So, I had a baby girl almost 7 months ago and the poor blog has gone by the waste side, again. However, I have not stopped cooking, crafting and decorating and now I’ve even acquired some new skills such as baby food-making! More to come on recipes for baby food.
Back in the spring, our good friends Ryan and Jessica Legaux came to visit and spoiled us with their amazing cooking. They have owned and operated the Creole restaurant, Harold and Belle’s, in Los Angeles. For 3 generations and over 47 years Harold and Belle’s has become a fixture in the Jefferson Park community. They recently did a remodel of the restaurant and it looks better than ever, so if you are ever in the L.A. area and looking for something unique or simply craving true New Orleans-style food, I highly recommend it.
Ryan is such a great cook and can truly whip anything up out of anything. Remember the Crab Stuffed Mirlitons I posted years ago? Those were his! And he’s back as my guest cook with this decadent Lemon Ice Box Pie.
Lemon Ice Box pie is a simple pie recipe that earns it’s name because it requires refrigeration to set and Ryan kicks his up with a Nilla Wafer crust and a meringue topping that he peaks and then bakes in the oven to create a light and almost crispy texture on top of the pie. The layers of airy meringue, the tart lemon custard filling and a butter cookie crust make for a divine summer or spring dessert!
Cook time – 20 min.
Time to set before serving – 6 hours
- 1 1/4 cup crushed vanilla wafers
- 1/4 cup of butter (1/2 of a stick), melted
- 3 Eggs, brought to room temperature and separated
- 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Sugar to taste
For the crust
Pulse vanilla wafers in a food processor or crush by hand until they are the consistency of course sand. Some large chunks are ok. Mix the melted butter with the crushed wafters until blended. Press into the bottom of a greased pie pan or 6X8 serving dish.
For the Filling
Separate the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and save the egg whites in a separate mixing bowl for the meringue. Add the sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and lemon zest to the egg yolks and mix with a fork or whisk. Pour mixture over the pie crust.
For the Meringue
With a hand or stand mixer, whisk the egg whites, cream a tartar, vanilla and 2-3 tablespoons of sugar to taste. You can add more or less sugar to your liking. Beat until it’s fluffy and forms peaks on the mixer attachments. Layer the meringue on top of the custard mixture . Smooth out with a spatula and then form peaks by taking a regular teaspoon and placing it on the topping and pulling it straight up. See the photo above for guidance.
Bake the pie for 20 min at 350 degrees until the meringue is golden brown. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.
Living in New Orleans, the seafood is plentiful so every year my husband and I get a box of 100 oysters and host an oyster shucking party. After a few times, I realized that I could be making some nifty crafts with the leftover oyster shells. A friend of mine bought me a hand-painted oyster jewelry dish so that was my inspiration for these oyster shell dishes. You can use them as catch-alls, jewelry dishes for your rings or small jewelry, or even as a soap dish near your sink.
Check out the before and after below:
The most difficult part of making these oyster shell dishes is cleaning the freshly soaked oysters. I did a lot of research online to ensure that my oyster shells would not smell and I came up with a very good method for getting the shells completely clean.
Here are the steps to properly clean the oysters to prep them for painting. You will want to do this outside:
- Soak freshly shucked oyster shells in half water, half bleach solution for up to 24 hours. I was cleaning a lot of shells so I used a large bucket but you could use anything that will fully submerge your shells in water and that you don’t mind getting dirty/smelling like seafood.
- Dump out the bleach solution and refill with a warm water and dish soap solution for cleaning.
- Wearing protective gloves like rubber dish gloves to protect your hand from the smell and wear, take a hard bristled nail brush or toothbrush and scrub off any excess dirt and membranes from each shell. Every oyster has a joint that connects the 2 shells and you need to get rid of this completely before crafting. If the toothbrush isn’t working you can use an exacto knife or something hard to scrape it off. I just used my nails and the toothbrush. Place the clean shells outside of the bucket
- Once you have cleaned the shells, dump the dish soap solution and refill with a solution of half white vinegar and half water. Place the cleaned shells back in the bucket and let them sit for up to 3 hours.
- Using a nail brush, or small scrub brush, scrub each shell them rinse under water and lay our to dry. This will remove all of the excess black and dirt on the outside of the shell.
