I love to cook. So, I thought it would be nice to share what I’m currently experimenting with and/or trying to make the time to make.

In general, I tend not to create my own recipes as much as I take other recipes and modify them. I will say that hidden deep in my personal cookbook is the secret recipe for Skyline Chili.

That said, here are a couple of the things I’ve been experimenting with or just love to make.

Kicked Up Brussels Sprouts

This is something I modified from one of Guy Fieri’s recipes that he’d called Bumped-Up Brussels Sprouts. I just changed it slightly to kick it up one more notch. I’ve been on a bit of a brussels sprouts kick lately, so it just seemed natural.

Brussells Sprouts

1 Thick Ham Steak, big dice
4 tablespoons capers, drained
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon Cajun Seasoning
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium pan over medium heat cook the ham and capers. Remove from pan, reserving a little of the ham fat in the pan. Add the Brussels sprouts to the pan and cook over medium heat to begin to brown. Dress with balsamic and olive oil, a little salt (capers and ham are salty) and pepper and the cajun seasoning. Place into the oven and roast, tossing a couple of times, until nicely caramelized, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Put the almonds in a small, dry, saute pan and toast over a low flame, tossing a couple of times, just until lightly browned, 3 or 4 minutes.
Once the sprouts are ready, remove them from the oven and put into a big serving bowl. Add the ham steak, the capers, pine nuts, and raisins. Toss and check for seasoning. Serve.

File Gumbo – (Originally from BB’s Jazz, Blues, and Soups)

I’m a pretty much in love with New Orleans and all of their food and culture, so when I found actual File powder in the Asian market near me, I had to find the best file gumbo recipe I could get my hands on. This is it.

File Gumbo

4 (3-pound) chickens, cut into small chunks
Vegetable oil
1 cup all purposes flour
1 cup butter
2 red, green, and yellow bell peppers, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
5 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 bay leaves
2 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 1/2 quarts water
2 links andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch half circles
3/4 pound ham, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
1 pound small shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1/2 pound okra
5 tablespoons file powder

Heat some vegetable oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat and cook the chicken in batches until it is golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the flour to the chicken juices and stir continuously. Add the butter and cook the roux until it is brown.

Add the peppers, onion, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, cayenne, bay leaves, thyme, and 1 quart of water. Stir well and bring to a boil. When the vegetables are soft, put the chicken back into the pot and add the remaining water. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage and ham until they are browned. Add them to the pot along with the shrimp and stir well. Let the gumbo simmer for 1 hour, then add the okra. After 20 minutes, turn off the heat. Ladle a couple of cups of the liquid into a mixing bowl. Add the file powder and whisk until well blended. Pour back into the stock pot and mix well. It’s ready to serve!

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