Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese

Posted by Pussycat in Sweets | 4 Comments

It’s definitely pumpkin time of year.  At work a couple of weeks ago someone was talking about these amazing pumpkin cookies – ‘I ate the whole batch… one after the other’ was their comment…. these must be good I thought.   So I figured I would give them a try.    They don’t have the consistency that makes me think of cookies but more like muffin tops which certainly lends itself well to the cream cheese filling or icing if you decide to cover them with it.

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When you make them you have to know that the batter does’t change much – or melt down the way that cookies do so when you put them on the baking dish so you need to shape them the way you want them to look BEFORE you bake them.  I knew this ahead of time so I decided the use my piping bag to shape them.  I had initially thought I would make an indent in the top to create a dip in the cookie for the icing but once they were baked they puffed up a little and I lost the groove for this…. alas I decided to make these more like whoopie pies.


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They really do taste more like muffins with cream cheese but this does not in any way deter one from eating them…. seriously good…. though I think next time I’ll pay more attention to the way they are shaped to leave myself a place to put the icing on top… they are a little filling!

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Recipe (comes from all recipes)

Cookies (muffin tops)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin puree

Frosting

  • 1 (3 oz) package cream cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup butter softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, lightly grease baking sheets

Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and ginger in a bowl. Mix together in a seperate bowl 1 cup butter, white sugar, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla exact and egg with electric mixer beating until smooth.  Add and beat in pumpkin puree and gradually add in dry ingredients.

Spoon batter or pipe batter onto prepared baking sheets and bake in preheated oven until cookies are lightly browned – 10 – 15 minutes.  Let them cool for about 5 minutes before moving them to cool on waxed paper.

Beat cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla with electric mixer until soft and creamy, beat in confectioners sugar slowly ensuring frosting is smooth and spreadable then either top or use the frosting between cookies.

Enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Buns

Posted by Pussycat in Main Dishes | Leave a comment

It’s Thanksgiving weekend and I have so very much to be thankful for… I’ve certainly had my years of challenges… some easier than others… some much more painful than others…. it’s time to be grateful.   Not just on this weekend… I’m generally pretty grateful that my children are healthy finally and safe and that I have a job that provides well for me and I have people around me that I love and appreciate… you know who you are…. :)  And though I often get caught up in feeling like I just don’t have time enough for all the things I want to do… I’m grateful that I have the strength, health and energy to do all the things I can… Like spend the day in the kitchen…. Life is good!  I hope you all have everything you need… and most of the things you want… a little longing for something can always be motivating…. and that life makes you happy!

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One of the things I spent my time on this morning getting ready for a filling turkey dinner was these buns.  I saw these on foodgawker some time ago and though I made them before they didn’t turn out so great last time…. don’t know why.  I thought I would try them again and this time they were pillowy and soft and so good with turkey dinner….. and so darn cute!  I ate 3 of them…. they were so good…. and that was not long after they came out of the oven.

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They really do look beautiful on the dinner table and so impressive even though they are so easy to make…. the link to the original recipe can be found here…. but I’ll retype the recipe below with very minor alterations in case you’re not wandering today….

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Pumpkin Dinner Rolls (slightly adapted from www.beyondkimchee.com)

  • ¾ cup skim milk, scalded
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (1/2 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • ¼ cup lukewarm water
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 15-20 almond slivers

Pour hot milk in a mixing bowl, add butter and stir to melt. Add sugars, pumpkin puree to the milk and combine well. In a small bowl proof yeast in a lukewarm water with a teaspoon sugar. When it gets foamy add to the pumpkin mixture, and add the egg, mix well.  Add half the flour gradually and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.  Attach a dough hook in a stand mixer place the rest of the flour into the bowl and add the mixed batch into the mixer….. beat for about 5 minutes the dough should be nice and silky.

Turn the dough out to a wooden board dusted with a little flour. Knead with hand for 1 minute. Form the dough into a ball shape, place in a greased bowl and cover with a cloth. Let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, about 1 hr.

Punch the dough to deflate and knead it for a few seconds on a wooden board. Cut the dough in half. Cut each half into about 15 pieces.

