Thursday, October 17, 2019

Camping, watching, improvements and reading

Seems ages since I did an update type post. Our meals have mostly been repeats of favorites or lots of grilled fish so....nothing exciting to share on that front.  I have taken a short hiatus off Instagram so if you noticed I disappeared, that's why.  Instagram is sleeping right now.

Watching/ Not a lot of TV for us lately.  We did get two non fiction space programs which we enjoyed very much. Apollo was great and used real footage from the missions.  It even has that clip with Walter Cronkite speechless. Astronaut Pam looks like a children's video but it isn't.  It focuses on retired USAF colonel Pam Melroy and she does an excellent job of explaining about the training involved to be an astronaut.  It was very interesting.  Watching them train underwater was amazing.

mov3 mov1

The library also had a series called The Rookie. We are fans of Nathan Fillion so that was fun to watch.


Repairs and improvements/ Our upstairs tub and shower has needed replacing for a long time. Finally - it's done. It's very nice too.

The Before photo....well, it didn't look like this when we were using it.  This is mid way during the tear down stage.


The After photo.  Wow - so much room!


Speaking of repairs, our electrical power pole fell over. Actually it rotted and fell after a heavy rain. The pole is about 40 years old (our house is old) and it gave out.  The lines were on the ground so the local electrical company came out and attached those a tree for now.  Otherwise they'd have to cut the utilities as it wouldn't be safe. Niiice.  An electrician is supposed to come give us an estimate for the new pole and burying the lines.

power line

Camping/ We are meant to be heading to Henderson State park near Destin Florida but we will see what goes on with the tropical system headed our way.  Hopefully it will pass.


That's it for now.  Hope all is well in your world.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Espana Chicken and a Caesar Chicken salad

I sure love chicken. I could probably eat chicken as my exclusive choice of meat/poultry for the rest of my life. Not that we have it every night, mind you, but we do enjoy a good chicken meal. It's so versatile.

A few weeks ago Beth Fish Reads featured the book The Forest Feast. Once I saw the Mediterranean theme and the gorgeous artwork in the book, I immediately thought about this Mediterranean cookbook on my shelf.


Here is Espana Chicken served with brothy rice and field peas.  I like the olives quite a bit but they can be too salty, depending on your taste and of course, how much do you like olives.


It's an easy baked meal, dumping the contents of the chicken and marinade into a casserole dish.


More chicken is a Caesar salad with crisp Romaine and grilled, sliced chicken breast.  That's a filling lunch and fairly healthy.  A bit of red onion and Parmesan cheese made a nice blend of flavors.


Chicken Espana


½ cup pitted California olives
¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 TB dried oregano leaves
3 cloves garlic minced
1 cut up chicken, about 3 pounds (I used wings and thighs)
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup dry white wine
2 TB chopped parsley


Mix olives, oil, vinegar, oregano and garlic in a freezer bag. Put chicken in bag, seal and marinate 2 hours or overnight.

Arrange chicken and marinade in shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Pour wine into pan.

Bake at 350 F for one hour or until cooked, basting every 20 minutes or so. Sprinkle with parsley.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 1 hour

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Saturday, September 28, 2019

Irish Beef and Root Vegetable Stew

I was told this is a very easy recipe and prep. Oh. My. I wish I could share the aroma of this stew as it brewed. Incredible. I highly recommend this Irish Stew.  This was prepared in the Instant Pot but I'm sure it could be adapted to a Dutch Oven....not sure if it would be as tender though.


There are loads of root vegetables in this recipe but I think Doug will add more mushrooms next time.  I know they aren't everyone's cuppa tea but we love them. The combo of the Dijon and herbs and all of it melding together will make your mouth water as the aroma wafts through your kitchen.  

It's been a while since I made bread so I started back with an easy loaf of French. Four ingredients, messy as heck because I think I used too much water. While it didn't brown or rise as I am used to, it tasted fine. 


Our weather isn't cooperating in regard to sitting outside to enjoy a hearty stew like this one but I am hopeful that will change soon. This is one for the cold winter months that I'm sure Doug will make in the future.

Irish Beef and Root Vegetable Stew
The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook

1 and a half pounds boneless stew beef, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or avocado oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
8 ounces button or creaming mushrooms, quartered (next time we’ll use more)
1 cup Guinness (we used Maduro beer)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
3 large carrots, peeled an cut in 1/2 inch thick slices
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch slices
1 rutabaga, peeled, quartered and sliced in 1/2 inch thick pieces
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

Sprinkle the beef all over with salt and pepper. Select the sauté setting on the instant pot and heat the oil. Add onion, bar and mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes, until onion is soft and translucent.

