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Food and drink - Chef Lynn's Cooking Diary

Archive for the ‘Food and drink’ Category

The Perfect Sunday Brunch

One of my favorite brunch to prepare when I have weekend guests is my New Orleans style shrimp and grits. Recently I’ve been making my grits in a slow cooker which tends to make them much more creamier without a lot of work on my part.

Here is my brunch recipe. Try it and let me know your thoughts below. I bet you will love this dish as much as I do.

Slow Cooker Shrimp and Grits

Slow Cooker Shrimp and Grits

Slow Cooker Shrimp and Grits


  • 6 Cups Chicken Broth or Stock
  • 1 1/2 Cups Yellow Grits
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme or 2 Teaspoons Fresh Chopped Thyme
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • 1 Cup Light Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 4 Ounces Light Cream Cheese
  • 2 Pounds Raw Shrimp
  • 3 Tbls of Olive Oil and 3 Tbls of Butter to saute Shrimp and to use for topping on grits
  • 2-3 Scallions (Green Onions)
  • Scallions, or Thyme and Extra Cheese for garnish


  1. Combine chicken broth and grits in slow cooker
  2. Add all other ingredients except shrimp, cheddar cheese, and green onions and cook on low for 3 Hours.
  3. Stir periodically to prevent lumps (If grits have absorbed all the liquid, add some more broth. It will depend on your slow cooker.)
  4. Add cheddar cheese toward the end of cooking.
  5. Saute scallions and shrimp in butter and oil for 5 minutes until done and use for topping on plated grits.
  6. Garnish with extra cheese and/or green onions and thyme


Spicy Seafood Boil with Blue Crabs and Shrimp Nawlins (New Orleans) Style

Spicy Seafood Boil with Blue Crabs and Shrimp Nawlins (New Orleans) Style

Spicy Seafood Boil with Blue Crabs and Shrimp Nawlins (New Orleans) Style

I love, love, love seafood.  Any kind of seafood!  But I especially enjoy boiling seafood on weekends. I will usually make a meal out of it by adding corn on the cob, red new potatoes and when in season, live crawfish.

If you love seafood as much as I do and are intimidated by the idea of boiling seafood yourself, follow my recipe below and you’ll realize how super easy it is.

1. In a large stock pot add the following and bring to a rapid boil.

  • 2 gallons water
  • 2 packs Zatarains crab boil or 1 1/2 cups of Zatarains powder crab boil (sold in gallon containers)
  • 2 tablespoon cayenne pepper or 1 whole pepper
  • 1 bell pepper, quartered
  • 1 large onion quartered
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 1 cup rough chopped celery


  • Handful bay leaves
  • 1-1/2 pounds small red potatoes
  • 4 half-ears of frozen or fresh corn
  • 1 pound sausage, cut into 3-inch pieces

2.  Add 1 dozen blue crabs and cook for 10 mins and reduce heat to low.

3.  Add 2 lbs large shrimp with heads on and simmer for another 5 mins and turn off.

4.  Let soak for 1 hour to absorb all of the wonderful flavors before serving.

Spicy Seafood Boil with Blue Crabs and Shrimp Nawlins (New Orleans) Style

Spicy Seafood Boil with Blue Crabs and Shrimp Nawlins (New Orleans) Style

Now that your boiled seafood is ready for serving, you may wonder how to go about actually eating them easily.  I’ve been ‘picking crabs’, ‘peeling shrimp’ and ‘pinching tails and sucking heads’ (crawfish of course! LOL!) since I was a kid.  Instead of me explaining to you how to pick (peel) crabs with ease, check out this video demonstrated by Chef Justin LeBlanc of Bevi Seafood in New Orleans.  Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments below!!

Quinoa Fruit Salad a Great Post-Workout Snack for Muscle Building

Quinoa (keen-wah) has been around for thousands and thousands of years, but only has become popular in the last few years.  It originated with the Incas in the mountains of Bolivia, Chile and Peru and continues to be a prominent food source in that region.

Many think that quinoa, which is gluten-free and considered easy to digest, is a grain; but it is actually a seed.  According to Women’s Health Magazine, when cooked, a 3.5 oz serving provides 120 calories and contains eight grams of protein per cup. Plus, it’s considered a complete protein, meaning it packs all nine essential amino acids your body needs to build and repair muscles; which makes it a GREAT post-workout snack.

You can eat quinoa raw or cooked for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and for in between snacks.  One of my go to recipes that I like is a ‘Quinoa Fruit Salad’ with fresh seasonal fruit. During the Summer I use fresh berries and melons and during the Fall pears and apples.  You can boost the sweetness of the fruit with a couple tablespoons of honey, agave, maple or any flavored syrup.  Try it and let me know your thoughts.

