Southern Culture

Survival Guide to a Healthy Mardi Gras

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Mardi Gras is in full swing in New Orleans, even though Fat Tuesday isn’t until February 9th! On January 6th we start Carnival Season, or  King Cake season, and the parties go on and on.  My husband and I joke that right when the rest of the country is busy getting healthy in January, New Orleans kick’s off a whole new celebration.  All of that is blast, but it can be tricky for someone trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle in the south.  Here are a few of my favorite tips to survive Carnival Season without gaining a king cake belly.

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Look forward to those king cakes. Yep, you heard me right. I am a huge advocate of the “treat meal.” My health coach sister-in-law helped me with a nutrition and exercise where you eat 90% clean 10 % “treats.” It requires five days of intense weight-lifting, two rest days, and one epic meal where you get to eat something you craved all week.  So, if you ate healthy all week long and on your plan, come Friday or Saturday it’s time for King Cake!

Plan your week around those parades. You would be surprised at how many stores and gyms shut down during the parades! I know my gym is closing before I’m done work on Friday, so I plan to use that as a rest day. If you are coming from out of town, instead of planning a whole weekend of feasting, set out your “treat meal” around that daquiri you want to hold on the parade route, or the restaurant you are looking forward to the most post-parade.

I know there are others out there who don’t enjoy the “plan everything out, all or nothing” mindset that I tend to have. Others come into New Orleans knowing their diets may suffer and they may plan to indulge throughout the weekend. That’s A-okay! My advice, whether you are a local or out-of-towner, is just to not overindulge. Set your goals according to YOU. That may mean limiting yourself to a certain number of cocktails, or aiming to eat small portions of your favorite Louisiana cuisine.

Stay tuned for my next post on healthy items to pack on the parade route.

More Posts:

“Clean” Dirty Rice Recipe

A Few of the Best New Orleans Restaurants

{ Healthy Shrimp n’ Grits Recipe }

About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the healthy recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She often shares health tips and southern recipes that she turns slightly healthier. On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.”

For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here.

For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

 

 

 

dining stockpin

A Few of the Best New Orleans Restaurants

The topic of the “Best New Orleans Restaurants” could be quite controversial here in “Nawlins.”  To avoid any arguments, I’m just posting what I’ve come to understand are the “must-try” foods, knowing I haven’t even breached the surface of all the great food there is to offer. I enjoy playing tour guide when family and friends come in to town, so some of these may be considered “touristy,” but this one’s for the tourists!

Make sure to Pin my healthy southern recipes on Crawfish & Crunches Pinterest.

Share the photo on @Crawfish.n.crunches on Instagram.

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When you go to New Orleans, you need to get some fresh char-broiled oysters. My favorite spot for these is Dragos. I love it so much that I wrote a whole blog on the Dragos experience. Even if you hate oysters, dipping bread in the heavenly buttery sauce that the oysters are nestled in is heavenly.

For some upscale New Orleans dishes and seafood, my favorite spot so far is GW Fins. This is perfect for a date night or a couples dinner. Maybe I’m sentimental because it was one of the first dates I went on with my now husband. All you need to know is – cheddar biscuits, and bread pudding for dessert.

Barbecue shrimp. A New Orleans dish that isn’t really barbecued at all. Guests have been known to lick, or drink, their plates to get every last bit of buttery sauces at Mr. B’s Bistro.

Fried chicken. Another big debate here in Louisiana. Who has the best? There are tons of great spots, but Dooky Chase’s is very famous, with tons of history behind it.

New Orleanian’s – What are your favorites? The list could go on forever.

More Posts:

5 Myths About Southern Food

{ Healthy Shrimp n’ Grits Recipe }

{ Healthy Creole Spinach Artichoke Chicken }

About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the healthy recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She often shares health tips and southern recipes that she turns slightly healthier. On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.”

For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here.

