Monday, April 22, 2019

Pam’s French Onion Smothered Pork Chops

When I saw this recipe on Pam’s For The Love Of Cooking blog and knowing I really enjoy both pork chops and French Onion Soup, I knew this recipe had to be tried soon before it got lost in my recipe files.  I changed it up a little for our three chops but you can go to her website for the original recipe and great pics.

French Onion Smothered Pork Chops – Adapted from For The Love Of Cooking

3 thick boneless pork chops
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
Dried thyme, to taste
2 tbsp butter
1½ yellow onions, sliced (Red onion is what we had on hand)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
¾ tsp fresh thyme leaves
 tbsp flour
¼ cup red wine
1¼ cups beef (or chicken) broth
¾ tsp Worcestershire sauce
¾ tsp Dijon mustard
¾ cup Gruyere cheese, shredded (more if desired)
Fresh thyme sprigs, garnish
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped, garnish

1. Pat the pork chops dry then season them with sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, garlic powder, and fresh thyme, to taste, on both sides; set aside.
2. Heat the butter in a large oven proof cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes, until softened and golden brown and caramelized.

Side Note: If the skillet gets dry while cooking and the onions are getting burned add a bit of water, you want them to cook slowly, not get charred.

3. Remove the caramelized onions from the skillet and set aside.
4. Drizzle the olive oil in the skillet and heat over high heat. Add the seasoned pork chops and cook for about for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown then flip over and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown; remove from the skillet and set on a plate. At this point, the pork is not cooked through.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Ham and Asparagus Strata

The asparagus is coming in and Bev went in search of something to make with it and searched for an asparagus strata finding a recipe for Ham and Asparagus Strata on the Simply Recipes site and this is their photo.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Cheesy Chicken Tetrazzini Ala Lea Ann

When our neighbor, Pat, asked if we could cook supper for a group of about 10 at her church, I went in search of a casserole that might be different than what they usually get and I came upon Cheesy Chicken Tetrazzini from Chef Lea Ann on her Cooking On The Ranch blog.  Since I know they like leftovers and I wanted some for us, I doubled most of the recipe to get the one shown below.  The peas and olives weren’t quite double as I only used them in two thirds of recipe – we made a smaller pan for the kids who may not like them.  I forgot to take pics so here is one from Lea Ann’s blog but check it out for the original recipe and more pics.

3 medium boneless chicken breasts about 24 ounces, cooked and shredded
9 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
48-ounce package fresh white mushrooms sliced
1 large onion finely chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups milk
2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cup hot liquid from cooked pasta
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
2 pound linguine (Larry used shaped pasta)
2 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup sliced pimento stuffed green olives or more if you'd like
2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup dried Italian-style breadcrumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray a lasagna pan with Pam.
3. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to a baking dish and bake covered with foil for 40 minutes or until juices run clear. Once cooled, coarsely shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl. Turn up heat on oven to 400 degrees.
4. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large deep nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute over medium heat until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and the mushrooms become pale golden, about 12 minutes. Add the onion and thyme, and saute until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. 5. Add garlic and stir until fragrant. Lightly salt and pepper and transfer the mushroom mixture to the bowl with the shredded chicken.
6. Melt 3 more tablespoons butter in the same pan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, cream, nutmeg, and lightly salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium. Bring to a boil. Simmer, until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
7. In a large Dutch oven bring salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until it is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 9 minutes. Before draining, with a measuring cup, dip out 1 cup of the hot pasta water. Drain pasta. Return pasta to the Dutch oven. Add sauce, mushroom and chicken mixtures, peas and sliced olives. Stir gently until well mixed. Add the pasta water a little at a time until you have a soupy consistency. Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared lasagna pan.
8. Stir the cheese and breadcrumbs in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the pasta. Dot with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown on top and the sauce bubbles, about 25 minutes.

I did remember the plated pic.

Pat said the dish was a big hit with her church group and we really enjoyed our small pan full – thanks Lea Ann for a delicious meal.

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.


