River Road Recipes Potato Chip Cookies

Potato Chip Cookies

This sweet and salty treat is found in River Road Recipes II: A Second Helping on page 210. Check out our original post here!

River Road Recipes Potato Chip Cookies

Photo by Aimee Broussard.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8 to 12 minutes

Level of Difficulty: Medium

Servings: 9-10 dozen

KITCHEN TOOLS:

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

INGREDIENTS:

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo 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)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  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.
Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

3. Add vanilla and flour gradually and mix.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

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

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

5. Drop batter from teaspoon onto cookie sheets.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo 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!

Potato Chip Cookies- River Road Recipes Blog

Photo by Aimee Broussard.

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.

Black Bean Salad

This quick and easy side dish is found in River Road Recipes IV on page 274. While excellent as a side dish, this black bean salad is also quite tasty when eaten as a “dip” with tortilla chips!

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes, plus 2 hours of refrigeration time (optional)

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Servings: 6

KITCHEN TOOLS:

  • Measuring spoons
  • Wooden spoon
  • Mixing bowl
  • Chopping knife and cutting board
  • Can opener
  • Colander

INGREDIENTS:

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

  • 1 (12-ounce) can Shoe Peg corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (11-ounce) can tomatoes with green chiles, drained (such as Rotel)
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Gather kitchen tools and ingredients. Using a chopping knife and a cutting board, chop the green onions. Open the cans of black beans and the shoe peg corn and drain and rinse. Open the can of tomatoes with green chiles and drain.
  2. Combine the corn, beans, tomatoes, green onions, vinegar, and olive oil in a salad bowl and mix well.
Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

3. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Chocolate Fudge Turtles

This decadent dessert is found in River Road Recipes I on page 212. While fairly easy to make, this recipe is considered of medium difficulty due to the time involved. The majority of the ingredients, including the evaporated milk and the marshmallow creme, can be found on the baking aisle of your grocery store. To store your Chocolate Fudge Turtles, layer them between sheets of parchment paper to ensure they do not stick together.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes, plus at least 6 hours of refrigeration time

Level of Difficulty: Medium

Servings: 5 pounds of chocolate turtles

KITCHEN TOOLS:

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Wooden spoon
  • Spatula
  • Mixing bowl
  • Food processor or chopping knife and cutting board
  • Large pot
  • 9×13″ cake pan
  • Butter knife

INGREDIENTS:

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

  • 4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • One 8-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 3 packages chocolate chips
  • 5 ounces marshmallow creme
  • 1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 pound chopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Gather kitchen tools and ingredients. Using a chopping knife and a cutting board, roughly chop one cup of pecans or use a food processor. Using extra butter, grease the 9×13″ cake pan.
Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

2.  Stir the sugar and evaporated milk together in a large pot. Bring the mixture to boil and boil gently for 9 minutes – make sure to watch carefully to ensure it does not boil over as the mixture becomes somewhat frothy. Stir occasionally.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

3.  Remove the mixture from the heat and add the chocolate chips, butter, marshmallow creme, and vanilla extract. Stir until well blended and until the chocolate bits are melted.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

4.  Add the nuts to the mixture and combine.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

5.  Pour the mixture into the buttered cake pan, using the spatula to scrape out the inside of the pot. Be sure to run water in your pot immediately after transferring the mixture to make for easier clean up!

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

6.  Refrigerate the mixture for at least 6 hours. After the mixture is cold all the way through, use the butter knife to cut into small squares for serving.

Photo by Don Kadair.

Photo by Don Kadair.

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

KITCHEN TOOLS:

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

INGREDIENTS:

img_0699

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

  • 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

INSTRUCTIONS:

  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.

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.

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.

Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Festive Orzo Salad

Even though the summer may be wrapping up and tailgate season is kicking off, the temperature in South Louisiana is still sweltering in the 90 degree range.  For us, tailgating is considered a time honored tradition —  we love spending our Saturdays with friends and family under the Oaks, waiting for the band from Tigerland to come marching down the hill!

