Are you tired of packing sandwiches for lunch? I am! There are so many other things you can send for lunch that don’t focus on traditional “sandwiches” and here are a few!
My kids love frosted cookies and I love pumpkin. During the fall, I stock up in pumpkin puree, especially when I see it on sale. These pumpkin cookies were the trial and error test of using up the last of the canned pumpkin in August!
I promise we eat other things besides breakfast… and yet here I am sharing my super easy blueberry breakfast cake. The thing is…I love weekends. Especially Saturday mornings. We aren’t rushed to go anywhere and I have the time to make something as delicious as this blueberry cake that my whole family will enjoy.
You all know how much I love Starbucks. I get my caffeine fix from the little green place once a week (if that)… and once in a while I get a little treat. I also love their cranberry orange scones… but now I like my recipe better too.
One day, I tried their reduced fat blueberry cake and all of us in the car were hooked. It’s moist, cake-y, has some blueberries and overall it tastes delicious.
Some people dread Mondays because the weekend is over and they must return to work. I have grown to love my chaotic Mondays. I spend much of the weekend cooking, testing MOMables recipes, cleaning, grocery shopping, hanging out with the family…well the list goes on.
Since returning to work full time, it’s gotten more difficult to manage the day to day things that seemed like tedious daily tasks before when I stayed home. I used to huff and puff about making beds, changing diapers and tackling the never ending Mt. Everest of laundry on a daily basis; I just wanted to stay home, blog and go to the park with the kids. Now, the beds get “stretched” and I try to squeeze the daily maintenance stuff when I can in smaller chunks during the day –I’m still waiting for the dishwasher to unload itself.
It never occurred to me, that I would embrace the New Orleans tradition of cooking red beans and rice on Mondays. Mondays used to be the traditional “laundry day” of the week. Women would put on a pot of red beans to cook all day while they tended to the laundry, since this a a one-pot meal that requires very little attention.
Now make beans on Mondays because my inbox has over 300+ emails that need to be sorted through, loads of laundry from the weekend to be done, Huffington Post deadlines to submit, run a business and get the kids from school by 3pm to go to ballet, music and gymnastics-that’s all. To say that Mondays are busy is an understatement.
It also helps that Baby G now attends “school” on Mondays. When I had our part time sitter at home, I didn’t get very much done. I wont’ go into details, but last year was a very stressful year for me trying to figure out how to juggle it all. I am still getting used to the family/work/life balance thing and I’m sure I still have a lot to learn.
Back to the red beans. So what’s the big deal about red beans and rice you say? To date, you can see red beans and rice in most homes around New Orleans and in the “specials” menu in restaurants. Whether you cook them on a cast iron pot or in the crockpot (both options below) this recipe yields creamy red beans your family will love.
The key to good red beans is time. Red beans need to cook slowly, over low heat and well. I asked Chef John Besh what his red bean secret was and he said: using “flavorful fat”. For this reason, I began cooking my bacon in my cast iron skillet and saving the fat in a glass jar inside the fridge. A little bit of this bacon fat instead of vegetable oil adds a lot of flavor; and in the end, fat is fat.
Even if you aren’t from New Orleans, I encourage you to adopt a “one pot meal” Mondays. It will make your life a lot simpler and nourish your family at dinner time.
- 2 onions, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil or bacon fat (from Sunday's breakfast)
- 1 pound dried red kidney beans
- 8-12oz ham bone, or
- 8-10oz smoked tasso, or
- ½lb uncooked bacon (4-6 strips), diced
- 3 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2-3 green onions, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
(how much salt you use will vary depending on what meat you decide to use)
- 3 cups cooked white rice
- In a 5-8 quart heavy soup pot over medium-high heat, add oil (or bacon fat), onions, bell peppers and celery until vegetables are tender and the onions translucent.
- Add kidney beans, ham hock (or tasso or bacon), bay leaves and seasoning. Stir to combine and toast seasoning with vegetables for about a minute or two.
- Add 2-3 inches of water above the bean line (about 8-9 cups).
- Increase the heat to high and bring water to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce heat to low, allow the beans to simmer for 2.5hours.
- From time to time, while you fold laundry, pick up toys or answer 20 emails, come back and stir the beans to make sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Continue cooking the beans covered until they are creamy -about 2.5hours- and they begin to break apart when you stir them.
- When beans are done cooking, take out ham hock (or smoked tasso) remove bone and roughly chop ham meat. Return it to pot, give it a good stir and cover.
- Optional: remove 1½ cups of red beans from pot, blend in a blender, pour back in the pot. This will yield a very creamy thick base.
- At the last minute, stir in green onions, check for salt and pepper seasoning and serve with white rice.
Gumbo is one of those recipes that can be made with just about anything you have on hand.
Ask any southerner what the secret to a good gumbo is and they will tell you that the secret is in the roux.
Knowing how to make a roux is almost a requirement to marry a southern man -so I’ve been told.
Recipes like this one are not only traditional here in New Orleans, but they are staples in our homes.
Don’t get me wrong, we have stews, soups, and cockpot recipes galore… but a southern man (and the in-laws) measure the quality of a wife by her ability to make a good roux- the base to any gumbo and southern soups like etouffees.
This is by far one of my favorite recipes to whip up. It is simple but it requires attention. This time, I made it with the extra turkey we fried for thanksgiving. Fried turkey? Oh yes, southerners are all into frying turkeys, chickens, cornish hens…
This past week, we had “all the kids home.” Meaning, we had my (teenage) brothers-in-law visit from Florida. They’ve been coming once or twice a year and we are always happy to have a full house.
I am grateful that Joey shares my humor in the kitchen. The boy loves food and he “gets me.” Can’t you tell?
I loved, loved, loved feeding everyone! And boy, two teenagers can sure eat! Joey was my guinea pig with all things food.
My experimenting with all things leftovers had no limits. I think I hit a new record for amazing food with this thanksgiving pizza.
I will be sharing my brick oven pizza dough recipe very soon… but know that it’s super easy to make and freeze!
Ok, ok. It was more about spending family time together than the food. Alex is in Wii heaven when this uncles come into town. I feel bad for the older boys because my little one does nothing but beg them to play Wii.
And then, there is the…. “Dad, we NEED 4 player!”
But I swear we also played educational stuff like backgammon. Alex loves it and has started to add on his own! Who knew that there were fun ways to teach kids how to do simple addition?!
After cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner for seven people for five days I was pretty exhausted. I was also tired of using the fried turkey in all things thanksgiving leftover recipes. The last of the turkey was used in this chicken gumbo recipe that everyone loved. There were no leftovers! Seriously, one HUGE pot of gumbo and no leftovers. I invited other family members to eat and we enjoyed it along with some french bread and rice.
I encourage you to make this gumbo for your family. It’s easy, full of flavor and delicious. Enjoy! xo
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped bell peppers
- 1 pound smoked sausage, such as andouille or kielbasa, cut crosswise into ½-inch slices
- 6 cups chicken broth -or homemade stock
- 1 pound boneless chicken meat or turkey, cut into chunks or shredded
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp oregano
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon file powder (optional)
- Cooked rice for serving
- Combine the oil and flour in a large pot over medium heat (use a cast iron one if you have it). Stirring slowly and constantly for 20 to 25 minutes, make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate. Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and continue to stir for 4 to 5 minutes, or until wilted. Add the meats, spices, and bay leaves. Continue to stir for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken broth. Stir until the roux mixture and water are well combined. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours.
- Before serving, skim off any fat that rises to the surface. Remove from the heat. Stir in file powder (optional). Remove the bay leaves and serve in deep bowls.
- Add ¼ cup scoop of cooked rice on top.