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.

Ingredients
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

Directions
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

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.

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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!

Red Stick Farmer’s Market

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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.

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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.

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

Chili Con Quotis

Lilly Pulitzer once famously said,“That’s what life is all about: Let’s have a party. Let’s have it tonight!” We here at River Road Recipes couldn’t agree more!  We love any excuse to throw a party, and casual, last minute affairs with a few close friends always seem to be the most fun. Whether you are planning a big shindig for Cinco de Mayo or hosting an impromptu girl’s night with your two best girlfriends, this delicious dip from River Road Recipes I has the perfect amount of spice and is a breeze to toss together. Once you’ve made it, be sure to share the fun – take a picture and tag it #RiverRoadRecipes!

Chili Con Quotis, RRR I p. 223

Chili Con Quotis, RRR I. Photo by Don Kadair.

Ingredients

  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/4 cup salad oil (olive oil)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons chopped green chili peppers
  • 1 lb processed cheese (like Velveeta)
  • 1 No. 2 Can (14.5 oz can) red tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Directions

  1. Saute onions and garlic in oil.
  2. Add peppers and Worcestershire sauce.
  3. Melt cheese in top of double boiler; add to cheese the chopped tomatoes along with onion mixture.
  4. Add cornstarch, stirring until thick.
  5. Serve hot in chafing dish and corn chips for dipping!

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.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Ingredients

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

Directions

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

A History of Spinach Madeleine

It goes without saying that Spinach Madeleine is hands down one of the most famous recipes in the River Road Recipes cookbook series. In fact, Spinach Madeleine was named as one of the Century’s Best Recipes in an article that appeared in the Houston Chronicle in December 1999. For many Baton Rougeans, no holiday dinner would be complete without this delicious dish! In honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, we wanted to highlight the history of this iconic recipe.

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

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

The recipe’s creator, Madeline Nevell Reymond, created this legendary recipe by accident.  She was a young and inexperienced cook when she decided to use up a jalapeno cheese roll that she had in her refrigerator by adding it to a spinach dish she was preparing for a ladies’ luncheon.  The result was a dish that became one the most popular special-occasion vegetable dishes in Louisiana.  This is evidenced every year by the empty freezers in the grocery stores at Christmas time after all the frozen spinach packages have been snatched up.

spinach-madeline-rrr-i

When Kraft Foods decided to discontinue making the jalapeno cheese roll, which is called for in the recipe, hundreds of distraught cooks called Kraft Foods to protest.   The powers-at be at Kraft were amused by Louisiana’s devotion to their jalapeno cheese roll, but discontinued the product anyway.  Fortunately, the River Road Recipes committee developed a new version of Spinach Madeleine in 2000 so that cooks can still serve this outstanding dish. A lighter version of the recipe appears in River Road Recipes III: A Healthy Collection.

spinach-madeline-rrr-i-modern

The recipe is versatile and can be served alone or as a warm appetizer dip with toast points or crackers. Spinach Madeleine also freezes well, so it can be made in advance of hectic holiday dinners! To make sure you have this holiday classic at your Thanksgiving table this year, check out the recipe here!

Member Spotlight: Hosting a Cocktail Party with Meghan Poole

No matter what political party you belong to, one party we can all agree on is a cocktail party! In honor of the upcoming election, Junior League member Meghan Poole shares with us some tips and tricks from a political campaign reception she and her husband recently hosted at their home. Meghan used the Cocktail Meet & Greet Menu on page 56 of River Road Recipes IV: Warm Welcomes and had rave reviews from her guests. Whatever get-together you may be having, political or otherwise, these recipes are sure to get bipartisan support!

Junior League member Meghan Poole.

Junior League member Meghan Poole.

Cocktail Meet & Greet Menu

My husband, Lamar, and I hosted a small reception for a friend who is running for a City Council seat. We had a similar reception last year for a state representative and used this menu then. The food was such a hit, that we prepared the recipes for a second time. Because our party was at six o’clock in the evening, dinner time, and guests made a contribution to attend, we supplemented the food with gumbo and rice from Pot & Paddle, and some sliced ham and rolls.

