Friday, September 30, 2011

Chicken Marsala Ala Beverly

Bev had mentioned a desire for Chicken Marsala a few days ago and after we purchased a 2# bag of mushrooms from Monterey Mushrooms on our trip back from Chattanooga, the urge was irresistible for her.  I was lukewarm on the dish and spent most of the day prepping for BBQ day so she did the cooking.

She started with a Carrabbas restaurant recipe and adapted it to suit her and since it was the best I’d ever had, we spent some time making sure we got her recipe down – but it’s still not precise.


3 boneless, skinless chicken breast (it makes enough sauce for at least 5)
To taste - salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, dried parsley, marjoram, garlic powder
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp butter, divided
1 slice Benton’s country ham, 1/8" thick, diced (or prosciutto)
½ cup onion, minced
1-2 tsp garlic, minced
1 lb fresh mushrooms, sliced (we like lots of them in our dish)
½ cup Marsala wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp fresh parsley
3-4 tbsp heavy cream
1 tbsp Kitchen Bouquet, mostly for color
1 tbsp olive oil


·         Begin by prepping all ingredients, then pound chicken down to about 3/8” (more or less to your liking).
·         Sprinkle seasonings on both sides of chicken (check out the Carrabbas recipe for more specific amounts) and dust with flour.
·         Add a the little olive oil and 1 tbsp butter to a properly heated skillet and sauté chicken on side one until lightly brown and flip.
·         Then add ham and onion around the meat and when meat is lightly browned but not quite done, remove it.
·         Add ½ stick butter and when melted, add mushrooms, and garlic.
·         Mix corn starch and chicken broth.
·         After mushrooms cook down, add chicken stock, wine, and Kitchen bouquet and cook until thickened.
·         Taste and add S&P.
·         If not thick enough (and it wasn’t for Bev), add and cook pinches of the dusting flour until desired thickness is reached.
·         Stir in parsley and cream.
·         Nestle chicken back into the sauce, spoon some on top and cook to desired doneness - about 165* for us.
·         Taste and adjust seasonings.

We discussed a couple of options for side items and I told her not to cook anything for me as I was having one of my favorite things.

I’ve always been a major fan of gravy over about anything, including plain ole white bread, so I knew I’d like it on the outstanding jalapeno cheese bread from Bluff View Bakery.  For me, this was a makes-your-tongue-want-to-slap-your-face meal and it was about the changes she made to the sauce, making it more of a brown mushroom gravy.  I’ll sure be looking forward to the next time rather than being just lukewarm.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

Two years ago:  Just Some Stuff


Thursday, September 29, 2011

RV Trip #2 – Day Two & Three

After a cool and misty day on Thursday, it was down in the 40’s that night and we had no heat in the RV (the furnace was on the blink) so we spent a pretty cool night, but awoke to a beautiful Saturday.

After a light breakfast, we headed down to Cumberland Mountain State Park for a look around.  Most of the parks structures were built from the famous sandstone in the area, by the CCC and WPA during the depression, including the damn and bridge.

They built this wall along the lake edge which was partially submerged due to the recent high rains.

And the restaurant where we ate lunch on Sunday before heading home.

After the park, we headed down to the Homestead Apple Festival and like most, it was crafts, food, and music and this guy having a ball with the kiddies.  Homestead was one of the Roosevelt's New Deal planned communities.

After going to the Buckwheat, Strawberry, Tomato, Cornbread, Hatch Chile, and now Apple Festivals, I’m pretty sure I’ll survive fine without ever attending another one.  I think the same vendors and crafters must move from one to the next and there’s really just nothing there I want, but others must feel differently as the place was packed.

Then came the highlight of this trip – a first meeting and dinner with George and Betsy Adams (Senior Moments and Joyful Reflections) at the Catfish Cabin for some of the best catfish I've eaten.  After supper they came back to the campground, which was just across the road, to meet the rest of our family (the pups) and pose for a couple of photos.

I really enjoy meeting my blogger buddies in person and they were just like I imagined they would be – friendly and delightful.  It’s amazing how well you can get to know someone from just reading what they write and seeing some photos.

After they left, we built a fire and settled in for a relaxing dusk period – then the three police cars and ambulance showed up about 50 yds. away to deal with the alcohol induced fight that broke out.  This campground is pretty amazing – clean, nice sites, good facilities for only $27/ day and a free Saturday night fight. 

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

RV Trip #2 – Day One

After our first trip to Fall Creek Falls State Park with our neighbors, who are experienced RVer’s, we decided we were ready to go it alone.  The main difference this time was SIL, Pat, and her dog, Willie, went along with us so we could test how things worked with three of us and how well Willie would do being left in the camper – all went well.

Before we left I snapped some shots of Bev’s flowers around the rock in our driveway including the sedum in the header shot.

We just went to a campground near Crossville, about a 1½ hour drive, with plans to look around the area while we were there.  We drove over to Crossville Thursday afternoon and got settled into the campground.

Bev whipped us up a super sammy of turkey, cappicola, salami, baby Swiss, onion, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and mustard for supper.

