Thursday, July 31, 2014

Nature at the Fulton House

This butterfly has been on our front porch for a couple of days.  I don't ever remember seeing one so BIG...5 inches!  The top photo is from indoors, the bottom is taken from the porch.

Now, on the fun side of life here today.  Lindie is our official squirrel patrolwoman.  She will sit under a tree for hours with her head tilted she doesn't get a sore neck is beyond me (well, maybe she does).  But I think they play with her sometimes...this dog can actually climb a tree!  It's a hoot to watch.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Easy Salmon Pasta Salad

Does your market offer those pre-marinated salmon fillets?  What I've found just about everywhere are the bourbon-based marinades which are absolutely wonderful, but a bit pricier than a regular fillet, so I usually just pick them up when they're on sale.

Last week one of our natural food stores (EarthFare, my favorite) had the 6-oz fillets for $3.50 each (generally their about $6 a piece).  Naturally I ran up to pick up enough to load up the freezer but, alas, they were already gone.  But they were substituting their Hawaiian salmon fillets so I went ahead and picked up a couple.

I never thought I'd like anything better than the bourbon fillets, but these were off-the-chart delicious.  So the other night I grilled two of them for dinner.  Again, these are 6-oz fillets and we generally eat about 4 ounces each of fish or chicken entrees, but we ended up splitting just one of these 6-oz servings (just $1.75 per person!)  So I had an entire fillet leftover.  Knowing how well my dill is doing and my cucumber plants have started producing, I figured I'd make a pasta salad with my leftover salmon and all the other goodies I had on hand.

It's easy, quick, and delicious.  And yes, I did load up on both the bourbon and Hawaiian fillets, as they were both on sale this week.  They freeze beautifully and make a delicious dinner any day of the week.  It's recommended that we eat at least one serving of salmon per week (I shoot for two) for those healthy Omega-3s and now I can do it for just $1.75 per serving!  Oh, and it's absolutely delicious, to boot!


4 oz pasta (I used mini bowties)
4 oz cooked salmon
1 medium pickling cucumber, peeled and diced
3 Tbsp plain nonfat Greek yogurt
3 Tbsp mayo
fresh dill, chopped, to taste
1/2 tsp onion  powder
8-12 grape tomatoes (depending on size), halved lengthwise
S&P to taste

Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil.  Stir in pasta and return to a boil.  Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally until pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Drain well, pat dry if necessary.

Transfer pasta to a large bowl.

Toss salmon and cucumber in with pasta, flaking the salmon as you stir.  Add tomatoes.

Combine the Greek yogurt, mayo, dill, and onion powder in a small bowl.

Spoon yogurt mixture over rotini and gently combine.

Chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Thai Pork Tacos with Mango Radish Slaw

Here's a really versatile recipe.  You the pork in tacos or it would be great over rice.  Use hard or soft taco shells (I generally use both so the soft shell will catch any of the broken hard shell, plus I just like the dichotomy of textures).  This will make a big batch and it freezes well, so you could put several batches away for another time.

As a taco or over rice, I would definitely still use the slaw on top.  The cabbage lends a great crunch, the mango a cool sweetness, and the radish slices for more color.  Add a bit of chopped cilantro if you'd like.

THAI PORK TACOS with MANGO RADISH SLAW (makes 8-10 cups)

Mango Radish Slaw:
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2" fresh ginger, grated or very finely minced
1 lime, juiced
2 mangos, sliced
3 radishes, sliced
1/2 head green cabbage, sliced

NOTE:  I made the entire dressing recipe (chili sauce through lime), but only used a bit of it since there were only two of us at the time.  The rest will keep in the fridge for weeks.  I buy the mango slices in a jar (found in the produce deparment) and used bagged angel-hair slaw and then just mixed enough of the slaw, mango, and radish slices for one meal with just enough dressing to coat everything.

To make the slaw, in a large bowl, combine the chili sauce, soy, sesame oil, ginger, and lime juice.  Whisk together.  Add the mango, radishes, and cabbage.  Toss to combine.  Store in the fridge to serve, tossing occasionally.

