Famous New Orleans King Cake Recipe

The King Cake recipe is a famous Louisiana dessert that has a long history of being a local staple, especially during Mardi Gras.  Before we look at how to make this delicious and colorful concoction first posted by Allrecipes.com, let’s take a quick look at the King Cake’s origins.

The King Cake, a circular shaped cross between a coffee cake and a french pastry, is thought to have been brought to New Orleans from France in 1870. It is one of the most recognizable symbols of Mardi Gras, and as Mardi Gras has religious origins, so does the King Cake.  Mardi Gras Season kicks off on January 6th, also called the “Epiphany” which comes from the Greek term “to show.”  Jesus showed himself to the 3 Wisemen on this day, and because of this, a tiny plastic baby is inserted somewhere into the King Cake.  In the olden days, things such as coins, pecans or peas were used in place of the baby. Will you be the one to find the baby in your piece of cake?  Who knows? Tradition has it that, whoever finds the baby in their piece of cake has to buy the next one.


King Recipes are as many as there are Mardi Gras traditions, and opinions on which bakery sells the best King Cake are held strongly by native Louisianians.  They are typically cinnamon flavored and have various fillings such as cream cheese, butter pecan, strawberry, blueberry, vanilla pudding, etc.

This recipe is an easy and fun one to do at home.  Try it out! You may just find that the best Louisiana King Cake is the one you make in your very own kitchen!

INGREDIENTS

PASTRY:
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

FILLING:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup melted butter


FROSTING:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon water

EXTRAS:

Plastic Baby

DIRECTIONS
Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.


To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.


Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10×16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Push the doll into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners’ sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.

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Nicholls Offers Scholarship for Veterans

There were around 20.4 million U.S. veterans in 2016, according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, representing less than 10% of the total U.S. adult population.  Hundreds of thousands of veterans are battling post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. Suicide in the veteran community remains at an epidemic level, 20 per day. Many spouses feel helpless and aren’t sure how to support their loved one. And children are growing up wondering why their mother or father has changed.  Trauma-focused psychotherapies and psychotropic medications may offer symptom relief, but do they address the core issues of disconnection, societal withdrawal, and living without a sense of mission and purpose?

The Nicholls State University Office of Veteran Services and the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association are committed to helping combat vets find a new purpose by aiding them in more education and a healthy return to civilian life.  Nicholls recently announced a new scholarship specifically for combat vets.


The January 2017 edition of JAMA Psychiatry stated that “… we have probably come about as far as we can with current dominant clinical approaches. Other strategies are urgently needed to effectively address remaining research and clinical gaps concerning the health care needs of combat veterans”.  Traditional mental health programs focus primarily on symptom reduction and a lot of times miss the opportunity to identify and facilitate personal growth as a result of veterans’ struggles. A new, research-based approach to trauma that has been studied by psychologists for the past three decades called Posttraumatic Growth, or PTG for short, explores how people who endure psychological struggle following adversity can often achieve positive growth afterwards.

This growth can occur in one or more domains: a greater appreciation of life, increased personal strength, openness to new possibilities, improved relationships, and enhanced spiritual or existential awareness. At the core of PTG is restoring a purposeful and meaningful life, learning to respond rather than react, and the construction of new beliefs about the world, one’s self, and the future.  The CVMA, comprised of motorcycle-riding veterans from all branches of the United States Armed Forces, feels it their duty to extend PTG to their fellow vet brothers and sisters, and decided that aiding education would do the trick. With members from all 50 states, their mission is to support and defend veterans who served their country and fought for our freedoms.


The CVMA 6-4 Veteran Scholarship will award $500 to a student once per semester to recipients who were an honorably discharged combat veteran and who is at least a sophomore full-time student with a minimum 2.5 GPA. The scholarship is named for the CVMA South Louisiana Chapter.


“We just want to be able to give back to our veteran community and make sure the guys returning home from combat theater who are trying to make something of themselves are afforded every opportunity possible,” CMVA member and Navy veteran John Bruner said. “Coming back to school can be a make or break opportunity. A lot of guys coming back home have seen things and may have some issues that if compounded by financial burden can lead them down a darker path. We want to do anything we can to divert that in a positive direction.”

