Favorite Louisiana Foods – Part 1

We are now in Sulphur, Louisiana, a suburb of Lake Charles and one of the nicest RV parks we’ve so far stopped in. A + RV Park.  A lot of drama going on right now – I guess our dish is kaput; have to replace the system or go in another direction. Have to watch all of our taped shows before everything gets shut down… I keep telling myself – it’s only television shows, but darn it, that’s our evening entertainment!! (and we are hooked on some) Also, our anniversary is Saturday and I have planned a big blow-out for Saturday………….. Time to back off and remember we are supposed to be having fun, so life will be what it is and I’ll just pour another glass of wine and go with it.

Friday, Nov 21st
I had to shop Friday for our anniversary (46 years!) dinner on Saturday, so lots of running around and I knew we wouldn’t get home in time to eat. So, what I came up with was something I just NEVER do!!! I think buffets are the work of the devil, un-sanitary, mediocre food, yaddda yaddda!!BUT, guess I’ll have to negate that ‘never’!!

We  passed The Grill Pit and didn’t realize until we got inside it was a buffet. For some reason we decided to stay and we just ate our fool heads off. I took one or a spoonful of everything to taste and my plate was really full. Every bit of it was just delicious and good temperatures. My favorites were the crawfish casserole (kind of a corn pudding) and the  shrimp beignets!!! Even the greens were good! I was so full, could hardly look over the dessert table, but there sure were some good lookin’ goodies there. Just couldn’t eat another bite!!

I went on and on so much about how good the beignets were, our server, Mona Jane, offered to sell us some. I ordered 3 and she told us to wait a few minutes and the kitchen would make up some fresh for us. She came back with a box of SEVEN! For $.99. Still warm. And, their method for making them. If mine turn out half as good I’ll be happy – but I’m not making them for a while!! The last of them were my dinner later

Shrimp Beignets – how to make per Mona Jane, waitress at Grill Pit, Sulphur, LA – I’ll make these when my pants fit me again…………………
Pancake mix – sweetened with a little sugar – prepare
Grind small raw shrimp and add  along with gr. onion
Add flour until the correct consistency.
Dip spoon or scoop in hot water; spoon batter into hot oil and fry.

On to Saturday, Nov. 22nd and our anniversary dinner!!
Oh my, what a wonderful champagne dinner we enjoyed today!! I’ve been researching jambalayas and gumbos and have found some very interesting customs in this area. Decided to go with a gumbo dinner after learning a most fascinating tidbit – in Louisiana gumbos are traditionally served with potato salad!!  And, oh my, are they correct. The spicy heat of the gumbo with the spicy coolness of the potato salad was outright wonderful!

Louisiana Potato Salad – adapted from a Simply Recipes newsletter site.
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1 pound Yukon gold or new potatoes, scrubbed clean (peel on or off, your choice), cut in 1 to 2-inch chunks
3 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped
1/2  small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup Creole mustard
1/3 cup mayonnaise (less or more to taste)
Salt
Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning

Cook the potatoes until just tender. Hard-cook the eggs. While the eggs and potatoes are cooking, chop the onion, celery, and green pepper. Also, combine the dressing ingredients: the vinegar, sugar, mustard and mayonnaise.
Drain the potatoes and while still warm toss with the dressing; when cool enough, peel the eggs, chop and add to the potatoes. Add the remaining ingredients along with salt and Creole seasoning to taste.  Makes 6 servings

Gumbo with Sausage and Chicken
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1/3 cup Crisco or lard
1 lb fresh sausage links, cut into ½-inch pieces (preferable Andouille)
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 extra large onion, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup)
1 large green bell pepper, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
32 oz chicken broth
1  T.  Gumbo file
1 T. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
8 oz. or 1/2 of a 16-oz. pkg. frozen Gumbo vegetables
2 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken

Heat 2 tablespoons Crisco in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until well browned, stirring occasionally. Remove the sausage from the saucepan and drain on paper towels. Do not pour off the drippings from the saucepan.

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir the remaining oil and the flour in the saucepan and cook for 30 minutes or until the flour mixture is dark brown, stirring occasionally.

Stir the onion, celery and pepper in the saucepan and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the broth, seasonings, okra, chicken and sausage and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Served 8
Serve with the potato salad added to bowl of gumbo or as a side dish.
Nov 22 Sausage Gumbo Plated
I was so proud of my roux – dark mahogany brown and just so delicious!!

