Shannon Howell cooks with Cajun influences

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Shannon Howell grew up in Biloxi with Cajun influences from New Orleans in her cooking. She went off to Mississippi State University where she would meet her husband Allen Howell and they’d end up in Philadelphia where he’s the Shelter Insurance agent. 

She works in the agency too. Howell and her husband have been married for almost 11 years and they have two children. Her daughter Peyton Howell is 10 years old and her son Luke is six. Both of her children attend Neshoba Central. Howell’s daughter likes dancing, and her son Luke is getting into sports. 

Howell’s family has been living in Philadelphia for four years. When they moved, Howell was nervous at first. They have always lived in bigger towns such as Hattiesburg. Howell had never lived in a small town, but her husband grew up in Kosciusko, so he’s used to a smaller town. Since their move, Howell’s children both love living in Philadelphia. She also loves living in Philadelphia and can’t imagine going back to a bigger city. 

Howell enjoys being a part of the community of Philadelphia. They are members at First Baptist, where she serves on the Childrens Committee. Howell also teaches four and five-year-olds on Wednesday nights and Sundays helps with children’s church. Her family also likes being outdoors, especially with the weather here lately. 

Howell’s mom and dad, who live on the Coast, grew up in New Orleans. Because of this, Howell likes eating lots of seafood and spicy foods. Howell is excited because both of her children now eat crawfish, and they are looking forward to crawfish season. Her family gets together a lot for crawfish boils and shrimp boils. 

Howell receives many recipes from her mom, such as jambalaya from scratch and shrimp and grits, which is one of Howell’s favorite things to cook for her family. 

Howell’s cooking influence would be her mother, who loves to cook for everybody. Her other cooking influence is her dad’s mom, whom she calls Nana. Howell’s grandmother owned a cafe in New Orleans. Howell can remember helping her grandmother by going and giving customers their silverware. Howell loves her Nana’s cookies that she makes from scratch and uses that same recipe to bake cookies with her children.

CHER’S HUNGRY-HORDE PASTA SALAD 

2 pounds tri-color pasta spirals 

2 cups mayonnaise 

4 6-1/2 oz cans white albacore tune in water (drained) 

1 small red onion, finely chopped-about 2/3 cup 

2 6 oz cans pitted black olives drained and sliced 

4 large tomatoes, diced, about 4 cups 

2 tsp cracked black pepper

2 tsp seasoned salt or to taste 

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain well. Mix pasta with a little mayonnaise so as not to stick (about 1 cup). Next add tuna, onions, olives, and tomatoes. Mix with more mayonnaise and season to taste with cracked black pepper and seasoned salt. Refrigerate covered one hour. Makes 8 to 10 servings. 

SHORTBREAD 

COOKIES

4 lbs butter 

5 lb all purpose flour 

1 oz baking powder

2-1/2 lb sugar 

8 eggs 

1 tbl vanilla 

Mix all ingredients together. Chill for at least one hour. Roll out on a floured surface and cut with cookie cutters. This recipe can be used for all holiday occasions-but we love it most at Christmas time. Bake 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees or until golden. They are especially yummy when glazed with a mix of powdered sugar, water, and a drop of food coloring. This recipe can be frozen to be used within 3 months. 

SHRIMP & GRITS

2 cups stone-ground grits

Chicken broth 

1 8 oz package cream cheese

2 1/2 teaspoons salt divided 

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided 

1 cup onion 

1 tablespoon minced garlic 

2 roma tomatoes, diced 

1/4 teaspoon sugar 

2 pounds shrimp 

3 tablespoons chopped parsley 

1/2 cup green onion, chopped

2 tablespoons lemon juice 

1 container mushroom, sliced 

4-5 strips bacon, crumbled (you may use the real bacon crumbles as well) 

Tommy Chachere’s and any other seasoning preferred to taste 

Cook grits according to package, substituting chicken brother for water. Add 8 oz cream cheese, 2 teaspoons salt and pepper, stir. Cover and keep warm. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic to pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until onion is softened, 5-6 minutes. Add tomatoes and mushrooms, cooking another 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and sugar. Remove from pan, and reserve. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to pan. Increase heat to medium-high. Add shrimp to pan stirring frequently. Cook until shrimp are pink and firm 3-4 minutes. Add back the mixture to pan, stirring to combine with the shrimp. Add parsley and lemon juice, stirring to combine. Spoon over prepared grits sprinkling with green onion and bacon. Serve immediately. 


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