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Garlic Butter Pork Chops Recipe

Primaverakitchen.com recently posted an amazing recipe that just had to share!  We have two words for you: Pork Chops.

Americans eat almost 50 pounds of pork per person each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.  Pork chops deliver iron, potassium and other essential nutrients, while being about as lean as chicken.   One serving of pork is 3 ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. You’ll get 137 calories and 4 grams of fat from a 3-ounce pork chop. Pork is similar to chicken, with 3 ounces of chicken breast containing 140 calories and 3 grams of fat. A pork chop has 65 milligrams of cholesterol, compared to 72 grams in chicken breast, but they both have just 1 gram of saturated fat.

Pork chops deliver a big boost of complete protein. Men get 43 percent of their recommended daily intake, and women gain 52 percent from a 3-ounce pork chop. Proteins are found in every cell in the body, where they contribute to the structure and maintenance of tissues. They deliver messages between cells, cause muscles to contract and carry important substances. For example, the hemoglobin that carries oxygen is a protein. Other important substances made from protein include antibodies, enzymes and some hormones.

If pork chops are cooked well, they can be the ultimate comfort meat. Once you figure out how to make a tender, juicy chop, it becomes a staple in the weekly rotation of dinners.  This baked pork chop is super juicy and tender thanks to the garlic butter thyme sauce and it’s super-fast and easy. Prep time is only 5 MINUTES! Cook time is only 10-12 MINUTES!! What?! This recipe is also low-carb, paleo and whole30 (use Ghee instead of butter) and gluten-free.

INGREDIENTS
Good quality butter (if possible organic or grass-fed butter)
Garlic
Fresh thyme
Salt and ground black pepper
Pork Chops

DIRECTIONS
First, preheat the oven to 375°F.
Then, season well pork chops with salt and pepper. The amount of salt and pepper here will depend on your taste.
Third, prepare the butter sauce by placing four tablespoons of butter in a small glass bowl and melt it in the microwave or stove. Once it’s melted, add chopped thyme and garlic. Stir well and set aside.
In a cast iron skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and when the skillet is really hot add pork chops and sear them until they get a nice golden and brown look. It’s will take about 4 minutes on each side.
Pour garlic butter mixture over the pork chops and place skillet in the oven.

Pork chops should stay in the oven until they have reached 145 degrees Fahrenheit internal temperature. You can measure it by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part of pork chop. In my option the best way to make juicy and tender pork chops is by searing on the stove using a cast iron skillet and then, finish cooking them in the oven. The reason being is: the pork chops will get a nice, brown and beautiful crust on the outside, and they will be very juicy and tender inside.

Remove skillet from the oven and using a spoon, pour some of the delicious butter sauce left in the skillet onto the pork chops before serve. Enjoy!!

Sides that go well with Baked Pork Chops:
Golden Cauliflower Rice
Garlic Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Mushroom Cauliflower Rice Skillet
Whole30 Mashed Cauliflower

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What to Do in Anaheim, California

Although most people may head to Anaheim just to visit Disneyland park, the area has so much more to offer!  This sunny Southern California town, with its dry, mild climate, is home to family-friendly restaurants, affordable chain hotels and sprawling strip malls. The area is very diverse, hosting rich immigrant communities that add a complex layer of food, culture and fun.  The locals are typically very active and enjoy sporting events and outdoor venues. Here are some of the best things to do if heading toward Orange County based off the New York Times list recently published.

1.    Catch a Sporting Event

The Angel Stadium of Anaheim is home to the Los Angeles Angels. The stadium is the fourth oldest in Major League Baseball and boasts a 230 foot sign that has a halo on top that lights up in honor of every victory.  A home game can attract up to 45,000 screaming fans so if you are looking for an active atmosphere then this is as good a place as any.

If ice hockey is more your taste then just opposite the Angel Stadium is the Honda Center, home to the Anaheim Ducks.  The center hosts a variety of events like football and live concerts.  In fact, when it first opened in June 1993, the first performance ever was a concert by Barry Manilow.  Once there, it may look eerily familiar.  It was also the location that the animated TV series Mighty Ducks.

