Category Archives: wine

Kris’ New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

The quarterly pick-up parties at one of our favorite wineries, Reeder Mesa Winery, are fabulous events with great food, entertainment and of course, great wine!  The party that falls in February always has a Mardi Gras theme.  Last year, one of the owners made this recipe, and sent each of us home with the recipe card.  I finally made it this week.  So, so yummy!

Not many ingredients, but BIG flavor!

  • 1 pound dried red beans (Kris swears by ordering them from New Orleans, I am a last-second sort of gal and got these at the local grocery.)
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced (or any other smoked, spicy sausage)
  • 2 cups onions, chopped (1 large onion)
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled (these will melt into the beans while they cook)
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning to taste, if you have it
  • 3 cups cooked rice

Wash and pick over beans.  Place in a 4-qt casserole or pan with 8 cups water.  Cover and soak overnight.

Pour off water, replace with 4 cups fresh water.  Add sausage, onion, celery, garlic, green onions and parsley.  Cook in crockpot on low for 8 hours, or simmer on stovetop til beans are tender.

Look how rich and yummy!  Add salt, red and black pepper and Tony Chachere’s.

Mash up 1 cup of the beans and stir back into the pot to thicken.

Serve over cooked rice!  Yummy!

I like to mix mine all together.

The spices in this recipe are just-right spicy for me.  Michael added additional hot sauce–he loves his food WAY hotter than I do!  However spicy you like, red beans and rice makes for a warm and yummy comfort food meal!

Here’s a picture of a couple revelers from the pick-up party!  Laissez les bons temps rouler, girls!

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Filed under comfort food, crock pot, dinner, Holiday foods, Potluck, recipe, side dish, wine

Sweet-Tooth Saturday: Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (gluten-free version)

The schools I worked in each had a tradition of “treat days” the week prior to Winter Break.  The theory is, if you feed the teachers, they won’t eat the students.  (So far, so good.)  One year, a collegue brought in these absolutely killer chocolate cookies.  I asked for the recipe and have been making them ever since.  Perfect with coffee, perfect with red wine, perfect all by themselves.

I made these gluten-free for a friend, using a one-to-one rice flour mix substitute for regular flour.  (You can use regular flour in place of the rice flour mix if you don’t need them to be gluten-free, and leave out the xanthan gum.) 

  • 1 cup rice flour mix (recipe follows slide show)
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper (Yes!  Trust me!!!)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened (use 1/2 cup grapeseed oil to make this recipe dairy-free as well)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 TBSP sugar (plus more for coating the cookies)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Before I launch into the recipe, I thought it might be nice to have some music to cook to.  For this recipe, I’m thinking Dean Martin; Sway in particular.  Enjoy!

Sift flour mix, cocoa powder, cinnamon, pepper, salt, and xanthan gum into a small bowl. 

Cream together butter and sugar.

Add vanilla and mix to combine.

Stir in flour and cocoa mixture.  Use your electric mixer.  Using a spoon or spatula just doesn’t work.  I know. 

I tried and ended up getting the mixer back out!  The dought will be dry and crumbly at first.  When it starts coming together, knead it until dark and supple.

Roll out between two sheets of waxed paper, to a thickness of approximately 1/4-inch thick.  Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 275F.  Lightly butter (OR line with parchment paper or silpats) one or two baking sheets.

Cut out the cookies with a 1 1/2-2-inch cutter.  I chose a little heart, because my very wise sister mentioned the other night that some people (like her) live in places where it is difficult to find certain ingredients, and if you want to plan something special for an occasion, Valentine’s Day for instance, you need a bit of a head’s up.  So those of you already making plans, this is an awesome Valentine’s cookie!  Pierce each cookie twice with the tines of a fork.

Place sugar on a plate or in a bowl wide enough to fit the cookies.  Lightly press each cookie into the sugar so that the sugar clings to the surface.

Collect the trimmings back into a ball,

and re-roll (still between waxed paper).  As the dough warms up, it will be more difficult to work with.  Coat your cutter in sugar before each cut.  Re-refrigerate if needed.

Arrange cookies, sugar-side up, on prepared baking sheets, spacing at least 1/2-inch apart.  (1-inch is better, I wanted to squeeze them all on one sheet.)

Bake 40 minutes, or until crisp and firm.  (Halfway through the cooking time, switch pans from top to bottom, front to back, for even cooking.  Not necessary if you have a convection oven.)

Cool on the sheets on racks for 5 minutes.

Remove to racks to cool completely. I highly recommend eating at LEAST one at this point.  Your kitchen, probably your whole house has been smelling like a chocolatey fudgy wonderland for the last 10 minutes or so.  You DESERVE one (or more) right now.

