Thursday, May 25, 2017

Corned Beef Hash – My Last Post – Promise

Well, this is my last post about corned beef hash at least this round.  I decided to but the previous breakfast shots on here so we could compare them.  In my first post about the corned beef, I showed these shots of the hash.

And then I posted about my Reuben-Like hash.

Which leads me to today’s post.  While I enjoyed the hash with larger pieces, I prefer the more traditional smaller pieces that can generate a crust when fried so I ran the entire batch of leftovers through the food processor to get this.

For my first meal, it was the traditional (at least for me) hash topped with eggs. 

Since I was not cooking on a flat top with one of those giant Waffle House spatulas, I had to half it for flipping.

Then plated and topped with two over easy eggs.

It was outstanding and I still had enough leftovers for a couple more meals which I packaged up and froze.  I definitely achieved my original goal of making enough corned beef for plenty of leftovers.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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


5/15/17 Meal Date

Monday, May 22, 2017

Easy Meal Like Mom Might Make

Bev had bought a box of Members Mark Frozen Crab Cakes from Sam’s Club and they were taking up space in our freezer plus our neighbors had given us some fresh picked asparagus and we had some red potatoes that needed to be cooked.  This sounded like the ingredients of an decent easy meal and one like my mom might have made – no Sam’s back then, of course.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Reuben-Like Sandwiches and Reuben-Like Hash

First, a short rant about our food language and the liberties people continue to take with it – soon we won’t know what others are actually talking about.  I call mine a Reuben-like sandwich because it contained some of the key ingredients (corned beef, Swiss cheese and kraut) but not the other two (Russian dressing and rye bread) as I used a white bread roll and 1000 Island Dressing.   When I order a Reuben in a restaurant, I expect to get the ingredients in parenthesis and if not, it’s only a Reuben-like sandwich although it could be argued that 1000 Island Dressing is totally acceptable.

On Wikipedia they show several variants such as a Grouper Reuben, a Lobster Reuben, and a Walleye Reuben to name a few.  I assume they just substitute a different meat for the corned beef but I wouldn’t know without asking.  I would call it a Walleye sandwich with Swiss cheese, Russian Dressing, and kraut or slaw.  

Having said this, I know it will change no one’s behavior and restaurants will continue to offer Chicken Fried Chicken – chicken fried like fried chicken makes zero sense to me.  Chicken Fried Steak (steak fried like fried chicken) makes perfect sense to me and is descriptive of what I will get.

Thanks for reading this far or just skipping the rant to get here, so now on with my sandwich.  We didn’t have any rye bread or other sliced bread so I used a white Kaiser roll and sliced off the top and bottom crust to get a grill-able surface.   I sliced enough corned beef for three layers and nuked them for a minute then I partially assembled the sandwich, as a fully assembled one is hard to flip.  So the sandwich initially got just meat and cheese – outside of both bread pieces were buttered.  When the bottom was about browned, I removed the top bread piece, added the dressing and flipped.  Then I removed the top bread piece (the cheese and one layer of meat came with it) and I added the pre-warmed kraut.  This is what I ended up with:

This may not have been Bev’s favorite corned beef, but it made for a delicious sandwich and I know it would have been super with a good rye bread.

Then for breakfast thought I, if kraut, cheese, and 1000 Island dressing go well on a sandwich, why wouldn’t they work on the hash I had made, so I whipped this up for breakfast but I forgot the cheese.

After the shot I mixed it all together and it was very good but perhaps not as good as just the hash with a couple of fried eggs, but then again what is better.

PS. Rant continued - a classic martini is made with gin and vermouth and served in a martini glass.  A Godiva Chocolate Martini is made chocolate liqueur, Cream de Cacao, vanilla vodka, half-and-half and served in a martini glass - no martini ingredients.  So if I drink my morning coffee from a martini glass I guess I'm having a coffee martini.  The ingredients make a martini not the glass.  I'm done now :-)

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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


5/13 & 5/14/17 Meal Dates

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Homemade Limoncello Two Ways

For a few years I’ve read about some of you making limoncello but had never drank it so your posts provided little motivation.  Then we went to a meeting of our wine group and a bottle was brought out to sample and Bev and I both loved it.  Then we went to Napierville and sampled some supposed high-end  stuff and decided we had to buy the $72 bottle and it was great.

I then began remembering the previous blog posts and decided we would give it a try to make our own using two different recipes for comparison.  The first was from Velva at Tomatoes On The Vine who actually harvested the Meyer Lemons from her own tree.  I won’t recopy Velva’s recipe since I made it as she did but halved it.  Check her site for the details and many shots.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Home Made Corned Beef

For St Paddy’s day, we had a store bought corned beef and Bev just loved it with the only problem being they are usually so small we don’t have enough leftovers for the things I really like – hash and Reubens.

