Homemade Cowboy Candy (Candied Jalapenos): From Garden to Jar

My jalapeno plants are continuously pumping out ripe jalapenos. I don’t want to waste them so I went to an old standby recipe that I haven’t made in a few years: Cowboy Candy.

Check out this YouTube video where I demonstrate how to make this incredibly easy homemade recipe using spicy jalapenos straight from the garden and canning them in a jar with a sweet cowboy candy sauce. The sweet and spicy flavors blend so well together and make an incredible appetizer over cream cheese, as a marinade for meats, or as a complement to any of your entrees. This homemade cowboy candy (candied jalapenos) will impress your family and friends either eating it or as a gift to let somebody know how much you mean to them.

Preparation

Preparation does involve a bit of work to slice up the jalapeno peppers and getting all the other ingredients together.

All ingredients gathered and ready to go.
Slicing jalapenos
Sliced Jalapenos

Cooking it up

You basically throw all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. This includes the apple cider vinegar, sugar, turmeric, cayenne pepper, celery seeds and garlic.

Adding apple cider vinegar
Adding garlic
Bring the candying solution up to a boil

The next step is to add in the jalapenos and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.

Sliced jalapeno peppers in the candying solution

Canning

Everything is cooked up so now we just need to transfer the peppers using a slotted spoon to the jars. You come back and fill up to the 1/2″ head space with the candying solution.

Filling the jars

Please remember to wipe the rims off with a wet paper towel to ensure the lids will seal better.

Wiping rims
Taking jars out of canner

Recipe

Cowboy Candy (Candied Jalapenos)

This incredibly easy homemade recipe uses spicy jalapenos paired with a sweet cowboy candy sauce. The sweet and spicy flavors blend so well together and make an incredible appetizer over cream cheese, as a marinade for meats, or as a complement to any of your entrees. This homemade cowboy candy (candied jalapenos) will impress your family and friends either eating it or as a gift to let somebody know how much you mean to them.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 30

Equipment

  • Pressure Canner or Boiling Water Canner
  • Gloves, Latex or other
  • Saucepan

Ingredients
  

  • 3 lbs Peppers, Jalapeno (fresh)
  • 2 cups Vinegar, Apple Cider
  • 6 cups Sugar, Granulated White
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp Celery Seed
  • 2 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Pepper, Cayenne

Instructions
 

  • Pick 3 pounds of fresh ripe jalapeno peppers from your garden. If not available, pick some up from the grocery store.
  • Wearing gloves, remove the very top and the stem from the jalapeno peppers.
  • Slice the peppers in 1/4" rounds. Set aside.
  • In a large pot, bring apple cider vinegar, white sugar, turmeric, celery seed, minced garlic and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Raise the heat back to a boil and add the jalapeno pepper rounds and return to a hard boil. Reduce heat again and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  • Transfer the jalapeno pepper slices to your clean jars leaving a head space of no less than 1/2".
  • Using a ladle, transfer the syrup to fill the jars ensuring you leave a head space of no less than 1/2".
  • Wipe the rims with a clean and damp paper towel. Put on lids and screw on top finger tip tight.
  • Place jars in a canner ensuring the top of jar is covered with 2" of water. Bring the water to a full rolling boil. When it reaches a full rolling boil, boil jars for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let cool. When safe, remove jars from water using canning tongs and transfer to a cooling rack. Leave them to cool for 24 hours.
  • Allow jars to sit for 2 – 3 weeks before eating as the flavors will mature in that time.
Keyword Candied, Candy, Canning, Cowboy, Jalapeno, pepper, spicy, Sweet

Pepper Jelly: From Garden to Jar

Pepper jelly is one of those treats that we just love to make, eat, and give away, as it just leads to good time and memories. I use Jalapeno peppers fresh from the garden to make it. If you don’t have any in the garden, then pick some up at the grocery store, or use some other kind of peppers, and make yourself some pepper jelly. Eating pepper jelly with Ritz crackers over cream cheese is just delicious. Plain and simple, its good stuff.

Click here to see the YouTube video!

Harvesting the Peppers

First step in this process is to go into the backyard and harvest some Jalapenos from my organic raised-bed garden. I have 8 Jalapeno plants in my garden including Craig’s Grande, Pumpkin Spice, Orange Spice, and Brown Jalapeño varieties.

