Cajun-Inspired Shrimp-Stuffed Patty Pan Squash

“Cajun-Inspired Shrimp-Stuffed Patty Pan Squash” may be my best recipe ever for fixing all the numerous summer squashes which grow my garden. I used these cute little “space ship” shaped patty pan squash and stuffed them with a savory shrimp filling. The patty pan squash are very bland compared to other summer squash varieties. They pair perfectly with a classic Cajun-type shrimp stuffing. If you are looking for an unique dish to share with family and friends, here it is.

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Authentic Cajun Dirty Rice

This week I’m featuring a recipe for “authentic” “Cajun Dirty Rice.” What is so special about “Cajun Dirty Rice”? When this recipe is made properly, it is absolutely delicious. Long ago, I worked in a small town outside of Baton Rouge. Upon leaving work, I would drive out of my way just to purchase a helping of “Cajun Dirty Rice” from a local fried chicken joint, “Danny’s Fried Chicken.” It was that good. This is one of those recipes which you will probably never find outside of Louisiana but it epitomizes Cajun cooking to me. It is full of the “Cajun Holy Trinity” of vegetable seasonings, fluffy long grain rice, meat, green onions and spices — yes, this dish can be quite “hot.” The mixture is slowly cooked on the stove to blend the flavors. It reminds me of a “jazzed-up” rice pilaf. This recipe does include two “secret” ingredients which make it unique. Read on.

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Louisiana Strawberry and Bibb Lettuce Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

For a few fleeting weeks in March, April and May, Louisiana strawberries ripen and are at their peak. You can find these luscious berries in local grocery stores and farmers markets. What is so special about Louisiana strawberries? I compare them to vine ripened tomatoes versus those which have been grown to travel long distances to markets. Louisiana strawberries are sweet, juicy and aromatic. They are picked when ripe; hence they are perishable and really are not suitable for transport to far away markets. Today I am enjoying these strawberries in a salad along with fresh bibb lettuce that I grew in my garden. I added feta cheese for flavor and nutrition, sliced almonds for crunch and served my salad with a Sweet Apple Cider Vinaigrette.

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Crawfish Cheesecake

It’s crawfish season here in Louisiana. These delicate, tasty freshwater crustaceans aren’t around very long in the spring, so it’s time to get cooking. This year I am making a unique recipe featuring this mudbug, “Crawfish Cheesecake.” And it is not what you might think it to be. Nope, this dish is not a dessert. Rather, it is a rich and savory appetizer with just enough crawfish to give it a taste of Louisiana. According to my friends who sampled the recipe, it is best when serve it with salty crackers such as Ritz crackers.

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Steamed Oriental-Style Chicken with Kale and Sticky Rice

I sent my husband to the grocery market to purchase rice and he returned home with a bamboo steamer. I certainly don’t need another “kitchen appliance.” However, since my husband was kind enough to run an errand for me, how could I ask him to return the bamboo steamer? Steaming vegetables and other foods is such a healthy way to cook things; I decided to give the bamboo steamer a trial run. Today I cooked “Steamed Oriental-Style Chicken with Kale” in the two layer steamer. I served it with sticky rice (also cooked in the steamer) and a simple dressing. It was an interesting experiment, really a meal-in-one, and my husband liked the resulting dish!

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Blueberry Scones

I love these tender, flaky “Blueberry Scones” and can’t get enough of them. I have several quarts of blueberries in my freezer remaining from last summer’s backyard blueberry crop. So whenever I see an idea for using blueberries, I’m ready to try the recipe. A blueberry scone recipe in our local newspaper insert caught my attention. I have become pretty good at making homemade biscuits. Scones are similar — just a richer version. This recipe is delicious and easy to make because of several short cuts and tips that I learned while baking many batches of biscuits. I can prepare this recipe in just a few minutes. Here is how I made these melt-in-you mouth scones.

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Easy Cook: Vicki’s Baked Salmon with Marmalade Glaze

We all know that the American Dietary Guidelines recommend eating more salmon and deep sea fish for a heart-healthy diet. That’s great, but how do you cook the salmon? Sister-in-law, Vicki, shared this three-ingredient recipe for “Baked Salmon with Marmalade Glaze.” The salmon is tasty; and you can’t find an easier recipe than this one. And it is a great choice for the Passover meal coming up this week.

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Cheesy Cauliflower & Potato Soup

What do you cook with half a head of cauliflower and one baking potato which are left over from other cooking projects? A soothing, hot soup for these cold spring nights is just what we all need. So I made “Cheesy Cauliflower & Potato Soup” which combines two of my favorite vegetables. The soup is creamy, smooth and flavorful. I used evaporated milk in the recipe rather than heavy cream; the soup is low-fat and healthy, too. Freeze the leftovers if you have any left. Add a little hot sauce to give a Cajun “zip.”

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Smothered Kale with Andouille Sausage

Here’s a recipe using another vegetable which is growing in my winter garden. “Smothered Kale and Andouille Sausage” is just good old-fashioned Southern cooking at its best. This recipe substitutes kale for other traditional Southern vegetables such as mustard greens, turnip greens, cabbage and okra. I am successfully growing Dinosaur kale in my garden this winter. Hurray! This dark bumpy, somewhat sweet and mild variety of kale works well with the slow smothered cooking method. Andouille sausage adds a smoky, spicy twist to this dish. If you wish, serve vinegar on the side for a tangy ingredient to brighten the kale.

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Sweet Salad Greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette

I am always excited when something grows well in my garden, especially if it is a new vegetable or plant. I would never say that I’m a big-time gardener, I just have a small, sunny area in my yard which I call a “garden.” And I mainly do things by “trial and error” with the help of a gardening guide. If something grows well, I’ll try it again. In February, I transplanted a 4-pack of mixed lettuce-type seedlings — it was called sweet salad green mix. According to my gardening calendar, it really should have been planted in December thru January. But, I thought I’d take a chance. Why not? (I read the gardening guide after I got home!) Wow, in a month these greens flourished and grew well, as you can see. And so I am proud to be making a salad, “Sweet Salad Greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette,” with the greens.

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