My Mother and Granny were both awesome cooks.  My wife is a good cook and her Mom was an awesome cook.   I have been cooking since I was a Cub Scout (about 1961).  I was the Boy Scout who went grocery shopping for our patrol and sometimes, the troop.  I experimented when I moved to Little Rock to attend school and even lived for a few months with Thomas and Pat Lasalle who introduced me to Cajun cooking. 

Check this page often.  I will share recipes here, some of which I have created, some of which are adapted from family tradition or classic recipes, and some of which I have learned from friends.

I apologize for whatever I may have provided here that is vague or incorrect.  Please email me to let me know.  Otherwise, ENJOY!

Allen’s Texarkla Jambalaya

INGREDIENTS (as much of each as you desire).  For a lower sodium version, I increase the amount of squash, onions, and tomatoes. 

your favorite roux (see mine below)

corn (fresh, canned, or smoked)

tomatoes (fresh or stewed)

onion (fresh)


pork loin

beef (steak cut of choice)


squash (yellow, butternut, zucchini, or other squash of choice)

File Gumbo powder

Tonys Creole seasoning or favorite alternative (see low sodium alternatives in the middle column of this page.

Rice (cooked, brown or white or both)

Turkey (if you have some leftover in the freezer from Thanksgiving)

Shrimp, oysters, lobster, crawfish, and fish are optional for my recipe but not necessary. 

The onions, tomatoes, corn, Cajun seasoning, and bratwurst provide the strongest flavoring.  Adding seafood is more about texture and availability.  The gumbo powder provides a subtle flavor enhancement that you will miss if it is not included.

Smoke meats, onions, and corn (if on the cob).  If you use shrimp, lobster, or fish, it is better grilled for the texture.  Oysters and crawfish can be added whole or shucked. Chop meats and vegetables into bite-sized pieces.  Shuck and remove corn from cob if you used fresh corn.

Add all to a large enough pot to hold all ingredients.Add rice, gumbo powder, and creole seasoning to taste.  If you prefer more heat, you can add Louisiana hot sauce or Cholula or other favorite hot sauce.  Add water to cover all ingredients.
For low and slow cooking, bake in oven at 230° F. for eight hours or more, stirring occasionally at first and testing seasoning for taste and heat.  
For faster prep, bake in the oven at 280° F. for three hours. 

Texarkla Smoked Chicken Soup

Allen Snider

You will need

3-4 lbs chicken -- boned or boneless.

Salt or other seasoning to taste


Filet Powder

Corn (canned or smoked)

2 cans Evaporated Milk (other milk works ok)


Optional:  8-12 oz.  Green Tomatillo or Poblano Sauce

Smoke your chicken (salt and peppered lightly) about 45 minutes in the smoker.

Cool chicken and cube in pieces, roughly 1/2 - 3/4 inch.

Put your chicken in a large pot.

Add your corn (2 cans, 1 bag frozen, or 8 ears trimmed.

Add 2 quarts water

Add milk -- 2 cans of evaporated milk or 3 cups


Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cayenne to the heat level you want.

Optional green sauce

Fill the pot to within 2 inches of the top and put in the oven at 200 F overnight.

This is great with oyster crackers, animal crackers, saltines, or with a sandwich.  After all, "soup and sandwich go together."

Allen’s Roux


2 Tbsp olive oil

1 small chopped onion

3-4 cloves garlic

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 whole chopped red or yellow bell pepper

1 stick butter

1/2 cup flour (or more)

2 fry pans, one heating over low heat, one over medium..

In the skillet over medium heat pour olive oil, add onions and garlic, pepper and celery.  Heat until veggies are limp and onions are slightly translucent.

In low heat skillet melt the butter.  Add flour slowly and stir, stir, and stir until thick.  Continue to stir and heat until the flour changes color.  (I like mine blond.  Others like theirs dark brown.)  Add the cooked veggies, pausing stirring occasionally, and heat until brown crust appears on some of the veggies.   Remove from heat.

What do you do with a roux?

Make Jambalaya or Gumbo.

Add cubed meat and bacon and pour over greens or tortilla chips or rice and add grated cheese.

Top with Allen's BBQ sauce!

