Saturday, September 26, 2009

Great Seasonings from French Market Produce

The New Orleans French Market has been around for nearly 300 years. It is much more than a flea market. You can find local artists, jewelry, handbags, clothing, souvenirs, food and so much more on the couple of hundred of tables that line the pavilion. Although fewer vendors have been at the French Market since Katrina hit, on Saturday and Sunday they are almost back up to pre-storm levels.

All summer long I've been using these great seasonings I picked up at the French Market. Let me state upfront that I bought these seasonings just like everyone else - no freebies here. (But if some fabulous company (hint, hint) offered to send me some of their fabulous products to try and/or give away, I wouldn't turn them down :) ) I just want you to know that I found these on my own and decided to write a review on my own.

French Market Produce is not a new company, but I believe these seasonings are (along with their cute logo). I have three of the five varieties - Killer Tomato Seasoning, Sea Lime Tro, and Garlic King. The remaining two are Boogalee Fleur De Lis, and Red Beans and Ricely Yours. At $6.50 a pop, they are a little expensive, so I might pick up the other two on my next trip in November.

With all of the fabulous tomatoes I've been growing this summer, I knew I had to have the Killer Tomato Seasoning. It's the one I've used the most. It is a coarse grind of Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Vinegar Powder, Basil and Cayenne. It was so great sprinkled right on my fresh tomatoes. The vinegar powder gives it a little tang that I love!

What I love the most about the Sea Lime Tro and the Garlic King is that they are a very fine grind. When I sprinkle them on meat, they practically melt. They do have a tendency to make me sneeze, but it's a good sneeze. The Sea Lime Tro seasoning is a combo of Sea Salt, Lime Juice Powder, Chipotle Chili Powder, Pepper, Garlic, Citric Acid, Cilantro, and Lemon Oil (plus Silica Dioxide). The first thing I tried it on was grilled Mahi - it was fabulous. I've also had it on Tilapia and I'm sure it would compliment any fish. The Garlic King is a little more basic - just Garlic, Black Pepper, Onion, Crushed Chili & Parsley. I've used it on pork, burgers and chicken.

You can order these online or pick them up while you're in the French Market. They'll also sell you the creole tomatoes to put the seasoning on (in season, of course).

Friday, September 25, 2009

Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes

It's birthday time at our house, so I've been busy baking. We had both a family party and kindergarten girls party for my 6-year-old. Cake at the first party, cupcakes at the second and cookies (posted later) for the goodie bags. I wanted to make the Martha Stewart buttermilk cupcakes, but it was a huge recipe that made 36. I really only needed 12 and I was having trouble with the math!! I found this recipe at Baking Bites and ultimately decided to double it, just to make sure I had enough for the party. Kindergarteners love cupcakes!! But then I wound up making 36 cupcakes anyway. Ack!! Since I'm being really strong on my low-carb diet, I will be giving most of the rest away to my lucky neighbors. And I gave one to the mailman.

Vanilla Buttermilk Cupcakes (makes 12-24)
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour (I used cake flour)
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
¼ cup butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ tsp almond extract
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350F. Place liners in a 12 cup muffin tin. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until it looks creamy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla and almond extracts until mixture is smooth. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until almost combined. Add buttermilk and stir, again, until almost combined. Add the rest of the flour and stir until all ingredients are mixed in.

Divide batter evenly into muffin cups (2/3 full). Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350F, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the muffin pan. Cool completely before frosting.

The above picture is my finished cupcakes (goodie bags in the background). They may not be as beautiful as store-bought, but I think the kindergarteners will love them just the same. The more icing, the better! And the batter came out very light and fluffy (I did have just one bite without the icing). This recipe would also make a great cake.

