31 January 2009

Recipe: Top Ten Fudge Recipes

Top Ten Fudge Recipes: "These are ten popular and delicious fudge recipes. From your classic chocolate fudge, to butterscotch and bourbon, give them a try! Some of these recipes are very quick and easy, while others are more complex and require a candy thermometer. Enjoy!"

29 January 2009

7 Easy Tips to Help You Get Organized Fast

7 easy tips to help you get organized fast. The topics covered are the top 7 problems most people have trying to get organized.

By Elle Dixey

A place for everything and everything in its place. It sounds easy, doesn’t it? Then why are so many of us disorganized? Where does all the clutter come from? And what do we do with it? In this article, we will give you 7 easy tips to getting yourself organized.

First, here’s a brief overview of how organization works. Everything in your home or office, even your car, should have a home. A place where any particular item can be kept. Now it makes sense that something you use each day and possibly several times a day should be easily accessible. For example, whether you have a home office or an office out of the home, or both, perhaps you might use paper clips every day. These should be right on your desk, within easy reach. Maybe you only use the stapler once or twice a week. This doesn’t have to be front and center, You don’t mind reaching into a drawer or a cabinet to get the stapler once or twice a week, do you? Now, here’s the beauty of being organized. You get to choose. Do you mind reaching into the drawer for the stapler. Then let’s put it right out there within your reach. Suppose it’s kept on the right hand side of your desk. That’s the place you have designated for your stapler. But, you pick it up, use it, and put it down absentmindedly on the left side of your desk.

Now multiply this behavior by 20 or 30 times a day. You pick something up from where it is always kept, and set it down somewhere else. If you do this with 20 or 30 items every day in your office, what do you have when it’s quitting time? That’s right. A disorganized mess on your desk, However, don’t despair, there’s just one rule you have to follow. All you have to do is make an effort to put things back where they belong. Put that stapler back on the right side of your desk! This rule applies to just about everything, whether you are at home, in your office or in your car. As we said before, it sounds easy, and it is; once you get used to doing it. Go ahead, try it and watch what happens. The 7 tips below will get you started.

1. Paper Clutter - This might be the number one organizational problem people complain about, so if it’s yours, you are definitely not alone. As you probably know, the mail can pile up very fast. Sort your mail as soon as you get it. Send the junk mail to a shredder, recycling or the trash basket, unopened, right away. Separate your bills and personal mail. If don’t you have a place for these categories, get two baskets, two folders or two of any type of storage container. Put bills in one and personal mail in the other, But you knew that already, didn’t you?

2. Plan Ahead - It’s very easy to feel disorganized when you are rushed. If you have a lot to do in the morning, try to get a jump on things the night before, even if it just making a list of what you have to do, in the order they need to get done. Decide what you are going to wear the next day and set it out, so there’s one less thing to think about the next morning. If you drink coffee, get that ready the night before. Don’t worry if you don’t have a coffee pot with a timer. Just measure the coffee into the filter, fill the reservoir with water and you’ll be all set. Coffee doesn’t take that long to brew. When you get up the next day, pop into the kitchen and push the brew button on the coffee maker. It will be done before you know it.

3. Keep All The Same Things Together - How many times have you gone through the house looking for stamps, an envelope and a pen, just to send something off in the mail? When we say keep all the same things together, this is a good example. You know you will need at least these three items if you want to mail something. So why not keep them all together? Get a nice basket or any other container you like and store anything that has to do with sending mail in it. This could include different size envelopes, paper, note cards or whatever. Do you print out emails, then lose them? Make a folder for all emails you have printed. In your kitchen, keep all your measuring supplies together in a drawer or a cabinet. Measuring cups and spoons, mixing bowls, large spoons and your mixer. Paying bills? You already know where your stamps, pen and envelopes are. Make a bill-paying folder just for bills to pay. You will be surprised how many things you can group together once you start thinking about it.

4. Save Time By Multi-tasking - Do you have to go to the Dentist’s office? Take a book you’ve been wanting to read and haven’t had time to do. Walking your dog? Make an effort to take him or her out more often and go for a brisk walk each time. Jog or run if you can. You will be getting some exercise and so will your dog. What’s more fun, walking or running with your dog or mindlessly pacing on a treadmill? Paying bills but want to watch your favorite TV show? Gather up all your bill paying needs and settle down in your living room; watch TV and pay your bills at the same time. Trying to learn a new language? Get the lessons on CD and play them when you are driving.