Add Guinness, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, tomato paste, rosemary and bay leaf and mix well. Bring the mix to a simmer, then stir in beef.

Secure the lid and set Pressure Release to Sealing. Press the Cancel button to reset cooking program, then select Meat/Stew setting and set the cooking time for 30 minutes at high pressure.Let the pressure release naturally for at least 10 minutes, then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam. At this point you can leave the stew on the Keep Warm setting for up to 10 hours. (As if!!)

Open the pot and stir in carrots, parsnips and rutabaga. Secure the id once again and set the pressure release to Sealing. Press the Cancel button and reset the cooking program to, then select Manual setting and let cook for 3 minutes at high pressure.

Perform a quick release by moving the Pressure Release to Venting.

In a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and water, mixing well. Open the pot and quickly stir the cornstarch mixture into the stew. Recover and let thicken for 5 minutes. Ladle into bowls and stir.

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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Vacation and birthday week!

It is vacation week as well as birthday week celebration at our house.   It’s going to be so hard to return to work next week and tough out my remaining 2 months, 26 days as a government drone....but who's counting......

Eat, drink and be merry. Here are the particulars.

A breakfast on the patio because the weather was cooperating. Scrambled eggs, cheese grits, fried tomato and bacon.


Grilled Scamp, baked sweet potatoes and green beans. The scamp was a treat. We’d never had it before and we heard from a fisherman friend that it’s the absolute best. So good that he said it’s the one fish he never shares.
 It was indeed all it was rumored to be and we want more.


For the actual birthday meal Doug grilled a New York Strip steak and asparagus. We also had our sweet potato fix.


Plus a nice Bordeaux Supérieur and a gooey soft triple cream cheese, Le Délice Bourgogne.



Besides enjoying be off together and doing things without a schedule, Doug was able to get some solar observation in, we had a new shower stall put in to replace a tub, did some reading, listened to a new ( to us) John Mayall and Eric Clapton Cd and watched a National Geographic DVD about Apollo missions to the moon. That was very good.


! Doug said to post the warning to always use caution and the proper filters and gear when looking at the sun.  No one wants instant blindness !

Fun week and it’s not completely over. Yea!


Friday, September 13, 2019

Grilling, Reading and Watching

It was but a wish and dream that we could get cooler temperatures.  Almost.....a few more weeks and we will be able to sit outside again.

Grilled dinner / From the grill and in the kitchen this week we have grilled hog snapper, something we haven't tried before.  It's such a thin fillet that it was placed on heavy foil so it wouldn't go through the grill grates. This is a Gulf fish.


Rafts of asparagus, olive oiled and salted, grilled.


It was a nice textured fish, a sweet but not buttery taste and I would gladly have it again.  The local fish market doesn't get it very often.


Reading and lunches:  I had been reading an autobiography by Eric Clapton and enjoying that during lunch.  One of my lunches was a clean-out-the-fridge mission which inspired a pizza salad. Lots of salad greens, radish, cukes, pea pods, carrots and a deconstructed bit of pizza toppings.  I scraped the cheesy veggie topping off and mixed it with the salad.  It was good! And I avoided the extra carbs by harvesting only the cheese and veggie toppings.  Alas, pizza is my always my downfall with a weight loss plan.  I love it so.  Maybe I'll just walk more.......

clap and salad

Something new / A while back I mentioned I lost my Fitbit.  I used the Bluetooth and walked everywhere I normally do hoping to connect to my lost device. Alas, no luck and the battery would be dead after 4 days anyway, BUT --- I ordered a new one with a discount gave me.  I bought an Inspire HR.  This tracks heart rate and is also waterproof, things my old Alta didn't have.

Movies / Did I mention we tried the Jack Ryan series from Amazon? Our library had it and we thought we'd give it a shot. Loved it! Lots of action and intriguing political plot.  We'd love to see the next season when it comes out.  

The library also has a Nova DVD for us called the Planets as well as Apollo: Missions to the Moon.  I had looked forward to The Vanishing with Gerard Butler but it was a bit of a bust.  Inspired by a true story about 3 lighthouse keepers in Scotland who disappeared without a trace back in 1900.  Well now they don't actually know what happened, do they?  This was a lot of conjecture that left us shaking our heads.


