Real Cajun Cooking lets you choose from hundreds of authentic Cajun recipes. Learn to easily prepare and cook original Cajun-style family meals with help from south Louisiana's Cajun cook and connoisseur, Jacques Gaspard, who's been preparing great Cajun meals for several decades. Create the best gumbos, seafood, jambalaya, stews,, salads and deserts – the way they were originally prepared. Besides great original recipes, you will discover a hodgepodge of stories, recordings, music, videos and humorous anecdotes to entertain. So enjoy! Don't forget to tell all of your family and friends about Real Cajun Cooking. They will thank you for it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

How to Clean Crappie and Catfish on an Ironing Board

Sorry that I've been absent for awhile, but I was caught-up in another pressing matter which required hands-on attention, like researching and developing a market for my one-of-a-kind NO STINK catfish dough bait, (which requires hands-on testing out in the field--"lake"), but now that it is freezing outside, I wanted to stay toasty warm today and take the time to put together this little homespun presentation on How to Clean Crappie and Catfish on an Old Ironing Board.

Hopefully, along the way, I will also find time to share some larapin great-tastin' crappie recipes (Cajun-style) with you before everything is all said and done.

So, if you are ready... let's get started.

1.  Choosing an Ironing Board.

My first word of caution is NOT to help yourself to an ironing board which is still being used by someone for its primary purpose--which is to iron clothes on. That may upset someone, especially if you've cleaned your latest catch of fish on it.

The one that you see here was going to be discarded by a neighbor who didn't need it anymore.. This is what it looks like.



Today I want to demonstrate a technique that I use to clean crappie the easy way, and without the use of electric knives on this old popular brand ironing board.

I should mention that the ironing board idea was a great one! It is very light-weight, portable and it can be setup at a comfortable working height for me (I am a tad over 6 feet tall) and merely collapse it with one pull of a small handle underneath when I'm finished processing. Plus, I can easily tuck it away in the back of my pickup truck bed. 

Since I do a lot of fishing anyway, my portable ironing board low-tech fish cleaning processor is always within reach (Johnny-on-the-Spot) when I need it for cleaning fish.

Below is a photo of some catfish which I caught one morning on about one-half of a TopCat Premium Catfish Dough Bait biscuit (you know which kind of bait that I'm talking about... don't you?). I processed these on top of the old ironing board in about 20 minutes.. 

The pectoral fins of the catfish will easily fit in one of the many different sized holes already pre-drilled into the ironing board by the manufacturer

BTW, if you wanted to just go out and buy one exclusively for this purpose, you can probably (at this writing) get one at your local K-Mart or WalMart stores for around $30 - $40 bucks. Make sure you check it out first, if you can, to see if it has a stable enough footing and that it also has all of those pre-drilled holes on the top.

The holes in the ironing board are various sizes in this old model, so it becomes very accommodating when I have to clean some of the larger catfish.

The holes can be used to anchor down the catfish solidly on top of the ironing board, and, in my experience, it does a lot better job at holding down the fish than those fish cleaning boards with a big clamp at one end. 

I cannot say the same about crappie and other species of fish with like shapes (like bass, sunfish, perch, blue gill, etc.) because these fish have a tendency  to slide around from time to time 'cause they are a bit slimy, especially while removing the scales, but the old ironing board works just fine for them, too.

Maybe later, if I can find the time,  I may bolt-down one of those large metal clamps on one end just for that purpose. I could also modify the ironing board (beneath) where I can hang a plastic 5-gallon bucket to catch the refuse.

Catfish Cleaned on Old Ironing Board

2.  Removing the Scales From Crappie Fish

I could go into great detail about the various tools which are used to remove fish scales from crappie and other similar species of fish, but the best and least expensive tool to use is a plain old kitchen tablespoon. Here is a short video which demonstrates how I do it:




3.  Making the Correct Incisions to Remove the Tiny Bones in Crappie Fish.

In this next video I will share the technique which I have developed that will show you how to take out ALL of the tiny bones from a crappie fish.  

You may refer to the diagram below to familiarize yourself with parts of the fish as I illustrate where the incisions and cuts are made. A word of precaution: it is better if you use a very sharp fillet knife and take extra care not to cut yourself in the process of cleaning your fish. 

You may want to invest in a pair of inexpensive fish-cleaning gloves for increased safety when processing fish.. You can usually find them in the sporting goods section of stores.


After descaling the crappie fish, begin by making small incisions (about a 1/4 inch deep) parallel and along both sides of the anal and dorsal fins of the fish.

This will make it easier to extract the tiny bones which are connected beneath the fin bones and which are mainly used to anchor the external fins into the flesh of the fish. 

Once these incisions are made, catfish skinning pliers can be used to gently pry the external fin bones away from the flesh, (against the grain), as well as the internal smaller bones.... all at the same time. It is sooo easy to do.

When the job is complete, all that remains in the fish are the large spinal bones, (some folks call them the comb bones 'cause they look similar to a grooming comb), and the rib cage bones--which houses the internal organs. 

When you process your crappie this way, all those tiny and annoying fish bones that no one enjoys biting into, simply vanish.

Some folks would rather bake the entire fish than only the filleted portion. They claim the large bones make the fish tastier during the cooking process. Who am I to disagree? I love the taste of crappie fish just about any way.

What's great about this technique of processing crappie fish, is ease with which to fillet them, if you want to, even after they have thawed from being frozen. You will never have to worry about "small" bones. 

In conclusion, I know there are anglers who will tell you it is so much faster and a lot easier to process crappie and catfish with electric knives... and, that's fine!

Personally, I don't use electric knives to clean my fish. Besides, the techniques which I teach will always come in handy if you ever find yourself off the electric grid, or you find yourself in a remote area without electric power.

Happy fishing! (and cleaning).



P.S. I am taking a few days off for the holidays. I haven't forgotten about those recipes, though. I will publish some after the new year rolls around.

Bon appetite!

