Tag Archives: food

Where have I been?

Well, I can’t exactly say, but what I can tell you is I’ve developed a couple of exceptional recipes along the way. Of course, when I say “developed”, take that with a grain of salt. Yes, some I’ve hatched from scratch, but some are a compilation of several other recipes that I’ve modified to suit our tastes or what I have on hand.

I’ve been playing with my electric pressure cooker quite a bit lately. It does make life easier when I can crank out “roasted” chicken for recipes and a batch of Rich Chicken Stock all in the same afternoon. I took advantage of all that chicken in a couple of recipes, both for the table and the freezer.

The first of those recipes was Chicken Stuffed Shells Florentine. While I visualized the recipe calling for ground chicken to be spiced with Italian Sausage Seasoning, I started with my pressure cooker shredded chicken and added the spice blend after the fact. That method was acceptable, but I think the chicken would have carried better flavor if I had stuck with the original ground chicken plan, seasoning the chicken as it cooked.

Kicked Up Chicken Enchiladas got a little boost with the addition of some steamed broccoli.  I know, it sounds a bit strange to add broccoli to a dish of Mexican origin, but it was quite good. Those enchiladas are on the spicy side to start with, but the broccoli added a little something to keep them from being just so plain.   I should have dipped each corn tortilla into the sauce  to soften them before filling, but frankly, I just forgot to write that common procedure into the recipe. Because I didn’t do that, all my enchiladas cracked open.  I’ll have to write that step into the recipe… Lesson Learned.

The last of the pressure cooker chickens didn’t go to waste either.  There was just enough left for a batch of Baked Chicken Salad. That recipe was given to me years ago by an old friend, Linda Keen. The original recipe called for water chestnuts, but Michael doesn’t care for those, so I substitute diced red bell peppers. Take your pick.  This recipe is an excellent excuse to buy a bag of potato chips!  You’ll need them for the topping, but it’s kind of like when a recipe calls for wine.  You don’t need the whole bottle of wine for the recipe, so what do you do with the rest of the bottle?  Well, what will you do with the rest of those chips?

Rounding up the wonderful world of chicken was a new recipe, Mushroom Chicken Piccata with Penne and Asparagus. Oh My, is that stuff ever good! It may just be one of my new favorite springtime dishes. I know asparagus is now available year-round, but to me, it’s just different in the spring when it hasn’t been shipped up from Chile or where ever, so to me, fresh asparagus + lemon + chicken = Spring!

No, we haven’t just eaten chicken all this time, those dishes just seemed to flow together for this post!  It’s been so long, I could’t possibly bore you with all we’ve had on the menu lately.  Now that grilling season’s rolling around again you might want to think about setting up a Brat Tub. We did recently, and then we knew for sure that summer was on its way, at least in Alabama. We always grill the whole package of brats and throw the extras in the fridge for lunches later in the week.

If you’re lucky enough to catch a good roast on sale Perfect Prime Rib is a treat we usually reserve only for holidays and special occasions, but who can argue with $4.99 a pound? The next day’s French Dip Sandwiches can’t really be called “leftovers” can they?  Don’t forget to make True Au Jus with that roast so you’ll have something to dip those sandwiches in.  The thick piles of thinly sliced roast will just melt in your mouth.

Pork didn’t get left out of the picture this past month, either.  Boston Butts went on sale for $.99 a pound!  That just screams smokey Pulled Pork Barbeque.  The only problem with that recipe is it makes enough to feed a small army, more than Michael and I can possibly consume, even allowing for leftovers.  There I go filling the freezers again.

Loaded Lentil Soup was a warm and filling Meatless Monday menu item, although I did cheat just a bit by sneaking in a little andouille sausage to start the pot off. That Cajun sausage packs so much flavor! A little goes a long way, so while the soup was technically not meatless, meat was not the main protein. Who’s counting? Sometimes it’s the thought that counts, right?

