Friday, December 31, 2021

Monday, December 27, 2021

Eliza Comes For Christmas Dinner – Chicken Cottage Pie

Eliza and her family came down on Christmas afternoon to open her presents at Meme and Grandpops house.  This is before she arrived.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Merry Christmas


Better be good because Santa Clause is coming tonight.

With mid 60's predicted for Christmas Day, I knew a fire would be out but 45F on Wednesday was do able so I couldn't resist.

Bev and I wish you the Happiest of Holidays

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Beef Stew For A Crowd

With Bev coming home on Saturday and friends Joe and Kathy coming on Friday, I wanted enough food on hand for several days without cooking.  I wanted to use on-hand beef so I found one skirt and two flank steaks in the freezer totaling five pounds.  So, I scaled up a recipe that we like from Taste Of Home to get the following.  Since my meat was thinner than a roast, I cooked it differently than the original recipe.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

New Garage Floor

After nearly 30 years of living in our home, Bev had decided she wanted to put an epoxy coating on our garage floor and I had to agree.  The main drawback is that everything had to be moved out before the installers showed up and like many others that was to be a big challenge for us as we had the walls lined with stuff sitting on the floor.  We also had three cabinets that rested on the floor.

To deal with the random stuff sitting on the floor, I bought two 48” wide cabinets from Seville Classics via Sam's and to make the cabinets easy to move I put wheels under them.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Another Look At Marco Island, FL

Our good friends and neighbors, Pat and Steve, also own a week at the Charter Club so we try to coordinate our visits.  This year they were there for the first week then Steve drove home and Pat L moved in with my three girls.  I’m not sure this changed their routines much except that Pat L and Cindy played plenty of pickle ball.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Home Alone – Almost

If you’ve been reading for awhile, you likely remember we have a time share in Marco Island, FL that we use every fall and this year we have expanded to three weeks.  I had hoped to go down for a week but my hip continues to bother me and I knew I could not make the drive down nor the plane ride back so I am holding down the fort along with the three dogs.

Since I’m only cooking for myself, I won’t have many food porn posts so I thought I’d let you see the shots they have sent me of what I am missing for the first week.  They began their first week with a visit to Stan’s Idle Hour in Goodland where they have a big event on Sunday’s with a band.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Grilled Chicken and Twice Baked Potato Casserole

We had some chicken breasts in the fridge that needed to be cooked and for a side, I’ve been itching to try the recipe for Twice BakedPotato Casserole since seeing it last week on Trisha’s “Mom On Timeout” blog.  I decided to turn the chicken into a version of chicken parmesan using the leftover sauce from our Thanksgiving meal.  This is our normal method for the chicken.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Thanksgiving 2021

I’m not a big fan of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and we’ve often done very different cuisines and this year we decided on Italian.  Since some of the invitees were unavailable on Thanksgiving Day, we opted to have our meal on Wednesday – ain’t retirement great.

We had 12 diners so we used both the dining room and sun room tables – I called it the kids table.  Here’s a shot of the big table that was empty then but soon filled up with food.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving


Bev and I have so much to be thankful for and our wish for you is a safe, healthy, and happy Thanksgiving.

Even though it’s called a Christmas Cactus, ours always blooms at Thanksgiving.

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


11/25/21 event date

Monday, November 22, 2021

Hunters Schnitzel & Potatoes

When I bought a whole pork loin a while back, I sliced some of it at 3/8”-1/2” thick to use for schnitzel and when I saw Claudia’s recipefor Hunters Schnitzel  on her "What’s Cooking Italian" blog I knew it was the one I wanted to try.  The German name for schnitzel with mushroom sauce is Jägerschnitzel and I’ve eaten it in several German restaurants.   I followed her recipe as shown below but you can visit her site for some good how-to photos.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Mexican Chopped Salad

I wanted to have something different with our ChileColorado and searched the web for a Mexican salad that sounded good and came upon an interesting looking recipe on The Café Sucre Farine blog.  It had lots of ingredients and I didn’t followed the recipe exactly so I noted my changes.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Chile Colorado

