Slow Cooker Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

Slow Cooker Louisiana Red Beans and Rice gluten-free -

Today is Mardi Gras day and a huge party will ensue in New Orleans as well as other spots in the US who, like me, hate to miss a celebration.  After watching four seasons of HBO’s ‘Treme’, I feel confident there is no other place to truly enjoy the festive spirit of Fat Tuesday other than NOLA.  It is the culmination of a holiday season unlike any other.  Being the last big bash before Lent, traditional foods and cocktails define the day along with the parades, costumes and bead-throwing from opulent floats. I can’t think of any food I love better than honest, country-style food.  It’s unpretentious, approachable, full of flavor and usually easy to prepare.  With a stick-to-your-ribs spiciness, these Slow Cooker Louisiana Red Beans and Rice are no exception.  After sharing a gluten-free … {continue reading}

Classic New Orleans Brandy Milk Punch

Brandy Milk Punch. A silky Brunch cocktail or 'the hair of the dog' solution! -

When most people think of traditional Mardi Gras cocktails, the Sazerac or Hurricane spring to mind.  I am sharing another classic; a smooth, brunch sipper Classic New Orleans Brandy Milk Punch.  This cool character seduces at breakfast with creamy vanilla tones and brandy, and keeps rolling all day long.  Unlike the more widely known traditional weekend morning competitor The Bloody Mary that jolts one awake with spicy sass, Brandy Milk Punch is quiet and silky, often tricking the imbiber with its unsuspecting wiles. A kissing cousin to holiday-favorite Eggnog, Brandy Milk Punch carries Mardi Gras with panache and sophistication.  The great pre-parade libation made simply with brandy, milk, powdered sugar, vanilla and some ice, and is said to bear the qualities of ‘the hair of the … {continue reading}

Gluten Free King Cake for Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras King Cake -

I would love to introduce Gluten-Free King Cake for Mardi Gras with tales of my first excursion to a Mardi Gras parade, listening to the roots of jazz in an authentic, lived-in club or after a superb meal from one of New Orleans’ notable rising new chefs.  Truth?  All I have for you is that I have a current obsession with  NOLA after watching three seasons of HBO’s ‘Treme’; a series set in post Katrina New Orleans as residents pick up and try to craft a new life after the storm.  It’s full of sumptuous food, transporting jazz (with guest appearances of luminaries), a view into the organic culture; all leaving me yearning to go.  Ironically I was invited by the city to come for a visit during the holidays but the timing did not work out.  So until I DO visit I’m sharing some Mardi Gras … {continue reading}

Dealing with Gluten-Free Doubters

Dealing with Gluten-Free Doubters -

Recently I was looking through my Facebook stream which includes a number of news outlets.  I opened a news clip from a show called Morning Joe featuring guest Joy Behar, an outspoken comedian and former talk show host for The View, and Tom Colicchio, restauranteur and reality TV show chef.   The segment was about Tom Colichio’s new reality show about restaurants. Shortly after the interview began as Chef Colicchio was describing the show, Joy Behar interrupted by blurting out ‘how annoying are people who want gluten-free when they go into a restaurant?  I just find it irritating’.  They had not been speaking about special diets or gluten, she just sprang to life sharing the uncomfortable non-sequetor.  The Morning Joe segment hosts and Tom Colicchio made light comments, laughing … {continue reading}

Love Potion #9

Love Potion #9 - A spicy-sweet elixir with a pop rocks rim

What would Valentine’s Day be without a love potion?  An exciting elixir to dazzle the eyes and palate with a bit of the unexpected. I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day.  It’s a day that feels dipped in chocolate and excitement. Both as an adult and child I loved making Valentines in red, pink and white with lots of glitter and secret messages in conversation hearts. Was there anything more fun than decorating a shoe box for school to receive valentines?  In fourth grade Tim Fessler slipped a simple heart in my box with a pre-printed message about love.  I was able to read through the innuendo and when we were paired up to do the Virginia Reel in PE class, I was sure it was Valentine’s destiny. Whether you are making valentines, planning a party or just taking it easy you … {continue reading}

Slow Cooker Individual Creamy Chocolate Fondue Pots

Slow Cooker Individual Creamy Chocolate Fondue Pots -

Ever since I was a child fondue has been a treat for special occasions.  So exotic!  The blue flame from the fuel pot dancing wildly, licking the bottom of the metal pot was mesmerizing.  I loved the ritual of loading up the skewers with dip-able bites and watching the bubbling oil transform meat into seared perfection. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I tasted chocolate fondue.  When I lived in California we’d pop into a dedicated fondue restaurant, again on special occasions, which offered three courses of fondue with chocolate being the crowning glory.  Then fondue disappeared from the culinary landscape.  Poof; gone.  I did not think about it or even realize it until a few years back when approaching my husband’s birthday we wanted to get him something unexpected.  He’s a … {continue reading}