Roll each piece into a ball shape with your hand. Flatten the piece with palm of your hand a little. Using a knife, give 8 cuts on the edge to mimic flower pedals but the leave center uncut. Poke the center with your finger to give a deep indentation, and repeat the same procedure to all the other pieces. Place them on a baking pan lined with parchment paper or baking mat giving them enough room to grow and let them rise again to be doubled, about another hour.

If the center indentation is not obvious on the rolls, poke them again with your finger.
Brush with egg wash, if you wish, and bake for 9-12 minutes at 350 degrees until the top gets slightly golden. Put a slivered almond in each indentation to mimic the stem…. serve with butter and enjoy.

Trifle for T

Posted by Pussycat in Sweets | Leave a comment

It was my oldest daughter’s birthday yesterday and so tonight we had dinner and I made dinner as per her requests… Lemon Curry Chicken, baked potatoes and asparagus.  I didn’t have much time this week to make a fancy cake but I did have a pound cake left over from a gathering we had a couple of weeks ago.  The cake didn’t all get eaten and it wasn’t iced so I threw it in the freezer.  Today I turned it into a yummy trifle with pudding and whipping cream.  I have to say it was pretty yummy.

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The pound cake came from this recipe except instead of using blueberries I used cranberries this time.  I chopped up half the cake and put it in the bottom of the bowl then poured the hot pudding over top of it to let it soak the cake.  Then a layer of whipping cream.  The next layer was vanilla pudding with chunks of cake in it and I also added fresh cranberries and slivered almonds, then another layer of whipping cream and topped with candied cranberries… so easy and delicious.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of Pudding (I used Dr. Oetker and only added half the recommended sugar)
    • I package chocolate pudding
    • 1 package vanilla pudding
  • 1 left over pound cake
  • large handful of slivered almonds
  • half of a bag of cranberries (to add with the vanilla layer)
  • half of a bag of cranberries (sugared for the top)

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To sugar the cranberries bring a small pot of water to a boil and scald the cranberries, then in a bowl add a cup or so of sugar.  Drop the cranberries in the hot water and then with a slotted spoon pull them out and drop them into the sugar.  Roll them around to coat and then place on parchment paper for a bit to let them dry.  They looks so beautiful and are so good, the tart and the sweet… YUMMY… it’s a great topping I’m thinking for some Christmas favourites coming up in the next few months…

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This was a great way to repurpose leftover cake… and now I’ll have to remember to make extra cake so we can have this more often!

What do you do with your extra cakes… if you have any… ;)

Happy Birthday “T”… we love you!

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Devilled Eggs with Cream Cheese and Smoked Salmon

Posted by Pussycat in Sides | Leave a comment

We’re having a whole host of folks over tomorrow for a dinner and a bonfire and I wanted to make something that would combat all the less than healthy food we’ll be eating.  I also wanted to make something that could be snacked on easily.  Now I know that Devilled Eggs are often thought of as something of the past but seriously is there anything more perfect than an egg?  I love eggs as does most of my family.  In face, despite arguments with my doctor about high cholesterol I continue to eat them.  I’m just not convinced that they are be bad for me.  In fact one of these little devils ;) keeps me full for the whole morning if I have it for breakfast unlike oatmeal or other carbohydrates.  So I will stick with eggs…. When you’re putting them out for others a plain boiled egg isn’t very inviting so I had to spruce them up.

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I saw someone on a website, sorry can’t remember where as it was a while go, make devilled eggs with smoked salmon and I thought … What a great idea… so here we go.

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Devilled Eggs with Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese and Capers… Yes… I know cream cheese isn’t the best thing for someone with high cholesterol but I’m a work in progress!  Also I would have added in some finely dices purple onions but someone in this house doesn’t like raw onions… oh well.. maybe when I just make them for myself.

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Recipe

  • 10 eggs hard boiled (I boil mine for about 9 minutes when I do this many)
  • 2 Tablespoons Cream Cheese
  • 3-4 slices of Smoked Salmon (chopped)
  • 2 Tablespoons diced Green Onions
  • 1 Tablespoon Capers (rough chopped)
  • Splash of Caper juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish with green onions or paprika

Boil the eggs and let cool, peel them and slice lengthwise, then carefully pop out the yolk and place into a bowl. To the yolk, add cream cheese, chopped smoked salmon, green onions, capers.  Once you have all this together then mix it up and add some juice from the capers until you have a consistency of stiff whipped cream. Salt and pepper to taste. Put the mixture in a piping bag (or plastic bag and snip off a corner) and pipe the filling back into the egg bowls. You don’t actually have to add much salt as the juice from the capers will do that for you so add the juice before you salt.

