Monday, April 29, 2013

Supper For The Less Fortunate

Our neighbor attends a church that is part of a group of church’s providing food, shelter, and other assistance for short term homeless families and we offered to help with some meals.  We scheduled our first one to coincide with April's BBQ day so we could deliver the meat fresh out of the smoker.

My initial menu thought was to provide fairly classical BBQ fare of meat, beans, and mac & cheese.  Since it was big meat and chicken day on the smoker, I cooked a couple of pork butts and some thighs.  For the sides, I was thinking Ranch Beans until I found a recipe for baked beans that sounded good and could be cooked in a crock pot, requiring very little attention on a busy day.  The other side dish changed from mac & cheese to Pasta Salad Primavera to provide some veggies.  I looked at several recipes and ended up with the following:

Pasta Primavera Ala Larry

2 lb. Rotini pasta (or your favorite)
4 cups carrot, diced
6 cups yellow squash, diced
6 cups broccoli, small florets
4 cups red bell pepper, diced
4 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 can black olives, halved
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, halved
1 tsp. each dried oregano, basil, thyme leaves
½ - 1# hard salami, julienned
2 pkg. Kraft cheese crumbles, 4 cheese blend
½ cup parmesan, grated
1½ bottles Newman’s Caesar Dressing
¼ cup EVOO
S&P to taste

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a large ice water bath. Add carrots to the boiling water, and simmer 2 minutes.  Add squash, and cook 2 minutes more.  Add broccoli and bell pepper, and cook 2 minutes more.  Add peas, and cook 2 minutes more.
2. Pour everything into a large colander, drain, and dump into the ice water bath.  When cool dump back in the colander to drain, then into a large bowl or pan.
3. Refill the pot with salted water and bring to a rolling boil, add pasta, and to al dente. Dump in the colander and rinse under cold water to cool.
4. When cool, add the pasta to the veggies along with the next eight ingredients and carefully mix well.  
5. Taste, adjust S&P, and remix.  

I failed to get a shot of the delivered salad, so this is our bowl the next day but the broccoli had lost it’s bright green color.

For a pasta salad in which a lot of veggies are desired, this one is a very good and I will make it again.  It goes without saying (so why did I you ask?) that all ingredients can be varied for individual taste – we added the larger amount of salami to ours.  This recipe makes a bunch as written and one fourth of it would be about right for a regular batch.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

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


4/17/13 meal date

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weekend Humor - Still Lost

I lifted this from one of my Facebook friends.

As a guitarist, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper’s cemetery in the back country. As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost.

 I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch.

 I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to play.

 The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I’ve never played before for this homeless man.

 And as I played ‘Amazing Grace,’ the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished I packed up my guitar and started for my car. Though my head hung low, my heart was full.

 As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, “I never seen nothin’ like that before and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”

Apparently, I’m still lost…

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


Friday, April 26, 2013

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chop

I love it when a plan comes together.  Bev got in from Sint Maarten the previous night and said she wanted just grilled meat and salad for supper this day – I guess she’d gained a couple of pounds.  Not ten minutes later, I read “Plain Chicken” to discover Steph’s post for Parmesan Crusted Skirt Steak and decided it would work equally well with pork chops – I had several pork loin roasts in the freezer.

Parmesan Crusted Pork Chopslightly adapted from Plain Chicken

Pork Marinade - this was plenty for the four chops.
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup ranch dressing (see note below)
3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp pepper
4 pork chops, 1" to1¼” thick
Parmesan Crumb Topping
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoons garlic salt,
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan
2 tablespoons melted butter

  • Combine ingredients for marinade and pour over chops. I marinated in the refrigerator for 6 hours and flipped half way through. 
  • Grill chops over high then medium heat to an internal temp of 135* or your desired temperature – I was shooting for 145* after the broiler.
  • While the chops are cooking, mix together bread crumbs, garlic salt, shredded Parmesan and butter.
  • Position rack in center of toaster oven (for me) and preheat the broiler on the 300* setting.
  • Transfer cooked chops to oven-safe pan or dish and top with Parmesan crumb topping. 
  • Place chops under broiler and cook until cheese melts and crumb topping begins to turn light brown. Serve immediately.
Note: It is unusual, but we had no Ranch Dressing and I’d been wanting to make some from scratch, but most of the recipes used ingredients I didn’t have, so I used the recipe from, but used dried parsley and added some fresh chives

Ranch Dressing - 

1 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tsp dried parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh chives, finely chopped

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until completely mixed. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

We sided the chops with a salad and I used the ranch dressing.  It was pretty good for a quick version and I’ll make it from scratch again, but next time use one of the recipes (I have a couple of yours) that utilize fresh herbs.

