Sunday, April 15, 2018

RVing With Our Kids – Sevierville

We were headed to a club rally on April 14 and as it turned out our son, Rhett, and his family (less college student Madison) were headed to Sevier County for their annual participation in an ROTC fundraising 13K walk.  Since we see very little of our kids who live away, we decided it would be a good opportunity for a meet up and to camp together for the first time, so we just left a few days early for the rally, then we passed within three miles of home to get to the rally from Sevierville. 

Rather than the Walkers usual Gatlinburg campground (too tight for us), we agreed to meet at one of our favorite spots, River Plantation RV Resort between Sevierville and Pigeon Forge, and were able to get sites on the river – I heroed with Bev here.  While they bill themselves as a resort, the gravel sites, lack of full campground wifi, general grounds condition, etc get River Plantation a rating of a nice RV park from me, but it is still our go-to place in the area.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Free Stuff

Hi blogger buddies – I’ve been trying to find homes for items we no longer use and all of these are like new.  Since they are food items, thought I would offer them to you first for free if you’ll pay the shipping.

First is a food grinder and stuffing tips that attaches to a Kitchen Aid mixer.

Second is a grain mill that attaches to a Kitchen Aid mixer and it also includes a counter mounted stand that allows it to be used manually.

If you are interested in them for your own use (not resale), send me an email with your name and shipping address and we’ll work out the shipping cost.


Friday, April 6, 2018

Easter At Almost Heaven South

Bev decided she wanted to cook turkey breasts for Easter dinner and as we discussed cooking and serving options she said “ let’s have Kentucky Hot Browns” to which I heartily agreed – not quite your classic holiday meal.  If you are not familiar, a hot brown is basically an open faced, hot turkey sandwich with cheese sauce rather than gravy plus some other stuff.  We’ve made them several times but opted for a little difference this time, especially after seeing the original made at the Brown Hotel (on TV), reading several recipes on line, and trying a different version at a restaurant.  The biggest difference in the various versions appears to be in how they are assembled.  Here is a shot from the Brown Hotel’s version where they were invented.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Southwestern Night At Our Place

We had a couple of friends over for supper and since I have been wanting to make Tex-Mex we offered them that option and they readily agreed with a menu of fajitas.  My thought was this would be simple as all we needed to do was grill some meat and vegetables but boy was I wrong and in hindsight I wish we had gone with a pan of enchiladas or similar one pan dish.

Bev and table before any arrivals - note the amaryllis on the table.  The wooden holders are for the cast iron plates

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Spicy Creamy Shrimp Pasta - Ala Chef Lea Ann

Pat almost never asks us to cook a special dish for her so when she requested SpicyCreamy Shrimp Pasta from Lea Ann’s Cooking On The Ranch blog, we said you bet, especially since it’s from Lea Ann and it’s shrimp and it's pasta.  Be sure to check her site for the original recipe and some great shots of her dish.

This request presented another surprise – Pat reads blogs – I need to asked her if she ever reads mine.  I reproduced the recipe here as I changed it just a little for our diverse palates.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Chicken Adobo Ala Pam

I have been wanting to cook something with Asian flavors but not the normal stir fry and when Pam posted the recipe for Chicken Adobo on her For The Love Of Cooking Blog, I knew it would fit the bill.  Please check her site for some great shots of the dish.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

A Couple Of Fine Breakfasts Meals From Leftovers

We've been doing quite a bit of cooking lately and had leftovers from two recent meals – the Grilled Pork Chops and Root Vegetables and some Posole Ala Lea Ann (No new post for this meal).

I'm not sure how it has happened, but Bev used to cook most of the suppers and I made most of the breakfast meals form leftovers, but somehow this has been reversed.  I think it could be that she is more willing to start working earlier then I am.

