Thursday, April 02, 2020

How life has changed

How life has changed for us all since the last In My Kitchen event. I am glad people are still posting as its good to know what is going on with everyone across the globe. How are you coping?  What are your meal plans? Are you in a state where a Stay-at-Home order has been issued and if so, what is going on in your world?

Florida is late to the game with an order of Safer-at-Home.  Really?  Safer and not STAY at home?  I fear it will cost people dearly having left beaches open for Spring break and not telling folks to stay home. Well, we are home and plan to stay in place as long as possible.  We have food and while it might get down to interesting meal plans, we will eat. 

My poor planning has us with only 4 bottles of wine....yeah....

Restaurants are closed but you can still get take-away meals.  We only picked up pizza and Chinese in the past we adapted our movie/take-away night using Trader Joe's Orange chicken.

We had a bag of the frozen orange chicken handy (sob- last one at home) and some stir fry veggies. Doug made the last of the pot stickers too and with a side of Tamari we were in business.


Takeaway night means a tray, a movie and a bottle of Beaujolais. Aja gets a peanut butter stuffed Kong. The Martian was great even though we'd seen it before.  Love Matt Damon.


We had soups this past month. A chicken taco chili soup and red lentil soup.

96046E7E-E615-43A6-BD30-B8539BDDF372 C6D800B4-26CB-4A20-A1A0-A209F17C14E5

Our sweet girl Aja (pronounced ASIA - yeah we are Steely Dan fans), she is always in the kitchen snuffling about.


We have been able to eat outside the kitchen quite a bit as the weather has been very nice.  Here is another patio meal with grilled cheese on sourdough and tomato soup. Can't beat that combo.


We started a fire early last night, just couldn't wait until dark. Drinks by the fire, treats for Aja.


Last but not least we have been doing reading, movie watching, walking and this morning Doug was able to get his solar telescope out.  It was great, we had a blast even though it was only for a short period of time.  

He showed me a prominence on the sun that looked like a huge triangle, like a pyramid.  It was so much larger than Earth...hard to wrap your head around the dimensions.  I was always a nervous Nellie about looking at the sun but have since come around with all the safety features.  I love it.


That's it for me in North Florida.  Sherry said it was fine to talk about non kitchen happenings so here you have it.  We are well, so far so good!  I hope everyone else is doing well and know we are all in the same shape trying to find toilet paper, lol.

Sharing with:
Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sunday (for the grilled cheese and tomato soup)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Oven Baked Potatoes from Tasting Paris Cookbook
{great as a side dish!}

The last time I was at the library I saw this book displayed in the cookbook section. The cover immediately grabbed my attention and I decided to bring it home. If you have ever looked at Clotilde Dusouliers website Chocolate and Zucchini and you liked it, you will enjoy this book.

By the way, the last time I was at the library I wish I had picked up more physical books and DVDs as they have been shut down for two weeks. Obviously no fines are accruing and we have more time to read the books we checked out, watch the DVDs as well......but now I wish I had checked out more. Oh well.  We are all in the same boat.


The first recipe I tried was oven baked potatoes.  They are almost the same as the way I prepared them and while tasty and crispy, Doug said he liked my old version better.  They are pretty though, don’t you think?


Doug grilled burgers while heated fresh corn and made these potatoes.  Then we sat outside to escape the hot kitchen as the oven was cranked up to 425 F for 20 minutes.

Not like you need to twist our arms to eat outdoors.


Aja always joins us and gets treats while we eat. Just the three of us hanging out now and its fine with all of us.  Peaceful.


The basics of this recipe is cutting white potatoes (I used Yukon Gold) into long strips roughly 1/2 inch thick.  Then you parboil the potatoes for 5 minutes, drain and place lid on pan, give it a good shake for 5 seconds.  According to the recipe this makes the potatoes fuzzy.  Not sure what that means but I will tell you what that did. - it made some of the potatoes into a mushy texture.

While the potatoes were boiling you were to preheat the oven to 425 F and place a rimmed baking sheet in with 2 tablespoons oil to get hot.  Ok, back to the potatoes - now you carefully drop the potatoes onto the hot pan and yes, they do sizzle and splatter a bit of oil so, careful there!   Bake for 20 minutes.

