Sunday, April 23, 2017

Turkey Wrap

It's Sunday. Vacation is almost sad. We always take the Monday off following a vacation because it's just easier to glide into the work week on a Tuesday. I don't know why that is but it works for us.

We enjoyed a variety of naughty foods and drinks while we were off but it's time to get back to healthier eating. Many of our vacay meals were fairly healthy, I must add, such as grilled fish and raw oysters but there was the indulgence of 2 bottles of champagne and several bottles of Chardonnay, red blends, a few cocktails and beer. Plus the aforementioned post listing of JalapeƱo poppers, and chips and salsa and peach tarts.....yeah, like that.

So on Saturday, instead of a cheeseburger, I selected a turkey wrap stuffed with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, sweet peppers and light Italian dressing. It's never a hardship for me to eat a wrap, I love 'em.


As you can see this one was packed. By the end of the second half I was just picking out the veggies and eating them as I was getting too full to continue eating the tortilla. Whew.....glad I didn't order the corn nuggets as I had originally planned.


After lunch we took a short ride down a shady canopied road. Great weather and cool temperatures, we hated to come home but we still had to get some shopping done. I also needed a haircut, getting shaggy and I suppose I will play dress up and pretend I am an adult and get back to work.

Once we leave the workforce I assure you my "uniform" will be shorts, jeans, t-shirts, boots and sandals dependent on those choices.

Healthy meal plans coming up and a switch back to gluten-free soon. Doug needs to get off the Prilosec for a while and interesting enough, he doesn't have the heartburn issues when we eliminate gluten.

Hope your week is shaping up well and weather is good for anyone reading this.

Linking up with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sunday. Linkup is Here


Thursday, April 20, 2017

A last Vacation before retirement
St George Island and lots of food and drink!

When you tell people you are retiring most people think you are leaving the work force.  That's a valid assumption.  I am a Government Drone in Florida and we have this program called D.R.O.P.  This means I actually retire on May 1st  but continue to work in my same position and receive my same salary.  My retirement check isn't paid to me, it is invested.  So this is a good deal for folks who want to work a little longer for benefits and saving for cool trips.  Or land somewhere.  Or whatever you want. I am planning to participate in this program for 2 or 3 years maximum. Then it's gone-gone for retirement.

Participating in this program means you cash out your leave time.  For the last of my leave time we are spending a week having fun. We stayed at a condo on St George Island for the last several days. Oh bliss.  Seafood, sea breezes and relaxation.

Our first night in the condo we stayed in and I prepared this old favorite, North African Couscous with shrimp.  Our elderly dog isn't a fan of change and we decided we best stay in and keep her company.  So I made this (below).  It went well with Dreaming Tree Chardonnay and freshly sliced avocado.  Everyone was happy.


Sunday we drove to Apalachicola for a lunch and to get supplies.  We forgot it was Easter and so many places were closed.  That was a bit of a drag as we wanted to get Coconut patties and eat at this one particular restaurant.  We did find Boss Oyster open and had enormous raw oysters and a grouper sandwich.

Take a look at these oysters.  So fat and salty, you will need to floss afterwards!

IMG_9394 IMG_9395

On a walk down the beach we saw this large Blue Heron wading about in the water. Then we saw another one, begging off a man fishing. IMG_9470

 The fisherman said he caught some pompano but when he caught smaller fish he'd toss it to the heron.  What a beautiful beggar.


 Doug was able to get very close to snap photos of this beauty.


Someone with talent built this sandcastle, complete with a moat and turrets and designs.


When we had our last night's dinner on the island we ate at The Blue Parrot.  Doug had a grouper fillet stuffed with crab meat and I had large shrimp stuffed with crab meat.  Incredibly good.  So were the cocktails - a Rum Runner for him and a Mai Tai for me.


Ok....see this cat?  He lived on the deck, I guess.  He would make his rounds to the tables and stare.  He was picky too.  Wouldn't eat a hush puppy or baked potato.  He did accept a small offering of shrimp.  He looked like he needed medical attention and you know his diet isn't good.
 But, there he is.


Right....we also went to The Blue Parrot for appetizers on afternoon and took Aja.  Jalapeno Poppers and beer.  And no, I am not wondering why I gained a few pounds :-)


B.J.'s Pizza is excellent pizza.  I know someone from work who gets one when she visits the island and takes it home, despite a 2 hour drive and it being, obviously, cold.  Great pizza.  We took that back to the condo and watched The Huntsman.  Not a great movie but the pizza was good and so was the Dreaming Tree Crush.


 Island life...I think we could adapt to it. It was very pleasant sitting on our tiny desk and listening to the surf, sipping a drink and enjoying the sea breeze.