For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

Photo source

HEALTHY GUMBO CRAWFISH AND CRUNCHES BLOG

UNIQUE SOUTHERN HOLIDAY RECIPES TO TRY: WITH HEALTHY INGREDIENT SUBSTITUTIONS

Southern dishes never cease to amaze me. When I ask my friends at the gym what their favorite Thanksgiving or Christmas dish is and they reply without hesitation “Oyster Dressing!” I have to laugh a little. It sounds so nontraditional, but in southern Louisiana it is completely traditional. These recipes have been passed down for generations. For blog purposes, I’ll throw in just a few healthy recipe substitutions, in case you want to lighten things up just a touch.

Make sure to Pin health tips and other healthy holiday recipes on Crawfish & Crunches Pinterest.

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Merlitons are seasonal southern squash that you need to try in your next casserole. For a healthy version – try stuffing them with less cheese and more shrimp or crabmeat. Check out the traditional version: Shrimp and Merliton Casserole.

Try your regular holiday stuffing with a unique twist – day old cornbread. It instantly makes the dish southern. You could also try using andouille sausage or turkey sausage in your Cornbread Stuffing.

Last but not least, that famous oyster dressing. Yep, you use real oysters in this holiday treat! If you need to watch your gluten intake, try using gluten-free bread crumbs or at the very least – whole grain bread. Check out this recipe for Oyster Dressing.

 

More Posts:

{ 5 Healthy Things to Do After Thanksgiving }

{ Crispy Roasted Okra Recipe }

{ Healthy Gumbo Recipe – Chicken and Sausage }

About the Blogger:

Shannon Gagnon is the healthy recipe developer, food stylist and food photographer behind Crawfish & Crunches. She often shares health tips and southern recipes that she turns slightly healthier. On her blog you can find just what the tagline says, “Realistic recipes, rich southern culture, and health conscious habits.”

For inquiries about positioning your brand in front of Shannon’s followers click here.

For the long version about how the site was born, read more.

For information on Shannon’s social media management business, click here.

 

Rouses crawfish closeup crawfish and crunches

{ an impromptu monday summer crawfish boil }

After entering a crawfish giveaway from Rouses Supermarkets on my Instagram, I was out on the beach over the weekend when I learned that I had won! In total vacation-mode, I didn’t ask many questions. I just knew I needed to pick up my winnings on Sunday when I returned. My husband started to wonder – how many pounds? I didn’t have answers. I was too busy lounging in my beach chair. I assumed maybe 10 pounds – which is enough crawfish to feed about two people.

For those of you who don’t know, Rouses is a southern supermarket who specializes in buying local, cooking local, and supporting local. It never ceases to amaze me what I find in there – from giant cakes shaped like alligators, to boudin, to rows and rows of cajun and creole flavors.

Sunday I get home from the beach and around dinner time I head to the store with husband in tow, in a total sun and cocktail daze from the weekend festivities. I check with customer service to see if they have my crawfish. To my surprise, the seafood manager wheels up a giant cart filled with live crawfish. 37 pounds of live crawfish. Remember when I said 5 pounds feeds one person? Holy mackerel! Our jaws dropped to the floor.

First, we couldn’t believe they were live. We didn’t have the materials to boil! And how would we whip all that together on a Sunday night? Second, we couldn’t believe how many crawfish there were. Who would help us eat all of it on a Sunday night? Well, luckily the kind Rouses staff saw our shocked facial expressions and they understood our dilemma. They offered to boil them for us the following day. Husband had off work and I could slip away from the computer for a few hours. Phew!

Rouses crawfish overhead crawfish and crunches

We had time to get a few guests together to eat the crawfish, and even pick some to freeze and put in my future recipes, or my signature creamy louisiana crawfish dip.

crawfish dip crawfish.n.crunches

My favorite part was all of the fixins’ like the corn, onion, lemon, garlic, and mushrooms that soak up all the awesome flavor. They even threw in Louisiana Fish Fry dipping sauces, seasonings, and shrimp boil that I’m excited to cook with.

I even caught my husband dipping his crawfish in the Louisiana Fish Fry remolaude sauce.

