Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Can't Get These at the Red Lobster!

Ya know how you see the Red Lobster commercials on tv and all the food looks so good and fresh and bouncing all over the plate. And now they claim to have a GRILL MASTER cooking these wonderful dishes with grill marks all over them. Well I have to admit that I haven't been to Red Lobster in years. Reason #1 - Mark got sick there and ended up in the ER; Reason #2 - we live in a coastal town in Florida....there is absolutely no reason we should be supporting a national chain seafood restaurant when we have locally owned restaurants with fresh seafood; #3 - it's EXPENSIVE; #4 - When you get the food, it's a mess. Bland looking, small, not appetizing at all. Granted if you lived in the middle of Ohio or somewhere like that maybe Red Lobster is the best you can get! But not here and not at my house. Seriously these are the best fried shrimp you could possibly eat. I got the breading sequence from Elise at

My, oh my....this is some fine eating my friends!

Pound of large shrimp (think 16 - 20 count) peeled and butterflied. I even took off the tails - I don't want to have anything in my way when I eat!

1 cup of flour with salt and a bit of cayenne pepper
2 large eggs beaten
1 cup of panko crumbs (is that what they're called?? doesn't sound right.)
1 big bottle of canola oil

Put oil in skillet to heat. I used my 30 year old electric skillet, poured the oil halfway up the side and heated to 350 degrees.

Put the flour mixture in a ziploc baggie. I put all the shrimp in at once and shaked 'em up a bit coating them thoroughly with flour. I then dipped each of them into the egg making a bit of a glue on the shrimp -- then on to the panko coating each one completely. I did about half the shrimp at a time letting the coating rest a bit before plunking them into the oil. It was a quick fry - about 5 minutes on one side and maybe 2 or 3 on the other side.

A bit of fresh lemon juice and some awesome cocktail sauce -- oh my!! These are so crispy and good. Even good the next day for lunch. I reheated in a 400 oven on a cookie sheet with some cooking spray until I heard them start to sizzle a bit.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Acceptable Lasagna

Mark reminds me often of the things I can't make as well as his mother or grandmother or aunt...whatever. It doesn't really bother me but I do attempt to make things he likes since he's my only audience these days. One of these items is lasagna. He likes DRY lasagna. Here's what I did which produced a product that he announced 'very good.'

Box of no-boil noodles
Leftover homemade sauce with spicy sausage
32 ounces of whole milk ricotta
Parmesan - the powder stuff
4 cups of shredded mzzerella
2 eggs
Garlic powder
Dried basil
Dried Italian seasoning

I basically followed the directions on the noodle box. Except the ricotta mixture. I mixed the ricotta with the two eggs and seasonings, a handful of mozzerella and a handful of parmesan. This doubles the cheese mixture. Bake as directed.

Wished (now) that I had taken a picture of a slice of lasagna. It really held together well and was quite pretty!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fried Chicken....Finally continuing with trying to tackle some very basic recipes (for some people anyway) I'm not giving up on frying some decent chicken. This method was good and I can improve on it.

Flour with dried italian dressing mix
1 cup up chicken
Canola Oil with a couple of tablespoons of bacon fat

I used my 1980 electric skillet and poured in the oil to go half up the sides. I heated it to 350 and plopped in the bacon grease. I put the flour and dressing mix into a ziploc bag and put a few pieces of my rinsed chicken in there at a time and gave it a good shake until well coated. I fried it until golden brown on both sides and then covered the skillet for approximately 20 minutes of cooking. I took the cover off for the last few minutes just to give it another chance for crisping up a bit. The end result was a lightly breaded, crispy chicken -- most importantly DONE in the inside!

Next time -- I will soak the chicken in buttermilk 24 hours in advance and I will probably double flour the chicken to provide more of a coating.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Toad in a Hole

Why am I so comforted when I make and eat these? My kids probably don't even remember eating them...but really what could be better? I love things (and places) that are so self-contained!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pepper Bacon

Have you tried it? is slap-your-momma good. Great on sandwiches!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Infamous Marlboro Man Sandwich

I've seen this sandwich posted all over the internet and finally decided to give it a whirl. It was good but I think I need some more seasoning (or maybe some different flavors) in the meat and onion mixture. It was actually better to me the next day. I was surprised how well the meat stood up to the cutting into strips and sauteeing since it was cube steak.

So giving full credit to Ree (by the way, check out her amazing website) -- here is the original recipe -

Marlboro Man’s Favorite Sandwich

2 to 3 pounds cube steak (tenderized round steak that’s been extra-tenderized
1 large onion OR 2 small/medium onions
4 French/Deli rolls
Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
Worcestershire Sauce

-Slice onions and cook in 1/4 stick butter until soft and light brown. Remove and set aside.-Slice cube steak against the grain. Season with Lawry’s. -Heat 2 TBSP butter over high heat (in same skillet) until melted and beginning to brown. -Add meat in single layer. Cook one side until brown, then flip and cook until brown, about a minute on both sides. -Add 1/2 (at least) Worcestershire sauce, 5 to 6 shakes Tabasco, and 2 TBSP butter. Add cooked onions. Stir to combine.-Butter halved French rolls and brown on skillet. -To assemble, lay bottom half of French roll on plate. Place meat mixture, followed by a spoonfull of juice from the pan. Top with other half of roll, cut in half, and devour!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Lights

Masterpiece in progress.....