On any given Saturday during football season, you will find a menagerie of food being cooked on the parade grounds at LSU — anything from jambalaya, crawfish étouffeé, fried catfish, boudin balls, to gumbo.  As football season wears on, it’s always difficult to know what to take to a tailgate. You don’t want to break the bank in the process of feeding the masses, yet you want to be able to bring something that is not the “same ole, same ole.”  The Festive Orzo Salad in River Road Recipes IV: Warm Welcomes, is a nice addition to this year’s tailgate menu!  You can also add grilled chicken breasts or shrimp to make it a hearty entrée!

Photo by Jessica McVea.

Photo by Jessica McVea.

Festive Orzo Salad, RRR IV, p. 243
Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 3/4 cup light olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar

Salad

  • 1 bunch asparagus spears
  • 16 ounces orzo
  • 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 (2-ounce) can black olives, drained
  • 1 small red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 purple onion, chopped
  • 1/2 (8-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Photo by Jessica McVea.

Photo by Jessica McVea.

For the vinaigrette, combine the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and sugar in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and seal tightly.  Shake to blend.

For the salad, snap off the woody ends of the asparagus spears.  Steam until tender-crisp; drain.  Cut each spear into 4 or 5 portions.  Cook the pasta using the package directions; drain.

Combine the pasta, artichokes, olives, bell peppers, onion and sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl and mix well.  Add the vinaigrette and toss to coat.  Add the asparagus, cheese and basil and mix gently.  Marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for 2 to 10 hours. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Photo by Jessica McVea.

Photo by Jessica McVea.

Community Project Spotlight: Diaper Cooperative

In recent weeks, parts of south Louisiana, including the greater Baton Rouge area, were devastated by historic, unprecedented flooding. Thousands of homes were destroyed and thousands of families in our community were displaced. In the weeks that have followed this natural disaster, one of the Junior League of Baton Rouge’s newest community projects, the Diaper Cooperative, has been working overtime to ensure infants in our community continue to have access to diapers, wipes, and formula. This week’s blog post highlights the Diaper Cooperative and includes a quick and easy Cinnamon Apples baby food recipe that you can make at home!

Junior League of Baton Rouge members receiving a large donation of diapers, wipes, and formula from the Junior League of New Orleans. All My Sons Moving and Storage helped deliver these items to the Cortana storefront, where JLBR members helped distribute items to families in need.

Junior League of Baton Rouge members receiving a large donation of diapers, wipes, and formula from the Junior League of New Orleans. All My Sons Moving and Storage helped deliver these items to the Cortana storefront, where JLBR members helped distribute items to families in need.

About the JLBR Diaper Cooperative

During a baby’s first year, families can expect to change approximately 2,500 dirty diapers! The cost of disposable diapers can run at least $600 per year, not including the cost of wipes and diaper creams. While using cloth diapers can save a considerable amount of money, they present a much larger up-front expense. Given the high costs of caring for such a basic need for infants, many people are surprised to learn that diapers are one of the few items not covered by WIC or Food Stamps, making it extremely challenging for low-income families to afford and access clean diapers.

The impact of this problem goes far deeper than you might imagine. Improper diapering can lead to painful diaper rashes and urinary tract infections, which can eventually lead to fever, jaundice, and even renal failure. Poor diapering also contributes to the spread of infectious diseases like Hepatitis A and viral meningitis. Treatment of these infections requires doctor visits and medical care, adding additional expenses to families already struggling to make ends meet. Additionally, sick children or children whose families cannot afford sufficient diapers cannot attend daycare, compounding the economic issues faced by these families by making it even more difficult for family members, particularly single mothers, to continue working.