I bought the dried peppers for my first attempt at Chile Colorado some time ago after seeing the recipe on Pam’s “For The Love OfCooking” blog.  Upon noticing that the recipe she used came from Isabel Eats and my recent success with her Chile Rellenos, I knew those peppers had to be put to use if these two good cooks made the recipe.  I had a couple of pieces of flank steak in the freezer needing to be used so they were the meat of choice and since I wanted to use a slow cooker, I varied the directions to do that.  I also varied the chiles as shown. You can click on the above link for the original recipe and more excellent pics like this one.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Chuy’s Burrito

As I mentioned in the last post , I made carnitas so I would have them to make the Chuy’s Burritos that I had seen on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  The secret to this burrito is the inclusion of a chile relleno in the stuffing and we started making them with our home grown poblano peppers.  With our first predicted freezing weather, Bev picked our remaining peppers and all of the poblanos on top came from a single plant.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Pork Carnitas & Santa Maria Style Pinquito

While watching an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives recently, Guy visited Chuy’s Taco Shop in San Diego, CA and one of the dishes they highlighted was Chuy’s Burrito which was stuffed with a chile relleno and pork carnitas and it just had to be tried.  I’ll cover the burrito in the next post so this one will be about the carnitas.  I didn’t care for Chuy’s recipe for the them so I found one from Downshiftology that I preferred so I used it for that part of the meal and I adapted it for my 10lb. Boston butt to get the recipe below.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Dock Closing Party 2021

We hadn’t done this in a while and since we had a nice day on Oct 31, we decided we would have a dock closing party, which we haven’t done in a few years – it’s really just an excuse to get together.  We had ten neighbors join us for a fall menu of grilled hot dogs, chili, mac and cheese and and several desserts.  We had the mac and cheese because I had recently seen an appealing recipe for chili mac and since we had the chili, I decided to make the mac and cheese and combine them in my bowl.

Fortunately, we were able to pick a sunny, 62F beautiful fall day for the event and we ate at five to be done eating and visiting before it turned too cool.  This shot is from our parking area while I was using the burners to clean the grill.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Green Tomato and Country Ham Soup

We’ve made and posted about this soup previously, but Bev wanted to make it a little differently this time so I updated our recipe to reflect that.

Friday, October 29, 2021

John Wayne Casserole

This dish had been on my radar since Pam posted it back in February on her now closed Pam’s Midwest Kitchen Korner blog.  With a dish named after a big favorite of mine and with fall weather here, it seemed like the perfect time to give it a try.  Pam’s post also included some interesting info about “The Duke” as well as pics of the dish.  

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

A Trip Down To Blue Ridge, GA

In my role as Wagonmaster (Activity Coordinator), my job is to make the social events happen for our local chapter of the FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association).  Our main events are rallies where we gather at a campground for several days for exploration and socializing.  While we sometimes go to a campground without seeing it first-hand we usually like to have seen it first either by me or the person hosting the rally (Rally Master).

In beginning to put our plans together for 2022, I thought I might like to be the Rally Master for a trip to Blue Ridge, Ga.  It is a nice small town in the North GA mountains with plenty of things to do and places to eat – our two main activities - and since it’s only a two-hour drive, we decided to make a day trip to look at two potential campgrounds, meet some other club members for lunch, look around town, and visit the local apple orchard.  Here is an aerial view of town from the web.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Pork Chops With Peppercorn Sauce Ala Pam

I like pork chops and I like peppercorn sauce so when I saw this recipe from Pam on her For The Love Of Cooking blog, I knew it had to be made.  I considered grilling the chops but then Bev said her favorite chops have always been “like Mama made” – floured and pan fried - so I stuck with Pam’s version.  Her recipe is for two chops but I had ten, so I amended the amounts to get the ingredients below plus I didn’t use the oven to cook them.  You can click on the above link for the original recipe and Pam’s great presentation pics.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

A Couple Of Good Meals – Rellenos & Chicken Parm

I didn’t want to do a separate post for these two dishes, but I still wanted them documented so I combined into a short post about each.

