Foodbuzz 24×24: The Best Things We Ever Ate

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Summer officially started last Monday. However, being in Louisiana, we’ve been feeling summer-like weather since May. With the heat index hitting 110 degrees sometimes, we wanted to throw a summer party that was most definitely indoors!

I watch entirely too much Food Network. If it wasn’t for Food Network and reading food blogs, I’m fairly certain my husband and I would be living off of Hamburger Helper and take-out. One of my favorite shows lately has been The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Every show has a theme, and it features the cooks/hosts on Food Network and their favorite eats in that theme. So, when Foodbuzz emailed about this month’s 24×24 proposals, I figured it would be a fun party to feature the best things our families have eaten! Thanks so much to Foodbuzz for sponsoring this party! :)

To come up with the menu, I sent out an email to our families asking for their favorites in each category.

  • On the Grill (recipes that are done on the BBQ)
  • Dangerously Cheesy (major cheese in a dish)
  • No Utensils (finger foods/apps)
  • Keep it Comfy (comfort food)
  • Frozen Treats (any dessert from the freezer)
  • Mix it Up (a food that requires using a mixer—doesn’t have to be a sweet)
  • Louisiana’s Best (Louisiana food)
  • Cold and Colorful (like a salad or cold app with lots of veggies or fruit)
  • Under the Sea (favorite seafood dish)
  • Classic American (with 4th of July approaching, tell me a dish that screams American)

After getting many responses, here is the menu we came up with:

Drinks:
Strawberry Lemonade
Strawberry Daiquiris

Appetizers:
Cheese Fondue with Vegetables/Bread*
Bruschetta*
Boudin Balls

Entrees:
Steak Skewers with Chimichurri, Onion Cheese Sauce and Compound Butter*
Spicy BBQ Shrimp Skewers*

Sides:
Crawfish Fettuccine
Macaroni and Cheese
Vegetable Skewers*
Grilled Corn
Lettuce Greens with Honey Lime Vinaigrette

Desserts:
Strawberry Cake*
Assorted Cupcakes
Cinnamon Crumb Apple Pie
Fresh Berries with Ice Cream

* recipes will be featured in the blog in future posts

I will admit, I’m still getting the hang of entertaining for a large number of people. Despite doing a lot of prep, I felt fairly stressed in the last hour. Since the party was for family, though, I had loads of help at the last minute. :) Whew!

The fondue was an absolute hit. I was nervous to make this myself, but this recipe came together beautifully! I served the fondue with day old po’boy bread, carrots and broccoli.

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We purchased the boudin balls at a local joint, since they are pretty much my husband’s favorite. The bruschetta was a lighter alternative to the other appetizers. I was super excited to use basil from our garden for this dish!

Appetizers

I need to thank the hubs for braving the sweltering disgusting heat to cook up this magic on the grill. The steak, especially was a real winner to family!

kabobs

We made 3 sauces available for people to dip/cover their skewers in: a chimichurri, onion blue cheese (not pictured) and a worchestershire chive butter. The chimichurri ended up being a huge hit (and I used parsley from the garden for it)!

Steak Butter/Chimichurri

Here is some lovely grilled corn that survived a few flare-ups on the grill. :)

Grilled Corn

Here is a semi-decent picture of the crawfish fettuccine before everyone digged in. The hubs’ parents made this dish and it was delicious. Perfect flavor with a little Louisiana kick!

Crawfish Fettucine

This is some macaroni and cheese that is my mother-in-law’s favorite. It was definitely pretty tasty (not to mention, cheesy). :)

Mac and Cheese

After enjoying some serious eats, we waited a good while before putting out desserts and just chatted, watched TV and played some games.

I will say the desserts were absolutely amazing.

Fresh berries (and ice cream, not pictured)

berries

Strawberry Cake (inspired by a local bakery). I would have just purchased one, but I had no idea an 8″ cake was over $30. What the heck?! I guess I’m just used to baking my own cakes to realize how expensive cakes have gotten!

Strawberry Cake

This was a welcomed surprise. A local cupcake bakery occasionally has giveaways on Twitter, and I won some cupcakes! They were seriously delish! Thank you Sweet Wishes Cafe!

Cupcakes

Here is the cinnamon crumb apple pie. This is one of those frozen pies you can find in the grocery store, but has quickly become a favorite with my hubs’ family.

apple pie

Of course, our puppy was very excited to get all of the attention she got at the party, and thanks to my mom, she tried a piece of steak for the first time. I think she enjoyed it. :)

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And of course, it wouldn’t be a party without family! Here are some pictures of our family.

Mom and Sis

family

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It was a great time to be had by everyone, especially in the milder indoors. Thank you so much to Foodbuzz again for the party! Everyone had a blast! :)

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Louisiana Saturday Night Celebration

You know the band Alabama? I always found it funny that they sang a song about Louisiana Saturday nights since their name is, well, Alabama. Guess my rivalry between Bama and LSU will never die, eh?

This is my very first time doing a 24, 24, 24 event for Foodbuzz, and I could not be more excited. It was PERFECT timing to throw a party for family! Thanks so much to Foodbuzz for sponsoring this!