So I decided to take matters into my own hands and bought two nice, big, top choice whole briskets from Food City (except part of the deckle was removed) to turn into corned beef then smoke one into pastrami (more about this later).

I trimmed them up and since the deckle was just a thin slab, I removed it to get rid of the big layer of fat between the deckle and the flat muscles.  Here they are in the pan. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Spanish Rice With Meat

I don’t know about you but I often read a recipe, think it sounds delicious and file it away for later, which seldom seems to come.  So when I saw Tricia’s post for Spanish Rice over on her Saving Room For Dessert blog and realized we had all the ingredients, I opted to make it that day.  Check out her blog for the original recipe and some really good shots of her dish.

Rather than use it as a side dish, I decided to add some meat and call it the main dish, plus I changed the ingredients a little for our taste and changed the directions some as well to include the meat.

Spanish Rice With Meat – Adapted from Saving Room For Dessert

6 slices of bacon 
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 small  green bell peppers (or one large), seeds and ribs removed, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 lb. lean hamburger
28-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes, cut up (do not drain)
1½ cups water
1 cup long grain rice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon ground cumin (rounded)
S&P to taste
½ tsp sriracha sauce
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

1. Chop bacon into about ½“ pieces and cook until crisp in a large skillet, remove and drain on paper towels. 
 2. Add the onion and peppers and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes, using the moisture in them to de-glaze the pan.  Add the minced garlic and quickly sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.  S&P to taste
3. Remove onion mixture from the pan and drain on paper towels.
4. Add a little olive oil if needed and brown the meat, breaking into small pieces and S&P to taste.
5. Add the onion mixture, tomatoes and any canned juice, water, rice, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cumin, Sriracha.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the rice is done.  Most of the liquid should be absorbed but don't let it get dry. 
6. Adjust seasonings and stir in the chopped parsley, and serve topped with crumbled bacon and shredded cheese is desired (I used white cheddar & hot pepper cheese on mine).

We all thought it was very good and a definite keeper meal – maybe as good as Mom used to make.  I also liked that it was a one pan meal.  Thanks Tricia. 

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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


5/1/17 Meal Date

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

RV Rally – Dillard, GA – Part Two

And to wrap up our RV rally in the North Georgia Highlands, this covers our afternoon museum visit which followed our morning stop at Goats On The Roof.

Some of you may remember the Foxfire books from the early 70’s that depicted life in the Southern Appalachians.  The “Foxfire Project” began when a teacher at the Rabun Gap Nacoochee School initiated a project to engage students in writing by publishing a magazine based on students' interviewing their relatives and local citizens about how lifestyles had changed over the course of their lives and dealt with traditions in the rural area.  The magazine began in 1966 and is still being published.

In 1972, the first of the twelve Foxfire books was published and in 1974, book royalties were used to purchase 106 acres for the museum.  Students relocated donated buildings to the museum where they were reassembled in a village like setting and they built others, such as the chapel, from period materials (last shot).  Unlike most museums that are in a building, this museum is the buildings located out in the woods.  The tour begins at the welcome center then proceeds up the hill to the village area.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

RV Rally – Dillard, GA – Part One

We attended the first rally of the year for the Tennessee Travelers chapter of the FMCA last week in Dillard, GA.  The “Spring Fling”  went from Monday through Friday at the RiverVista RV Resort just north of Dillard and we had nine coaches participating.

I chose to take the shorter route to Dillard which meant driving though the mountains on two lane roads.  I went down US-411 to Ocoee, TN then east on US-74 which included the curvy drive through the Ocoee River Gorge.  I took US-64 out of Murphy, NC then NC-69 down to east on US-76.  I knew what to expect on the road through the gorge but was surprised that US-76 was such a curvy mountain road and while this West Virginia boy was comfortable driving this road, it wasn't much fun.  So I came home via I-40 and while it was a good bit longer, it only took about 15 minutes more time-wise.  I would take the pretty drive through Murphy again in a car but not in the coach.

River Vista is a mixture of RV sites for sale and rent and cabins for sale and rent.  The sites were level and spacious.

We were in the pull thru sites in the bottom center of the overhead shot. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Chicken Vesuvio

I was watching an episode of Andrew Zimmerman’s Delicious Destinations the other day and the show was from our recently visited Chicago area.  One of the places he showed was an Italian restaurant and they were cooking a Chicago invented dish called Chicken Vesuvio – origins unknown and debated.