We all agreed that the chops were super good.  I got them cooked just right (tender and juicy) and the marinade and Panko topping flavors were delicious.  Bev raved about them and I look forward to trying this on steak and chicken.  Thanks for posting this Steph.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

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


4/16/13 meal date

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Whole Grilled Trout

I had a whole (headless) trout in the freezer and went in search of recipes that would fit with what I had on hand.  Nearly all of them included fresh herbs and I had few so I decided to adapt a recipe from the Wicked Noodle called Whole Grilled Trout with Fresh Herbs, Garlic and Lemon.  Check Kristy's site for her original recipe.  I had fresh garlic, rosemary and lemon so I ended up with this recipe. 

Whole Grilled Trout with Dried and Fresh Herbs and Lemon - Adapted from Wicked Noodle

1 trout, boned and de-headed
1 tsp. dried parsley, minced
1 tsp. dried basil, minced
1½ tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ t. kosher salt
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
3 lemon slices

The recipe says to mix together the herbs and garlic, but I added them each individually and evenly inside the trout starting with the dried herbs to get them against the flesh for re-hydrating.  I wrapped it in plastic and refrigerated about three hours. 

Oil the cooking grate and preheat the grill.  Sprinkle fish with salt & pepper inside and out.  Grill over high heat (on my grill) with lid closed for 6 minutes on side one carefully flip and cook 4 minutes on side two or until fish is cooked through (135* on the Thermapen).

Carefully remove fish from the grill, sprinkle with more chopped parsley and lemon slices to garnish, and serve  (I didn’t add garnishes).

For a side, I roasted some russet and red potatoes using the same herbs on the red ones as went in the fish and for the russets, some Wolfe Rub-Citrus, that I'd mixed up for my upcoming BBQ cook.

I liked both potatoes but the herbed one had more flavor as I expected it would.  One thing I learned about the potatoes – don’t cook them skin side down as it burns easily.

I split the trout in half for Madison and I and kept the lemon slices for my plated shot. 

I had to add a little more salt, but otherwise wouldn’t change a thing for the fish and would use the recipe again, hopefully with all fresh herbs - I added The Wicked Noodle to my reading list.

Madison’s eating habits are really strange, consisting mostly of cereal, BBQ, sweets, and fish, which is a big surprise.   She scarfed up the fish and potatoes like it was her last meal and after she was done, I let her know she liked trout (most folks in this family don’t like the stronger tasting fish so I didn't tell her ahead of time).  As can be seen from my previous posts, we ate plenty of fish while Bev was gone.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

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


4/15/13 meal date

Monday, April 22, 2013

Baked Snapper and Asparagus

When I packaged the tuna that I used for the Grilled Tuna Mediterranean, I packaged it with a piece of snapper for Bev and Madison, but with Bev gone we still needed to eat it - Madison’s favorite fish is made with a lemon, butter, caper sauce.  My asparagus is coming in and when Debbie from "A Feast For The Eyes" posted her recipe for roasted asparagus with lemon, a one pan meal idea was born - with Bev gone and me doing all of the dishes, this becomes a priority.

This meal was just too easy with only a few items. 


1 snapper filet
Butter at room temperature
Big handful of trimmed asparagus spears
6 lemon slices
Capers, drained
Olive oil                  
Salt & pepper

  • Preheat toaster (or big) oven and spray a pan or dish with cooking spray.
  • Season the fish with S&P, spread the top with butter, and lay skin side done in the dish.  Add capers to taste, and top with three lemon slices.
  • Toss the asparagus with oil, season with S&P, add to dish and top with lemon slices.
  • Bake until thickest part of fish reaches 135* (about 20 min).
  • Carefully remove fish to a cutting board, cut into two pieces and plate.
  • Toss the asparagus in the pan juices and plate.
Madison and I both thought both the fish and asparagus were very good and while she usually eats very light, said she could eat more, if there had been any.  The flavors of the fish and asparagus both came through nicely and this recipe will definitely be used here again, perhaps with a little chicken stock included at the beginning to create more sauce.

