Monthly Archives: March 2011

Spaghetti and Cheatballs

Spaghetti and Cheatballs

“The biggest myth about Southern women is that we are fragile types…we’re about as fragile as coal trucks.”

-Lee Smith

So Lolleigh’s kitchen hit a bit of a rough patch this week, but all things considered it’s not gonna shut this kitchen down. I always say that Italians and Southerners have one thing in common, they cook with love and it shows in the food.

Here’s my version of traditional spaghetti and meatballs. Cooked with love and with a lot less fat than a traditional meatball.

Recipe for Meatballs:

1 lb extra lean ground beef, 97/3 or 95/5

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

1 egg

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs

1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together well, your hand works best. Then form about 18, 1 inch meatballs.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a wire rack on top of a foil-lined cookie sheet, bake meatballs for 20 minutes.

 For Sauce:

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1 cup tomato sauce

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

1/4 tsp dried oregano

salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Saute onion for 5-7 minutes until tender, add garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and rest of ingredients. Turn heat to medium-low and let simmer while the meatballs continue cooking.

Once meatballs are added to the sauce let simmer for about 20 more minutes and then serve with you favorite pasta.


I like to use Barilla Plus pasta. It’s whole grain with added protein and omega 3′s.

Extra Lean beef is easy to dry out, so don’t over bake the meatballs.

The Blueberry Birthday

Buttermilk Blueberry Muffins

My little guy turned one last week and so we’re back after a long weekend of action-packed 1st birthday festivities! One thing for sure, this kid loves food, he eats anything I put in front of him. Yesterday he tried out tomatoes, cucumbers and kiwi, smacking after every bite he popped in his mouth.

His birthday breakfast was a huge blueberry muffin, which was shoved almost entirely whole into his mouth. Hope you enjoy as much as he did!


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup canola oil

1 egg

1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

In a large bowl combine all flour, baking powder, salt and sugar then make a well in the center of the mixture.

In a small bowl combine buttermilk, egg and oil. Pour mixture into the well and then gently fold wet and dry ingredients together until just blended. Do not overstir or muffins will be dense.

Gently fold in blueberries. Then drop batter into muffin cups filled 2/3 full. I like to sprinkle about a half teaspoon of raw sugar on top of each muffin before baking for a crunchy, sweet crust on top.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Makes about 15 muffins.


These muffins freeze really well. Just double the recipe and store half in the freezer for later.

I like to use the foil muffin cups that don’t require using a muffin pan so there’s no mess to clean-up.

Me Oh My Jambalaya

Andouille Sausage Jambalaya

Mardi Gras made the list in Patricia Schultz’s book, 1000 Places To See Before You Die but a side note should be added to include that whatever happens at Mardi Gras should go to the grave with you too!

I’m not sure how much I will ever reveal about my first trip to Mardi Gras. It did involve a trip to Pat O’ Brien’s, hurricane stained clothes and being asked to dance by a guy with women’s underpants strung around his neck (they still had the price tag on them!). Great fun and great memories that I’ll take to the grave - peace, love and Fat Tuesday! 


3 cups cooked white, long grain rice

3/4 – 1 lb andouille sausage, preferably turkey

1/ 2 green bell pepper, diced

1/2 large onion, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 6oz. can tomato paste

Prepare rice according to package directions but substitute chicken broth for water for cooking. Make enough for 3 cups cooked rice.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add peppers, onions and celery cooking for 5 minutes. Add sliced sausage and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in tomato paste. Cook for a few minutes and then add rice, mixing well. Cook for about 15 minutes before serving being careful not to burn the rice.


I actually found a turkey andouille sausage at Whole Foods. The brand is Wellshire Farms and it was actually really good and had quite a bit of heat to it.



Little Something For Sister

Cajun Chicken Littles with Easy Remoulade Sauce

Onward we go to Fat Tuesday! Friday was a bust, I spent all day trying to ‘bake’ beignets. Yes, bake them and after 4 batches, standing there covered in powdered sugar, I learned one thing – somethings are just better fried!

My sister is notorious for calling me while she is in the grocery and asking me how to make something. I even went so far to make her a cookbook one Christmas that had all of our favorites and she still calls from the store. So this is my attempt to start a new collection of our favorites and maybe she will print these off before heading to the store!


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 cup low-fat buttermilk

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tbsp Tony’s Cajun seasoning

Hot Sauce

Whole Wheat Slider Buns or Dinner Rolls

Iceburg Lettuce

Spilt each chicken breast lengthwise, then pound until 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick, cut each piece in half to make 8 small chicken cutlets.

Place chicken in a large baggie, pour in buttermilk and a few drops of hot sauce. Seal bag and make sure all chicken is well coated. Chill in fridge for 1-2 hours.

Take chicken out of the fridge and let set out for about 15 minutes. Mix together flour and cajun seasoning. Take chicken from the buttermilk mixture, shaking off excess buttermilk and dredge in flour.

Place chicken on a wire rack that has been generously sprayed with oil spray and is sitting on top of a cookie sheet. Place in a 375 degree oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken. The turn the broiler on for about 5 minutes until the chicken has browned on top.

For Easy Remoulade Sauce:

1/2 cup 0% Fage Greek Yogurt

1 tbsp Hellman’s Mayo

1 tbsp creole mustard or stone ground mustard

1 tbsp sweet pickle relish

1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp paprika

Combine all ingredients. Chill before serving.

To assemble, spread a teaspoon of remoulade on the top and bottom of the slider bun, add chopped iceberg lettuce and oven fried chicken.


Soaking the chicken in buttermilk tenderizes the meat so that when it is baked it doesn’t dry out.

