Have a prosperous, lucky and wealthy New Year in 2014

A Southern tradition is to eat blackeye peas and cabbage on New Year’s day or after the clock rings in the new year at midnight. Blackeye peas mean luck and prosperity. Cabbage, reminding a person of green back dollars, means wealth.  My very sweet, Cajun/Italian next door neighbor would share her boiled cabbage greens and blackeye peas if I said I wasn’t cooking any on News Years Day. She made sure we were taken care of.

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Traditionally these two foods are boiled, but they can be prepared in other ways as well. There’s no excuse not to eat these things on New Years day. And if you’re really not a cook, putting a few dried blackeye peas in your pocket has the same effect, I’m told. Coleslaw is easily found in restaurants, those chicken fast-food chains and easily made from a mix from the supermarket.

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Sweet Potato Spice Coffee Cake with Crumb Topping

What to do with the left-over or remaining sweet potatoes from the holidays, one might ask? This recipe uses sweet potatoes in a cake.

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Before you discredit this seemingly unusual idea, the cake tastes much like a banana cake or applesauce cake. The sweet potatoes make the cake very moist and the molasses and spices blend the flavors together. Try it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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Favorite Christmas Cookies

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is baking Christmas cookies. We made rolled and cut-out decorated cookies growing up, and I continue that tradition with my children. One year I got the idea of decorating our Christmas tree with the cookies; only to watch the decorations disappear one by one. But it was fun. I bake cookies for our family, to share as gifts and always look forward to getting my creativity in motion as the aroma of fresh baked cookies fills the house.

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Each season, I like to try baking a few new kinds of cookies. I’m a sucker for buying those food-related magazines at the grocery store check-out lane–and have stacks of magazines with sticky-notes to attest to it. Many of the recipes are actually pretty good. And since I’ve baked so many cookies over the years, I’ve got a good idea on what makes a pleasing cookie.

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Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Most restaurants in the South include “Bread Pudding” on their menus; it is a popular dessert offering here in Louisiana.  The baked bread and egg custard is sweet and rich, often accompanied with Rum Sauce. But, I have to admit that I never really liked this dessert. That is until I discovered Cajun Chef Paul Prudhomme’s version from the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans. His version is sweet and light with aromatic pecans; accompanied by a Lemon Sauce and Chantilly Cream. It will turn you into a “Bread Pudding” believer.

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Holiday Spinach Salad with Low-Fat Vinaigrette Dressing

One of my favorite salads to serve during the Christmas season is “Holiday Spinach Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing”. It is colorful–with green spinach and red cherry tomatoes–the fruit adds a nice flavor and the light dressing doesn’t overpower the salad. I always get many compliments when it is served.

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After moving to Louisiana, I discovered that many restaurants in New Orleans served a French Vinaigrette Dressing on lettuce salads. It was really a vinegar and oil dressing. The dressing used in my recipe is one I’ve adapted over the years based on the vinegar and oil traditional “French Dressing”, and it is now one of my favorites. It’s much lower in oil than the original ones. I use pineapple or mandarin orange juice in the dressing, giving the salad a fruity flavor.

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Satsumas: Louisiana Citrus Fruit

Do satsumas grow in Louisiana? And what are they? I have to admit I haven’t really given much attention to satusmas. When I saw the road-side vendor was selling satsumas, I decided to stop and purchase a sack. The vendor said that these satsumas came from Opelousas, Louisiana, and were not very plentiful this year.

bowl of Louisiana satsumas - IMG_1061_1That lead to a search for recipes that include oranges as an ingredient. Of course, I wanted to learn more about satsumas.

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Satsuma Sherbet with Candied Orange Peel

I’ve been sorting old family photographs and for whatever reason that brought back memories of the ice cream truck that drove through the neighborhood in the summer months. I always got Dream-sickle Push-Up’s with their creamy orange flavor.
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What a great thing to make with my sack of satsumas. I tried making a custard ice cream and also a sherbet. Both turned out with success. Surprisingly like the one I remembered.

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