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Soft and chewy. I used peanut butter and chocolate chips. The recipe is right off the bag of chips.

Fresh and hot!

Chicken Pot Pie

Everytime I make chicken pot pie, Mark says 'it doesn't look like a pie.' is your pie! And it was so good.

I got the recipe from

Chicken Pot Pie

Refrigerated Pie Shells

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
3 tablespoons butter
3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
2 carrot, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed (I didn't use potato but I added a handful of frozen peas)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C.)
In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Blend in flour, salt, pepper and onion. Gradually stir in chicken broth. Cook, stirring constantly until smooth and thickened. In a separate pan, saute mushrooms in 3 tablespoons of butter, then stir into saucepan. Stir in chicken, carrot, celery and potatoes. Mix well and pour into bottom pie crust. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown, and filling is bubbly.'s the thing. I don't unless I absolutely have to use multiple pans. I sauteed the vegetables first, added the 1/2 cup of butter and flour to make a roux. Then the chicken broth. I also added a glog of cream for some richness. I made sure that the mixture was very thick. I even let it set to cool a bit before baking to set up some more.

Look how it stayed together!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Raina's Birthday

Mark and I joined Raina's birthday celebration at El Mocajetes in Palmetto. The company - good. The food - not so good. It did, however, prompt me to make my own salsa. In all honesty, Mexicali across from Walmart on Cortez Road is better and I classify that as only a few steps above Taco Bell.

Anyway, it was a good birthday celebration! Karaoke was entertaining - especially when Haleigh joined in.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Boiled Peanuts

Secret -- buying fresh GREEN peanuts! They actually cook and get soft in less than 6 months! I bought a couple of packages from Publix so Mark could cook them while we're camping.

Fresh GREEN peanuts

A big stock pot

Cajun Seasoning

Garlic Powder

Red Pepper Flakes

Once again, no measuring. We boiled the peanuts for about 3 hours and pronouced them 'done.' However, we left them on the fire for another two hours just because we thought...why not? Won't they be even better? The better part is that they were easy to access while we sat out by the campfire.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Monday -- Buffalo Style Turkey Burgers and Steamed Asparagus

Tuesday -- Dinner with my Mom

Wednesday -- Chicken Wings and Steamed Broccoli

Thursday -- Vegetable Beef Soup and Rolls

Friday -- Kitchen Closed

Saturday -- Beef Stir Fry

Sunday -- Roast Chicken with Carrots, Potatoes and Onions

Monday, October 20, 2008

Smells of My Mothers Kitchen

My mother used to make the best vegetable soup. I crave the smell and taste of that soup when it gets cool outside. I think I make a good (meaning very close) version to hers but I don't think it's as good. Maybe because things always taste better when someone makes it for you, right?

I love lots of cabbage in this soup so when Mark stopped at a Veg Stand recently and brought home this monster head of cabbage, I knew what I wanted to do with it.

Basically I brown the beef until it's colored and add the shredded cabbage, some chopped onion and carrot. I then add a large can of chopped tomatoes, beef broth and water. Mom would have added potatoes too, but, they make me fat(ter). I add salt, pepper, garlic powder, a bay leaf and some low sodium soy sauce. And I swear, that is it. It made enough where I have a container in my freezer ready to defrost anytime I want!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Kids Will Be Proud

....That I reached so far back in my memory (the memory that fails me every day) and remembered one of their favorite meals. At least I think this was! Sometimes they tell me (now that they're adults) that they just didn't want to hurt my feelings but if they saw ONE MORE quiche they were going to find alternative living arrangements.

Here's what I made Mark for lunch today!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Grilled Shrimp

Have I told you about the meal we had in Cozumel in August? I'm sure I've told EVERYONE but just in case you weren't listening.....

To make a long story short we had an amazing meal at Casa Denis. We had queso with warm tortillas, pork tacos, chips and salsa, and the best shrimp fajitas I've ever had. The shrimp were spicy and cooked with a nice crispy coating of seasoning.

I've tried to duplicate but am afraid the only way to do it correctly is to haul the cast iron skillet out of the camper and use that to cook in. In the meantime, I like to grill my shrimp. Next time we go camping I'll try again using the cast iron skillet over a fire.

I marinated the shrimp in a bit of oil, water, and cajun seasoning (think it was Tone's -- one of those big containers you get at SAMS). It was more of a paste actually as I wanted it to stick to the shrimp as they cook. I decided for ease of cooking I would skewer them and add some onion of course. End result -- not even close to the meal in Cozumel but pretty darned good.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

More Football Munchies

This is definitely a can-opener meal. Sorry if I offend anyone, but, honestly I defy anyone to make a better plate of nachos.