Chille Rellenos

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Cajun Parmesan Salmon

I’ve had this recipe on my radar since seeing it on Theffeed and when Bev brought home a fillet of wild caught Sockeye salmon, I decided to give it a go.  I followed the recipe as written with just a small change. 

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Chicken Piccata & Concert On The Lawn

Bev suggested Chicken Piccata for supper and I recalled Trisha’s recipe for it on her Saving Room For Dessert Blog.  We had used the recipe for pork in the past but not for chicken and I modified it some to get the recipe below.  You can get the original recipe by clicking on the above link along with some of her great pics like this one of her delicious looking dish.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Bean With Bacon Soup

Based upon reading about the healthy Mediterranean diet in the past, we continue to try to eat plenty of beans so when I saw the recipe forSlow Simmered Bean with Bacon Soup on Pam’s For The Love Of Cooking blog, I knew it needed to be tried.  I followed the recipe as written and shown below, but you can visit her blog for some of her always good pics.

Friday, October 8, 2021

My Smokers Over Time

I’ve mentioned my new Masterbuilt Electric Smoker a couple of times lately and it got me thinking about those I have owned over the years so I decided to post about them.  I decided to get into barbequing after I retired because I could not buy a really good version locally and after eating some excellent BBQ around the country, I knew what I was looking for but I knew nothing about barbequing or what equipment to get.

My first smoker was a cheap offset unit bought from a big box store fired by either wood or charcoal and it looked similar to this one.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Smoked Turkey Breast

For the second use of my new Masterbuilt Electric Smoker, I opted to cook a turkey breast and use the recipe from The Cookie Rookie for the brine and herb butter. I changed the ingredients for the butter a little and cooked it a little differently as well.  The original recipe with several pics can be found by clicking on the above link.

Smoked Turkey BreastAdapted from the Cookie Rookie


For the Brine:

3 quarts cold water or enough to cover the breast

½ cup kosher salt

¼ cup brown sugar

For the Turkey and Herb Butter:

5-7 pounds natural, unbrined whole turkey breast (not Butterball- style (boneless or bone-in)

9 tablespoons unsalted butter softened

2 cloves garlic minced

1/3 teaspoon each dried oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


For the Brining the Turkey:

1. Add two cups of water to a sauce pan over medium high heat and stir in the salt and sugar until it is completely dissolved - let cool to room temperature.

2. Put the turkey in a very large container, add the brine and a few cups of ice, then enough water to submerge all of the breast meat and refrigerate 8-12 hours (I brined for 6 hours).

3. Remove the turkey from the fridge 45 minutes before cooking, rinse, and pat it dry (inside & out with paper towels).

For the Herb Butter:

4. In a small mixing bowl, combine butter, garlic, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, mustard, salt, and pepper.

5. Using your fingers, carefully separate the skin from the breast from the meat underneath.

6. Spread 3 tablespoons herb butter under the skin of each breast and the remaining 3 tablespoons butter over the outside of the breasts. Use 2-3 toothpicks per breast to secure the skin to the breast (along the edge of the breast). Securing the skin with toothpicks prevents the skin from shrinking during cooking.

I forgot to get this pic

7. Preheat the smoker to 275F (or lower if you want a longer cooking time) and soak the wood chips (apple) in water for 30 minutes while waiting for the smoker to heat.

8. Put a wire grate on the top of an aluminum foil pan and add a cup of water or apple juice. 

I forgot this shot too.

9. When the smoker is at temp, put the turkey in the middle shelf and insert a remote probe thermometer in the thickest part of the breast.

10. Cook according to smoker directions.

11. When the desired internal temp is reached (2½ hours for this cook), remove the breast from the smoker, wrap tightly in heavy duty foil and rest in a prewarmed cooler covered by a towel or a 160F toaster oven until ready to serve.