I have posted the Lakeway United Methodist jambalaya recipe below for their use:

Lakeway Original Jambalaya
Bulk recipe for one large electric roaster. Serves up to 50 people.
1 cup vegetable oil
4 lbs hot pork sausage, browned
2 chickens, boiled and deboned
4 pounds link sausage, sliced/cubed about the size of a sugar cube
4 small boxes Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice
4 cups regular white rice
2 cups chopped bell peppers
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped onions
4 cups water
4 14-oz cans chicken broth
1 46 oz can tomato juice
4 13 oz cans stewed tomatoes
1½ Tablespoon of salt (or less for low sodium diet)
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 Tablespoon Tabasco sauce
Put all ingredients in cooker on high for 1 ½ hours or until rice is tender.
Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Add liquid as necessary if the jambalaya becomes too dry.

Squash Fries

Crunchy outside and soft inside

2-4 squash yellow or zucchini
2 eggs
½ cup sour cream
½ cup rice flour
½ cup potato flakes

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup milk
Frying pan with 1/2-3/4 inch frying oil.
Spices – Trader Joes 21, Kingsford No Salt, or McCormick’s No Salt are good low sodium choices. You may want to add salt and pepper.

Mix eggs, sour cream, and milk in a bowl.
Mix rice flour, potato flakes, and spices in another bowl.
Julienne squash and add to bowl with eggs, sour cream, and milk.
Heat oil to frying temperature.
Remove a few squash fries from liquid and roll in dry ingredients.
Drop into hot oil and fry, turning until lightly cooked on each side.

Best served hot as a side.


I have an LVAD.  I have been a heart patient since 2003 and intend to be around for a while longer for my wife and family.

I exercise and stay active.  I am currently in cardiac rehab 3 days a week.  I am 13 weeks out from my last heart surgery and can do 45 minutes on a stationary bicycle.  We garden, landscape, build things out of wood, and cook.  I write, organize, reflect, learn, and spend time with my grandkids and kids. We are active in church and hope to increase that when my schedule frees up from rehab and medical appointments (if ever).  

A low sodium diet is necessary for me to be as healthy as I might, so I am offering some low sodium recipes here.  Other recipes will indicate "salt" to taste for your discretion.  A couple of my favorite spice mixes in the past were Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning and Trader Joe's BBQ Rub and Seasoning with Coffee & Garlic.  Those can be used in limited amounts for low sodium diets, but being aware of how much is important.  I have discovered that  Tony Chachere makes a No Salt seasoning, but it is spicy and sweet.  Other No sodium spice blends include Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute, Chef Paul Prudomme's Magic Salt Free Seasoning, Kingsford's Original No Salt, and if you like it, Ms Dash.  I am using lemon crystals and lime crystals in soups, coffee to fill out the flavor in various spice combinations, and malt vinegar powder for  another salt free taste sensation.  I am also baking low sodium breads because most bread you buy from the grocery store is over 100 mg of sodium per slice.  The American Heart Association recommends 1500 - 2000 mg of sodium per day.  I shoot for 1700 mg or 500 mg per meal (plus snacks), because that is less than what I was eating two months ago.  The amount of fluid my body retains is very sensitive to the amount of sodium I eat and because that is true, it is likely true for many others.   Heart disease is the #1 killer in this country.  High blood pressure or hypertension contributes greatly to the likelihood of strokes and heart attacks.  Sodium increases the likelihood of sodium build up in the body.  Eating out may mean a person gets a whole day's sodium (or two days of sodium) in one meal.

Oskar Prill is our German (foreign-exchange) son.  He lived with us for 11 months 1999-2000 and graduated from Krum High School in Texas before going back to Germany to finish high school, do his public service time, and earn his doctorate in math.  He has come to visit twice since then.  We stay in touch with his family through long emails.

Oskar once asked if we could go to the farm where they raised those boneless chickens.

He didn't like chicken livers and asked, "You like this?"  As it turns out, I am the only who does like chicken livers.

Oskar was concerned that he might not find Dr Pepper and tacos when he went back to Germany but he checked out the new Walmart in Stuttgart and, "They have Dr Pepper."


I once prepared a dish that may interest you if you like German:

Layer in a baking pan or pot:

1-2 cups Cubed meat  (pork, chicken, beef, or turkey)

1 cup shredded cabbage (red is good)

1 sliced apple

1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar with about 1 tsp nutmeg and/or cloves and 1 tsp cinnamon

1-2 cups Sauerkraut

Bake at 350 F for 30-45 minutes (or until apples and cabbage are tender)

Oskar said, "Very German."