On Friday, we headed north to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (BSF).  On our way there, we stopped in Jamestown , which is known for being a home of Mark Twain’s father, and WWI hero, Sgt. Alvin York grew up just North of there.  We stopped at Highland Manor Winery (Tennessee's oldest) for some of their delicious, fruity wine, which we've been buying for many, many years.

Then we stopped at the small, very nice, mom and pop (literally) Mac's Diner for lunches of catfish, patty melt, and lemon pepper chicken.  I forgot pictures, but we stumbled into the perfect place with Pop doing the seating, serving, busing, and collecting, while Mom doing the cooking.  Including drinks the bill was a ridiculously low $19, so I left a $10 tip to make it feel fairer to me - be sure to stop by when in that area.  Bev also bought this cute apron made from a pair of overalls from their little gift area.  She did one pose without a top but alas, the denim wasn't quite wide enough - but I sure enjoyed it.

We were up near the Kentucky border and there were several beautiful horse farms.
The BSF came about by act of Congress in 1974, with the help on Senator Howard Baker who grew up in the area.  According to the Park Ranger, it was done in large part to protect the wild river and its gorge from TVA’s dam building appetite – it is the Big South Fork of The Cumberland River, which has ten dams on it and its other tributaries.
While it was a misty day for the entire trip, it was still a pleasant drive, especially since I’d wanted to go to the BSF for many years.  We basically just drove though the main Tennessee part (there’s another in Kentucky), stopped at the visitor center for a chat with the ranger, and walked down to the gorge overlook.  This is the river from the auto bridge with the foot bridge below.
And the gorge from the overlook.

One tidbit I learned was all installations under the Park Service are equal whether they are called a park, an area, a scenic river or whatever and the designation is to describe their function and restrictions.  The second tidbit is the park service is under the Dept. of Interior and the national forests are under the Dept. of Agriculture.  The third plus for visiting with the ranger is I now have my $10 lifetime pass that gains me and my family entrance into all fee areas run by the park service – there are a few minor advantages to being old.

Bev and Pat ended the day with dinner at a nearby restaurant called the Brass Lantern and said it was very good, but I just piled up for the evening in the RV with the dogs.
All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.
Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.
One year ago:  Gator Po' Boys

Monday, September 26, 2011

September BBQ Day – Stuffed Ribs And ABT’s

This was my normal BBQ day with the addition of a couple of new items – smoked Santa Fe Chile peppers and stuffed baby back ribs.  The peppers were pretty basic as I used the same mixture as the larger peppers - some were whole and some were halved and wrapped in store bought bacon for ABT’s (Benton’s bacon would likely over-power them).

This is the before shot of them.

I cooked the bare ones in a rack that allowed them to stand upright.

Back in mid-August Ann over at Thibeault’s Table posted pictures and a recipe for stuffed pork ribs and I immediately filed it away for BBQ day.  She stuffed hers with a traditional sage bread stuffing and baked them in the oven and they looked terrific.

I decided to go with my usual rib flavors using Head Country Seasoning and glazing with Pioneer Woman’s BBQ Sauce and Bev suggested using Stove Top Pork Stuffing, so we gave it a try.  I had a lot going on and didn’t get a before shot but I used nearly all of two boxes of stuffing.

Knowing they would take longer to cook than normal ribs, I kept the stuffing hot before adding to the ribs and cooked them in the hotter part of the smoker and I flipped them twice during the cook - thicker slab on the bottom twice.  I monitored the internal temperature of the stuffing, glazed them at 165* and pulled them at 170* - this was at 6 hours and the ribs needed a little more time, so next time I'll monitor the meat and go to 185* and allow 8 hours at a smoker temp of 230*.

Friends, Dave and Laurie, were here to pick up their BBQ and sampled the ribs and peppers and they did a little oohing and aahing – always a good sign.  The preferred pepper was with chorizo.  Next time, and there will definitely be a next time, I’ll make a stuffing that has flavors to match up with the rub and add some type of sausage.  Thanks Ann for the great idea.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

Two years ago: A Rainy Day In Tennessee


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pizza Fritatta

As you may have guessed by now, turning leftovers into some type of breakfast egg dish is something I like to do on occasion – how’s that for understatement?

After the pizza supper, this pile of toppings was left on the cutting board, which got bagged up for the next day.

Of course I had to chop up some onion and then cut up the remaining fried eggplant to add to the pile of leftovers for a quick sauté.

My first thought was to make an omelet, but I thought I had too much for a single two egg omelet and next considered a scramble, but settled on a pan cooked frittata (2nd one in a week).  When the stuffing was ready, I poured on a couple of eggs beaten with a little cream, added a lid, and reduced the heat to low.

When the eggs were set, I added some crumbled feta, replaced the lid, and turned off the heat for a few minutes for the cheese to warm up.  Then I slid it onto the plate and enjoyed it very much.

The one thing I forgot was some fresh oregano – oh well.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

Two years ago:  None


Friday, September 23, 2011

A Little Day trip To Chattanooga

Friends, Dave and Laurie, had suggested we go out for a birthday dinner, but it was the next week before we could make it happen and rather than just a meal we decided on a little day trip.  I suggested we make our old rounds on Benton’s Country Hams, Tennessee Valley Winery, Sweetwater Valley Farm (for Cheese) and Monterrey Mushrooms and Bev mentioned she’d been wanting to go to the Bluff View Art District in Chattanooga.  So we decided to start with Bluff View and hit the others on the way home. 

