Tropical Shrimp Salad

I’ve been a subscriber to Louisiana Cookin’ magazine for years. This tropical shrimp salad is a great example of why I’ve been a loyal reader for so long. This salad was incredible. A wonderful combination of fruits and shrimp, with a light creamy dressing that has a hint of vanilla. It was the perfect dish on a hot summer’s day.
Tropical Shrimp SaladI made this tropical shrimp salad a main dish by using large shrimp and large melon balls. You can also serve this as a side or a great pitch-in dish by using smaller shrimp and melon balls. This salad is also absolutely fantastic without the shrimp.

I used a Greek vanilla yogurt but regular ole yogurt works just fine too. There’s no way you can go wrong with this salad.

Also try my Peruvian Palta Rellena.

Tropical Shrimp Salad

Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 -8 servings

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 1 1/2 pounds cooked large shrimp peeled
  • 2 cups chopped pineapple
  • 1 1/3 cups honeydew melon balls
  • 1 1/3 cups watermelon balls
  • 1 1/3 cups cantaloupe balls
  • 1 cup peeled seeded, sliced cucumber (1 medium cucumber)
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion plus more for garnish

For the dressing

  • 1/3 cup fat free vanilla yogurt Greek is fine
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon light mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

For the salad

  • Place all salad ingredients into a large bowl and stir gently.

For the dressing

  • Whisk together all ingredients and pour over the shrimp and fruit mixture.
  • Stir gently.
  • Serve garnished with chopped green onions and dill.

Okra Hush Puppies

This is the first time in a long, long time that I didn’t take a picture of a dish after I plated. Why? Well, because my okra hush puppies were only on a plate for about 30 seconds. Yeah, sure, my hush puppy shaping skills are lacking, but it so didn’t matter. They were incredible. I mean just flat-out absolutely the best hush puppies ever. The perfect batter. And my favorite, fresh okra. I loved it!
Okra Hush Puppies

You pretty much gotta go with fresh when it comes to the okra for these hush puppies. You might bet away with frozen when fresh is out of season, but the color, the crunch, won’t be quite the same. It’ll still taste delicious though.

Note: Yeah, I might have eaten several of these before they even cooled off. And yeah, they were pretty darned hot but I could not control myself. You won’t be able to either.

Also try my copycat of the hush puppies from Long John Silver’s!

Okra Hush Puppies

Course Side
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 4 cups fresh okra sliced thin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup onion minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups self-rising cornbread mix I used a small box of Jiffy
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 350 F.
  • In a large bowl combine the okra, garlic powder, onion, and parsley.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, and sugar. Add to the bowl of okra and stir gently to combine.
  • Stir in the cornbread mix. Add the salt and pepper and stir..
  • Working in batches, scoop out a spoonful of batter and gently drop into the hot oil. Fry for about 5 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through, flipping as they cook.
  • Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Hawaiian-Style Potato Macaroni Salad

You want pasta salad. She wants potato salad. Now you both can get what you want, in one bowl! And with a little tropical twist, to boot. This Hawaiian-style potato macaroni salad is a wonderful side dish, perfect for a family get-together (it does make a pretty big batch!). It really is the combination of two favorites.
Hawaiian-Style Potato Macaroni SaladWhat’s Hawaiian about this Hawaiian style potato macaroni salad? Well, you’re supposed to use sweet Hawaiian onions when you make it. I couldn’t find them, so I used good-ole Vidalia’s, my favorite onions. I don’t think it matters, because this salad turned out to be fantastic!

Also try my Creole macaroni salad.

Hawaiian-Style Potato Macaroni Salad

Note: You can cook the potatoes and pasta together, but I prefer to steam my potatoes. A hard boil tends to beat up the potatoes, whereas steaming keeps that nice cube shape. To do so, place the potatoes in a steam basket over the boiling pasta and steam until tender. The potatoes will likely take longer to steam than the pasta will take to cook.
Course Side
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours 20 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 40 minutes
Servings 16 -20 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds Russet potatoes peeled (if desired), chopped into 1" cubes
  • 1 pound dried elbow noodles
  • 1/2 cup shredded onion
  • 1 large carrot shredded
  • 10 ounce bag frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup green onions chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the potatoes. Boil for 5 minutes.
  • Add the pasta and cook 6-8 minutes or until the noodles are al dente.
  • Carefully drain the potatoes and pasta into a large colander and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a large bowl and add the onion, carrot, peas and green onion.
  • Combine the mayo, relish, vinegar, mustard, allspice and salt and pepper to taste. Gently fold into the potato pasta mixture.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Warm German Potato Salad

I don’t know how long it has been since I’ve had warm German potato salad. It’s been a while for a reason. What I had was not good. It was thick. It was gloppy. It was horribly vinegary. This salad? This is not that. This is fantastic! We could not stop eating it. The potatoes were cooked perfectly. There’s just the right amount of vinegar. Oh, and of course there’s bacon! One bite erased those bad potato salad memories in an instant!

Warm German Potato Salad

Do not overcook your potatoes or the warm German potato salad will get too mushy. Err on the side of caution. You can always cook them more if you think they have too much ‘bite’. But you can never un-cook them.

