Friday, November 18, 2011

A Favorite Memory from My Childhood

Fried Okra
In the name of truth, I must confess, this is not homemade okra. This is frozen okra that I bought in the grocery store because garden fresh okra is out of season. However, I had a craving and as I was making it, I was reminded of my childhood. I have placed the recipe below that I use when okra is in season. Enjoy!

One of the pleasures from my childhood was my granny's fried okra. I would go out to the garden with my Papa and pick okra. He did most of the picking actually. I kind of just tagged along. Okra is kind of itchy because of the skin, so I deferred to the expert. The one thing I know for sure is there is nothing better than fresh okra from a summer garden. Besides frying okra, my granny would cut up okra and put it in her homemade black-eyed peas. Don't mind me if I start to drool a little.

Fried Okra Recipe

Flour (optional)
A fresh garden tomato if they are in season
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in a skillet. Slice ends off of okra and discard. Slice remaining okra horizontally. Place the cornmeal or cornmeal flour mix in a bowl. Place okra in bowl and coat. Carefully drop okra into hot grease. Watch out for splatters! Cook until lightly browned. If you have a fresh tomato, quarter it and add it in the last few minutes of cooking. It is delicious mixed in with the okra. Salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mexican Monday

Zesty Taco Soup

I have to thank my friend Ann and her daughter Sarah for inspiring this recipe. They sent me a taco soup recipe with ground turkey, and this could certainly be made with turkey. I added a few more spices and cilantro and lime. This is like a taco without the lettuce.

1 lb. ground beef, lean
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 can Del Monte Petite Diced Tomatoes with Zesty Jalapenos
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can beef broth
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 can chili beans--do not drain or rinse the chili beans
Juice of 1/2 of a lime
1 to 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Tortilla chips
Shredded Cheddar or Cheddar-mix cheese (I like Colby and Monterrey)
Extra cilantro for garnish

In a large soup pot, brown ground beef. As beef is cooking, add powdered spices. Once beef is finished cooking, add tomatoes, corn, beans, beef broth, lime juice, and cilantro. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Garnish with tortilla chips, cheese, and cilantro sprig.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Gem from Hyacinth

Creole Thrift: Premium Southern Living Without Spending a Mint

I found this book to be so charming. How often can you say that about a book? I love everything about it--the quirky decorating of the author, the family history, the recipes, and the thriftiness. I am sure anyone fascinated with New Orleans will find this memorable.

This is the book description from Amazon:

New Orleans designer Angèle Parlange shows readers how to transform their homes and lives in true "Creole style"–creating modern beauty out of personal heritage without breaking the bank.

Southern tradition blends with modern whimsy in this first offering from famed New Orleans designer Angèle Parlange–and the result is this extraordinary home decor book. Known for her fresh designs and unexpected blends of the opulent and the offbeat, Parlange brings her particular brand of "Creole thift"–the art of making beautiful, quality decorations out of heritage pieces without spending a mint–straight to the budget–concious reader.

From a fabric pattern inspired by vintage 1830s calling cards to shower curtains originating in a seventy–year–old college football program, Parlange's designs are eclectic, riveting, and utterly gorgeous. An integral part of her design philosophy is that everyone has personal mementos that can be transformed into beautiful "cocktail dresses for the home," whether it's a string of Grandma's antique glass beads or the faded material from an awful (but sentimentally valuable!) high school prom dress. With "trash and treasures" from her own home, Parlange demonstrates how each object can be used to create something that is both uniquely personal and richly lavish.

Filled with wry anecdotes, recipes, illustrations, before–and–after photos, and step–by–step instructions, Parlangerie will inspire readers to unleash their imaginations, unpack those dusty attic boxes, and transform old keepsakes into signature items that add spice and life to the home.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Easy Peasy Cheesy

Cheesy Baked Potatoes

Notice the crusted cheese around the edge of the casserole dish. That is what makes this dish so awesome. That and the butter. If you have to ask if it is low fat, you should probably be looking at someone else's blog.

4 potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly in the food processor
3-4 tablespoons butter
1 cup shredded cheese, (I used a combination of Colby and Monterrey jack)
Salt and pepper

Butter casserole dish. Place a thin layer of potatoes in the dish and top with pats of butter. Salt and pepper. Repeat until all potatoes are in the dish. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. After 30 minutes, sprinkle cheese on the potatoes and bake for 15 more minutes.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Let's Wok and Roll

Chicken, Broccoli, and Carrot Stir Fry


6-8 skinless, boneless chicken tenders, chunked

1 stalk broccoli, cut into florets

¼ onion, large dice

1 clove garlic, minced

3 carrots, sliced on the diagonal

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch, mix with ½ to 1 cup water

1 cup chicken stock

2 cups uncooked rice (You can use Minute Rice if you like.)

Extra soy sauce to taste


It is important to prepare all of the steps before you start cooking because once you start it goes quickly.

Prepare rice according to directions on package.

Sprinkle chicken with 1 tablespoon cornstarch and pour 1 tablespoon of soy sauce over it. Stir and marinate for 15 minutes.

Place carrots and broccoli in shallow dish with a little water and microwave for a few minutes until it starts to steam. You will cook it more with the chicken, so the vegetables can still be a little crisp. Drain.

Heat oils in a wok or skillet. Add chicken and cook until chicken is no longer pink, but not browned. Add onions and garlic as chicken is cooking.

Add stock, broccoli, carrots and stir fry 2-5 minutes. Add water mixed cornstarch and stir fry until thickened. If mixture seems a bit dry, you can add more chicken stock.