In 2014, after learning of the long-lasting impact on families and communities that something as small as diaper need can have, Junior League member Eunice McCarney launched the Diaper Project Planning and Implementation Committee and led a team of seven League members to investigate, research, and plan the existence of a significant diaper need in the Baton Rouge community. After spending the year interviewing local community agencies and organizations, looking at the statistics, reaching out to other Junior League chapters around the country, learning that there is only one Diaper Bank in Louisiana (and none in East Baton Rouge Parish!), the JLBR Diaper Cooperative Committee was born.

JLBR President Kathy Victorian with JLBR member Quanda Charles delivering diapers to the Jewel J. Newman Community Center.

JLBR President Kathy Victorian with JLBR member Quanda Charles delivering diapers to the Jewel J. Newman Community Center.

In the short amount of time that the Diaper Cooperative Committee has been in existence, the Committee has already had a significant and meaningful impact in the Baton Rouge area, organizing and implementing multiple diaper drives over the course of the last year and collecting thousands of diapers to distribute to low-income families in our community. More recently, in the wake of the historic flooding that has devastated the area, the Junior League of Baton Rouge has distributed over 150,000 diapers to relief agencies and shelters in our community.

How You Can Help

To learn more about this issue and how you can get involved, donate diapers, or make a monetary contribution, please visit the Junior League of Baton Rouge website. You can also search for diaper banks in your area or learn about starting a diaper bank in your community on the National Diaper Bank Network website.

JLBR Members working to distribute diapers to families in need following the historic flooding in south Louisiana.

JLBR Members working to distribute diapers to families in need following the historic flooding in south Louisiana.

Introducing Your Littlest Family Member to the World of Food

In addition to proper diapering, another major key to keeping your baby healthy, of course, is proper nutrition! Making your own baby food at home is a great way to introduce your child to the love of cooking and healthy eating at an early age. Additionally, it allows you to use fresh, local, organic ingredients in your baby’s diet. If you are interested in making your own baby food, this easy Cinnamon Apples baby food recipe from the food blog My Diary of Us by Leigh Ann Chatagnier is a great place to start!

Leigh Ann, a Houston resident with Louisiana ties, is a food enthusiast, photographer, and stylist who recently had her first baby. Once her son Parks was old enough to begin trying solid foods, she was excited to begin “exploring the world of food with him.” Leigh Ann recommends starting simple at the beginning stages so that your baby can gradually adjust to eating solid foods. The first recipe she tried was a classic – cinnamon apples. “One of the best first fruits to introduce is apples and adding a little cinnamon just gives babies a little something extra to help develop their palettes.” Check out Leigh Ann’s original post here!

Cinnamon Apple Recipe – My Diary of Us

Cinnamon+Apples-Baby+Food-+My+Diary+of+Us 3

Photo by Leigh Ann Chatagnier.

Ingredients:

  • 6 organic Apples
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup of water
Photo by Leigh Ann Chatagnier.

Photo by Leigh Ann Chatagnier.

Directions:

Peel and core apples.  (Leigh Ann recommends doing a rough peel, leaving some skin on for extra fiber.) Rough chop the apples and add to a saucepan with the water and the cinnamon. Simmer the apples for 15-20 minutes or until apples are tender.  Add more water as the apples simmer if needed. Add cooked cinnamon apples to a food processor or a high powered blender and process until smooth. Pour apples into baby food storage trays (or ice trays) and freeze for 3 weeks. Food will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.

Cinnamon+Apples-Baby+Food-+My+Diary+of+Us 2

Photo by Leigh Ann Chatagnier.

JLBR Member Spotlight: Back to School with Candice Kidder

Back to school: that time of year when your already busy life becomes even more complicated. School supplies, uniforms, meet-the-teachers, carpool, homework help, and endless after school piano lessons, sports, and dance lessons – the list goes on and on! With so much to do and only twenty-four hours in day, it’s a wonder any of us find time to take care of the never-ending to-do lists.

Candice and family enjoying a well-deserved beach vacation!

Candice and family enjoying a well-deserved beach vacation!

