Monday, October 31, 2011

Chicken Salad Ala Roz

I love poultry salad, especially with smoked meat, and have been known to smoke a small turkey just to make some.  When Roz, over at La Bella Vita posted her recipe for Chicken Salad with Dried Cranberries and Grapes  two days before BBQ day, I immediately laid out another package of chicken breasts and thighs.  Check out her site for the recipe and great photos.

I’ve long enjoyed this version of chicken salad and, while still working, used to walk about a half mile to Kroger’s for lunch and have their salad bar.  I’d make the usual tossed salad then get some of this type of chicken salad for dessert.

It just so happened, we had some white seedless grapes and pecans on hand but no dried cranberries, so we used dried blueberries instead.  We also didn’t have any tomatoes so I just had mine on lettuce and Bev had a sandwich.

Thanks Roz for this definite keeper recipe.

Bev's off to Ft Bragg for two weeks (one more to go) to look after the grandkids and I wanted to show the epicurian delight I'm capable of whipping up for my buddy Joe and me. :-)

Fall comes to Almost Heaven South – header shot is from my driveway. 

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

One year ago: Tacos And Burritos

Two years ago: Life’s Sure Different With An Eleven Year Old Around


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Someone had to remind me

This was sent to me by BBQ buddy Mark and since most of it is true for me, I decided to let you see if any apply to you.

Someone had to remind me, so I'm reminding you, too.  Don't laugh....It is all true!

Perks of reaching 50 or being over 60 and heading towards 70 or beyond!

1. Kidnappers are not very interested in you.

2. In a hostage situation, you are likely to be released first.

3. No one expects you to run anywhere.

4. People call at 9 PM (or 9 AM ) and ask, 'Did I wake you?'

5. People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.

6. There is nothing left to learn the hard way.

7. Things you buy now won't wear out.

8. You can eat supper at 4 PM.

9. You can live without sex but not your glasses.

10. You get into heated arguments about pension plans.

11. You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.

12. You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room.

13. You sing along with elevator music.

14. Your eyes won't get much worse.

15. Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.

16. Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the national weather service.

17. Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.

18. Your supply of brain cells is finally down to a manageable size.

19. You can't remember who sent you this list.

And you notice these are all in big print for your convenience.

Forward this to everyone you can remember right now!

AND THE MOST IMPORTANT THING: NEVER, NEVER,NEVER, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill, and a laxative on the same night!

"Good friends are like stars...You don't always see them, but you know they are always there.

Fall comes to Almost Heaven South – header shot is from my driveway.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

Two years ago: Yesterday Was Soup Day


Friday, October 28, 2011

Cajun Bloody Mary Ala Marguerite

I’m a big Bloody Mary fan, but alas, a lazy one, so I usually start with Mrs. T’s Spicy Mix and doctor it to suit me.  This day however, I was waiting to go outside to bury a 30’ long piece of tubing for relocation of our propane tank and I decided a good Bloody Mary would be a nice bolster.

I knew I had no mix but was sure I’d saved a recipe from a blogger buddy and sure enough I had one for Cajun Bloody Mary’s from Marguerite, over at Cajun Delights.  You can check her site for the recipe.  I didn’t have the exact ingredients but close enough, except I couldn’t find any horseradish, and made it as follows for half of her recipe:

Cajun Bloody Mary - Adapted from Marguerite

8 oz Smirnoff vodka
32 oz. tomato juice – our homemade
1/2 tbs. Emeril’s Essence – homemade version – all I had on hand
1/2 tsp. steak sauce – we never use steak sauce but Bev had bought some Island Steak Sauce while in St Maarten and it tasted close enough.
1 Tbs. Tabasco worcestershire sauce – Just happened to have this and subbed for the regular worsey and Tabasco sauces
Juice of 1/2 lemon – I kept the full recipe amt. as I like mine lemony
1 tsp. green olive juice – I like this in mine and added a few olives to my glass as well

After tasting I thought it was good as is, but after having my first ever Bloody Mary with horseradish in a bar at Grand Targhee Ski Resort in Wyoming many years ago, I consider it a must ingredient.  I re-searched the kitchen fridge as well as the BBQ one in the garage and the one downstairs behind the bar, to no avail.  I thought there could only be one possible place – the dock fridge so off I went and there it was – yes we keep the appliance makers in business.  So I added

2 tsps. Horseradish

and now it was just right. 

Thanks Marguerite for a great recipe and it will be used again.  Now after two of them it’s off to bury the pipe.  Bev’s over at Ft. Bragg for a couple of weeks to look after the grands while Rhett trains and this is one of the jobs she left me.  As for the rest of the Bloody Mary's - I needed another bolster the next morning, but I can't remember why :-).

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

One year ago: Pit Beef Sandwich


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Breakfasts – One Restaurant And One From Leftovers

After the delicious hash browns I had at Hoot’s on Marco Island, I had the urge to visit Waffle House for another round and since we were passing right by one on our way to Knoxville I couldn’t resist.  My plan was to have a pecan waffle with a side of hash browns, for Bev and I to share, but the guy beside us was having biscuits and gravy and it looked too good to pass up – we rarely make it at home.

