Crock’n & Rock’n

Let’s get shakin!!!

Happy Fall, time to get out the ole faithful crockpot y’all. That’s right, obviously you can use them all year long, but to me at least, crockpots are just made for cooler weather dishes. Don’t worry it’s still “homemade” and with a little planning it’s easier (and much healthier) than sitting in a drive through and getting takeout after work. I use mine at least once a week. We all know they are perfect for soups, roast, chili, country favorites at the camp, or a family dinner. Did you know you can also make a socially acceptable dinner for guest or even date night without judgement? Follow me!!! This one’s even WW and diet friendly!

Crock pot Chicken Cordon Bleu

  • 2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast 
  • 21.5 ounces Cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cups of milk (2% is fine)
  • 8 ounces deli Ham (sliced)
  • 8 ounces Swiss cheese (sliced)
  • 12 ounces Stuffing mix (I use herb flavor Stove Top brand)
  • 1/2 cup Butter (melted)
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1 tablespoon of Benwood’s Surely Southern Seasoning
  1. In a bowl whisk together the cream of chicken soup, milk & Benwood’s until combined.
  2. Pour half of the soup and milk mixture in the bottom of a 6-to-7-quart oval slow cooker.
  3. Arrange chicken breasts on top of the soup mixture.
  4. Lay slices of ham and then slices of Swiss cheese over the top of the chicken breasts.
  5. Pour remaining soup & milk mixture over everything.
  6. Cover top of chicken, ham & Swiss cheese with the dry stuffing mix.
  7. Pour melted butter and water over the top of the dry stuffing mix.
  8. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 to 6 hours or on HIGH for 2 to 3 hours.

Remember, “Treat your kitchen, treat yourself”

Uniquely southern, Surely the best

Chef Hunter Lee 

Charcoal vs. Gas

Let’s get shakin!!!

Some will say gas is convenient, I would agree, but it can be about what you are cooking. I prefer to have both but now I have used a pellet grill but that will have to be a “Tips and Tales” of its own.

A true southerner will tell you there’s nothing like charcoal and if you are using gas, you aren’t country or just lazy. My ole dad instilled that in me till I was out of high school, at which point he went and bought a gas grill. I cherish our times grilling together and I also know learning on charcoal or open flame doesn’t have the forgiveness of a controlled gas grill and I probably learned much more. Getting that gas grill ole Benwood (my dad) admitted, he was aging, sometimes if we want a steak or veggies we want it without the work, this I can also relate to.

So which ones better? Well, I’m going to give you my take on it, you might not agree, that’s okay to. Charcoal is a hotter fire, it will give more of an “outdoors” or smoked natural flavor (unless you use the briquets that are already soaked in lighter fluid – even I can’t forgive that one) and it’s better for steaks, grilled chicken, wild game. Gas grills give you better control of temperature and flare ups, long as the bottle has gas in it there is usually one button or nob and lit, they are great for veggies, chicken, pork chops, and even side dishes in pans, they are easy to clean and quality ones last.

However, they aren’t the best for BBQ chicken or a good southern steak, they don’t give you that “outdoors” flavor, and they tend to be quite expensive. 

I have two grills, one charcoal, one gas, because I think each have a purpose, each bring something different to the table and yes, I get lazy too. Either way you can’t go wrong, let ya own grill master come out and go with what you like best. 

I’m Chef Hunter Lee and until next week, remember, “treat your kitchen, treat yourself. 

Uniquely southern, surely the best

Southern Football Fall Y’all

Let’s get shakin!!!

I will admit I’ve never been that big into Football and that might make me a bad Southerner BUT I do love LSU and I keep up with our teams here in the parish. 

Football season in the south has and will always be the perfect time of year, even for me. It signifies fall, cooler weather, hunting season, holidays, and family and friends. 

Going to a football party? Having people out to the camp for a fire? What ya bringin? For campfire get togethers or in the accidental event that someone forces me to go to a football party, one of my favorite “go-to’s” is the country slider. It’s easy, inexpensive, and tasty.

Country Sliders 

  • one 12-count package Hawaiian sweet rolls, sliced in half
  •  3/4-pound cooked deli ham, thinly sliced
  •  3/4-pound Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
  •  1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  •  1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (horseradish mustard is great as well)
  •  1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  •  2 teaspoons dried minced onion
  •  1/2 teaspoon Benwood’s Surely Southern (original, low sodium, or hot depending on your tastebuds)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×9-inch or 9×13-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.

