Sunday, July 10, 2016

Ramblings of 40, so far...

I have been 40 for almost three months.  I will say, I have A LOT more plans that have popped up in the past few months.  I made a list of things I wanted to do a few months ago.  Several I have plans to or made a good attempt at--One,  go see Manatees.  We visited a highly likely to see manatees place (Sanibel Island)  for a second time, no luck on any sightings--but we gave it a good try.  Two, I wanted to visit Rick Bayless's restaurants.  I have plane tickets purchased for a Chicago trip with friends from college days.  Three, I made a dream mention of potatoes from a stand in Belgium.  I never in a million years would have dreamed that my Fall plans would include a trip to Belgium, France, and wherever else I may wander in those two weeks.

About a month into 40, I had to get glasses.  It's a long story and I started writing it and thought, why would anyone want to know this?  Long story short, eye strain was a contributor to terrible headaches.  The day my glasses came in, I was heading to the airport to visit Austin, TX for the first time.  I was able to catch up with old friends, Angela Sinclair and Mike, Janet, and Greg Pruett.  Oh--Josh and I managed to see Jerry Jeff Walker at Gruene Hall.

Great British Bake Off is on again!  I love it and have been craving some Black Forest Cake since I saw an episode that featured it.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Cookbook Eight--From Momma's Table to Mine Bobby Deen

This book was a bit of a disappointment.  I hate to say that because I marked a lot of pages that all sounded so good.  I think I will try a few more at a later time.  The Pimento Cheese, Pickled Shrimp, and a few others sound good.  I am ready to try something else for awhile though, so I may revisit this in the Fall or Winter.

The cornbread was barely edible. This may be the cornmeal's fault.  I was using a stone ground milled corn that was given to me as a gift.  It may have a different texture than traditional cornmeal, although the overall flavor was just short of gag worthy.

I love a spinach salad with hot bacon dressing.  It reminded me of wilted lettuce my mom used to make.  This one has spinach, mushrooms, and bacon.  One of my daughters loves both spinach and mushrooms, so I was excited to make this one.  Meh, it was ok.  I didn't finish my serving and I threw away the leftovers.  I think my family had a slightly better opinion, but not enough to save the leftovers from the garbage. 

Mashed potatoes without butter using a low fat cheese spread.  It was fine.  I ate the leftovers with some extra salt and thought it was pretty good.

Cucumber Salad with dill and greek yogurt dressing was delicious.  I really liked it and I was able to use some dill from my herb garden that Josh and the girls made me for Mother's Day (mostly Josh).

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Lu Lu's Cookbook--Full of Favorites

I have had the cookbook from Lu Lu's since it was first released at the restaurant.  I have found the recipes are no fail--and taste amazingly like the restaurant's versions.  They updated and released it through a larger publisher and Josh and the girls bought me the updated version for Mother's Day.

The original one has been on my cookbook stand in the kitchen almost every day since I got it--but my in laws visited and I think my mother in law must have taken it down to read it.  I have yet to locate it.  I guess it's good I have the updated one also.  :)

Over the years I have relied on the tatar sauce, cocktail sauce, and orange marmalade sauce as staples.  The crab melt, mahi tacos, shrimp and grits have been made regularly.  In the spirit of trying new things I made her Chicken Salad--oh my, best chicken salad I have ever made.

I love this cookbook.  I know it would make my top ten.  I wonder if I had to grab one book if that would be the one.  Of course, I need to find where it is hidden in the house or grow to love the updated one as much.  

Friday, May 6, 2016

Cookbook Seven--Everyday Pasta Giada De Laurentiis

So, here it is.  I haven't stopped cooking.  I have actually been cooking quite a bit, but I haven't been cooking through one at a time, I was a bit in a wandering mood this winter.  I have been traveling some, but also have been cooking one recipe from one book and another from other books.  I finally finished five from this one. 

Up first, was Greens with Gorgonzola Dressing.  I really like blue cheese, so this was a winner for me.  I am the only lover of Gorgonzola in my household, so I ate this for several work lunches.  It keep well for those few days.

