Monday, April 22, 2024

Cajun Shrimp and Grits - My New Favorite

My Honey got home from St. Marten on Friday, just in time for her Sat. birthday and all of us boys are really happy.  Her little boy (only child and now 53) sent her flowers and I'm making one of favorite meals tomorrow.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Our Annual Visit To Hooters And A Favorite Potato Scramble

I’ll never forget my first visit to Hooters in Sarasota, FL.  I’d never heard of it but a friend of my Dad, took us there for lunch while I was visiting my parents.  I was in my mid 30’s and recently divorced and was in total shock when our super-hot server came to take our orders – I do recall eating a grouper sandwich 😊

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Delicious Home Cooked Pork Rinds And Spring Is Definitely Here

Pork rinds may well be my favorite snack food and I buy the 16 oz container of them from Sam’s for $6.28 and they last me a week or so.  As we’ve gone to various festivals over the years, there is often a vendor selling fried pork rinds and I noticed they use small pieces of pork skins that they had purchased.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Cheesy Asparagus Then Denver Omelet Scrambled Eggs, Each With A Gravy Biscuit

After my first sausage gravy meal that was just two biscuits, I decided to go on the hunt for different scrambled egg dishes to side them with and since our asparagus is now bearing, it seemed like a good place to start.  I did a web search and ended up on the “Taste Of Home” site titled 30 New Ways to Eat Scrambled Eggs.  Since they didn’t have one for asparagus, I just made up the one below.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Sawmill Gravy With Sausage – I Really Learned Something Here & The Eclipse

I’ve been eating sausage gravy all of my life and have heard the term sawmill gravy for a long time and I thought I knew about these two gravies, but I learned something today.  When I read the post for Sawmill Gravy With Sausage on the “My Country Table” ) blog, I scratched my head as I thought sawmill gravy was sausage gravy.  So off to do research I went – I love the internet most of the time.

For the years I’ve lived in Tennessee, restaurant gravy and biscuits was usually good biscuits covered with this white paste-like stuff containing little to no meat.  Well, as I just learned that that is Sawmill Gravy.  

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Countryside For Catfish Again And My Girls Travels

It was time for our weekly meal out and I was ready for catfish again so off to Countryside Restaurant we went.  As I told our waitress, I’ve never had better and she said it was one of their most popular dishes.  We decided to beat the crowd and get there at 11:30 but it seems everyone else had the same idea as the parking lot was full and the restaurant was pretty full and there was probably 15 more that came in right behind us.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

White Beans And Another Experiment

One of Bev’s favorite lunches is refried beans which she makes and freezes when we cook a big batch of pintos – they are not really refried but are mashed and doctored with several items.  After bragging about the white beans served to me at Angie’s Kitchen a couple of times, Bev suggested we make some white beans so she can see how they work for her refried beans.  Rather than going to the store, we used a pound each of navy bean and great northern beans that we had on hand and I started with our pinto bean recipe and adjusted it to get the one below.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Batter Fried Homemade Chicken Strips/Nuggets – An Experiment

I can’t say for sure but I suspect that when chicken tenders are offered on a menu, they are really just sliced breast and I assume the same thing for chicken nuggets, although some seem to be formed, processed chicken.  Where tenders are generally the length of a breast, nuggets are generally more round or square and mine are a combination of both. 

Friday, March 29, 2024

Creamy Tuscan Shrimp And Learning About Rice Pilaf

We had some Royal Red Shrimp in the freezer that needed to be used so I went to my blog in search of dishes we have rated highly in the past.  We made this dish a few years ago and thought it was delicious and great for a keto diet meal but this time we served it over rice pilaf. The original recipe for Creamy Tuscan Shrimp came from the “Gimme Delicious” blog and can be found by clicking on the link.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

There’s Egg Salad Then There’s This

As I’ve posted many times, we buy our eggs from a local couple so we can get the best ones possible.  Their chickens were on strike most of the winter forcing us to buy from the store but they have now began laying with a vengeance and we’re being offered 10 dozen pretty regularly.  So, this time, I found homes for several dozen and decided to turn one doz. into egg salad.  We have used several recipes for egg salad over the years including a couple of Masters Tournament clones (I’d think there could only be one), your recipes, and our normal where Bev just makes it to taste.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Our Coach Update And Lunch At Seymour Grille