I won’t deny these were good and they were crispy but I won’t shake the saucepan next time so the potatoes can keep there shape.

The rest of the book is very pretty, lots of interesting recipes and photos.  In times when its hard to get some ingredients the recipes here aren’t as practical.  If you want a dose of beauty in food photos and do some armchair traveling to Paris, definitely check this book it of the library.

Sharing my burger and fries with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sunday.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Big Fish and Jacques Pepin Chicken and Mushrooms

Staying at home doesn’t mean I read or watch movies alI the time. My husband and I have been walking our field and rural church road, watering the garden, surfing on our tablets and looking over my many cookbooks.  Last week I surfed around and  checked out the movie schedule over at Food ‘n Flix.

It’s nice to stay in touch with fellow food and book blog friends in times like these. It’s the only way I’m visiting anyone at the moment but I guess that goes for most of us.

Anyway, This month’s featured movie is any by Tim Burton. How cool 😎 s that? I’m a fan of the movie Big Fish and so that’s the one selected. Check out the announcement at Coffee and Casseroles HERE.  

You still have time to join in if interested as submissions are due at the end of March at .Food ‘n Flix. Yeah, I’m not exactly providing a lot of notice here!


Big Fish is a story of hope and adventure with Edward Bloom's character telling fabulous stories, keeping the theme positive. Nothing gets this guy down. His son loved the exaggerated stories when he was a child but grew weary of hearing them, the same stories retold to others as he listened with increasing irritation. 

When Edward’s health fails his son William and French wife (played by Marion Cotillard) return from Paris to visit. Edward hopes to hear about his father’s real life and learn who he really was as he never believed all the stories Edward told him.  The ending, if you haven’t seen this old movie from 2003 I won’t spoil it, was perfect.

A corresponding meal would be fish, you’d think, but the French factor introduced had me thinking of a Jacques Pepin dish. One evening the entire Bloom family had dinner together. It was a chicken meal with green beans and potatoes. This made me think of Pepin’s chicken with mushrooms in white wine sauce. There you have it.

So here is my offering for the meal with the movie.  I am also linking up with  I Heart Cooking Club with this Jacques Pepin dish.  It was quite nice sitting outside to eat.  The world is a quieter place these days without traffic roaring by and a meal outdoors is a treat.


 Love this meal.  Love Pepin!


Jacques Pepin's Chicken Thighs
From More Fast Food My Way


4 chicken thighs, bone in with skin
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
3⁄4  teaspoon black pepper
1 small onion, finely diced
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
10 ounces mushrooms, chopped into 1/2-inch dice
1⁄3 cup dry white wine
chives, chopped, for garnish


Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut extra skin and fat off each thigh. Cut a 1/2 " slit into meat on either side of the bone, so that chicken will cook faster and evenly. Season thighs with 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper.

Place chicken into non-stick skillet, skin side down, on high heat.

When chicken starts to sizzle, cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 16-18 minutes. If browning too quickly after 10 minutes, reduce heat to low.

Transfer chicken, skin side up, to a heat proof platter and place in oven to keep warm. Pepin recommends keeping your serving plates in the oven so that they will be warm when you plate the chicken.

Remove all but 2 tbsp of fat from the skillet. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms. Cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and white wine. If any liquid has accumulated on the platter in the oven, add that liquid to the pan. Cook over high heat for 1 minute, to reduce the liquid a bit.

Divide the mushroom mixture between 4 plates. Place one piece of chicken on top and garnish with chives to serve. I just placed it all on one platter. It was great!

Sharing with
Food ‘n Flix
I Heart Cooking Club
Coffee and Casseroles
Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking

Friday, March 20, 2020

If you are staying home, make soup!

Making soup is something I do on a fairly regular basis and now that I’m home 24/7 you can bet I’m making the most of leftovers.  If you have something leftover that isn’t enough for say two servings (in a household of two), then use it as a base for soup.  Last week I served chicken taco chili.  We scarfed up a few tacos from this slow cooker meal and it didn’t leave enough for another dinner. 

Wait, I lie - we did have some of that chicken over rice one afternoon.  So good!


I wanted to participate with the cooking club, Deb’s Souper Sunday and British Isles Friday so I thought, why not make a Nigella Lawson recipe and tweek the ingredients from her quesadillas. This is basically her quesadilla recipe dumped into a pot and made into soup.  Nigella is one of my favorite British chefs and I'm sure I'll be revisiting her cookbooks soon.

