In Louisiana Spring Means Crawfish Boil Season Is Here

Spring in Louisiana means what it does to our neighbors to the north, east and west of the boot.

Beautiful blooms packing a powerful blast of in season colors.

Outdoor living at its finest.

Backyard cookouts and patio entertaining.

Know what else it means? Spring means crawfish boil season is here. Louisianians love to boil, peel and eat these freshwater crustaceans in quantity and quality.  We do love our seafood here in the boot, and from March to June we set the tables, plan the menus, and prepare the seafood dishes around crawfish boil season.


Crawfish taste almost like lobster, with the differences between the two basically amounting to cost, size and seasoning.  Crawfish are native to the swamps and marshes of south Louisiana and farmed crawfish ponds of the Gulf Coast region.  Louisiana produces approximately 150 million pounds of crawfish annually, and also ranks as the nations number one provider of shrimp, oysters, crabs and alligator.  Boiled to seasoned perfection, the crawfish boil is a weekend backyard gathering, festival or fais do-do in the making.


Those in the best price for crawfish in your area know you need an app for that.  The Crawfish App is a free app available on iTunes.  The app uses your device’s location or an entered address to list crawfish vendors in the area. You have the ability to view by price, reviews, or distance.

crawfish boil supplies

It’s amazing how a crustacean can create culinary excitement throughout the cities and parishes.  We love to host a crawfish boil or two or ten during the season for friends, neighbors, coworkers and family.  Fire up the pot and bring on the onions, garlic, celery, potatoes, lemons, crab boil and culinary imagination.  I’ve been to crawfish boils where the host chef adds smoked or andouille sausage, okra, carrots, cabbage and fresh mushrooms to the seasoned boil.  The flavor and the taste can be summed up in three words.

C’est. Si. Bon!

Food is the language of Louisiana, and ours is a flavored speak.

Zatarains shrimp crab boil

Zatarain’s Shrimp & Crab Boil

Here’s a tip from the Places In The Home test kitchen~ add a drop of Zatarain’s liquid shrimp & crab boil to potato soup.



Zatarain’s® Crawfish Boil


3 pounds yellow onions

6 heads garlic

6 lemons, halved

1 package (73 ounces) ZATARAIN’S® Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab Boil – Complete

4 pounds small red potatoes

1 sack (35 to 40 pounds) live crawfish, cleaned

1 bunch celery, cut in bite-size pieces

¼ cup ZATARAIN’S® Concentrated Shrimp and Crab Boil

1 box ZATARAIN’S® Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab Boil – In a Bag

12 frozen half ears corn on the cob


Fill an 80-quart crawfish boiling pot with a basket 1/3 to ½ with water. Place pot on a jet-style propane burner on high heat. Add onions, garlic and lemon halves.  (You can use a small laundry bag for lemons and garlic. Or just leave the onions in the mesh bag they come in from the grocery with tags removed.)

Bring to full rolling boil. Stir in Crab Boil Complete.  Add potatoes (in their mesh bag from the grocery or a laundry bag).  Reduce heat to medium-low. Boil 20 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender. Remove potatoes.

Return water to full rolling boil on high heat.  Add crawfish, celery, liquid Crab Boil and Crab Boil bag.  Return water to full rolling boil on high heat. Start checking doneness just before water returns to full rolling boil.  As soon as small gaps start to appear between the head and the tail on the largest crawfish, they are done.  Turn off heat.  Add frozen corn and cooked potatoes.  Let stand 15 minutes.  Remove corn and potatoes. Let crawfish stand for a minimum of 30 minutes, but 45 minutes is better. Serves: 20

To clean crawfish: Pour live crawfish into a washtub or ice chest; cover with water.  Drain.  Repeat 3 to 4 times until crawfish are clean.  Drain. Discard any dead crawfish and debris.


Turn up the heat, the music and the good times with a crawfish boil.


A Regional Favorite With A Kick: Hoppin’ John Grits

Mardi Gras is always on a Louisianian’s mind, especially when it comes to regional cuisine. We like a little kick in our Mardi Gras festivities, and a lot of kick in our food. Hoppin’ John is a Southern favorite recipe of black eyed peas, ham and the Cajun trinity- chopped onion, bell pepper and celery. Although traditionally served with rice, another southern favorite adds a culinary twist and turn.  Grits are about as Southern as you can get,and another house favorite of the Places In The Home gang. This recipe for Hoppin’ John Grits resulted in an unanimous chorus of C’est si  bon, cher!