 
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Sunday, December 09, 2012

Breakfast Fried Rice




Click here for the Youtube video

Ingredients:

4 cups cooked white rice
6 eggs, beaten
1 large white onion, chopped
1/2 bunch green onion, chopped
6 slices bacon, diced
1/2 tsp course ground sea salt
1/4 tsp course ground black pepper
1 Tbsp dark soy sauce

Instructions:

Fry diced bacon over medium heat until most of the fat is rendered from the bacon.  Add chopped onions and saute until soft.  Remove onion and bacon, and set aside.  Add cooked white rice, stir fry until hot.  Stir cooked onion and bacon mixture back into the rice.  Push the rice, bacon, and onion to the outside of the pan.  Pour beaten eggs into the middle of the pan.  Gently and continuously push the eggs toward the center of the pan until all of the egg has cooked.  Once egg has cooked, stir it into the rice.  Stir in chopped green onion.  Stir in soy sauce, salt, and pepper.  Serve hot!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.  It has become a Saturday tradition in my family.  Our 12 year old perfected this recipe, and cooks it for us perfectly every time.

To make this more 'Cajun' you might consider using tasso instead of bacon, and Gaspard's DIY Cajun Seasoning instead of soy sauce, salt, and pepper.
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Precooked Turkey Stuffings Recipes | Safe Alternatives | Cajun Boudin Stuffing vs. Dirty Rice Stuffing

Is Your Turkey Dressing Safe?

Each year thousands of Americans get food poisoning around the holidays because the Thanksgiving or Christmas turkeys were not safely prepared and cooked correctly. The same thing applies to turkey dressings.

It takes more heat to penetrate the inside cavity of a large bird. By stuffing its cavity with raw foods you are inviting a potential disaster for you, your family and guests. Salmonella is hideous and can even kill by attacking the weakened immune systems of the very young and elderly.

To be truly safe is to maintain a minimum temperature of 165 degrees F. throughout the bird--especially the dressing when turkey giblets are used in the recipe.

On the other hand, when you stuff your turkey with safe alternatives (delicious ones) you diminish the risk of food poisoning. Here are a few alternatives which are safe to use as turkey stuffing because they are all already precooked.

Cajun Boudin Stuffing

Below are a few boudin recipes (pork and chicken) which call for 'casing' so it can be made into sausages. Just omit the part about making them into sausages and use the boudin as a stuffing instead. Everything is precooked.

Can I freeze the stuffing until I am ready to stuff the bird, you ask? 

Sure you can. Just let it thaw in the refrigerator and not out in the open. If you prefer not to stuff the turkey, you can always heat-up the Cajun dressings in the microwave oven before serving.

The following links will take you to some delicious and safe turkey stuffing recipes.

  1. Secret Chicken Boudin Recipe (3-part video)
  2. Boudain (a/k/s Boudin) Balls
  3. Pork Boudin (3-part video)


Cajun Rice Stuffing

  1. Gaspard's Cajun Dirty Rice Recipe (video)
  2. Cajun Dirty Rice (Rice Dressing)  

Cornbread Stuffing 
  1. 3-Meat Cornbread Dressing

I sincerely hope that you got a few good ideas from these popular Cajun recipes. Whatever you decide, remember--safety first. 

Here is wishing that you and yours have a great and wonderful holiday season. God bless.

You can learn more about making your holiday foods more safe by visiting "Environment, Health and Safety Online".

Also, check out this excellent resource that will put your next Thanksgiving celebration on the right track. Click Here!

Bon Appetit!
KT
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Butter Beans and Pork Steak Combo

This Butter Beans and Pork Steak Combo is delicious when served over rice or with cornbread. The combination of beans and cut-up pork steaks (in the slightly-salted and smoky pot liqueur) comes together to produce a hearty dish and makes an entire meal in itself. It takes less than a couple hours to prepare, from start to finish, and most of that time is spent stirring the beans occasionally while waiting for that tender moment when everything is cooked to perfection.

Ingredients

2 lbs. pork steaks
1 lb large Lima beans, dried
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
8 cups water
1 tsp Colgin liquid smoke
2 dashes of Lea and Perrin Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Side dish: (your choice of cornbread or cooked white rice).

For this meal I used a # 10 cast-iron skillet, but any large skillet will suffice.

Instructions

With the skillet, begin by heating the oil on a medium-high heat until the grease becomes searing hot. Prior to frying the pork steaks rub them down well with your favorite seasoning (salt, red pepper, black pepper, etc.). Some folks like just plain old salt and black pepper.

Today,  I used some Slap Ya Mamma seasoning (which is rather spicy) and a generous application of Watkins Pouvre Noir (black pepper), and sea salt.

The object here is to infuse as much of the rub in the steaks so that when you sear them in the hot oil, the seasonings will be immediately locked in the meat by the heat.

Subsequently, this seasoning will slowly release into the pot liquor when you simmer everything on medium-low heat. (This is all the seasoning that is required for this meal besides the liquid smoke and Worcestershire sauce.)

Tip: You do not need to fry-cook the pork steaks all the way because after you cut them up into bite size pieces they will finish cooking in a slow-simmer when you add the meat with the butter beans and water.

Next, pour the 8 cups of water into the stock pot with the onions and garlic and bring to a fast boil.

After you have reached a boil add the cut-up pork steaks, the Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke. Allow everything to return to a boil once again.

Next, add the large Lima beans to the mix and set your heat to medium-low and allow everything to simmer for about an hour and a half, or until the beans are tender. Stir occasionally.

Serves 8 to 10.

