up my friend 'cause these will have a little extra kick to 'em.


Roasted Smoky Nut Mix
Perfect for holiday giving or cocktail parties
makes about 4 1/2 cups

1 large egg white at room temp
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste (a rounded 1/4 teaspoon for us)
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper (again, rounded high)
1 tablespoon Chipotle Pepper Tabasco Sauce (plus several good shakes for us)
2 cups salted deluxe mixed nuts
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup whole cashews
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup pepitas or pistachio nuts
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 225°.

Whisk egg white to a froth. Whisk in sugar, salt, cinnamon and cayenne. Beat in the Chipotle Tabasco.

Stir in all the nuts and toss to coat well. Add the seeds to pecan mixture; mix well. Place parchment paper on a large jelly-roll pan and lightly coat with cooking spray. Rub with paper towel to even oil out. (Or use the nonstick aluminum foil.) Spread mixture in a single layer on the paper.

Bake for 1 hour or until almost dry stirring every 15 minutes to redistribute coating.
Remove from oven; cool completely. Break apart and stir in the cranberries.

Store in a wax paper lined sealed container or in sealable bags for gift-giving.

Notes: If you cannot find this wonderful how-can-you-live-without-it Tabasco, then use about 1/2 teaspoon regular Tabasco and more chipotle chile pepper.
If nuts are still sticky after baking, allow to set in warm oven a couple of hours to toast.

Last year's gift: Cajun Christmas Chips (pickles)

December 1, 2013

Green Bean Casserole for a Healthier Diet

A Change in Tradition

Yeah, I know. You’ve seen this before. A new-fanged green bean recipe that tastes as good as the original and is better for you. When in fact, most of the time, many of these new recipes fall short of fulfilling the essential lure of what we enjoy about the casserole in the first place: A creamy thick saucy mushroom goodness enveloped around bites of green beans, and really folks, the kicker for most of us is the crunchy fried onion topping. So why, on say a special holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas, would anyone ever want to change it? For the better.

Now, that brings me to my second question: What would happen if every dish you placed on the table became a little healthier? Believe me, of all people, I think it is sacrilege to mess with family recipes and change the teachings and ways in our southern cookery. Even though the addition of bacon was in our family’s way of preparing many dishes, I confess, coming up with a better one from time-to-time is a good thing. To take a recipe, one cherished by all in a family, and change it up a bit especially to make it better for us, can’t be all that bad, can it? I think not. That is why many times when cooking family favorites I choose to use one strip of bacon instead of four, or was that six?

This one, this rendition of America’s favorite side dish came out pretty darn good. The only thing I would change the next time is to make sure my fresh green beans were young and tender enough as the texture of the bean was a bit tough. This recipe makes a saucy base so if you like yours thicker, add a little more flour to the roux base. I actually liked the looseness of the sauce. Enjoy!

Good and Healthy Green Bean Casserole
8 to 10 side servings

for the topping:
1 large Spanish onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed oregano
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped fried onion rings if desired
for the casserole:
2 1/2 pounds cut fresh green beans, blanched (or frozen, defrosted)
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces mushrooms, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup julienne red bell pepper
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese (low-fat if possible)

Times: Prep- 40 mins / Cook- 25 mins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pan. Add onions and a pinch of salt and stir. Cover and cook until caramelized, stirring occasionally (about 20 minutes). Meanwhile, combine Panko with thyme, oregano, salt and pepper and set aside. Once onions are caramelized, remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add olive oil and mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add garlic, half of the cooked onions, and flour, stirring to combine. Pour in stock, sherry and half and half and stir constantly until mixture begins to bubble. Cook for 2-3 minutes until mixture thickens slightly, then add bell pepper, soy sauce, salt and pepper.

Stir in green beans, cheese and transfer to a casserole dish.
Combine remaining onions with Panko mixture and top casserole. (You can add the fried onions now but be sure to cover.)

Bake for 25 minutes or until edges are bubbly and topping is golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes: Cook time is for oven time only.
Add the green onion toward the end of baking for a fresher texture or as written for the toasted version.
If adding the fried onion rings, do so the last 5 minutes or cover with foil for the first 20 minutes.

November 23, 2013

Citrus Herb Roasted Hen

Savory Southern Sunshine

I have before briefly touched on the difference between a Fryer, Broiler, Roaster, Baking Hen and a Stewing Hen. Each are of different age and each have a certain purpose for their usage in recipes. Recapping, the Fryer is a young bird, 7 to 13 weeks old and from somewhere just under 2 pounds up to 4. It’s main purpose is as the name implies. Normally cut-up into the basic eight portions, this bird is best for frying because the young meat is so juicy and tender. Broilers are the most popular as some refer to them as an all-purpose bird ’cause you can use them in so many ways. Plumb and tasty, this type of poultry is of certain stock, bred for it copious amount of meat. Broilers typically run under 6 pounds and are between 4 to 8 weeks old. Roasters are much larger chickens weighing in between 6 to 9 pounds and are normally butchered around 14 weeks. The Hen is an adult female that has arrived at the egg-laying status in the hen-house. And the Stewing Hen is one a bit more mature, past prime and one that is no longer laying. This is why these old birds are better stewed or left to the soup pot as their meat is tough and stringy.

Now this recipe takes on the cooking technique that I use when making another Roasted Chicken Recipe and some of the elements of my version of Engagement Chicken. But the taste is nothing like either one. This one takes on a different flavor with a wider variety of herbs and the induction of orange with the lemon overtones are classic.


