Welcome to my Food Journey

Curious Southern Cook on a journey to learn...and to create exceptional dining experiences. I love entertaining and preparing food for loved ones & friends and sharing those experiences with others. My wish is that you will be fed too. Bon Appetite!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Black Eyed Pea Dip

We are all conscious about being frugal
and not wasting food these days. 
A New Years tradition for us is to always have Blackeyed Peas, Cabbage or Greens and Cornbread. 
My peas are full flavor made with Tasso and am sure that the way your family likes them will work just fine.  If you have any left from New Years or anytime...try this delicious dip. 

3 cups cooked Black Eyed Peas (divided)
1/2 Onion, diced
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar Dressing
2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Add 2 cups of the Black Eyed Peas, Onion, Dressing and Olive Oil to a pot and heat on low until warm.
With stick/immersion blender begin processing til almost smooth (I like it a little chunky).
Add remaining cup of Black Eyed Peas and continue heating until heated through.
Serve with crackers of your choice.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Oysters Napoleon


Having just returned from Maine with the family, I found that as in previous trips to this same beautiful island with very rustic accommodations... I wanted to challenge myself to stretch the ole culinary horizons.  

In all of my previous visits there had been a red tide ban on foraging for mussels and oysters, but not this time.  Each night we had either a lobster dish using lobsters purchased from the lobster-man or one using fresh oysters and/or mussels that were picked at low tide by husband Neil and son Bradford.  

There was no power, no plumbing... just nature and family.  The tiny kitchen in the cabin where we stayed had a small stove and refrigerator that ran on propane and water from a cistern that collected rain water.  

On this evening we called "Bisque Night" family and guests gathered for happy hour.  Prolific Gin and Tonics, cheese and crackers and a surprise... an oyster appetizer that I created just to precede the main event, Lobster Bisque.  There were unbelievers among us though... those that would turn up their noses and proclaim that they "did NOT like oysters".  I had prepared enough for everyone, so when the unbelievers heard the praises proclaimed from the others...they became brave and their status quickly changed to believers.  

I had no name for this glorious dish and asked for recommendations.  My daughter Sara's beau Michael, who is a writer, suggested Oysters Napoleon and so we have it.  

From our island family: Neil, Sara, Michael, Hannah, Bradford and Yours Truly, plus Margo, Larry, Lea, Anne and family visitors Martha and Jim... we implore you to try Oysters Napoleon.  If you do, you certainly will love it! 
Oysters Napoleon

12-18 fresh oysters (cleaned, shucked just before ready to bake)
8 slices of thick slab bacon
10-12 green onions, washed and sliced thin
1 1/2 cups chopped parsley
7 cloves garlic, minced fine
2 t worcestershire sauce
10 shakes hot sauce, or to taste
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 lemon, cut in half


Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Shuck oysters, place on baking sheet and set aside


  • Fry bacon in a skillet, remove to cool, chop and set aside
  • Pour off most of the bacon grease retaining about 1 T
  • Place green onions, parsley and garlic in the skillet with heat on medium, sauté stirring for about 7-8 minutes
  • Add worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and chopped bacon, continue to cook and stir until thoroughly combined

  • Spoon Topping on each oyster, then parmesan cheese followed by a squeeze of lemon juice
  • Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes
  • Place on a serving platter, serve and enjoy

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Grilled Okra

Evening  before last my friend Terrie Roberts posted on Facebook that she had overbought okra at the Farmers' Market and... "did anyone want some?"  Well, my love for okra goes way back and I couldn't help but to respond in the affirmative.  My intent was to fry part and use the rest for gumbo, but our dinner was mostly ready and it would have to wait.  In the mean while I began to study other ways to prepare it and ran across an article on okra in Southern Living.  One of the recipes called to grill it.  I used that recipe as a place to start, changing it a little and ended up with the one below.  It should be a great way to get any okra snobs in your family to try it.  They will be hooked for life.

Grilled Okra
Yield: 4 servings
Note: You will need 8 wooden skewers

32 whole okra washed and stem end trimmed (8 per person)
4 t olive oil
3/4 t salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 t garlic powder

  • Preheat grill and turn down to medium.
  • In a bowl place the okra, add rest of the ingredients and mix to coat with clean hands.
  • Place 8 okra on 4 skewers, alternating tops and bottoms, run the other 4 skewers through the opposite ends.
  • You are ready to grill… about 3 to 4 minutes on each side (be careful when turning and taking up as they become soft and can come off the skewers).

Serve and enjoy!