Serve with rice and soy sauce.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chilly, Rainy Weather Meal

Herb Chicken and Stuffing Casserole

6-8 chicken tenders
1 pkg. Pepperidge Farms Herb Stuffing
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cans chicken broth
1/2 stick of butter, melted
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 Tablespoon parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Salt and pepper chicken and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Once chicken is done, cut into bite size pieces. Top with dry stuffing. Pour butter over stuffing. Mix soups, broth, and herbs. Pour over stuffing. Stir to coat stuffing. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. You can substitute cream of celery soup or use two cream of mushroom soups if you like. This recipe is flexible.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mexican Monday

Soft Shell Beef and Bean Tacos

Beef Mixture:
1 lb. ground beef
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 cup salsa (I used my mom's homemade salsa, but Pace or any other favorite salsa would work.)

Sprinkle ground beef with seasoned salt and brown. Add salsa and simmer for 5 minutes.

Bean Mixture:
1 can Old El Paso Refried Beans
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cook beans with salsa and shredded cheese until hot.

Taco Toppings:
Soft Tortillas, 6 inch, warmed
Lettuce, chopped
Cheese, shredded
Tomatoes, diced
Avocado, diced

To assemble, take a spoon of beans and spread it on tortilla. Top with ground beef, and your favorite taco toppings. You can also add sour cream if you are so inclined. Not me, though. I hate sour cream, with a passion! There, I said it, and I am not taking it back.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Soup's On!

Chicken Tortilla Soup


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup carrots, diced

1 cup celery, diced

1 cup onions, diced

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth

1 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes

1 (15 ounce) cans Ro-Tel tomatoes, diced

1 (1 1/4 ounce) packets taco seasoning

10 small soft corn tortillas

12 ounces cooked chicken, shredded or diced

8 ounces shredded Monterrey jack cheese or cheddar cheese

1 cup milk

corn tortilla chips, broken into small pieces


Saute carrots, celery, onions, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in oil until tender.

Add chicken broth and milk and bring to a boil.

Stir in the tomatoes, Ro-tel tomatoes, taco seasoning, and chicken.

Cut soft tortillas into small pieces and add to the broth mixture. (If you want a smoother soup, run the tortillas through the food processor with a little chicken broth before adding them to the soup.)

Let boil for 20 minutes or until tortillas are incorporated into the soup.

Stir occasionally to keep the soup from sticking as it thickens.

Top with cheese and diced avocado.

This soup is similar to Houstons Restaurant, but I think it needs to be creamier to be more like Houstons. I am thinking heavy cream instead of milk would help. Also, it might help to thicken it with a little masa flour roux.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Halloween 2011

Scenes of a Halloween

Abby in her witchy costume.

Boo wearing his "I Might Be Cute, But I Bite" shirt.

Schnitzel in her Martha Stewart costume.

The Dark Angel

A Dog Day at the Ballet

Aren't we happy? Now, bring on the candy!

Look at me! I am the best tiger ever!

Handing out candy to 5000 children, though you only see two here.

Check out my tiger tail!

Tiger's gonna do what Tiger's gonna do.

Sweet Ride: If you gotta trick or treat, this is the way to roll!

A little from his friends.

The most fun he has had all night. He must have put the candy in and taken it out 50 times.

Wiped out after a night of handing out candy to approximately 5000 trick or treaters.

A good night was had by all. Halloweenies was a great success. Now, did someone say it is time to decorate for Christmas?

A dish without Ro-tel for Judy

Judy’s Broccoli Cheese Soup

4 c broccoli florets or frozen equivalent

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 tsp chicken base (not bouillon)

2 c milk

2 TBLS flour

8 oz Velveeta

nutmeg, pepper, to taste

Steam vegetables in about 2/3 c water till just a little soft, about

8 minutes. Use hand blender or put in countertop blender and

process lightly, leaving a few large pieces. Put back in pot, sprinkle

flour over it and blend in well. Add chicken base, milk, and Velveeta,

and heat on medium till it begins to thicken. Add seasonings and

more Velveeta if desired.

This is our favorite soup. I sometimes add cooked chicken,

mushrooms, or cauliflower/broccoli mix. I top with croutons.

One Dish Dude’s Broccoli Cheese Soup

(Based on Judy’s but not exactly the same because he didn’t have all the ingredients—Note to self: Self, add chicken base to the grocery list. You have needed it twice in the last two weeks.)

4 cups broccoli florets

1 yellow onion, diced

3 carrots, diced

½ can chicken broth

2 cups milk

2 TBLS flour

16 oz. Velveeta

Nutmeg, pepper, and salt to taste

2 TBLS butter

2 TBLS olive oil

Steam broccoli in 2/3 cups water in microwave for 8 minutes. Sauté carrots and onion in butter and olive oil, about 10 minutes. Reserve a few florets and put rest of broccoli, chicken broth, carrots, and onions in food processor. Pulse until chopped. Put back in pot and sprinkle with flour. Mix well. Add Velveeta, milk and seasonings. Heat until it begins to thicken.

I bet a can or Ro-tel would be really good in this Broccoli Cheese Soup—what do you think Judy???

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Easy Casserole Night

Ro-tel Mac & Cheese Casserole

After a busy day at work, sometimes I just want an easy dinner. This is the easiest, most inexpensive casserole I make. It only requires a few ingredients. It takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. It tastes great.

2 boxes Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
2 cans Ro-tel
1 lb. ground beef

Brown ground beef. Add Ro-tel once beef is browned. In the meantime, prepare Mac and Cheese according to directions on box, adding milk and butter. Combine macaroni and beef mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.