Roasted Chicken for Sunday Dinners
6 to 8 servings

1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 lemons, one juiced, one quartered and one sliced
4 clementines, two juiced, one quartered and one sliced
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon salt-free Creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon crushed marjoram
1/2 teaspoon crushed oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed rosemary
1/4 teaspoon crushed sage
1 teaspoon onion flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 -7 to 9 pound young hen or roaster (chicken)
1 medium onion, cut into eights
1 celery stalk, cut into 1-inch sections
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup water
1/2 cup dry white wine

Rinse the roaster under cold water inside and out. Pat completely dry with paper towels.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and mix in the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, clementine juice, vinegar and and Creole seasoning. Simmer on low for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a small bowl, mix the marjoram, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage and onion bits together. Set aside. Sprinkle a good tablespoon into the cavity coating as much of the inside as possible. Add remaining seasoning mixture to the butter mixture.
Jumble the cut-up lemon, clementine, onion and celery together and stuff into the cavity. Truss the chicken legs and wings to hold together while cooking.

Brush the seasoned butter mixture all over the outside of the chicken. You can spoon a little under the skin of the breast for extra flavor.

Place the chicken in a roasting rack and set rack into the roasting pan, breast side down and pour chicken stock, wine and water in the bottom of the pan.

Place pan in the center of the oven roasting for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F. and turn the chicken over, breast side up. Cover the roaster with the lemon and clementine slices. Continue roasting about 1 hour.

Baste the citrus slices with the pan drippings a couple of times during the last part of cooking.

Check the internal temperature of the inside of the thigh meat and the breast. I removed the slices to let the top brown the last 10 or so minutes. (My hen took 1 hour 15 minutes to cook.) The poultry is done when its internal temperature registers 160 degrees F in the breast and 175 in the leg (stay away from the bone). Don’t ever trust the old adage about “when the legs wiggles loosely when twisted – it’s done.” The leg meat may be but as for the breast, not necessarily so.

Remove from oven, tent with foil and allow to rest at least 15 minutes before carving. Use the pan drippings to make a very savory, citrus tasting gravy.

Note: Use citrus like satsuma, tangelo, tangerine or any other small, sweet orange.

November 19, 2013

Sirloin Tip Roast - easy recipe and technique

A roast to serve proudly.

Oven Roasting: A dry-heat cooking method that cooks uncovered food normally on a rack or in a pan. Doing so correctly with meats will produce a moist interior with a thin, well-browned exterior.

Whether or not the cut of meat is seared depends on the cook. This preparation is not necessary for the roast to retain moisture as once thought, but it does contribute to a well-seasoned, flavorful ‘char’ taste on the surface as well as a better developed flavor in pan drippings. What searing does to the meat is that in doing so, it improves the flavor by catalyzing the Maillard browning reactions (a series of chemical reactions that rapidly take place when proteins and sugars are heated to around 300°F or higher) and adds texture to the outside. There are a few folks who believe it’s better to sear the meat after it’s roasted, not before. That is, roasts will lose around 1.7% of its natural juices if seared before roasting rather than after.

The problem most folks have when cooking a roast is not knowing how to go about cooking the cut of beef chosen and often, more than most will admit, the outcome is less than desirable.

While most recipes call for cooking large roasts in a moderately hot oven (350 to 400-degree), this method will lead to a haphazardly cooked inside not to mention a ghastly, overcooked outer band. And in turn, roasting smaller cuts in a lower temperature oven will not achieve a desirable serving of roast beef either.

You see, small narrow roasts like beef tenderloin, top sirloin, shoulder petite fare well with a relatively quick cooking time ensuring a juicy, tender slice of meat. These cuts should roast in an oven temperature set between 350 to 450 degrees F.

On the other hand, heat takes a long time to infiltrate deep into the center of large and chunky cuts of meat such as prime rib (standing rib, first cut), ribeye and, like the one today, sirloin tip roasts. If cooking at moderate high heat, the outer areas becomes hot bands of brownish-grey, overcooked meat while the inner area remains cold and rare. This is why these cuts should roast in an oven temperature set between 250 to 300 degrees F. for longer periods.

Now that we got all of that serious hullabaloo out-of-the-way, let’s get to something a little more appreciable, like an easy and most satisfying recipe worthy of a special occasion, say a holiday or a nice Sunday Dinner. The choice cut for today’s recipe is a large sirloin tip roast; a lean hunky cut that is perfect for slow roasting and comes out perfect. Each slice is just as beautiful as the next as you carve into the interior and every bite is just as delicious as the first. Enjoy!

Roast Beef: Sirloin Tip with au jus
There is nothing new to this recipe for many of you except maybe the cooking method. It is a time-honored recipe using the basic of Cupboard Cookery, that is, reaching into the cabinet and coming up with something worthy of family and friends.
10 to 12 servings

1 -5 to 6 pound sirloin tip roast
salt and pepper
1 package onion soup mix (I used Knorr's)
2 cups water
1 -10.5 oz condensed beef broth (red can)

Use kitchen twine to tie around the side of the roast to make it somewhat circular. This will help it cook uniformly and heck, it looks nice too. Lightly season all sides with salt and a good dose of black pepper and place on a platter. If you have the time, refrigerate it for about 6 hours to allow the salt to work its magic on the roast. (It will cause moisture movement toward the surface and then the fibers will infuse it back in for the moistest roast you will ever cook.) Allow the roast to set out (reasonable room temperature) for 2 hours before roasting.

