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!

Harvest Tomato Cheddar-Feta Soup

Harvest Tomato Cheddar-Feta Soup

With the arrival of fall the time for soul-warming soups is here. Sunset Produce is the best choice for this recipe, but anytime you have grape tomatoes old or new, this is your go-to dish. The cheeses marry so well with the robust, tanginess of the tomatoes that you will want to make this soup once a week!

Serves: 2 to 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: about 10 minutes

  • Sunset Trio Tomato Package or 12 ounces grape tomatoes
  • ½ white onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ⅓ cup crumbled feta
  • ⅓ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 handful fresh chopped basil

In a stock pot or large skillet, sauté the tomatoes and onion in olive oil over high heat. Add the cheeses, thyme, salt and pepper, and cook until the tomatoes break open and the juices meld with the feta and cheddar, about 5 minutes.

Working in several batches, add tomato juice and tomato-cheese mixture to the blender and puree until smooth. For a more rustic finish pulse the blender a few times instead to leave seeds and tomato pieces, yum!

Heat the chicken stock on high in a stock pot, and then add the mixture from the blender. Stir in the basil, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a great big grilled cheese sandwich for dipping—after all, you have plenty of cheese left over right?

Butternut Squash Fettuccine

Butternut Squash Fettuccine


Not for the faint of heart this rich, sweet, savory dish of velvety-ness accompanies pork cutlets and sautéed green beans for a stunning fall supper.

Serving Size: serves 4
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

  • 1 cup roasted butternut puree, made from 1 small butternut squash
  • 8 ounces fettuccine pasta
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup homemade chicken stock
  • 2 large fresh sage leaves
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

To roast the butternut squash, preheat the oven to 375°. Slice the squash in half, from stem to bottom. Scoop out the seeds. Sprinkle a baking dish with olive oil and place the squash, cut side down into the dish. Roast until the flesh is fork tender, about 20 minutes. When the squash is cool enough to touch, remove the outer peel and place the flesh into the bowl of a food processor. Puree until smooth.

Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water until al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes for dry pasta.
While the pasta is cooking prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the sherry until smooth. Add the heavy cream and chicken stock. Continue to stir until the sauce thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sage leaves, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to the lowest setting for several minutes so that the sage infuses the sauce.

Remove the sage leaves from the sauce. Stir in the butternut squash puree and Parmesan cheese, season with salt and pepper. At this point if the sauce is thicker than you like you can add a few spoonfuls of the pasta water.
Drain the pasta and toss in the sauce. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.