Eating our way to & through Texas

donkeyHope you all had a wonderful Easter! I know I ate to my heart’s content.

So let me start out by saying that my blog has been a little neglected lately. As I recently mentioned, I’ve been a busy bee! We’ve been so fortunate that Hanky Planky has been keeping us incredibly busy!!! Plus, my kids were just on Spring Break and we took a trip to Texas. Again!! Simply put, we love Texas! And my brain has been on vacation mode and it’s been quite the chore to get back into the swing of things.

But since eating and food is a huge part of our lives, I thought I’d share with y’all (<—-see what I did right there) a little bit of our culinary adventures.

Our first night we stayed in Las Cruces, New Mexico where we ate some incredibly outstanding Mexican food. Can I get a holla for GREEN CHILE?!?! OMG, that stuff is good! We tried a new restaurant that happened to have a lot of cars out front and our bet paid off. For $10.95 I got a combo plate which included a chicken taco, chile verde, cheese enchilada, chile relleno (all smothered in green chile), rice & beans. It was a great deal and I ate almost everything!!! #gorge

new mexicanAfter that we headed over to Caliche’s Frozen Custard. Heavenly, creamy, delicious, unlike anything I’ve ever tasted in my life. I’d make the drive there JUST to eat that custard. Seriously! Words almost can’t describe.

custardOur next stop was East Texas where we enjoyed the scenery on Lake Cypress Springs, as well as time with family. Our kids stayed outside almost the whole time and we were fortunate to have some really nice weather!!! Plus, we ate the best catfish I’ve ever tasted in my whole entire life! I’m not a big fish person because honestly, catfish tastes like dirt, but what we had there tasted nothing like what I’ve had in California! The whole time we were there, we spent our time canoeing on the lake, catching turtles, fishing, finding petrified wood, and just exploring.

lakelake 2catfishfish kissAfter that, we headed to North Texas to visit my BFF. To celebrate her husband’s birthday, it was requested that Adam make panko fried shrimp one night. He ended up cooking 51 HUGE shrimp. We did have 12 people there but 8 were little kids and surprisingly, we ate almost all of that. #gorgesomemore See how happy he looks to be wearing my friend’s apron? 🙂

adam shrimpme & laceyOn our last night, us adults had a date night and went to our favorite restaurant in Texas, Pappadeaux. Cajun seafood restaurant with huge portions and the best fondeux I’ve ever had in my LIFE! It has shrimp, crawfish, mushrooms and is creamy and decadent.

pappadeuxme & adamAnd of course, since we don’t have Cracker Barrel where we live and it’s pretty much a tradition that you have to eat there on a road trip, we ate there not once, but TWICE.

cracker barrel

And keeping with what seems to be our new annual tradition, we stopped at Rooster Cogburn Ranch in Arizona on our way home, hence the donkey at the top of the post! I’ve decided I must own a donkey one day.

I kept it short and sweet because honestly, we did so much and had such a great time, that I really couldn’t cover it all. But you get the idea. And how many pounds did I gain on this trip? Don’t know, but whatever it was, it was totally worth it!

Creamy Cajun Pasta with Andouille Sausage

cajun pastaA pasta dinner is such a nice comfort meal. And I’m all about comfort food!! Especially when I can do a double carb overload. I love eating pasta with bread. Don’t judge. It’s like a must for me.

But it’s nice to change things up a bit so this pasta recipe doesn’t have a red sauce. Instead, it’s creamy and got a little kick to it! So watch out for the little people in your house in case they can’t handle spicy. I got my Andouille at the butcher counter and it was fresh made so it was actually pretty mild but it’s typically packing some serious heat.

This recipe also makes for a really quick weeknight meal because it comes together so fast. And it’s pretty inexpensive. So if you’re tight on time and money, try this one out!

Creamy Cajun Pasta with Andouille Sausage (serves 6)

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3/4- 1 lb. Andouille sausage
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb. crimini (aka baby bellas) mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 lb. rigatoni pasta
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1 c. half & half
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. creole seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. chili pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese

Fill a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a large sauté pan, add the olive oil and heat on medium. Add the Andouille sausage. I removed mine from the casing. But other types are fine to slice into coins. Brown up the sausage and break it up. Add in the onions, bell pepper and mushrooms. Continue cooking and stirring for several minutes or until sausage is cooked through. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more. Then add the wine to deglaze the pan. Make sure to stir and remove any bits from the bottom. Let cook until the wine has almost completely reduced. Add in the half and half, as well as all of the spices and cheese. Cook for a few minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly.  Add in the pasta and stir to combine and coat the pasta. Serve immediately.

cajun pasta 6cajun pasta 5cajun pasta 4cajun pasta 3cajun pasta 2