Monday, October 29, 2018

Chicken and Turkey Sausage Gumbo

The weather is finally chilly, which means soup weather! Today, we're making one of my favorite soups. Since I'm from Louisiana, it's gumbo.

There are a variety of gumbos. All have similarities. They all start with a roux, which is a mixture of butter and flour cooked until dark. The Cajun cooking trinity of bell pepper, onion, and celery are included in the aromatics. My favorite gumbo has chicken, turkey sausage, and okra.

Here's the recipe for my chicken and sausage gumbo.

1 stick (8 Tablespoons) butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 bell pepper, medium dice (1 cup)
4 celery stalks, medium slices (1 cup)
1 small onion, medium dice (1 cup)
6 cups (48 ounces) of low sodium chicken stock
1 1/2 cup teaspoons Creole Seasoning (I like Tony Chachere seasoning.)
1/4 teaspoons black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon red pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 pound chicken, cooked and shredded
1 pound turkey sausage, cut into half-moon slices
12 ounces frozen okra
1/8 teaspoon hot sauce (to taste)

Place butter in a large Dutch oven or pot. Heat over medium to low-medium heat. Brown butter white stirring. This browns the butter fat and makes a quicker roux. 

Gradually add the flour while whisking. Continue to cook until the roux is the color of a copper penny. This should take 20-30 minutes.

Add bell pepper, onion, and celery. Cook for 5 minutes while staring. Gradually add chicken stock while stirring to prevent lumps. 

Add all remains ingredients except chicken, sausage, okra, salt and hot sauce. Cook 30 minutes with lid off. Bring to a boil. Then, reduce to simmer.

Add chicken, sausage, and okra. Cook 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Adjust salt and heat as needed.

I like to serve gumbo with cornbread and rice.

Have you every tried gumbo? If so, what's your favorite type?

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Monday, October 22, 2018

EPCOT Food And Wine Festival

It's fall which means Food and Wine Festival in EPCOT. I visited Disney World recently and wanted to share the foods I loved and my recommendations for must-try dishes.

If you haven't been to Disney's Food and Wine Festival, it is in EPCOT. There are food booths  located around EPCOT's Future World and World Showcase. Future world is near the main park entrance. World Showcase is around World Showcase Lagoon which features all of the different countries. It's a beautiful park to walk, shop, and eat!

Of note, EPCOT typically opens at 9 AM. However, most of the countries in World Showcase do not open until 11 AM. One exception is Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe in Norway, which is open for breakfast. The booths for Food and Wine Festival are not open until 11 AM. Also, the booths closed at normal park closing even when there were extra magic hours at EPCOT.

Here's what we ate!

Almond Orchard

We had the hot spinach and artichoke dip with chicken - yummy! Not pictured: We had the the Almond Breeze strawberry smoothie - twice. This was my husband's favorite. It was cool, creamy, fruity and refreshing. It was in the 90s when we visit, so this was the best refresher!


This was another one of my top pics - the lamb chop from Australia. It was so good, it was gone before I got a picture. It's one lamb chop with mint pesto and potato chip crumbles. I love it! But I would pass on the potato chips. This was one of my favorite bites!

Chocolate Experience

Tip: you can get free chocolate squares from this shop! We tried the drinking chocolate. It was the richest hot chocolate I've ever had.

Earth Eats

We had the steakhouse blended burger and the impossible burger. Both sliders were super tasty. I loved the the steakhouse burger and my husband loved the impossible burger. The steakhouse burger had beef, mushrooms, fire, arugula and a truffle potato chip on a brioche bun. Come on; how could that not be good?!? The impossible burger was a vegetarian burger packed with flavor and topped with a wasabi cream and spicy Asian slaw on a. sesame seed bun. Great sliders!

Flavors from Fire

I had the shared chimichurri skirt steak. It was a tender, juicy,  flavorful steak. It was served on a smoked corn cake with a pickled vegetable slaw and cilantro aioli. I love the aioli. The corn cake had great smoke flavor but was dry. It definitely needed the aioli and slaw for moisture. Overall, it was a great steak and a good bite.


We enjoyed the Greek food as my husband is part Greek. The spanakopita was fantastic - second only to my mother-in-law's recipe. The taste of Greece was a great sample plate filled with chicken souvlaki, feta cheese dip with warm pita, and lamb sausage with a dill tomato ragu. All were great! 

Hops and Barley

We tried the carrot cake from Hops and Barley. It was more like a spice muffin with a cream cheese glaze, but either way it was a yummy sweet bite. I mean, look at that glaze!


We had the bread and trio of dips from India. It had warm pita slices, coriander pesto, pickled garlic, and mango salsa. All of the dips were good. I couldn't pick a favorite dip; all of them were so delicious. The mango salsa was sweet with a kick of jalapeño at the end. The pickled garlic was packed with pungent garlic flavor. The coriander pesto was the one I found myself dipping again and again and mixing with the other dips. So good! 

If you like this dish, you should get the bread service at Sanaa in Disney. It's a bread service with 9 dips and 5 types of flatbread; super packed with flavor. 


I had the teriyaki bun from Japan. It was a super, soft bun that reminded of a bao bun. The inside was full of teriyaki meat and vegetable filling. It was a great bite!

Light Lab

This was a really cool location. It was dark with black lights and lots of science-experiment theming. My husband got the phosphorescent phlight, which was a trio of slushes. They aren't labeled with flavors. You guess the flavors and get a card and decoder to reveal the flavors. It's a super fun, interactive experience! He also had the InfarRED, which involved some melting cotton candy. Such a fun location!