Harvesting fresh jalapenos from the garden to make pepper jelly
Picking some fresh Jalepeno peppers
Harvesting fresh jalapenos from the garden to make pepper jelly
Picking some fresh Jalepeno peppers

Preparing the Ingredients

The two main items to prepare before cooking is to prepare the peppers and prepare the jars. There is plenty of heat in Jalapeno peppers so we will want to remove the seeds and membrane. Then we’ve got to dice them up. Note: Do yourself a favor and put on some gloves as you work with the peppers so you won’t burn yourself up every time you touch your fingers to your face (or elsewhere)!

Removing seeds from Jalapeno peppers to make pepper jelly
Removing seeds from Jalapeño peppers (use gloves)
Diced up Jalapenos (I doubled the recipe)

The other primary task is to prepare the jars by sterilizing the jars, lids, and rings in boiling water or in your dishwasher.

Cooking it Up

The recipe for cooking the pepper jelly up is really simple. You only have a few ingredients including peppers, sugar, vinegar, and liquid pectin. The basis for the recipe did come from a really good book, Complete Book of Home Preserving, where I learned a lot about canning and other preservation methods. I doubled the recipe as well since I had plenty of peppers. You pretty much bring everything to boil except the pectin. Then that’s added under boil for about a minute. Next, you are ready to transfer to the jars.

Cooking pepper jelly
Cooking the pepper jelly
Adding liquid pectin to pepper jelly
Adding the liquid pectin to the pepper jelly

Canning Pepper Jelly

The final part is to fill your jars with the pepper jelly, wipe the rim, place the lid on and screw the ring on finger tight. Next transfer them to the canner where they are to be processed (boiled) for a minimum of 10 minutes.

Transferring pepper jelly into 1/2 pint jars leaving 1/2" head space
Put pepper jelly into jars leaving 1/2″ head space
Removing processed pepper jelly from canner
Removing them from the Canner
Pepper Jelly over Cream Cheese with Crackers

Pepper Jelly

This pepper jelly recipe uses fresh jalapeños from my garden to make some excellent pepper jelly you can enjoy year around. It is a favorite at our house over cream cheese and crackers. It's a staple in south Louisiana for LSU football watching parties and holiday snacks.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 15 mins
Canning time 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr 25 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 12

Ingredients
  

  • 12 oz Jalepeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and deveined Wear latex gloves while processing the peppers
  • 2 cups Vinegar, Apple Cider
  • 6 cups Sugar, Granulated
  • 2 pouches Liquid Pectin each 3 oz.
  • 1 box Crackers, Ritz Can be substituted with any other crackers
  • 1 box Cream Cheese

Instructions
 

  • Prepare canner, jars and lids. Makes about five 8-ounce jars.
  • Dice up peppers finely.
  • In a large, deep stainless steel or ceramic saucepan, combine peppers, apple cider vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in pectin. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat
  • Quickly pour hot jelly into jars, leaving 1/2" headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until finger-tight,
  • Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.
  • Serve over cream cheese with crackers.
Keyword AMERICAN, Appetizer, crackers, cream cheese, Jalepeno, jelly, pepper, pepper jelly, snack, spicy

This makes a great gift or serve your pepper jelly poured over some cream cheese, with crackers, and make memories with your family and friends.  Please let us know how you like this post or have suggestions on future posts. Please visit our YouTube channel as well.

Enjoy! Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!

Check out my other garden to jar post here (Salsa Verde).

Please LIKE this post. If you have any COMMENTS or QUESTIONS, please post below. Please SUBSCRIBE to our BLOG for additional great content.

Make Beer at Home: Review of Chocolate Maple Porter Beer Kit

My daughter was so kind to give me a Chocolate Maple Porter Beer Kit from www.BrooklynBrewShop.com for Christmas. Unfortunately, I put it in the pantry, it got covered up, and I forgot about it. I was digging through looking for something else and found it again. I thought I would add a post showing how the kit worked and the overall process of making beer at home. This is a first time for me making beer.

Beer Making Kit

Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Chocolate Maple Porter Bear Making Kit

The Beer Making Kit has just about everything that you need to brew the beer. The Beer Making Kit comes with:

  • Grain, hops, and yeast for your first batch
  • Racking cane
  • Thermometer
  • Tubing Clamp
  • Glass fermenting jug
  • Cleanser/Sanitizer
  • Airlock
  • Clear vinyl tubing
  • Screw-cap stopper

You will also need the following but is not included in the Brew Kit:

  • 6-quart pot
  • Strainer, fine mesh (large)
  • Funnel
  • Maple Syrup
  • Bottles and caps

Making the Mash

Making the Mash involves cooking the grain to extract all the sugars, color and flavor. It is cooked at a controlled temperature using a thermometer. You may have to throttle the heat back and forth to ensure it maintains a temperature range of 144-152°F for 60 minutes.