While reading the recipe for Farfalle with Broccoli, I wasn't sure about the anchovies.  Giada specifically addresses this concern that it will melt away and leave nothing but flavor.  Josh came home and smelled the fishy smell, but I didn't mention them to the kids and they both ate seconds.  It was quite delicious.  

I made Little Stars with Butter and the Basic Marinara Sauce in February.  I made the sauce and froze most for later.  I used it on stuffed shells and it worked out great.

Gnocchi with Thyme Butter Sauce was my final recipe for this challenge.  I wasn't sure if it would be a hit, but everyone ate it.  Delaney especially liked it. 

 I have several other recipes I want to try.  I really thought I would try her Citrus Olive Oil and Chili Oil.  I am sure I will come back to this book.  I have been cooking out of one of our church's cookbooks and well as Lucy Buffett's Lu Lu's Cookbook.  One of those will be up next!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Found in Cookbooks

I have found some interesting things lately in books.  I discovered quite a few Luzianne Tea Certificates and a Donovan Coffee one.  I had not heard of Donovan, but I learned it was based in
Birmingham, Alabama.

Today I picked up a book titled For the Bride.  It is about basics of housekeeping and cooking. I found it interesting.  This afternoon, I was looking at it and found this insert:

Which seemed pretty interesting, then I noticed this recipes on the back cover:

I guess there was a group with this name:

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Things to do--someday

See Manatees

Eat at a Rick Bayless Restaurant

Visit Mexico City

Visit Hawaii and Alaska to complete my 50 States

Afternoon Tea

Bake Popovers

Master Rye Bread

Visit Vancouver

Eat Fries from a Stand in Belgium

Visit Hemingway's Home in Cuba

Hear John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett Together

What I want to continue doing:

Jazz Fest
Any reason to be in New Orleans
Key West--anything in the Keys
Lots of Live Music
Drink lots of tea
Disney World and Disneyland

Crazy March--April is Coming

March was a whirlwind.  I had two trips and Josh had a two and half week work trip. So, it was busy and it was a bit crazy.  I did some cooking in the cookbook challenge.  Almost ready for Cookbook 7's review.  I had a trip to Missouri to attend True/False Film Fest--which is always full of interesting films.  The following week I went to a Natural Foods Expo in California for work.

April--yes, April is coming. April will mark 11 years since my mom died.  Sometimes, I think that date gets harder as the years go by.  What would she say or do?  It gets fuzzier as the years past.  It's hard that my girls really don't remember her. They were only four and two, so I knew they wouldn't remember much. Delaney has a memory of my mom and play doh.  I think that may be influenced by a photograph, but it's something.  This April I turn 40.  Typing that I nearly teared up.  I am not looking forward to it.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Cookbook Six--Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs

Here is Number Six:

I love this cookbook.  It has one of my favorite recipes Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup from Le Cellier, which is high on my lists of favorite restaurants.  

It is amazing how much this tastes like the restaurants.  It is a hit with all four of us.  I made the Bourbon Steak Marinade, although I am the only one in my family that really likes steak.  I thought it turned out well, but I forgot to take a picture.  

This is the Breakfast Pizza from Chef Mickey's.  It was surprisingly good, since I am not a big fan of eggs.  It has cups and cups of cheese, so that probably overpowered the egg taste.  

We all like couscous, so I made this Toasted Couscous from Jiko--in the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  I love the Animal Kingdom Lodge and the restaurants there.  We stayed at the Lodge once and it was very nice.  The couscous is toasted in the pan before you add water.  I have never done this before.  It did elevate the flavor. 

The last recipe was from one of the Disneyland Resorts.  It was the Granola from Storytellers Cafe in the Grand California Hotel.  

I have made many variations of granola. I had high hopes for this one, but the final product leaves more of an oily flavor than I like.  