After waiting all winter (we weren’t going anywhere anyway), the local diesel shop finally repaired the leaking seal on our coach engine and it is now hopefully good to go – the only problem is Bev refuses to go anywhere in it having totally lost confidence in the RV’s ability to reliably get us to our destination.  At this point, we have several repairs to make so we can put it on the market and which point we are likely to get out of RVing.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Our Super Good Bangers and Mash For St. Patrick's Day

While I grew up believing the name Doolittle was English, my kids turned up a family crest suggesting it was Irish so I like to take no chances on St. Patrick’s Day and celebrate just in case I’m part Irish.  I know for sure I have a fair amount of Dutch and native American blood but who knows what else.  Maybe I should do one of the ancestry tests but for some reason I’m protective of my DNA – I promise that I have nothing sinister to hide 😊.

We invited Eliza to bring her family down for supper and considered the many options for the meal – Irish stew, corned beef, Shepherds pie, fish pie, bangers, etc.  After remembering the supply of great sausages I had in the freezer from The Wurst Kitchen, I settled on the following menu.

Before dinner drink – Pickle Back (not an Irish drink but it uses Jamison Irish Whiskey).  You shoot the whiskey then chaser with pickle juice - surprisingly not bad but it won't become my favorite - I'm not a whiskey guy.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

My Dad’s Favorite Meatloaf & My Restaurant

To My Irish Friends Out There

Bev had bought a large package of ground beef for me to make deconstructed cabbage rolls and decided that she wanted to make meatloaf from the rest of the meat.  Now I may not be the sharpest pencil in the box, but it didn’t take me long to realize that her announcement meant no cooking for me.  Bev had selected a different-from-our-normal recipe to try and I think it’s because it had the soffritto in it – she likes the veggies in her meatloaf.  The recipe for My Dad’s Favorite Meatloaf came from Simply Recipes.  I show the original recipe below, but I scaled up the one Bev used for our 2½ lbs of meat.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Deconstructed Skillet Stuffed Cabbage Rolls And A Very Small Rant

We really enjoy cabbage rolls, especially when someone else makes them, so when I saw Kevin’s recipe for Deconstructed Skillet Stuffed Cabbage Rolls  on his “Closet Cooking” blog, I knew I wanted to give it a try.  I’m going way out on a limb here to say I actually changed a Kevin recipe a little based upon some other recipes I saw – I added some bacon & sausage and changed the cooking order just a little.  The original recipe and his great how-to pics can be found by clicking on the above link.

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Simple and Delicious Pasta With Meat Sauce

I still try to use Sunday for pasta day but I didn’t feel like putting much effort into this meal so when I found a part full jar of Rao’s marinara and a package of burger in the fridge, a plan was born - Pam from “The Love Of Cooking” blog does this a lot on a much more sophisticated scale than me.  How about a simple meat sauce, me thinks, by simply combining my two finds with more Rao’s from the pantry (we try to keep it on hand but it’s obviously been discovered as it’s around twice the cost of most others).

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Hot Rods 50’s Diner

It’s been years since we visited Hot Rods in Alcoa, TN but since I had a 12:30 appt. in town and Bev wanted to visit Cindy at the rehab center, we decided to kill several bids with one stone including our meal out for the week and a stop for lawn lime at Rural King.  Hot Rods has a giant menu (eg - 80 kinds of burgers) and clicking on the link will take you to it.  It was a nasty weather day so I borrowed an outside pic from the web.

