Jambalaya Pizza: An Ode to New Orleans

New Orleans has got to be one of my all time favorite cities to visit. It’s up there with San Fransisco and New York. Very touristy of me to pick those three, but I can’t help it. It’s funny because I was born and raised in a touristy city myself and yet, I take it for granted. I drive down Hollywood all the time and I see all of the people there taking photos and I think to myself, “Why would anyone want to visit this place?” I wonder if that’s how locals in places like NY, SF and NOLA feel as well. New Orleans is such a beautiful place to explore, though. It’s filled with friendly people and there are so many things to see. It can be overwhelming at first, but once you get used to all of the people (mainly in the French Quarter) it becomes a completely different experience. I’ve had the opportunity to go a few times now, and I’m so thankful for it. It’s been an equal amount of work and play and the best part of it all is that I get to catch up and work with my friend and fellow cat Joy. I was so sad when she moved, but it’s given me the chance to visit a city I probably never would’ve before. 

The city will always have this spooky feeling, for me. And it’s not only because of the ghost tours going on throughout the French Quarter. That’s only part of it. I think it has to do with the fact that the city itself is just so old and full of history. It probably doesn’t help that Joy told me a ghost story the second I saw her on my first visit. Aside from the ghosts and voodoo though, it’s an incredible city with amazing food. The food is really what sets it apart. I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but it never felt right or complete to me, until now. I think I just needed the perfect recipe to go along with it. 

Julian has tagged along with me on a couple of visits now. We celebrated his recent birthday in New Orleans and let’s just say birthdays and New Orleans are the perfect match. We basically ate and drank our way through the city, much like we always do everywhere we go. We did all of the touristy things like eat beignets at Cafe Du Monde and drank all of the Bloody Marys for breakfast (through brunch). Yet some of our favorite things weren’t all that grand. Like walking in the rain from one part of the city to the other. Or drinking a few Breakfast Margaritas at an out-of-the-way joint. 

I think it’s important to go out and explore a city you’ve never been to before and visit places that are off the beaten path. You don’t know what you might find, plus it’s always great to ask the locals where they go because those places are always 1 million times better than where everyone else goes. You don’t even have to spend money on travel. Go out and explore your own city. Make an effort to try restaurants you’ve never tried or drive down to a nearby city you’ve never visited. Do some research online and go out on an adventure. Put yourself in a tourist’s shoes and see your city as if it’s the first time you’re experiencing it. I guarantee you’ll have a lot of fun and might even discover a few things. 

What are some of your favorite cities to visit? I want to know! Leave a comment down below with your favorite city with the best restaurant, dish or drink you’ve ever had while visiting. I’d love to read all about it. Or just tell me about a local spot you always go to where you live. I’m always looking for great suggestions! Julian and I are obsessed with a sushi place in Los Angeles that we go to every Thursday. Is it a problem if everyone in the restaurant remembers you and knows exactly what you’ll order? I think it’s kind of cool to have a place like that. If you’re ever in Los Angeles I can give you the longest list of things to do and things to eat while you’re here. 

Last year I wrote a post similar to this one, the first installment in a series I didn’t even think about doing at the time. Now it kind of makes sense and I think it’ll be fun to continue with the theme. Sausage and Pickled Jalapeño Pizza: An Ode to San Fransisco was my pizza obsession for the longest time after my last trip to The Golden Gate City. I tried to replicate a pizza pie I devoured there, as best I could. Julian called me the other day, after work, convinced he had just come up with the greatest pizza idea ever, he suggested Jambalaya Pizza to me and it all sort of made sense after that. An ode to New Orleans was a must. 