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Garnish with slices of green onions or paprika and serve.  So Yummy!

Super Tart Lemon Curd

Posted by Pussycat in Sweets | 2 Comments

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I love lemon curd, but I also love tart lemon as opposed to sweet lemon.  I was looking for a way to make my lemon curd even more tart recognizing that sugar is essential to the consistency of the recipes.  Then in a moment I had it.  Though this may not be a ‘purist’ version of lemon curd it certainly served my purposes.

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I made the lemon curd from a previous post…. here… then I added 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice and a tablespoon of cornstarch (mixed while cold) then added to the mixture.  This allowed me to make more of the curd without adding more sugar, thus a more tart lemon curd.

  • Juice of 5-6 large lemons (1 cup fresh lemon juice) and zest
  • ½ (or less) cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small parts
  • 1Tablespoon cornstarch

Using a double boiler, combine the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and zest in a metal or glass heat-resistant bowl and whisk until smooth. Set the bowl over the simmering water, without letting the bottom touch, and continue to whisk. Whisk until the curd has doubled in volume and is very thick and yellow. Don’t let it boil but bring it up to just about the point of boiling. Remove the bowl from heat and whisk in the butter, a couple of chunks at a time, until melted.


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I used this curd to cut the sweetness of a pavlova that I made…that’s why I wanted something with a strong tart component…. recipe of that and pics still to come!  :)

Northern Manitoba Whitefish

Posted by Pussycat in Main Dishes | 1 Comment

I had a busy August and haven’t posted in while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking.  I have to admit that I’ve been looking for quick things to cook and on one of my rounds to the grocery store I found this Northern Manitoba Whitefish… looked intriguing.  I’ve long since loved pickerel and well… any kind of fish but I’d never come across this fish before… so I just had to try it.

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I didn’t really have the time to find a creative way to make this so I pretty much stuck to ‘simple’ also I’m trying to stick to healthy foods so baking it was my method of choice.

I have to say that the fish was moist and so good.  The preparation made for an easy, healthy meal.  You can certainly use any kind of whitefish… or any fish for that matter.  No need to spend a whole lot of time preparing… just season, stuff, layer and bake… easy… easy… and so good.  I also think that by keeping it simple you really get to taste the fish, and this fish is very good.

 

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Recipe

  • 1 whole cleaned fish
  • 1 sliced lemon
  • 1 sliced onion (I used a purple one, hence the coloring)
  • Salt and Pepper

Grease a baking pan or cover and then grease.  Rinse the fish and salt and pepper inside and out.  Layer the onion and lemon slices inside the fish and cover with several slices of each.

Bake in preheated oven at 450 degrees and bake until done.  I baked mine for about 35 minutes.  How long you bake it will really depend on how hot your oven is and how big your fish is but you can tell it’s done when it flakes with a fork and is opaque inside.  Also, once it starts to look nice and golden around the edges it’s pretty much done.

Enjoy!

 

 

Baked Sticky Chicken

Posted by Pussycat in About Me, Main Dishes | Leave a comment

I’ve been busy in my garden these days and it is starting to feel like it’s paying off….

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The strawberries are just finishing and the beets are still little, the tomatoes are just starting and the cucumbers are misshapen and of varying sizes but there will be lots.  The beauty of home gardening with heirloom veggies in an organic way… a challenge to get what you want when you want it … and as much or as little as you want but it is certainly tasty!

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Today I made a chicken recipe based on the premise of a recipe that I found on foodgawker posted here  the original recipe is made with italian bread crumbs… which I don’t have handy… in fact I didn’t even have regular bread crumbs handy BUT I did have a loaf of jalapeno garlic bread drying out on the counter.  SO a quick crush in the blender and problem solved.