With Easter coming I’m on a new quest…”The Search for Sensational Sides”. It seems that every year it’s the same old thing with the Easter Ham: Mashed Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Deviled Eggs, and maybe my favorite but fattening Broccoli Casserole, and on and on. You get the picture. While traditions certainly have their place and I can’t just ditch them all, I’m in search of something new. Maybe not all at Easter Dinner, (children need roots), but mixed in, some then and some to add interest to that leftover sliced ham another day. Hmmm, a new challenge. I need that! Check back!

Be thankful for what life gives you.

I don’t like “Resolutions”

To me, making a resolution implies that there is something wrong, something I need to fix. I know I’m not perfect, no one is, by why spoil all the wonders of a New Year by concentrating on what needs to be changed? Many of us spend too much time worrying about what we should be doing instead of enjoying all we could be doing.

I do look forward to the New Year, though. To me, it’s like I’ve been given a great big box of new crayons with which I can color my life any way I choose. I don’t need a coloring book, either, just a clean pad of paper. Any kind will do! So let’s get a fresh new calendar and some more stickies and start coloring in our new menus, shall we?

The week before Christmas went by in a blur of freezer food, soups, and leftovers, but by Christmas Eve Eve, (Friday night), all the preparations were complete and it was time for Michael and I to relax and enjoy the holiday. Since we would be splitting Christmas Eve and Christmas Day between Emily, Aaron, and their families, Friday night was just for us.  We splurged on a decadent dinner featuring Perfect Prime Rib with its ebony crust that guards a perfectly pink and juicy interior.

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Creamy, Cheesy, Au Gratin Potatoes were an equally perfect side dish, festively rich for a holiday dinner.  A good Gruyere cheese provides a velvety texture that isn’t matched by other varieties of cheese, but gruyere can be a little pricey and sometimes hard to find.  While these potatoes are easy enough to prepare any night of the week, I save them for special occasions.

Both Christmas Eve at Emily’s and Christmas Day afternoon at Aaron’s were just as they should be. Comfortable and relaxed holiday celebrations full of family, fun, and fabulous food. Both of our children have inherited the cooking gene and neither they nor their families will ever starve.

Monday was a travel day for Michael and I, as we had to make the short trip home from Aaron’s. The easiest dinner option then was Drippy French Dip Sandwiches made with the leftovers from that Perfect Prime Rib. You know, although I have good intentions, Monday is rarely Meatless, but I do try to make up for that another day in the week. That’s what the stickies are for!  I can slide them around at will.

Tuesday we stayed in the comfort zone with more freezer food. This time a couple of bowls of White Chicken Chili just magically appeared on the dinner table. I love it when that happens!

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After Wednesday’s Mexican restaurant visit, I once again took the easy way out and visited the freezer for Thursday night’s dinner. I think I see a pattern beginning to develop here, don’t you? Anyway, with meatballs in the freezer Meatball Subs are never far away. Pull out a couple of sub rolls, a little Homemade Marinara, add a little cheese, and dinner is served. If you want to try to pretend to be healthy have a House Salad first, but if you don’t have time, I won’t tell!

Now I’m preparing for the New Year.
Saturday, New Years Eve, is a big day around these parts, but not for the reason you might think. The University of Alabama is in a semi-final playoff game for the College Football National Championship. Roll Tide! After the game is over we’ll begin our New Years celebration with the rest of the world to usher in 2017. Michael and I always stay home for all those festivities. We live a way out of town and don’t care to take our chances with all the post midnight drinkers on the roads. We’ll have our own festivities, thank you, starting with football food and ending with a glass of bubbly.

New Years Day dinner is pretty much the same every year, rooted in Southern tradition.
The main attraction is always pork. Folklore has it that because pigs root in a forward motion consuming pork will keep your life moving forward. Foul, however, will have things in your life up in the air and flying away. Don’t ask me what beef will do for you. I don’t think that long ago our Southern ancestors wanted to kill the milk cow! So as not to tempt fate, I always serve pork on New Years Day. Our favorite is a Herbed Pork Rib Roast.

