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Crawfish Garlic Toast with Cajun Pierogies

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Yesterday, I gifted a friend with lunch from my favorite Cajun restaurant, to help her get labor started on her third, overdue baby. While I know this is an unproven, old wives tale, the voodoo crawfish worked to bring about many local babies!

Well, after ordering and coordinating delivery, I was left sitting at my desk craving Cajun food. I called my husband to whine about wanting to go out to dinner, but got no sympathy, so I took matters into my own hands! I shopped Pinterest for a Cajun pierogi recipe because I wanted to emulate the ones from High Street Caffe, but the recipes I found did not match the dish I desired. This is when the creative juices started to boil in my brain. By the time I left work, I was on a mission to go to Wegman’s  and secure some super tasty crawfish!!!!!

After an inspired trip to the store, I got home and started to cook! No pizza in my house on this given Friday! Once it was ready, I called my husband and urged him to rush home, because I couldn’t wait to dig in. It was HEAVENLY! Paired with a nice bottle of wine, it felt like a date at home! This recipe has now earned a spot in my top 3 greatest of all time!!!

Crawfish Garlic Toast

Ingredients:

The toast–

  • 1 baguette, sliced diagonally
  • 3 Tbsp of butter
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic

The Crawfish—

  • 2 Tbsp of butter
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • ½ cup of finely chopped mirepoix (carrots, onion, & celery)
  • 12 oz. of crawfish tails
  • 1 tsp of oregano
  • 1 Tbsp of paprika
  • 1 tsp of Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp of fresh thyme
  • A few dashes of cayenne pepper (you can adjust to your liking)
  • Salt & black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pint of heavy cream
  • 1 palmful of chopped fresh parsley

Preparation:

The toast—

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  1. Slice the baguette diagonally to create large oval slices.
  2. Melt the butter in a skillet and add the minced garlic. Sautee for 1-2 minutes to infuse the garlic flavor.
  3. Place each slice on a baking sheet, the brush with the garlic butter.
  4. Bake at 450° for about 3 minutes, then flip to toast the other side.
  5. Remove from the oven, and set aside.

The Crawfish—

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  1. In the same skillet used above, saute the garlic, mirepoix, and butter until softened.
  2. Add the crawfish tails and cook on high heat until firm.
  3. Mix in the spices, and saute for another minute.
  4. Add cream, mix well, and simmer uncovered for about 5 -10 minutes until thickened.
  5. Stir in the fresh parsley.

Final Preparation—

Place a slice of toast on a plate & spoon a generous serving of the crawfish onto the toast. Serve immediately.  If you would like to serve this as a small appetizer, use smaller, coin sized slices of baguette and smaller portions of crawfish.

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This pairs to well with Cajun pierogies! This is a total cheater recipe, so anyone can easily whip these suckers up. They also make a great stand-alone appetizer!

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Get the recipe here!

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Cajun Pierogi

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I love Cajun food, and I have a favorite local Cajun restaurant that serves the tastiest Cajun pierogies. Well, the other day, I found myself craving this awesomeness, and dinner out was not in the plans, so I embarked on a mission to recreate them at home. Warning, this is kind of a slacker/cheater recipe. I did not go as far as making my own pierogies. I’m an Irish girl, and really have no experience with them other than what I have ordered out. I purchased Wegmans brand roasted garlic pierogies, but you can also use a classic cheddar variety. This is a simple recipe that can be whipped up quickly, without many ingredients, so you may want to keep a  box of pierogies in your freezer, so you can whip these suckers up in an appetizer or dinner emergency!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of frozen pierogies (I used Wegmans brand roasted garlic flavor)
  • 3 Tbsp of butter
  • 1 large shallot
  • 3-4 Tbsp of Cajun Seasoning

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Preparation:

  1. Thaw pierogies according to the package instructions.
  2. In a medium skillet, melt butter and add sliced shallots.
  3. Add pierogies, sprinkle generously with Cajun seasoning, and brown each side for about 3-4 minutes. Be sure to season each side.
  4. Remove from skillet and serve immediately, topped with the sautéed shallots.

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Serving Suggestion: These pair very well with Crawfish Garlic Toast for a Cajun themed dinner!

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Iced Gingerbread Chocolate Isagenix Shake

It’s cold & snowy here this morning, so I decided to spice up my morning chocolate shake. I may just get spicy every morning from now on!!

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How do you dress up your shakes?

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Raising Different Daughters

Sometimes I like to take a break from cooking to write about my experience as a mom, so please indulge me once again. I have three daughters. Each one of my girls is distinctly different, and I find that pretty awesome. My oldest is creative and artistic. She is demanding and particular. She is brave and determined. My youngest is happy and loving. She is silly and smart. She is a compassionate friend and a typical little sister. I adore this picture because I believe that it is the perfect embodiment of their individual personalities.