For the first breakfast, Bev cut up the leftover chop, made the veggie pieces smaller, added a couple pieces of cooked breakfast sausage and made hash from the pork and root vegetables.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Honey Soy Grilled Pork Chops & Root Vegetables & Pups

Another hard time in the life of our four legged kids - Romeo lays on his back way more than any dog we’ve had.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Braised Beef And Root Vegetables

I had been thinking of something different for a St. Patrick’s Day meal than our usual corned beef and cabbage and when I read a recent blog post for a delicious looking Irish Beef Stew I thought it might be the answer until I noticed it contained beer and I knew there was no way to slip that by Bev.  But I still liked the idea of stew and in looking at various recipes I discovered that Irish stew is pretty basic stew often using lamb – another Bev no-go – and beer.  So I recalled a dish we made a while back and has often has crossed my mind.  I did a little blog research and discovered that is was way back in 2010 when we made it and we said we loved it so I decided it was a go – subject to the bosses approval.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Salmon Cakes

Folks our age were the kids of the kids who grew up during the Great Depression and as such most of our parents knew how to stretch their food budgets including making salmon cakes (patties for us) from canned salmon – I don’t know how old I must have been before knowing that tuna and salmon was actually a fresh fish – I did know that ham was available other than Spam though.  Seems like everyone’s mom had their own recipe for salmon patties using different fillers – I believe mine used oats and quite a bit more than Pam's recipe - we likely had salmon flavored fillers.

As Bev and I were reminiscing the other day, we decided we wanted to make some patties from canned salmon (even though we have the real deal in the freezer) but using a more modern recipe and we chose Pam’s version from her For The Love Of Cooking blog.  Check Pam’s blog for the original recipe and some great pics.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Chicken Broccoli Cheddar Casserole

We were out of leftovers so it was time to cook something and we didn’t want to go to the store, so we discussed what we could make and decided we had the ingredients on hand for a chicken broccoli casserole and found a recipe requiring only minor changes.  The recipe came from Cathy at Wives With Knives - and was originally from Trisha Yearwood.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Bolognese Into Spaghetti Pie

Bev and I both like Italian (perhaps my favorite) and we had been wanting to make Bolognese Sauce, and we decided to try a different one than we had made in the past.  I looked around the web and adapted a couple of recipes to come up with one that sounded good and was pretty traditional – a meat sauce rather than a tomato sauce with meat in it.  I thought it was good but not outstanding and I think I may have got it too dry.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

White Bean And Tasso Soup

We’ve had some Tasso in the freezer for a while and Bev’s lingering mouth sensitivity has improved to the point that she can now enjoy mildly spicy food so we decided to whip up a batch of white beans using the Tasso in lieu of our normal ham hocks.  I went a step further and found an actual recipe for White Bean And Tasso Soup at Louisiana Kitchen and Culture then adapted it just a little by using less water, chopping the Tasso at the beginning, and not blending part of the beans to thicken it – all personal preferences).

White Bean And Tasso Soup Adapted from Louisiana Kitchen and Culture

2 cups onions, chopped
2 cups green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 lb dried white beans, picked over, and soaked overnight
1 ¾ lb Tasso ham, chopped, preferably Poche's brand (just what we had)*

2 bay leafs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
8 cups chicken broth
8 cups water (I used four cups)
salt, black pepper to taste
red pepper flakes to taste (none for us)

Add all ingredients to a large Dutch oven; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook 2 to 2½ hours or until beans are soft.
Taste and adjust seasoning.

* - Tasso is not actually ham (hogs rear leg) but rather it is cured shoulder which is then rubbed with spices and smoked until fully cooked.

We served it over some cornbread muffins and topped with a little diced onion.

I thought it was very good and perfect comfort food for a rainy day.  It had just the right amount of heat and using less liquid made it just the way I like soup.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them and the blue words are links.

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


2/28/18 Meal Date

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Oysters Rockefeller In The Oven

Bev has been craving our normal crappie in lemon/butter/caper sauce and I have been wanting to try our frozen oysters so we opted for both in the same meal.  We really enjoy Oysters Rockefeller (OR) and have posted about them a few times but this was a first for us as we have always cooked them in the half shell on the grill.  During our RV trip to Florida in Dec/Jan we were shocked to discover that very few oysters were being harvested from Apalachicola Bay but we could buy a few. 

Since we wanted to take them home, we bought some pre-shucked ones and froze them with the understanding that they didn’t work well raw but were just as good as fresh-shucked when cooked.

