Southern Mardi Gras Wreath

Submitted by Christi

Just a little more Mardi Gras color around here.

Mardi Gras Wreath

It has the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold. Just a grapevine wreath draped with purple ribbon and adorned with a big gold bow and a fun Mardi Gras mask. Couldn’t be easier!

Metamorphosis Monday

Metamorphosis Monday with Between Naps on the Porch

Today’s Lagniappe:  Cajun Catfish
From Betty Crocker something a little spicy and fun for catfish. Do you think Betty Crocker was Cajun? LOL!

2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/2 cup stone-ground cornmeal
2 tablespoons Cajun Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
1 egg
2 pounds catfish nuggets, skin removed
1/4 cup lemon juice

1. In heavy 3-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat to 375°F.
2. In shallow dish, stir together flour, cornmeal, Creole seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder and red pepper. In another shallow dish, beat egg with fork until foamy.
3. Sprinkle catfish nuggets with salt and lemon juice. Dip each nugget into beaten egg, then roll in flour mixture to coat. Drop 4 to 6 nuggets at a time into hot oil. Cook 2 minutes; turn and cook 1 minute longer or until deep golden brown. Remove from oil; drain on paper towels.

Makes 8 servings

Southern Snow Day

Submitted by Christi

It started snowing here this morning and is still steadily snowing at mid-day here in my neck of the woods in Arkansas. Got some pics to share with you as well as a recipe!

I love asparagus. Of course, we usually cut off the top part and throw the woody part away. I’ve always seen cooking channel people do this and then say to save the woody part for another use. Well, while I’ve always thought I should do that, I never had – until today. I actually just served the tips last night for supper (roasted with lemon, garlic and olive oil) and saved the rest to make some soup. Turned out to be a great lunch for a snowy day!

Set on the coffee table in front of the fire and I even had a little mini-tablescape!

I’ve also been feeding the birds. Watching them is not only entertaining for me, it also keeps Calli-cat occupied. I’ve got covered bird feeders in the front. My bird feeder in the back is unprotected, so it is covered with snow. I made a makeshift bird feeder on the back porch and then scattered a little seed on the porch. The birds have really enjoyed it.

I have had cardinals, bluejays, wrens, chickadees, tufted titmouse, robins and red finches, mourning doves, a couple of woodpeckers and, of course, squirrels. What fun it has been to watch them. I’ve been trying to get pictures. Of course, the beautiful red cardinal is just as pretty as a picture but always seems to fly off just as I get the camera focused on him!

As I am typing this, a big Bluejay is feeding as a robin waits on this fence for his turn. Don’t you just love snow days!

Today’s Lagniappe: Asparagus Soup
This recipe makes 8 – 10 servings. I quartered the recipe (I didn’t even need half) and it turned out great! I also skipped the step for the tips of the asparagus since we had them the night before 🙂 This is based on Emeril Lagasse’s recipe. YUM!
* 3 pounds fresh asparagus, rinsed
* 8 cups chicken stock
* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 cup chopped onion
* 1 tablespoon minced garlic
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, garnish

Trim the attractive top tips from the asparagus, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in length. Cut the woody stem ends from each spear and reserve. Cut the remaining tender stalks into 1/2-inch pieces.

In a medium pot, bring the stock to a boil. Add the tough woody stems, lower the heat and simmer to infuse with asparagus flavor, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and discard, reserving the stock.

Add the decorative tips to the stock and blanch until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Remove with a strainer and refresh in an ice water bath. Drain on paper towels and reserve for the garnish. Reserve the stock.

In a medium stockpot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When foamy, add the onions and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chopped asparagus stalks, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the reserved broth and simmer until the asparagus are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.

With a hand-immersion blender or in batches in a food processor, puree the soup until smooth. Adjust the seasoning, to taste. If serving right away, return to medium heat and add the cream and reserved asparagus tips. Cook, stirring, until the soup is warmed through, about 3 minutes.

Alternatively, if serving the soup later, do not add the cream and let cool at room temperature (or in an ice water bath). Cover and refrigerate. Before serving, add the cream and asparagus tips, and warm the soup gently over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Tablescape Thursday with Between Naps on the Porch

with Between Naps on the Porch

Foodie Friday

With Designs by Gollum

Southern Decadence on a Dime

Submitted by Christi

Sometimes, it is nice to go out to eat at a restaurant. Saves having to cook, having to dishes and having to clean up. However, it rarely saves you money.

piggy bank

If I am going out to eat, I want to eat somewhere that has a specialty that I know without a doubt is going to be really, really good. Otherwise, I can be creative and cook at home. I know what ingredients are used and how they are used and with some simple planning and preparation, I can make even really complex recipes in my own kitchen.

