Shrimp Etouffee with Fried Green Tomatoes

You can’t get more southern than “Shrimp Etouffee with Fried Green Tomatoes.” I’m making this very traditional Creole/Cajun dish — “Shrimp Etouffee” — this week and I am serving it with “Fried Green Tomatoes” using the last of the tomatoes that I picked from my summer garden. Usually etouffee is made with crawfish when served in restaurants and found in cookbooks. However, peeled crawfish tails are priced out of my food budget this spring and summer. Shrimp makes a mighty tasty etouffee, too. And for a variation, I am making a “low-fat roux” or a “dry roux” to cut down on the butter/oil in this rich Louisiana dish.

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Refreshing Lemony Iced Tea on a Hot Summer Day

Here’s a refreshing and cooling beverage for the hot summer days that we are experiencing in south Louisiana. We first drank this beverage in Breckenridge, Colorado, last summer. The waiter called it an “Arnold Palmer” named after the famous golfer who ordered it so frequently on golf tournaments that is was named after him. The beverage is a twist on ice tea with a small amount of lemonade and “simple syrup” mixed in. I added mint leaves and a lemon wedge for garnish. Carefully pour the tea over lemonade and ice cubes and it makes two separate layers. The ice cubes don’t last long in this heat!. It’s a smooth and flavorful way to serve iced tea.

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Marinated Cherry Tomatoes & Herb Croutons

If you have a generous supply of cherry tomatoes and like croutons, this salad is for you. It is an adaptation of a dish we ate at a quaint sidewalk cafe while visiting Hamburg, Germany, two years ago in August (well before the Covid-19 virus). Recently, I found a similar recipe on a German food blog, “Mediterraner Brotsaladmit Tomate-Mozzarella,” which roughly translates to “Mediterranean bread salad with tomato mozzarella.” Who else would think of naming a salad, “bread salad”? I am renaming the salad with emphasis on the tomatoes. It is a great way to jazz up cherry tomatoes by adding in flavorful croutons (with Mediterranean-type herbs) made with New Orleans-style French bread. Here is my recipe variation.

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Zucchini Lasagna

This might be my best zucchini recipe of the summer, “Zucchini Lasagna.” When I queried my family on suggestions for using the giant, one-pound zucchini growing in my backyard garden, my son mentioned this recipe. And it is wonderful! Thin slices of the huge zucchini replace the lasagna noodles. Layer on a rich tomato sauce with the zucchini slices and mozzarella cheese and the result is a vegetarian “meal-in-one.” Plus, a layer of ricotta cheese, eggs and Parmesan cheese add a creamy filling — sort of a “surprise” in the recipe. 

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Easy Homemade: “Versatile Tomato Pasta, Pizza & Dipping Sauce”

I fell in love with Detroit deep dish pizzas when I lived in that city many years ago. While researching the history of those pizzas, I ran across a “copycat” recipe for the pizza sauce. I made the sauce with a few variations, and just by chance, used Cento Chef’s Cut Tomatoes. That made all the difference. The sauce is thick and flavorful. I like it so much like that It has become my “go to” tomato sauce for spaghetti and pasta, lasagna  and pizzas. And it makes a great dipping sauce for Focaccia bread. I am planning several posts which include the sauce in the recipes (such as zucchini lasagna and deep dish pizza) and decided to write a post just on the tomato sauce.

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Cool Cucumbers with Sour Cream & Mint with a Yogurt Variation

I’m always looking for ways to use the endless supply of cucumbers growing in my garden. This recipe is just right on a hot summer day. It combines slices of cucumbers and white onions with a sour cream dressing. I added in just a little dried dill and fresh mint from my garden. And finally, a way to use my garden mint. For a variation, I made the recipe using non-fat plain yogurt for a healthy alternative.

Growing Mint in Louisiana Garden

Mint grows very well in a Louisiana garden; I have both peppermint and spearmint. In fact, mint is sort of like a weed and grows without any attention. The plants spread along runners and can quickly overtake a garden bed and everything in its way. On the positive side, mint grows best in a shady area of the garden–and I have several shady gardens. It is nice to step outside and pick a few aromatic leaves to add to a half-gallon of ice tea.

I don’t run across many recipes which use mint as an ingredient — cucumbers and sour cream is a good one and the mint adds a surprising and refreshing flavor. This is some of the spearmint growing in my garden.

Cucumbers

Cucumbers also grow well in Louisiana. I planted these in early April and the began to get ripe cucumbers in May. (The cucumbers are the plants in the foreground of this photo.) I always get carried away and purchase too many seedling plants — but I want to make sure I have some to harvest. Most of these cucumbers became pickles. And we pick a few every night for salads.

