What’s your favorite cooking equipment you just can’t live without??? Hang in there folks; this is gonna be a long post!!

My dear Mama, who I have always believed was the best cook in the world ever, swore by her Club Aluminum Cookware!  My Grandmother loved her pressure cooker.  And then there was my mother-in-law loved her Iron Skillets and a beautiful old French Enameled, Cast Iron Dutch Oven that was a light Turquoise with a little design around the bottom.  Her other favorite was a Speckled (Graniteware) Navy Blue Oval Roaster that always showed up in her oven for Sunday Dinners. There were so many dents and dings in that old pot but the food was always so moist and flavorful!wp-1585333264704219841867118181182.jpg

When I first got married we bought one of those sets of “Waterless” Stainless Steel cookware.  You remember, the kind you purchased at a Home Demonstration Party??   They were good but not my favorite.  Ended up giving they away. wp-15851885272587043977086344061676.jpg

Then came a set of those new Teflon pots that were touted as being non-stick and they were indeed until the Teflon started to flake off into your food!!  Not good at all.


I received a great Presto Pressure Cooker that I loved and used all the time after I finally learned how to use it and not blow it up!!  I had this one for 49 years and just sold it at a garage sale!!


Next came probably the most expensive cookware I have ever purchased…..well, almost!  It was a set of All-Clad Triple Ply Stainless Cookware.  Wonderful pots, but I found something I loved even more and so much more affordable……

wp-15851883775976188049160053638877.jpgHere are pictures and a list of my current favorites!!

Curtis Stone Cookware…I must admit that I had a huge collection of All-Clad cookware. They were very pricey so I would have save up and buy one at a time when they went on sale.  They are wonderful pots, they cook great, but I had to have the fanciest ones with the black coating on the outside and so they could never be put in the dishwasher……(not that I do that anyway) and required careful handling to not get scuffed.

One night at 3 a.m. I got a Tornado alert on my television. I went to take cover in an inside bathroom with no windows, got under a pile of quilts and pillows and waited in the bathtub until I got the “all clear”.  With my heart still racing a half hour later, I just couldn’t go back to sleep so I started flipping through the channels and came across a demo of these pots with the man himself!!  Home Shopping Network at 4 a.m., Really Chiqui???  In a weak moment after being so impressed, I ordered a 14 piece set and called it a night!  Woke up the next morning and asked myself, “What have you done??  The last thing you need is another set of pots!”  So I calmed myself done by rationalizing that I could always send them back if I didn’t like them in person……right??

Can I tell you that I am in love with these pots?  Great to cook in, food never sticks, great variety of sizes and that tall pot with the handle is indispensable!!   Perfect for brewing iced tea, cooking grits, and especially great for making Pralines and Almond Butter Crunch Toffee!!   I also LOVE the see-thru lids with the tiny steam release vent!   Great for cooking rice or a recipe that says not to raise the lid!  Best part you can pretty much use any utensil in them but I always avoid metal whenever possible.  I do take care of my cookware!!

Goes without saying, I gave my whole set of All-Clad to my daughter and son-in-law and have never looked back!!  I talked so much about these pots one night while teaching a fancy cooking class that before I could finish singing their praises, one of my students ordered them right there on his phone!!wp-15852494278394724171805753098092.jpg

Now the ones in the picture with the Dura-Pan sticker are brand new ones I got for my son and his wife as a Housewarming gift and obviously have not been used yet; you do need to remove the stickers first! The others have been used all the time!  By the way, they do come in a stainless steel version instead of a color! Continue reading

It’s strawberry season in Louisiana and boy are they so delish this year!

20180213_18575420180213_185801A fresh Strawberry Tart is a great way to celebrate our fabulous Pontchatoula,  Louisiana Strawberries.  This tart is especially good because the filling is like a thin layer of cheesecake and who in their right mind doesn’t like Cheesecake!!

The recipe for this Tart is on page 197 of my cookbook, but check out my blog about how to put together a Perfect Pie Crust!!  It will save you a lot of time and it really does insure a perfect crust!


Other ways to serve our fabulous strawberries….Strawberry Shortcakes made with Sweet Cream biscuits and Chantilly Cream, Fresh Fruit Salad, Strawberry Cream Cheese Pastries, Balsamic Glazed Strawberry Dessert,  and my Springtime favorite….Fruit and Nut Salad with a Poppy Seed Dressing!

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Seventeen (17*F) Degrees in South Louisiana>>Really????? Frozen Pipes, No Guys Around, and Leftover Pot Roast.

I wrapped my pipes…..didn’t get frozen when it snowed in December…..what happened??

Call my youngest son at 6 a.m. to tell him we have NO WATER and could he come home and fix it??  He was just getting off work across the lake but said the bridge was closed!  “You should have run the water last night, Mom.”  Really, son??  “Can’t you call Jason??”

Called Jason and his pipes were frozen, too.  Said he would come over when he could.  Oh well, I’ll just go outside and fix it myself.  With hair dryer in hand, I proceeded outside and blow-dried  my pipes for a total of 30 minutes with the wind blowing and the wind chill at 10*F.  I laid hands on the pipes, prayed and held the dryer in place.  Thirty chilly minutes later….SUCCESS!!!!