UPDATE - What a realized today is that most kindergarteners will eat only the cupcake or the icing, but not both. Making from-scratch cupcakes for little kids probably isn't necessary!! But I'm sure everyone else will appreciate them. :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pear and Cherry Cobbler

My friend Amy is the lucky recipient of pears that do not belong to her. Her neighbor has two pear trees and said he just really doesn't want to pick them any more. And I am lucky to have Amy as my friend. We left her house the other day with half a grocery bag of pears, and I just knew I would have to make a cobbler. Looking back now, I think I was more in the mood for a crumble, but this cobbler did just fine. And just about now you're saying, but Kristin, what about that low-carb diet? Yes, I did have a few bites, but I shared the majority with family and friends. A girl's gotta live, right?

(picture is before cooking)

  • 2 cups sliced pears
  • 1/2 cup cherry pie filling
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3/4 cup flour, 1 Tbls. flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
Mix pears with 1 cup sugar and 1 Tbls. flour and let stand. Put butter in 2-quart casserole and place in 325° oven until melted. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and remaining 1 cup of sugar. Mix well. Whisk together the milk and egg; slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet to make a batter. Pour the batter over the melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon pears over the batter. Put small spoonfuls of the cherry pie filling (trying to get more cherries than filling) over the pears. Do not stir. Bake at 325° for 50 to 60 minutes, or until light brown on top. Serve hot or cold with ice cream or whipped cream.

Of course, you can probably use just about any fresh fruit you like - peaches, cherries, apples, nectarines. And if I had given this dessert a little more forethought, I would have used fresh cherries and just put them in the sugar/flour mixture with the pears.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo with Spinach and Tomato

This whole thing was an accident. It started when I put my bag of fresh baby spinach in the freezer rather than the refrigerator. Whoops. Guess I can't make a salad with that anymore. In case you didn't know, fresh spinach, when frozen shrinks up and gets very watery. Not very pretty.

And then my daughter put a spaghetti squash in the grocery basket thinking it was a cantaloupe or melon of some sort. I've made spaghetti squash once or twice before and I knew it was a great thing for my low-carb diet. I was just trying to figure out what to do with it.

Then I was moving things around in my pantry to make room for this week's groceries and found a jar of alfredo sauce. One thing led to another and yada, yada, yada . . . dinner. Because I used the jarred alfredo sauce and the spinach was already wilted, this did not take long to throw together. Just a little advanced time needed for the spaghetti squash. (Be sure to slide past the recipe for two cool things!)


1 Spaghetti Squash
1 jar alfredo sauce (I used Classico)
1 bag (6 oz) baby spinach (fresh or accidentally frozen)
4 plum tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
1-2 cups chicken, chopped (I had leftover rotisserie chicken)

Cut squash in half and scrape out all seeds. Brush pulp with olive oil and cover in foil. Bake in 350 oven for about one hour. After cooking, use a fork to scrape out the pulp. Keep warm. In a saucepan over medium heat, pour in alfredo sauce. Add spinach and chicken and stir well. Heat 5-10 minutes. Add tomatoes, stir and immediately pour over spaghetti squash.

Lessons learned: If you're on a low-carb diet and want spaghetti squash to satisfy your craving for pasta, forget it. This meal was delicious, but next time I think I'll just pour the sauce over a piece of chicken.


My friend Mara over at What's For Dinner is having a yummy Alouette cheese prize giveaway. Be sure to check it out.

And I want to shout out a special thanks to Katie at Salt and Chocolate. I won a bottle of her homemade Bourbon Vanilla Extract. It smells SOOOO good. I can't wait to use it. Thanks!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Blue Cheese Broccoli Slaw

Well, despite my last post, I am still working hard at my low-carb diet. I've hit a couple of minor bumps in the road, but am still down 20 pounds. Woooo hoooo!! But if I'm going to keep making dishes like this cole slaw, I'd better stay off the carbs. This is a pretty high fat dish, but it is SOOOOOO yummy. I was actually surprised at how good it came out. I served it with buffalo-seasoned chicken that I had in the crock pot all day.

