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Spice Up Your Life - Empty Nester Adventures | Empty Nester Adventures

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Spice Up Your Life

Spice Up Your Life

Aug 23, 2011

By: Laurie Rials


I remember my first empty nest feeling – guilt.  Yes, guilt!  We left our only child at college in Arkansas and headed eight hours south to Louisiana and I felt guilt.  Why?  I did not cry or feel like crying.  What was wrong with me?  Tre’ and I had spent days preparing him for college – many shopping trips for the perfect dorm items, packing those items, and heading to Arkansas with John following.  Now John and I were headed back to south Louisiana and I did not cry.  Oh My!

The following morning John left for the office and shortly after the dam opened.  Yep, I cried for most of the day.  I mean sobbing uncontrollably.  Then as quickly as the tears started, they stopped.  I showered, dressed and thought “we are empty nesters”.

John arrived home to candlelight, good china, silver and crystal, music and a romantic meal.  I cannot remember what the meal was and it does not matter.  What mattered was that I realized we were starting another chapter in our life together and I wanted us to enjoy it to the fullest.

That is what we want for anyone reading this.  Make this chapter special, add spice to your life together  – use the good china, have candlelight dinners, dance in the living room, read poetry to each other, enjoy each other’s company.

Another way to add spice is to experiment with different recipes or learn a new cooking culture or technique.  We are south Louisiana Cajuns who are passionate about cooking, dancing, and RVing.  Below is a Cajun Recipe that will “Spice Up Your Life”.

Our Empty Nest Chapter started in 1997 and some of our adventures have been dance classes, writing classes, wine classes, jeeping on old mining trails, and we have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the adventure.


We are now starting our second Empty Nest chapter.  This chapter will be full time RVing to see America.  Follow along with us as we explore and cook our way to new adventures.

We (Laurie and John) are Cajuns and cooking is our passion.  As traveling Cajuns, like our ancestors, we must take what we find where we are and develop good food and good times. While traveling we shop locally, take the bounty, cook and serve it with a Cajun Flair.  As long as we have our cast iron pots and pans, some Cajun seasoning and imagination, Cajun meals will be alive and well on the road we travel. Cajun cooking is not so much what you cook as it is how you cook.  The purpose of our blog is to show that it does not take an industrial kitchen or numerous ingredients to make a memorable meal – any time, any place. Our RV kitchen is not large, yet we have produced some incredible meals with a Cajun Flair using local food finds.  Follow us on the road we travel for our culinary adventure across America.



Enjoy our two recipes below and Mais C’est Bon!


Cajun Rice and Shrimp

Cajun French: la chevrette (la shuv-ret) – shrimp

  • 1 lb. Shrimp (10-12 count)
  • 1/2 Creole Red onion (any available onion type)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tbl olive oil
  • 1 cup Cajun Grain Brown Jasmine Rice, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup course chopped baby carrots
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 tsp Cajun Seasoning
  • Smoked paprika
  • Cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh Parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbl fresh Green Onions, chopped

Cajun Grain is local milled rice that has a nutty flavor.  Use your choice of rice and cook according to package directions.  Add 1 tsp Cajun Seasoning to the rice water and go lighter on the salt.

Boil carrots with a pinch of salt.

Mince garlic and slice onion. Combine with 1 Tbl olive oil and let sit while rice & carrots cook. When carrots & rice are cooked, heat onion & garlic over medium heat and sauté until onions are tender (3-5 minutes).  Remove onions and garlic.   Add 2 Tbl Oil to skillet, add shrimp, single layer, and season with salt, paprika & cayenne pepper to taste. Cook until bottom side is pink (about 1 minute) and turn shrimp. Sprinkle liberally with paprika and cook 1 minute or until pink. Turn off heat.

Mix rice, carrots, and parsley and divide between 2 plates. Place shrimp on rice and spoon oil, onion, and garlic over shrimp and rice. Garnish with chopped green onions.


Maque Choux

Pronounced Mock Shoe.  This is an Acadian and Native American dish from South Louisiana.  It is believed the name comes from the Acadian interpretation of the Caddo Native American name for the dish.  The traditional dish is corn, bell pepper, onion and tomatoes and as with most Cajun recipes, they evolve over time.  We chose to leave out the tomato and add sweet pepper.

2 ears fresh corn

½ red sweet pepper

½ Creole red onion

Clean pepper; cut in long strips.  Roast peppers in greased iron skillet on medium high heat.

Shuck and clean corn; cut kernels from cob.  When peppers are about half done, add corn and continue roasting.  Peppers should be slightly blackened and corn should begin to brown.

Remove corn and peppers from skillet.  Add sliced, rinsed onions to skillet and roast until they begin to caramelize (begin to turn brown).  Add onions to pepper and corn.  Serve as a side.



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