Preheat oven at 275 or 300 degrees F. (use the higher if roast is 4 inches or more thick)
After roast is at room temperature (2 hours after refrigeration), rub the onion soup mix all over the surface. Place roast on a rack or roasting tray and the rack over a deep oven pan. Sprinkle the onion bits you have on the platter over the top. Add the water and beef broth to the roasting pan and place in the center of the oven.  Yup, I chose not to sear bet you didn't notice that, did you? Cook roast until internal temperature reaches 120 degrees F. for rare, 125 for medium rare or 135 (not advisable) for medium. My roast took about 3 1/2 hours to reach medium rare.

Remove from oven, tent with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Remember: Your internal temp should rise another 5 degrees at rest so the interior will be a perfect 125 for rare and 130 for medium rare. Slice thin and serve with the au jus in the pan.

Notes: Use the au jus as it is from the pan drippings or make a gravy by adding a thickener (like cornstarch with a little water).

Prep time does not include resting stage. Internal temps based on Southern Food guidelines.

November 17, 2013

Roasted Root Vegetables with Bacon Cider Sauce

Perfect Fall Side Dish

Nothing is easier than roasting vegetables in the oven and there are not many fall recipes that bring together the warmth of root vegetables that only a good roasting can accomplish. This is also a great passover dish, sans the Bacon Cider Sauce of course but a reduction of Kosher Chicken Stock with a tad of pareve margarine is a brilliant side dish for a non-Seder meal. It is imperative to chop the vegetables to the same size, that way, each will cook at the same rate. You can make this dish a day ahead; refrigerate both the vegetables and sauce, then reheat both separately before bringing the two together. Keep the bacon separate from the Bacon Cider Sauce while in storage.

Add and replace any vegetables you like. Use new potatoes or fingerlings or even sweet potatoes, beets, brussels sprouts, winter squash, celery root, cranberries, whatever you desire. If you use beets, use golden beets, otherwise the red ones will turn everything pinkish.

I cannot think of anything better, especially during the fall harvest times, the thankful times of late Autumn and into November, than this earthy, satisfying helping of roasted vegetables. The fact that each bite has a cover glaze of apple-bacon-butter-like bliss is outstanding in itself, but then, that's just my opinion.


Fall Root Vegetables Roasted and served with a Bacon Cider Sauce
6 to 8 servings

2 medium rutabagas, peeled, cut into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes
2 medium turnips, peeled, cut into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes
2 or 3 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1-inch x 1/2-inch pieces
2 large parsnips, peeled, cut into 1/2 to 1-inch cubes
4 stalks of celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 garlic toes (cloves), halved
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh snipped thyme
salt and pepper to taste

for the Bacon Cider Sauce:
1/2 cup diced lean-cut smoked bacon
2 tablespoons extra light olive oil
1/2 diced yellow onion
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh snipped thyme
3/4 cup apple cider juice
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon orange blossom honey
salt and pepper to taste

For the Roasted Vegetables:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Add rutabagas, turnips, carrots, parsnips, celery, garlic and other vegetables if desired to a large baking pan with a high rim. Pour the melted butter and olive oil and jumble well to coat vegetables. Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper.

Place in oven and roast for 10 minutes.
Reduce heat to 375 degrees and turn the vegetables over to evenly roast. Cook about 20 minutes or until tender and caramelized.

Remove from oven. Move vegetables to a serving bowl. Pour the Bacon Cider Sauce over the top and sprinkle with the cooked bacon.

For the Sauce:
Meanwhile, in a medium saucier or skillet over medium high heat, saute the bacon in the olive oil until light brown. Remove bacon with slotted spoon to a small bowl and put aside.
Add onion and butter and saute over medium low heat until onions caramelize to a nice, warm and light brown color. Add rosemary, thyme, cider, chicken stock and honey. Increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Allow liquid to reduce in half. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour over the roasted vegetables in a serving bowl prior to service and sprinkle with the bacon.

Note: I used bacon from a pack of 'ends and pieces' which luckily contained mostly lean meat.  Ask your butcher or find it near packages of country style 'fatback' or salt-pork.

October 31, 2013

Blackened Catfish with Shrimp Étouffée Sauce

 Whoo-Wee! Dis is sum kinda good.

Sitting down to a plate of blackened fish is way of life in the south, especially where seafood is in abundance and where Cajun foods take forefront to the palates of dining customers along our waterways. Spicy foods like boiled crawfish and shrimp, seafood gumbo and deviled crabs are on most menus and for a very good reason: Folks eat it up. One of our favorite items at our favorite restaurant is a blackened whole flounder pan broiled in butter and simply served with lemons. Outstanding.

Now, there are so many ways to serve blackened fish. Some like it with a Cajun maque choux, some with a Creole red sauce and some prefer the French influenced crusty appeal of a seasoned au gratin. To me, it really doesn’t matter as long as the blackening seasoning balances with the fish. Many folks think of Cajun as being overly spicy when in truth, this is far from what true Acadian style Cajun cooking is at all. Spices should bring about the natural flavors of the food prepared, not overpower.  I think this recipe does just that in bringing out the very light, mild flavor catfish with a hint of sweetness from the white fillets.

