Sunday, December 25, 2011

It's Tradition

It's Christmas morning and as I've done every year since I can remember, I made the infamous Breakfast Brunch. It's probably the only time of the year that I make this but it is oh, so delicious and is quick and satisfying for everyone.

It's too late to make it this Christmas morning but there are many other special occasions throughout the year for you. Make it a new tradition for your family!

Breakfast Brunch

Yields: 12 Servings

3/4 cup milk
4 large eggs
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
8 ounces Pillsbury crescent rolls
16 ounces sausage meat

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray bottom of 9 x 13 pan with vegetable cooking spray. Press crescent rolls into bottom and up sides about one-quarter inch of pan. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over crescent rolls. Cook sausage. Drain. Crumble sausage over cheese. Mix milk and eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over cheese and sausage layer. Bake 12-15 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Let stand 5 mnutes. Cut into squares and serve. Pin It

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Traditional Ginger Snaps

At work every year before Christmas we have a "grazing" table where we all sign up to bring munchies to share with everyone else.  The guy who sits behind me requests Ginger Snaps every year.  They are his favorite.  One of my other cubemates stated to me on Thursday (the day I bought them to work) that he didn't even like Ginger Snaps but had eaten 8 so far and ate his 9th in front of me as we chatted.  They are delicious and I have to say it's a good recipe.  Your family and friends will enjoy them as well.  As always, Bon Appétit!

Ginger Snaps

Yield: 2 to 3 dozen cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cooling Time: 30 minutes

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup shortening

Mix all ingredients.  Roll into balls, then roll in sugar.  Cook on top rack in 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Backyard Excitement

Last evening I had a bit of excitement in the backyard. I let the Greyhounds out to potty after I arrived home from the Smyrna Jonquil Festival. All were muzzled as is my customary procedure. My four girls plus three foster boys - yes seven Greyhounds!!

Well, in the middle of changing clothes, I (for some reason) decided they had been outside long enough to do their business or maybe I heard something that made me go to the backdoor but nonetheless, I get there and holler for everyone to come in. Remi, Sugar, Foster Lefty and Foster Indy all came running to the back door. I promptly undid muzzles as they each came inside. But where was Lucy, Sami, and Foster Fonzy? I stuck my head out the door only to see Foster Fonzy on the ground doing something - I couldn't tell exactly what - with Lucy and Sami standing over him watching. My first thought was Fonzy had hurt himself running around the backyard.

I ran inside to change into something more appropriate then ran back to the back door and then out to the yard out to where Fonzy was sitting down in the grass. Upon closer examination, I found he had tackled a squirrel. Well, it actually appeared to be lodged onto his muzzle but Fonzy definitely had a death grip on the critter. And, yes, they can grab things through the muzzle if a poop guard is not attached.

My first instinct was to get the other two, who weren't participants at that moment but who sure wanted to be, inside and safe from said squirrel. Now catching them all was quite a task as you can imagine. They wanted to stay RIGHT there with said squirrel. Everyone had their eye on the prize!!

After some maneuvering, I was able to grab Sami first. I drug her unwillingly into the house. Then, I was able to get to Fonzy who was still wrestling with said squirrel. He dropped it when I told him to drop it (after some coaxing) and then I drug him inside while Lucy then commenced to chasing the poor thing who then thought he was free. After getting him in, I went back to get Lucy who then had the squirrel cornered in the flowerbed. I grabbed her and drug her inside.

You could tell everyone's adrenaline had kicked in - everyone wanted a piece of that poor squirrel. I checked the flowerbed when I returned home from work and didn't find him there so I am assuming he ran off. He wasn't maimed but probably was scared half to death.

The sad thing about the entire incident is that the whole time they were chasing said squirrel, there was another up in the tree screaming his head off. It was probably his/her mate who witnessed the entire event. I felt so bad but thank goodness he/she did survive.

Last night when I let everyone out to potty after coming home from work, no one seemed to have remembered the squirrel last seen in the flowerbed. As Martha might say, that's a good thing!
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Sunday, October 02, 2011

Taco Soup

Wow, my sister gave me this recipe that she got from an old neighborhood friend. It is so delicious. Sort of like chili but with a kick to it. Definitely a keeper!! Try it, you're family will love it, too!!

