Monday, April 30, 2012

Some Pretty Good leftovers

We had a steak left from Bev’s supper the other night along with some par-boiled potatoes so we had them for breakfast.  I cut the steak in have cross-grain to make two breakfast steaks and grilled them after the potatoes had cooked awhile on the side burner.  I opted for scrambled eggs for this meal, also cooked on the side burner, while the potatoes finished on the grill.

After our meal of Chicken with Lemon and Olives, Bev decided to turn the leftovers into a tangy pizza.  She thickened the leftover sauce with some cornstarch then tossed in the two chopped up thighs that were remaining just to warm them a little.

The crust was a piece of Naan bread brushed with a little olive oil then topped with sliced tomato, the chicken mix, sliced onion, red pepper flakes, and fresh mozzarella.

She sided it with a salad using our greens, some fresh picked strawberries (thanks to neighbor Pat), shredded gruyere, and the poppy seed dressing we’ve been using lately.

We’d recently made some Spanish rice and had enough for one more dish and I told Bev she could just nuke it for me for breakfast, but she did this instead.

She is the breakfast burrito queen and it contained the rice,??? And was topped with cheese, lettuce, diced tomatoes, sour cream.

The meals were all very good and made great use of the leftovers.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

Two years ago:  Taters And Eggs


4/21, 4/23, & 4/25/12 meal dates

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday Humor - DWI, Texas Style

Only a person in Texas could think of this. From the county where drunk driving is considered a sport, comes this true story. Recently a routine police patrol parked outside a bar in Austin, Texas.

After last orders (call), the officer noticed a man leaving the bar so apparently intoxicated that he could barely walk. The man stumbled around the parking lot for a few minutes, with the officer quietly observing. After what seemed an eternity in which he tried his keys on five different vehicles, the man managed to find his car and fall into it.

He sat there for a few minutes as a number of other patrons left the bar and drove off. Finally he started the car, switched the wipers on and off--it was a fine, dry summer night-- flicked the blinkers on and off a couple of times, honked the horn and then switched on the lights.

He moved the vehicle forward a few inches, reversed a little and then remained still for a few more minutes as some more of the other patrons' vehicles left. At last, when his was the only car left in the parking lot, he pulled out and drove slowly down the road.

The police officer, having waited patiently all this time, now started up his patrol car, put on the flashing lights, promptly pulled the man over and administered a breathalyzer test. To his amazement, the breathalyzer indicated no evidence that the man had consumed any alcohol at all!

Dumbfounded, the officer said, "I'll have to ask you to accompany me to the police station." This breathalyzer equipment must be broken..'

'I doubt it,' said the truly proud Redneck. 'Tonight I'm the designated decoy.'

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

Two years ago:  Azaleas – The Main Event


Friday, April 27, 2012

Chicken with Lemons and Olives Ala Sam

We eat plenty of chicken but we usually grill or smoke it and rarely make it baked.  I have a ton of recipes saved for various baked chicken dishes so when Sam, over at My Carolina Kitchen, posted her recipe for Chicken with Lemons and Olives, I decided it was time to try one.  I followed her recipe as written and rather than repeat it here, please pop over to her site for it and some great shots, courtesy of her husband, Meakin.

Since we ate a green less meal for Bev's birthday, we sided the chicken with steamed asparagus topped with parmesan and a salad Bev has been making for a while thanks to a recipe from neighbor Pat - don't know it's origin.  It calls for romaine, but we used lettuce from our garden, along with our spinach and radishes.  Here's the just washed greens pile and the garden lettuce patch (mostly romaine), including some swiss chard and a cauliflower (I ran out of room where it went and just had to plant it somewhere).

We all really like the salad and the recipe is:

1/2 C. of sugar (Bev uses Stevia)
1/3 C. lemon juice
2 t. chopped onion (or green onion)
1 t. Dijon mustard
1/2 t. salt
2/3 C. oil
1 T. poppy seeds

2 bags romaine lettuce
4 oz. shredded Swiss cheese
1 C. cashews (Bev likes to use glazed almonds)
1/4 C. dried cranberries
1 apple, cubed
1 pear, cubed

Bev makes the dressing then uses whatever we have on hand for the salad including tomatoes but the fruit, nuts, and dressing are key.