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream with Cashews

by Allen Snider

This one is posted for Cole.

1 package Jello Instant Cheesecake Pudding  (you may also add a package of vanilla to make it richer, but not necessary)

3 TSP Vanilla Flavoring

1 1/2 C. Sugar

2 Cans Evaporated Milk

1 Can Cashews pieces and halves

1 can Comstock or Lucky Leaf Blueberry Pie Filling or similar (This also works great with blackberries or strawberries)


Chop the cashews.  I do this in the blender until they are the size bits I want.  Then pour them into the canister.

Blend ingredients in blender, a little at a time.  Realize that the pudding and the sugar need to be blended with a large amount of liquid (milk, vanilla), but also know how much your freezer will hold.

Pour the ingredients into the freezer with the cashews and fill the rest of the way with milk as needed.

Freeze as normal.  This means putting the canister into the freezer (or ice cream maker), attaching the motor or churning mechanism and turning it on.  Then surround the canister with ice, layered with ice cream salt   Keep it turning until the electric motor stops or your particular freezer's mechanism indicates the ice cream is ready. 


Microwave Fudge

Pour into microwaveable dish:
1 box (1 lb) powdered sugar
⅓ - ½ cup cocoa 1 stick butter or margarine, cut into pats
1/4 cup evaporated milk
Microwave on high for 2-2 ½ minutes
Stir and add 1 tsp vanilla and nuts or oatmeal.
Spread on baking sheet and cut when cooled.

Marshmallow Pizza

This is a quick and easy dessert pizza made on flatbread.  Flatbread toasts easily for a crispy crust.

1 Flatbread (Joseph's is  our choice and it is large enough to share but other brands work)

Large marshmallows, each sliced in three pieces. (about 5 marshmallows for a Joseph's crust)

Enough mozerella Cheese to cover the flatbread.  (about 1/3 - 1/2 cup)


Put flatbread on toaster tray (large if you use Joseph's) or other baking sheet

Loosely cover the flatbread with cheese and top with marshmallow slices.

Toast or bake at 400 F until marshmallows turn slightly brown on top.

Serve hot or cool for a sweet, salty, and crunchy treat.

For a variation, we put cheddar cheese on our favorite sliced bread and top with marshmallows.  Toast until marshmallows brown and cheese melts.

Low Sodium Baked Potato and Steak Soup

The first time I ate this, I was wonderfully surprised at the amount and quality of flavor with the only sodium coming naturally from the ingredients.

4-8 Medium/small potatoes
2 Tbsp Cooking oil
1-2 pounds Thin-sliced steak of your choice
Mrs. Dash Marinade Salt-Free Sweet Teriyak
2 packets Herb-ox Sodium Free Beef Boullion
2 cups water
Fresh Rosemary
Sour cream

Preparation of meat
Tenderize the steak thoroughly with meat tenderizer hammer
Cut in 1/2-3/4 inch strips
Marinade in bowl with Mrs Dash Teriyaki

Preparation of potatoes
Scrub the potatoes and cut the ends flat
Brown ends thoroughly in over-worthy frying pan
Add boullion and water to pan
Add steaks to pan

Compile and cook
Bake in oven at 350 F for 40 minutes.
Remove from Over and add Rosemary to bake for another 5 minutes

Serve in bowls with generous amount of sour cream on top.
You may add fresh rosemary to the bowl for garnish or flavor.  Topping with cheddar cheese as another optionwill add sodium and flavor.

Molasses Crinkles

by Allen Snider

Heat oven to 350-375°
Mix thoroughly:
¾ cup soft shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
½ cup molasses

Sift together and stir in:
2¼ cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger

After mixing thoroughly, form into golf ball sized balls.
Place on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.
Flatten each ball to about ⅓ inch.
Bake 10-12 minutes.
For chewy cookies, let them cool inside a tin.

Oatmeal Molasses Sugar Cookies

Allen Snider

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
2 eggs
1 ½ cups oatmeal (chopped fine in blender)
1 cup all purpose or rice flour
1 tablespoon molasses for faint flavor of molasses; 2-4 tablespoons if you want a stronger molasses flavor

1 Save 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar aside in a small bowl. Mix sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract, molasses, and eggs in large bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
2 Heat oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease cookie sheet.
3 Place walnut-sized balls on cookie sheet, press lightly and/or sprinkle with granulated sugar.*
4 Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool.