Taco Soup

2 pounds ground beef
2 cups diced onions
2 (15 1/2 oz) cans pinto beans
1 (15 1/2 oz) can kidney beans
1 (15 1/2 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14 1/2 oz) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1 (14 1/2 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (14 1/2 oz) can tomatoes with chiles
2 (4 1/2 oz) cans diced green chiles
1 (4.6 oz) can black olives, drained and sliced, optional
1/2 cup green olives, sliced, optional
1 (1 1/4 oz) package taco seasoning mix
1 (1 oz) package ranch salad dressing mix

For serving:
sour cream, for garnish
grated cheese, for garnish
chopped green onions, for garnish
pickled jalapenos, for garnish

Brown the ground beef and onions in a large skillet; drain and transfer to a large slow cooker or stockpot. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green chiles, black olives (if using), green olives (if using), taco seasoning mix, and ranch dressing mix. Cook in the slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours or simmer over low heat for about one hour in the stockpot.

To serve, place in a bowl and top with garnishes. Serve with tortilla chips! Pin It

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Shrimp and Grits

As Southerners, we all love Shrimp and Grits, right? Well, if you're a Southerner and you don't I think you should try this recipe as I'm certain it will change your mind. This is a most delicious recipe I found on I tried it for one of my lunches at work. As a charter member of the "Lunch Club", I am responsible for bringing lunch on Mondays and Wednesdays and my cubemate brings it on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It works out really well as we always get something really yummy and two days out of the week we don't have to worry about lunch!!

And this recipe was quite a hit! It is definitely a keeper and will now be my standard Shrimp and Grits recipe!! Try it as I'm sure it will also become your favorite

-Seared Shrimp and Grits Soufflé with Corn, Chives and Peppers

1-1/2 pounds (12 to 15 count) shrimp
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
garlic powder, for seasoning
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more for ramekins
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1-3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
1/4 cup quick-cooking grits
1/4 cup cooked ham, diced
1/3 cup corn
2 tablespoons well-drained and chopped roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons chopped chives
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails attached. Rinse under cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Place the shrimp in a single layer on a baking sheet and season both sides of each shrimp with a little salt, pepper and a sprinkle of garlic powder. Refrigerate uncovered for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter four 4-ounce ramekins and set aside. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds. Add in 1 cup of the cream, some salt, a few grinds of pepper and bring to a boil. Add the grits, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until thick, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat to cool slightly. Stir in the ham, corn, peppers and chives. In a large bowl, combine the remaining 3/4 cup cream, the eggs, nutmeg and Parmesan. Season with a little salt and pepper. Gently fold the grits mixture into the egg mixture until combined and evenly divide among prepared ramekins. Place the ramekins in a roasting pan, place in the oven and pour enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until a toothpick or skewer comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the ramekin and invert onto a serving plate.
  3. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, bring the olive oil to shimmering. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the shrimp and cook until shrimp are rosy pink and firm to the touch, about 2 minutes more. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the hot pan, add the shrimp and toss to coat. Remove the pan from the heat and serve immediately.
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Monday, September 05, 2011

Just Peachy

I found this recipe in Martha Stewart's recent Living magazine and just had to try it. I love canning and haven't done it in quite some time - mostly due to time constraints.

The recipe originally called for vanilla pods, however, I used vanilla paste which I had on hand (thanks to my friend Michelle Kroh)!!

I have enough peaches to make another batch after I find the jars!! Can't wait to try these on some pound cake, ice cream, waffles, or pancakes. Definitely not low cal, however, I hope worth it!!

Bourbon-Poached Peaches

4 pounds peaches (peeled and sliced in 1/4 inch slices)
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or 2 vanilla beans, split, and scraped, pods reserved)
1 cup bourbon

Bring four cups water, the sugar, and vanilla to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add peaches and bourbon. Simmer until peaches are tender but still hold their shape, 5-7 minutes.

Transfer peaches to a large bowl using a slotted spoon. Cook syrup over medium heat until reduced by half, about 15 minutes.

Divide peaches into four pint sterilized jars. Pour hot syrup over peaches to within 1/4" of top. Cap jars. Seal jars in boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Remove from hot water and allow to cool.

Canned peaches can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 months. Pin It

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Mystery Garden

I should probably explain the title of this blog post. When I planted my vegetable garden back in early May, I thought it would be fun to not mark what or where I had planted. I was using seeds, so really had to wait until things sprouted, grew and produced vegetables to realize and remember what I had planted!!