Nigella's Tortilla Soup
(with my adaptions)

Leftover chicken chili meat
Broth - the amount is to your liking, some like it very soupy/brothy
Black beans
Chopped onion and pepper
Basil, chili powder and salt
sour cream

Sauté the onions and peppers.  Once soft simply add shredded chicken, broth and black beans.  Season per your taste.  This may be served with sliced avocado and tortilla chips. I topped our bowls with sour cream and sliced green onions.

As we are home now, being in the age group where its recommended we stay in and away from people, I am making the most of my time in the kitchen.  And leftovers of course.  The fewer times I need to restock at the market the better.

I'll leave you with a photo of the soup and the pretty white azalea off the porch. With the news in today's headlines it's nice to focus on something pretty.  And delicious!


Sharing with:

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Chicken Chili Taco - a slow cooker meal

The big topic of discussion these days is the Coronavirus. Rather than hash out what is already in the news, I will share a good post by Mae’s Food Blog here as it’s informative and doesn’t aim to get you panicked as some news articles have done.

Our prep so far is similar to what you’d do for hurricane season in Florida. We used to keep a good store of rice, canned goods, etc but got lax in the past years. Well. Lesson learned after we evacuated for Hurricane Michael in 2018. 
Our rural road was closed for over two weeks, impassable with the downed trees and power lines, not to mention a mandatory curfew in our county. We realized that had we stayed to ride out the storm we wouldn’t have had enough food. 

So, we are ready for a similar self-isolation now. But I honestly don’t expect a curfew or water/electricity  to be shut off or any of that sort of side effects we get with hurricanes.

Fact is we stay home most of the time with excursions to the library, Trader Joe’s or the park so Aja can walk. Life will go on with entertainment being the usual - books, DVDs, surfing on the tablet, making bread and homemade meals, listening to music in the evenings and the occasional fire. 
We are exciting like that 😏

So, let’s talk food now and a meal that’s  about as easy as it gets. A slow cooker, a few ingredients and a true fix-it-and-forget -it meal.


This is a sandwich, kinda, so I thought about sharing with Deb for Souper Sunday. This is also a meal I consider fun food because it’s messy and mostly handheld. Plus ...well, look at this table. It most certainly isn’t a beautifully set display for a foodie magazine, ha!


Chicken Chili Tacos

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 6
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 cup mild or medium salsa plus more for serving
2TB chopped chipotle chilies
1TB chili powder
Salt and pepper
Taco shells or tortillas

Grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped avocado & lime wedges for serving.

Combine chicken, salsa, chilis , chili powder, salt and pepper in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.

Transfer chicken to a bowl and shred using two forks.

The chicken slowly simmering in the slow cooker was a hit. The tacos were messy but aren’t they always, so I’m thinking using tortillas. Doug suggested we simply serve it over rice and that’s probably what we will do next time.

Sharing with

Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking Series

Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sunday.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Pomegranate Soup for Cook the Books

The selection at Cook the Books club for February/March is Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran.
Three sisters from Iran end up in County Mayo, Ireland, hoping for a better life. The Aminpour sisters open a cafe and cook the delectable dishes from their homeland. It’s a small Irish village and while some of the townsfolk want to try a more exotic cuisine, there are those who shun the women and cafe simply because they are from Iran. You could substitute any middle eastern family trying to run a cafe in any small town, in Ireland or the U.S. for this plot.


The setting for this book was Ireland and Iran. The plot plays out predictably with the women and their Irish neighbors, the cultural differences accepted. Well, by most people. Definitely a foodie book with over a dozen recipes included throughout.

There were so many interesting dishes served up in this book but the recipe for lentil soup grabbed me right away. I had been wanting to make red lentil soup for a long time.


Red Lentil Soup
(adapted from the book)

2 TB butter
2 TB olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
2 leeks, medium diced
4 stalks celery, medium diced 
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 cups red lentils
Chopped tomatoes 
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
5 cups chicken broth, (I think I used more)
Salt and pepper

Sauté the onions, leeks, garlic and celery in the olive oil and butter. Add  the lentils and broth  and simmer for 40 minutes. At that point I tossed in some chopped tomatoes. Add any seasoning then Parmesan cheese, before serving sprinkle with parsley.