Rouses crawfish donnie crawfish and crunches

We picked crawfish and picked some more crawfish and spent the rest of the afternoon soaking our little tired hands in the pool and sipping on cocktails to cool off. The most relaxing, impromptu party I’ve had in a long time, thanks to my favorite local market.
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5 Seasonings

Whether you are from the South and scanning the long seasoning aisle feeling overwhelmed, OR, you are from up North or out West wondering what in the heck Cajun or Creole even means, selecting seasonings can be tricky and can either make or break your recipe! I decided to take it to the pros – real southern home chefs who have years of experience with the stuff. The responses were quite surprising, ranging from my fellow deep south foodies all the way up to Nashville, Tennessee. The votes are in:

1. Homemade seasoning blends – inexpensive and it’s really not that hard, people.
2. Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning – more than one blogger swears by it.
3. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning – some warn against the salty flavor.
4. Coarse salt and pepper – so underrated, yet so crucial.
5. Hot sauce – in the South, it’s a seasoning.

First, we have the recipe blogger Creole Contessa. Originally from California, she spent her summers with her late grandmother in

korenbbqribs creole contessa
Creole Contessa Korean BBQ Ribs

Louisiana. Now she “creolizes” everything and proves that you don’t have to be born in the South to enjoy the food. Lisa likes Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning, and warns against going too heavy on the Tony Chachere’s because it can be too salty.

Just make sure not to season her food once it’s plated! As the self proclaimed “spice lady” she says, “It would be BLASPHEMOUS to season my food after I’ve cooked it.” She also hints on something that I truly live by, explaining that hot sauce is okay to use once the food is plated. In my own house, hot sauce is a seasoning.

smokyhouseseasoning southern fatty
Southern Fatty Smoky House Seasoning

Phillip Fryman of Nashville, Tennessee hosts a charming little food blog called “Southern Fatty”. Phillip had the cooking bug since he was a little one, who now loves sharing his cooking and photography with the world. He explains, “Coarse sea salt is my go-to. I salt just about everything… probably a bit too much.” He also makes his own spice blends, ranging from a Cajun blend to a homemade smoky seasoning salt blend. Like Creole Contessa, he proves you don’t have to reside in Louisiana to enjoy the food. He claims, “Cajun fries are a staple in my house.”

Erin Fleming of New Orleans and the popular Instagram account “Red Beans and Spice”. I loved her cute and quirky brand name and her yummy posts. Erin actually swears by her own seasoning blend consisting of salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, cayenne, and onion powder. She is also a Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning lover. She claims, “It’s good on almost anything.
The Creole Chef's Instagram shot
The Creole Chef’s Instagram shot

The proof is in the pudding ya’ll! Southern seasoning is not too spicy and you can even make it to your liking in your own home. Don’t be afraid to use these southern seasonings on your eggs, your grilled chicken, your fries, you name it. The rest of the world should be able to enjoy southern flavored food the way we foodies do.

Stay tuned as we wait for one more verdict to come in from Caina Green, “The Creole Chef.”

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crab and shrimp stuffed merliton

As the famous Jazz Fest weekend approaches in New Orleans this weekend, the brand Girl’s Guide to New Orleans asked me to write for their blog about cooking up some Jazz Fest inspired recipes at home. I thought I’d share the slightly healthier southern dishes on my blog as well.

For those not from Louisiana, Jazz Fest is a gigantic, multi-stage, two-weekend long music festival that takes place in New Orleans. This year some of the star performers are Elton John, Jimmy Buffet, Keith Urban and Lady Gaga. Aside from jamming to all of the big name bands, you can tour the multiple stages strewn across the Fairgrounds horseracing track, listen to tons of jazz music while sampling southern cuisine and basking in the sunshine.