This has been intriguing to a point and aggravating at the same time. The intriguing part is the surprise factor in what the garden produces and when that happens and the aggravating part is not being able to identify specific plants and/or their vegetable!

Case in point is the gourd pictured to the right - the green and orange gourd, looking quite like an acorn squash. I picked my "acorn squash" and proceeded to cut it and prepare it for the oven. It was to be my Sunday dinner!! After topping with a bit of butter and some ground cinnamon, it was ready to be baked.

About an hour later, I determined the delicacy to be ready to eat. It smelled yummy!! I pulled it out of the oven and let it cool a little before I dug in. Yuck!! To my surprise, the meat of the vegetable was quite stringy. This was my first clue that this was definitely not an acorn squash. If not an acorn squash, then what was it?

Of course I had to ponder this question because as I mentioned, I couldn’t remember what I had planted! I did plant some zucchini and watermelon seeds in the same general area, both “viney” plants, and none of which apparently sprouted as I’ve seen neither at this point.

Ah, then it came to me – I remember planting some pumpkin seeds!! Alas, that is what I had picked – a baby pumpkin that will no longer have the opportunity to mature. I killed a baby pumpkin! I guess I thought because it was green, it couldn't have been a pumpkin at all!! After some research, I found that pumpkins do, indeed, start out green, turning more orange as the nights cool down.

I also found out the life cycle of the pumpkin, from seed to fruit. It is quite interesting to say the least. Ten weeks after planting, the first flowers appear. The first ones are typically the male flowers, which seem to be more plentiful than the female flowers. The female flowers are distinguished by a small round bulb at the base of the flower. The flower is waiting to be fertilized by the bees before it can then start it's growth cycle to become a full-fledged pumpkin. If the female flower is not fertilized the day it blooms, it will die – forever. Kind of harsh, I agree, but that’s nature.

So, after reading this at lunch yesterday, my fear was that I had picked the only pumpkin in my patch and there would not be another this season!! Low and behold, when I arrived home and had changed clothes, I immediately ran out to the garden to search for more pumpkins. The vines are everywhere and have taken over so it is not as easy as you might think.

Thank goodness, I did find one that is growing nicely toward the back of the garden. I am hopeful for many more as the female blooms can be fertilized by the bees continuously even until the vines come out of the ground! Or, I could even manually fertilize them using pollen from the male blooms and placing it on the center of the female blooms. Yes, I may become a pumpkin botonist.

I have to say I have learned quite a bit about the accidental pumpkin patch I now have growing in my backyard. Who knew? I definitely plan to watch the patch more closely and will weed out other vines ie the squash and cucumber vines, so the pumpkins have more room to grow. With any luck, I should have perfect pumpkins in September for my decorating needs. I only wish I had thought to plant the Baby Pam Sugar Pie variety which is perfect for making pumpkin pies!

I really can't complain as I've had great success with this year's garden. I've had green peppers, cucumbers, corn, lima beans, green beans, yellow squash, eggplant, sweet potatoes, and now pumpkin. It's been the best fun watching everything grow. But the best part? It's walking out to the garden and picking what I'll be eating for dinner that night. You absolutely can't beat that for freshness and the taste is incredible.

This is not my first garden, not at all. It's been a few years since the last one though. I surely have missed it and will definitely not let that much time lapse before the next one. In fact, I am already planning what will be in the fall garden!! Pin It

Monday, July 18, 2011

Two-Cheese Squash Casserole

With the abundance of yellow squash coming out of my garden, I am thinking of different ways to cook it. Of course the traditional squash casserole is not really very different, well, not for this Southern girl so I had to make it at least once during "squash season". And it seems I never use the same recipe each time I make it and this time was no different.

I found this recipe at It was published in their May 2010 edition. Most Southern cooks know you just can't go wrong with a Southern Living recipe so I decided to try it and of course, it did not disappoint. It actually is probably the best squash casserole recipe I've tried to date! Very flavorful! You, too, will enjoy it!


4 pounds yellow squash, sliced
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups soft, fresh breadcrumbs, divided
1 1/4 cups (5 oz.) freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tablespoons butter, melted


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cook yellow squash and onion in boiling water to cover in a Dutch oven 8 minutes or just until tender; drain squash mixture well.
2. Combine squash mixture, Cheddar cheese, next 5 ingredients, 1 cup breadcrumbs, and 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Spoon into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
3. Stir together melted butter and remaining 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over top of casserole.
4. Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes or until set. Pin It

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chicken Cordon Bleu

I've made Chicken Cordon Bleu a few times before in the past, however, it's been quite some time as I can't even remember the last time. So, I found this recipe and just had to try it. Barbie, my cubemate at work, and I will eat well for lunch next week!!

