Natchitoches (Nack-uh-Tush) With Spicy Yogurt Dipping Sauce

I came across this little stuffed meat appetizer pie in a Food and Wine Cookbook,  Best of 2010.  I made a couple of small changes.  I didn’t care for the crust, it was a bit tough.  I used my own pie crust recipe-worked like a charm.  I did, however, love the idea for a spicy tart dip.  The recipe suggested using buttermilk, but I always have plain yogurt on hand, so I made my version of it.

The name really piqued my curiosity so I googled.  Turns out these meat pies were popular in the late 1700’s in the small Louisiana town that shares the name.    It is said that the meat pies were easy for working men to transport to work and were easy to eat.  I LOVE food history! 

I enjoyed making these little appetizers but they were time consuming.  I think it would make an interesting dinner (make them larger) and I think kids would dig it.  (maybe cut back on some of the spice)  I’d serve a nice green salad with a vinaigrette.  The sharp vinegar cuts the richness of the meat filling. 

Brown the meat in a little olive oil.  Add minced garlic, green pepper, and onion.  Cook until vegetables are soft.  Add tomato paste, cayenne pepper, ground cloves, dried thyme, ground coriander, allspice, sugar, and water.  Add a couple of pinches of salt and a couple of dashes of Tabasco.  Allow to cool completely. (be sure to do this, the crust dough will not fare well with warm filling)  Prepare the egg wash and preheat the oven to 350′.

Roll out a pie crust disc into a 12-14″ circle.  Using a 4″ biscuit cutter, cut out as many circles as possible.  Working one at a time, brush half of the circle’s edge with the egg wash.

Add a tablespoon of the cooled meat mixture to one side of the circle.

Fold the circle over the meat and seal the edges.

Crimp the edges with a fork and poke the center of the pastry with the fork to vent steam.  Place on parchment lined cookie sheet.

Brush the tops with the egg wash.  Bake for 25 minutes.  While they’re baking, prepare the dipping sauce.  Enjoy!

Natchitoches Meat Pies with Spicy Yogurt Dip


My pie crust recipe, doubled and chilled for 30-40 minutes


 1 tablespoon olive oil

½ lb. lean ground beef

1 large clove garlic, minced

½ cup onion, finely diced

1 small green pepper, seeded and finely diced

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 teaspoons sugar

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

1/8 teaspoon ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

2 tablespoons water

2 pinches salt

Two shakes of Tobasco

1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons of milk

Yogurt Dip

 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sour cream

½ cup non fat greek yogurt

1 teaspoon ground celery seeds (or ½ teaspoon celery salt)

Two shakes hot sauce

1)  Prepare crust and wrap discs in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 30-40 minutes.

2)  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil.  Add meat and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, onion, bell pepper, and bay leaf.  Cook 7-9 minutes until veggies are soft.

3)  Stir in tomato paste through water.  Cook for 3-5 minutes.  Discard the bay leaf and allow the mixture to cool.

4)  Preheat the oven to 350’.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

5)  Roll out the pie crust to a 14” round.  Using a 4” biscuit cutter, cut out as many circles as you can.  Brush the edge of half of the round with the egg wash, add a tablespoon of cooled meat mixture to one side of the circle.  Fold over, press to seal.  Using a fork, crimp the edges and poke the center of the tart to vent.  Place on cookie sheet.  Brush with the egg wash.  Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

6)  In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients until well blended.  If sauce is too thick, thin out with a little milk.

 *Make a day or two ahead and warm in 350’ oven for 10 minutes.  Whisk the sauce and serve.

Kung Pao Chicken Legs….

These taste as good as they look!  Oh my gosh, sooooo delicious!  It’s the perfect combination of sweet and spicy.  There is so much flavor in the sauce that all you need to serve with is is simple steamed rice and stir fry vegetables.  Spoon extra sauce over the rice and chicken, YUMMY!

Here we go:

Finely chop 1/4 cup fresh ginger….

And 1/2 cup red onion….

Saute in a tablespoon of canola oil in a medium saucepan for about 5 minutes, stir often. 

