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Guest Recipe: Crab Stuffed Mirliton

June 25, 2012

A few weeks ago our good friends Ryan and Jessica came and stayed with us and were honestly the BEST house guests I’ve ever had. They own a well-known Creole restaurant in Los Angeles called Harold and Belles. Ryan’s grandfather, who is originally from New Orleans, started the restaurant in 1969 and Ryan and his father have built the restaurant into a fine-dining establishment specializing in authentic New Orleans-style and Creole cuisine.

Needless to say, Ryan is an AMAZING cook. He made us several feasts during his stay including, Shrimp Remoulade, Crawfish pasta, bread pudding and Banana’s Foster but the one that I had never had before was his Crab-Stuffed Mirlitons.

Mirliton, also known as Chayote, is a green, pear shaped gourd that is similar to squash in flavor and texture but is more fleshy and thick when cooked. It has a very clean, simple flavor that is enhanced by Ryan’s awesome crab stuffing and creole seasoning.

Ryan starts by boiling the mirlitons in his restaurant’s famous creole seasoning to add flavor right off the bat.

He then removes the mirlitons from the boiling water and cuts them in halves and removes the center. (You can eat this flesh or add it to the stuffing for volume).

As the mirlitons cool, Ryan makes the stuffing, starting with a basic roux and then adding the shrimp and crab last.

I’m so excited to share this recipe with you all and showcase Ryan and his restaurant. If you are ever in the Los Angeles area, I highly recommend stopping by. Now that I live in New Orleans, I’ve had my fare share of Creole cuisine and I can honestly say, this is the real deal.

Bon appetit!

Recipe:

  • 4 large mirlitons
  • 1 16 oz. container crab claw meat
  • 1 cup chopped shrimp
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper (finely chopped)
  • 1 Yellow Onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 stalks Celery (finely chopped)
  • 4 Cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1/3 Cup Italian Seasoned Breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons Harold and Belle’s Creole Seasoning
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Add mirliton and 2 tablespoons Harold and Belle’s seasoning to a large pot of boiling water and boil  for 30 minutes or until mirliton are tender to the fork. Remove Mirlton from pot and cut in half length wise starting from crease at bottom of the Mirliton. Remove hearts (disc-shaped layers) on surface  of Mirliton and discard (or eat!). Carefully remove 1-2 tablespoons of flesh with a pairing knife and save for later. This creates  the pocket for your crab stuffing and will be added to the stuffing later.

For crab stuffing heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan. Add onion, bell peppers and celery and cook until tender. Mix in a heaping tablespoon of Harold and Belle’s seasoning and then add shrimp and crab meat. Simmer stuffing at medium heat for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.  Chop mirliton flesh that you saved earlier and add to stuffing mixture. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Add breadcrumbs and mix well. Remove from heat.

Set mirliton halves on a baking sheet and stuff each half with 1-2 heaping tablespoons of stuffing mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

 

Yogurt-Marinated Tandoori Chicken Kebabs

May 7, 2012

In an effort to get fit for my wedding next year, I’ve been trying hard to eat healthy. And even though that means giving up some of my favorite comfort foods and best recipes, it also opens windows for new recipes and cooking with new flavors and ingredients. I made this recipe up based on some kebabs I’ve had in Indian and Lebanese restaurants. It’s delicious, quick and easy!

Marinating the chicken in a yogurt mixture keeps the meat tender and juicy while grilling. I found a Tandoori spice blend at World Market and I used Madras curry powder for a warm and smoky flavor.

If you are using wooden skewers, make sure to soak them in water for about an hour, fully submerged, before you skew your ingredients and start grilling.

I added grilled onions and I meant to use red bell peppers but forgot them at the grocery store, hence why you don’t see the in the photos. But overall this recipe is great to pair with Indian or Mediterranean flavors and its super easy and inexpensive. I paired it with tzatziki and a Greek salad and it was light, yet full of great flavors.

