Happy Gumbo Day (Real Cajun Giveaway)

Sunday, October 12th, 2014 is National Gumbo Day.   Since I love gumbo, I want to celebrate big with you by offering a great Cajun themed giveaway!   Details included at the end of this blog.

A few weeks ago I met some of my 37 Cooks friends in Washington, Louisiana at the Steamboat Warehouse for dinner.   It was a delightful evening with good friends and great food!    I had bell peppers that were stuffed with blue crab and shrimp with a creamy crawfish sauce from the appetizer menu.  Oh my gosh,  it was good!  All the food that was served looked delicious and got thumbs up from everyone.  Since this post is about Gumbo,  I’m happy to add that my friend Sandra absolutely loved their Chicken & Sausage Gumbo. She shared with me:  “The gumbo I had at Steamboat in Washington, LA was the best I’ve had in my life! It’s still hard for me to believe it because it was a chicken and sausage gumbo.   I prefer seafood gumbo and I don’t like sausage! After we left the Washington/Ville Platte area and went to New Orleans I had a cup or bowl of gumbo nearly everywhere we ate, many of the famous restaurants. Didn’t matter, Steamboat had the best!”   The Steamboat Warehouse  in Washington, Louisiana is about 30 minutes North of Lafayette off I-49N.  It is definitely worth the trip!

The next day, my husband and I had lunch at Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro  in Lafayette where we had a Seafood & Sausage Gumbo that was amazing.  The blend of flavors and seafood were very similar to the gumbo my husband’s family makes.  My husband’s Dad grew up in Kaplan,  a small town south of Lafayette.  Jolie’s is a beautiful restaurant, with beautiful art work, great service and great food.

Now, the one thing that really surprised me was the fact that my friend’s gumbo at Steamboat Warehouse was served with a sweet potato and our gumbo at Jolie’s was served with a creamy potato salad.  My husband’s family never served their gumbo with a potato and I had never seen it done before this trip.   Of course, I had to google it.   From Folklife in Louisiana  “If you put a scoop of potato salad in your gumbo before serving, you likely have some German influence.”  Our waiter at Jolie’s said we should put the potato salad in gumbo for an exciting and different experience.   Donald Link even mentions the tradition in his Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link’s Louisiana  and he shares a recipe from his family.   Did I mention a copy of Real Cajun is part of my giveaway?

During the trip, we also visited my friend and fellow 37 Cooks’ store in Ville Platte, Louisiana which is just up the road from Washington, Louisiana.  I have previously blogged about Teet’s Food Store.  Their smoke meats are the very best.   Saveur Magazine just did an article on Gumbo and the flavors of Southern Louisiana and guess who received a shout out on their page titled “Louisiana Purchase”!   You got it, Teet’s Food Store!   They gave them a shout out for their Smoked Turkey Necks, but friends I’m telling you,  their smoked turkey necks/wings, tasso, smoked andouille sausage… are absolutely delicious and some of the best ingredients you could possibly put in your own gumbo.  If you can’t get to Ville Platte, no worries, Teet’s ships their delicious products out.  You can find your meats, spices, rice and roux online at Teet’s.

One last thing I will say about gumbo!  There are a lot of different recipes out there. My family enjoys Shrimp and Okra Gumbo, Cowgirl Chef’s Turkey Gumbo and their MeMaw’s Chicken Gumbo.   Every family has their own, so I encourage you to cook up a big pot of gumbo to your liking.

Mire Family Shrimp and Okra Gumbo

Mire Family Shrimp and Okra Gumbo

Mire Family Shrimp and Okra Gumbo

1/2 cup shortening + 2 tablespoons (I use Crisco)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 cups okra, sliced horizontally into rounds
1 carton low-sodium chicken broth
1 can tomatoes with diced green chiles (I use Ro’tel)
2 bay leaves
1/2  teaspoons of Cajun Seasoning (I use Slap Ya Mama Hot in the red cylinder)
1/2 teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning
2 cups of water
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed

In a large stock pot, heat oil on medium heat. Add flour and start stirring! Use a wooden spoon because rubber utensils will melt. After 1 minute, reduce heat to low and continue to stir. It’s going to take about 20-25 minutes to get it to a nice dark brown. If your pan begins to smoke, remove the pot from the heat and let it cool down a bit before continuing. You don’t want to burn your roux!! When done, remove from heat and set aside.