Making the mash

The Sparge

The Sparge step is what creates the wort (the beer). You take the mash from the first step and place it in a fine strainer. Next, your pour hot water over the mash in order to extract all those sugars, colors and flavor into your wort.

Straining the sparge with hot water

This is where I had some difficulty. The strainer that I used just barely held all of the sparge. So, as I poured the hot water over it, the water wanted to wash the sparge over the top of the strainer. I just had to go real slow and I put some cheesecloth between the strainer and a colander to prevent the sparge from getting into the wort. Note: the wort already tasted pretty good.

Straining the wort

The Boil

The Boil step is pretty straightforward and that’s where we bring the wort to a boil and add in the hops and maple syrup. Once you get it to a rapid boil, you cut the heat back to a light boil and add in 3/4 of the Hops. The remaining Hops is added after 45 minutes. Finally, 15 minutes later, turn off the heat and add the maple syrup.

About to add the hops to the wort

Fermentation

The fermentation process is when we add the yeast to the wort and fermentation of sugar to alcohol occurs. We utilize the fermentation jug that comes with the kit. We cool the wort after the boil down to 70°F. Transfer the wort to the jug. Next we “pitch” the yeast into the wort in the jug.

“Pitching” the yeast

Once the yeast is added, you need to shake the jug aggressively to mix yeast and get more air into the wort.

Shaking Jug Aggressively (this is my best “shaking the jug aggressively” face)

Next, we attach the screw-top stopper to the jug. Place the rubber tubing into the opening on the screw-top no more than 1″ deep. You place the other end of the tubing in a small bowl of sanitizer solution. This setup allows the CO2 to escape. Let the jug with the tubing arrangement sit for 2 or 3 days. The fermentation process is in full gear and you will see CO2 gas bubbling vigorously in the sanitizer solution.

First 2 or 3 days of fermentation – Bubbling away (see the bubbles?)

After 2 to 3 days of bubbling (it will slow up), remove the tubing and put on the airlock by pushing it into the screw-top’s hole. Place the jug in a dark place at room temperature for 2 weeks.

Jug after sitting for 2 weeks on dark room temperature location, with airlock on it.

Bottling

You siphon the beer using the tubing and the racking cane to a pot that contains 3 tablespoons of maple syrup. This mixes the maple syrup with the beer giving the yeast a “wake-up” call allowing for carbonation to build up once siphoned in the bottles and capped. The bottles are then sealed and stowed away for 2 more weeks to build up some carbonation.

Siphoning beer into pot to mix with additional maple syrup
Siphoning beer into the bottles
Putting lids on the bottles

This is the other problem I had in this beer brewing experiment. The lids on a few of these bottles must not have sealed well as they turned out flat (no fizz, bummer, still tasted pretty good though). These bottles have been used numerous times so the lids may be getting a bit worn out.

Conclusion

Beer brewing at home is fun but does require a little bit of work on your behalf. Patience is also required as it takes 4 weeks at least to allow the two stages of fermentation to run its course. The steps as explained on BrooklynBrewShop.Com’s website was satisfactory in describing the steps but you have to try out a few of the steps first before it makes total sense (e.g. siphoning beer using the racking cane, tubing, and sanitizing solution).

BrooklynBrewShop.Com’s Chocolate Maple Porter beer did taste excellent. It was somewhat rich and chocolatey with a slight undertone of sweetness. Note: the dark chocolate flavor does come from a small amount of Chocolate Malt.

Will I do this again? Absolutely! Now that I better understand the process, I intend to try this out again with a different type of beer but maybe with some new bottles and caps this time.

********************************************

Now, enjoy the simple life and make memories by sitting with your family or friends, and sipping on a Chocolate Maple Porter beer that you made with your own hands.  Please let us know how you like this post or have suggestions on future posts.

Enjoy! Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!

Please LIKE this post. If you have any COMMENTS or QUESTIONS, please post below. Please SUBSCRIBE to our BLOG for additional great content.

How to make Egg Drop Soup with Pork Belly

Egg drop soup is such a mainstay of eating at Chinese food buffets. We don’t go out to eat too often now days with COVID-19 lurking around and also trying to watch our weight (go down, not up). So, when I came across a pork belly calling my name at Costco, I knew one of the menu items for our family gathering was to be Egg Drop Soup with Pork Belly. This post shows you the recipe for how to make an incredible homemade egg drop soup with pork belly.