The popular Abita Brewery frames the festival nicely with their slogan, “Culture on Tap.” What could go wrong? Well, the health conscious ladies might be concerned about their bikini bodies when they see the food list for the weekend. Although delicious and scrumptious and full of flavor, the southern staples must be eaten in moderation. That is why I’m here to give you the skinny on cooking your favorite southern staples at home. Stay tuned for a potential blog to come about making healthier choices while at the festival.

One thing I spotted on the Jazz Fest vendor menu that sparked my interest was the seafood merliton casserole. However, I just couldn’t stomach eating a warm, heavy, creamy casserole in that heat. Today I share my version of the Jazz Fest dish – a light yet satisfying shrimp and crab stuffed merliton.

Now, for those of you not from the Crescent City, you may be wondering what in the world is a merliton? It is a form of green squash grown locally that looks like a pear. In other states you can sub in chayote squash, sold in most grocery stores. Since the original casserole is most likely served with cream, filler, breadcrumb and mayo, I made mine a bit lighter so when it’s time to shed a layer or two of clothing when the festival heats up, you can do it loud and proud.

For 2 servings:

  • 2 merlitons or chayote squash, halved
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 lemon, squeezed for juice
  • 1 lemon for garnish
  • 1 T old bay
  • 1 T creole seasoning
  • 1 T pepper
  • 2 T green onion, chopped for garnish
  • 1/2 lb lump crab
  • 1/2 lb shrimp, uncooked, peeled
  • 4 T grated parmesan (optional)

1 ) Preheat your oven to 350.

2) Boil your merlitons for as long as it takes until you can scoop out the center with a spoon. It can take up to 20 minutes depending on where they were grown or their size. They will be very hot and have to cool a few moments, and when you scoop them they release a lot of water. Do this on your cutting board or over the sink. Save the pulp and set aside.

3 ) In a large saute pan, on medium low heat, saute your shrimp and crab in butter, seasonings, lemon. You can add in the pulp of your merlitons, mashed, or you can choose to omit it.

4 ) Once your shrimp is cooked through and the flavors have been sauteed together, begin to use this mixture to stuff your merlitons. Lay your merlitons in a oven-safe casserole dish. The seafood mixture will only pack loosely and that is okay! Let the extra mixture spill over into the casserole dish.

5 ) I put another small pad of butter on top of each one, but that part is optional. Some parmesan cheese on top would be delicious, but also optional. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes at 350.

6 ) Top with green onion for garnish. Serve with extra lemon. This goes great alongside brown rice, but I served with creamy marinated mushrooms.

Stay tuned for more Jazz Fest Inspired Recipes…

crawfish dip crawfish.n.crunches

{ Creamy Louisiana Crawfish Dip }

As Jazz Fest approaches in New Orleans this weekend, the brand Girl’s Guide to New Orleans approached me to write for them about cooking up some Jazz Fest inspired recipes at home. I thought I’d share the slightly healthier southern dishes on my blog as well.

First off, for those of you who might not know, Jazz Fest is a huge music festival that takes place at the Fairgrounds horseracing track in New Orleans. This year some of the headliners are Elton John, No Doubt, Keith Urban and The Who to name a few. You can spend all weekend long visiting multiple stages listening to live jazz music between all the big name bands. What a beautiful thing! Of course with all of the jazz music comes great food. The food list for the festival is extensive, featuring all the traditional Louisiana favorites.

With all of that culture, what could go wrong? Well, unfortunately for someone watching their waistline, the food vendors serving up crawfish beignets, snoballs, and fried catfish could be a doozy. While there may be a blog to come about making healthier food choices at the festival, today I am here to share with you some Jazz Fest inspired cooking at home.

Creamy Louisiana Crawfish Dip is the perfect way to kick off a festival weekend. It is perfect for serving the guests that flock to New Orleans for the festival, or if you are reading about Jazz Fest from afar, serve it up at your next party to impress your crew. Of course, there are a FEW healthier ingredients in this dish than some other traditional southern dips, but this is meant to be a weekend party treat.