In another large stock pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil on medium heat. Add onions, celery and green bell pepper. Saute until onions are translucent. Add garlic and saute an additional minute. Place sautéed vegetables in a bowl, set aside.

In same pot, heat the other tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Add okra and saute for five minutes. Turn heat on low and add 1 cup of broth. Simmer for 15 minutes until okra is soft. Turn off heat and smash okra down, break it up.

Place okra and vegetables into stock pot with roux.  Turn heat on medium heat and slowly add chicken broth. Add the can of tomatoes with green chiles, bay leaves, Cajun seasoning and Old Bay. Slowly add water until you have desired consistency. I like mine on the thick side.

Simmer for at least 1 hours to allow all the flavors to develop. Add additional water if needed. Taste and adjust seasonings. This is when I add salt and pepper, if needed.  If you like it hot, you may want to add additional Cajun Seasoning or Old Bay.

Add Shrimp 45 minutes prior to serving.

Serve over rice or the German way with a side of potato salad!

Real Cajun

Real Cajun

Now let me tell you about my Real Cajun Giveaway! The prize package you can win will include:

1.  A copy of Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link’s Louisiana
2.  8 ounces Kary’s Roux
3.  Slap Ya Mama Gumbo Mix
4.  Slap Ya Mama Hot Cajun Seasoning
5.  Camellia’s Red Kidney Beans

I really love the Real Cajun Cookbook.  It’s all about Southern Louisiana and Cajun Country.  Donald Link shares some great stories about his family, his life growing up in Southern Louisiana and of course,  some amazing recipes



Note:   I have put this prize package together on my own.  No sponsors involved.


Ninja Style-Comfort Food / Ham, Green Beans and Potatoes

My husband and I recently joined Costco and we are discovering the many wonderful things that you can get there.  I already have a great love for the pretzel slider buns, rotisserie chicken, avocados, Portobello mushrooms and shrimp salad.    The list is growing and we are still trying to figure out what items we can buy in bulk and use in a timely manner.

I really love fresh green beans and I really dislike frozen green beans that you normally find in the frozen food section of your grocery.    I was a little surprised when my husband brought home this huge bag of frozen green beans from Costco.  I immediately turned my nose up and I ended up having to apologize later because they were really good.   Costco carries Bybee Organic Petite Whole Green Beans which are the next best thing to fresh.  So, now what do I do with a 5  pound bag?

My Cookbook group came to the rescue.  My current book was  Classic Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking by Betty Groff.  I found a very simple recipe for Ham, Green Beans and Potatoes which sounded just like something that would come out of my Grandmother’s kitchen. I did make quite of few adjustments to the original recipe and I cooked it in my Ninja Cooking System.  The Ninja Cooking System has slow cooker, stove top and oven capabilities.  It’s a lifesaver during Houston’s hot/humid weather.  I used the slow cooker and stove top settings for this recipe.

Ham, Green Beans and Potatoes

Ham, Green Beans and Potatoes

Ham, Potatoes and Green Beans
by Linda Mire
Inspired from Classic Pennsylvania Dutch Cooking by Betty Groff

2 lb bone-in ham
2 cups water
1 1/2 lbs Bybee Organic Petite Whole Green Beans
8 Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes
1 tablespoon The Spice House French Tarragon
2 cubes Dorot Crushed Garlic
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
low sodium chicken broth

1. Trim skin and majority of the fat off the ham.
2. Place ham and water in Ninja. Set on the slow cooker/high setting for 4 hours.
3. Remove ham. Do NOT discard juice.
4. Place green beans, potatoes, tarragon, garlic and black pepper into Ninja. Set on stove top/medium heat.
5. If a little more liquid is needed, use a little low sodium chicken broth, just enough liquid to cover the potatoes/green beans.
6. Remove ham from bone and cut into cubes. Add to Ninja.
7. Continue to cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until potatoes are tender.

This was such an easy meal to prepare and it did take me right back to my Grandmother’s kitchen.


1.  If you do not have a Ninja Cooking System, you can use your slow cooker.  Follow steps 1-3.  When you get to step 4,  turn your slow cooker on high and follow rest of the steps.  Instead of 45 minutes, it will take about 2 – 2 1/2 hours to get potatoes tender.

2. I did not add any salt to this.  The ham provided plenty of salt for me, especially since the green beans and potatoes were cooked in the juices from the ham.

3.  The products and companies mentioned in this blog are products and companies that I really love.   Seasons to Seasonings did not receive anything from these companies.