As for the sauce; this is probably the easiest étouffée sauce I have made and is very bright in flavor yet mild enough to meld all components of grits, blackened fish, and the shrimp sauce together. As with any complex tasting recipe, be sure to have all vegetables chopped, shrimp peeled and stock ready to use; have the spice mixture ready, butter melted and have everything right by the stove so that when you start, it all comes together effortlessly.

For any of you that have tried or have a desire to try my recipes and if you like fish and shrimp with a flavorful sauce, I know you will love making and serving this one. Double the recipe for 4 folks. Enjoy!

Blackened Catfish with Shrimp Étouffée Sauce
Blackened catfish with a homemade Cajun seasoning and topped with a shrimp étouffée sauce. 
2 servings (double recipe for 4)
    for the Blackened Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried crushed thyme 
    for the Shrimp Étouffée Sauce
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic toes (cloves), smashed and minced
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) butter
  • 2 ounces cooking oil or shortening
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup shrimp stock
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 1/2 cup green onions
    for the Catfish
  • 2 -7 to 9 ounce fresh catfish filets
  • 6 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • Blackened seasoning
  • Shortening (Crisco)
 prep the catfish
Dry both sides of the fillets with paper towels. Lightly salt both sides of the fillets. Place on a wire rack until ready to cook.

make the Shrimp Étouffée Sauce
Heat a medium sized sauté pan over medium high heat. Add butter and oil and when butter is melted, add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Sauté for 10 minutes or until onions are clear. Sprinkle in the flour, and stir to make a blonde roux, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Stir in the shrimp and chicken stocks; season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for about 10 minutes to thicken stirring often. Add shrimp and cook 3 minutes. Turn off heat. Cover to keep warm. Add a little water if the consistency becomes too thick. Stir in half of the green onions right before plating.

sauté the catfish
Dredge each filet in the melted butter. Coat with blackened seasoning to taste. Lightly coat a large heavy iron skillet with the shortening and wipe excess with paper towel. Place skillet over medium high heat and when hot (slightly smoking), place fillets into the skillet. BE SURE TO HAVE EXHAUST FANS ON! Brown each side for about 7 minutes. Serve with shrimp étouffée on top and sprinkle remaining green onions on top of sauce.

Plate on a bed of creamy stone-ground grits or long grain white rice.

Notes:  To make an easy Shrimp Stock, simmer the shells and heads of shrimp along with a little seasoning salt, 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup sherry. Reduce to 1 cup. Strain stock through a fine mesh sieve and discard shells.
To avoid smoking up the kitchen, fry fillets in several tablespoons of the shortening. It will lose some of the blackened seasoning but still taste great.

October 27, 2013

Roasted Pork with White Beans Cassoulet

Now this is Casual Dinning!

What could be better than having friends over for a well-developed flavorful, no-effort-at-meal-time bowl of goodness and actually having time to relax as they arrive as well as during the meal?  Having it catered perhaps... but then, there is no satisfaction in serving another someones food, not when there are easy one-pot-meals like this one.

Cassoulets are meant to be easy for a purpose. This French way of cookery is somewhat peasant in style, a little homely in nature and a whole lot of intimate causality in its feel. While my first choice is to cook with Cannelini beans, I had none in my pantry so Navy beans worked equally as well. The flavors of succulent roasted pork soaks into the starches of the beans as the meal comes together and the southern flavors, with the union of Cajun and Tex, brings about a palatable savor of a monumental homecoming. Enjoy!

Roasted Pork with White Beans Cassoulet
4 main servings or 8 sides

2 lb pork roast or pork boneless loin, roasted and chopped
4 ounces Cajun link sausage, diced (I use Conecuh brand)
2 ribs celery, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
3 garlic toes (cloves), minced
3/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 bay leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaves)
1 lb navy or northern beans, soaked, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups sodium-reduced chicken broth
1/2 cup sodium-reduced beef broth
1 medium potato, peeled and finely diced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Keep roasted pork meat warm or have at room temperature.

Heat the cassoulet or large ovenproof skillet over medium high heat. Add the sausage and saute until light brown. Add celery, bell pepper and onion. Saute until onion is soft. Stir in the garlic and the seasonings. Add the beans, chicken and beef stock, diced potato and carefully stir in the roasted pork.

Cover cassoulet with lid, place in the oven and reduce temperature to 325 degrees F. Cook for 1 1/2 hours. Check after an hour and make sure beans are not drying out. If so, add more chicken broth, just enough to moistened.

Notes: Towards the end, taste the beans to make sure they are done. Soft yet not breaking apart is perfect and also be sure to taste regarding additional seasoning. I personally think the seasoning salt had enough salt but others found it needed more.
The potato is added as a binder, to form a thickener without relying on the beans to break down.

October 24, 2013

Saucy Chuck Roast for Company

Roast Superiority

When you find company coming, look no farther than an easy, tasty roast to make a bold statement. A roast with a taste of distinction will stand apart from the crowd and this recipe, using fundamental rudiments of cupboard cookery, not only sends a message but will lead the conversation.

Now normally some would steer clear of onions as the forefront of a recipe when entertaining, even informally with neighbors. Sweet onions, sometimes referred to as 'southern truffles', have a way of bringing out the natural beauty of many underlying flavors and in this case, it brings out or rather helps bind together the sensational flavors of the southerly seasoned tomato sauced beef. Enjoy!

