Category Archives: Pork

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

“It’s gumbo weather” is a phrase you hear a lot in Louisiana.  What is gumbo weather?  Well basically any temperature under 80 degrees! We had a cool weekend last weekend and I bet you could smell roux cooking from one end of the state to the other!

I couldn’t believe that my gumbo recipe wasn’t on my blog.  I still can’t believe it.  I have several other versions of gumbo but this is a basic traditional version.  I opt to use chicken broth and stock to make it richer and more flavorful.  I’ve heard we are supposed to have a cold winter, so better keep the recipe handy!

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
A Cooking With Christen Original


1 carton chicken broth
1 carton chicken stock
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes
1 bag frozen cut okra, cooked down (I cook it in oil until it’s not “slimy” anymore)
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 pkg boneless chicken thighs – raw and cut up (I try to cut some of the fat off)
1 pkg smoked sausage or andouille, cut into bite size pieces
1 cooking spoon full of Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Garlic powder
1 tsp. Onion powder
1 tsp. Chili powder
½ tsp. ground cumin
1-2 bay leaves if you have some
Salt & Tony’s – season to taste
½ cup oil
½ cup flour

Note:  I have never actually measured my seasonings so just do taste tests and add until it tastes good.


Make a roux:  heat oil in large stockpot.  Once hot, add flour and stir constantly until it’s the color of a brown paper bag.  It’s time consuming but it’s the key.  Make sure to scrape the sides and corners of the pot.

While you’re making your roux, put your sausage in a microwave-safe bowl and add water just till the sausage is covered.  Microwave for about 8 minutes.  Drain in the sink into a colander and rinse well.  You want to get some of that fatty grease out.

Once your roux is brown enough, add onion, bell pepper and minced garlic, cook until veggies are soft.  Add Rotel, chicken broth and chicken stock, stir well and let heat up again to a slow boil.  This is a good time to start adding the rest of your dry seasonings and Worcestershire sauce.

Once boiling again, add chicken, sausage and okra and let simmer about an hour and a half or until chicken is cooked through.  The longer you let it cook, the better it will taste.  If it looks too thick, you can add more chicken broth or water

Check seasonings and add anything you find it might be missing.

Serve over rice or for the traditional southern Louisiana version, serve over potato salad.



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


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


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.


Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

I’ve been seeing pictures of stuffed squash blossoms in the foodie world for a while now, and I’ve been intrigued.  I love squash and really had no idea what in the world this might taste like.  So when my brother-in-law planted a ton of squash, I kept my fingers crossed that I could persuade him to let me have some blossoms.  And he did!

I found a recipe in Cooking Light for the stuffed blossoms, and that magazine has never steered me wrong so I went with it.  They are stuffed with a homemade pimiento cheese, how yum!  I love pimiento cheese, but only if it’s homemade.  The store-bought junk is awful so if you think you don’t like it, and that’s all you ever had, then try again.  This recipe was pretty easy to make, I think it makes a difference to roast the peppers yourself, rather than the jarred kind.  The blossoms themselves really didn’t have much of a taste, they were primarily a vehicle for serving up that delicious pimiento cheese!  This would be a great (visually impressive) appetizer for a small dinner party.

Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms
Recipe from Cooking Light, June 2013

1 small red bell pepper, halved and seeded
1/2 cup fat-free cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp. minced green onions
1 tbsp. mayo
1/2 tsp hot sauce (I used Tabasco garlic flavor)
dash of ground red pepper
2.5 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I used a Cabot Vermont white)
1 slice bacon, cooked and crumbled
8 fresh squash blossoms, thoroughly washed


Set the broiler to high and place the bell pepper halves skin side up on a pan covered with foil and sprayed with nonstick spray.  Broil until they are blackened, then place in a paper bag, closed well for five minutes.  (I had never heard of this approach but it worked well!)  Peel the blackened skin off and dice the bell pepper.

In a bowl, combine the diced bell pepper and all of the rest of the ingredients (except the squash blossoms) until well-mixed.  VERY carefully (use a very small spoon) stuff the mixture into the squash blossoms and serve.

Cracklin’ Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers

This recipe is actually my husbands’ brainchild.  He went hunting this weekend and planned on cooking duck wraps, but due to too many hands in the kitchen, his duck was boiled instead of defrosted.  The duck ended up going in the gumbo and he was left with a bunch of jalapenos and cream cheese and nothing to do with it.

