Easy Cook: Italian-Seasoned Baked Catfish Filets

Every now and then, it’s nice to have such a quick and simple supper entrée to prepare, that you can almost make it in your sleep. This “melt-in-your-mouth” baked catfish recipe is very easy to cook and it is also very tasty. There is no chopping, dicing, stirring or mixing involved. It is a great recipe to fix when I arrive home from work, exhausted, but still want a home-cooked supper. I have several of these “simple” catfish recipes. This first recipe involves a “secret” ingredient.

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Let’s Cook Something New: Stuffed Hatch Chili Peppers

My husband recently brought a new type of chili pepper home from the grocery store. I love to cook with new foods and so this gave me a chance to learn about Hatch chili peppers. I learned that these medium-size peppers are grown exclusively in New Mexico. They ripen in August and September and thus are available for only a few months in the fall. The peppers have a “bite” but they are not as hot as a jalapeno pepper. They have thick flesh and can be broiled to remove the skin. These chili peppers are large enough to easily be stuffed for an entrée dish and have a pleasing, chili pepper flavor. So, let’s make “Stuffed Hatch Chili Peppers” with these delightful peppers. I made two “fillings”: ground beef and also shrimp with corn and cheese. Recipes are included for both.

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New Orleans Shrimp Creole

Shrimp Creole is a venerable and classic New Orleans entrée. It combines the “Holy Trinity” of fresh vegetable seasonings with tomatoes, spices and shrimp to make a flavorful and satisfying dish. Although not seen as frequently on restaurant menus as perhaps in past years, the entrée is certainly served in New Orleans’ homes during Lent on Fridays. And most Louisiana chefs have a rendition of this dish somewhere in their files. With Lent here, I am making my Shrimp Creole recipe again. There are two approaches to making this dish — since I couldn’t decide which I like better; I made both variations. And I love tomatoes. This is my type of dish. Serve Shrimp Creole with rice. (And I have included several Mardi Gras 2021 photos at the end of the post.)

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Crispy Salted Shrimp

After eating a delicious preparation of “Salt and Pepper Prawns” at a P.F. Chang’s restaurant, I decided to see if I could re-create a similar entrée at home without resorting to unusual or special ingredients. And, I was surprised at how easy it was to make a recipe adaptation. P.F. Chang’s continues to be one of our favorite restaurants with an Asian-inspired theme. The creative flavors — hot, spicy, sweet and sour — and attractive presentation of the food always make a pleasing and memorable meal. We like to visit the restaurant at some time during the holiday season; however, this year we ordered a take-out meal due to the Covid-19 pandemic. My entrée, “Salt and Pepper Prawns with Lime and Chili Dipping Sauce” was just right. I tried adapting their recipe, and mine is pretty good, too!

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Fabulous Turkey Makeovers: Best Ever Heisey Chipotle Chili

For Thanksgiving we served “Smoked Turkey Breast with Cajun Infused Spices” which we cooked in my brand new tabletop smoker purchased at Buc-ee’s — that Texas mega-road gas station and convenience store highway stop. The turkey was delicious; but what stole the show was the “Chipotle Chili” made with some of the leftover turkey breast. The chili recipe is a creation of my brother and his college-aged daughter. They did some cooking while they were quarantined in their Boston home this past summer during the pandemic. I believe that this dish is a “throw in the pot” stew made with ingredients which they found while sorting through their kitchen cupboard. Well, they got the seasonings just right and the chili has a great “Cajun kick’ proving that Yankees can indeed cook seasoned dishes. And it is a very healthy recipe which includes carrots, black beans, tomatoes and ground turkey rather than beef. I made the chili using leftover turkey. Here’s what I did to make this very, very easy chili recipe. But first, I must tell the Texas Buc-ee’s story and brag about my smoker.

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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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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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Vegetarian Zucchini, Black Bean and Corn Enchiladas

Mention “enchiladas” and I know that I will enjoy the dish. I found a recipe for a healthy vegetarian adaptation of traditional meat enchiladas which uses zucchini, black beans and cheese as the main ingredients. Corn tortillas add flavor, too, making this casserole quite delicious. The recipe lowers the fat content by using canned, drained black beans rather than refried beans and steamed corn tortillas rather than fried tortillas. The recipe also features zucchini and corn which add flavor, low calorie content and nutritional value. I’ve really learned to enjoy Mexican dishes as restaurants featuring Central American cuisine have become more prevalent in our region. Yum, this vegetarian recipe adaption of enchiladas is a keeper and is a good way to enjoy a “plant-based” meal.

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Shrimp Etouffee with Fried Green Tomatoes

You can’t get more southern than “Shrimp Etouffee with Fried Green Tomatoes.” I’m making this very traditional Creole/Cajun dish — “Shrimp Etouffee” — this week and I am serving it with “Fried Green Tomatoes” using the last of the tomatoes that I picked from my summer garden. Usually etouffee is made with crawfish when served in restaurants and found in cookbooks. However, peeled crawfish tails are priced out of my food budget this spring and summer. Shrimp makes a mighty tasty etouffee, too. And for a variation, I am making a “low-fat roux” or a “dry roux” to cut down on the butter/oil in this rich Louisiana dish.

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Crawfish or Chicken Tetrazzini — Your Choice

Peeled crawfish tails blend very nicely with pasta to create some mighty tasty entrees and pasta salads. Springtime is when crawfish are in season, so I thought I’d adapt one of my favorite pasta dishes, “Chicken Tetrazzini,” substituting crawfish tails. Tetrazzini is a chicken or seafood pasta dish with mushrooms in a rich cream and cheese sauce. It is one of the first casserole dishes which I learned to make and is still one of my favorites. The crawfish recipe is a slight adaption to enhance the dish. I included my original chicken tetrazzini recipe and also a crawfish variation. Both are delicious and fitting for a springtime dinner!

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