5. Plan Your Meals For the Week - You can’t imagine how beneficial this is. Knowing exactly what you are going to make for dinner each night will definitely ease stress. Make a list of each meal and post it on your fridge. It will also save you money when you go to the market. With your list of meals in front of you, it is a lot easier to only buy what you need.

6. Put Things Away - It only takes a minute or two to put things away. But how many of us come in the house and toss our jackets on the back of a chair, rather than hanging it up in the closet or even on a coat hook? Enlist the other members of your family to put their things away when they are finished using them. If all else fails, make a set time for everyone to go through the house once a day, pick up their things and put them away. Allot 10 or 15 minutes for this activity. Once this activity interrupts other things your family would rather be doing, you may find they are a lot better at putting things where they belong right away.

7. Add Space To Your Home - Add some shelves to a closet that is a catch-all. You will be able to store a lot more in there with shelves and everything will be easier to find. Buy modular cubes that can be stacked on top of, and next to each other. Many of these can be purchased with storage baskets that fit right into the openings, giving even more versatility. Do you have an half-empty bureau or chest of drawers? Store little used items in those drawers.

Now that you know how easy it really is to get yourself organized, come on over to our site http://www.thebeautifulhome.net to get our Free Report - 50 Ways To Get Organized and more organizational and time-saving tips and also decorating ideas. When you get there click on "Organization" See You There!

Photo by marklarson @ flickr

27 January 2009

Recipe: Marinated & Grilled Duck Breasts with Orange Ginger Sauce

Marinated and Grilled Duck Breasts with Orange Ginger Sauce

Serves 6

From: LSU Art Professor Michael Crespo whose passion for art is as great as his passion for cooking food all over the world.


4 Tablespoons achiote powder (paprika with a dash of cayenne pepper can be substituted)

6 cloves garlic, passed through a garlic press (or very finely minced)

½ cup canola oil

½ dry red wine

6 duck breasts with skin (about 6 ounces each), trimmed

Orange Ginger Sauce (recipe follows)


Directions: Combine the achiote, garlic, canola and wine in a non-reactive bowl and stir together. Place duck breasts and marinade in a reclosable plastic bag and marinate overnight (at least 8 hours) in the refrigerator.

Heat an outdoor grill. Grill the duck breasts, skin side down, over medium-low heat until brown and the fat has rendered. Flip and cook, meat side down, for about 3-5 minutes for medium-rare. Slice the duck breast on an angle, spoon the Orange Ginger Sauce over and garnish with chives.
Serves 6.

Orange Ginger Sauce


2 Tablespoons peeled and julienned ginger (do not mince)

1 ½ cups freshly squeezed orange juice

1 teaspoon orange marmalade

1 Tablespoon butter

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Salt cayenne pepper

¼ cup pine nuts

Directions: Combine the ginger and orange juice in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half.

Stir in the marmalade, butter, lemon juice, salt and cayenne to taste. Stir in the pine nuts and keep warm.

Note: For other recipes visit my other fun blog:
Romancing The Chocolate

25 January 2009

Louisiana Culture: Love of Eggplant Recipes

Louisiana Culture: Love of Eggplant Recipes - Fun article about Louisiana food culture. 3 eggplant recipes and 4 cooking videos will have you well on your way to cooking this versatile vegetable!

By Denny Lyon
Sauteed Eggplant with Cheese and Honey Photo by avlxyz @ flickr

24 January 2009

Louisiana Culture: Heavenly Hash Cake (and recipe)

Louisiana Culture: Heavenly Hash Cake: "Heavenly hash “cake” is quite popular with home cooks. It is basically a marshmallow cake mixed with nuts and some chocolate and then bathed again in a chocolate glaze to seal the marshmallow. If you love marshmallows you will love this 'cake.'"

Photo by Flirty Kitty @ flickr

23 January 2009

Recipes: Crab Fingers, Doorstop Pork Chops, Hazed Ribs

Louisiana’s Abita Brewing Company is a bit hit!

