Category Archives: Menu Ideas

Cajun Empanadas (Boudin-Stuffed Empanadas)

We really do not go out to eat often.  There was a time when we did, but now with a child, a mortgage, tuition…well there are just more important things to spend money on!  When we do go out to eat we like to go somewhere GOOD.  A local restaurant serves food made from local ingredients, and we love going there.  Not only is it delicious and a fun night out, but we also like supporting local businesses.

As food nerds, we like to try to figure out how they make things and try to recreate them at home.  One thing we did that with recently was the Cajun empanadas.  It was one of those meals that just made you go “mmmmm” with your first bite.  They were made of puff pastry filled with smoked boudin, and you dipped it in buffalo queso.  I never would have thought to combine those things but oh my, was it amazing!  We bought two different boudins from Guillory’s, the regular smoked and jalapeno smoked.  The regular smoked were just kind of plain tasting, but the jalapeno ones were just right, without being too spicy.  These would be fantastic if you made them smaller as an appetizer I think.  Here is what we created:

Cajun Empanadas

Cajun Empanadas

Cajun Empanadas

Ingredients:

1 pkg. frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 lb. GOOD smoked boudin (the best locally is the jalapeno smoked boudin at Guillory’s in Pineville), removed from casing
1 egg
queso for dipping

Method:

Preheat oven to temperature recommended on the puff pastry box.  On a floured surface, roll the thawed pastry out to thin it out.  Using a bowl, cut out round shapes, whatever size you want.  Fill halfway with boudin, then fold one half over the other and seal.  You may need to rub a little water on the dough to make it seal properly.  Take a fork and crimp the edges.  Place on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining ingredients.  Before baking, whisk egg and a little water together and lightly brush on top of each empanada.  Bake until golden brown and flaky.  Serve warm with warmed queso to dip it in.

 

BLT Bites

Last month my brother-in-law and his fiancée got married.  I’m sure Michelle got lots of advice on wedding related things, but I told her my most important piece of advice is to make sure she gets a plate of food set aside for her to bring home!  I didn’t get to eat anything at my wedding reception, though I hear the food was fabulous!

Well this time I wasn’t the bride, just a bridesmaid.  So I got to eat!  There were many yummy things but there was one thing that stood out.  It was so unassuming, these little tomatoes on a platter.  I didn’t get one because I wasn’t sure what they were stuffed with and my plate was already full!  My mom got a few though and she told me to try one.  Heavenly! They taste exactly like little bite-sized BLTs, full of creamy bacon flavor.  I went back for more for myself and they were all gone :(  A few days later I went off in search of a recipe to make them and found it on Taste of Home’s website.   It was a huge hit at a jewelry party I had, I can’t wait to make them (and eat them!) again!

BLT Bites

BLT Bites
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

Ingredients:
1 package grape or cherry tomatoes, washed
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup green onions, chopped
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions:

  • Carefully cut off the tops of the tomatoes and very carefully scoop out the insides.  Give a little thought beforehand to how you’re going to scoop them out – I used the round part on a jalapeno corer.  You don’t want to tear the outside of the tomato and you don’t want to scoop all the way through.
  • Place all the tomatoes on a plate and put the rest of the ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped and mixed.  If the filling is too “firm” then add a little more mayonnaise and mix well.
  • Scoop into a ziploc bag fitted with an icing piping attachment (or just make a small hole in the tip of the bag) and gently squeeze the filling into the tomatoes.
  • Cover the tray and place in the refrigerator a few hours to firm up.
  • Serve cold.

Scooped-out tomatoes

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

I love having parties at my house.  I love being a host.  Sure, it can be stressful at times but I think it’s just so much fun to think of the menu and decorations and favors.  When I knew I was going to be hosting Michelle’s bachelorette party/lingerie shower at my house, I couldn’t wait to put some plans into action.

Despite having a cake, I wanted to have something the guests could take home.  What better than cookies?  I had been wanting to try the “flooding” technique to decorating sugar cookies, but the only problem is that often those cookies are fairly gross.  The cookies aren’t that great and taste like cardboard and the icing is just blah.  So I set out to make these cookies look cute and taste great too, and I succeeded.

Bra and Panty Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

Sugar Cookie Recipe
Recipe from:  allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
1.5 cups butter, softened
2 cups white granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Instructions:
In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar.  Add in the eggs and vanilla, then mix in the flour, baking powder and salt until well-incorporated.  Remove the bowl and cover and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Break off sections of dough and roll out on a floured surface until 1/4-1/2 inch thick.  Cut shapes out with your desired cookie cutter and place on the cookie sheet one inch apart.  Bake 6-8 minutes.  Let cool a few minutes before removing to a wire rack.  Cool completely before decorating.

* To make the bras and panties, I used a heart shaped cookie cutter and simply cut in half under the two rounded tops and the bottom triangle.  I then took a spoon and cut out little half moons for the legs of the panties from the triangle.