- Lay out the shells on a clean, dry surface and let dry
The hardest part is over. Now your shells are ready to paint. See the photo below, but here is what you will need:
- Different size paint brushes
- Iridescent acrylic paint
- Gold and silver acrylic paints
- Clear High gloss finish or glossing paint
I started with the iridescent paint to the far left first and coated the entire shell with a thin layer but very lightly went over the dark joint area. I let this dry. Next, I took one of the thin paint brushes and a gold paint and outlined the edges of the the inside of the shell. There are grooves on around the inner shell so it helps you follow a line. I used both hues of gold and would layer them until I liked the look.
I then took a larger brush and lightly brushed the different golds on the back of the shell to give it some texture. You can play with this and cover the crevices completely or leave it looking distressed.
Once the gold paint had dried, I went over the shells with the high gloss finish on the right to seal the paint in.
For some dishes, I took another oyster shell and flipped it and hot glued them together to create a stand. See the example below. For others like the example above, they worked better sitting on their own.
Before and after of oyster dish with stand
Stay tuned for my oyster shell mirror!
As summer comes to a close for most parts of the U.S., here in New Orleans it’s still hot and humid. However, my summer garden is starting to reach the end of it’s life. That means making use of my incredible cucumber harvest! This year it seemed liked my cucumbers were on steroids, some growing longer than my Macbook (see photo below).
My husband is not fond of cucumbers but he loves pickles, and he loves all things spicy, so I decided to test out a new spicy dill pickle recipe to make use of my summer bounty. I found this recipe on Foodnetwork.com from Emeril. For the first batch I followed it exactly but the second round I used fresh habanero peppers and a few more of them in each jar and about 1/3 less sugar. They came out very spicy but those who can handle the heat loved them.
This recipe calls to use a canner and boil but you don’t have go through the canning process if you can refrigerate them and eat them within a few months or if you are like me and give most of them away to your friends. If you want to save some outside of the refrigerator and for a longer period, you will have to can them.
One other thing to note is that most recipes call for “pickling cucumbers” which are called Kirbies but I just used normal garden cucumbers and they turned out great. There we more seeds but little difference on the texture and crispness of the pickle.
- 5-6 large cucumbers , each between 6 and 8-inches long (If you can’t find them this large use 7-9 regular size cucumbers)
- 2 small bunches fresh dill
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 12 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 6 dried small red chili peppers (use 2-4 more if you want them really hot)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 3 cups water
- 3 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup pickling salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
Chill the cucumbers in ice water or in the refrigerator for over an hour.
Sterilize your mason jars and lids in a hot water bath according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Divide the dill, onions, garlic, peppers and peppercorns among the jars.
Slice the cucumbers leaving the skin on horizontally for chips or vertically for spears to fit your mason jars. I eyeballed this and did a few different types of jars. If you are doing spears, test one slice to fit the jar first to make sure they are all the right length before you cut them all. Tightly pack into the jars.
In a medium pot, combine the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar, and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes to dissolve the salt and sugar.
Pour the hot liquid over the cucumbers, leaving a 1/2-inch of headspace at the top of each jar. Tap the jars on the counter to dispel any air bubbles, cover with lids and rings, and seal tightly. Let cool for 20-30 minutes.
Store in refrigerator for up to 3 months.
Cold weather means soup season and I jump at the chance to make a good, hearty soup. I found this recipe from the Pioneer Woman on the Food Network and it looked so good I had to give it a try.
The sauteed vegetables and cauliflower give the soup great depth and flavor and the cream sauce adds a richness but I lightened it up by using skim milk and cutting out the sour cream. Add some crackers, cheese and green onions and you have a fulfilling, hot meal!
- 1 stick butter
- 1/2 onion, finely diced
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- 1 celery stalk, finely diced
- 1 cauliflower head, cored and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups non-fat or skim milk
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1 to 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
- Ground black pepper
Melt 1/2 stick of the butter in a heavy pot over medium heat. Then add the onions and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots and celery, and then stir and cook for a couple more minutes. Throw in the cauliflower. Then stir it around, cover and cook over very low heat for 15 minutes.Add the parsley, and then add the chicken broth and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make a simple white sauce: Melt the remaining 1/2 stick butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Then whisk in the flour. Cook for a couple of minutes, and then pour in the milk, whisking to combine. Remove the white sauce from the heat and pour in the half-and-half. Then pour this creamy mixture into the pot.
Add 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste, and allow the soup to simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes. The soup will thicken slightly but shouldn’t be overly thick. Give it a taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
Halloween is my favorite holiday and I love looking for new ideas for festive recipes and food styling. These are just a few of the fun ideas I found on Pinterest this year from fellow bloggers. I’ve provided the links to each below. I hope this post gives you ideas and inspiration.