This is a fun cookbook.  I have also made the Grapefruit Cake from The Brown Derby from this book.  I love that cake and the Cheddar Soup recipes enough that I'm pretty loyal to this book.  

Happy Cooking! 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Happenings of Winter

I have an unexpected day home.  One of my daughters is a bit under the weather.  I am tending to her and watching the film that we have had for weeks from Netflix.  Sometimes we are on task and get our money's worth from Netflix, others movies sit for way too long.

I have been cooking from my challenge.  The Derby Vegetables proved to be so good that I made them again with another recipe from another cookbook.  More on that when I review that book, I have enjoyed my challenge.  It is proving to be indeed challenging and stretching me beyond my usual recipes.

It has been a rainy and dreary winter in Alabama.  A few bursts of cold, but mostly not too bad.  I've drank a lot of tea.  I have had the fireplace burning quite a bit, because I like the glow.  The gas fireplaces in this house is much easier to tend to than the wood burning one of our other home.

The next month will be full of travel and adventures for my family.  I am sure I will try many more recipes as well.

Travel.  Cooking.  Adventures.

All my favorites.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Cookbook Five--Trinity Baptist Church Weekday Preschool Cookbook

Cookbook four was fun.  It is a book I have had since Delaney was a baby.  Our church was selling the cookbook as a fundraiser for the Preschool.  I didn't yet have kids in the preschool.  I never imagined I would later teach there for ten years.  The book was full of recipes from friends and a few unexpected people had recipes, like the family we bought our home from in 2014.  I had to cook one of their recipes so that the house could smell like it did 15 years ago (that was Josh's joke).  

My game plan, it evolved several times, but these were the ones I made this week.  The Super Salad was delicious and it make me reconnect to Sue, who contributed the recipe. She told me she has been making this recipe for more than 40 years.   We were coworkers for ten years and she is a great lady. 

Garlic Chicken on a Stick was a recipe that Delaney.  She saw my process of post it notes and writing my list of possible selections and added a few.  This one is easy, but very delicious.  I recommend trying this if you have this cookbook.  If you are interested, send me a message and I will pass it along. We had no leftovers.

Parmesan Baked Potatoes were another quick prep, although they bake for awhile in the oven.  Another former coworker contributed this recipe.  I have a weakness for potatoes like some people love chocolate.  My friends from college made me a pot of mashed potatoes one year instead of a cake for my birthday.  It has been 20 years, and I think I would probably still choose potatoes over cake.  

Spaghetti Pie Pizza Style isn't something I would typically make for my family.  We eat lasagna and other pasta dishes, but spaghetti isn't a meal I have ever prepared.  I had all the ingredients on had and since it gave me a bit of a laugh that we had never met this family before we bought their home, yet now we are often in the same place and our lives overlap in funny ways.  It was also very good.  I would make it again.  

 Happy Valentine's Day!  Ha!  Well, I made a version on these cookies for Josh our first Valentine's Day together 19 years ago.  We had only dated two months, so I wasn't sure what to give him.  I baked him cookies in my little apartment upstairs in the Baptist Student Center.  My supervisor from the library, Ms. Spears gave me that recipe.  This one is very similar, so I decided it was a great way to celebrate this year as well.

It was fun to rediscover some recipes and try new ones from a book I have had for so many years.  It's a keeper. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Cookbook Number Four--Cooking With Mickey Volume II

 It is no secret, we are Disney fans.  I have had many delicious meals at Disney World and Disneyland.  I saw this book at a Thrift Store a few years ago.  I can't find a publication date, but it is probably from the 90's.  Many of the restaurants have new names and menus.  I didn't have as many Disney memories from the 80's and 90's as my husband, but he can tell me where each restaurant was and the current name.

I have heard about Tortellini Soup from Tony's Town Square for many years.  Josh remembers it being wonderful.  He asked if this book at the recipe for it--we were in luck.  Page 38, Chicken Tortellini Soup lived up the his childhood memories. 