4/14/19 event date

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Baked Paprika Chicken Thighs Ala Debbie

I can probably count on just a few fingers the number of times we’ve made baked chicken as I usually head for the grill, but as soon as I read Debbie’s recipe for One Pan Baked PaprikaChicken Thighs With Potatoes and Tomatoes Served Over Wilted Kale,  I knew I wanted to try it.  I bought a package of chicken thighs weighing five pounds so I doubled her recipe to get the one shown below, which I followed except as shown in parenthesis.  

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Italian For Lunch – The Patio

Russ and Kathy had just returned from the Florida Keys, where Russ spends the winter in his motor home and after a get together the previous evening to share our winter adventures, they joined us for our initial 2019 trip to the Englewood Amish Market.  This was the market’s second week open for the season and they only had a few things – baked goods, sweet potatoes (likely left from last year), and greens (kale, chard, lettuce, etc) plus they had some great looking plants in their greenhouse.  We bought a couple of tomato plants, some potatoes and greens and headed back.

Part of the reason for the trip was to go out for lunch and since I was in the mood for Italian, I suggested the Patio in Madisonville, where we have only been once several years ago.  We were seated immediately and waited on promptly.

The drinks came quickly along with a basket of warm bread sticks and container of marinara – both were very good.

Russ ordered the Gyro – “Delicious beef & lamb cooked to perfection & layered on pita, served w/ lettuce, tomatoes, onion & cucumber sauce ($6.25)”.  No pic but he really liked his gyro meat.

Kathy ordered a small pepperoni pizza which she thought was excellent.

So we would have leftovers, Bev ordered the Patio Special pizza - Cheese, beef, pepperoni, sausage, onions, green pepper, mushrooms, tomatoes, black olives, feta cheese large 14" ($14.95) and we both thought it was very good with nice fresh ingredients.

Bev and Kathy both raved about their pizzas.

I had the Baked Spaghetti - Sauteed bell peppers, mushrooms & pepperoni over spaghetti covered w/ homemade meat sauce, topped w/ melted mozzarella cheese & baked to perfection ($8.35) and thought it was pretty darned good for East Tennessee Italian.

When it came, I was shocked at the size of my dish and after a bread stick and small side salad ($1.50 with the entrée) I could only eat half of it so we ended up with two boxes of leftovers – Bev only ate two pizza slices.  While this is not the "real deal Italian" that I really like, it was real good East Tennessee Italian.  This was definitely a good place to stop and with good portions of good food at a reasonable price (definitely the opposite of tourist food) and excellent service - we plan to return soon.

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.


4/5/19 event date

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Surf & Turf

The bulb flowers have come and gone but spring is still showing off here at Almost Heaven South with the crab apple and Yoshino Cherry in full bloom

Monday, April 1, 2019

Steak Taste Test

Years ago, a local legend, Allen Benton, of Benton’s Country Hams (he is also a beef guy) advised me that even deer tenderloin is tender so no need to pay extra for high grade beef tenderloin and since I’d eaten nice, tender deer tenderloin, I believed him.  However, when Bev came home the other day with a package of prime beef tenderloin steaks (I’d never seen them before) from Sam’s Club, we decided to do a little comparison with a choice filet she bought at Walmart.  The first thing I noticed was the big difference in appearance in both color and marbling.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Pasta With Lemon Cream Sauce Ala Chef Lea Ann

When one of our favorite people and trained chef blogs about a recipe containing some of our favorite ingredients, it quickly moves to the top of the try-soon list.  When I told Bev about it, she immediately said that with ham and peas, we should consider it for Easter dinner so this meal ended up being a trial run.  I adjusted LA’s recipe a little for our taste as noted but please check her blog for some much better pics than mine.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Stuffed Mushrooms & Salmon Cooking Time

We had all been craving salmon so I found a recipe with an Oriental slant to it and baked the entire fillet.  I used the recipe from The Recipe Critic and it had a good flavor.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Celito Lindo Fix

After our trip to the Southwest and trying several Mexican restaurants only to believe our local place was better, we decided we’d better go to Celito Lindo in Vonore while our trip memories are still fresh.  We invited friends to go with us to compare it to their favorite El Sazon in Alcoa.  We went early but the place was pretty full by the time we left so we are obviously not the only fans.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Southwestern RV Trip – Days 63-64, The Final Two Days