Stay tuned for more Jazz Fest Inspired Recipes…

For 8-10 servings you will need:

  • 1 lb peeled, cooked frozen crawfish
  • 1 1/4 cup fat free plain greek yogurt
  • 1 bell pepper, diced fine
  • 1 4 oz. jar diced pimento
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tbsp Creole seasoning
  • 1/4 cup fat free parmesan cheese
  • 1 Whole wheat French baguette
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder (for toast)
  • Vegetable crudités (optional)

1) In a small saucepan saute bell pepper and 3/4 cup green onion in 1 tbsp of your butter about 3 minutes over medium heat.

2) Add in the rest of your butter and Greek yogurt. Melt over low heat, stirring to combine well. Add in crawfish, pimentos, garlic powder, 1 tbsp Creole seasoning.

3) Once combined, pour into shallow pie pan or other oven-safe dish. Top with parmesan cheese and other tbsp Creole seasoning. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, then closely watch it as you broil until the topping slightly browns.

4) Remove from oven, garnish with a little extra green onion.

5) While oven is still hot, turn it back down to bake at 350. Slice your baguette into bite-size pieces and on a large baking pan drizzle it with olive oil and garlic powder. Bake at 350 for about 5 minutes or until golden brown.

6) Serve your dip with the prepared toast, or vegetable crudités of choice for a nice crunch.

FQF me and donnie

New Orleans French Quarter Festival Pits and Peaks

This weekend was the famous yearly French Quarter Festival in New Orleans, a tradition centered around sampling flavors from tons of restaurants, listening to live jazz music on multiple stages, and embracing all kinds of local culture. Street vendors such as food trucks, artists, musicians, even tarot card readers swarmed Jackson Square and the riverfront. Here were some of my pits and peaks, coming from a foodie mostly concerned with the next bite to eat.

FQF crawfish and corn crawfish.n.crunches

First stop – boiled crawfish. Rouses Markets were serving up crawfish all weekend long, even throwing crawfish eating contests. Can’t go wrong with dat’

FQF crabcakes and remoulade sauce crawfish.n.crunches

Next up, Louisiana Blue Crab Cakes over mixed greens with Remoulade Sauce from the Lakeview Harbor food truck. These were delicious. Honestly. Also inspired me to make my own remoulade sauce this week. Total peak.

Not pictured are my husbands crawfish enchiladas, they weren’t pretty looking and they weren’t especially tasty, sorry, Voleo’s Seafood Restaurant. Kind of a pit.

FQF cupcake

For the grand finale – Loretta’s Authentic Pralines praline cupcake. While I’m sure the pralines were out of this world, the cupcake didn’t really taste much like a praline. But, it was still a cupcake and still delicious.

What I totally missed out on and will just have to visit in New Orleans – Plum St. Snowballs. Spirited snoballs, aka liquor in your favorite icy summer treat. Throw some tequila in your Lemon-Lime snoball, add some SoCo to your Nectar Cream, or some Bacardi in your Pineapple treat. Win win!

Overall, the crowds can be overwhelming at times for the locals. Sometimes I think, I could have gotten this same food, for a cheaper price, on a non-festival weekend without the crowd in my way. Some of the best weekends in New Orleans are when there is no festival, Jazz Fest or Mardi Gras at all! You get a seat at the most popular bars, it’s a little quieter, you can soak in your surroundings.

Other times, it is crucial to experience your local flavor and bear the crowds or the heat. If you stake out a good spot near one of the stages and just chill and lounge for a day it can be quite enjoyable, but if you try to move from spot to spot or enjoy any restaurants during festival week, you may be in touch (literally) with a whole lot of people. Of course all in all – good times were had.

Dragos oysters crawfish.n.crunches

Tastin’ Our Way Through New Orleans: The Drago’s Seafood Experience

This post is the grand finale to the restaurant tour my out-of-town family and I did this past weekend. I previously posted on coffee and beignets, the best fried chicken in town, balcony boozin’, pralines, and crawfish pickin’, and the Abita Brew Tour Review.