[Read more…]

Spring Eggs Benedict

I make it a point to not cook eggs benedict all the time because let’s be real, it’s a lot of work. I mean poaching eggs and making hollandaise over a double boiler? That’s some intense skills right there that I don’t always have the strength or the energy to create such a fancy dish. I wish I could do it because I think a brunch meal with a big plate of eggs benedict is always the icing on the morning cake. It’s the dish I usually get when I go to a restaurant for breakfast or brunch, mainly because I like to order things I don’t make at home on a regular basis. I’ll usually eat that and wash it down with a few glasses of mimosas. I’ve never turned my nose down to bottomless mimosas. Whoever came up with that concept deserves a holiday named after them. Anyhow, I normally save this dish for a special occasion. I get away with only making it once a year for my family by saying something like, “We’ll all appreciate it more when we have it once in a blue moon. If I made it all the time, we’d take it for granted.” If you think about it, I’m doing everyone a favor really. All I’m doing is making sure that no one gets tired or bored of the dish. That’s very nice of me. 

I think I’ve mentioned once or twice (definitely in this Fish and Chips post) that one of my sisters is extremely picky. Like doesn’t like mac and cheese because it’s too cheesy and hates peanut butter because it smells funky to her kind of picky. A weird alien pickiness that I’m glad I didn’t genetically inherit. Sorry Nick, but it’s true. Even with her crazy likes and dislikes, she happens to love eggs benedict and gave this one two thumbs way up. Now, this is really saying something. If it passed my sister’s taste test, the same sister who hates pie crust, then anyone and everyone will enjoy this dish. You can trust me on that. 

This is day three of our Easter Brunch Bonanza post and we’re just getting to the really good stuff. Don’t get me wrong, Roasted Asparagus and Prosciutto Croissants and Cucumber and Strawberry Salad are great ways to start a brunch, but the real fun is in the entrée and dessert. Don’t even get me started on the cocktail. Come back tomorrow and Friday for the remaining recipes, you don’t want to miss them! I’ll tell you what else you don’t want to miss, these Spring Eggs Benedict. They’re calling out your name. Can you hear them? I can. 

[Read more…]

Seafood Sliders

Unfortunately Seafood Week has come to an end, but let’s not start crying and throwing things just yet (you can save that for when you’ve finished reading this post). All good things must come to an end. Lucky for us all, I managed to save the best recipe for last. In case you’re just joining us for the first time this week, I’ll refresh your memory. We kicked things off with my childhood enemy, but now all-time favorite fish meal, Crunchy Fish Sticks with homemade tartar sauce. It was all of our breaded and fried seafood dreams come true. Then when we were beginning to get restless with the week we were presented with Roasted Shrimp Cocktail, accompanied by not one but two sauces for dipping and dunking. Homemade cocktail sauce and a Cajun remoulade. I had a competition with myself to see just how many warm shrimp I could eat in one sitting. I wont disclose the exact amount because it’s embarrassing, but as it turns out, I can eat a lot of shrimp. Like a lot of shrimp. Let’s turn our attention back to the end of Seafood Week, though. Back to being sad. Back to throwing things. We’re rounding out the week with a delicious recipe that although tiny in size, is packed with so much flavor. Like jump kick you in the face with flavor. These Seafood Sliders are the perfect Friday night meal. 

In case you weren’t already aware of it, I have an unhealthy obsession with sliders. They’re my thing. I feel like if I could, I totally would’ve invented the slider. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t invent them. Someone beat me to it. I’m always one step behind. I’ll have to settle for being The Slider King of the World, however. You might ask where I get off calling myself that. Allow me to explain. My past slider incarnations have been some of the best posts/recipes on this site. Pot Roast Sliders, Fried Green Tomato and Shrimp Sliders, BLT Biscuit Sliders, Baked Potato Sliders and Steak and White Cheddar Panini Sliders. I pretty much deserve the title, or at the very least a parking spot with “Reserved for The Slider King of The World” attached to it. One day. I can dream can’t I?