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Another traditional new years dinner item is black eyed peas, but I substitute the pink eyed purple hull peas we grow in our own garden. Those were common in the Old South, as well, representing coins and bringing good fortune. They say the Yankee soldiers left those alone, along with the collard and turnip greens in the fields because they didn’t think those peas or greens were fit for human consumption. Little did they know!   Eating the field greens are supposed to bring folded money, and who couldn’t use a little more of that?   Cabbage may sub in for the field greens for Michael, as he’s not fond of those.  I’m going to cook some collards for myself, just because I do like them.  One way or the other, we’ll both eat greens!  I’m  looking forward to a happy and prosperous New Year and wish you all the same. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Be thankful for what life give you.

Are you ready?

There are just a few days left before the biggest foodie celebration of the year! Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a foodie, on this one day of the year you are. Whether you’re the cook or the consumer, our Thanksgiving gathering is all about the food, and that makes us all foodies. Yes, Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude, as it well should be, but among our many blessings are our culinary traditions. We all have certain dishes that must be included in the holiday menu, and sometimes we adventure out to try something new, but old or new those recipes benefit from some planning. It helps to set a timeline. I started mine in early November!
Today, (Monday), I’ll double check my lists and make my final shopping trip. At least I hope it will be my final shopping trip. It seems something else always pops up, but it’d easier to run into the store for one thing than fight the crowds for your whole grocery order. I also plan to utilize the meals I have stashed in the freezer this week. There is enough cooking to do without throwing in big dinner preps, so tonight it will be Very Veggie Chili straight from the freezer. In order to make my Cornbread Dressing I’ll need a recipe of Iron Skillet Cornbread, so I’ll sneak a small piece out for Michael to have with his chili.
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Tuesday will be devoted to preparing all the veggies I’ll be needing. I figure out how many portions of diced or sliced onions, carrots, etc. all my recipes will call for and then assemble the cut vegetables into kits. Doing all the veggies ahead this way is a great time saver and eliminates waste, as well. I’m not left with a quarter of an onion or half a stalk of celery. Those just get rolled over into the next recipe. While I’m at it, Grilled Chicken Fajitas will be nearly ready to cook. All I need to add is the chicken and condiments and dinner is served.
Wednesday will be busy, but thanks to what I’ve done in advance, not at all stressful. I already have Rich Turkey Stock in the freezer from the turkey I cooked at the beginning of the month. I’ll just assemble the Cornbread Dressing, make a double recipe of Roast Turkey Gravy from that stock, and put together the Spinach and Artichoke Spread. I think I’ll pick up a baguette to slice and serve with the warm spread. Everything will be ready to go to Emily’s on Thursday.
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When I look out my window, it’s kind of hard to realize that Thursday actually is Thanksgiving. The trees are still dressed in green!  These are Bradford Pear trees that typically bloom in February.  Surely they will have dropped their leaves by then!
I hope all of you who celebrate Thanksgiving have a wonderful holiday with friends and family.
Be thankful for what life gives you.

The Sticky Menu Plan to the Rescue!

