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Friday, August 17, 2012

West Nile Outbreak in Dallas

I'm sure most  you have heard of the West Nile epidemic in Texas, mostly in the DFW area.  300+ cases, 15 deaths so far. Dallas, and the suburbs south of us, have finally started aerial spraying. Our neighborhood is gated, so our HOA does it's own spraying. There are several lakes and creeks here, as well as a wetlands nature 
area. We try to eliminate standing water in our yards, and to balance what is good for the human residents, as well as the plentiful fauna in the area.  

I must say, with all due modesty, that mosquitoes LOVE me!  I show up outside, and they all come running! This is my back-up protection..my screened porch!  A soul soothing place...and mosquito free.

Hopefully, this epidemic will be resolved without further infections, or deaths.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gazpacho With a Texas Accent

Stonegable is one of my favorite blogs!  Yvonne always has beautiful photographs, and delicious recipes.  Miss Yvonne has the prettiest blog in blog-land!  (Thanks, Pee-Wee)  She recently posted a recipe for Gazpacho using fresh garden ingredients.  My sweet hubby LOVES the stuff!  Our 52nd anniversary was Monday, so he took me out for a lovely meal at a local fresh seafood restaurant.  I thought I would surprise him by making Gazpacho today.  I adapted Yvonne's recipe to our Texas taste, and it turned out great!  Next time I make it, I will add some cold seasoned shrimp to it as well.  It was very, very good!

2 1/2 C V8 juice
1 C fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 C celery, finely chopped
1/2 C cucumber, finely chopped
3/4 C red, green and yellow peppers, finely chopped
1/2 C sweet onion, finely chopped
3 TBS white wine vinegar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 TBS olive oil
3-4 drops of Tabasco sauce, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3-4 TBS fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Juice of 1 1/2 lime
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Lime Wedges for garnish
1 avocado, diced for garnish
Sour cream for garnish

Prepare ingredients and place in bowl with V8 juice.  Put soup in refrigerator for an hour or so to chill and allow flavors to meld.  Place in bowls to serve, and top with sour cream and diced avocado.  If desired, add cold, seasoned boiled shrimp. Serve lime wedges on the side.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Beer Brats with Onions and Peppers

My hubs loves brats on the grill, and asked me to make them for supper Saturday evening.  It was still very hot when we got ready to eat, so I decided to cook them in the house.  Here is a quick, easy way to do that while giving the brats a great flavor.  The brats were hot..I stayed cool!

2 bottles of beer..el cheapo
Package of brats...I use Johnsonville
1 large Vidalia onion, cut in strips
1/2 of each: yellow, green, orange and yellow peppers, cut in strips
Buns for brats
1 TBS olive oil

Instructions:  Put brats in pot, cover with beer, and boil.  Pour olive oil in grill pan.  When pan is hot, add onions, peppers and brats and grill until done. Put into brat buns, top with vegetables and your favorite condiments!  Easy peasy...but good!

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Honey & Butter Glazed Carrots Wrapped with Bacon

There is a reason that I have been MIA for a while....I have spent the bulk of the summer doing as little as possible...I have been really lazy!  As much as I enjoy cooking, my hubby and I have been grilling, grazing, and grabbing  bites at local restaurants.  I have to confess, I am totally into this! Even so, I decided to martyr myself last night, and cook a real dinner at home.  I met some friends for lunch Saturday, and they were raving about some carrots they had eaten.  I came home and Googled for recipes.  I found one on The Bacon Republic, and adapted it to my taste.  I served these yummy carrots with stuffed red, yellow, green and orange peppers with a tomato gravy, and mashed potatoes.  We loved the carrots..we ate all of them!  Bacon does make everything better!

12 whole carrots, peeled and tops removed
12 strips bacon
3 TBS honey
3 TBS butter, melted
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash and peel carrots, remove tops.  Melt butter, mix with honey, and pour over carrots.  Cover carrots well with the mixture, and let sit for a few minutes.  When ready to cook carrots, wrap each one in bacon, then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Place them on a cookie sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil.  Place in 375F oven, and bake about 20-30 minutes until carrots are tender, and bacon browned; turn when cooking.