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Ham and Spinach Frittata

I had a bag of spinach in the fridge and decided I wanted to turn it into a frittata that also used the ham we had on hand.  My web search led me to Lauren’s recipe for a Ham and Spinach Frittata on her “Elle & Pear” blog.  I followed the recipe as written but you can click on the link to see Lauren’s how-to and finished pics.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Steakhouse Steaks For the First Time & New Kitchen Lights

I can’t imagine how many steaks I’ve cooked in my lifetime and the vast, vast majority have been done on a charcoal or gas grill.  Only recently have I tried pan frying them and recently I cooked a beef tri-tip first in the oven then finishing in a pan on the cooktop (reverse sear method) .  While I’ve watched them cooked on TV many times by adding the crust in a hot pan then finishing in the oven, commonly called the Steakhouse Method, I don’t think I’ve ever used it.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Angie’s Kitchen in Loudon, TN & Cindy Update

Before I get to the restaurant visit, here is some info about a pretty serious situation with Cindy. You likely know by now that she has been living with us for several years and for the past many weeks she has been dealing with some serious pain in her hip and knee.  She has been to several doctors and none of them have been able to say for sure what is needed to fix her problem.  Last Thursday, she went to see about getting another injection in her hip and after being told about how much pain she was in, the doctor sent her for a hip x-ray.  At 4 pm that day, the doctor’s office called and told her to go to the hospital for emergency surgery the next morning, but didn’t tell her why. After the surgery we learned that she had an infection in her hip that even required some bone removal – bless her heart.  

She will be in the hospital until tomorrow, then go to a step-down location, and finally home for six weeks on an IV.  We don’t yet know if it’s Mrsa (and sure hope not), the cause of the infection, or the next step for the hip.  We are just happy that the problem has been discovered and that she is no longer crying from the intense pain.  Here she is post surgery after her sister fixed her hair.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Ham Hash with Eggs With Mustard Cream Sauce

I’ve yet to meet a hash I didn’t like but I don’t recall ever putting a sauce on one so I was intrigued when Lea Ann posted the recipe for Ham Hash with Eggs With Mustard Cream Sauce on her “Cooking On The Ranch” blog.  I made it per her recipe below but I did all of the prep work, including cooking the potatoes, the day before.  Since I plated ours, you can click on the link to see Lea Ann’s service in a bowl.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Delicious Salmon Chowder

I had baked a 2 lb. salmon filet with the plan to turn it into salmon cakes but I caught a little head cold and wasn’t willing to put in the effort required to make the cakes.  So, I opted to turn it into salmon chowder, which we haven’t had in many years.  I looked at several online recipes and settled on one that sounded good and for which I had all of the ingredients.  The recipe comes from the “Salt and Lavender” blog but I made several changes beginning with doubling the ingredient amounts.  Since I like a hearty soup, I completely changed the cooking method by adding the liquid as I went along and ended up with two cups of chicken broth vs. six called for in the recipe. To see the original recipe, just click on the above link.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Bison Burgers - Well Not Exactly

When Chef Lea Ann posted the recipe for Juicy Perfect Buffalo Burgers (Bison Burgers) on her “Cooking On The Ranch” blog, I was intrigued by her flavor additions and decided to give them a try for our Friday card group. As you might imagine, I can’t run by the local Vonore Food City and pick up a package of ground bison meat so I opted for the closest I could get with 93% lean ground beef.  For the six of us I doubled the burger ingredients (except sugar) and made a single sauce recipe to get the recipe below.  The Chef’s good pics and original recipe can be found by clicking on the above link.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The Patio – This Week’s Restaurant

Bev has been wanting to go to The Patio Italian Restaurant in Madisonville for some time so we selected it for this week’s lunch out.  Before discussing the restaurant, let me give you a little background on the area.  Madisonville is the seat of Monroe County which is a very rural and mountainous county just south of us.   Madisonville, with a population of 5100 people has a downtown that is about three blocks long and the county (pop.46000) is full of pick up driving good ole boys and a home to southern mountain food.  Yet Monroe County sports a very good Mexican restaurant Cielto Lindo Mexican Grill in Vonore and this fine Italian place in downtown Madisonville along with Donna’s Old Town Café, with the more typical food for this area. 

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Creamy Chicken And Spinach Quesadillas

Cindy had baked a chicken for supper a couple of days previously and we decided quesadillas would be a good use for the leftovers and since we had an open bag of spinach in the fridge that needed to be used, I went in search of a recipe that used them both.  The recipe I chose was Creamy Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas from "Budget Bytes" but I changed it quite a bit to get the one below.  The original can be found by clicking on the above link.

