Saturday, May 28, 2011

Trip to Louisiana

Setting:  Leaving New Orleans Airport in the rental car on the way to Baton Rouge

Jelly:  I am starving - we must have some lunch before we head to Baton Rouge.
Kake: No this daiquri is giving me the shakes!
Jelly:  Google Places suggests Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar.
Kake:  Hmm...I don't know.  Google Places says it's in Kenner.....wait, the bullet proof vests are in the bag....nevermind
Jelly:  The seafood gumbo was great but the blackened soft shell crab special with shrimp cathy (rice topped with mushrooms and shrimp and a lobster cream sauce) was amazing.   I have never experienced blackened soft shelled crab before - spicy, crunchy and really allowed the sweet crab flavor to come right though.  I had to take a picture...

Setting:  The next morning in Baton Rouge, Louisiana after a late night of visiting with friends.

Jelly:  I am hungry - I need a good home-style breakfast any suggestions Mr. LSU Alumni? 
Kake:  Louie's Cafe has the best breakfast in the world.....but I think they're only open from 2:15am - 4am.  Let me check first...nope!  They're open now!!
Jelly:  I think I just had the best breakfast of my life - scrambled eggs, sausage links, outrageous Cajun hash-browns, and an extremely light buttermilk biscuit. Picture time...
Kake: Sorry honey...I don't have any room in the rental car for the wheel barrell you're currently in...
Jelly:  I just had to eat every last bite - I couldn't help it.

Harbor Seafood & Oyster Bar
3203 Williams Boulevard
Kenner, LA 70065-4506

Louie's Cafe
209 West State Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70802

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Busy 2 Weeks

Jelly:  We need to plan for the next two weeks - it is going to be busy.  Us in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for a wedding this weekend and then I jet off to Nashville, Tennessee the next day for the week.
Kake: WAIT...STOP RIGHT THERE.  You're doing what?!  A WHOLE WEEK in Nashville w/out me.  "Busy"..yeah, two tornados in our house...I'd say so.  You think I'm better looking than Keith Urban?? 
Jelly:  No.  Please focus - while I am in TN you will be controlling the chaos at home with the kiddos.  What are you going to cook for dinners?
Kake:  I can make a mean toast!!  Okay, maybe not Keith Urban.....Kenny Chesney?
Jelly: I was looking for a bit a variety, quick and healthy?

Kake:  I can pull some grass out of the front yard....if a horse likes, maybe the kids will? 
Jelly:  What if I make up a large pot of tomato sauce this weekend and we can use some of it for dinner with pasta for this week while we are busy in the evening packing and preparing for trips.  And also make a lasagna which I will freeze for you to thaw and bake while I am away?

Kake:  Look...the less mainteance the better!!  And there better be detailed instructions or I'm giving the keys to the one year old.......George Strait?

Here is my recipe for the easiest Crock Pot Tomato Sauce.  My family has been making this sauce for years and it can be customized to add in additional veggies, spices and even meats like cooked turkey or ground beef.  You can really customize this to be the sauce your family enjoys.  It also freezes really well and makes an easy healthy meal when things get busy. 

Crock Pot Tomato Sauce 
1 can (102 oz) of Whole Peeled Tomatoes with Juice - I find this at Costco/Sam's Club
1 Onion, diced
1 can (6 oz) Tomato Paste
1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 tablespoon Oregano, dried
1 tablespoon Basil, dried
1 tablespoon Parsley, dried
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Optional Additions:
Diced Fresh Tomatoes
1 bag frozen Meatless Soy Crumbles or cooked ground beef or turkey
Veggies, diced (I use whatever is in my refrigerator - peppers, etc.) 

Put whole peeled tomatoes and juice in your Crock Pot.  Use an immersion blender to puree the tomatoes in the Crock Pot. (If you don't have an immersion blender I highly recommend you invest in one - they are easy to clean and make cooking soups, etc. very easy.  You can also put the whole peeled tomatoes in the blender and puree in batches and pour into your Crock Pot.)  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well.  Turn on your Crock Pot for 6 hours on HIGH or 8 hours on LOW.  Taste occasionally to see if additional spices need to be added.  Use immediately or freeze in smaller container for later use.  

Here is my easy Lasagna recipe.  No need to cook the noodles they will cook as the lasagna bakes.  You can make multiple pans and freeze them for later use - just defrost a night or two before in the refrigerator and then bake.  Toss together a quick salad and/or bread you have a complete family meal.

Kelly's Easy Lasagna     Servings: It make one 13 x 9 inch pan or two 8 x 8 inch pans - about 12 servings
Crock Pot Tomato Sauce (or you can use any other family favorite)
30 oz Ricotta Cheese, part-skim or whole milk
3/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
2 eggs
8 oz package of Mozzarella Cheese, grated
1 package of Lasagna Noodles

Mix together Ricotta Cheese, Parmesan Cheese and Eggs.  Then layer ingredients in the following order in the pan.
1. Tomato Sauce
2. Lasagna Noodles
3. Ricotta Cheese Mixture
4. Mozzarella Cheese, light dusting

Repeat until 1/2 inch from the top, finishing with Lasagna Noodles.  Then top noodles with enough sauce to lightly cover noodles.  Sprinkle with lots of Mozzarella Cheese.   Cover with aluminum foil.   Freeze for a later meal.  Or bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.  Then remove aluminum foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and it is hot in the middle.