Cream Cheese Dainties

Snow in the Deep South is a rare sight, but that doesn’t keep us southerners from hopefully wishing for a white Christmas. These festive treats make a beautiful addition to your holiday table and add the appearance of “snowballs”. Be sure to give yourself a little time in the preparation of these treats as the 1-2 hour chill time is critical to their presentation and helps them bake evenly. Although these “snowballs” are far too tasty to throw, make plenty and enjoy them with those you love, give as gifts or bring to your next cookie swap.

Cream Cheese Dainties

Cream Cheese Dainties, (RRR II Pg. 215)

  • ½ cup butter or margarine
  • One 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups crisp rice cereal, coarsely crushed
  • Red and green candied cherries

 

Cream butter, cheese, sugar and almond flavoring until light. Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in butter mixture just until combined. Chill 1 to 2 hours. Shape into balls, roll in cereal and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Top each with a cherry. Bake at 350 degrees 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on racks. Makes 4 dozen.

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows

Turkey…baked, smoked, or fried? Should there be a ham, too? This is Louisiana after all, so will there be something freshly caught or hunted sitting on the table as well? Preparing Thanksgiving dinner can bring so many decisions, but one thing everyone can agree upon is that it’s simply not Thanksgiving without sweet potatoes. Published in the original 1959 River Road Recipes, Baked Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows is a dish that stands the test of time and continues to bring generations asking for a second helping. The sweet, autumn-spiced aroma is sure to fill your home welcoming guests to your table. Whether served as the essential side, or as a dessert option, it will be gobbled up by evening’s end!

Sweet Potatoes RRR Blog

Photo: Kaela Rodehorst Photography

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows (RRR I pg. 61)

  • 8 medium size sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ stick butter
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Few dashes of nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • Marshmallows

Bake sweet potatoes in a 350-degree oven until done. Peel hot potatoes and put through ricer until mashed. Scald milk and add vanilla, sugar, and butter. To potatoes add cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange juice. Stir. Add milk mixture to potatoes, a layer of marshmallows, remaining potatoes and bake at 350 degrees until very hot. Add a top layer of marshmallows and brown. Serves 8 to 10.

Caramel Apple Dip

As fall begins to show its face there are many wonderful things that come along with it. Beautiful leaves changing colors, the spirit of football, and the excitement of a new school year all warm our hearts in the fall. If any food makes one think of fall, it’s caramel covered apples. This recipe is an easy way to throw together a delicious dip conveniently for that last minute football party or when the kids decide that your house is the best hangout spot for the night. Although everyone loves a delicious caramel apple, no one enjoys the mess. This dip allows you to have the great taste of caramel apple without the mess! If kids are your crowd, consider also serving this dip with graham crackers, pretzels, ginger snaps, or vanilla wafers.

Caramel Apple Dip RRR Blog

 

Caramel Apple Dip (RRR IV, Warm Welcomes Pg. 184)

  • 4 Granny Smith apples, cut into wedges
  • 4 Red Delicious apples, cut into wedges
  • 2 liters lemon-lime soda
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ (12-ounce) jar caramel ice cream topping
  • ½ cup chopped pecans

Toss the apples with the soda in a bowl. Soak, covered, in the refrigerator for 8 to 10 hours. Beat the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a mixing bowl until creamy.

Caramel Apple Dip RRR Blog

Mound the cream cheese mixture in the center of a serving platter. Drizzle with the caramel topping and sprinkle with the pecans. Surround with the apple wedges, alternating the colors.

 

 

Hollydays, Shopping for a Cause

Hollydays_Logo_Update_FinalIt’s almost that time of year! Mark your calendars now and join us for Hollydays on October 5 to 8, 2016 at the Baton Rouge River Center. The River Road Recipes Cookbook Committee will be on hand sharing cookbook knowledge, offering samples, presenting cooking demonstrations, and selling all 4 of our beloved books. Check out this year’s special events, information about vendors, and market hours here!