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Friday, July 13, 2012

The Colonel's Chow-Chow

The handsome WWII officer on the left is my father-in-law, Colonel Edwin Nelson Dodd Sr. He was born in Georgia on July 14, 1912.  He passed away at age 91, but the 100th anniversary of his birth is tomorrow.  Dad was a mixture of many things, loving, strict, a raconteur of the highest order, singer, a light footed-dancer, and excellent cook.  A lot of my recipes and cooking skills I learned from him.  A yearly ritual was making chow-chow to serve with vegetables, on a hot dog,  or even on a tomato sandwich.  It was his own concoction, and is delicious.  I helped him make it many times, and have made it for the family since he stopped doing it.  When I do make it, all of the siblings are happy to find a box containing  several jars in their mailboxes.  I wanted to share this today in memory of the Colonel, and to thank him for all the culinary lessons.  I love you Dad.

8 C green cabbage, chopped
8 C green tomatoes, chopped
2 C green bell pepper, chopped
1 C banana peppers + hot peppers to desired heat level
3 C Vidalia onion, chopped
1 C salt
Cheese cloth
Wash vegetables well and chop.  Put chopped vegetables in a large pot, add salt and cover with water.  Mix well, and let stand 4 hours, then drain well in cheese cloth, squeezing to remove as much liquid as possible, then return them to drained pot.  All liquid should be removed at this point

3 tsp. pickling spices, tied in cheesecloth bag
3 C sugar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 qt. white vinegar
Place bag of spices, sugar, mustard, pepper, garlic powder, turmeric and vinegar in a pot and boil for 15 minutes.  Pour over vegetables, and bring to a bubble...DO NOT BOIL veggies...simmer for a minute, then put in hot, clean jars immediately and seal tight.  I wash my jars in the dishwasher top rack, and let them go through drying cycle to sterilize them.  You can also boil the jars and lids to sterilize them as well.  I have never had any problem doing the jars like this, but use your own method if you prefer.  The main purpose being getting the jars clean and sterile.  The jars and chow-chow will be hot, so protect your hands from the heat.

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Simple Southern Sunday Supper

Hubby and I have been away from home a lot since the end of April.  We just got home again...this time from a two week visit with our family members who live in Arkansas.  We had a great time visiting with the children, grandchildren, and the great-grandson!

I haven't had much time to post lately, but I wanted to get something up to share today.  I have missed doing my blog...and my blogging friends.

After we came home, I made a bee-line to our local farmer's market to buy fresh vegetables.  Our deed restrictions prohibit having a garden on our property,  fortunately, it is only a 10 minute drive to buy fresh produce from local Collin County, Texas blackdirt farmers.  This meal is the result of my shopping trip.  A Sunday night supper of Lady Peas, boiled  okra, fried squash; a tomato, cucumber, Vidalia onion, red and green pepper salad dressed with oil and vinegar, and sweet iced tea with mint...from my potted herb garden.

Years ago, when I moved to Minnesota, a new neighbor informed me that Southerners didn't know the difference between dinner and supper.  I explained to her that we considered the main meal of the day to be dinner..no matter what time of day it was served (after breakfast, of course), and that we referred to a lighter meal in the day as lunch, and one served at night, supper.  I hope that clarified it for her, bless her heart. :)  Anyhow, this was our supper last night..just fresh veggies cooked southern style.

Boiled okra was on the menu.  A lot of people say okra is gross and slimy, but that is only when it is overcooked.  I always add mine on top of fresh peas/beans during the last 8-10 minutes of cooking.  Just cook okra until it is  fork tender and the pods remain whole.  It is delicious!

It is good to be home to relax and unwind for a while.  I hope all of you are having a great summer.

Many thanks to those who have joined my blog while I was away.  Welcome!

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Father's Day Steaks

Hubby and I are taking 2-3 weeks or so to travel a bit.  We are having a great time, and there isn't much time left to post blogs.  Sunday is Father's Day, so I wanted to share my sweetie's recipe for steaks on the grill.  I usually serve these with twice baked potatoes, asparagus, and a wedge salad with blue cheese dressing. They have a great flavor!

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there!