Now, I have to cook healthy for a few days or run a marathon!!! We’re staying her for 2 months, so I ought t be able to share some fun dishes over the next few weeks. Happy cooking to us all!!

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Mississippi – 2nd Week of Cooking

With the temperatures in the low 30s, and being in a travel trailer, the need for warmth is paramount. So, baking takes care of any heating problems.
Started the day trying another bread recipe in my quest for ‘our perfect’ sandwich roll – one that will hold up to any filling I use. And, I’m thinking this one is close to it!

Quick Pan Rolls – 1/2 Recipe (16 rolls) a Chef’s Journey Revision
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My oops in making this recipe consisted of using only a quarter of the yeast called for in making  1/2 the original recipe( which called for 2 T.) and I like the texture better for sandwich rolls. They will be sturdier, I think. I will make the recipe again using the called for amount of yeast and see how much, if at all, lighter they can be. No need to shape individual rolls – simply cut dough in each pan into 16 rolls! Quick and easy.

2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
2 T. sugar
1/2 T. yeast (should have been 1 T.)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 T. butter cut into pieces
1/2 large egg
1/2 T. all-purpose flour, for dusting

Combine 1 cup flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Heat milk, water, and butter until very warm (120° to 130°F); stir into flour mixture. Stir in egg and enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cover; let rest on floured surface 20 minutes.

Roll to fit a greased 8 or 9-inch square pan. (I used an 8X12” 1/4-sheet pan) With sharp knife, cut dough into 16 rolls; cover. (I cut into 6 pieces for sandwich rolls) Place large shallow pan on counter; half fill with boiling water. Set wire rack over pan; place baking pan on rack. Let rise 20 minutes.
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Dust tops with 1/2 tablespoon flour. Bake in preheated 400°F oven for 15 minutes or until done. Remove from pan; let cool on wire rack, Yield: 16 rolls or 6 beautiful sandwich roll
Original recipe – http://www.breadworld.com/recipes/Quick-Pan-Rolls

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Roy brought home 4 beautifully dressed catfish that I have decided if I want it done right, I’ll do it myself. All I’ve been able to find in restaurants as I move south are ‘strips,’ ‘bites,’ ‘chunks’ or some such clever name that means the fish has just been chopped up! Two went in the freezer and two were used for dinner today. Trying to be a little careful of fat intake, I chose to oven-fry them after marinating in buttermilk, salt, pepper and a little Frank’s hot sauce; then dusting with corn flour.
???????????????????????????????  The result was mixed – even sticking the catfish under the broiler for a couple minutes I couldn’t get a nice ‘crust’ on them. The flavor, though, was wonderful and made for a tasty dinner alongside oven-roasted potato planks and sliced onions. Coleslaw completed the dinner with a dressing I haven’t made for quite a while.

Honey Mustard Slaw Dressing
The amount of dressing will coat 8 to 10 oz. slaw mix.

1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbs grainy mustard
2 Tbs honey
2 tsp cider vinegar
1/4 tsp dry mustard
Source: Cuisine @ Home magazine

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Nov 17th Monday –
The final 2 catfish  and I prepared them exactly as I have been looking for in restaurants in every town we stop! The old adage, “If you want it done right, do it  yourself” definitely holds true with my catfish yearnings
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Fried Catfish Recipe – a Chef’s Journey recipe

1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 T. salt
1/2 T. black pepper
1 T. Hot Sauce (Frank’s hot sauce is good)
4 catfish fillets (preferred size 4 oz. each)
1 1/2 cups corn flour or corn meal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

In a large heavy plastic bag combine the buttermilk, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Rinse catfish with cold water and pat dry. Make 2 diagonal cuts in the thickest part around the belly flap area to help the thicker parts of the fish to cook evenly with the thinner tail part. Add the fish to the bag with buttermilk, ‘smooshing’ around to coat all the fish; place bag on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 2 hours.

In a heavy frying pan (I prefer to use cast iron), pour enough oil to come 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan. Turn the heat to medium-high. Turn your oven to 200° and lay a cookie sheet inside. Place a wire rack on top of the cookie sheet.

While the oil is heating, mix the corn flour or meal and flour together. (Or you can substitute your favorite seasoning instead.) Let the oil reach 350 degrees — a good test is to flick a little of the dry breading into the oil, and if it sizzles at once, you’re good to go.