Down the road from the camp is a store that sells fresh boudin and cracklins.  He had some “cracklin crumbs” which are basically what is left after all the big chunks of cracklins are gone.  He likes to put it in cornbread.  He took those and created something so delicious that when he came home from hunting, he had to go buy the stuff to make more!  These were phenomenal and would be a huge hit for a Super Bowl Party.  Just sayin’.  ;)

Cracklin' Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers

Cracklin’ Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers

Cracklin’ Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers
A Cooking With Christen original recipe


1 dozen jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded
1 block cream cheese, softened
3/4 crushed FRESH cracklin’ crumbs
1 tbsp hot sauce of your choice
sharp cheddar cheese to top


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix the cream cheese, cracklin’ crumbs and hot sauce until evenly distributed.  Spread onto each jalapeno half, top with shredded cheese and place on a baking sheet.  Bake until the cheese is melted and starting to turn golden.    Serve warm.

Crockpot Pork Chops with Awesome Sauce

Gimme what you got for a pork chop!  I don’t know why I always end up singing that when I make pork chops.  I don’t know.  Anyway.

I had some pork chops in the freezer so I set out to find a “good crockpot recipe” using them.  The Crockin’ Girls website has a recipe called the Most Amazing Pork Chops Ever.  I wasn’t sure if I believed all that but the recipe called for blessed little, all things I happened to have on hand (with the exception of only one or two things), so I gave it a whirl.  It turns out they were not exaggerating.  Seriously yummy stuff!  The sauce/gravy (I hate gravy so I will call it sauce) is really what made it.  You will want to get some nice bread, maybe a sourdough, for dipping and sopping up that sauce.  Or you can just use a spoon.  I won’t judge you.  I used a small package of pork chops but it makes a lot of sauce so you can easily use a larger package.

The recipe called for a packet of dry onion soup mix, which I THOUGHT I had, but turned out I didn’t.  What I did have was Lipton Savory Herb with Garlic soup mix, so I used that.  It was SO good that I will make that change every time I make this.  My husband said “whatever you did this time, do it again!”  The picture isn’t great, it’s really hard to make a pork chop with gravy look good, I learned.

Crockpot Pork Chops with Amazing Sauce

Crockpot Pork Chops with Awesome Sauce
Recipe adapted from The Crockin’ Girls

1 pkg. pork chops (mine were boneless, with four in it)
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 envelope Lipton Savory Herb with Garlic soup mix
1 pkg. dry pork gravy mix (I used McCormick brand)
1.5 cups chicken broth


Spray the crock with nonstick spray and set the pork chops inside.  In a medium-sized bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients together.  Pour on top of the pork chops and cover, then cook on LOW 8 hours.  Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.

Smoked Pork and Black Eyed Pea Gumbo

Cochon and Cochon Butcher in New Orleans are two yummy restaurants.  A few years ago before I had eaten there, I looked up their menu online and was interested to see that they had some recipes posted.  One was for a black-eyed pea gumbo.  I was intrigued and saved the recipe.

Over the last few years I always thought about making that recipe, but it always seemed like something my guests would be weirded out at.  Finally I decided to just make it and see what happened.  I got all the ingredients before actually reading the recipe, and seeing that the pork was to be smoked.  My husband was at work and the weather report was calling for rain the next day, so if it was going to be smoked it was going to be me doing it.  After consulting with both my dad and my husband on the phone (many phone calls!) I was proud to say I smoked the meat all on my own.  I used pecan wood and a Hunters Game Rub from the Baton Rouge company Red Stick Spice.  I was so excited by the great smoke ring the meat had.

And my guests?  Loved it.  In fact, the guest that was the most skeptical asked for the recipe!  It had a ton of flavor and wasn’t hard at all to make – instead of smoking the meat you could always go to a bbq joint and get some already smoked pork.  I’m sure the original recipe intended for you to use fresh black eye peas and greens, but I just didn’t have the time and the canned worked just fine.  There was not a whole lot of black eye peas, if you want more of that you can use two cans.

Smoked Pork and Black Eyed Pea Gumbo

Smoked Pork and Black Eyed Pea Gumbo
Recipe adapted from Cochon

1 cup oil/bacon grease
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 slices bacon
1 carton chicken broth
1 carton beef stock
1 can chicken broth
1 can beef broth
1 package frozen seasoning blend
1 spoon minced garlic
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp thyme
2 tbsp file’ powder
4 tbsp Creole seasoning
1/2-3/4 tbsp salt
6 cups water
1 can black eye peas, rinsed and drained
1 can turnip greens, liquid drained (I used the Glory brand seasoned greens)
3 lb. smoked pork butt, cubed
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 package sausage, cut into small rounds


In a small skillet, cook the four slices bacon until crisp.  Set the bacon aside and pour the bacon grease into a 1 cup measuring cup.  Add vegetable oil to the bacon grease, until it makes 1 cup oil/bacon grease.  Pour the oil into a large stockpot and heat over medium heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the flour and make a roux – you want it to be the same brown as a paper bag.  Stir often, getting the corners of the pot to prevent burning.

