Company’s Comin’ Gumbo

Company’s Comin’ Gumbo

It’s almost Christmas Eve! If you’re looking for a dish that is perfect to serve while gathering around the tree, here is my Company’s Comin’ Gumbo recipe. You can prepare it in the morning and heat it up as the family arrives. This soup/stew has just enough spice to keep you warm and toasty so get out there a carol up a storm!!


Gumbo

This is a great make-ahead meal. You can put it together on the stove anytime of the day and warm it up when the guests arrive. The roux makes the dish… it’s rich, luscious and full of flavor!

Serves a 6 to 8
40 Minutes (or more) ‘til Dinnertime

Preheat the oven to 350°

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter, 2 sticks
  • 1 red pepper, deveined and diced into ¼” pieces
  • 1 green pepper, deveined and diced into ¼” pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces
  • 4 stalks celery, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 cups homemade chicken broth, or prepared low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (8 ounce) bottles clam juice
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 4 to 6 drops hot pepper sauce
  • 14 ounces andouille sausage, sliced and cut in half
  • 2 pounds uncooked jumbo shrimp (21 to 25 count), peeled, deveined with tails removed
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen sliced okra, thawed
  • 2 to 3 cups cooked white rice

Spread the flour onto a baking sheet. Toast the flour in the oven for 10 minutes.

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the toasted flour. Stir in the diced peppers. Cook the roux until it is amber brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and garlic to the pot. Add Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Pour in the white wine and cook until the liquid is incorporated. Stir in the chicken broth, clam juice, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Pour in the roux and cook for 5 minutes. Season with hot pepper sauce and additional salt and pepper. Stir in the sausage, shrimp and okra. Simmer until the shrimp is cooked through and the flavors meld, about 10 minutes.

Serve the gumbo by placing a scoop of rice in the middle of a bowl. Surround the rice with gumbo. Serve additional hot pepper sauce on the side!

Nana Network Tip

Use thawed, frozen shrimp and frozen okra in this recipe. It’s perfect and way less expensive!

All the Single Ladies!

All the Single Ladies!

I hear from my single girlfriends that cooking dinner for one is just too hard to do. Instead they opt for a drive-through fast food joint, a stop at the expensive prepared food department in the grocery store, a table for one in the corner of the local restaurant or even worse….  a bowl of cereal in front of the tv! There must be a better way.

When I find myself alone for an evening I look forward to enjoying a meal that I might not have on a regular basis. For example, my hubby is allergic to shellfish and hates, hates, hates beans. When he’s absent my culinary tastes go wild with anticipation. Red beans and rice, black bean enchiladas, lobster mac and cheese. The meals are endless, and most are made with ingredients that I keep in the pantry and freezer. Just like that box of cereal.

My Cajun Shrimp over Sautéed Spinach is just the recipe you need when you find yourself hungry and alone. It’s comforting, yummy, quick and adjustable. A well-stocked pantry and fridge help make your meal come together without a trip to the store. I keep certain frozen foods like shrimp and veggies in my freezer at all times. Most shrimp is flash frozen on the boat after it’s caught so doesn’t get much fresher than the freezer bag. Fresh veggies are best, but frozen veggies are often prepared right after harvest at the peak of ripeness, so they are a great back-up.

Seasonings like Cajun spice and hot sauce will last forever on the shelf and in the fridge, respectively. So all you really need for this recipe is fresh lemon, and this too is something I keep on hand. Remember the old Oprah decorating tip of keeping a bowlful of lemons on a side table? Not only do you have a fresh ingredient… you have décor!

Let’s channel your inner chef (kinda like that Chopped show on the Food Network):  What if you don’t have frozen spinach? You can serve this shrimp dish over rice or pasta (also pantry staples). What if you don’t have shrimp? You can use chicken tenders or veggies. This same recipe can become Spicy Cajun Brussels Sprouts over Rice or Spicy Cajun Chicken over Pasta. Any ingredient works. The dish comes together in minutes and lends itself to your tastes. You know what else? A nice glass of chilled white wine pairs way better with seafood, poultry or veggies than it does with cold cereal and milk. Right there is all the motivation you need to get cookin’.

What’s your “Single Ladies” favorite meal?


Cajun Shrimp over Sautéed Spinach

I keep frozen shrimp and spinach in my freezer all of the time. On those nights I find myself at home alone for supper, this is my go-to meal! I love it spicy…. So will you!

Serves 4
15 Minutes ‘til Dinnertime

For Spinach:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced, about 1 cup
  • 4 to 5 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds fresh spinach (substitute with 20 ounces frozen spinach, thawed)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse ground pepper

For Shrimp:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ lemon, thinly sliced
  • Juice of 1 ½ lemons, about ¼ cup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun spice
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 to 6 drops (or more) hot pepper sauce
  • 1 lb. fresh jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, about 21 to 25 (substitute with frozen, thawed shrimp)

For the spinach, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and just beginning to brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

For the shrimp, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the lemon slices. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, Cajun spice and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Stir in as much hot sauce as you like. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook until the shrimp are opaque and tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the shrimp over the spinach and serve!

Just Another Chicken Dinner

Just Another Chicken Dinner

Every time my pals Doreen and Keith come to the mountains for a golf weekend, I offer to make Friday night dinner. More often than not, it is a combined effort where I bring some veggie sides and Keith grills his favorite dinner – chicken.

One weekend this past May – yes MAY – the temperature dropped into the thirties. Grilling on the back deck was not an option. Of course we still played golf (bundled up as if we were skiing) but we decided to cook dinner inside, at our house, instead of out on their back deck. Not wanting to miss out on any of the fun, I set a menu that I could make in advance. That way I am out of the kitchen, heading to the course in time to hit a few warm up balls.


After Golf Dinner with Best Pals

Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms
Bacon and Blue Cheese Bites

Chicken Milanese with Herb Salad and Lemon Vinaigrette
Chili Crusted Salmon with Pimento Cheese Grits
Baked Tomatoes
Ratatouille

S’mores Cupcakes


The appys are made in advance and frozen until you are ready to bake them off, about fifteen minutes before the guests arrived. Vinaigrette is made several days in advance. In a food processor or blender combine shallots, lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar and a bit of Dijon mustard. Pour in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Delish!

I pound chicken breasts between plastic wrap to make sure that they cook quickly and evenly. Brush each side with mustard and dredge in bread crumbs. Sauté the chicken in olive oil and butter and place onto a baking sheet. You can do this a couple of hours in advance. Finish the dish in a 350° oven for about 10 minutes.

The salmon is easily prepared before your guests arrive. Squeeze lemon juice over a whole salmon filet. Sprinkle with spice rub. Mine combines brown sugar, chili powder, onion and garlic salts, ground cumin and paprika. You can prepare the salmon hours in advance then finish by baking in a 350° oven for about 20 minutes.

Ratatouille is a dish that combines veggies with fresh basil, tomatoes, and is topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. I sautéed onions, bell peppers, garlic, zucchini, yellow squash and eggplant. Stir in some crushed tomatoes and fresh basil. Pour everything into a casserole dish and top with cheese. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Finish the dish in a 350° oven until its hot and bubbly.

Have you noticed that everything is done before the guests arrive and that all of the dishes are finished in the oven at the same temperature? This, my friends and fellow foodies is my secret to being a relaxed hostess, one who sips her wine with her friends while dinner comes together. When it’s time to serve, everyone chips in and transfers food to waiting platters. We then sit down, toast our good fortune and enjoy the real reward for two days of playing golf in very chilly weather – just another (very yummy) chicken dinner.