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Super Honkin’ Kicked Up Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes

Alrighty!  Here we go!!!  Finally, at long last, a new recipe!  Well, new to y’all…..not so new to my family and me.  I’ve been making these potatoes for years!  We loved “Twice Baked Potatoes,” but I wanted something a little more substantial, so I started playing around with some ideas.  And that’s how these Super Honkin’ Kicked Up Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes came to be.  Trying saying that name 3 times really fast!  Betcha can’t do it! 

Let’s make some!  They’re a little time and labor-intensive, but OH, SO WORTH IT in the end!  Here’s what you’ll need:

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Potatoes, of course!  Get some big ones!  Those little squirrely ones just won’t hold up to the Super Honkin’ part of this recipe!  Some green onions, red bell pepper, a can of whole kernel corn, frozen broccoli, garlic, fresh peppercorns, sour cream, Jane’s Krazy Salt and cheese of choice.

Start out by scrubbing your potatoes and sticking them in the oven to bake.  I like to bake them naked…..just lay them on the racks of the oven like this:

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Now while they’re baking, let’s mix up the goodies that will go into the potato mixture later.

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Trim up the green onions and get them ready for slicing.  I take the “hairy” end off each one and then the cut tips of the greens.  I also peel the most outside layer of the onion off.  There’s no rhyme or reason as to why I do that particular step other than I have major OCD issues and think it MUST be done.  You’re welcome to skip that step if you aren’t obsessive/compulsive!  :o) 

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Now give them a little diagonal slice like this.

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Now cut the pepper in half and scoop out the insides.  Remove all the seeds and discard them. 

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Slice each half into thin strips like this.

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Slice the strips until you have a small dice like this.

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Go ahead and throw them into a bowl together.  They’re going to be good friends!  See!  Don’t they look pretty together?! 

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Open and drain the can of corn.  Now add it to the peppers and onions in the bowl.  If you prefer, you could use a can of cream corn instead of the whole kernel. 

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Go ahead and throw the bag of broccoli in there now.  Use as much or as little as you think your family will like.  My family LOVES broccoli.  So I use the whole bag not matter how many potatoes I’m making.  This time, I used chopped broccoli.  I had company coming with kids younger than mine.  So I used the smaller cut broccoli to make it a little easier for little people to eat.  Usually, I use broccoli florets so there are large hunks of broccoli in there.  Ankle Biter #2 could eat his weight in broccoli!

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Now give it a good mix.  Looks how gorgeous that is!  Couldn’t you just swan dive into it!?

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Throw in some fresh-cracked pepper.  I sure wish these screens had a scratch and sniff feature because you can’t even wrap your head around how amazing this smells!

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And some Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt………….that’s some GOOD stuff right there!

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And what would this world be without a big scoop of minced garlic!?  So toss some of that in too!  Give it a good stir and just set it aside until the potatoes are done.

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Cut each potato in half length-wise.  Notice I’m holding the potato in a pot-holder.  You’ll need to do this step while the potatoes are hot or they’ll get gummy on you.  So I highly recommend using a pot-holder or a towel to hold the potatoes or you’ll have some seriously charred flesh!

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Not the best picture ever, but I can’t hold a potato in one hand, a spoon in the other and take pictures with my toes.  I’m just not quite that dextrous.  So Ankle Biter #1 had to help his ole mom out with this one.  Scoop the potato out leaving a little potato around the edges so it will hold its shape.

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Collect all the potato’s innards in a large bowl.  No sissy bowls for this.  You’re going to need a BIG one! 

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Here’s what your potato shells should look like.  Line them up on a baking sheet for stuffing.

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Get your trusty potato-masher and have a go at those tater innards!  You don’t want the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Leave a few lumps, but not huge chunks.

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Now add the sour cream to the smooshed potatoes.

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Stir until all the sour cream is combined well with the potatoes.

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Dump in the bowl of veggies you prepared earlier. 

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Give it a good mix.  Man alive, this stuff is GOOD!

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Dump in about 2/3 of the bag of cheese.  Reserve some of it for the tops of the potatoes.  Now give it a good mix.

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Start stuffing the potatoes.  Be generous!  You’ve got plenty!  Really mound it up!

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See, like this?  Don’t be stingy!  You’ll have more than enough to really pile them high!

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Give the potatoes a good sprinkle of cheese and stick them back in the oven just long enough for the cheese to melt.