This stuff is larapin good! Bon appetite and enjoy!
KT
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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Introduction

If one were to trace the origins of Cajun-style cooking, a good look at the distant past would be in order. I would wager that many of today’s popular dishes originated in France and were handed over to the descendants of the original French Acadian colonists who occupied the Canadian province of Nova Scotia from 1710 until 1755, before the diaspora.
Nova Scotia offered an abundance of wild game and seafood for the taking. The lands were fertile. It was a perfect place to colonize.
When the Acadians were dispersed (Le Grande Derangement), the largest part of the tiny nation trekked southward along the North American eastern seaboard for hundreds of miles.
The colonists then turned westward to cross the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers southward which led them to their present location (a 22 parish area of Louisiana known today as Acadiana).
Again, the Acadians settled in a geographical region blessed with a cornucopia of natural foods and fertile soils upon which to farm.
This is our contribution to some of those recipes and to which this publication is primarily dedicated. We also made room to include a few excellent Tex-Mex family meals. After all, the Great State of Texas is where I have retired, so it is appropriate to include at least some of those recipes, too.
As an honest-to-goodness Cajun, I think a true knowledge and understanding of how real Cajun food is prepared and enjoyed, one has to learn from someone who has had personal experience. I do qualify. It started for me deep in the heart of Cajun country in 1949 near an off-the-map village in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana named Indian Bayou.
Over the years, I've traveled and dined extensively throughout North America and noticed that few restaurants serve authentic Cajun dishes the old way, anymore.
Restaurant-prepared Cajun foods have fallen victim to bottom-line economics. Also, they have succumbed to a potpourri of unusual add-ins and spices which do not accurately reflect the foods I grew up on as a kid
The main ingredients in many of the original Cajun meals included onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic, and a few choice salts and seasonings. Cajuns usually cook the onions and celery first and after a few minutes the bell peppers are added, and toward the end of the cooking cycle -- fresh garlic --  to get the ultimate flavor. All Cajuns know that.
Early settlers cooked a variety of wild game, including but not limited to: duck, goose, squirrel, alligator, eel, rabbit, raccoon, possum (the list goes on), which may have contributed to the old saying that a real Cajun will eat just about anything that don't eat him first.
Some folks can't quite get the knack of cooking Cajun foods. That is because they are often too impatient to understand what low-heat and prolonged cooking times can do to enhance the flavor of foods and tenderize the toughest of meats.
You have heard, for example, that gumbo is especially tasty on the following day. That is because gumbo roux needs time to complete its magic -- that of absorbing all of the wonderful flavors of the vegetables, meats and seasoning.
Seasoning, now there’s a hot topic! The spicy tastes usually associated with Cajun foods became popular in the late 18th century when abundant resources of Tabasco, cayenne and other varieties of peppers began to flourish throughout the region.
The Spanish/Mexican influence in the Acadian Parishes grew prominently with the introduction of the world renowned Tabasco Sauce which is grown, harvested and processed at Avery Island in Iberia Parish, Louisiana.
It paved the way for the 'hot and spicy' characterization of Cajun cuisine. Not all Cajun foods are spicy, however. They do not have to be, as you will see in many of our recipes. Just add enough excitement to suit your desire is what we always advise.

Conclusion? There are a few modern and delightful Cajun recipes which can undoubtedly be found on-line. We will try to publish and share them with you periodically -- when we find them. 
However, before the old-time recipes are forever lost and forgotten, we want to share some of them with you, also. You won't find anything fancy here, merely delicious meals which are pure and simply prepared.
Please leave any comments or suggestions that you may have. Thanks for visiting and letting us share with you some great family recipes and traditions.
If you want to be kept informed of new recipes or articles, please subscribe.
Bon Appetite! ~ Jacques Gaspard
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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Popular Cajun Family Recipes

In the Gaspard Recipes Collection you will discover many Popular Cajun Family Recipes that may be slightly different from the hundreds of other Cajun style recipes which are published on the NET. That is because these are the real deal. These recipes are originals.


  1. Gumbo - Easy Microwave Gumbo Roux (video); Wild Duck Gumbo; Chicken-  Shrimp-Okra Gumbo (video); Chicken Gumbo; Shrimp and Okra Gumbo.
  2. Boudain (boudin) - Boudain (aka Boudin); Boudain (Boudin) Balls.
  3. Jambalaya - Cajun Chicken Jambalaya I; Chicken Jambalaya II; Crawfish Jambalaya; Shrimp Jambalaya; Pork Jambalaya.
  4. Etouffee - Crawfish Étouffée; Shrimp Étouffée (A-2-Fay)
  5. Crawfish Boil - How to Boil Shrimp, Crabs or Crawfish.
  6. Cajun Rice - Rice Dressing (aka Dirty Rice); Cajun Fried Rice.
  7. Chicken Stew - Chicken Stew; Chicken Fricassee.
  8. Fried Catfish - Fried Catfish Nuggets; Lemony Fried Catfish Nuggets; Cast-iron Blackened Catfish Filets (video)
  9. Red Beans and Rice Slow-cooked Red Beans over Rice; Cajun-style Pinto Beans.
  10. Cracklins - Cacklin Cracklins (chicken skin); Homemade Pork Cracklings.

These are just a fraction of the Gaspard Family Recipes. Explore our website for more delicious original Cajun family meals.

Bon Appetite! Ahheee!!
KT
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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cajun Tartar Sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbs sweet pickle relish
  • 1 Tbs dill pickle relish
  • 2 Tbs chopped white onion
  • 1 Tbs chopped capers
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp chopped dill weed (optional)
  • dash of Tabasco

All the ingredients are 'to-taste', but this is a good starting point. Mix all of the ingredients in a glass bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours. It can be used immediately, but its best if kept refrigerated over night.

Hint: Use lemon juice to adjust the consistency to your taste.

When I was growing up, I prided myself for being the family 'Saucier'. I was in charge of preparing all of the sauces. I could 'eye-ball' the measurements, and I never needed a measuring spoon.

Making a good tartar sauce is an art. The ingredients are simple, but knowing how to get just the right consistency takes a little time and practice. Sometimes I would make it thick, if it was going to be used to dip fried oysters, for example. Other times I would thin it out a bit, if it was going to be used on a flounder po-poy. I think you'll find that this simple recipe tastes as good, or better than most store-bought tartar sauces.