Recipe:

    • 1 1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt, divided
    • 1 tablespoon Tandoori Spice Blend (Cost Plus World Market)
    • 1 teaspoon Madras curry powder
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 teaspoons plus salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 1/2 pounds boned, skinned chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2-in. pieces
    • 1 red onion, chopped into 1 inch pieces
    • 2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-in. pieces
    • Six 8-in. skewers

Combine yogurt, tandoori seasoning, curry powder, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Add chicken, seal bag, and shake to coat. Let marinate 20 minutes at room temperature.

Thread chicken, onion and bell pepper onto skewers and discard marinade. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high (you can hold your hand 1 to 2 in. above cooking grate only 3 to 4 seconds). Grill kebabs, turning once, until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Serve.

 

Design Inspiration: Slate Grey Room Color

April 17, 2012


So once again, I apologize for the delayed post but I recently purchased my first home with my fiance, Dan in New Orleans and we’ve been busy moving. I’m not trying to brag but the house is AMAZING with a gorgeous backyard and pool and I am so excited to share it with you. And you know what owning my own house means….design projects!!!

I have so many ideas in store that my blog may turn from food heavy to design heavy for a while, but I promise to fill it with great ideas. The first project on my list is to paint my master bedroom from the currently god awful tangerine mess that it is into a beautiful slate grey with white and black furniture and accents. This room from Elle Decor gave me inspiration for the color and I’ve always loved Hollywood Regency style so I will be adding touches of glam with lacquer white mirrors and accents and white bedding. I can’t wait to show you the before and after! But you have to stay tuned until my parents get here in June to help me paint…

In the meantime, be prepared for more great pie recipes as I begin practicing pies to make for my friend’s wedding… S’mores, Strawberry and Peach, Oh My!

Broccoli Cheese Soup

March 4, 2012

I know what you are thinking…”More soup!!?” But I promise this will be the last soup for a while. In an effort to get in better shape for my upcoming wedding next year, I’ve been eating a lot more healthy so this cheesy, creamy soup was one of my last hurrahs before a significant diet change. I LOVE Broccoli Cheese Soup and I saw this on the Pioneer Woman’s blog and decided it would be a good one to try.  I followed this recipe fairly closely (as you know, I typically make variations) but I added more cheese, salt and pepper, because I felt it needed a hint of more flavor. I suggest adding the seasonings and tasting as you go to make it fitting to your taste buds.

The soup starts out like any normal soup base, saute onions until they are translucent, then add seasonings and vegetables following by stock, water or cream. Once the broccoli was in, I used my hand held immersion blender (one of my new favorite gadgets) to get the soup to more creamy consistency. I left in chunks of broccoli because I like the texture. You can also put it in a blender.

This soup may not be the best for a diet but it hits that comfort food spot that is warm, cheesy goodness. It’s also very cheap and east to make. Enjoy!

Recipe

  • 1 whole Onion, Diced
  • 1 stick 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 1/3 cup Flour
  • 4 cups Whole Milk
  • 2 cups Half-and-half
  • 4 heads Broccoli Cut Into Florets
  • 1 pinch Nutmeg
  • 3 cups Grated Cheese (mild Cheddar, Sharp Cheddar, Jack, Etc.)
  • Small Dash Of Salt (more If Needed)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Chicken Broth If Needed For Thinning

Melt butter in a pot over medium heat, then add the onions. Cook the onions for 3 to 4 minutes, then sprinkle the flour over the top. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute or so, then pour in milk and half-and-half. Add nutmeg, then add broccoli, a small dash of salt, and plenty of black pepper.

Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender. Stir in cheese and allow to melt.

Taste seasonings and adjust if needed. Then either serve as is, or mash it with a potato masher to break up the broccoli a bit, or use an immersion blender and blend until smooth. You can also transfer to a blender in two batches and puree completely. (If you puree it in a blender, return it to the heat and allow to heat up. Splash in chicken broth if needed for thinning.)