Chicken Cordon Bleu (from Cooking Light, December, 2005)


1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
5 teaspoons butter, melted
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 teaspoon paprika
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 thin slices prosciutto (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350°.

Place broth in a small microwave-safe bowl; microwave at high 15 seconds or until warm. Stir in butter and garlic. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and paprika in a medium shallow bowl; set aside.

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap, and pound each to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt, oregano, and pepper. Top each breast half with 1 slice of prosciutto and 1 tablespoon mozzarella. Roll up each breast half jelly-roll fashion. Dip each roll in chicken broth mixture; dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Place rolls, seam side down, in an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Pour remaining broth mixture over chicken. Bake at 350° for 28 minutes or until juices run clear and tops are golden. Pin It

A Spin on Traditional Strawberry Shortcake

It's July and that means it's peach season!! Yeah!! Love 'em and I love pound cake. I can't think of a better combination than peaches and pound cake - my take on the traditional Strawberry Shortcake!!

The pound cake recipe I tried this time is a buttermilk version. It is very good - dense and full of flavor. I did substitute almond extract for the lemon extract.

For the peaches, I simply peeled and cut ripe peaches, tossing them in a few tablespoons of raw sugar and about a half teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

Why not try this quick and easy dessert for your next family gathering? Don't forget to top with fresh whipped cream!!

Buttermilk Pound Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease one 9 or 10-inch tube pan. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the lemon and vanilla extracts. Gently mix in flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 90 minutes. Do not open oven door until after one hour. When cake begins to pull away from the side of the pan, it is done. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Pin It

The Many Faces of Reading Paws

I just thought I'd share some pictures from our Reading Paws adventures. Lucy appears in some to not be "reading", however, she is following along and as my Dad might say, "is just resting her eyes".

We have a great time performing this little bit of community service, if you will, that is certainly helping many children. I wish there were many more R.E.A.D. teams and many more libraries and schools accepting of the program!

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Monday, July 04, 2011

Yummy Chocolate Cookies

I have been searching high and low for a recipe for a chocolate cookie topped with pecans that might match that magical chewy pecan cookie my Mom used to buy for us at the local Winn-Dixie bakery. I think I've come close in this one, but it's still not quite the same. I don't think the cookie at the WD was as chocolatey as it was pecan flavored. And, my Mom isn't here to help me scrutinize the recipe. I'm sure she would know exactly what is missing!! This one is a good one though, however, I will continue my search until I find the right one!

The first batch I used my cookie press to make the cute flower cookies you see above. The second time, I pressed the dough into a large cookie sheet, pressed chopped pecans into the top, then baked and cut into squares.

The dough is quite versatile so lends itself to whichever form you desire the end result to be!! Just have fun with it! They will be delicious!!

Rolled Chocolate Cookies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

In a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy. Beat in the egg. Sift the flour, cocoa and salt into the bowl and beat at low speed until the dough comes together, 2 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 2 or 3 times. Flatten into 2 disks, wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out each disk of dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to a scant 1/4-inch thickness. Using a floured 1 3/4-inch round cookie cutter, stamp out as many rounds as possible; transfer to the baking sheets. Gather the scraps, reroll and stamp out as many cookies as possible. Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes, until puffed and set, shifting the baking sheets for even baking. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets.

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Friday, July 01, 2011

The Mojito

I decided to try making my own Mojito from scratch. I've used the mixes and while they are good, I honestly know that you can't beat anything that is homemade!!

My cubemate had given me a mint plant so I had fresh mint on hand as well as club soda and rum. And I always have limes.

I used the recipe provided by Bacardi on their website. I must say they are very yummy and as I usually do after making something from scratch, I'll never go back to using a mix for my Mojitos!! It's a little extra work, but well worth it!!