My favorite nachos are a mountain of chips with dollops of beanless chili (ok, Hormel -- you happy now??), and a cheese sauce made with Velvetta and a bit of cream melted together. I may, if I have some, top with some shredded cheese. I pop the plate in the microwave just to get everything warm. Then I top with chopped scallions, sliced jalapenos (pickled) and then some chopped tomatoes and shredded lettuce if I have them. Tonight I didn't so they were topped with some salsa and sour cream.

These are slap-your-mama good!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Old Favorites

I'm an impatient person. The thought of taking each of those green beans and snapping off the ends....oh my gosh. But I do it. I do it because it's so worth the ten minutes (seriously it turns out to take only 10 minutes at the most...and yet I complain).

The best green beans in the world are trimmed, rinsed, put in a big pot, throw some raw bacon in that's been cut in about inch pieces, salt, pepper, some chopped onion and then another big scoop of bacon grease. You put this on the stove and bring it to a boil. After, reduce to a simmer and let it cook all day.

Now these are the green beans that are COOKED. Definitely not 'tender-crisp.' Cooked enough to make a good pot-liquor in your pan. Good enough to eat as a soup! Take a look....

I served the beans with meatloaf and mashed potatoes, making a very nice dinner and wonderful leftovers for the week.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Mark tells me today that he has decided that he's not going to eat 'meat off a bone' anymore. So I ask for clarification, 'does that mean ribs?' No, it didn't. 'does that mean pork chops?'
As I kept asking, I found that it apparently only meant chicken.

Eager (albeit confused) to please I made some boneless fried chicken fingers with a garlic-horseradish mayo for dipping.

This was a good football watching snack for the weekend. I mixed some salt, pepper and a bit of cayenne in flour. Dropped the tenders in beaten egg and cream and a couple of drops of hot sauce and then rolled in the flour. Fried them in a large skillet with about 1/4 of an inch of canola oil until they were nice and brown and crispy.

For the mayo -- it was a bit of a tasting experience. Some mayo, a good dousing of garlic powder and a heaping spoon of horseradish.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Back to Basics

Sometimes you've gotta shove that pile of recipes to the side and pull out a classic. For a football snack today I thought Mark would enjoy the classic spinach dip -- right down to the pumpernickel bread bowl!

You can, of course, find the recipe on the back of the dried vegetable soup mix. We seriously ate the entire thing in one sitting.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I have no idea what that means. It's the only thing that sounds German to me. I love German food....or my idea of German food. Who really knows. I would like to go to Germany someday and try it out! Other than the beer, I think I could fare rather well in Germany. Afterall, I did in Ireland and one could barely get a glass of water instead of Guinness there!

To satisfy my cravings, I boiled and then slowly browned some bratwurst and made some German potato salad. The potato salad was just ok. I'll try a different recipe next time.

Margarita's Anyone?

Well not for a while anyway. But Mark planted a Key Lime Tree. Hopefully we'll get limes next season.

Did That Just Happen?

Did the Seminoles forget that this was a REAL GAME, with a REAL TEAM? You're kidding me, right? Oh and Wake Forest -- don't go around celebrating and patting each other on the butt...I would be embarrassed if I were you! Puh-lease.

This is how I got through it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Seminole Saturday

Mark has had a hankering for Oysters Rockefeller. I keep putting it off. First you have to go to a special store to get the oysters. (yes, truly, I am *that* lazy). Then you have to keep them on ice (or simply put them in the fridge...again...excuses, excuses). Then you have to make the creamed spinach and grate the cheese -- ok see the recipe below. Then you have your husband ask 1) do you know how to open these things? and then 2) what is THAT??? (looking at my oyster knife that I stole years ago from my parents house).

I've been shucking oysters since I was a wee girl and really challenge anyone (maybe not my brother) to do it faster or better than I. My knife (you can't use those wimpy looking things they sell these days) is a relic and is the only tool I'll use. The end result - clean, fresh oysters cooked nicely on the grill to start off the Seminoles game Saturday night.
Let me tell you -- this are OH MY GOD good. Do yourself a favor (and if you don't it won't be my fault because I warned you) get two dozen oysters and double the recipe.

Creamed Spinach

1 pkg Green Giant Frozen Creamed Spinach - Cooked
3 TB Heavy Cream
3 TB (maybe more...I'm not sure) Parmesan Cheese
A couple of heavy dashes of Cayenne Pepper

Oysters Rockefeller

12 Oysters - Shucked, rinsed and detached (I'm sure there's another term for that)

Pile the spinach mixture on each oyster in the shell. Top with additional parmesan cheese. Place on outside grill (set on high) until the mixture is bubbly and you can kind of see the oyster curling up a bit (it's done then). CAREFULLY - remove with tongs avoiding losing one (rolling my eyes) in between the grates of the grill.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My Butt was Smoking!