We got back on I-40 in North Little Rock Tuesday morning and the road thru the rest of Ark was pretty good but we noticed lots of flood waters on both sides of the road and when we got to the Mississippi River, it was way out of its banks.  By the time we got into Tennessee the winds had picked up and I fought the gusty conditions the rest of the way to Parker's Crossroads.  Usually I’ve reported how the road got better when we got into TN but not so today as it was just okay most of the day and bad for the first 35 miles thru and east of Memphis.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Southwestern RV Trip – Days 60-62, Still Heading Home

After a day to rest, we got back on the road on Sunday (an hour late as we were unaware of the DST change - ain't retirement great?) and drove thru Oklahoma City to Seminole, OK to stay at the Bar H Bar Travel Center which contained a fuel stop, a convenience store, a restaurant, and a campground.  Overhead from the web.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Southwestern RV Trip – Days 57-59, Heading Home

After nearly eight weeks the time had finally come to point the coach east and head for home beginning with the 18 mile long, 4000 ft climb to get up on the Colorado Plateau at Flagstaff and the big diesel handled it well.  We soon left the pine forest around Flagstaff and found ourselves in a flat desert wasteland, so my positive AZ comments in the previous post apply only to southern AZ.  The road thru AZ and NM was okay – some very good, some good and a lot needing attention but none terrible.

We were driving along and saw this snow covered peak and then noticed what seemed to be a dumping ground for old asphalt so we did a little research and discovered that the snow covered peak was Mt Taylor, an inactive volcano and the piles of asphalt are really 1.5 – 3.3 million year old lava – a real shocker.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Southwestern RV Trip – Days 55-56 -esort, AZ, and Crusty's

On Tuesday, we made the three hour round trip to the Phoenix Airport to drop off Cindy for her fight home then we began making preparations to leave on Thursday so not much else planned for these final two days at Camp Verde.  

This seems like a good time to comment on two things beginning with the campground.  The Distant Drums RV Resort is owned and operated by the Yavapai–Apache Nation and I consider it to actually be a resort with 158 spacious sites – we were in #89. The roads are all paved and the sites contain a concrete RV parking pad and a concrete car parking/patio area.  The in-between areas are covered in small red rock which are raked each time someone moves out.  The utilities and cable TV all worked well and the WiFi was better than most.  Amenities included an 86F pool, a 104F hot tub, basic store, workout room, dog park, showers, laundry, and free shuttle to the casino.  

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Southwestern RV Trip – Days 52-54, Oak Tree Canyon & Jerome

On Saturday, Bev decided we should drive up the river canyon north of Sedona to see if the Navajo were selling their wares along the road and it looked like it might be a nice day.  By the time we were about 5 miles south of town it began to rain pretty hard, then after traveling a mile in the slow moving back up heading into Sedona with two more miles to go we decided to make a U-turn and head back to the campground – not a good Sedona day.

After a round of naps, we headed over to the Cliff Castle Casino to make a very small donation to the tribe and eat an early supper at Johnny Rockets – old time diner inside the casino – and we all enjoyed our meals.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Southwestern RV Trip – Days 50-51, Grand Canyon

A big part of our Sedona area stay was to have first timer Cindy get to experience what the area has to offer and it began with her oh-wows at the red rocks driving up to Sedona and continued with more oh-wows at Meteor Crater so today we took her to the Grand Canyon National Park for the ultimate oh-wow - the park is celebrating it's 100th birthday.  After a 2½ hour drive, we began at the Visitors Center where we watched the movie then went out to Mather Point overlook.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Southwestern RV Trip – Days 48-49, Meteor Crater, Winslow, Sedona

It was finally warm and sunny on Tuesday and the road up to Flagstaff was open so it was a good day to check off a bucket list item and visit Meteor Crater and then go on into Winslow for lunch – it was about a three hour round trip drive up I-17 onto the 7000’ Colorado Plateau then east on I-40.  Heading toward Flagstaff, we got a good view of the San Francisco Peaks and Humphrey’s Peak which is the highest natural point in Arizona at 12637 ft.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Southwestern RV Trip – Days 46-47, Sedona, Cottonwood, Jerome, Chapel

