It’s Jambalaya Time

Red beans and rice, gumbo, muffuletta, and po-boys…foods that made New Orleans famous; but my favorite is the classic Creole version of Jambalaya. Chicken, sausage, shrimp, rice together in a single dish…scrumptious!

Of course, what better time to enjoy the food of NOLA than during the time of Mardi Gras celebrations. Inspired by the jubilee, jambalaya was on the menu last Tuesday.

IMG_3252The recipe we use for jambalaya is a modified version of one from the November 2013 edition of Southern Living. Their recipe calls for andouille sausage instead of the little smokies and a few additional spices, but we decided to make it a little less spicy and we’ve simplified the original recipe slightly making it our own.

Ingredients:

1 package little smokies, cut in half

2 TBSP. vegetable oil

2 cups diced sweet onion

1 cup diced celery

1 large bell pepper, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp. Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. dried oregano

2 (10-oz.) cans Rotel tomatoes with green chiles, drained

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups uncooked long-grain rice

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1 lb. peeled, medium-size raw shrimp, deveined

chopped green onions

Directions:

Cook little smokies in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until browned. Remove little smokies.

Add diced onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, Creole seasoning, thyme, and oregano to hot drippings and saute’ 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in Rotel, chicken broth, rice, cooked chicken, and sausage. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.

Stir in shrimp, cover and cook 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped green onions.

For the original recipe from Southern Living, click here.

This dish freezes well so that it can be made ahead or since the recipe above will serve 8-10, some can be served and a portion frozen for another time.

To Freeze: Prepare the recipe as directed. Line bottom and sides of a baking dish with enough aluminum foil  to extend about 3 inches over sides. Fill the baking dish with jambalaya and then cover and freeze. To serve, remove the foil and return the casserole to the original baking dish and cover and thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Bake at 350° until thoroughly heated.

Serve with crusty French bread. You may also want to serve Praline Pound Cake for dessert.

March Pound Cake of the Month: Praline

If you’re not willing to turn on the stove to prepare the icing for the praline pound cake recipe, don’t waste your time making this cake. The praline icing is what makes this cake special. The cake’s moist and flavorful but not particularly sweet…that’s a good thing since the praline icing and sugar pecans add the perfect sweetness for this cake.

IMG_3225This festive cake screams New Orleans making it the perfect Mardi Gras dessert. It’s not a difficult recipe, but expensive ingredients and nearly three hours of preparation may discourage some…but it’s worth the trouble.

I wish I’d planned a little more before starting this cake because making the pecans first would make sense and save time. The recipe calls for chopping and toasting pecans to be added to the cake batter and then the final step provides directions for the sugared pecans needed to top the finished cake. The next time I’ll make all pecans first.

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Praline Cake:

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened $
  • 1 (16-oz.) package dark brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Click here for the recipe from the the December 2007 edition of Southern Living.

Praline Icing:

  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Click here for the praline icing recipe from Southern Living.

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Sugared Pecans:

  • 1 egg white
  • 4 cups pecan halves (I bought a 1 lb. bag of pecans & used for batter and sugared pecans.)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

Click here for the directions for making sugared pecans. This makes far more pecans than needed for the cake, but they can be kept in an airtight container to be eaten with or without the cake.

Instead of making one praline pound cake, I made a medium-sized cake (4 cup pan) and six individual cakes…perfect for sharing.

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February’s Pound Cake of the Month: Strawberry Swirl

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to make a new, different pound cake every month. In January, my first attempt of the year was a Lemon-Lime Pound Cake. This week, I made cake number two: a Strawberry Swirl Cream Cheese Pound Cake.

The secret ingredient, dollops of strawberry glaze swirled in the cream cheese infused batter.

I wish I’d read the reviews of this cake before baking since I experienced the same problems as many others. The baking time of between 1 hour and 1 hour 10 minutes is way off. It took closer to 1 hour 30 minutes, and as a result the edge was much darker than I’d have preferred. Others suggested reducing the temperature to 325º, and that’s something I’ll try in the future.

Yes, despite the problems with the cooking time, I will try again since the flavor was good and strawberries and pound cake are a perfect pair.

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The recipe’s from the March 2011 edition of Southern Living.

Strawberry Swirl Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup strawberry glaze

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Beat butter at medium speed of an electric stand mixer until creamy. Add cream cheese, and continue beating until creamy.
  3. Gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
  5. Gradually add flour to butter mixture beating at low speed just until blended.
  6. Stir in almond and vanilla extracts.
  7. Pour 1/3 of batter into a greased and floured 10-inch (14-cup) tube pan. Spoon 1/3 cup of the strawberry glaze over batter, and swirl with wooden skewer. Add 1/3 of batter and then repeat with strawberry glaze topping with the remaining third of batter.
  8. **Bake at 350° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (This is where I’d make a change since I had to bake about 1 hour 30 minutes. I’ll reduce the heat to 325º and begin checking after about 1 hour 10 minutes.)
  9. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes then remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

Enjoy!

 

Pound Cake of the Month: Lemon-Lime Pound Cake

IMG_2574This pan started my obsession with pound cakes. Sure, I’ve always enjoyed eating them, and I’d tried making them, but everything changed when I received this pan as a gift from Meghan. Why? Because now I could make a cake that LOOKED like those pictured in Southern Living. No more picking stuck pieces of cake from the pan!