Doug's birthday is this Sunday so we will see what meals, beverages and desserts he wants.  You have to live it up while you can!  More on the birthday week later on 🎂 

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Friday, September 06, 2019

Fish Chowder with Cobia and peas, Fried Cabbage and What's in the Kitchen

We are so very luck to know someone who loves to fish. The fish he gives us is fresh from the gulf of Mexico, usually only 3 days old at the most. In appreciation I make him bread or sweets.  This week it was brownies.  It's a very nice arrangement and everyone gets something good to eat.

This past week we were given Mangrove snapper which Doug grilled, and Cobia which I tossed into a chowder. I've been fussing about losing a bit of weight so a nice chowder for lunch was a good start.


Easy as sauteing boiled red creamer potatoes, onions and garlic.  The add some broth (chicken or vegetable) and a few pourfuls of half-n-half (or milk).  I didn't measure anything.
Once the broth was warm I put the sliced up Cobia in to cook. Raw fish works better as it has a different texture once it cooks and flakes.

This is good with cooked fish too, just a different texture.  I tossed in a handful of peas and added salt, Old Bay seasoning and lots of pepper.

What else was new for us to try - fried cabbage! Actually we'd tried this earlier and I'm just getting around to posting it.  My friend Stacy told me about a great dinner her husband Ty makes with slabs of ham and fries the cabbage up in the drippings.  We used bacon.  It was great!

As a matter of fact we have more cabbage at home for a future meal plan.  I'm sure this isn't exactly as her husband cooks it up but it made me a fan. I would love it if she'd start her own blog and post photos of their farm and some of her meals. C'mon, Stacy!



Here is a snap for the outdoor dining we managed to sneak in. One day, and one day only, it was just cool enough to enjoy dinner outside. Now it's back to extreme heat so we are inside but I know it's coming up, that sweet cool Fall weather!

Mojo marinated chicken, black beans and rice, salad, garlic toast and a crisp Chardonnay for me and a beer for Doug.


Can't believe it's September already.  So....what's going on in your kitchen?

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Friday, August 30, 2019

Sausage, Red Beans and Rice and what's up at our house

Food stuff:  A can of red beans and a sausage in the fridge made the inspiration for this soupy lunch.  This is the sort of easy prep meal we will make if Hurricane Dorian makes our life miserable.  I feel for the folks on the east coast of Florida as they are going to be hit hard.  Who knows which path it may take after it makes landfall. #herewegoagain


There isn't a recipe, it's a toss together.  Red beans, sausage, leftover short grain rice, tomatoes and broth.,  Add seasonings to your preference. Canned beans and rice and other canned goods are immensely helpful for disaster planning and dining :-)

Fortunately we have supplies and lots and lots of Bustelo coffee! I think 47 bricks ought to hold us for a bit.


Speaking of leftovers I made a great lunch of Cuban pork roast (Doug made it, recipe HERE), rice, sliced avocado, tomato and Cuban bread.  There was some blue cheese dressing that went a treat with this makeshift salad.  I couldn't stop reading The Nanny so that's what I did for lunch that day.  Ate and read....probably longer than my official lunch time 😉


House stuff: What else is new......well, we had a collapsing porch and this was recently redone.  Behold the before and after photos.  This is a snap from my phone.  I videoed the flooding and the collapsed flagstone to show the business who installed it.


Here is is now.  Hopefully the addition of rocks will help with the constant rain flooding over the patio roof.  When the weather is pleasant we like eating and sitting outside.



Library loot!  I recently picked up the two cookbooks which were topics on Beth Fish Reads.  I'm anxious to try the Budget Bytes and have enjoyed flipping through Steak and Cake.  I've already read The Night Olivia Fell and it was Ok. (shrugs)


My Fitbit. 
Oh, woe be to Fitbit Alta slipped off my wrist somewhere between work and home.  I've searched and searched but I have accepted it's gone forever. Bummer.

If anyone would like to weigh in I'm torn between purchasing a Versa Lite and an Inspire HR

The lovely clouds........this was on the way home recently.


And that's about it for now..........getting ready to enjoy time off for labor day weekend and not let the Hurricane put a damper on anything.  Pun intended :-)

Sharing with Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking and Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sunday.