A view of the lighthouse.


We enjoyed quite a few walks on the boardwalk and on the shore but Aja was sure ready to head home.

Great start to the vacation, we thoroughly enjoyed it.  The rest of the time we will plan a motorcycle ride and hopefully go to target practice.  Goodbye beach!


 Linking up to Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking Series since I shared so many food photos.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Sesame Noodles with Tofu, Scallions and Cashews

America's Test Kitchen has done it again. Another winner. Before anyone clicks away because you see the word Tofu just think about substituting chicken.  If you really hate tofu.....just sayin'  :-)

But if you are a fan of ATK then you will know they don't steer you wrong.  It might be fun to work in that type environment.  Taking different approaches to cooking a recipe and finding just the right combo of flavors, temperatures and cooking times.

(I did not make the Spring rolls.  Store bought on that count)


This is easy to put together and definitely another weeknight quickie supper. Most of it is prepared in the same pan so there wasn't too much washing up to do.  If you like Lo Mein you will like this.


Here are some of the ingredients I used...........


Sesame Noodles with Tofu, Scallions and Cashews

14 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into ¾-inch cubes
¼ cup tahini
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Asian chili-garlic sauce
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound fresh Chinese noodles or 12 ounces dried linguine
Salt and pepper
4 green onions, sliced thin (divided)
½ cup raw cashews, toasted and chopped


Spread tofu out in a single layer on several layers of paper towels and let drain 10 minutes.
In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil.

In a bowl, whisk together tahini, vinegar, oyster sauce, chili-garlic sauce, ginger and soy sauce.

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over high heat until shimmering. Add tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add noodles and 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water and cook, stirring often, until al dente. (I cooked them longer!)

Reserve 1 ½ cups cooking water, then drain noodles and return them to the pot. Whisk tahini mixture to recombine.

Add tahini mixture, tofu, half of the green onions and ¾ cup cooking water to pot and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add remaining cooking water as needed to adjust consistency. Serve immediately, topped with cashews and remaining green onions.

Linking up with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking Series.


Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Tomato, Mozzarella and Avocado Salad from Mary Berry's Cookbook

Do you make use of your local library?  I sure do and it has saved us money with all the books, CDs and movies we have checked out.

One of the books I recently checked out is Cooking with Mary Berry.  I first heard about this book at Katherine’s site.  Check out her review and lasagna at I Wish I Lived in a Library.


To quote from Katherine’s review:  
"From the very first time I watched The Great British Bake Off (or The Great British Baking Show as American PBS seems to call it) I adored Mary Berry.   She seems so nice and she says things like "scrummy" and always seems to be delighted when people do well and so sad and sympathetic when they do poorly."

Mary sounds like a nice lady.  So different from an American cook off show I had seen in the past.

It’s times like this that I have a twinge about what I am missing on TV.  This sounds like something I would watch and when I saw the nice comments about the show I wondered if I could get it on DVD.  Sometimes you can request a series from the library but I’m not sure this one would be available.

That’s not to say I miss spending $100 or so to have Satellite!  I don't think we will go back to that but who knows if change our mind when we retire. I sure look forward to that.   


Anyway, I very much enjoyed looking through this book and found many recipes I would prepare.  Since we are getting into warmer weather here  I chose a simple Tomato, Mozzarella and Avocado salad.  It was wonderful, absolutely bursting with flavor as well as pretty to gaze upon.  There are many more recipes from this book I want to try so they will be popping up now and again. 


I wanted to give a shout out to Katherine for alerting me about this gem.


Here is the simple "recipe" for this salad.

Thinly slice a Beefsteak tomato and some Mozzarella.  Layer the tomato on a plate then add Mozzarella slices. Cut an avocado, pull the pit out and gently pull the skin off.  Now cut avocado slices and layer on top of the tomato and cheese.

Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the avocado to prevent browning.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper and basil.

Linking up to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday


One more look ...........


Saturday, April 01, 2017

Cheesy Skillet Polenta and Eggplant Bake

April is here and I say hallelujah! I didn't want to curse anything in yesterday's post by mentioning anything about health related matters.

March was the month for doctor appointments and checkups. Some things went south such as.....Doug was stricken with Bell's Palsy and has been dealing with partial paralysis, I had an out patient procedure and they gave me some amnesiac drugs - my memory is horrid right now. Aja got herself a bladder infection.  But March is over and I say good riddance!

On to a better month and let me get my blogging mojo back!  Two things good things I would like to share today - the first is an announcement that both this blog and my book blog are featured at Carole's Chatter this month.  Thank you, Carole, I feel honored!