This is the place where Louisiana’s Abita Brewing Company began. Since 1994 it has moved to a larger location, growing to more than a local and then regional beer; it now has national presence. Examples of Abita beer: Winter Warmer, a delicate spice taste; Amber Light; Wheat, a summer brew; English Bitter, which has a bite to it; Cask Condition Double Bock, a non-filtered, self-carbonated, hand-pumped, English-style bock; Purple Haze; Turbo Dog and many others. The names as are colorful as the Louisiana people. They also make some great non-alcoholic root beer.

This full service 100 table restaurant in Abita Springs, Louisiana (near Baton Rouge) still retains the original brewing equipment of the brewery’s humble beginnings. Abita Beer can be viewed by diners making special small batch brews for the restaurant.

Martin and Vula Essaied have owned the Abita Brew Pub since 1998. Vula is a native of Greece and Martin is from Tunisia. They met while working in a restaurant in Canada. They say they use beer in 75% of their recipes at the pub.

It didn’t take long for this couple new to Louisiana to start giving Louisianans what they love: seafood and meat dripping in sauces and marinades. They chose to promote locally brewed Louisiana Abita beer. Here are three of their most popular dishes. When you visit south Louisiana, make sure to come by this Abita Brew Pub (985 - 892 – 5837) and the Abita Brewing Company’s site nearby for an enjoyable visit!


Brewers’ Crab Fingers

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer

From: Martin and Vula Eaasied, Abita Brew Pub, Abita Springs, Louisiana


4 Tablespoons butter, softened

2 ounces Worcestershire sauce

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

3 cloves garlic, chopped

Salt, black pepper, Creole seasoning, Tabasco sauce to taste

1 pound crab fingers

8 ounces Abita Amber beer

Directions: Combine all ingredients except the crab fingers and the beer.

Heat sauté pan and add butter mixture. Saute crab fingers in butter.

Add beer and let simmer no more than 4 minutes. Serve with hot French bread.


Doorstop Pork Chops


Cornbread (1 pan of your favorite cornbread recipe)

4 to 6 double-cut (thick) pork chops

Salt, black pepper, Creole seasoning, oregano, thyme to taste

2 green bell peppers, diced

1 large onion, diced

4 stalks celery, diced

½ pound andouille sausage, diced

6 Tablespoons butter or oil

Root Beer Glaze (recipe follows)

Directions: Prepare a pan of your favorite cornbread recipe. Break up cornbread into small pieces.

salt, black pepper, Creole seasoning, oregano and thyme and rub on pork chops. Grill chops and set aside.

Dice peppers, onion, celery and sausage. Sauté in butter or oil until soft.

Combine vegetable sausage mixture with cornbread pieces.

Place a mound of cornbread mixture on plate; top with a grilled pork chop and spoon Root Beer Glaze over chop. Serves 4 to 6.

Root Beer Glaze

3 cups Abita Root Beer

A few sprigs rosemary

Directions: Place root beer and rosemary sprigs in saucepan on simmer. Reduce until you have a thick glaze. It’s ready when it coats a spoon.


Hazed Ribs

Yield: Serves 6.


3 racks baby-back ribs

1 ounce whole black peppercorns

¼ cup Zatarain’s Crab Boil

Salt and black pepper to taste

Abita Purple Haze beer, enough to cover ribs

16 ounces Brewmaster’s BBQ Sauce or your own favorite barbecue sauce recipe

6 ounces Abita Golden Beer

1 bell pepper, diced

½ onion, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

Vegetable oil


Combine ribs, peppercorns, crab boil, salt and pepper in a baking pan. Add ribs and enough Abita Purple Haze Beer to cover ribs. Bake in a 350° F. oven for 2 hours or until tender.

Meanwhile, sauté diced vegetables in enough vegetable oil to coat bottom of pan (about 2 tablespoons) until tender. Add barbecue sauce and Abita Golden Beer. Let simmer until mixture thickens.

Grill baked ribs, basting with vegetable-barbecue sauce mixture, until warmed through. Fall-off-the-bone good! Serves 6.

Note: For other recipes visit my other fun blog -
Romancing The Chocolate

20 January 2009

Obama is now the 44th President!

