Category Archives: Sauces and Dressings

Sweet Vidalia Onion Salad Dressing

I love salads with fresh homemade dressing.  I’m not big on store-bought dressing, though I will occasionally buy the ones in the produce section because they taste a bit more like homemade.  I had no plans on making salad dressing, in fact I was just going to throw together a simple tomato, cucumber and onion salad with Italian dressing (the only one that I do buy at the grocer) when I noticed that my farmer’s market had their salad mix in stock.

Their salad mix is so delicious and it seems like it stays fresh forever.  I was a bit burnt out on our ranch dressing that I make, so I took to Pinterest to look for something new.  I landed on this yummy sounding Vidalia onion dressing, mostly because it called for primarily all things you would keep in your pantry.  Vidalia onions (they come from Georgia, not Louisiana, did you know that?) are sweet onions, if you were not aware.  I couldn’t find Vidalia’s at our grocery store so I just bought a sweet onion and it worked.  Boy did it work.  Now let me tell you, you’ll get it all blended and mixed up.  Don’t taste it yet.  Seriously, just don’t.  It’s nothing good.  Those flavors need to chill together overnight.  After it’s been in the fridge overnight, shake it up well before drizzling over a salad (lightly).  And sigh in pleasure.

Sweet Vidalia Onion Salad Dressing

Sweet Vidalia Onion Salad Dressing

Sweet Vidalia Onion Salad Dressing
Recipe from One Perfect Bite

Ingredients:
1/2 large Vidalia onion (I used 1 regular sweet onion)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 tbsp white vinegar
8 tbsp white granulated sugar (shhhh!)
1.5 tsp dry mustard powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp celery seed (I used celery flakes)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Method:

Slice off the ends of the onion on each side, pierce the onion skin with the knife several times all around it.  Place in a microwave-safe bowl with about a tablespoon water and microwave for 4 minutes.  Remove, drain the water and as soon as you are able (it will be hot!), remove the outer papery skin and discard it.  Roughly cut the softened onion into pieces that will fit into your food processor (mine is small), pulse until smooth.  Add the remainder of the ingredients and process until smooth and mixed through.  Pour into a jar or bottle and chill overnight.  Shake well before using.

 

Crawfish Etouffee

Happy 200th Birthday, Louisiana!  I’m truly proud to live in this great state.  Sure, it gets a bad rep sometimes but the residents know better.  In honor of this monumental birthday, my post today is a classic Louisiana dish, crawfish etouffee.

Crawfish Etouffee

Last week we had a crawfish boil, and I always look forward to cooking something yummy with the leftover crawfish tails.  Unfortunately, we were all piggies and I only had about a cup of leftover tails!  I needed something that could stretch so I went to the classic dish, Crawfish Etouffee.  Somehow, despite eating it millions of times, I had never made it myself.  I looked through some of my favorite Southern cookbooks for the perfect recipe and found it in My New Orleans by John Besh.

Chef John Besh with James

Chef Besh is one of my husband’s favorite chefs.  We were fortunate enough to meet him at a food blogger conference last year and I must say he is the most down-to-earth nice guy, we just loved him.  He even took a few minutes to talk hunting with James!  His recipe was pretty easy to make and the end results were great.  We ate some over white rice and some over some leftover fried catfish.  If you’re using leftover boiled crawfish, save the seasoning until the end because your tails might already be spicy.  I also added a little cornstarch mixed with cold water in for thickening, as James likes his etouffee to be fairly thick.  Next time you find yourself with some crawfish tails, here’s the one to try!

Crawfish Etouffee
Recipe adapted from My New Orleans

Ingredients:
3 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp flour
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
half a red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 small tomato, seeded and diced
1 quart seafood stock
3 tbsp butter
1 lb. peeled crawfish tails (or however many you have!)
2 green onions, chopped
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
salt, pepper and creole seasoning to taste
white rice for serving
cornstarch for thickening, if needed

Method:
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the flour to make the roux and stir constantly so it doesn’t stick or burn.  You want the roux to reach a deep brown color, similar to a paper bag.  (A silicone spatula works great for reaching in the corners of the pan.)   Once the roux is browned, add your onions and cook until they have softened and caramelized.  Next add in the celery, bell pepper, garlic, thyme, cayenne and paprika - cook until soft and fragrant.

Add the tomatoes and seafood stock to break up the roux and increase the heat to bring it to a boil.  Once it’s reached a boil, decrease the heat and let simmer for five minutes, stirring often so it doesn’t stick.

