Thursday, July 29, 2021

General Tso’s Chicken
Fakeaway night !

 Every once in awhile we pick up Chinese takeaway and come home and watch a movie. Since General Tso's chicken has been one of Doug's favorites we tried it make it at home and saved a little time and money.

Next time I make this I will douse the chicken with cornstarch or a bit of flour. The directions on the bottle stated I needed 3 cups of vegetables, 2 cup or pound of meat and roughly 3/4 cup of the sauce.

By the way, start the rice while you are slicing up chicken and veggies.

So I, following directions, sauteed the cut up chicken until it was almost done.  Then I added broccoli, asparagus and onions.  After everything looks softened I added the sauce. Served with lots of green onions on top and it was pretty good.

But next time I think it will make a difference if I add the cornstarch despite it not being suggested on the label.  I'm not a southerner so when I read fry I guess I immediatly thought toss it in the pan. That's not like the takeaway versions though.

Anyone else make General Tso's from scratch?  I welcome suggestions!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

July Update

July has gone by fast, so it seems to us. It’s been a good month for books and we also discovered a television series and a few movies we enjoyed. Here’s  the wrap up. 

Birds / Thanks to Gregg,  Mae, JoAnn and Deb for their suggestions about apps/books to identify birds.  The Audubon Society app is now installed on both my phone and tablet.  Going to add iNaturalist too. We see so many birds when we camp and a good guide can be hard to find.

Foodie stuff / We have had some good luck with movies lately and had a pizza night to watch one of them. A salad of romaine with fresh parmesan, tomatoes, toasted bread crumbs and a creamy dressing was a good accompaniment.

The pizza is from a locally owned restaurant called Solle’s and we like supporting local businesses. The salad we tossed together from fridge ingredients.

Movies and Books /  I know I’ve mentioned enjoying the book News of the World. The movie was very good as well with only slight changes to the story. It’s a movie I could watch again one day. I'll also be looking for more books by Paulette Jiles.

Lisa Jewell has a new mystery coming out in September called The Night She Disappeared. Netgalley kindly gave me an advanced copy and I liked that one, told in different timelines and perspectives. 

The police procedural Dead Man’s Grave by Neil Lancaster left me wanting more in this series. Lancaster was a police officer at The Met in London for 25 years so he has quite a bit of material for the series. This is set in Scotland.

A movie I can recommend, if you like true stories, is The Courier starring Benedict Cumberbatch. After the ending a script comes up telling what happened to all the people. The time period is the 1960’s during the Cuban missile crisis. Amazing. 

Weather / Hating on this intense heat but it’s only July so... we better suck it up! 

I hope wherever you are you are safe, healthy and happy!

Sharing with 

Deb at ReaderBuzz for Sunday Salon and Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sunday.


Friday, July 23, 2021


 This was the first time the Blackstone griddle was used to prepare fajitas and it was a hit.  The original "recipe" (which I haven't prepared in ages) is from Cooking Light. You can see that post HERE. This was very similar. Instead of green bell peppers we used only the yellow and orange this time. Also onions as they are an intregal part of the veggie mixture.

Red peppers would have been pretty, not sure why we didn't have any as it seems there are always red peppers in the fridge. 

 If you've ever made fajitas you'll know the basic ingredients -  just use the protein you'd prefer.

Doug used skirt steak and a Fajita seasoning mix with cumin, chili powder, garlic and salt.  Use small tortillas, heated on the griddle, and top with sour cream.

This is a great messy meal so grab lots of napkins.  I love messy "hand meals" such as fajitas, tacos and grilled wings.  Fun food.  Serve with sliced melon - that was a great combo.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Birds: Could someone help me with identification, please :-)

 I need advice for a good basic bird book so if you have a suggestion it will be most welcome.  These birds here have recently arrived in an area in Tallahassee.

Could anyone help me identify this bird?  We hadn't seen them before and it started with a group of four.  Three white birds and one dark gray.  Then a few days later more arrived.

They are rather large.

I'm just curious about them so any advice is welcome!

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Mongolian Beef and Broccoli

 This week I am revisiting the SkinnyTaste cookbook before the library wants the copy back.  So far we have liked all recipes we have tried with the exception of a chili mac dish.   Mongolian beef and broccoli was next on the list to try.

The recipe may be found HERE.  It's meant to be a serving for four people and I think we will get two dinners out of it.  I just need to steam and sautee more broccoli as we ate so much of it the first night.

Notes: Cutting the beef into thin slices made it more tender (for some reason) than the thicker slices.  I did a little of each to experiment.  Thin works best.  
Also, fresh ginger is definitely needed and the aroma when you add it is quite noticeable.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Baths and Flooring

A few people asked  about the flooring and bathroom remodel it is!

Photos of the remodel in a before and after series of photos.  I posted about the kitchen changes HERE.  

Before: In the upstairs bathroom we had wallpaper, a fat sink sitting atop the vanity & a clunky light fixture.  Also there was carpet in the upstairs bedroom which ran into the bathroom.

Walls painted Silverpointe, pretty new light fixture and mirror, gray vanity  and a light colored granite countertop. The carpet was removed and vinyl plank was put in place.

Before: The downstairs bathroom had wallpaper, a clunky light same as upstairs and a fat sink.  The linoleum floors were 20 years old.

After: New vanity in antique white, granite countertop, replaced the light fixture with something from this century, mirror and wallpaper removed.  The paint is called Shittake and I love it. The linoleum was ripped up and the same vinyl plank was used.

Before: The downstairs bath was a prefab plastic. Impossible to clean. It is/was forty years old just as the rest of the house.

After: Subway tile, new shower bar and fixtures. Loki gets to use it first for his bath :-)

Before: back upstairs to see the carpet.  It was so worn out.  