Then, arrange on a cute little plate, brew up a cuppa and indulge in the crisp, melt-in-your-mouth uber-chocolatey yumminess.  Do you taste the pepper there in the background?  Isn’t that uh-maze-ing?!

I posted a picture of the chocolate shortbread cookies yesterday on Facebook and a friend commented that it made her want to lick her phone.  They truly are THAT yummy!  I took this batch up to one of our favorite wineries for a little party today.  So perfect with red wines; especially the spicy Petite Syrah….oh, yeeeaaahhh!  Yummy!

So what did you think about the music selection?  What would you pick to go with these cookies?

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  • 2 cups white rice flour
  • 2/3 cup potato starch
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour

Mix all the ingredients thouroughly and store in an air-tight container.

All of these ingredients, and the xanthan gum, can be found at health food stores and larger supermarkets.


Filed under dessert, food gifts, Gluten-free, Holiday foods, recipe, wine

Rosemary Roasted Walnuts

Earlier today I got a text from a good friend in town for the weekend–she proposed an FAC up at the winery she co-owns.  I asked if I could bring a snack.  She agreed as long as I didn’t go to any fuss. 


I remembered a recipe for spiced nuts I’d seen in a magazine recently; one from Ina Garten, a favorite of mine. (I love watching the Barefoot Contessa–love her kitchen, her garden, her way of making gourmet approachable.) 

Ina’s recipe is for cashews, but I have walnuts.  Lots of walnuts.  Walnuts I bought thinking I’d make piles and piles of pesto from the piles and piles of parsley I had.  I ran out of oomph before I ran out of parsley…or walnuts.  I also happened to have the other ingredients I needed; I bet you do too!

  • 4 cups walnuts
  • 2 TBSP coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 TBSP butter, melted
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 375F. 

Place walnuts on an edged baking sheet.  Roast for 10 minutes.  You’ll start to smell them around 5 minutes–watch them carefully from then on.

Meanwhile in a large bowl, combine rosemary, butter, sugar, salt, and cayenne,

until well combined.

Add hot walnuts to the bowl and toss until well combined.  Garnish with a rosemary sprig.  Serve warm…you’ll be so, so glad you did.

The warmth brings out the aromatic oils of the rosemary.  I found the warm-herbal-spicy-crunchy-yumminess of these nuts paired really well with the herbally undertones of Reeder Mesa’s Cabernet Sauvignon.  Another friend preferred the crisp acidity of Reeder Mesa’s Riesling as a pairing.

Whatever you pair with these roasted nuts, I have to warn you…They.  Are.  Addictive.  Really.  As yummy as they are, they are no fuss.

As we all sipped and crunched, we thought all sorts of nuts that would be enhanced by this spice combo….mmmmm!  Which nuts will you use?  Maybe you’ll use them to top a salad?  Or a crunchy topping for a smooth butternut squash soup?  ???

As you ponder the possibilities, enjoy this November sunset, taken from the deck at Reeder Mesa Winery tonight.  Ahhhhh…..


Filed under appetizer, Garden produce, recipe, wine

Garden-Fresh Ratatouille

I had never had ratatouille before this summer; knew there was an animated movie about a rat gourmet and that’s about it.  I came across a recipe in my newest cookbook, Gluten-Free and Easy.  How fabulous to find all the ingredients for ratatouille right in my very own garden!  What could I do?  I had to try this yummy-yummy recipe.

  • 1 large onion, finely sliced (My onions are still a bit small, so I pulled 7 smallish ones.)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 large eggplant, about 1 pound, chopped (I’m growing a lovely heirloom striped variety called Italian Bicolor.)
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, seeded and diced (this is a Big Bertha Bell)
  • 2 baby yellow squash, chopped
  • 2 1/4 pounds ripe plum (roma) tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine (REALLY makes all the difference in the flavor!!!)
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf (I bought a sweet bay plant from the greenhouse this year, so I have fresh bay!  Woot!)
  • 2 TBSP chopped basil
  • 1 TBSP chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • good grind of black pepper

(Wow does this use a bunch of my garden produce!  Yay!)

Cut a small x in the bottoms of each tomato (helps the peel to separate), blanch in boiling water for a couple minutes, shock in ice water, cut off stem end, peel and chop.

In a large saucepan or skillet over medium heat, saute the onion in olive oil until soft.

Add the garlic, eggplant and coriander and cook, stirring for 5 minutes.

Add zucchini, green pepper and yellow squash.  Cook for another few minutes.

Stir in tomatoes, wine, tomato paste, thyme (the leaves will cook off the stems, which can be removed later), and bay leaf.  Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes until vegetables are tender.