Lower the heat and stir in the butter, then the crawfish tails, green onions, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces.  Taste for seasonings, then season with salt, pepper and creole seasoning as desired.  If you want your etouffee to be thicker, mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a small amount of cold water and add it to the pot, then increase the heat.

Once done, remove from heat and serve hot over rice.

Louisiana Crawfish Boil

Caesar Salad Dressing

In the MOM’s  Club I’m in, we do lots of potlucks.  It sometimes gets hard to think of something new to bring, often I just end up doing pigs in a blanket or something, things that the kids will eat too.  But frankly, the kids rarely eat anyway, they are too busy playing.  So when my friend Tiffani hosted the April potluck, I decided to bring one of her favorites, caesar salad!

This was really easy to make, though I did make some adaptations to the recipe I followed.  I added one egg yolk, a splash of milk and some parmesan cheese.  Just because it isn’t Caesar without it!  It came out really good.  I do have one piece of advice.  If you do use the anchovies, you will not use them all.  Just throw the rest away, do not try to make another batch of dressing days later.  Trust me.  ;)  But everyone seemed to really like it and asked if I would post the recipe, so here ya go, ladies!

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad Dressing
Recipe adapted from The Food Network

Ingredients:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
4 anchovy fillets
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup milk

Method:

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until finely puree’d.  Pour into a tupperware and keep cold.  When making a salad, place romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, croutons and some dressing in a ziploc bag and shake until  well mixed.  You can also add chicken to make it a meal.

Blueberry BBQ Grilled Salmon

I read somewhere recently that eating salmon twice a week can reduce your risk of heart attack by up to 30 percent.  I believe it also said that it helps with dieting as well.  After reading those stats, I decided it was time to introduce salmon to our diets.  And this is the recipe I was going to do that with.

Now I didn’t do any of the stats to see if this is actually a healthy recipe.  It may or may not be.  But I can tell you this – it’s a good one.  I’ve seen it pop up on many blogs I follow, usually a sign of something good.  I was a little nervous about the skin-on aspect, worrying that it would be fishy tasting but it wasn’t at all.  And I was even more excited to learn that the leftovers the next night tasted even better than the first night!

Some notes:  We didn’t grill ours outside – it was way too hot outside.  We cooked them inside in a cast iron pan.  Ours was served with couscous and greens.

Blueberry BBQ Grilled Salmon
Recipe from Pink Parsley

Ingredients:
4 salmon fillets, skin-on
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup blueberries, rinsed and patted dry
1/3 ketchup
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp grated onion
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
pinch red pepper flakes

Instructions:

  • Pat the salmon dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
  • In a medium saucepan over low heat, cook the blueberries about ten minutes, until they are softened and begin to burst.  Use the back of a wooden spoon to gently mash them.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well to incorporate and further mash the  blueberries.  Cook on medium until the sauce begins to thicken, about ten minutes.
  • Heat the skillet over medium heat and add a little oil.  Add the salmon, skin side up and cook for 5 minutes, then carefully flip.  Brush the bbq sauce over the salmon and cook for another five minutes or until it’s cooked through.
  • Brush with more sauce before serving.

Blueberry BBQ Grilled Salmon

Sweet and Spicy Tomato Jam

I recently had a BLT sandwich and instead of using sliced tomatoes, it had tomato jam.  What a great idea!  This way you can enjoy this sandwich year round and not have to use nasty supermarket tomatoes.  As I was making it, my mind started going to all the different things you could use this far, different sandwiches or even as a topping for goat cheese….yum!

Grilled cheese sandwich with tomato jam, turkey, Monterey Jack cheese, spring salad mix and avocado - Delicious!!

I did use canned tomatoes, since they are not currently in season.  This was very easy to make and I can’t wait to make a couple of big batches so I can jar them!

Sweet and Spicy Tomato Jam
Recipe adapted from:  The Perfect Pantry

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger root
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cinnamon stick
1 large can (1.5 lb) diced tomato (fire roasted would probably be great!)
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp white granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
pinch ground cloves
1-2 tsp chopped pickled jalapeno peppers

Method:
In a nonstick pan, heat oil then add the garlic and ginger and saute’ until turning golden, about a minute.  Add the vinegar, allow it to sizzle for a minute or two then add the remaining ingredients.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 30-45 minutes, until thickened to a jam consistency.  Refrigerate until cold before serving.  Can store in the refrigerator up to three weeks.