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Now dig in!!!!!!!!!

It’ll take you a little time to make these, but they are SO worth it!  And if you want to make them a complete meal in themselves, add some of last night’s grilled chicken into the potato mix.  Just diced it up and toss it in when you add the veggies.  Leftover ham or grilled pork chops would also be good.  You can’t really go wrong with it! 

If you like asparagus better than broccoli, substitute that!  Roasted red peppers as opposed to raw red peppers would be amazing!  Change it up to suit your fancy! 

I served it alongside Smoky Mountain Chicken (recipe will be available here in a few days!) and a Wedge Salad.  But it makes a wonderful accompaniment to most any grilled or baked meat.  And if you don’t want to take the time to do all that potato baking, scooping, and refilling you can just peel some potatoes, boil them like for mashed potatoes and just add the ingredients and bake in a casserole dish.  Or………you can fake this one really well!  Make up some instant mashed potatoes using sour cream and then add all these other goodies, top with cheese in a casserole dish and bake.  Nobody will ever know you didn’t peel potatoes until your little fingers nearly fell off the bone! 

These potatoes are a HUGE summertime expectation at my house.  When we grill, they make frequent appearances!  I hope you all enjoy them as much as my family does!

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Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings

So um, did you miss me?  Sorry to leave you all high and dry!  It’s been beyond wild at work lately!  But thankfully, I think the “wild” is over……or at least for a while anyway!  I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve missed cooking and sharing with you these last few weeks!  It’s good to be “home!” 

I’ve been sitting on this recipe for a while.  I actually made these wingies for our Super Bowl party that turned into nothing but a Food Fest (THANK YOU, Charter Communications!)  I also made traditional Buffalo Wings, but I wanted to do something a little different too.  So I started pondering what I could make that might be a little hot and spicy, but sweet too.  And this recipe began to develop in my head.

Since all we could do was sit around and eat that night (THANK YOU AGAIN, Charter!) these got quite a lot of attention!  In fact, they were more popular than the Buffalo Wings! 

Jamaican folks have been “jerking” meat for a long time.  Traditionally, “jerk” is a very hot and spicy dry rub applied to either pork or goat.  Since neither of those beasts have wings, I decided to branch out a little with my jerk.  “My jerk” not to be confused for Tall Skinny Man, mind you.  He doesn’t have wings either.  But I digress.  So I ended up using a package of frozen wings and drummies for this recipe.  You can certainly use fresh if you’re a mind to do all that cutting up of raw chicken.  Me?  Not so much of fan of that process.  Therefore, frozen worked like a charm for me!

In addition to wings, of course, here’s what you’ll need:

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Fresh ginger, an orange, crushed red pepper flakes, fresh garlic, soy sauce and any variety of Jamaican Jerk seasoning.  I got my Jerk seasoning from Sam’s.  You could certainly make your own, but why reinvent the wheel if there’s a perfectly good wheel sitting around in the spice cabinet? 

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Wingies!  They’re pretty doggone important if you’re going to be making Jamaican Jerk WINGS!  I bought these in the freezer section of Kroger.  They’re already cut up for you!  All you have to do is thaw them.  Once they’re thawed completely, put them in a large mixing bowl.  This was about 3 pounds, give or take a wing or two.

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You’ll need about 1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger, 2 Tbsp. Jamaican Jerk seasoning, the zest from one orange, 1 heaping Tbsp. fresh garlic and as much or as little crushed red pepper flakes as you can take.  Since we all like really hot and spicy, I used a lot.  But it’s better to start out with a little and build than to roast your tongue out of your mouth with too much.  Maybe start with half a tsp. the first time.  If that’s not hot enough, increase by half tsp. the next time. 

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Now that you’ve got your seasonings ready, juice the orange over the chicken wings.  I like to use a citrus reamer to get all the juice and some of the pulp out of the orange. 

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Add 1/2 cup soy sauce. 

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Add the orange zest.  And can I just do a little PSA here?  I LOVE citrus zest!  LOVE IT!  The flavor it imparts is just unbelievable!  Please invest in a zester/microplane!  You’ll be glad you did!!!  We can love citrus zest together!

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Now add the  garlic.