Enjoy!
KT

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Cajun Fried Choupique Fish Cakes

Choupique [source: Wikipedia]
The choupique (pronounced shoe-pick) is a living fossil like the garfish and exhibits many of the same characteristics of garfish. It, too, has developed natural skills as a predator fish and has the ability to quickly adapt to harsh environmental conditions without evolving (see How to Cook Garfish).

Other names for this fish include bowfin, grinnel, beaver fish, mudfish and dogfish.

Choupique can be found throughout the North American southern states in canals, sloughs, ponds, creeks, bayous, oxbow lakes and slow-moving backwaters. Like the garfish, it comes equipped with an inner air bladder and can stay alive, out of the water, longer than most other types of fish. Even in low-oxygen conditions the choupique fish will come up to the surface for air. Fossil remains of this ancient predator fish date back to 180 million years.

[Source]
Choupique Caviar

Unlike garfish, however, its eggs (roe) are not poisonous to humans and other mammals. In fact, choupique caviar retails for around $100, or more, per lb. It has a sweet and mild taste. Like shrimp, it will turn to a dark pink or red color when heated. The eggs are oblong shaped--not round like sturgeon or salmon roe.

Cajun Fried Choupique Cakes

Ingredients

  • 2 - 3 lbs. choupique fillets
  • 2 - 3 lbs. baked Russet potatoes, crumbled
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 cup of chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 measures of DIY Cajun Seasoning (or your favorite Cajun spice combo)
  • Old Bay Original seasoning (for poaching)
  • 2 cups seasoned Italian bread crumbs
  • water (for poaching)
  • peanut oil (or regular vegetable oil)


Instructions

  1. lightly sprinkle both sides of the fillets with Old Bay Original seasoning
  2. in a medium pan, add the seasoned fillets and enough water to barely cover the fish
  3. on medium heat, bring the water to a slow simmer, then lower the heat (do not boil)
  4. cover and poach the fillets until flaky, (about 10 minutes), then remove with a slotted spatula
  5. set the poached fillets aside a few minutes to drain and cool before breaking apart
  6. in a separate bowl wisp together the eggs, chopped green onions, parsley, onion powder and Cajun seasonings
  7. to this mixture add the crumbled baked potatoes and fish
  8. mix everything together thoroughly and form fish patties (about 4" in diameter)
  9. coat the patties with Italian bread crumbs
  10. add about 2 inches of peanut oil in a cast-iron skillet (or other heavy skillet)
  11. fry at 365 degrees F. for about 4 minutes on each side (until golden brown)
  12. cut lemons into several wedges to serve with the fish patties


Note: These fish cakes are wonderful when served with French fries, Peño Puppies and your favorite Cajun Tartar Sauce. Makes 8 - 12 servings.

More choupique recipes. Bon Appetit!

KT
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Thursday, August 09, 2012

5 Health Foods Which May be Getting You Sick

5 Health Foods Which May be Getting You Sick are listed below to help us make informed decisions about foodstuff which are so-called "healthy".

There are many of us who are dieting and trying to live a healthy lifestyle. We exercise and go out of our way to eat the best foods we can.

Most of us already know that trans-fats, white sugar and white flour are not the best health choices, especially if we want to keep our weight down.

Unfortunately some of the very foods that we think are healthy are ones that can cause a lot of trouble for our bodies, and even make us ill. Below is a list of some surprisingly unhealthy “health foods.”

Artificial Sweeteners
Many people who are dieting, whether it is low calorie or low carb diets, will opt for beverages with artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. Admittedly sugar is certainly a troublemaker and should be avoided, but artificial sweeteners are actually worse for you and could even be dangerous to your health.

All the artificial sweeteners are bad, but one of the worst sweeteners for us is NutraSweet (Equal, aspartame). There are over 92 different health related side effects associated with aspartame consumption, including brain tumors, birth defects, diabetes, emotional disorders and epilepsy/seizures.

There are more adverse reactions to NutraSweet reported to the FDA than all other foods and additives combined.

A much better alternative to chemically derived sweeteners is stevia, which comes from a plant. It has been used for centuries with no known side effects. It can be purchased in most health food stores in the United States.

Sports Drinks

Although marketers would have us believe that sports drinks are what the body needs when exercising heavily, the truth is that sports drinks are filled with sugar (sucrose, glucose, and fructose) and salt (potassium and sodium) as well as artificial flavorings and colorings. Add a little salt to Cool-Aid and you have about the same thing. You would be much better off drinking spring water or diluted freshly squeezed juices while exercising.

Most Energy and Sports Bars
Most energy and sports bars are also filled with things that are not the best for our bodies, and are little better than candy bars. Many of them contain sugar or artificial sweeteners, chemicals, preservatives, and synthetic nutrients. Check the ingredients before you buy an energy bar. Try to find one that is made with whole foods, such as oats and flax seeds, fruits, and natural sweeteners.

Soy Products

This is one of the most surprising ones of all. Soy has been used for countless generations in Asia. But, the way we now use soy is very different than the way the Asians have traditionally been using it.

The ancient Asians knew that the soybean was hard to digest, so they had extensive fermenting processes that broke down most of the indigestible components, making it much healthier to eat.

Examples of this would be products like soy sauce, tempeh, and miso. These were used in small amounts as condiments and flavorings, not as a meat replacement.

The way we use soy as a meat alternative, (texturized vegetable protein or TVP), can be very unhealthy since soy contains large amounts of toxins or anti-nutrients. Some of the problems the anti-nutrients in soybeans can cause are conditions of the pancreas, as well as cancer and thyroid problems.

Soybeans also can block the body’s absorption of essential minerals.

Granola (and Other Unprepared Grains)
For the last 30-40 years granola has been synonymous with heath food. But eating unprepared grains, or grains that have not been soaked, fermented or sprouted, has only come about in the last 50-100 years. People who lived before our time understood that unprepared grains could cause dietary distress.

There are anti-nutrients in grains, (like there are in soybeans), such as phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that make them harder to digest. These anti-nutrients can cause serious problems like Crohn's disease, colitis and even mental disorders. Our failure to prepare our grains properly is one of the reasons that celactic disease is so prevalent now.