1 1/2 Oz. Bacardi Superior Rum
Club Soda
12 Mint Leaves
1/2 Lime
2 Tbsp. Simple Syrup or 1 Tbsp. Sugar


Muddle 12 fresh mint leaves and 1/2 a lime. Cover with 2 Tbsp. of simple syrup or 1 Tbsp. of sugar and top with ice. Add 1 1/2 oz of BACARDI Superior Rum and top with Club Soda. Stir well and garnish with a lime wedge and sprig of mint. Pin It

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


As long as I can remember or at least since I was a teenager, I've always worn nail polish. I've prided myself in having nice nails and used to wear them much longer than I do now. The thing is now, it's much more difficult to keep them long! I suppose age, diet, and simple wear and tear have quite a bit to do with that. Granted, I am older and don't eat near the veggies I should and am involved in activities now such as house work and yard work which present the wear and tear I spoke of earlier!

In order to have nice nails, I have on two occasions (and, yes, I can only count two) resorted to getting acrylic nails applied which, in the end and while looking extremely nice, tend to intensify the claustrophobic part of me so much that I eventually wind up tearing them off. Which, as you probably know, only damages and weakens my own nails even further. So the vicious circle continues. I then tend to do everything I can to strengthen the nails I have and get them back into shape which is the cycle I'm in at the moment!!

While recently in my hometown of Panama City to attend my niece's wedding, my sister, myself, the bride to be and my other niece proceeded to a local nail salon the day before the wedding for manicures and pedicures.

Lo and behold, it is there where I learned of a new polish called Shellac. The picture you see is of the manicure I received on Friday, June 10th. It is 11 days later and it still looks pretty darn good if you consider I've done house work, yard work, and even weeded my vegetable garden (with gloves on, of course).

I am so incredibly impressed that I have purchased the UV light needed to "cure" the polish, as well as a base coat, top coat, and two different pink polishes so that I can do my Shellac manicures/pedicures at home. I do enjoy going to the salon and being pampered and will probably continue to do that on occasion, however, I am terribly excited about doing my own manicures/pedicures using the technique that I learned during my visit home. My salon does offer gel manicures which I believe is a harsher technique than the Shellac but that is only based on what I've read on the Internet. They may both be the same for all I know. I've never had any reactions to polishes (including Shellac polish), remover (acetone or non-acetone), acrylic nails, etc.

What I DO know is that from this point further, I shall always have perfectly manicured nails that last and have no chips!! Pin It

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rachel Ray's Super Hot 'n Crisp Drummers or Wings and Homemade Blue Ranch

I've always wanted to make homemade wings but just haven't come across a recipe I wanted to try. That is, until I caught an episode of Rachel Ray's show a few days ago. She made these awesome hot wings and they are crispy just like I like them! So, of course, I had to try them and tonight was the night.

They are certainly awesome! I'm taking the leftovers into work tomorrow to share with my cubemate. She and I tend to do this alot these days and it saves us both from having to worry about what we'll be having for lunch!

Serves 6

3-4 pounds chicken drummers or cut chicken wings
Frying oil, such as vegetable or canola oil
Carrot and celery sticks

For the chicken coating:

1 cup cayenne pepper sauce, such as Texas Pete or Frank’s Red Hot
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1/2 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon baking powder
Salt and pepper

For the ranch dipper:

1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar (a splash)
1 clove garlic, grated or pasted
Salt and pepper
1 cup blue cheese crumbles
3 tablespoons fresh herbs, finely chopped, such as chives, dill and parsley

Place the chicken pieces in a large stockpot and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil, par-boil for 10 minutes, then drain and pat the chicken dry.

Cool the chicken and toss it in hot sauce to coat, then toss with flour seasoned with spices to coat. Toss the chicken once more in the hot sauce and the flour. Fry in batches over medium to medium-high heat in 3 inches of hot oil, 350°F, until very crisp, 5-6 minutes.

Combine the dressing ingredients and serve as a dipper for the vegetable spears (such as carrot and celery sticks) and chicken. Pin It

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dr. Jekyll (and Mr. Hyde)

As some of you know, my Greyhound Sami loves to "play bite" me - no one else, but me, it seems (thank God). Well, sometimes the play biting gets downright aggressive to the point that her eye's glaze over and fire spits out of them, all the while she is nipping me to the point of leaving bruises on me. And I'm usually laughing so hard because the look in her eyes is so intense and it's a clear deviation from her normal sweet self! And, of course, me laughing just antagonizes her into biting me harder!

I call it her "Dr Jekyll" episode. She is getting better about it and doesn't do it nearly as often as she did. I adopted her when she was not quite 2 years old (she's about to be 4) so I've always chalked it up to puppy behavior.