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Fresh ginger going in!  Trust me on this……if you don’t use fresh ginger, the recipe is shot!  Fresh ginger and dried, ground ginger do NOT have the same taste!  Fresh ginger is CHEAP!  So use the good stuff, please!  I use my trusty microplane for the ginger too.

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Now toss in the crushed red pepper flakes and the Jerk seasoning. 

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Give it a stir and let it marinate as long as possible before cooking.  It’s best to let it soak up the marinade at least an hour, but several hours or overnight would be even better!

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Pour wings and marinade into a baking dish.  I highly recommend using a disposable pan for this so you don’t have to scrub when it’s finished cooking.  Bake 45 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked. 

Now don’t shoot me, but I failed to take pictures of a step in between here!  Halfway through the cooking process, I poured off the majority of the marinade/cooking liquid into a saucepan.  This step was twofold.  I wanted the wings to crisp up a little bit and I wanted to use the liquid to make a sauce to pour over the wings. 

I added half a cup of firmly packed brown sugar to the liquid I poured off the chicken and cooked it down until it made a thick sauce.  I simmered it on low until it was as thick as gravy.  And let me tell you, the aroma was INSANE!

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I also failed to add this to the “What You’ll Need” photo.  Sorry ’bout that!  I had about 18 different things going on at the same time and had to rely on Ankle Biters for any assistance because TSM was sicker than a dawg.  So I missed documenting a step or two along the way.  Begging pardon…….Sprinkle with toasted seasame seeds after pouring your thickened sauce over the wings.

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And you end up with these incredibly flavorful little wings……..WOW, I wish I had a scratch and sniff monitor right now!  These were “eyes rolled back in the head” good!

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings

*  3 pounds chicken wings

*  2″ piece fresh ginger—1 Tbsp. grated

*  1 heaping Tbsp. fresh minced garlic

*  2 Tbsp. Jamaican Jerk seasoning

*  1/2 tsp.-1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

*  zest and juice from 1 orange

*  1/2 cup soy sauce

*  1/2 cup brown sugar

*  2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Place wings in a mixing bowl.  Zest the orange and set the zest aside.  Cut the orange in half and juice it into the mixing bowl.  Next add the soy sauce.  Add grated ginger, minced garlic, Jerk seasoning, orange zest, and crushed red pepper flakes to the bowl.  Allow to marinate at least 1 hour.

Pour wings and marinade into a baking pan.  Bake in a pre-heated 350° oven for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked completely through. 

About halfway through the cooking process, pour off the cooking liquid into a saucepan.  Add brown sugar to the liquid.  Simmer on low until sauce thickens to the consistency of gravy.

Pour sauce over wings and toss them to coat each wing with the sauce.  Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.  Serve hot.

Now let me share an idea with you.  This would be equally amazing on a pork loin or boneless skinless chicken breasts!  I would make the marinade in a bowl separate from the meat if doing either of those.  Then I’d pour half the marinade on the meat and let it soak overnight.  The other half would be in a bowl by itself.  I’d grill the meat and thicken the reserved marinade while the meat grilled.  When the meat is completely cooked, pour the sauce over the meat when serving. 

This would make an awesome summer-time meal!  In fact, I can’t wait for warm weather to get here so I can get that grill cranked up and try this very thing!

I hope you enjoy this recipe!  I truly can’t tell you how amazing these turned out.  They’re so different from the traditional Buffalo Wings you’re used to!  Still spicy, but with a sweet twist!  Give ’em a try and report back! 

I’ve missed you people!  I hope my crazy work schedule is over for a while and we can get back to cooking around here!  See you soon with another new recipe!

Grilled Chicken and Mozzarella Panini

Do y’all Panini?  In case you haven’t heard of them or seen them or tasted them, it’s basically just a grilled sandwich, grilled with a fancy-named machine.  Me?  I don’t have a fancy panini machine.  I’ve got a knock-off of a George Foreman grill from probably 10 years ago when those GF grills were all the rage.  That’s what I use.  But it’s effective, so who cares right?

I sorta started panini’ing by accident.  I just thought I’d give it a whirl and see whether I could make a panini with my pitiful little GF knock-off grill.  Lo and behold, it worked!  Now, my family thinks paninis are the best thing in the world! 

So my last foreign exchange student is in town visiting.  And while I didn’t make paninis during her time with our family, I made her one on one of her first visits back.  Now that’s one of her favorite things I ever made!  A sandwich, of all things!