Monday, June 10, 2013

MBQ Sauce

I love this time of year when Mother Nature gives us her best fruit and berries.  When I was a little girl we would go foraging for berries down the path at the fish camp and have cobbler at every meal.  Now... we have a prolific Blackberry vine on the side of our house and this year have an abundance of big, juicy Blackberries to eat fresh or transform into tasty treats.  Aside from cobbler (and don't get me wrong, I love cobbler) I will be experimenting with new ways to enjoy them.  I found that by combining with Mango and other ingredients, you can make a dee-licious MBQ, er, uh...BBQ Sauce.  I'm my husband's Grillfriend...and this sauce on country ribs and sausage earned me some extra points...wink, wink!  Savor summer's bounty and make your own sauce, you won't go back...I promise. 

MBQ Sauce
(Mango, Blackberry Q Sauce)

Yield: 3 cups


Flesh of 1 Mango, peeled and rough chopped
1 cup ripe Blackberries, rinsed and drained
½ Red Onion, rough chopped
Juice of 1 Lime
1 Chipotle Pepper
1 stick of Butter
½ cup Brown Sugar
¼ cup Worcestershire Sauce
½ teaspoon Smoked Paprika
½ teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon ground Black Pepper


  • Place Mango, Blackberries, Red Onion Chipotle Pepper and Lime Juice in a Vitamix or Blender.  Process until pureed. 
  • Strain fruit/veg puree into a pot. 
  • Add remainder of ingredients, stir until combined. 
  • Turn on heat to low/medium and let reduce for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  • Let cool and use as you would your favorite BBQ Sauce. 
  • Store any unused portion in the refrigerator in a container with a tight fitting lid.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Berry Marmalade

The blackberries on our side fence are just starting to ripen.  There aren't enough yet for a cobbler... so how do you best utilize them?  You could freeze them until there are enough or combine with other seasonal and/or preserved ingredients for a tasty marmalade.  This version is a quick small batch recipe.  I have made and canned traditional marmalade that takes a couple of days (which is absolutely incredible), but this is easy, relatively quick and equally delicious.  Try your hand at making marmalade...traditional or quick, it doesn't last long around here.    

Berry Marmalade
Yield: 2 cups


1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 orange processed:
-          Wash, cut in half, cut off peel careful not to include white pithy part
-          Carefully julienne peel, set aside
-          Cut off white part, exposing orange flesh
-          Squeeze juice out of orange with hands into a small container, set aside
-          Rough chop orange into small pieces, set aside
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 cup whole washed blackberries
Pinch of salt


  • In a 2 quart saucepan add sugar, orange peel, juice and pieces and heat on low for about 20 minutes until it begins to bubble, stirring occasionally.
  • Add cranberries and salt; continue on low heat for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add blackberries and continue on low heat for another 5 minutes, or sooner if they begin to break down, stirring occasionally. 
  • Turn off heat and allow to cool. 
  • Serve or store unused portion in a covered container in the refrigerator. 

Suggestion - Serve with toast, biscuits or over ice cream.



Sunday, May 19, 2013

"MustGo" Gumbo

I am really going to date myself with this post…but I am OK with that.
When I was a little girl, on Friday nights we would pack up after my Dad got home from work and travel about an hour to one or the other Grandparents home for the weekend.  If we went to Grandmother and Granddaddy Gleason’s in Minden, Grandmother would have supper ready for us upon arrival, consisting usually of spaghetti or fried chicken.  After dinner, we would watch television shows like “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” or “The Brady Bunch”.  The next morning after cartoons and French toast, we would often buy fabric and sew a new outfit, play outside with cousins climbing trees, or walk to the duck pond.  My Grandparents loved “The Lawrence Welk Show” so Saturday night; it was appointment television for the entire family.  An idea has stuck with me all of these years that I remember from what the Lennon Sisters (singing group appearing regularly on the show) said about their family one night on Lawrence Welk.  They shared that every Sunday whatever food was leftover from the week in the refrigerator was placed in one pot, heated through and was called… “MustGo”.  It was their favorite meal. 

Here in Louisiana the word “Gumbo” is often used as a metaphor for our mix of cultures.  As a dish, Gumbo is a heavily seasoned stew-like concoction, combining several varieties of meats or seafood with the texture of gravy made from a Roux. 

Remembering the Lennon Sisters, plus having most of the ingredients to make a Gumbo (in one form or another); I decided to make a “MustGo” Gumbo.  It was delicious!  What’s in your fridge/freezer/pantry?  You too can make one of your own… after all it is Sunday!