Here’s my plate.

If you like olives and you like lemon, you will surely like the chicken – Bev and I both loved it.  Thanks Sam.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

Two years ago:  Blackened Crappie Ala Dave


4/22/12  meal date

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Our little Trip To Paradise - Exploring The Island

The girls have never rented a car on St. Maarten, but we did so on Saturday, and as the driver, I now know why they hadn’t.  If you’ve ever driven in Italy or Spain, they are super courteous, drive-by-the-rules folks compared to the drivers there.  As best I could determine, there are no rules for the narrow little roads that are all that exist and the right-away belongs to the most aggressive driver – motorcycles often ride down the middle of the road between the cars.

There is one main road around the island and our primary stop was the open air market in Marigot, the French side capital, which included fish and produce on Saturday.  Here are a few shots of the market following the Boubainvillea at the resort.

Lots of cars and bad drivers.

Bev bought a couple of wind chimes made with bamboo, coconut, and palm to use on our boat dock.

While the ladies shopped, I made my only purchase of six bottles of various flavors of scotch bonnet hot sauce and hung out at a little snack bar called the Fruits and Roots.  I drank a couple of Caribbean beers and sampled their bull’s foot soup, which was actually made from close-to-the-hoof beef shanks and included yams – not sweet potatoes which we often call yams, but the very different tuber that is actually a yam and is white and not as flavorful or sweet.  The soup was very good and here is a shot of the Jamaican born owner and her place.

My six bottles of hot sauce were mango, curry, balsamic, exotic, tamarind, plain.

We had lunch in Grand Case which is supposedly home to many good French restaurants, but you wouldn’t know from the looks of the main street.

We ended up eating at LoLo Bar & Restaurant and had meals of BBQ ribs (actually grilled), chicken, creole shrimp, and Bev had grilled eggplant stuffed with chicken breast and Vienna Sausage – yep, you read that right.

It doesn't take a fancy cooker to turn out good food.

It looked like they took babyback ribs and cut them in half lengthwise.

It just looks like I got blue box Kraft.

It was all good, but not great and I couldn’t taste the Vienna sausage in the eggplant – major disappointment, plus my shot of it was a bust.  It began sprinkling as we left Grand Case and we were only able to get pictures of the famous Orient Beach before the serious rain came in.  Note the cruiser moored on the leeward side of the rocks.

We finished the day at the resort restaurant where the girls ordered from the lunch menu and I had the Seafood Linguini which had several types of seafood in a garlic white wine cream sauce.  It’s not impressive looking but it was delicious and had the same sauce as the stuffed grouper I had the first time and also enjoyed.

All-in-all a nice day in paradise.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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


4/14/12  event date

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bev’s Birthday Dinner

Bev’s BD was last week and while we normally go out, I was still somewhat down with a cold, but felt well enough to cook.  She requested a surf and turf of steak and scallops and she would be in town to pick up the sea food.  While there, she decided to add grilled oysters to the menu and brought home a dozen nice ones.

Our final menu became:
Grilled oysters as an appetizer – just Bev and I, SIL, Pat doesn’t do oysters
Grilled beef filet and sautéed sea scallops as the entrée
Grilled smashed potatoes as a side

We considered, salad, asparagus, bread, and dessert but decided we already had plenty of food.  I cooked everything on the gas grill as I could use the side burner for the scallops and just didn’t feel like fooling with charcoal.

For the oysters:
10 oysters on the half shell
2 T butter – I used salted
1 large or 2 small garlic gloves ran through the press
Squirt of Srirache or your favorite hot sauce – more or less to taste
Pinch of salt

Shuck the oysters taking care to retain as much liquor as possible and keep the deeper shell.  I ate the others raw – great treat for the cook.