Sweet & Spicy Tomato Jam

Homemade Pesto

Mmmm, pesto….it’s about time I pay tribute to one of my favorite things.  If you know me well, you know I am a huge lover of all things garlic.  Who cares if it makes your breath smell!  It’s good stuff!  Pesto is full of garlic and it goes great on just about anything.  Seriously, everything from pasta to bread to scrambled egg sandwiches.  Delicious! 

Since it’s getting to the end of life for my basil plants, I needed to figure out what to do with them because I’m not gonna let that yummy goodness go to waste!  I decided to make some pesto and will probably make more this week.  It’s so easy and everything tastes better when it’s homemade, without all the preservatives.  So if you have a basil plant in your yard, print this out and try it because they’re not gonna survive the winter anyway!

Pesto
Recipe from Foodies Favorites

Ingredients:
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
3 cloves fresh garlic, toasted
2 c. basil leaves, bruised (see note below)
2 tbsp parsley, bruised
7 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Method:
Note:  to bruise leaves of basil and parsley, place in a mortar and pestle and smooosh.  If you don’t have one, just place in a ziploc bag and roll over with a rolling pin some.

Toast pine nuts in a small dry, nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Do the same with the garlic afterwards (still in their skin).  Peel the garlic after it’s toasted.

Place toasted nuts, garlic, basil, parsley, oil and 1/4 tsp salt in a food processor and process until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl and stir in the parmesan cheese.  Keep refrigerated.

Fresh Homemade Basil Pesto

Fish Tacos with Spicy Creme

A couple of years ago if you would have told me I would love fish tacos, I would have looked at you like you were from another planet.  Thank goodness I’ve broadened my horizons and learned to love some stuff that might seem a little strange.  In the last year or so, we’ve done both fish and shrimp tacos, but always with the seafood being fried.  To make this a little more health conscious I went with grilling the fish in a pan. 

This packed a major punch of flavor and the creme sauce was wonderful!  We topped ours with broccoli slaw which is great, look for it in your produce section.  Also added a little cheese, salsa and avocados.  Fantastic without the guilt! Other perks of this meal is that it’s pretty inexpensive AND cooks really quickly.  Try it, you’ll like it ;)

Fish Tacos with Spicy Creme

Ingredients:
4 tilapia filets, rised and patted dry
seasoning to taste – I used a citrus rub on one side of each filet with a cajun seasoning on the other.  Jerk seasoning would be great too, I think.
1 tbsp olive oil
flour tortillas
toppings desired (we used broccoli slaw, salsa, cheese and avocado in addition to the spicy creme)
For the Spicy Creme:
1/4 cup mayo (light is fine)
1/4 cup sour cream (light is fine)
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp finely chopped red onion
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
a dash of salt to taste

Method:

First make your spicy creme, just mix the ingredients together and place in the refrigerator for at least thirty minutes.

Season each side of the tilapia filet.  In a nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Cook each piece of fish for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown.  Remove to a cutting board and allow to cool enough to handle. 

Once cooled, chop the fish into strips.  This doesn’t work that great so if it is messy, oh well it doesn’t have to be pretty!  Serve with your spicy creme and other toppings as desired.

Fish Tacos

Homemade Ranch Dressing

These days we’ve gotten so used to having convenience foods that we forget how delicious the homemade stuff really is.  And often, it really isn’t very hard or expensive to make.  Case in point – ranch dressing.  I’m honestly not the biggest fan of bottled dressings because they always have a strange taste to me.  I feel like a snob when I go to a restaurant and ask if their dressing is made in-house, but homemade dressings are just fantastic!

I’ve been wanting some good ranch dressing so I decided to just make it.  It used just stuff I had around the house so it actually didn’t cost me anything to make, plus it made a pretty large jar of it.  I was out of buttermilk so I made my own, and you can to by simply mixing 1 cup of milk with 1 tbsp vinegar, then let sit for about five minutes before adding to whatever you are doing.  Easy peasy!  So next time you’re fixing dinner, give your family a break from all of the preservatives and do something from scratch!

Homemade Ranch Dressing
Recipe from:  Confections of a Foodie Bride

Ingredients:
3/4 cup mayo (light works fine)
3/4 cup sour cream (light works fine)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice (I used 1/2 a lemon)
1 cup buttermilk
1 small bunch chives, chopped
1 small handful fresh parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper

Method:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.  Refrigerate.

Jar of Homemade Ranch Dressing

Ranch dressing on a salad