For almost 13 hours but worth it! I've had a pork butt in the freezer for a few months now. I knew it was going to be a production to cook and we needed to wait for an 'easy' weekend that we could dedicate to the smoking process. So - at 7:00 a.m. we got up and started to prepare the smoker. The butt was rubbed (gawd...I love saying that) and ready to cook low and slow! End result was a tender piece of moist meat - half that I pulled for sandwiches; the other half I sliced for later in the week.

My Rub
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Paprika
1/4 cup Pepper
1/4 cup Kosher Salt
2 TB Cayenne
2 TB Garlic Powder
2 TB Onion Powder
2 TB Chili Powder

My Mop

1 Bottle of Beer
1/2 cup Cider Vinegar
1/4 cup Oil
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

He's No MIKE LOWRY.... But He's My Mike

Things I love about Mike. My special child and Megan's twin. He lives in Orlando and although I don't see him as often as I like, I talk to him (several times) every day.

1. When he was little he would hide in the racks of clothes while I shopped. He didn't make a mess or anything, he would just sit in the middle of it all.

2. He is very passionate. Sometimes it's with the wrong things, but, nonetheless, he's a passionate person.

3. He's clean and sober. And he's just as passionate about that as he was when he wasn't clean and sober.

4. He's thankful for his family and his life and his job. All the things we all take for granted every day but he takes the time to communicate to people.

5. He cuts his own hair better than he could ever pay someone else to do. Seriously.

6. He spends more time getting ready to go somewhere than anyone I've ever known.

7. He loves coffee.

8. He can't tolerate a mess for long. He will for a while and then all of a sudden (usually at 3am) he'll break out the cleaning supplies and won't stop until it's done.

9. He loves really good food. He would make a good restaurant critic.

10. He reads the Wall Street Journal and enjoys it.

11. When he's talking to me on the phone, I hear him say 'excuse me,' 'thank you,' 'please,' and ' are you doing?' to people on the street and that makes me smile.

12. He makes sure he calls his Grandmother every couple of days to see what she's up to.

13. He is very GAP-ish. He look like he stepped out from the pages of a GAP ad.

14. He pretends he knows nothing about picking out clothes so the sales girls will help him. In actuality he's critiquing their clothing choices in his head at the same time.

15. When he was in High School his Algebra teacher had him be the substitute teacher when she had meetings.

16. His laugh is cool. Not as cool as Megan's (sorry Mike) but it's genuine and fun.

17. He likes all kinds of music. Once when he was little, he came home from hearing an orchestra play at school and said he could feel it in his heart.

18. He finally likes himself.

19. He never once was embarrassed by me like some teenagers were....ya know the ones who wouldn't even walk near their parents at the mall -- acting like they didn't know them.

20. Was afraid of a german shepherd in our neighborhood and was so startled that when he ran into the house he forgot to close the door and the dog followed him into clear into my bedroom. This is really a very funny story - much funnier than it sounds here - but he and Meg know!

I love you Mikey! You've turned into lovely, kind person who will do good work in this world someday. I truly believe that.

Don't Know What Got Into Me --

but...I took lunch in for my co-workers last week. My intent was to make Miss Leslie's (via Rachael Ray) Ham Salad. The outcome was the only part of that recipe I used was the biscuit idea. Which, by the way, when I served some to Mark for dinner the night before...he did NOT appreciate. The man just wanted a bun or a couple of slices of bread!

Ham Salad

1 lb of deli ham (I had them cut it thick) - pulsed in the food processor
1/2 onion - pulsed in food processor
2 celery - pulsed in food processor
1/3 cut of mayo
2 TB mustard
dash of garlic powder
3 TB brown sugar
1 TB cayenne pepper
3 TB sweet pickle relish

Mix and let the flavors combine for a couple of hours. Placed on large size biscuits (8 to a tin).

Monday, September 15, 2008

There's Something About Megan --

This has nothing to do with food. Well sorta because I love this girl more than a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs!! And everyone knows how much I love spaghetti and meatballs!

I'm really proud of my daughter. She's a good person and has a big heart. Even though she can be a bit (ahem) opinionated and hard-headed, here's (just a partial) list of things I love about her--

1. She is really good with children.

2. Which is good because she's a 3rd Grade Teacher!!

3. She has some weird way to do math... but it worked and you could say what's 338 x 476?? And she would contort her face and her eyes would roll in the back of her head and she'd give you the damn answer!

4. She likes shoes. Has ever since she was a baby. She would get dressed to go out to play and pick out a pair of pajamas and black patent leather shoes.

5. She makes really good baked asparagus.

6. And grilled chicken (she claims...I've not had it).

7. And beer-cheese dip.

8. She knows everything about football, I swear! Every rule, every player, every team, division, etc.

9. She can't drive without talking on the phone.
10. She will only have one drink per hour when out with friends.

11. She's the Beer-Pong Champ of Tallahassee! That's my girl!

12. She's an expert at driving round-abouts.

13. She's good even driving round-abouts the wrong way (don't freak Ireland, I mean).

14. She's is very shy and people don't realize that about her. They instead mistake it for being a snob.

15. She makes a point to talk to her best friend from high school and college every Tuesday.

16. She recently made a plan to rescue Mike from a potential hurricane evacuation because she thought no one would remember to.