Homemade Egg Drop Soup with Pork Belly - Ready to Serve
Egg Drop Soup with Pork Belly (and fall decorations)

Chinese Cuisine Theme Menu

I used pork belly in various ways to showcase pork belly for my family. The menu included:

Homemade Egg Drop Soup with pork belly as part of Chinese Cuisine lineup.
Homemade Egg Drop Soup wit Pork Belly as part of Chinese Cuisine lineup with pork belly

This post provides details on how to cook Egg Drop Soup with pork belly. It really an easy process and is so delicious. The browned crispy pork belly provided a real depth to the soup’s flavor.

Preparation

The soup really doesn’t take much time to make so I went ahead and got everything ready. I ended up using Swanson Chicken Broth which turned out to be a good choice as it by itself is pretty tasty. To prep, I went ahead and chopped up a good bit of green onion, as the bottom ends go into the soup while cooking, and the tops go in at the end for flavor and for garnish.

Homemade egg drop soup with pork belly - adding chicken broth

Getting prepped to start Egg Drop Soup

Putting the Soup Together

Cut up about 1/2 lb. of pork belly into small bite size pieces. Add the pork belly into a pot on high and cook the pork belly until they are browned and a little crisp. You do not need to add any oil as pork belly has adequate fat. I cooked the pork belly in a cast iron pot. Once cooked, put them in a colander and let the grease drain.

Meanwhile, bring your broth up to a boil and add in the chopped bottoms from the green onions, garlic, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, turmeric powder, black pepper and tamari sauce. Add the pork belly pieces as well. Let it cook on medium high for 10 minutes. Mix up the corn starch and water and begin to add a little at a time until you reach the consistency that you desire.

Homemade egg drop soup with pork belly - adding garlic
Adding minced Garlic

Finishing the Egg Drop Soup

The final step in finishing the egg drop soup is to “drop the egg”. I prefer a lot of eggs to be dropped in my soup. Take 6 or however many eggs you want and scramble them with a fork. Ensure the soup is at medium-high temperature. Using a spoon, stir the soup, and drizzle the egg mixture into the soup.

Making egg drop soup - adding eggs
Dropping the eggs into the soup

Serve the soup in a small bowl, making sure there is plenty of egg and pork belly in each bowl. Add some chopped green onion tops and you will have a soup to remember!

Ready to serve - egg drop soup with pork belly
Served up Egg Drop Soup with Pork Belly and fresh Green Onions

Egg Drop Soup with Pork Belly

Traditional egg drop soup is kicked up a notch by using browned pork belly. The pork belly adds a real depth to the flavor.
Course Soup
Cuisine Chinese

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 lb. Pork belly, cut into small bite-size pieces
  • 6 Cups Chicken broth
  • 3 stalks Green Onion (chopped)
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2/3 tsp Sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp Rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Mostly for color
  • 6 Eggs I like lots of eggs
  • 3 tbsp Corn starch
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp Tamari Sauce Soy sauce can be substituted
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper

Instructions
 

  • Add pork belly pieces in pre-heated pot on high and cook until browned. Keep stirring the pork belly so it doesn't stick to the bottom. You may need to throttle the temperate back down a bit if it gets too hot. Note: Oil is not needed as the pork belly has plenty of fat already.
  • Add chicken broth to pot and bring to a simmer. Stir in about 1/2 of the green onions, minced garlic, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, tamari, turmeric, and black pepper.
  • Mix together the corn starch and water. Stir the soup continuously as you drizzle in the cornstarch/water mixture or you may get lumps of cornstarch in your soup. I typically add about half of this amount and check consistency after a couple of minutes then add more as needed.
  • Get your eggs and mix them up in a bowl. Some like to lightly beat the eggs so you still somewhat have a separation of egg whites and yokes. I just mix them up like scrambled eggs.
  • Drizzle the eggs in as you are stirring the egg drop soup so it creates more swirls and doesn't settle up on the bottom of the pot. Do this step right before you are ready to serve.
  • Ladle the egg drop soup into bowls, top with chopped green onion, and serve!
Keyword Chinese, Egg Drop Soup, Pork Belly, Soup

Now, enjoy the simple life by sitting with your family or friends, and eating some good egg drop soup with pork belly and fresh green onions.  Please let us know how you like this post or have suggestions on future posts.

