Shoepeg Corn Salad–Cool Food for a Hot Day (And a Nearly Effortless Potluck Side Dish)

We had our family reunion last weekend, which is always such a fun and blessed time. We cooked, we laughed, we ate, we played games, and mostly, we continued the tradition of togetherness that my grandmother and her siblings created for us. It’s easy to get lost in the stress of the day-to-day, but when you come together with about 80 of your nearest and dearest, it’s a good reminder about remembering what’s important.

Anyway, I made a few dishes to contribute to the weekend, and this salad was a big hit. It’s a crisp, cool dish that is the perfect antidote to the hot summer days. It’s also an ideal contribution for potlucks. If you need a refreshing salad that is sure to help beat the heat, this is it!

Shoepeg Corn Salad

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Ingredients

  • 2 cans shoepeg corn, drained
  • 1 can English peas, drained (preferably Le Sueur brand)
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 TBS water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

Procedure

    1. In a large bowl, combine corn, peas, green onions, bell pepper, and celery, stirring gently to combine.
    2. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, water, oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and remove the mixture from heat as soon as it begins to boil. Let cool.
    3. Pour vinegar mixture over corn mixture, stirring to combine. Refrigerate at least 6 hours, better if overnight.

Community Cookbook Throwback Thursday–“Broccoli with Rice” (aka Broccoli. Cheese and Rice Casserole

To kick off the first installment of CCTT, I decided to play it fairly safe and select a recipe I was reasonably sure everyone in this house would eat. (For info about my CCTT project, read here).

This recipe comes from Cotton Country, which was published by The Junior League of Monroe, Louisiana in 1972. The book includes over 1000 recipes, and this particular recipe was submitted by Mrs. Armand E. Breard.

I made this following the directions exactly, and both the husband and the Heathens liked it. You really never can go wrong with a good broccoli rice casserole, and this version is a tasty, basic recipe that is also quick and easy to throw together.

**For CCTT, I will post the recipe exactly as written in the cookbook, but provide my notes and interpretations at the end.**

Broccoli with Rice

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Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 package frozen chopped broccoli
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup grated cheese or one small jar Cheese Whiz
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked rice
  • Tabasco
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • bread crumbs

Procedure

In a large skillet, sauté the onions and celery in butter until the vegetables are clear. Cook broccoli according to package directions; drain well. Mix broccoli with soup and cheese; add celery and onions. Stir in rice; season and mix well. Put into a greased casserole and top with bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. This cam be mixed ahead and frozen.

My Notes

  • I used a package of steam-in-the-bag frozen broccoli and I think it was about 10 or 12 ounces
  • You can easily substitute cream of celery in this
  • I used Cheese Whiz, and I think a small jar is about 8 ounces. If you can’t find a small jar, just use half of the 15-ounce jar. If you go with grated cheese, NEVER use pre-shredded cheese in casseroles and sauces. The anti-caking agent they put on pre-shredded cheese to prevent sticking also prevents it from melting evenly and you won’t get the best result in any recipe.
  • I only added a couple of dashes of Tabasco to keep the Heathens from fussing too much.
  • I’d say I probably added 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. of pepper for the seasoning, but just play it by ear.
  • When she says “clear” in reference to the veggies, she just means translucent/softened.
  • You can use seasoned breadcrumbs for this or plain.
  • Usually, the term “casserole” means a 9×13 dish, but when I added the mixture, it ended up being a pretty thin layer in the pan. Next time, I will use a smaller dish or double the recipe.
  • This would be a great potluck dish or side for a big gathering.
  • You could turn this into a full meal by adding cooked chicken, but I would consider increasing the sauce by half to accommodate the chicken.

 

 

Black-Eyed Peas in the Instant Pot

I made black-eyed peas in the Instant Pot for the traditional New Year celebration. It super easy, and much faster than the usual stovetop method. I did soak the peas in water several hours before cooking them because this little boogers absorb a lot of liquid. The end results were delicious perfection, and plenty to feed a crowd.


Black-Eyed Peas in the Instant Pot

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Ingredients

  • 4 TBS butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 pounds dried black-eyed peas, soaked for several hours
  • 7 cups chicken broth
  • 1 ham hock
  • salt and pepper to taste (I’d start with a TBS of salt then add more later of needed)
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 2 TBS White vinegar

Procedure

    1. Set the Instant Pot to the saute setting and let it get hot. Add the butter, and when melted, add the onion, celery, and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until soft (about 4-5 minutes). Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
    2. Add the peas, chicken broth, ham hock, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Switch the Instant Pot to manual, add the lid and check that the value is correctly positioned for sealing. Set time for 20 minutes on Manual mode. (Note–with this much stuff in the IP, it will take about 20 minutes to come to pressure).
    3. When the timer is up and the IP beeps, let the pressure release naturally for 20 minutes, then do a quick pressure release if the pin hasn’t dropped already.
    4. Remove IP lid and stir in vinegar. Check for seasonings and enjoy!

Fresh Purple Hull Peas in the Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker

So, I’ve been playing with the new gadget. Overall, the Instant Pot is pretty handy. While I think some recipes I have seen go overboard in trying to make it the end-all-be-all, “lets cook everything in it” wunderkind, I still can see using it a couple of times a week. Thus far, it’s worth the investment.

