Paul's Cajun Fried Zucchini

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Once in a while a recipe comes along that screams out SHARE ME.  And so, after quite a blogging hiatus, I am back to share this one.  It really rocked our worlds last night (mind out of the gutter!).

Paul Prudhomme is long gone, but his 1984 cookbook "Louisiana Kitchen" is not.  It is an oft studied guide by Nick (the hubbs) when he wants to ensure the perfect shade of roux.  Last night, however, staring at a pile of fresh-from-the-garden was mine.

I had checked all the regulars (Ina, Jiada, Mario, williams-sonoma...even cooking light...)...and nothing.

So I gave ole' Paul a shot, and boy did he come through.

This is an oldie but goodie...with a twist.

Paul's Cajun Fried Zucchini

(***Multiply this recipe by # of cups of chopped veggies you have.  I had 6 cups)

1 cup peeled and chopped zucchini (about 1" pieces)

1/2 cup AP Flour
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
vegetable oil (for frying)

seasoning mix

1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp dried sweet basil

Combine all seasonings in a small bowl, mix thoroughly.  Sprinkle chopped veggies with about 1/4 of the seasoning and let sit.  Put flour in one bowl and bread crumbs in another (large enough to dredge veggies). Add 1/4 of the seasonings to each bowl, and mix thououghly.  **This is how you cook in layers of flavor at every step**  Mix milk and eggs into yet another bowl (large enough to dredge, again.  :)) 

Heat 1 inch of vegetable oil in a large saucepan or pot to about 350 degrees.  I used a candy thermometer to determine and maintain correct temperature.

Now you're ready to start frying!

Working quickly, dredge veggies in seasoned flour, shaking off excess flour.  Then dredge in egg and milk mixture, and finally the seasoned bread crumbs. 

Carefully drop coated veggies into hot oil.  I used a slotted spoon, gloves are also a good idea.  Cook veggies until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes, and then drain on paper towels and serve immediately. 

Sprinkle your golden brown veggies with remaining seasoning - and enjoy!!

These are great with a little bit of ranch dressing.

South Beach Dijon Pork Chops

Thursday, September 22, 2011

This is a Phase 2 South Beach recipe that I made last night.  It has great flavor and is super simple to prepare.  The zing of the mustard with the slight crunch of the browned bread crumbs was really nice.

South Beach Dijon Pork Chops

4-6 boneless pork chops
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp dijon, divided
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with tin foil.

Mix breadcrumbs, parmesan, butter and 1 tbsp dijon in a shallow bowl for dredging.

Rinse, dry and lightly season both sides of the pork chops.  Spread a thin layer of dijon mustard on one side of each pork chop and then dredge in breadcrumb bowl.  Spread remaining dijon on other side of each pork chop and dredge.  Place pork chops on baking sheet and pat remaining breadcrumb mixture on top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown.

South Beach Sirloin Tips with Red Wine and Mushroom Reduction

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Oh hi there, blog.  :dusts off keyboard:

I have been busy with a newborn.  A refluxy newborn.  And maybe a colicky newborn. 

And then I started dieting.  After a c-section.  So you see I've been quite busy.  But I figured that while I'm still home (2 more weeks), and cooking diet-friendly food, I should share them while the baby is sleeping.  Shhhhhh.

South Beach Sirloin Tips with Red Wine and Mushroom Reduction

1.5 lbs beef sirloin tips, cubed
2 cups chopped mushrooms
1 cup fresh tomatoes, pureed
3/4 cup good red wine (I used a Malbec)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
S&P to taste

Over medium heat, add olive oil and garlic to a medium sized skillet.  Allow garlic to become fragrant, about one minute.  Lightly season cubed beef with salt and pepper, and then add to skillet and brown, about 5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and stir to incorporate.

Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, or until meat is tender.

**Sirloin is a tougher cut of meat, but is also leaner, so less fat than other cuts of beef.  As such, it takes longer to soften.  Be patient.  I tried a few pieces along the way and was ready to dump this down the drain.  But then the baby started crying, Sydney wanted to play with a puzzle, my Mom needed something...etc.  You know how it goes...and when everyone sat down with a plate in front of them...they all marvelled at the flavor.  So, long story short - let this simmer a bit and the meat will definitely become more tender.  :)

Furniture Rehab: Henredon 70's Vintage Dresser goes Contemporary

Saturday, July 2, 2011

I am officially 5 days away from having my second child, and I did the unthinkable...

I brought home a 1970's Henredon Vintage Modern Dresser...and took on a new transformation:


What was I thinking?  Oh, so many things.  Possibilities.  Rehabbing. 

And here's how we did it.


Rustoleum Painter's Touch paint in Black Semigloss
2 small foam rollers
2 Fine Grit Sandpaper sponges
1 package Extra Fine Grit Sandpaper sheets
1 small angled synthetic bristle brush
1 small foam angled brush


I found this gem at Luckett's Store for $375.00.  This may seem steep, but the quality, size, contemporary transitional quality of it, and just the overall presence of the piece drew me in.  You could not come NEAR a piece this nice for under $800 - $1,000 in any retail store... 