17. She cheats at Monopoly. Actually she cheats at any game she isn't winning at the time.

18. She will only camp in a tent. However, she does come in to our trailer when she needs to use the bathroom or heat something up in the microwave! Go figure.

19. She is very loyal to her friends but has learned to play work-place politics, too.

20. Is probably screaming at the tv right now since the Bucs just intercepted the ball!

Love you Megan!!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Philly Cheesesteak Eggrolls

This was very good. I'm going to try with some other fillings. I got this recipe from Robin Miller on I hope I'm not breaking any laws by posting it here. Trust me I'm giving her full credit!!

Cooking spray
1 cup sliced onions
2 cooked fillet or rib-eye steaks, cut into thin slices (please...I used roast beef from the deli)
8 spring roll wrappers (I had enough meat for 6)
6 to 8 ounces provolone cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.
Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and set pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook 3 minutes, until soft. Transfer spring roll wrapper to a flat surface. Top with steak, onions and provolone cheese in bottom third of wrapper. Roll wrapper one time, fold in ends, and roll up. Place on prepared baking sheet and spray with cooking spray.

Roast cheese steak egg rolls and peppers 15 minutes, until wrappers are golden brown.

More Poppers

Made more poppers for the Bucs game today. Today I used chive and onion cream cheese and baked them in the oven for about 15 minutes.

And this time I remembered to take a picture!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Football is in the air.... season. Our favorite season of all. Most people get to look forward to spring, fall and even winter. The only season we have is football! For us that means endless text messaging back and forth with the kids (complaining or celebrating), snack foods instead of meals, and cocktails in the jacuzzi while watching the game on the outside tv. Chores are schedule around game time both for the 'Noles and the Bucs!

Today was chicken wings. I marinade for a bit in olive oil, salt, pepper and Crystal's Hot Sauce. Then I throw them on the grill and cook them on medium with the lid down until their done. Lift the lid, crank up the heat a bit and let them crisp up.

When I take them off the grill, I toss them in medium Hooters Sauce. Oh, I know....there are a zillion wing sauces out there and I'm always saying to homemade is best but this stuff can't be beat. Add some crispy celery and bleu cheese dressing and we're ready to watch Florida State beat Chattanooga!! Go Noles!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Cocktail Hour

My normal at-home cocktail is cranberry juice mixed with pineapple juice with a tad (or so...) of vodka. The other day though my mom said she was mixing cranberry juice with lemonade so I gave it a go --

1 can of frozen cranberry juice

1 can of frozen lemonade

5 cans of water

Fill your glass with some crushed ice. Add a couple of glugs of vodka and then fill with the juice.

I need to come up with a name for this.... Buc's Brew; Seminole Slush; Football Juice....

Thursday, September 11, 2008

You Say Tom-ay-to, I Say Who Cares...Bring Me More!

Do you know what this is?? This, my friend, is a REAL TOMATO! I're saying, of course it's a tomato - it's red, round and probably has some little seeds inside.

The difference, you see, is it actually HAS SOME TASTE!! I've lived in Florida all my life. Tomatoes are red and wet -- but they don't really taste like anything. If ya wanna taste them you get yourself a glass of tomato juice...seriously. These jewels made a 1,200 mile trip from Illinois so I thought it only appropriate to celebrate their arrival by frying a pound of bacon and toasting some bread. No L for this BLT?? Nope -- didn't want the distraction!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Addiction Warning!

Grilled Jalapeno Poppers

I tried making these once before and they were a flop. I think that I tried to cook them fast – like my bacon wrapped shrimp – so the bacon would get nice and crispy. So I changed my strategy – LOW AND SLOW this time and it worked well.

I sliced the jalapenos in half. Gutted them (not completely because I wanted a bit of heat) and stuffed 4 peppers with a sharp cheddar cheese spread and the other four with cream cheese with some onion and garlic powder. I put the two halves together and bound them with a piece of bacon. Now I think that most people would have maybe cut the piece of bacon in half? Seriously?? I say…the more bacon, the better!

I had the grill on low and cooked the peppers with the lid on. I had a bit of cheese bubble out but not much. I also – about half way through – turned off one of the burners and cook on indirect heat just to slow the cheese escaping.

(this is NOT my picture -- this is courtesy of 'longelegantlegs' on allrecipes)

These were REALLY good. I mean, REALLY GOOD. The peppers were hot….ya know sometimes you can’t really know how hot they’re going to be. I had tears running down my face but yet….could not quit eating them. I will definitely do this again and experiment with the flavors and cheese inside the peppers.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bone Suckin' Good

St. Louis Style Ribs

The first time I cooked these ribs I’d forgotten to remove that nasty membrane from the back of the rack. So after thawing the ribs overnight, I trimmed off that flap of meat on the backside, successfully loosened the membrane about three ribs from the end, worked it loose to the end, grabbed the ‘handle’ I created with a paper towel and pulled it right off. No big deal! And what a difference in the end result!