There are so many great things going on in Louisiana lately. Between the New Orleans Saints clinching a Superbowl win  and Mardi Gras, I just thought it would be great to celebrate with family the traditional Louisiana way: CRAWFISH!

Oh yes, that silly crustacean that is also referred to as a crayfish or mudbug. We have been anxiously awaiting crawfish season, and we lucked out with a sack (roughly about 40 lbs.) from a local crawfish farmer for some crawfish foodie fun! I say lucked out, because it’s VERY early in the season and well, like the rest of the country, our winter isn’t exactly mild. Since it’s so cold, the crawfish basically go dormant. So, the crawfish are in short supply (and sadly, pricey). However, we just had to have some of this. It’s been far too long for us, and let’s just say we weren’t disappointed.

I’m sure some of you are insanely jealous and then there are some of you who are thinking, why crawfish?

Crawfish are insanely abundant in the swamps/marshes of Louisiana (when they are in season), and have been around since the native Americans and European settlers. Because of their abundance out here, they have remained popular for centuries and have sort of become tradition for family gatherings. In the Spring/early Summer, you can literally smell crawfish boil in the air in most neighborhoods. So many families do boils and LOVE it. It’s crazy that Louisiana supplies 90% of all domestic crawfish in the nation, yielding 75-105 MILLION pounds of crawfish. (fun facts via www.crawfish.org)

So, now that you can understand our state’s small addiction to this little creature, here’s what we enjoyed at the party!

Mini Crawfish Pies*
Crawfish Cheesecake*
Crawfish Boudin
Crawfish Boil (of course)
Decorated Crawfish Sugar Cookies*

* There will be separate blog posts about these items off the menu.

Since the pies and cheesecake had to be assembled the night before and the crawfish for the boil wouldn’t be caught until the next morning , we purchased some Louisiana crawfish conveniently peeled into 1 lb. bags. Let me tell you, if you have to choose between Louisiana crawfish and foreign crawfish, you should strongly consider Louisiana crawfish. It might be a few more bucks than foreign crawfish, but I will say, they are TOTALLY not the same. Louisiana crawfish has so much more flavor and the tails are usually much larger too, so if you are thinking of buying crawfish in stores, seriously consider splurging a few extra bucks and getting domestic crawfish.

These crawfish pies were so yummy! The tray of these were gobbled up, and just came together so easily. I will admit, I used pre-made pie dough, but hey, the filling made up for it BIG time!  I was a little happy to have some leftover filling to freeze and make these again sometime soon!

This savory cheesecake was pretty darn easy to put together too. We ended up using this as a spread for crackers, and it was just so flavorful. We didn’t really eat it as a cheesecake though, since it was a very rich appetizer and we had to save room for the crawfish boil!

This is crawfish boudin. We like to buy this from a local cajun meat shop. I love this shop because they just know how to put a twist on the most basic things to taste perfectly Louisianian. If we had a long day at work and no time to cook (or just feeling lazy), it’s easy to pop something from there in the oven and enjoy it within an hour!

Back to boudin. Boudin is basically a rice dressing stuffed in a casing. The main ingredient is usually pork, but this meat shop makes fun types like red beans and crawfish! While it looks like sausage, most people find the casing to be unappetizing. So you just end up eating it out of the casing, which easily peels away.

We enjoyed our boudin spread on crackers. It was delicious!

We timed it to where we enjoyed appetizers while boiling these little fellas.

They went from this:

To this:

After they were done, we did not hesitate to fork out the newspaper and dig in! Crawfish boils aren’t usually strictly crawfish. Personally, we boil ours with lemons, onions, garlic, corn, potatoes, mushrooms and sausage. It’s fun to have a little variety in there!

And of course, for spice wimps like me, since these bad boys are boiled in a LOT of cayenne pepper and spices, there was plenty of french bread to calm down the burning taste buds! We purchased this bread at a produce stand that is known for selling great local foods. I love supporting local businesses, especially when it’s dealing with food, because it’s much fresher, flavorful and sometimes, even CHEAPER than buying at just your typical supermarket.

This boil was definitely enjoyed by all. We had a little bit leftover, which we’ll be peeling and freezing to use in another cajun dish sometime soon, but out of the sack of about 40 lbs., it was mostly gone! I guess we were hungry!

After the clean-up outside, we all went inside to hang out, let our tummies digest and enjoy a platter full of decorated crawfish cookies! Or, at least offer it out to those who saved some room for some! Stay tuned for how I made these. I am pretty happy with how these turned out, since I didn’t have a crawfish cookie cutter!

Thanks again to Foodbuzz for sponsoring this party. My family had a wonderful time catching up and enjoying this fabulous Louisiana staple! I hope this boil is first of many for this crawfish season! YUM! :)

Our Thanksgiving!

Top row: Cajun Smoked Turkey, Cornbread dressing, Honey-baked Ham
Second row: Green Bean Casserole, Sweet Potato Casserole, Cauliflower Au Gratin
Bottom Row: Homemade Yeast Rolls, Rice Dressing

After much planning and excitement, Thanksgiving with our families was absolutely wonderful. It was great to spend time with everyone, and to see the responses to the food we cooked. I’m going to share a couple of recipes with you, since our families insisted on bringing dishes as well. :)

I hope you also had a great Thanksgiving! I can’t believe it’s time to plan for Christmas now!