Once the oil is hot, sprinkle the catfish fillets with salt and dredge them into the flour mixture. Shake off the excess and gently lay into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 4 to 6 minutes, depending on how thick the fillet is. Use a metal spatula and gently turn the fish over and cook for another 4 to 6 minutes. Cast iron heats up and stays hot, so monitor the heat as you fry; you may need to lower the heat on the burner at some point.

Once the fish is ready, move it to the oven while you cook the rest of the catfish. Keeping the fried catfish warm in the oven will help keep it crispy. When they’re all done, serve at once with your favorite hot sauce, cole slaw and some hush puppies or the following Grits dish!!

Corn and Goat Cheese Grits  SOON
“I decided to citify low-country cuisine by adding lots of chopped garlic and fresh goat cheese,” says Bobby Flay of these hearty yet elegant grits. The end result is a tangy, creamy, corn-flecked side dish. F&W. I made 1/2 the recipe which resulted in my having enough for a little bowl for breakfast….will I offer it to Roy Richard?? No way in…………………….

4 cups water
1/2 cup whole milk
2 Tbs unsalted butter
Kosher salt
1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, coarsely chopped (1 1/2 cups)
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears) or one 10-ounce package frozen corn kernels
Freshly ground pepper
4 oz fresh goat cheese

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, milk, butter and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Cook the grits over moderate heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until thickened and the grains are tender, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the corn mixture to a food processor or blender and puree until the mixture is just smooth.

Stir the pureed corn and the goat cheese into the grits, season with salt and pepper and cook just until heated through. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

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But, back to the Sandwich rolls –
The results for sandwich rolls – these turned out to be too large for individual sandwiches, but were perfect for splitting with a salad. The rolls stand  up to any fillings and taste wonderful, also. Will work on size in subsequent batches.
First off tried them with pulled pork – very nice!
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Next day, after finally (with the help of a multitude of friends) I remembered the sandwich I was anxious to make with these rolls – Patty Melt – and, it was everything I’d hoped it would be, even tho it wasn’t with the traditional Rye bread.
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To round out this blog entry, here are a couple ideas for serving with a bowl of soup for a fast, each and not too filling later dinner –
After the filling  Patty Melts m id-day, we were hungry for  just had a bowl of tomato soup  – but, added a garnish that was super tasty. And, great in the soup if you can keep yourself from nibbling on the chickpeas!!!  This is from a link  my friend, Alina posted on a forum we both belong to – I didn’t make the soup, only the chickpea garnish and it is so good as a garnish and as a nibbling goodie!

My Version – Roasted Chickpea Garnish (for soups)
This is a link to the original recipe if you’d like to make the soup, also
http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/tomato-soup-roasted-chickpeas

Combine:
2 garlic gloves
1 oz diced ham or prosciutto
1/2 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Drizzle with 1 T. olive oil
Sprinkle with 1/8 tsp. ground cumin
Salt

Toss all together and roast in a 450° F. oven for 20 to 23 minutes; tossing a couple times while roasti
Remove from oven and set aside until ready to garnish soup. If made ahead, slightly warm in a microwave or skillet before adding to soup.

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Another side which we love with a bowl of soup is a Tortilla Pizza – we had this simple one earlier this week and I hurriedly wrote down what I had down to be able to duplicate again.

Tortilla Pizza
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And, here is an easy & fast ‘go with’ your bowl of steaming soup/stew. A tortilla pizza for two – all you do for this one is:
lay out a wrap size tortilla (we love the Spinach flavored) on baking sheet (dusted with cornmeal)
smear with a little pizza sauce
scatter shredded cheese – this is Swiss
1/4 cup (about) diced cooked meat (I used Prosciutto)
Green onions
Pickled jalapeno slices

Bake at 375 for 8 to 10 minutes.

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This ends my Mississippi cooking – we have leftovers to see us through a few days until we get settled in Louisiana! We didn’t  do as much touring as I thought we would do here, but we sure did try a lot of local favorites and that’s what it is all about for me!!

Mississippi Cooking – Lots of Cooking and Tasting

I must warn that this blog turned out longer than I initially planned, but there were so many ideas and recipes I wanted to share – just had to keep going.