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Delicious Manhattan Clam Chowder

We invited Eliza and her family down for Sunday supper and since her mom (Wende) just had a birthday, we asked if she had a request for the meal.  She chose Manhattan Clam Chowder, which was uncanny as I’d been thinking about it recently myself – haven’t made it in several years.  The original recipe is for a slow cooker and makes about three quarts, but since I wanted enough for leftovers and to send home with Wende, I doubled the recipe to get the one below.

Before we ate, Eliza enjoyed the 60F temperature to take a spin in the big wheel, which is kept here, and she invented a new way to play T-ball.

Monday, February 5, 2024

A Good Lunch At Countryside Restaurant

We only exchange Christmas gifts with one friend so this year, for my gift, I gave her five lunches at the restaurants of her choice – but she’s making me choose.  This also fulfills my deal with Bev to eat out once per week.  So far we had gone to our local Mexican place and the Cheddars in Alcoa and for the third meal we went to the Countryside Restaurant in Vonore – a 10 minute drive.  I don’t know how long it’s been in business but it’s more than the 30 years I’ve lived in the area.  It changed hands not long ago and rumor has it that the food has significantly improved.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Breakfast From Leftovers & A New Chair

I recently made a couple of  breakfasts from leftovers that I really enjoyed.

We had made fried shrimp for supper and I had five raw ones left so I used them for breakfast.  I sauteed them and chopped half of them (other half to Cindy) to use in a scramble along with some shredded cheddar.  It was very good.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Delicious, Two Sauce, Mama’s Lasagna

I first made this dish 22 years ago while visiting son Rhett’s family when he was stationed in Heidelberg, Germany (US Army).  Then I made it again in 2010 and after you read this post you may see why I don’t make it often.  The recipe comes from “Jackson Hole Ala Carte,” a cookbook put out in 1986 by the Jackson Hole Alliance and still available to buy on the web.

The other day, Bev suggested we make it while we were snowed in but we didn’t have and couldn’t go get the ingredients we needed.  So this week, while we were only rained in, we went to the store then made it for our Friday card group.  I followed the recipe except as noted and the recipe is divided into four separate parts.

Red Sauce


1 cup chopped onion

½ cup finely chopped carrot

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ cup butter

28 oz Italian style tomatoes & juice

15 oz can tomatoes (added by Larry)

½ cup dry red wine

2 tbsp chopped parsley

1 tbsp dried basil

1 ea Bay leaf

1 tsp dried oregano

1/8 tsp dried thyme

½ tsp sugar

To taste salt and pepper

1 lb ground chuck

½ lb mushrooms, sliced

1 lb Italian sausage, cooked and thinly sliced


1. In a heavy 12” sauté pan, cook the onion, carrot, and garlic until tender. Stir in the tomatoes, wine, herbs, and seasonings. Simmer for 1½ hours, partially covered until sauce is thick.

2. Meanwhile, brown the chuck in a large skillet, add mushrooms and sauté until tender. Stir into the completed sauce along with the cooked sausage. Set aside.

This is the finished sauce.

White Sauce


6 tbsp butter

6 tbsp flour

1 cup milk

1 cup whipping cream

½ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp salt

½ tsp cayenne


Make a roux from the butter and flour, remove from heat and gradually whisk in the milk and cream. When smooth, add the spices, return to heat and bring to a boil for a minute. Remove from heat and set aside with plastic wrap directly on the surface for skim prevention (I just made it last when I was ready to assemble).

Lasagna Filling

2 cups ricotta or cottage cheese

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese

¼ cup grated parmesan

4 ea egg yolks

2 tbsp chopped green onion

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1 clv garlic, minced

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

18 lasagna noodles, cooked al dente, drained and patted dry


Combine all ingredients, except noodles, and spread about 2 Tbsp of filling on each noodle and roll up jelly roll style – 18 rolls needed.  I found the best tool to spread the filling on the noodle was my index finger. Don’t spread it clear to the noodle edge and about ½” from the outside end, then roll them just tight enough to force it almost to the edges. 

This is the stuffing process - I laid out all of the noodles and divided the filling between them. 

