Joy’s Jambalaya

16 Nov

By Joy Hirdes

I smothered a couple chicken thighs in olive oil and garlic for one hour today. Stavo deboned the yummy tender chicken thighs and added a plethora of leftovers we had in the fridge to make the most delicious Jambalaya!

After all, that is what jambalaya is – adding everything you have on hand to make a one dish wonder!

We added to the chicken pieces broccoli that had been boiled in water and Cajun seasoning.

Bits of smoked sausage, a handful of grape tomatoes, cooked black beans and cooked wild rice.

Add everything to a sauté pan or pot, drizzle with olive oil and toss until heated through.

We added pita chips and white cheddar and our dinner was delicious! And we cleaned out the refrigerator in time for a weekend road trip!



Apricot Bars

15 Nov

By Joy Hirdes

A had just enough dry apricots to make this early morning treat.

And several of these delicious, decadent apricot bars makes for a very nice hostess gift any time of year.

Walnuts are optional and any dried fruit may be used .. like figs!

— Prepare the buttery bottom crust first –

1 stick butter, softened

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup all purpose flour

— Next the Apricot Filling

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup boiling water

1 cup dried apricots, chopped

— The Crumbly Oat Topping

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1/4 cup oats

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare with softened butter a 9 x 9 inch baking pan.

In a small bowl, beat softened stick of butter with the granulated sugar and the vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer until well blended.

Add the cup of flour slowly while continuing to beat on low speed.

Press the dough into the bottom of the baking pan. It may stick to your fingers but it’s ok. Just do your best.

Place in oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the center is set.

Now, in a small saucepan, add the filling ingredients – sugar, water and chopped dried apricots – and over a medium high heat cook and stir until fruit is tender and most of the liquid is gone.

Pour this over the pre baked crust.

Now, in a small bowl, mix the flour, oats, brown sugar and 3 tablespoons of chilled or soft butter and blend with a fork until crumbly.

Sprinkle over the pre baked crust.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until edges are bubbly and topping is a light golden brown. Your home will smell amazing.

Cool about 1 hour. Cut into bars or spoon a generous portion into a dessert dish and top with ice cream.


White Chocolate Cream Frap

7 Nov

By Joy Hirdes

Nathan’s favorite after school treat just got even more cool when we prepared it ourselves!

Yes, our Starbucks hack!

In our bullet, we placed six ice cubes, 1/4 cup half and half (or whole milk) and 2 ounces of melted white Chocolate or white Chocolate syrup. Also add tablespoon of sugar!

Blend until ice cubes are gone!

If you wish to add a shot or two of espresso or 1/2 cup of room temp brewed coffee, do so! Also, adjust ice to your preferred thickness.

Pour into two fancy glasses and top with a generous portion of whipped cream. Add white Chocolate shavings, or, an Oreo! Or, Lola’s favorite, a NutterButter!

You’re welcome!

Cheers to after school happiness!

Will this stop us from visiting Starbucks? Definitely not! But it sure is fun to make this ourselves!

Cauliflower Chowder

7 Nov

By Joy Hirdes

Warm those tummies this holiday season with a bowl of this nutritious Cauliflower Chowder.

Easy to prepare and a sure crowd pleaser when served in mini mugs as an appetizer.

Garnish your own way .. oyster crackers, crumbled bacon, pork belly pieces and fresh grated cheddar.

Here’s our version!

6 strips of bacon, chopped

1 yellow onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 tablespoon garlic, chopped

1 cup half and half

4 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons butter

1 bay leaf

1 head cauliflower, rough chopped

1/4 cup all purpose flour

In our cast iron dutch oven we began browning six strips of bacon, chopped, until crisp. Remove to a paper towel -lined dish to dry.

Leave a heaping tablespoon of bacon grease in the dutch oven and add butter, onion, celery and carrots. Cook about four minutes. Add entire head of cauliflower. Cook another 4 minutes.

Add flour and chicken broth and half and half. Stir well and slowly bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for about 12 minutes.

Add salt, pepper and Cajun Seasoning to taste.

Add more flour to achieve more thickness or more half and half to thin. Chowder should be creamy and thick.

We added two cups of an aged shredded cheddar to the pot of Chowder at the end. Adds thickening power and delectability!

Spicy Gingersnaps

25 Oct

1 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 cup granulated sugar for rolling dough balls prior to baking

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix first four ingredients together until smooth. Add dry ingredients and blend well, until a dough ball forms.

Roll 1 inch to 1 1/2 inch balls, roll in granulated sugar and place two inches apart in baking sheet.

Bake for 10 to 11 minutes. Removed and allow to cool until firm. Enjoy!

Chicken Creole

14 Oct

By Joy Hirdes

Stavo’s Chicken Creole! It’s perfect for football Sundays and family gatherings! This recipe will fill a large Dutch oven. You might want to prepare a day in advance because this dish gets better and better in the days following, if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers.

We plated ours over stone ground grits and it was out of this world, total eclipse of the sun, delicious!

3 small to medium onions, 1 green bell pepper, 2 stalks celery, diced

2 fire roasted hatch chili peppers, diced

3 chicken (leg and thigh) quarters

1 cup of the following meats, diced –

Tasso, Smoke Sausage, Andouille

1 stick butter
2 cups water

2 large cans diced tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Cajun Seasoning
1 teaspoon salt, however, Cajun Seasoning may add all the salt you need, so add salt and pepper to taste –

Season chicken liberally with Cajun Seasoning and rub with olive oil. Brown, over medium heat, skin side down, for 5 minutes.

Flip chicken and add chopped vegetables and a third off each meat, diced in small pieces. Sauté for 5 minutes.

Add butter, water and dry seasonings and simmer for 15 minutes. Add tomatoes and remaining meats, cut into bite size chunks. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove chicken quarters and debone; discard skin and return chunks of tender chicken to the pot. Simmer a bit more and serve in bowls alongside fluffy white rice, polenta or mashed potatoes.


Pork Belly

6 Oct

By Joy Hirdes


Stavo, I must really really love you to purchase, and then handle, this Pork Belly!

But anything for you, my love, and you provide the best instructions ever, via text!

So here goes ..

I asked the butcher at our interim HEB for a lovely piece of Pork Belly.

Stavo said a little salt and cracked pepper, some Alara Cajun Seasoning and a little sprinkle of sugar.

Place in the cast iron and into a preheated 450 degree oven for 30 minutes.

The house smells amazing!

Reduce heat to 250 and cook an additional hour.

You can remove from oven during the last hour to discard the fat rendered oil to another pan.

Allow to rest after cooking is done then slice and enjoy. It’s also a good idea to wrap and utilize the next day for maximum flavor.

We plan to make a pot of white beans with Pork Belly seasoning. And a charcuterie board!

And the cracklin at the edges – oh my gosh!

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