Try A Creole Cookout

IN THE KITCHEN

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Breathe new life into the traditional American cookout with flavors from New Orleans -- the "Big Easy."

Choose ingredients with big Creole flavor, easy preparation and that little something extra -- or "lagniappe" as they say in the French Quarter.

Start with premium, grain-fed steaks that are naturally tender, no-carb and well marbled. Sprinkle on an authentic, all-purpose blend of Creole spices or give the beef a soak in a Creole-spiced marinade. The seasoning creates a seal during grilling, keeping the food juicy. The marinade adds flavor and tenderness.

Then package the tasty leftovers in tight-sealing disposable yet reusable plastic containers and send them home with your guests. But don't give all the leftovers away -- you'll want to keep some for yourself! Everyone will get to take it "easy" another day when dinner is already prepared.

Entertaining the Creole way

  • Make entertaining easy. Keep individually wrapped steaks, pork and poultry, signature appetizers, side dishes and delicious desserts on hand in the freezer. When it's time for company, thaw, heat and serve.
  • Give side dishes and salads that "French Quarter" flair. Spice things up using Creole seasoning in place of salt.
  • Prepare flavorful grilled vegetables in no time! Marinate fresh vegetables with a Creole marinade, thread onto pre-soaked wooden skewers and grill.
  • Make time to relax and enjoy your guests. When possible, prepare foods ahead of time. Wrap, cover and store foods with sealable plastic wrap until you're ready to grill or serve. This helps keep food fresh and the spill-proof seal guarantees safe transport to any grill or table.
  • Plan for leftovers. Some dishes taste better the next day after their ingredients have had a chance to mingle. Keep refrigerated leftovers fresh in tight-sealing plastic containers, pop in the microwave and enjoy your "Big Easy" cookout another day.

Steak Jambalaya

1 tablespoon oil

1/2 cup yellow onions (1/2-inch chop)

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

1/2 cup red peppers (1/2-inch chop)

1/4 cup celery (1/2-inch chop)

1/4 cup sliced okra

1 teaspoon Creole seasoning

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes in sauce

1 cup water

1 blackened rib eye steak (see recipe) sliced thin, then halved

Heat oil in skillet. Add onions and garlic; cook until soft. Add peppers, celery and okra; cook until soft. Stir in Creole seasoning. Add diced tomatoes in sauce and water; simmer 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and fold in steak slices. Serve over Dirty Rice (recipe to follow).

Cool leftovers completely and store in plastic container up to 5 days. Serves 4.

Blackened Rib Eye Steak

4 (10-ounce) rib eye steaks

2 teaspoons Creole seasoning

Heat cast iron skillet on high for 5 minutes. Season steaks on both sides with 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning.

Place seasoned steak in hot skillet. For perfect medium rare, cook 3 minutes, then turn and cook 2 minutes more. Serve with Dirty Rice and Creole Vegetable Kabobs (recipe to follow).

Wrap and refrigerate any leftover steak in plastic, self-sealing wrap to keep foods fresh. Serves 4.

Creole Vegetable Kabobs

4 medium button mushrooms

4 (1-inch) slices zucchini

4 (1-inch) slices red peppers

4 (1-inch) slices yellow squash

4 cherry tomatoes

Creole-style marinade

Creole seasoning

Soak four 8-inch bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes before using.

On each bamboo skewer, place 1 mushroom, zucchini slice, red pepper slice, yellow squash slice and cherry tomato. Place kabobs in large plastic container. Pour in enough Creole marinade to completely cover kabobs and marinate 2 to 4 hours.

Remove kabobs from marinade and sprinkle with Creole seasoning. Grill until vegetables are slightly soft and nicely marked. Serves 4.

Dirty Rice

2 1/2 cups cold water

1/2 cup chicken livers and gizzards

1/2 cup cubed pork shoulder

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons diced onions

1/2 tablespoon chopped garlic

2 tablespoons diced celery

1/4 cup sliced frozen okra

2 tablespoons minced green onions

1/2 tablespoon Creole seasoning

1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 cup uncooked converted rice

Place chicken livers, chicken gizzards and pork shoulder in cold water. Bring to boil and skim off any fat or foam that rises to top. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 30 minutes.

Strain off chicken and pork. Reserve liquid and finely chop meat.

Melt butter in large saucepot. Add vegetables and garlic. Sauté until vegetables are soft.

Add reserved liquid and meat, plus Creole seasoning, Worcestershire sauce and rice, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes, until rice is cooked and most liquid has cooked away.

Rice can be cooled and stored until needed in a plastic container. Serves 4.

For more information and great recipes, check out www.omahasteaks.com, www.tonychachere.com and www.glad.com.

Recipes courtesy of Family Features

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