Portobello Tuna Melts

Portobello mushrooms are one of my favorite things. My daughter talked me into making them for the first time after she had a great grilled Portobello sandwich at a friend’s house. I had always been hesitant because I wasn’t sure how to deal with the gills, but after watching an episode of Cook Yourself Thin on Lifetime, I learned that it really wasn’t that difficult to gently scrape the gills out with a spoon.    The Portobello Tuna Melts that they made looked like something that we would enjoy, so I made my version using lemon flavored olive oil and a spicy jalapeno jack cheese.  You can find my adaptions @ 37 Cooks – Portobello Tuna Melts.

Stuffed Portobello Diane

Stuffed Portobello Diane


Another favorite Portobello dish I made for 37 Cooks was a vegetarian version of Emeril’s Steak Diane.  My Stuffed Portobello Diane were delicious and I didn’t even miss the meat! That’s a huge thing coming from someone who absolutely loves a good rare steak.   You can find my adaptions of Emeril’s delicious Steak Diane @ 37 Cooks – Stuffed Portobello Diane.

That brings me to today’s recipe.  I recently received Ottolenghi’s Plenty in my cookbook group and of course the first dish that I marked to make was his Stuffed Portobello with Melting Taleggio.   The recipe does not call for cleaning the gills, but I prefer to eat them without the gills.   While cleaning them, my Portobellos began to break apart.  That’s when the thought popped in my head to make a casserole instead of trying to stuff them.  It really worked well.   My husband enjoyed them and suggested that we have the casserole as a main dish next time.

Portobello Casserole

Portobello Casserole

Portobello Casserole
Adapted from Stuffed Portobello with Melting Taleggio
Page 56, Plenty by Ottolenghi

4 large Portobello mushrooms, gills and stems removed
1 small white onion, chopped fine
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
1/2 cup roasted red peppers from jar, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 heaping tablespoon of tarragon
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 ounces Taleggio, broken up into small pieces
olive oil

1) Roughly chop Portobello mushrooms. You want fairly large chunks.
2) Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
3) Drizzle lightly with olive oil and roast in 350 degree oven for 7 minutes.
4) Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet.
5) Add onion and celery. Saute until the onions are translucent.
6) Add garlic and saute for another minute.
7) Turn off heat.
8) Add roasted red peppers, tarragon, black pepper, parmesan cheese and mushrooms.
9) Mix well.
10) Pour into casserole dish.
11) Scatter the pieces of Taleggio cheese over mushroom mixture.
12) Bake in 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until  cheese is melted and bubbling.

This casserole is something I will definitely make over and over.   Ottolenghi is quickly becoming one of my favorite Chefs and Cookbook authors.   His vegetarian dishes are unique and flavorful.  I have eight recipes marked that I want to cook from Plenty. I’m really going to have to get moving on it because his cookbook, Plenty More, is being released on October 14th!

I would love to hear what your favorite Portobello Mushroom dish is.   Leave me a comment and share a link to your recipe, if you can.  Thanks!

Deviled Egg Macaroni Pasta Salad & Some Giveaways

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37 Cooks, the cooking group that I am in,  did a challenge for Davidson’s Safest Choice Eggs.  I love them because they are pasteurized, which eliminates the risk of salmonella.  This is something that is important for the elderly, woman who are pregnant or those with depressed immune systems or serious illnesses.

Since this is Labor Day Weekend, I wanted to share the recipe on my blog because it’s great for barbecues, family reunions, tailgating and all the other wonderful events that are taking place this time of year.   My family loves it and it’s been pretty popular on my friend’s Pinterest page, having been pinned over 1700 times and viewed 8,559 on 37 Cooks.

Wishing you and your family a safe and fun holiday weekend!  Happy Labor Day!

Deviled Egg Macaroni Pasta Salad
adapted from Better Homes & Garden Magazine August 2013

8 ounces elbow macaroni
1 dozen Davidson’s Safest Choice Eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
1 cup deli honey ham, finely chopped into small cubes
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
3/4 cup sweet pickles, finely chopped (I used Wickles, that have a little spice to them)
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/3 cup yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 Tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
1/4 cup sweet pickle juice (I used the Wickles juice)
4 green onions, finely chopped (for garnish)
2 Tablespoons deli honey ham, finely chopped (for garnish)
Paprika (for garnish)

1. Cook macaroni per package directions. Place in a colander and rinse with cold water. Leave in colander and set aside.

2. For the garnish, cut four 1” circles out of 1 or 2 of the hard-boiled eggs. Pop the cooked yolks out and place in a bowl. Set the whites aside.