So when she first got here a couple weeks ago, I did paninis one night for dinner.  I started out by making the bread dough.  I wanted something that would compliment that flavors I planned to put on the panini.  And couldn’t find any bread that worked, so I decided to make it myself.  I made a Sun-Dried and Basil Tomato Foccacia bread.  Sounds fancy, but it was easy!  Here’s how I made it:

Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Foccacia Bread

*  4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

*  1 tsp. salt

*  minced garlic and lots of it!

*  15 fresh basil leaves, chopped

*  1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil, drained and rinsed, then chopped small)

*  10-12 oz. warm water

*  4 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour

*  1 cup very finely grated parmesan cheese

*  1 pkg. yeast

Pour oil, water and salt in Kitchen-Aid mixer bowl.  Add garlic and flour.  Sprinkle yeast on top.  Knead with dough hook about 5 minutes or until well combined.  Add basil, tomatoes and cheese and knead until they are incorporated into the dough.  Divide dough into 8 buns, shaping into ovals. 

***NOTE:  I used my Pampered Chef stone bar pan for this.  I laid the dough out on the stone, then brushed the tops with olive oil, covered with a dish towel and set them on my deck to rise. 

Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 25-30 minutes, misting with water every 5 minutes until done.  This keeps the outside of the dough from being hard.  Set aside to cool.

Before I grilled the chicken for the paninis, I marinated it.  I wanted it to have lots of flavor!  I used a small bottle of Italian dressing and 1 pkg. of dry Italian dressing mix poured over boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  I let them marinate about 4 hours before grilling them. 

The “sauce” for the panini was a knock-off of a dipping sauce served at Buca di Beppo, one of our very favorite Italian restaurants.  They have this pesto dipping sauce for one of their appetizers that’s just to die for.  My sauce wasn’t nearly as good, but it worked.

Pesto Mayo

*  2 cups mayo (good quality ONLY!)

*  1 tube pesto

*  4 cloves garlic, minced very fine

Mix together until well blended.  This stuff would be good on DIRT!

Now you’re ready to start building your paninis!

Here’s the Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Foccacia Bread.  Please excuse the photo.  It’s just not all that focused.  Sorry!  But trust me, the bread was WAY honkin’ better than the photo!

Split each piece of bread and spread the Pesto Mayo on each side.

Add a handful of Argula or whatever green you might like on each bread half.  The arugula is a little spicy and peppery which really complimented the other toppings!

Now add slices of Roma tomato on top of the arugula.  I didn’t get a picture, but I added fresh-cracked pepper on top of the tomatoes.  I LOVE fresh-cracked pepper!

Oh my!  Now here comes the good part!  Add slices of fresh mozzarella cheese on each sandwich.  I implore you, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, don’t use anything but fresh mozzarella cheese.  Go to the deli section of your market and look for it.  Sometimes it will look like a little ball.  Sometimes it will be in a longer package.  Fresh mozzarella is very soft.  And there is absolutely NO comparison between fresh mozzarella and that stuff you get in the regular dairy section of the store.  I promise!  Give it a try!  You won’t be sorry!


Top the mozzarella with sliced grill chicken. 

HOO BOY!  Just look at that!  It’s ready to hit the panini machine or the George Foreman or the griddle or whatever you want to use.  You could  even do this on the outside grill if you put something heavy on top of the sandwich to mash it down, then flip and grill on the other side.

And this is what you end up with!  Awesomeness on a plate!  This thing was absolutely delectable!  I served it with a Caprese Salad to tie in the tomato/mozzarella/basil theme and an Orzo Salad.  I’ll share that one with you another day!

Enjoy!  Now go panini and report back!

Making Use Of Leftovers

So I grilled some chicken breasts on Sunday and slathered them with my somewhat “famous” BBQ sauce and we had a boatload of them leftover.  Well, I’m a cheap heifer and can’t stand the thought of losing the money I paid for those chicken breasts should they go to waste. 

So while I was at work Monday, I pondered the recycling of said BBQ Chicken breasts.  And here’s what I came up with………..Salad.

Salad, you ask?  Because many of you know that I am the anti-lettuce due to it causing me to need to die should I consume it.  But it seems that spinach does NOT cause the same evil effect.  And I had a large bag of baby spinach just hanging around in my fridge.  So I started dreaming up nifty things to put in the salad. 