Just finished watching Obama's speech and other news coverage - what an historic time, what emotion for millions around the world. There must be millions of people crowded together on the Washington Mall. It reminds me of when the Pope in Rome, Italy celebrates Mass in St. Peter's Square and a million strong gather.

Interesting is that the ceremony ran a little long and by so doing Obama became the 44th President exactly at noon BEFORE he took the oath of office four minutes later. How many of you knew that bit of trivia?

Congrats Mr. President! May you be successful in all endeavors.


A new day is here!
Photo by stephentrepreneur @ flickr

Recipe: Shrimp-Stuffed Eggplant

Shrimp-Stuffed Eggplant

Serves 4. Bake at 400° F. for 20 minutes.

Corinne Cook of The Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Another popular vegetable in Louisiana is eggplant. Could be from the influence of the Sicilian immigrants 100 years ago. Whatever the reason, it is a beloved dish when it is stuffed with seafood as a particular favorite.

Here the eggplant is halved lengthwise and partially cooked. The flesh is scooped out and then cooked together with onions, bell peppers, shrimp and garlic for the stuffing that is placed back into the shell and baked. Don’t worry if the eggplant shell tends to collapse or flatten from the weight of the stuffing. You are still able to pile quite a bit of the stuffing above the shell’s edge. Anything else left over can be placed in a casserole dish and baked as the stuffing dish it is!

Make sure you purchase small to medium-sized eggplants and they have smooth, shiny, blemish-free skins.


2 small to medium eggplants

1 ½ lbs. shrimp

¼ cup vegetable/canola oil

1 onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

4 slices day-old bread

1 Tablespoon butter

Salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper to taste

2 eggs, slightly beaten

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

¼ cup Parmesan cheese for topping


Cut eggplant in half length-wise. Do not peel. Drop halves in boiling water and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes or until they are just tender. Drain.

Peel and devein shrimp. Cook shrimp in a little water or sauté in a little oil until just done. Do not overcook – usually 30 seconds per side or less.

Using a knife or grapefruit spoon, remove the eggplant pulp. Leave some of the pulp around the edges to form a shell. Don’t worry if the shells don’t stand upright. You can still put the stuffing over the flat shell. Put shells in greased baking dish. Chop eggplant pulp into small pieces; reserve.

Sauté onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic in oil until soft. Add chopped pulp.

Wet the slices of bread under running water and squeeze out most of the water.

the bread, butter and the salt and pepper to the eggplant mixture. Stir until bread is mixed with the eggplant and seasonings. Remove from heat and gradually stir in the beaten eggs. Blend well. Add cooked shrimp and fresh parsley.

Spoon stuffing into eggplant shells. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake in 400-degree oven until heated through, about 20 minutes.

Note: For other recipes visit my other fun blog -
Romancing The Chocolate

18 January 2009

Swamp Dragons

Photo by William A. Franklin @ flickr

Swamp Dragons - You will enjoy this Louisiana native's tale of her growing up years! Alligators can get up to 14 feet long and weigh up to 1,000 pounds!

Recipe: Dennys Valentines Day Chocolate Crepes with Sweet Ricotta Cheese

Dennys Valentines Day Chocolate Crepes with Sweet Ricotta Cheese - Videos posted below to help you see just how easy it is to make that French culture favorite: crepes!

16 January 2009

Tips for Saving on Groceries and Food Leftovers Ideas

Photo by spitecho @ flickr - Don't eat: Grandma! (Hmmmm.... don't eat, it belongs to Grandma or don't eat, Grandma's ashes are in the freezer!)

Tips for Saving on Groceries and Food Leftovers Ideas - This was a funny photo I found on flickr. Who would keep Grandma's ashes in the freezer? Or was it this is food that only Grandma is supposed to eat? Really makes you wonder. This photographer has a fun sense of humor.

As to the article, there is a great video of a woman from Washington state who is a savvy shopper. She saves 80% of her food budget from her plan and she is willing to tell all. Very simple. Who doesn't want to save money in this downturn economy - or any time?