Here they are all rolled up.

To Assemble

1. Preheat oven to 350 and butter an 11"x11" baking dish.

2. Spread ½ of the white sauce in bottom the dish.

3. Place the noodle rolls on end in the dish.

4. Top the rolls with the red sauce, the remaining white sauce, ½ cup mozzarella, ½ cup parmesan and 2 tbsp parsley.

5. Bake for about 45 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

The Verdict:

Just as before, it was delicious and everyone loved it but I’ve decided I’ll just make the layered version from now on and maybe add the white sauce.

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.


01/26/24 meal date

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Beef Tri-Tip Roast, Reverse Sear

When I go to the grocery store, I generally browse the seafood and high end meat case and during a recent visit, I spied a rarely seen (in these parts) tri-tip roast, so I scarfed it up.  After considering several preparation methods, I decided I would use a combination of methods I haven’t used before - dry brine and reverse-sear using the oven.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Bang Bang Shrimp Pasta

This post was going to start with how I doubled Trish’s recipe for Bang, Bang Shrimp Pasta from her “Mom On Time Out Blog” to serve to our Friday card group.  However, three days after the Mon/Tue six inch snow followed by freezing temps, our driveway still looked like this – the foot prints are from my trips to the RV to check on things. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Baked Chicken Wings

Bev came home with a package of chicken wings and said she’d like to try them baked and I just happen to have saved the recipe for Baked Chicken Wings from Dennis on his “Ask Chef Dennis” blog a few days previously.  Our package contained five pounds of nice sized wings so I increased the ingredient amounts by 2½ times. To get the recipe below.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Not So Spicy Beef Stir Fry

I recently cut steaks from a whole beef tenderloin and ended up with a pound of tail meat so Bev suggested we turn it into stir fry.  I looked back thru my blog posts and found several for beef stir fry and two that had great reviews.  Friend, Russ, commented that our most recent one “may have been the best meal he has had at our place.”  But since we just made it last year, I opted for a recipe from 2012 that got this comment - “I thought it was very good and Bev said it may have been our best ever stir fry.”

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Not Exactly Cowboy or Cincinnati Chili & Prime Rib Finale

I’ve been trying to make Sundays a pasta day but with plenty of leftovers in the fridge, I thought I’d have to miss this week,  but when I opened up my email that morning, there was Chef Lea Ann’s post for Stove-Top Cowboy Spaghetti  with a pic of chili over pasta.  So, I read the post and realized my chili didn’t fit her recipe nor did it fit Cincinnati chili which contains many of the flavors in Jerk Seasoning (eg. cinnamon, cloves, allspice).

So, I’ll just call mine "Pasta Topped, Chili, Onion, and Cheddar."

Monday, January 8, 2024

Loaded Chili Baked Potato

When I saw Pam’s recipe for Loaded Chili Baked Potato on her “For The Love Of Cooking” blog I thought it would be perfect for our Friday group on a cold winter day.  Rather than duplicate Pam’s recipe here, I’ll just refer you to the link above for the recipe and Pam’s great pics – as always.  We began the meal preparation by making a batch of chili on Friday morning using our normal recipe.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

A Few More Delicious Holiday Meals & One For Luck

We had quite a bit of the prime rib left from Christmas dinner and one use was French Dip Sandwiches.  I made them by the recipe that Daughter, Kathy, uses in her café in Nebraska.  I sliced the meat fairly thin and took out the fat.  Then I piled it to the shape of the bread, topped with cheese, and gave it a 60 second nuke to warm it.

Monday, January 1, 2024

A Few Random Meals Around The Holidays

Happy New Year and thanks for stopping by my blog this past year.

Here are some meals we’ve made recently but I didn’t want to do an entire post on.  The first one is breakfast hash that was inspired by Pam’s post for Skillet Potato Hash WithMushrooms and Bacon on her "For The Love Of Cooking" blog.  I made it to use some mushrooms we had in the fridge and some leftover boiled potatoes.  I generally followed Pam’s recipe except I just used bacon grease rather than cooking bacon and I started with cooked potatoes.  I topped the hash with three small eggs for a delicious breakfast.