Andouille and Shrimp Jamba-Gumbo-Laya

8oz. frozen raw shrimp (tail and shell on)
8-12oz Andouille sausage

These were both frozen, and that's a good way to begin.  Remove tails (and shells) from the shrimp, when thawed a bit.  

When the andouille is thawed enough to cut, cut it in rounds, then halves, and some in quarters.  Let both of these thaw together in the large, heavy pot you'll be using.  When they're completely thawed, scoop out the shrimp, cut each one in half, and set them aside.  Do NOT drain liquid from the pot.  Add a little herbed olive oil, toss everything around, then add a cup or two of water.  Bring to a simmer, cover and let slowly simmer, for 30-45 minutes, checking occasionally to be sure there is still water in the pot.  If it gets low, add another cup.  After this, cool a little, then get all the shells out and discard.  While the andouille and shrimp tails-shells are simmering, prep the following vegetables:

1 lg. carrots - sliced
2 lg. ribs of celery - sliced
5 multi-colored mini peppers - chopped
2T garlic--fresh or jarred in olive oil - minced
1-2T herbed olive oil 
½t ground oregano
1t coarse ground garlic salt 
1t fresh ground black pepper
1t Creole, Cajun or Italian seasoning
1 14.5oz can petite diced tomatoes
1t sugar, brown or white, or honey
½-¾c rice (white, wild, brown and/or red)
1/2c celery heart tops

2 14.5oz cans okra - drained but not rinsed
the shelled--de-tailed shrimp

Slice, chop and mince all the vegetables into a medium size bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients in this group, then toss, several times, marinating in lots of flavor, until the shrimp tails and shells are out of the pot.

Put the contents of this bowl into the pot, with more water now, if needed.  Simmer, covered for half an hour, to an hour or longer, depending on which type of rice you're using and its cooking time.  Add more water if needed, with some chicken soup base, return to a simmer.  
Now add the okra and shrimp.  GENTLY fold those in, so as not to break them up.  Watch, stir gently, and pay attention to the shrimp.  As soon as it begins to turn a coral color, shut off the heat and serve.  This would be great just as it is, a big steamy bowl of it!  Or you could add some slices of a well-buttered, crusty ciabatta, French bread, or sourdough.  Oh my. . .this turned out SO well!  It's great the first day and even better chilled, heated and served the following day. . .Lin

Chicken Vegetable Soup

1# chicken breast meat
½ med. onion, chopped
3T butter and/or olive oil
1T granulated roasted garlic
1-2t Rosemary Seasoning*
1c water
3 carrots, cut in chunks
3 ribs of celery - sliced
1 lg. turnip (or potatoes) cubed**
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
1-2t sugar or honey
2c water

Cut the chicken into whatever size pieces you'd like, pat the meat dry.  Put into a cast iron Dutch oven with the onion and butter-oil.  Heat to a sizzle, stirring, to keep the meat from sticking.  After about 5 minutes, add seasonings, stir to coat, then pour in the water.  Let this simmer, covered 10 minutes.  Add everything else to the pot, stir to mix, then simmer, covered another 30-45 minutes.

This goes together fast, and is ready to eat after just a little gentle cooking.  As it is, or with the elimination of the tomatoes, and the addition of a 1" cube of ginger - chopped, juice and zest of 1 lemon,  it would be a great 'sick' soup when you're trying to avoid the flu or a cold, recovering from one, or just need something hot and healthy when you want to recover from eating or drinking indiscriminately.  Cook Well - Feel Well . . . Lin

Little Smokies With Beans & Beets

1 14oz. pkg Little Smokies - cut in half
½ lg. onion - sliced and/or chopped
2T butter or oil
2 med.-lg. beets - scrubbed rough chopped
1 15oz. can black beans - drained and rinsed
1 22oz. can barbecue style beans - undrained

In a nice heavy pot 😉 combine the first 3 ingredients and stir, while sizzling, until the butter is all melted and everything's well coated.  Five minutes or so  Add the beets and cover, simmer-sizzle on low heat, for 15 minutes, adding a little bit of water if needed.  If you have a heavy-well fitting pot and lid, it will draw the moisture out of the ingredients and water won't be necessary 😊

