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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Getting ready for entertaining outdoors

Now that warmer weather has finally made its way to Arkansas, it’s time for entertaining outdoors to start. Whether it’s a pool party, barbecue or a crawfish boil, there will always be a need for some new appetizer recipes. Over the past couple of months, I have been working on different versions of some traditional appetizers.

Today, I want to share with you two of my recent creations: Andouille in Creole Mustard Sauce and Smoky Crawfish Queso with Fried Bow Tie Pasta. For this second recipe, I have included two different ways to fry the Bow Tie Pasta, with a traditional fryer and an air fryer. The recipes are a little different due to the fryer that is used. Either way, the pasta comes out crispy and great for dipping. Now, let’s get into the kitchen.

A common appetizer at parties are sausage in barbecue sauce. I wanted to come up with a Creole/Cajun version of this dish. It is a simple recipe, requiring only three ingredients. While simple, it does not lack in flavor. I think you will agree that this is a great twist on an old favorite.

Andouille in Creole Mustard Sauce

2 pounds andouille sausage, sliced into 1/8th-inch rounds

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup Creole mustard

Brown andouille slices in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Remove and reserve. In the same skillet, add the heavy cream. Heat to a boil, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Whisk constantly until cream is reduced by half. Reduce heat to medium-low and whisk in Creole mustard. Return andouille to skillet and stir together in sauce until all slices are coated and warm. Serve with toothpicks.

Cheese dip is ever present on restaurant menus in Arkansas. Almost every get together I have been to here has also included someone’s version. One day, I decided to put my spin on this iconic local dish. Of course, crawfish makes an appearance here. Where mine differs from most that I have seen is the seasonings. I like the combination of the smoky paprika and chipotle powder that gives a nice spicy smoky flavor. Try it and let me know what you think.

Smoky Crawfish Queso with Fried Bow Tie Pasta

2 pounds Velveeta Queso Blanco, cut into small cubes

1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder

1 pound crawfish tails

Combine Velveeta and milk in a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, cook until cheese is melted, stirring occasionally. When melted, add paprika and chipotle powder; mix well to combine. A couple of minutes before serving, add crawfish and cook until crawfish are warm, about 3 minutes. Serve with your favorite chips or Fried Bowtie Pasta.

Deep Fried Bowtie Pasta

8 ounces bowtie pasta

2 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

Seasoned breadcrumbs

Heat deep fryer to 350℉.

Boil bowtie pasta in salted water for 7 to 8 minutes. Drain and cool the pasta. Mix eggs and milk together. Dip each piece of pasta into egg mixture, then roll in breadcrumbs. Fry pasta until deep golden brown, about 2 minutes. Drain on a paper towel lined tray and serve warm.

Air Fried Bowtie Pasta

8 ounces bowtie pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon salt

Boil bowtie pasta in salted water for 7 to 8 minutes. Drain, but do not rinse. Let sit for 2 minutes.

Preheat air fryer to 400℉.

Transfer pasta to a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add Parmesan cheese, granulated garlic, Italian seasoning and salt. Gently stir until evenly combined.

Place pasta in the air fryer basket in batches and cook for 5 minutes. Flip with spatula and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to a paper towel-lined tray. Allow to cool completely for final crisping.

Enjoy your outdoor gatherings. If you are looking to change things up, try one of these different appetizers. I guarantee that you will have people asking you to make them again.

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