As I confessed last week, for the first time in my cooking career, last Sunday I managed to burn a pot roast. I didn’t just overcook it, I flat out burned it crispy black through and through! Do not ask me how I managed to do that. I do not know. It was not a new recipe. I did not set the oven too high. I did not leave out any of the ingredients. I DO NOT KNOW! Go figure. Anyway, it happened, and we had plenty of vegetables for dinner, but no leftovers. The Mississippi Roast makes more than enough for our Sunday dinner, so those leftovers  were planned for Wednesday night’s Drippy French Dip Sandwiches. Well, that obviously wasn’t going to happen. The simple solution was to slide Thursdays sticky up to Wednesday, and that’s what I did.  The Sticky Menu Plan solved the problem.  I didn’t have to give it a single thought.
Monday’s dinner was an old standby, Eggplant Parmesan. Even though I try to follow the recipe as written, (I’m always looking for kinks and problems), I tend to get a little generous with the creamy rich Fresh Ricotta Cheese. I’m afraid between that and the Homemade Marinara Sauce the eggplant becomes an afterthought. Luckily, the recipe made just the right amount to provide a substitute dinner for Wednesday evening as well.
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Tuesday’s Baked Chicken Cordon Bleu is another old stand by. The recipe calls for creating a pocket in boneless chicken breasts and stuffing that pocket with ham and cheese. I often get lazy and just slice the breast nearly in half and sandwich the filling in the middle. The cheese does tend to leak out a little more, so it’s a bit of a trade off. I do it both ways.
By Thursday the carnivores in both of us were getting pretty tired of veggies and eggplant. Crickhollow Pork Tenderloin solved that craving nicely. When pork tenderloins go on sale I generally pick up a few, then select a couple of recipes and prepare those ahead of time for the freezer. That was the case this time. I moved the meat from the freezer to the fridge a day ahead of time and we were good to go.
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The highlight of the week was a quick trip we made to visit my brother, Bill, and his wife, Kim, in Smithville, TN. The occasion was a surprise sixtieth birthday party for Kim. The surprise, however, was on us. Kim wasn’t 60, but several years younger! Bill made the age up. Kim had to work Friday afternoon and I thought we would be decorating for the surprise party. Nope! Instead, we enjoyed ourselves at the Blue Water Grill on Center Hill Lake. One of my favorite dishes in the world is shrimp and grits, and I’ve tried them all over the South. I’m not kidding when I tell you that the shrimp and grits we had at Blue Water are some of the best. The Fried Green Tomatoes were excellent as well. I wish this restaurant were closer.  Well, maybe not,  I’d probably put on too much weight, but I sure would enjoy it! Thanks for the photo, Billy.
Be thankful for what life gives you.

Spaetzle, and Where do My Recipes Come From?

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When my potato ricer finally arrived, (see last week’s post), I wanted to experiment with the ricer, but making Potato and Ricotta Gnocchi just wasn’t what I wanted to do right at that moment. Besides, by that time I had used the milk needed for the ricotta in other things.  Instead of making the gnocchi, I taught myself to make Spaetzle, Little German Dumplings. A nice plate of carbs bathed in butter always improves my mood. How about yours?
Okay, all that brings up the real point of this week’s post: Where do my recipes come from? That’s a question I get asked all the time and there’s no simple answer, but I’ll try
The Spaetzle recipe came out of desperation and frustration. No, really, as I frequently do, an idea might come to mind for a dish I’ve heard of, but never in my life made before, like Spaetzle. When I want to learn to make something new, I’ll sit down at the computer and start reading. I might read ten recipes or thirty, then print out three or so. Of those, I’ll use bits and pieces of their ingredients and procedures. I’ll add things and take some away, and tweak that recipe until I’m satisfied with the result. Then I’ll start cooking. Sometimes it’s a hit, and many times it’s a miss. I either throw that idea away or start working on it again.
Some of my recipes come to me from friends and family. All of us have family recipes that have been handed down, and many of us are fortunate enough to have good friends who share theirs as well. My good friend, Carol, has a collection of recipes from South Georgia that would put Paula You-Know-Who to shame! She has shared many with me, and I in turn, have shared some of those with you. The latest is Carol’s version of a wedge salad with her Aunt Willa Lamb’s Roquefort Dressing. (how’s that for a Southern lady’s name?)
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Often, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with a recipe running through my head. Sometimes I have no earthly idea where it came from or if it’s even possible to do. Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Swirls? Hmmm… We’ll have to see about that one.
Back to The Sticky Menu Plan
Sunday was supposed to be some spectacular Pork Pot Pie. Nope, Not in the mood! The Sticky Menu Plan is just a plan, not set in stone, and I wasn’t in the cooking mood, so the only pork I cooked was some bacon for good old Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwiches. Now that’s the plan! Monday was more of the same, not cooking. Hot dog chili came out of the freezer to greet me and put a smile on my not cooking face!
Alright, by Tuesday I decided that was enough of that not cooking nonsense. It was time to start cooking again. Pressure Cooker Pork Stew and Dumplings was the worthwhile result. This recipe is another example of where some of my recipes come from. Earlier in the week, Michael and I noticed a similar recipe on the Food Network. Well, that got the wheels turning. While my recipe is not exactly the same, if you were to compare the two side by side you would certainly see where I got my inspiration.  ( Here is the link to Porky Pot Pie with Cheesy Drop Biscuits.  Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/nancy-fuller/porky-pot-pie-with-cheesy-drop-biscuits.html?oc=linkback)  Mine is topped in dumplings in the same fashion, but features more veggies and less pork in a richer gravy.  Next time I make this dish, I’ll probably tweak it again, as I most often do.
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While Wednesday was our usual Leftovers, Thursday was sheer indulgence. I have two version of the recipe for Patty Melts. This one is not the lower in fat nor calories, but we do enjoy it!
On to Friday, the star of the week and one of my favorite recipes, La Marina. This one is a copy cat recipe, another one of my recipe sources. How many times have you been to a restaurant and especially enjoyed a particular entree? For me La Marina is one of those. It’s Grilled chicken and shrimp in an adobo sauce with mushrooms and cheese. I think I got it pretty close. Try it. You just might like it.
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Be thankful for what life gives you.