So, stay away from the granola. Oatmeal is an excellent addition to our diets if we use whole rolled oats (not instant) and soak them overnight before boiling them for breakfast.

Good breads to eat are those that have properly prepared grains, including whole grain sourdough and sprouted grain breads. You can usually find these in specialty grocery stores and health food stores.

If you are trying to lose weight and eat healthier, remember that just because a company markets a “healthy” product well, or a health food store sells it, it doesn’t mean that it is really healthy for you.

Do some research before you grab that sports bar, or better yet, reach for an organic apple, cherries, or some other natural (not processed) food. Your body will thank you and reward you for it.

Keep these 5 "health" foods in mind when you want to help eliminate the risks of illness along your path to a healthy lifestyle.

Bon Appetite!

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stuffed Catfish

Stuffed Catfish is a favorite of friends and family and worth the time and effort to prepare.

Ingredients

  • Cleaned whole fryer-size catfish (1 catfish per serving)
  • Use same recipe as fish patties for stuffing
Instructions

  1. season fish very well with salt and pepper
  2. stuff fish with patties stuffing
  3. place whole catfish in a well-oiled pan and bake in oven at 350°F. 
  4. baste fish with butter while cooking (do not turn fish)
  5. cooked for about 35 to 40 minutes

Serve with green salad.

Bon Appetite!


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Thursday, July 19, 2012

30 Lbs. of Catfish Caught in 40 Minutes from a Private Pond Using TopCat Dough Bait

A lot more time was spent cleaning these cats than catching them. It took 3 men, 4 rods and reels (one broke in half), about 8 ounces of my secret catfish dough bait and 1 hour to catch them. And, it took me more than twice that long to process them. But we had fun!

Too bad we were too busy catching the catfish to catch the catch on film. (wait! ... say that again?)

Well, there's always next time, right?

Enjoy!




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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Squash Au Gratin

Squash Au Gratin is just one of many favorite garden vegetable meals which are prepared here in the Gaspard kitchen. Also called "yellow neck squash", it is a prolific grower and sometimes you can become overwhelmed with the amounts of squash you are able to harvest from the garden. 

Next time, when you are wondering how to prepare them in a different way, you might want to try out this recipe for size. It's easy to prepare and quite delicious. 

Summer Squash
Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. yellow squash, sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
Squash Au Gratin
Instructions
    1. cook squash and onions until tender then remove from heat
    2. in a different bowl add salt, pepper, butter, bread crumbs, 1/2 cheese, milk and egg
    3. stir together until well blended
    4. pour into casserole dish and sprinkle remaining cheese on top
    5. bake at 350°F. for 20 minutes
    Bon appetite!


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    Sunday, June 24, 2012

    Oyster Stew

    Often times the easiest Oyster Stew recipes are the best. Here is one that is easy to prepare and taste delicious.

    Ingredients

    • 3 dozen oysters
    • 1 stick butter
    • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
    • 1 quart milk (preheated)
    • 5 green onion tops, finely chopped
    • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
    • 1 sprig parsley, finely chopped
    • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions

    1. prepare a white roux with all-purpose flour and butter 
    2. add vegetables and sauté for a couple minutes on medium high heat
    3. drain oysters and slowly add the oyster liquid to the pot
    4. reduce to a simmer and add preheated milk
    5. introduce the raw oysters and simmer until oyster edges start to curl
    6. finally, add salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce
    Note: It's important to not "boil" the milk because it will curdle and ruin the stew.

    Serve with croûtons or crackers.

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    Sunday, June 03, 2012

    Extra-Hot Pepper Jam

    This Extra-Hot Pepper Jam recipe is not for the faint of heart, but if you dare to try some, I guarantee it will lift your spirits to new heights.


    Ingredients

    • one large red bell pepper, minced
    • one large orange bell pepper, minced
    • 1 1/2 cups fresh jalapeños, minced (no seeds)
    • 1/2 cup fresh habenero, minced (no seeds)*
    • 7 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
    • 2 (3 oz.) pkg liquid or powdered pectin

    Instructions
    1. combine first 6 ingredients in a 3 quart pot and bring to a boil
    2. continue to boil for 6 minutes, stirring frequently
    3. remove from heat source and skim away the foam using a spoon
    4. add the liquid or powdered pectin into the mixture and blend well
    5. bring everything back to a boil for a couple minutes and remove from heat
    6. with a ladle, scoop and pour the pepper liquid into hot sterilized half-pint size jars (or smaller)
    7. leave 1/4 inch head space
    8. wipe the rim of the jars clean, cover immediately with metal lids and proceed to screw-on the bands
    9. process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes
    Note: You may substitute 1 Tbsp. habanero powder instead of the minced peppers.

    Yields about 7 half-pints of jam and 2 half-pints of preserves. It may take a few days for the jam part to set so be patient. Store the jars of jam in a place where no one will shake or handle them.

    You can of course add the seeds to this recipe but unless you are a glutton for punishment it's best to keep the Scovilles toned down a bit, or use milder peppers to tone-down the Scovilles even more. I advise you to use latex gloves to cut and mince the peppers ... Ahheee! C'est Bon!

    Enjoy!


    Ahhh ... the Sweet Success of Hot Chili Peppers

    In the 1860s, Edmund McIlhenny, the inventor of Tabasco Hot Pepper Sauce, would hand-out free samples of his secret concoction to friends and relatives in used French par-fume bottles. The bottles' legendary shape became his trademark and easily identifiable by millions throughout the world today.

    Five generations later, his ageless condiment remains a popular household name. You can still find it in countless homes and restaurants across our planet.

    The taste of his new hot-sauce was exciting! Everyone loved its unique flavor and bouquet. It took time, patience and diligence to cure and age his pepper-sauce, but it finally paid-off. His formula for success, however (in my opinion), was when he put it into the hands of the fiery Cajuns who had settled the area of his processing plant a century before. They used it unsparingly to spice-up their love and passion for French foods.

