World-Famous Natchitoches Meat Pies

Today I’m making world-famous Natchitoches meat pies. What? Louisiana cuisine extends beyond New Orleans and the Cajun country. Every now and then you can find a culinary gem tucked in the other regions of Louisiana. The tiny city of Natchitoches, with 15,000 residents, is found in the north-central part of the state. They like to brag about their meat pies — of course they are “world-famous.” These little empanadas are stuffed with a spicy meat and vegetable seasoning filling in a pie shell-type crust. Typically the pies are fried, however, they can also be baked, as shown in this photo. I decided to try my hand at making these meat pies, embellishing the recipe just a bit by adding a few additional ingredients. This makes these meat pies extra special in the flavor category, in my opinion.

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Cranberry & Satsuma Tart with Rich Cookie Crust and Gluten-Free Teff Variation

Here we are again with one of my favorite winter holiday culinary ingredients — cranberries. Homemade cranberry relish is just right to tame the edges of a rich, holiday meal. But, we can do so many more things with cranberries than make a relish. So, I’m baking a bright, festive “Cranberry & Satsuma Tart with Rich Cookie Crust” this Christmas. If you are looking for an easy, yet elegant dessert to finish a holiday meal or want a change from pumpkin pie, this is it. The tart is simple to make; using only a few household ingredients. It is hard to mess up this tart. The rich, shortbread-style cookie crust balances tart cranberries which have a taste of satsuma zest (satsuma is a type of orange) added in. Plus, I made a variaton of the crust using Teff flour — an ancient Ethopina grain, so that tart is gluten-free. I will enjoy several versions of this tart from now until Christmas!

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Spiced Cake Donuts with Apple Cider Glaze

One of my favorite memories of living in Michigan is stopping at apple orchards during autumn for a mug of fresh pressed apple cider and a hot donut. I loved Michigan in the fall with its crisp, cool weather and colorful scenery. Quite a contrast to Louisiana. In my opinion, apple orchards are one of Michigan’s best kept secrets. During apple harvest, family-owned cider mills seemed to pop up everywhere. There is nothing better than cold unfiltered and unpasteurized apple cider. As an added attraction, most of these cider mills sold fried cake-style donuts which were made on the premises. They are the best donuts ever and I am really wishing that I had some. But, I’m a long way from Michigan. This year I decided to make my own “Spiced Cake Donuts with Apple Cider Glaze.” After many attempts, I achieved a wonderful fried cake donut. My donut is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. And my recipe isn’t too, too sweet. I’m glad that I finally figured out how to make fried donuts at home. This recipe is a little tricky, follow my instructions exactly to get the same results .

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Brown Sugar Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow & Pecan Topping

Here is a simple, yet slightly decadent sweet potato recipe, which is perfect for the holidays. The scent of aromatic spices and toasty pecans warm up the kitchen as fresh sweet potatoes bake in a brown sugar glaze. Even if you aren’t a fan of sweet potatoes, this recipe is hard to resist. And best of all, it is easy to make. The most difficult part of this recipe is peeling and dicing the sweet potatoes. I like to share sweet potato recipes in the autumn; since Louisiana-harvested sweet potatoes are so readily available. Plus, they are quite nutritious. This year I am sharing a holiday recipe which deviates a bit from the nutritional angle — but this recipe is so very good — serve it for a special occasion.

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Za’atar Roasted Sweet Potato Fries in the Air Fryer

My daughter-in-law gave me a package of a Za’atar-seasoning blend which was intended for use as an olive oil dipping sauce. She loves Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine and had an extra packet to share. How thoughtful, and now I have a new cooking adventure! Rather than making a dipping sauce for pita bread, I used the Za’atar spice blend to flavor sweet potato wedges. The za’atar gave a totally different flavor profile to the sweet potatoes and it was a nice change from Cajun-type spices — which are typically “hot” and require a strong palate to eat. The “Za’atar Roasted Sweet Potato Fries” were delicious. Best of all, I successfully roasted the small batch of sweet potato wedges in my air fryer — yeah, go air fryer. This three-ingredient sweet potato recipe is so simple!

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Easy Cook: Persimmon Custard

Today I’m making egg custard with an autumn twist. I have several persimmons remaining on my backyard tree and decided to add one to the custard which I am cooking. It gives the custard a unique “kick” for an interesting change. Custard is probably one of the most revered and beloved “comfort foods” around. I am sure that this custard will quickly disappear when my husband figures out that it is in the refrigerator — he absolutely loves custard. While rummaging around for custard recipes, I found several variations. This recipe is cooked on the stove — rather than a baked — which saves alot of preparation time. Although custard recipes traditionally do not contain cornstarch, this ingredient helps the custard thicken since it is not baked in the oven. I really like this recipe. It is fast and relatively easy to prepare. The custard is creamy and smooth without an “eggy” taste.

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Zydeco Green Beans


Louisiana Zydeco musician, Clifton Chenier, sang, ‘”Eh, maman, Eh, maman, Les haricots sont pas salés,” Translated, the Creole French phrase means, “Hey mom, Hey mom, The snap beans don’t have salt.” Today I’m cooking green beans — les haricots verts — but, yes, I am adding a little salt. I love green beans — especially fresh green beans which are picked from a garden in early summer. I have tried various ways to dress up the green beans for the holidays. My favorite recipe idea combines sesame and garlic mixed into the green beans. Plus, I added a few red pepper flakes! Can’t help it. This is Louisiana. It is a very tasty and simple recipe.

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Sweet Potato Spice Coffee Cake with Crumb Topping

It seems like I always purchase one too many sweet potatoes for the recipe that I’m making. I hate to waste food. Here’s a coffee cake recipe which uses just one sweet potato. I have been sharing Louisiana cuisine and beyond on my blog since my blog began. “Sweet Potato Spice Coffee Cake with Crumb Topping” is one of the first recipe ideas which I posted and it is still one of my favorite recipes. Today I made the coffee cake again using my last sweet potato. This coffee cake is full of pumpkin pie-type spices. The batter it includes both brown sugar and molasses. Add a crumb topping with aromatic pecans and the result is an absolutely delicious coffee cake. Watch out — it is hard to resist a second piece.

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Easy Cook: Miniature Fig Loaves

I struck luck when I found this very simple recipe for “Miniature Fig Loaves.” They taste delicious with the unique flavor of figs and the crunchy texture of tiny fig seeds. Two “secret ingredients” make this a very easy, fail-proof recipe. If you live in Louisiana, then you may be lucky enough to have a fig tree growing in your backyard. These trees grow to be about 10 feet tall and they become very wide and bushy. For a month or two in the summer, these small trees produce an explosion of figs. Just reach, pick and pop the figs in your mouth for natural candy. The sticky and sweet flavor of the figs can’t be beat.

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Sage Ice Cream

What do you cook when a friend gives you a large bunch of fresh sage which she grew in her Louisiana garden? Why, let’s make “Sage Ice Cream.” The unexpected gift of fresh sage sent me scurrying for recipes since I wanted to use the sage while it was still fresh. Several years ago, we ate lunch at a trendy restaurant/bar in the Warehouse District of New Orleans. The dessert consisted of Sage Ice Cream and Pumpkin Empanadas. I have long since forgotten the name of the restaurant, but not the dessert. Both the ice cream and empanadas were unique and memorable. I recalled the delicious sage ice cream and decided to make my own. To accompany my ice cream, I quickly baked some tasty sugar cookies using Bisquick (since I am on a Bisquick “kick”). Enjoy!

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