Black Angus Rib Eye steaks (bone in if available)
Olive Oil
Garlic salt
Black pepper
Tony Chacheres Cajun seasoning
McCormick Spicy Montreal Steak Seasoning
Worcestershire Sauce
Lite soy sauce

Rub steaks with olive oil on both sides.  Sprinkle lightly with garlic salt, black pepper, Cajun seasoning.  Lightly coat with Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce.  Then liberally sprinkle on the Montreal seasoning.  Put steaks on hot grill to sear about 3 minutes per side. Then lower heat a bit, and grill to desired doneness.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Skillet Shish Kabob

I know this dish is a contradiction, as shish means skewer, but that's what I am calling it anyway.  I had planned shish kabobs for dinner the other night, but we had over three inches of rain..  We always welcome rain in Texas, even if it does spoil our outdoor plans.  The meat for the kabobs had marinated overnight, so it had to be cooked.  A small light came on in my head, and I decided to cook them inside.  I really wasn't motivated to thread everything on the skewers...okay, I was too lazy to do it.  Instead, I cooked the meat on my stove-top grill, sauteed the vegetables in a skillet, and added the meat to the skillet for the last few minutes.  This is very simple, actually too simple to be a recipe, but it was so tasty I wanted to share it.  It is a lot less time consuming too! Sweet hubby loved it!

Marinate your favorite kabob meat in Good Seasons Italian Dressing overnight.
Cook meat on a hot grill for about 3 minutes on each side; a little less than desired doneness.
Cut 1 yellow, 1 red, 1/2 green, bell pepper and a large Vidalia onion into chunks.
Heat 2TBS olive oil in skillet, and saute vegetables until they soften a bit; add the grilled meat to the pan for the last few minutes.  Add about 2TBS of the Italian dressing, and cook until vegetable are the desired texture, and meat to desired doneness.  Easy peasy!

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pan Seared Ahi Tuna with Wasabi, Avocado, Soy, Ginger, and Lime

 I don't cook fish very often, because I don't like fish that tastes like fish, and don't like the smell that goes with cooking it.  My hubby loves it though, and is crazy about seared tuna.  Our oldest son got home today from a deep sea fishing trip, and told us to come over to his house and pick up some Yellow-fin (Ahi) Tuna, Red Snapper, and Mahi-Mahi.  He caught it yesterday in the Gulf of Mexico, out from Gulf Shores, Alabama.  He brought home over 100# of fillets, so I decided to try my hand at pan seared tuna.  I adapted a recipe by Tyler Florence, and it turned out well, and was very tasty.  I served it with a wasabi dipping sauce, and a salad with a wasabi vinaigrette.  The hubby was very excited about making this dish...so much so that he put the tuna on the grill before it was hot enough, and cooked it a bit too long!  Bless his heart.  The presentation is not so pretty, because he was in such a hurry to eat the tuna.  In the end, none of that mattered, because it was really delicious.  Despite all the drama, here it is. ;)

Dipping sauce:
*Make this first to let flavors develop
1/2 C water
3-4 tsp wasabi paste (adjust for desired heat)
1/3 C soy sauce
2 TBS peanut oil
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. finely minced fresh ginger
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp. fresh lime juice
pinch of sugar
Whisk all ingredients together, adjust wasabi to suit your taste, and set sauce aside

Ingredients for fish and salad:

1 TBS fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

  • 1 tsp. jalapeno, seeded, and finely chopped (more if you like it spicy)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 TBS fresh lime juice
  • 2 TBS soy sauce
  • 2 thinly sliced green onions
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 (6-ounce) blocks sushi-quality tuna
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved, peeled, pitted, and sliced
  •  ripe tomato slices
  • Mixed salad greens
  • English cucumber
  • Olive oil to coast tuna
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pickled ginger

  • Directions:
In a mixing bowl, combine the cilantro, jalapeno, ginger, garlic, lime juice, onion, soy sauce, sugar, and olive oil. Stir the ingredients together until well incorporated; set vinaigrette aside.
Put mixed greens on serving plates, place sliced tomato and avocado next to the greens, add thinly sliced cucumber.  Place dipping sauce on the plate in a small dipping bowl.
Put a skillet, or cast iron griddle, over medium-high heat. Rub tuna with olive oil. Season the tuna generously with salt and pepper.  Lightly oil the pan with olive oil. Lay the tuna in the pan, and sear 1 minute on each side to form a slight crust. Serve the seared tuna with the salad, sliced avocado, tomato and cucumbers and Sprinkle a small amount of the remaining cilantro over vegetables, and drizzle the wasabi vinaigrette  over the whole dish.  Add some pickled ginger to the plate, and serve immediately.