My awesome neighbor dropped by a couple of days ago with a big bag of freshly shelled purple hull peas from the farm. Score! Local food and purple hulls I didn’t have to shell myself? Can’t beat that with a stick. I knew these would work fairly well in the pressure cooker, so I tossed them in and ended up with perfectly cooked, delicious peas in record time. Here’s how I did it:

Fresh Purple Hull Peas in the Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker

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  • 6 cups shelled purple hull peas
  • 1 ham hock
  • 32 oz. chicken broth
  • 1/2 TBS plus 1/2 tsp. kosher salt (divided)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • splash olive oil (supposedly this helps beans/peas not foam like crazy, so I added it as a precaution)

Place peas, ham hock, chicken broth, 1/2 TBS of salt, pepper, and olive oil in the Instant Pot/pressure cooker. Attach lid and set pot to “manual” for 20 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally. Taste peas for seasoning and add remaining salt if needed.

One thing I really appreciated about cooking the peas in the pressure cooker was that I did not steam up my kitchen by simmering them on the stove for hours. The heat index is 102 degrees today, so you can see how that also helps tip the scales onto the “it’s ok I splurged on a trendy thing” side. At least, that’s what I’ll keep telling myself.

Tasty Tuesday–Crispy Potatoes with Leeks, Lemon & Honey

potatoes

After plowing through a gazillion loads of laundry yesterday, not to mention the who-knows-what I mopped up from the kitchen floor, I decided to make a well-earned dinner to take the sting off of Monday. After all, discovering that one of the kids left more Kleenex in his pockets, via a paper explosion upon opening the dryer, was a call for a pick-me-up. I originally saw this recipe on Food Network, and it sounded incredibly bizarre. The honey and lemon seemed just unusual enough to ensure that these would either be really tasty, or a big, fat, Nope. They ended up as an amazing combination of flavors and textures, with each element bringing a perfect balance to the dish. I have adapted the recipe since then, and it’s the perfect side dish when you want something a little different and just a bit decadent.

Crispy Potatoes with Leeks, Lemon and Honey

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Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 2  lbs  fingerling potatoes or small yellow potatoes
  • 2  Tbs butter
  • 1  leek, halved, thoroughly washed and sliced up to pale green part
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2  Tbs  olive oil
  • 1  tsp honey
  • 1  tsp dried parsley
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Procedure

1) Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Gently poach the potatoes for 10 minutes, or until just tender when pierced with a fork. You don’t want them to be completely mushy or they will fall apart when you try to pan fry them. Drain the potatoes, cut in half, and dry thoroughly.

2) Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Melt the butter, add the leeks and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until softened, about 8 minutes. Set aside.

3)  In the same pan, heat the olive oil. Put the potatoes cut-side down in the pan and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes; flip and repeat on the skin side. Add back the leeks, drizzle with the honey and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

4)  Sprinkle with the parsley and lemon zest. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday Dinner & My Husband’s Breadsticks

 

We had a nice weekend, and with the help of my industrious husband, we enjoyed a wonderful Sunday dinner. While I whipped up some Chicken and Sausage Spaghetti, he broke out the bread machine. I love it when we does that…what girl wouldn’t be giddy when her husband bakes for her?

My husband knew his way around a bread machine long before he met me, and his repertoire included homemade cinnamon rolls, oat bread and breadsticks. Our busy schedules have not allowed much time for baking lately, so when I heard he was mixing up a batch of Garlic Breadsticks, I practically swooned.

Want to try ’em? Here’s the recipe:

Garlic Breadsticks

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  • 1 1/8 cups water (70 to 80 degrees F)
  • 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3 cups flour (Bread flour is ok too).
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine, melted

Directions

  1. In bread machine pan, place the first nine ingredients in order listed. Select dough setting. When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 20 portions. Shape each into a ball; roll each into a 9-in. rope. Place on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 40 minutes or until doubled. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Brush warm breadsticks with butter.

 

Trust me, they are dang tasty.

Lunch…Or How to Turn Healthy Vegetables into Only Moderately Fattening Tastiness

When I first moved back to Louisiana, we had an overly ambitious bagel shop in the middle of my hometown. This bagel shop not only offered a plethora of fresh bagels for its patrons, but it also served several bagel-sandwich options for lunch. The lunch-hour business was an essential market for this part of town, though the local college did contribute to eateries in its’ immediate vicinity.

My sister and I loved the veggie bagel, which was basically a bagel of your choice piled high with vegetable-laden cream cheese. Considering that we were two high school girls who avoided vegetables like the plague, our love of the veggie bagel was indicative of how good it was.

Unfortunately, a bagel shop was too ambitious for both the city and the time in which we lived. This was Louisiana, after all.

Bagels?? Um, can we say Yankee much?

Bagels were far outside of our cultural influence, but more so, the bagel shop existed long before riverboat gaming, economic growth and national restaurant chains helped broaden our community’s perceptions and economy. Though we lost our one and only bagel shop, I never got over my craving for their veggie bagel. A few years ago, I stumbled across this recipe for Roasted Vegetable Cream Cheese:

Well, not only does this recipe conjure my memories of our long-lost bagel shop, but it also acts as a flavorful bagel spread, dip and overall appetizer for any event I’ve hosted. This recipe is an awesome way to sneak vegetables into the unsuspecting masses, or to wow unknowing guests. While I prefer to serve it on bagels for me, or on mini-bagels for guests, you could still serve it as a spread with crackers if you were so inclined.

Roasted Vegetable Cream Cheese

  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into rings
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into rings
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Place the bell pepper, onion, garlic, zucchini, and olive oil in a medium mixing bowl and toss until the vegetables are coated. Spread the vegetables evenly on sheet pan lined with foil and place to the oven. Roast, tossing occasionally, until they are soft and are beginning to turn brown around the edges, approximately 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

3. Place the vegetables in the bowl of a food processor along with the cream cheese and process until well combined and spreadable; do not process until completely smooth.

4. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Just ignore that whole cream cheese part. You get the cool points for eating the zucchini, and that’s all that matters…