Obviously they could easily be thawed, breaded, and fried but making OR without shells presented a challenge so I went in search of a replacement and found these oven safe oyster dishes at Amazon. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Annual Trip To Gatlinburg – Part 2

After several dreary days, the sun finally came out on Thursday and we decided to take a drive in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park which surrounds Gatlinburg, TN and you go from mega development into the wilds in just a few feet.  This is the upper end of town using Google Earth to look both ways from the same intersection.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Pan Seared Bay Scallops With Lemon Orzo

Bev is not a big fan of scallops so I used her being in Gatlinburg as an opportunity to cook up some bay scallops for just me.  We brought the frozen scallops back from Florida in one pound bags so I made two meals of them.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Annual Trip To Gatlinburg – Part 1

This was the week we visited our time share in Gatlinburg, TN and most of the time it includes Valentine’s Day as it did Wednesday of this week.  As usual, I was there for (at most) part of the week and we timed my part so I could be there to go out to dinner with my Valentine and as it turned out our good friend Kathy joined us.  

Before leaving home, Bev mentioned that she had been coming to G’burg her whole life and never eaten at Howard’s Steak House, which has been around since 1946 as an independently owned restaurant – one of the few in town.  After getting up to G'burg and discussing several options, we decided to go with Howard’s even though it didn’t have as high of ratings as some others (3½ stars on Trip Advisor).

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Spinach And Ham Manicotti

I can’t believe it was 2010 when I last made these and I actually made the ricotta for them that time.  This time, I used store bought ricotta, the same crepe recipe (doubled) and a different filling.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Salmon Poached in White Wine with Olives and Pearl Onions

Since our return from Florida, I have been looking for different ways to prepare the seafood we brought back and I saw Chef Lea Ann’s recipe for Salmon Poached in White Wine with Olives and Pearl Onions on her Cooking On The Ranch blog.  Since I like olives, pearl onions, garlic, and wine, I knew I had to give it a try with a couple of slight modifications – I upped the ingredients for three servings and cooked in individual dishes with 1/3 of the ingredients in each.  Check out Lea Ann's site for the original recipes and some good pics.

Salmon Poached in White Wine with Olives and Pearl Onions – Slightly adapted

7oz pieces of salmon (3)
1½ c. assorted pitted olives
15 pearl onions - more or less to taste
3 cloves garlic
4½ T. cup olive oil
¾ c. white wine
Zest and juice of 1½ lemon
Pinch of red pepper flakes on each dish
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut salmon pieces to fit dishes.
3. Pour olive oil in shallow oven proof dishes, and place salmon filet in oil skin side down.
4. Arrange olives, onions and garlic around the salmon.
5. Pour wine over everything.
6. Top the salmon with lemon zest and then squeeze the lemon juice over all of the ingredients.
7. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and salt and pepper.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Grilled Eye Of Round With Peas And Carrots & Congrats Philly

When we moved to South Jersey in 1962, I became one of the long suffering fans of the Phillys and Eagles and even though my enthusiasm for them has long since waned, I was happy to see them play such a good game to win the Super Bowl - I'm usually a fan of the underdog as well.  I even stayed up awake for the whole game.

When Cindy came over the next night she wanted to watch the half-time show that we had recorded.  I don't generally care for the commercials (Super Bowl or others) and we didn't watch the halftime show so I watched it with Cindy.  The following comments will likely show my age but what I saw in the show was Justin Timberlake and others jumping around to noise that I assume was supposed to be music and he displayed a very mediocre singing voice - however much he was paid, it was way too much - critique over :-)

Bev bought a packer cut whole eye of round a while back and it has been wet-aging in the fridge for about a month waiting to make it onto the meal schedule – while I’m in a cooking mood, I have about two weeks of meals planned out to use the stuff we have in the freezer and try out some recipes I’ve been saving.

When it comes to grilled meat, my go-to source is Chris over at Nibble Me This and for this meal, I choose his Rotisserie Garlic Roast Beef Wraps and I sided it with peas and carrots.  So let’s begin with the beef using Chris’ recipe shown below and be sure to check his blog for some great how-to pics.