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Member Spotlight: Dining with Our President, Kathy Victorian

Every Friday evening, my family has what we call a “special night.” I pick up our three year old daughter from daycare; we get “freats” (we are still working on that “tr” phonetic combo) – usually our favorite Talenti gelato to share and a nice bottle of Malbec for Mommy and Daddy; then we pick out a movie to watch as a family. One of her favorite  movies for nights like these is Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. At the beginning of the movie, Tiana’s dad, James, makes the following observation while helping his daughter make the perfect pot of gumbo: “You know the thing about good food? It brings folks together from all walks of life. It warms them right up and it puts little smiles on their faces.” I could not agree more!

Kathy Victorian, President of the Junior League of Baton Rouge, also knows that there is truly something special about sharing a meal with loved ones. Growing up, Kathy remembers fondly the meals she shared with her family. “My mom was an amazing cook, and I remember vividly her preparing a home cooked meal for us every day, but she made Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas magical in our home with her cooking.” Today, Kathy continues this tradition with her own family. “I LOVE to cook,” she says, “because cooking a meal is one of the most personal things I can do for someone. I’m literally providing plated ‘love’ made with my own hands and creativity – even if I’m following a recipe, I picked the recipe and planned the meal!

Kathy Victorian

Kathy Victorian, Junior League of Baton Rouge President 2016-2017

Like most of us, the typical weeknight dinner at Kathy’s house varies, depending on how busy everyone is. “The typical weeknight can consist of take out or a sit down dinner with my husband, Michael, but Sunday after church, my cooking skills are on display at Chateau Victorian!” One of Kathy and Michael’s favorite River Road Recipes is the Chicken Stew found on page 195 of River Road Recipes III – A Healthy Collection. Another favorite from RRR III is the Creamy Risotto, featured below. “I had never prepared homemade risotto until I got my hands on RRR III, and when I turned to the recipe, I found my elegant comfort food. Needless to say, I prepare this dish often.”

Kathy with friends enjoying a casual evening dinner at home.

(Left to right) Kimberly LaMotte, Kathy Victorian, Elisha Browder, and Brunetta Adams enjoying a Memorial Day Weekend cookout and surprise birthday party for Elisha! “Food always brings me and my loved ones together,” says Kathy. “Friends plus Family plus Food equals FUN!”

In addition to cooking at home, Kathy enjoys eating out. While she has several favorite Baton Rouge restaurants, Mansurs on the Boulevard takes the cake. “If I had to pick one,” Kathy says, “it would be Mansurs on the Boulevard simply because of their fantastic staff, and every meal I’ve eaten there has been Ahhhhhh-Mazing!” Whether dining out or trying a new recipe from the River Road Recipes collection like Kathy, or even just sharing store bought “freats” with your loved ones on the couch like my family, there are so many opportunities in the Red Stick to enjoy some “plated love” and create lasting memories with both friends and family alike.

Creamy Risotto, RRR III p. 132

This Creamy Risotto, as Kathy says, makes for an elegant comfort food that works well as a side or as the main dish!

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tub margarine
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 cup arborio rice or medium grain rice
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 3 1/2 cups defatted chicken stock, less salt
  • 1/3 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon saffron (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • Black pepper for seasoning
Aborio is an Italian short grain rice and can typically be found at most grocery stores on the grain aisle. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Aborio rice is an Italian short grain rice and can typically be found at most grocery stores on the grain aisle. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Heat oil and margarine. Sauté vegetables for five minutes. Add rice and stir for 30 seconds. Add wine and stir for one minute. Add stock, cheese, and spices. Simmer until the rice is tender but slightly firm to bite and the mixture is creamy, about 25 minutes. Season with pepper. Serve with extra Parmesan cheese if desired.

Creamy Risotto. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Creamy Risotto. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

This recipe has 208 calories, 6.4 grams of fat, and 511 milligrams of sodium per serving, which is over 5 grams less fat compared to the original! You can take the nutritional benefits a step further by omitting the olive oil and margarine and simply sautéing the vegetables in the chicken broth to save an additional 3.7 grams of fat and 33 calories per serving. Try using a sodium-free broth to cut additional sodium.

Maximizing Flavor While Minimizing Your Health Risks

Weight loss seems to be a topic of perpetual interest in our society. While we are bombarded daily with images of svelte models and fad diets, it can be easy to forget that the true goal is being healthy, not necessarily being thin. Unhealthy lifestyles lead to a variety of health issues, and unfortunately, this health crisis hits close to home. Baton Rouge is #1 in obesity in the country for cities of our size, and 1 in 3 children in Baton Rouge are obese.