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There seem to be two keys from this recipe that are right on the mark.  First – bake your chicken on parchment!  I typically have used aluminum foil to avoid the baked on mess but I have to say that parchment is way better.  The chicken doesn’t stick at all and clean up of just some grease is easy enough.   Second – the topping of half and half vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar) and honey mixed together and then poured over the chicken in the last 5 minutes makes it super GOOD.

So my recipe is different than the one that I originally found but I have to say it was fabulous… thanks Port and Fin for the idea!

Chicken

  • 8 – 10 pieces of chicken (I used legs and thighs because we like dark meat)
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 1-2 cups breadcrumbs (use any good leftover bread – I used a jalapeno garlic loaf)
  • 1/4 Cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 Cup honey
  • 1/4 Cup cider vinegar

First place chicken pieces in a bowl and cover with olive oil, garlic and onion powder and salt and pepper, mix well to ensure all pieces are coated.  Then mix together the bread crumbs and parmesan and coat the chicken pieces in the mixture.  Place on parchment and bake at 400 for 30 minutes.  Turn the pieces of chicken over and bake for another 30 minutes.  * In the last 5 minutes pour the mixture of honey and vinegar over the chicken and once done serve.

BONUS – Cucumber salad!

Not sure if you notice but I served the chicken with pan fried baby potatoes …. YUM … and a salad of fresh cucumber salad. This is an easy salad that can be made with any cucumbers though I have to say mine was especially good because it came from the bowl of veggies I had picked earlier in the day and it is incredibly simple.

Use a mandolin to slice some peeled cucumbers very thin.  Then salt and pepper and add a dollop of sour cream…. mix… let sit in the refrigerator for a few minutes and mix again.  The cucumbers will let out some juice and that mixed with the sour cream makes a tasty and easy dressing.  Yes… I know… it’s not exactly diet food… but sometimes you have to just let go!

Enjoy!

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Split Pea Soup

Posted by Pussycat in Soups | Leave a comment

There is nothing like a good hearty bowl of soup when the weather is a bit cool outside, cool and rainy, which is how it is here right now.  I’ve been restricting my carbs which includes starchy vegetables like peas, carrots, potatoes etc… just because I’m trying to drop a couple of pounds.

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But when the weather is yucky and the craving is taking over… time to cave in… sometimes you just have to indulge and enjoy… guilt free!

My indulgence this time was a nice bowl of split pea soup, with loads of garlic and marjoram… these flavours remind me of home…. enjoy!

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 Ingredients

  • 1 bag dried split peas (454 grams)
  • 1 Litre Chicken Stock (I use low sodium)
  • 1 – 2 Carrots
  • 1 Whole Onion peeled
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Chunk of Ham and/or Chorizo
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Marjoram
  • 4 – 5 Garlic Cloves Minced (or more depending on taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sized pot add chicken stock, dried peas, carrots, whole onion, bay leaf, and meat.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the peas are soft and cooked. Take out the ham and set aside, take out the bay leaf and onion and throw them away.  Use an immersion blender to cream the soup (with the carrots).  Cut the meat into small chunks and place back into the pot.  Season with marjoram, salt and pepper and add minced garlic (the garlic loses it’s kick the more it’s cooked so if you don’t want a strong garlic flavour add it earlier and cook for a while, however if you like a strong garlic kick like I do then add the garlic last).  If the soup is too thick add a bit of water and if it’s too runny cook some of the water off.

I like to eat my soup with home made croutons and I’ve found the easiest way to make them.  Chop bread into bite-sized cubes and season with salt, pepper, marjoram and garlic powder (or fresh minced garlic).  Sprinkle with olive oil and either spread on a baking sheet and bake until toasted OR you can place them in a  microwavable container and microwave on high for 1 minutes, shake them about and place back in microwave for another minute, continue until they are crispy.  Be careful in the microwave though as they can go from crunchy and crisp to burned very quickly!  Serve croutons with your soup.

 

Popcorn Pudding

Posted by Pussycat in Sweets | 1 Comment

popcorn pudding0001You know how sometimes you see something in a magazine and it just makes you stop dead in your tracks?  Well that happened to me as I flipped through the most recent issue of Food and Wine.  Popcorn Pudding?  What!   Seriously???  I read through the rest of the magazine and put it away… though the thought of popcorn pudding lingered…. I just couldn’t resist… for any of you who know me….  I.  LOVE.  POPCORN.  So this was a no brainer no matter how hard I tried to resist.