  1. Using a large, serrated knife, slice the rolls in half so you have a ‘slab’ of tops and a ‘slab’ of bottoms; don’t pull the rolls apart and slice individually because you want to keep them connected.
  2. Place the bottom ‘slab’ of rolls in prepared pan. 
  3. Evenly layer about half of the ham over the rolls.
  4. Evenly layer the cheese.
  5. Evenly layer the remaining ham.
  6. Add the top ‘slab’ of rolls. 
  7. Add the mustard, poppy seeds, onion, Worcestershire sauce, Benwood’s, and whisk to combine.
  8. Evenly and slowly pour the butter mixture over the rolls. Use a spatula to spread the mixture over the tops. Some of the mixture will pool at the base of the rolls.
  9. Cover with aluminum foil and allow rolls to stand at room temp for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  10. Bake covered for about 20 minutes or until cheese has melted.
  11. Uncover and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until as done as desired. Slice into individual sliders and serve immediately. Sliders are best warm and fresh.

Remember, “treat your kitchen, treat yourself” 

Uniquely southern, surely the best 

Chef Hunter Lee 

The Deserving Teacher

Let’s get shakin!!!

Let me start by saying as an adult I realize any teacher that had the misfortune of having me in his or her class deserves a medal and an apology, not a cupcake or dessert. I was a more a nightmare than teacher’s pet. Luckily it was a phase (or I think it was). For some reason most of them like me now and I have a unique respect for them.

Anyway, if you have a child like I was you should probably start now trying to make up for it. But even if you are one of the few that has a good child it’s always nice to show your gratitude. Going out of your way for our teachers is something special, southern, polite, and in my opinion not done often enough. Thank those teachers with these homemade treats you put atop your favorite (or store bought) cupcakes are a perfect way to say thank you. 

Apple Cupcake toppers 

  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) brick cream cheese, softened
  • 36 OREO Cookies, finely crushed (about 3 cups)
  • 16 oz red candy disks, melted
  • Pretzel sticks or Tootsie Rolls

Royal Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • green food coloring
  1. MIX cream cheese and cookie crumbs until blended.
  2. SHAPE into 48 (1-inch) apples.
  3. Place pretzel stick into the top of truffle, or cut Tootsie Roll into piece and roll into the shape of a stem.
  4. Freeze 10 min. Dip balls in melted candy; place in single layer in shallow waxed paper-lined pan.
  5. When the candy coating is set mix the powdered sugar, milk and green food coloring in a small bowl.
  6. Place icing in a piping bag fitted with a small round tip, or in a zip-top bag with a tiny bit of the corner snipped off. Pipe on leaves. Allow the truffles to set up. Then top your cupcakes with them

Remember, “treat your kitchen, treat yourself” 

Uniquely southern, surely the best 

Chef Hunter Lee 

The Labor Day Relief

Let’s get shakin!!!

As I see the kiddos returning to school, my social media is flooded with first day back to school pictures; I reminisce. I don’t have children but most of my friends do.

I remember back to when I was young when their parents were young. Back to school shopping, moms and dads exhausted from the summer heat and let’s be honest, THE KIDS.

I remember Labor Day weekend, I remember it was the last hoorah, it meant the long hot days of our southern summer were coming slowly to an end. I remember growing up we never started school before Labor Day.

Why do they now? Labor Day was created in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. Labor Day symbolizes the end of summer, and is usually celebrated with parties, street parades and athletic events. Even though school has already started I have the perfect little treat to serve or take to this year’s festivities or to make and celebrate at home with the kiddos that are now out of your hair 7 hours a day.

Treat yourself, summers ending, you made it! 

Summer Apple Bites 

FOR THE CRUST

Cooking spray
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. packed brown sugar 
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt 

FOR THE FILLING

6 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 c. packed brown sugar 
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

FOR THE TOPPING

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. chopped pecans
1 c. packed brown sugar 
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted

Caramel, for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line a 9”-x-13” pan with parchment then grease with cooking spray. In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add flour and salt and mix until just combined. 
  2. Press into prepared pan about 1/2” up sides. Bake until lightly golden, 20 minutes. 
  3. In a large bowl, toss apples, lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt together. Spread apples over crust. 
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pecans, brown sugar, and salt. Stir in melted butter until coarse clumps form.
  5. Sprinkle crumb topping over apples and bake until top is golden, and apples are soft, about 1 hour. 
  6. Let cool at least 15 minutes then slice into squares and drizzle with caramel before serving.