What is Obesity?

Obesity it defined as having excess body fat. It is based on the Body Mass Index (BMI), which utilizes height and weight measurements. For adult men and women, a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is classified as overweight and a BMI larger than 30 is classified as obese. There is no absolute BMI that defines obesity in children; the CDC has standard reference charts (growth curves) depending on age. A BMI between the 85th and 95th percentiles is classified as overweight, and a BMI greater than the 95th percentile is classified as obese. Obesity affects all ages and increases risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and arthritis.  There isn’t one single cause for obesity; there are many contributing factors. Those include: genetics, environment, types of food eaten, lack of physical activity, medical conditions and side effects, and lack of access to fresh foods.

Lack of access to fresh foods, like healthy nuts and fruits, can lead to obesity. Areas with a lack of access to grocery stores and healthy food providers are known as "food deserts," and can typically be found in impoverished areas. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Lack of access to fresh foods, like healthy nuts and fruits, can lead to obesity. Areas with little or no access to grocery stores, farmer’s markets, or healthy food providers are known as “food deserts” and can typically be found in impoverished areas. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

Easy Tips for Cooking Light

While there are many factors contributing to obesity, eating better is a cornerstone to living a healthier lifestyle and reducing health risks. Contrary to popular belief, eating healthier doesn’t mean sacrificing on flavor. In fact, River Roads Recipes III is entirely devoted to “lightening” some of our favorite dishes while preserving the tastes we have grown to love. Additionally, River Roads Recipes III  contains helpful tips throughout on how to reduce calories, fat, sodium, and cholesterol. A few of these tips are listed below and can be incorporated into any recipe to make it healthier:

  • Cut the Fat
    • Use leaner cuts of meat and trim all visible fat
    • Limit dairy fat by using alternative skim or low fat products
    • Remove the skin from poultry and game
  • Reduce Sugar
    • Use 1/4 less sugar than the recipe calls for
    • Try substituting 1 cup of sugar for 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce
    • Try substituting 1/2 cup of fruit juice concentrate in place of 1 cup of sugar
  • Prepare Food Differently
    • Bake, broil, roast, or grill rather than frying or pan searing
    • Use non-stick skillets to cut back on the fat and oil called for in the recipe
    • Use more spices and herbs to enhance flavor and reduce your use of oils and butter
    • Toast nuts to achieve more flavor from smaller portions

Curried Chicken Salad with Mango Chutney, RRR III, p. 68

This is a great, quick and easy healthy recipe from our River Road Recipes III cookbook. Note how the recipe cuts down on the calories and fat found in traditional chicken salad recipes by removing the chicken skin, toasting the chopped walnuts, and using low calorie mayonnaise and nonfat dairy substitutes, yet maintains great flavor by adding the curry powder and mango chutney.

Curried Chicken Salad 3

Curried Chicken Salad from RRR III. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

  • 1 pound skinless chicken, cooked, and cubed
  • 2 cups seedless grapes or golden raisins (I like to cut these in half)
  • 2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup lightly toasted chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup low fat/low calorie mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • Lettuce leaves
  • 4 tablespoons mango chutney

In a bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients. Chill for 2-3 hours. Serve on lettuce leaves with mango chutney on the side. Serves 4.

Mango Chutney 2

Mango chutney served with fresh mango slices. Photo by Lauren De Witt.

*Nutrition Note: This recipe has 324 calories, 14.4 grams of fat, and 190 milligrams of sodium per serving. You can take the health benefits a step further by substituting the walnuts for 1/2 cup of chopped water chestnuts (this will reduce over 4 grams more fat per serving). You can also try using a fat free mayonnaise to trim an additional 4 grams of fat per serving.

After the Crawfish Boil: What to Do with Your Leftover Crawfish Tails

While other states may have more traditional seasons, we in Louisiana do not mark the passage of time with the usual spring/summer/fall/winter monikers. Instead, we observe Crawfish Season, Crab Season, Shrimp Season, and Oyster Season. As this year’s crawfish season draws to a close, we have a few helpful tips on how to extend the joy a few months longer.