I follow Cesar Millan on Twitter and on Facebook. He recently had a suggestion on this topic that I'd like to share with you. He said to diffuse this type of behavior in puppies, try to divert their attention to performing a command ie "sit" or whatever else they might know.

None of mine are prison trained Greyhounds but I have been able to teach them all to "sit" and some to do the "down" command. Sami learned to "sit" last summer, I believe. Anyway, the last time her "Dr. Jekyll" came out, I remembered what Cesar had suggested and I immediately put my closed hand in the air and said "sit" and lo and behold, the little villain did it which then was enough to distract her and end the episode. Yeah, no bruises!!

I've done it several times since and it has worked every time. This may be old news to some of you who are actually "trainers" but to me, it is a wonderful revelation. I imagine this will work for anything your Greyhound might be doing that they shouldn't be doing. It's quite a distraction and if it can get "Dr. Jekyll" out of her trance, I imagine it will work for your Greyhound too!
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Friday, May 20, 2011

The Birthday Dinner

A few weeks back I hosted a special birthday dinner celebration for my good friend, Hank and his wife, Susan.

On the menu - Crab Crostini (appetizer), Lettuce Wedges with Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing, Grilled Lobster Tails, Baked Potatoes with all the fixin's, Steamed Asparagus, and Homemade Vanilla, Chocolate, and Strawberry ice creams.

Much to my surprise and delight, they walked in with a chilled bottle of Dom Perignon which was perfect for our planned feast! We also had Margaritas before dinner and a German white wine with dinner. All wonderfully paired with our lobster!

The recipe for the Crab Crostini follows:

Crab Crostini

Servings: 8 crostini


8 slices French bread, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 pound fresh crab meat, or 6 and 1/2-ounces canned meat
3 tablespoons minced green onion
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Ground white pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
1 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated
Fresh chives, for garnish (optional)


1. Preheat the broiler on your oven.
2. On a baking sheet, line the French bread pieces about 1-inch apart.
3. In a large bowl, combine the crab meat, green onions, lemon juice, mayonnaise, garlic, mustard, cayenne pepper, white pepper, and salt. Mix well.
4. Lightly toast the bread slices under the broiler until lightly golden, about 4-5 minutes.
5. Remove the bread from the oven, and flip all the bread slices over to the other side.
6. Top each bread slice with about 1-2 tablespoons of the crab mixture (your desired amount).
7. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of each crostini evenly.
8. Broil the crostinis until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes (depending on your broiler temperature).
9. Garnish with fresh chives and serve immediately.

Other recipes used include the Blue Cheese Dressing recipe I previously posted and blogged about, This is the Trisha Yearwood recipe and it is to die for!!

The lobster were cut in half, generously sprayed with drawn butter then sprinkled with garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt, Old Bay Seafood seasoning, fresh cracked black pepper and fresh ground sea salt. Then on the grill they went for approximately 10-12 minutes. Of course, once ready, they were served with drawn butter.

The ice creams were normal ice cream recipes except the strawberry was a Buttermilk Strawberry ice cream recipe. I'll post that one shortly with a picture. It well deserves the spotlight in its own post!

Overall, the dinner was quite a culinary success and I dare say that Hank had a wonderful birthday week!!
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kids, Books, and a Greyhound!

And a beautiful quilt but I'll get to that in a little bit!

As some of you may know, I've had Greyhounds since 2003 when I first adopted Reminisee Blair now known as Remi. Shortly thereafter came PB's Honey Fritz now known as Sugar, then Yopon Laverne now known as Lucy, and lastly Oakland Scarboro now known as Sami. The latter being a total "uh oh" as she was definitely not planned but that, my friends, is an entirely different blog post!

So, when you have dogs, you like to include them in activities, right? The old mantra - a tired dog is a happy dog holds true in my household, that's for sure! Well, I've done lure coursing with Remi, Sugar (who was #4 in Greyhounds in 2005), Lucy, and Sami. I've also participated in pet therapy with all four. Pet therapy is where we visit nursing homes and children's hospitals with our Greyhounds. The patients and children just love loving on the dogs. We all know that therapy using pets is quite beneficial for our health. For those in nursing homes, it is known to:
  • Diminish emotional pain
  • Diminish physical pain
  • Reduce boredom
  • Reduce anxiety
  • And it makes people happy

For children, therapy with pets teaches them:
  • Gentleness
  • Caring
  • Responsibility
  • How to interact safely with an animal, and most importantly,
  • Allows them to love an animal
Researchers found even one 30-minute long session of animal assisted therapy reduced loneliness to a statistically significant degree. Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, 7/02. Pets provide internal chemical therapeutics for people. Tests show that within minutes of petting a dog, the humans and dogs alike experience massive release of such beneficial hormones as prolactin, oxytocin and phenylethylamine.