This is the grand finale because it was truly a trip highlight. My family is a bunch of oyster obsessed people. The flavoring of the char broiled oysters at this spot are to die for. I’ve never seen oysters served in such a cheesy, salty, creamy, buttery sauce. When I say a plate didn’t go back to the kitchen without every lick of butter being sopped up with french bread, I truly mean it. Keep the sopping bread coming and hang onto those plates for dear life. I am guilty of drizzling some of the sauce on my fish entree it was that good. Yep…. that happened.

Dragos menu crawfish.n.crunches After a few dozen oysters down the hatch, we ordered a seared tuna salad with avocado, the house special redfish topped with lump crab, and some side salads. The oysters were much more of a show-stopper than the entrees, even though the seafood was fresh and the salads were large. However, there was one entree that stole the show: the lobster over pasta and a creamy mushroom sauce. We ooe’d and ahh’d at this dish. The presentation was just too pretty.

Dragos lobster crawfish.n.crunches

Although this restaurant is quite large and located inside the Hilton (not exactly a mom and pop anymore), it is a must-try. Even if you just stop in for some oysters before walking around the city or sample some before your main course at another spot, it’s well worth it.

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Tastin’ Our Way Through New Orleans: Crawfish, Pralines, and Booze

crawfish 2 crawfish.n.crunchesTastin’ Our Way Through New Orleans: Crawfish, Pralines, and Booze

With family in from out of town, we ate and drank everything that wasn’t stapled to the floor in New Orleans. With my “health conscious habits” in mind, it was all in moderation of course, but I most definitely enjoyed myself. When walking all around the city and the lakefront one works up an appetite!

Today’s post is about just a few of the flavors we had over the weekend. Make sure to see my previous post on coffee, beignets, top-rated fried chicken and seafood dishes. And don’t forget to check out the Abita Brew Tour review.

The crawfish above were picked up at a local Mandeville Seafood Market, and were picked on our patio. I giggle every time I watch my Louisiana local husband tear through crawfish at record speed. He can only be interrupted to teach the out-of-towners how to pop them open one by one. They were perfectly boiled, not too soft, flavorful, and nice and big!

bubba gump shrimp crawfish.n.crunches

The boozy part of the blog comes from our stop at a balcony bar at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co. Okay, locals and foodies. Don’t yell at me for heading to a chain, but I just couldn’t resist the open balcony after a long walk. We didn’t eat there, but the frozen cocktails and pour-your-own margaritas were calling our name. They were so refreshing. The drink’s funky names and the friendly service made it all worthwhile.

pralines crawfish.n.crunches

These pecan pralines were something we nibbled on as we window shopped. These things are found in candy kitchens at just about every corner in New Orleans. The little shops offer samples, just enough to make you want to buy a bag or box of the sweet little devils. I’ve been meaning to make these at home, but most recipes call for a candy thermometer which I do not have yet.

Stay tuned for my next post all about the Drago’s Seafood experience – home of the original char-broiled oysters.

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Sippin’ Our Way Through Louisiana: Abita Brew Tour Review

Abita Brewery crawfish.n.crunches

Sippin’ Our Way Through Louisiana: Abita Brew Tour Review

A congo line of beer tasting. Happy, smiling people. Warm and sunny patio seating. Upbeat music. Silly tour guides. What more could a tourist, or even a local beer lover ask for?

Scratch that. Even non-beer lovers could have a blast in this atmosphere. Although my family is comprised of beer connoisseurs, I don’t like a single kind, unfortunately. However, the fun vibes at this place, combined with the company of my out of town guests was enough to make me grin from ear to ear.