Mississippi cooking is a nice change from Missouri – I can’t believe I almost overdosed on BBQ which is one of my favorite flavors in the world.  I hit Mississippi with a long list of never tried (or never tried authentic) foods known for in this state:

Catfish (my everlasting pursuit of a whole – meaning bone-in – fish!)
Fried green tomatoes
Bacon rinds (Love these and used to make them when we were raising pigs)
Calamari (always want more of this – sure didn’t know Mississippi was known for it)
Fried Chicken – would love to try some in each Southern state
Sawmill Gravy – had never heard of this, but evidently it is milk gravy as I know it, but would love to try it.
Mississippi Mud Cake
Mississippi (Sausage) Breakfast Casserole
And, of course we’re getting into Po’Boy country…………….

While I was gathering ingredients and my thoughts, I ran across this dish from Noble Pig – Cathy Pollak’s blog, and it sounded so tasty I had to make it first night here.

Brined and Glazed Hoisin Drumsticks
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This is a winner for sure!! I’d give it at least a 12 (out of 1 to 10). Here is a link to the original recipe but, I have adapted the brining method to the easy one that I use.
http://noblepig.com/2013/06/brined-and-glazed-hoisin-drumsticks/

The recipe looks time consuming but 90% is hands off – so very easy. We loved the flavor – the soy and vinegar cut the sweetness of the Hoisin while leaving a strong mellow (is that contradictory??) flavor to the chicken.

Brine:
1 qt. cold water
1/4 cup Kosher salt
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. granulated sugar
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
3-inch piece of ginger, chopped
3/4 tsp. (liquid) anise flavoring (couldn’t find Star anise in stores) Watkins Pure Anise Extract
6 large chicken drumstick
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For the Marinade/Glaze:
1-1/4 cups hoisin sauce
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 Tb garlic, minced

Whisk all the brining ingredients together until the salt and sugars are dissolved – don’t worry if there are a few grains not dissolved; add drumsticks, making sure all are submerged. Put the chicken in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours.

Meanwhile, just before chicken is done brining, combine all ingredients for the marinade/glaze in a large Ziploc bag. Remove chicken from brine, rinsing and patting off excess water; place in the hoisin mixture. Tightly close bag and turn over several times. Let sit for two hours and continue to turn. Keep chicken on counter so it can come to room temperature. (I kept mine in the fridge)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cover a large rimmed baking tray with aluminum foil and set a rack on top, spraying with cooking spray. Place drumsticks on rack, wiping off any excess garlic back into the marinade/glaze (garlic tends to burn in the oven). Reserve sauce.

Bake chicken in the oven 40 minutes on each side (a total of 80 minutes), turning over once. (I turned mine over after 25 minutes and my drumsticks were done in 55-60 minutes.) While chicken is cooking, add marinade/glaze to a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 10-12 minutes.
When chicken is done, remove from the oven. Brush reduced marinade/glaze on both sides of the chicken. Serve warm. 6 servings
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Red Beans & Rice – Any RVers out there (or just for a fast, easy dinner) – There is a great pkg’d dinner mix I tried that is so flavorful, it’s like it was made from scratch! I’m having a devil of a time finding Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning, but as I check stores I am running into his products. Picked up Creole Red Beans and Rice Dinner Mix and wow, it is so good.
Red-Beans-&-Rice-7oz-LG It’s just ridiculous to think of having all the ingredients/seasonings in my trailer and this one solves the problem. If you’re on the road anyone, this is one to try. Great with a pulled pork sandwich.
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One of my favorite food combinations (and I have no idea why) is Fried Oysters – with Corn Chowder. And, my chowder has to be drizzled with Tabasco only, no other hot sauce will do for me for the flavor.
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Corn Chowder with Clams
From “Black Bens & Corn”  a Chef’s Journey cookbook. Whatever you add to this chowder, it is delicious!

4 T. butter (or 2 T. butter & 2 T. bacon grease)
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
2/3 cup finely chopped onions
2 cups cubed potatoes
1 qt. milk
2 cans (15 oz. each) cream style corn
1/4 tsp. fresh thyme
1 tsp. salt
Dash of pepper
8 oz. can minced clams (optional)

Melt butter and add celery and onions; sauté until transparent. Add remaining ingredients except the clams.
Cook over low heat until potatoes are tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
Add drained clams and just heat through. 6-8 servings.