    The tipping-point came when McIlhenny began ordering the par-fume bottles for his famous sauce, in large quantities, straight from the overseas Paris manufacturers. A new industry was borne.

    There was no better ingredient for success--one Irish saucier in the midst of a nation of French exiles who loved to cook. You can read more about the history of the Tabasco Company at http://www.tabasco.com/tabasco_history/mcilhenny.cfm

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    Thursday, May 24, 2012

    Balsamic Red Wine Reduction Sauce for Steak


    Ingredients

    • 1 medium red onion, sliced thin
    • 1 cup dry red wine
    • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1 cup beef broth
    • 1 Tbsp butter
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil
    • 1/2 Tbsp cracked black pepper
    • 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
    • 1 sprig of fresh Rosemary

    Instructions


    1. In a medium sauce pan, sweat sliced red onions in olive and butter over medium heat until translucent, and beginning to caramelize.
    2. Add dry red wine and balsamic vinegar, and boil until liquid is reduce by 1/2.
    3. Add beef broth, and boil until liquid is reduced by 1/2 again.
    4. Add rosemary, salt, and pepper, reduce heat to simmer, and allow the sauce to continue to reduce until it is the consistency of warm syrup.  There should be about 1/2 cup of sauce in the pan.
    5. Discard onion and rosemary (or just leave them in the pan).
    6. Using a spoon, drizzle sauce over grilled steak.

    Note


    When I make filet mignon, I like to rub the steak with olive oil, course salt and black pepper, then sear over medium-high heat for a few minutes on all sides.  I then remove the steaks before they are over-cooked, leaving the fond (pan drippings) in the pan.  I then follow the above process, add a few spoonfuls of sauce to a plate, and set the fillet on top. The red wine will deglaze the pan, which adds a very delicious quality to the sauce.

    Bon Appétit!

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    Friday, May 04, 2012

    The Hunt for Perfect Scrambled Eggs

    The Hunt for Perfect Scrambled Eggs started for me when I was the camp cook for a local hunting club -- The Texarkana Hunting Club--who hunted mainly white-tail deer in south-central Arkansas.

    Deer hunters are finicky about their breakfast, especially when it comes to certain odors and scents which they claim deer can smell from a distance -- like onions and peppers, for example.

    From the beginning of my occupation of the hunting club's kitchen I was informed, in no uncertain terms, of this almost sacred rule. So, for breakfast I had to prepare foods, like scrambled eggs, without the usual add-ins like onions, garlic and peppers, as previously noted, which are associated with my style of Cajun cooking.

    Perfect Scrambled Eggs

    Here is a simple recipe which the hunters enjoyed. You can apply it to home cooking, too, if someone in your group doesn't like the taste of onions and other spices. It will serve 20 people.

    • 30 large eggs
    • 30 Tbs water (just shy of 2 cups)
    • 10 Tbs butter
    • 1 tsp salt

    On medium heat in a large heavy skillet melt the butter. In a large bowl beat the eggs, water and salt together well. Add the mixture to the skillet and slowly cook while scrapping the bottom and sides. You should constantly stir the eggs around until they are sufficiently done. Do not over-cook the eggs because they will dry-up too quickly. It's always a good idea to serve your scrambled eggs slightly moist.

    Question? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Answer: the rooster.
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    Monday, April 30, 2012

    Spicy Chicken and Dumplings - Cajun Style

    Ingredients
    Spicy Chicken & Dumplings
    • 2 1/2 lbs. chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
    • 8 cups water
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. black pepper
    • 1 tsp. red pepper
    • 1 tsp. onion powder
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
    • ½ medium white onion
    • ½ green bell pepper
    • 2 – 3 stalks celery

      Instructions

      Part I - Preparing the Chicken

      Remove the skins from the chicken thighs and set aside for later use. Add the thighs and 8 cups of water into a large pot.  On medium-high heat bring to a  boil before adding the dry seasoning and processed vegetables (onions, green bell pepper and celery). Continue boiling for 30 minutes on medium heat then remove the thighs from the  boiling liquid and set aside to cool down. Continue cooking on medium heat while stirring occasionally. Debone the thighs and put the meat back into the pot. Continue boiling on medium heat.


      Part II - Processing the Chicken Skin

      Season the chicken skins with salt and ground red pepper and using a microwavable bowl nuke the skins for 10 minutes on the high setting in your microwave oven. (I use a 700 watt microwave oven. Larger models may take less time to render the oil out of the skins.) After extracting the oil set it aside for later use.


      Part III - Canned Biscuits Dumplings

      On a glass or porcelain plate paint some of the chicken oil on the surface then lay the biscuit dough on top. Season the individual biscuits to taste before applying more oil. I like to use black pepper and Old Bay seasoning. Note: The seasoning you add to the dumplings is to your taste and is in addition to the list of seasonings above which are added to the boiling liquid.

      Next, knead the biscuit dough into a ball and pinch off 3 equal dumplings from each biscuit. Add the dumplings to the pot and continue cooking for another 20 minutes on medium heat.

      Serve and enjoy!

      Related:
      Cacklin Cracklins
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        Thursday, April 26, 2012

        Easy Homemade Baking Powder Biscuits Recipe

        This Easy Homemade Baking Powder Biscuits Recipe was handed down to me by a dear friend and fellow restaurateur who has since retired to the scenic landscapes and beautiful sunsets of the Louisiana Gulf Coast.


        Remembering "Miss Mary" (Mary Richard, Kaplan, LA.) Her baking powder biscuits taste great with morning breakfast and bold N'awlin's style coffee.


