Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hyatt Lost Pines + Redfish Served over Spinach & Cous Cous with Tomato Gravy

We spent the weekend at Hyatt Lost Pines in Bastrop.  What a great getaway!  We rode bikes, played golf/soccer, swam (heated pool, of course!), enjoyed a picnic by the river, sat by the fire, rode on a horse drawn carriage ride, took pictures with longhorns, etc.  We'll definitely be back!

So I didn't completely escape cooking this weekend, but I did forget to take a picture!  This was my attempt to recreate a wonderful meal we had at Tratoria Lisina recently.

Redfish Served over Spinach & Cous Cous with Tomato Gravy
Serves 4
2 large filets of redfish, cut in half
1 cup flour + salt & pepper (approx 1 tablespoon of each or to your taste)
10 cups fresh baby spinach
Cous Cous (cooked according to package directions)
1 tablespoon EVOO 
2 tablespoons butter
Heat oil & 1 Tbsp butter in skillet over medium-high heat.  Mix flour with salt and pepper.  Dredge fish in flour mixture.  Pan saute for 3-5 minutes on each side.  Meanwhile, heat the other Tbsp of butter in another skillet.  Add spinach and cooked cous cous.  Saute about 2 minutes, just until spinach is wilted.  Season with salt and pepper and spoon 1/4 onto each plate.  Top with fish and the sauce below.

1 tablespoon EVOO + 1 tablespoon butter

2 fresh bay leaves

1 onion, finely chopped

1 cup chicken stock

1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup cream

Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and butter in a sauce pot over medium heat, add bay and onions and season with salt and pepper. Add chicken stock and tomatoes and heat through, stir in cream, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer to thicken slightly 8 to 10 minutes.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Broccoli and Bowtie Pasta

I've been looking for a good use of the broccoli in our garden and this recipe was a winner!

Broccoli and Bowtie Pasta


  • Kosher salt
  • 8 cups broccoli florets (4 heads)
  • 1/2 pound farfalle (bow tie) pasta
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup toasted pignoli (pine) nuts
  • Freshly grated Parmesan, optional


Cook the broccoli for 3 minutes in a large pot of boiling salted water. Remove the broccoli from the water with a slotted spoon or sieve. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
In the same water, cook the bow-tie pasta according to the package directions, about 12 minutes. Drain well and add to the broccoli.
Meanwhile, in a small saute pan, heat the butter and oil and cook the garlic and lemon zest over medium-low heat for 1 minute. Off the heat, add 2 teaspoons salt, the pepper, and lemon juice and pour this over the broccoli and pasta. Toss well. Season to taste, sprinkle with the pignolis and cheese, if using, and serve.
To toast pignolis, place them in a dry saute pan over medium-low heat and cook, tossing often, for about 5 minutes, until light brown.
SOURCE: Ina Garten

We served it with grilled chicken marinated in the following: zest and juice of 3 lemons, 1/4 olive oil, sea salt and pepper to taste.

Make Ahead Sunday: Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

This recipe is my take on my Mom's (well probably my Grandmother's) original.  We'll serve it on Tuesday with salad, french bread and bread pudding.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/8 cup vegetable oil
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 chicken thighs (bone and skin on)
8 cups water
8 cups chicken stock or broth (2 boxes)
1 1/2 large yellow onions (chopped)
2 green bell peppers (chopped)
3 stalks celery (chopped)
1 14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 bag frozen sliced okra
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb smoked sausage (cut into half lengthwise then sliced 1/4 inch slices)
3 bay leaves
2 Tbsp fresh thyme (finely chopped)
10 fresh sage leaves (finely chopped)
1/2 cup flat leaf italian parsley (finely chopped)
1 Tbsp black pepper
1/2 tsp red (cayenne) pepprer
Sea salt to taste

Put chicken in pot and cover with water.  Add 1-2 tsp salt.  Boil approximately 20 minutes.  Pull out chicken breasts and allow to cook.  Allow water and thighs to cook another 20 minutes.  Remove thighs and discard.  Strain remaining water (now stock) and reserve to add later.