Brownie Heart Cupcakes

February 14, 2012

I’ll admit it, I love Valentine’s Day: it’s just another excuse for me to bake. I saw this Brownie Heart Cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart and it’s been on my long list of things to try. I think this is one of my top 3 favorite cupcake recipes I’ve ever made. Not only are they adorable, but they are surprisingly very easy and delicious! Gooey chocolate cake with a crispy brownie surface and topped off with sweet buttercream frosting. You owe it to yourself to try these!

Recipe:           

  • Vegetable oil, cooking spray
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 12 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Basic Buttercream

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Coat an 8-inch square cake pan with cooking spray, line bottom with parchment, then spray parchment.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Place butter and chocolate in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring until chocolate melts.

Attach bowl to mixer, add sugar, and whisk on medium-high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture.

Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Spread remaining batter in square pan. Bake until set but still soft, about 18 minutes. Let cool in tins and pan on wire racks.

Frost cupcakes with buttercream. Cut out 24 hearts from brownie in pan using a 1 1/2-inch heart-shaped cutter. Top each cupcake with a brownie heart.

Mexican Turkey Soup

January 22, 2012

Even though the weather has been relatively warm and beautiful down here in New Orleans, I have still been in soup mode. There have been a few chilly winter days down here – even a few nights where I had to bring in my herbs – so even a couple cold days have been incentive for me to whip up some great soups.

This recipe is very similar to Mexican Tortilla Soup and I based it on an Ina Garten recipe for Mexican Chicken Soup. But instead of using chicken, I used my leftover turkey from the holidays. Don’t worry, I made this back in November so I haven’t kept my leftover turkey for that long.

The base starts out like any basic soup but then you add tomatoes in puree, fresh jalapenos, cumin and coriander for great Mexican flavors. I add some of the seeds from the jalapeno for more heat because I like mine extra spicy. But my favorite part is the toppings! Add freshly chopped cilantro, crushed tortilla chips, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese and generous chunks of avocado for a delicious and balanced meal in a bowl! Buen provecho!

Recipe

  • 3 Cups Shredded Turkey Meat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped onions (2 onions)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 1/2 quarts low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed
  • 1 6 oz. can whole corn kernels
  • 1 8 oz. can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
For the garnish
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 Avocado, chopped into thick chunks
  • Sour Cream
  • Crushed tortilla chips, about 1/4 cup for each bowl

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded turkey, corn and black beans and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips.

Peanut Butter Bon Bons

January 1, 2012

Happy New Year! This holiday season has been a whirlwind for me with getting engaged, traveling home to California twice and of course cooking! I apologize for not sharing more of my recipes with you this past month but when you are cooking for 20 with several small children running in and out of the kitchen, sometimes it’s hard to stop and take decent photos.

I made these Peanut Butter Bon Bons based on this recipe from the Neely’s on the Food Network. They were good but very dense and rich and I recommend adding butter to the recipe. Take a look at this traditional Buckeye recipe which includes butter. Both recipes are simple and do not require a lot of ingredients – just some time to roll and decorate all the balls. They are very cute and make great bite-size desserts for entertaining.

Recipe:

  • 1 (18-ounce) jar creamy peanut butter
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

Using an electric mixer or a whisk, beat the peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar together until smooth and stiff. Beat in the vanilla extract. Shape the peanut butter mixture into 20 (1-inch) balls and place on a waxed paper-lined sheet tray. Place the tray in the freezer for 1 hour.

Add chopped chocolate to a small bowl set over gently simmering water. Stir to melt. Remove chocolate from heat. With 2 forks, carefully dip the chilled peanut butter balls 1/2 way into the chocolate, let excess drip off, and lay onto the waxed paper-lined sheet tray.

With a fork, swirl some decorative chocolate across the top of each bite. Place in the refrigerator for the chocolate to set and the peanut butter to solidify, about 30 minutes. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Pet Pose Of The Week

December 5, 2011

My boyfriend walked into our room today to find Mr. Whiskers in this position. What a piece of work!

