Sugar and Spice Pecans

Sugar and Spice Pecans, RRR IV, page 255, Photo by Jessica McVea

Here is a quick and easy recipe that you can keep on hand as a snack, to serve to your guests, or give as a gift, too!

Louisiana pecans. We LOVE them! This recipe is a wonderful mix of our beloved pecans, two kinds of sweet sugars, a sass of seasoning blends, and then a kick of curry to top it off. It is just the right blend to excite all your taste buds.

These Sugar and Spice Pecans from River Road Recipes IV: Warm Welcomes, page 255, will make a lovely gift for a hostess, teacher, or neighbor. Be creative with packaging:  mason jars, cello bags with ribbons, pretty tins, or maybe a antique candy dish. Just use your imagination. You could also pair the gift with a pretty tea towel like in the picture below.

Sugar and Spice Pecans, RRR IV, page 255, Photo by Jessica McVea

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (white)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of Morton Nature’s Season’s  Seasoning Blend
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder

DIRECTIONS

Toss the pecans with the butter in a bowl. Add the mixture of the sugar,  brown sugar, seasoning blend and curry powder to the pecan mixture and mix well. Spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast at 275 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring at 15-minute intervals. Remove the pecans to a plate and let stand until cool. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 4 cups

 

 

Crawfish Supreme

Crawfish Supreme, RRR IV, p. 58. Photo by Meghan Poole.

As crawfish season continues here in South Louisiana, here is another dish that is wonderful for leftover crawfish tails. Crawfish Supreme from River Road Recipes IV: Warm Welcomes, page 58. This appetizer recipe is served over cream cheese. You could prepare the cream cheese spread on the tray ahead of time. Cover the cream cheese spread on the tray with wax paper and chill until ready to serve.

The recipe is versatile. Shrimp can be substituted for the crawfish. Perhaps use both crawfish and shrimp. Why not try with crabmeat, as well? Let us know how your recipe variation turns out.

The recipe uses fresh sliced and toasted French baquette bread (this is Louisana, after all!), but melba toast rounds can be used.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 baguette French bread, thinly sliced
  • Olive oil to taste
  • 1 pound crawfish tails
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon white Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/.2 cup remoulade sauce
  • 1/2 cup reduced calorie Italian salad dressing
  • 12 ounces cream cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil.
  2. Toast at 500° until light brown.
  3. Saute the crawfish tails and green onions in a skillet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce.
  5. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
  6. Stir in the remoulade sauce and salad dressing.
  7. Microwave the cream cheese until slightly softened. Place the cream cheese on a serving platter and top with waxed paper or plastic wrap. (can be done ahead of time and chill until ready).
  8. Roll or pat the cream cheese to cover the platter (can be done ahead of time and chilled until ready).
  9. Discard the waxed paper and spread with the crawfish mixture.
  10. Serve with the toasted bread slices.

Serves 10-12

 

 

 

Spinach Con Queso

Spinach Con Queso, RRR III, p. 16.

Here in Baton Rouge, we just LOVE hot spinach dip! There are many variations on restaurant menus throughout the city. Some are served with warm tortilla chips, some with buttered toast points, and yet others may be accompanied by fried bowtie pasta.

From River Road Recipes III (page  16), this is River Road Recipes own version of hot spinach dip called Spinach Con Queso. It is a delightful, fresh version that is sure to please. This recipe makes 2 cups or 16 servings. Using the light version of the Velveeta cheese and low fat ricotta, it is only 56 calories a serving. It is versitale dish. You can  choose from a variety of different crackers, chips, pita chips, bagel bites, etc to use and they would all work well. Depending on your choices, you can keep the dish gluten free, low fat, and/or vegetarian.

INGREDIENTS

  • One 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 8 ounces low fat ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons milk, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 pound light Velveeta, cubed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup diced jalapeno peppers
  • 1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped

DIRECTIONS

Place spinach in a large strainer. With back of spoon, press out as much liquid as possible. Place ricotta cheese in a food processor, gradually add 2 tablespoons of milk blending until very smooth. Blend in paprika. Combine Velveeta, remaining milk, and onion. Heat until cheese is melted, stirring occasionally (can microwave this step). Add ricotta cheese mixture to the cheese and heat. Stir in spinach, jalapeno peppers and tomato.