Quinoa Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing

Quinoa Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing

Quinoa Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing          serves 5


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • Juice of 1 large lime
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cups sliced strawberries, blackberries, blueberries or raspberries or combo of all
  • 1 cups diced mango or papayas
  • 1 cups diced peaches
  • 5-6 Mint leaves chopped


  1. Using a very fine strainer, rinse quinoa under cold water. Add quinoa and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil 5 minutes.
  2. Turn heat to low and simmer about 12 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Let quinoa cool to room temperature.
  3. To make the dressing, combine lime juice and honey. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, strawberries, blackberries, mango, pineapple and mint. Pour dressing over salad and mix until well combined. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Note..You can use any seasonal fresh fruit that you wish. If you use frozen fruit, you must defrost it first.



FREE Download of Martha Stewart’s Summer Grilling Cookbook …

Here is a free download of Martha Stewart’s Summer Grilling Cookbook that has everything from delicious sides, salads and starters to savory burgers, steaks and chicken, as well as some great desserts and summer drinks.

My favorites are: Emeril’s Grilled Corn with Cheese and Chili, and Grilled Sweet and Spicy Pickles.  What will yours be?

martha stewart grilling cookbook


Click here..


Ever Wonder what the Recently Enacted Food Law Means for Us?


Over the past few years, several high-profile outbreaks related to various foods, from spinach and peanut products to eggs, have underscored the need to make continuous improvements in food safety.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) which President Obama recently signed into law gives the FDA a mandate to pursue a system that is based on science and addresses hazards from farm to table, putting greater emphasis on preventing food-borne illness.

If you are like me, you may have wondered what some of the provisions are and how they will affect consumers. Well I decided to do some research and wanted to share with you some of the major provisions of the law below:

•Issuing recalls: In the past, the FDA had to rely on food manufacturers and distributors to recall food voluntarily. Now the FDA will have the authority to order a recall of food products.

•Conducting inspections: There will be more frequent inspections of foods and facilities that pose a greater risk to food safety.

•Importing food: Better enforcement of FDA’s ability to oversee food produced in foreign countries and imported into the United States. Also, FDA has the authority to prevent food from entering this country if the facility has refused U.S. inspection.

•Preventing problems: All Food facilities must have a written plan that spells out the possible problems that could affect the safety of their products. The plan would outline steps that the facility would take to help prevent those problems from occurring.

•Focusing on science and risk: The law establishes science-based standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables. This is an important step forward. These standards will consider both natural and man-made risks to the safety of fresh produce.

•Respecting the role of small businesses and farms: The law also provides some flexibility, such as exemptions from the produce safety standards for small farms that sell directly to consumers at a roadside stand or farmer’s market as well as through a community supported agriculture program (CSA).

Let’s all hope that this law will take the critical steps toward strengthening the food safety system that is vital to the health and security of all of us.

Spicy Dry Roasted Chickpeas

I like to have healthy snacks on hand around the house and in particular, stored next to my bed on my night stand for the middle of the night muchies.  One of my favorites to make is spicy dry roasted chickpeas.  I like chickpeas (aka Garbanzo beans) because they are an excellent source of protein and cholesterol-lowering fiber. You can enjoy them year-round by purchasing them either dried or canned.  I buy mine locally from DeKalb Farmers Market in dry form. 

Dried Chickpeas


I’ve tried roasting both canned chickpeas and also dry chickpeas and I have found that dry chickpeas that have been soaked and cooked are better suited to roasting because they have absorbed less liquid and are firmer. They become drier and crisper during roasting. 

 So here’s my recipe for spicy dry roasted chickpeas. 


  • 2 cups of cooked or canned chick-peas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil (I love the flavor infused olive oil by Boyajian..check out www.boyajianinc.com)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of Zatarain’s or Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning salt


(If you are using canned chickpeas skip step one) 

Pick over and rinse the chickpeas. Put in a pot with enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and cook until tender. 

Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a bowl and toss with olive oil and spices. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Arrange in single layer on baking sheet. 


Roast 40-50 minutes, or until they are slightly browned and make a rattling sound when you shake the baking sheet. 


Snack with iced cold beer while watching the football games!

STIR IT 28 is just three days away – Sunday, February 21, 2010

In light of the unfathomable devastation Haiti suffered over one month ago, three food bloggers have come together and mobilized a nationwide, multi-city event in support of Haiti’s Relief.  They felt passionately about Haiti’s loss and wanted to help them recover the most essential elements of living.  Hence the birth of Stir It 28 -a grass roots event of local food bloggers to help Haiti.


Bren of Flanboyant Eats, Chrystal of The Duo Dishes and Courtney of Coco Cooks, have partnered up to create STIR IT 28: Food Bloggers Align for Haiti Relief. Stir It is about the global culinary community coming together to help in the rebuilding of the poor island nation, through what we do best: COOK.


STIR represents the action we as chefs, restaurateurs, home cooks, and food bloggers take in the kitchen; "stirring" up interest and activity for Haiti relief.  28 represents the number of days in February–our month long effort to support Haiti.  100 percent of proceeds will be donated directly to Share Our Strength and Yéle. Both are supporting the campaign and helping to get the word out!