Check the beets to be sure they're cooked to your liking, then add the beans and stir gently.  Cover and heat on low, until the whole pot is bubbling quietly for several minutes to be sure all the beans are heated.  Serve with a hearty Spicy Cornbread*  (Ahhh, I love my new Lodge** brand cast iron skillet and Dutch oven!  Could you tell?) 😋 These can be found on eBay as well as in some of the 'big box' stores.  This turned out so well!  Such an interesting  diversity of flavors!  A little sweet, yet a nice smokiness, beans for heartiness and protein, and the freshness of the beets!  Mmmmm, I'll be making this again for sure.  Maybe next time just using golden beets so the colors of all the ingredients stay true. . . Lin

A Quick Side Salad

3 pickling cucumbers
¼ lg. sweet onion
½ med. tomato
½ avocado
your favorite dressing

Slice and chop the vegetables into a small bowl, toss with dressing and serve with the main dish for dinner.  While I absolutely love to cook, once in a while I'll find something that sounds wonderful in the freezer or deli section of one of the many grocery stores I frequent.

I'll squirrel it away for a busy day when I'm hungry, but need a break from my cooking.  Aldi, which is a German grocery store that's a subsidiary of Trader Joe's, often has great frozen things.  Each time I fine one, it's like discovering a treasure!  I heated up their Shrimp & Lobster Bake tonight and it'll be enough for 2 dinners. Such a nice change! . .Lin

Fruit and Granola Muffins

3c small crumbly granola*
1c chopped dried fruit
1c chopped almonds

1c white & (brown sugar... 
...or coconut sugar) in a 3/1 ratio
3 eggs - beaten
1T pure vanilla
½c vegetable oil
2c buttermilk
1½c unbleached white flour
½c coconut flour
⅓c ground golden flax seed
2t pumpkin pie spice
2½t baking soda
1t salt

In a large bowl, combine the first group.  Whisk the next group together in another bowl.  Sift - strain the dry ingredients into another bowl and give them a good stir to be sure they're all blended.

Alternately add the liquids with the dry ingredients to the big bowl, stirring well with a heavy wooden spoon.  Put a scoop of the batter in paper-lined muffin tins.  This recipe makes about 3 dozen.  If you only want to bake a dozen or so, it will keep in the refrigerator a while, or can be put in a heavy zip-type bag and frozen. . .Lin

This is my total adulteration of an old recipe my mother-in-law used to make.  The 6-Week Buttermilk Bran Muffins.  That is also an excellent one, with nuts and chocolate chips.  *Any flavors.  Today I used 2c of an oats and dark chocolate granola, with 1c of mango-coconut granola.

Chorizo Spaghetti - A Mexican-Italian Fusion

1# chorizo
1# ground round
½ lg. onion - chopped
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1-2t brown sugar
black bean spaghetti

Brown the meat and onion together, chop-stirring, and when it's nicely browned, elevate one edge of the pan, push all the meat in that direction and put a crumpled paper towel in the space it creates, to absorb all the grease.  Pitch that one and repeat with another paper towel.  Once drained, add the tomatoes and sauce and sugar.  If you have really well seasoned chorizo, nothing else is needed.  Not salt nor pepper, just a good hearty appetite.  😊

Serve over your favorite spaghetti, or be daring and try something new and healthy! . .Lin

Italian Chicken Stew

3½# chicken thigh meat
3T butter
1 handful of flour
½t ground black and red pepper
1T+ Italian Seasoning
1 28oz. can Hunt's tomatoes
4 ribs of celery - sliced - with young tops
2 big carrots - given a medium chop
1 lg. onion - slice or chop
½ poblano pepper - sliced
1-2# beautiful baby potatoes*

½ bunch of parsley
5-6 big cloves of garlic - rough chopped
~ ½-1c sour cream at the end ~ optional

My plan here was to make a beautiful, rich, shredded-carrot-enhanced-flavorful, saucy, cacciatore-sort-of-chicken thing, to be served over *pasta, quinoa, rice or mashed potatoes.  For some reason though, it seemed the carrots should be diced.  All went well until it was time to put the garlic and parsley in at the end.  I saw these sweet, amazing multi-colored mini-spuds, sitting in the potato bin, just wanting to jump in the pot. . .and. . .it suddenly became a beautiful, rich, flavorful. . .Chicken Thigh Stew! 😉 Follow this recipe using the potatoes in the stew, or omit that step, and serve over one of the suggestions above.

