Monday, August 10, 2020

Pulled Pork Enchilada Verde Casserole

It was once again time for the Thursday meal for our friends and since I had pulled pork from my recent BBQ cook, a big pack of corn tortillas from the local maker, and have been wanting Mexican, enchiladas made the most sense.  I’ve learned after several months that casserole type dishes work best for delivery so I decided on an enchilada casserole.

I did not find a single recipe that I liked, so after reading several to get a sense of the proportions they used, I came up with the one below.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

My First Brisket On The Grill

 If you follow my blog regularly, you know, I have recently been barbecuing meat on my grill, which is equipped with a smoker box, and I decided it was finally time to try a beef brisket – the most difficult cut of meat to get right.  And since I was cooking, I decided to do a pork butt just to have some pulled pork on hand.  And since I was cooking the pork, Bev wanted me to wrap it in banana leaves ala Hawaiian Luau.

I used my normal pork rub and harvested a couple of big leaves from our hardy banana to wrap it with.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

A Few Recent Meals

For meal one, we had several green tomatoes we needed to use and opted to make a green tomato BLT since we love BLT’s, we love fried green tomatoes and we often see them on menus.  We used the recipefrom Meatwave, homemade bread, and Benton’s bacon.  The first shot shows my bread ready with mayo (Duke’s), bacon, lettuce, and colby jack cheese and it’s followed by two views after the deep fried tomatoes were added.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Cajun Shrimp and Linguine

I like to make Cajun/Creole meals more often than I do and when Mary posted the recipefor Cajun Shrimp and Linguine on her Deep South Dish, I quickly saved it.  I made a few changes to the recipe but it is primarily as she made it – my changes this time are in orange and I show changes I'll make next time - you can see Mary's original by clicking on the above link.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Ham, Broccoli, and Mushroom Quiche - Delicious

Sorry about the print color - don't know what's going on.

When Bev made her tomato pie the other day, she made a double crust recipe and had enough left for a quiche so I combined a recipe from For The Love Of Cooking and Spicy Southern Kitchen plus Bev added mushrooms to get the recipe below.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Homemade Dill Pickles

We don’t eat a lot of dill pickles but we prefer the garlic dills we make ourselves using a particular variety of cucumbers (name unknown) that we get from the Englewood Amish Market.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Individual Tomato Pies

I don’t know why, but we haven’t made these in years and they are outrageously good.  The recipe comes from the Roseville B&B in Marshall, TX but I don’t have a link for it.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Some Recent Meals & Happenings

Bev works very hard to keep her flower gardens looking good and one of them is around the rock in the middle of our driveway.

Friday, July 17, 2020

A Day Trip Into The Foothills

I’ve been so disappointed at missing our RV trips this year and the recent cancellation of our six week long Colorado trip has me a little depressed.  I’ve considered some short local RV trips, but in the end, we decided to just try some day trips via the car beginning with this one.

Bev wanted to go to a Mennonite Farm Market but rather than our normal Englewood Market we decided to go further south to the Delano Community Market as part of the day trip loop – Delano is a small community south of Etowah, TN.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Jerk Chicken And Caribbean Rice & Beans

We had not made jerk chicken in a long time and we decided it would make a good Thursday supper for our friends and us.  I used our normal jerk marinade to season the chicken but the recipe below is for one and half times.  I like whole chicken for the dish so I spatchcocked one for us but they prefer breasts so I did four large ones for them.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Heirloom Tomato Pie

Bev had several good looking heirloom tomatoes from the Amish market that needed to be used and she opted to turn them into a tomato pie, which we all enjoy.  She selected this recipe fromSouthern Living but she used refrigerated pie dough with Parmesan sprinkled in the bottom and it needed 50% more tomatoes for her 10.5” diameter dish.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Baked Five Spice Maple Glazed Salmon And Eliza With Blueberries

With all of the salmon we’ve cooked, I can’t remember ever cooking it with an Asian flavor so when I saw Pam’s recipe for Five Spice Maple Glazed Salmon on her Pam’s Midwest Kitchen Korner blog I thought this would be a great first one to try.  Cindy did the cooking and followed the ingredients as written but she changed the directions including using a probe thermometer to cook it to an internal temp of 120F and brushed on more glaze each 20 degrees until she ran out of glaze.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Deviled Crab For Breakfast

One of my favorite parts of a restaurant seafood platter is the crab shell stuffed with deviled crab and I love crab cakes so when I saw some canned crabmeat on a recent store trip, I decided to make some deviled crab.  I wanted to make a big batch but since I’m cheap, I bought just a pound of $20/lb crab meat and a pound of $3/lb genuine imitation crabmeat.  Since Bev thought it was not crabby enough, I won’t bother to post the recipe but I made five individual servings and baked them but I forgot the pics.