Candice Kidder, Vice President of the Junior League’s Marketing and Communications Council, can certainly sympathize. With three growing children and a demanding in-League placement, Candice finds the recipes in the “After School Snack” section (pages 48-51) of River Roads Recipes IV: Warm Welcomes, to be a lifesaver during this time of year.

The Kidder family celebrating last Christmas.

The Kidder family celebrating last Christmas.

“My kids (especially my boys) come home from school STARVING so the Miniature Pizzas and the Banana Berry Smoothie are hits in my house. My boys adore smoothies!” she says. Additionally, Candice is looking forward to adding the homemade granola recipe to the family’s regular morning routine this school year. “[We] usually have yogurt, fruit, and cereal, but the granola sounds yummy and healthy!”

Whether you have young kids starting back to school or perhaps you are just in need of some quick and easy snacks to enjoy yourself, the following recipes are just a few of the great options found in River Road Recipes IV, Warm Welcomes!

Grape Ape Smoothie, RRR IV, p. 50

Photo by Jessica McVea.

Photo by Jessica McVea.

  • 1 (12-ounce) can ginger ale or club soda, chilled
  • 1/2 (6-ounce) can froze grape juice concentrate
  • 6 ice cubes

Process the ginger ale and grape juice concentrate in a blender until smooth. Add the ice cubes 1 at a time, processing constantly until of a slushy consistency. Pour into 2-3 glasses and serve immediately.

Photo by Jessica McVea.

Photo by Jessica McVea.

Other delicious smoothie options in the “After School Snack” section of River Road Recipes IV that your kids will go nuts for include Perfectly Peachy, Strawberry Smoothie, Count Choc-Ula, and Pineapple Freeze! Each recipe makes just 2-3 glasses and uses frozen or canned fruit or juice concentrate, making these quick, easy snacks to whip up when the kids get home from school.

Photo by Jessica McVea.

Photo by Jessica McVea.

Homemade Granola, RRR IV, p. 51

  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 (12-ounce) package frozen coconut
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine the oats, coconut, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and wheat germ in a 9×13-inch baking pan and mix well. Bake at 300º for 30 minutes, stirring several times.

Combine the brown sugar, honey, oil, butter, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla. Combine the oats mixture and brown sugar mixture in a bowl and toss to coat. Return the mixture to the baking pan.

Bake at 300º for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Let stand until cool. Store in an airtight container.

This Homemade Granola recipe makes 10 cups, making it a great bulk recipe you can make ahead and keep stored in the pantry. The granola can be enjoyed as a cereal with milk or with dried fruit, and you can also make nutritious granola-topped parfaits to keep in the refrigerator for a quick grab-and-go treat for breakfast to save time during those hectic weekday mornings.

Granola Topped Parfait

Layer one-half cup of your favorite fresh or canned fruit in the bottom of a large, disposable plastic cup, top with one-half cup of yogurt or cottage cheese, and finish with one-half cup of Homemade Granola on top. Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate, and stock up on some disposable spoons for easy clean-up in the event you decide to bring it to work or need to eat on-the-go.

Miniature Pizzas, RRR IV, p. 51

Photo by Jessica McVea.

Photo by Jessica McVea.

  • 4 miniature bagels, cut into halves
  • 1 cup spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 8 slices pepperoni (optional)
  • Sliced green or black olives (optional)

Arrange the bagel halves cut side up on a baking sheet. Spread each half with some of the spaghetti sauce. Layer with the cheese, pepperoni, and olives. You can experiment with toppings, too, depending on what your family enjoys. Classic pizza toppings like bell peppers, mushrooms, sausage, or even pineapple make great options!

Bake at 400° for 7 to 10 minutes or until the cheese melts. Cool slightly before serving.

Makes 8 pizzas.

RRR IV Minature Pizza p 51 photo Jessica McVea

Photo by Jessica McVea.

Community Project Spotlight: Ready Hands!