Add four large cloves of minced garlic and cook for about one more minute.
Now for liquid ingredients.  Add 1/3 cup of honey.  If you spray your measuring cup with cooking spray it will come out of your measure more easily.
Add 3 tablespoons of mirin.  Mirin is a sweet rice wine used for cooking.  This and the following ingredients can be found in the Asian isle of most grocery stores.
Add 1/4 cup rice vinegar.
Next add 1/2 cup of low sodium soy sauce.  I know it seems like a lot of ingredients.  Trust me, it will be well worth all the measuring.
Add three tablespoons of hoisin sauce.  I love the flavor of this sauce.  It is sweet, salty, and a little spicy.   If you haven’t used this sauce before, it is a Chinese dipping sauce and commonly used in Peking Duck. 
Now for some heat.  Add 2 teaspoons (or more if you like) of chili garlic sauce.  This amount will not be too hot. 
Once all the sauce ingredients are in the pan, simmer for about 3 minutes to slightly reduce.  Set aside.

Prepare the chicken legs.  Season generously with salt and pepper, coat with about a tablespoon of canola oil, toss to coat with the oil and seasoning.  Add 3 tablespoons of flour, toss to coat.  Give prepared chicken legs a drizzle once arranged on a non stick foil lined cookie sheet.  “Oven fry” at 400′ for about an hour.  For even browning, give them a turn half way through.  Once the chicken is crispy, time for he sauce.  Have your serving platter ready to go.  Dip each leg into the sauce to coat…..
Garnish with chopped peanuts….
And sliced green onions.  Drizzle with a small amount of honey.
Kung Pao Chicken Legs

For the Chicken:
16 chicken legs (about 4 pounds)
1 tablespoon canola oil + more for drizzling
3 tablespoons flour
Salt and pepper

For the Sauce:
1 tablespoon canola oil
¼ cup fresh ginger, minced
½ cup finely chopped red onion
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup honey + more for drizzling
3 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
¼ cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons hot chili sauce

¼ cup salted roasted peanuts, finely chopped
1 small bunch green onions, thinly sliced

1) Preheat oven to 400’. Non stick foil line a cookie sheet with sides, set aside. Place chicken legs in a large bowl and drizzle with one tablespoon of canola oil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Sprinkle the flour over the legs and toss to coat. Place on prepared cookie sheet and lightly drizzle with canola oil. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until nicely brown and crispy.
2) Place a medium sauce pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon canola oil. Once hot add the ginger and red onion. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
3) Add garlic, cook for about one minute. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and simmer for about 3 minutes to reduce slightly.
4) Chop the peanuts and slice the green onions.
5) Once the chicken is done, with a tongs dip each chicken leg into sauce to coat. Garnish with the chopped peanuts, green onion, and a light drizzle of honey. Makes 8 servings.

*Serve with steamed rice and simple stir fry vegetables. Spoon extra sauce over chicken, rice and veggies, yummy!
*Substitute chicken wings for the legs for an flavorful and beautiful appetizer.

Buffalo Wings….

I absolutely love spicy chicken wings.  Try making these, they’re baked!  Believe me, they come out very crispy, you would never know that they were not fried.  The sauce is outstanding.  Be sure to serve with my Light Bleu Cheese Dressing, and crunchy carrot and celery sticks, fantastic!  Enjoy!
Oven Fried Buffalo Chicken Wings

For the chicken:
2-3 lbs. chicken wings
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the sauce:

½ cup Open Pit Original BBQ Sauce or your favorite sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
¼ cup Red Hot Sauce
2 teaspoons butter

1) Preheat oven to 400’. Non stick foil line a cookie sheet with sides. Set aside.
2) Cut wings into pieces at joints (discard the little flapper portion) and place on prepared cookie sheet. Generously season wings with salt and pepper. Sprinkle flour over wings and toss to coat. Arrange on cookie sheet so they’re not touching. Drizzle the vegetable oil over the prepared wings.  Bake for about 50 minutes or until wings are very crispy.
3) While wings are baking, add all sauce ingredients to a large sauce pan. When the wings are almost finished baking, warm sauce over medium heat and mix well.  Remove from heat.
4) Remove wings from oven right onto a paper towel lined plate. Add the hot wings to the sauce pot. Toss to coat. Serve immediately with bleu cheese dressing and celery and carrot sticks. 