My guests and I were absolutely blown away at the generosity of this place. Free access to beer tasting and tours brought a large crowd at 2:00 on a Thursday afternoon. As I noted on my Instagram, “Where there is free beer, people flock.” At other tastings, you typically receive a wristband and are limited to small sips of booze. As we jumped in the congo line at the Abita Brew Tour we found ourselves pouring our own brim-breaching cups, then circling in a line around the long mahogany bar. After a few laughs and a bit of conversation, it was already time to fill up again. Some favorites were the Purple Haze, the Wrought-Iron IPA, and the seasonal Strawberry Harvest.

abita brewery 4 crawfish.n.crunches

While we sipped, a jovial young male tour guide gave us the heads up that some videos were going to play. They were short, cute, and informative. Once the tasting room closed temporarily, we ventured into the tour section. He told some more jokes and we watched our step as we gazed at the giant vats of bubbly. After a few interesting facts and snapping some selfies we returned to the tasting room. It was short, sweet, and implied – let’s get back to what we are really here for – to drink beer.

As we gathered around some old beer keg barrels and sipped some more, our eyes started to wander towards the Abita “swag,” or merchandise. It could of been the buzz, but the hooded sweatshirts and the t-shirts with quirky sayings were calling our name. We left the store with Abita glasses, a new wardrobe, and even a large banner to display proudly in our “man cave” at home.

While the staff may see just another herd of people coming in and out of their daily tours looking for a free glass of beer, they should know that they created a trip highlight and a memorable time among a family of Yankees who are rarely able to get together in one spot.

abita brewery 3 crawfish.n.crunches

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Tastin’ Our Way Through Louisiana: Cafe au Lait, Beignets, & the Best Fried Chicken

I promised not to blog or even check e-mails while my guests were in town. It is too crucial to spend quality time with them and disconnect. But, I couldn’t help myself. The foodie in me exploded. There was just too many good southern food pics and restaurants to share! As I sip my morning coffee and the house it quiet – This time is ideal to write and share snippets of our New Orleans adventures.

Morning call beignets crawfish.n.crunches

First, we started off the morning with Morning Call Coffee Stand, an ancient New Orleans Coffee and beignet spot, serving since 1870. While I love the beignets, or the “French Quarter Donut” at the typical touristy Cafe Du Monde, I don’t love the parking or the lines in the rain. Morning Call has such character and the beignets come out hot. The Cafe Au Lait is some of the smoothest coffee served with hot milk. After your last sip, visit the newspaper stand next door to travel back in time then Fleurty Girl for some quirky local themed apparel and gifts.

Morning call coffee stand crawfish.n.crunches

At lunchtime, we were on a hunt for some of the best fried chicken in the city. Top rated by nola.com, we headed for Mr. Ed’s. I wanted to take my guests to some dives, but without my husband along, I went for a white table cloth spot. The menu was to die for. I had been dreaming of crab stuffed merlitons so that I could get inspiration and make my own recipe later on. While the lighting wasn’t ideal on the merliton photo, I did snap a picture of the crispy battered fried chicken and smooth and creamy white beans. The service was excellent and on a weekday, we lingered for hours.

Mr. Ed's fried chicken crawfish.n.crunches

The potato salad wasn’t “onion-y” and was made creamier than my northern guests were used to. The trout almondine was crispy, not fishy, and the veggies had a kick to them.

Mr Ed's trout almondine crawfish.n.crunches

Stay tuned for more eats!

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king cake shannon pierce gagnon
Just when your feeling like taking on some healthy New Years resolutions, or you are just getting back in the swing of your healthy routine, New Orleans presents this irresistible traditional dessert to kick off the Mardi Gras season. The parties never stop down south.

As I mentioned in my Instagram .. a King cake contains a little plastic baby inside. If you happen to slice into the cake and find the baby, you have to buy the next King cake. I send one of these to my parents every year, and my mom happened to slice into the baby on the first slice! Where is my King cake ma?


I will most definitely buy one of these traditional King cakes. Remember it’s about balance! Never deprivation. A healthy week of lean protein and veggies and a little exercise allows room for such sweets. I also plan to make my own this year. Stay tuned for how it turns out!

Here are a few of my favorite Mardi Gras pictures:

shannon pierce gagnon mardi gras mardi gras shannon pierce gagnon mardi gras shannon pierce gagnon2

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