(Now we’re smellin’ yummy!)  Stir in basil and parsley.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with your choice of starch.  The recipe suggests a baked polenta or mashed sweet potatoes with pumpkin.  I had some pasta.

So good warm with a bit of parmesan!  It was also yummy cold the next day for lunch, with a bit of basil pesto.  The eggplant provides a sort of meatiness that makes this vegetarian meal (or side dish) satisfying to the meat-lovers in your house.  The flavor from the wine melds with the veggies to create a yumminess that is more than the veggies would be on their own.  And, with all of those freshly picked veggies?  Gotta be good for you.

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Raspberry Mango Sangria

“Summertime….and the livin’s easy….”  and all the more enjoyable with a cold, refreshing glass of fruity sangria!  The recipe is from this month’s Everyday Food.  As soon as I read it, I knew I HAD to make some!  It uses a rosé instead of the traditional red wine, and I happened to have the fabulous Land’s End Wild Rosé from Reeder Mesa Winery on hand.  With it’s pretty color and berry notes, I felt it was the perfect choice.  Have a look at this picture and just try to resist….I dare you!  😉

 I made the sangria pretty much as suggested in the recipe (I used half a mango instead of a whole mango) and also adapted it to a non-alcoholic version for teens and friends who don’t drink.

What you need for regular sangria:

  • 1 bottle (750 ml) of your favorite rosé
  • 32 oz  lemon-lime soda, chilled
  • 3 TBSP raspberry liqueur
  • 1/2 mango, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup raspberries

For the non-alcoholic version:

  • 4 cups (32 oz) white grape juice
  • 32 oz lemon-lime soda, chilled
  • 3 TBSP raspberry syrup–the kind used to flavor coffee or Italian sodas
  • 1/2 mango, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup raspberries

Cut the mango lengthwise, approximately 1/8 inch from the stem.  Cut around the edge of the skin to remove it from the pit section and glean whatever mango you can from the outside of the pit.  In each half, make long, thin slices that go to the skin, but not through it.  Turn the half inside out and cut the slices from the skin.

I selected two very different pitchers for the regular and non-alcoholic pitchers so mistakes would not be made. 

In a pitcher, combine mango, raspberries, raspberry liqueur (or raspberry syrup), and rose (or white grape juice).  Stir to combine and refrigerate 1 hour (or up to overnight).

To serve, add chilled lemon-lime soda and ice.  Pour to allow ice and fruit into each serving.  (Serves 8.)

Oh, yeah….that’s the ticket!  If you’re having people over for the Fourth or any other summer celebration, you might want to make more than one pitcher!  There will most likely be fruit that doesn’t get poured into a glass.  Save it and serve it with ice cream or eat it as is, you don’t want to miss out on that wine-marinated yumminess!

There were other sangria recipes in the Everyday Food.  Hmmmm….should I try some (or all!) of the others?!  If I do, you’ll find the recipes here! 

Cheers!  Here’s to a fabulous and refreshing summer!

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Sweet-Tooth Saturday: Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

The Reeder Mesa Vineyards Wine Club pick-up party is tomorrow and I’m helping out–making dipped strawberries for a whole bunch of people.  Anywhere from 80-100 people usually show up–for great food, great wine, barrel-tastings, and lots of fun while picking up the quarter’s wine selections.  This time it’s the unreleased 2010 Reisling and one of the “petites”–Petite Syrah or Petite Verdot.

Have you seen how luscious the strawberries in the grocery store are right now?  All plump and red and shiny….mmmmmmm!  And then dipped in chocolate?!  Yup, just the thing.

You only need a few things to create this uber-yummy spring treat:

  • chocolate–sweetness level of your choice
  • strawberries–as big as you can find
  • white chocolate to make pretty drizzled accents

That’s it!  First, wash and carefully examine each strawberry.  Set any with bruises aside and make somethin’ yummy from them (shortcake?!) later.  Watch for petals hiding under the little leaves and wash them away.

Dry berries on towels, and then let them air-dry for a bit to be sure they are completely dry before dipping.

Break chocolate into small-ish bits, place in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals stirring in between, until smooth.

Hold strawberry by its stem or leaves, dip into the chocolate, shake off excess and place on waxed paper to dry.

When berries are dry, melt white chocolate in the same way.  Use a fork to drizzle pretty accent lines over the berries. 

Let them dry completely and arrange them on a platter(s).  (I have four platters like this one for tomorrow!!!)

Oh look!  One fell off the platter!  Guess I’ll have to eat it….mmmmmm!  Yummy!