Enjoy! Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!

Please LIKE this post. If you have any COMMENTS or QUESTIONS, please post below. Please SUBSCRIBE to our BLOG for additional great content.

Chinese Smoked Pork Belly and Cabbage Dumplings

Plated Smoked Pork Belly Dumplings

We had family coming over the weekend so needed to cook up a meal. We were walking through the meat section at Costco looking for inspiration and came across a nice slab of pork belly. I’ve never done anything with a pork belly other than season it and throw it on the grill. I decided to buy it and utilize in a set of dishes using a Chinese food theme. The menu included:

This post provides details on how to cook the chinese smoked pork belly and cabbage dumplings. It really an easy process and I know you can do it! Try it and really impress yourself, along with, your family and/or friends.

Plated Chinese Smoked Pork Belly and Cabbage Dumplings

Note: Pork belly is an inexpensive, fatty cut of meat from the underside of the pig near the loin. Pork belly is normally salted, cured and smoked to make bacon.

Raw slab of Pork Belly

Get your grill heating up. In the meantime, cut yourself a 1 pound piece of pork belly. Season it with salt and pepper on all sides. Put directly over the fire and sear all sides. Move to indirect heat. Add any type of wood or wood pellets, depending on your type of grill, to get the smoke started. I used a little hickory and some apple chips. Mine took about an hour and 1/2 but it really depends on how large the pork belly is, how hot the fire is, and how long you leave it over the direct heat. Use a digital cooking thermometer to measure the temperature in the middle of the thickest part of the pork belly. It is done when it reaches 145 F. Remove from grill and let rest until it’s cool enough to work with.

Either slice and dice the grilled pork belly so that’s it’s chopped up well or just put it in a food processor. My choice was to put it in my Ninja Blender and it did the job very well. Transfer the meat to a bowl.

Now we are ready to start adding all the ingredients together to make the dumpling. Add the cabbage, green onions, carrots, cilantro, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, ginger, and pepper to the meat in the mixing bowl. Mix all ingredients together.

Adding the cabbage to the dumpling stuffing

Dumpling stuffing all mixed up

Place a piece of parchment paper down or you can use flour on a smooth surface. Lay out a few of the wonton or dumpling wrappers on the parchment paper. Prepare a bowl of water to dip your finger in as you assemble the dumplings. Place a dollop of the stuffing into the middle of the wrapper but not enough so that it squeezes out to the edge. Next, using your finger, dampen the edges of the wrapper with water from the bowl. Fold two opposite corners together and seal the edges with your fingertips. Fold in the other two opposite corners and the final corner wetting the edges as you go.

Note: There are more sophisticated methods to folding your dumplings but I haven’t learned them. That’s why we will stick with what works.

Assembling a dumpling

Place dumplings either in the refrigerator or the freezer if not ready to cook. They do hold up well in the freezer as long as they are in an airtight freezer or vacuum sealed bag.

The way I like to prepare them is to put a few tablespoons of oil in a sauce pan. Get it to medium-high temperature. Add the dumplings, frozen or not, and brown all sides. Add a little sesame oil and green onions, and enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Cut the heat back to medium and cover the sauce pan. This allows the dumplings to now steam. Cook it this way for 5 to 10 minutes making sure the dumplings aren’t sticking to the bottom. When ready to serve, take the top off the sauce pan and allow evaporation to reduce any remaining liquid.

Pan frying the dumplings
Adding a little water to the pan
Plated Smoked Pork Belly Dumplings

Chinese Smoked Pork Belly and Cabbage Dumplings

Grilled and smoked Pork Belly paired with cabbage creates a deep flavor profile that is to die for!
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 20 mins
Smoking Pork Belly 2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 10 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 24 Dumplings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb. Pork Belly, Grilled and Smoked
  • 1 1/2 Cups Cabbage, Purple
  • 1 Cup Green Onion, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Carrots, Shredded
  • 1 tbsp Soy Sauce Tamari sauce can be substituted
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 tsp Rice wine or Sherry
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger, fresh
  • 2 tbsp Cilantro, fresh
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 24 Dumpling Wrappers
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 2 cups water For steaming in sauce pan
  • Soy, Tamari or Dumpling dipping sauce
  • Sriracha for dipping