Remember, “treat your kitchen, treat yourself”

Uniquely southern, surely the best  Chef Hunter Lee

B.L.T.

Let’s get shakin!!

I posted a picture on Facebook, at home making a BLT sandwiches. Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato and let me tell you, everyone went crazy.

I know everyone on social media would rather see pictures of my food than my face and I’ve embraced that but this one caused a stir…

This time of year, the south has juicy, ripe homegrown tomatoes. I must admit my gardening abilities don’t match up with my kitchen skills, never have and I’m convinced they never will. I’m okay with that, I still try and its always a bust! So thankfully friends like Debbie and Delbert have the green thumb and supply me with tomatoes that made my sandwiches just perfect.  

The BLT was first known to be published in a 1903 issue of Good Housekeeping by Dr. Evan Mee. The original included a slice of turkey that is usually left off. They have been a hit in the south, almost a summer staple for over 100 years. The south has markets and roadside stands for produce and most of us raise or hunt hogs for the bacon. 

Although everyone tends to make them a little different here’s my take on the perfect BLT. 

  • 8 strips of cooked (crispy) bacon 
  • 4 tablespoons of Mayo (I prefer blue plate or Dukes) 
  • Pinch of garlic powder, fresh ground black pepper, salt 
  • Pinch of Benwood’s Surely Southern Seasoning (or Cajun seasoning of your choice but if using Tony’s, I would skip the pinch of salt) 
  • 4 slices of lightly toasted sandwich bread (I like Texas toast or thicker bread for this) 
  • A few large lettuce leaves (bibb, iceberg, or butter)
  • 1 large beefsteak or Cherokee tomato sliced 

Put the sandwich together and add your seasonings directly to the sliced tomatoes on the sandwich’s and enjoy. (Makes two sandwiches) 

Remember, “treat your kitchen, treat yourself”

Chef Hunter Lee  Uniquely southern, surely the best.

The Summer S’more

Let’s get shakin!!!

That’s right s’mores in the summer, it’s a thing, or it could be. I’ve never been considered completely sane and with it 100° or hotter outside, I probably got ya attention. But seriously if you like them, you like them, if you have ever made them with the kiddos, you know they love them. I grew up in the country and when we were kids out at the camp, we were always by the fire making s’mores!

They are perfect for those nights out by the fire when it’s cool out, camping, and perfect for family time. Well with one of the best kitchen inventions in a generation you don’t have wait until fall to toast that marshmallow! In fact, you don’t even have to go outside.

Time to get out the amazing air fryer and shake things up. Perfect for movie or game night with the kids (inside) or even a cute date night dessert or snack. Below is my version of s’mores without the heat of the summer at your back. Best part is you don’t have to build a fire or wait for fall. 

Put a few ingredients out and let each person create their own treat.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Graham Crackers
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate Bars

These ingredients come in so many flavors that you can switch them up and get creative. 

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Chocolate or Cinnamon graham crackers 
  • Cookies and cream chocolate bars
  • Dark Chocolate Bars
  • Strawberry Marshmallows 
  • Break the graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bar each into halves.
  • Place four graham crackers halves in the basket of your air fryer. Add the marshmallow halves on your cracker, sticky side down.
  • Cook on 370 degrees for 2-5 minutes, depending on your air fryer. Check the basket often to make sure that the marshmallows are turning light, golden brown. 
  • Once the marshmallows are golden brown remove the basket from the air fryer.
  • Put your chocolate bar halves on top of the marshmallows and top with the remaining graham cracker halves. 
  • Serve immediately so they are warm and gooey.

Remember, “treat your kitchen, treat yourself” 

Uniquely southern, surely the best!

Chef Hunter Lee 

The Passive-Aggressive Pineapple

Let’s get shakin!!!

I returned home this week from a cookbook promotional tour that included Asheville, North Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah Georgia. It was an amazing adventure but over 2,400 miles round trip, it was a lot of driving and let me tell y’all it’s just as HOT up there as it is here. 

South Carolina and Georgia are both well known for the Pineapple. It’s not just them, like a lot of symbols it’s a southern thing! 

“The Pineapple” is the southern symbol for hospitality and we all know you won’t find better down-home hospitality than right here in the GREAT state of Louisiana.

There are stories of how this came to be and why, a lot of them are just myth and a lot have been lost in history and time. 

Originally, pineapples were scarce. They were not only used as a symbol of hospitality but also, affluence. They would be set outside to let the neighbors know the gentleman of the house had returned from overseas and they were welcoming guests.

