"Because life is good, home cooking is best, and there is always something to be grateful for." - Christy Jordan

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Well, I started a blog!

After spending endless hours looking at food blogs, it finally dawned on me that I could have a food blog, too! So here it is... Welcome to "Wannabe Southern Cook!"

The "About Me" section on this thing has close to no space so I will elaborate here. I was born and raised in Dallas (and still live here!) and I am a PROUD native Texan. I graduated with a degree in public relations from Texas Tech University last May (Wreck'em Tech!) and I am enjoying life as a graduate! I absolutely love to bake and I've learned to love to cook. I feel like my brain is always thinking about some certain recipe that I can't wait to try. This will serve as my outlet to share every recipe I obsess over!

You're probably wondering about the name of my blog. Let me break it down for ya... you see, living in Dallas kinda makes me city girl and even though I don't know if I could live without Northpark Mall and all of the amazing restaurants we have around here, I would like to one day live the "small town" life, where everyone takes it slow and values the right things. I really dream about one day sitting on my front porch in my rocking chair, sippin' on my sweet tea, and counting my blessings. So even though I'm a city girl, I crave a life where everything is based around good food, family and friends.

I think that today too many people forget how blessed they are and take what they have for granted. I think southern people really appreciate the finer things in life and value friends and family. It's not about if you have the new Coach purse or if you've eaten at the new restaurant where a steak costs $40. I like how much family is valued and the food is centered around that. When I think of southern food, I think of sweet old ladies in their aprons, fryin' chicken on the stove and big family meals on Sundays after church. To southern people, a good home cooked meal shows someone you love them and I hope that when I cook for people they feel the love :)
On this blog I plan to post LOTS of good, classic southern recipes, along with recipes from other genres of cooking, and of course.... TONS of yummy dessert recipes! You will soon learn that I have a severe sweet tooth... it's a real condition, I swear it :)

Anyways, on to the food!!

The other night I made Chicken & Sausage Gumbo. It's a Southern Living recipe, so I KNEW it was gonna be good... and it definitely was!
Here's what you're going to need...

- 1 lb. andouille sausage, cut into 1/4 in. slices
- 4 skinned, bone-in chicken breasts (don't do boneless because the bones keep the chicken    nice and moist)
- vegetable oil
- 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped (I omitted this, because I can't stand peppers of any kind, but feel free to add it to yours!)
- 2 celery ribs, sliced
- 2 qts. hot water
- 3 garlic cloves, minced (I love garlic, so I added a few extra)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp. creole seasoning
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 to 1 tsp. hot sauce, depending on your taste
- 4 green onions, sliced
- hot cooked rice

Start off by cooking the sliced sausage in a dutch oven over medium heat, stirring constantly. This will take about 5 minutes, just look for the sausage to brown a bit. You don't need to add any oil for this because the sausage get greasy enough! Once the sausage has browned, drain it on paper towels, reserving the drippings, and then set aside.

Here is the sausage browning...

Next, cook the chicken in the sausage drippings over medium heat, this will take about 5 minutes, but again, just look for the breasts to look a little browned. (Chicken does NOT need to be cooked through...you're just browning it right now!) Then remove the chicken to paper towels, reserving the drippings, and set the chicken aside.
Now here's the chicken doing it's thing...

Now, add enough oil to the drippings to measure 1/2 cup. I just added a scant half cup (if you don't know what "scant" means, it just means a little less than full to the top!).  Add the flour, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly (I mean constantly), 20-25 minutes, or until roux is chocolate colored. (Okay, this part is tricky. I honestly thought I screwed up this dang gumbo right here because it started lookin' and smellin' bad, BUT it came out perfectly!) Just keep stirring and moving the mixture around and you'll be okay :)

There goes the oil and flour... keep stirring! Wait for it to turn dark.

Stir in your chopped onion, bell pepper (yuck), and celery to your roux and cook, stirring often, 8 minutes or until tender.  
It doesn't look very tasty right now, but it will be. I promise!

Gradually add the 2 qts. of hot water and bring it to a boil. Now add your chicken back in the pot, then add your garlic and the next 5 ingredients. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Remove the chicken and let cool. (This is where the chicken finishes cooking.)
See, I told you it would start to look more like gumbo!

Add your sausage and green onions into the pot and cook another 30 minutes. Once the chicken is cool, remove the bones (the meat should come off pretty easily) and tear the meat into bite size pieces. At this point you should give it a little taste and make sure it's seasoned the way you want it to. I think I added a little more creole seasoning, worcestershire and hot sauce. Add the meat to the gumbo and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
Looks good, doesn't it?!

Remove the gumbo from the heat and serve over hot, cooked rice. Garnish with green onions. I served my gumbo with some Jiffy corn muffins on the side.


I got the thumbs up from both my parents, so I think this recipe is a keeper :) Hope y'all enjoy!

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