Instructions
 

  • Season with salt and pepper and grill the pork belly until done. Add any type of wood to the coals. I used some apple and hickory for the pork belly.
  • After cooling, put pork belly in blender and shred.
  • Finely shred the cabbage and green onions.
  • Add the cabbage and green onions in a bowl with the shredded pork belly. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine or sherry, ginger and the cilantro to the bowl. Mix thoroughly with a spoon. Hands work even better.
  • Lay off a few of the wonton or dumpling wrappers. Prepare a bowl of water to dip your fingers into. Working a few at a time, put a spoonful of the filling on one half of the wrapper so there there is a gap around the edges. Using your finger, dampen the edge of the wrapper with water from the bowl. Fold the wrapper over and seal the edges with water and your fingertips. If the wrappers are in a square shape, take the corners and fold over.
  • Place some vegetable oil in a sauce pan. Bring up to Medium-High. Add dumplings and brown on all sides. Add 1/4 tsp of sesame oil and additional chopped green onions. Add water to the pan to cover the bottom 1/3 of dumplings. Cover the pan and let dumpling steam. Every few minutes you should move them around in order to keep them from sticking. After 5 minutes or so, the water will begin to evaporate. Remove the top and let remaining liquid evaporate.
  • Serve with fresh green onions and Tamari and/or Sriracha Sauce to dip in.

Notes

These dumplings will still be good if you were to substitute pork belly with ground pork and would save a lot of time.
Keyword Cabbage, Chinese, Dumplings, Pork Belly

Now, enjoy the simple life by sitting with your family or friends, and eating some good chinese smoked pork belly and cabbage dumplings.  Please let us know how you like this post or have suggestions on future posts.

Enjoy! Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!

Please LIKE this post. If you have any COMMENTS or QUESTIONS, please post below. Please SUBSCRIBE to our BLOG for additional great content.

Chicken Fricassee over Puff Pastry Shell, Garlic Green Beans with Pancetta, and Stewed Okra

We love to cook and get family together to celebrate any time we can. We had good reason to celebrate as it’s our 34th (Erin and myself) and my Mom and Dad’s 61th wedding anniversary. Wow, how time flies when you are having fun! Right, baby? My mom and dad, along with my in-laws, came to the house to celebrate. We decided to go old school and cook a chicken fricassee served over a puff pastry shell, garlic green beans with pancetta, and stewed okra. Amanda also pitched in with some incredible divinity pie and Louisiana pecan balls. Not exactly Keto/low carb, but heck, we deserved to be treated with the anniversary and all!

Chicken fricassee is a pretty simple recipe and even one that I can’t hardly mess up. It’s basically a chicken stew without all the carrots and potatoes that are in a traditional chicken stew and but starts from a roux. Let’s take a look at the ingredients:

Note: I didn’t put out the white onions, green onions, garlic and bell peppers. I prefer fresh from the garden but I didn’t have any green beans and a limited supply of my Orange Jing Okra. I also didn’t put out the can of roasted diced tomatoes for the stewed okra.

The first thing you need to do is cut up your seasonings (GG’s terminology) so you are prepared to add it as you get your fricassee on! This includes 2 white onions, 1 bunch green onions, 1 sweet bell pepper, 1 stalk of celery and 3 or 4 cloves of garlic.

Cutting up seasonings (chinese pink celery from the garden)

I use a whole chicken hen for this recipe. Go ahead and cut it up. I did pretty well as I didn’t cut myself this time!

Season your chicken before browning it. I used some fresh ground pepper and some “Slap Your Mama” Cajun seasoning.

To get things going, pour four tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil into your cast iron pot and bring to medium-high temperature. Once hot, go ahead and put your chicken in. Brown it on all sides and remove.

Next step is to add 4 tablespoons of all purpose flour to the oil in the cast iron pot, 1 tablespoon at a time. Mix in the flour so no lumps are left and keep moving around the flour so it doesn’t burn. You will have some tidbits from the chicken in the roux. Don’t worry about that, just keep moving the flour around until it gets dark brown.

Once you’ve got your roux to the right darkness, its time to add 4 cups of chicken broth. Add the 4 cups of broth and bring to a boil. Add all the seasonings and cook until soft.

Cut back to med low and and add chicken back to pot. Cover and cook for 2 hours or until meat is coming off the bone. About 15 minutes before serving, add some chopped green onion and some chopped parsley (fresh from the garden).

For the sides, I used some green okra from the store mixed with some of my Orange Jing okra from the garden. I put a can of diced roasted tomatoes, 1/2 a small onion, and okra in a pot, with a little beef broth and let that cook down. It needs a good bit of time to stew so don’t wait to the last minute to start this. For the green beans, I fried up some pancetta in a sauce pan. I added some beef broth to deglaze the pan. Add the green beans and an entire clove of elephant garlic (minced) and put the top on the pan and let that steam until ready.