They were also said to be used as centerpieces for a fine dinner then used as dessert for the guests. My personal favorite: when pineapples were placed on the mantle it was a signal to let guests know the party/social was ending. In the true southern “passive-aggressive” fashion they were also cut in half and placed at the foot of the bed when overnight guest had overstayed their welcome.

In the south hospitality is life and the pineapple is just another chapter in our ever-unique culture, notwithstanding todays use of it displayed upside down signifying a more “precarious” type of hospitality.

Yes, hospitality in the south comes in many shapes, forms, and symbols.

Remember, “treat your kitchen, treat yourself” 

Chef Hunter Lee 

Uniquely southern, surely the best. 

Long Southern Summer Days

Let’s get shakin!

Don’t get me wrong there are many things to enjoy about the south in the summer. Boating, lakes, beaches, pools. Obviously most involve water because let’s face it, it gets miserably HOT. In fact, we are having one of the worst summers we have seen in quite some time. 

Now to the best part, summer gardens, some grow from them, and some buy from farmers markets and some from the all too delightful road side stands. 

Growing up, mom always hard a garden, a tradition I have carried on since being forced to retire 6 years ago. Why the effort? Why the work? As a southerner that’s just what you do. I think that it’s answered best by “Ouiser” Boudreaux in the famous southern movie Steel Magnolias as she not so quaintly explained the Louisiana heat and gardening:

“I am old and Southern, and I am supposed to wear funny clothes, ugly hats, and dig in the dirt. I did not make the rules, this is hell, I have found it, I’m in it.”

I can’t say I disagree but what do they say about life giving you lemons? Well, how about fresh homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers. They are divine and here’s how I like to put them to use.

This recipe almost makes the heat worth it. Enjoy 

Marinated, onion, cucumber, and tomato summer salad.

1 cup of water 
½ cup distilled white vinegar
¼ cup vegetable oil 
¼ cup sugar 
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste 
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and Benwood’s seasoning to taste 
3 cucumbers, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick 
3 tomatoes, cut into wedges 
1 onion, sliced and separated into rings (purple or sweet)

Whisk water, vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl until smooth; add cucumbers, tomatoes, and onion and stir to coat

Cover bowl with plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

I also like to add a little feta cheese crumble, maybe even some sliced banana peppers. Play around with it for the perfect summer treat. 

Remember, “treat your kitchen, treat yourself”

Chef Hunter Lee 

Uniquely southern, surely the best.

Is it Cajun? Is it Creole? Is it both?

Let’s get shakin!!!!!!

There are few dishes that are both Cajun and Creole, but both have different variations of similar dishes.

I’ve always made what I considered “traditional” Louisiana foods, but it wasn’t till my years of living and working in different parts of south Louisiana I really learned the differences. 

One of the simplest differences between the two cuisine is Creole food typically uses tomatoes and tomato-based sauces while traditional Cajun food does not.

Cajun food is rustic.

Cooking anything found along the Bayou. It is a combination of French and Southern style cooking. Think of one-pot dishes; jambalaya, rice dressing, boudin.

Ya’ crawfish boil is another Cajun culture creation!

Creole has culturally diverse food, created from New Orleans with European, African and Native American roots. The French have a strong influence, but there is a multitude of culture mixed in. Italian, Spanish, German, Caribbean flare; all can be found in different Creole dishes. The Creole flavor is found using rich sauces, local herbs and fresh caught seafood.

Both cuisines make use of the “holy trinity,” chopped green peppers, onions and celery. Cajun and Creole food doesn’t have to be spicy or hot, but it must have a plethora of flavor. The depth of flavor these unique cuisines have is what makes southern cooking so different from the rest of the world. One thing that will always be true – you’ll never go wrong adding a few shakes of any Benwood’s Surely Southern product!

Remember, “Treat your kitchen, Treat yourself!”

Chef Hunter Lee 

Uniquely southern, surely the best

Who is  Benwoods?

Benwood’s spice was the original creation of Hunter Lee’s father Benny during the oil and gas boom in the 1980’s. Inspired by his love for cooking, catering and the unique flavors of Louisiana, the spice was a big hit with chefs and home cooks alike.

Meet  Chef Hunter Lee

For over 15 years, Chef Hunter Lee has sought to bring Louisiana cookin’ to the world as a chef/kitchen personality, food expert, restaurant consultant, and private chef!

Our  Locations

Find Benwood’s line of products at a retailer near you. We’re constantly adding additional stores to our local retailers list.