After the five servings for supper, I still had a bunch left and decided to make it into cakes for breakfast and I used an English muffin sized ring to shape them.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Muffaletta/ Primavera Pasta Salad

We hope You Had A Great Independence Day

We decided to have a small Independence Day get together of just our “circle of trust” friends on the dock and while it was a 90F day, it was pretty comfortable by the water.  

While we waited for the others, Joe and I visited and Bev did a little decorating.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Alabama Scramble & A Tasty Breakfast

During a freezer dive recently, I found some year-old Carne Adovada meat and sauce in separate bags where the meat had been fried but not stewed in the sauce.  So I just followed Lea Ann’s recipe from her Cooking On The Ranch blog beginning with step 7 and it turned out just as good as the original.  Since I had some left over, a breakfast dish was in order so I added the meat and sauce to a 6” flour tortilla, topped with some sliced American cheese and chopped jalapenos then nuked for 90 seconds.  Of course I topped this with a couple of sunny side up eggs for a delicious breakfast.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Fish Sticks and Fried Green Tomatoes

While at the store last week, the seafood case had some nice looking fresh cod fillets and I bought a couple just to have in the freezer.  Later it dawned on me that I would like to turn them into fish sticks and I selected a recipe from Crunchy Creamy Sweet

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Salmon Piccata & Our First Boat Ride

We love salmon and we love crappie in lemon-butter-caper sauce so when I saw this recipe for salmon piccata and recalled that we put capers in our salmon cakes, I knew we had to try it.  I followed the recipe as written but it can be found at All Recipes by clicking on thislink  This pic is from their site but we served it differently.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Mediterranean Tuna Pasta Salad

Happy Father's Day To All You Dad's

After her success with potato salad, Cindy moved on to tuna pasta salad using the recipe from Mary on her Barefeet in the kitchen blog.    We coundn’t find the Za’atar Seasoning so Cindy used what is in the recipe below and the recipe below is doubled Mary’s – the original recipe along with several more pasta salad recipes and more pics like this one can be found on Mary's blog by clicking on this link.  

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Homemade Pizza On The Grill & Strawberry Shortcake

After thinking about it for several hours, Bev decided we should do something fun for supper while Joe was here and she opted for make-your-own pizzas using stuff we had on hand.  She found a dough recipe at A Couple Cooks and made a double batch (one would have been plenty for four individual pizzas).  Rather repeat the recipe here, it can be found by clicking on the link.

Bev made six dough balls and after an hour of proofing, she made a station for each of us to make ours – she did hers by hand and I used a rolling pin for mine.  

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Potato Salad Ala Cindy

I am a self admitted potato salad snob much preferring my Mom’s version to all others which Bev has learned to make.  So when Cindy bought some Yukon Gold potatoes at the Amish Market and volunteered to make a batch using a recipe from the web, my eyebrow raised a little but while I prefer mom’s, I’ve never had a version I disliked so I was all for it.

The recipe she used came from and was followed except she used mayo and sour cream in lieu of salad dressing.  The original recipe and pics like the one below can be found by clicking on this LINK.  

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Pork Ribs On The Weber & Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I had previously cooked a pork butt on my Weber Grill with a smoke box for the Thursday meal for our friends and today it was time to give ribs a try.  I cooked two slabs, cut in half, with 1½ for them and a 7-bone half for us.  For my rub, I used my old standard of a mixture of Billy Bones Competition and XXX Cherry put on both sides as thick as would stick.