NOTE: After overcooking the tuna the other night, I pulled the fish at 125* (15 min. cook time) and it would have been under cooked in the center for most eaters (which is why I put 135* and 20 minutes in the recipe).  I gave Madison the thin end and it was just right for me and obviously her as well. 

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

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


4/12/13 meal date

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Saturday Humor on Sunday - The Cup

My buddy Joe sent this to me.

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


Friday, April 19, 2013

Blogger Party and Breakfast From Tuna Mediterranean & Southwestern Pork

Blogger Party 2013
Get  your calendars out and let's talk 2013 East Tennessee Blogger Get Together again.

We are doing a Hawaiian Luau themed get together this year.  We are still up in the air about whether we are doing a whole pig this year, but I can tell you pork will be involved!

Date:  Sunday, May 26, 2013 Rain or Shine
Time:  Noon until whenever everyone leaves.  We will eat around 1:30 PM
Who:  Anyone who is willing to make the trip is welcome and of course, bring your significant other!
Where:  Larry's place on Tellico Lake which is about 35 miles southwest of Knoxville, TN.
Dress:  Island if you can.

As mentioned, we will be serving Hawaiian, Island fare.  We will be asking for a small donation (approximately $10 per person) to cover the cost of the meat.  We won't know exactly how the donation will be until we have a final attendance count.

We will provide tea and soft drinks and island concoctions but please feel free to BYOB.

RSVP: To Larry by May 5, 2013.

Final directions will be provided to the individuals who RSVP they are attending.

Katherine, Chris and I are getting really excited because this little get together we started back in 2010 as it has grown every year and we have always had a memorable time.  So mark your calendars and plan on joining us for a good food and good time with your blogger friends

I had both potatoes and fish leftover from the Grilled Tuna Mediterranean supper and my first small spears of fresh asparagus along with some of the sauce.  I really wanted to emulate my baked eggs heroine Pam from For The Love Of Cooking, but I was in a hurry and opted for a quick scramble instead - next time Pam.

I chopped up the tuna, asparagus, a couple of potato wedges and sautéed them in olive oil until just warmed through. 

I added two eggs beaten with a little cream and scrambled them moist.

It was very good as shown and got even better when I remembered to add the tomato-olive sauce about half way through.  The only negative was the tuna was a little dry – had I got it right for supper, it would have been just right here.

Then while typing up the above meal and remembered I still had one helping of the Southwestern Pork And Poblano Stew so this just had to be tried for breakfast.

It was good but the liquid in it watered down my favorite egg yolk - have bread, will sop.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

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


4/11/13 & 4/13/13 meal dates

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Grilled Tuna Mediterranean & I'm A Happy Man

As is often the case when Bev is out of town, I eat more fish – as I’ve said before, she likes only limited things.  I had a tuna steak in the freezer, which is way down on her list, so I went about looking for a recipe that matched up with ingredients I had on hand and found one at My Recipes for Tuna Mediterranean that sounded just perfect.  I used ¼ of the recipe below with changes in () for what I had on hand.

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained (I used a whole fresh one)
1/2 cup pitted green olives, such as Picholine (I had no green olives)
1/2 cup pitted black olives, such as kalamata or oil-cured (all I used)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (I used dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 (6-ounce) tuna steaks (I used one steak)
Freshly ground black pepper

I cooked everything on the grill using the side burner for the sauce and grilled some Russet potato wedges oiled and dusted with Mediterranean seasonings. 

I followed the recipe instructions for the sauce and started it when the fish went on.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. 
  • Add tomatoes and olives, and cook, stirring, 3 to 4 minutes or until mixture is well blended and tomato juice has reduced slightly. 
  • Remove from heat, and stir in thyme and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
I decided to do something different with the tuna and try the reverse sear method to see if I could achieve a more uniform cook across more of the middle without it still being rare.

I began by cooking the potatoes (about 10 minutes) over high heat until they had nice color then moved them over indirect heat along with the tuna which had just been sprinkled with salt and pepper – grill lid closed.  I flipped the tuna half way between the start temp and 100*.
When the tuna got to an internal temp of 100*, I moved it over direct high heat, flipped at 110*, and removed at 120*.

I transferred the tuna steak and now done potatoes to a plate and topped both with the tomato-olive mixture.

