Leftover Crawfish Boil Soup

Leftover Crawfish Boil Soup

Right now, we’re in the middle of crawfish season in Louisiana. Whenever my husband and I are invited to a crawfish boil, we make sure to clear our schedule. The crawfish, corn, potatoes, garlic, sausage, ::insert whatever vegetables are in the fridge::…it’s just all SO good. Some people may say it’s quite a bit of work/peeling for a tiny crawfish tail, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not so bad. It can be a bit messy, which is why most people enjoy the food outside with layers of newspaper and garbage bags lining the table. And usually…there’s always leftovers! I love leftover potatoes and corn…and peeling the rest of the crawfish for dishes the next day isn’t so bad either. The last boil we had with my husband’s family, I made this soup the next day, along with some mini crawfish pies (that recipe is coming later). It was a weekend-long feast!

This soup is perfect for those leftovers from the boil. While I didn’t add any, you could definitely add in some of the leftover boiled sausage as well. This recipe is versatile, and if you can’t eat it all, it freezes well too! You may notice that there’s no extra spices in this recipe, and that’s because the leftover boiled vegetables/meat have plenty of it as it is. It will cook into the broth, and I found it to still be pretty darn spicy. However, if you taste it at the end and feel that it still needs a little something, feel free to add in some cayenne pepper and/or salt.

Leftover Crawfish Boil Soup
Source: adapted from Louisiana Cookin’

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cups leftover boil corn, scraped from the cobs
  • 2 cups chopped leftover boil potatoes
  • 1 cup leftover boil crawfish and/or chopped leftover boil smoked sausage (optional)
  • 1 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes with juice
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter and oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook them until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add in the corn and potatoes, and cook the vegetables, stirring constantly, until the vegetables start to lightly brown (about 8 minutes).
  2. Add in the sausage/crawfish (if you have any), crushed tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring the soup to a gentle boil, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer the soup for 30-40 minutes to allow the leftover boil flavors to develop into the soup. Stir in the heavy cream at the end, and enjoy!

 

Shrimp Creole

Shrimp Creole

I find myself completely stoked about this year’s Superbowl. While the Saints aren’t in it, it’s going to be held in New Orleans, which is where I’m from (well, a suburb of New Orleans, but close enough). Every time New Orleans is on the nation’s radar (for a good thing, at least), I feel a small sense of pride. New Orleans has been through a lot, and it’s just wonderful to see New Orleans back to being a prime tourist city again. Seven years ago, I remember going home for the Mardi Gras holiday, and going to my first post-Katrina parade. New Orleans (months later, mind you) still had a mildew-y smell. You could still see those “X”s spray painted on searched homes, as well as the water line stains on homes from the flooding.

While it was a sad sight to see, I think Mardi Gras that year allowed everyone to temporarily take their minds off of the damage and just simply enjoy New Orleans the way we all knew how. Stand on the neutral ground (or sidewalk), wave your hands in the air, take in the high school marching band music and catch/wear beads until your neck ached. Mardi Gras (the family version, at least) is the best!

Now, New Orleans is doing a LOT better than it was in February 2006, obviously. It’s mostly back to normal, but if you drive to certain parts of the city, there’s still some rebuilding happening. I’m so happy to see New Orleans hosting it’s first Superbowl since Katrina. With Mardi Gras being the week after, this whole shin-dig is being called Super Gras. :-) I mean, these tourists have it made…they can have a hurricane in one hand and king cake in the other with their jerseys and face paint on, and no one will give them a second glance. New Orleans is really the best. (hint hint: food blog conferences take notes please?)

Since my husband and I have been counting calories, I haven’t been cooking much Louisiana cuisine. I still enjoy gumbo and jambalaya from time to time, but to have a full pot of that in our house? I just can’t do it lol! However, not ALL Louisiana cuisine is heavy in the calories. Let me introduce you to a wonderful dish called shrimp creole. It’s a wonderful tomato-based dish that is commonly served over plain rice. Now, I know…tomatoes can be boring, but there are layers of flavor in this dish. You start with making your own shrimp stock (using the heads and shells),  and I swear, it’s worth it. Just make it. :-) When it comes to cooking the dish, it starts with the “holy trinity” (as every good Louisiana dish should…except for bananas foster…who wants that in their bananas foster? ha!) and then tomatoes/fresh shrimp stock/white wine. Are you hungry yet? I’m tempted to take the leftovers out of the freezer as I’m writing this post!

Now, fair warning…this is a SPICY dish. If you need to tone it down, feel free. You can play around with the spices if you want it a little milder. I swear, it will still taste great!