Baked Chuck Roast with Tomato Onion Sauce
4 to 6 servings

1 -2 to 3 pound chuck roast
salt and pepper
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 -8 ounce tomato sauce
1/2 cup beef stock
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

Remove as much fat as possible from the roast. Allow roast to come to room temperature and add salt and pepper to both sides of the roast.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place half of the chopped onions in the bottom of a 3-quart baker. Place roast on top of onions.

In a bowl, mix remaining ingredients and pour over roast. Lay the remaining onions on top of roast.

Cover with foil and cook in oven for 2 hours.

Remove foil, spoon sauce on top of roast and continue cooking another 30 minutes basting with sauce every 10 minutes.

Remove roast to platter and allow to set for about 5 minutes before slicing. Spoon onions and a little sauce over sliced meat and serve immediately.

Note: I imagine it is best to use a baker or casserole dish where the liquid will cover the beef. Otherwise, keep the roast moist as I did by spooning the sauce over the meat as it cooks toward the latter part.

October 21, 2013

Cuban Inspired Mojo-Marinated Roasted Pork

A taste of history.

Our Gulf Coast ports were the earliest entries for spices from the Caribbean islands and Mobile was a frontrunner of commerce with direct lanes to Cuba. Few folks know that Mobile later thrived in commerce during prohibition with rum-runners coming from Cuba's distilleries. This recipe does not contain rum but does have a well-balanced blend of citrus and Latin flavors. The flavors and the recipes of this inundation lingers into today bringing about main dishes like this one; one with a most delectable taste. This Cuban inspired roasted pork is succulent, juicy and mouth-watering and served proudly in homes all along our area. It is even more luscious to eat. The cut of roast is from the shoulder area and though it is skinless, it contains a thick layer of fat which continually bastes the meat as it roasts.

The marinade penetrates into the meat with a little help from a short blade knife making the flavors carry over to the last bite of meat, even in the deepest part of the roast. Enjoy!

Cuban Pork Roast
 Cooked to perfection with Latin and citrus flavors. A most palatable sauce makes itself in the pan as the roast cooks.
about 10 to 12 servings

1 -8 pound pork shoulder blade roast (boston butt)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaves or 6 crushed bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons brown sugar
12 garlic toes (cloves), diced
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 cups fresh orange juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Using a paring knife, cut 1/2-inch wide, 1-inch deep slits all over roast.
Place remaining ingredients in a large, 3-gallon sealable bag (or use a suitable container with cover) and mix to incorporate. Add the roast, seal and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Rotate bag several times.

Remove bag from refrigerator about 2 hours before cooking time to allow it to come to room temperature. Heat oven to 325°. Pour about 2 cups of marinade into the bottom of roasting pan for making a sauce. Add 2 cups of water.

Place roast on rack in roaster pan fat side up.
Roast in oven basting with the pan liquid every 30 minutes until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of pork registers 160°, about 3 hours total. Add 1 cup water to pan if liquid evaporates too much and cover loosely with foil when the top begins to darken.

Let rest for 15 minutes, then carve and serve.

Cuban Pork Taco

September 28, 2013

Pork Pockets Stuffed with Southern Greens

Stuffed pork loin with gravy
Down Home Cooking at its Best.

Using fillings to stuff or fill a cavity in meats is nothing new. One of the first recorded recipes of such is one for rabbit, fowl, rodent and pig back in the late 4th or early 5th century AD and in the cookbook Apicius (De re coquinaria or"On the Subject of Cooking"). Containing mostly vegetables, herbs and spices, a stuffing back then would entertain the flavors of nuts, cereal, liver or any other organ meat.

Today, our modern versions take on little differences with maybe exception in flavor of spice and this is determined from desired regional or country customs. The recipe used to stuff the pork loin chops is certainly a take on our taste here in the south. The flavors of the bay leaf, Tabasco pepper, vinegar and the trinity transform our beloved bitter collard greens to a unique sweet stuffing medley of delta Cajun, southern soul food and urban metro. Enjoy!

Southern Stuffed Pork Pockets
with a little hint of soulful Cajun
4 servings

1 boneless pork loin roast, about 2 1/2 pounds
Salt and pepper
Cajun seasoning
1 bunch collard greens
1 slice thick-cut smoked bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 small onion, diced
1 small celery rib, diced
1/4 cup green or red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic toes, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground bay leaves
2 fresh Tabasco peppers, chopped
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/3 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup toasted pecans

Pat the pork dry with paper towels and slice into 4 equally thick chops. Using a short-bladed sharp knife (paring does well) slice into the long side of each chop creating a pocket. Cut almost to the edges of the two sides and to the back which when standing will become the bottom. Actually, cutting into the fat side of the chop would cook better, as the fat layer should always be on top. I will do this next time. Season the outside of the meat on all sides with a little salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning. Put aside.

Wash the collards several times in a deep pan of water or your sink and drain well. Remove tough stems and chop the greens finely.

In a small skillet or saucepan, cook the bacon until grease renders and bacon is light brown. Remove much of the grease if desired. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil, onion, celery and bell pepper. Cook until vegetables are soft. Add garlic, ground bay leaves (or use a large bay), Tabasco peppers (or another hot pepper), vinegar and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and add the collards. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning. (Do not use too much Cajun.) Use tongs if needed to constantly move the greens around in the liquid until softened. Reduce heat to medium low and allow to cook until the liquid is evaporated and greens are tender.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

Fold in the pecans and generously fill each pork chop cavity with the collard mixture. Pour a small dribble of olive oil in the bottom of a 2-quart baker or casserole. Place stuffed pockets into the baker (forming an 'X' should work better) and moisten the meat with olive oil.