Recipe Ingredients

This recipe is very easy to make. Here are the ingredients for “Cool Cucumbers with Sour Cream & Mint.” I like to use smaller cucumbers, if possible, in this salad. And an onion? I like to add a small, sweet white onion. Why? Well, I love onions and this adds a flavorful contrast to the cucumbers.

To make the recipe, slice the cucumbers and onion. A mandoline slicer makes this task much easier and the cucumbers come out evenly sliced. I especially like the hand holder on the slicer — it prevents your fingers from getting nicked, too. How many times has that happened?

Should you peel the cucumbers? Cucumbers purchased at a grocery store are sometimes waxed for longer preservation. These should definitely be pared (or peeled). And for cucumbers from a garden or farmer’s market, peeling them is optional. Towards the end of the season when the cucumbers are larger with many seeds, I prefer to peel them and hollow out the seeds. I find that paring also helps remove the bitter taste which is sometimes found with cucumbers late in the season which were subjected to dry growing conditions.

Yogurt Variation

I made a tasty variation to this salad using non-fat plain yogurt replacing the sour cream. I added a little olive oil to the dressing. It makes a very healthy and low-fat alternative and tasted just as good. Couldn’t tell the difference.

Here’s “Cool Cucumbers with Sour Cream & Mint.” This is a flavorful way to use cucumbers. In the summer months, when cucumbers are easily found in farmers markets and grocery stores, its a good time to use fresh vegetables.

Cool Cucumbers with Sour Cream & Mint with a Yogurt Variation

  • Servings: 4 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 2 medium cucumbers (12 oz or 2 cups peeled and sliced)
  • 1 small sweet, white onion
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain non-fat yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (omit if using sour cream)
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely torn, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp dried dill seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Method and Steps:

  1. Wash the cucumbers and remove any rough nubs. Cut off about 1/4 inch from each end and discard., If desired, pare skin from cucumbers and hollow out removing seeds.
  2. Using mandoline slicer, slice cucumber into thin slices. Place in medium size bowl. Set aside.
  3. Peel onion, slice thinly using mandoline slicer, separate into individual rings and add to cucumbers, alternating layers.
  4. In small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients–sour cream, dill, finely minced mint and salt. (If using non-fat plain yogurt, add olive oil.)
  5. Pour dressing over cucumber and onion slices, carefully toss to combine.
  6. Cover with lid or plastic wrap, place in refrigerator and chill for several hours.
  7. Prior to serving, remove from refrigerator and garnish with fresh mint.

Yet Another Breakfast Smoothie; Let’s Sit in the Sun

When healthy tastes good…..It is much easier to eat a healthy breakfast when it also tastes good. I brought out the Ninja Smoothie maker again this summer to make coffee frappés and began experimenting with smoothies, too. I “invented” a wonderful oatmeal and banana smoothie. It is filling and tasty and and very nutritious. I enjoy sitting in the sun in the morning sipping my smoothie for some added health benefits — read on. Best of all, made with almond milk, this smoothie is lactose-free.

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Classic Deviled Eggs with a Cajun “Kick”

Here’s a recipe which I’ve intended to post for quite some time. I love my version of “Classic Deviled Eggs” and I’ve finally found time to share it. The eggs are creamy and flavorful with just a hint of Cajun “zip.” It is a great dish to take to any event including a Fourth of July picnic or a covered dish supper. And I located a vintage serving platter made just for deviled eggs in one of my china cabinets — looks like this one has a bridal shower or wedding motif.

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Marinated Zucchini, Black Bean and Tomato Salad

My backyard garden is doing great this year. The star performers are my zucchini plants. I have an abundance of this vegetable and I’ve tried out a number of recipes. This quick and easy summer salsa is a tasty way to serve zucchini. No cooking is involved — just slice and dice, combine the ingredients and marinate. The raw zucchini has a mild flavor and blends well in this dish. It’s a very healthy recipe and good way to include vegetables in meals. Continue reading

Heirloom Tomatoes with Classic French Vinaigrette

Once again, I’m attempting to grow tomatoes in my backyard garden. I love fresh, ripe tomatoes in the summertime and am not giving up as a gardener. This time I have a few green Heirloom tomatoes on my tomato vines. Hurrah! I’ll add a few more tomatoes from the market for a grand tomato salad because I’m getting tired of waiting for my tomatoes to ripen. I’m serving the tomatoes with my favorite salad dressing, “Classic French Vinaigrette.” This vinaigrette recipe has been my “go to” dressing for years for any type of salad greens or tomatoes. My dressing is “light” in flavor, adds just enough pizzazz to dress up the tomatoes and salad and includes one “secret ingredient.”

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