Finally, on Sunday we all felt well enough to venture outside the coach so we went for a drive to get a feel for things.  We began with the 35 minute drive up to Sedona to find they had a lot more snow and plenty of people on a pretty afternoon.  These are shots between Oak Creek and Sedona showing the famous red rocks.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Southwestern RV Trip – Days 42-45, Moving Up To Camp Verde

On Wednesday we secured the coach and made our one-day-early departure from Lazy Days KOA in Tucson.  While we didn’t use the amenities or participate in the activities I still really enjoyed the campground and would definitely stay there again.  It is on the SE side of town making it somewhat away from the majority of town with restaurants, etc.  Our trip north to Camp Verde took us up I-10, then I-17 around Phoenix and on to our destination.  At around noon, we breezed right through Phoenix and other than a few rough patches, found the roads to be in pretty good condition.

We pulled into Distant Drums RV Resort mid afternoon, got parked and I went comatose as I now had a head cold to go along with my other ailments.  I’ll talk more about the campground later but when we got up Thursday morning, this is what we found.

Closely followed by this.

Sure made our decision to come here a day early look brilliant.  The coach has been in the snow before but never with us camped inside.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Southwestern RV Trip – Days 39–41, Titan and Coyote Pause

Sunday was just a normal day at home - cleaning, laundry, juicing lemons, peeling grapefruit, etc.  People in most areas of the country hear some about the border wall and most likely have an opinion about it, but when you are staying in Tucson, it is a very hot topic with something about it on nearly every newscast.

On Monday, I spent a lot of time researching our options for traveling north on Thursday should the predicted snow occur that morning.  

Then we headed south a few miles to visit the Titan Missile Museum and so did many others as there was a 1½ hour wait to go down into the silo.  Since Pat had already decided not to take the tour and I was concerned about the 55 step narrow staircase on a hip that was having a bad day, we decided to just look around the above ground area where they had a missile nose cone and a thermonuclear warhead shell on display.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Southwestern RV Trip – Days 37–38, Tombstone Again

After yesterdays Biosphere II drive and tour, we had decided not to do much but clean up a little and fix supper but would you believe the girls just had to go back to a gem show for one last visit (their 4th) – is closes on Sunday and I guess they couldn’t stand the possibility of missing out on a bargain (prices were marked down 30% during their last visit). 

Bev had been craving pasta with meat balls but we didn’t want to make them so I went on line to see what I could find.  On a "Taste Of Home" site, I discovered their ratings for frozen meatballs and their top choice was Natures Rancher available at Whole Foods which we just happened to pass on our way home from Biosphere II – so we picked up a couple of bags.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Southwestern RV Trip – Days 35 – 36, Biosphere II

On Wednesday, I hung around the coach while it and the car got washed and waxed by a local crew and the girls made a third trip to the Kino Gem Show but this time they came home with wood tables and lamps purchased from a guy from Estes Park, CO – I had to make two trips to get all of the stuff plus the girls back home and not sure where we will put it while traveling.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Southwestern RV Trip – Days 32 - 34, Mt. Lemmon

On Sunday we didn’t do much of anything but relax around the coach but we do have a temperature problem in the coach.  While I was comfortable in my shorts and T-shirt, Bev looked like this.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Southwestern RV Trip – Days 30 & 31 – Shrimp & El Charro Cafe

Do you pay attention to drug ads on TV – us old people generally do and as I watch them, I can’t help but wonder “How do they come up with these names?”  Orillissa, Trelegy, Chantix, Epclusa, Taltz, Xeljanz, Jardiance, Vraylar, Stelara, Zicam, Brilnta, Dupixent, Cosentyx, Neulasta, Glucerna, Emgality  - they like to use X and Z.  Then here are a few of the largest sellers - Harvoni, Mabthera, Avastin, Herceptin, Sovaldi.  And the generic names are even worse.  This is what happens when you sit around the RV with nothing else to do.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Southwestern RV Trip – Day 29, Saguaro NP & Inca's

The temps were a little below freezing when I got up and the predicted cool temps scared us off of our planned trip to Tubac to attend the Arts Festival and the closed road due to snow cancelled my backup plan of driving up to Mt. Lemmon.  So it was on to plan C with a drive thru the Saguaro NP and late lunch at Inca’s Peruvian Restaurant.