Place a small piece of foil over the stuffing to prevent drying out. Place in the oven and reduce temperature to 375 degrees. Cook about 45 minutes basting with pan drippings or olive oil a couple of times. If desired, test the meat; internal temperature of the pork should be about 145 when using a stuffing. Placing the thermometer probe on the inside wall of the pork and gently inserting it there will give a fairer reading. Remove foil and allow top to cook another 5 or so minutes.

Serve with a thin pork gravy, a mushroom and wine reduction or any sauce based from the demi-glace method.

Note: Any use of greens would be great - a blend of collard, turnip and mustard greens or spinach can be used.

September 8, 2013

Recipe for Ground Beef Meatloaf, individual servings

Easy as 1-2-3, This Flavorful Meatloaf is Hard to Beat.

Sometimes, whipping up a quick and easy meal isn't all that quick, or easy. But when meatloaf goes to the table, not only is Momma happy, Daddy and the whole gang are waiting with fork in hand for the start of a memorial and satisfying meal. Nothing is quicker, nor tastier than a good ol' homemade meatloaf. And when I say homemade,  I mean using good ingredients and delectable flavors that will make every bite outstanding.

Now the key to easy dinners is planning and keeping it simple. But that does not mean processed foods or out-of-the-box meals or sides. This meatloaf meal comes together with 3 recipes that together, makes for one outstanding, non-ordinary meatloaf. Plan your side dishes around the meatloaf, choose ones that will complement the flavor and be sure to maintain correct portions of the vegetables ( and the grains, fruit and dairy too) to the protein serving. Think steamed or quick pan sauteed, or even oven roasted vegetables.

We love meatloaf around our house. This is one way we enjoy making it, in individual servings and with a gravy made with good ingredients that really taste superb. The recipe uses basic ingredients for flavor but what we really love about this one is the added flavor and moistness the vegetables give to the texture and, with the addition of tomato paste as a binder, no egg is used. Enjoy!

Individual Meatloaves with Vegetable Gravy
Great for family dinners or company too - freeze unneeded loaves

makes 6 loaves

1) for the meatloaves:

2 1/2 to 3 pounds ground round beef (85/15)
1 tablespoon dehydrated minced onions
1 teaspoon dehydrated minced garlic
2 teaspoons of your favorite seasoning blend (you should know by know, mine is Badia Complete)
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon low sodium Worcestershire
1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onions
1/2 cup finely chopped mixed bell peppers
1 celery stalk, finely chopped

2) for the basting sop:

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

3) for the vegetable gravy:

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced onions
1/2 cup chopped mixed bell peppers
1 small carrot, diced
seasoning blend of choice
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup low sodium chicken or beef stock
1 teaspoon cornstarch

In an extra large bowl, blend the dried onion and garlic, seasoning blend, tomato paste, Worcestershire, soy sauce and liquid smoke together well. Mix in the chopped vegetables. Using a large metal or wooden spatula or mixing fork, cut in the ground beef adding about one-third of meat at a time. Mix to incorporate being careful not to compact the meat.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using cold hands, form meat mixture into 6 balls and then each one into individual meatloaves. Place on a meat or wire rack and over a large shallow roasting pan.

Cook for about 30 minutes basting with the sop about 3 or 4 times during the cooking time. Remove when each is nicely brown and glazed.

While loaves are cooking, saute the mushrooms, onion, bell peppers and carrot with the olive oil until onion is soft. Add wine and chicken stock and allow to reduce about half in volume. Stir the cornstarch in a little stock or water and blend into the mixture to thicken. Simmer on low until gravy is desired consistency.

Place loaves in baking dish and spoon gravy on top. Return to oven if desired and allow gravy to simmer. Or, you can serve right away.

Notes: You could do away with much of the dried seasonings and use the standard onion soup mix I suppose, but then, it wouldn't exactly be my recipe.
Next time I make these, I am gonna cook these on the grill, I can only imagine the added flavor especially using the basting sop.

September 5, 2013

Cooking Pole Beans, New Southern Style

Ain't nuttin' finer than a pot of pole beans.

Well, 'cept maybe a pan of stewed yellow summer squash sitting pretty next to our favorite skillet of fried summertime fresh corn. Dag nabitt, I done got myself all hungry again.

Now, if you have not prepped a mess of pole beans before, well, you are in for a treat. Getting 'em ready is as rewarding as eating 'em, I mean, the process helps our sanity, don't you see. I know there are many of you who remember time spent a few years ago shelling peas and snapping beans, a time spent that has passed our hurriedly society just as quickly as time marches forward.

"Snapping beans" is term used by mothers, grandmothers and generations before our now youth who at first thought, might think the term represents a new logo, web site or even a up-and-coming music act . . . I am just guessing here.  But I do know that back in my youth, sitting around, shelling peas and snapping beans was our way of 'networking', from the front porches catching up on gossip, sitting 'round the TV watching Lucille Ball, Jack Benny or  even Red Skelton, or in the kitchen waiting for the pot to boil. It was our early form of social media, with the likes of Skelton's antics taking center stage if only for the amount of time until the 'mess of beans' were finished.

The beans actually do make a snapping sound, almost like a homemade pop-gun. And, to do justice, there is an art in snapping pole beans, as taught by our older generation and passed down, now to us. Start with the stem end and break away or 'pop' off the top and strip the string down on one side. Turn it over and pot the end followed with removing the string on that side. Then, break or snap the beans into one-and-one half to two-inch sections. As told, if there is not a string on the first run or side, then go ahead and snap into sections. The younger the beans, the less strings.