Once the roux has reached the desired color, add your seasoning blend and minced garlic.  Cook, stirring often until the vegetables are tender, thenadd the water to break up the roux.  Once it comes to a slow boil again, add the rest of the ingredients.  Crumble the bacon and add it in as well.  Simmer a few hours, stirring occasionally.  Skim the oil off of the top then taste for seasonings.  Serve over rice or potato salad, or bot

My Smoked Pork Butt :)

Smoked Pork and Black Eyed Pea Gumbo

Check out the smoke ring!

Pork Tenderloin With Pan Sauce

For the last year or so, any time we have pork tenderloin it’s always a recipe my hubby makes, it’s amazing.  Sometimes it’s good to have a change though and when I saw the pork tenderloin with pan sauce on Pinterest, it kind of stuck in the back of my mind.  While digging through my freezer one day I found the perfect size little pork tenderloin and decided to make it.

One of the best things about this recipe (besides it being oh so tasty!) was that it uses things you normally would have on hand.  The only thing I had to go buy was parsley, and really that isn’t even necessary.  I set it all up to marinate in the morning and it was perfectly ready to go by the evening.  It was so delicious, I served it with broccoli and mashed potatoes and the pan sauce was so good that hubby put it on his mashed potatoes.

Pork Tenderloin with Pan Sauce

Pork Tenderloin with Pan Sauce
Recipe from Chef Mommy

1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
juice from one lemon
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp dry mustard powder
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. pork tenderloin, silver skin removed


Combine all the ingredients and reserve 2-3 tbsp of the marinade.  Place the tenderloin with the marinade in a large Ziploc bag and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In an oven-safe hot skillet (I used cast iron) sear each side of the tenderloin over medium-high heat for two to three minutes.  Place the skillet in the oven and cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the inside of the meat has reached 160 degrees.  Remove from the skillet and let rest for a few minutes before slicing.

While that’s resting, make the pan sauce.

Pan Sauce Ingredients:
Pan scrapings from the pork tenderloin
1/2 cup chicken broth
2-3 tbsp reserved pork marinade, thoroughly mixed
2 tsp butter

In the same skillet, add the chicken broth and cook over medium heat, being sure to scrape the bottom.  Add the marinade and let boil for 2-3 minutes, then add the butter and remove from heat, stirring until the butter has melted.  Pour over the sliced tenderloin.

Slow-Cooker Easy BBQ Ribs

It’s August, which in Louisiana means it’s really too hot to even go outside.  You don’t see people walking at the park, no kids riding their bikes.  The heat index is usually around 115.  You certainly don’t often see people outside grilling.  Who wants to stand over a flame in that kind of heat?

Crockpots are great for summer cooking, since they get the job done without heating up your whole house.  I couldn’t wait to try the crockpot ribs recipe I saw on Pinterest, but I was a little hesitant.  I just wasn’t sure how that would go.  I decided to finally give it a try and was so incredibly pleased.  Let me tell you, these ribs were TENDER.  Like hard to get out of the pot tender.  They just wanted to fall apart.  They are fantastic.  My husband says he thinks they’re better than his bbq ones.  I didn’t use the seasoning mixture it called for, simply because I had some on hand (Sweet Pecan Rub from Red Stick Spice) that used those ingredients, but I’ll post the recipe anyway with the seasonings.  Whatever you do, do not skip the broiler step.  It takes great ribs and just makes them better.  Mmm…

Note:  I normally use my bigger 6 qt slow cooker, but used my smaller 4 qt one for this because the ribs kept wanting to slide down since there was so much room.  If you don’t have a smaller one, you could make a ball out of foil to fill in some of the space.

Slow-Cooker Easy BBQ Ribs

Slow-Cooker Easy BBQ Ribs
Recipe from Mmm… is for Mommy

1.5 tbsp sweet or smoked paprika
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
salt & pepper to taste
2.5 lbs pork back ribs – leave the membrane on the back to help hold them together
1 cup of your favorite bbq sauce, I used Stubbs
Nonstick spray

Mix the seasonings together in a small bowl, then rub all over both sides of the ribs.  Spray the crock pot bowl with nonstick spray, then place the ribs on their sides against the wall of the crockpot, thick side down and meaty side against the wall.  Drizzle your cup of bbq sauce over them, then cover and cook for 7 hours on LOW.