The Pork:
3 1/2-4 pounds pork butt
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1" fresh ginger, grated or very finely minced
2 Tbsp Sambal Oelek (chili paste)
2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
3/4 light or regular coconut milk
2 tsp minced garlic clove
1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
corn tortillas
cilantro, optional

Take the pork butt and season on all sides with S&P.  Place in a slow cooker (sprayed with cooking spray).

In a large measuring cup (or bowl), combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, chili paste, peanut butter, coconut milk, garlic, sweet chili sauce, and brown sugar.  Whisk together.

Pour the sauce over the pork, slightly moving/turning the pork around so that the sauce falls through all the crevices.

Cover and turn on low for 6-8 hours until it is fork-tender and easily falls apart.

When the pork is done, remove all the pieces of pork to a cutting board.  Turn the heat on the slow cooker to high.  Remove about 1/4 cup of the sauce, and whisk in the cornstarch.  Add the mixture back to the slow cooker and whisk it into the remaining sauce until it begins to thicken.  Leave the heat on high while you shred the pork, using two forks, pull in the opposite direction.

Once the pork is shredded, turn the heat down to "Keep Warm" or turn it off completely.  Add the pork back to the thickened sauce and toss well to fully coat.

Whether using soft and/or hard taco shells, load in the pork and top with the slaw.  Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

NOTE:  You'll want to have some extra napkins on hand....these can be a bit "juicy!"

Recipe Source:

Friday, July 25, 2014

Easy Baked Cod with Lemon Butter Dill Sauce

I have started keeping cod in the freezer along with Swai and tilapia.  These are all pretty interchangable, but there is a subtle difference and sometimes I just want that difference.

The fish generally come in four-ounce portioned pieces, a perfect serving size and thaw quickly (float sealed packages in cool water and they should be thawed within the hour).

This has just a few ingredients and if you are as lucky as I am with my fresh dill flourishing in the herb garden, here's a great place to use it.


1 1/4 pounds fresh or thawed cod, cut into 4 pieces (or 4 individual 4-oz pieces)
1 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 Tbsp minced fresh dill (or 1 1/2 tsp dried)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp garlic powder
pinch of salt
fresh pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400F.

Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.  Pat the fish dry and arrange in a single layer in the baking dish.

In a small bowl combine the butter, dill, lemon juice, garlic powder, S&P to taste.  Drizzle over the fish.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork (about 5 minutes in the NuWave 4" rack).

Recipe Source: Eat What You Love by Marlene Koch, p. 347

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Grape Salad

I had this salad years ago when visiting Jim's dad in Texas.  I pretty much ate through the entire batch, it was so good.  And then I forgot about it until my friend, Sharon, told me about this grape salad she had just made.  I knew it had to be the same one and asked her to forward the recipe to me, which she did (thank you, friend!)

I would love to know the origin of this super-simple recipe.  It reminds me of something likely found in a 1950's or 60's church ladies cookbook.  The original recipe calls for 4 pounds of green grapes, but I quartered the entire recipe since they're just for me.  Also, I used 1/2 green and 1/2 red grapes for a prettier presentation.  And reduced-fat cream cheese and sour cream work great.

As hard as it might be, try not to eat them all as soon as you've made them...let them chill at least a couple of hours to allow the flavors to meld the the consistency to firm up. 


4 pounds of green grapes, stems removed and rinsed
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
8 oz sour cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 oz chopped pecans
2 tsp brown sugar

Mix everything except the grapes until you have a creamy, smooth consistency.  Stir in grapes.  Chill several hours before serving.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Chicken with Buffalo Cream Sauce

Talk about easy and what a delight!

A note about this entree.  This is a Publix demo and they used this package of Buffalo sauce and coating mix (found in the spice aisle).  However, I found out that (after demo-ing it), they ran out of these packages and substituted Buffalo Wing sauce and fried onions (you know, the kind that people use in holiday green bean casseroles).  Luckily, I had a can of Trader Joe's fried onions my friend, Donna (thank you, Donna) had sent me (since we don't have a TJ's in Chattanooga) and I just picked up some hot wing sauce (although you can make your own with butter and hot sauce) and save a few $$$.

This was served with the that wonderful bleu cheese slaw (posted yesterday).