12. Remove a breast from the carcass (Bev is stealing a bite) and slice against the grain.

We served it with gravy, baked sweet potatoes , and Malibu green beans.

The Verdict:

The turkey was very good with an excellent flavor and it was moist and tender but the skin was a little salty so I’ll rinse it next time, which I added to the directions.  We wrapped the sweet potatoes in foil and tossed them in the smoker to cook but we all agreed, we prefer them baked bare.  The green beans cooked with a ham hock were very good so it was a pretty darn good meal.  The beans and potatoes were from the Tellico Plains Mennonite Market which we have decided is closer than our normal one in Englewood.  The remaining turkey will become turkey salad which is a favorite of mine.

I believe it will be salmon or a brisket next for the smoker – I continue to be pleased with it's performance.

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.


10/03/21 event date

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Grilled Pork Steak

Bev came home from the store recently with three pork steaks and wanted them grilled with BBQ sauce.  I had never heard of a pork steak until our midwestern friends Laurie and David (Big Daddy Dave) served them to us. In reality, they are sliced pork shoulder or Boston butt.  I decided to brine them first and found a recipe on Best Recipe Box and decided to use it but not their grilling instructions so they are mine.  

Monday, September 20, 2021

Fish Veracruz-Style

When I found this recipe for Fish Veracruz-Style from Saveur Magazine, I knew I wanted to try it with some of our crappie – our go-to for most dishes calling for white fish.  I had a little under two pounds of fish which required cooking in two batches and there was still plenty of sauce. Otherwise, I followed the recipe as written except for the heat and all fresh herbs. This is the first batch.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Bolognese With Red Lentil Pasta

I ask Bev what she would like to eat over the next few days and she said she was having cravings for pasta and would like Bolognese sauce over angel hair.  It should not be confused with meat sauce which is basically marinara with meat in it while Bolognese has only a little tomato via tomato paste.  Our favorite version has been using the recipe from Ann Burrell but since it takes about six hours to make, I opted to try a different one.  The recipe I picked was the Best Bolognese Sauce from Bon Appetit.  I made a couple of changes by substituting bacon for pancetta and red for white wine then I added garlic and doubled the recipe to get the one below – wanted leftovers.  The original can be found by clicking on the above link.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Creamy Dijon Chicken With Bacon and Spinach

While we no longer cook every Thursday for our friends, we still provide a meal about once per month.  For this one, we decided on using Kevin’s recipe for Creamy DijonChicken Thighs With Bacon and Spinach from his Closet Cooking blog which I had been wanting to make for a while.  Since I was making it for two families, I doubled the ingredients as shown below and so it could be delivered and then served hot, I turned it into a partially baked meal.  I cooked everything in one pan then divided it between two baking pans.  You can click on the above link for the original recipe and several pics like this.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Broccoli Salad Ala Larry

Bev had bought some broccoli salad from the market deli and since I really enjoyed it, I decided to make my own.  The store version appeared to contain broccoli, red onion, shredded cheddar, bacon and mayo plus maybe some sour cream.  As a fan of Mediterranean flavors, I decided to make a Greek version and use my creamy feta dressing for it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Grilled Pork Chops With Peach Salsa

We had taken a piece of pork loin from the freezer and discovered six peaches in the fridge needing to be used and decided to make them into a meal.  Our first thought was to simply grill the peaches as a side for the chops but then we thought a peach salsa would be better.  I went on line for a peach salsa recipe and found one from Natasha’s Kitchen that even used some of our big bowl of cherry tomatoes.  I made 1/3 of a recipe to get the one below but you can click on the link for the original recipe and many pics.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Mediterranean Tuna and Swordfish

We love Mediterranean (Italian, Greek, African, etc) flavors around here and have recently made several seafood dishes using them and I decided I wanted to try another as we use up our freezer fish supply.  This Mediterranean Tuna recipe comes from How to Feed A Loon and, for flavor, relies heavy on black olives but also makes use of our homegrown tomatoes plus capers and garlic.  The only real change I made was using fresh tomatoes rather than the canned ones called for in the recipe and cooking both Ahi tuna and swordfish that came from our visit to Joe Patti's Seafood back in April.  I also cooked the sauce and fish in separate pans.  For the original recipe and plenty of pics click on the above link.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Individual Tomato Pies & Old Smoker