Crawfish season typically spans March to June, and you will doubtless attend multiple crawfish boils during this time (to achieve the perfect crawfish boil, check out RRR IV, p. 211). While I personally aim to ensure  no boiled crawfish gets left behind uneaten, even the best of us will occasionally boil more than we can consume in a single afternoon. If refrigerated fairly quickly (within 2 hours of cooking or so), boiled crawfish can last around 3 days. Your best bet, however, is freezing the leftover tail meat.

Start by peeling the leftover crawfish tails, de-veining them, and removing the orange “mustard.” The mustard is high in fat and will spoil within two months, even if frozen. After peeling and cleaning, rinse the tail meat with water and lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Place the cleaned tail meat in a vacuum sealed or airtight, heavy-duty freezer bag and label the bag with the date. Your crawfish tails will keep up to six months!

When that crawfish craving hits you later in the year, thaw your frozen crawfish tails and use them in a wide variety of recipes. Some of my favorite classics include Crawfish Bisque (see RRR I p. 240) and Crawfish Étouffée (reprinted below, or see RRR II p. 129). If you’re looking for something a little more exotic, check out the Acadian Sushi Rolls in RRR IV, p. 40.

Crawfish Etouffee

Photo: Lauren De Witt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crawfish Étouffée, RRR II, p. 129

  • 1/4 pound butter (1 stick)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium bell pepper, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Red and black pepper to taste
  • Tabasco sauce to taste
  • 1-2 pounds crawfish tails and fat
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 chicken bouillon cubes, or equivalent
  • Green onion tops, chopped (optional)
  • Parsley, chopped (optional)

Melt the butter in a heavy large skillet. Sauté the vegetables in butter for 30 minutes. Add seasonings to taste and then the crawfish tails and fat. Sauté for a minute and then stir in flour. Continue sautéing for 3 minutes, then add water, chicken bouillon, and optional green onions and parsley. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, then serve over rice. Serves 4 to 6.

Note: Crawfish Étouffée also freezes well. Freeze it in family size or individual portions and thaw it later for a quick weeknight meal!

Lemon Cream Pie

Soon enough temperatures will begin to rise, days will get longer and invitations to barbeques, brunches and crawfish boils will be in abundance. Nothing says spring quite like a lemon pie.   Bright, sunny and deliciously tangy, I really can’t imagine a better dessert to compliment a barbeque feast or an Easter banquet. Make this pie your own by embellishing the top with lemon slices or wedges to make the perfect springtime statement.

Lemon Cream Pie, River Road Recipes Blog

Photo: Aimee Broussard

Lemon Cream Pie, (RRR IV-Warm Welcomes pg. 261)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) margarine, melted
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 baked (9 inch) pie shell
  • 1 cup whipping cream, whipped
  • 4 lemons, thinly sliced and twisted

Combine the sugar, cornstarch and lemon zest in a saucepan and mix well. Stir in the milk, lemon juice, and egg yolks. Cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in the margarine until blended. Let stand until room temperature.

Lemon Cream Pie, River Road Recipes Blog

Photo: Aimee Broussard

Add the sour cream to the lemon mixture and mix well. Spoon into the pie shell and spread the whipped cream, sealing to the edge. Top with the lemon twists. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.

Potato Chip Cookies

If your weekend plans involve getting together and watching the big game, we’ve got an easy treat that combines both salty and sweet in an irresistible cookie.  These Potato Chip Cookies often grace any of our community events tables and are the first samples we run out of. A cookie with crushed potato chips?! It’s the snack that will keep them coming back!

River Road Recipes Potato Chip Cookies

Photos: Aimee Broussard

Potato Chip Cookies, (RRR II: A Second Helping, Pg 210)

  • 2 cups butter (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
  • powdered sugar

Beat butter until light and fluffy- a long time! Add sugar and beat well. Add vanilla and flour gradually. Crush potato chips with your hand and add them last. Drop from teaspoon onto cookie sheets. Bake in a 350 degree oven until slightly brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. These keep well in a tightly closed tin- actually taste better the second or third day. Makes 9 to 10 dozen.

Originally submitted by Mrs. J. D. Guillory

Cookbook committee note: Cookie baking time will vary dependent on oven type and climate but typically take 8-12 minutes. For best results, begin monitoring the cookies at 9-10 minutes and remove when slightly browned.

potato chip cookies RRR Blog

Have a great weekend friends, we’ll see you back next Wednesday!