Sharing with:

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

French cookbooks, homemade garlic butter and Penfolds

It's time for the In My Kitchen event hosted by Sherry at Sherry's Pickings

I’ve been horribly unorganized lately but a notebook with written plans and goals is helping me maneuver back with blogging/crocheting plans. Let’s put that red cup away and see what’s in the kitchen 😁


Lemon cookies. I love lemon in sweets or main entrees.


We were at Trader Joe's and they were sampling these.  At first we had willpower and sampled, moved on.  Then we thought about how nice it would be to have these thin cookies with a pot of tea.  So...yeah....they ended up in the cart.


I pulled out one of my favorite cookbooks to make Chicken Chasseur one night.  This is one of those vinyl coated covers so if you spill something the book isn't damaged or stained.


Chicken Chasseur in my Le Creuset Dutch oven.  This pot is so old.  I bought it in Destin during one of our camping trips over a decade ago.  It remains a favorite and I couldn't do without it.   Those who follow me on Instagram have already seen these photos :-)


I roasted garlic last week and used three of the garlic heads to make garlic butter.



It was great on a warm slice of bread, had it with pasta and sauce on the porch.


Last but not least we had a splurge on this Penfolds wine. This was a treat to have this Australian wine and it went so very well with grilled steak. We lingered over the meal and chatted so it was a very pleasant evening.


Linking up with:

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Squash Casserole from Whiskey in a Teacup


I’m rather behind in my blogging plans and just about any other project I hoped to jump on this February. That’s one reason I haven’t visited or posted too much. 

I use my phone as a hot spot for Internet connection or make do with a tablet. We were approached by a lady trying to sign folks up for Infinity Internet but she confirmed that they won’t come to our area. Seems you need at least 50 people for the service to consider your area and I doubt there are 50 people on our stretch of a 5 mile road. Oh well. #disappointed

Anyway, I saw this book Whiskey in a Teacup at Barnes and Noble and thought I’d take a look. I’m glad I checked it out of the library as it’s a nice book with good photos and recipes but I wouldn’t want to own it.

One recipe that interested me was this squash casserole. I warned my husband that it looked like a peach cobbler when it was in the oven so, don’t be disappointed. It does look like a dessert.


Plated up you can tell it's squash.  It went well with roasted chicken thighs and little potatoes but I imagine this would be a good side dish with any entree.  

Except sushi, yeah, that wouldn't meld well.


Here is the recipe as printed in the book but I made adaptions.  It's just us two so I didn't need a quantity to serve 10. Yikes, we'd be eating it forever.

Summer Squash Casserole
(serves 8-10)

3 TB olive oil
1 white onion chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 pounds total yellow squash and zucchini, sliced
3 TB butter
24 Ritz crackers
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 large eggs, beaten with 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp pepper
3 TB Parmesan cheese
2 TB chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 375 F and grease baking dish. Heat olive oil in skillet and saute onion and garlic about 3 minutes.
Add squash to pan with salt; saute about 10 minutes until tender. Drain in colander.

Crush Ritz crackers; transfer 1/2 to squash mixture in large bowl. Combine 3/4 cup cheese, egg cream mixture, sugar, salt and pepper. Transfer to a prepared baking dish.
Combine remaining cracker crumbs with 3 TB melted butter. Top casserole with crumbs and rest of cheese and Parmesan.

Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with parsley.

 Notes:. I used regular milk and not cream, also I cut back to a smaller quantity for the serving size.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Soup and books and movies

All I have been doing lately is cooking a bit, reading and watching a few shows. So no huge important updates here!  Hoping we can have a fire if the weather cooperates....might be a few days.  

Vegetable Soup....mmmmmm.  This is an old recipe originating with my grandmother.  She passed it on to my mother who made copious quantities and shared with both sets of grandparents and my Uncle Lew.  Everyone loved it and I still do love it today.  I make it the same way and my family enjoys it too. Fresh veggies and marrow bones make the difference I think.  Recipe and prior post may be found HERE.