1 egg, beaten (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
1 (8 oz) package Buffalo sauce  and coating mix
1 3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup sliced green onions

Preheat oven to 400F.  Line baking sheet with foil.  Place egg in shallow bowl; place coating mix in second bowl.  Dip chicken into egg (allowing excess to drip off), then dip into breading mixture, pressing with fingertips to evenly coat.  Arrange chicken on baking sheet (wash hands).  Bake chicken 12 minutes.

Turn chicken over; bake 10-12 more minutes or until chicken is 165F and breading is well browned (***in the Nu-Wave, I cooked it about 8 minutes on each side of thin chicken cutlets).

Combine buffalo sauce (from mix) with yogurt, then stir in onions.  Slice chicken.  Serve chicken with sauce.

Recipe Source:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Blue Cheese Slaw

As a big lover of cole slaw and bleu cheese, I was excited to run across this recipe.  I've seen bleu cheese cole slaw recipes before but had actually never made any of them.

This one is a bit more varied.  When I first read the list of ingredients, I did a double-take.  It sounded like a pretty convoluted mixture, but odd enough I just had to try it!  Really: cole slaw with cheddar cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and bacon, not to mention the bleu cheese?

Yet after trying it, I can't make imagine leaving a single thing out of this slaw.  The sun-dried tomatoes really surprised me (I used smoked sun-dried tomatoes).  It gave the salad a bit of tartness.

I mixed everything together a few hours ahead of serving time and then dressed it at the last minute.  I have some leftover from last night so it should be good for a few days by waiting until serving time to add the dressing.

BLEU CHEESE SLAW (4-8 servings, depending on serving size)

1 (16 oz) bag shredded 3-color coleslaw mix
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sun-dried julienne-cut tomatoes
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1/3 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1/4 cup cooked bacon pieces
1/2 cup bleu cheese salad dressing

Place all ingredients (except dressing) in salad bowl.

Chill until ready to serve.  Stir in dressing, toss until evenly coated.

Recipe Source:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Shrimp Stroganoff

I love shrimp and this dish is definitely a winner!  The original recipe calls for roasted red peppers, but readers suggested substituting asparagus or green peas.  I had a half a pound of thin asparagus, so I stemmed them, steamed them, and then cut them into 1-2" pieces.  I had all of the ingredients ready to go and the dish was ready when the pasta was cooked.  Serve with a Caesar or green salad for a quick and easy dinner.

A note: It took me some time to come around to the briny taste of capers but have come to love them.  If you're one of those fence-sitters, please don't give up....keep trying!  Also, while cayenne pepper is too often overwhelmingly hot for our tastes, a small sprinkle (at least for us) bumps this dish up just a bit.


1 pound large shrimp (24 to 26 per pound); thawed (if frozen), peeled, deveined, and patted dry
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
6 oz fettucine
2 Tbsp butter
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp chopped shallot
1 2/3 cup chicken broth, divided
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 (7 oz) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained
1 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
Salt to taste
cayenne pepper, a small sprinkle or more (or none) to taste

Combine shrimp, oil, and Cajun seasoning in a bowl.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente.  Drain.

Meanwhile, melt 1 Tbsp butter over medium heat in a large skillet.  Cook mushrooms and shallots in butter, stirring until tender, about 4 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl.

Melt remaining Tbsp butter in skillet, then add shrimp and cook, stirring until shrimp turns pink, 3-4 minutes.  Transfer shrimp to bowl with mushrooms.  Add 2/3 cup chicken broth to skillet and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until reduced to about 1/4 cup, 2-3 minutes.

In a bowl, stir together sour cream and cornstarch; mix in remaining chicken broth.  Stir into reduced chicken broth in skillet.  Cook stirring, until thick and bubbly, about 1 minute.  Stir in shrimp and mushroom mixture, red peppers, and capers.  Heat through and season with salt and cayenne pepper, if using.

Serve over pasta.

Recipe Source:  AllRecipes magazine, August 2014, p. 79

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Greek Chicken and Artichokes

How is everyone doing today?  I don't know where you're at, but here in southeastern Tennessee it is absolutely glorious!!!  We have come into some kind of weird summer "cool snap."  I mowed the lawn this morning and when I did, I felt like it was autumn.  I have slept the last two nights with the windows open!!!   Something unheard of in these parts in the middle of July.  I know it's not going to last, but I am in my element in these fews days of cool weather.  I am officially in my countdown to autumn....tick tock, tick tock.