Serve warm with tortilla chips or home toasted tortilla wedges. Can also be served with Bagel Chips recipe on page 258 RRR III.

Yields 2 cups, 16 servings

This Weekend, Sunday April 8, 2018: Farmers Market at Alexander’s Highland Market

Screen-shot-2013-12-02-at-12.03.58-AM

Members of the River Road Recipes cookbook committee will be on hand sharing cookbook knowledge and offering samples of some of our favorite recipes from the River Road Recipes selections Sunday, April 8, 2018 at the Pop-Up Farmers Market at Alexander’s Highland Market.

Come join us from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm. Alexander’s is located at 18111 Highland Market Drive, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. All 4 of our cookbooks will also be available for sale!

Toasted Canapes

Toasted Canapes, not just a party food for the British Royal Family!

Though canapes are a favorite reception food for our Royal friends across the pond (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/20/dining/20royal.html),  you too can have any elegant party with this recipe from River Road Recipes IV (page 58). This is a wonderful party food alternative from the regular round of dips and ready made tray foods. These warm toast points are easy to serve and in ready made portions that make entertaining a breeze. They can be left on a buffet to warm or passed around on serving trays among your guests.

Use your imagination for toppings. Perhaps our famous Spinach Madeleine from River Road Recipes I (page 63), Shrimp Mariniere from River Road Recipes II (page 136), or Chicken a la Roma from River Road Recipes III (page 214). The possibilities are endless.

Toasted Canapes, RRR IV, p. 58. Photo by Meghan Poole.

INGREDIENTS

  • 24 slices pumpernickel party rye bread, cut into triangles
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup  (2 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup chopped cooked turkey
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 slices bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled

DIRECTIONS

  1. Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 500° for 3 to 4 minutes until crisp.
  2. Heat butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in the flour.
  3. Cook until smooth and bubbly, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the milk gradually, stirring constantly.
  5. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly.
  6. Add the Cheddar cheese and cook until blended, stirring constantly.
  7. Stir in the turkey, mushrooms, salt, and red pepper.
  8. Spoon some of the turkey mixture onto each toasted bread slice.
  9. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and bacon.
  10. Bake at 500° for 2 to 3 minutes or until the cheese melts.
  11. Garnish with grape tomato slices and fresh chives.

Makes 2 dozen canapés

Swedish Meatballs

Meatballs are a classic staple at many parties. Most everyone loves them. You can serve meatballs in a fancy chaffing dish or simply have them in a crockpot. They also can be made ahead of time and frozen until needed. You can choose to freeze the pre-cooked meatballs or freeze the meatballs cooked down in the sauce. Meatballs are great for leftovers.

Here is a recipe from River Road Recipes I for Swedish Meatballs. The recipe, as written, makes  a fairly large amount of meatballs. Make them ahead of time and just get out the amount you need from the freezer and cook them. Though the recipe is in the Party Food section of RRRI, think outside the box. Maybe serve them as a main dish to your family. Perhaps, serve meatballs over rice or pasta,  or alone like mini-meatloaves with mashed potatoes. What about serving them with a side Garlic Cheese Grits? That recipe is on page 56 of River Road Recipes I.

No matter how you choose to serve this recipe, it will be a hit every time.

 Swedish Meatballs

RRR I, page 229

Photo by Don Kadair.

Swedish Meatballs, RRRI p. 229. Photo by Don Kadair.