So my order was for one biscuit and gravy and an order of scattered hash browns (scattered = with onions), which I moved to the biscuit plate after the shot.

This is the shot from Hoot’s and surprisingly, they were definitely better than the Waffle House – I think they used more butter to cook them - note the color difference.

The biscuit and gravy were very good - maybe next time for the waffle.  The next step is to buy or make some hashbrowns and try to replicate Hoot's.

Even though I ate some for lunch, I still had some stuffing left from yesterday’s BBQ day and I decided to have it for breakfast along with some of the delicious rye bread we’d brought home from Hoot’s.  I topped a slice of the bread with a piece of Guggisberg Baby Swiss and toasted it and nuked the stuffing.

Then I topped both with an over easy egg.

They were obviously very different, and I enjoyed them both.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

Two years ago:  None


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

BBQ Day For October

I had an order from a friend for two stuffed pork tenderloins, but I had only one and asked Bev to pick one up at the store.  When she got home she advised that all they had was a pork loin fillet, which I’d never heard of, but later found several recipes for on the web.  It wasn’t much larger than the tenderloin, but was obviously the whiter loin meat – seems like a way to make pork loin sound better by adding the word fillet to it.

Anyway, I decided to use it and after butterflying, flattening, and salting, I stuffed it with Stove Top to which I’d added some dried blueberries and diced Granny Smith apples.
After tying, I rubbed them with Canola oil and added dried sage and thyme, and fresh rosemary.  Notice the loin fillet is the same size as the tenderloin so I assume it's the small end of the loin with the other muscle(s) removed.

Here is the finished product and I can’t wait to hear from the buyer how they turned out.

I also did a couple of pork butts, 5 slabs of baby backs, and 20# of various chicken parts (also herbed).

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.  See Link for more of the header sunset.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.
One year ago:  Bev's Marco Shots

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stuffed Peppers Ala Claudia

Yet another recipe just at the right time.  After a week in Florida and rain on the way, I decided to give my pepper crop a hard picking, leaving only the nearly ripe and smaller ones to allow them to grow some more if they will before frost.  When Bev got up, I had just read the recipe for Mom’s Italian Stuffed Pepper from Claudia over at What’s Cooking Italian and when I suggested them for dinner, I got a quick yes.  It always gets my attention when a recipe title begins with "Mom's" or "Grandmom's".

I headed off to the garden about mid-morning and as you can see, it’s all done except for the peppers, which have topped their 4’ cages and grown back down to the ground. 
This is what I picked - the two right buckets are sweet and the others are chiles.  I'll probably get a couple more buckets full at the final picking.

These are the sweet ones after washing and our sink is 9” deep – the ones to the right are for stuffing.

And the chiles (Poblanos, Anaheims, Sante Fe Grande) ready for roasting.

For the stuffed peppers, we decided to double and change up the recipe (Bev didn’t want to do the boiled eggs, or use as much rice, and wanted some onion and I wanted some Italian sausage in it) so this is what we ended up with.

Italian Stuffed Peppers – adapted from What’s Cooking Italian

10 fairly large peppers cleaned - see below
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
2 egg beaten
2 ¼ lbs raw ground round – 90% lean
¾ lb sweet Italian sausage – I used Johnsonville
1 cup raw long grain rice
1 teaspoon oregano, garlic powder, black pepper, salt and basil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 oz can of tomato sauce

  • 1 qt home canned chopped  tomatoes put through food processor with little chunks left – (we used the immersion blender)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of grated pecorino romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 cloves whole garlic
Slice the top of each pepper off with a sharp knife, remove the stem leaving a circle in the top of the pepper, then slice the bottoms so they are flat when standing up ( about a 1/4 of an inch).  Rather than cut the top off from the side, I cut around the core, leaving on some pepper top as I think it helps them hold their shape.  Scrape the inside using a melon ball scooper or spoon (I used a serrated grapefruit spoon) to make smooth. Save scraps of peppers.  (Due to how I cored them, I had very little scrap so I cut up a pepper with a bad place and used it).

Mix together the raw meat with rice, herbs, bread crumbs, onion, and small can of sauce and stuff the peppers.

Spray your pan with cooking spray and add the peppers.

In a medium size bowl, mix the canned tomatoes and wine together, pour around the bottom of the pan, and add the garlic cloves. Sprinkle with grating cheese and add any scraps of peppers around the pan. 

Bake at 400 for 45-60 minutes, if the bottom looks evaporated, add some water to the sauce. Keep basting the tops with the sauce (I basted every 20 minutes).

Add more cheese to the top when serving.

Bev had a hankering for scalloped potatoes, so she whipped up a batch by adding a little evaporated milk to a dish then layering potatoes, onion, butter, and cheddar cheese until the dish was full then pouring evaporated milk over it all - one can total.

Here’s my plate.

I cooked the peppers for an hour at 375* on convection bake, but they needed more as the rice and peppers were still a little crunchy.  Claudia’s recipe calls for 400* for 45-60 minutes and I backed off as our oven cooks hot, but not hot enough, plus my peppers were larger.  This aside, we loved the flavor, and will definitely use the recipe again, maybe starting with cooked rice so we won’t have to worry about the right amount of moisture for it.  Bev’s potatoes were also very good.  Thanks Claudia for the inspiration for a delicious meal.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.  See Link for more of the header sunset. 

