Monday, November 16, 2009


I'm finally back in the dot-com loop thanks to my brother, Robert, the computer genius. (Two recipes of Becca's Double Chocolate Chip Cookie dough and we called it even.) One severed cable cord and a distasteful computer bug seemed to be the only items left to deal with after our whirlwind home re-renovation project. I guess it wasn't all bad. I did get a couple of bedrooms finished in hardwoods and the entire house now has 1/4 round next to the baseboards. I must say, it looks pretty sharp.

During all of the construction madness, I made it a point of planning easy access meals, as well as items that could be made once and eaten on twice. One that came in handy was Easy Red Beans and Rice with Sausage. It's one of those meals that's flavorful and comforting without having to put in too much effort. I make it a little different each time, however I scribbled it down last week so that I could share it with you.

Plan to pick up pantry items to keep on hand week to week such as: diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and cans of kidney beans (some of these items are not in this version of the dish), that way, when you're in a pinch, most of your main ingredients are already in-house.

Easy Red Beans and Rice with Sausage
Makes 6 Servings
Prep: 15 min., Cook: 4o-ish min.

1 lb. Conecuh smoked sausage, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1/2 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. Creole seasoning
1 (14.5-oz.) can chicken broth
2 (15-oz.) cans light red kidney beans, drained
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
1 cup water
Hot cooked rice, sliced green onions, hot sauce

Brown sausage in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes. Remove from skillet. Saute onion, celery, and bell pepper in drippings until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 min. Sprinkle with Creole seasoning and stir in cooked sausage, broth, and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over hot cooked rice with sliced green onions and hot sauce.


Sunday, November 8, 2009


Step out in high style without sacrificing comfort on game day. When considering a bold pair of red kicks, you need to keep it pretty simple. The color alone is statement enough. And, there are many great choices at every price point. Looking good need not break the bank. There's always an affordable option.

Roll up your jeans a tad and show a little ankle... strap:

Gabriella Rocha Neve: $79.95 + Free Shipping from Zappos

Moschino: $369 + Free Shipping from Couture Zappos
Photo courtesy of Zappos.

For those that like a little more pink in their red:

Boden: $108 + Shipping
Photo courtesy of Boden.

Donna Karan: $179 (47% off original price) + Free Shipping from Couture Zappos

My pick:
Love the piping trim and sporty feel of a moc in a flat. I'm also a sucker for patent leather. They're going to really look great season to season. Just wipe and go.

Kate Spade: $202 + Free Shipping from Couture Zappos

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Gumbo and Potato Salad Yum-Yum.
I was introduced to the unlikely union, (unlikely, so I thought) last week at the tasting table. Photography leftovers and recipe testing just happened to collide in holy matrimony before me. A rich, warm bowl of smokey sausage gumbo along with a generous helping of equally delicious potato salad. Come to find out, this is a pretty typical pairing in Louisiana. Mmmm...two of my favorite dishes side by side. All I can say is "I do" and "I will".

Here's my take on the two:

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Prep: 15 min., Cook: about 2 hrs. and 15 min.-- give or take a few

I like to make a speedy roux that turns a nice rich dark color in about 5 minutes. You'll need to stir every inch of that pot to keep it from burning and maybe even slide the Dutch oven off of the heat momentarily to keep your roux a steady color. If a medium-high heat makes you nervous, take your time at a slightly lower temperature. Personally, I just like to get on with it already. Also, the 1:1 ratio of flour to oil I use is simply my comfort zone.

Game Plan: Plan to chop the holy trinity (onion, celery, and green bell pepper) on Thursday and prepare the rest of the recipe on Friday.

1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup flour
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp Creole seasoning
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 32-oz box chicken broth
1 14-oz can chicken broth
2 bone-in chicken breasts
1 (16-oz) package frozen okra, divided (You can add it all at once, I think it's prettier like this.)
1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced
Go-withs: cooked rice, sliced green onions, , saltine crackers, hot sauce

Stir together the oil and flour (See image 1) in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until your reach the color just shy of a Hershey bar (a nutty aroma will fill your kitchen-- See image 2: You're almost there-- But keep going! See image 3: Further along in the process, but check roux color. Nice and dark). Add the onion and next 3 ingredients and cook 8 minutes (See image 3). Stir in Creole seasoning, next 5 ingredients and 1/2 bag of okra. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, and keep slightly covered as it cooks (I just cock the lid to one side) for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Remove chicken and fish out any bones, if necessary. Pull chicken from bone with a fork and shred. Stir into pot. Brown sausage on in a skillet and add to the pot, along with the remaining 1/2 bag of frozen okra. Cook 30 minutes. (The okra will add additional thickening power, so thin with a little water if you like.) Serve with desired "go-withs" (I like mine with hot sauce... I feel like the rice and crackers are a bunch of filler.)

To pack for the game: Cool gumbo at room temperature, uncovered, 30 minutes. Place in the refrigerator with the lid cocked to one side so that additional steam can escape, if necessary.

On Saturday, portion gumbo into containers, and pack in an icy cooler. Reheat at your tailgate location in a slow cooker and add additional water to thin slightly, if necessary.

The Extra Point: Easy enough to make during the week, no really, I kid you not. Once you get past the roux and saute the vegetables, you have time to pick up around the house and do a load of laundry with the occasional stir here and there. Great to serve for company too.

Images in method above: 1. Getting the roux started. 2. You're almost there!-- But keep going. 3. Ready to add the seasonings, broth, and such.

Big Easy Potato Salad
Makes about 8 servings
Prep: 10 min., Cook: 30 min., Stand: 15 min.

Serve this along side your piping hot bowl of Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.

Game Plan: Prepare Thursday night.

2 1/2 lbs. whole baking potatoes (The smaller ones you can buy in a bag.)
11/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. creole mustard
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 celery rib, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. Creole seasoning

Bring potatoes and water to cover to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 30 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Drain and let stand 15 min.

Meanwhile, stir together mayonnaise and remaining ingredients in a large bowl until blended. Peel warm potatoes from their jackets with a paring knife. Cut potatoes into 1-inch pieces and fold into dressing mixture. Do not over mix.

The Extra Point: Delicious warm or cold. You may need to add additional salt after it's been refrigerated. Season to fit your taste. Serve as a side to burgers, grilled chicken, or BBQ-- really with anything you see fit.

Fill your belly before kick-off and get ready to yell, yell, yell...the boys are going to need us. Roll Tide.