This restaurant’s recipe was not available to me so I went on-line and found the Saveur recipe which had very similar ingredients to what I saw during the show, but I cut the recipe in half.  I also looked at the recipe from Chicago’s Marie at Proud Italian Cook and preferred her directions so I adapted the two of them to get the following.

Chicken Vesuvio 

1/2 cup olive oil (approx), divided
5 cloves garlic
3 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered lengthwise
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or two Dolly sized cut in half crosswise)
¾ cups white wine
1⁄6 cup finely chopped parsley
½ tbsp. dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¾ cups chicken stock
1 cup frozen peas, thawed

I made it a one pot meal and cooked everything in our seven quart, cast iron Dutch oven.

1.  Add some oil to the bottom of the pan over medium high heat, add the potatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Brown on all three sides and set aside on a plate – it took me two batches and I added additional oil as needed.
2.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and coat lightly with flour (I did this since it was skinless chicken).
3.  Heat oven to 375° at this point.
4.  Repeat the cooking process in the pan for the chicken and I once again browned on three sides of the large breasts.
5.  Remove the chicken to the plate and toss in the garlic to cook for a couple of minutes until golden.
6.  Add wine to deglaze the pan and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes  
7.  Add stock, season with parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper and cook a couple of minutes to get it hot.
8.  Add the chicken to the pan, top with potatoes, and cook in the oven (uncovered) until the chicken reaches a 160F internal temperature, then pour the peas over the top and return to the oven.
9.  When the chicken reaches 165F,  remove and plate: chicken-potatoes-sauce with peas.  

When I got ready to download my pics I found the card was in the computer and not the camera so here are a couple from the web that look very much like ours (my pan shot was deeper).

I thought it was very good and a pretty easy one pot meal.  I’d say from start of prep to plating, it took about 1½ hours, with about 30 minutes in the oven.  If I make it again, I’ll make the full recipe for a bigger group, using bone-in thighs, then serve it on a platter.  I think I'll also add some red pepper to give it a little more color like I saw in some of the photos like this.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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


4/21/17 Meal Date

Friday, April 14, 2017

French Cassoulet & More Wurst

We both wanted white beans and I had been wanting to try cassoulet and we had sausage so that’s what we made using some more sausage from The Wurst Kitchen.  I looked around and found a fairly simple recipe to use from My Recipes, that I altered a little.

Cassoulet - Adapted from My Recipes
8 bone-in chicken thighs (I used a whole chicken)
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces chicken sausage or kielbasa, cut into 1/4-inch slices – note 1
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 celery rib, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 (19-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup chopped Italian or flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Monday, April 10, 2017

Lets Eat Wursts

For our initial try of the sausages from The Wurst Kitchen, we opted for the first one I came to in the freezer - Chicken Cordon Bleu - which we just grilled and served with some parboiled then grilled sweet potatoes.

Friday, April 7, 2017

A Visit With Eric And Family – Sunday

We had originally planned to stay another day but since Eric had to work, Ann was leaving town and the weather was nasty, we decided to drive home Monday and make this our final day, so we marked the last two things off of our list.  We began with all six of us making a mid-morning drive west into Aurora – the adjoining town and 2nd largest city in IL. 

Our destination was The Wurst Kitchen, which has been making sausages since 1895 and sits on the corner in a residential neighborhood.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Visit With Eric And Family – Friday Night & Saturday

Friday night, we went to Lou Manalti’s Pizzeria in Naperville where we had “The Lou” deep dish and a pepperoni for the kids.  We ordered ahead so we had less of a wait in the balmy 75F sunshine.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

A Visit With Eric And Family – The Area

Eric and Ann moved to Naperville, IL (southwest of Chicago) a couple of years ago and we had yet to make it up for a visit but things finally fell into place and we recently drove up for a long weekend.  In addition to seeing them and the grand kids and seeing their home and Naperville, we wanted to do some food things – eat a deep dish pizza, eat a Chicago hot dog, eat some ethnic food, and visit a sausage maker.

They live in a nice neighborhood which is now seeing its second generation of young owners and is typical of homes built around the early 60’s.  They have a shaded lot backed up to a golf course and a split level home that has a very similar floor plan to the one I spent my late teens living in – a plus for me was the need to negotiate stairs (good knee exercise) many times a day.  Here is a shot from Google Earth – no tree leaves when we visited.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Greek Pasta Bake (Toss)

I had been craving something with Greek flavors and especially a pasta dish and we had some tomatoes we needed to use so I looked through my saved recipes (I have about three lifetimes worth) to discover one from Taste Of Home which sounded almost perfect but I adapted it a little to suit our taste and ingredients – we prefer tossed vs. baked for most pasta dishes.