But back to this recipe.  I ran across it and just happened to have everything it called for on hand.  How great can that be?!!!  Also, it's fast and easy.  I served it with my favorite Greek salad and brown rice on the side.  My only error here, I believe, is I should have added some chopped fresh parsley at the end to add a bit of color.  But that wouldn't have changed the flavor.  This is a great, healthy, easy meal which can be on your table in minutes.


3/4 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 1/4 tsp Greek seasoning (found in the baking aisle of your supermarket)
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 can (14.5 oz) no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (14 oz) water-packed quartered artichokes hearts, drained (I use artichoke bottoms, the "heart" of the artichoke....the brand here is "Reese's."  I had to ask my Publix manager to order them for me)
2 cups cooked brown rice
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Toss chicken with Greek seasoning.  In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add chicken; cook and stir until lightly browned.  Add mushrooms; cook and stir 2 minutes longer.

Stir in tomatoes and artichoke hearts.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 8-12 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Serve with rice.  Top with cheese.

Recipe Source: "Taste of Home" recipe, April/May 2014, p. 30

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Field Pea Soup

On my never-ending quest to lighten the load of my pantry and freezer, I ran across a bag of dried field peas which had been around for quite some time.  I love these little guys....they have a nice "snap" and are full of nutrition.  I'd only eaten them as a side dish but thought they should make a nice soup.  Now granted, this is a soup I would generally make in the fall or winter, but it just sounded good at the moment.

Oh so right!  I ran across this recipe and not only did it use the peas, but I had some celery, carrots, and potatoes which were on their last legs.  Win/win.  I have to admit, I just about made myself sick eating this....I just couldn't put it down.  Makes a pretty good breakfast, too.


1 Tbsp bacon grease
1 onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped (2 lg/3 medium)
2 tsp minced garlic
sprinkle of cayenne
3 Tbsp AP flour
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups dried field peas, soaked overnight, rinsed, and drained
1 ham hock
2 potatoes (russet/red/Yukon Gold), scrubbed and cut into cubes
touch of cream

Soak the peas in a bowl of water overnight.  Rinse well, set aside.

In a large Dutch oven on medium heat, add bacon grease to melt.  Add onion, celery, and carrots and cook until vegetables are soft.  Add the garlic, S&P, and cayenne and cook for a minute longer.  Sprinkle the flour in and stir constantly for a minute longer or until the flour is cooked, turning a blonde color. 

Slowly whisjk in the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil.  Add the peas and ham hock.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally and turning the ham hock.

Add the potatoes and simmer for 30 minutes longer until they are tender.  You may need to cook longer (or shorter) depending on how soft you like your peas.  Just before serving, stir in the cream (about 2 Tbsp) to make it a bit richer.  Remove ham hock before serving.

Recipe Source:  adapted from

Monday, July 14, 2014

Greek Salad

I've been making this salad for decades and have finally tweaked it to perfection (for me, at least).  It's easily tweakable like using black or kalamata olives instead of oil-cured, iceberg lettuce instead of romaine, artichokes or not, tofu instead of feta (marinate tofu cubes in the dressing).  You can use it as a side salad or it is substantial enough to be your entree.  It's good any time of the year, but is especially nice in the summer when cukes and tomatoes are at their best and the dill is thriving in your herb garden.

I didn't list any amounts for the salad just depends on how many salads you want to make and how large you want them.  For a side salad, I generally use a half a head of romaine for the two of us.  For an entree salad, I would use the entire head (I buy the three hearts in a bag, which are generally a uniform size).  Also, I've listed the dressing recipe as published, but personally I would half or even quarter the amounts since there are just two of us.

To make a fantastic entree salad, top with some roasted shrimp (peel and devein shrimp, toss with EVOO and a bit of black pepper, roast at 425F for 3-6 minutes, depending on size, until pink).


1/2 cup EVOO
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
2 tsp salt (omit if you're using feta in the salad instead of tofu)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried dill (omit if using fresh dill in the salad)

Whisk ingredients until emulsified.