3. Cut the remaining eggs in half, remove yolks and place in bowl with your other yolks.

4. Finely chop the whites and place them in a large bowl.

5. Add macaroni, ham, onion, celery and pickles in the large bowl with the whites, set aside.

6. For the dressing, mash yolks up and add mayonnaise, mustard, white pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, paprika and dill. Combine well.

7. Spoon a small amount of the dressed yolks into each of the four circles and set aside for garnish.

8. Add sweet pickle juice to yolk dressing, combine well.

9. Add dressing to macaroni, combining well, again.

10. Garnish with ham, green onions, paprika and deviled egg rounds.

This recipe was originally published at 37 Cooks on October 9th, 2013.

My friend Donna at Cookistry’s Kitchen Gadget and Food Reviews has put together a round-up of giveaways taking place on blogs by friends .  There are 26 giveaways that you can enter today!   Click here “giveaways” to find out how you can enter.  Good luck and let me know what you win!

Note:  Davidson Eggs was a challenge sponsor for 37 Cooks and not Seasons to Seasonings.  All other products with links in this blog are my favorites.  I have not been contacted or asked to use their product or include them in my blog.


Retirement and Road Trips (Lobster Pie)

My husband was very fortunate to go to work for a company at age 18  and stay with that company for 37 years. The job was very physically challenging and included about five months of extreme heat and humidity.  We were very happy when the right opportunity came around for him to retire.

Before reality set in, we made two big road trips, which  had to include a stop in Kansas, where our daughter attended College.   One of the trips was to Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone Park.  The other was to Wells, Maine where my husband’s ex-boss allowed us to use their family vacation home.

What does retirement and road trips mean to you?   Does it mean a leisurely trip where you can stop as many times as you want and have no real agenda or time clock?  To me it does, but for my husband, it’s a whole different story.   He wants the quickest route from point A to point B.   I want back road and country towns.  He wants freeways and fast lanes.   In an attempt to find a compromise, we agreed upon freeways with me having the option to stop when and where I wanted. Here is how that went…

ME:   Oh look, there is Vineyard coming up at the next exit.  Let’s stop!

…………………………..complete silence…………………………………………

MY HUSBAND:  Did you say something?

……………10 miles down the road and way pass the Vineyard………….

ME:  There was a Vineyard about 10 miles back and you just ignored me!

MY HUSBAND:   I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.  Do you want me to turn around?

ME:  Only if you want to.

………………………………..20 miles down the road……………………………………..

MY HUSBAND:  Well we could try, but I think I saw a sign saying they are closed on Thursday’s.

ME:  What? I didn’t see a sign saying that!

MY HUSBAND:    Really?   Well, there will be another one and I promise we will stop.  (I swear, he had his fingers crossed when he said that one).

This is a scenario that repeats itself throughout the trip and on many trips.   It’s like he becomes a crazed man when he hits the freeway, gets in the fast lane and puts on the cruise control.   When we get to our destination, he is great about taking in all the sights and is quite fun.   It’s just a whole different story driving from point A to point B.

Photo of vineyard in the fast lane!

Photo of vineyard in the fast lane!

I’m still trying to get him to relax and slow down on road trips.  However, I think it’s just built into his DNA!  So for the time being, I will just be thankful for retirement and road trips, the final destination.

The Maine Diner has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  We visited the diner several times during our stay in Wells, Maine.    The Seafood Chowder, Lobster Roll and Lobster Pie were delicious.  I recently did my take on the Maine Diner’s Lobster Pie for 37 Cooks.    Check out the recipe at 37 Cooks/Linda/Lobster Pie!

37 Cooks-Lobster Pie-Vacation Destination-Linda Mire

I will be doing more stories on Retirement and Road Trips in the future!  Hope you will come back to read all about them which will include stories about Moon Pies and Black Bears.





Chicken Salad with Almonds, Apples & Cherries

I’m in a group called Cook My Book. There are 15 of us and we each choose a book to send off on a journey across the United States. We have two weeks with each book which allows us alot of time to cook. We make notes right in the book and share our thoughts and pictures on a private Facebook page. We are exposed to so many great books that we may have never thought to add to our own personal library. It is not unusual for us to buy our own copy of the book.