CJ’s tips: below is an addition (1) and a substitution (2) to the chowder
(1) BACON AND SCALLOP CHOWDER (to be added to above chowder):
Cook 4 slices of bacon and chop coarsely. In the same skillet with the bacon grease, add 1/2 lb. medium sea scallops, season with salt & pepper and cook over moderately high heat until browned, about 1 1/2 minutes. Ladle the Corn and Clam Chowder into soup bowls top with the scallops and garnish with the bacon and chopped chives.
(2) SALMON AND CORN CHOWDER (Substituting in original Chowder recipe above):
Substitute 1/2 lb. salmon, cut in bite-size pieces for the clams; add to the soup (after the potatoes are tender) along with 2 tsps. lemon zest, cook until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.
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Now here’s a dessert to add to your list of easy and delicious favorites! Stretching it a little, but we are heading south – Candied Jalapeno Peach Ice Cream. One of the best combinations so far in this continuing fascination with flavoring our ice cream.

At the farmers market in Vicksburg, I ran across Candied Jalapeno peppers at one of the stalls – it hit me immediately, Why have I not done this???? Brought a jar home and we have been adding a little of the peppers and/or just the ‘syrup’ to everything!! For dessert, I use 6 oz. of ice cream or frozen yogurt for our treats and this is the amount I use for combining with jams/jellies/sauces/and now candied jalapenos. To the ice cream, I added 2-3 T. peach jam and approximately 1 tsp. of the jalapeno syrup and used a mixer to combine.

???????????????????????????????  We think this is the best combination to date. I have found a number of recipes online for making the jalapenos and this one is the closest to the ingredients that are listed on the jar. I have not tried this recipe yet, but it is on the list!
http://kitchen-tested.com/2011/09/14/candied-jalapenos/
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Turnip greens – had for the first time and I’m certainly hooked – now, to cook them for myself.

Black-eyed peas – have used them for years, but in conjunction with stews and soups and such. I’ve never just had a dish of the beans themselves as a side. I love them! Over the years, I have taken these silly quizzes of say, “How many of these foods have you eaten?” which usually offer exotic dishes and adventurous foods and I can answer yes to almost all of them. But, for everyday local foods, I sure wouldn’t be able to; so I’m having fun tasting everything our country has to offer.

Mississippi Breakfast Casserole – the usual ingredients for a strata, but somehow this one is a little tastier and I can’t figure out why!! (one thing – no mustard, which I normally add to a strata might mute the fresher, vibrant flavors???? ) interesting idea.
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http://southernfood.about.com/od/breakfastcasserolerecipes/r/bl51210a.htm

The only thing I’d do differently is using the sausage as patties makes it difficult to eat (but, it is prettier) – I’d just scatter the broken up sausage as a layer.
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Just a quick note about Catfish Po’Boys – if you have catfish you’ve brought home from a restaurant and IF you also have Remoulade sauce and a fresh sandwich bun, you are all set for a delicious and easy Catfish Po’Boy Sandwich!
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And, lastly for this week of cooking – WOW, we’re ending with a real bang for your buck!

Mississippi Mud Cake with Bourbon
Because there are only the two of us and we try to limit ourselves In what & how much we eat (I know it doesn’t sound like it, but we do – usually), I cut this cake recipe in half and made a mini-Bundt cake. Cutest little thing; I’d never thought of doing this before but it’s certainly the way for me to go.
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The Bittersweet chocolate gives it the fudgy dense cholately flavor  I love. The cake recipe:
http://southernfood.about.com/od/chocolatecakes/r/bl10731b.htm
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We have 5 more days in Vicksburg, but in addition another  couple weeks in Lake Charles area, I may be able to do the remaining projects I’d like to do – myself rather than paying too much money in a restaurant when I can do it the way I want!
Buy and cook my own bone-in catfish!!
Fried Green Tomatoes
Mississippi Fried Chicken with Sawmill gravy….we’re in trouble now
Turnip Greens and Black-eyed Peas as sides

That’s all for now –  I hope you all made it through all of this!!

Arkansas – Cooking and Tasting and Sitting on the Banks of the Mississippi River

Finally, catfish filets, coated perfectly and fried flawlessly!! So very good; even Roy ordered this along with a baked sweet potato, which he loved. I tried the fried okra and it was also very good – another first for Roy, he like them also. Complimentary hushpuppies were heavy and dense as was the slice of Key Lime pie we shared. But, I would return just for the catfish!      http://www.coltonssteakhouse.com/#
Oct 28 Colton's Catfish