Meghan with her family on vacation.

Meghan with her family on vacation.

I prepared the turkey meat for the Toasted Canapés about a week in advance by boiling turkey legs and boneless/skinless breast in water seasoned with salt, pepper, onion, carrot, green bell pepper, celery, bay leaf and a few shakes of tobacco. I froze the broth and chopped meat in one cup portions to use in other recipes later.

I made the Blue Cheese Truffles, Pralines and Bourbon Pecan Tartlets in advance, and stored them in the freezer until the day of the party.

The party was on a Monday evening, so we spent Sunday afternoon preparing most of the food. I did the grocery shopping the day before on Saturday. There was nothing that had to be cooked the day of the party, which was a lifesaver. We both work full time, so cooking the day of was not an option.

I chopped two bunches of green onions before I started preparing the food, and that was enough for everything.

For the most part, these recipes are easy to follow and prepare. The most difficult recipes to cook  were the Toasted Canapés and the pralines because they require constant attention at the stove. Leaving them for just a small amount of time can cause them to burn.

Meghan enjoying an afternoon with her two sons.

Meghan enjoying an afternoon with her two sons.

Crowd favorites were the Crawfish Supreme, Crabmeat Green Goddess and Citrus-Glazed Sausage. The Southern Antipasto recipe doesn’t make a lot, but it’s the least popular dish on the menu. The Blue Cheese Truffles are great because they are small, rich and flavorful. They are easy for guests to pop in their mouths and pair perfectly with a glass of wine.

Southern Antipasto

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.

My son loves olives, and he requested to take the leftovers to school in his lunchbox.

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

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

Ingredients

  • 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 teasoon crushed dried red pepper

Directions

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

Serves 12

Blue Cheese Truffles

I made the cheese balls about a week before the party and stored them in a plastic container in the freezer with each layer separated with a piece of waxed paper. The morning of the party, I placed them in the refrigerator and they were perfect that evening. The recipe call for 3 cups of pecans, but 2 to 2.5 is enough. I have a lot of leftover pecans. I put the blue cheese and cream cheese in my stand mixer and let it do the work. I used the small end of my melon baller to make them, but will use the larger end next time. They were a bit too small for my liking. I sliced green apples about four hours before the party and put them in a quart-sized bag in the refrigerator with about 2-3 teaspoons of lemon juice to prevent browning.

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

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

Toasted Canapés

I couldn’t find pumpernickel rye bread at the grocery store, so I used dark rye bread. The recipe calls for 24 slices of bread, so I bought two loaves. I sliced the crusts off of the loaves and cut each piece into two triangles using an electric knife. One loaf of bread would have been sufficient because there wasn’t enough filling to go on each toast triangle. I cut the bread the afternoon of the party and stored it in gallon-sized bags until I was ready to make the toast triangles. I prepared the turkey mixture the day before the party and heated it in the microwave when I was ready to top the toast. The recipe was spicier and more flavorful than I’d expected, and I was pleasantly surprised with how it turned out. I served the canapés in a chaffing dish to keep them warm.

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

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

INGREDIENTS

  • 24 slices pupernickel 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 adn 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 adn 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

Crawfish Supreme & Crabmeat Green Goddess

Both of these recipes are served over a layer of cream cheese. I spread the cream cheese over the trays the day before the party, covered them with wax paper and set them in the refrigerator. When it was time to set the table for the party, I just spread the toppings over the cream cheese. They were both cold when served. I used Melba toast for the crawfish instead of preparing my own toast using French bread. I bought lump crabmeat and not jumbo lump crabmeat.

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

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

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 rbead 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.
  8. Roll or pat the cream cheese to cover the platter.
  9. Discard the waxed paper and spread with the crawfish mixture.
  10. Serve with the toasted bread slices.

Serves 10-12

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

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 hte cream cheese mixture just before serving.
  7. Garnish as desired and serve with assorted party crackers.

