Southern Antipasto

Southern Antipasto, RRR IV, p. 57. Photo by Meghan Poole.

Meghan prepared this recipe for a party she held at her home:

The Southern Antipasto was the easiest item on the menu to make. I cut the green beans into two pieces each before blanching. I sliced one type of olives lengthwise and the other crosswise. My garlic press also has a slicer on it, so it was easy to get the garlic to a consistent size. Three tablespoons of thyme takes a while to get, so I used an herb stripper to make the process go faster. I prepared the marinade the day before the party in a plastic container with a lid. I combined the rest of the ingredients in the quart-sized bag as indicated in the recipe. I poured the marinade in the bag about 2 hours before the party, then into a serving bowl when I was ready to serve it without draining the marinade.

1 (12-ounce) jar pickled okra, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh green beans, blanched and drained
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olive halves
1/4 cup pitted green olive halves
1/4 cup pimento-stuffed olives
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper

Combine the okra, green beans, and olives in a 1-quart re-sealable plastic bag.
Whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, thyme, garlic, salt, and red pepper in a bowl.
Pour the lemon juice mixture over the okra mixture and seal tightly. Turn to coat.
Marinate in the refrigerator for up to 1 hour, turning every 15 minutes. Drain before serving.
Serves 12

Taco Soup: The Perfect Weeknight Dinner

As school bells ring signaling the start of a new year, families everywhere will be faced with the weeknight dinner struggle.  Taco Soup is an easy, hearty, crowd pleaser that can be prepared quickly, mostly with ingredients from your pantry.  While the instructions state an hour-long simmering period, this recipe can be prepared in advance or left to simmer on the stove while homework is conquered.  Double the recipe and freeze the leftovers of this delicious dish for the first fall chill.  Tailor the toppings listed or add your own favorites to please everyone in your family.  Best of all, the preparation of this dish only dirties ONE POT making cleanup a breeze!


Photograph by Jennifer Henry


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 can tomatoes with green chiles, Italian-style tomatoes or Mexican-style tomatoes
  • 1 can while kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can Ranch-style beans or pinto beans with jalapeno chiles
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning mix
  • 1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Tabasco sauce to taste


  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • ½ cup sliced jalapeno chiles
  • ½ cup sliced black olives
  • 1 avocado, chopped


Brown the ground beef with the onion in a large saucepan, stirring until the ground beef is crumbly; drain.  Stir in the undrained tomatoes, corn, undrained beans, seasoning mix, dressing mix, chili powder, garlic powder and Tabasco sauce.  Bring to a boil; reduce the heat.

Cook over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Ladle the soup into bowls.  Serve with the sour cream, cheese, green onions, jalapeno chiles, olives and avocado.

Serves 6.

Magnolia Mound Punch

‘Tis the season to be jolly and jolly we’ll be with this delicious punch recipe. It’s simple, looks pretty, and is sure to put you and yours in the holiday spirit. Enjoy!

Magnolia Mound Punch (RRR II, Page 26)

  • 1 bottle pre-chilled strawberry wine such as St. Martin’s (not strawberry flavored wine)
  • One 32-ounce bottle pre-chilled ginger ale
  • Fresh Strawberries

Mix first two ingredients. Strawberries may be floated in the punch as decoration. Makes 12 to 14 four-ounce servings.

Spinach Madeline: A Thanksgiving Tradition

Spinach Madeleine, the recipe that put the first Junior League of Baton River Road Recipes Cookbook on the map! This savory and bubbly warm dish is now a traditional favorite for family gatherings, potlucks and supper clubs all around our great state for over 50 years.


The original Spinach Madeleine recipe is found on page 63 of River Road Recipes I: A Textbook of Louisiana Cuisine.

Spinach Madeleine can be served as a warm appetizer dip with toast points or cocktail crackers, as well as, a flavorful side dish complimentary to many main dishes. Remember, Spinach Madeleine also freezes well. So consider when preparing, double the recipe and freeze half.

