Marie’s Artichoke & Mushroom Appetizers with a “Pinch of Cajun”

I love artichokes in any shape or fashion– added to green salads, as an ingredient in dips, in New Orleans Eggs Benedict or as a whole boiled artichoke. One of my favorite recipes combines chicken, artichokes, pearl onions and wine. Yum! Marie made an artichoke appetizer recently at a dinner gathering for a small group of friends and she graciously shared the recipe. This appetizer blends artichokes, mushrooms and cheese into bite-sized balls; perfect for the holidays. For a “Cajun” kick, it contains garlic and cayenne pepper.

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Maine-ish Fried Apple Hand Pies and a Baked Variation

Autumn is the season for wonderful apple desserts and concoctions. In October, quite by chance, we were treated to one of these desserts: “Maine Fried Apple Hand Pies.” I was not familiar with the dessert and term, “hand pies.” Wow, these small apple pies were delicious. We sampled the hand pies during a whirlwind visit to New England to visit relatives and see the fall foliage. I loved the small “pies” and returned home to Louisiana eager to try my luck making these delicious apple treats. After many attempts to replicate the ones we ate at the Maine café, I now have my very own unique recipe for “Apple Hand Pies.”

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Nathan’s Mini Chicken Pot Pies and Variations

What does a Google software specialist do in his spare time when he is working from home close Palo Alto, California, during the pandemic? Well, this Google employee creates and cooks. My nephew, Nathan, has been making pot pies in his kitchen as his group of Google employees continue their jobs from home. He baked the pies in mini-muffin tins so that the pot pies could easily be frozen and reheated as a single serving snack. I liked the idea and found a unique mini-pie tin which made twelve very small chicken pot pies. I made slightly larger individual pot pies, too, which were perfect for a dinner. And I loved the idea of freezing the pot pies; they made a tasty and quick homemade meal when I was was too busy to cook. Now I’m hooked on pot pies!

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Cream Cheese & Persimmon Brownies for Halloween

These brownies have just a tint of orange color and just a pungent “bite” that make them perfect for a “hint” of Halloween. I love cream cheese brownies; and I’m never sure which I like best — the brownies or the swirled in cream cheese. I decided to add a ripe persimmon to the cream cheese filling of this delicious brownie recipe for a Halloween effect.

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Brazilian Sweet Potato Bread

“Brazilian Sweet Potato Bread” is a flavorful, rich yeast bread which includes eggs, milk, butter, and of course, sweet potatoes. This combination of ingredients results is a light, airy and slightly sweet bread. A friend, who emigrated here from Brazil, posted a photo of the bread on Facebook. It looked mighty tempting; she agreed to share the recipe. I like to highlight Louisiana sweet potatoes which ripen in the fall. Why not make the bread adapting it to use our variety of this tuber? Plus, sweet potatoes are full of nutritional value adding to the health aspects of this bread. So, I attempted to make “Brazilian Sweet Potato Bread.”

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Pork, Sweet Potato & Tomatillo Stew

Here’s an interesting combination of ingredients – pork, sweet potatoes and tomatillos plus poblano peppers. I had never heard of the vegetable, the tomatillo, until recently and decided to give this ingredient a try. Plus, sweet potatoes are in season in autumn and I always like to feature several recipes with this Louisiana agricultural product on my blog each year. The poblano peppers and tomatillos give just amount of “zing” to flavor the pork and sweet potatoes to make a really tasty stew.

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Oven-Fried Cauliflower Bites with Ranch Dipping Sauce

Cauliflower happens to be one of my most favorite vegetables. Of course, I have many “most favorite vegetables.” But cauliflower has a unique flavor and, when properly prepared, it loses all of the obnoxious sulfur tones. It is a vegetable which grows on you — the more you eat it the more you like it. I learned to like cauliflower when fried cauliflower was served on the cafeteria lime at the hospital where I worked at in Flint, Michigan. That was in the heydays of the auto unions and Flint was the ultimate “auto town.” Autumn and winter are the seasons for cauliflower when you can pick up some really nice ones. I decided to see if I could make an oven-fried variation of the fried cauliflower bites that I used to like so much using this really nice cauliflower which I purchased recently.

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Let’s Cook Lebanese: Baba Ghanoush

“Baba Ghanoush” is a wonderful smoky, eggplant dip of Eastern Mediterranean origin. My favorite Greek & Lebanese Café serves a version of this dip which is just the best one you will ever find. It combines the flavors of smoky eggplant, tahini paste, lemon juice, fresh garlic plus a little salt to make a a creamy and smooth dip. There’s still time to make this dish with the last of summer’s eggplant in fresh produce markets. I decided to try see if I could duplicate Serop’s “Baba Ghanoush.” It is more difficult than you might think to properly marry all the ingredients and flavors. Although still different from Serop’s, my version is tastes great, too!

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Brown Sugar & Walnut Dairy-Free “Ice Cream” a.k.a. Frozen Dessert Delight

Summer and early autumn means that it is time for homemade ice cream. However, if you are lactose-intolerant, then eating lots of ice cream may result in an uncomfortable digestive reaction. Since we’ve started drinking almond milk at our house, I decided to see if I could make a dairy-free and lactose-free “ice cream” variation. I used almond milk, brown sugar and walnuts in the recipe and amaretto liqueur for flavor. To make a “smooth texture” I added xanathan gum. The recipe doesn’t contain eggs making this recipe good one for a vegan diet. For a finishing touch, I topped the frozen dessert with my “Fresh Cherry Topping” and some of the topping even got mixed in with the frozen dessert for a swirled effect. Well, surprise, it turned out to be quite delicious. Let’s enjoy this concoction.

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Eggplant in Spicy Garlic Meat Sauce

This recipe pairs Japanese eggplant with ground pork and oriental spices to make an absolutely delicious “hot and spicy” eggplant dish. While looking through my recipe files for eggplant dishes, I found a strikingly large number of recipes which combined eggplant with pork and occasionally pasta. I’ve never thought of putting these ingredients together and decided to give the recipe a try. Well, we loved the oriental-style concoction and promptly ate it all.

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