Friday, June 5, 2020

BLT At The Dock and Strawberry Pie

Now that we have the dock cleaned and open for the season and the temps have moved into the mid to high 80’s, we have moved our happy hour to the lake where the still-cold-water makes the air temp noticeably cooler and we have a great view.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Hibiscus and A Few Good Meals

Just like her mom, Bev cannot resist buying plants, even tropical ones, so when she saw this bright yellow Hibiscus, she had to bring it home.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Stuffed Manicotti

Cindy wanted to make stuffed manicotti and I’ve been wanting to make crepes to use as the noodles as I’ve done before and she was excited to learn how to do that so a plan came together.  Click on this link for the recipe for 14 crepes and pics like this one. 

Cindy wanted to use a filling recipe from Allrecipes to which we added garlic powder and increased the amounts to get the one below.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Deconstructed Creamy Mushroom and Spinach Pasta

When I saw Pam’s recipe for this dish on her For The Love Of Cooking blog I knew I wanted to give it a try soon.  But when I ran it by Bev, she said she liked the ingredients but not as a lasagna as she’s not a big fan of baked pasta dishes and they are usually more work to make. 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Bacon Ranch Baked Cheddar Chicken & Skillet-Toasted Gnocchi With Peas

For this week’s Thursday meal for our friends, we chose to make Bacon Ranch Baked Cheddar Chicken using the recipe from Kevin on his Closet Cooking blog.  I followed his recipe but used about 10 oz of cream cheese and 1½ lbs of chicken tenders (seven tenders).  Click on this link to check out Kevin’s site for more great pics like this one.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Mothers Day For My Honey

When I asked Bev if she wanted to do or eat anything special for Mother’s Day, I was expecting something like a “grilled filet mignon” or “that catfish dish I like” but what I got was “let me call Pat (our neighbor) and see if she’s interested in a hot dog roast and bonfire.  

Well, the neighbors had no plans, a fire by the lake is near the top of Pat’s favorite things list, so a plan was born.

But before the supper meal, I thought she also deserved a special breakfast and I offered one of her favorites of Southwest Breakfast Nachos from Kathy’s A Spoonful Of Thyme blog and we last had them in Jan, 2018.   I usually don’t like to make them as not much can be dome ahead of time so the cooking is all done in the morning, but hey, it is Mothers Day.  No need to re-post the recipe but here are a few shots beginning with Bav and Cindy watching me cook.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Huevos Rancheros Ala Larry

It’s been awhile since I’ve made a breakfast that I thought was pretty special but this one sure hit the spot.  I was sitting behind my computer in the early morning and began thinking about breakfast options and I thought I might just have a bowl of leftover Charro Beans but decided I put in the effort for something better and included eggs. 

I knew we had all of the ingredients for Huevos Rancheros utilizing the beans and since they were awesome, I knew they would make this dish special so the first thing I did was reheat a bowl full in the microwave.  While the beans were heating, cooked a couple of corn tortillas in a skillet and laid them on a plate.

Then I used a slotted spoon to remove the warm beans from the bowl, let them drain off the liquid, and added them atop the tortillas.

Next came shredded cheddar and back in the micro wave for 30 seconds to melt it.

While the cheese was melting, I cooked the eggs sunny side up with a lid on the pan and when done, I slid them out onto the tortillas – a little off center – added a little more cheese and chopped cilantro.

I cannot imagine I’ve ever had better huevos rancheros which was due in large part to the Charro Beans, which may be the best Mexican beans I’ve ever had – you may want to make them for your next pot of beans - I'm sure they would go well over some Mexican cornbread.  Just click on the link for the recipe and for this batch I used four cups of pintos that I had cooked rather than canned beans.

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.


5/9/20 event date

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Cottage Pie Ala Tricia

Happy Mothers Day

For last weeks meal for our friends and us, we decided on cottage pie using the recipe from Tricia on her Saving Room For Dessert blog.  In case you are wondering, cottage pie uses ground beef instead of the lamb used in shepherds pie but it’s otherwise the same.  Since I was making two casseroles, I doubled the recipe for the filling but cooked the potatoes in two batches – one for each casserole.  You can click on the link for the original recipe and more of Tricia’s great pics like this one.