There are a few things (3 or more) you can do to make having a meal at home as good as going out to a really nice restaurant.

I think the best tip I have learned for preparing great food with recipes that range from simple to complex is the concept of “mis en place” or having everything in place before you start cooking. That means if a recipe calls for chopped onions or minced garlic, I have them chopped and minced before I start. It helps to do as much ahead as possible.

The other thing I have learned (from Mama) is how to have everything ready to serve at the same time. To do this, you start with when you want to serve your meal and plan backwards. How much time will each course take? Whatever takes the longest, start first and then work forward from there.

One last thing, when you are cooking – clean as you go – as much as you can. If you have family members who can help rinse pots and pans and put things away as you are cooking (or help with the cooking) all the better. One of the best things about eating out is that you don’t have to clean up. If you clean as you go, at the end of the meal the cleaning is minimal. Get everyone to pitch in as much as you can.

Apart from the food, of course, there is the atmosphere. What good is it to have nice dishes if you never use them, after all? Get out the nice dishes and silverware and put them to good use. You can’t take it with you so you may as well use it. By the way, it is cheaper to use your own dishes than to continually use paper plates!

Chrsitmas Tablescape

Setting the table is a great opportunity to teach the kids basic place setting etiquette. As a child, we always took turns setting the table, and I learned early on the proper place for the utensils, plates, glasses, napkins, etc. My mother had us set the table for every evening meal and we sat down as a family to dine. Wonderful memories were made. I don’t have children, but even for just my husband and me, it is still nice to have a proper place setting. It is just a little thing that brings beauty and order in an otherwise chaotic world.

People are having to cut down in this difficult economic time but that doesn’t mean we can’t still feel pampered at home. With these tips it can be really easy to enjoy nice meals at home and save some money.

Bon Apatite, Y’all!

Today’s Lagniappe:  Apple Cinnamon Pork Tenderloin
This would be a great recipe to enjoy “restaurant style.”

  • to 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries or raisins

Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the pork tenderloin in a roasting pan or casserole dish. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir. Spoon the apple mixture around the pork tenderloin. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Remove the lid and spoon the apple mixture over the tenderloin. Return to the oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until pork tenderloin is browned and cooked through. A meat thermometer in the center should register at least 150° to 160°.
Serves 4.


Balancing Beauty and Bedlam’s Tasty Tuesday

Blessed with Grace’s Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

The Gypsy’s Corner’s Three or More

Southern Pink Sky

Submitted by Christi

A couple of days ago, as the day was ending, I looked up from my desk and noticed that everything outside kind of had a pinkish-golden hue. How beautiful it was!

Today, I want to share those pictures with you, as well as introduce you to a new blog/website. The site is called “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and it is written by my bonus father, Dr. Chester Ward. His latest article is titled, “Priorities” and it is a great message that I think will bless you.

Chester has been a pastor, director of missions and has been in ministry for many years. Last year, Chester retired from full time ministry as director of missions and is now entering a new phase of ministry. He is now available to preach as a supply or as an interim. He has written a book called “Basic Bible Doctrine” that is a great tool and is also available to lead a study on that book as well as other Bible studies.

Hope you will give him a visit today at Great is Thy Faithfulness and leave him a note of encouragement in this new phase of ministry.

Looking at the sky, I am reminded of how Great is Thy Faithfulness!

Pink Sky

pink sky

pink sky

Hope everyone has a wonderful and blessed weekend!

Today, I am joining:

Pink Saturday

Pink Saturday with Beverly at How Sweet the Sound

blogger spirit

And, finally,

Today’s Lagniappe:  Sausage and Cheese Frittata
Something warm and yummy for a cold winter morning.

  • 1  (12-oz.) package spicy ground pork sausage (you can use mild if you prefer)
  • 8  large eggs
  • 1/3  cup  milk
  • 1/2  teaspoon  pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 1  cup  (4 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Brown sausage in a 10-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 10 minutes or until meat crumbles and is no longer pink; drain and transfer to a bowl. Wipe skillet clean.

2. Whisk together eggs and next 3 ingredients until well blended.

3. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat; remove from heat, and pour half of egg mixture into skillet. Sprinkle with cooked sausage and cheese. Top with remaining egg mixture.