Recipe: Cream of Crawfish Soup

Cream of Crawfish Soup

Serves 6 to 8. Voted one of Baton Rouge, Louisiana newspaper's: The Advocate’s Best of the Best recipes in 2004.

“Roux to Do” cookbook, published by Covington, Louisiana Junior League


1 lb. crawfish tails with fat

½ cup chopped green onions

1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms

2 cups chicken broth, heated

½ stick butter

1 onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)

½ cup flour

2 cups whipping cream, warmed

2 cups milk, warmed

2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

2 teaspoons cracked black pepper, or to taste

2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, or to taste

2 teaspoons garlic powder

Paprika for garnish


Process the crawfish tails, green onions and mushrooms in a food processor until ground but not mushy, adding 1 cup of the chicken broth, if needed.

Melt butter in heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour with a whisk. Cook 1 or 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add remaining chicken broth and stir until well blended. Add the ground crawfish mixture and mix well. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the whipping cream and milk. Season to taste with salt, pepper, Creole seasoning and garlic powder. Mix very well.

Bring to boil then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish each lightly with a pinch of paprika.

Note: For other recipes visit my other fun blog –
Romancing The Chocolate

13 January 2009

Recipe: Pine Nut Ricotta Cheesecake with Macerated Strawberries

Pine Nut Ricotta Cheesecake with Macerated Strawberries

Here’s a little beauty of a dessert high in protein! Perfect for the weekend gathering.

Cheesecakes are immensely popular in Louisiana. Because of the Italian and Sicilian descendants who made their homes in Louisiana over a century ago there is a great respect for Italian ingredients like ricotta cheese.

While it is true that ricotta cheese is high in fat it is also high in protein. Just anticipate your calories for the day, adjust them accordingly and then cut a smaller slice to enjoy without worry!

From: Pastry Chef Caroline Threinen, FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Yield: 12 servings – preparation time is 1 ½ hours plus baking and chilling times

Ingredients for Macerated Strawberries:

Two (12-oz.) cartons fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered

½ cup sugar

1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier

Ingredients for Pine Nut Crust:

1 ½ cup all purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup pine nuts, toasted and chopped

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 large egg yolk

Ingredients for Ricotta Cheesecake Filling:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup ricotta cheese

2 large eggs

4 large egg yolks

1 cup light corn syrup

½ cup pine nuts


Sweetened whipped cream

Directions for Macerated Strawberries: Toss together strawberry quarters, sugar and Grand Marnier and allow to macerate, covered, for at least 2 hours or until strawberry juices are released.

Directions to make crust: Position a rack on lower shelf of oven and preheat oven to 350° F.

In bowl of an electric mixer, using paddle attachment, combine flour, sugar, pine nuts, butter and egg yolk. Mix just until the mixture starts to come together as a dough. If it seems dry, add a little water. Shape dough into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

On a floured piece of parchment paper, roll out dough into a circle about 13” in diameter. Line an 11” tart pan with removable bottom with dough and trim off excess dough. Line dough with parchment and fill halfway with beans, rice or pie weights. Par-bake the shell for 10 minutes; remove the parchment paper and weights and bake for another 12-15 minutes, until light golden brown. Set aside to cool. Lower oven temperature to 325° F.

Directions to make Ricotta Cheesecake Filling: Place cream cheese, ricotta cheese, eggs and yolks in food processor and process until fully combined. With machine running, gradually pour in light corn syrup. Pour mixture into cooled tart shell. Sprinkle whole pine nuts over filling. Bake cheesecake for 40-45 minutes, until set.
Chill tart for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve each slice with macerated strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream.

FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar
31 South Seventh Street
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402
612 – 216 - 3473

Note: For other recipes visit my other fun blog –
Romancing The Chocolate

11 January 2009

Recipes: Dennys Valentines Day Chocolate Crepes with Sweet Ricotta Cheese

Dennys Valentines Day Chocolate Crepes with Sweet Ricotta Cheese - Here’s a romantic idea for Valentine’s Day to serve your sweetheart. Maybe you will just make these easy decadent yet light calorie crepes all for yourself! These crepes are made with healthy whole wheat flour. You can use regular flour if you like as is done traditionally.