Came inside to let my body defrost, cooked breakfast and had my second cup of coffee, ahh…..Thank you Lord for answered prayer!

So I decided to clean out the fridge and pulled out some leftover Pot Roast and a few veggies…….so guess what I’m making now???


Homemade Vegetable (Beef) Soup  Page 128 & 129 in my cookbook.


Or maybe you want a real easy soup without meat but really satisfying and a real comfort on a chilly day!

Cannellini Soup with Parmesan

This hearty soup makes delicious use of the flavorful 1/4-inch-thick rinds that remain after wedges of Parmesan have been grated away; they infuse the soup with a nice salty bite as it simmers.  (I always grate my own Parmesan and Romano cheeses so I always have these in my freezer.  I sometimes put these rinds in my red gravy…….so good!!)

Makes 6 to 8 servings


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional oil for garnish
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large celery stalk, finely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
  • 3 15-ounce cans cannellini (white kidney beans), drained
  • 6 cups low-salt chicken broth (preferably homemade)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage or 1 teasp. dried
  • 2 2×2-inch Parmesan cheese rinds
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped or cooked Bacon (meat is optional)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery and sauté until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add beans, broth, sage, Parmesan rinds, and prosciutto or cooked bacon; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until flavors blend and soup thickens slightly, about 40 minutes. Using tongs, remove cheese rinds.
  2. Puree about 5 cups soup in processor and return to pot. Season with salt and pepper. (Soup can be made 2 days ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Rewarm before serving.) Ladle soup into bowls and serve, passing grated Parmesan cheese and additional olive oil separately.

This blog post was written two years ago in December but somehow never got posted!!  Better late than never, especially since some states are still experiencing cold temps!


Bon Appetit…..until next time




Everybody Confined to home because of the “Virus”….How are you passing the time????


I admit that the first couple of days I found lots of things to occupy my time while halfway listening to updates of the VIRUS on tv…….Cleaned out my closet, organized my “cooking school” recipes to start writing my new cookbook, changed the sheets, washed and folded all the laundry and even contacted all my family members in Guatemala to send in their favorite recipes to put together a family cookbook to honor our Spanish Heritage!!  WOW!  All the while trying to help others with babysitting so they can take kids to the doctor, run to the grocery or play with a three year old so his Mom can get her work done at home!

Like most people in the world, we are trying to stay home and use the groceries that we already have in our freezer and our pantry to avoid more trips to the grocery.  This morning I decided to defrost a 3 pound package of Pork Stew meat that I had purchased from Sam’s a couple of weeks back.  Never having made a Pork Stew before, I “relished” the challenge of making something new for dinner tonight!  Turned out really good so I thought I would share…..Comfort Food I would call it.  Hope you give it a try!20200324_1848393768759124348769499.jpgPork Stew Over Guatemalan Style Rice, Baked and Buttered Sweet Potato , and Gabby’s Peas

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Perfect appetizer for any gathering, anytime of the year!! Middle Eastern Style Hummus My Way

Chiqui’s Hummus Appetizer

Hummus is quickly growing as one of America’s most beloved appetizers.  Even my grandkids love it!  The “caterer” in me loves to go over the top in arranging it on a platter to serve when guests are coming over or if I am asked to bring a dish to a friend’s for a gathering.  

I love to serve my Hummus with warmed Naan or Pita Bread torn into pieces but lately everybody is doing Keto so I have been using sliced carrot “chips”, Greek Olives and sliced cucumbers.

Homemade Hummus is so easy to make, especially if you have a high powered blender or food processor.  It can be whipped up in no time and believe me, it is sooooo much tastier than anything you can buy pre-packaged!

Don’t skimp on the garlic!  My recipes calls for roasting seasoned, whole heads of garlic that just mellow out so beautifully by the slow roasting process.  And the luscious topping called “Checca” just takes .this dish to a heavenly level!

Don’t like chickpeas???  This can be made with Cannellini Beans or white navy beans with great results.  Feel free to experiment with different kinds of chips or breads, but by all means, make this dish!!  You and your guests will be so pleased!



















8 GOOD-QUALITY PITA OR NAAN BREADS , lightly warmed in oven and cut into triangles or torn into “silver dollar” sized pieces




Preheat oven to 375*.  Cut 1/3 inch off of the pointy top of the fresh garlic or deep enough to expose all the cloves.  Place the Garlic, cut sides up on a doubled sheet of aluminum foil. Fold up the sides of the foil to form a “cup” to hold the garlic.  Drizzle the garlic with two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and season with a little Lemon-Pepper and Dehydrated Italian Seasoning.  Do not cover the garlic.  Roast in the preheated oven for about 40-50 minutes on the center rack until the garlic is soft enough to squeeze and is lightly browned.

Fit a food processor with the steel blade and squeeze the cooled, roasted garlic from both pieces into the processor bowl, making sure you do not include the papery skin.  Add all the remaining ingredients in the order listed, except the extra water and process until smooth, stopping the processor occasionally to scrape down the sides of the work bowl. Add enough of the 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup cold water to reach the desired consistency. Transfer the puree to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to serve..