“MustGo” Gumbo

1 cup Roux (leftover)
2 onions, chopped medium (last of bulk)
3 quarts liquid - stock, water, etc (I had leftover vegetable stock and added water to make 3 quarts)
4 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme

“MustGo”: (You may have other “MustGo” ingredients, use what you have)
Giardiniera  – about 1 cup (leftovers from 2 open jars in fridge, minus spent herbs and peppercorns, drained, rinsed and rough chopped
10 pork sausage links – sliced, cooked
4 boneless/skinless chicken thighs – seasoned with salt pepper and garlic powder, cooked and cubed
1 pound frozen cut okra (leftover from another recipe)
1 pound frozen stew vegetables (leftover from another recipe)
Beef bouillon – about 1 tablespoon (leftover from previous recipes in 2 almost empty jars)


  • In a stock pot, place Roux and onions and sauté for about 3 minutes until soft.
  • Add Giardiniera and garlic , continue to sautéing for another 2 to 3 minutes.  
  • Add liquid, salt, pepper thyme and bouillon continuing to stir until thoroughly combined.  
  • Cook over medium for an hour stirring occasionally.  
  • Add sausage, chicken, okra and stew vegetables continuing to cook for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Season to taste. 

Serve over rice.  Enjoy!  

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mint Julep Syrup

I love my porch-time with neighbors.  When the days start heating up and evenings are sultry, that means it's time to harvest a little mint and make a batch of "Mint Julep Syrup" for Juleps to share on the porch.  We placed first in a competition for a variation of this recipe...so you could say that it has a winning heritage.  It's another mixer base you can make and keep chilled in the refrigerator until ready to use.  Cheers!   
Mint Julep Syrup
Yield: 6 cups
4 c mint leaves, washed and rough chopped to bruise
4 c water
4 c sugar


  • In a pot bring water just to a boil, add chopped mint leaves and stir for about 30 seconds.  
  • Add sugar; stir until all sugar is dissolved.  Turn off heat.  
  • Allow it to steep until completely cooled.  
  • Strain syrup into a container to store in the refrigerator.

To Make a Mint Julep:
In a julep cup, double old fashioned or collins glass, fill halfway with crushed or shaved  ice.  Pour 1/2 oz. “Mint Julep Syrup” and 2 1/2 oz. bourbon over the ice and stir.  Garnish with a mint sprig and enjoy.

Note: to make a larger quantity use 1 part syrup to 5 parts bourbon mixing in a container to pour into individual glasses. 


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spiced Pork Empanadas

This past Sunday, our neighborhood experienced a wonderful thing.  We came together for three hours… in the street… under a tent for a block party.  We all brought food to share, plus it was byod (drink) and byoc (chair).  Neighbors of every description converged to get to know each other a little bit better.  There was even a young couple that had just closed on their house last Friday to join us and they will not even be moving in until June.  What fun the children had… you should have seen them (with a little help from adults) as they made a train with their wagons, pulled by a motorized riding toy. 

The block party committee, which met earlier in the year, had determined the date (May 5) and because it was Cinco de Mayo requested that the food complement the theme.  One neighbor made a family recipe of Paella in a special pan street side.  My contribution was the Spiced Pork Empanadas that you find here in this post and our byod was Cinco Sangría de Fruta.  A great time was had by all and until the next block party, impromptu “porch time(s)” will be taking place all over the neighborhood.  Thank you to Andy Shehee for providing our tent.  Enjoy!

Spiced Pork Empanadas
Yield: 4 to 5 dozen


2 medium sized onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cups cooked pork butt, shredded and chopped
1 cup Cola
1 cup Craisins
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 chipotle pepper, minced plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper, to taste

Sauté onions hot oil until translucent.  Add garlic and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Add meat, sauté 5 more minutes. Stir in, Cola and remaining ingredients.
Simmer for until all liquid has cooked out and the meat is not wet. 
Let cool and hold until the dough is made for the shells.


6 cups flour (2 cups)
6 tablespoons sugar (2 tablespoons)
6 teaspoons baking powder  (2 teaspoons)
1 1/2 tablespoons salt (1 ½ teaspoons)
1 cup shortening (1/3 cup)
1 cup ice water (1/3 cup)
Preheat oven to 375°F.