I rubbed the ribs with my dry rub – brown sugar, paprika, garlic and onion powders, chili powder, dry mustard. I placed them on a baking sheet and wrapped it tight. Into a 250 degree oven they went for 4 hours. After, I threw them on the grill and basted them with Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce. They were falling off the bone tender. If I had to do all over (and I will!) – I’d lessen the time in the oven and more time on the grill. Although extremely tender I would like to pick up the rib and be able to eat the meat off the bone.

I served some Publix Southern-Style Potato Salad along side the ribs with a bit of extra sauce.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Dinner at Mom's

Since Mark travels during the week, I've gone to dinner with my Mom a few times and to her house. She made this shrimp dish for me and I've made it about 6 times since and have passed the recipe on to Meg for her to make, too.

15 Minute Shrimp

Preheat oven to 400. Place in a baking dish.

2 to 3 chopped tomatoes
1/2 chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, chopped
sprinkling of some herbs - oregano or whatever
1 pound of shrimp

Drizzle with some olive oil. Top with a good handful of feta cheese. And I mean a *good* handful. Place in the oven until the shrimp are done - about 15 minutes. Serve over hot pasta. Top with more --yes, more -- feta cheese.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

We Are the Beef People


I've been hungry for a nice, rare roast beef. So I finally worked it into my menu planning and decided I would buy a large roast and use it throughout the week - the main meal, lunches, manhattans, french dip sandwiches and then finally Shepherds Pie. And wouldn't all of those pictures been fabulous?? Oh well.... lack of camera action continues. At least I'm consistent. I did get a photo of the original roast.

Not only are we the 'beef' people, but, we are the rare 'beef' people. This roast was a little overdone for me, but, it was flavorful. The best leftover for it was the Shepherds Pie.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Weather Outside is Frightful

...frightfully HOT that is!! So why is it that I've been craving chili? And why is it that when I ask Mark what he wants for dinner it's -- CHILI? Isn't this winter food? Of course it is but given the fact that we haven't a proper winter in a few years -- why wait for something that may or may not happen.

Sorry - no measurements again.


1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1 onion chopped

Cook together until meat is done. Add -

1 large can of crushed tomato
1 15 oz can of fire roasted diced tomato
1 can of medium chili beans
2 pkgs of chili seasoning mix
some garlic powder
some chili powder
crushed red pepper flakes
some sugar
some crystals hot sauce
Let this all bubble away on the stove until the flavors marry. Add more chili powder and hot sauce as it's needed.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ham and Beans

To use the ham bone that's been in the freezer since Easter, I decided on ham and beans. This was absolutely delicious. I've got half in the freezer for another meal.

Yankee Beans

1 pound dried great Northern beans, soaked overnight
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 small can of tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon mustard powder
1 ham bone with some meat
3 cups boiling water, or as needed
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 dash hot pepper sauce, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until tender and golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes to the skillet, and cook for a minute to blend flavors.

Place the soaked beans in the dutch oven. Stir in the brown sugar, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard powder. Bury the ham bone in the beans, and fill the pot with enough hot water to cover the beans. Add bay leaves to the top.

Cover and cook for medium low for about 5 hours. Take off lid and remove bone picking off the meat and putting back in pot. Cook another hour or so until it thickens slightly. Remove bay leaves, and season with vinegar, hot sauce, salt and pepper before serving.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Comfort Food

Every week I ask Mark what he would like for dinner over the weekend. He usually says he doesn't care. This week he was very specific -- spaghetti on one night and meatloaf the other. So here goes another recipe that doesn't get measured --

1 lb. ground beef

1 lb. ground pork

1 pkg onion soup mix -- mixed with a bit of water

1 egg

Some breadcrumbs

Garlic powder

Healthy squirt of ketchup

10 shakes of worchestire sauce

Smear some ketchup over the top of it!!

Form and bake in 350 degree oven for about an hour and half. Or until it's done.... I'll serve it tonight with some mashed potatoes and roasted carrots.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Spaghetti with Italian Sausage

Basic Sauce -- everything is to taste, no real measurements

Chop one onion fine. Saute with meat in olive oil -- throw in some chopped garlic. Last night I used hot italian sausage.

Add --

1 large can of tomato juice
2 large cans of tomato paste
1 can (tomato paste) red wine
Garlic Powder
Italian Seasoning mix
2 large bay leaves
Chopped dried basil
Crushed red pepper flakes

Let this bubble away for about 3 hours. I'm telling ya, it's good enough to put in a bowl and eat as soup!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Redneck Sangria

My brother and I were laughing over our versions of Sangria this weekend. We basically take a bottle of cheap (CHEAP, kick your ass in the morning with a pounding headache) red wine, mix it with some fruit, 7-Up, OJ and maybe a bit of brandy. My bro puts in a touch of cinnamon, too. There is no measurement -- just mix, stir and sip; mix, stir and sip....