When 7 hours are up, cover a cookie sheet (rimmed pan) with foil, then place a rack inside of it (I used a cooling rack).  VERY carefully remove the ribs from the slow cooker and place on the rack, meat side down.  They are going to try to fall all apart!  Place a strainer in a small saucepan and carefully pour the liquid that is remaining in the crockpot through the strainer.  Remove the strainer with the debris and bring the liquid to a boil.  Allow to cook, at a boil, for 15 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by a third.   Turn the broiler on to low and baste the ribs with the thickened liquid.  Make sure your oven rack is about 10 inches under the broiler element.  Cook under the broiler for three minutes before removing and carefully flipping over, meaty side up.  Baste again and cook for 9 minutes under the broiler, basting a couple of more times during that 9 minutes.

Remove and enjoy!  You can serve the remaining sauce on the side.

All you need to make great ribs!

Bacon Pralines

Yes, you read that correctly!

I first had bacon pralines at Cochon Butcher in New Orleans and it was fantastic!  It was so good that I exercised extreme willpower and brought some home to my parents to taste.  That was in August and three months later we were still talking about them!

When planning what I’d make for Thanksgiving, I automatically put pralines on the menu.  We always have them.  Then a couple of days before I had a lightbulb moment.  Bacon pralines!  Duh!  I looked at a few recipes online but they called for things I don’t normally put in my pralines and I like mine soft and creamy, not brittle so I ended up going with my regular recipe, just adding in some thick cut crumbled bacon.  The result was a definite win.  This will be a version gracing our table often, I have a feeling!

Bacon Pralines

Bacon Pralines
A Cooking with Christen original

1 stick butter
3 cups white granulated sugar
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups pecans (make sure there are no shells!!)
1 pkg thick cut hickory smoked bacon (not maple), cooked and crumbled


Note:  These MUST be made on a sunny day or they will not set!

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat up the butter, evaporated milk and sugar.  Stir well so it’s all mixed.  Continue to stir regularly so that it does not stick, until it reaches the soft ball stage.  Once stage is reached, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, bacon and pecans.  Continue to vigorously stir (but be careful not to get it all over the sides of the pot, thus wasting good stuff!) until it starts to lose it’s shine and is thicker.  Then very carefully put spoonfuls onto waxed paper or silicone mats (love my silicone mats!).  Allow to get firm and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  It’s much easier to make when you have someone helping stir, as it gets to be tough on the arms!  Just be careful when it’s time to put spoons of it out because the stuff is HOT!!

Bacon Pralines

Autumn Penne Pasta with Sauteed Brussels Sprouts in a Light Ragu

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m sure:  I hate that brussels sprouts get the bad reputation that they do.  They are our favorite vegetable, we almost always have some in the house!  So needless to say, instead of being skeptical when I saw a recipe for this tasty veggie in the most unusual of places – pasta with red sauce, I was SO excited!

I feel so fortunate that my husband is willing to try new (and sometimes weird) foods.  He never says “that sounds weird” or anything, he’s the best sport!  We both loved this dish and it made enough for us to eat several meals.  The best part is that I only used half the packages of meat I purchased, so now I have the most costly part of the makings of another!  If you’re a fan of the sprouts, you definitely need to give this a try!

Autumn Penne Pasta with Sautéed Brussels Sprouts in a Light Ragu
Recipe from Skinnytaste

1/2 lb. ground Italian sausage (no casings), we used mild
1/2 lb. lean ground turkey
4 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz brussels sprouts (I used frozen), thawed if using frozen
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste (or use some Tony’s)
1 lb. whole grain penne pasta


In a nonstick skillet, cook sausage and turkey over medium heat, breaking up into small pieces as it cooks.  Once fully cooked, set aside in a bowl.

Cut the brussels sprouts in half and then into slices/shreds.  Add 2 tsp oil to the skillet and add the garlic, cooking for a minute until golden, then add the brussels sprouts, salt and pepper and cook until tender and slightly crisp, about five minutes.  Set aside in another bowl.

In the same skillet, add the remaining 2 tsp oil and then add onion and carrot, stirring well to coat with oil.  Cook until the vegetables are golden brown and soft, about ten minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes, sausage and turkey, bay leaf, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer about 30 minutes until the sauce thickens.

While the sauce is cooking, cook your pasta and drain.

Toss the pasta in the sauce, then add the brussels sprouts.  Toss well to combine and serve topped with ricotta and parmesan cheeses.

Autumn Penne Pasta with sautéed Brussels Sprouts in a Light Ragu