  • Divide ingredients into thirds as indicated by the amount in (parentheses) above. (Three separate batches will be made)
  • Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  • Add sifted ingredients to a food processor and pulse one or two times. 
  • Add the shortening into the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Through the feed tube add just enough ice water so that it will just hold together while processor is on. Cover and allow to rest while the other two batches are being made.
  • Roll dough out on a lightly floured board to circles about 3 inches in diameter.
  • Place a spoonful of Spiced Pork Empanada filling on one side of the circle (I used a melon baller).
  • Moisten the edges of the circle with a small amount of water and fold the dough over the filling to make a half circle. Press the edges together to seal.  
  • Spray the baking sheets and bake at 375°F for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. 

Note: this Cooks.com recipe was used as a guide.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Cinco Sangría de Fruta

OK…you can’t serve your neighbors a beverage without being certain, 
beyond a doubt that it meets the highest standards…plus double and triple 
checked for quality control.  That was my job tonight and good thing I had a 
rough week…it’s not for the faint of heart.  We are having a neighborhood 
block party on Sunday with a Cinco de Mayo theme and I will be bringing this 
5 fruit Sangria plus Pork Empanadas.  I can’t wait to spend the afternoon with 
our wonderful neighbors.  Have a happy and safe Cinco de Mayo!      

Cinco Sangria de Fruta

Servings: About 20


1.5 L Red Wine
15.25 oz. Pineapple Tidbits including Juice
16 oz. Frozen Sliced Peaches
1 c Orange Liqueur

1 Orange, thinly sliced
1 Apple, thinly sliced
1 Lime, thinly sliced
Ginger ale

  • Mix Wine,  Margarita Mixer Base, Pineapple and Juice, Peaches and Orange Liqueur in a pitcher and chill for 6 to 8 hours.
  • In a glass fill with ice, pour Wine mixture until halfway full, pour Ginger ale until full, stir with a spoon and garnish with fruit, serve and enjoy!


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Easy Crawfish Bisque

I Love Crawfish, Mudbuds, Crayfish...what ever you call them, there's nothing like hosting a crawfish boil (or going to one), hot, spicey, succulent crawfish...Mmmmm!  We are approaching the latter couple of months of "Live Crawfish Season", which usually ends about June.  
But...coming up is the 30th Annual Mudbug Madness, a four-day festival held here in Shreveport each Memorial Day weekend at Festival Plaza.  Mudbug Madness is nationally recognized as one of the Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events, drawing as many as 56,000 people in one day and has helped in creating a renewed interest in Louisiana’s rich cultural heritage.  Here's a link to the schedule including Entertainment and Crawfish Eating Contests.  See what it's all about...come join us here in about 3 weeks and you'll be so glad you did.
If you can't be here or don't have access to "Live Crawfish"... look for "Louisiana"
crawfish at your local market.

Also, with this post I have included a video recipe tutorial that was filmed for a recipe contest.  I didn't win, but this recipe is a winner.

Easy Crawfish Bisque

-12 ounces Cooked Frozen Crawfish Tail Meat (Defrosted, Rinsed and Drained)
    or 5 pounds Cooked "Live Crawfish" peeled and deveined
-4 teaspoons Seafood Seasoning
-4 tablespoons Butter (Divided)
-4 tablespoons Olive Oil (Divided)
-2 cups Green Bell Pepper (Chopped)
-2 cups Onion (Chopped)
-2 cups Celery (Chopped)
-1 teaspoon Salt
-1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
-1/2 teaspoon Dried Thyme
-3 ounces Tomato Paste
-1 Savory Garlic Philadelphia Cooking Creme
-32 ounces Seafood Stock
-1/2 cup Cream Sherry (Optional)

  • Mix Crawfish and Seafood Seasoning in a bowl
  • Heat half of the Butter and Olive Oil in a large pot until melted
  • Add Crawfish mixture, sauté until heated through (about 5 minutes) remove from pot
  • Add remaining half of Butter and Olive Oil and heat until melted
  • Add chopped Green Bell Pepper, Onion and Celery, sauté until wilted (about 10 minutes)
  • Add Salt, Ground Black Pepper and Dried Thyme, stir
  • Add Tomato Paste, Savory Garlic Philadelphia Cooking Creme and Seafood Stock, whisk until combined
  • Puree with an immersion blender until smooth while coming up to temperature (about 10 minutes), (May use a regular blender and process in small batches, keep pressure on lid with a towel, return to pot - CAUTION, will be HOT)
  • Add Crawfish back in, continue to heat until back up to temperature (about 5 minutes)
  • Add Cream Sherry (1/4 -1/2 cup to taste), stir, serve and enjoy
  • (Optional) Have Pepper Sauce available for your family or guests to add to their individual servings to their taste preference, if desired