Fresh Pole Beans
Fresh pole beans should make a healthy snapping sound. When you pop off the ends, if it has a string attached, just pull down both sides of the pod to remove it.
the 'ends and strings' from Pole Beans
This is how I now cook pole beans, I mean, no one in my family used olive oil when I was growing up. It was all bacon grease and lard to 'grease the pot'

Pole Beans
like Momma used to cook, only a little better for us 
6 to 8 servings

2 pounds fresh pole beans
1 or 2 slices thick-cut smoked bacon
Olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

Wash and prep the beans for cooking by 'snapping' off the ends, removing the strings and 'snapping' in about 1 1/2-inch sections. Drain well.

fresh 'snapped' Pole Beans

Cut the bacon in 1/2-inch slices and place in a stockpot over medium high heat. Cook the bacon until brown and crisp. Turn heat down and remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a small plate or bowl. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of bacon grease. Add olive oil (about 1 good tablespoon), the beans and increase heat back to medium high heat. Stir to coat all of the beans in the oil cooking about 2 minutes. Add onion, salt, pepper, sugar and stir to combine. Add enough chicken stock to just about cover the beans; cover with lid. At boil, reduce heat to medium low and cook between 25 minutes to an hour, depending on how firm you like them. Most southerners cook them about an hour until the beans are really soft.

Add the vinegar and red bell pepper and turn off heat. Keep covered until ready to serve.

Serve with a sprinkle of the crispy bacon.

September 1, 2013

Grilled Marinated Pork Loin Chops with recipe for Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce

Lean with a healthy slant, this is a recipe to sink your teeth into.

Did you know pork loin is America's most popular lean meat? Well, other than chicken, neither did I. And, marinating thick chops is one of our favorite ways to flavor this cut of pork as well as putting it on the grill.

The loin roast comes from the upper part area of the hog between the shoulder and the start of the leg. The loin roast is delicious when marinated and grilled quickly over direct heat. For a crisp surface on your chop, be sure the grill is fully preheated before placing the chops on the rack. Of note, if cooking pork loin chops on the stove, again, be sure to use medium high heat. Because of the connecting fibers, these chops should not be braised or stewed as they have a tendency to lose tenderness when cooked by means of moist heat.

Now, according to wiki-how, "the USDA recommends cooking pork to 160 degrees," that is, if you prefer tough meat, "but it is perfectly safe to cook American pork to 145 degrees. Trichina dies out at 137, and most other ones die at around 140. For those outside American soil, you should probably cook your pork well."

Enough of all that. I don't know how many times I have used this marinade on pork chops nor guess how many more times I will in the future. I know it will be many more good eatings.

Tender, juicy and full of flavor, these chops with or without the tangy sauce is spectacular. Hope you get your grill out and get to cooking soon. Enjoy!

Grilled Marinated Pork Loin Chops
glazed with Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce
4 servings

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon low-sodium Worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
4 -1 1/2 to 2 inch thick boneless pork loin chops
Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce -see below

Combine all marinade ingredients in a container or sealable bag and let marinate for 1 to 2 hours refrigerated. Remove from refrigerator and let rest about 30 minutes before grilling.

Heat grill to high heat. Place chops directly over flame and after first sear marks appear on both sides (about 2 minutes each side) reduce heat to medium heat or move away from direct heat. Begin glazing with the Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce. Move chops further away from heat if the sauce darkens too much. You want to coat with several layers of the glaze for a really outstanding taste.

Grill until internal temperature reaches desired range (140 to 155 depending on taste and location). Remove from grill, tent with foil and allow chops to rest for about 10 minutes before cutting or serving. Remember, meat will rise in temperature about 5 degrees after removing from heat source as long as it is tinted.

Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce
A well bodied, full flavored table sauce for pork, poultry, game, fish and seafood - also great for glazing on BBQ or Grilled foods
makes about 1 cup

1 cup yellow prepared mustard
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4-5 tablespoons Splenda Brown Sugar Blend (or 1/2 cup brown sugar)*
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 tablespoon cayenne
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Mix ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sauce just begins to simmer. Reduce heat and cook stirring often until sauce is reduced in half or thickens to desired consistency. Serve cool or warm.

*Adjust Splenda Blend or brown sugar to taste. To me, Splenda Brown Sugar Blend is sweeter in strength compared with regular brown sugar using the equivalent amount.

You can store sauce in a sealed jar refrigerated for a several weeks.

August 28, 2013

Award Winning Summertime Tasting Hamburger

A new favorite, maybe the best!

It is crazy how we get stuck in a rut. I mean, eating the same thing over-and-over again. Now I am not saying to put away a good recipe when you find one, I'm just saying I like to try and create new ones from time to time. Do I try to 'out do' the previous favorite? No, nor do I try to replace it. But I think having several great recipes for the same food under the belt, so to speak, is a good idea. To change things up a bit at times, don't you see.

So when I came up with this recipe a few weeks ago, I did what I do best, I reached into the cabinet and let my mind and taste thoughts lead me toward creating what became a hamburger with a remarkable and flavorful, southern smoky grilled taste. A new recipe that was hailed as 'award winning' by all who enjoyed it. (I have made a second batch and grilled them with equally great reactions.) In fact, one even went as far in saying it was the new favorite, the best ever. Well, I don't know . . . I'll let you decide that. Go ahead, make up a batch yourself, get to grilling and enjoy a really good great hamburger. Enjoy!