After our son was born, my husband and I were amazed at the outpouring of love from friends and family – most of which came in the form of food! Nearly every day for weeks after he was born, church members, coworkers, friends, and family members stopped by to ooh and ahh over our bundle of joy and bring us dinner. It was a lifesaver during this chaotic time. As we struggled to adjust to life caring for both a newborn and a toddler and trying to stay on top of all our other responsibilities, having these “extra hands” to take care of one of our family’s basic needs truly meant the world to us.

Through its Ready Hands! committee, the Junior League of Baton Rouge lends an extra hand to nonprofit organizations hosting events throughout the Baton Rouge community. Ready Hands! touches nearly every aspect of our community, and Junior League members volunteer thousands of hours each year assisting organizations who fit within the League’s mission by providing brown bag lunches, frozen casseroles, handing out water at 5ks, assisting with registration at events, playing bingo with residents at Oak Park Plaza for their birthdays each month, preparing and assisting for luncheons and fundraisers, and countless other acts of service. If your nonprofit organization needs assistance for an upcoming event, learn more about Ready Hands! here!

Chicken-Spaghetti Casserole, River Road Recipes I, p. 129

This Chicken-Spaghetti Casserole is a great dish to bring to someone in need of an extra hand. As a bonus, kids love it too, making this dish a crowd pleaser for the entire family. Make it ahead and simply pop it back in the oven to reheat when you are ready to serve. The recipe makes 8-10 servings, so I recommend making it in two separate casserole dishes. You can keep one dish for your family and bring the other to a friend in need!

  • 1 large hen
  • 1 stick butter or oleo
  • 3 medium onions, minced
  • 2 bell peppers, minced
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups canned tomatoes
  • One 16-ounce package spaghetti (Angel Hair or similar)
  • 1/4 pound mild cheese, grated
Photo by Leslie Ellis.

Photo by Leslie Ellis.

Boil the hen in enough water to make 2 quarts of stock. Sauté the onions, peppers, celery, and garlic in butter. Add 1 quart stock and tomatoes to the pan and simmer together. Bone the chicken and cut into  large pieces. Mix with the sauce and put it in the casserole dish. Add the cooked and drained spaghetti to the remaining quart of chicken stock, and mix well with the chicken and the sauce. Bake for 40 minutes at 350°, sprinkle with the grated cheese, and continue baking for an additional 20 minutes.

Photo by Leslie Ellis.

Photo by Leslie Ellis.

In a hurry? Modify this recipe by simply picking up a freshly cooked rotisserie chicken and a two quarts of ready made chicken stock at the grocery store instead of cooking your own hen!

Serves 8-10.

Member Spotlight: Eating Seasonally with JLBR Member Erin Nugent

Seasonal. Local. Organic. These are the culinary buzzwords of the last few years. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s almost impossible to have missed the “farm to table” movement that is dominating the national food scene. While eating seasonally and sourcing food locally may be a hot new trend for the rest of the country, in Louisiana, it’s something we have been doing for generations. In fact, we mark our seasons not by the changing temperatures, but instead by the available local fare: celebrating crawfish season in the spring, crab (and snoball!) season in the summer, shrimp season in the fall, and oyster and wild game seasons in the winter.

For Junior League member Erin Nugent, seasonal and local cooking comes naturally. With familial roots in Louisiana, Erin learned early on how to turn seasonal cooking and entertaining into a lifestyle. She was first introduced to the River Road Recipes collection by her mother in law, Simone Nugent. Drawing inspiration from Louisiana’s unique seasons and agrarian surroundings, Erin’s passion for incorporating seasonal and local ingredients into everyday recipes eventually led her and close friend Lauren Beth Landry to co-author Five Seasons, a regional cookbook devoted to “celebrat[ing] natural beauty and explor[ing] the versatility of seasonal ingredients.”

Erin with friend and co-author Lauren Beth Landry at one of their favorite spots in Baton Rouge. Photo from Five Seasons.

Erin with friend and co-author Lauren Beth Landry at one of their favorite spots in Baton Rouge. Photo from Five Seasons.