I thought this was going to be a quiet week…

Not!!!
The only difference between my schedule and that of you folks who work a forty hour week is that you get paid to work and I pay for you to work. This last week was filled with nothing but back to back appointments, and The Sticky Menu Plan had to do its job. Thank goodness it did. Not one single fast food bag graced our trash can.
I don’t remember what I originally had in mind for our Sunday supper, but more of that Beef Stroganoff came out of the freezer.
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I have been trying to whittle down the freezer contents for some time now. I’m afraid I’m way behind schedule for my usual summer freezer defrosting and inventory. By doing a periodic assessment of my freezer contents I almost never have food go to waste.  if you would like to keep your own inventory, click here: Inventory0001
Meatless Monday’s planned dinner was a total wash and this is why. I really do not like it when people do not stand by their word. Case in point: I ordered a potato ricer from a company selling on Amazon. They advertised that the ricer would arrive on Friday or Saturday. With joyful anticipation I posted that I would be making Ricotta Gnocchi on Monday. I even made a batch Of Fresh Ricotta Cheese for the recipe. The ricer did not arrive as promised, but on Sunday and email informed me that it would ship on Tuesday. Tuesday! Really? By the time the darned ricer got here the ricotta would be dead.  I seriously considered canceling the order, but I guess that would be cutting off my nose to spite my face.  OK, Michael, here comes another batch of Ricotta Pancakes, and Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini were substituted for Monday’s gnocchi dinner, plus another container of those stuffed zucchini cluttered up the freezer again. I can’t win! That freezer will never be less than full.
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By the time the darned potato ricer arrived the ricotta was long gone and I wasn’t about to make another batch. I’ll put that off till next week. I did learn a new recipe, though, Spaetzle, or German Dumplings. I’ll post that recipe and where it came from next week as well. Until then,
Be thankful for what life give you.

Think I’ve gone AWOL?