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But I have another daughter, my middle. She has the sweetest soul. She cares deeply, and takes things to heart. She wounds easily, yet heals quickly, and forgives completely. I am frequently in awe of her compassion. So, it comes as no surprise that she caught my attention this week with her concern for those around her. Monday was Martin Luther King Day. Her teacher has been educating the class this week about the work of Dr. King and the struggles that many Americans face. My middle, of course, took this to heart. She came to me right away, knowing that I teach a civil rights unit. She wanted to know more. She wanted to understand and see what strife others faced. Tonight she won my heart, yet again, when she settled in with my work computer to watch a Discovery Channel documentary that I use in my own teaching. She was mesmerized. She asked questions and marked chapters that she wanted her class to see and understand.

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As a mom, I felt so proud, and it occurred to me that I need to be deliberate in how I cultivate these personality traits in my children, to ensure that they continue into adulthood. I need to remind myself what really matters when I measure my daughters. It’s not the quantity of accolades, but, to quote Dr. King, it’s “the content of their character”. I once read a parenting book that warned parents to be careful of the traits they break down in their children, because they are usually the traits we want them to have as adults. I plan to really take inventory of my daughters and look for the traits that will empower them. My oldest may drive me crazy with her determination, but that is exactly what she is going to need to persevere when the path is rough. My little may be silly, but that sense of humor is what will keep her balanced when the path is rigorous and dull. My middle may be sensitive, but that is what she will need to spread kindness and compassion when the path is dark.

I have no doubt that my girls will find success in life, and it sure is fun to watch them learn and evolve into their own kind of person. I think it is cool that they can grow up in the same house, with the same parents, yet become such unique individuals. I am reminded to cherish what really matters in life, raising good people. That is my job as a mom. I will try my hardest everyday to teach them and encourage them to be true to themselves and kind to others.

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Banana Gingerbread

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My poor husband is home sick with the flu. He is not one to get sick, so it took a nasty fever to keep him down. I feel bad for him. You can just tell he is miserable, but on the bright side, we are all off from school today, so I decided I would fix it the best way I know how, with food of course!

Now, I love gingerbread! For me, this is not just a Christmas treat; I whip up a gingerbread throughout the year. It is spicy (like me), full of flavor, and it tastes like a big warm hug. ***sigh***

So, I have spent the past two years perfecting my own personal gingerbread recipe, and I’ve finally got that sucker polished to perfection, but today I had bananas. Usually, I toss my ripe bananas in the freezer, to be used at a later date, but I just cleaned out my freezer and realized that I had a ridiculous stockpile of frozen bananas, so now I’m on a mission to use them right away.

This is how I got the great idea to add the gingerbread spice blend to my banana bread recipe, and the result was AWESOME! It even prompted the sick one to sit up from the couch and ask me what smelled so good. I consider this a win!

I sincerely hope you all stay healthy this winter, but just in case you need a pick me up, may I suggest this yummy treat.

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe bananas, peeled
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and grease a bundt pan.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas. Add the melted butter to the mashed bananas.
  3. Mix in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the sugar, beaten egg, spices, and vanilla extract.
  4. Mix in the flour.
  5. Pour the batter into a greased Bundt pan.
  6. Bake for about an hour (check at 50 minutes) at 350°F or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean

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Asparagus & Prosciutto Roll-Ups

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This is a simple favorite that will be an instant hit wherever you take it! This recipe is great because it only has three ingredients, but looks sophisticated. Even the most timid cooks can do it. I have taken it to our neighborhood girls night party because this pairs really, really well with a big glass of red wine! I also took it to my sister’s house for Christmas dinner, and it was gobbled up quickly.

Ingredients

30 stalks of asparagus (I prefer them on the skinny side)

10 thin slices of prosciutto (room temperature)

2 Tbsp. of grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation

  1. Blanch the asparagus in boiling water for 1 minute, then transfer to an ice water bath. It should be bright green, but still firm.
  2. Remove and pat dry.
  3. Slice the prosciutto into thirds, lengthwise. You want long, skinny strips.
  4. Wrap each stalk of asparagus, in a spiral fashion, with a strip of prosciutto. Wrap from the base of the stalk to just below the flowery tip.
  5. Repeat until each stalk is wrapped.
  6. Line up the wrapped stalks on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees about 10 minutes or until the prosciutto looks a bit crispy.
  7. Remove from the oven and transfer to a platter.
  8. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese & serve.

Enjoy!

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The Blessing of 3

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I have always wanted three kids, but my husband was set on two. I remember bringing my second daughter home from the hospital, and in the car, I told my husband, “You know, we are not done. I just have this feeling that this is not the last time we will do this.”

His response was, “Can we just get THIS ONE home before we even think about more?”