This dish is also a good way to introduce spinach to those who might be reluctant to try green veggies. The blended flavors and spices are sure to please even the most doubtful of picky eaters.

The original recipe calls for a roll of 6 ounce of Jalapeno cheese. Kraft Foods no longer makes the product so we have substituted 4 ounces of Velveeta cheese, cubed, and 2 teaspoons of minced jalapenos!

Spinach Madeleine

  • 2 packages frozen chopped spinach
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onions
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • ½ cup vegetable liquor (the liquid reserved from cooking the spinach)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon celery salt
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic salt
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 ounces Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 2 teaspoons jalapeno, minced
  • Red pepper to taste

Cook spinach according to directions on package. Drain and reserve liquor. Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Add flour, stirring until blended and smooth, but not brown. Add onion, and cook until soft but not brown. Add liquid slowly, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Cook until smooth and thick; continue stirring. Add seasonings, jalapenos, and cheese which has been cut into small pieces. Stir until melted. Combine with cooked spinach. This may be served immediately or put into a casserole and topped with buttered breadcrumbs. The flavor is improved if the latter is done and kept in the refrigerator overnight. This may also be frozen.

Serves 5 to 6.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

White Light Night & Healthy Holiday Eating

As the holiday season nears, keeping that resolution of healthy eating can be tough going in Louisiana. River Road Recipes (RRR) is happy to help with River Road Recipes III (RRRIII), A Healthy Collection. Now you can have your cake and eat it too! Each recipe in RRRIII contains the breakdown of calories, fat, cholesterol, and sodium per serving. Check out one of our favorite dinner and dessert recipes from RRRIII below.

Seafood Eggplant Casserole (RRRIII, Page 171)

One 1 1/2 – 2 pound eggplant
4 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup skim milk
1 cup chopped cooked shrimp
1 pound lump crabmeat
1 cup bread crumbs
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1⁄2 teaspoon each basil, oregano, thyme, paprika
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons parsley
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon each pepper and
red pepper

Peel and cube eggplant. Boil in water until tender, drain. Make a roux with the oil and flour. Add milk and stir until thickened. Fold in the eggplant and remaining ingredients. Place in 2-quart baking dish sprayed with vegetable oil cooking spray and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

A few more member dinner favorites: the Carrot Soufflé on page 119, the Blackberry and Port Venison on page 156, the Seafood Paella on page 237, and the Pepper Crusted Red Snapper on page 246.


Black Forest Cake (RRRIII, Page 223)

3⁄4 cup egg substitute or 1 egg and 3 egg whites
1 teaspoon almond flavoring
1 box light chocolate cake mix, preferably devil’s food or fudge
One 18-ounce can reduced sugar cherry pie filling or cherries packed in light syrup

1⁄2 cup cocoa powder
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/3 cup skim or low fat milk
1 tablespoon margarine
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Beat eggs by hand. Add flavoring. Stir in cake mix and blend well; batter will be thick. Fold in pie filling. Pour into greased bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool and remove from pan.

Glaze: In a saucepan, mix cocoa, sugar and cornstarch together until well blended. Place over medium heat and gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook for about 2 minutes until thickened; continue stirring. Remove from heat and whisk in margarine and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Drizzle over cake. This cake travels well.


Other great entertaining menus from River Road Recipes IV :

Graduation Dinner, page 126 – includes a Seafood Lasagna and Red Velvet Cake
Bundle of Joy, page 223 – include a full delicious menu of food and dessert for the whole family and their new additions
Family Reunion, page 267 – southern style reunion
After the Hunt, page 216 – the sportsman’s paradise of recipes


White Light Night: RRR & Laura Bellone

River Road Recipes will join Laura Bellone, the artists for RRR III, this Friday, November 17th at White Light Night. We will be at Booth #30. Stop by to pick up a copy of your favorite RRR books for a friend and local artwork. Be sure to see more of Laura’s work at Petite Louisiane.