Craving Cajun

Chicken Creole

My first introduction to a Louisiana staple was at camp. Every summer the Louisiana girls would unpack, pull out a giant can of Tony’s and set it in the center of our cabin’s dining hall table. We ate it on everything – eggs, popcorn, baked potatoes – I truly thought it was the best thing I had ever had and still eat it on everything.

In college, I became obsessed with Zapp’s Spicy Cajun Crawtator chips. They didn’t sell them in Tennessee and so my mom would ship them to me a case at a time. I swear I lived on Zapp’s and Dr. Pepper during my sophomore year.

And I love crawfish. I won’t touch seafood of any kind with a ten foot pole but give me a big batch of mud bugs and I can go to town!


1 lb boneless chicken breast, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp flour

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup chicken broth, low-sodium

1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, season with salt and pepper and cook until done. Remove chicken and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium-low, melt butter and sprinkle in flour. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon for about 15 minutes until the roux becomes a dark caramel color.

Add onions, celery and bell peppers and cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more. The mixture will be a little thick with the roux sticking to the vegetables.

Turn heat back up to medium-high and add chicken broth to deglaze pan. It is very important to scrape up all the roux from the bottom of the pan. Cook mixture for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently until the broth thickens.

Add tomatoes, chicken and spices to broth mixture and reduce to a simmer for about 20 -30 minutes before serving.


Chicken Creole is best served with scoop of rice and some crusty bread to dip in the sauce. If you’d like it with a little more heat just add more cayenne.

If you’d prefer the sauce a bit thinner, add some water or broth.


Fool ya mama

                Pork Tenderloin with Cheddar-Jalapeno Grit Cake, Collard Greens & Black-Eyed Peas

I don’t know of any meal involving pork that isn’t good, do you? Emeril swears by the goodness of pork. This meal is so good it will even fool ya mama into thinking you slaved away in the kitchen all day.

This week we are paying tribute to all that is New Orleans and making delicious food celebrating Mardi Gras. Stick with me and by Fat Tuesday, you’ll be gobbling up jambalaya and screaming “ throw me some beads mistah“!


For pork tenderloin:

1 – 1 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed of any visible fat 

1 tbsp  chili powder

1/2 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp brown sugar

salt and pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

barbecue sauce for finishing

Trim pork tenderloin of any visible fat.

In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, paprika, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Rub mixture onto pork tenderloin and let come to room temperature.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pan and sear tenderloin a few minutes on each side until lightly browned. Place in a roasting pan and continue cooking in a 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. The meat will register 155-160 degrees when done.

Let meat rest 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Set pan aside with pork drippings and seasonings to use for collard greens.

For Jalapeno-White Cheddar Grit Cake:

4 servings quick cook grits

1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded

2 small jalapeno peppers, diced

splash of hot sauce

Cook grits according to package directions. Then stir in remaining ingredients, when cheese has melted pour grits into an 8×8 pan and put in fridge to chill.

 Just before serving, remove grits from fridge, cut into desired shape and heat grit cake in a skillet over high heat. 

For Collard Greens:

1 – 12 oz bag frozen collard greens

1 piece bacon

3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 tsp white vinegar

In same pan that pork was seared, cook one slice of bacon over medium-high heat. Remove bacon and gently wipe excess grease out of pan. Pour chicken broth into pan and deglaze, scraping up all the seasoning from the bottom. Add frozen collard greens, bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.

Let cook for about 15 minutes and then add vinegar and crumbled bacon just before serving.

For Black-Eyed Peas:

You may either use canned peas, rinsed and drained or cook frozen peas cooked according to package directions.


This meal can really be done in under an hour – just follow the steps below:

1. If using frozen black-eyed peas put them on to cook.

2. Season pork tenderloin and set aside to come to room temperature.

3. Cook grits, stir additional ingredients, pour in 8X8 pan and place in  fridge to chill.

4. Fry bacon in skillet and put collard greens on to cook.

5. Pop tenderloin in the oven to cook for 15-20 minutes.

6. When tenderloin is finished cooking and resting, cut and heat the grit cakes.

Before plating, drizzle a little of your favorite barbecue sauce on the plate for the pork tenderloin to sit on. My favorite is Stubb’s from Austin, Texas – it’s super thick and tangy!

Laissez le bon temps rouler!

Quickie Quiche

Potato Crusted Southwestern Quiche

I was in junior high the first time I had Quiche, My friend and I had her mother drop us off at this little tea room for lunch. We thought we were so grown-up and sophisticated sitting there sipping on tea and looking over the menu.

So the waitress came over and asked if we were ready to order and my friend proclaimed, in a very ladylike voice, “I’ll have the quickie of the day”. The kind waitress said of course, “the Quiche is excellent today”.  Still trying to be very grown-up and sophisticated, we finished our lunch and I never forgot how to pronounce Quiche!


2 1/2 cups shredded potatoes, Simply Potatoes hash browns

4 oz can diced green chilis, drained

1 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded

1 cup lean ham, diced

3/4 cup milk

3 eggs

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp salt

pepper to taste

oil spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Spray a 9 inch pie plate with oil spray. Spread out potatoes over the bottom of the pie plate, mashing down lightly and spray top of potatoes generously with oil spray. Bake for 30 minutes until the edges start to brown.

Remove potato crust from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 350 degrees. In the meantime, combine ham, cheese and green chilis.

In a small bowl whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Spoon ham mixture on the potato crust and then pour egg mixture over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until knife comes out clean from the center of the Quiche. Let sit a few minutes before serving.


This is a great dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Just pair it with fresh fruit for breakfast or a salad for lunch or dinner.

I used skim milk and usually use skim whenever possible when a recipe calls for milk.