I’ve baked three or fours pound cakes each year since unwrapping this gift, but this year one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to bake a pound cake every month – twelve different recipes. I know that may seem to contradict the resolution to lose five more pounds to reach my final weight lose goal, but I’ve also learned the secrets of freezing cake so there’s no need to eat the whole cake. And of course, I can always share with others.

When the February edition of Southern Living arrived earlier this month, with a Lemon-Lime Pound Cake pictured on the cover, I knew this was more than a subtle reminder to get started on my resolution. So last Sunday I flipped through the magazine, studied the recipe, and made a list of ingredients to pick up after church. The surprise ingredient: lemon-lime soda, I used Sprite.

Lemon-Lime Pound Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (I used Swans Down cake flour. 3 cups + 6 Tbsp.)
  • 1 cup lemon-lime soft drink (I used Sprite.
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar; beat at medium speed 3 to 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at at time, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir in lemon zest and extracts.
  2. Add flour to butter mixture alternately with lemon-lime soft drink, beginning and ending with flour. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Pour batter into a greased (with shortening) and flour 10-inch Bundt pan. (I just sprayed the pan with Baking Pam. That’s why I love this pan!)
  3. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 5 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, shielding with aluminum foil after 45 to 50 minutes to prevent excessive browning. (At 1 hour and 5 minutes, my cake was done! I’ll check at 1 hour next time. I guess my oven cooks hot.)
  4. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove cake from pan to wire rack.
  5. Spoon Lemon-Lime Glaze over warm or room temperature cake.

Lemon-Lime Glaze

Whisk together 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tsp. lemon zest, 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice in a bowl until blended and smooth. (I used Realemon brand lemon and lime juice instead of squeezing fresh.)

For a thinner glaze stir in an additional 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp. at a time, if desired.

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Southern Living posts the recipes featured in their magazine on their website, but you won’t find the Lemon-Lime Pound Cake recipe yet. I did find a recipe for a Red Velvet Marble Pound Cake that may make a future Pound Cake of the Month. I’d also love to try your favorite pound cake recipe…so share!

 

 

Experiencing the South

I recently came across an article from the April 2006 edition of Southern Living “40 Things Every Southerner Ought To Do!“. I remember reading this article back in 2006 and saying I wanted to add these 40 things to my own to do list and check them off. And when I found this list this week, almost eight years later, I still want to do these things!

The list includes places to eat, special events to attend, and experiences that define the South.

I can check off the following:

  • Raft the Chattooga River in South Carolina
  • Follow Route 66
  • Buy a sweetgrass basket
  • Drink a Mojito
  • Eat at the Varsity in Atlanta
  • Tour Monticello
  • Say ya’ll
  • Eat a beignet at Cafe’ du Monde
  • Eat at the Jarrett House in Dillsboro, NC
  • Belt out Hank Williams’s “Hey Good Lookin”

Images from: “40 Things Every Southerner Ought To Do”

That only leaves 30 more to go. The next ten to tackle:

  • Attend the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Savannah
  • Spend the day at the beach at Siesta Key
  • Drink a glass of sweet tea (this will be a challenge)
  • Attend a NASCAR race
  • Fly a kite on North Carolina’s Outer Banks
  • See Gone with the Wind (a little embarrassed to admit I’ve never seen this movie)
  • Plant daylillies
  • Read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
  • Spend a day at Keeneland (I think Churchill Downs would be more appropriate.)
  • Tour the gardens at Middleton Place

Images from: “40 Things Every Southerner Ought To Do”

I know John’s working on our 14 in 14 list so maybe I can add a few of these to the list.

Check out “40 Things Every Southerner Ought To Do” so you can develop your own list or better yet…what would you add to the list?

 

No-Cook Homemade Ice Cream

We received an ice cream maker as a wedding gift over 30 years ago. As a result, making homemade ice cream became a family tradition. We’re on our fourth ice cream maker and have moved from electric to hand crank back to electric.

This year we made a big change to our ice cream recipe. We’ve always used the no cook vanilla ice cream recipe from the classic red checked Better Homes and Gardens cookbook published in 1976. However, since one of the ingredients is raw eggs, we felt we should make a change before we’re responsible for illness due to salmonella.

Luckily I found a new no cook recipe from Southern Living. It’s just as easy, and passed the taste test!icecream

No-Cook Vanilla Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 (5-ounce) cans evaporated milk
  • 8 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 teaspoons vanilla
  • 8 cups whole milk

Directions:

  • Whisk all ingredients in a large bowl until blended. Cover and chill 30 minutes.
  • Pour milk mixture into freezer container of a 4-quart electric ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. (Instructions and times will vary.)
  • Remove container with ice cream from ice-cream maker, and place in freezer 15 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container; freeze until firm, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

We made the basic recipe for vanilla ice cream since we served with pie and cobbler, but recipes for strawberry, peach, turtle, and other flavors can be found on the my recipes website from Southern Living. Looks like we’ve found a homemade ice cream recipe for the next 30 years.