The Food Scene In Seattle

November 15, 2011

I went to Seattle for a work conference in September and I not only fell in love with the city, but I had a wonderful culinary experience. A native West coaster from California,  I appreciated the fresh Pacific seafood  and locally grown produce but there were also some great wine bars and unique specialty restaurants.

A city known for its coffee and being the home of Microsoft and Boeing, it also has an amazing restaurant scene with a strong focus on locally grown, organic foods.

First stop: Pike Place Market

Some of you may know about this market, which is a landmark of Seattle. At Pike Place Fish Co., fish mongers throw fresh fish to each other over the counter and yell out things like “Bag a rocks” when a customer orders mussels or clams. With an array of fish mongers like this one, I was finally able to fulfill my cravings for fresh dungeness crab and creamy clam chowder in a bread bowl. It reminded me of Fisherman’s Wharf near my hometown in Salinas, Ca.

The market also showcases beautiful bouquets of fresh cut flowers like these for only $5!

I loved looking at all of the fresh produce. Too bad I couldn’t cook while I was there!

Mick’s Peppourri:

There are ton’s of great jam and jelly vendors at Pike Place Market given all of the fresh berries that grow in Washington. I bought a spicy pepper jelly from Mick’s Peppourri after sampling about 10 of them! 🙂 I ended up with “Death Valley Pepper Jelly,” which is great over goat cheese or even a mild soft cheese. One day I will attempt to make my own, but this will suffice for now. And you don’t have to travel there to get it. Order it online using the links above.

Next stop: Top Pot Doughnuts

This modern and trendy local doughnut chain has The Best Old Fashioned Doughnut I’ve ever had (pictured far left). It is made with sour cream and a sour cream glaze mixed with plenty of sugar and is surprisingly decadent. All of the doughnuts were delicious but if you are there, you have to try the Old Fashioned. It’s dense, rich and divine!

For Great Wine: Purple Cafe and Wine Bar

Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of the food here, but the real star at this restaurant is most definitely the wine. I had a flight of of reds called “Filthy,” that featured reds from France, Chile, Italy and Portugal. All of the varietals were delicious and went well with the Delice de Bourgogne, a soft cow’s milk cheese, and the Cabot Cheddar that we ordered as part of our cheese plate. My colleagues had different white and red varietals which I got to sample and they were all very good wines. We also had the Ceasar Salad and Gorgonzola and Pancetta Pasta which were both very tasty . Check out the menu here.


The ambiance of the restaurant is dark and romantic with a casual feel but I thought the wine staircase was pretty cool. Sorry the photo is so dark, but you get the idea.

I hope you enjoyed my overview of my trip to Seattle and you can use this as a culinary resource if you ever head that way.

Chicken Corn Chili

November 6, 2011

It”s finally cooling down here in New Orleans and that means time to start making hearty, comfort foods. I love a brisk evening with a hot and filling meal where the warmth from the kitchen fills the house. I made this Chicken Corn Chili from FoodNetwork Magazine and it was a huge hit for both me and my boyfriend (Dan). We practically devoured it.

This dish is not only packed with protein and flavor but it’s budget friendly and easy to make. It uses pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from your grocery store and the white beans are inexpensive, yet filling. I added extra fresh, chopped jalapenos for an extra kick and was generous with the cheese as a finishing garnish. Serve with warm fresh cornbread and garnish with fresh cilantro and you have a perfect dish for a cold evening. It’s also a great recipe to share with your guests on game day. Enjoy!

Recipe:

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until slightly soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, chopped jalapeno, green chiles and cumin and cook, stirring, until the cumin is toasted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, chicken and beans along with the liquid from one of the cans of beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes.

Using a potato masher, mash the chili until about half of the beans are broken up. Stir in the corn, cilantro and 1/2 cup cheese. Divide the chili among bowls and top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese and the sliced jalapeno. Serve with sour cream and cornbread, if desired.

Nutritional Information: Calories 586; Fat 26 g (Saturated 10 g); Cholesterol 151 mg; Sodium 857 mg; Carbohydrate 41 g; Fiber 10 g; Protein 49 g