Alabama Gumbo Lydia Style

Gumbo. It's such a fun word to say, but it's even more fun to eat. Each bite is bursting with flavor and variety. From the subtle spice of the sausage, to the succulent sweetness of the shrimp to the crunch of the celery. It's flavor on top of flavor with more flavor sprinkled in. 

Way back at the end of November when my husband was busy watching the Iron Bowl I was in the kitchen making this gumbo. 

If you don't know what the Iron Bowl is- then can I come live at your house? No, I kid. It's when our state rivals the University of Alabama and Auburn University play. I grew up in a house that cheered for Auburn and I married a man that cheers for Alabama. And I just cheer for the game to end. Seriously. I don't care. You couldn't pay me to care. So, I cook. 

I asked sweet Jason what he wanted me to make. He asked for gumbo. My mama has a great recipe, but I decided to take hers and make it all my own. 

I decided to call it Alabama Gumbo Lydia Style, since I used Gulf Shrimp and Conecuh Sausage, two Alabama traditions. 

What you'll need: 

1/2 cup oil

4 tbsp flour

salt and pepper

5 stalks celery, chopped

1 large onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 - 28 oz can stewed tomatoes

1 large bell pepper, diced

8 cups chicken broth or vegetable stock

2 cups Conecuh sausage, or any smoked pork sausage, cubed

2 bay leaves

2 cups shrimp, peeled and deviened, cut into small pieces

2 tbsp corn starch

I used my cast iron Dutch oven, but any stock pot will do. 

I started by heating up my oil over a medium heat, then I whisked in the flour and added the salt and pepper to create a roux. Whisk the oil and butter until it turns a soft brown color. 

Next add in your onions and garlic and cook just long enough for them to become translucent. Next, add in your tomatoes, bell pepper, celery and sausage. Stir everything together, coating your sausage in tomatoes. Add in your broth.


Turn the heat up and bring to a boil. Then turn the heat back down to a simmer and add in your bay leaves and shrimp. Let simmer until your shrimp are pink. 

Whisk in your corn starch to thicken. 

Serve hot over rice. 

What's your favorite hot soup? 



Five Christmas Finger food Ideas

Okay. So tomorrow is the BIG DAY! We will be spending Christmas moring at our house with the baby and then heading to my Mama's house for a big family Christmas. 

I volunteered to bring a roast for pulled pork sliders. We are all about the finger foods. Why cook a big meal for a big family? Enjoy a day of party foods and punch. 

Here are a few finger foods from my own menu. 

1. Meatball Sliders with Pineapple Sauce. You can use homemade meatballs or some from the freezer section. But this is a really simple sandwich idea, sure to please. 

2. Island Tacos.  This is an easy, easy, taco. You just throw some pulled pork in the crock pot and pile it on a tortilla with some slaw and peanut sauce. It's spicy, sweet and savory. 

3. Mini Chicken Pizzas  This is the easiest thing in the world. You will need about two cups cooked, shredded chicken, a jar of barbecue sauce, a can of biscuits and a little cheese. 

4. Deep Dish Fruit Pizza. This is a simple sugar cookie crust with a marshmallow topping and seasonal fruits. 

5. Cake Mix Candy Jar Cookies do you have a bunch of leftover Christmas candy? Why not make cookies? This is an easy recipe made from a boxed mix and containing a ton of candy. 



Christmas Blondies with Cinnamon Chips 

I love baking during the holiday season. Who needs candles when you have real life baked goods warming up your kitchen?

Last week I made these super scrumptious, super delicious and super easy Christmas blondies using a cake mix. I love baking from scratch, but they were so good I am not going to complain. 

I am sure I didn't invent this recipe, but I think by adding cinnamon chips, I brought it to perfection. 

Cinnamon chips? Oh yeah! You can pick these babies up at any supermarket like Publix, Winn-Dixie or Walmart. 

And these are really easy to make. 

What you'll need:

One boxed cake mix. I used butter pecan. I seriously recommend using butter pecan. But a yellow cake mix or spice cake mix would work as well. 

1 egg

1/4 cup oil 

1/3 cup water

1 bag cinnamon chips

Preheat your oven to 350 and spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. 

Combine all your wet ingredients with your cake mix. Then fold in your cinnamon chips. 

Spread into your pan and place it in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes. 

What holiday baking have you been doing?


Pumpkin Spice Latte Cake

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Thanksgiving day after all the plates were cleared my mother whipped out this gem. Man! It was good. She called it a Pumpkin Spice Latte Cake and of course I pulled out my Nikon and began snapping away. 

It was pumpkiny, (not a word, I know) creamy, had a subtle coffee flavor and was just delicious. We took four pieces home, ate them immediately and regretted not taking more. 

I asked my mother for the recipe so I could share it with all of you. You are going to want to make this. No. For real. You are going to want to make this. 


What you'll need: 


3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoons baking powder
1½ cups sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cloves

2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding

1/2 cup veggie oil

1 1/4 cups water

4 eggs

1 cup pumpkin (I use Libby's)


4 cups powdered sugar

1 stick butter, softened

3-4 splashes milk

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 cups chopped pecans 

1-2 tbsp brewed coffee

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grease (I use Pam) a 10 inch Bundt pan

In mixing bowl, combine cake mix, puddings, oil, water, eggs and pumpkin  with an electric mixer. Pour into prepared Bundt pan.

Bake 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cake rest on counter in pan 10 minutes. Then, invert cake onto serving plate to finish cooling.

In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, butter and milk with an electric mixer until creamy.  Stir in cinnamon.  Frost cooled cake.




Chicken tortellini soup

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The weather in South Alabama has been fluctuating. Some days I believe it's December with it's 45 degree morning. Other days it's 81. 

Today was one of those 45 degree days and I spent my lunch enjoying a warm bowl of chicken tortellini soup, which was leftover from supper. It was delicious, easy, economical and used up some leftover chicken. I thought I would share. 

What you'll need:

2 cups cooked chicken cut into bite sized pieces

1 medium onion, diced

1 garlic cloves, diced

1 can tomato paste

2 cups diced carrots

4 cups cups vegetable stock

4 cups tortellini 

Heat up some oil in your stock pot or Dutch oven. 

Cook your onions and garlic until they are translucent and then add your tomato paste. 

Add 1 cup of your stock and then put your carrots in the pot. Let simmer for a few minutes. Then add in the rest of your stock and bring to a boil. 

Add in your tortellini and your cooked chicken. Let your pasta cook for about 3 minutes. Then turn down and let simmer a few more minutes before serving. 

What are some of your favorite winter soups or stews?




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