Add other ingredients to a small bowl, nuke for 30 seconds to melt the butter, and stir together. 

Set the oysters on a hot grill, keeping as level as possible, and top with about a teaspoon of the butter mixture.

Cook to desired doneness, which for us is firm but still plump (the ones we had in NOLA were cooked into oblivion), plate, and add fresh grated parmesan.  Serve with a piece of crusty bread to sop up the juices that are left.

The steaks were given a good coating of Montreal Steak Seasoning and allowed to come to room temperature.  I grilled them all to about 128* for a nice medium rare.

The potatoes were parboiled, smashed with my hand and wrapped in partially cooked bacon.  I then added some S&P, garlic butter to the top side, and gently laid them on the medium hot grill butter side down.  When browned, they were flipped after I’d added the S&P and butter to the top side.

The scallops were seasoned lightly on both sides with Tiger Seasoning and black pepper and sautéed in an olive oil/butter mixture on the grill side burner.

This is the birthday girl’s plate and she seemed very pleased with her special meal.  I should have fancied it up a little, but we were all hungry.

I thought it was all outstanding and we ate a big salad the next day.

I forgot to set up the camera correctly, so the photos weren’t very good but they can still be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

One year ago:  We Need A New Gas Grill - Or Not

Two years ago:  Sweet Taters And Aigs


4/20/12 meal date

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Our Little Trip To Paradise – Dinner Cruise

On Thursday evening, the social directors, Bev & Pat, had us signed up for a Caribbean Dinner Cruise aboard the sailing catamaran Tango.  We boarded, picked up our first of several  rum punches and headed East toward Phillipsburg for a few miles.

We could see St. Bart’s (home to the rich & famous) off in the distance and a nice sunset when we came about.

We sailed back, anchored just off Simpson Bay and had a buffet of ribs, fish, salads, etc.  I was having too much fun visiting with new folks, I didn’t get many shots, but we dined with a delightful young couple from Portugal.

On the walk back around the bay, the power shoppers find someone selling something so they stuck me on a stool at the beach bar and went off in search of bargains.  One $4 pony sized Heineken was all I could afford from this place.

This was a great evening for me and I’d definitely do it again.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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


4/13/12  event date

Monday, April 23, 2012

Seafood At Home

After 10 days on St. Maarten and eating seafood nearly every day (at least for me), I was pretty surprised when Bev suggested sautéed crappie for our first home meal – but hey, I’m a big fish fan and said let’s do it.  Later that morning, I was reading blogs and came across Marguerite’s recipe for Barbeque Shrimp A La Marguerite which sounded similar to the Creole shrimp SIL, Pat, had in St. Maarten, so I decided to make it as an appetizer.

 I had a pound of shrimp so I cut her recipe in half and made a few changes to end up with this:

 1 lb large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/8 C. olive oil
1/4 C. butter, at room temperature
1 T. Emeril’s Essence
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
Few shakes of Sriracha
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1/8 C. white wine
1 1/2 t. minced garlic
1/4 C. green onion tops, chopped
1/8 C. fresh parsley, chopped

Place the butter in a bowl and add the Essence, lemon juice, garlic, sriracha, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to mix well and set aside.

Place the oil in a large skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add the shrimp in a single layer and flip when they begin to curl and turn pink, about a minute. As soon as the second side is pink, another minute, remove from the skillet and set aside. Add the white wine to deglaze the skillet, scrapping up all the sucs, and allow it to cook down by half - doesn't take long.

Reduce heat to medium low and add the butter mixture to the skillet followed by the chopped onions and parsley as the butter is melting. Once the butter is melted, return the shrimp to the pan and toss to coat well to coat and reheat.  Serve immediately.

For the fish - after drying, I seasoned with S&P and Emeril’s Essense.  Then I sautéed it in oil until brown, then flipped and added this recipe from, Southern Food, around the fish pieces.

 2 teaspoon capers, drained and rinsed (1 T)
4 tablespoons butter
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice (1 1/2 T)
1 teaspoon lemon zest

And cooked until the butter was melted and hot at which point the fish was done.