Books / I joined Shelley at Book'd Out for her 2020 Nonfiction reading challenge. Still working on that post at the (book blog) for one category.  I'm very much enjoying a book about John Glenn at present.  In the meantime I have finished another Erin Kelly book titled He Said/She Said and it was quite good, IMO. I also read The Rumor by Lesley Kara for the Kindle English Mystery Book Club. That was January's selection. Hoping to be more active there this year. Fist book of the year was Then She was Gone by Lisa Jewell.  I'm devouring all of Jewell's mysteries since discovering her last year.

Watching / The new movie Midway was phenomenal and after checking facts, historically accurate.  We also started watching a new series (courtesy of the library) called Catch-22.  We like it so far.

catch midway

Just a quick update here.  Everyone is well, so far so good, and I am taking advantage of Starbucks free internet to post today.

Sharing with

Monday, February 17, 2020

Camping at Seminole State Park in Georgia

Seminole State Park is in Georgia and we decided to fit this one  last camping trip in prior to surgery.  I wrote about the trip to St George island before.  This one wasn't planned but fortunately we were able to get a site last minute. 

We used to have a Class C and honestly, if we had known I'd retire when I did (early) we probably wouldn't have it bought it. We'd either have waited until I was out of the workforce or just bought this small Class A to begin with. It gives us so much more room.


This particular site at Lake Seminole is great, very private and the winds from the lake aren't so severe.  This is a chapel behind us and beyond that are trails through the woods and to the boardwalk.


The boardwalk was open but many of the trails were closed off as the previous years storms did heavy damage to the park.


It was glorious having the place to ourselves. Just sunning turtles and birds for company.


These squirrels are shy but they do get close enough for a photo op if they are up high in a tree. They don't look real.


Doug did a bit of grilling.  Nothing like a steak cooked outside. Behold the cool new digital thermometer.


He grilled the asparagus too.  I can only take credit for the buttery mushrooms and sweet potato mash.


The sunset and skies were lovely. Probably too many trees to make it worth it to bring a telescope but we'll see next time.


We had a very good time and I can recommend this park as a pleasant place to camp. There are sites on the lake as well but the winds are wickedly strong in winter. We liked it on the hill best and we have camped there quite a few times.

That's the camping wrap up and hope to plan more trips soon.


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Recovery doesn't have to boring or bland :-)

We have had a good week considering some of the out of the ordinary circumstances lately.  Doug had to have surgery recently and while it was a long surgery, he is recovering (to me) at an astonishing rate. Walking about and no where near as foggy as either of us had expected based on previous experiences.

I'm doing the driving and lifting of Aja in the car when we go for rides.  In six weeks all restrictions will be lifted.  Hopefully.  Probably. 

Since he's been home from the hospital Aja, probably deflecting attention toward herself (kidding), developed a bladder infection.  Scary thing was a diagnosis of  possible chronic kidney failure for her.  We will get a recheck in two weeks.  What a start to the month! Bottom line is - everyone is fine. Whew!

Moving to the "recovery meal menu" I present the following which we've recently enjoyed.  I've been having fun in the kitchen.

Starting with Bacon, Corn Potato Chowder - a recipe from Curtis Stone. It's filling and served with fresh baguette it makes a decent lunch.  Plus it's easy and fun to make.


Here we have one from Moosewood Cooks at Home, North African Couscous.


Easy, fast and light.  You could switch out the shrimp for tofu if you wanted purely vegetarian fare.


Chicken Marsala isn't always on the rotation but when I remember it it's a hit.  We served it over angel hair pasta as I didn't have egg noodles on hand.  Would have sworn there was a bag in the pantry but the angel hair pasta worked well.


Lasagna.  This batch came out very well and made several meals and a lunch. I've had quite a few lasagna recipes tried out but this one is always the best.


Finally, last but not least, is the bacon wrapped peach chicken. Asparagus with Parmesan cheese didn't go amiss with this one. This was a regular and we gave it good break as we didn't want to get tired of it.


As I said, Doug is up and moving around and recovering well.  We were able to enjoy good meals and settle in to watch movies and listen to music as we usually do.  Aja is also recovering from her illness, poor old girl.  

Life is good.

I want to share some photos from our last camping trip to Lake Seminole Georgia.  We got that one in before we were housebound for a bit.  Coming up soon.....

Sharing with

How life has changed

How life has changed for us all since the last In My Kitchen event. I am glad people are still posting as its good to know what is going on...