It’s been a while since we had these and about seven years since I posted about them so I thought it was time again here in the middle of tomato season.  First, let me say that you are really missing out if you don’t try them as they are roll your eyes back good to us. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

First Cook On The New Smoker

Well, it was finally time to fire up the new smoker and I went thru the seasoning process the day before which burns out any manufacturing junk and coats the inside with a little smoke.  My original plan was to cook just a pork butt then I decided I should at least cook a chicken while I was at it.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Huli Huli Grilled Chicken

We enjoyed Hui Hui Chicken several years ago and when I saw Kevin’s recipe for it I thought it would work well for the Thursday meal for our friends with a couple of changes.  Kevin’s recipe is for sandwiches but I made the chicken as an entrée and doubled the ingredients to get the recipe below.  You can click on the link to get the original recipe plus several pics.

Friday, August 6, 2021

A New Smoking Machine & Tomato Canning

I’ve been using my gas grill with a smoke box to BBQ with only mediocre results and after having my little hobby/business for several years, I got used to the good stuff.  The big Stumps smoker that I used then is too much for what I cook now and I have been thinking about something else.

A few weeks ago, a couple from our RV club invited us to their place for BBQ and I was looking forward to checking out his cooker in addition to eating the food.  He has a Masterbuilt Electric Smoker that uses wood chips for the smoke and an electric element for the heat.

So after watching the cook and eating the meat, I decided I couldn’t go wrong at only $375 for the smoker and stand plus I bought a cover. I got the next size larger than our friends so I could easily cook for a crowd when I wanted.  

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Chicken Pepperoni Skillet

We had two large grilled chicken breast leftover from a previous meal and I decided to turn them into a chicken pepperoni skillet meal using the peppers, onions, pepperoni, cheese and a partial jar of Rao’s Marinara - I had everything on hand.  You may recall that chicken pepperoni originated from the Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase movie entitled “Seems Like Old Times.”  We have made the original dish a couple of times and always enjoyed it so I decided to try creating this dish with the following recipe.

Chicken Pepperoni Skillet

The Ingredients:

Two large grilled chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces (see note)

Friday, July 30, 2021

Caprese Salad

Bev mentioned she would like to turn some of our tomatoes into a Caprese Salad so I went on line looking for a recipe and found one I liked from Taste Of Home - I picked it because of the vinaigrette.  I’ve had the normal version with sliced tomatoes and thought it was just so-so and I had a pile of cherry tomatoes from our very prolific plant so I modified the recipe to get the one below.  The original can be found buy clicking on the link along with this pic.

Monday, July 26, 2021

A Visit From The Walkers, Finally

As best we can tell, the last time we saw Bev’s son and his kids was August, 2019 so we were pretty exited when they came to visit us this week.  They came and went at various times with the three girls and two boyfriends coming in on Monday.  Hard to believe their ages are now: Madison-23, Reece-21, & Riley-19 and they will all be attending the University Of Charleston (SC) this fall.  This leaves only Eric and family that we have not seen since Jul, 2019.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Salmon Omelet For Breakfast

Normally I would just post this at the end of the previous salmon supper blog but it was so good I decided it deserved its own post.  For breakfast the next morning, I sauteed some of our asparagus and cherry tomatoes then added some of the leftover salmon and Mediterranean topping to warm it. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Grilled Salmon With Easy Skin Removal

In spite of watching it easily done by TV chefs and fish mongers, I find that using a knife to remove the skin from raw salmon to be a somewhat exasperating experience.  So rather than trying, I use my grill to get it off.

We had three nice pieces of salmon in the freezer and opted to have them for supper and top them with a Mediterranean topping.  After thawing I kept the salmon covered in the fridge until an hour before cooking time.