Greek Pasta Bake TossAdapted From “Taste Of Home”

1 package penne pasta
3-4 cups cubed cooked chicken breast (we grilled ours)
29 ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup fresh tomatoes, diced and squeezed a little
1 cup cherry tomatoes, whole or halved depending on size
2 packages fresh spinach, chopped and sautéed (or 10 oz frozen)
½ cup each sliced ripe and kalamata olives, sliced
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped yellow pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup crumbled feta cheese, plus more for garnish

1. In a 12” sauté pan, with some olive oil, cook the onion and green pepper until soft, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
2. Add the spinach and sauté until well wilted and most of the liquid is gone.
3. Stir in the tomato sauce, diced & grape tomatoes, chicken, herbs, olives, and S&P to taste and simmer about 20 minutes.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and return to cooking pan
5. Add the sauce to the pasta cooking pan along with the cheeses and toss until well combined.
6. Plate and top with a little more feta.

We served it with a Caesar salad for a delicious meal – this was definitely a keeper pasta dish.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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


3/21/17 Meal Date

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Wine Club BBQ

Over the past year or so, our wine club seems to have morphed into a supper club with wine playing a very diminished role and the entrée, provided by the hosts, becoming the star of the evening.  Since I haven’t cooked BBQ in a while, we decided it would make a good entrée and theme, but it is beyond hard to come up with your wine pairing for the BBQ.

We provided ABT’s (stuffed jalapenos) as an appetizer, slaw as a side, and pulled pork, ribs, and brisket as the entrée.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Good Eats and Cars vs. Concrete

My last post was for a Beef Oscar dish and we had some leftovers that just screamed to be made into breakfast.  So I added a little butter to a skillet and tossed in some of the chopped asparagus and crab meat, shortly followed by a nice scoop of the Bearnaise.  When the sauce began to melt, I added a couple of well beaten eggs and scrambled into soft curds.  It wasn't an inspiring photo, but sided with a slice of buttered toast, it made for an excellent breakfast.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Beef Tenderloin Oscar

Spring flowers from our yard are earlier than usual so Bev made a bouquet.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Dogs At Play

While Cindy now lives with us, she continues in her job as house/pet sitter and recently brought one of her charges over here to meet our pups.  He is a really big Golden Doodle named Barley and is roughly middle aged so still playful.

After a period of adjustment to the new dog, it was playtime and Pat’s dog, Frankie, who believes everything on the planet is a toy for him was soon on the attack, trying to jump up to Barley’s face and do what dogs usually do mouth-to-mouth, but he was just too short.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Stromboli Numero Uno

Bev had bought some refrigerator pizza dough and suggested calzones for supper to which I counter-suggested Stromboli which I had been wanting to make – basically the same thing in a different shape.  Bev had frozen some homemade meatballs so we opted to use them along with some pepperoni, onions, peppers, tomato sauce, and fresh mozzarella.  Here it is before baking and before braiding the top.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Pizza Sandwich Ala Mom

When I was a kid, my mom made these sandwiches for us at lunch (we came home from the neighborhood school for lunch) and they were always a hit.  After I made them for Bev and me several years ago, she also became a fan.

Since we had some ham, bread, and tomatoes needing to be used, this was a good excuse to make another round.  The ingredients for each of these sandwiches was:

One slice of sour dough bread from a round loaf
One 1/4” slice of Kentucky Legend Ham 
Shredded cheese of your choice (or slices)
Sliced Roma tomatoes
Diced onion
Italian spices (mom used just oregano)

1. Nuke the ham slice to warm it a little then build the sandwich – bread, ham, cheese, tomato, onion, seasonings.  
2. Bake in the toaster oven at 350 for about 10 minutes or until cheese begins to melt, then run it trough one toast cycle to finish cooking.

Note:  The stacking order is important to ensure the onions and tomatoes cook some.  If you want the cheese on top, just wait and add it after the toast cycle then broil it until melted.

The sandwiches were delicious and, of course, would be even better with tomatoes right off the vine.  My next one will have a couple of ever easy eggs on top.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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


2/5/17 Meal Date

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Ham and Potato Soup

We had some ham in the fridge that needed to be used and, again, opted for ham and potato soup using the recipe from Allrecipes.  The first time we made it, I didn’t think it had enough goodies, so we added more ham and potatoes this time.

Ham and potato Soup – Adapted from Allrecipes

7 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1/3 cup diced celery
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
2 cup diced cooked ham (Kentucky Legend)
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground white or black pepper, or to taste
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk

1. Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt and pepper.
2. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour with a fork, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through. 

Serve immediately topped with your favorite garnish.

We all thought this was a very good version of a pretty basic and easy soup.  

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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


2/2/17 Meal Date