The beauty of this dessert is that it is also a protein sweet so it doesn't play roller coaster with your blood sugar like most sweets. Thanks to the Italian immigrants to Louisiana who introduced us to the wonders of high-protein ricotta cheese!

Video included to show you how easy it is to make your own crepes. Also, Valentines Day Cocktail made from Godiva Chocolate Liqueur and Expresso!

Note: For more fun recipes visit my other food blog -
Romancing The Chocolate

10 January 2009

The Pet Chronicles: Curty & His Couch

The Pet Chronicles: Curty and His Couch - Curty is a Louisiana cat. This little story is simple in form and the telling but long on the message: Pets know when we are stressed and take measures to balance us. That, and you know you are really in trouble when your pet cat lays dibs on owning the couch. So, what's his password? Read on.

Photo of Curty's glamorous Hollywood closeup
by Denny Lyon

09 January 2009

Recipe: Zucchini Flan

Zucchini Flan

Yield: Serves 4

From: LSU Art Professor Michael Crespo who loves to recreate dishes he enjoyed during his travels.


3 large shallots

1 small to medium zucchini

2 Tablespoons butter

1 Tablespoon olive oil


Garam masala or curry powder

6 egg yolks

2 cups half-and-half

6 stems fresh thyme, about 3 inches long

Directions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Halve the shallot bulbs and slice very fine. Halve the zucchini lengthwise and slice into very thin half moons.

Preheat the butter and oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat and add the shallots. Sauté until the shallots begin to brown nicely, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the zucchini and cool until they are cooked through, not soggy. Salt to taste.

Spoon the shallot/zucchini mixture equally into four (6 to 8 oz.) custard cups. Add a TINY pinch of garam masala or curry powder to each (no more than 1/8 teaspoon per cup). Set aside.

Whisk the egg yolks together until well blended. In a saucepan, bring the half-and-half, 1 ½ teaspoons salt and thyme to a boil. Remove from heat immediately. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain the milk into a bowl or measuring cup and slowly dribble into the egg yolks, whisking all the time. Pour the egg and cream mixture equally into the custard cups.

Place the cups in a baking pan. Add enough hot water to the pan to come within an inch of the tops of the cups. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake on the top shelf of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove and check to see if the custards have set. If not, cover again and cook a bit longer.

When done, remove from the hot water and cool to room temperature. To serve, run a small knife around the inside of the cup to loosen the sides. Invert over the serving plate, jiggle slightly and the flans will release from the cups. (If you are nervous about removing from the cups, serve in the cups like puddings.) Flans should be eaten at room temperature and may be prepared ahead of time. Serves 4.

Note: For other recipes visit my other fun blog –
Romancing The Chocolate

07 January 2009

Recipe: Smoky Chicken Chili

During the winter months many of us like to turn to serving up bowls of hot chili. Sometimes the beef version is far too spicy and heavy and we want a change of pace.

How about using that rotisserie chicken from the grocery store or a smoked chicken from your favorite deli to make that lighter version of your favorite chili?

Instead of the usual heavier red kidney beans why not try a change of pace with earthy black beans and nutty white beans to compliment a lighter meat like chicken?

Remember: to cut the spicy heat stir in some sour cream as dairy products are stellar at standing in for the local fire department, instantly dousing that fiery heat!

Smoky Chicken Chili

Makes 9 cups

Preparation time: 15 minutes to assemble plus 1 hour 15 minutes cooking time

From: Southern Living magazine


2 poblano chile peppers, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

1 medium-sized onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 (14 ½ oz.) cans zesty chili-style diced tomatoes
(Del Monte brand)

1 (16 oz.) can navy beans (in Louisiana use Camellia brand
cream-style white beans)

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (12 oz.) can beer OR 1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 (1.25 oz.) envelope white chicken chili seasoning mix
(McCormick brand)

Toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, chopped fresh cilantro, sour cream, lime wedges, baby corn, sliced black olives, chopped red onion, tortilla chips

Directions: Sauté first 4 ingredients in hot oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Stir in diced tomatoes and next 5 ingredients.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 hour. Serve with desired toppings.

Note: For other recipes visit my other fun blog –
Romancing The Chocolate

06 January 2009

Recipe: Earlene's Easy Hoppin' John Soup for the New Year!

