Category Archives: Celebration

Hooters’ Hot Wing Dip

Last night my husband and I went to a birthday party of a dear friend.  At this party we met a lot of new people who I feel will become great friends; they were so much fun!

One of my new friends, Leigh Ann Jacobs, brought this delicious dip – my husband loved it.  I just have to share it with you all.  Thanks Leigh Ann!

4 – 8 ounce packages of cream cheese

1 package of Ranch Dressing mix

2 chicken breast, chopped

1 bottle Hooters’ Hot Wing Sauce – USE HOT ONLY

2 cups cheddar cheese, grated

You make this dip in 2 layers.  Mix the cream cheese and Ranch dressing packet.  Layer, 1/2 of the cream cheese mixture on bottom of baking dish, top with 1 chicken breast – chopped, 1/2 bottle Hooters’ Hot Wing sauce, and 1 cup of the cheese.  Repeat for next layer.  Bake at 350 until dish is bubbly and cheese melts.  Eat with Frito corn chips.



Filed under Celebration, Chicken, Dip / Spread / Sauce / Seasoning, Uncategorized

Licuado de Melon – Refreshing Watermelon Drink

It’s summer and time to enjoy the delicious taste of watermelon.  Looks like this summer is going to be a super hot one.  This watermelon drink is super refreshing and so easy to make.  You can make it the day before.  Serve chilled.  Thanks Céire!

  • 1 small watermelon or half of a large one
  • juice of 2-3 limes or more to taste, make sure to have some of the lime pulp
  • about 1/4 cup honey, to sweeten
  • up to 4 cups of chilled water

Cut the watermelon into chunks, discarding seeds.  Place chunks in a large sieve, over a bowl, and use a wooden spoon to press/mash fruit, extracting the juice.  Stir in the lime juice and sweeten with honey.  Serve chilled.

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Filed under Beverages, Celebration, Holiday, Louisiana / Cajun, Summer

Amanda’s Great Grandmother’s Carmel Cake


Amanda Costello Reves made her Great Grandmother’s Carmel Cake for Easter – continuing a family tradition. 

The recipe is on an old notecard, so directions are a little confusing.  My Great Grandma used a boxed yellow cake and it was always delicious!!  Amanda

Caramel cake is a Southern favorite, one of those cakes that if you saw one at a school carnival cake walk, you would  embarrass your children trying to win the cake.  The first Carmel cake recipe was published in 1883.  

Caramelize Sugar – Add 1/2 cup white sugar to a heavy saucepan and heat until caramelized. 

(HFH notes:  If you are new to caramelizing sugar, you can add 2 tablespoons water to the 1/2 cup sugar to slow the caramelizing down.  Do not let your sugar get above 375 degrees or it will scorch.  Once it starts boiling, do not stir or you could create crystals.  Once the mixture turns carmel color, place pot in an ice bath to stop the cooking process.)

Bring the following ingredients to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, add  caramelized sugar and boil for 3 1/2 minutes.  Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and beat until smooth.  Amanda used a whisk.
1/2 pint whipping cream
1 stick butter
2 cups sugar

The icing will be runny, but will also cool fast.  So don’t worry if it looks messy, especially on the sides of the cake-just get it on the cake fast.  Also, you don’t need a lot of icing between the layers, because the icing gets thicker and hardens as it cools.

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Filed under Cakes, Celebration, Louisiana / Cajun

Gumbo is LOVE

There are many different versions of gumbo and each family or chef has their favorite.  For some, it’s not gumbo if it doesn’t have okra. For others, it simply must have file, also a thickener. File can get stringy if you heat it too much.  The roux not only thickens, but it adds a wonderful, nutty flavor and gives the gumbo a gorgeous, deep brown color.

You can use any seafood you like or chicken, but the trinity (the onions, celery and peppers) and the roux are essential. How much cayenne you use will likely depend on how spicy your Andouille sausage  is.  The amount of pepper in this recipe is considered perfect for ALL – adjust the heat to your liking in your own bowl.   My dad always said, if  your brow doesn’t sweat, it’s not hot enough – I tend to agree!

2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 cups chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery

Seasoning Mix:
2 whole bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (preferably cayenne)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

3/4 cup vegetable oil or olive oil
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon minced garlic
5 1/2 cups Basic Seafood or Chicken Stock (can substitute oyster liquor)
1 pound Andouille smoked sausage (preferred) or any other good pure smoked pork sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound peeled medium shrimp
1 dozen medium oysters in their liquor, about 9 ounces
3/4 pound crabmeat (picked over) or crawfish – I also like a few crab claws in my seafood gumbo.

Optional:  You can, instead of seafood, use chicken. Chicken and Sausage gumbo is very savory and just as delicious.

Hot cooked rice

Frozen chopped Okra

Tabasco, File, Cayenne Pepper – have these on the table for personal use

Chop the onions, bell peppers and celery and set aside. In a small bowl combine the seasoning mix ingredients; mix well and set aside.