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Ingredients (as taken from Food and Wine with a little added explanation since I read it at least a dozen times and seemed to miss a key point!)

  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon popcorn kernals
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 4 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Using the oil and popcorn, make the popcorn and set aside.  (I had made popcorn for us to eat the night before and set some aside for this recipe… about 2 cups of it)

In a large saucepan combine the milk, cream sugar and salt and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar then remove from heat.

Take the popped popcorn and put it into the milk/cream mixture and cover.  What you’re doing here is letting it steep… like tea… after about 10 minutes you can strain it into…. the next bowl.

In a medium bowl cream the egg yolks and cornstarch and make sure all the lumps are mixed thoroughly.  Very slowly add the strained, still warm cream/milk mixture into the egg yolk and cornstarch mixture… making sure to whisk all along to avoid scrambled eggs.

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Once all the mixture is together, place back into saucepan over medium heat and whisking frequently cook until it bubbles just a bit and is thickened.  It will thicken even more once refrigerated.   Scrape the mixture into either a bowl or into separate cups/bowls and then take plastic wrap and literally cover (touching!) the pudding and cool until it chilled.

Serve with popcorn as a garnish… YUMMY… Next time I’m going to do this in chocolate or caramel… its’ very good…

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NOLA – Best Places We Ate

Posted by Pussycat in Reviews | Leave a comment

We’ve been home now for a few days and I just wanted to post some of the best places we ate.  We certainly didn’t eat at all the best places that were in New Orleans… often we avoided the ones that required reservations since we had it in our minds to use our feet as our main mode of transportation.  Consequently we were often very hot, sweaty and not exactly in our Sunday best wear.  So we stuck to places that were within about 6 miles from our hotel.  At any rate, here are some of our favourites.

This was my fried fish plate at the ACME Oyster House…. Fried Oysters, Shrimp and Whitefish…. in the background you’ll notice my partner’s Roast Beef Po’Boy… very good!

NOLA last post0001We also really loved Poppy’s Crazy Lobster.  This place was by the River Walk and we went there a couple of times…. seriously good!

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The fish boil, whichever combination you had was served with a couple of potatoes, corn on the cob as a sausage. The spicy kick from this was just enough to make my mouth happy.

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We also had the lobster salad…. YUP… there’s half of a lobster there… all the meat was nicely taken out of it… and it was good.

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But MY most favourite place was Cafe Amelie, in the French Quarter.  It’s a lovely courtyard and though they had lots of room to sit inside, we chose to enjoy the heat.  We found this place the day before we left and had lunch…

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The first time we went there we had Grilled Salmon…

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And I had the Fireball Mozzarella Salad…. the cheese was marinated in hot sauce…. a seriously fabulous bit….

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And finally… a super amazing Shrimp and Grits….

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I know it doesn’t really look that amazing but it was so good I can honestly say that I absolutely fell in love with it…. so much so that since P picked dinner for our last day… I chose this place to go back to the next day for our final lunch…… and I had the salad and I had YUP you guessed it Shrimp and Grits!  P had the Poutine… which was served with Cajun Pulled Pork…. YUM!

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Did I mention how good the Shrimp and Grits were?

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Really so stinking good that I’m going to spend the next several months trying to find and recreate this luscious meal…. if ANYONE has any suggestions or thoughts on how I can meet this new mission of mine I’m ALL OPEN!  I did, by the way, ask our server if I would be able to get the recipe and she very politely told us… likely not…. so I’m just putting it out there…. I do know that the chef has a Cajun background and she did tell us that often the shrimp sauce is based on their cooking background… HELP …. ANYONE?

Just in case you missed it earlier… :)  Here is my favourite meal… the most amazing Shrimp and Grits at Cafe Amelie…..

Honestly, I’m not sure that we’ll get back to NOLA anytime soon… there are just so many wonderful and amazing places to go and eat… but SERIOUSLY… I can’t imagine not ever having these most amazing Shrimp and Grits again!

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Now we’re back home and I’ll have some of my home made meals to post…. look for Popcorn Pudding… YUP… straight from the Food and Wine Magazine… and it’s good!