I thought all ingredients and meal were delicious, but my tuna was pink in the center rather than red – next time I’ll step it all back 10*.  I’d show my close up of the tuna inside but it would give you a headache from the blurriness. My goal was to achieve the amount (or less) of well-done as in this web shot while getting it a little more done in the middle - Since I got it too done, I'm not sure I achieved either goal.

The conclusion – tuna and beef cook differently and I probably already knew that :-), but I’ll have to try it one more time at the lower internal temp to decide if it’s worth the extra time to use the reverse sear.

Why a happy man you ask - My baby's back in town.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

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


4/10/13 meal date

Monday, April 15, 2013

Roasted Crappie Nestled in Veggies Lemons and Olives Ala Pam

“I'm heading to the kitchen to see if we have what I need” could be a typical comment on a blog post, but when Pam at Pam’s Midwestern Kitchen posted her good looking recipe for Roasted Tilapia Nestled in Veggies Lemons and Olives, that’s exactly what I did.  Check out Pam’s site for an actual recipe and photos.

I got a package of crappie from the freezer and found I had everything else I needed in some form.  So my recipe (more like an ingredients list) ended up being:

1 pound red potatoes, cut into ¾“ cubes
1 lemon, thinly sliced (I had ¾ of an old lemon as wedges and added a few slices of lime)
Dried thyme
Olive oil
Tiger Seasoning
½ cup pitted kalamata olives
1 Gourmet tomato, cut into pieces the size of half a cherry tomato
9 crappie fillets

  • Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Lay the potatoes on large rimmed foil lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, pepper, Tiger, and thyme.  Pour on some olive oil and toss to coat.  Add more Tiger, salt and pepper and toss again.
  • Arrange in a single layer and roast, tossing once, until the potatoes begin to soften, about 20 minutes.
  • Gently toss the olives and tomatoes with the potato mixture and nestle the fish in the mix. (mine were varied sizes and the small ones went in after the large ones had cooked for 6 minutes).
  • Sprinkle all with the paprika, taste the potatoes, and adjust the salt and pepper.
  • Continue to roast until the potatoes are golden and crisp and the fish is done to your liking, about 15 minutes total.
There was actually two pieces of fish under the other stuff on my plate.  We all enjoyed the meal very much and it’s one of those that is receptive to changes such as different or more herbs, onion, garlic, capers, hot pepper flakes for Bev, Tabasco sauce ala Big Daddy Dave, etc.  SIL Pat said she really enjoyed the tomatoes and the three of us ate it all – my plate photo is heavy on olives as I got most of Pats.  A good part for me was being able to adapt the recipe to what we had.  Thanks Pam.

Photos best if enlarged by clicking on them.

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


4/4/13 meal date

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saturday Humor - Vinnie

Dave from Big Daddy Dave's sent this to me.

An old man wanted to plant a tomato garden, but it was difficult work as the ground was hard.  His only son, Vincent, who used to help him was in prison.  The old man wrote a letter to his son:

Dear Vincent,
I am feeling sad because I won't be able to plant my tomato garden this year.  I'm too old already.  I know if you were here, you would happily dig the plot for me like in the old days.
Love ~ Papa

A few days later, he received a letter from his son:

Dear Papa,
Don't dig up that garden.  That's where the bodies are buried.
Love ~ Vinnie

At 4 am the next morning, FBI agents and police arrived and dug up the entire area, without finding any bodies.  They apologized to the old man and left.

That day, he received another letter from his son:

Dear Papa,
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now.  That's the best I could do under the circumstances.
Love you ~ Vinnie

Buyers Beware
I hate to go shopping, so the advent of on-line buying, especially with Amazon, works perfectly for me - I joined their "prime" to be able to afford the shipping.  But what I really like is the customer reviews I can find on "the net" about most things and especially the TV advertised items.  After seeing it on TV this morning, advertised by Tim Allen's "Home Improvement" sidekick, I was considering a "Pocket Hose", as Bev uses them a lot in the summer. 

I went to Amazon to check there price and noticed it had several customer reviews and I didn't have to read many before deciding to save my money.  This is not to say there are not good products being advertised but rather to suggest taking the time to do a little research before buying these and other products, especially those that sound too good to be true. 

While typing this, the "Wax Vac" was advertised - check it the reviews.

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