4. Bake at 350° for 23 to 25 minutes or until set.

Southern Warm Up

Submitted by Christi
Foodie Friday

With Designs by Gollum

While the snow is over (for now), it is still a bit chilly here. Time for some comfort food! Onion soup is yummy and the version I’m sharing today is Creole Onion Soup and the recipe is from Brennan’s New Orleans.


I love the traditional French onion soup but honestly, the mozzarella is just a tad difficult to eat as is the toasted bread crouton you have to fight through to get to the soup.

French Onion Soup

That is why I LOVE this Creole version of onion soup. It has yummy Parmesan cheese incorporated that will definitely not leave a string of cheese between the bowl and your mouth as you transfer the soup with your spoon!

Before we get to the recipe, I’ve got to tell you a story that explains another reason I love this soup. One beautiful Autumn when we were visiting New Orleans, yours truly was a bit under the weather. When I finally got to a doctor, it turns out I had a sinus infection. Grrrrrr, that can really put a damper on an otherwise fun trip.

What got me through was this wonderful Creole Onion Soup from Brennan’s. It was so soothing and warm and yummy.  Pretty powerful soup! Had to get the cookbook with that recipe on the double!

Oh, and one more thing, this soup doesn’t take HOURS to make. It is served with small croutons made with wonderful day old french bread.

Without further ado:

Today’s Lagniappe: Brennan’s Creole Onion Soup
If you don’t need 8 servings, you can easily halve this recipe.

(8 servings)
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
1 large onion
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef stock
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. white pepper
Salt to taste
2 tsp. eggshade or yellow food coloring (optional and I’m not sure why this is needed – CW)
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Melt the butter in a large pot, and sauté the onion until tender, about 5 minutes. Blend the flour and cook the mixture over medium heat another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper. Adjust the seasoning with salt to taste. If desired, add the food coloring. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan, then serve.

Southern Chill

Submitted by Christi

We are in the deep freeze here in Arkansas. My feet are freezing even as I type this! Time to warm up with some memories of a much warmer time. I remember taking the photos for this “tablescape” with my friend, Ann Messick. It was a nice hot day and I really wanted to jump in that cool, clear water. Hope this post warms you up wherever you are!

Into the deep end:


Sorry, no dip here:


A view from above:


Something refreshing, is it the lemonade or the water?:


Maybe it is the cookies on the pretty yellow plate, topped with a clear yellow/green plate:


Let’s dive in!


Thanks for joining us for today’s episode of Tablescape Thursday, hosted by Susan at Between Naps on the Porch.


Today’s Lagniappe: Great Hot Chocolate
If you are still cold, this will warm you up!

8 teaspoons sugar (or Splenda, if you prefer)
4 teaspoons cocoa powder
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
miniature marshmallows

In a saucepan, combine the first three ingredients. Cook and stir over medium heat about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Ladle into mugs and add as many marshmallows as you like.

Southern Snow

Submitted by Christi

Had to share this link to Garden & Gun online with their fabulous photo gallery of the snow that covered the South recently. Enjoy!

Southern Snow Day

Submitted by Christi

Yesterday was our first snow of  Winter! It was only a light dusting but enough for the schools to close. Even though I was busy working, I still love snow days.

Snow days always remind me of how exciting it was to get to stay out of school and stay home to “sled” and build snowmen. Of course, we didn’t have enough snow to warrant having a sled so we made do with pieces of cardboard and various items that we borrowed from Summer like the zip sled (meant to be used in the water) and inner tubes.

When we would come in for lunch, it was always Campbell’s tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches followed by snow ice cream. Somehow, the soup and sandwich just tasted so much better on a snow day. And, who doesn’t love snow ice cream.

tomato soupI made that lunch here yesterday. Believe it or not, I actually took a lovely picture of the yummy lunch to share with you. When I got ready to upload it, I realized that I did not have a memory card in the camera! Of course, the soup and sandwich had been devoured so I’m just sharing a picture of a can of soup. Sigh!

I remember visiting with my friend Donna Butler and her wonderful parents JoAnn and Pete Butler in Kansas City one year. JoAnn (or Mommy Jo as she is affectionately called) made Campbell’s tomato soup to the “peak of perfection.” It is all in the technique. I’ll have to get them to tell us all about the special way to make this soup.

These days, I still like tomato soup.  I love the convenience of a can, but sometimes, it is nice to take the time to make it from scratch.

Today’s Lagniappe:  Cream of Tomato Soup

• 2 14½ ounce cans whole tomatoes, crushed
• 3 cups tomato juice
• 1 cup chicken stock
• 12 washed fresh basil leaves
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 4 Tablespoons butter (½ stick)
• – Salt to taste
• ¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper

1. In a black cast iron pot, combine tomatoes, juice and stock.
2. Simmer 30 minutes.
3. Puree, along with the basil leaves, in a food processor or with a hand-held food blender, right in the cooking pan.
4. Return to saucepan and add cream and butter, while stirring, over low heat.
5. Garnish with basil leaves.