Cut firm tofu into 3/4" cubes.  Marinate in some of the dressing for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Romaine lettuce
Grape tomatoes, halved, or garden tomatoes chopped (if in season)
Cucumbers (pickling cucumbers highly recommended), chopped
Red onions, thinly sliced
Oil-cured olives
Green pepper, thinly sliced
Chopped fresh dill
Feta cheese, plain or tomato/basil flavored or marinated tofu
Roasted shrimp, optional

Toss salad ingredients together.  Add dressing and mix until well combined.  Top with roasted shrimp, if using.

Recipe Source:  Tofu Cookery by Louise Hagler (1982), p. 28

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Judy's Baked Beans

I have always, always, made the traditional Baked Beans that used to be on the backside of the label of VanCamp's Pork and Beans.  It is the recipe that my mom always made and the one Jim always asked for.  But when I ran across this for 4th of July recipes, I decided to try something a bit different.

This included using canned pineapple giving a sweetness in lieu of the molasses found in the other recipe.  It also uses cut-up kielbasa (really, were is the pork in VanCamp's outside of that disgusting little chunk of fat).

Iowagirl's recipe calls for 3 pounds of VC P&B (48 oz).  I cut the recipe in half and swear I found a 24 oz can, but when I went to their website, I only saw 8/15/31/53 (and higher) ounce cans.  So I can't tell you if I used the 15 oz or 31 oz can.  If you're making the entire recipe, I'd use the 53 oz can.

Also, for the steak sauce, she recommends A1 over Heinz 57.  I didn't have either so I used BBQ sauce.  Tasted fine to me.  As per usual, I increased the mustard because that's just how we roll around here!

JUDY'S BAKED BEANS (8-10 servings)

48 oz VanCamp's Pork & Beans
1 large onion, chopped
1 small can crushed pineapple, slightly drained
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp steak sauce
1 Tbsp mustard
1 package kielbasa, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used turkey kielbasa)
1/2 package bacon
3/4 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 350F. 

Drain  some of the liquid off the top of the can of beans then mix with onion, crushed pineapple, brown sugar, steak sauce, mustard, and kielbasa in a large bowl. 

Pour mixture into a non-stick sprayed 9x13 baking dish then lay bacon strips across the top.  Spread ketchup on top of the bacon and bake for 2 hours, or until the top is deeply caramelized.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Mexican Baked Fish

Another apology for my poor photography skills, but if you are a fish love, especially cod, you have got to try this incredibly simple recipe which you're likely to have all of its ingredients on hand.

I have always adored cod but I couldn't tell you the last time I used it.  I used frozen fish and it came out wonderfully (and very affordable.....I'm so glad we're fish and chicken eaters with beef prices going through the roof).

Again, the dish is hard to make out in this photo.  But you simply place a piece of cod, top it with some salsa, cheddar (I didn't measure either of these, just eye-balled it), and corn chips (I found some great corn chips with flax seed at our local Seventh Day Adventist market) and baked it.  The recipe calls to top it with sliced avocados and sour cream but since Jim doesn't like plain avocados, I topped it with guacamole.  I served it with the last of the Chorizo and Black Bean Rice (see 6-12-14 post) I had in the freezer and a simple green salad (with more of those great corn chips in lieu of croutons).  Prep time is almost zilch and it bakes in about 15 minutes.


4 (4-6 oz) cod fillets
1/2 - 1 cup salsa
1/2 - 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup coarsely crushed corn chips
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
2-4 Tbsp cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 400F.  Lightly grease baking dish which will fit your 4 fillets.

Rinse fish fillets under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.  Lay fillets side by side in the prepared baking dish.  Pour the salsa over the top and sprinkle evenly with the cheese.  Top with the crushed corn chips

Bake, uncovered, in a preheated oven for 15 minutes (15-20 minutes in the NuWave) or until fish is opaque and flakes with a fork.  Serve topped with sliced avocado and sour cream.

Recipe Source:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Good Shepherd's Pie

Many years ago in my vegetarian days, this was a mainstay in my diet.  I've made this more times than I can count and never the same way twice.  I continually tweak this to suit my tastes and the seasons.  Vegetarian or not, this is one great dish.