I used a thin-cut bacon. Normally I’m a more-is-better bacon kind-of-guy, but not here. This is just the right amount of bacon. Thicker bacon would get in the way off all the other great flavors.

Also try my jalapeno pimento cheese potato salad.

Warm German Potato Salad

Course Side
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 6
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds red potatoes about 6 cups, peeled if desired, diced
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped

Instructions

  • Bring a large Dutch oven (preferred) or pot of water to a boil.
  • Add the potatoes and return to a boil. Boil another 8-10 minutes or until just tender. Do not over cool.
  • Drain the potatoes.
  • Add the bacon to the pot and cook until brown and crispy.
  • Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Crumble.
  • Add the onion to the bacon grease and stir. Reduce heat to medium and cook until just browned.
  • Add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil.
  • Add the potatoes and parsley and HALF of the crumbled bacon.
  • Transfer to a bowl for serving and sprinkle with the remaining crumbled bacon.

Leatha’s Bar-B-Que Inn Red Potato Salad

This right here is what potato salad is supposed to be. I’ll never make another potato salad again because there just isn’t any point. Leatha’s Bar-B-Que Inn red potato salad is it. I’ve never been there, but Leatha’s sounds exactly like the kind of BBQ joint that I would love. From the atmosphere to the food to the service, it receives nothing but high praise. I’m sure Hattiesburg, Mississippi, considers themselves lucky to have it!

This potato salad is traditional in flavors, texture and appearance. The balance of everything is perfect. Just the right amount of egg. The right amount of mustard. Not too much mayonnaise. Everything is spot-on.

Leatha's Bar-B-Que Inn Red Potato Salad

Don’t go messing with Leatha’s Bar-B-Que Inn red potato salad. Don’t add bacon. Or onion. Or smoked paprika. None of that. I mess with a lot of recipe, but I won’t mess with this one. I’d probably get hit by lightning.

Also try my grilled steakhouse potato salad.

Leatha's Bar-B-Que Inn Red Potato Salad

Course Side
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds red potatoes cubed
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 6 large eggs hard-boiled, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 4 ounces jarred pimientos drained

Instructions

  • Add the potatoes to a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a slow simmer and cook until tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain and cool.
  • In a large bowl, combine the cooled potatoes, the smashed eggs, pepper and salt.
  • In another bowl, combine the mustard, sugar, mayo, relish and pimentos.
  • Pour the mustard mixture over the potatoes and stir gently to coat.

Marinated Vegetable Salad

We both found this marinated vegetable salad to be absolutely incredible. We could not stop eating it. The dressing has the right balance of sweet and tart. The veggies have the right balance of crunch and tenderness. The seasoning is perfect.

This recipe make a pretty big batch of salad so you’ll have a lot to feed a crowd. It’s the perfect dish for a family get-together or picnic. It’s super easy to make and travels well.

Marinated Vegetable Salad

You don’t have to be real picky as to which vegetables you add to this marinated vegetable salad. It’s very flexible. You can pretty much walk down the produce aisle in your grocery store and grab whatever’s in season and you’ll be soon enjoying a fantastic dish.

If fresh produce is out-of-season, try my marinated vegetable salad recipe that uses frozen veggies instead.

Marinated Vegetable Salad

Course Salad
Prep Time 2 hours
Servings 10
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup bottled cherry peppers halved
  • 3 medium zucchini cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 carrots peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 small onion thinly sliced

Instructions

  • Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, Italian seasoning, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt, sugar, and pepper in a small bowl.
  • In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, cherry pepper halves, zucchini, carrots, and onion.
  • Add the dressing to the vegetables and toss gently to coat.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 2-24 hours. Stir every hour.

Enchilada Beans

Man do I ever love a big ole pot of great beans. But these enchilada beans aren’t great beans. They’re amazing beans. The flavors are just amazing. Southwestern in nature, with the perfect texture and a sauce that is to die for, I could eat these beans all day long and still ask for more.
Enchilada Beans

You cannot improve on these enchilada beans. Don’t go adding hot sauce, or spicy chili powder, or some fru-fru roasted tomato sauce. They don’t need any messing with. At all. Trust me on this. Make them exactly as the recipe calls for and you will thank me all day long.

Now, that being said… after making these a few times the thought of adding crumbled browned ground beef and making these beans into a chili did occur to me…

Also try my cowboy beans.

Enchilada Beans

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 14 1/2 ounces chicken broth
  • 3 15 ounce cans red beans drained, rinsed
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Heat oil in a medium saucepan or Dutch oven. Add onion and cook until just starting to soften.
  • Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Sprinkle onions with flour, chili powder and cumin and stir. Cook for 5 minutes to cook the flour, stirring.
  • Stir in the broth and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until thickened.

Baked Bacon

Baked bacon is one of my favorite things. A little time, a little seasoning and I’ve got a wonderful treat. I like my bacon to not be super-duper crunchy. Just a little bite is perfect. For me, baking is easier than cooking bacon in a skillet and I get a more-consistently cooked product (with minimal curling!). With less mess, too.