Cottage PieAdapted from Saving Room For Dessert

For the mashed potatoes:
6 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks, divided
2 teaspoon salt, divided
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small chunks, divided
2 teaspoon pepper, divided
1 1/3 cup milk, divided
For filling:
4 pounds lean ground beef (not less than 90%)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 large onion, chopped
6 medium carrots, diced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons tomato paste
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
29 ounce low-sodium beef broth (2 cans)
2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 2 teaspoon dried
2 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed with 2 tablespoon water
3 cups frozen green peas, thawed

Note: I prepared the potatoes in two batches so they would not get cold during the hour between making the two casseroles – I just rewarmed the filling in the pan prior to assembly of the second one.

To prepare each batch of the potatoes:
1. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover completely with cold water. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 10-12 minutes.
2. Drain the potatoes completely until very dry. Return the potatoes to the pot and mash until no lumps remain. 
3. Add the butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Stir until the butter is melted. 
4. Whisk together the milk and egg yolk. Add to the potatoes and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning.  Cover and set aside.

To prepare the filling:
1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
2.. In a large skillet or saute pan, cook the beef until brown and crumbly.  Drain in a colander mix in salt and pepper
3. In a large skillet add the butter and olive oil, heat on medium until butter is melted and add the onions, carrots, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and crushed red pepper flakes, if using.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrots start to soften. 
4. Add the garlic and tomato paste and stir constantly until the mixture darkens and the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes.
5. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes, scraping up the browned fond on the bottom of the skillet.
6. Add the beef broth, Worcestershire and thyme. Scrape the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits and bring to a boil.
7. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the beef back to the pan and mix with the vegetables
8. Whisk together the cornstarch and water and add to the beef. Cook for 1 minute or until slightly thickened. 
9. Stir in the peas and remove from the heat. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.
10. Add half the filling to a prepared 9”x12” casserole dish.
11. Place the mashed potatoes in a large zipper or pipping bag. Cut a 1-inch opening in one corner of the bag and pipe the potatoes over the beef mixture. Smooth the potatoes to cover the beef. Drag the tines of a fork across the top to make decorative ridges in the potatoes.
12. Bake until the filling is bubbling, about 15 - 20 minutes. Turn the broiler on HIGH, prop the oven door open slightly and broil the casserole until the potatoes are golden brown and crusty, about 5 minutes. (Watch carefully so they don't burn!)

13. Cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

We all loved it as did the friends we took the first casserole to and this will be the go-to for cottage pie going forward.  Thanks Tricia for a delicious supper.

The azaleas are pretty well spent now but the Knock Out Roses are now providing lots of color.

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.


4/30/20 event date

Friday, May 8, 2020

Crispy Pork Cutlets with a Creamy Dill Sauce Ala Pam

Knowing our love for pork schnitzel, when I saw the recipe for this dish on Pam’s For The Love Of Cooking blog, I knew we had to try it.  We’ve had schnitzel with a variety of sauces but never had heard of using a dill sauce but since we like dill sauce, we were game to give it a try. 

Other than the meat description and S&P, I followed the original recipe ingredients list but changed the cooking method as our deep fry pot was sitting on the stove with oil in it and I wanted to use it.  Just click on the above link for Pam’s original recipe and more pics like this one of her plated dish.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Salmon And Mango Salsa

I’d seen recipes for this dish in several places and wanted to give it a try since my girls like mangos – it’s not my favorite but I can eat it.  I looked at several recipes for cooking the salmon and making the salsa and opted for an adapted version of a salsa recipefrom  but I opted not to use their salmon recipe which included a marinade and Cajun spice mix. 

I changed the salsa by omitting the jalapeno and the pineapple but provided slices of grilled pineapple instead.  You can click on the above link to get the original recipe. I wanted to grill the pineapple because I really like it and I wanted mine to have this look.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole

The day after our trip to the Mennonite market and purchase of some beautiful broccoli, Tricia posted the recipe for Cheesy Chicken Broccoli and RiceCasserole on her Saving Room For Dessert blog and we decided it would be perfect for the weekly meal for our friends.  The original recipe makes eight servings but I wanted 12 servings split between two casseroles so I increased everything by 50% to get the recipe below.  I cooked everything together then split it between the two dishes.  For the original recipe and more great pics like the one below, please click on the above link to visit Tricia's blog.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Some Random Meals While Hunkered Down