The book that I currently have is Carnivore by Michael Symon. Last Sunday, my entire dinner was from the book. I made his recipe for Grilled Marinated Chicken Breast that had an amazing orange flavor, his recipe for Soft Polenta with Aged Cheddar and his Feta & Cucumber Salad. All three were amazing, my family loved them.

The book has introduced me to the use of Greek yogurt for marinades and for dressings in salads. It is rich, creamy and healthy!

The recipe below is one that I adapted from his Roasted Chicken with Almonds, Apples and Dried Cherries. I used the leftover chicken breast from Sunday instead of the roasted chicken that he suggest. I also added a little celery because it is one of my favorite ingredients in chicken salad and I used fresh cherries because they are currently in season. One last little twist was the addition of habanero pepper, for a subtle kick. I was hesitant about using the yogurt and the mint, however I was pleasantly surprised at how good both were in this salad.

I hope you enjoy the salad and I encourage you to pick up a copy of Michael Symon’s Carnivore.  There are several other recipes that I have marked to make and I have it on my list to purchase.   I am thankful that my friend, Woo, shared it with our Cookbook group.

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Chicken Salad with Almonds, Apples & Cherries
Adapted from Pulled Chicken Salad with Almonds, Apples & Dried Cherries by Michael Symon’s Carnivore Cookbook, Page 162


2 cups cooked chicken breast, diced
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced cherries
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and diced
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 habanero pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 cup Greek yogurt
kosher salt


1. Combine chicken, celery, cherries, apple, almonds, peppers and fresh mint in large bowl.
2. Gently fold in Greek yogurt. Make sure everything is evenly coated.
3. Season with a sprinkle of salt, to your taste.

Tip: The chicken breast that I used had a nice light orange marinade. I recommend using the recipe in Carnivore or finding one online, as the orange gives a nice fresh taste to the chicken in the salad.


Roasted Goat Cheese-Stuffed Apricots with Arugula, Walnuts and Spicy Honey-Vinegar Dressing



I’m not big on the heat that comes along with Summer, but I am very big on the fabulous fresh fruit that is available during the Summer season.

My husband and I do a lot of salads and we love to include fresh fruit. It can be time-consuming to have to cut fruit up each time we make a salad and it would be great if we could cut a big batch up and leave it in the refrigerator until we needed it.   Good Cook has helped to make that possible with their new fresh fruit bowl.  This product is exclusively available at Bed Bath & Beyond.    It’s a bowl with a built-in colander, which allows your fruit to stay dry and fresh instead of getting mushy from sitting in its juice. What a great idea, right?

fresh fruit bowl




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When I opened my package from Good Cook, I was amazed at the size of the bowl.  The bright green outer bowl and the inner pink colander immediately remind you of watermelon.  The lid fits tightly over the inner pink colander and the green outer bowl has a nice spout that will allow you to drain off  juices easily. My extended family loves watermelon and I’m already thinking what a great Christmas gift it would make for all.

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Apricots were one of my Grandmother’s favorite fruits. I     absolutely love them too and I think of her every time I have them. The recipe below is delicious and easy.  To me, it’s the perfect Summer Salad.

Roasted Goat Cheese-Stuffed Apricots with Arugula, Walnuts and Spicy Honey-Vinegar Dressing

Ingredients for Two Salads:

2 Apricots, halved and pitted
4 tablespoons creamy goat cheese
4 blackberries
2 cups arugula
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup of sliced raspberries


1. Turn broiler on high.
2. Place the apricot halves on a grill pan.
3. Place 1 tablespoon of creamy goat cheese in center of each apricot.
4. Place 1 blackberry on top of each apricot half with goat cheese.
5. Broil for 3-5 minutes until lightly brown and cheese is bubbling.
6. Place a full cup of arugula on 2 salad plates.
7. On each plate, nestle 2 of the roasted apricots on top of arugula.
8. Divide the raspberries between the two plates.
9. Place the walnuts in the dressing (recipe below) to lightly coat.
10. Sprinkle the coated walnuts around apricots.
11. Then lightly drizzle each salad with dressing.

Ingredients for dressing:

1/4 cup of canola oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoons of honey
1/4 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
2-3 grinds of fresh pepper pinch of sea salt


1. Place all the ingredients into a small jar with tight-fitting lid. Shake well.  Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.


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Disclosure:   I was provided the Fresh Fruit Bowl from Good Cook and Bed Bath and Beyond for the purpose of this post. All opinions are 100% my own.