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Friday, August 23, 2019

Instant Pot Arroz con Pollo and Maduro beer

This week we flew by the seat of our pants with meal planning. I happened to have chicken thighs in the fridge, came home from work a bit weary so Doug whipped up a pot of Arroz con Pollo. This made for two good dinners and an excellent lunch. It had been a long time since we'd had Cigar City beers so we cracked a Maduro to go with the meal. It's a brown ale and quite flavorful.

Please forgive my messy plate. I'm one of those people who doesn't mind food touching so the black beans were just heaped on my plate.


I will share the recipe but it's for an instant pot, something I don't mess with at all.  I'm sure this could be adapted for a stove top pressure cooker or a Dutch oven.

Arroz con Pollo
The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook

Sofrito (we used jarred Goya brand)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup pimento stuffed olives (we used 3/4 of a cup as we love olives)
1 tablespoon capers
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup tomato sauce

Select Saute setting on Instant Pot and heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add 1/2 cup Sofrito and saute 5 minutes.  Add olives, capers and chicken pieces.  Stir to combine to coat chicken evenly.
Add rice, pouring it in an even layer over the chicken.

In measuring cup or bowl, stir together broth and tomato sauce.  Pour this mixture over the rice making sure the grains are coated with the liquid.

Secure the lid and set pressure release to Sealing.  Press the cancel button to reset the cooking program, then select Poultry setting and set cooking time for 10 minutes at high pressure.

Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then move the pressure release to Venting to release any remaining pressure.  Use a big spoon and scoop out your servings.

Sharing with Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking Series


Thursday, August 15, 2019

A trip to Ybor City Tampa

Last week we were able to head south and enjoy some time with Doug's brother his wife in Tampa. That was so much fun seeing them again.  

Believe it or not but it wasn't as hot in Tampa as it is in north Florida.  We were still hot, mind you, but it was easier to deal with the humidity there. Plus we had a pool at the AirBandB. 

I wanted to share a few photos from the trip but won't add as many as I did to Instagram.

The pool was great.  When it's hot there's nothing like a quick swim.


Of course Aja was along for the trip. We never leave her behind.


A beautiful gate in Ybor City, Tampa.


Here we are! This was taken during a walk around Ybor City.  



What a fascinating tour we had thanks to our sister-in-law Barbara.  She took us around the cigar factories and explained how the workers lived, showed us the cottages and more.  It was interesting and educational.


Let us get to the food. Oh my, the food was fabulous. We ate dinner at Arco Iris and enjoyed Pollo ala Plancha, Lechon and Masitas.  Another day we went to the Tropicana and I tried the Papas Rellenas.  See photo below. 

This lovely was a mashed potato filled with picadillo .  I am inspired to try and make this soon.  Hopefully this weekend.


Once we were home I was inspired to dig out Barbara's Picadillo recipe for a dinner.  So yes.....coming up I will try and duplicate the Papas Rellenas. 


We haven't  made this in awhile and I am glad I did.  Perfect with Maduros and Cuban bread.


Barb's Picadillo


¼ cup olive oil
1 large clove garlic
1 onion, chopped fine
1 green pepper, chopped fine
1 ½ pounds of ground beef and ground pork mixture
Salt and pepper to taste
A large can tomato sauce (about 15 oz. can)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon basil AND oregano
Roughly a ½ cup white wine
Sliced olives (I use a healing half cup)


Heat oil in pan and saute garlic, green pepper and onion. When they are softened add the meat and cook until browned.

I use a spatula to chop the meat up into a fine consistency as it cooks. Be sure to drain the fat out of the pan after the meat is browned. I hold my sauce pan lid tightly over the pan and drain the fat off into a coffee can or any grease catcher you might use.

Slice the olives and add as many as you like, per your taste.....

Mix in the tomato sauce and all other ingredients........simmer a half hour on low to medium heat. Stir occasionally.

We usually serve it over yellow or white rice and with plantains and black beans.

We ate well while being away.

Next is a healthy salad of grilled chicken breast over salad greens, black beans and feta cheese. Refreshing and cool with a balsamic vinegar dressing.


We enjoyed our visit and the plethora of Cuban restaurants and meals so much that I think we could live there.  It was very mice to be near family for a while.  But you know me, I'm always talking about moving!  Once I retire we will see where we end up.

I will be joining Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday series and Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.

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Camping, watching, improvements and reading

Seems ages since I did an update type post. Our meals have mostly been repeats of favorites or lots of grilled fish so....nothing exciting ...