Nope! I haven’t been absent without leave, I’ve been putting up Cream-Style Corn for Freezing, and lots of it! This is an old fashioned recipe that came from my good friend Carol. For years, we would park our children out under the willow tree with baskets of corn and make them shuck it and pull out all the silks. Now, the kids are grown and Carol and I are no longer neighbors, so the work fell to Michael and I, and it takes a while. We didn’t mind though. That sweet summer corn will taste pretty darned good this winter. Leave that runny canned stuff to the grocery store. I can add milk to this if I like, but I’ll know I’m eating corn.
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We did take one day off from putting up the corn and the last of our tomatoes to go visit Carol and her husband, Randy, in their new lake home. Can you see the horns of envy sprouting from my head? While we were there they gave us a big bag of garlic they had harvested before moving from their old house. Every once in a while I do something smart. This time I had the presence of mind to have Michael take the toaster oven out to the screened porch so I could roast some of that garlic. Now the neighborhood is perfumed by roasted garlic, but not my whole house! I have a full pound of delicious roasted garlic butter in the freezer, along with a bag of roasted cloves and a cup of puree. I think I’m set in the roasted garlic department for a while and I still have some fresh, too. Oh, and I planted some. A gift that keeps on giving.
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Peaches are still in season in Alabama, and almost every time I go into our little independent grocery store a basket of them seem to jump into my cart. Did you know peaches have legs? Well, it seems that around here they do! They keep jumping in my grocery cart, and I keep having to find new things to do with them. Well, this is another old family recipe for Peaches and Cream Pie. Of course, I changed it just a bit. I can’t help myself.
I’m still learning to use my pressure cooker. This week’s experimental recipe was Mexican Barbecued Chicken.  It doesn’t look like much in this picture, but it was very flavorful. I learned that with a pressure cooker, much like a slow cooker, you don’t need to add extra liquids. I corrected this recipe to reflect that fact. The leftover chicken wound up in the freezer instead of on a sandwich as intended. That was the evening we went to visit Carol and Randy. What kind of hard choice was that?
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Thursday evening’s Grilled Veggie Skewers went well with Quick Brined Pork Chops.  I just wish I had prepped extra vegetables for Friday’s Spicy BBQ Shrimp. We wound up playing “clean out the fridge” for sides, which really didn’t do justice to those yummy shrimp at all. I could have at least thrown a potato in the oven to bake! Call me “Lazy”! Sometimes I deserve it!
Be thankful for what life gives you.

Where the Rabbit left off the Squirrel took over!

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I can’t win for loosing! It finally rained a little bit, the blueberries kicked in and the tomatoes grew higher the that Momma Bunny could reach. I thought maybe, just maybe, we would harvest some of our own produce. Silly me. Did you know squirrels like tomatoes too? Well, ours do! Or at least they like to torture us, and we even hung a corn cob out there as a peace offering, or maybe a bribe. Nope, stealing tomatoes is more fun than eating corn. And taking a page from Momma Bunny, don’t eat the tomato, just render it unusable. That darned squirrel even had the audacity to pitch a tomato down out of a tree at us. Now that takes guts! I would like to trap the little bandit and relocate him, but Michael won’t let me. He says there are more squirrels where that one came from. I suppose he’s right. We’ll just keep supporting the farmer’s market. (If all this makes no sense to you, read last week’s post)
I’ve been playing with my new toy, an electric pressure cooker. In all my 50 some years of cooking (yes, I started as a child) I never before now used a pressure cooker. In fact, I was never even exposed to one. Back in the olden days, when we walked to school in blizzards, (we really did in NY state!) pressure cookers were scary things. Unless you knew what you what you were doing and did it just right,  pressure cookers would blow up with horrible consequences. Luckily, today’s version’s are much improved with built in safety features. You still have to pay attention and follow the instructions, but as long as you do, I feel you can cook with confidence. Anyway, Sunday I tried a Pressure Cooker Pot Roast. The recipe came with the machine, and turned out reasonably well. The only thing that I would change, and you know I always change every recipe, is to brown the roast ahead on the stove. The pressure cooker scorched and was hard to clean. I also think I would add more veggies.
Monday’s Veggie Pizza was a near disaster. I was working with frozen pizza dough and sauce which most of the time is fine, but this time I was pushed for time and didn’t give the dough enough time to rise. It stuck to the counter and by the time Michael helped me peel it off it looked more like an ameoba than Domino’s pizza.
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Tuesday we were supposed to feast on Italian Sausage Burgers, but I got a wild hair and skipped the buns. I served them over tortellini with marinara, instead. A menu plan is just a guide line, right?
Wednesday’s leftover pot roast worked out well over broad egg noodles. It didn’t seem like we were eating leftovers at all. The only problem was we still had more than we could eat. That happens frequently when you’re cooking for two. It’s hard to cut recipes down sometimes, and you can only reheat those leftovers once without them tasting off. Divide and conquer. And then I wonder why my freezers are full.
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Thursday was another change of plan. Since I used the tortellini on Tuesday night, the chicken wound up in Chicken and Bacon Hoagies . The spinach makes them healthy, right?
Friday night we got tired of being good and headed out you-know-where…Mexican of course!
Be thankful for what life gives you.