Since we've been in lock down mode here at Almost Heaven South, my blog has been pretty much devoted to the meals we've been cooking and as you can tell we've eaten pretty well and all gained a little weight.  While most of the meals had an entire post devoted to then, we've had several that didn't get that treatment and following are several of them, beginning with my showing Cindy how to cook blackened catfish.  We used a heavy cost of Emeril’s Essence on two filets and Sint Maarten Blackening Seasoning on the other three.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Real Rotisserie Chicken

I’ve been wanting to put a chicken on the spit for a while and the day had finally arrived.  I put “real” in the title, because most of the recipes I found cook it in the oven, on the grill, or in a slow cooker so I have to chuckle when a rotisserie is not involved in cooking rotisserie chicken.  I would like to have used a smaller, younger chicken (4# or less), but all we could find were 5½ pounders so being a little tough was a possibility.

I first brined the bird for about 20 hours using this recipe I found on Dinner AtThe Zoo.

8 cups water
1/2 cup kosher salt - do not use table salt
1/4 cup honey
3 dried bay leaves
5 cloves of garlic smashed and peeled
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 tsp dried rosemary (3 sprigs fresh)
1 tsp dried thyme (3 sprigs fresh)
1 tsp dried parsley (3 sprigs fresh)
2 lemons sliced

1. Place the water, salt, honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, parsley and lemons in a large pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
2. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until salt has dissolved.
3. Turn off the heat and cool completely.
4. Add the chicken to the cooled brine making sure it is completely submerged and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.
5. Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse with cool water; pat dry with paper towels. 

To add more flavor to the chicken, I decided to use Chef Lea Ann’s recipe for rotisserie chicken spice mix from her Cooking On The Ranch blog.

1 teaspoon Garlic powder
1 teaspoon Onion powder
1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon Dried Thyme
1/2 teaspoon Dried Rosemary crushed
1/2 teaspoon Black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Chili powder 

1. I removed the chicken from the brine and fridge about an hour before cooking so it could air dry and warm up a little.
2. Thirty minutes before cooking, I combined all spices in small bowl. I loosened the skin with my hands to distribute mixture evenly between meat and skin of the breast and thigh and leg I could reach.  After a 20 hour brine, I was afraid to add any more salt to the bird so it got none in the cavity, in the spice mixture, or on the outside.
3. In looking at recipes for cooking on a spit (and there were very few), the suggested cooking time for a 4 lb chicken was 1½ -2 hours so I allowed 2½ hours for my larger bird.
4. After putting it on the spit, I tressed the legs, tied the wings to the body, and rubbed peanut oil over the outside.  
5. I started it cooking with the infrared side burner on high for an hour then lowered it to low for the remainder of the cook.  I put a pan under the chicken to catch any juices. 

6. At the 1½ hour mark, I used my Thermapen to begin checking the temperature of the breast, by inserting the probe into the thickest part of the breast from the neck end of the bird so as not to puncture the skin and allow juices to escape.

7. It achieved the desired 160F breast temp at the 2¼ hours so I turned off the burner and let it rest about 10 minutes in the grill.  

8. Then I moved it to a cutting board, removed the spit and carved it for eating.

We sided it with some asparagus from our garden that we steamed then tossed with some melted butter and topped with fresh Parmesan cheese and a Bev salad using beautiful fresh greens from our Sat trip to the Mennonite market.  This is my plate.

We all thought it was delicious and Bev said “she hated to admit that it was better than store bought and her breast was melt in my mouth tender” - which was a big relief.  Cindy just oohed and aahed over her thigh.  I ate a leg and two wings and the wings were too salty but Bev and Cindy didn’t think theirs was as they don’t eat the skin.  My leg was a little salty as was the bite of breast I tried so next time, I’ll use the same recipe but only brine for about 12 hours and see what we get.  Lea Ann’s spice mix was excellent and will be the go-to from now on.  Thanks Chef.

While this cook won't totally deter us from the convenience of store bought rotisserie chicken (now I wonder how they are cooked), it will at least give us pause to consider cooking our own and since this one was so tender, I'll now want to get the bigger birds.

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.


4/19/20 event date