Shrimp Creole
adapted from NOLA Cuisine

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. peeled and deveined Shrimp (save the shells and heads to make the stock)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp.vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small green pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. cajun seasoning (I use Tony Chachere’s)
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 20 oz. of canned fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups shrimp stock (recipe)
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp. tabasco sauce
  • 1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup green onions, green tops thinly sliced
  • 1/8 cup chopped fresh leaf parsley

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter, along with the vegetable oil, in a dutch oven over medium high heat. When the butter begins to foam, add 1/2 cup of the onions. Cook the onions, stirring often, until the onions are a golden brown color. Add the remaining onions, as well as the celery, bell pepper, 1 tbsp. of the cajun seasoning and a pinch of salt, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the vegetables until they are soft.
  2. Add the tomato paste to the vegetables, stirring constantly, until the paste begins to brown. Then, add the diced tomatoes and another pinch of salt. Stir everything together, and cook the mixture until the tomatoes are starting to break down a good bit. Add the wine and turn the heat until high, until most of the alcohol burns off (a couple of minutes). Add the shrimp stock, remaining tbsp. of cajun seasoning, garlic, bay leaves, black pepper, white pepper, a little bit of cayenne (to taste), as well as the thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Continue simmering the mixture on low for another 45 minutes.
  3. Add the hot sauce (you may want to add less if you’re sensitive to spice) and worcestershire sauce. Season the sauce to taste with salt. At this time, season the shrimp with 1 tbsp. kosher salt and a pinch of cayenne. Bring the sauce to a boil again, and then reduce the heat to low, adding the shrimp in. Let the shrimp cook in the sauce until cooked through, which will only take a few minutes at the most. Add the green onions and parsley just before serving. Serve over plain rice and enjoy!

 

 

 

Crawfish Fettuccine

Crawfish Fettuccine

My husband is not a big pasta person. He could eat rice for days, but pasta? He has to be in the mood for it. I’m the opposite. If you told me I had to eat pasta every day for the rest of my life, I would think I died and went to heaven. I LOVE pasta. I’m all about it. So, when crawfish went on sale on weekend, instead of making the usual etouffee, I hoped that my husband would be in a pasta-loving mood that day, because crawfish fettuccine was on my mind. :-)

Well, as you can see, we had crawfish fettuccine that evening. :-P And it was every bit as delicious as I had hoped. We ended up halving the recipe, since the original recipe would make way too much food for just my husband and I.

I do want to note that this recipe does contain Velveeta. If you aren’t OK with using processed foods, you may be able to substitute freshly grated cheese, since this recipe’s directions reminded me a lot of making a bechamel sauce. However, I personally didn’t try that to tell you if it works out the same way.

Crawfish Fettuccine
Source: adapted from Holly Clegg

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. fettuccine
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 lb. light Velveeta, cut into small cubes
  • 1 lb. crawfish tails (make sure they are cleaned)
  • 1 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • pinch cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook the fettuccine in boiling water until al dente. Do not add oil or salt to the pot. Drain the pasta, wash in cool water to make sure the pasta doesn’t stick together as it sits, and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, melt the butter and saute the onions, green bell peppers, and garlic until translucent and tender. Add the flour and stir well until everything is mixed.
  3. Gradually add the milk, stirring at the same time, until the mixture is smooth. Add the cheese cubes, stirring the sauce until all of the cheese has melted.
  4. Add in the crawfish tails, parsley, green onions, worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper and mix everything together gently.
  5. Add in the pasta, and using tongs, toss everything together until well-combined. Heat the fettuccine well and serve.

Favorite Party Recipes

Part of me cannot believe that the Superbowl is Sunday. I mean, that’s the end of football season until next Fall. I have to wait at least six months to watch another game after this. Sad.  (If you know me, you know I’m being dead serious about how sad this is to me. Crazy football fan here!) A perk of Superbowl Sunday? Watching Millie run up to the TV when I randomly switch over to the Puppy Bowl.

To mourn celebrate the end of another football season, here’s some great recipes that will definitely disappear if you serve them at your Superbowl parties.

Queso Blanco
Restaurant Style Queso Blanco

Restaurant Style Salsa
Restaurant Style Salsa


Crawfish Pies


Crawfish Cheesecake

Jambalaya
Pork and Sausage Jambalaya

Berry Mash Bruschetta
Berry Mash Bruschetta

Sugar Cookie Bars
Sugar Cookie Bars

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies
Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies

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Oreo Cupcakes

Oh, and if you have an occasional puppy bowl break, I’m pretty sure the dogs at your party would love you for these!

Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treats

Pumpkin PB Treats

Pork and Sausage Jambalaya

Jambalaya

Around here, Jambalaya is a staple. If you live in Louisiana, you’ve had it. If you live in Louisiana and you haven’t had it, let’s just say you haven’t fully lived yet. :-)

The best jambalaya is usually cooked in huge quantities in a large cast iron pot. If you’re going to a tailgate out here, they’re probably serving jambalaya. Same goes for huge family reunions. Heck, we had jambalaya at our wedding. It’s one of my favorite foods for a gathering and with good reason. It’s absolutely delicious!

Now, at home, we usually would make jambalaya from a mix. I really had no idea how to make jambalaya from scratch….until now. My friend Kayla, who used to have a food blog (hint hint, Kayla…), posted this recipe for jambalaya, which comes from her husband. When my husband and I tasted this, we were absolutely floored! This recipe tastes just like the amazing jambalaya that is made in those huge cast iron pots. I call it tailgating jambalaya in a much more manageable amount. However, be warned (in a good way)…..this makes enough jambalaya to completely fill a 5 qt. dutch oven. We had leftovers that filled up a gallon ziploc bag, which we happily ate throughout the week and even shared with the in-laws.

So yes…make this. For those of you who are wondering, there are no ingredients in this jambalaya that are regional (to my knowledge). Anyone can make this! Just do it. :-)

On an unrelated note: If you have a minute, I would really appreciate your vote for my entry (Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles) in a local holiday dessert recipe contest. Voting ends on Wednesday, and the top 10 entries (by popular vote) move on to be finalists! I know that you have to register to vote, but I’d completely appreciate the support! You can also vote once/day if you wanted to be extra nice. :-P

Jambalaya
Source: Scrumptiously Sassy (recipe posted on Cooking with Christen)

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1.5″ chunks
  • 1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 3/4 cup green onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4 cups long grain rice
  • 8 cups water (for rice)
  • 3 tbsp. Kitchen Bouquet browning & seasoning sauce
  • Seasoning (salt, red pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, etc.)
  • Extra water (for meat)

Directions:

  1. In a 5-6 quart cast iron pot, heat up the vegetable oil.  Season pork to taste and brown thoroughly (do this in small batches, putting the browned pork in a bowl as it’s done browning).  If the pork starts to stick to the pan, you can add a little water to the pot.
  2. Once you’ve browned the pork and removed it from the pot, add the sliced sausage to the pot to brown it as well. Once it’s browned, add the vegetables and cook until tender and translucent. Add the pork chunks back in the pot and stir to combine. Add enough water to cover and simmer on medium-low until almost all of the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Add the 8 cups of water to the pot and season to taste. You want the liquid to taste spicier and saltier than your preference, since the rice will soak up those flavors. After the liquid is spiced to your preferences, add the Kitchen Bouquet to darken the liquid.  Once the liquid starts to boil, add rice, parsley and green onions. Keep stirring the pot until most liquid is absorbed, then turn the fire to low and cover for 20 minutes. During those 20 minutes, do not remove the lid.
  4. Remove the lid and stir to fluff. Once the mixture is well stirred/fluffed, put the lid back on and cook on low for 10 more minutes.  Again, do not remove the lid.
  5. Once the jambalaya is finished, uncover the pot and once again, stir/fluff the mixture. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Foodbuzz 24×24: A Culinary Journey Down the Muddy Mississippi

When I was a little kid, I had such trouble spelling “Mississippi”. Was it too many “s”s or the double “p” that threw me for a loop? I just couldn’t get it. My house was less than a tenth of a mile away from the river, and I just couldn’t spell it. That bothered me. My parents taught us a little fun way to spell it eventually, and now I can’t ever spell Mississippi wrong. When in doubt, I tell myself “M-i-s-s… I-s-s…i.P.P.i”. There was an emphasis on the cap letters, so it became a bit of a rhythm to say it in my head that way before spelling it out.

Since I grew up living so close to the Mississippi, I’ve seen the river have its ups and downs. Literally. When the river gets high in the Spring, boats appear like they are floating on the levee. And of course, when it gets low, you’ll barely see the tops of the boats. It’s crazy how much it varies, and this year was no exception. For the first time in almost 40 years, the river was so high that the Corps of Engineers had to open a spillway north of Baton Rouge in order to save New Orleans and Baton Rouge from catastrophic flooding. Sadly, this spillway isn’t just land. People actually built their homes and farms in the spillway, so they had to evacuate. While I’m glad that nothing catastrophic happened to our big cities, it still hurts to know that some people suffered from this.