Heat a Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet.  Add okra, season with salt and pepper.  Cook on medium heat until all ropiness is gone.  Approximately 20 minutes.  Set aside.

Mix together to get all the lumps out then heat over medium high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 15-20 minutes.  Be sure to use a heavy bottomed deep pot (clan iron or similar) with a long spoon.  Otherwise, you WILL get burned.  I even put on an oven mit towards the end.  Keep a very close eye because it can burn easily.  I like mine somewhere between the color of milk and dark chocolate.

As soon as you get the color you want, immediately add the onion, bell pepper and celery.  Even a 1 minute delay can ruin it!  Allow to cook until veggies are tender (approximately 10 minutes), stirring frequently. Add celery and tomatoes.  Allow to cook another 10 minutes.  Add stock and all spices/herbs.  Bring to a boil then turn heat back to low/medium and allow to simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Shred cooled chicken.  Add chicken and sausage and allow to simmer 30-45 additional minutes.  Adjust seasoning.  Serve in large bowls over over steamed rice.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Formula Cans

With 2 kids, we have definitely spent more money than I'd like to think about on formula.  I've decided that the formula isn't enough...we really need to make use of those cans to get our money's worth!  Here are a few of the random uses I've found for them:

Utensil Holder For Parties

Items Needed:
Formula Can
Glue or zots to hold ribbon around
Tissue and krinkle paper to stuff inside

Ring Toss

All you need is a little paint for these.  Just clean thoroughly, prime and paint as desired.  Tatum loves trying to throw things into them or rolling a ball to knock them all over (like bowling).

Thursday, February 16, 2012

BBQ Shrimp

BBQ shrimp were originally made famous by the Pasqual Manales Restaurant on Napoleon Street in New Orleans.  Here's a twist on the original recipe. 

Jack's BBQ Shrimp
  • 3 pounds 21-25 count shrimp (traditionally head-on, but I usually cheat and do them headless)
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsps diced fresh garlic
  • 4 tbsps cracked black pepper
  • 3 tbsps fincely minced flat leaf italian parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped thyme
  • 3 ounces Bourbon (Gentlemen Jack works well)
  • 4 tbsps Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp Hot Sauce (Tabasco or similar brand) 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a heavy bottom saute pan, heat butter and olive oil over medium high heat. Combine all remaining ingredients and blend well into butter mixture. Cook one to two minutes. Place  shrimp in a large baking pan with a one inch lip. Pour melted butter mixture on top of shrimp, coating as evenly as possible Place shrimp on center rack of oven and cook three to five minutes or until shrimp are pink and curly. Turn shrimp one time, baste well and allow to cook three to five additional minutes. Remove from oven and serve in soup bowls with sauce and french bread for dipping.

Modified based on an original recipe by Chef John Folse.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Mardi Gras Subway Art

Download at Little Luck Tree here.

Mardi Gras Appetizer

So if you know me, you know I am a sucker for holidays.  I'm always planning for the next one (apparently before the existing one is even over)!  Up next, Mardi Gras, of course!  My grandmother, Louise, grew up in Louisiana on a rice and crawfish farm so this one has always a big one growing up.  Here's a family appetizer recipe to get things started (thanks, Mom!).

1Tbs. Mayonnaise
1/2- 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 Stick REAL butter, softened
1 Jar Old English cheese
1 Can Crabmeat, drained
English muffins

Mix together ingredients and spread on English muffins. Freeze (at least 15 minutes). Cut in pie shapes (12 per muffin, I think). Freeze again and store in Ziplock freezer bags. Take out as many as you like and place on heavy baking sheet, not touching each other. Broil for about 5 minutes or bake on high temperature until they puff up. Serve immediately. You can double ot triple this recipe before any holiday or special occasion when you are expecting company and use as needed. Sounds like a weird combination, but trust me, it is heavenly. 
HINT: Don't waste money on lump or fresh crabmeat for these. Canned actually works better for this recipe.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Front Door Wreath

Here's my version of the wreath made famous by Pinterest.  All you do is wire the flowers through the vines using the stems they come on and then hot glue the painted letters directly on the wreath. I think it might have turned out cuter if we didn't have so many numbers in our address!