Hoppin’ John Grits


1 ½ Tablespoons olive oil

2 cups ham hocks

1 cup dry black eyed peas, soaked overnight or quick boiled

3 cups water

1 can chicken broth

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

2  teaspoons parsley flakes

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

2 bay leaves

green onions for garnish, optional


Quick boil for black eyed peas.

black eyed peas

Bring 3 cups of water and 1 cup black eyed peas to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute. Pour off all water.

sliced ham

Heat olive oil in pan. Sear ham on both sides.  Before adding to the water, I prefer to saute the Cajun trinity in ½ Tablespoon olive oil and an additional ¼ teaspoon pepper (the kick).  This step is totally optional.

cajun trinity

Add water, chicken broth, peas, chopped onion, bell pepper and celery.  Stir well, bringing to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and add remaining ingredients. Cook for 1 ½ -2 hours or until peas or tender.  If liquid cooks down too much add additional water or broth.

Hoppin' John black eyed peas



4 cups water

1 cup grits

½ teaspoon salt

6 teaspoons butter or margarine

milk or half and half to taste


Bring water to a brisk boil.  Add grits and salt into boiling water.  Whisk together, reducing heat to medium-low and cook 5 to 7 minutes or until thickened. Whisk occasionally during cooking to avoid lumps.  Add 1 teaspoon butter or margarine per serving and desired amount of milk or half and half , stirring to blend.  Serves 6.  Plate grits and top with Hoppin’ John. Green onions may be added as garnish.  Laissez les bons temps rouler!


Shrimp Étouffée

A Louisiana, Lenten season and seafood lovers favorite, Shrimp Étouffée (eh-too-fey) is a rich thick dish with a light roux as the base.  To prepare this taste of home, we begin with a blonde roux.  Shrimp is always in supply and demand, and it is the star of this dish.

peeled shrimp

The Cajun holy trinity of onions, bell pepper and celery, garlic, a melange of other seasonings and the core staple of the Louisiana kitchen pantry, rice, round out the flavor notes.  The French word étouffée means to smother, and Louisianians have long mastered the art of smothering a plate or bowl of rice with étouffée or gumbo.  It’s the c’est si bon way!

Shrimp Etoufee

Shrimp Étouffée


¼ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup flour

1 8oz. bottle clam juice

1 cup water

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 ½ teaspoon minced garlic

1 stalk celery, chopped

½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

3 green onions, chopped

2 bay leaves

1 Tablespoon Creole seasoning

½ teaspoon celery seed

1 Tablespoon paprika

2 pounds small or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 Tablespoons butter

hot sauce to taste


For the Roux:

Heat vegetable oil in skillet. Stir in flour with fork or wooden spoon and mix well to avoid lumps.  Continue to cook over low heat, stirring often, until golden caramel brown.

etouffee roux

It will take approximately 15 minutes to reach desired color and texture. Roux should not have a burnt taste.  If you burn the mixture, begin again.


Once the roux is done the adding begins!  Put roux, water and clam juice in a dutch oven or deep pan over medium high heat.

chopped onions bell pepper parsley

While these are heating, saute the onion, bell pepper, celery (the Cajun holy trinity) and garlic in a tsp. of olive oil in a separate skillet until slightly soft.

Cajun trinity

When softened, add to roux, water and clam juice.  Reduce heat to medium and allow to cook for approximately 5 minutes.  Add bay leaves, Creole seasoning, celery seed, paprika, parsley and ½ of the green onions.

cooking etouffee

Stir to blend and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes.  Remove bay leaves.  Taste to determine if additional salt or other seasonings is needed and add at this time.  Stir well and cook additional 5 minutes.  Add shrimp and lemon juice.  Cover and cook over low heat until shrimp is pink and tender, approximately 5-10 minutes. Étouffée will thicken.  Stir in 2 Tbsp butter.

shrimp etouffee

Serve over cooked white rice and garnish with remaining green onions. Add hot sauce to taste.



Chicken and Sausage Gumbo Pot Pie

It’s always gumbo season here at Places In The Home.

My late mother-in-law ate dinner with us at least once a week.

As a young bride with many recipes still to learn and perfect, my mother-in-law took me under her culinary wing and taught me how to make chicken and sausage gumbo.

Over the last thirty years I have refined and reinvented her recipe to make it more my own.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo Pot Pie is what I came up for #NationalGumboDay.


Gumbo, a Créole dish known for the ingredients okra and filé, is a regional favorite with origins from the French, Spanish, Indian and African residents of the area.


Part soup, part stew, but all flavor-gumbo is made with meat or seafood, tomatoes, onions and bell peppers.


There are many instant roux and boxed gumbo dinner mixes on the market here in Louisiana.

I’ve used most of them at one time or another, but instant roux remains my best friend on the gumbo playground.


Roux is a flour and oil paste for thickening soups and sauces.



½  cup flour

½  cup vegetable oil


Heat oil in a black skillet over low heat.  Add flour in a little at a time, stirring.  Stir constantly until brown (20 to 30 minutes).

Chopped onion, bell pepper, garlic, creole seasoning, white wine, green onions, bay leaves, chicken and sausage complete the list of ingredients.