Heat the oil in a heavy iron skillet over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the flour, whisking constantly with a long-handled metal whisk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until roux is dark red-brown to black, being careful not to let it scorch or splash on your skin. Making the roux is where you want to be super patient.  DO NOT WALK AWAY.

While the roux is cooking or the day before; cook your chicken and stock. First, season your chicken parts generously with salt, black pepper and Cayenne. Place the chicken parts in a large pot with quartered onions, 2 carrots, quartered celery, 2 bay leaves and 8 quarts of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for an hour, skimming any foam that rises to the surface.

Take the chicken out of the pot and when it’s cool, remove the fat and pick the meat off the bones and cut into pieces. When the broth is cool, strain and throw out the vegetables. You should have about 8 quarts stock.

This is where my gumbo technique differs from others:  I like to sauté my sausage in a separate iron skillet (not the same one I cooked the roux in) and stir in the seasoning mix and continue cooking about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. I believe this process brings out the flavors of the seasonings better.  Add the garlic; stir well, then cook and stir about 1 minute more.  Remove the sausage and ‘goodness’ from the skillet – add to the stock pot.  Add the vegetables to the same skillet you cooked the roux in.  The vegetables will cool it down quickly, but also help make your roux dark.  Stir well (switch to a spoon if necessary). Continue stirring and cooking until vegetables are just right. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, place the stock in a 5 1/2-quart saucepan or large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Add roux and vegetables by spoonfuls to the boiling stock, stirring until dissolved between each addition. Bring mixture to a boil. Add the andouille; return to a boil; continue boiling 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes more. Add the shrimp, undrained oysters and crabmeat – or chicken. Return to a boil over high heat, for 2 minutes ONLY – stirring occasionally. Immediately remove from heat and add 2-4 cups frozen cut okra.  Skim any oil from the surface.

To serve as a main course, mound 1/2 cup rice in the middle of each serving bowl. Spoon 1 cup gumbo over the top, making sure each person gets an assortment of the seafood and Andouille. Serve half this amount in a cup as an appetizer.


Filed under Autumn, Celebration, Chicken, Entree, Fish / Seafood, Holiday, Louisiana / Cajun, rice, shrimp, Side Dishes / Vegetables, Soup, Winter

Cranberry Orange Relish

My book club friend, Kyra Barger, brought this delicious and tangy cranberry relish for our Thanksgiving on the Bayou dinner.  Great alternative to the traditional cranberry relish.

1 medium orange

1 package fresh cranberries

1 cup sugar

1 cinnamon stick

Cut the orange into wedges, remove seeds.  Pour 1/2 of the cranberries and orange wedges into the food processor – blend until chopped.  Repeat with second half of cranberries and orange wedges.

Cook cranberry and orange mixture with sugar and cinnamon stick over medium heat in a large sauce pan for 5 to 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool completely.

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Filed under Autumn, Celebration, Dip / Spread / Sauce / Seasoning, Pork, Side Dishes / Vegetables, Winter

Marge’s Moist and Light Poppy Seed Cake

If you are looking for a quick, light and moist cake to serve visiting family and friends during the holiday, this is the perfect choice.  It’s not too sweet,  and great with coffee, hot chocolate or a glass of wine.  This recipe was shared by my dear friends Ricky and Marge Brookins – thank you!

1 box Duncan Hines Butter Cake Mix

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup Crisco Oil

4 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1/4 cup poppy seeds


Combine and beat for 2 minutes and following:  cake mix, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, 3/4 cup oil, 4 eggs.  Stir in 1 cup sour cream and 1/4 cup poppy seeds.  Pout into a greased and floured bundt cake pan and bake 350 degrees until done – approx. 30 minutes.  You can also bake this cake in a loaf pan.

*I made this cake several times in the last 2 months – you can sprinkle powdered sugar on top or make a glaze of lemon juice and powdered sugar – both are excellent.  Although this cake is just fine without.

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Filed under Autumn, Breads, Breakfast, Cakes, Celebration, Dessert, Spring, Summer, Winter

Italian Red Gravy – passed down through the generations

All families have their own version on this recipe.  This is the one that was passed down to me from my Uncle Joe.  My mother added red pepper flakes to make it more like an Arrabbiata gravy – spicy.  This gravy is also delicious with meat balls, stuffed shells, or lasagna.  I usually double this recipe.

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 or 2 carrots, grated

salt and pepper to taste

2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

1/2 cup red wine

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried basil

2 dried bay leaves

pinch of sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until carmelized, about 2 minutes. Add carrots, tomato paste and salt and pepper. Sauté about 5 – 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes, basil, bay leaves, sugar, and wine – simmer covered on low heat for 1 – 2 hours or until thick. Remove bay leaves.  If sauce still tastes too acidic, add butter – 1 tablespoon at a time.

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Filed under Autumn, Beef, Celebration, Cheese, Dip / Spread / Sauce / Seasoning, Entree, Holiday, Side Dishes / Vegetables, Spring, Summer, Winter