These Seafood Sliders are made with a mixture of fresh ground fish and shrimp, among other tasty ingredients, and are formed into small patties. I’d never ground up seafood before, and I have to admit that I was a little scared, but thankfully I survived! I need a t-shirt with that written on it. Anyhow, these fish and shrimp patties are the perfect vessel for tartar sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles on a tiny bun. My favorite thing about sliders is that I can eat about three of them and feel like I can do anything in the world. Also, I love acting like I’m a giant holding a regular sized burger and I’m about to terrorize the city like Godzilla or something. Is that crazy? It’s probably crazier if I admitted to actually going around the house eating sliders roaring and stomping around like a monster. Not that I do that or anything. It’s all hypothetical. I’ll tell you what isn’t hypothetical, these sliders.

[Read more…]

Crunchy Fish Sticks

I have to admit that I hated fish sticks growing up as a kid. I wasn’t a fan, sorry mom. We had a lot of frozen fish sticks when I was a child. I think this was because my sisters really loved them and also because it was easy on my mamma who had to work a lot. I’d have to drown them in lots of lemon juice and ketchup just to make them vanish from my plate quickly. Yes, I ate my fish sticks with ketchup, don’t judge me. I was a weird kid what can I say? My mamma usually served the fish sticks with a side of white rice. I loved the rice part of the meal. Always. I could eat rice every single day of my life. I’d more often than not eat the rice first and leave the fish sticks for last. That’s how much I despised them. The funny thing is that when I got older, in my late teens and early twenties, something inside me just switched automatically. I’ve since grown to love them actually. I still get a craving for frozen fish sticks every now and then and every time I eat them, they remind me very much of my childhood. My mamma likes to rub it in my face now, never letting me forget just how much I hated them as a child and how vocal I was about it. That’s what moms are for, right? Laying that guilt trip on us. Thanks mamma. 

I thought these crunchy fish sticks were the perfect start for my Seafood Week on the site because of my history with them as a child, but also because they are easy to make and don’t require too many complicated steps. I also wanted to listen to my mamma’s suggestion of adding more seafood dishes to the site because she’s right, it is time, and yes a lot of people are searching for seafood recipes on Fridays, especially now because of lent. I realized that if my mamma is searching for seafood recipes then other people must be searching for them as well. I needed to fix it and spice things up on the site. 

So of course, as luck would have it. I’m now obsessed with fish sticks. Both the homemade version and the frozen variety I had and hated as a kid. Every now and then I’ll get a craving for frozen fish sticks though, and so I’ll buy a box from the freezer section of the grocery store and I’ll instantly think about the tantrums I’d throw as a child whenever I’d hear that fish sticks were on the menu. Of course now, I’m able to make them at home on my own so things are a bit different these days, but it’s still sort of the same thing. I’ve been whipping up batches of fish sticks and keeping them in the freezer at home for an easy dinner during the week. That way whenever I get a craving I just make a pot of rice and pour some ketchup into a small bowl for dipping—sure, I’ll make tartar sauce for dipping also, but somehow I can’t shake off the ketchup—and I’ll reheat my homemade frozen fish sticks and call it dinner. No regrets. So just in case you have the same love/hate relationship with these as I did, I thought I’d share my favorite recipe for Seafood Week. Stay tuned for the other recipes, they’re a bit healthier I promise. I just couldn’t resist a good fish stick fried until golden brown. Let’s eat more fish y’all!

[Read more…]

Popcorn Chicken Fried Steak

I’m a sucker for popcorn chicken. I could have a bucket filled with it and never get tired. Popcorn shrimp, let’s not even go there because I could go on and on about that snack for days and weeks and months and years. I could have two buckets of popcorn shrimp and still want more. The dilemma I face when it comes to either of those is that I just don’t know when to stop, and maybe I don’t want to stop. Is that a crime? There’s just something so addicting about bite-sized pieces of meat breaded and fried until crispy with lots of dipping sauce on the side for dunking that I find irresistible. Well, if I’m being realistic there’s something about all things breaded and fried, no matter the size. The thing about popcorn anything is that the size allows you to not feel guilty while you continue to eat and eat because you feel like, oh they’re so tiny so that means I could have more. Some people might see this as a problem but I see it as a miracle. 