Red Stick Farmer’s Market


Members of the River Road Recipes Cookbook Committee will be on hand from 8am-12pm this Saturday sharing cookbook knowledge, offering samples and selling all 4 of our beloved books.

The weather is supposed to be gorgeous this weekend and the Red Stick Farmers Market is a wonderful way to grab a cookbook along with some fresh ingredients to whip up something special for dinner later that evening!

 We hope to see you Saturday! Be sure to stop by our booth and say hello. Keep reading for our featured sample, Cheese Straws.


Photograph by Don Kadair

Cheese Straws

Cheese straws are a perpetual crowd favorite at parties. The sharp cheddar cheese with the hint of red pepper make them an irresistible, savory snack for any event! They also make great gifts when placed in a decorative bag or tin. While the recipe calls for you to roll the dough thin and cut it into narrow strips, you can also place the dough in a cookie press to give them a decorative shape before baking.


  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 2 2/3 cups sifted flour
  • Dash red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Mix ingredients together well. Roll thin and cut in narrow strips. Bake in slow oven, 275°, until light brown. Makes about 4 dozen.

River Road Recipes I, p. 223

River Road Recipes at the 2017 Louisiana Book Festival

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Mark your calendars for Saturday, Oct. 28, when the 2017 Louisiana Book Festival comes to town! The festival features local authors, their publications, and lots of fun for the whole family.  Stop by our River Roads Recipes booth for a sneak peek at the newly reprinted River Road Recipes III and get an early start on your holiday shopping. You will also be able to sample our Cheese Straws and Harvest Festival Muffins!

Whether you’re young or old, enjoy puzzling over a good mystery, have a thirst for history, can’t get enough of poetry or love to cook up some great Louisiana dishes, our national award winning event has something for every book lover. The Louisiana Book Festival is your chance to meet exceptional writers while enjoying book-related activities and presentations.

Laura Bellone: The Artist Behind The Art


Raised in Louisiana with two artistic parents, it’s no surprise that Laura Bellone developed a passion for art and painting at an early age. Trained as a landscape architect, Laura continued to paint as a hobby until she felt inspired to open Petite Louisiane – small, affordable art that can fit anywhere in a home or office.  Laura paints what she feels is the most nostalgic connection for her and her clients: the sights and sounds of beautiful Southern Louisiana.  From boiled seafood to swamps and cypress trees, Laura’s art evokes what it feel’s like to be a part of the rich culture of southern Louisiana. We are excited to introduce you to her and hope that you will pick up a copy of the updated RRR III and one of Laura’s prints at Hollydays. 


A little Q & A with Laura:

Where did you attend college and what did you study?
LSU, College of Landscape Architecture, BLA 2006

How did you get started as an artist?
I started taking art classes in high school but have always had a passion for drawing and painting even at a young age.    Both of my parents are teachers but also have an artistic side, so I grew up around the arts. Petite Louisiane was created a few years ago when I started painting miniature paintings as gifts.  My friends encouraged me to sell them at a local Mid-city event and it just took off from there.


What inspires you?
My surroundings: nature and the sights of everyday Louisiana life.  The illustrations for the cookbook depict iconic landmarks or scenes from southern Louisiana.  Everyone has a nostalgic connection to at least one of those places, so I wanted to help bring those memories to life.   I love to hear the stories clients tell me as they are buying or ordering a piece.  They will walk up and pick up a painting and tell me how it reminds them of a family home, grandparent, or just a great childhood memory.   I also keep affordability in mind; I want everyone to be able to enjoy the paintings so the majority of my original works ranges from $25- $50.  It’s bright pop of color that fits on a desk or shelf!