Trim all the fat off the thighs, cut them into your desired size and put them in a heavy bottomed 5-6qt pot with the butter.  Heat till sizzling, stir around for a couple minutes, then sprinkle with the flour, continuing to stir and coat everything with the now, heavier butter mixture.  Season, then continue to stir the chicken, while it sizzles to brown a bit.  Add the tomatoes and the next 4 ingredients.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes at a low bubble.  (Add potatoes now if you're using them.)  Either way, continue to simmer, on low, until the carrots and celery are almost done.

Add parsley and garlic, stir, cover the pot again.  As soon as you hear it bubble, turn off the heat and just let it stand on the burner for 10-15 minutes, at which time it should be ready to serve.  As stew, or over whichever base you chose.  If you want to use sour cream, stir it in now, put a dollop on top of individual servings, or omit it.
😋 Be Bold, Be Creative - Happy Cooking! . .Lin

Bacon, Eggs and Beet Greens Breakfast Bake

Breakfast Bake Central
½# bacon - cut up
1 bunch beet greens & stems
1 can diced water chestnuts
¾ lg. onion - sliced
½ lg. green pepper - sliced
2T capers
8-10oz. sharp cheese
9 lg. eggs - beaten w/
a little half & half

Fry the bacon until crispy, drain the fat off.  Lightly steam the chopped beet greens and stems, then steam in a little water.  When the greens have wilted to about half their original volume, turn off the heat and drain them well.  Meanwhile, butter a 9"x13" glass baking pan and arrange the water chestnuts, onions, green peppers and capers, in the bottom.  Cover with half the shredded cheese, then arrange the bacon on top of this.  Gently pour in the eggs, moving your pouring container around to cover everything.  Shake the pan a little to be sure the eggs are well distributed.  Sprinkle on the remaining cheese then bake in a preheated 350° oven for 20 minutes.  If more time is needed, reduce heat to 325° for another 10 minutes then check again for doneness.  Makes 12 squares containing about 150 calories each. . .Lin

Vegetable Spaghetti with a Meaty Red Sauce

Raw Sweet Potato & Zucchini Spirals
After Baking
 2 lg. zucchini
1 lg. sweet potato
Scrub the vegetables and remove any bad spots on the sweet potato, cut a straight end off both ends of each vegetable.  Spiralize them, then put them in a sm.-med. size roasting pan.  Drizzle with Italian flavored extra virgin olive oil, and a good sprinkle of salt.  Mix well.  Bake this at 325° for 30 minutes.  Be sure to check them and gently stir about half way through the cooking time, to keep them coated with the seasoned oil so they don't dry out.  Take out of the oven after baking.

1½# lean ground meat, single or mixed
~ beef, turkey, chicken, bison, venison
⅓ of a large onion - diced
1t Rosemary Seasoning*

28oz. Hunt's crushed tomatoes
28oz. Hunt's petite diced tomatoes
½c Vodka
1T sugar
1-2T Italian Seasoning
1T Rosemary Seasoning* 
1T fresh ground garlic salt
8oz. fresh mushrooms - sliced
½ of a lg. green pepper - chopped
remaining ⅔ of the large onion - chopped

Break up the meat in a large non-stick frying pan.  Add onion and Rosemary Seasoning.  Stir, sauté until almost browned.  Drain off all the fat.  Put the meat into a large pot.  Add remaining ingredients, simmer for an hour or so.  Ladle the sauce over the vegetable noodles with just enough to cover them all.  Sprinkle with fresh grated Parmesan cheese, return to the oven and heat for 10 minutes at 325°. . .Lin