While I was watching a news segment about the river one night, I couldn’t help but think about the massive journey that the water takes. All the way north from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. There are so many different cities that the river just flows by, and my husband had the greatest idea. A culinary journey down the river–from Minneapolis all the way to New Orleans. Our party idea featured foods that are notorious in the major cities along the river: Minneapolis, St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans. I was so stoked when Foodbuzz let me know that our party proposal had been accepted for this month’s 24×24, so I called up our families and had them over for this awesome party!

For Minneapolis, we grilled up the famous Juicy Lucy burger! You can’t go wrong with a cheese stuffed burger, and this burger was one of the favorites of the meal!

Jucy Lucy

For St. Louis, we baked a gooey butter cake. We served it with ice cream and various summer fruit sorbets. The cake is a yeast based batter on the bottom and of course, a gooey butter base layer on top. Many of us (myself included) have never had a gooey butter cake, but it was a great hit! I think next time, this would go perfectly with some fresh fruit.

Gooey Butter Cake

For Memphis, we made some fabulous BBQ Baby Back ribs. This was my first time ever working with ribs, and it really wasn’t that bad. These were very flavorful ribs and super tender, since they were in an oven for a good part of the morning before finishing off on the grill!

BBQ Baby Back Ribs

And of course, for New Orleans, we made some grilled corn grits. Grits are a favorite around here, and in one of our favorite restaurants, this is how they make the grits. It’s fabulously rich and flavorful! You probably don’t want to know how much heavy cream and butter are in these grits, but I’ll tell you anyway later when I post the recipe! :-)

Corn Grits

Oh, and since we’re all from Louisiana, we had to add in a little lagniappe for NOLA: Hurricanes. I mean, how could you NOT? For a hot, summer day, these are always a hit!

Hurricane

*all recipes will be shared on the blog at a later date*

It was so wonderful to spend time with our families, and I’m so glad everyone enjoyed the food. You know it was a good party when people ask for the leftovers and recipes as they’re leaving! :-)

Dessert Time

Family

Thanks so much to Foodbuzz for making this party happen! We really enjoyed the different foods from cities along the river, and also had a blast spending time together!

 

When I meet my Internet friends..

I know this isn’t like my usual recipe posts for this blog, but since this trip was so food heavy, I just HAD to post on here! I hope you don’t mind, and I certainly hope you aren’t too hungry.

Back in the wedding planning days, I blogged for an awesome site called WeddingBee. My moniker was Ballet Flat, which is perfect for this flats-wearing gal. I really just thought this was another blog, but little did I know that these women I blogged with would become really good friends of mine.

Every year, these ladies plan a meet-up. Last year, it was in Vegas and this year, it was in NOLA. I had no excuse–I had to do this! It isn’t very often that I meet my Internet friends. I’m pretty shy in real life, so I’m always pretty nervous about shutting down and being super quiet. And before you laugh at me, it has happened before. I actually remember sort of shutting down and not talking to anyone (with the exception of the friend I went with) at a local blogger meet-up. Fail.

For this meet-up, I got to work with the fabulous Serena of Big Apple Nosh to plan all of the foodie events for the trip. Serena and I had a blast introducing everyone to some fabulous NOLA fare. :-)

You might notice that quite a few pictures of food are missing. I totally forgot to take pictures most of the time, because I was probably talking my mouth off. This gal did NOT show her shy side over the weekend…thank goodness. ;-)

Thursday evening, we started with some great (CHEAP) food from Cafe Maspero’s. It was such a fun place to meet everyone for the first time, and heck, where else can you get a draft beer and HUGE sandwich with fries for about $10?

On Friday morning, we attended a cooking class, where we learned about gumbo, etouffee, pralines and bread pudding. It was a fun, interactive class, but I found that the instructors made the dishes pretty mild. I guess they want to gradually ease in the tourists to some Louisiana flavors? Boo…

Gumbo

You know this is a blogger trip when everyone is snapping pictures at the food.

Busted, Big Apple Nosh!

Big Apple Nosh doing her thing!

On Saturday, we organized a mini food tour for everyone. We made sure that we let everyone try some real gumbo (not the bland stuff from class) from Coop’s Place, yummy muffalettas from Central Grocery and of course, beignets from Cafe du Monde!