One of the unique ingredients is the use of the puff pastry shells. Erin’s grandmother, GG, served her chicken fricassee in the puff pastry shell and it both looks and tastes great. Throw those in the oven for about 20 minutes to get ready to plate.

Now, we are ready to plate. Let’s add some chicken fricassee into the puff pastry shell.

We can now add some garlic green beans with pancetta and our smothered okra.

Voila! It looked and tasted out of this world.

Show the final plating

And finally, after eating all this great food, Amanda served her divinity pie and Louisiana pecan rolls for desert.

We love to get together as a family and make memories. The wedding anniversaries were a great excuse to cook, eat, and celebrate together. The food was delicious and the company was even better. Even with COVID-19 around, take the time to make memories now, when you can. You can do it in a smart and social distancing manner, but go ahead and make memories with family and friends.

****************************************************************************************

Chicken Fricassee Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp All purpose Flour
  • 4 tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 large chicken (cut up)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 – 3 white onions (diced)
  • 1 bunch green onions (diced)
  • 1 bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 stalk celery (diced)
  • 3 – 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 4 or 5 sprigs parsley (diced)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Cajun Seasoning to taste
  • Puff Pastry Shells (frozen)
  1. Chop up your vegetables and put them in a bowl, cover and place them in the refrigerator. Hopefully, these are fresh vegetables from the garden!
  2. Put oil in cast iron pot and bring heat up to medium-high.
  3. Prepare whole chicken by cutting it up into individual pieces. Season your chicken using salt and pepper, along with “Slap Your Mama” or other favorite cajun seasoning.
  4. Place chicken into hot cast iron pot and brown your chicken on all sides. Once browned, remove chicken and set aside.
  5. Next, we need to make a roux. Add 4 tbsp of all-purpose flour to the oil 1 tbsp at a time. Keep stirring the roux using a wooden flat edge spoon (preferably) or whisk so you keep moving the particle of flour around and so that it doesn’t stay in the same place and possibly burn. Note that there may be some skin and some meat from the chicken in the oil and that’s okay. That’s flavor. Keep cooking your roux until it turns a medium dark brown color.
  6. Combine 4 cups of chicken broth with the roux. Bring it back up to a boil.
  7. Add in the cut up seasonings (vegetables). Cook until seasonings get soft.
  8. Add the browned chicken back to the pot, along with the juices. Cut heat back to medium -low and cook until meat is falling off the bone which usually takes at least 1 hour.
  9. With about 15 minutes to go, add the parsley and some additional chopped green onions.
  10. Serve over puff pastry shell or white rice.

Now, enjoy the simple life by sitting with your family and friends. Celebrate whatever the occasion and make memories.  Please let us know how you like this post or have suggestions on future posts.

Enjoy! Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!

Please LIKE this post. If you have any COMMENTS or QUESTIONS, please post below. Please SUBSCRIBE to our BLOG for additional great content.

“Real” Cajun Spaghetti Cook and Plate

Real Cajun Spaghetti Meat Sauce

Everybody knows to make traditional spaghetti you’ve got to use a lot of tomatoes in your sauce, and maybe even some italian sausage. Nope, I’m here to tell you there’s another way and its incredibly good and authentically Cajun. What’s the difference you say? The Cajun way is to first make a roux using flour and oil, and that forms the base for your sauce. Erin’s Grandmother, Nita Rivoire Davis (GG), from Breaux Bridge, LA, came up with the recipe a number of years back. GG is not with us anymore but her cooking and recipes sure live on.

Make sure you’ve got all the ingredients ready as once you start the roux you will be steady busy for a little while. The good thing is the ingredient list is not too long:

Again, the element that makes this authentic Cajun is the introduction of the roux. To make a roux, you will mix equal parts vegetable or canola oil with all-purpose flour. So, one cup of oil and one cup of flour. Add the oil to your cast iron pot and heat it up to medium or a little higher (6 or 7). Let it come up to temperature. Sprinkle just a bit of flour and see if it starts cooking/bubbling in the oil. If so, your oil is hot enough. Go ahead and pour in about a 1/4 cup at a time. Use your flat-side wooden utensil or a whisk and mix it up so that there are no lumps. Then add another 1/4 cup, until you mix it all in and there are no lumps. To avoid burning, continue stirring the roux so that it doesn’t stay in one spot for long.