Rotisserie Garlic Roast Beef – Slightly adapted from Nibble Me This

4 lb Certified Angus Beef eye of round (Larry used a ?# select piece of round as we wanted leftovers)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 cups beef broth

For the paste
2 heads garlic, cloves peeled
1/4 cup mustard
1/4 cup high temperature oil (avocado, grapeseed, canola, etc)
1/4 cup coarse chopped onion
1 teaspoon black pepper

1. Make the paste.  Place the paste ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until you get a paste consistency.
2. Prep the beef.  Trim any excess fat off of the eye of round. Score the meat (making small slices on the exterior). Season all over with the salt.  Securely place the beef on the rotisserie skewer rod.  Slather the garlic paste all over the beef.  Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Monterey Chicken Pasta - Some Good Stuff

I have been wanting a casserole and when Steph posted the recipe for Monterey Chicken Spaghetti on her Plain Chicken blog, I knew it would do the trick.  Check out her site for the original recipe and some great shots of the dish.  I borrowed this shot from her to show how good it looks. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

A Valuable Kitchen Device

To say I’m not a believer in single use kitchen cooking devices, is a giant understatement as I refuse to buy such things as an omelet cooker, a panini press, a George Foreman Grill, a hamburger cooker – you get the point, believing instead that I can use my good set of pans instead – Bev did sneak in a seldom used rice cooker on me.

Don’t get me wrong, we do have plenty of kitchen gadgets, just not many for cooking – we do have a regular pressure cooker and a slow cooker as they can do things that are difficult or impossible to do in regular pots and pans.  I’m not throwing off on those of you who have these items, but they are not for me, in some part because we don’t have a place to store them.  I say this to say I'm reluctant to add gadgets to the kitchen.

However, there is one non-cooking gadget we recently bought that is quickly rising to the ranks of a necessity.  Since we cook a lot and don’t always have containers for storage, we often use plastic wrap to cover containers.  If you use it, you have likely had it refuse to tear on the non-sharp serrated box edge, or fold back on itself into an impenetrable wad as you try to manage it with one hand.  

One morning, while watching the Barefoot Contessa, Ina commented on her Stretch-tite Wrap n Snap 7500 plastic wrap dispenser and despite my reservations, Bev urged me to buy one.  I was not convinced it would work any better than wrap from a box and it would not fit in the drawer where the box goes but after some research and Ina's recommendation, I ordered one from Amazon along with a large roll of plastic wrap.

This link is a 45 second You Tube video showing how it works and ours functions as shown. 

After about six months, we love this thing and since we use it every day and often several times, it now has its own spot on the kitchen island.  I believe the three things that I like are that it cuts cleanly every time, the new end is easy to get for the next use, and it leaves both hands free to deal with the plastic rather than using one of my hands to hold the box. 

I used the thing the other night to cover a couple of two quart measuring cups full of homemade chicken broth and thought “this thing works so good, I should blog about it.”  So if you’re tired of struggling with the plastic wrap, they are $20-25 at Walmart and Amazon plus a large roll of wrap.

Disclaimer: I have no sponsors nor do I allow advertising on my blog and I will receive nothing for this post - I just wanted you to know about this thing.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them and the blue words are links.

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


1/29/18 Event Date

Monday, January 29, 2018

Seafood Po Boy’s

As we continue to enjoy our seafood haul from Florida, the other day, we had some grouper fingers followed by a shrimp taste testing to determine which coating we preferred with our shrimp (from Skip One Seafood in Ft Myers) using five different ones:

1. Shrimp directly into House Autry Seafood Seasoning
2. Shrimp into buttermilk then House Autry Seafood Seasoning
3. Shrimp into beer batter
4. Shrimp into beer batter then crushed cornflakes
5. Royal Red shrimp into buttermilk and House Autry

Surprisingly #2 was the preferred one and I would have bet on #4 due to the crunch – it was my favorite and I think it would have won with more spices in it.

If you have a go-to fish coating, I'd appreciate getting it as I'm always looking for a better one.

I’ve said all of the above to get to the point of saying we had some raw shrimp and grouper left over and decided to turn them into Po Boy’s using some rolls we also had on hand.  Bev had half grouper and half shrimp but I failed to get a shot of hers.  Mine was shrimp, which I dunked in buttermilk then dredged in a mixture of House Autry and cornflakes.

I nuked the bun for a few seconds to soften and warm it then mostly split it and added some creamy feta salad dressing to one side.  Then I added tomato, a little onion, and lettuce before adding the fried shrimp and baby Swiss cheese.

It was very good but I believe I would have preferred cheddar cheese.  While the shrimps  were delicious, I think smaller ones would work better as they could be packed in easier for an over stuffed sandwich.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them and the blue words are links.