How to cut the bras and panties apart

How to scoop out the leg holes for the panties

Tasty Royal Icing
Recipe adapted from Elly Says Opa, originally from Good Things Catered

Ingredients:
4 cups powdered sugar, get the sifted 10x one
2 tbsp meringue powder
small splash of almond extract
small splash of butter extract
5 tbsp water

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients until no lumps remain and it is smooth.  If a color is desired, use gel color (available in the cake decorating section) using a toothpick.  Continue adding a little and mixing well until desired color is reached.  Put a little in a pastry bag with a small round tip for piping.  Pipe the outline of each cookie, until all are done.

Once all the cookies are outlined, you’ll add a little more water to thin the icing out a little.  You don’t want it watery, just runny enough that you can spread it with a toothpick.  Spoon some into a squeeze bottle and gently squeeze some onto the cookie, using a toothpick to smooth it out inside the outlined area (this is called flooding, you can find tutorials online for the technique).  At this point I also added little candy pearls for the bras and panties.  Repeat with remaining cookies.

Allow this icing to harden overnight if you’ll be decorating with more icing details on top.

Decorated Bra and Panties

 

Mozzarella and Onion Stuffed Bread

Some foods just go together, you can’t have one without the other.  Perfect example?  Pasta and bread.  For the bachelorette party, I was serving crawfish fettuccine but I needed the perfect bread to serve with it, and the search was over once I saw this recipe.

This was incredibly easy to make, and it was phenomenal.  It certainly doesn’t hurt that I got it from a Trim & Terrific cookbook, each slice was relatively low cal!  The only change I would make next time is to add some minced garlic or garlic powder, it would have been great with that.  Make this next time you need a yummy bread as a side dish!

Mozzarella and Onion Stuffed Bread

Mozzarella and Onion Stuffed Bread
Recipe adapted from Holly Clegg’s Trim & Terrific – Home Entertaining the Easy Way

Ingredients:
1 loaf Italian or French Bread, (1 lb)
6 tbsp margarine
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tsp Dijon mustard
dash of hot pepper sauce (I used Sriracha)
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Make 1-inch diagonal slices in the bread, making sure not to cut all the way through the bottom crust.
  • In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Once melted, add the onion (and minced garlic if you decide to add that) and cook until soft.  Remove from heat and stir in the mustard and hot sauce.  Mix in the cheese.
  • Spoon the mixture between each slice of the bread and a little on top.  Bake on a baking sheet for 10-15 minutes, until bread is golden and cheese is melted.

136 calories per slice

Mozzarella & Onion Stuffed Bread

Lightened Up Crawfish Fettuccine

As you probably read in my last post, my brother-in-law (hubby’s brother) is getting married soon and last weekend was the bachelor/bachelorette party.  The guys went to Dallas for some surprisingly tame fun (or so they say – wink, wink).  Us girls stayed here in town and did a painting class then had a lingerie shower for the bride at my house.  When I started planning out the food for the shower, I was looking at it as a big chance to cheat on my diet.

But for once, I’m doing really well on this diet.  I mean hey, it’s February 1 and I’m still ON IT!  That’s a record breaker right there!  I stuck with the basic bones of the menu, but looked for lightened up versions of the recipes.  The recipe I found for crawfish fettuccine was fantastic, a few of the guests at the shower were feeling guilty for getting seconds, until I told them that it was a lower-calorie version.  Nobody could believe it.  So if you’re looking for a nice dish to celebrate a special occasion, or just because it’s a Friday, then here ya go.  I think this would be equally delicious with cooked shrimp or chicken as the protein.

Crawfish Fettuccine

Crawfish Fettuccine
Recipe from The New Holly Clegg Trim and Terrific Cookbook

Ingredients:
1 lb fettuccine pasta, cooked and rinsed under cool water
1 lb. crawfish tails, rinsed
1/4 cup margarine
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1.5 cups skim milk
1.5 lb. light Velveeta
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • In a large pot, melt the margarine and saute’ the onion, bell pepper and garlic until tender, about five minutes.  Stir in the flour until mixed and allow to cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly.  Slowly whisk in the milk, stirring until smooth.  Add the cheese, stirring until evenly melted and then add the crawfish, parsley, salt, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Taste for seasonings then add the pasta, tossing to coat.   Transfer to a baking dish coated with nonstick spray and bake for 15 minutes, or until heated through.
  • Serve immediately.

8-10 servings at 378 calories each.

Foodbuzz 24×24: Sayonara Single Life! Michelle’s Bachelorette Party

A little over three years ago, I met a new friend.  Michelle went to college with my brother-in-law and she and I became friends.  I kept encouraging her to start dating him and finally, she did!  Our friendship grew and when my husband and I bought our first house, it had an attached apartment that she moved into.

Michelle & Jason

We’ve had such a great time getting to know Michelle and naturally were thrilled when Jason proposed to her.  She’s already a wonderful aunt to our little girl and I consider her a sister.  Of course one of the perks of a wedding (other than getting married!) is the bachelorette party.  Chelle, as I call her didn’t want anything wild and crazy, she’s a very chill girl.  Plans were set in motion.

Woohoo!!

We started off the bachelorette party at a local art studio that does step-by-step painting classes.  Michelle picked out a painting for us each to do and we all met there to create our masterpiece, chat and have some laughs.