Peaches!

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Mother Nature always has her own way of making things right, and one of the best rewards for living here thru our hot and humid Southern summer days are her sweet and juicy peaches. I don’t believe you’ll enjoy these same lucious jewels anywhere else. There is something almost mystical about sitting in the shade with a bowl of homemade Peach Ice Cream, but eat it fast before it melts!  If you eat it quickly enough, you might even be able to get a second bowl.
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One long forgotten treat is this Fresh Peach Pie. The recipe came from my husband’s family. It’s a unique single crust pie in a custard base, truly something different and refreshing.
It was a quiet Forth of July weekend for us. We used to go all out with crazy fire works battles and the whole nine yards, but since Bella came along we can’t do that anymore. Lizzie doesn’t care a bit, but Bella is deathly afraid of all the noise and spends the whole holiday shaking in fear. We just can’t contribute to that. Oh well, we save a lot of money by skipping the fire crackers!
Since the Forth fell on Monday this year, we made Sunday’s meal meatless with a version of Quinoa Confetti Stuffed Zucchini stuffed into poblano peppers instead of the zucchini, which were wilted.  When one veggie doesn’t look so good, just move on to the next.  I could have used eggplant, too.
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Monday, The Forth, was celebrated with our obligatory Smoked Ribs and a new to us side dish, corn roasted on the grill. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t impressed with the corn.  We eat corn frequently, but I haven’t tried grilling it before.   I probably didn’t do it right.   Anybody have a good recipe for grill roasted corn to share?
Tuesday’s dinner was much better. We enjoyed Mississippi Roast for the second time. This is a recipe I originally saw on “The Pioneer Woman” and it’s unbelievably simple. You just throw whatever cut of beef is on sale into the slow cooker with an envelope of au jus seasoning and a few pepperoncini peppers with a little of their juice and let it rip!
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The leftovers made deliciously messy open faced french dip sandwiches for Thursday night, no cooking involved. I just shredded the leftover roast into a smaller slow cooker and let it do its thing till it was time to eat.
Friday night was one of my favorites! It’s a dish I’ve copied from Applebee’s restaurant for Tequila Lime Chicken and Shrimp with Avocado Cream . Oh gosh, I love that stuff! I’ve been working on copying the recipe for a while now,and I think I’ve got it pretty close. You don’t taste the tequila much, it just marinates the chicken and shrimp. I suppose you could substitute something else if you prefer not to use alcohol.
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Well, that finishes it up, except for one more peach recipe, Peach Turnovers. These are incredibly easy to throw together, and you can make the turnovers with what ever fruit you have on hand. The only catch is, you do need to eat them right away. They don’t keep well. What a hardship!
Be thankful for what life give you.

Don’t ya hate it?!!