Beignets

That evening, we had a dinner at Oceana Grill in the French Quarter. We surprised everyone with some king cake, since Haydel’s Bakery makes them year-round! And of course, there had to be a prize for whoever got the baby! :-)

Sigh…Sunday. This was the end of the trip for everyone, and we knew we had to offer everyone a brunch to remember. The Ruby Slipper fit the bill. Bananas Foster Pain Perdu anyone? I think I’ll only make french toast with french bread from now on!

Bananas Foster Pain Perdu

I’m still super bummed that the weekend flew by. It was so fabulous to meet these amazing ladies, and I can’t WAIT for the next meet-up with everyone! :-)

King Cake

King Cake

As of January 6th, it’s now the Carnival season! Of course, this means king cakes are back in stores. I absolutely love king cake. It’s a sweet, yeast bread with cinnamon and topped with icing and colored sugars (I made mine in black/gold for the Saints game on Saturday.). They make king cakes with so many fillings too, from cream cheese to apple to bavarian cream! This time, I made a plain king cake, since people are pretty particular about what fillings they like with king cake. :)

I’ve made king cake before, and it turned out tasting like bread. It was NOT king cake. This recipe, however, is MUCH better. This recipe actually comes from Haydel’s Bakery, which is where we had our wedding cake and groom’s cake (which was a tiered king cake) made. I found it fairly easy to make too, however, I think their recipe would be much better if you ice and sugar after baking, which is different than what their recipe suggested. When I made it their way (bake with sugar already sprinkled on), most of us just pulled the chunks of sugar off of the king cake while eating it.

King Cake
Source: adapted from WWLTV via Haydel’s Bakery

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup all purpose shortening
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 lg. eggs
  • 1 cup milk (room temperature)
  • 2 sm. packs active dry yeast
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp orange zest
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp butter extract
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon sugar

For the icing:

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. water

For the colored sugars:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar for each color that you want to make
  • assorted food coloring

Directions:

  1. In a mixer at first speed combine 1/3 cup granulated sugar, salt, and shortening until well creamed. Add eggs and continue to cream.
  2. Dissolve the yeast in the milk and add the flavors. Once dissolved add to creamed mixture and continue to mix.
  3. Add flour a cup at a time and mix until dough tightens.
  4. Remove from mixer and knead into a ball. At this point sprinkle some flour on top and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest for 1½ hours.
  5. While the dough is resting mix your colored sugars and icing. Mix the 1/2 cup of sugar with a few drops of food coloring until the color you reach is desired.
  6. For the icing, whisk the confectioners sugar with the water and vanilla.
  7. When dough has rested roll out into an oblong piece. Brush on canola oil covering the entire piece. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar liberally over the whole piece.
  8. Once the dough is covered with the cinnamon sugar and oil, fold it in half lengthwise. Cut into 3 strips and braid the dough. Gently roll the dough by starting at one end and working all the way down to the other end. This will make the dough a nice long piece that can then be shaped into a circle. Once shaped place on a baking pan covered with piece of parchment.
  9. Allow the dough to rest again until it doubles in size. Bake at 370 degrees F for 12-15 minutes until dough is golden brown.
  10. Let the cake cool and spread the icing on top. Then, sprinkle with your colored sugars. Enjoy!

Crawfish Boiled Mashed Potatoes

Meatloaf/Potatoes

“Hey, uh, Amy? You’ve posted this picture before. You know that, right?” I’m sure you guys are thinking that, but this time I’m going to rave about what’s on the right side of that plate. Oh yes, those potatoes.

These aren’t your ordinary mashed potatoes. They are spicy, flavorful and make you want to start peeling crawfish at a newspaper-lined dinner table. Delicious!

I had a similar tasting dish at a local chain that, as a Louisianian, had me thinking, “Why didn’t I think of doing this?” It’s so simple and such a great idea!

Basically, at a crawfish boil, there is more than crawfish there. You have boiled veggies, like corn, potatoes, onions, garlic, etc. This recipe takes those potatoes to a dinner plate-worthy level, if you get my drift. Oh, and you can easily make these in the kitchen. No need for the 100 gallon pots here, folks!

Crawfish Boiled Mashed Potatoes
Source: an original

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs. small red potatoes
  • 1/8 cup crawfish boil seasoning
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • Milk (as needed)

Directions:

  1. Fill a pot with water and add pre-washed red potatoes and seasoning.
  2. Bring to a boil for about 20-25 minutes or until fork tender.
  3. Let the potatoes sit in the water for 5-10 minutes to absorb the seasoning. (We did 10 minutes. Husband loved them…I thought WAY too spicy, but I’m a wuss!)
  4. Take the potatoes out and put them in a large bowl. Mash them with the butter added in. If you find this too thick, add milk, a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

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! :)