Earlene’s Easy Hoppin’ John Soup

After a devastating 2008 full of nature’s hurricanes and the financial ones like job loss, bankruptcy both personal and business and home foreclosures, there are a millions of Americans who could sure use some good luck right about now.

Life events like these that probably precipitated recipes to start off the New Year with good luck. Everyone wants a prosperous easier life when battered by harsh financial or health winds.

This recipe serves 6. From Earlene Richards Strother of Clayton, Georgia.


1 medium onion, chopped

1 Tablespoon chopped garlic

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons flour

1 (10-oz.) can Ro-tel tomatoes (I use original; you may want to use the mild version. Ro-tel tomatoes are diced with jalapenos.)

1 can chicken broth

4 to 6 ozs. chopped Black Forest (or other deli ham)

2 cans black-eyed peas (I use Bush’s brand)

Cooked rice

Sour cream, chopped green onions and cornbread, optional


Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. Stir in flour when sautéed. Coat onion and garlic with the flour.

Add Ro-tel tomatoes and about ½ can of chicken broth and stir.

Add ham. Stir and reduce heat.

Process one can of black-eyed peas in blender or food processor until creamy. Add to mixture.

Add remaining can of whole peas.

Stir and simmer about 20 minutes. Add remaining chicken broth as needed for desired soup thickness. The soup does NOT seem to need salt added.

Serve over a scoop of cooked hot rice. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and chopped green onions. A good slice of cornbread goes well with this.

04 January 2009

Recipe: Mediterranean Fish

Looking for a healthy recipe for your New Year's diet? Look no further! Here is a wonderful baked fish intensely flavorful with sweet sundried-tomatoes and fresh basil.

From: Love Your Heart by the American Heart Association.

Serves 4 - each portion is a 3 oz. fish plus 2 Tablespoons tomato mixture per serving.


Vegetable oil spray

4 dry-packed sun-dried tomato halves, finely chopped

2 Tablespoons water

8 kalamata olives, finely chopped

2 Tablespoons diced pimento

2 Tablespoons finely snipped fresh parsley

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

1 Tablespoon olive oil

4 mild, thin fish fillets, such as snapper/tilapia
(about 4 ozs. each)

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with vegetable oil spray.

In a small microwavable bowl, stir together tomatoes and water. cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on 100% power for 30 seconds or until the water is very hot. Let stand for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft. Drain well.

Return the tomatoes to the bowl. Stir in the olives, pimento, parsley, basil and oil.

Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels. Put fish in single layer on baking sheet. Sprinkle with paprika, cayenne and salt.

Bake for 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Spoon the tomato mixture on top to serve.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 152 calories

03 January 2009

Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Since Louisiana might as well be called the Land of Seafood and Sweets - rather than what the car license plates tell you - it's the Sportsman's Paradise.

Here's an easy pie recipe to enjoy from the River Road Recipes IV: Warm Welcome.

Photo by N8tr0n @ flickr who made the pie in a rectangular pan.

At our house when we eat rich sweets we serve them in tiny portions like the size of a truffle - so we don't break the calorie bank or take our blood sugar for a wild ride! :) Of course, our neighbors and co-workers are always glad to share!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Makes 2 pies to serve 12 - 16. A chocolate cookie crust and a little bit of coffee give this pie a chocolate cafe or mocha flavor.


2 cups creamy peanut butter

16 ozs. cream cheese, softened

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

2 (9-inch) chocolate cookie pie shells

1 cup (6 ozs.) semisweet chocolate chips

7 Tablespoons hot coffee


With an electric mixer, beat the peanut butter and cream cheese until creamy, scraping the bowl occasionally.

Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Blend in the vanilla.

Beat the whipping cream in a chilled bowl until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture and spoon evenly into the pie shells. Freeze for 30 minutes or longer.

Mix the chocolate chips and hot coffee in a bowl until smooth. Spread the chocolate mixture over the tops of the frozen pies. Freeze until serving time.

NOTE from Denny: Since so many people and children have peanut allergies you could consider substituting another nut butter in this recipe. How about almond butter? Yum!