Just when you think you have a good system in place it all crashes! I had planned a wonderful, elaborate, picture filled post of all of Michael’s pre-surgery dinner dishes and his birthday weekend. Well, my little camera decided it didn’t want to play anymore and refused to share the pictures with the computer, so here we are. We’ll just have to wing it!  Some of these photos are pre-camera crash and some archived.
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We worked our way through the pre-surgery dinner list and savored every fat laden bite! Probably the healthiest dinner we ate wasn’t healthy at all, grilled Steak Burgers . Ok, grilled is usually healthy, but burgers? At least I ground the meat myself, so we know what was in there.
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Next up, Michael’s all time favorite, Sauted Chicken Livers. Yuck!!! As I’ve said before, cooking those chicken livers for him is a real gift. I don’t like anything about them, even the way the house smells when the livers are long gone is bad.
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While Michael enjoyed his livers I played with a new sandwich recipe from a fellow WordPress.com blogger, Southern Abroad. She came up with a recipe for Grown Up Caprese Grilled Cheese that is absolutely decadent. I’m going to try to remember that one as a reward to myself the next time chicken livers are on Michael’s menu.
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Next on the list, Chicken Fingers with Buttermilk Gravy, another indulgent treat. I used to make these when the kids were small. They were always gobbled up faster than I could fry them. The chicken fingers lasted a little longer this time, (no kids), but not by much. If you try this recipe, make sure you have plenty of gravy for dipping and a pile of mashed potatoes along side.
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Michael really does have a sweet tooth, and one of his favorite breakfast items is my Ricotta Pancakes slathered in either real maple syrup or Fresh Blueberry Sauce. These pancakes freeze well and reheat in the microwave in a flash, so I usually try to keep some on hand.
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Another frequent breakfast item around this house is a simple Spinach and Cheese Omelet. We especially like these when breakfast is running a little late, more towards brunch. They are a good way to use up that last bit of spinach that didn’t make it into a House Salad. I often add mushrooms to these little omelets if I have those on hand. I saute the mushrooms in butter first and set them aside to add with the spinach.
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When you’re cooking for two, it’s always a good plan to avoid waste by using your ingredients in multiple recipes. Both the Fresh Ricotta Cheese for the pancakes and the spinach I used in the salads and omelets made another appearance in Calzones for Two. Somehow, I always over-stuff my calzones so they turn out looking more like a football than the pretty restaurant version. Who says “less is more”? Not me!
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And that brings us to the birthday weekend and my camera crash.
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Aaron, Jen, and Xander arrived rather late on Friday night. That evening I put together a “Berry Good” French Toast Bake to pop in the oven on Saturday morning. I love make ahead breakfast casseroles when I know a big day of entertaining lies ahead.
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Rather than the French bread the breakfast casserole called for I used Whey Bread and the texture was a bit firmer, but just right. I have always been bothered by throwing away the whey that’s left from making ricotta. This bread is a very flavorful and versatile use of that.  (And the last picture from my camera.)
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Michael’s birthday dinner was a Mexican Buffet. Surprised? Probably not! Here’s the menu:
Grilled Chicken Fajitas
Cheese Enchiladas, both red and green
Taco Seasoned Beef for tacos
Simple Refried Beans
Salsa Rice
and all the shells, sauces, and fixings, including Guacamole
We polished it all off with a Creamy Vanilla-Caramel Cheesecake.  Gosh, that was good!  Kaij and Kelton decorated it like a birthday cake, candles and all.
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Now, what do you buy a 67 year old man who has everything for his birthday? Lottery tickets! I drove up across the Tennessee state line and bought $67.00 worth of scratch off lottery tickets. Don’t take me wrong, we only do this for the entertainment value. We don’t bet the house payment thinking we’ll get rich. It just doesn’t happen that way. The anticipation of those scratch offs sure is fun though! And it didn’t hurt that Michael won over $100.00 this time. Happy Birthday!
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Sunday, Michael and Aaron had a project to work on and Kaij and Kelton had their own things to do, so Xander, Jen, and I were left to our own devices. What better to do than cook? Xander helped me bake a batch of Peanut Butter Cookies. That really is a no-fail recipe. I packaged some up for Xander to take home, but he forgot and left them here. Oh well, more for Michael!
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Michael has had his surgery and we’re in recovery mode now. Everything seems to be going well.
Be thankful for what life gives you.