I had some bananas ripe for banana bread, so I tried the recipe from Monorail Cafe at Disneyland Hotel.  It was a good basic banana bread.  It made two loaves so I shared a loaf with a friend, who just so happens to be at Disney World as I type this.  

Sopa Azteca from San Angel Inn Restaurante in Epcot was a surprise hit.  It seems pretty basic, but it really was a quick, satisfying dinner.  Josh commented that I should make it again--that is always a good sign. 

The next recipe is from one of my favorite Disney places, The Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios.  Although this book is old enough it references it as MCM Studios.  This was the Fettuccine Derby.  I thought the sauce was delicious.  I would probably leave the chicken out next time.  I have another recipe from this restaurant prepped for later this week, Derby Vegetables.  I will update with how they turn out.  I have made the Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake and will make it again soon.  That Brown Derby serves some great food. 

I will warn you, the next photo is not lovely to look at.  It is not a beautiful dish, Cottage Pie from Rose and Crown Pub in Epcot.  Back in 1997, Josh and I spent one day at Epcot on Spring Break before we drove further South to Key West.  While in Epcot, we ate at Rose and Crown Pub.  Neither of us ordered Cottage Pie,  I remember eating the Ploughman's Lunch and Josh had Fish and Chips. 

It wasn't lovely to look at.  I was a bit disappointed when I pulled it out of the oven.  I had little hope for it.  I took a bite, not expecting much.  It was great.  I had to get another serving and even my pickiest eater ate it without grumbling.  

This book was a surprise winner.  I discovered some recipes likely to to be made again and I have a list of others I want to try.  Perhaps I need to get my hands on Volume I.  Josh is lucky that Tortellini Soup didn't make the first book.  


Oh Derby Vegetables, where have you been all my life?  I loved these.  The whole family did, although one picked out the red pepper, one picked out the mushrooms--but I loved it all.  It was a combination of vegetables that I hadn't thought of before.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cookbook Three--Ten Dollar Dinners

Confession, I don't watch the program this book was a companion to.  I am a lover of the Public Library.  I have two must scroll through areas at my local place of bliss, I mean The Madison Library.  I go first to the New Books area.  Then I go through the Cookbooks.  Ah, rows of cookbooks to consider.  You probably know where I am going with this, I first found this book at the library.

I had to try the Smoked Tuna Spread.  I know this sounds lackluster to most people.  I am a big fan of Smoked Tuna Dip found in many restaurants on the Gulf Coast.  My last visit, I had four different varieties.  This recipe was delicious, so good in fact I decided to order myself my own copy of the book.  This one recipe alone is worth the price of the book.  I have made in many times since.

The Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup was a hit with my whole family.  It's an easy dinner since it is left to cook all day in the slow cooker.  It doesn't particularly photograph well, but imagine a nice tomato, black bean, spicy chicken soup.  I topped mine with avocado and cilantro, two of my favorite flavors.

The next two recipes I made were deserts.  Earl Grey Pots de Creme.  Surprisingly easy, yet impressive looking.  Earl Grey is another favorite of mine.

Chocolate Poundcake was easy and seems to improve with age.  It was good yesterday after it cooled, but had a better texture this afternoon for an after school snack for my daughter.

Other noteworthy recipes in this cookbook is the Kale and Crispy Bacon Salad, which is delicious.  I also want to try the Black Bean Nacho Burger, Bread Pudding, and Pan Fried Potatoes.  Definitely a keeper.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cookbook Number Two---The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook

Five Recipes that I haven't made before from Paula Deen's cookbook, I would keep this book for the amazing dressings and sauces.  I hadn't paid much attention to this category of recipes before.

I started out the new year with black eyed peas and The Lady's Cheesy Mac on page 78.  It was popular with my family, so I would likely make it again.  The second recipe I made was Poppyseed Dressing page 111.  Oh, it is amazing.  I noticed while making it that it was paleo friendly so I took it to work to share with my coworkers, who are following a paleo diet.  There is agreement with my coworkers, this is a keeper recipe. 