“Eating seasonally is more cost efficient, the produce tastes better, and it’s fun!” says Erin. “As they say, variety is the spice of life, and varying my produce from season to season not only forces me to be creative, it balances my diet.” Shopping at Whole Foods and the Redstick Farmer’s Market Saturday mornings in downtown Baton Rouge for the freshest, local ingredients, Erin cooks nearly every night of the week. “We eat at the table — no phones or TV. Sharing a meal each day is very important to me so we’ve done this since day one, but it’s especially important now because we put the baby to bed first, so it’s catch up time for [my husband] Justin and I (although it will also be nice when Oliver can stay up late enough to join us).” On the occasions when Erin does eat out, Baton Rouge restaurant Beausoleil is one of her favorites.

Erin sharing one of her favorite meals at Beausoleil with son Oliver: the fried oyster salad (substitute grilled shrimp) and a glass of the Whispering Angel rose`. Photo by Erin Nugent.

Erin sharing one of her favorite meals at Beausoleil with son Oliver: the fried oyster salad (substitute grilled shrimp) and a glass of the Whispering Angel rose`. Photo by Erin Nugent.

One of Erin’s favorite recipes is Chicken Pomodoro. “The chicken cooks down until shredded in a medley of fresh tomatoes, wine, and herbs so it’s light enough for warmer months, but also savory due to the addition of Parmesan cheese rinds — the perfect combination.” Her favorite dessert, found in the Five Seasons cookbook, is a Pavlova with lavender whipped cream and berries. “Berries are delicious right now!” notes Erin.

Pavlova with Lavender Whipped Cream and Fresh Berries. Photo from Five Seasons.

Pavlova with Lavender Whipped Cream and Fresh Berries. Photo from Five Seasons.

While cooking local recipes and ingredients is her forte, Erin is also not afraid to try things outside her comfort zone. “My stepfather is from Boston,” says Erin, “so every year, his family sends us live Maine lobsters. Boiling them is still a little scary for me, but they are fun to eat and so delicious — you can definitely taste the freshness!”

Like Five Seasons, the River Road Recipes collection draws inspiration from the ingredients and traditions that make Louisiana unique. Long considered “the textbook of Louisiana cooking,” Country Roads Magazine recently noted in its April 2016 article “By the Book,” by Lucie Monk Carter and Anne Monk, that the River Road Recipes collection, and others like it, “act as cultural totems – keeping Louisiana cooking traditions alive and accessible to the modern cook.” “These cookbooks act as extensions of the neighborhoods, towns, and cities in which they are founded. More so than most mass-produced cookbooks, River Road Recipes . . . and the like list the author’s name with every recipe, adding a layer of familiar—almost neighborly—assurance.”

This week, we encourage you to celebrate whatever is being harvested in your region currently by trying something new in your own kitchen. If you’re in the Louisiana area, okra, summer squash, corn, bell peppers, and eggplant all make great contenders. If you need inspiration, trust the “neighborly assurance” found in the tried and true recipes from your “neighbors” at River Roads Recipes or Five Seasons!

Corn Fritters, River Road Recipes I, page 40

While corn is typically considered a spring crop, ears of corn still abound during the summer months in Louisiana. You can use fresh corn from your local farmers’ market  or your community shared agriculture box to make these delicious corn fritters, which pair perfectly with an evening summer fish fry!

Fresh ears of corn from Luckett Farms. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Fresh ears of corn from Luckett Farms. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups drained corn
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
After frying up your fish, drop spoonfuls of the corn fritter mixture into the hot oil to cook. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

After frying up your fish, drop spoonfuls of the corn fritter mixture into the hot oil to cook. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Beat eggs and stir in milk, flour, and other ingredients. Drop from spoon in deep fat until brown. Note: you can get creative and add different spices, cheese, or even jalapeños to change up this recipe!

Serves 6 to 8.

Hot, freshly cooked corn fritters. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Hot, freshly cooked corn fritters. Photo by Lauren De Witt.