The Saguaro NP has a west and east portion and we chose the east because it was closer and had an eight mile loop road that was paved – I love using my Senior Pass to get in.  We stopped at the Visitors Center and snapped a few shots – the Saguero with Bev is 102 years old and they had a labeled version of each of the desert plants around the center.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Southwestern RV Trip – Days 26 - 28 – Tohono O'odham & Tucson

On Monday, we decided we would check out the local Indian Reservation which included a drive by their Desert Diamond Casino then the Mission San Xavier (Catholic Church) and then about 60 miles down to Sells, AZ which is a main town for the Tohono O’odham Nation. 

We were in search of their Heritage Center but after going to Sells then on to Topawa we never did find it, but we got some great views but few shots of the desert and mountains under cloudy skies.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Southwestern RV Trip – Days 24 & 25 –Tucson

One of the nice things about being in a location for 3+ weeks is that you don’t have to cram something into every day so Saturday was a little more relaxing.  I put a chuck roast into our crock pot to have some meat in the fridge and puttered around the coach while the girls went to the on-site gem show – a major gem show is beginning in Tucson this week.

In early afternoon, we decided to go checkout the meat counter at Sonora Meat Market which was a very unique place as it is a convenience store that sells their on-site butchered meat, liquor, and about everything in between.  With narrow aisle and tall shelves, I don't believe another item could be crammed into the place.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Southwestern RV Trip – Days 22 & 23 –Tucson and Tombstone

About all we did on Thursday was run a few errands and go to lunch at Aqui Con El Nene which had been recommended to us.  Pat and I had a Sonoran Hot Dog and Bev and I had a Taco Taqui so I got to eat both of the recommendations from our friend Lea Ann.  It's basically fast Mexican food where you order at the counter and they bring the food to you.

The hot dog is a bacon wrapped wiener topped with mustard, mayo and a variety of other items and the Taco is two tortillas wrapped around a green chile stuffed with meat, cheese, bacon, and mushrooms.  

I enjoyed both items but as is often the case in Mexican restaurants the meat was over cooked for my taste.  They also had a salsa bar with about anything you would want for a topping.  I look forward to trying more Mexican and Southwestern meals.

On Friday, we made the hours drive town to Tombstone for a look at one of Arizona’s most famous towns and while all but two of the original buildings have been destroyed by fires, it has been rebuilt to resemble the original – they even have gravel atop the paved main street.

This is the Earp's and Doc Holliday walking down to the OK Corral for their famous gunfight - Doc is on the left with his cane and Virgil, on the right even walked with the necessary limp.

We began our visit by taking a narrated stagecoach ride around town and learned some interesting town history but the main thing I learned was that I would not want to ride very far in a stagecoach. 

After the ride and getting to see most of the town, it was time for our usual  - the girls went shopping and I headed for Big Nose Kate's Saloon, where I had a great time thanks to some semi-locals (from Sierra Vista) sitting beside me at the bar. 

When Steve, the owner stopped by for a chat, he insisted on taking some shots of us.

Turns out, Steve came to the area from the Bronx, NY with virtually nothing and now owns Big Nose Kate’s, the Long Branch Saloon, and The Harley store.  In case you haven’t seen the Wyatt Earp movies, Big Nosed Kate was Doc Holliday’s girlfriend and there was not a saloon with her name in the old days.  They had a lady playing some playing and singing some very good music that I really enjoyed.
When the girls got there, we had a good lunch but forgot to take food photos - here is a menu link.  The servers dress in period costumes.

I had the Outlaw Burger, Bev had the Dutch Annie’s Mixed Meat Calzone, and Pat had Goldie’s Famous Over Stuffed Reuben.  We all enjoyed our meals especially the Reuben which I would expect from a Bronx native.  

They like to take shots of their customers in period costumes.  

We really enjoyed Tombstone, even though everything is set up to capture the tourists dollars (even the OK Corral has walls around it) we will try to get back again.

Since we were in the area, we decided to drive further south and check out Bisbee then over to Sierra Vista.  Bisbee is an old mining and now tourist town to which the girls want to return and Sierra Vista is just a regular town with an army post – Fort Huachuca.

Since it’s just an hours drive, we will want to go back to Tombstone at least one more time.

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.


1/31-2/1/19 event dates