The Lady's BBQ Sauce on page 108 would be excellent basted on on the grill.  It wasn't quite the texture I was looking for as a dipping sauce.  Oh the Twice Baked Potatoes, they were a winner.  Simple ingredients and basic techniques for this comfort food.  They were perfect on a snowy January day.  The the recipe is on page 79.  


The final recipe was Sweet & Sour Dressing.  The Poppyseed Dressing was such a hit that I decided to try another dressing.  I tried it on cucumber slices and the balance of the sweet and sour was just right.  

I have had this book for quite a few years.  I think it is a keeper.  I am going to explore more of the breads and dressings for sure.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Lots of Cookbooks

I have been cooking a lot.  I  really liked this salad dressing from Paula Deen.   It's worth making again. I have a few more to make from this cook book and I will write a longer review of my thoughts about it.

Mario Batali gave me a whole new thought about oranges.  Balsamic and Black Pepper Clementines?  Yes and it was delicious.

I have an amazing Banana Bread Recipe.  It is so good that a friend commented on Facebook about the following picture that it can't beat my other banana bread recipe.  I think she's right, but this one really is delicious.

This Salted Carmel drink is really good.  We had it while visiting Epcot and it tasted just like it did that day.  Josh and the girls gave me the Epcot Cookbook for Christmas following the Thanksgiving we spent there.  

A lot of cooking and baking and I am really enjoying it all.  I have more recipes to try before I summarize any of the books mentioned above.  I thought I would give an update, because I am still challenging myself.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Lu Lu's Chicken Salad

So, this is going to sound REALLY dramatic.  Truth, this is the best recipe I have made this year so far.  It is the very best chicken salad I have ever made.  It may be the best chicken salad that I have ever eaten.  

Her method of cooking chicken breasts I am going to use again and again for cooked chicken.  I already used that method for chicken I needed to add to a soup recipe.  

I have cooked many recipes from Lu Lu's cookbook over the years without a miss, this book is packed with restaurant quality recipes.  I had never considered this one, but wow.  I am glad I branched out.  

Monday, January 4, 2016

Cookbook One--The Clinton Presidential Center Cookbook

I received this book as a gift from my father in law, Tim, when The Clinton Presidential Library opened in 2003.  I have made Mary Steenburgen's Cheese Grits many times since then.

I have chosen five recipes, although there were more that really spoke to me.  I will have to go back and tackle James Carville's Jambalaya another time.  I made Hillary's Chocolate Chip Cookies first.   I remember the press about them in 1992 beating Barbara Bush's recipe, but I had never had them.

My second recipe today was Arkansas Cornbread from page 100. We ate it with out traditional Southern black eyed peas and ham for New Years Day. 

I switched up things a bit from my original list to make Baked Gouda instead of the the Hot Artichoke Dip.  

Pralines, yes I am a fan.  Although I had never tried to make them. They didn't set up the first try, so I scraped it all back in a bowl and cooked it a few extra minutes.  Surprisingly, that worked.  

I have one more to make from this cookbook that I am planning to make for dinner tomorrow.  I admit, I love this book.  It is full of interesting stories from the contributors.  I don't keep it a secret that I love Clinton Presidential Library.    

About the cookbook challenge, sometimes I change my mind.  So, I have been listing recipes I am interested in making on the post it notes that I stick on the front cover of the book.  I have listed more than five and will make the five I am interested in at the time.   When I went to make the recipes selected from this book,  I decided the enchiladas didn't look like something most of my family would be interested in.  I opted to make pralines. 

Best recipe so far from this book are Hillary's cookies.  Although I have high hopes for tomorrow's recipe.

Update:  Betty K's Sesame Tofu contributed by Christie Brinkley was a hit. 

It was the top choice of the five I made from this book.  I would definitely make it again.  This cookbook is a keeper.  Fun to read, interesting recipes, a lot of variety, and I fell in love with my husband in college when he had a Clinton/Gore campaign sign on his dorm room door.