Serves 12

Citrus-Glazed Smoked Sausage

Sausage is always a party favorite, especially in South Louisiana! Veron’s Sausage is my family’s favorite, so that’s the brand served at the party. The day before the party, I followed the first two steps of the recipe, where the sausage was microwaved twice. I poured the marinade over the sausage, but didn’t return it to the microwave. Before the party began, I microwaved the sausage to heat it up, then poured everything into a chaffing dish for serving. This is the only recipe I doubled.

Citrus Glazed Smoked Sausage, RRR IV, p. ___. Photo by Meghan Poole.

Citrus Glazed Smoked Sausage, RRR IV, p. 60. Photo by Meghan Poole.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound smoked sausage, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine the sausage and green onions in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, covered, on High for 2 minutes; stir. Microwave for 1 minute longer.
  2. Whisk the oil, lemon juice, dry mustard, salt and pepper in a bowl until blended.
  3. Add the oil mixture to the sausage mixture and mix well.
  4. Microwave until just heated through.
  5. Serve with wooden picks. You may prepare in advance and reheat just before serving.

Serves 12

Microwave Pralines

I’ve tried to make this recipe more than once, and the pralines never turn out. I even burnt up a plastic bowl once trying to make these. Because microwaves are each a bit different, it’s difficult to develop a perfect recipe for them, especially for pralines because the temperature makes or breaks their success. My go-to praline recipe is Senator Ellender’s Creole Pralines on page 178 of RRR II, which I prepared for my River Roads obligation my provisional year. My cooking thermometer indicates when the temperature reaches “soft balls,” so I don’t have to throw cold water on the praline mixture to judge if they are ready or not. I prepared the pralines 5 days before the party and stored them in the freezer with each layer separated by a sheet of waxed paper. They thawed perfectly on the counter. There was no need to freeze them that close to the day of the party, but my family and I would have gobbled them up otherwise!

Bourbon Pecan Tartlets and Microwave Pralines, RRR IV, p. ___. Photo by Meghan Poole.

Bourbon Pecan Tartlets and Microwave Pralines, RRR IV, p. 61. Photo by Meghan Poole.

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 crea 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

Bourbon Pecan Tartlets

I prepared one and a half times the filling called for in the recipe because I had extra shells. The pastry shells are sold in packs of 15, so I had 45 when the recipe makes 3 dozen. I made these the same day as the blue cheese truffles, so they too went in the freezer with each layer separated by waxed paper. I thawed these on the counter top next to the pralines.

My son and I had fun making these together. He placed the chocolate pieces in each pastry shell, then proceeded to eat several just to make sure that they were okay!

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

Member Spotlight: Let Food Be Your Medicine with Betsy Buchert

Dr. Elizabeth “Betsy” Buchert operates her practice, Mint Health, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as both a conventional OB-GYN and a functional wellness practice. (Functional medicine is based on evidence that factors such as nutrition, sleep, exercise, stress levels, relationships and genetics are major contributors to disease.) She and her husband also have four young boys. In Betsy’s (limited!) spare time, she volunteers on the River Road Recipes Committee of the Junior League of Baton Rouge. 

Betsy with her husband and four boys.

Betsy with her husband and four boys.

“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”

Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, told us this during his times, which was from 460-370 B.C.

“The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

This comes from Thomas Edison, who lived from 1847 – 1931.

Well we know these two men are super smart, for sure, but unfortunately this is not how most of us approach our health at all, and it is definitely not how we approach our medical care!

I have to say, I LOVE food just as much as every other good Southerner.  I love eating most of all, but I also love cooking (preferably easy) nutritious, health promoting foods for myself, my family, and my friends.  I love the endless “I can’t believe how good this is” remarks I get when people eat at my house.  The secret is not that I am an amazing cook, but rather that I know the importance and amazingness of whole, fresh, local food,  AND I know the importance of avoiding processed, packaged foods – well, at least most of the time!  There is a reason all the new trendy restaurants are Farm-To-Table!