So, with all this being said, I have been very active in pet therapy since adopting my first Greyhound in 2003. We've certainly enjoyed our experiences and most every month, the patients at the nursing home crack me up with something they say or do. They know us and we know them and when we see an empty bed, it truly is a very sad moment. Our only hope and thought is that a new patient will reside in that room who will enjoy our visits as much as the last patient.

At one visit many years ago, we stopped in the hallway and chatted with a woman who was trying to tell me about her day. Afterwards, a nursing assistant stopped me to ask what we had done because this particular patient hadn't spoken a word in over 6 months. Of course, it was nothing we did specifically but I suspect having the Greyhounds spurred some memory for this particular patient. Perhaps she had had dogs of her own in the past and seeing them made her remember them fondly and, quite frankly, come to life right before our eyes. It was quite a thing knowing we had a small part in helping that patient "reconnect", for lack of a better word. I will never forget it, that's for sure.

Another form of therapy using our dogs is called R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs). This is where trained R.E.A.D. teams visit schools and libraries and serve as reading companions for children. The program is very successful with proven results by increasing reading test scores and improving reading levels for children of all ages. It works because the children aren't intimidated by reading to a dog as they sometimes can be reading to an adult or teacher. The dog does not criticize or judge the child. The program increases their self-esteem, thus making the children enjoy the reading experience.

So, Lucy and I embarked on this next journey by completing the necessary training and registering as a R.E.A.D. team. In Georgia our program is called Reading Paws. We then started searching for a library who would welcome our program with open arms. We found that with the Smyrna Public Library.

Our very first visit was March 19th. Lucky for us, our entire hour was filled with appointments made by four children. The first to read to Lucy was a little boy named Varun. He is from India, I believe, and if there was ever a very animated and enthusiastic reader, this is Varun. It was quite comical but you could tell he loved to read and loved reading to Lucy. After Varun was done, a little boy from Africa read to Lucy. He had a bit more difficulty but he did pretty well for a child his age. The book he chose was a difficult one, I think. Next time, we'll get one that is a bit easier for him. Then a Mexican girl read to Lucy. She was a really good reader. By this time, the hound in Lucy had come out and she was sprawled out on the blanket fast asleep. I told the children that Lucy was listening and was just resting her eyes. The last child was the best friend of the first Mexican girl. She also was an excellent reader. I believe three of these children have signed up for every session until June or so and we will be there two Saturdays a month. Whoo hoo!!

What an excellent start to what I foresee to be a wonderful journey with kids, books and a Greyhound!!

Oh, I cannot forget to mention the beautiful quilt my sister made for us (see picture above). We were very lucky to have Brooke Shenson of ShopMollyd fame donate several Greyhound appliqués which my sister included on the four corners of the quilt. With the largest appliqué that Brooke sent, Pam made a most awesome quilted bag that I will use to transport the quilt to and from the library. Obviously we will use the quilt to sit on while the children read. It is absolutely a stunning piece of art!! I am very proud of the quilt and thank my sister profusely for dedicating her time and talent to the cause. We truly appreciate it and will take very good care of my new artwork! Pin It

Monday, March 14, 2011

Themed Dinners!

As you probably have guessed by now, I really enjoy hosting themed dinners! I always have!! And this past weekend was no exception. With it being Mardi Gras last week, I decided to cook an entire meal based on Cajun recipes.

We enjoyed Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya, Shrimp Creole, Red Beans and Rice, Corn Muffins and for dessert, a delicious Bread Pudding. Oh, and I cannot forget the Hurricanes to drink!!

Everything was very good, even if I say so myself. The Jambalaya recipe is courtesy of my favorite food blogger, Brown-Eyed Baker. The Corn Muffins recipe is from my cubemate at work and the Bread Pudding was Paula Deen's recipe, of course!! The Shrimp Creole is my recipe and the Red Beans and Rice came from Southern Living. Oh, and the Hurricanes, from an online source!

