Shrimp Stuffed Mirliton

I always know when a recipe is a hit when I go to the refrigerator and find the leftovers have disappeared. Shrimp Stuffed Mirlitons is one of those recipes. I always get rave comments when served for friends or family and my family seems to find the leftovers before I do.

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Mirliton is a type of squash the ripens in the fall around Thanksgiving and is grown primarily in Louisiana, in the states. It’s also found in Central America, South America and Mexico.

I found some mirlitons in the supermarket recently and couldn’t pass up the chance to try cooking with them. These mirlitons were large, uniform in size and unblemished–very nice ones.

I like to stuff the mirlitons with vegetables, bread crumbs and sauteed shrimp, similar to eggplant. Since the mirlitons are bland flavored, they can be spiced up with Tabasco Sauce or Creole Seasoning.

on how I make the recipe

Mirlitons: Louisiana Vegetable Pears

Two things I’d never encountered before moving to Louisiana were armadillos and mirlitons. Armadillos reminded me of a small dinosaur meandering along beside a country road. I really didn’t have anything else for comparison with mirlitons.

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I discovered that mirlitons are a type of a squash that grows on a meandering vine. They ripen in the fall and can be found in farmers markets and grocery stores in Louisiana around Thanksgiving. Mirlitons are the shape of a pear with textured skin. They are very bland in flavor, with a crisp and pale pulp. Perhaps somewhat similar to summer squash, but not really. The skin is very thin but the pulp is much firmer than a summer squash.

about Mirlitons and the connection with Nurricanes Katrina and Gustov

Sweet Potato Biscuits with Chives and Parsley

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While searching through my stack of recipe ideas, I came across a newspaper recipe for Sweet Potato Biscuits. That sounded interesting and a good way to use some of my sweet potatoes. Plus, the nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes are many–especially rich in Vitamin C and A. I added fresh chives and parsley from my garden for flavor. The adapted recipe turned out great, although there were a few challenges.

Read on to see a couple of suggestions when making biscuits… Continue reading

Twice-Baked Sweet Potato Surprise

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I bought a sack of Louisiana-grown sweet potatoes a couple of weeks ago, and now need to find many ways to cook them. Fortunately, sweet potatoes are versatile, lending their use to a wide variety of recipes from desserts to side dishes and even biscuits (the subject of a future post). They are relatively bland and can be combined with many seasonings–I even found a recipe for curried shrimp-sweet potato soup which sounded interesting.

My favorite way to prepare sweet potatoes is simply to bake them. It’s easy, fool-proof and tasty. Given the wide range of flavors that go along with sweet potatoes, I also like to stuff the baked sweet potatoes with an assortment of ingredients. The possibilities are endless.


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And It’s a Winner: Persimmon Upside-Down Cake

And back to persimmon cakes… A couple of weeks ago Baton Rouge Green, a non-profit organization which promotes green use of land through urban forests in our community (, had their annual tree sale and also a recipe contest. The recipes had to be made with products from trees grown in Louisiana.

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Of course, I couldn’t pass up the chance to enter Persimmon Upside-Down Cake. I thought it was a novel entry and as well as delicious tasting. And the recipe won third place! Here is the recipe, and a printable version is on



for the recipe

Let’s Make Persimmon Ice Cream (with Frangelico liqueur)

Burr!  It’s cold outside tonight; but never too cold for homemade ice cream.  What a cliche. Really, nothing compares to homemade ice cream, although some of the ice cream chain stores come close. And where could you ever find persimmon ice cream?

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When my father and father-in-law happened to be in town at the same time, they would always disappear together to locate the best ice cream store. Our family loves ice cream, and we made many favors of homemade ice cream when I was growing up.

I’ve continued to experiment with different types of ice cream over the years. Traditionally ice cream is rich in cream–making it a high fat, high calorie dessert. I have made several variations which are low in fat and taste surprisingly good. Persimmon Ice Cream is one such example.

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Sweet Potatoes: Will It Grow in Louisiana?

Yes, sweet potatoes grow in Louisiana. A bit of trivia, according to the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission, Louisiana grows more sweet potatoes that any other state except North Carolina. I doubt if sweet potatoes will grow in my garden which consists of hard clay. However, much of the central and western parts of rural Louisiana have sandy, loamy soil. Sweet potatoes need a long growing season making this a good geographical area for farming sweet potatoes.