Since it was BBQ Chicken and I had a teeny bowl of whole kernel corn left from the same dinner, I decided it was going in the salad too.  And I absolutely can NOT have salad of any type without onion, so red onion went in as well.  Then a whole bunch of other goodies ended up in the bowl!

Here’s what I ended up with for this salad:

BBQ Chicken  & Spinach Salad

*  Baby Spinach (or your green of choice)

*  Leftover BBQ chicken breasts, sliced

*  1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed

*  1/2 can whole kernel corn, drained

*  1/2 red bell pepper, sliced

*  1/2 English cucumber, sliced

*  1/2 red onion, sliced

*  1 tomato, cut in wedges

*  1 handful bleu cheese crumbles

*  8 slices bacon, chopped

*  3 slices leftover grilled pineapple, cut in chunks

*  dressing of choice (suggestions:  bleu cheese, ranch, poppyseed, catalina)

Crazy combinations for the most part, but they worked.  My SIL proclaimed the salad the best ever.  She practically licked the bowl clean after dinner!  LOL 

Since it was such a thrown-together leftover meal, I didn’t think to take any pictures of it.  😦  Sorry!  It really WAS a great salad! 

I made mine on the healthier side.  It had no bacon or bleu cheese.  And I doubled up on the cucumber, onion and red bell pepper for mine since I love those things so much.  I’m back in the Weight Watchers saddle trying desperately to re-lose what I had already lost.  And I’m happy to report that the scale, who has been my nemesis for the last year, FINALLY decided to go in the right direction!  I am down 9 pounds.  Only 8,432 more to go to get back down to my lowest Weight Watchers weight!  Not that any of that has anything whatsoever to do with using up leftovers…………

Sorry for chasing that little rabbit!  I hope you enjoy my “invention” from our BBQ Chicken leftovers.  Have a great day!

Steak

So over the weekend we grilled steaks.  I love steak!  Steak is GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD! 

However, we have a difference of opinion between the Tall Skinny Man and me and my brother and SIL.  TSM and I think that a sirloin or strip steak are the way to go.  Unk and Aunt Dee think a ribeye is better. 

So when we grilled on Sunday, we did some sirloins AND some ribeyes.  Either way, they were delicious!

I assembled a few things before getting started: 

I LOVE ME SOME DALE’S!  LOVE it!  But that’s some salty stuff!  So I always get the reduced-sodium.  If you can take the “real” stuff, more power to you.  My blood pressure hates me if I consume the “real” stuff.  But I digress.  Dale’s is absolutely imperative for steak grilling!  Trust me on this!  It’s way awesome stuff!  I also had some spice-grinders to us.  I like to use a LOT of fresh-cracked pepper.  The more coarse, the better I like it!  I like to bite down on little chunks of peppercorn!  If you don’t, use a finer grind for yours.  I also have that wonderful Chicago Steakhouse grinder.  I LOVE the mix in that little grinder.  It came from Sam’s and it was fairly inexpensive.  I used my little grinders to make a large amount of spice to put on the steaks.  Don’t be afraid of spice!  Spice is GOOOOOOOOOOOOD!  Then there’s the steak, of course.  You can’t really grill steak without steak, now can you? 

That’s it, friends!  Steak doesn’t have to be smothered in a million things to make it taste good!  If it does, you didn’t have good beef to begin with!  Look for good beef!  And if you don’t see any in the case, ask the butcher to cut you some fresh!  That’s why he gets paid!

So let’s do this little process shall we?

You will need a large dish to spread your steak out in for marinating.  I used my “lasagna pan.”  It’s about a 10″X15″ glass baking dish.  Then pour a little Dale’s in a small bowl and have all your fresh-ground spices in another small bowl.  You’ll also need a basting brush.  TSM put a set of those little silicon brushes in my stocking at Christmas.  I don’t know how I ever basted without them.  Go get yourself some!  You’ll throw out those funky little bristle ones!  And if you’re still using the paintbrush you got at the hardware store 8 years ago, quit NOW!  Go buy thyself a silicon brush!  I promise, it’s wonderful for this process! 

Now sprinkle a good bit of your fresh-ground spices in the bottom of your dish, as much or as little as you like.  As you can see, I like a LOT!  And if my arm hadn’t been about to fall off from grinding, I would’ve put MORE!

