Monday, November 22, 2010

Saintsgiving in the land of the Who Dats

Get Ready for Saintsgiving

I know everyone is busy this week running to the grocery, cleaning the house, preparing guest rooms, running back to the grocery, all in preparation for the annual Thanksgiving feast. 

Well, here in New Orleans, we've got a little something extra to prepare for this year.  Yep, that's right.  This year we're celebrating Saintsgiving.  Our beloved Saints will play the much hated Cowboys at 3:00 p.m. on Turkey Day.  Now, I know it's a day to sit back and reflect on the many things we're all thankful for, and not to dwell on the things we dislike, but it's the Cowboys...give me a break!!!

I've already informed all of my guests to arrive around noon and we'll be seated for dinner as close to 1:00 p.m. as possible, so that by the time the pigskin starts to fly, we can all be assembled in the media room to partake big old Cowboy butt whooping!

So go forth your turkey and cranberries....dive into the pumpkin pie....and then join the ranks of the Who Dat Nation in cheering the Saints on to victory!!!

Happy Saintsgiving y'all!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bows, bows, bows....oh no!!!

I got the bright idea to change up my Christmas decorations this year.  Anyone who knows me understands that I suffer from decorating ADD, so this won't come as a shock. 

So I've been busy, busy, busy making bows....bows for the mantle, bows for the tree, bows for the staircase.  I am on my third 50 yd. bolt of ribbon and have gotten to the point where I can whip out a bow in a minute or so with my eyes closed and both hands tied behind my back.  I kid you not.

And while I'm at it, let me just say that one of the best inventions EVER...and no I haven't forgotten about sliced bread or wired ribbon.  I love you Mr...scratch that...Ms. Wire Ribbon Creator (there's no way a man came up with that).  You are a lifesaver!!!

Now, back to my regularly scheduled ribbon making......

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Homecoming on "The Row"....Fun at LSU!

Saturday was the big Homecoming game at LSU.  I always love to walk leisurely down "The Row" looking at all of the homecoming decorations.  Each sorority joins with a fraternity to make the displays and then they're put out the night before at each sorority house. 

These houses are just gorgeous on their own, but the decorations add a little bit of fun to the mix.

The theme this year was "Back to the Future", hence the alien influence.

I'll just let y'all enjoy the pictures.

Love the "fans" in the stands

Check out the Avatar Golden Girls


Mike the Tiger!!

Had to add a picture of the Memorial Tower. 
It chimes on the hour, but at noon it plays the LSU Alma Mater.

And well, I couldn't leave out a shot of Death Valley

Geaux Tigers!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cool weather means it's Chicken and Sausage Gumbo time!

Down here in the Crescent City, anything below 75 degrees qualifies as fall weather.  With our recent "cool" spell, I got a hankering to make Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.  It's super easy, and I thought I'd share the recipe with y'all.  Get ready cher, cause we gonna eat!!!


1 cup oil

1 cup flour

2 large onions, chopped

2 bell peppers, chopped

4 ribs celery, chopped

4 - 6 cloves garlic, minced

12 cups chicken stock

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, or to taste

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (I used fresh)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (I really didn't add any, since the andouille sausage is so spicy)

1 large chicken (young hen preferred), cut into pieces (I bought pre-cut and took most of the skin off)

2 pounds andouille sausage, cut into 1/2" pieces (If you can't find andouille, use whatever smoked sausage or kielbasa you like.)

2 pounds smoked sausage, cut into 1/2" pieces

1 bunch green onions, chopped

2/3 cup fresh chopped parsley

Chop sausage into 1/4" pieces. 
If you don't like real spicy foods, you might want to play with the sausage ratio....maybe 1 lb. andouille (or cajun/spicy sausage) and 3 lbs. of regular smoked sausage.

Brown sausage in a little bit of oil and then drain on a separate plate.

Take skin off of breasts and sprinkle liberally with Creole Seasoning. 

Place chicken into the same pot with sausage grease and brown quickly.  
Remove chicken to a separate plate to cool. 
When cool, remove chicken from bones.

While your sausage and chicken are browning, chop all seasonings. 
You will need these in a hurry, so have them ready.

In the same pot (yes there will be little bits of debris in the pot, it's okay), heat the oil and cook the flour in the oil over medium to high heat (depending on your roux-making skill), stirring constantly, until the roux reaches a dark reddish-brown color, almost the color of coffee or milk chocolate for a Cajun-style roux. If you want to save time, or prefer a more New Orleans-style roux, cook it to a medium,
peanut-butter color, over lower heat if you're nervous about burning it.