Oranges and Fennel and Beets - Oh My! (salad)

1 romaine heart*
2 medium golden beets - scrubbed
1 sm.-med. turnip - peeled
~1 lemon or lime - zest and juice
~2T sugar or honey
~3T rosemary olive oil
~1t garlic salt
~½t+ finely ground pepper
~½c craisins
~¼c chopped pecans
~¼c slivered almonds
2 CaraCara oranges
1 lg. fennel bulb
2-4 green onions
several sprigs of fresh parsley

Quarter romaine lengthwise, then wash, spin and dry it in your salad spinner.* <—my favorite!  Transfer it to  a large salad bowl  Using either great knife skills, 😉either julienne slice the beets and turnips - or - crank them through a spiralizer.* <—This will take you to a Paderno Spiralizer demo video.)  Put immediately in with the lettuce.  Combine the next 8 ingredients in a small bowl and microwave 30 seconds.  Whisk, then pour over the ingredients in the salad bowl.  Toss well to distribute everything evenly and coat the whole salad with dressing.

Peel the oranges, then cut into quarters, then segments.  Cut the top and bottom off the fennel, then thin-slice or spiralize across the grain.  Slice onions and break up parsley.  Add all this to the bowl, toss gently, but enough to coat and mix all the components.  This makes a lot!  4 big servings.  *If there will be leftovers romaine is best.  If you're going to finish this soon after composing, and would rather, you could use baby spinach.  Feta cheese could also be crumbled over each serving. . .Lin

Coconut Curry Kobocha Squash Soup

1 med. kobocha squash
3-4 med. sweet potatoes
1 lg. red onion
extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground garlic sea salt
finely ground black pepper
2t curry powder
1T pumpkin pie spice
½ 13.5oz can coconut milk

Cut the squash in half.  Scoop out the seeds.  Cut in pieces and put into a big mixing bowl.  Rough peel and cube the sweet potatoes.  Immediately, put them into a bowl or pan with enough salted water to cover them.  Rough chop the onion and put that in the bowl with the squash.  Drain, rinse and dry the sweet potatoes.  Put them with the other vegetables.  Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Move them all around a little to coat and distribute the seasonings.  Roast in a 375° 30 minutes or a little longer, checking them halfway and move them around to ensure they're all still coated in the seasoned oil, and getting done well.

When they're slightly browned and cooked they're done.  Let them cool a half hour or so.  Peel or scrape the squash out of the shells, into a 5 qt. pot.  Add the other vegetables, seasonings and mash with a potato masher, then add a cup or two of water.  Simmer about 10 minutes, the cool again.  Put this in your blender, ⅓ at a time.  Pour into another big pan, stir, check flavors and add whatever is needed.  Stir in coconut milk, half a can at a time.  After the first addition, if everything has come together well, you can stop, or add the rest.

Heat, just to a little bubble, and serve.  This recipe makes a big pot of soup.  I think this would freeze well, but people also appreciate getting containers of it as a surprise when you go to visit them.  Top with a little sour cream, a sprinkle of pine nuts or sunflower seeds. . .Lin

Crab Cakes and Vegetables

This should be subtitled A Quick Lunch On A Hungry Day!

Every once in a while I just have a hungry day.  Today seems to be one of those.  I started with tea and a big square of my latest Breakfast Bake. Then just a couple hours later, I was prowling the 'fridge, so decided to have a quick, easy early lunch.  A cook's cheating lunch!  The crab cake is not something I made.*  The box for the ones I bought, I bought both varieties is the black one showing two varieties in the photo.  These are only available at Aldi, but there are a lot of good ones available.  This Google Image page also shows lots of plates of prepared crab cakes to give you ideas.

