Oct 14, 2015

State Fair of Texas

A few snappies from the Texas State Fair on Sunday

Oct 9, 2015

Spaghetti & Meatballs

I walked in the kitchen kool-aide in hand. I'd like to say I was cluthin' a Mason Jar of sweet tea but that just wouldn't be the case. I'd have yet to find my obsession for tea whether it be sweet or not. And Daddy never did let me mess with Mason Jars. He’d have had my hide if I’d have messed with his cannin’ jars. Growin’ up Podunk, dirt poor cannin’ carried into his Texas life. My Grandmother stands at the island lookin' over a handful of ingredients. I now have a smile that reaches my eyes. I'd always wanted meatballs in my spaghetti but Daddy always found it to be a waste of meat. Never did quite understand that one. Even now as the years have passed I chuckle thinkin' back. 

Spaghetti wasn't somethin' I was always fond of makin'. I still remember it was the second thing I ever learned to cook. The first, a blue box of cornbread with my Paw Paw, all y’all Southerners swear ya never use. That bowl of spaghetti that took many hours to cook. That spaghetti I fussed over as Daddy sat in the recliner tellin’ me what to do and watchin’ a football game.  That spaghetti that didn’t much taste right when it was done but no one had the heart to tell me otherwise. And I suppose I was too proud havin’ just contributed to my first Sunday Supper.

But Grandma, Grandma showed me how to make meatballs that day. I still remember her worn and rugged hands. Years of workin’ in a factory and bakin’ weddin’ cakes, hands that had that special touch.

Even now, I suppose I try and recreate the flavors of my childhood. Those flavors so larger than life I dare not question. As I've gotten older in life I've learned to care more about where my products come from. The stories and families behind them all. I find this no different as I reminense back makin' meatballs in the kitchen.

package of ground beef
4 cloves of glaric
1 bell pepper chopped
1 small onion chopped 
1 jar of Ragu  
1 egg
2tablespoons of bbq sauce
1 tps of mustard
1 cup of breadcrumbs
2 tablesppons of flour
package of spaghetti

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. I always add a pinch of oil and salt. Helps the water boil faster or so I've been told. And since oil and water don't mix it will help keep the noodles from sticking when you finally add them in.
2. In a large bowl mix the ground beef, mustard, bbq sauce, flour, egg, bread crumbs and any seasonin' you like. We use salt, pepper and a little Cajun seasonin'. Once it has been mixed well start to form them in little balls.
3. Place the balls on a greased cast iron or Pyrex dish and bake at 350 until cooked thoroughly
4. While your meatballs are cookin' chop your veggies and the garlic and lay them to the side
5. Now you water should be to a boil. Add your noodles and cook them until they are done.
6. Once the noodles are done drain them and add them back to the pot. Now, stir in your veggies.
7. Stir in the Ragu 
8. Simmer on the stove and wah lah, y'all are ready to eat good. The meatballs should be good and done by this point You can add them in the pasta or leave on the side like we like to do. Y'all enjoy. 

Oct 7, 2015

Gimmie Gimmie Giveaway

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Creole Chicken Sauce Piquante

I walk in the kitchen. The aroma has now filled the house. It can be smelt from my bedroom. Filled with anticipation, I slowly remove the lid from the cast iron.  I smile as I see the red mixture before me on the stove. But, how would it taste I wonder? I purse the wooden spoon to my lips. YAAAS, success! I pause for a second content with my accomplishment. It's as if my life's mission is complete. I’d in my mind almost perfected the quintessential Creole dish. I mean could you really call yourself a Cajun or a Creole for that matter if you couldn’t make a Sauce Piquante. I chuckle at the name. Not soundin’ how it’d spelled; I never was quite able to explain to frans. Even now when I bust out “sauce pee-con” with the con emphasized familiar gazes’ are upon. 