Chef Lynn Ware of Custom Gourmet Solutions is thrilled to be taking part in this event in Atlanta (events are also happening in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles). For more information and to purchase advance tickets please go to at Flanboyant Eats or Coco Cooks. If you’re in Atlanta I look forward to seeing you on February 21st.

Superbowl Menu-GEAUX SAINTS!!

Today is the day that Saints fans have been anxiously awaiting.  It has taken 44 years, but we are finally in the Superbowl!!!..I wasn’t able to make it to Miami, but I will be celebrating with some friends at a Superbowl party. 
Excuse the informality of this posting but I wanted to share two recipes that I will be preparing for today’s festivities. I hardly ever measure anything when I cook so ‘eyeball it’ and just season to taste.
Crab Spinach Dip
  •  2 stick of butter melted in pan
  • Wilt one finely chopped onion
  • Toss in thawed and drained chopped spinach (1-2 boxes)
  • Add some softened cream cheese, mix until incorporated
  • Over med-low heat, add some gruyere cheese until melted
  • Add salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to taste.
  • (You can also add crushed red-pepper flakes if you want some added heat)
  • Turn off heat, and fold in 1lb lump crab meat,
  • Turn mixture into baking dish, and top with some more gruyere and some grated romano and
  • Bake until bubbly.
  • Enjoy with toasted baugette slices.

Cajun Jambalaya



  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 red and 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Diced, smoked ham or chicken
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can no-salt added diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice or brown rice
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp



Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over a medium heat.

Add the onion, peppers and garlic and sauté until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes.

Mix in herbs and spices and diced tomatoes.

Bring to a boil.

Stir in the rice, chicken/ham, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until rice is done and most of the liquid is absorbed.

Add the shrimp and cook, covered, for 5 minutes more, or until shrimp is cooked through..




King Cake- A Favorite New Orleans Mardi Gras Tradition



It has always been said (and I have to agree) that New Orleanians are either having a party, recuperating from a party, or planning a party. The biggest and best party of all and the city’s most famous celebration is Mardi Gras, "the greatest free show on earth." Mardi Gras dates back to 1837 when the first street parade took place.


New Orleans’  Carnival season, with roots in preparing for the start of the Christian season of Lent, starts after Twelfth Night, on Epiphany (January 6). It is a season of hundreds of parades, balls (some of them masquerade balls), and king cake parties. It has traditionally been part of the winter social season when plenty of debutante balls are scheduled for the official ‘coming out’ parties for young women.



As a native New Orleanian, Mardi Gras has always been my favorite time of year.  From the colorful parades, non-stop parties, and delectable foods, I love it all..Especially King Cake


The King Cake season starts the first week of January in New Orleans.  The traditional King Cake is a coffee cake, and is oblong and braided.  It is baked and covered with a poured sugar topping and decorated with the traditional Mardi Gras-colored sugars. The end result is a delicious and festive cake in traditional Mardi Gras colors: Purple, representing Justice; Green, representing Faith; Gold, representing Power. Inside each cake is a small plastic baby. If you are the lucky one that finds the baby you must either buy the next King Cake or throw the next King Cake Party.


Hundreds of thousands of King Cakes are consumed at parties every year, making the King Cake another fine Louisiana tradition. A Mardi Gras party just wouldn’t be a Mardi Gras party without a King Cake!


Here’s one of my favorite King Cake recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse




  • 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 to 5 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter, cooled
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped candied citron
  • 1 pecan half, uncooked dried bean or King Cake Baby


  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Purple, green and gold sugar crystals


Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Combine the warm water, yeast and 2 teaspoons sugar in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside to a warm place for about 10 minutes. Combine the 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, nutmeg, lemon rind and add warm milk, melted butter, egg yolks and yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place the dough in a well-greased bowl. Turn once so greased surface is on top.

Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours). Punch the dough down and place on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with the citron and knead until the citron is evenly distributed. Shape the dough into a cylinder, about 30 inches long. Place the cylinder on a buttered baking sheet. Braid dough into a ring, pinching ends together to seal. Place a well-greased 2-pound coffee can or shortening can in the center of the ring to maintain shape during baking. Press the King Cake Baby, pecan half or dried bean into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough. Cover the ring with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the coffee can immediately. Allow the cake to cool. For the glaze: Combine the ingredients and beat until smooth. To assemble, drizzle cake with the glaze. Sprinkle with sugar crystals, alternating colors. Cut into the cake and hope you do not get the baby.


My Favorite Eggnog Recipe from Galatorie’s Restaurant in New Orleans

Makes 10 small servings

5 large eggs
1 1⁄8 cups granulated sugar
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
1⁄8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus some for garnish 1⁄2 teaspoon pure vanilla
1⁄8 cup bourbon
1⁄8 cup brandy
3 large egg whites

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, beat together the eggs and sugar. Stir in the half-and-half. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat a metal spoon with a thin film and reaches at least 160 degrees. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cream, nutmeg, vanilla, bourbon and brandy. Cool, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Just before serving, beat the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold them into the eggnog. Serve cold in punch cups and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Chef Lynn Ware


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