Then use your little silicon brush to paint the steaks with Dale’s.  Place the steaks, wet-side down into the ground spices.  This will help the seasoning adhere to them.  Then really press them into the spices! 

Would you lookee there?  We’ve got a whole lotta happy steak!  Unfortunately, it was about right here where the Ankle Biters and Tall Skinny Man deserted me to go do Ankle Biter/Tall Skinny Man things.  And needless to say, my hands were way too funky to be doing any photo-taking.  So you’re out of luck for photos of this process after this!  Sorry!

Top each steak with a very generous amount of your fresh-ground spices.  Really massage it in!  Don’t be afraid to really get in there and work those spices in!  Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to grill.

HINT:  Set the meat out of the fridge when you go outside to light your grill.  It will cook more evenly if the meat isn’t cold when it hits the hot grill. 

Now there’s also a difference of opinion as to how a steak is to be cooked.  TSM just wants the nose and butt of his cow wiped and it warmed up on the grill, basically.  Now me?  I’m not a fan of chasing my food around my plate.  So I want mine a bit more “done” than that.  But I do want it on the reddish side of pink.  My brother and I eat ours much the same, which is funny since we grew up eating steak that was dead.  Dead, dead, DEAD I tell you.  Our Daddy knew no other way to grill than to make the steak into a hockey puck.  God rest his soul.  So that’s all we knew.  Now we know better!  If steak is cooked to brown or gray, it’s hockey puck.  Throw it OUT!  Start over!  It ain’t worth eating!  Unfortunately, my SIL still subscribes to the “hockey puck steak” train of thought.  Poor thang!  Then she drowns it in ketchup.  But I guess I’d have to too if I was eating hockey puck.  But I digress again.

I grilled TSM’s to a rarish-medium rare.  I grilled mine, Unk’s and the Ankle Biters’ to a nice medium.  And Aunt Dee got hers hockey puck-style.

Here’s where I REALLY made these steaks pop.  And I was a goober and forgot to take any pictures while I was doing it.  SORRY!  I roasted about 10-12 cloves of garlic with some olive oil and a little Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt until they were caramelized.  Then I whizzed them in the mini food processor with a stick of real butter.  I went outside and clipped a bunch of my garlic chives that are growing buck-wild right now and snipped them into the mixture.  I divided the butter mixture in half and kept half of it for those of us who don’t do bleu cheese.  For TSM and Aunt Dee, I added half a small container of bleu cheese to their butter.  Refrigerate it all! 

When the steaks came off the grill, I added a little scoopful of butter to the top of each steak letting it melt under the heat of the steak. 

Then we each had to say 100 hail Marys even though we’re not Catholic because there’s no doubt we sinned against God eating those things!  Gluttony IS a sin, after all!  And Lord have mercy on our wicked souls, we sure committed it eating those steaks!

Now run right out to your friendly neighborhood market and fetch the best-looking steaks you can find and whip these bad boys out for dinner tonight.  Then get right with God when you’re done!  Enjoy!

Monday Q & A: April 7, 2008

Well, it’s Monday again, so let’s dish the questions from this past week.

Marlene wanted to know if I have a favorite flour.  Marlene, you’re just not going to believe this, but the best dang flour I’ve found is from Save-A-Lot.  I’ve tried all kinds of flour, as you can well imagine.  But I bought a bag of their cheap-o, non-name brand flour around the holidays.  The muffins I made with that self-rising flour rose up higher than any muffins I’ve ever made before.  So I highly recommend it. 

Marlene also wanted to know if my cousins bake my Aunt Jane’s cakes.  You know, I have no idea if they do or not.  But whether they do or not, I sure do!  I guess my favorite cake Aunt Jane made was her carrot cake or maybe her pound cake.  But I never had one of her cakes that I didn’t love.  So it’s really hard to pick just one!  She was a phenomenal baker! 

And that’s pretty much all of last week’s Q’s!  So let’s move on, shall we?

I.NEED.HOME.COOKING!  Everytime I travel for work, I come home absolutely starving!  So one of my first orders of business once I got home was to start making a menu for the week.