I couldn't have been more pleased with how everything turned out and I think my guests also enjoyed the dinner.

Hurricane Drink

1 oz vodka
1/4 oz grenadine syrup
1 oz gin
1 oz light rum
1/2 oz Bacardi 151 Rum
1 oz amaretto almond liqueur
1 oz triple sec
grapefruit juice
pineapple juice

Pour all but the juices, in order listed, into a hurricane glass three-quarters filled with ice. Fill with equal parts of grapefruit and pineapple juice. Garnish with a half orange slice and maraschino cherry "flag".

Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya

Serves: 6 to 8

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound sausage, kielbasa or andouille, sliced
1 pound smoked ham, cubed
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup diced celery
1 green bell pepper, cored and diced
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
1 cup seeded and diced tomato
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced OR ½ teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons diced fresh oregano
1 teaspoon diced fresh thyme
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 cups chicken stock
3 cups long-grain rice, rinsed
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 to 8 dashes hot sauce, optional
½ cup chopped scallions, divided
¾ cup chopped fresh parsley, divided
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 pound medium shrimp, deveined (20 to 24 count)

1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add the kielbasa and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned. Remove the kielbasa to a bowl, and set aside.
2. Add the ham to the same pot and cook 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to the bowl with the kielbasa, and set aside.
3. Add the butter, onion, celery and peppers to the same pot and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onion is translucent.
4. Add the tomato, garlic, jalapeno or cayenne, oregano, thyme, and tomato paste and cook until all the vegetables and herbs are blended well.
5. Add the stock and bring to a rolling boil. Stir in the rice, and add the sausage, ham, bay leaves, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Return to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
6. Add ¼ cup of the scallions, ¼ cup of the parsley, the lemon juice and the shrimp, and stir well. Cover the pot, remove it from the heat and allow the jambalaya steam, for 15 minutes, before serving.
7. Garnish with the remaining ¼ cup scallions and ½ cup parsley, and a dash of hot sauce, if desired.

(Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa)

Red Beans and Rice

Serves: 8-10

1 pound dried red beans
1 pound Andouille
sausage, thinly sliced
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 sweet onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
Hot cooked long-grain rice
Hot sauce (optional)
Garnish: finely chopped green onions, finely chopped red onion

1. Combine first 8 ingredients and 7 cups water in a 4-qt. slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 7 hours or until beans are tender.
2. Serve red bean mixture with hot cooked rice, and, if desired, hot sauce. Garnish, if desired.

Shrimp Creole

Serves: 6 to 8

2 quarts water
2 pounds shrimp unpeeled
1 cup onion chopped

1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 14 oz cans tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/4 teaspoon pepper
sh red pepper
2 cups cooked rice

1. Bring water to a boil in a large Dutch oven; add shrimp and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Drain well; rinse with cold water. Chill. Peel and de-vein shrimp.
2. Saute onion and green pepper in oil. Drain. Combine tomatoes, tomato p
aste, bay leaf, Worcestershire, oregano, salt, lemon pepper, pepper, and red pepper in large Dutch oven.
3. Add green pepper and onion. Simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes. Add shrimp and simmer until shrimp are heated.
4. Ladle hot shrimp creole over hot white rice.


2 packages Jiffy Cornbread Mix
5 eggs
½ cup sour cream low fat
3/4 cup milk (would go with less than that)
1 15-oz can cream corn

Preheat oven to 350 F., grease a 9 x 13 pan or muffin pan.

Mix eggs. Add sour cream until blended. Add milk to eggs and sour cream until blended.
Add cream corn to mixture. Gradually add in cornbread mixes until blended, but still may have lumps. Pour into greased pan.

Bake approximately 30-40 minutes (or more) until a toothpick comes out clean in the middle. Top should be golden brown.

Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

Bread Pudding

Serves: 8 to 10

2 cups granulated sugar
5 large beaten eggs
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups cubed Italian bread, allow to stale overnight in a bowl
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 cup chopped pecans

For the sauce:

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup brandy

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan.
2. Mix together granulated sugar, eggs, and milk in a bowl; add vanilla. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes.
3. In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter, and pecans.
4. Pour bread mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven.

For the sauce:
Mix together the granulated sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir together until the sugar is melted. Add the brandy, stirring well. Pour over bread pudding. Serve warm or cold.

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