Ingredients

  • 6 pounds ground meat (beef with approximately 1/4 pork)
  • 6 slices of stale bread, soaked in milk
  • 3 whole eggs beaten
  • 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onion tops, finely chopped
  • 2 medium white onions, finely chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • Garlic salt, black pepper, salt
  • Sauce: 2 large bottles of barbecue sauce and 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup

DIRECTIONS

Mix all the ingredients (with the exception of the sauce) and roll into bite-size or serving size balls. You can use a ice cream or cookie scoop to maintain consistency. Fry (brown) the meat balls in a small amount of fat (oil). Pour off the excess fat and place the meatballs into a large saucepan or pot. Mix the barbecue sauce and mushroom soup into the remaining drippings and stir. Pour the sauce over the meatballs. Simmer for 40 or 50 minutes.

Makes around 150 or so 1″ meatballs.

 

Crabmeat Green Goddess

The meeting of the courts of Mistick Krewe of Comus and King of Carnival Rex has happened, http://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/entertainment_life/article_f64c931e-06de-11e8-a7dc-3bae2229f574.html, the streets have been cleared, and cleanup has begun. Mardi Gras is officially over and now the Lenten Season begins.

Here in South Louisiana, the Lenten Season brings family and friends together on many of the weekends for crawfish boils as seafood is a traditional substitute for meat on Friday’s. We take this time of religious reflection to gather and celebrate our relationships and as always, show our love with food.

At the end of February, crab season begins. Crabmeat Green Goddess, from River Road Recipes IV, is a wonderful recipe to make for your guests or to bring to share during the Lenten Season. It is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Crabmeat Green Goddess, RRR IV, p. 59. Photo by Meghan Poole.

INGREDIENTS

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise or cream
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Red pepper to taste
  • Tabasco sauce to taste
  • Lemon juice to taste
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 pound lump crab meat, drained and shells removed

DIRECTIONS

  1. Beat the cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl until blended, scraping the bowl occasionally.
  2. Stir in 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, green onions, 2 crushed garlic cloves, salt, black pepper, red pepper, Tabasco sauce, and lemon juice to taste.
  3. Spread the cream cheese mixture 1/2 inch thick on a serving tray. Chill, covered in the refrigerator.
  4. Combine 1 cup mayonnaise, sour cream, parsley, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 crushed garlic clove in a bowl and mix well. Season with salt, black pepper, red pepper, and Tabasco sauce.
  5. Fold in the crab meat.
  6. Spread the crab meat mixture over the cream cheese mixture just before serving.
  7. Garnish as desired and serve with assorted party crackers.

 

Pralines and Bourbon Pecan Tartlets, Louisiana Pecan Treats

Whether you say pee-can or pee-kahn, in Louisiana we love our desserts and treats with pecans. Pecans are the only natural tree nut that grows in North America. Louisiana played a major roll with the development of the pecan industry. French settlers learned of the nut from Native Americans and incorporated it into their cooking. New Orleans, as a prominent international port, helped to establish the pecan trade industry. A famous slave gardener named, Antoine, at Oak Alley Plantation, located on the Great River Road (https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/louisiana/riverroad.htm), was the first to successfully graft a pecan tree. He created a variety of pecans that could be cracked by hand. Orchards began to be  planted and, from there on, pecans have been part of our culture and cuisine.

The following are two wonderful recipes that include pecans. Both can be made ahead of time and frozen or stored in a container for a days before a party or family gathering. Enjoy a part of our culture and tradition!

Bourbon Pecan Tartlets, RRR IV, and Senator Ellender’s Creole Pralines, RRR II.      Photo by Meghan Poole.

Bourbon Pecan Tartlets

INGREDIENTS

  • 36 frozen minature phyllo pastry shells
  • 1/2 cup (3 ounces) minature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

DIRECTIONS

  1. Arrange the pastry shells in a single layer on a lightly greased 10×15 inch baking sheet.
  2. Spoon the chocolate chips evenly into the shells.
  3. Combine the pecans, brown sugar, butter, bourbon and egg in a bowl and mix well.
  4. Spoon the pecan mixture into the prepared shells.
  5. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Remove to a wire rack to cool. store in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.