Early in the roux cooking process

When making the roux, since it may take 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how dark you want it, consider the following:

  • Use a wooden flat sided utensil to ensure you are moving all the flour around
  • Use a figure-8 movement while also scraping from one side to the other and repeat, over and over. Pay special attention to the corners where the flour can build up.
  • Don’t get in a hurry as you don’t want to burn the roux. Adjust the temperature as necessary. You will get a feel for how hot the oil is by the temperature, the sound, the way it sticks to the bottom of the pot and the smell. Use all your senses!
  • Don’t leave the pot and keep stirring until it’s at the color (see below) and consistency you are looking for.
  • Traditionalist would smack me around, but if you are in a hurry, you can substitute the homemade roux with pre-made from the grocery store like Savoie’s Light or Dark Roux. GG, please forgive me!
  • Hint: Get a snack and your favorite beverage before getting started.
Nice medium roux – needs to be just a bit darker

The next major steps involved the addition of the tomato sauce, the vegetables (or seasonings per GG Nita), then the ground meat. I used 85/15 ground meat but any type of ground meat will do.

Add the 2 small cans of tomato sauce to the roux and cook for 5 minutes

Add seasonings, mix, and cook until soft
Add ground meat and cook, spooning out grease as necessary
Cajun Sphagetti meat sauce

To finish the meat sauce, I add a little kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste. I like to plate the Cajun meat sauce over spaghetti pasta with fresh or frozen sweet peas and some garlic and/or cheese Texas Toast. I personally add a bit of “Slap Your Mama” Cajun Seasoning from Ville Platte, LA, and a little Sriracha if I’m in the mood for a little heat. You season it how you like it. Of course, don’t forget to add a bit of parmesan cheese to your Cajun Spaghetti!

There are a few alternatives you can try that will adjust the flavor and/or make it a bit more healthy.

  • Try some fried bacon or pancetta. I’ve even added some browned tasso. This adds to the depth of the flavor.
  • Italian sausage can be added in either links or bulk.
  • Meatballs can be added made from either ground beef, pork, or italian sausage.
  • Mushrooms can be added as well.
  • You can cook the ground meat first and drain the grease before adding to the sauce to make it a bit more healthy.
  • Serving it over spiral cut zucchini and do away with the Texas Toast will dramatically drop the carbs.

****************************************************************************************

Real Cajun Spaghetti Meat Sauce

“Real” Cajun Spaghetti Meat Sauce

An authentic cajun meat sauce created by my wive's Great Grandmother from Breaux Bridge, LA. The Cajun way is to first make a roux using flour and oil, and that forms the base for your sauce.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 3 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine Cajun, Italian
Servings 8

Equipment

  • Cast Iron Pot

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 small cans Tomato Sauce
  • 2 – 3 Onions, White
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 2 Peppers, Bell
  • 3 lbs Ground Meat
  • Parsley for garnishment
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Cajun Seasoning to taste

Instructions
 

  • Chop up your vegetables and put them in a bowl, cover and place them in the refrigerator. Hopefully you are using fresh vegetables from the garden.
  • Next, we need to make a roux. Put a cup of vegetable oil in your cast iron pot and bring up to medium-high temperature. Keep stirring the roux using a wooden flat edge spoon (preferably)so you keep moving the particle of flour around and so that it doesn't stay in the same place and possibly burn. This can take 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Add in the 2 small cans of tomato sauce. Mix it all together and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add in the cut up seasonings (vegetables). Cook until seasonings get soft.
  • Add in 3 lbs. of ground meat. Allow all the meat to brown spooning off the grease as you go (if needed).
  • Let cook for 30 minutes.
  • Add water to reach the desired thickness of the sauce.
  • Cook for 1 or more hours to really get the flavors all dancing in harmony with each other.
  • Boil spaghetti pasta.
  • You can serve the meat sauce over the spaghetti or mix the pasta with the sauce and serve together with some fresh or frozen sweet green peas and some garlic Texas toast.
Keyword Cajun, Meat Sauce, Roux, Spaghetti Sauce

****************************************************************************************

Now, enjoy the simple life by sitting with your family or friends, and eating some good Cajun Spaghetti.  Please let us know how you like this post or have suggestions on future posts.

Enjoy! Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!

Please LIKE this post. If you have any COMMENTS or QUESTIONS, please post below. Please SUBSCRIBE to our BLOG for additional great content.