* For each cookie wet the bottom of a smooth glass, dip the glassinto bowl of sugar, and press lightly onto cookie.

Allen’s Dandelion Greens

You will need
Greens (about 3 cups before cooking)
1 medium onion
Olive oil
Grated cheese
1/4 cup flour

1 diced Red bell pepper
½ cup diced celery
1 cup leftover cubed or chopped meat–chicken, pork chop, steak, rabbit, goat, raccoon (I gre wup in Arkansas), crawfish, lobster, shrimp, oysters, crab, etc.

Pick your greens. Spring greens are mildest in flavor. I am told that dandelions have no dangerous lookalikes, so

Cat's Ear http://www.foragingtexas.com/2006/12/cats-ear.html or

Chicory  http://www.foragingtexas.com/2008/08/chicory.html

will work. We also have

curly dock http://www.foragingtexas.com/2008/08/dock.html

and I am told this would work too but we have yet to try it.

I start with a small mixing bowl full of foraged greens. Wash them well, removing the dirt, cut into lengths about 2 inches. Boil greens in water for 40-60 minutes. Drain.

In skillet cook bacon until the texture you like. I like mine not quite crispy. Remove and cut into 1 inch pieces.  A low sodium version requires that you use only enough bacon for flavoring.  I freeze the rest of the cooked bacon in freezer bags for later use.

Heat olive oil in the frying pan and add onion (and pepper and celery, if you want). Heat until onion is translucent. Add greens and bacon, stir in flour. Let sit occasionally so the flour will brown on bits of the greens, bacon, and onion. Don’t let it burn. You may add more olive oil Stir. Let it sit. Stir. Add leftover meats as you desire.

When you are satisfied with the texture and look of the greens, onion, and bacon, remove from heat.

Dish into plates. Top with grated cheese. Enjoy!

Surprisingly Satisfying Low Sodium Taco Salad

 I try to keep meals at 500mg of sodium or less. This one just came under the line, but I had two oreo cookies and drank a glass of milk which put me at 550 mg of sodium for the meal.

Taco bowl or tortilla chips
½ cup Cooked Jasmine Rice
½ cup Lettuce (Iceberg is ok, but Romaine or other leaf lettuce is better.)
½ medium Avocado
2 TBSP Sweet and spicy corn relish
2 TBSP Grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese
½ cup Diced onion
½ cup Diced tomato
2 TBSP Allen’s Texarkla BBQ sauce

Toast the bowl 
Layer the other ingredients – rice, lettuce, avocado, tomato, and onion.
Top with relish, cheese, and BBQ sauce.
Sit back and enjoy!

Low Sodium Milk Bread

Makes two 9x5" white bread loaves.   My second try resulted in the most attractive and tasty loaves of bread I have ever made and I have been making bread for nearly 30 years.

For equipment you will need:

Stand mixer (or bread hook and mixing bowl). 

2 bread loaf pans.

Large mixing bowl

Clean cabinet top or cover board

Serrated blade knife for slicing.

Oven set at 350° F.

2 envelopes dry yeast
5 1/2 cups) bread flour
4 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 tsp salt
3 Tbsp powdered/dry milk
2 1/2 Tbsp. ) unsalted butter
½ cup warm water (very warm but not too hot on the back of your hand)
1 ½ cups warm water

Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat oven to 350° F.  Whisk yeast, sugar, and ½ cup warm water in a small bowl. Let it get foamy (about 5-10 minutes).

Mix flour, milk, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook on lowest speed. With the motor running, gradually add yeast mixture, butter, and 1½ cups warm water. Increase speed to the next level and mix until dough firms up into a mass around the hook. Increase speed to the next level.  Mix another 10-15 minutes.

Place dough in large mixing bowl. Punch down and fold. Then fold again and again. Cover with plastic wrap. Put in warm place (stove top, for example) to let it rise.  I cover with a kitchen towel also.
After about 30 minutes to 1 hour, when dough has doubled in size,  punch down again, divide in half, and knead each loaf, finally shaping and placing into buttered loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again until dough is close to top.

Remove plastic wrap and bake for about 35 minutes in the oven.  Remove from oven and, if desired, brush tops with unsalted butter. Let cool before slicing.