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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fit for a Queen Tea Cozy and Chocolate Biscuit Cake

This year, Queen Elizabeth celebrates 60 years as Monarch.  The central week for the Diamond Jubilee celebration is Saturday, June 2 through Tuesday, June 5, 2012.
Our good friends are here from London, so they will miss the festivities....perhaps they wanted to miss the crowds in London!  They come over twice a year, and stay a couple of months at a time.  Their son is a builder, and has just finished building a new home for them to live in while they are in Texas.  They have spent the last few weeks moving in.  We wanted to give them something unique for a housewarming gift, so I asked my sweet littlecousin (aka Gwen) to make a tea cozy for them.  We selected a beautiful pattern that was especially created for the Diamond Jubilee, and I think it is lovely!
The Royal crown is in the center, with the English Rose beneath.  There are thistles representing Scotland, shamrocks for Northern Ireland, and daffodils for Wales.

I also plan to prepare the Queen's favorite tea cake, Chocolate Biscuit Cake, for our English friends.  The Queen's former chef, Darren McGrady, used to prepare it for the Queen. He says it was "without a double her favorite tea cake."

My friend Kitty of Kitty's Kozy Kitchen has posted a lovely strawberry ice cream to go with this cake for the Diamond Jubilee.  Do you think the Queen will join us for tea?

1/2 tsp. butter, for greasing pan
8 oz. McVities rich tea biscuits
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 C granulated sugar
4 oz. semi sweet dark chocolate*
1 egg, beaten
8 oz semi sweet dark chocolate, for icing*
1 oz sweetened white chocolate, for decoration
*Darren does not specify what kind of chocolate, other than "dark chocolate", but I don't think unsweetened dark chocolate would fit the bill.  The cake and icing would be too bitter, I think.  I am going to use semi sweet dark chocolate when I make it, or perhaps Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate.

Grease 6" x 2 1/2" cake ring with butter, and place on a parchment lined tray.  Break biscuits into almond sized pieces by hand, and set aside.  Cream butter and sugar in a bowl until mixture is a light lemon color.

Melt 4 oz. of the chocolate in a double boiler.  Add butter and sugar mixture into the chocolate, stirring constantly.  Add egg and continue stirring.  Fold in the biscuit pieces until they are coated with chocolate mixture.

Spoon the chocolate/biscuit mixture into prepared cake ring.  Try to fill all gaps on the bottom, because this will be the top when it is unmolded.  Chill cake in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

Remove cake from fridge, and let it stand while you melt 8 oz. of chocolate for the icing.  Slide the ring off the cake, and turn upside down on a cooling rack.  Pour the chocolate over the cake, and smooth the top and sides with a butter knife or offset spatula.  Allow chocolate icing to set at room temperature.  Carefully run a knife around bottom of cake where it has stuck to cooling rack, and transfer cake to a pretty serving plate.  Melt the white chocolate, and drizzle on top of cake in a decorative pattern.

Congratulations on your Diamond Jubilee, Your Majesty.

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Antipasto Pasta Salad

I just subscribed to "Celebrate" magazine, was looking through the Spring issue, and saw this salad.  It looked so good that I decided to make it this weekend.  I adapted it to my taste, and was very happy with the result...so was my hubby!  It has a great flavor, plus it makes a large amount, so it is good for big families or for a crowd. As there are just the two of us, we planned to share it with our neighbors, but ate it all ourselves over the weekend.  I changed quite a few things from the original recipe.  I used Calamata olives instead of black olives, because they have more flavor, and omitted the cup of garbanzo beans...because I don't like them. ;)  I used the farfalle the recipe called for, but any heavy pasta could be used.

1 box farfalle, cooked al dente
1 TBS olive oil
1 C Genoa Salami, cut in bite sized cubed pieces
1 C Provolone cheese, cut in bite sized cubed pieces
1 roasted red bell pepper, cut in bite sized cubed pieces
1 roasted yellow bell pepper, cut in bite sized cubed pieces
2 C grape tomatoes, halved
2/3 C Calamata olives, halved
2 jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained and halved
1/2 C fresh basil, cut in thin strips
1/2 C Vidalia onion, cut in bite sized cubed pieces
1/2 C Good Seasons Italian dressing, prepared per package instructions
1/4 C red wine vinegar
1 large clove garlic, squeezed through garlic press
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta per instructions on box for al dente; drain, then mix with 1 TBS olive oil to coat pasta well.  Roast peppers under broiler, and remove peeling.  When pasta and peppers have cooled, combine pasta, Salami, cheese, peppers, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, olives, basil and onions in a large bowl.  Prepare dressing per package directions, add garlic and mix well.  Salt and pepper to taste; pour dressing and red wine vinegar over salad; mix well, tossing to coat.

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