02 January 2009

Recipes: Hot Drinks in Cold Winter

Even in Louisiana come January the temperature drops down cold enough to drink hot, spiked cider or mulled wine. December 11th, in 2008, just 3 weeks ago it actually SNOWED in south Louisiana! AND the snow stayed on the ground for two days before it all melted off. Pretty amazing as we made snowmen on our front lawns just like I did as a kid when our family lived in Maine for a few years. Will wonders never cease?

However, what was joyful for us silly Southerners was not a lot of fun for our Northern and Western and even Midwest cousins in the country. Even now so early in the New Year the majority of the country has been experiencing record snowfall and cold. This is when those hot winter drinks come in handy to warm our insides.

Hot, Spiked Apple Cider

Per serving: Take a cup of cider or apple juice and heat it in the microwave. Now drop a shot of rum into it. You could also add other variations: orange juice, cranberry juice, cinnamon, cloves and orange slices. Just make sure you add the liquor AFTER heating the juice.


This is really popular all over America in cold weather: Wassail. Often it's used to toast good things to others like wishing them good health. You get to look like the great guy giving good cheer to others while sipping a yummy drink. Now aren't you clever?!

Bring a pint of water to a boil on the stove. Add a cup of your favorite honey, 5 whole cloves and 3 sticks of cinnamon. Heat for 5 minutes. Add a sliced lemon and now an entire bottle of good red wine. Heat to a simmer and serve with a lemon slice.

Mulled Wine

Now here's a cold weather drink that's as old as the hills! It's been around for at least 500 years since the Middle Ages. There is no hard and true recipe just the basic ingredients you can experiment with at will to your personal taste.

The basic recipe starts with a bottle of inexpensive hearty red wine. Add a couple of cinnamon sticks, some cloves and 1 cup of sugar. Add the mixture to a saucepan and warm it until the sugar dissolves - without boiling - and then serve it in a cup with either a cinnamon stick as a garnish or for Christmas try a peppermint candy cane.


This one is often served to revive folks at ski resorts.

To your cup of hot cocoa just add to spike it: a shot of rum, brandy OR peppermint schnapps. Garnish with an orange peel or even marshmallows.

The variations used are: peppercorns, bay leaves, cardamom, nutmeg, brown sugar, anise, rosemary, brandy, herbal tea, citrus slices as garnish too.

Hot Buttered Rum

Into your mug place 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon butter and 4 whole cloves. Now add a shot of rum. Stir well and fill with boiling hot water.

Variation: Some people replace the butter with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Add brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg.

Hot Toddy

Lots of variations on this theme with hot tea.

Fill a mug 3/4 full with hot black tea like Luzianne (not a bitter tea like other national brands. These guys specialize in taking the bitterness out of black tea and now have moved on to developing their own coffee line!).

Add a shot of scotch, 1 Tablespoon of honey and a slice of lemon.

Variations: Can use rum, brandy or bourbon.
Add cloves, a cinnamon stick or a grind of nutmeg - even a dash of Angostura bitters (which has an orange flavor).

Note: For other recipes visit my other fun blog –
Romancing The Chocolate

01 January 2009

Recipe: Crawfish & Artichoke Bisque

Crawfish & Artichoke Bisque

From: "Recipes From a Chef" by Patrick Mould

Serves 6


1 stick butter

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 bay leaves

1 (14 oz.) cans quartered artichoke hearts, drained

1/2 cup flour

2 cups chicken broth

3 cups half-and-half

1 lb. Louisiana crawfish tails

1 teaspoon hot sauce

salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste

1/2 cup chopped green onions

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley


Heat butter in a large saucepot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, bell peppers, garlic, thyme and bay leaves, cook for 5 minuts.

Check artichoke hearts and remove any tough outer leaves. Add artichoke hearts to vegetable mixture and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add flour and stir until incorporated.

Stir in chicken broth and cook for 2 minutes until chicken broth starts to thicken. Stir in half-and-half and simmer for 2 minutes until bisque is smooth and creamy.

Add crawfish tails and hot sauce and simmer for 5 minutes.

Taste for seasoning and add salt, black pepper and cayenne to taste.

Stir in green onions and parsley. Serve and enjoy!

Note: For other recipes visit my other fun blog –
Romancing The Chocolate
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