Find the original here:

Make Ahead Sundays: Orechiette with Sausage, Beans, and Mascarpone

Ever since I went back to work after our second child, I've started spending my Sundays in the kitchen, making several meals in hopes of making our weeknights a little less chaotic.  This usually involves 2 meals with enough servings to last 2 nights each and at least one of them can be thrown in the oven or microwaved (without compromising taste of course!).  I try to freshen things up by serving a fresh salad from our garden on the side - lettuce/carrots in the winter or tomato/cucumber in the summer.  Here's what's on the menu this week:

Orechiette with Sausage, Beans, and Mascarpone


  • 1 pound orechiette pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2-1 pound turkey sausage, casing removed (1package)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped fresh kale or spinach leaves (optional, but I like to add something from the garden to make it a little more "green")
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese (1 container)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Grated Parmesan Reggiano for serving


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook al dente according to package directions. Drain pasta reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
In a large, heavy skillet warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage. Using a wooden spoon break up the sausage into bite-sized pieces as it browns. Continue cooking until the sausage is golden  (about 10 minutes).  Add the onions (& kale if using kale) and cook on medium heat until are tender (about 7 minutes). Add the beans and oregano (& spinach if using spinach) cook for 2 more minutes. Add the cup of pasta cooking liquid and stir, scrapping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the mascarpone cheese and stir until it dissolved into a light sauce. Add the salt, pepper, and hot pasta. Stir until coated and serve. Top with grated parmesan.

Adapted based on an original recipe by Giada De Laurentiis.

Valentine's Breakfast

I saw this idea using canned cinnamon rolls on Pinterest and thought it would be fun for Valentines!  I served it with some heart shape bananas and strawberries.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Eighteen25's Subway Art

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this blog - Eighteen25!  They have so many great ideas, but my favorite is their subway art.  Download for free, print and frame!  They have one for just about every holiday.  Here is their Valentine's one:

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Easy Valentine's Day Mantle

Just cut scrap book paper into hearts and string with raffia.  I also turned a few of them into conversation hearts for fun.

Happy Valentine's Day!

I designed these using Picnik, a web-based photo editing tool.  It's super easy to use.  Oh and did I mention it's FREE?  Unfortunately, the company has recently been acquired by Google and will be closing in April.  I hope Google keeps the user friendly functionality!  My sister took the picture of Kaylee.  She's so talented!  Check her photography site out here:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Valentine's M&M Bars

I made these, too.  Haven't eaten one yet, but they sure are cute! UPDATE: these were a little underdone.  I think I'd bake them for 30 minutes.

Courtesy of Baked Perfection:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup to 1 1/3 cup M&M's

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. Melt 1/3 cup butter. Add 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar and mix well. Cool slightly. Add egg (beaten) and vanilla and blend well. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, mixing well. Mix in 2/3 cup M&M's. Spread in 9 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Sprinkle 1/3 to 2/3 cup M&M's on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

Pink Chocolate Chip Cookies

I tried these tonight to bring to Tatum's Valentine's class party.  They turned out really flaky and the colors are so pretty!


    • sticks (1 cup) butter (see directions below for softening)
    • red food coloring gel
    • pouch Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
    • cups powdered sugar
    • cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Soften hard butter in microwave at HALF power for 30 seconds just until slightly soft, not at all melted. With a hand mixer, beat the butter just until smooth, being careful not to over-soften it. Using a toothpick, add the food color gel one dab at a time, mixing after each, until the desired pink color is achieved.
  2. 3Add the dry cookie mix (do NOT add the other ingredients called for on the cookie mix package). Add the powdered sugar. Beat only until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Dough will be crumbly, not smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.
  3. 4Drop dough by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet. (1-1/4" cookie scoop works well too.)
  4. 5Bake in a preheated 325° F oven for 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven when cookies are slightly brown around the edges and soft but not squishy in the center.
  5. 6Cool cookies 1 - 2 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely before serving. These aren't typical chocolate chip cookies. They aren't cakey -- instead, they are super sweet, slightly crunchy and a bit chewy. A sweet treat with coffee or milk!
Thanks to CheekyKitchen for the recipe!