Balancing Beauty and Bedlam’s Tasty Tuesday

Blessed with Grace’s Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

It’s That Time Again!

Submitted by Christi

That’s right. The Christmas decorations are all gone and out come the Mardi Gras decorations! Are you ready for Carnival?

Let the Carnival begin!

Let the Carnival begin!

The beads, the masks . . .

The beads, the masks . . .

all the Carnival colors.

all the Carnival colors.

Add a little candlelight.

Add a little candlelight.

Oh my, there is snow in the background :(

The fun and frivolity

Ready for the fun.

Ready for the fun.

Who is that behind the mask?

Who is that behind the mask?

Baubles and beads.

Baubles and beads.

And, the Mardi Gras tree.

And, the Mardi Gras tree.

More decorations to come! Thanks Susan for hosting:

Tablescape Thursday with Between Naps on the Porch

with Between Naps on the Porch

Today’s Lagniappe:  Slow Cooker Red Beans & Rice
Something warm and yummy to start the celebration.

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound andouille sausage (or regular smoked sausage), cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups dried red beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 quart water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Hot cooked rice (about 3 to 4 cups)

In a slow cooker, combine the onion, garlic and sausage. Stir in the beans and water and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low heat until the beans are tender, about 7 1/2 hours (on high it takes between 3 1/2 to 4 hours). Remove 1/4 cup of beans from slow cooker. Mash until smooth, then sir them stir back into slow cooker. Continue to cook for another 30 minutes on low or 15 minutes on high. Remove the beans from the cooker to a serving bowl. Serve over cooked rice and enjoy!

Happy January!

Submitted by Christi

Hope everyone had wonderful holidays. I’m always so happy t0 be starting a new year. The days are starting to get longer and I’m already looking forward to Spring!

January used to be one of my least favorite months. It always seems to be the coldest month.Here are 3 things that changed my mind about January

The first thing that changed my mind about January was gardening. You really need to start planning that garden in January, after all. I love looking through seed and plant catalogs and thinking about what I would like to plant and where to plant them. I have had regular in-the-ground-gardens and I have had just potted gardens. However I plant, I just love the fruits of my labor. Even in January you can dream of the perfect home-grown tomato.

green tomato

The other thing that has helped me learn to love January is learning to love the silhouette of trees. A tree that lifts it’s arms to God to pray:

Tree in Winter

I love that Joyce Kilmer poem:
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Snow Tree

And then, of course there is one more thing that makes me love January. That would be cozy nights by the fireplace. Who doesn’t love snuggling up in front of a crackling fire?

So, here’s to January! Hope it is a great start to a great year for all of you!

Today’s Lagniappe:  Shrimp Bisque
Something warm to enjoy in front of the fire!

  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 green onion (white and green parts) chopped
  • 4 tablespoons
  • 1 glove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 3 1/2 cups shrimp stock (recipe below)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 8 ounces cooked shrimp (preferably wild American shrimp), chopped

In a medium saucepan, add celery, onions and butter, stirring occasionally. When tender add garlic and cayenne and mix together. Stir in flour and half and half. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in shrimp stock and parsley. Cook for 10 minutes until it thickens. Add shrimp and let simmer for 10 minutes or until heated through. Stir occasionally. Add salt, to taste. If desired, stir in 1/4 cup brandy after you have added the shrimp stock and parsley. Let warm for a couple of minutes before adding the shrimp.

Wild American Shrimp

Shrimp Stock

  • 2 1/2 quarts plus 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup coarse
  • 2 1/2 pounds shrimp shells
  • ly chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup mushroom trimmings
  • Sachet consisting of the following: 1 bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/4 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns and 4 parsley stems

Rinse the shrimp shells under cold running water and place them in a 1-gallon stockpot with the remaining ingredients. Bring the pot to a boil and then lower the temperature to a simmer. Skim the impurities that rise to the surface with a ladle, spoon or a skimmer. Simmer the stock for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

When the stock is completed, strain the stockpot and immediately cool the stock using an ice bath of water and ice. Use the amount of stock you need, and refrigerate or freeze the rest.


Balancing Beauty and Bedlam’s Tasty Tuesday

Blessed with Grace’s Tempt My Tummy Tuesday

The Gypsy’s Corner’s Three or More