When I worked at the cafeteria at a large army base outside of Washington DC we would bake an unbelievable amount of bacon. And specially for Saturday morning’s buffet. Rack after rack after rack of bacon. I started as a dishwasher. Nothing was harder than scrubbing stack after stack of large sheet pans that had pieces of bacon stuck to them. I avoid that now by lining my pans with foil. A teen making minimum wage was probably cheaper than foil back in the day, so we didn’t line the pans at the cafeteria. We also didn’t season the bacon, something I really love to do.
Baked Bacon

If you’re planning on draining off the bacon drippings to use for other purposes, you might want to skip the seasoning all-together, or strain it first to remove any spice pieces.

For cleanup I take the paper towel that I drained the bacon on and toss it onto the baking sheet to absorb any grease. I fold up the sides of the foil and seal it tightly to create a packet that can be tossed into the bin without having to worry about it leaking.

Baked bacon is also a great way to use up those last bits of the spices you have in the pantry. You know the ones, they’ve been in there forever waiting for you to figure out what to do with them. Well, know you know!

Baked Bacon

Cook Time 35 minutes
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • bacon thin- or thick-sliced
  • seasonings see notes

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. For thick or crisper bacon you can go as high as 400 F.
  • Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Lay the bacon out onto the baking sheet. Do not overlap the pieces or let them touch.
  • Sprinkle the top side of the bacon with the seasoning.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. The bacon will still be mostly uncooked.
  • Flip and season the other side. Return to the oven for 15 minutes or until the desired doneness is achieved. I like my bacon done, but only lightly crispy. Thin bacon usually takes a total of 35 minutes, while thick can take 45 minutes or longer.
  • Remove bacon to paper towel-lined plate to drain then serve.

Notes

Do not use seasonings that contain a lot of sugar. If your seasonings contain a lot of salt I recommend using them sparingly as the bacon is already salty to begin with if it has been salt-cured.
I usually use Grill Mates from McCormick. Todd's Dirt is also a favorite, along with any of the mixes from AlbuKirky Seasonings.
Sometime bacon, specially thinner slices, can be hard to separate when removing it from the packaging. I freeze my bacon for a few minutes to make the pieces easier to remove. Just don't put the bacon in the freezer and forget about it!

Three Cheese Hasselback Potatoes

I love making ‘regular’ baked potatoes. And I love making Hasselback potatoes. For whatever reason, I find making them to be more fun. They are cool looking. They’re super-easy to cook. These three cheese Hasselback potatoes are simple yet packed with plenty of yummy creamy cheese. I love cheese. I love these potatoes.
Three Cheese Hasselback Potatoes

Time for me to fess up. In the past I’ve cut my Hasselback potatoes by hand, using an old wooden spoon to prevent me from cutting too far. I was fairly successful at it, but it was time consuming and often frustrating. So now I ‘cheat’. I bought a slicing rack for these three cheese Hasselback potatoes and my life is oh so much better since I did. Perfectly sliced potatoes, every single time. Check it out on Amazon.

Also try my grilled Hasselback potatoes.

Three Cheese Hasselback Potatoes

Course Side
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 potatoes

Ingredients

  • 6 medium baking potatoes
  • Vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup butter melted
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Swiss cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 F.
  • Slice the potatoes (see the post for instructions on how to do this manually or using a Hasselback slicing rack).
  • Transfer the potatoes to a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Combine the butter with the parsley, salt and pepper.
  • Gently spread the potato slices apart and brush with half of the butter mixture.
  • Bake another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are done.
  • Brush with remaining butter mixture and divide the cheese between the potatoes.
  • Return to the oven, under the broiler, to melt the cheese, another 1 minute.

Smoked Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese

I recently smoked a big block of Velveeta. When I first mentioned the idea you could actually hear the gasps. Half were in amazement, half were not impressed. Well, for those not on the smoked Velveeta train, time to admit you were wrong because it’s crazy, crazy good! My first recipe for it? Yep, smoked Velveeta macaroni and cheese!
Smoked Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese

You could make this recipe with ‘regular’ Velveeta instead. But I have to say, smoked Velveeta macaroni and cheese is something special. The flavor is just right. The creaminess is what you’d expect.

This recipe is also fantastic using smoked cheddar cheese, something I’ve made a few times also. You can also find smoked cheddar in most stores. Sadly, you cannot find smoked Velveeta in stores. Yet.

Smoked Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese

Course Side
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound dried elbow macaroni
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
  • 3/4 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1 pound smoked Velveeta chopped (you can substitute smoked shredded cheddar)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, 7 minutes. Rinse and drain well.
  • Drain water from pot and add 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat.
  • Add the onion and cook until just soft.
  • Add the cubed Velveeta, milk and mustard. Stir and let cook until the cheese has melted and is smooth, stirring often. You want the sauce to thicken until it sticks to a spoon, 10-15 minutes.
  • Stir in the cooked macaroni. Pour into a lightly greased 9" x 13" baking dish.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and hot.
  • Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a small saute pan.
  • Add the Panko and stir until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  • Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the mac-and-cheese. Slice and serve.