2.    See Live Music

A lot of things in Anaheim are on a large scale and sometimes it is nice to enjoy some entertainment with a lot less people and a lot more intimacy.  City National Grove of Anaheim is a versatile 1,700-seat facility, located adjacent to Angel Stadium. It is consistently ranked as a “Top 10 Stop” in North America and is known for legendary performances by Prince, Merle Haggard, Lewis Black, Ray Charles and Stevie Nicks, among many others. It boasts state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment and an experienced staff that is ready to create a one-of-a-kind event of any size.  Any day of the week the multipurpose, indoor venue hosts a variety of live concerts, family shows, comedy, community and private events.

3.    Visit a Park

Sitting just outside Anaheim is Ralph B. Clark Regional Park. A great location for those who like the fresh air and outdoors life.  The park has many activities to enjoy with your family and friends such as cycling, fishing, hiking, boating, or even stop for a picnic or barbeque.   Birders love to sit at one of the many picnic tables or under a shade tree with their binoculars and some snacks, as they can enjoy more than 130 varieties of species.  The hiking trails are a magnet for visitors because they are shaded by trees and run along the outer perimeter of the park.

If biking is more your preferred activity, try Canyon Rim Park.  This 6.5-acre park has 56 regular parking spots, as well as 2 spots that accommodate for people with disabilities, restrooms, drinking fountains and trash receptacles. There are a multitude of trail varieties and difficulties so no matter your age or physical restriction, there will be a trail for you. The park is located near the southerly entrance to the Deer Canyon Park Preserve and the trails leading to Oak Canyon Nature Center as well as the Walnut Canyon Reservoir Trail.

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Top Gluten-Free Dessert Recipe

Going Gluten-Free may seem like a difficult and limiting task. Fortunately, there are many healthy and delicious foods that are naturally gluten-free.  The most cost-effective and healthy way to follow the gluten-free diet is to seek out naturally gluten-free food groups, which include: Fruits, Vegetables, Meat and poultry, Fish and seafood, Dairy, Beans, legumes, and nuts.  The most common reason people go gluten-free (besides trying to join the next big food fad) is to maintain Celiac Disease.  In people with this autoimmune disease, gluten triggers the immune system to attack the small intestine. Even trace amounts of gluten can cause significant damage. With repeated attacks, the small intestine loses its ability to absorb vital nutrients, such as calcium and iron. Over time, people with untreated celiac disease can develop severe nutritional deficiencies, such as osteoporosis and iron-deficiency anemia, as well as other autoimmune disorders, extreme fatigue, infertility, neurological problems and, in a very small percentage of cases, lymphoma of the small intestine. A gluten-free diet allows the small intestine to heal so it can absorb nutrients properly, and reduces the risk of associated problems.  Sometimes gluten sensitivity triggers the immune system to attack the skin, rather than the small intestine and cause a chronic itchy, bumpy rash that can be quite painful. If people with a gluten sensitivity continue to eat gluten, they also may run an increased risk of developing intestinal cancer.  

As science evolves and makes it easier for people to pinpoint diagnoses and food sensitivities, more and more people are deciding to gluten-free in an attempt to relieve the nasty side effects a gluten allergy can cause.  Gluten free eaters often feel as if sweets and desserts are off limits and typically they are, unless you are willing to get creative. Fortunately, we have chosen our Top great gluten-free dessert recipe based on this list.  This recipe is tried and true and a welcome gift to the sugar-starved gluten free person!  They are moist and luxurious and will quickly become a staple in your gluten free home.

  1. Gluten Free Chocolate Frosted Brownies

INGREDIENTS


BROWNIES
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
FROSTING
6 Tbsp. salted butter
1/2 c. cocoa powder
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 c. milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract


DIRECTIONS
BROWNIES:
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish. I used a 9×13 glass Pyrex.  Note that you can use a hand mixer or a stand mixer for this recipe. Melt the butter, then add to mixing bowl. Add the sugar and pure vanilla extract and mix until blended.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition, until thoroughly blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour, xanthan gum (if needed), cocoa powder, and salt. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture in the mixing bowl until blended. Pour into greased 9×13″ pan and place in preheated oven. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs only, no batter.  Remove from oven and cool pan on wire rack before frosting.