These will be perfect with Reeder Mesa’s dessert wine, Purple Haze.  If you live in Western Colorado, stop on up to Reeder Mesa Winery tomorrow (May 1, 2011) between noon and 4pm.  Join the Wine Club and enjoy a yummy light lunch, great wine and one (or more!) of these yummy strawberries!

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Sweet-Tooth Saturday: Swirled Chocolate Bark

(A day late, but worth the wait!)  I bought a new cookbook last week, Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook.  There are lots of recipes I’d like to try in it, but while visiting friends and drinking wine at one of our favorite wineries, Reeder Mesa Vineyards, one recipe in particular came to mind.

Reeder Mesa makes a port-style wine called Purple Haze.  One of the owners, our good friend Kris, has a special way of enjoying The Haze.  She calls it “Party in your Mouth”:  eat a cocoa-roasted almond, a Hershey’s Kiss and a dried cherry, wash it down with a sip of Purple Haze.  Mmmmmmm!  Party in your Mouth and this recipe came together in my head yesterday.  The recipe itself is super-adaptable to a variety of chips, nuts and dried fruits and citrus zests.  I took Kris’ idea and used those flavors in this bark.  (Thanks, Kris!)  The bark only takes about 20 minutes to assemble, but two hours to solidify. 

All you need are two different flavors/colors of chips and two to three texture flavors:

  • 8 ounces chocolate chips
  • 6 ounces white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cocoa-roasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped dried cherries

Line a 9×10 cookie sheet or pan with parchment paper.

Place chips in microwave-safe bowls and melt, one bowl at a time.  Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between until smooth.

Spread chocolate on parchment paper, creating a rectangle.

Drop white chocolate by spoonfuls on top of the chocolate.

Swirl using a wooden skewer or knife until you like the degree of swirliness.

Top with cherries and almonds, gently press them into the surface of the chocolate.

Let cool and solidify at room temperature for at least 2 hours.  Break into 1×3 inch pieces and savor….with Purple Haze!

It’s a party in your mouth!  Yummy!  This has got to be the absolute easiest-peasiest fancy-schmancy little desserty thing you’ll ever make!  How about serving a piece of bark stuck into the top of a scoop of ice cream?!  How about using pieces of the bark for the chocolate layer of a smore?!  Is your brain swirling with the flavor combos possible?  Butterscotch chips…peanut butter chips…dark chocolate…milk chocolate….and toppings?  Toffee chips…salted peanuts…little caramel bits…pretzel pieces…tiny M&Ms….mini marshmallows…graham cracker pieces….candy cane pieces…   The original recipe had orange zest stirred into the melted chocolate and added as a topping as well, with dried cranberries and pistachios.  What combo will YOU make?! 

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Oven-Roasted Fish with Wine-Braised Fennel

This recipe caught my eye in the April 2011 Food and Wine magazine as part of an article with healthy wine and food pairings with recipes from Alexandra Guarnaschelli.  I love the fresh anise-y taste of fennel, but had never cooked it myself.  I found some beautiful small fennel bulbs at the grocery, had the tilapia I’d found on sale in the freezer and thought, why not?!  I adjusted it just a bit–choosing tilapia over halibut, leaving out 1/4 cup golden raisins from the fennel.

You need just a few things to make this beautiful, healthy and yummy meal:

  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 2-3 fennel bulbs, cut through the core into 1-inch thick wedges.  (Figure 1 small fennel bulb per person.  Leave a bit of the core intact to hold the leaves of the fennel together.)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup plus 1 TBSP dry white wine  (Serve the rest with dinner!)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1-2 pound of fish  (Figure about 1/2 pound per person.)

Preheat the oven to 450F. 

In a large skillet, heat 2 TBSP olive oil.  Add fennel wedges cut side down.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Cover and cook over moderate heat until fennel is browned–12 minutes.  Turn halfway through the cooking time.

Add 1 cup wine, water and bay leaves.  Simmer over low heat, turning the wedges a few times until most of the wine is evaporated and the fennel is tender.  15-18 minutes.

Mmmmmm–this smells so yummy!  I started my fish during the time the fennel was browning, so it was in the oven for the time the fennel was braising in wine.  The timing was perfect!

Spread minced shallot over the space your fish will occupy on a sided baking sheet.  Sprinkle 1 TBSP wine over the shallots.

You’ll be seasoning the fish with salt and pepper on both sides.  If your fish has a skin side, season that side first and place it skin side down on top of the shallots.  Rub 1 TBSP olive oil on the top side of the fish and season with salt and pepper.

Roast the fish on the top shelf of the oven for about 12 minutes, until it is barely opaque in the center.

