I don’t think many blogs get my curiosity going more than Cajunlicious. I’ve visited New Orleans on several occasions and of course I’ve seen the movie The Big Easy more times than I care to admit but when I look at Jessica’s blog and see all that fantastic food – I’m in love. I know envy is wrong, my mother told me that, but this woman is beautiful, successful and can cook. Who could help being envious?
All of my grandparents come from Eastern Canada and the music and dancing they did at weddings and get-togethers is very much like the music of New Orleans. That’s where the similarity ends. I grew up with traditional French cooking which is nothing like what Jessica creates.
She was born and raised only 25 minutes from downtown New Orleans and the kitchen was definitely the heart of her home. She said that food in her part of the country was more than simple sustenance. Just one peek at her blog and you’d see the truth in that statement.
When she was young, all the aunts, uncles and cousins would get together at her grandparents’ house every Sunday after mass to fill their bowls with gumbo, potato salad, etouffee and jambalaya. When they stopped eating they moved to telling stories resulting in heaps of laughter. She learned to cook from her mother, her grandmother and even her great-grandmother and they continue to inspire her every time she walks into the kitchen.
The success Cajunlicious has had is remarkable. The blog launched on Valentine’s Day in 2011. Seriously! She told me that nobody was more surprised at its success than she was. The popularity of the blog turned into the cookbook Cajunlicious, All Things Cajun, published last December. The cookbook includes recipes she learned as a child from Granny and Pawsey (grandfather in Cajun French).
I can’t imagine how busy you would be cooking, photographing and writing a new blog, doing all the networking to promote it, becoming an overnight success, writing a cookbook AND having a family life but she’s done it with the ease of any true Cajun. Many people include Cajun recipes on their blogs and in their cookbooks but Jessica lives Cajun day in and day out. I suspect that’s why she’s so popular. She speaks with authority about the traditional ways to make all these dishes.
Unlike me, Jessica plans ahead. I know, I need to do that too but I’m not quite there yet. She plans her menus and blog posts well ahead of time and creates the grocery list at the same time. She has the house to herself during the day and she is able to use natural light to do all her photography. Like the rest of us, she cringes at her early photos. We’ve all come a long way.
When asked what she likes best about her blog and it’s definitely cooking. She finds cooking relaxing and an activity that she can exercise her creativity. I feel the same way. While she loves cooking traditional recipes handed down from her grandparents, she very much enjoys recreating or creating new ones like Gator Dogs, Cajun Pizza, Red Chile Gravy Shrimp Enchiladas, and Crab Egg-Rolls.
We know how much she loves her home in Louisiana but if I gave her tickets today she’d be off for dinner in Paris in a heartbeat. She would order wine, bread, cheese and escargot for starters. She tried escargot in 2005 for the first time while on a cruise and she’s been a convert ever since.
The recipe she created that she’s most proud is her Creole Tomato Broth. She says it goes with anything and she’s been known to eat an entire French baguette dipped in this broth with some seared tuna.
Every Cajun dish starts with The Holy Trinity, onions, bell peppers and celery. Give her these and some Cajun seasoning and she could be happy wherever she happens to be. She can be especially happy making her quick, easy and delicious Red Beans and Rice. Sure, it’s easy to prepare and tastes wonderful but it also brings back childhood memories. She makes it in a crockpot now and says it’s a cinch for anyone to make.
A plate of stuffed mushrooms was served with almost everything when she was young. Her father would take Jessica and her sister to pick their own mushrooms and they’d stuff them and fry or sauté them. Mushrooms bring back happy food memories. The crab stuffed mushrooms she’s sharing with us today hold a special place in her heart. The family made them every year during the holidays.
- 1 pound of mushrooms
- 5 ounces lump crab meat
- Parkay butter spray or 1 stick of butter
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped red bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- ¼ teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- 1-tablespoon cream
- ½-cup bread crumbs
- 1-tablespoon parmesan cheese
- 1-tablespoon lemon juice + a wedge to squeeze on top
- Lemon wedges for garnish
- Hot sauce
- Wipe mushrooms with a damp towel. Pop out the stems, chop, and set aside.
- Spray mushroom caps with the parkay butter spray. Spray a shallow baking dish with butter sparingly.
- Pour 3 tablespoons of the butter into a saucepan; add reserved chopped mushroom stems, minced onion, garlic, and red bell pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender.
- Combine cooked ingredients with breadcrumbs, green onion, Greek yogurt, cream, lemon juice, crabmeat, and seasonings. At this point, I added a few dashes of hot sauce and a few dashes of Tabasco pepper vinegar. Fill each mushroom cap, piling up.
- Sprinkle each mushroom with a little Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes, until hot and mushroom caps are tender.
- Serve with lemon wedges & enjoy!