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Oct. 29th arrived at West Memphis RV park – right on the Mississippi and what a great view of the barges going back and forth. Those little guys work their hearts out pushing the loaded multiple barges.
Restaurant leftovers were wonderful – catfish, fries and okra.
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The slaw dressing was perfect and everything we usually have in the pantry:
2 T. Mayonnaise
1 T.  Cider vinegar
1 T. granulated sugar
1 tsp. horseradish
Salt & pepper
Combine all and toss with your favorite slaw ingredients.
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Barbecue Spaghetti a Tennessee favorite
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I’m cooking a Memphis, TN dish, BBQ Spaghetti. This dish was created by Brady Vincent who ran a BBQ joint in the 50s and wanted something different to offer his customers to make his place stand out. He developed the Spaghetti to compete with the normal beans that were offered with BBQ. It worked. The dish didn’t really take off until the 80s and now it is a classic Memphis offering. And, it is now a classic in our house! I had a little portion of fried alligator and catfish in the freezer, so added them to the dish – yes, so good!!

Kind of a fusion dinner – made a green salad with bleu cheese dressing and the coolness of the salad went so well with the heat and spiciness of the spaghetti – think heat of buffalo wings + bleu cheese dipping sauce. A great match.
This Memphis-style side dish is a perfect way of utilizing leftover pulled pork. This recipe is adapted from one which first appeared in the June/July 2011 BBQ issue. Saveur, 3/25/13.

3 cups canned tomato sauce (please don’t be turned off by this ingredient – I was but decided to go with it and it really works)
1/2 cup cane syrup
1 1/2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
3/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne
pinch ground cloves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup chopped pulled pork
12 to 16 oz. dried spaghetti

In a 4-qt. saucepan, bring tomato sauce, syrup, vinegar, allspice, cinnamon, cayenne, cloves, and salt and pepper to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add pulled pork; cook until heated through.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add spaghetti; cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain and toss with the sauce. (I had leftover fried catfish and alligator which went perfectly with the spaghetti)

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“Trailer Trash Dining”… Spareribs with Blues Hog BBQ sauce, grilled potatoes AND we found a bottle of Opolo wine in a local wine shop!! (in Tennessee). Dessert, I’ve been combining ~6 oz. of frozen yogurt with different jams/jellies/sauces and last night was peach jam – so good. And we can have a different flavor everyday.
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The bane of my existence – this picture has been catawampus every time I’ve tried to rotate it but you get the idea. 🙂

And today, Nov. 4th – we had an old family favorite, albeit adapted to what I had on hand. Stuffed Acorn Squash – slight take-off of my Black Bean & Corn cookbook recipe – using Andouille Sausage, Kidney beans, and  jalapeno for the ground beef, black beans, and Tabasco. If you happen to have a Cab on hand, the dish was very good with it.

Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash
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2 medium acorn squash
1/2 lb. ground beef (1/2 Andouille sausage, diced)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
15 oz. can black beans, drain & rinse (had kidney beans)
8 oz. can tomato sauce or marinara sauce (see The Pantry)
1 cup corn kernels, fresh, canned (drain and rinse) or frozen
1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. Tabasco (minced jalapeno pepper
Salt & pepper to taste
2 to 4 oz. (1/2 cup to 1 cup) shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line a 13×10-inch baking pan with foil; lightly grease the foil or spray with cooking spray.

Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and cut a thin slice off the bottom of each half so they sit flat. Place squash, cut side down, on the foil. Bake for 30 minutes; remove from oven and turn the squash over and continue baking for approximately 20 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife.

While the squash bake, cook the beef, onion and garlic until beef is no longer pink; add bell pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes longer. Stir in all remaining ingredients except cheese and set aside or refrigerate until it’s time to stuff the squash. Divide the mixture between the halves of the squash and put back on baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, until hot. Add cheese and continue baking for a few minutes longer, or until cheese is melted. 4 servings.
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Our time is just about up for enjoying the barge traffic on the Mississippi River – tomorrow we leave for Vicksburg, Mississippi and we going to try (weather permitting) to follow the Mississippi south as long as possible.

And one last recipe to try in Arkansas – a packaged creation. Tony Chachere’s Famous Creole Cuisine…Red Beans & Rice Dinner mix. Don’t know how many years it has been since I’ve purchased something like this, but I dearly love Tony’s Creole seasoning (which I still can’t find! in local shops),  so I’m going for it. If it works, I will share with you all.

I’ll close with a few of our favorite pictures –
Oct 30 Mississippi Boats 1
Oct 30 Mississippi Boats 2
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Oct 29 Sunrise on the Mississippi
What a gorgeous area – and, I’m sure we’ll be back.

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