I made copious amounts when Mark and I went camping recently. Sure did taste good in the hot sun!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

"There's lemon shrimp, bbq shrimp, boiled shrimp..."

Gotta say..... I love Bubba Gump's Shrimp Co. Mark and I have eaten at the one in Chicago, Gatlinburgh, TN and now the one at Universal Studios in Orlando. Each time I leave there wanting MORE! We always start (because I insist upon it) with the Shrimp Net Catch appetizer with cajun seasoning. It's hot (temperature) steamed peel and eat shrimp with the most amazing flavor and seasonings. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

This last time we went with Megan and Mike. Meg had a pass to Universal that she got for Teacher Appreciation Week (hey! how about a raise instead for those poor teachers!!) and Mark, Mike and I had only a month left on our annual passes so we picked Meg up in Tampa and Mike met us there. Our plan was to get through Islands of Adventure, eat lunch, and then Mike would have to leave to go to work, but then we would go to Universal Studios.

We began of course with our usual appetizer but added the hush puppies with the chunks of mahi-mahi in them. I didn't have any but the other three said they were delish (and they were gone so I believe them). Megan and I decided to order the Shrimp Platter -- I'm sure there is a cute name to it, I just don't know what it is.... we got a sampling of fried shrimp, boiled shrimp, coconut shrimp, and shrimp tempura (in my head, I'm saying this in Bubba's voice...ha). Mike got a BBQ pork sandwich that he took half of it home with him, and Mark had the shrimp po' boy with the best remoulade sauce ever.

It was good fun. The waiter came by with some trivia questions about Forrest Gump. I told him you better make them hard because the twins have seen the movie about 50 times ( least!). They answered things I never would have known the answer to! Only one or two that they didn't know! Very impressive. In fact, I didn't think the waiter would ever leave. I think he was determined to stump us!

And of course you can't leave without having your picture taken on the bench with the candy and Forrests' shoes.....

Monday, July 7, 2008

Starfish Seafood Company

Today we finally got to try out the Starfish Seafood Company for lunch. It's just an outside deck overlooking the docks and fishing boats -- with only 10 tables or so. You wait in line at the bar to place your order, TRY and find a seat and then your food is brought to you in a white box. After waiting in line for about 15 minutes to place our order we were resigned to the fact that we would probably be taking our meal home to eat because the place was packed. Right when it was our turn to place our order, two seats opened at the bar. And it was perfect - it was hot out but the fans made it pleasant to sit there. Mark had a sampler plate (or box, if you will....) of fried shrimp, scallops, grouper and oysters. Now when I say fried - it's not like Red Lobster fried. It's so lightly breaded you can barely see it. The seafood is fresh and is caught locally. He had an order of cheese grits with his meal and cole slaw. I had a shrimp po' boy sandwich that was delish. Next time I plan on getting the shrimp by themselves or even a crab cake!

Seemed like there were a number of tourists there STILL. How do they find this place??

After lunch we went into the fish market (which is why we went there to begin with) and bought some fresh mullet so Mark could smoke it. They clean it while you watch. Can't get any fresher than that!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sausage and Sauerkraut

One of my favorite meals. Mark tolerates it so I plan it on nights he's out of town. Except he ended up NOT being out of town. So, sue me. This isn't a McDonald's drive through ya know.

Of course I had to try something new. It had the usual components of smoked sausage and sauerkraut but you add some chicken stock, a whole mess of onions and the best part -- SOUR CREAM. In my book, if you add sour cream to anything it's a winner. This was pretty gross. Trust me - it's not even worth cutting and pasting the recipe in here. And poor Mark was scared to say anything. I have two more helpings to get through and then I can erase the entire thing from my mind.

I also roasted some cauliflower which I doused in butter and grated asiago cheese and that was super good! Again....I'm sure Mark was less than thrilled! The picture looks like blobs of white goo...which pretty much sums up the entire dinner!

Oh....and could someone come in to my house and get rid of that damn pineapple upside down cake! Today!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

How Low Can I Go??

I've been low-carbing for 30 hours. And I've been asleep about half that time. And I've only cheated twice!! So apparently I'm only good for about 6 hours. make matters worse, I've developed this craving lately for chocolate. What's that about? I've seriously gone years without a bite of the stuff just cuz it's not my cup of tea! ((mmmm....chocolate in tea? never know - might work)) So I don't know why in the last couple of weeks, I've devoured two giant Hershey bars with almonds and a bag of Starbucks Mocha Truffles (oh my gosh!).