We also tried the hummus fries from the Morocco booth. I would describe it as fried hummus squares, with a cucumber and tomato salad and sauce. I was expecting French fries with hummus and toppings.. They were ok, not my favorite bite. If you want to try them, they are also served at the Spice Road restaurant in World Showcase.

Taste Track 

This booth is located near Test Track in Future World. We had the chocolate marshmallow croissant donut or cronut. My husband liked it; I thought the cronut was dry. Next time, I'd like to try the cinnamon sugar croissant donut. 

Wine and Dine Studio

I got the butternut squash ravioli. Y'all, this was so good! The butternut squash ravioli was perfectly al dente toped with browned butter, parmesan cheese, pumpkin seeds and balsamic vinaigrette. This was possibly my favorite dish. It was so good I got it twice! And, I tried to recreate it at home. 

Top Bites

My husband's top picks: Almond Breeze strawberry smoothie from Almond Orchard, the phosprescent phlight from Light Lab, and Bread and Trio of dips from India

My top picks: Lamb chop with chimichurri from Australia and Butternut squash ravioli from Wine and Dine Studio and the Greek sample plate with chicken souvlaki, feta cheese dip with warm pita, and lamb sausage with a dill tomato ragu.

If you have a chance to visit Disney World during EPCOT's Food and Wine Fest, I would highly recommend it. It's a great way to try new dishes and flavors from around the world. The small plates are often dishes that are served in different restaurants from around the park, so it's a less expensive way to try dishes. I loved that I could try so many different dishes. I love trying new foods! 

I want to hear from you! Have you been to EPCOT's Food and Wine Festival? What were your top picks or favorite booth. Please comment below or on social media. 

For more tips, encouragement, and recipes for a healthy lifestyle, you can follow me on FacebookPinterestInstagram, and Twitter

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Monday, September 10, 2018

Vietnamese Street Food Cooking Class

It's time for another cooking class! I love cooking class! I love learning new things, meeting new people, and trying new food.

The most recent cooking class I took focused on Vietnamese food. I first had Vietnamese food from a food truck. I tried the ban mi sandwich, which felt familiar like a po boy with a baguette, meat, pickled veggies, and a flavor-packed sauce. It was both familiar and different. And, it was most definitely delicious.

Since I loved the flavors, why not take a cooking class to learn how to make it at home? So, I did.

We made three dishes: shrimp banh mi, Vietnamese-inspired sausage rolls with a nuoc cham dipping sauce, and Vietnamese coffee ice cream. Let's dive in!

Let's start with the banh mi. Banh means bread, and mi means wheat. (At least that's what the Internet told me as I am not fluent in Vietnamese). So, this wheat bread refers to the baguette that is the vehicle for the sandwich. Usually, banh mi include chicken or pork. I've had both, and both are delicious. The banh mi we made in class featured shrimp, which I love! It's a quick-cooking protein that really absorbed the marinade. 

To assemble the sandwich, top the bread with spicy Sriracha mayo, shrimp, and crunchy pickled veggies. It was super flavorful with the succulent shrimp, vinegary and acidic veggies, and finished with a hint of Sriracha spice.

Next, we made Vietnamese-inspired sausage rolls and nuoc cham dipping sauce. This reminded me of pigs-in-a-blanket with Asian flair. The nuoc cham, which loosely translates to fish sauce for dipping, was a liquid-y, acidic sauce that cut through the fattiness of the pork sausage. 

My only disappointment with the usage rolls was that the puff pastry was a bit soggy on the inside. Next time I try the recipe, I think I will brown the sausage before rolling in the pastry dough to keep it crisp.

Last, but certainly not least, we made ice cream. This was my first time to make a crème anglaise, the base of the ice cream (milk, cream, eggs). I was really excited to try this homemade ice cream. I hesitated to make homemade ice cream before because I was worried about scrambling the eggs in the crème anglaise, and secondly we don't own a ice cream maker. I made the crème anglaise in class. It was simple and totally doable at home. You need a pot, thermometer, ladle, whisk, mesh strainer, 2 bowls (one slightly smaller than the other), and an ice cream maker.

Let me walk you through the crème anglaise. First, add the milk, cream, salt and ground coffee beans to the pot heat over medium until the mixture simmers. Turn off the heat, and steep the coffee for 20-30 minutes and strain. Strain the mixture through the strainer to remove most of the coffee grounds. Let the mixture cool a bit.

Stream a ladle full of the hot cream mixture into a bowl with the eggs while whisking. Continue to slowly add cream to the egg mixture until you've added about a quarter of the cream to the eggs. This heats the eggs slowly and prevents scrambling. Now add the egg mixture to the rest of the cream mixture in the pot. Whisk continuously. Now heat the mixture to 170-175*F while occasionally stirring. Making sure nothing is sticking or burning on the bottom of the pan. When the thermometer reads 170-175*F, pour the crème anglaise through the strainer into the smaller bowl.

Make an ice bath by placing the smaller bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice. Stir the crème anglaise to help it cool. Then, add to your ice cream maker. Let the ice cream maker churn and do it's job. Then, enjoy! I LOVED this ice cream. It has a texture similar to gelato, super creamy. The coffee flavor cuts the sweetness of the ice cream. It might just be my new favorite ice cream flavor!

For more tips, encouragement, and recipes for a healthy lifestyle, you can follow me on FacebookPinterestInstagram, and Twitter.

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