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I purchased a sack of sweet potatoes from a man who brings produce from central Louisiana to sell from his truck by the side of the road. He’s been at this spot for several years, and his produce varies according to the time of the year. These sweet potatoes came from a farm in Bunkie, Louisiana. The variety is Beauregard sweet potatoes, developed for better crop resistance and it is the most common one grown in the state. This variety is softer and sweeter than the variety grown in northern states–which tends to be drier and more mealy.sack of Louisiana Sweet Potatoes - IMG_0660_1

Some recipes call for sweet potatoes and others for yams. Technically, all are sweet potatoes. When the softer, more orange and sweeter variety was introduced into the South, these were given the name, yams, to differentiate the two types. Yams reminded the slaves of the tubers they remembered from African or, “”nyami”. Yams are grown in Central and South American and can be found in specialty markets.


The sweet potatoes sold by this road-side vendor were moderately small ones; just right for a serving when baked. I plan to make several of my favorite recipes and post them here.

Don’t Forget to Roast the Pumpkin Seeds

After going to all the trouble to hollow out a fresh pumpkin for baking and cooking, don’t forget the pumpkin seeds. They are easy to roast and make a great snack.

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And the kernels of the pumpkin seeds are quite nutritious. Of all the seeds and nuts, pumpkin kernels rate among the highest in polyunsaturated fatty acids, along with walnuts and sunflower seeds. And they are high in monounsaturated fatty acids. These are heart healthy fatty acids and provide antioxidant properties. The pumpkin seeds provide protein, vitamins and some minerals, but you’d have to eat alot to get significant amounts.

There are lots of methods of roasting pumpkin seeds. The one that I like best is to let the seeds dry overnight, after separating out all the pump when the pumpkin is hollowed out. Then coat the pumpkin seeds with a little canola or sunflower oil, salt lightly, and roast slowly in a lower temperature 300 degree oven. To 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, I added 1 tsp. canola oil and less than 1/8 tsp salt, placed the seeds in a single layer on a non-stick baking sheet. Roasting time was 20 minutes. For a Cajun version, add 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning (or seasoned salt), 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce and 2 drops of Tabasco hot sauce. Roasting times vary depending on the type of oil used (butter browns quicker) and whether or not the seeds are dry.

Set the roasted seeds on your kitchen table and they will disappear quickly!

Soup in a Pumpkin

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Soup in a pumpkin brought to a holiday meal table makes a spectacular presentation. It’s a family favorite and we’ve made it many times over the years. It dates to the time when we looked forward on Sunday to getting the Washington Post newspaper in our mail box. It impressed me that the world news was always on the front page.

Each Parade Magazine contained a food feature by some well known chef such as James Beard, Julia Child, The Silver Palate authors–Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins (my personal favorites). This was probably my first glimpse at gourmet cooking. The November 13, 1983, issue contained a very young-looking Julia Child preparing “Soup in a Pumpkin.” I still have the original copy.

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Simmered Mustard Greens and Potatoes

The traditional southern method of cooking mustard greens (or any greens, such as collard greens, turnip greens), is to boil them until tender in a large amount of water. Here I’ve added a little smoked turkey for flavor and cooked them in chicken broth, adding potatoes to the mix. Cooking them in the same cooking liqueur helps retain the nutritional content.

1 lb fresh mustard greens
1 Tbsp cooking oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 oz deli mesquite smoked turkey, sliced up
1 14.5 oz can Swanson’s 33% reduced sodium chicken broth
1 lb. red potatoes, washed and cut into serving size pieces

  • Wash the mustard greens well, remove thick stems, cut into strips,
  • Heat cooking oil to large pot, add onion and garlic. Stir and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes until onion is translucent,
  • Add the turkey and stir, cooking 1 – 2 minutes,
  • Add chicken broth,
  • Add mustard greens and stir.
  • Add red potatoes, turn heat up until boiling. Boil about 3 minutes.
  • Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes until potatoes are tender.
  • Remove lid and cook a few more minutes.

Serves 6.