        Ingredients
        Baking Powder Biscuits
        • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
        • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
        • 1/2 tsp salt
        • pinch of baking soda
        • 4 Tbs shortening (chilled unsalted butter is fine)
        • 1 cup milk
          Instructions
            1. sift flour once 
            2. measure and add baking powder and salt 
            3. cut in shortening (butter) and gradually add milk until soft dough is formed 
            4. roll out on slightly floured cutting board and knead about 4 times
            5. cut out 2 1/2" diameter biscuits
            6. bake in pre-heated oven at 450°F. for 12 to 15 minutes.
            Enjoy!
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            Wednesday, April 25, 2012

            Cajun Chicken Stew Recipe

            This savory Cajun Chicken Stew Recipe is easy to prepare, but the one common mistake folks make is trying to prepare a chicken stew with young fryers. A mature hen makes a better stew. The reason why? The meat on a young chicken will fall apart quickly during the cooking process. It takes longer to cook a hen and therefore all of the herbs and spices have more time to come together to create the savory taste.

            Ingredients

            • 1 four to five pound hen cut into pieces (never use fryer)
            • 1/2 cup oil
            • 1/2 cup all-purpose four
            • 2 cups onions, chopped
            • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
            • 1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
            • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
            • 2 cups water
            • salt and pepper to taste

            Instructions
              1. prepare roux with flour and oil until brown in color
              2. add onions, celery and chicken
              3. cook 2 to 3 minutes before adding water, garlic, bell pepper and seasoning
              4. simmer in covered pot until hen is tender (around 1 1/2 hours)
              5. add more water if needed

              Serve over cooked rice. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

              Note: You may substitute the wet roux with 1/2 cup of powdered gumbo roux.
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              Sunday, April 22, 2012

              Spicy Cinnamon Brownies--Cajun Style

              The one ingredient in this recipe which justifies the title, Spicy Cinnamon Brownies--Cajun Style, is the 1/4 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper which is added to the mix. But, don't fret! That part is completely optional. We can omit the ground red pepper and still create a spicy and rich brownie mix which will have your family and friends coming back to you and asking for another serving. Guaranteed!

              Ingredients

              Spicy Cinnamon Brownies-Cajun Style
              • 1 (19.8 oz) box Best Choice Walnut Brownie Mix (Ultra Moist)
              • 4 oz. Nestle' Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsels
              • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
              • 2 eggs
              • 3 Tbs. water
              • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
              • 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (optional)
              • 4 oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese, room temperature

              Instructions

              1. in a bowl add together the chocolate morsels, oil, eggs, water, cinnamon and pepper, mix well
              2. slowly add and thoroughly mix-in the Best Choice Walnut Brownie Mix
              3. add the room temperature cream cheese and swirl-mix the cheese throughout the wet mixture
              4. poor in a well buttered (or oiled) 13" x 9" x 2" glass or metal pan
              5. bake for 21 - 24 minutes at 350 degrees F. (do not over-bake or brownies will turn out dry)
              Note: You will know when the brownies are done by inserting a dry toothpick in the center. If you pull it out and the toothpick is wet with mix on it, then you will need to bake your brownies for a couple more minutes. If the toothpick comes out dry it means they are done.

              Give your brownies time to cool down before cutting them into squares.

              So, the next time you want to create some spice in your life (and your desert), try this Spicy Cinnamon Brownies--Cajun Style recipe out for size. You will be glad you did.

              I would love to hear your comments. Thanks and have a great day!

              Bon Appetite!
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              Friday, April 20, 2012

              Live Crawfish for Sale - Audio (Cajun humor)

              Audio



              It was about a decade, or so, ago when I trucked-in a couple dozen sacks of live crawfish from south Louisiana to Texarkana, Arkansas for re-sale. I would do this to pay for the cost of my 700 mile round-trip to my home town when I visited family and friends. I also made a fair profit for my efforts, too.

              Nick, my partner, was helping me as we sold the mud bugs out of the back of my old pick-up truck on the west side of Hwy 71 South (south of the city limits) under a huge oak tree which, luckily for us, was strategically situated just a couple hundred feet from the only convenient store in the neighborhood. E-Z Mart - lots of traffic.

              It was also next to a cut-off road (a short-cut of sorts) which led in the direction of the river bottoms to a gypsy settlement. That was the day when I discovered that gypsies, like us Cajuns, love to eat crawfish, too.

              In fact, the bulk of our live crawfish was sold to them - mostly during their commute back home from work.

              With a few magic markers and a poster I had printed the words "Live Crawfish for Sale" in large letters and affixed it to the tail-gate of my truck so everyone could see it. But, I'm getting a little off-track here.

              Particularly, I wanted to recount how on that day, before the mad rush of sales began, this attractive pre-middle aged woman approached our vending area in a brand new cream-colored Cadillac convertible (top down). I especially noticed how long it took her to get out of her car.

              When I focused on and through the dark-tinted windshield I could barely make-out that she was applying lipstick, adjusting her white oversize plastic-rim sunshades and ever-so-slightly tilting her rose-colored sun hat before making her way out of the vehicle.

              I thought to myself, WOW! Big sale! ... on it's way! Then, almost simultaneously, I asked myself, "Why would she want to load a sack of mud bugs in that fancy brand new car?" Something wasn't quite right?

              As she approached us I said something like, "howdy mam ... I do appreciate you stopping by ... today we are running a 50 lb. special for only twenty-five dollars", when she graciously and politely interrupted my sales spiel and said in a demur-sounding voice, "No, no ... I don't need to buy 50 lbs."

              Then she asked, "how sturdy are they?"

              I flinched and said, "beg your pardon, mam?

              She repeated, "how sturdy are they?"

              "I guarantee you mam that a couple of these craw dads tied together and tethered to the front bumper of your new car could probably pull you out of the ditch if you ever got stuck ... that's how sturdy they are", I bragged. (That was me trying to be funny.)

              Then I continued on, "I assure you mam that they were swimming in water only yesterday and they are sturdy enough to keep alive at least 2 or 3 more days until you are ready to cook 'em up. All you gotta do is keep 'em dampened, cooled and tightly packed together in the sack. (That was me trying to be smart.)

              Then she anchored those few words into my memory bank which have lasted to this day and will probably hang-on for many many more. "Oh no", she said. "I don't want to boil it or eat it ... I want it for my fish aquarium to help clean it out."