One of the talents I’ve become adept at in the kitchen (since I’ve learned Functional Medicine and definitely practice what I preach) is how to make substitutions, so we can keep eating the yummy foods we love, but in ways that are health promoting rather than health deteriorating.  So we can “youthen” rather than “age” – ugh! Who wants to age ungracefully?

Finding Healthier Alternatives

One area that can be tricky is having creamy dressings and party dips or spreads, so I was excited to find these two recipes in my copy of River Road Recipes I. The “Egg Salad Dressing” on page 23 of RRRI is fast, easy, creamy, delicious, and so good for you (versus the bottles of things you may buy in the store with unpronounceable, suspicious ingredients).  I made sure to use fresh, local, free range eggs, extra virgin olive oil (instead of “salad oil”), and the juice and grated rind from one fresh organic lemon rather than the prepackaged stuff  (and it is Meyer Lemon season right now – an extra plus!).  We ate this dressing mixed with a bunch of fresh assorted greens, like swiss chard and baby kale (it’s greens season, too!), the chopped whites of the eggs, some olives, and fresh brightly colored bell peppers.

The “Olive Egg Spread” on page 70 of RRR1 is also another good find, although I prefer to call it simply “Creamy Olive Dip.”  It’s a little spicy, very flavorful, creamy, and can be made filled with good-for-you ingredients.  We all ate it for dinner one night spread on a crunchy nutty toast (https://www.mynewroots.org/site/2013/02/the-life-changing-loaf-of-bread/), and my husband couldn’t help himself from polishing off the rest of the bowl with a spoon.  In this recipe, again I made sure to use fresh, local, free range eggs (the nutrient content is completely different from standard store bought eggs).  I also used raw organic apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar, ghee instead of butter, Dijon mustard instead of Durkees, and Kalamata black olives.   And the parsley and green onions come from local farmers (I order from indieplate.com at least once a week to keep a flowing supply of produce, eggs, and meats from our local farmers).  What a great spread of health promoting foods!

Betsy's Creamy Olive Dip served with Nutty Toast.

Betsy’s Creamy Olive Dip served with Nutty Toast.

Helping Others Find Lasting Health

Why am I so passionate about eating, serving, and teaching about the value of food as medicine and proactive health for life?  Not only am I an OB/GYN (and see all the time how not-their-best people feel and too many pregnancy complications), I am also a Functional Medicine doctor, and started my practice “Mint Health” at Woman’s Hospital to be able to offer women a better approach to lasting health.  Most people in our area of the South don’t know yet what Functional Medicine is all about (although it is all the rage in more progressive areas of the country!).  I’ll just say that the most fun I have as a doctor is helping people get to the bottom of metabolic issues, digestive issues, fatigue, hormone issues, headaches, amongst other common health concerns, to work on becoming HEALTHIER, rather than just trying to figure out what prescription is best to cover up a bothersome symptom.  Many people also come to us at Mint Health to learn how to proactively support their own health and their children’s health, knowing that without learning and being progressive, they will at some point (probably sooner than later) end up not feeling so great, just like the average American.  Health starts in the womb and goes until the ripest of age!

If you are interested in learning more, I regularly give seminars to help people understand what Functional Medicine is and how you can change your health outlook and your family’s health:  see http://myminthealth.com/events/ to register – the next one is October 25th and it’s almost full!  I also share lots of fun information on personal and family health at https://www.facebook.com/MintHealth/. We’ll see you there!

Betsy’s Creamy Olive Dip

Adapted from the Olive Egg Spread recipe, River Road Recipes I, p. 70

Betsy's recommended substitutions for RRR I's Olive Egg Spread.

Betsy’s recommended substitutions for RRR I’s Olive Egg Spread.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole egg
  • 5 egg yolks
  • A little less than 1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Large bottle of Kalmata olives
  • 4-6 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 4 green onions (tops only)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Fresh is best! Betsy recommends using fresh, local, and organic ingredients as often as possible.

Fresh is best! Betsy recommends using fresh, local, and organic ingredients as often as possible.