I had leftover mashed potatoes which I had in the freezer and needed a home, plus an herb garden which is flourishing and a produce bin with some vegetables that also needed a home.  The beauty of this recipe is that you can adjust about all of the ingredients. 

Who needs ground beef?

GOOD SHEPHERD'S PIE  (4 servings)

1-2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 onion, chopped
1/2 pound broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 medium carrots, fat ends sliced in half lengthwise, then sliced thinly, thin ends sliced thinly
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 small or 1/2 large zucchini, sliced thin
1 small or 1/2 large yellow crookneck squash, sliced thin
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
2 tsp minced garlic
2 large handfuls fresh spinach (about 4 oz)
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
S&P to taste

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray 8x8 pan with cooking spray.

Heat oil in pan.  Saute onion until soft.  Add broccoli, carrots, green pepper, zucchini, and squash.  Saute until soft.  Add tomatoes and garlic, stir.  Add spinach and herbs (thyme, dill, and basil).  Season with desired amount of S&P.

Pour vegetable mix into prepared baking dish.  Top with mashed potatoes, smooth over.  Sprinkle with paprika.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the filling and potatoes are piping hot.

Recipe Source:  adapted from "The New Laurel's Kitchen" (1986), p. 268

Monday, July 7, 2014

Blackberry Cobbler

This recipe came from Lauren Alaina (American Idol runner-up and big new country star from nearby {to me} Rossville, GA).  It is her grandmother's recipe and do you want to talk about easy?!!!!  This can't be beat.  The batter goes on the bottom, blackberries on top, and then it just all bubbles up together. 

Sorry my ice cream wasn't was frozen rock-solid so I couldn't get the pretty round scoop to show off this show-stopper.  But it still melted wonderfully to add a creaminess to the warm cobbler.


2 1/2 cups fresh or 12 oz bag frozen blackberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
whipped cream or ice cream

Heat oven to 375F.  Stir together blackberries and sugar in a medium bowl (if using frozen berries, thaw them in a sieve over a bowl to catch the juice).  Let stand about 20 minutes or until fruit syrup forms.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and milk in another medium bowl.  Stir in melted butter until blended.  Spread batter in an ungreased 8" square baking pan.  Spoon blackberry mixture over batter.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake for 45 minutes (40 minutes in a NuWave) or until puffed and golden.  Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.  Sprinkle with additional ground cinnamon, if desired.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Vera-Cruz Style White Fish

We are a big fish/seafood eating household here and I'm always looking for something a bit different than what we've had before.  I had some extra of that wonderful Chorizo and Black Bean Rice (see 6-12-14 post) in the freezer so went on a search for a Mexican-based fish recipe.

This recipe does call for snapper, but I used Swai (tilapia would also work well).  What really piqued my interest is that it called for green olives and recommended Castelvetrano olives (see 12-6-10 post), my favorite green olives.  We'd had a similar dish at Abuelo's so I thought I give it a shot.

It's a wonderful deviation from what I generally prepare and the Chorizo and Black Bean Rice was a perfect side dish.  Granted, you have to like all of the components (olives, capers, tomatoes), but if you do, give this a try.


2 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 white onion, diced
3 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp capers
1 Tbsp caper juice
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup pitted, sliced green olives (Castelvetranos recommended)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tsp EVOO
2 (5-6 oz each) white fish fillets
S&P to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, optional, or to taste
2 limes, juiced

Preheat oven to 425F.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Stir in onion; cook and stir until onions begin to turn translucent, 6-7 minutes.

Cook and stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add capers and caper juice; stir to continue.

Stir in tomatoes, olives, jalapeno pepper.  Cook and stir until jalapeno pepper softens and tomatoes begin to collapse, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat; stir in oregano.

Drizzle 1 tsp olive oil into a small baking dish.  Sprinkle in 1 Tbsp of the tomato-olive mixture.  Top with one fillet, S&P, and cayenne pepper (if using).  Top with more filling and juice from 1 lime.  Repeat with remaining fillet, seasoning, and lime juice in a second baking dish (I baked all of mine in one dish in one layer).

Bake in the preheated oven until fish is flaky and no longer translucent, 15-20 minutes.