I started with 1 medium onion and 1 really big carrot.  I sliced both then put them in a pan with a tablespoon of butter.  Once the butter melted, I just cleared a spot in the center of the pan for the crab cake.  Covered and steamed a bit, flipped it over, stirred the vegetables, then let it finish cooking on the other side.  There wasn't the crispiness I would have liked.  Next time I do this, I'll thaw the crab cake a bit and cook it uncovered.  It was good.  Anytime I cook fish, I always light my piney candles.  I don't want someone to come in and think I'm cooking cat food!  😝

In another couple hours I think it's gonna be a BIG salad for dinner, with my latest lettuce mix, fresh chopped cauliflower, half a can of beans, almonds and a little ranch dressing.  More Tea!  Hope it's a great weekend for all of you. . .Happy Cooking!  😀

Ham, Egg, Cauliflower and Cheese Breakfast Bake

½ head of cauliflower
1 lg. onion - chopped
1 red roasted pepper - minced
1# ham sliced - chopped
a handful of fresh spinach
8-12oz. shredded cheese

6 eggs - whisked
6-8oz. sour cream
⅓c± water
4T corn flour
1t baking powder 
1t fresh ground pepper

Slice-chop the cauliflower and put it in the bottom of a well-buttered 9"x13" glass baking pan.  Combine the onion and pepper in a little bowl, crumble on top of the cauliflower.  Then layer on the chopped ham and sliced spinach.  Sprinkle the cheese over everything.

Combine the eggs sour cream and water in a medium bowl and whisk to blend.  In another bowl, stir the three dry ingredients until incorporated.  Add half of the egg mixture, whisking while streaming it into the bowl to avoid lumps.

Finish adding the egg mixture and whisk well.  Pour this over everything in the pan, tilting, to be sure everything is covered and soaked in the liquid.  Bake in preheated 350° oven for  .      . minutes.  Cool slightly then cut into 12 squares with a very sharp knife.  Each square contains about 150 calories.  This keeps well in the 'fridge for several days and also freezes well. . .Lin

5 Ingredient Lettuce-Vegetable Mix

Shown in Salad Spinner Bowl—>
2 romaine hearts
a big handful of fresh spinach
1/3 med. head of cabbage
1 med. sweet onion
1 fat carrot - scrubbed

Slice the romaine lengthwise, then make 1½" crosscuts.  Put this in your salad spinner, rinse, soak then drain and spin until dry.  The salad spinner shown is a priceless find!  It's a Progressive brand spinner and is under $10 at Bed Bath and Beyond as well as Walmart!!  I've tried others over the years, mine as well as friends.  You can spend anywhere from $10 - $100 on one, and you'll have a hard time finding one you like better than this!  Such a bargain!

With Feta Cheese, Capers & Tomatoes
Almonds, Beans & Tomatoes Added

In a large bowl, or the bowl from your salad spinner, combine this with the spinach; either left whole, or sliced a little; the slice-chopped cabbage, quarter-sliced onion, and julienned pieces of the carrot.   

With Beans, Capers, Cauliflower
Toss this, grab a handful, and it's ready.  By itself, with your favorite dressing, or add any and all of your favorite accouterments: chopped tomato, avocado, capers, artichokes, chopped mini-English cucumber, cashews, black beans or garbanzos, sunflower seeds, cheese, croutons, or. . .whatever strikes your fancy.  😉  Here are three big salads I've made with this salad mix in the last couple days.  There's still enough for one or two more.  I also added canned corn and feta to the last one!  So good!  And healthy, but NOT low carbs or calories.  Have Fun-Be Creative-Happy Cooking! . .Lin 

Chicken Chili

1½# chicken breast or thigh meat
2 med. white onions - chopped
4 lg. ribs of celery - sliced
2-3T of an olive oil - butter mix
1t fresh ground garlic sea salt
2 cans Bush's Chili Beans*
1 28oz. petite diced tomatoes

Use these - They're excellent!!
Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and dry it well.  Sauté the chicken, onion and celery in the oil-butter until everything snapping and the chicken starts to brown.  Add seasonings, beans and tomatoes.  Rinse the chili bean can and add the water.  Stir and simmer everything together for at least 45 minutes, creating a low-medium bubble.  *(note - the beans I used were Bush's WHITE Chili Beans.  I will NOT use them again.  They have no flavor, at all!  Their original chili beans are so much better!)  This is a quick and easy recipe that feeds lots of hungry people. . .Lin