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


1/28/18 Meal Dates

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

While we were out west last fall, our neighbor, Pat, ate Stuffed Green Pepper soup at a restaurant and loved it so Bev has been waiting for our travels to end so she could make a batch.  

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Southwest Breakfast Nachos with Special Sauce

When Kathy over at A Spoonful Of Thyme posted this recipe I knew it was to be in my future and we finally got around to making it, and sure glad we did. Please check out her site for some good photos of the dish.  I made it with only slight alterations but pretty much followed the recipe.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Italian Wedding Soup - A WOW meal

And now for the rest of our meal with Laurie and Dave.

We had watched Mario Carbone (Chef and co-owner of Carbone in NYC) make Italian Wedding Soup on the Today Show the other day and since it was on my make-someday-list, we decided to give it a try, especially since Bev was making some meatballs that day – while the recipe calls for chicken, she just made a smaller version of her beef meatballs.

Even though there are simpler versions of this soup, we decided to make this one with two changes – the meatballs and spinach in lieu of escarole (which many recipes do). Since we were serving it to company and wanted to make meal day easier and less messy, we cooked the meatballs and made the broth the day before and sauted the soup veggies the morning of.  Click on the title below for the full recipe and this shot is from their site.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Royal Red Shrimp & Wine

Friends Laurie and Dave (Big Daddy Dave) joined Cindy, Bev and I for a little dinner get-together the other night and as I was writing the blog I realized I had too much to say for one post so I broke it into two beginning with the appetizer and wine.  But first, here is a shot of Teddy & Romeo watching our recent snow.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Chicken Soup From Dog Food

I’ll bet this title got your attention but it’s not as bad ad it sounds.  Bev makes food for our four legged children and this time by cooking chicken, carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach in water – sometimes she roasts them.  While different than the usual, chicken and veggies cooked in water is how stock is made so we decided to give this broth a try as soup even though it was a little sweet.  The recipe we decided to use was Steph’s recently posted Crack Chicken Noodle Soup from her Plain Chicken Blog – check it out for some great pics.

For the soup, we cooked a couple more large breasts in the broth to get the cooked chicken we needed then adjusted her recipe for our eight cups of broth (hers is for 6 cups).

Chicken Noodle Soup - Adapted from Plain Chicken

4 cups chopped cooked chicken
10.75-oz can condensed cheese soup
8 cups chicken broth
1¼ cup milk
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, thinly sliced
1 oz Hidden Valley Original Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
2.8 oz package Hormel Real Bacon Bits (or your favorite)
1¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
12-oz dried fine egg noodles, uncooked (we broke angel hair into 1½“ pieces)
Couple handfuls of frozen peas – we think they belong in chicken noodle soup

1. In a large pot, combine cooked chicken, cheese soup, chicken broth, milk, chopped celery, sliced carrots, Ranch Dressing Mix and Bacon Bits.
2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until vegetables are soft.
3. Stir in dried noodles, peas, and shredded cheddar cheese. Cook until noodles are soft.

Despite the slightly off color (due to the spinach) and the sweetness, I thought it was very good and would make it again.  Thanks Steph.

Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them and the blue words are links.

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


1/13/18 Meal Date

Monday, January 8, 2018

Low Country Boil For Eight

I’ve posted about Low Country Boil (Frogmore Stew) before but it has always been cooked outside in a giant pot and dumped on a paper covered table for eating but this time, at 20F outside, it was all done inside.  Mostly I’m posting this to document this recipe for one of our favorite meals.  We were originally planning for 10 diners but ended up with six, so the food I had was too much and the numbers in ( ) are what I would cook for eight.

8 quarts water
½ cup Zatarain’s Pro Boil (or your favorite shrimp flavoring)
3 lb small potatoes (2 lb. enough for non-big eaters)
36 oz Kielbasa, cut into 1½ inch pieces (24 oz enough for non-big eaters)
8 ears corn - husked, cleaned and halved
3 pounds large shrimp

Bring water and seasoning to boil in a large stockpot.  Add potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add sausage and cook for 10 minutes more. Add corn and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off heat, stir in the shrimp, and cover pot until shrimp are pink, 3-4 minutes. Drain immediately and serve.

Rather than dump on paper and eat without plates, we poured it onto a serving tray that we could slide up and down the table for serving then ate from paper plates so very little clean up needed for this one pot meal.