How did you decide you wanted to partner with the Junior League to provide the artwork for RRR?
A friend approached me with the idea for the project and I thought it would be a good way to challenge myself as an artist.  Once I spoke to League members about the theme they wanted to portray, I instantly knew the style of sketches I wanted to create for the book


Do you have a favorite piece of art from the cookbook? If so, what is it and why?
It is hard to pick just one.  I feel like every time I finished one if became my favorite until I completed the next one.  I pushed myself a little further with each image.

What are some of your favorite dishes to make? 
My favorite dish,  is one that I am still trying to perfect, my great grandmother’s Spaghetti and Meatballs.   She taught my grandmother, and my grandmother taught my mom and her sister, and then taught me and my sister.  I haven’t quite gotten it just right yet, but I’m close. All of my favorite dishes are ones from my childhood, from homemade baked macaroni to roast and daube.


Who taught you to cook and what are some of your favorite memories around the kitchen?
My mom, dad and grandmother taught me how to to cook.  My grandmother taught us the recipes passed down from her mother.   My dad liked to create dishes on the fly.   He rarely followed a recipe and went with his gut on what went into the dish,  it was always delicious and sometimes rather creative in presentation.

What is your favorite River Road Recipe?
Crawfish Étouffée


We hope you have enjoyed reading more about Laura and viewing some of her incredible works of art. Visit her website and Instagram to see more. Don’t forget Hollydays is just around the corner!

River Road Recipes at Hollydays

We are ready and raring to go for Hollydays and excited to see everyone at our booth. Here are some of the recipes from RRR IV you will find when you visit our booth in just a few short weeks.

River Road Recipes IV, Warm Welcomes, our newest addition, illustrates how we cook, eat and live in Baton Rouge. It features 48 menus, with over 300 innovative recipes, and color photographs to assist with all of your entertaining needs. A USA Book News “Best Books 2005” Award Finalist, Cookbook Category.

River Road Recipes I, II and III are all included in the Walter S. McIlhenny Community Cookbook Hall of Fame. The real winner, however, is the Baton Rouge community, which has benefited from more than $3 million derived from cookbook sales and donated by the Junior League of Baton Rouge to local charitable and educational projects.


Photography by Lauren De Witt

Bacon Cheese Spread

This yummy appetizer is found in River Road Recipes IV on page 131 and is very quick and easy to make.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes, plus at least 3 hours of refrigeration time

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Servings: 8


  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Wooden spoon
  • Mixing bowl
  • Chopping knife and cutting board
  • Nonstick frying pan
  • Food processor (optional)
  • Plastic cling wrap

INGREDIENTS:Photo by Lauren De Witt.

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 slices bacon, crisp cooked and crumbled
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup (about) chopped pecans
  • Assorted party crackers


  1. Gather kitchen tools and ingredients. Set out the cream cheese to allow it to soften. Using a chopping knife and a cutting board, roughly chop one cup of pecans or use a food processor. Chop the green onions.
  2. Beat the cream cheese in a mixing bowl until creamy. Stir in the bacon, green onions, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

3. Shape the cream cheese mixture into a ball and coat with the pecans.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

4. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, for about three hours.

5. Serve with assorted party crackers.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.


Photography by Lauren De Witt

Fool’s Toffee

This foolishly easy treat is found in River Road Recipes IV: Warm Welcomes on page 235. Check out our original post here!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes, plus at least 30 minutes refrigeration time

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Servings: 8 to 12


  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Wooden spoon
  • 10×17 inch baking pan
  • Aluminum foil
  • Saucepan
  • Food processor or chopping knife and cutting board
  • Butter knife or metal cake spatula

INGREDIENTS:Photo by Lauren De Witt.