Salmon, Neufchatel Breakfast Bake

8 lg.-jumbo eggs
8oz. Neufchatel cheese*
1t Old Bay Seasoning
1t fresh ground garlic salt
1t fresh ground black pepper
1t dry dill
2t dry tarragon
3-4c celery, green onion, purple
~ onion, and carrot sliced-chopped
1 lg. roasted red pepper - chopped
12oz. salmon - smoked is best

Leave the cream cheese at room temp for a couple hours.  *Neufchatel is French cream cheese, made in the Normandy region since the 6th century.  It has less calories and fat than the American version.  In a medium bowl, combine that and the eggs, using a fork and then a wire whisk.  Add spices and continue to blend as you prep and assemble the remaining ingredients.  Cut the salmon into long strips, then chop into small cubes.  Put these in a well buttered 9"x13" glass baking pan.

Add the chopped-sliced vegetables.  Whisk the egg mixture one more time then quickly, but carefully, pour it over everything in the pan.  Arrange anything that might have floated out of place, being sure the whole pan is evenly covered with all ingredients.  Bake at 325° ( -?- I forgot to set the timer 😕) Bake until the edges begin to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center area comes out clean.  Probably 30-40 minutes.

Check often though, after 20 minutes.  You want it just firm, but not so done that it's dry.  Cut into 12 squares, each of which contains about 150 calories. . .Lin

Meatloaf Potatoes and Carrots

1# lean ground bison (lamb or beef)
1# ground turkey (or chicken)
1# pork sausage
2 lg. or jumbo eggs
1c quick cooking rolled oats
1 lg. onion - chopped
6oz. sun-dried tomato pesto*
6oz half & half* - may not need
1t fresh ground garlic sea salt
1t fresh ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients *(or 8oz. tomato sauce and 8oz. half & half - the half & half last, after mixing, only if needed) in a large bowl, using a heavy wooden spoon or very clean hands 😊 Form into 2 loafs and bake at 350° for one hour.  Only slice what you need while the meatloaf is hot.  Once chilled, it cuts nicely into thin slices for meatloaf sandwiches.  You can also cut it a little thicker and into cubes and serve with spaghetti and red sauce, for Spaghetti and Meat Cubes. 😀 . . . Lin
*            ~            *            ~            *            ~            *
2# baby assorted fingerling potatoes
2 lg. carrots - scrubbed & sliced
1/4c butter - and/or - Italian Herb Olive Oil
2 sm.-med. sweet potatoes - scrubbed & sliced
1/2 lg. purple onion - rough chopped
1-2t Rosemary Seasoning *

Scrub the potatoes well, leave them whole and combine them with the carrots in a 2-4 qt. heavy bottomed pot.  Add a little water, partially cover and simmer over low-medium heat on the stove, for about 10 minutes to steam and evaporate about half the water.  Add the remaining ingredients, partially cover once again, and continue to heat another 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are still a little crisp tender.  Serve with some of the seasoned butter cooking 'sauce' spooned over the vegetables. . .Lin


Have I mentioned how WONDERFUL meatloaf is - in regard to 'leftovers' of ANY sort?  Dinner, sandwich, spaghetti, covered in cooked vegetables and mashed potatoes - then broiled to brown the potatoes....sort of a Meatloaf Baked Alaska....  hash when combined with chopped potatoes and vegetables and browned. . .or whatever else you can dream up.  Today I did some town errands.  I cut that short, saving some for another day since it turned rainy and damp.

I came home, put the sweaters on the dogs 😊 then decided to have an early dinner and maybe just a simple salad later.  I quick sautéed 4oz. white mushrooms with ½ a large purple onion, both slice-chopped, in 2T butter.  Then I cubed two slices of meatloaf.  Added those just before the mushrooms and onions were done cooking.  At this point a splash of steak sauce or ketchup and a little water, or just Vodka (!!) This is a great way to get all flavor of the pan brownings into the food Mmmmm. . .It was ready in minutes.  Happy Leftovers 😀