My New Southern Seasoned Hamburger Recipe
 Perfect for a Holiday Cookout

makes 4 burgers

2 tablespoons Southern Seasoning Home Blend (see below)
2 tablespoons low-sodium Worcestershire
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Badia Complete Seasoning or seasoning salt
2 pounds ground chuck beef (80/20), cold from refrigerator

In a wide large bowl, whisk the first 6 ingredients together. Let set for about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef by carefully breaking it apart and with a large spoon or spatula, blend it into the seasoning mixture. Using your hands will heat the meat and cause the fat to tighten up the texture.

Dip your hands in ice-cold water. Dry hands completely and divide mixture into 4 balls. Quickly pat out into no less than 1-inch thick patties. I like to form the side edges somewhat flat, perpendicular to the surface. Lay each on a baking pan and press an indention into the center of each burger. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until about 30 minutes before ready to grill.

Preheat grill on medium high. Grill patties for 5 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Baste both sides with the of the Hamburger Basting Sauce (below) while grilling.

Top each with a layer of cheese (I used Chipotle Cheddar) right after removing from grill. Add what ever condiments and finish with a dressing however you like. I made up a quick jam by sauteing red and green bell pepper slices with onion silvers along with olive oil and as it just began to caramelize, I added grain mustard and ketchup for a wonderful, dressing to pair with the grilled hamburger.

Note: Badia Compete or Sazon Completa is the same item and is available in most grocers. I use the heck out of this in so many foods as an all-purpose seasoning blend. And what I like best, besides the taste, is that salt is one of the last listed spice ingredients.

SO... What are a few of my other 'favorite' burgers'?
Steakhouse Burger - with flavors of a steakhouse grill
Dad's Better Burger - beef and pork sausage burger with bacon jam and special sauce
Sensational Burgers - pure savory beef burgers with no egg or bread fillers
Smoky Texan 'Ham'burgers - loaded patty with onions, peppers, smoked ham and bacon...juicy with Texan BBQ sauce glaze

Southern Seasoning Home Blend
I like to make up a batch and use as a general additive to so many foods, from dips, soups, stocks and the likes of this: hamburgers. (also esp. good in meatloaf)

1/4 cup dried minced onions
3 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons dried carrots flakes
2 tablespoons dried minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground bay leaves

Combine all in a container with a tight fitting lid. Store in a dry, dark cabinet or pantry.

Note: Carrot flakes are found in natural or health food specialty stores

Hamburger Basting Sauce
Use this to mop on the burgers as you grill.

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon low-sodium Worcestershire
good dash of Chipotle Tabasco or liquid smoke

I like to place this in a half-pint mason jar and mop with a baster

August 26, 2013

Oven Baked Vegetable Spears

Crusted Vegetable Sticks Baked to Perfection.

Yeah, I know. There are way too many recipes for oven-baked asparagus, green beans and zucchini spears, but this one is different. It is my concoction, my way of doing it. A recipe that not only taste good but is good for you too.

You see, I made hamburgers the past weekend (okay, not so good for us but I did use whole wheat buns, okay?) and we just could not go the usual potato fries, not even baked. Nope - rarely do we eat potatoes anymore and when we do, it is gonna be one loaded dish, really good but bad. So instead, I opted for baked vegetable sticks. Now this recipe is, like I said, one that is good for you in the sense that it uses much better ingredients than most bake 'fried' vegetable recipes. It is one that I tweaked to our liking.

Give it a try. It is one which I will make many times over now that I have perfected it. Enjoy!

Oven Baked Vegetable Spears
I list a few ingredients with my version and an option for those not dieting
serves 4

quarter pound each of fresh whole green bean and fresh zucchini
half pound of fresh asparagus spears
1/2 cup whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Egg-Beaters or 2 whole eggs
1 1/2 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise or  regular mayo
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 teaspoon no-salt Cajun or Creole seasoning, divided
1 teaspoon low-salt seasoning blend (I like Badia Completa), divided
1/3 cup Japanese Panko, see note

Wash the green beans and trim the ends. Wash the asparagus and snap at natural breaking point removing the tough root end. Soak in ice water for about 15 minutes. Remove, drain and completely pat dry. Was the zucchini and cut away the ends; cut into strips about the same size as the green beans.

Using three wide shallow bowls, add the flour and half of the seasonings to one. Whisk the egg with the mayo in the 2nd bowl. Mix the Parmesan, sesame seeds, the remaining half of seasonings and Panko in the 3rd bowl.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Position wire racks on two baking pans. Spray with vegetable oil. DO NOT SKIP the coating of the racks. Dip the vegetable sticks in the flour, dip in the egg mixture and roll in the Panko mixture to coat. Place on the racks, not touching and place into the oven, center rack.

Reduce oven to 350 and bake about 15 minutes or until brown. Remove and serve warm

I served these with a Chipotle low-fat mayo combo sauce and a low-fat Ranch type dipping sauce.

Note: Panko is a better coating and is healthier than regular breadcrumbs, here's why:

  • Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb made from bread without crusts. It has a crisper, airier texture than most types of breadcrumbs.
  • Panko stays crisp after cooking, unlike other types of breading, which can get soggy.
  • Panko is lower in calories, sodium, and fat and higher in fiber than regular breadcrumbs.