              "She wants 'IT', I thought? ..."IT" ... as in ONE? ... as in SINGULAR? ... UNO?

              Then she asked, "Is it okay if I pick-out the one I like?"

              I looked-up at my partner and friend who was now grinning from ear-to-ear and then I looked back at her. Hell, I couldn't even make out what color eyes she had through those dark over-grown sunglasses. But, I did look into her shades and with one of those 'don't you feel like a total idiot smiles' I politely said, "Yes mam ... you betcha."

              I then dumped-out a couple dozen into one of the empty buckets. These particular craw dads were at full maturity and were the 'red swamp' variety with the strong red pincers like the one in the photo above. One pinch could draw blood.

              She gazed-down at the quarry and said, "Oh my! Which one should I choose?"

              We ended-up giving her the one she picked-out (no charge), plus another one for good measure. We call it lagniappe.

              Ahheee!! Those were the good 'ol days!
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              Tuesday, April 17, 2012

              A Universal Recipe for All Life on Earth?

              A Fascinatingly Disturbing Thought

              Dr. DeGrasse Tyson talked about Alien Life in a simple but informative way. And makes many good points and leaves you with something to think about.



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              Thursday, April 12, 2012

              Mad Man Butter Beans (with smoked ham hocks)

              This Mad Man Butter Beans (with smoked ham hocks) recipe is apparently worth fighting for (as you will find out when you read the short story below). Easy to cook and down right larapin -- as 20 out of 20 White Tail deer hunters would agree. Try it sometime, but be sure you make enough for everyone, or you may find yourself in a heap of trouble.

              Ingredients

              • 2 smoked ham hocks
              • 2 quarts water
              • 1/2 tsp salt
              • 1 tsp onion powder
              • 1 tsp garlic powder
              • 1/4 tsp black pepper
              • 4 shakes of Colgin liquid smoke
              • 2 1/2 cups large dried Lima beans

              Instructions

                In a 4 quart stock pot place all of the above ingredients (except for the large dried Lima beans) and boil for about 30-45 minutes. Make sure that the hocks are covered by a half-inch of water at all times (it may take more than a couple quarts depending on the size of your hocks). Then place all ingredients in a 5 quart crock-pot and slow-cook for several hours until the hocks have fallen apart and the beans are tender. Stir occasionally and carefully so as not to bruise the beans. May be served with cornbread, rice...or eaten alone. Serves six.

                Note: it is the liquid smoke that gives this recipe its delicious taste.

                This is a Cajun dish which I named after a deer hunter who was late for supper one evening. I was the camp cook that year for a hunting club of about three dozen members. His deer stand was located on the far outer-periphery of a large hunting lease containing several hundred acres--mostly forest. Although he had a fancy and fast 4-wheeler, when it came time to head back to the camp galley for supper, it always took him longer than the other hunters. This particular day it seemed his pals liked my smoked ham hocks and butter beans so much they couldn't wait for him to arrive at the supper table ... and didn't bother to leave the poor lad any.

                He was one angry cuss! I don't think any amount of levity would have tamed this cave man's growling stomach and his in-your-face verbal assaults (directed at me, of course). My grandpa use to say that intelligent people don't have to use profanity to drive home a point. Apparently this deer hunter had not heard that saying.

                I don't blame him because I would be mad, too, if I had missed-out on that delicious meal.

                Not to fret, mon ami--here is the recipe I promised, and I have dedicated it to you and all the cavemen of the world (and cave women) who are always late for supper.
                Bon appetite!
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                Wednesday, April 11, 2012

                Boudreaux and the Frog -- With Age Comes Wisdom

                Audio


                Kiss Me!
                Boudreaux was a 72 year old widower and an avid fisherman. One day while fishing in his pirogue along the bayou near his home he heard the sound of someone's voice. He thought he may have been dreaming because there was no one around. 

                As he listened carefully he heard it again.

                "Pick me up", the voice said.

                Boudreaux looked around and saw that it was a frog sitting on a lily pad about a foot away from his boat.

                The old Cajun man asked the frog, 'Are you talking to me?'.

                The frog said, "Yes, I'm talking to you. Pick me up and kiss me then I will turn into the most beautiful woman you have ever seen in your life and I will make sure all your friends are envious and jealous because I will become your bride".

                The old fisherman looked at the frog for a short time. He then reached over and gently picked-up the frog and carefully put the creature in his front shirt pocket.

                The frog said to Boudreaux, "Hey! Are you crazy? Didn't you just hear what I told you? I said to kiss me and I will turn into your beautiful bride."

                The old man opened his pocket and looked at the frog and said, 'Nah. At my age I would rather have a talking frog.'

                With age comes wisdom.

                Ahheee!!


                If this story inspires you to try frog legs, check out Jacques' recipe, Frog Sauce Piquante Signature Icon

                Tuesday, April 10, 2012

                Cajun Baked Fillet of Largemouth Bass

                Cajun Baked Fillet of Largemouth Bass is simple to prepare and can become a very delicious alternative to the same old humdrum way of preparing fresh water fish -- like frying.

                Baked foods are healthier than fried foods and that's a fact. Plus, we have more control over our spices when we bake--especially fish like largemouth bass which produces a white, flaky, and slightly sweet and succulent taste.

                If you are getting tired of the same old way of preparing largemouth bass, then why not try this recipe out as a slightly spicy but very tasty alternative.

                Ingredients

                Largemouth Bass
                • 1 fillet of largemouth bass
                • 2 Tbs. melted butter
                • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
                • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
                • 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper                         
                • 1/4 tsp. sea salt

                Instructions

                1. combined the last 5 ingredients and mixed together well
                2. brush the mixture on both sides of the bass fillet
                3. place fillet in a baking dish (rough side up)
                4. bake for 45 minutes at 275 F.
                Serving 1 - 2. Goes well with Cajun Tartar Sauce and fine white wine. Enjoy!
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