The other day, Julian and I were brainstorming recipe ideas over dinner—because even when we’re eating we’re still thinking about food—and we were spitballing different thoughts when all of a sudden chicken fried steak was thrown into the conversation. I can’t remember if it was him or I who got super excited and out of nowhere shouted,”POPCORN CHICKEN FRIED STEAK!” Of course if you asked Julian he would say that it was he who said it, and maybe it was, but I can’t say one hundred percent for certain that he did and I didn’t. I can’t remember, that’s all I’m saying. It isn’t important who thought of it (me), the important thing is that the idea was thrown out there and I was able to bring it to life and share it with you all. 

The good news is that this dish tastes amazing, and the bad news is that this dish tastes amazing. So the way I look at it is you can do yourself a favor now by agreeing right from the start that the best idea you’ll have all year is to go to the grocery store, grab all the ingredients you’ll need and whip up a batch for yourself. Or you can live in constant regret and resentment for not trying this one out. If you’re a long time listener but first time caller and you’ve never tried any of my recipes before (shame on you) but I’ll forgive you if you let this one be the first you try. Do you really want to be that person? The person who shunned popcorn chicken fried steak and sausage gravy? No, you want to be the person who actually tried and loved it. The person who requests this as their last meal. If you plan on sharing, I recommend making two batches because you’ll want one all to yourself. I’m not saying that’s what I did, but I’m also not saying I didn’t do it. We’ll just leave it at that.

[Read more…]

Steak and White Cheddar Panini Sliders

Have you ever fallen in love with a dish from a restaurant, to the point where you continue to go to the same restaurant everyday for a week ordering said dish each and every time? Yeah, that hasn’t happened to me either, so I don’t know what you’re talking about. If it did happen to me, I’d probably have to come clean about the fact that I’ve been ordering the same steak and white cheddar panini everyday for lunch over the last week. Okay, last couple of weeks. That’s totally normal. I’ve been getting smarter though, I’ve started ordering the sandwich online now and picking it up in different disguises so that the workers don’t recognize me and think I have a problem. But the truth is I do have a problem. My problem is golden brown toasted ciabatta filled with sliced steak, caramelized red onions, melted white cheddar and a creamy horseradish sauce that makes this sandwich so irresistible. 

Just in case you’re wondering what restaurant serves this amazing sandwich, it’s Panera. Sure, it’s not the fanciest of places and yeah okay, they are everywhere, but you’d be surprised just how great their paninis are. It’s far more than a guilty pleasure. It’s awesome and super convenient for me because it’s right down the street, making it easy for me whenever I want a quick lunch. I get the half and half lunch special. Half a panini and half a cup of soup (baked potato soup or broccoli cheddar) with a tiny bag of kettle chips. It doesn’t get much better than that. So recently I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen just how great this sandwich is. I’ve told my mom, my sisters, Julian, my cat Napoleon, the mailman, the guy next to me at the gas station. Literally everyone. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have a problem. So much so that I wanted to, no, needed to recreate this sandwich at home. I thought transforming it into sliders would be the best decision I’d ever make in my life because I could eat more than one and not feel guilty in the slightest. 

I like this recipe a lot because it’s easy to whip up. It’s one of those that doesn’t require a lot of thinking in the kitchen, which is nice and sometimes much needed. I’m around food all day long, cooking, baking, photographing and of course, writing about it. It’s no surprise that sometimes I get to the end of the day and the last thing I want to do is cook. This is the type of recipe that you can turn off your brain and get it going without stressing too much about any complicated steps or ingredients. Those are the best kinds of recipes, if you ask me. Not to mention that sliders are my life and I’m always down for making any kind of slider. I’m Slider King of the World, remember?! 

[Read more…]