Directions

  1. Chop the olives, green onion tops, and parsley. Beat the eggs thoroughly.

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2. Heat Apple Cider Vinegar to boiling point, adding 1 teaspoon of water before heating to cut the vinegar.

3. Pour boiling vinegar into eggs, beating constantly.

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4. Place egg and vinegar mixture in sauce pan over heat and stir until it thickens.

5. Remove from the heat and add the ghee, then add the Dijon mustard, chopped Kalmata olives, green onions, chopped parsley, salt, and Tabasco.

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6. Enjoy over mixed greens with a side of Nutty Toast!

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JLBR Member Spotlight: Celebrating Hollydays with Renee Skinner

Hollydays_Logo_Update_Final

It’s nearly the most wonderful time of the year – Hollydays! Hollydays is the Junior League of Baton Rouge’s largest fundraiser. Since Hollydays began 32 years ago, it has raised over $6 million dollars for the Baton Rouge community! In the past 32 years, Hollydays has raised over $6 million dollars for the Baton Rouge Community. These funds directly support our community projects: Diaper Cooperative, Kids in the Kitchen, Patient Activity Days, Breast Health Awareness, The Little Bookshelf, Building Blocks to Bright Futures, and Ready Hands.

For many, including this year’s Hollydays Chairman, Renee Skinner, Hollydays is the “kick-off” of the holiday season. With over 200 merchants to browse, Renee says that Hollydays is where “my Christmas shopping officially begins and I officially feel like I move from Summer to Fall. Last year at the Hollydays market I purchased the most beautiful tea towels from a vendor that I used to package my favorite River Road Recipe—the Sugar and Spice Pecans from the Warm Welcomes cookbook.  I make these pecans every Christmas for my neighbors, children’s teachers, doctors, etc. They are so simple to make and always a crowd pleaser. They are great to snack on by themselves, on top of cheese, or even on top of ice cream.   Last year, by wrapping them in the beautiful Christmas tea towels with a pretty ribbon, it made it an even more special gift.  I am not very artistic or crafty, but they turned out beautiful.  Nothing beats a homemade gift.  I can’t wait to see what I can find at Hollydays this year to package them in!”

River Road Recipes:W arm Welcomes Sugar and Spice Pecans, wrapped in a beautiful tea towel Renee purchased at Hollydays last year, make the perfect gift! Photo by Renee Skinner.

River Road Recipes:W arm Welcomes Sugar and Spice Pecans, wrapped in a beautiful tea towel Renee purchased at Hollydays last year, make the perfect gift! Photo by Renee Skinner.

Hollydays 2016 kicks off with Blitzen’s Bash on October 5, 2016 and continues through Saturday, October 8, at the Baton Rouge River Center. We hope you’ll join us for great shopping, entertainment, special events, food, music and more. You can purchase tickets and learn more about some of the special events at this year’s Hollydays at www.hollydays.org.

Sugar and Spice Pecans, RRR IV, p. 255

In addition to making a great gift, these pecans are a great snack for cocktail parties and the like!

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Servings: 4 cups

Photo by Jessica McVea.

Photo by Jessica McVea.

Kitchen Tools:

  • Mixing bowl
  • Baking Sheet
  • Wooden spoon or spatula
  • Measuring spoons

InGredients:

Photo by Jessica McVea.

Photo by Jessica McVea.

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

Directions:

  1. Toss the pecans with the butter in a bowl Add a mixture of the sugar, brown sugar, seasoning blend, and curry powder to the pecan mixture and mix well.
  2. Spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast at 275° for 45 minutes, stirring at 15-minute intervals.
Photo by Jessica McVea.

Photo by Jessica McVea.

3. Remove the pecans to a plate and let stand until cool. Stir in an airtight container.

Photo by Jessica McVea.

Photo by Jessica McVea.

Photo by Jessica McVea.

Photo by Jessica McVea.

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

KITCHEN TOOLS:

  • 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.

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

INSTRUCTIONS:

  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.

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.

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.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.