Ankle Biter 1 requested pork chops.  He didn’t say how he wanted them.  So I decided to do panko-crusted ones.  Ankle Biter 2 asked for spaghetti…..AGAIN!  His Aunt Dee just made it for him Saturday evening for dinner because he whined so much wanting it.  And I bought a couple groovy tequila-lime marinated turkey breast tenderloins at Sam’s, so those are on the menu too.  Tall Skinny Man didn’t make any requests, so I guess he goes hungry this week!  LOL

So here’s what’s cookin’ at my house, good lookin’:

*  Panko-Crusted Pork Chops

*  Steamed Sugar Snap Peas with fresh ginger

*  Apple, Pear and Cranberry Compote

*  Stuffing

*  Napa Cabbage Salad

 

*  Grilled Tequila Lime Turkey Breast Tenderloin

*  RoTel Potatoes

*  Southwestern Layered Salad

 

*  Spaghetti

*  Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

*  Green Beans

*  Fried Okra

*  Cornbread Sticks

Yes, I know that’s only three meals, but the spaghetti will feed us two meals.  So no need to plan another night’s menu when we can do leftovers one night.  And with baseball practice in full-swing, we have to have a couple nights of quicky-quick dinners in order to be there by 5:45.  So spaghetti and leftover spaghetti will be just the ticket this week. 

So what’s on the menu at your houses this week? 

 

Spring is coming! And so is GRILLING!

So let’s talk a little about spring.  I actually wrote this post a couple weeks ago when we had our first weekend of gloriously spring-like-weather.  Yeah, that lasted all of about 5 minutes!  Two days later, it was so wicked cold it’s not even funny!  Then we had that freakish blizzard about 5 MORE minutes later. 

But this week has been absolutely fabulous springy weather!  I’ve been out of town the majority of the week and it has been such beautiful weather!  So I thought it was time to haul out this post!

With spring comes outside weather.  Outside weather means GRILLING and eating on the deck at our house.  I can’t wait!  The oldest ankle biter wanted to eat outside that weekend we had that first little taste of spring, as a matter of fact!  It was just a little too chilly for me to eat outside once the sun started to go down.  But it won’t be long now!

Grilling is a HUGE part of our spring and summer.  What I want to know is what your favorite thing to grill is.  Help me out here!  I love to try new things on the grill.  Last summer, I tried grilling pizza for the first time.  That was amazing! 

We also do the “regular” stuff like burgers and brats and regular hotdogs.  We grill chicken and steaks and pork loins or chops.  We grill shrimp and salmon.  I’ve grilled whole turkey tenderloins that are to die for. 

We grill a lot of veggies too.  I’ve done stuffed portabello mushrooms, squash and zucchini, and eggplant.  I almost always slice up onions, hit them with a dash of pepper and a little Dale’s steak seasoning and microwave them about a minute, then grill.  I could eat those by themselves! 

We love grilled fruit too.  AB2 requests grilled pineapple nearly everytime I ask what they want me to grill.  But we also like to make skewers of pineapple, strawberries, bananas and melons then baste with a mixture of honey, butter and lemon, lime or orange juice.  That is SOOOOO yum! 

One of our favorite grilled foods is a hollowed-out jalapeno pepper, stuffed with a teeny piece of chicken breast that I marinated in adobo sauce, then wrapped in a piece of bacon.  

 Here are a few pictures of some of our grilling…….

Grilled mushrooms

Grilled eggplant slices and mozzarella-stuffed portabello mushroom caps.  TSM loves those things!  I wouldn’t touch them with a 10 ft. pole!  But they sure look purty on the grill!

Grilled peppers

Grilled whole pork tenderloins, chicken-stuffed anaheim peppers (the jalapenos were too tiny!) and fresh pineapple chunks wrapped in bacon.  Lord, have mercy on my wicked soul!  That’s some evil-good stuff right there!

grilled veggies

Grilled squash, zucchini, red and green bell peppers, red onions and grape tomatoes done on a grill pan.  Oh yeah, baby!  Come to Moma!

 grilled pizza 1

grilled pizza 2

And grilled pizza.  This was homemade pizza dough topped with a teriyaki BBQ sauce, leftover grilled pork loin cut into slices, onions, green bell pepper, pineapple and loads of cheese.  Those little ankle biters quit biting on my ankles for just a brief moment while gnawing on that pizza!

So what do you all like to grill?  Share some of your favorites with me so I’ve got new inspiration for the upcoming grill season!  I can’t wait to fire that bad boy up!  It’s probably going to happen this weekend, in fact!  So give me lots of inspiration!  I’m honnnngry! 

See y’all when I make it back home!