All supplies listed above set me back a total of $29.00 at Home Depot, and I'm pretty sure that included a bag of M+M's and a small American Flag (for Sydney).


First we sanded down the entire piece, focusing especially on the top, where there were some water rings and other damage.  We used Fine Grit sanding sponges first, and then Extra Fine Grit sanding sheets to finish it off...  We went back over any spots or scratches in the original varnish that would show up through the paint.  Most of the sanding was just to rough up the varnish to hold the paint, but the final work was to get a really smooth finish.

Then we took a medium-sized mixing bowl and filled it with a little bit of dawn soap and water, and then wiped the whole piece clean, inside and out.  Making sure we got rid of all the dust and grime before moving it into the sun to dry.

Next we started applying paint with the foam rollers, using very light coats.  We coated the top and sides with several layers, and then moved to the front.  Much more ornate, we used the small rollers in the squares, and then the brush around all the corners, being careful not to have any drips.

We continued to add layers of paint, lightly and carefully.  Then we laid it on its back, and checked all angles for coverage in all corners, and around all nailheads and hinges.  This is where the small foam brush came in handy, it allowed us to really get in around the nailheads and trimwork for good solid coverage.

This is where we broke on Day 1.  It was getting dark in the garage, and we needed a fresh set of eyes to check coverage.

Day 2 brought new eyes (my Husband and Father in Law), and renewed energy (well, sort of.  I AM 39 weeks pregnant).

My Dad and I removed the central hardware and cleaned it up with a little gasoline and paper towels (to remove a little paint that had gotten under painters tape).  We painted where the hardware had been, and finalized all touch ups.  Finally, we replaced the hardware, and relocated all the pieces upstairs to the master bedroom.

As you can see, the side doors open from the outside with pocket handles that are hidden from front view.  They have removable/adjustable shelves which we might use for baskets of loose items, or the cable/DVD/DVR boxes that now reside on top.  The center doors have 3 large drawers on wooden runners, beautiful dovetail construction.

I didn't bother to paint the inside of the dresser/cabinet, and I'm glad.  I like the 2-tone quality of it and it doesn't feel unfinished to me at all.

Here it is with just the center doors open.

And here is the final product.  I couldn't be more pleased.

South Beach Turkey Swedish Meatballs

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Here's a yummy, healthy, easy dinner.  There is no breading, so this is very light but still full of flavor and juice.  This was hubby, kid and leftover (microwave reheatable) approved!

South Beach Turkey Swedish Meatballs

1 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup minced white onion
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1-2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup low fat sour cream
2 cups chicken broth
3 tbsp chopped parsley

Combine ground turkey, onion and spices, and roll into 1" meatballs.  In a nonstick skillet over med-high heat, add olive oil, and cook meatballs until browned, 2-3 minutes per side (6-8 minutes total), and then set aside.

In same skillet, add chicken broth and allow to reduce by half (about 5 minutes), then whisk in sour cream and let simmer for another 1-2 minutes.  Add parsley and stir to incorporate.

Plate meatballs with sauce overtop.

Chocolate Espresso Icebox Cake

Monday, May 30, 2011

With a name like that how could it be anything but divine?  Oh, and its super easy.  No bake, 15 minute prep....and a hefty payoff.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Espresso Icebox Cake

2 cups heavy cream
12 oz Mascarpone Cheese (sweet cream cheese)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Kahlua liqueur
2 tbsp unsweet cocoa powder
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 packages (8 oz) chocolate chip cookies (thin, crisp cookies)
Shaved semisweet chocolate

Whip first 7 ingredients together in electrix mixer, or with a hand mixer until the mixture forms stiff peaks.  Set aside.

In an 8-9" springform pan, arrange cookies flat, covering the bottom of the pan.  Then spread a thin layer of chocolate espresso cream.  Repeat the process until you have 5 layers, ending with cream on top.

Cover the pan with saran wrap and refridgerate for 24 hours (alternately, freeze for 3-4) and then pull out 20 minutes before serving.

Just before serving, use a warm kitchen knife and room temperature chocolate, gently shave chocolate into swirls, and dress top of cake.

I did not have a single complaint about this easy, decadent cake.  I will be repeating this one!!

French Lentils

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I got this recipe from a Williams-Sonoma cookbook that I have had for years.  It is the first lentil recipe that I've found that doesn't end up with "beat up" lentils afterwards.  I think it is the combination of boiling and sauteing that helps keep the integrity of the little lentils intact.

I made a few slight modifications to this recipe.  The original includes carrots as well, but I did not have those on hand, so I omitted.  Also, the receipe called for fresh thyme, but I used dried. 

French Lentils

1/3 cup fine diced red onion
1/3 cup fine diced celery
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup lentils
3 cups water
1 tsp dried thyme

In a mesh colander, rinse lentils.  Set lentils, thyme and water in a small saucepan on med-high heat until simmering.  Lower to medium, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile in a medium saute pan, add olive oil, onion and celery.  Saute until tender, then add butter and allow to melt.

Add cooked lentils to saute pan, and stir to incorporate, simmering for another 10 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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