Recipe Source:

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Happy Birthday, Paul

Today would have been my sweet brother's 62nd birthday.  It's so hard to believe... he had so many exciting plans as he was already planning his retirement.  4th of July was his favorite holiday.  I always thought it was because he felt it was because people where celebrating his birthday (and that was probably true as a young boy), but being the brave and honorable American that he was, I think that evolved into his utter love for this country.  He served in the Marine Corps (retired as a Lt. Col USMCR) and then as a G-Man (that's what I always called him).  He was an undying loyal follower of his beloved Midwest City Bombers and Oklahoma Sooners (even getting to meet the three OU Heisman Trophy winners {Billy Vessels, Steve Owens, and Billy Sims} just months before the bombing. 

I miss you, Buddy, and think of you everyday.

Paul D. Ice

"He was one of the first special agents assigned to the U.S. Customs Service Oklahoma City office seven years ago (1988). Paul Douglas Ice, 42, of Midwest City was a senior special agent in the U.S. Customs Service office. "The death of a member of the Customs family is always a sad occasion," said John Hensley, special agent in charge. "The death of Senior Special Agent Ice is especially tragic under the circumstances." Ice was a native Oklahoman who performed investigative duties for the Oklahoma City office.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Red, White, and Blue Potato Salad

This was such a great side dish for our 4th of July lunch....I wish I had posted it earlier.  However, this needn't be strictly for the 4th nor do you need to use three colors of potatoes.

This was the first potato salad I have ever made that was not mayo-based.  I was a bit nervous to switch-up such a traditional dish on such a traditional holiday, but something told me to just do it.  And it it fantastic....the actual small amount of fresh herbs add such a wonderful dimension.

I'm listing the recipe as found (it calls for using fingerling potatoes and small red and blue potatoes) but I was fortunate enough to find a bag of very small potatoes with all three colors.  The brand I found (at Publix) is called "Celebration Blend" potatoes and came in a 28 oz bag.  I was, therefore, able to follow the rest of the recipe as printed.  Again, you could certainly use small red or Yukon Gold potatoes for a duplicate taste.  Also, it calls to cook the blue potatoes separately, but I found I didn't need to do that (mine all cooked similarly and the blue potatoes did not bleed color).  I simply quartered each of the small potatoes and boiled them all together at the same time.

RED, WHITE, and BLUE POTATO SALAD (6-8 servings)

2 cup fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise (about 10 oz)
2 cups small red potatoes, quartered (about 10 oz)
2 cups small blue potatoes, halved lengthwise (about 10 oz)
3 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic clove

Place fingerling and red potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes or until tender.  Drain; cool slightly.  Place potatoes in a large bowl.

Place blue potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes or until tender.  Drain; cool slightly.  Add blue potatoes, eggs, onion, parsley, dill and chives to bowl; toss gently.

Combine vinegar, and remaining ingredients.  Pour over potato mixture; toss gently to combine.  Serve warm, at room temp, or chilled.

NOTE:  Blue potatoes are starchier than the others and tend to bleed, so cook them separately.  If you need to, prepare this dish a day ahead, but add the blue potatoes just before serving.  If your potatoes are larger than the ones called for, cut them to a uniform size.

Recipe Source:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Creamy Smoked Salmon Spread

It's been quite a while since I've made a smoked salmon dip, but when looking for recipes using fresh dill, I ran across this one.  It's a bit different than the one I usually make but every bit as good.

I have always use a hot-smoked salmon versus the cold-smoked (lox).  Someday I'm going to have to try the cold version.  I found this recipe on AllRecipes but made some adjustments to suit my tastes.  The recipe below is what I ended up using.


6 oz reduced-fat cream cheese
4 oz smoked salmon, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp capers
1 Tbsp caper juice
1 green onion, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
3 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 drops hot pepper sauce
1/2 lemon, juiced

Process cream cheese in a food processor to soften completely.  Add salmon, caper, caper juice, green onion, dill, whipping cream, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, and lemon juice.  Process until creamy and smooth.

Recipe adapted from: "The Best Smoked Salmon Spread"

AN IMPORTANT REMINDER:  TOMORROW IS 4th of JULY and NATHAN'S HOT DOG EATING CONTEST!!!!  Be sure to catch it on ESPN tomorrow at Noon (EDT).  It's a hoot!!!