It was about 12:30pm when we got there and decided to start with a visit to the Bluff View Bakery since we were parked around the corner.  They are actually a wholesale operation supplying local restaurants and a grocery store chain, but they have a very small retail area in the front.  Everything looked good and we ended up with a loaf of jalapeno cheese boule, a bag of ciabatta rolls, and a cranberry walnut treat (can’t remember what it was called but perhaps a boule as well).

Then it was off to lunch at Tony's Pasta Shop & Trattoria.

We were very impressed with the menu and the fact that they made their own pasta and sausage.  I began with the requisite Italian beer.

This was followed by our first ever breaded and fried salmon as an appetizer, bread with parmesan laced olive oil, and my entrée of Low Country Linguine - "Sautéed crawfish and mushrooms in creamy Cajun alfredo sauce, tossed with house-made black pepper linguine" - and a side of their meatballs.

I enjoyed everything and would definitely go back - check out Big Daddy Dave’s blog on Saturday for a full report on the restaurant.

After lunch, It was a visit to Rembrandt's Coffee House for some truffles and the ladies browsed the River Gallery to check out their collection of "regional, national, and international fine art and crafts" - I enjoyed lounging in the courtyard.

We walked over past the Hunter Museum Of American Art for a view of the river. It is contained in this antebellum mansion and the very modern structure beside it. 

On the way to the overlook, we came upon this feller standing outside.  I couldn’t help but be impressed with the driftwood construction but wondered how long it would last, until I read about it.  It is made of cast bronze and covered with a patina such that it looks and feels like wood.  At this point the engineer in me took over, as I thought thru how they would build the molds, cast the bronze pieces and assemble everything – at this point I moved from impressed to in awe.

Here’ my trip mates with the Tennessee River behind

and this glass bridge crosses a highway to go between the Bluff and a newer downtown housing area.

We then headed North and stopped at the cheese factory to stock up on some of their 26+ cheeses and got a fried curd demo and sample – they were delicious.  Most of their milk goes to Mayfield’s with the extra that the cows produce in the late winter and spring months used to make the cheese.  They are big time dairy with a 1000 cow herd and the cheese operation has continued to grow since our first visit eleven years ago – they had about 10 varieties.

We skipped the winery and stopped by the mushroom factory where the guard house has a fridge stocked with two pound bags of fresh cut white button shrooms.  While the price has doubled over the past 10 years, it’s still only $4 for the two pound bag.  As for the size, they are what they are picking that day and are sometimes little and sometimes big enough to stuff like these were – you know they’re fresh when the cut is still white.

After the big lunch it was a slice each of the jalapeno cheese bread and the sweet roll for supper.  They were both outstanding with the sweet being similar to a scone and we both decided it would be worth the occasional 2 hour drive just for the bread.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

Two years ago:  I Love Breakfast


Thursday, September 22, 2011

It’s Pizza Time Again

A few days ago, Bev mentioned we had some Naan bread and she was ready for pizza and I’d just seen a Greek pizza post from Mika at Mika’s Pantry, which had me thinking pizza as well.  Several years ago, we’d had a pizza in Florida that included fried eggplant as a topping and we both enjoyed it, and I just happened to have a couple of small ones in the fridge.

We both like deep fried food, but rarely cook it due to the calories and mess involved, but since we were doing the eggplant, I decided to cook up several things for lunch using the breading recipe I’d just seen Lea Ann use over at Mangoes, Chili and Z.

I sliced up a couple of Clausen pickles and two small green tomatoes I’d found in the fridge and added S&P to the maters and eggplant.
I used the grill side burner to cook them and had the breading station on the grill top (I’m really enjoying these cooler fall days).
I got the pickles just a little dark but everything was still good – we ate the pickles and tomatoes for lunch, sampled the eggplant and kept the rest for supper’s pizza.

For the pizza’s, we brushed oil on both sided of the Naan and cooked one side just to crisp it a little, then flipped and topped that side.  Here are most of the toppings ready to go.

The Greek pizza on the right got topped with red and yellow tomatoes, onions, garlic powder, kalamata & green olives, fresh oregano, fried eggplant, roasted red Santa Fe chiles, feta, fresh chunked mozzarella, sliced pickled pepperoncini’s, and shredded mozzarella.  Bev’s Italian version, on the left, was topped with tomatoes, onions, green olives, green & roasted chile peppers, dried Italian spices, sausage, pepperoni, fried eggplant, and fresh and shredded mozzarella.  (the tomatoes, onions, three varieties of peppers, eggplant, and oregano came from our garden - our pickled pepperoncini's turned out great).

Then they went back on the grill over indirect heat to bake until the cheese melted and the bread browned a little.

Both were outstanding and as you can see, we like stuff on our pizza.
All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago:  Clean Out The Fridge

Two years ago:  Easy Stroganoff