Plate a portion of fish with it’s cooking juices along side the braised fennel. 

I also cooked some black “forbidden” rice to add a starch and some color; starting it just before the fennel.  Everything was done within minutes of each other–a beautiful, healthy and yummy meal in about 40 minutes.

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Crostini Three Ways

Crostini is one of the fastest, easiest, yummiest appetizers around.  Basically it’s toast with toppings.  The toppings can be sweet or savory or in between.  Think about flavors you like and put them on crunchy, toasted bread and you’ve got crostini!

Here are 3 ideas, ranging from sweet to savory.  Make all three or bunches of your favorite, serve with wine and you’ve got an appetizer for date night or a party!  Yum! 

I used a sesame semolina bread–any light crusty bread will be yummy!

For Strawberry Citrus:

  • sliced strawberries
  • cream cheese or mascarpone
  • goat cheese
  • lemon zest
  • a bit of sugar

Slice bread and toast it–in the oven or in a toaster.

Mix a half-and-half spread of cream cheese and goat cheese.

Spread slices with cheese mixture, top with sliced strawberries, lemon zest and a sprinkle of sugar.

For Pear Arugula:

  • thin pear wedges (I leave the peels on)
  • baby arugula leaves
  • goat cheese
  • balsamic vinegar

Slice and toast bread–in the oven or toaster.

Spread bread slices with goat cheese, top with 4 or 5 baby arugula leaves, then 3 thin pear wedges.  Sprinkle with balamic vinegar.

For Tomato Pesto:

  • roasted grape tomatoes
  • pesto
  • pine nuts

Roast tomatoes on a baking sheet with sides: place on sheet, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast 10 minutes at 350F.

Slice and toast bread–in oven or toaster.

Spread bread slices with pesto, top with roasted tomatoes and pine nuts.

Three crostinis in no time at all!

Next time you have a few people over or just want to make a pretty and yummy start to a meal, make crostini!  I’d pair a citrusy-floral white wine with the strawberry citrus–Whitewater Hill’s Muscat Canelli would be fabulous.  For the pear arugula, a crisp, fruity white like Reeder Mesa’s Riesling would be lovely.  And for the Tomato Pesto, I’d serve an earthy pinot noir from Alfred Eames Cellars.

Crostini+wine=yummy!  It’s all about knowing the method–usually a spread with a starring flavor or two and a topping to bring it all together.  What flavor combos will you create? 

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Shrimp Etouffee

Happy Mardi Gras!  We celebrated with a spicy bowl of Shrimp Etouffee and a glass of our favorite rosé.  Inspired by the etouffee we had at our friends Gil and Cookie’s house a week or so ago, I sought out a recipe.  I decided on one from Emeril and altered it a bit.  Next time, I’d alter it a bit more–it turned out nose-runnin’-hot for Mr16 and I!  Of course, DH added even more hot sauce!

Most ingredients are fairly common:

  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups chopped onion  (2 medium or 3 small onions)
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper  (1 large pepper)
  • 1 cup chopped celery  (8 ribs from a celery heart)
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic  (2 cloves)
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 TBSP creole seasoning, such as Tony Chachere’s
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/8 cup chopped parsley
  • cooked white rice for serving
  • thinly sliced green onion to garnish

Chop onion, green pepper, and celery.  Mince garlic.  Set aside.

In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter, add flour and cook (creating a roux) until light caramel colored, 5-7 minutes.

Add onions, pepper, celery and garlic to the roux.  Cook until soft, 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes and spices: bay leaf, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and 1 TBSP creole seasoning.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add stock, stir to blend.  Bring to a boil and simmer 45 minutes.

While etouffee simmers, chop parsley and slice green onions.  Set aside.

Cook rice according to package instructions.  Keep warm.

Peel and devein shrimp.  (I use “easy peel”–already deveined!)  Place shrimp in a bag, add the other TBSP creole seasoning, shake to distribute evenly. (I’d leave this TBSP out next time, but if you love spicy, leave it in!)

Add shrimp to the pot and cook until transluscent and pink, 5-7 minutes. 

Add parsley and stir to combine.

Place a mound of rice in a bowl.  Ladle Etouffee around it, garnish with green onions and enjoy!  The spicy yumminess of the etouffee is complimented perfectly by the bright strawberry and grapefruit notes in Reeder Mesa’s Land’s End Wild Rosé.  A nice off-dry reisling would be yummy too!

Now doesn’t that look like a great way to celebrate Mardi Gras!  We had enough for 1 serving each for Mr16 and 1 and seconds for DH, along with leftovers for lunch tomorrow!  I can hardly wait!  Yummy!

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