Well, a few years later,  the day came that I found out that a third little one was on the way (a little sooner than imagined, and by surprise), and a strange anxiety set in. I was thrilled with the blessing, and certainly excited that fate had decided just how many kids we would have, but I was flooded with questions, so I did what any girl would do, I called my one of my best friends, Steph, and she was there for me when I needed her. I was happy to return the favor a few years later.

So, when Steph posted a picture on Facebook the other day, I was reminded of where we were just a few years ago, unknowingly on the cusp of something great. For some reason, that simple picture was a small funny moment in her life, but to me, it was such a symbol of our friendship and the journey we have taken together. The picture popped up in my news feed again today, and after standing at the sink in my kitchen, thinking about how it touched me, I decided to write her a letter.

 

Dear Steph,

Do you remember when I called you and told you I was pregnant, again, for the third time?

Do you remember when I was nervous, and scared because I had just moved into a new house, the bills were bigger, the budget was tight, and I wasn’t sure how I could take an unpaid leave from work?

Do you remember when I was stressed because I feared that I couldn’t juggle three kids, my oldest starting school, my middle being the worst sleeper on the planet, and juggling a full-time teaching job with a new principal?

Do you remember how I relied on you to keep me calm?

And a few years later, do you remember when you called me, as I was driving home from work, to tell me that you were miraculously and surprisingly pregnant with your third?

Do you remember that you were nervous, and scared because you had just moved into a new house, the bills were bigger, the budget was tight, and you weren’t sure how you were going to do it?

Do you remember how you asked me all kinds of questions about being a mom of three?

Do you remember that I told you I wouldn’t trade it for anything?

Well sister, we did it, didn’t we? Deep down inside, we both saw this as a gift and found great joy in the blessing of 3! I couldn’t imagine life without our littles.

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“Things found in the dishwasher when the 2 year old helps do the dishes.”

 

When I saw this picture the other day, I was flooded with a whole new set of realizations:

Someday, they will be grown.

Someday, our houses will be clean, and will stay clean for more than 20 minutes.

Someday, we will drink a whole cup of coffee while it is still warm, and finish a margarita while it’s still cold!

Someday, our phone conversations will be seamless without sporadic interruptions, correcting our children, assisting with homework, or the start of car line.

Someday, they will be too big to carry off to bed, while sound asleep, wrapped around us like little monkeys with their tiny breath ticking our necks.

There will not be fingerprints on our sliding glass doors, crumbs on our floor, or pink shovels in our dishwasher, and we will be the tiniest bit sad.

While this journey started with nervousness and apprehension, we are better as a result.

I want to say thank you for posting that picture. It reminded me of the journey we are on, and the importance of living in the moment. Our littles will grow up way too fast, and someday we will look back and smile, for the gifts we have been given, and we will ask ourselves, “Do you remember when…?”

Thank you for being on this journey with me and the reminder to cherish our blessings!

Love,

Kelly

As parents, it’s important to keep our perspective. So, What do you consider your blessings? Is there anything that you will miss when they’re grown? Post a comment and let us know what you think. Perhaps it will help us keep a firmer grip on what really matters.

 

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Ridiculously Easy Roasted Corn

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I love fresh veggies in the summer. We are so fortunate to live in an area surrounded by local farms that offer fresh veggies at a very low-cost, and I really wanted to enjoy these treasures year-round, so I bought a vacuum sealing system for $20 on an online yard-sale and realized that it was the best money that I ever spent!

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My freezer is full of green beans, berries. tomatoes, and corn. At the end of the season, I went to the farm across the street and bought three dozen ears of corn, then blanched them, and cut the corn off the cob. I then vacuum sealed them in family sized portions. It has been so nice to open a bit of summer during the doldrums of winter.

Last night, I was making a nice dinner for my husband, and I pulled out a pack of corn. I debated just steaming it, or sautéing it with some zucchini, but then I decided to roast it since the oven was hot, and I really didn’t feel like tending to the stove. Well, this was a stroke of brilliance. I will make corn this way from this point forward!

It’s so easy, with one step clean-up, and fool-proof instructions.

Here is the recipe!

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Ingredients:

  • Corn (frozen, or fresh off the cob)
  • Olive oil spray
  • Salt & pepper
  • Fresh thyme
  • Parchment paper

Procedure:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Spray paper with olive oil spray (Really,you can use any variety of spray.)
  4. Spread corn in a single layer.
  5. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme.
  6. Roast in the oven, about 15 minutes, until the edges start to brown.

That’s it! The nice thing about this recipe is that you can make the whole dish while any meat you are preparing gets a chance to rest. You capitalize on an already hot oven, and it requires no attention. Once it is done, transfer the corn to your plates, or a serving bowl, then sweep the parchment paper into the trash, and clean-up is complete! It doesn’t get any easier than that.

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