FROSTING:
Using a medium glass bowl, beat the room temperature butter and the cocoa powder together. Add powdered sugar and milk alternately, beating with a hand mixer until creamy. Add vanilla last, beating in until mixed well.  Spread over the completely cooled brownies. For nice cutting, chill the completed frosted brownies for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

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A Brief History of the New Orleans Saints

In honor of the bittersweet season the New Orleans Saints have had, we wanted to look back at some of their history. We found that Pro Football Hall of Fame site had information dating as far back as we could remember.

It hasn’t always been good for the Saints.  They had a long road before getting to where they are now.  The National Football League awarded its 16th franchise to New Orleans on November 1, 1966, ironically All Saints Day. Less than a month later, no one was surprised when the team was named the “Saints.”

The 1967 NFL season began and New Orleans new that creating as much pre-season fan enthusiasm as possible in a city not previously exposed to pro football would be key to boosting support and morale.  The Saints made each home game a special event, a “Mardi Gras in Autumn,” with cheerleaders, jazz bands, and high school and college marching bands. New Orleans was destined year-after-year to have poor success on the field but still, they managed to thrill their fans with some exciting victories and memorable moments first at Tulane Stadium and later at the Superdome.  Incredibly, the average home attendance was 75K per game!


Their first season they won five of their six preseason games and opened the regular season on against the Los Angeles Rams before a packed house of 80,879 in Tulane Stadium. New Orleans fans will always remember John Gilliam’s 94-yard touchdown return with the opening kickoff even though the Rams eventually won 27-13. A final game victory over the Washington Redskins allowed the Saints to match the 3-11 first-year record attained by Minnesota in 1961 and Atlanta in 1966.

Over the years, New Orleans has seen some major plays and even more major players such as quarterback Archie Manning, running back George Rogers, Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Rickey Jackson, wide receiver Eric Martin and placekicker Morten Andersen.


The Saints struggled to become a winning team until 1987 after New Orleans businessman Tom Benson acquired the franchise. Benson immediately hired Jim Finks, a future Hall of Fame administrator, as president and general manager, and Jim Mora as the head coach. The pair soon turned the Saints into one of the NFL’s most potent franchises.

The Saints’ 21st season saw things turn around under Coach Mora.  The Saints won 12 of 15 games for a second-place finish in the NFC West. The Saints reached the playoffs four times in six seasons from 1987 to 1992 and won their first NFC West championship in 1991.

Fast forward to 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans on August 29 including extensive damage to the Louisiana Superdome. The Saints were unable to play any home games at the Superdome for the entire 2005 NFL regular season as a result. The stadium was also used to temporarily house victims of the storm.

After practicing for approximately a week in San Jose, California, where they had evacuated in conjunction with a pre-season game against the Oakland Raiders, the team set up temporary headquarters and arranged for practice facilities in San Antonio, Texas.  The league then announced that although the Saints’ first home game against the New York Giants would be played at Giants Stadium, other home games would be split between Tiger Stadium (the stadium of the LSU Tigers football) at LSU and the Alamodome in San Antonio.

In 2006 Sean Payton took over as head coach. The Saints returned to playing all of their regular home games of the season in New Orleans at the Superdome. Their first game back in New Orleans was marked by a dramatic blocked punt early in the first quarter, with Steve Gleason blocking the punt and Curtis Deloatch recovering the ball in the Falcons’ end zone for a touchdown. It was the first score in the Saints’ first game in New Orleans in nearly 21 months. The Saints won the game and, unexpectedly, went on to have the most successful season in their history up to that time, reaching the NFC Championship Game for the first time in franchise history.  Four years later Peyton guided the team to their first championship in franchise history when they won Super Bowl XLIV. In July 2012, “Rebirth”, a statue depicting Gleason blocking the punt, was erected outside the Superdome; a news report commented that the blocked punt “etched Steve Gleason into Saints lore and became symbolic of New Orleans’ resilience in the face of disaster”.


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