Basil Chicken Stir Fry…..

Stir frys are quite simple, healthy, and delicious.   I think it best to enjoy the ones you make at home as you can control the amount of oil that is used.  Use whatever vegetables you like.  Just remember that when you begin cooking to cook the vegetables that take the longest to cook first.

This recipe is a delicious combination of sweet and spicy with vegetables that have many different textures, so good!  Adjust the level of spice according to your own taste.  If you’d like it to “blow your head off,” add jalepenos at the end of step #5.

Have everything completely pan ready before you begin to stir fry.  Let’s not forget the rice!  Before you begin cooking, put the rice on the stove.  If using brown rice, count on at least 40 minutes of cooking time.  Begin cooking the stir fry after about 20 minutes.   If using white rice, rinse the rice thorougly through a fine sieve.  (this will prevent the rice from being too gummy or mushy)  Cook according to package instructions.  Once it’s on the stove, you’re ready to start cooking.

 I’ve assembled all my ingredients.  You can see in the very back a measuring cup with sauce ingredients ready to go.

Use a large heavy skillet.  It is important not to crowd ingredients in the pan.  Plenty of space will allow for nice browning on the chicken.  It will also make the stir fry cook very quickly.

Basil Chicken Stir Fry

2 large boneless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 pinches kosher salt
1 pinch black pepper
3 large cloves garlic, minced

For the veggies:

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small red pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 small orange pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
6-8 button mushrooms, quartered
2 cups bok choy, chopped
1 cup sugar snap peas or pea pods
5-6 green onions, thinly sliced
1 small bunch fresh basil leaves
1 small jalepeno thinly sliced (optional, will really spice up the dish, use carefully)

For the sauce:

1 cup chicken broth (Better than Bouillon is great, mix just what you need)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
½ teaspoon chili garlic sauce (you can find in the Asian food section of the grocery store)
Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

White or brown basmati rice cooked according to package directions

1) On a cutting board designated just for meat, cut the chicken breast into small pieces. Season with salt and  pepper and toss well with one teaspoon cornstarch to coat. (this will allow the chicken to brown nicely) Refrigerate until you’re ready to cook.
2) Prepare all vegetables and put into separate bowls.
3) Prepare sauce. Mix cooled chicken bouillon with cornstarch, whisk until blended. Add the soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and chili sauce, whisk. Set aside.
4) Heat a large heavy non stick skillet or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add one tablespoon oil and add chicken breast. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until chicken is nicely brown. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Remove from pan into a large bowl, cover with foil.
5) Add remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the bell peppers, cook for about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and bok choy. Stir fry for about 5 minutes stirring often. Add snap peas and green onions. (add jalepenos here if you wish)  Cook for a couple of minutes.
6) Whisk the sauce ingredients until well blended and add to the pan with the veggies. Bring to a bubble. Add chicken back to the pan.  Add basil and mix well. Serve over brown basmati rice and garnish with sesame seeds. Serves 4.

Oven Roasted Broccoli…..

Tired of plain old steamed broccoli?  Bring out the natural flavor by doing a quick oven roast.  Enjoy hot, cold, or at room temperature.  I love to squeeze some fresh lemon juice over just before serving.

Oven Roasted Broccoli

1 large head of fresh broccoli, cut into large pieces, large stalk removed (or peel the stalk and cut into large pieces)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
3 pinches salt
2 pinches red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons water

1)  Preheat oven to 375′.  Foil line a large cookie sheet and set aside.
2)  Place cut up broccoli onto prepared pan.  Drizzle olive oil over broccoli and sprinkle seasonings over as well.  Toss well with your hands until evenly coated with oil and seasonings.  Drizzle water over broccoli and toss.
3)  Bake for 10 minutes, give a turn, and roast another 5-8 minutes.