Tabasco sauce, filé, and rice round out the serve with staples.

The Places In The Home majority does not like tomatoes or okra in a gumbo, so to accommodate their delicate palettes I omit these two ingredients.


Chicken and Sausage Gumbo Pot Pie


1  cup Tony Chachere’s instant roux mix

8  cups water

1  can chicken broth

6  boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders

2  1lb. packages smoked sausage, sliced

1  large yellow onion, peeled & chopped

1  bag seasoning blend

1  bunch green onions, chopped

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. celery seed

1 tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. fine black pepper or to taste

OR in place of salt and pepper season with 1 tsp. Créole seasoning or to taste

1 cup dry white wine

2  cans refrigerated crescent rolls


Heat water and chicken broth in Dutch oven over medium heat until hot. Add prepared or instant roux mix. Cook, stirring often until roux is dissolved.  Next, add garlic powder, salt, pepper or Créole seasoning and celery seed.  Stir to incorporate.

Add chicken breasts, cooking over medium heat until tender.  Slice sausage and lightly brown in separate skillet.


Remove sausage from skillet, drain and blot excess grease.  Add 1 tablespoon butter, chopped onion and seasoning blend to skillet, sauteing until softened.

Carefully spoon cooked smoked sausage and sauteed onions and seasoning blend into the gumbo pot.


Add the white wine and give it a good stir. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for approximately 1 hour, allowing flavors to marry.

This is the time I pour a glass of white wine for the cook, allowing flavors to merry!

Although French bread, buttermilk cornbread or crackers go well with gumbo for dipping, culinary creativity struck and I thought I would try something new with this latest pot of chicken and sausage gumbo.


Cook 2 cups of long-grain rice (2 cups rice to 4 cups salted water). Place a heaping tablespoon of cooked rice into each crock or oven safe soup bowl. An ice cream scoop works great to dish up an even serving of rice.

Fill the crocks or bowls with gumbo.

Top with chopped green onions, a sprinkle of filé, and/or hot sauce to taste, if desired.

Cover the top of each crock two crescent rolls making sure to completely covering the top.

Bake according to crescent roll package directions.





Green Tomatoes In Phyllo Baskets At The Places In The Home Cafe

Creativity is in full force in the test kitchen at The Places In The Home cafe.   A culinary brainstorming session with my brother resulted in this green tomatoes in phyllo baskets recipe.


The recipes is a work in progress and phyllo patience, but it was met with glowing reviews from the family.

Green Tomatoes In Phyllo Baskets


6-8 green tomatoes

1  roll phyllo pastry sheets,  thawed

8 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

1 8 oz. box Tony Chachere’s Creole Dirty Rice dinner mix 0r favorite brand flavored rice mix

½ lb. ground beef

½ lb. medium or hot ground pork sausage

1 tsp. basil

salt & pepper or creole seasoning to taste

8 oz. shredded cheese of your choice

1 tsp. parsley flakes

1 tsp. paprika

1 Pyrex baking dish

aluminum baking pan

6-8 cup muffin pan

sauce pan or microwavable bowl

sauce brush


Remove phyllo pastry sheets from freezer and allow to thaw according to package directions (two hours at room temperature for quick thaw, overnight in refrigerator for following day use).

Wash and scoop out the inside of  tomatoes.  Place tomatoes in a square Pyrex dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper or creole seasoning to personal taste.  Place Pyrex dish into a deep baking pan.

Prepare a hot- water bath by bringing a pan of water to a light simmer on top of stove; carefully pour hot water into a baking pan halfway up the sides of Pyrex dish.

Cover with aluminum foil or inverted cookie sheet to promote a slight softening.

If tomatoes are too soft they will become difficult to wrap.

Brown ground beef  and ground pork sausage together.  Add basil.   Drain and add meats to packaged rice mix; prepare as directed. When fully cooked allow to cool.

Remove Pyrex dish filled with softened tomatoes from hot-water bath.  Melt butter and place to side for use with phyllo dough.

Fill each tomato with cooked rice and meat.  Top each tomato with shredded cheese to individual taste.

We Louisianians are big on flavor, seasoning and heat.

I adjusted the spice of the recipe to a  medium spice content.

Tone it down or turn it up to your please your taste buds.

Prepare phyllo sheets according to instructions.  I used two layers of dough per tomato.

Very important to work only with needed dough keeping a damp towel over the remaining layers until ready to use.  It makes it easier to handle and reduces tearing.

Lightly brush the edges of each layer of dough with melted butter.  Place stuffed tomato in center of dough.

“Wrap” tomato by bring dough corners to center and twisting.


Place wrapped tomatoes in ungreased muffin pan.

Lightly brush dough wrapped tomatoes once again with remaining melted butter.

Sprinkle with paprika and parsley flakes.

Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.