After an extremely busy weekend, I decided to go the quick route, choosing a topic from a list that I have.  April is National Pecan Month.  We often associate pecans with sweet dishes, but when I looked through pecan recipes that my family enjoyed in the past, some favorites included them in an entrée.  I chose two of them; they both contain Creole seasoning, which I normally would not have on hand.  However, one recipe came with directions to make it.  Since I had the ingredients in my spices, I proceeded to do just that.  It does make quite a lot, so it wouldn’t hurt to cut the measurements in half.  I still have some of the first batch I made, although it probably needs to get tossed out.

Oven Baked Pecan-Crusted Chicken Fingers

1 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, divided

2 large eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut lengthwise into strips
Chopped parsley, garnish
Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a large baking sheet.
In bowl of food processor, combine pecan pieces, bread crumbs, and 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning. Pulse for 1 minute to combine. Pour into a shallow dish.
In a bowl, beat together eggs, olive oil, and remaining 2 teaspoons of seasoning. One piece at a time, dip chicken into egg mixture; dredge in pecan mixture, shaking to remove any excess. Transfer to baking sheet.  Bake, turning once, until chicken is cooked through and crust is golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove chicken from oven and transfer to 4 plates. Garnish with parsley and serve with Honey Mustard Dipping sauce on the side.

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
Pinch salt
Pinch cayenne, or to taste

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir well to combine. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. (Honey-Mustard Dipping Sauce will keep, refrigerated in a covered non-reactive container, for 2 weeks.)

Bayou Fish Fillets with Sweet-Hot Pecan Sauce

1 (6-ounce) package cornbread mix
1-1/2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 (6-ounce) cod or tilapia fillets
Canola oil
Sweet-Hot Pecan Sauce (recipe follows)

Stir together cornbread mix and Creole seasoning until blended.

Sprinkle salt and pepper over fillets. Dredge fillets in cornbread mixture.

Pour oil to depth of 4 inches into a large Dutch oven; heat to 375 degrees.*

Fry fillets, in batches, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on a wire rack over paper towels. Serve with Sweet-Hot Pecan Sauce.

*I chose to pan fry the fillets in about 1 inch of hot canola oil, turning them once, instead of deep-fat frying them.  It worked out fine.

Sweet-Hot Pecan Sauce

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup pecan pieces, chopped
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 to 3 teaspoons hot sauce (I used 2)
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute. Stir in pecans and next 4 ingredients. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 week.

Creole Seasoning

2-1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly. Store in airtight jar or container.
Yield: about 2/3 cup.