We served it with boiled potatoes, mashed on your plate, with butter or topped with the remaining sauce from the shrimp.

Bev’s comment was that this was better than any meal in St. Maarten (she said it several times) and as much as I liked the creole shrimp on the island, I preferred Marguerite’s and it will be made again.  The crappie sauce was also very good but a little too tangy and I’ll add more capers next time as shown in ( ).  All in all, it was a delicious welcome home meal to Almost Heaven South.

 All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

 One year ago: How I Plant Tomatoes

 Two years ago: Fields Of Yellow


 4/19/12 meal date

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Philosophy Corner - Philosophy of Charles Schulz

This came to me from a friend a while back and I hope you enjoy it.

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schulz, the creator of the 'Peanuts' comic strip.

You don't have to actually answer the questions. Just ponder on them. 

Just read these straight through, and you'll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.

4 Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.

5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.

6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields.

But the applause dies...

Awards tarnish...

Achievements are forgotten.

Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.

2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with..


The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money...or the most awards.

They simply are the ones who care the most.

Pass this on to those people who have either made a difference in your life, or whom you keep close in your heart.

'Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia !'

''Be Yourself. Everyone Else Is Taken!"

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

Two years ago:  Off And Planting


Friday, April 20, 2012

The Been There – Done That Duck

I thought you might like a break from Paradise.  We got home Wed. night and I managed to catch a cold before we left and now feeling pretty rough, so I'll be able to lay around in my chair and catch up on my blog reading.

While shopping at our favorite chicken store a few weeks ago, we picked up a frozen young duckling for our first ever try at cooking one.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to roast, grill, or smoke it, but finally opted for cooking it on a spit in front of the inferred burner on the gas grill.  I looked on line a found a Mario Batalli recipe at Leite's Culinaria which included a delicious sounding baste/sauce. 

1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
One 4-to-4 1/2-pound duck
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for rotisserie cooking over indirect medium heat (or according to the instructions for your grill). Set up the drip pan under the center of the spit.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the marmalade, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and rosemary and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, then pour 1/4 cup of the sauce into a small bowl to use for basting the duck, and pour the rest into a small serving bowl.
3. Meanwhile, remove all the excess fat from the duck. Wash the duck and dry it thoroughly both inside and out with paper towels. With a sharp metal skewer, prick the duck skin all over in 50 places, especially the thighs. Season inside and out with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together and brush all over with a light coating of the orange-marmalade mixture.
4. Place the duck on the spit and secure it with the clamps. Attach it to the rotisserie mecha­nism, cover the grill, and cook until the tem­perature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 160°F (71°C), 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours, depending on the heat of your grill. About 15 minutes before the duck is done, brush it all over again with more of the orange sauce.
5. When the duck is done, transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 15 minutes.
6. Carve the duck and serve with the remaining orange sauce.

Bev made the sauce and I did the cooking following Mario’s instructions for prepping and cooking the bird.

I found a wide range of suggested final internal temp to cook to (135* which surprised me to the 160* in Mario’s recipe), I pulled mine at 158* in the thigh and let it rest about 10 minutes.

Everyone wanted breast meat but me, so I cut them off and sliced across the grain and I cut off an entire leg quarter, but tossed it back on the grill for a little direct cooking on the non-skin side.   We served it up with some grilled asparagus and the extra sauce.

The skin on the duck was crispy and delicious from the sauce but the meat was much tougher than I expected so I don’t know if I under or over cooked it.  While we all loved the sauce and will use it for other things, we all agreed that we’d stick with chicken and this would be our last duck cook as the flavor wasn’t anything special.

It didn’t generate as much duck fat as Bev wanted for cooking other things, it was tough, and we got the asparagus over cooked, so except for the delicious sauce, the meal was pretty much a bust.  Oh well, it was just one of those days, but at least the duck is no longer taking up freezer space.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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

One year ago: Wilted Lettuce Salad and A Mojito

Two years ago:  April 15 Rerun


4/7/12  meal date