  • 36 to 40 saltine crackers (1 sleeve)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped pecans


  1. Gather your kitchen tools and prepare your ingredients. Preheat your oven to 350°. Using a food processor or a chopping knife and cutting board, roughly chop 1/2 to 1 cup of pecans and set aside.
  2. Line a 10×17-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and coat the foil with butter. Arrange the crackers in a single layer with sides touching in the prepared pan.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

3. Combine 1 cup butter and brown sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 4 minutes, stirring constantly.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

4. Pour the butter mixture over the crackers. Using a wooden spoon, spread the mixture evenly over the crackers.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

5. Bake at 350° for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and let stand for 2 minutes or until the chocolate chips soften. Spread the chocolate evenly over the prepared layers using a butter knife or metal cake spatula.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

6. Sprinkle with the pecans and press lightly. Chill for 30 minutes or until set. Break into pieces and store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.


Photography by Lauren De Witt

Pepper Jelly Cheese Pâté

This delicious appetizer is found in River Road Recipes IV: Warm Welcomes on page 170 and is very easy to make. Commercially prepared red pepper jelly can be purchased in just about any grocery store or gourmet food store and is typically found on the same aisle as other jellies and jams.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes, plus 3-10 hours of refrigeration time

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Servings: 12 to 14


  • Measuring cups
  • Wooden spoon
  • Mixing bowl
  • Chopping knife and cutting board
  • Plastic cling wrap
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1-quart loaf pan
  • Food processor (optional)


  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions (about 1-2 green onions)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups red pepper jelly
  • 1 sleeve whole wheat crackers


  1. Gather kitchen tools and ingredients. Spray the 1-quart loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the prepared pan with plastic wrap, allowing enough overhang to cover the pâté (see the picture under step 4 for example) and spray the plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Using a chopping knife and a cutting board, roughly chop one cup of pecans or use a food processor. Chop the green onions.
  3. Mix the cheese, mayonnaise, pecans, green onions, salt, and pepper in a bowl.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

4.   Pat the cheese mixture into the prepared pan and cover with the plastic wrap. Chill, covered, for 3 to 10 hours.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

5. Invert the pâté onto a serving platter and discard the plastic wrap. Spread the top of the pâté with the pepper jelly, allowing some of the jelly to drizzle down the sides. Serve with the whole wheat crackers.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

To Market We Go!

Join the ladies of River Road Recipes this Saturday, September 30 at the Red Stick Farmer’s Market from 8:00 am until noon.  We will have all four of our books in stock, including the newly reprinted River Road Recipes III. Stop by our both at the market on the corner of Fifth and Main in downtown Baton Rouge to sample one of our Potato Chip Cookies or Pecan Pie Muffins and get an early start on your holiday shopping.


Potato Chip Cookies

This sweet and salty treat is found in River Road Recipes II: A Second Helping on page 210.


Photograph by Aimee Broussard 

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8 to 12 minutes

Level of Difficulty: Medium

Servings: 9-10 dozen


  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Wooden spoon
  • Mixing bowl
  • Electric mixer (optional)
  • Cookie sheet



Photograph by Lauren De Witt

  • 2 cups (4 sticks) butter (note: best with butter, but margarine and butter flavoring may be used)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed potato chips (such as Lay’s Original)
  • Powdered sugar (to taste)


  1. Gather kitchen tools and ingredients. Preheat your oven to 350°. Using an electric mixer or by hand (phew!) beat the butter until light and fluffy. This will take a long time! (Note: Try setting your butter out on the counter to soften for about 30 minutes to make the process easier. Do not try to speed the process up by microwaving the butter, however. If the butter is too soft, your cookies will not hold their shape upon cooking.)
  2. Add sugar to the butter and beat well.

Photography by Lauren De Witt

3. Add vanilla and flour gradually and mix.


Photograph by Lauren De Witt

4. Crush potato chips with your hands and add them, mixing well.


Photograph by Lauren De Witt

5. Drop batter from teaspoon onto cookie sheets.


Photograph by Lauren De Witt

6. Bake at 350° until slightly brown. The cookie baking time will vary dependent on oven type (conduction versus convection) and climate but will typically take between 8-12 minutes. Monitor carefully at 9 minutes. 

7. Sprinkle cookies with powdered sugar and enjoy!


Photograph by Aimee Broussard