I reviewed lots of blue cheese cole slaw recipes. Ina Garten's Blue Cheese Cole Slaw recipe has 13 ingredients and lots and lots of chopping. I'm sure it's good, but I don't have that kind of time. After looking at a few other recipes online, I came up with the following:

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar (I used Stevia equivalent)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 bag broccoli slaw (10 oz. I think)
5 oz. crumbled blue cheese

In a bowl, mix together mayo, sour cream, sugar, salt and pepper. Add broccoli slaw mix. Stir well. Add blue cheese and mix well. Chill for an hour or so for best flavor if you have time.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My New Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie

Everyone has their own personal favorite - some with more sugar, some with more chocolate chips, some with nuts. And even if you're not eating your favorite, chances are the one you're eating is still pretty good. Of course I'm talking about chocolate chip cookies. Ever since I watched that Alton Brown episode with the Flat, Puffy and Chewy chocolate chip cookies, I've tried lots of recipes, but strangely enough, not one of Alton's. Finally this weekend I tried two - the chewy and the puffy - both living up to their name. I'm going to have to say my favorite was the Puffy. No wait, the Chewy. Ok, the Puffy. Final answer.

I made minor changes to both and loved them, so I know the original recipes (below) will be great.



  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used 3 tsp vanilla)
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used 1 cup white chocolate chips and 1 cup crushed oreo cookies)


  • Ice cream scooper (#20 disher, to be exact)
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheets
  • Mixer


Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

Pour the melted butter in the mixer's work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.



  • 1 cup butter-flavored shortening
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour (I used AP Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used 2 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used chocolate chunks)


  • Ice cream scooper (#20 disher, to be exact)
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheets
  • Mixer


Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the shortening, sugar, and brown sugar in the mixer's work bowl, and cream until light and fluffy. In the meantime, sift together the cake flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside.

Add the eggs 1 at a time to the creamed mixture. Then add vanilla. Increase the speed until thoroughly incorporated.

With the mixer set to low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the shortening and combine well. Stir in the chocolate chips. Chill the dough. Scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 per sheet. Bake for 13 minutes or until golden brown and puffy, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool and store in an airtight-container.

The results: The chewy cookies stayed chewy until the next day. They spread a lot so they were pretty thin and my chocolate chips and oreos seemed to pool in the middle. Maybe because I didn't chill enough. The puffy cookies were beautiful. They were amazing right out of the oven and were lightly crunchy, yet tender the next day. I love the chocolate chunks in them. The hard part about the Puffy is that you need shortening and cake flour, neither of which I normally have in the house.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Two More Honey Marinades

I'm still working my way through the honey we received from a friend the other day.

Here are two more marinades I created:

1/4 cup honey
Juice of three lemons
Zest of one lemon
2 Tbls. olive oil
1 Tbls. chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and Pepper to taste

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce (I used low-sodium)
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 Tbls chopped fresh ginger
2 Tbls. olive oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
8 chunks dried pineapple (Weird, I know, but we had a box of these lying around. I'm sure fresh pineapple would work just as well.)

The honey lemon marinade I used on bone-in chicken breasts. I put the honey teriyaki over pork tenderloin. I marinated it over night and then put the pork and the marinade in a crock pot for about 6 hours.

Tomato Herb Chicken

Tomato season has finally arrived in Chicago. Since we got so very little warm weather this summer, my tomatoes were taking forever to ripen. Slowly over the past few weeks, I've gotten quite the harvest of big yellow tomatoes, red cherry tomatoes and red roma tomatoes. Too bad I missed a bunch while we were on vacation.

Mostly I've been eating right off of the vine, raw with just a little salt and pepper, sometimes a little balsamic vinegar. But I just had so many cherry tomatoes, I just had to find some way to use them.

3 cups Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
2-3 Tbls. chopped herbs (I used basil, oregano and chives)
3 Tbls. olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese

Toss all ingredients in a bowl. Spread tomatoes on cookie sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350. Pour tomatoes over cooked chicken breasts. Top with cheese. Return to oven until cheese is melted (about 3-5 minutes).

This was so simple and so delicious. The tomatoes were so sweet. This would be great over pasta, too, but since I'm on this low-carb diet, that means no pasta for me. It would also be fabulous on fish.

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