Our group painting at Red Door Art

 

The bride-to-be with her creation

Once we were done and considered ourselves Picasso’s in the making, everyone headed back to my house for a lingerie shower.  Chelle got lots of great gifts, some practical and some just fun…I thought it was especially entertaining that while she opened her lingerie gifts, the song “You Can’t Touch This” happened to be playing.

Chelle opening her gifts!

All that hard work painting worked up our appetites, so food played a front and center role.  Since many of us have to fit into gowns for the wedding, I planned a (mostly) low-cal menu:

Appetizers:
Salsa and Chips
Candied Pecans
Spinach Dip with Whole Wheat Crackers (low-cal)
Fruit Tray
Vegetable Tray

Main Course:
Sensation Salad
Crawfish Fettuccini (low-cal)
Mozzarella and Onion Stuffed French Bread (low-cal)

Dessert:
Bra and Panty Sugar Cookies
Lingerie Cake (made by Betsy’s aunt)

Table of yum! Cakes, Cookies and Appetizers.

Lingerie Cake

 

Lingerie Cake

 

Fruit and Vegetable Trays

 

Chips & Salsa, Candied Pecans

 

Low-Cal Spinach Dip with Whole Wheat Crackers

 

Something Blue Bra and Panty Cookies

 

Sensation Salad

 

Mozzarella & Onion Stuffed French Bread

 

Crawfish Fettuccini

 

Michelle cutting the cake

I hope you enjoyed your bachelorette party, Chelle!  Welcome to the family!

 

Tomatoes Coming Out of Your Ears?

It’s pretty remarkable that with the drought the South has been having, this is the first year we’ve actually had success with tomatoes!  We’ve had a consistent crop and were delighted when my husband’s grandmother brought us a box of tomatoes from a local farm.

He immediately said he wanted me to make tomato jam, but I wanted to do something else too.  I decided to make a tomato tart.  While it did taste good, I wasn’t super crazy about the crust so I haven’t decided if I’m going to post that recipe yet.  We’ll see.  In the meantime, here are some pictures to enjoy:

When life hands you tomatoes, you make...

 

Sweet and Spicy Tomato Jam

 

Roasted Tomato and Cheese Tart

Foodbuzz 24×24: If the Pilgrims had landed in Louisiana…(a Cajun Thanksgiving)

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because not only do I get to eat awesome food, but I get to spend the day with family.  I know many people have their baked turkey and mashed potatoes, but if the Pilgrims had landed in Louisiana, things might have gone a little differently!  This year my husband and I hosted both of our families (about 20 people) and decided to do it Cajun style!  We set the mood for a Cajun holiday with centerpieces made from moss and oyster shells and the Treme’ soundtrack playing in the background.  Treme’ is an HBO series that is shot in New Orleans, so their soundtrack is just a wonderful mix of Louisiana music.  The Saints also helped with the Louisiana-love when they won the game against the Cowboys!  Here was our menu:

Appetizers:
Fried alligator bites with chipotle tartar sauce
Cranberry and Louisiana pecan goat cheese log
Onion and cranberry tartlets with bacon and gorgonzola
Boudin-stuffed beignets

Main Course:
(2) Fried Turkey
Honey Ham
Spinach Madeline
Sweet potato casserole with brown sugar and Louisiana pecan crumble
Oyster rice dressing
Macaroni and cheese
Eggplant and Crawfish Dressing
Cornbread dressing/stuffing
Brioche rolls
Cranberry Sauce

Dessert:
Pralines
Tarte-a-la-bouille pie
Louisiana pecan pie
Mississippi Mud Pie
Pumpkin Pie

The Decorations

Cajun Centerpiece

Table Centerpiece
The Appetizers
 

Cranberry and Louisiana Pecan Goat Cheese Log

Fried Alligator Bites with Chipotle Tartar Sauce

Boudin-Stuffed Beignets

 Main Dish

Cajun-Fried Turkey

Honey Ham

The Food Table

Oyster Rice Dressing

 Dessert

The Dessert Table

Tart-a-la-bouille Pie

Pralines

Mississippi Mud Pie

Louisiana Pecan Pie

Extras

 

My niece Kelsie and her boyfriend Matt

My husband visiting with his dad and grandfather

My dad helping with the carving

 Thanks for looking, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

Happy 2nd Birthday! An Elmo Party!

It was my daughter’s second birthday (time is flying by so quickly) so I thought I’d share some pictures of the big day.  She is super into Elmo, so that was the natural theme to pick.  She is so excited that I finally got a “clue” with decorating!  Afraid she’ll be devastated when the decor comes down! 

Elise’s 2nd Birthday Elmo Party Menu
Appetizers:
Onion Dip and Potato Chips
Jalapeno Popper Dip

Entrée
:
Sensation Salad
Jambalaya
Mama Martin’s White Beans

Dessert
:
Elmo Cake (Homemade by me)
Elmo Cookie Cake (Great American Cookies)
Ice Cream 

Elmo Pinata

Happy Birthday banner I made for her

Elmo Favors

Food and Fun!

the birthday girl rocking the Elmo dress I made her!

Elmo cake by yours truly ;)

Elmo Cookie Cake

Snack and Cake Table