As soon as your roux gets to its desired color, add the vegetables (I warned you that you'd need them quickly, so have them right by the stove while you're making the roux) and stir quickly. Adding the vegetables stops the roux from cooking. 
Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes.

Add the stock, seasonings and chicken (which has been picked from the bone). Bring to a boil, then cook for about 1 1/2 hours, skimming fat off the top as needed.

Add the sausage, chopped green onions and parsley, and heat for another 45 minutes.

Serve over rice in large shallow bowls with hot French bread.

Okay, I see you....wipe that drool from the corner of your mouth.  
If only you could taste your monitor and get a good whiff of this....mmmmmmm.

Don't be intimidated by the roux.  It's really not that difficult.  This recipe is really good and, while a little time consuming, not difficult to prepare.  It's easily doubled for a crowd and freezes well. 

Hope you enjoy!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wilton Cake Decorating - Course 1 - FINAL CLASS

Final Cake - Wilton Beginner's Course
We finally had the final class of our Wilton Beginner's Cake Decorating....the dreaded "Rose Class".  We were instructed to bring our baked, filled, iced cakes to class, along with whatever color icings we'd want to use to decorate.  Okay, I admit it, I was lazy...string me up...I don't care!!  It was Halloween, and I was soooo over making TONS of icing every I just wimped out and made white icing for my decorations.  I like to think I wasn't actually lazy, but rather going for an elegent, minimalist looking cake.  Yeah, that's the ticket...

Wilton Ribbon Rose (Meg's cake)
Anyway, got to class and to our surprise half of the students didn't show up.  The instructor told us that always happens with the last class.  Seriously?  You go through all of this and then don't show up for the last class because you're intimidated by little icing roses?  Puhleeeeeze.    We worked on our writing skills, practiced this and that, and then it was time to make the rose.  We first learned the Ribbon Rose, which you can see in this picture.  This was Meg's cake, and as you can see, my overachieving daughter did NOT take the wimpy icing route, but instead actually made white, pink and green icing for her last cake.  Sheesh....

Wilton Rose (my cake)

Anyway, the instructor also decided to teach us the Wilton Rose, which I like and chose for my cake.  Of course, my icing was a bit runny, so my roses aren't..ahem..."perky", but you get the idea anyway.   Honestly, the roses aren't that hard, and are pretty forgiving.  There are a zillion youtube videos you can watch to kind of get the idea.  I prefer the Wilton Rose and found it easier than the ribbon rose, but it's just a personal choice. 

Meg's final in class!
Meg's cake really came out the best of anyone's in the class.   Her icing was a good consistency and her colors and design were spot on.  The flowers did fall a bit by the next day, but we think it may have had something to do with the humidity....not sure.  It still looked great though. 

So, we've finished our first course and have the diplomas to prove it!

The next course is Flowers and Cake Design and we're seriously thinking about taking it, but not until after the holidays.  Plus, Meg is about to start finals, so we're putting the brakes on this for now. 

Despite all of my whining about the stinking icing, I'd definitely recommend this class!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Crescent City Ramblings: Have yourself a Merry Little......

Crescent City Ramblings: Have yourself a Merry Little......: "I have been a good girl...but I don't know how much longer I can hold out. Yes, I know that Halloween candy is still finding its way to ..."

Have yourself a Merry Little......

When My Heart Finds Christmas

I have been a good girl...but I don't know how much longer I can hold out.  Yes, I know that Halloween candy is still finding its way to our hips and thighs, and that election signs are still on the streets, but my Christmas CDs are calling.  I hear them beckoning from the deep recesses of the cabinet....just one song....just one Saturday morning of Christmas music and that's it...then I'll put them away until after Thanksgiving. 

Christmas Album
Every year I go through this same routine.  I can't help it.  There's just something about the opening trumpets on Harry Connick, Jr.'s "Sleigh Ride" that make me get that giddy feeling inside.  And who can resist Elvis' "I'll have a Blue (da dooby doo doo) Christmas".  Every family has their favorite Christmas CD's.  We have a ton of them, and we listen to them ad nauseum from Thanksgiving through Christmas.  No other music shall touch my ears during that time...strictly yuletide joy.

I have apparently passed this sickness down to my daughters.  My youngest, a sophomore in college, routinely listens to Christmas music while studying...year round. She claims it calms her.  Who am I to argue?

So, for now, I have resisted the urge, but with cold weather arriving this weekend, I can feel myself weakening...

"Just hear those sleigh bells jingle-ing,

Ring ting tingle-ing too

Come on, it's lovely weather

For a sleigh ride together with you..."