Makes 3 dozen tartlets

Senator Ellender’s Creole Pralines Pralines

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar (dark or light)
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons of corn syrup
  • 4 cups pecan halves (If large halves, cut into smaller pieces)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Put all of the ingredients (except for the pecans) into a 3 quart saucepan
  2. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally
  3. After boiling starts, add the pecans and cook the mixture until liquid forms a soft ball. (You can use a cooking thermometer that can indicate the stage of “soft balls”, otherwise, drop a small amount into cold water and verify the stage) 
  4. Stir well and drop by spoonful onto wax paper (you can line a cookie sheet or baking pan with the wax paper)
  5. Let cool until the pralines are set

Another praline version to try is the microwave recipe found in RRR IV.

Microwave Pralines

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (16-ounce) package light brown sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 cups pecan pieces
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine the sugar and heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl and mix well. Microwave on high for 7 minutes; stir.
  2. Add the butter. Microwave on High for 7 minutes longer and stir vigorously.
  3. Stir in the pecans and vanilla.
  4. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Let stand until set.

Serves 12

‘Tis the Season to Eat Crawfish!

Christmas holidays are over and the new year has begun. With the Mardi Gras season in full swing, it will soon be crawfish time in South Louisiana. Families and friends will be gathering for food and fellowship with weekend crawfish boils. These wonderful mudbugs may not be pretty, but they sure are tasty and the leftovers can make for beautiful dishes.

Below is a recipe for Crawfish Etouffee from River Road Recipes I. The recipe in RRR I, tells you to boil the crawfish and gives the directions on how to do so. In today’s world, we are fortunate enough to be able to buy packaged crawfish tails.  However, this recipe is a wonderful idea for leftovers from a crawfish boil, as well. Make it for your family, or perhaps a party you have planned. Serving the dish in martini glasses (as shown) or other decorative ware can make for a beautiful presentation and it can be served in appetizer portions. Having portions in easy to handle serving dishes makes it easier for your guests if you are having a buffet or cocktail party.

This recipe makes about 8 quarts or 30 servings. It freezes well in ziplock bags or airtight containers. You may also cut the recipe in half.

 Crawfish Etouffee

RRR I page 103

 Crawfish Etouffee, RRR I p. 102. Photo by Don Kadair.

The recipe has been adapted from the original, assuming you have the crawfish tails and do not need to boil.

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 to 5 lbs of  crawfish tails with the fat
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 stalk (bunch) of celery
  • 6  medium onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bell pepper
  •  1 cup green onion tops
  • 1 pimento (or red bell pepper)
  • 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste.

Directions

Grind (dice in a food processor) the vegetables and cook in shortening until tender. Add the seasonings and blend well. Add the crawfish tails (with the crawfish fat). Cook for about 15 or 20 minutes, but do not overcook. Turn the heat off and let it stand for 30 minutes until the seasonings are blended. Serve over rice.

River Road Recipes I, p. 103

 

 

Party Time!! Make Ahead Recipe: Blue Cheese Truffles

It is party season! The Super Bowl is coming up and the Mardi Gras season is under way, but everyone is busy. Here is a recipe that is sure to please the hostess, as well as, the party goer who needs to bring a dish. Blue Cheese Truffles from River Road Recipes IV . It has only three ingredients.

This recipe can also be made in advance because it freezes well. Go ahead and use your stand mixer and double the batch.  Then you will have some ready in the freezer for the next party.  Just freeze the truffles in a plastic container separated in layers with wax paper. Take them out the day of the party and you are ready to go!

Blue Cheese Truffles are also gluten free and low carb. This combination will be sure to please any crowd.

                                            Blue Cheese Truffles, RRR IV, p. 57. Photo by Meghan Poole.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups pecan halves or pieces, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces blue cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened

DIRECTIONS

  1. Spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast at 300° for 15 minutes or until light brown, stirring occasionally. Let stand until cool and finely chop.
  2. Combine the blue cheese and cream cheese in a mixing bowl and beat until blended.
  3. Shape the cheese mixture into balls using a small melon baller and coat with the pecans.
  4. Arrange the balls on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Chill, covered, until serving time.
  5. Serve with sliced apples and/or grapes.

Makes 3 1/2 dozen truffles