After: The vinyl plank makes a huge difference. It's much easier to keep clean. Wish we'd done this years ago.

We did purchase a rug so there's no echo and to keep Loki from sliding across the floor when chasing toys.  

The only other update we have been toying with is a screened porch but I think that will have to wait.  A pool would be absolutely amazing as I could use the exercise and it's SO hot here.....but that's out of the question.  For now I am very happy and thankful we were able to get all this done in 6 weeks. 

Thursday, July 08, 2021

Chicken Pasta Caprese

Here is a one pot meal I want to share from the Skinnytaste cookbook.  It's easy and  flavorful. We got home from our daily trip to the park about 6:30 and this was on the table before 7:15.  That includes the prep work of chopping and boiling the pasta as well as my usual distractions of looking at a book and messing about with Loki.

Chicken Pasta Caprese

1 pound boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I used boneless thighs)
1/2 tsp. dried basil
salt, per taste
ground black pepper
cooking spray
9 ounces dried penne pasta
4 TB extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, coursely chopped
2 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
4 ounces mozzarella cheese cut into cubes

Heat large non stick skillet. Season chicken with dried basil, salt and pepper.  Spray the skillet with cooking spray and add chicken.  Cook until cooked through on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Cook the pasta according to package directions then drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.

Meanwhile increase the heat in the skillet and add olive oil and garlic. Don't burn that garlic, keep stiring until slightly soft then add tomatoes and salt and pepper. Reduce heat and stir for roughly 8 minutes until tomatoes are soft.

Aff the pasta into the tomato mixture and stir.  If it becomes too dry add some of that saved pasta water. Add chicken and toss well, remove from heat then add fresh basil and cubed cheese.

One Pot Meal

Note: as with any recipe I use it as a guideline.  The salt and pepper were not measured and I use it liberally.  I forgot to thinly slice the fresh basil and frantically tore it and tossed it in at the end.  As for garlic, I used more....because I like garlic.

You could use different pasta such as penne or rotini or ziti, depending on your taste.  Even gluten free pasta would work here.

Sharing with Marg at The Intrepid Reader for Weekend Cooking.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Big changes in our kitchen!

Finally we are (mostly) unpacked and things have been put in cabinets and drawers.  It's amazing the things you collected over 30 years in a home.  You find many items that were dupicates or not needed to the charity shop.  Here are some before and after photos of the kitchen.

I tried to get photos taken at the same spot so you can see the changes.  The inside of the house is T 111 paneling and while it would look good in a mountain cabin, it's rather dark for a Florida home. 

- this is so much brighter and modern. We kept the brick floors.  Love the brick.

Wooden panel to separate the livng room, a fluorescent light and stainless divided sink

The back wood panel wasn't removed, it was tiled over.  Also a cabinet was added and a lovely pendant light. Replaced the divided stainless sink with a farmhouse sink.

The former countertop was butcher block laminate. This was replaced with a light colored granite.  

Also, under the cabinet lighting made a huge difference.

There was one sorry light in the ceiling before.  That was removed and replaced with LED recessed lighting.  The photos do not capture just how light it is in here now. Amazing transformation!

We had been using a cart as a coffee bar, storing other items in the small cabinet.   Of course I needed more space for additional casserole dishes and the giant microwave. By the way, that microwave was massive and about 20 years old!

This is the new coffee bar.  They did an excellent job on it and now we have loads of storage space. The old microwave is gone and replaced with an over the stove model. 

The red casserole dish sitting there was a birthday gift from our son.  He sent a beautiful Le Creuset ceramic baking dish which was put to use right away.

I make this easy chicken dish quite a bit because you don't need much prep and it's fast.  

By the way, the remodel was done by H & H Construction in case anyone in our area is interested. Highly recommended :-)  I may post the bathroom remodel photos upcoming as those were pretty big changes as well. 

Sharing with
Marg at The Intrepid Reader for Weekend Cooking
Sherry's Pickings for In My Kitchen

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Reading, watching, cooking and unpacking

Goodbye to Seminole State park and hello to Havana Florida. What I will miss is the lake, the birds and the lack of traffic noise. It was mostly peaceful chatting with like minded people who like to camp and RV.

Loki found these enormous shells near the water.  He had a great time and was fascinated by the fox squirrels.  We didn't see a single gray squirrel the entire 6 weeks.

Reading / I very much enjoyed News of the World by Paulette Jiles. Planning to get more by this author, once I catch up on books around the house. I'm trying to catch up on series so I finished The Moth Catcher,  a Vera Stanhope mystery, by Ann Cleeves. 

Watching/ We just picked up two PBS videos.  Looking for Life on Mars and biography on Hemingway.  Ken Burns produced the Hemingway video so it ought to be good.

Food /  Something we enjoyed from Donalsonville Georgia was the abundance of fresh tomatoes and field peas. I can’t find field peas in the Tallahassee area and the grocery store tomatoes are fairly flavorless so.... this was a treat. 

A few posts back I mentioned Doug was getting good use of the Blackstone griddle.  The  breakfasts are great but so are the grilled sandwiches. The crust was toasted and delicate for this ham and cheese with mustard.  Now that we are home the griddle is set up on the porch.  Guess we will buy another one for camping and storing in the RV.

Upcoming I will share photos of the kitchen remodel as it was a complete transformation.  Still uploading photos :-)  

Sharing with
 Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sunday
Marg at the Intrepid Reader for Weekend Cooking series
Deb at ReaderBuzz for Sunday Salon


General Tso’s Chicken <br>Fakeaway night !</br>

 Every once in awhile we pick up Chinese takeaway and come home and watch a movie. Since General Tso's chicken has been one of Doug'...

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