Ok, so anyway -- 30 hours of low-carbing. Which consists of two breakfasts, two lunches, two snacks and one dinner. For breakfast both days I had two egg muffins (like mini quiches without the crust) with ham and cheese. They were pretty good but I could have used more. For lunch the first day I had a hamburger patty and a small green salad with feta cheese and some sliced onion. For dinner last night I had sloppy joe mixture without the bun and some fresh steamed broccoli (and then a square of chocolate and then a 1 inch square of pineapple upside down cake). Today for lunch I had leftover sloppy joes and broccoli. Tonight I'll make sausage and sauerkraut. Hopefully I'll remember to take a picture of it and post it. :) I did indeed put my camera on the charger.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Let's Try This Again, Shall We??

Today is my birthday.

I'm embarrassed by the number of birthday presents my family gave me.

  • Picture frames
  • Candles/Candle Holders
  • Toaster (digital!)
  • Oven Liner
  • FSU Serving Platter
  • Movie
  • Croc Sandals
  • 2 - Cake Plates
  • Placemats and Napkins
  • A Vase
  • Bealls Gift Certificate
  • A Painting for over the sofa

Then I'm embarrassed over dwelling on the thing I didn't get --

  • Fake fruit for the bowl in the living room!

Them I'm depressed that I miss my son and thought that he felt bad about not being there today.

I loved my birthday meals. My mother-in-law made spaghetti and meatballs with garlic toast and salad. For dessert we had pineapple upside down cake. It was all delicious.

Today, my ma made her brisket that is delicious with cranberries and portobella mushrooms and lots of wine that it bakes in. She had carrots, green beans, mashed potatoes, bread and then carrot cake for dessert. For appetizers she had sangria, olive tapenade, marinated fresh mozzerella and spicy almonds. It was very yummy and I'm still full.

I am going to charge my camera and start this blogging thing ALL OVER. I will also be blogging my low-carb successes and failures. Mostly failures if the past is any prediction!! But I'll give it a whirl.

By the way, I'm 48 years old. And not in a Heather Locklear sort of way, either.... which is another reason for my depression.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Soup on Sunday. It’s a good choice. You can eat when you want. I usually make it early in the day and let it simmer away all day. Today after I put in the dumpling noodles we went to run errands. We ended up going to lunch and had very slow service at Cody’s Roadhouse due to the Church crowd and the early-bird specials. Also I didn’t get what I ordered which took even longer. We had onion rings for an appetizer and then the salad and rolls. Then we waited. Waited. Waited. When I sent my meal back we told the server to put all our food in to-go containers.

Back to the soup. Chicken thighs cooked in water with spices until done. When cooled, picked apart and plopped back in the broth along with carrots and onions, basil, poultry seasoning, a bit of garlic and pepper. I added dumplings that I bought at the store (freezer section – can’t remember the brand). DEEEEEE-LISH! Take a look….

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Pizza Night. I bought the fresh dough from Publix, rolled it out (too big, of course) and topped it with homemade sauce, fresh mozzarella, pepperoni, onion, and mushroom. The bottom was a bit too crisp. I always STILL think that if something isn’t bubbling in the middle, it isn’t done. I’ve gotta get over this. Once the damn cheese is melted and gooey take the bloody thing out of the oven!!

But overall it was very tasty. Mom joined us and brought a bottle of pear (hard) cider. That was our dessert! :)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Trivia night at Cherry’s Bar and Grill. My favorite night of the week. Sad, isn’t it? But let me explain. It’s not the NTN trivia game. Our host, Gordy, is a real person on a microphone calling (more like mumbling) out questions that we have to answer. Teams have to be seated at the same table although there’s no limit to the number of people at the table. You also get a speaker at your table that helps magnify the volume of the mumbly questions. When it’s not trivia night, the premise is that you pick the tv your sporting event is on and you turn your speaker box to the channel marked on the screen your watching….getting just the sound from that particular show.

Anyway, the game is live. Winners get food coupons (40 for 1st; 20 for 2nd, and 10 for 3rd place). The questions are not easy. Well I guess the questions are easy – it’s the answers that get hard. For instance, does anyone know that the Orient Express ends in Istanbul and never actually goes to the Orient?? Or that the vanilla bean comes from an orchid?? No…I didn’t think so. We actually got those correct. What did we get wrong? The year of the first computer virus (1986, NOT, 1975) and the name of the couple involved in Whitewater scandal with the Clinton’s (the McDougals, duh!!)

Bob and Marybeth joined us this week. It was their first time. Here’s Bobbo in his Cletus costume. Bob claimed that he wouldn’t know a single question. And damned if the first question was about hockey…and of course he’s the ultimate hockey fan!

We’ve got one 2nd place win and two 3rd place wins under our belt. We hope to beat Team Zoron – three teachers from Manatee High School. They know we’re gunning for them so now they strategically bet on the last question so they’ll remain in 1st place!! Grr.

One of my favorite things to eat at Cherry’s is the Big Dipper. Roast beef with sautéed onions and swiss cheese on a hoagie roll. Comes with warm au jus and I substitute onion rings (breaded, not battered).