Maybe it was the millennial in me and the thought that others needed to see what I’d been up to. But, did it really happen if it wasn’t documented…? I reach for my camera, too proud of my creation not to share. I sigh! There was really only one who’d have cared to see the pics and tasted the dish. The same one who taught me to cook all those many years ago, sometimes times in the late of night and early of mornin’. As I stand barefoot in the kitchen, spoon in hand I wonder if he knew, knew that I’d have a knack for flavors, ingredients. That’d I’d inherit his skill-talent.  Alike in more ways than one, I could just see him now. He’d pour the sauce before the rice. That’s how you knew a real Southern Louisianan from an admirer he’d always say. The rice to sauce ratio never a problem for him, but no, that’s not what he’d carry on about. 

“Not bad Holmes, not bad. But you barely cooked a swallow, just enough to make me mad!” Yes, that’s what I’d imagine him to say if he were still here. I snap a pic or two, a bittersweet smile all the while. I’d been so long I doubt he’d even know what a blog was or why anyone would want to see his creation he unknowingly passed down.  I hit publish content with the knowledge that I knew in my spirit he was smilin’ that nontoothed grin goin’, “You done good Holmes. You done good.”
Package of chicken breast.                      chopped yellow onion 
green bell pepper chopped
3 bay leaves
8oz of chicken broth
4 tps of butter
1/2 cup of four
salt/ pepper/ cayenne
4 cloves chopped garlic  
Cajun/Creole seasoning 
(I used Slap Ya Mamma)
But Tony C's is fine.
1 /4 cup of olive oil
1/2 can crushed tomatoes
1 can of tomato paste 
1 can of tomato sauce

   1. In a large cast iron, preferably a number 8, heat your olive oil. You can use less if ya like but 1/4 a cup is generally a right amount cause it will coat the bottom of the iron.
2. Chop your chicken into bite-size pieces and then season' 'em good with whatever Cajun season' you like. I love Slap ya Mama cause it's made in a little country Southern Louisiana Town most of my fam on Daddy's side lives in. The smell reminds me of my childhood. But anyways.
3. Throw the chicken in the iron and cook evenly. While the chicken is cookin', chop your bell pepper-onion- and garlic if you haven't already. 
4. Once the chicken is cooked remove and set aside. Now you are gonna cook the veggies. Don't worry about the iron already bein' "dirty." That's how we like it down south. It adds more flavor. Cook the veggies until they start to brown. Once they are brownin' sprinkle a little cayenne, pepper, and salt on them. Now, be careful with the salt cause most Cajun seasonings already have salt in them. y'
5. Once the veggies are cooked through and brown remove them. Now, it's timed to make your rue.Now my rue is a tad more like a soup rue. Meanin' it's light and not dark. I have yet to perfect the dark rue but since this dish is more Creole than Cajun (meanin' it's tomato base it's ok.) Remember how I showed Y'all how to make a rue this post. Well, the concept is the same. Place your butter in the pan. Let it melt and brown a little. But be careful not to let it burn. Now add your flour and stir real quick. You don't want anythin' stickin' or burnin'. Now, add the chicken broth and stir till your heart's content. Or at least until the mixture starts to form less of a paste and more of sauce.
6.  Throw your veggies back in and stir some more. Now, add the tomato paste, sauce and crushed tomato. Stir some more Y'all. I like to add a little more cayenne and cajun season' here but that's optional. I grew up eatin' things so spicy I thought my face was gonna fall off. 
7. Now, stir in the cooked chicken and 3 bay leaves.
8. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 2 hours. I know that sounds like a lot, but I promise it's not. You want the flavors to marinate. But not cook so much that the liquid cooks out or the chicken dries out. ya

Daddy always served with a bowl of rice. I saw online the other day some people eat it with noodles. I can hear Daddy now if he saw that. He'd say, "That ain't gonna do nothin' but make ya mad!" Y'all enjoy and as always if ya have any question just leave a comment. Sharin' is carin'.
How my Creole Belles read the blog? Did you grow up eatin' Sauce Piquante?

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