Citrus Marinated Jerk Chicken with Fresh Mango Salsa….

Are you enjoying all of the beautiful fruits presently available?  This is the perfect blend of sweet and spicy.  I love the contrast of the spicy chicken and the cool, fresh taste of the salsa.   Make plenty of chicken to enjoy later in the week.  Try a nice chicken sandwich with a slice of sharp cheddar and avocado slices or top a fresh crisp salad for a light supper.

Citrus marinated Jerk chicken
with Fresh Mango salsa

2 lbs. boneless chicken breast cutlets
Juice of one naval orange, one lemon, and two limes
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

1) Place marinade ingredients in a gallon zip bag. Add chicken and marinade 30 minutes to one hour. Discard marinade.  Mix all spice mix ingredients together in a small bowl, set aside.
2)  Prepare salsa, refigerate covered.
2) Preheat gas grill for about 10 minutes. Season each piece of marinated chicken with spice mixture.
3) Grill on medium high heat for 6-8 minutes or until juices run clear.  Top with fresh salsa.

Spice mixture:

2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sweet basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon cayenne


2 naval oranges, cut away rind and pith, dice
2 ripe mangos, peeled and diced
½ fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 small red pepper, seeded and diced
1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon fresh or bottled lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
Pinch salt

Gently mix all ingredients well. Refrigerate immediately.

Tequila Lime Marinated Flank Steak with Chimichurri, my version….

This is an incredibly delicious combination of heat, sweet and savory.  The steak is juicy and is very much complimented by the spicy chimichurri sauce.  The cool cucumber simple salad is slightly sweet and the roasted yuca is a very nice understated starchy vegetable.  Enjoy with a salted rimmed margarita on the rocks with fresh lime….mmmmm good!


2 large cloves fresh garlic
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons tequila
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice or bottled
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 ½ lb. flank steak

Place all ingredients in a blender; blend until smooth.  Place flank steak in a large zip bag, pour marinade over steak.  Marinate in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.  Discard marinade, preheat grill, cook over medium-high heat medium to medium rare.  For one inch thickness, cook 7-9 minutes per side.  Cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.  Slice thinly across the grain or on a diagonal.  Serve with chimichurri.


3  tablespoons fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh parsley
½ medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped
½ medium sweet red pepper, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil
2 large cloves fresh garlic
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 jalepeno pepper, (or seranno pepper for more heat), seeds included
½ teaspoon cumin

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator, allow to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.  Serve a generous portion over the grilled flank steak. Delish!

Cool cucumber salad

2-3 cucumbers, washed and thinly sliced
2-3 thin slices of red onion
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Slice cucumbers and  onion into a serving bowl.  Mix the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in a small bowl, stir often to dissolve salt and sugar.  Pour over cucumbers just before serving.

Unbelievable Oven Fried Chicken…..

This chicken is excellent.  I love it because it has amazing flavor and isn’t deep fried.  Marinating in the buttermilk gives the chicken great flavor and very moist chicken.  You can also use chicken pieces with skin and bone, just increase the baking time to one hour.    You will have enough of the spice mixture to make the chicken 3 more times, very convenient. 

Spice mixture:

2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sweet basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon cayenne

Mix all ingredients together and store in an air tight plastic container. Yields ½ cup.

For the chicken:

2-3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons spice mixture
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1) Place chicken breasts in a large zip bag, add buttermilk & marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

2) Preheat oven to 375’. Line a cookie sheet with Reynolds non stick foil and coat foil with about 2 tablespoons canola oil.

3) In a medium size bowl, mix all dry ingredients together and blend well. One piece at a time, allow buttermilk to drain off chicken and dredge in spice/flour mixture making sure to coat well. Place on prepared cookie sheet.

4) Drizzle about one tablespoon canola oil over chicken pieces. Bake for 30 minutes, with a pastry brush blot chicken pieces with drippings from the bottom of the pan. Bake another 10 minutes.