Monday, April 29, 2013

Purpose Salad (for Meatless Monday)

The home gardens, Farmers’ Markets and Grocery Stores are laden with options aplenty
for fresh salads and assuredly they’re not always consistently the same items.  If you
make a habit of growing/selecting a multiplicity of ingredients to keep on hand from the
six categories below…you will have a tasty, balanced formula for making interesting
salad combinations that you may not have thought of before.  I am always concerned
when one or more daughters changes their diet to vegetarian (no meat) and do want
to make sure that they consume adequate protein.  With this formula, it’s there…
it’s all there on purpose stocked and ready to mix and match to make salad magic. 
Thus the name “Purpose Salad”, plus I would like to think that by being purposeful
about eating healthy with local, sustainable ingredients that my/our purpose gets
a little clearer.        

Purpose Salad (for Meatless Monday)


Base – Iceberg, Spinach, Arugula, Mesclun, Romaine, Kale
ProteinTofu, Cheese, Nuts, Seeds  
Veggies and Fruit (fresh, steamed, roasted, pickled, dried) – Carrots, Potatoes, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cucumbers, Radishes, Celery, Tomatoes, Onion, Squash, Brussel Sprouts, Green Beans, Peppers, Cabbage, Mushrooms, Strawberries, Blueberries, Grapes, Orange, Grapefruit, Apple, Pear, Melon, Cranberries, Apricots, Pineapple, Peaches
Dressing – too many choices to mention…I prefer homemade Vinaigrette
OtherSprouts (various), Croutons, etc.


Procure ingredients, wash veggies, fruit and prepare each item to advance to the state
desired for salad readiness.  Ex: if roasting veggies, slicing/grating cheese.  Begin to
layer in a visually appealing way starting with base and the next items go from largest to
smallest, ending with nuts cheese and other small item toppings.  Tip:  Pre-moisten Base
with dressing in a bowl before plating.

The salad I prepared in the photograph was made with, Arugula, Carrots, Red Onion,
Peppers, Steamed Small Purple Potatoes, Radishes, Steamed Green Beans, Orange, Pan
Sautéed Tofu, Clover Sprouts,
Sunflower Seeds, an Irish Cheddar Cheese and dressed with a homemade Orange Vinaigrette (see recipe below).

Orange Vinaigrette:

1/2 c freshly squeezed Orange Juice, strained
1/2 c White Wine Vinegar
1/2 c Canola Oil
1 T Granulated Sugar
2 t Yellow Mustard
1/4 t salt
1/4 t white pepper

Place all ingredients in a jar with tight fitting lid and shake until combined. 
Store in the refrigerator until needed.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Apple-Pear Cobbler

It's late and we have just returned from visiting the "Country Mice".  You see our dear friends Michael and Contina live way out where signals refuse to roam and legends of "Big Foot" are absolutely plausible.  All kidding aside... Neil and I, the "City Mice", escape a couple of times a year to spend time with our friends and just "be".  Sit on the dock, fish, walk in the woods, talk about the most trivial or important subjects of the day and admire the latest art works in process by our very creative friends.  We always have a meal there too and tonight it was Contina's special grilled chicken using herbs from the garden.  Being a "Southern Lady", I just can't show up empty handed... so I requested to bring a dessert.  Cobbler is always a winner and in this case was very appreciated.  I hope you have a chance to make it for your family and friends...guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of country mice and city mice alike.

Apple-Pear Cobbler (for the Country Mice)
Yield: 6 servings
4 Granny Smith Apples, washed, peeled, cored and sliced
3 Bosc Pears, washed, peeled, cored and sliced
Acidulated water (about 8 c water with 2 T lemon juice)
3 T cornstarch
1 c brown sugar (divided)
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t salt
4 t crystalized ginger, diced fine
4 T unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c Old Fashioned Oats
Whipped cream topping (Optional)

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  • Prepare fruit and place in container with acidulated water until all is processed. 
  • Drain and dry the fruit with paper towels. 
  • Place back in container, add cornstarch and with clean hands toss until well distributed. 
  • In a small bowl, mix 1/2 c of brown sugar, cinnamon and salt until combined.  Add to fruit and mix thoroughly. 
  • Place in 11x7 baking dish. 
  • Sprinkle ginger on top of fruit. 
  • In small bowl combine butter, flour, remaining 1/2 c brown sugar, flour and oats, mixing again with clean hands and place over top of fruit. 
  • Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until top is golden brown. 
  • Let cool slightly, serve warm (Optional) with whipped cream topping.