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!

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