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


Monday, October 24, 2011

Comfort Food To Comfort A Friend

Our good friend Peggy had a really bad medical experience earlier in the week and since she doesn’t much cook, Bev wanted to take her some serious comfort food, so she made potato soup and chicken and dumplings.

I’d post recipes, but she doesn’t use any.  For her soup she cooks potatoes in water then adds milk and a milk/ flour mix for thickening, butter, Tiger Seasoning and S&P.  Rather than more ingredients in the soup, which I would do, she adds it via garnishes of shredded cheese, crispy chopped bacon, and chopped green onion.
She made enough for us to have for lunch and I have to admit, her way is very good and the extras can be added or deleted for when you have a bad cold and just want the soup.

She made the chicken and dumplings by pressure cooking two Dolly breasts – those big chicken breasts usually found on sale in the markets – after covering them with chicken broth.  She removed, cooled, deboned, and chopped the meat.  She added more chicken broth to get the amount she wanted, brought it to a boil, and added the chicken and drop dumplings made from baking mix (Pioneer) to which she’d added chopped fresh parsley.  She adjusted the seasonings, added chopped parsley and of course I had to sample some for quality control.
They were delicious as always and while I like both kinds, we prefer the lightness of the drop dumplings vs. the rolled and cut ones.

When we delivered them, Peggy was very pleased to have the soup then discovered the second dish and said “wow, chicken and dumplings are one of my favorite things to eat.” 

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

One year ago: Shrimp Remoulade Salad

Two years ago: Tex-Mex Party Prep Day


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Eggplant Parmesan

Once again, the right recipe has come from one of you just when I needed it.  Our last three small eggplant were languishing in the fridge just waiting for Kate, over at A Spoonful Of Thyme to post her recipe for Eggplant Parmigiana.  We usually make the the quickie version by just frying the eggplant, topping with cheese after flipping, and adding sauce and grated parmesan after plating, skipping the baking stage.  Check out Kate’s blog for great shots and the complete recipe, which I followed except I used some of the leftover roasted pepper sauce I had frozen – it was 75/25 tomato/roasted red pepper. 

We paired it with some ditilini and this is my plate.

I didn’t have quite enough eggplant for the dish I chose, so I ended up with a layer and a half, which wasn’t as pretty but still delicious and a great use for this sauce.  Thanks Kate for the inspiration to make our first ever baked eggplant parmesan.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

One year ago:  My Last Day In Marco

Two years ago:  Just Some Stuff For Today


Friday, October 21, 2011

Our Last Meal In Marco – Leftovers & A Serious Sunset

The evening before departing Marco Island for home, we decided we didn’t want any more restaurant meals and preferred to have a salad and use up some of our leftovers.  We still had the extra steak I’d cooked previously and meat on salad is one of Bev’s favorites, so we had salad topped with the strip steak and hoagie rolls turned into garlic bread – all were very good.  We washed it down with some V. Sattui Gamay Rouge.

We ate while watching the sunset, which was way more impressive than the first one I showed - on the verge of spectacular I'd say.  It started rather blandly, then proceeded to the sun sinking in the water (the first we'd seen), then it really got pretty as the sky looked like it was glowing embers.

I love digital cameras and the ability to easy discard half of what you take.  I specifically included the ones with boats heading home and the meandering pontoon boat in the last one.

We got home the next evening to a heat relieving temperature of 58* and awoke the next morning to 44* - I loved it, Bev not so much.  Next year we go in late November, which I know I’ll enjoy a lot more having a cool fall break between our hot summer and the hot beach.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them - I suggest the last 7 for sure.

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


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Puppy Food

While I was digging around in the freezer the other day, I found the pile of old items, we’d planned to cook up for the pups but hadn’t yet done, and since the kitchen was dirty anyway, I got it out plus some other items I knew we wouldn’t eat. I had packages of country ham, beef liver, turkey broth, corn, winter squash, green tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, scrapple, and a few other things.

I put them all in a pot with a little water, slowly cooked it for a few of hours then pureed everything in the Vita Mixer.

I put it back on the stove and brought to a simmer and added nearly a 3# of rice (1# at a time) to get the consistency I wanted. When it was cooled, I used an ice cream scoop to shape it into meatballs, and froze as puppy treats. The darker spots is the carmalized part that stuck to the pan bottom - they'll likely fight to get it. When we thaw them, they are served as is or mixed with some dry dog food.

I'm not much of a chef for people food, but our three dogs think I'm a culinary genius when it comes to their stuff and while I was shaping them, they whined at my feet until I gave them each one. 

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

One year ago:  Marco Island on Saturday

Two years ago:  Pepper Day At The Ranch


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Skies Over Marco

After dinner on evening on our Marco Island vacation, we sat on the balcony, sipped an adult beverage, and watched the sunset.

These are some shots as the sun progressed lower in the sky.

And this is the next morning.

And finally, late morning and afternoon.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them - especially the last one.

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

One year ago: Marco – An Island Tour