Mound the chilled hummus on a serving plate or bowl surrounded by pretty lettuce leaves and arrange the Tomato Checca on top. Garnish with the chopped Cilantro, Thinly sliced Green onions and Tops, Greek (Black) Olives, sliced Cucumbers or Carrot “Chips”and surround with the pita or Naan triangles. Serve immediately.

Checca Sauce
2 lbs Ripe Roma (plum) tomatoes,  seeds removed and cut into 1/4 inch dice

1 teaspoon finely minced fresh garlic

2 tablespoons minced fresh Cilantro

1 1/2 -2 teaspoons salt (to taste)

1/2 teaspoon Lemon-Pepper

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal (Reserve 2 tabsp. for garnish)

Toss ingredients together thoroughly, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Until next time…….Bon Appetit,




Oh How I LOVE Springtime

My herbs are in full bloom and I get so excited to go outside and gather fresh herbs when I am cooking!  My favorites are my Genovese Basil.  Perfect for Salads, Sauces and Appetizers:


My favorite is Pesto a la Genovese to stir into hot cooked spaghetti or drizzle it over my Summer Caprese Salad.  And it goes without saying it is an essential ingredient is my Classic Marinara Sauce or Red Gravy.

My Version Capresse Salad

My version of a Caprese Salad

Line a platter with your choice of lettuce..I like either Romaine or soft Butter Lettuce.  Alternate slices of Creole Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Fresh Basil Leaves and scatter a handful of Kalamata Olives and Drizzle with Pesto Genovese.  Season with freshly ground black pepper.  Serve immediately.



Eggplant Spaghetti….Just make your regular Marinara Sauce (page 86) and after you saute the onions and garlic, just add 1 Medium eggplant with the skin, cut up into 1″cubes, that you have generously salted and allowed to drain in a colander for 40 minutes.  Dry the cubes well and add to the onions and garlic and saute for 5 more minutes and add all remaining ingredients.  Simmer on Med. low heat for one hour! Boil Spaghetti in salted water for 8 minutes or “al dente”, Remove 1/2 of the Eggplant Sauce from the pot. Add the cooked pasta to the remaining sauce in the pot and cook on low for two minutes more.  Serve immediately and top each portion with more sauce.  Pass the freshly grated Pecorino Romano Cheese and the Garlic Bread!!20140810_154510



Springtime Basil!20180601_194902.jpg



Bay Leaves, two different kinds…so fragrant… that goes in EVERYTHING New Orleans Style!   Like Gumbos, Soups, Stews, Red Beans and Jambalaya….


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A Wedge Salad to rival any “Steak House” dinner classic.


Ever wonder what happened to that steak house salad that we all loved to eat??  I think it was over shadowed by the ever popular Caesar Salad and although some restaurants may offer them, it just doesn’t compare to how they used to taste.

Well here is a recipe that I taught in a recent class that got rave reviews.  The secret is to use a good quality blue cheese and lots of it!  Definitely start with a block of blue cheese instead of one that is already pre-crumbled.  When choosing a cheese, make sure it is well “veined” with deep blue color for that strong taste that seems to be missing these days!

I know that the classic wedge salad calls for iceberg lettuce and I don’t have a problem with that, but to bring it up to a more sophisticated version I love to use Baby Romaine lettuce.   Add some crumbled, crispy bacon and grape tomatoes and you have an awesome starter to any meal!!

Serves 8
• 8 strips good-quality smoked bacon
• 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
• 4 baby romaine lettuces Or two firm heads of Iceberg Lettuce
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Blue Cheese Dressing, recipe follows
Cook bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels. When cooled, crumble and set aside.
Cut the baby romaine hearts in half lengthwise; rinse in cold water and drain on paper towels cut side down for 15 minutes. Wrap in a kitchen towel and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Divide the wedges among 8 chilled salad plates. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spoon about 1/4 cup of Blue Cheese Dressing over each salad and top with several halved grape tomatoes, crumbled bacon, a few grinds of black pepper and some chopped fresh parsley. Pass the remaining dressing if desired.
Chiqui’s Blue Cheese Dressing:
2 cups Hellmann’s mayonnaise or homemade mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
*1/2 cup Buttermilk or more as needed
2 cups hand crumbled blue cheese (about 6-8 ounces) or more if desired
1 French shallot, finely minced
2 tablespoons Regina red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley leaves
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh Garlic
1 teaspoon Dried Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Tony’s Seasoning
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Lemon-pepper to taste
Place all ingredients except blue cheese in a bowl and whisk together to blend. If you desire a more pourable sauce, add more buttermilk to reach desired consistency. Gently stir in crumbled blue cheese. Refrigerate in a tightly sealed glass container for up to 5 days.
Yield: 3 1/2 cups **To make your own buttermilk, add one tablespoon vinegar to each cup of whole milk. Let stand 10 minutes before using.


Hope you will give this a try real soon and that you love it as much as I do!

……..until next time, Bon Appetit,