The second thing I want to share is this yummy meal. It goes a treat with freshly baked bread.  It's called Cheesy Skillet Polenta and Eggplant Bake and I found the recipe from America's Test Kitchens.


Once you cook the eggplant mixture it's set aside and you use the same pan for the polenta. Here you can see it's almost ready, cheese has been liberally heaped on.


Here is another snap so you can see the layers and textures. It's a one-pan meal so it doesn't get any easier for clean-up. Yesss!


While this was a delicious meal to enjoy on the back porch with salad, fresh bread and a bottle of Dreaming Tree was light enough that we may have a piece of fish with it next time.  Definitely keeping this recipe around for a quick supper.


Cheesy Skillet Polenta and Eggplant Bake


 1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound eggplant, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
 3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper
3 1/2 cups water
1 cup instant polenta
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 oz Fontina cheese, shredded
1/3 cup chopped basil


 Heat oil in 12-inch skillet then add eggplant and cook, without stirring, until it begins to brown. About 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until tender. Stir in garlic and cook about 1 minute.

Add tomatoes and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl. Set aside.

 Add water to now empty skillet and bring to a boil. Gradually whisk in Polenta and some more salt. Cook over medium heat, whisking until very thick, about 5 minutes.

 Take off the heat and stir in Parmesan. Spread Polenta evenly in skillet and partially up the sides. Pour the eggplant mixture over Polenta. Now top with fontina.

 Linking up with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series. Happy April to you all!

Friday, March 31, 2017

The end of March - Goodbye!

March Madness Nope, not basketball.

Lots of pollen. Nasty yellow coating on everything from the patio table to the trike. The good news is the finches have moved on. They eat us out of house and home when it comes to sunflower seeds. Now we only fill the feeders once a day or day in a half. They move in every year for over a month and dominate the feeders. Other creature sightings are some deer in the field. We saw about 7 of them running off through our field into the adjacent land a while back. It is good to see a herd again after ours was wiped out years back. A herd met up with several cars and trucks and then we didn’t see any for years and years. They have repopulated….finally.


I enjoy a tipple now and then when we sit in the den. Maybe I should cut back….a little. I prefer wine to beer but when we listen to blues or jazz………..bourbon seems the obvious choice. Lately we are loving Albert King, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters and James McMurtry. Actually McMurtry is always a staple and if you want to listen to a story and music…………he is the perfect choice. If I want to read and listen to music it’s gotta be classical. Works a charm.


A Year Between Friends, 3191 Miles Apart
11/22/63 by Stephen King


We saw Arrival and I just don't know what to say. It was slow and sometimes confusing and sad. (shrugs shoulders) Meh. Allied with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard was good. Action and intrigue. A mystery about our French leading she a spy or not?


Using a notebook again instead of random notes to remind me what I want share on the blog. It had been a while since I did bullet journaling. Happy.

Tomorrow I hope to bring you a wonderfully easy recipe that is healthy and quick to prepare.  Stay tuned.


Friday, March 24, 2017

This isn't about being hero. It's about surviving an unimaginable tragedy.
{Sharing an informative safety video today.}

Instead of food, books or ramblings I would like to share an informative video that I saw in a training session at work a few weeks ago. The training was about active shooters and how to react. It’s called Run, Hide, Fight and was produced by Homeland Security  & a funded grant.

 Maybe you don’t like firearms. Maybe you don’t like to read or hear about horrific events that seem to dominate our news today but….I would ask you to watch this interesting video.  As much as we read and hear about an active shooter in a workplace, on a campus or at a public venue……….. do you ever think about a plan of action if you were caught in such a horrible scenario?

 Our excellent instructor talked to us about brain mapping. The things we watched and were taught in class will float around in our brain and we will remember some of these good tactics.

This isn't about being hero.  It's about surviving an unimaginable tragedy. You will have to watch the video to see what I mean. This is something I hope none of us ever need to deal with but what a world we live in today. I thought our class was excellent and if you could see the instructor and some of the other videos he shared you would be impressed.


So.....did you click on the video and watch?  What are your thoughts? For starters I think it's a sad society we live in today that such a video needs to be produced.   Sad we had mandatory training at work for such a scenario.  Awful that children have drills to react if their school security is breached.

The training was good and I just wanted to share part of it.  Again, it's not about being the's about surviving an event.  Please share this if you you'd like.  Better to have that info stored in your brain and hope you never need it.

That's my public service announcement for March.

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Grilled Salmon Dinner and bonus Salad
{Making up for the naughty indulgences this week with healthy chow}

What a week.  We caved and got ourselves a pizza earlier in the week and of course, shared a bottle of wine. It's been a month of appointments that I'll call health maintenance.  Since we are fortunate enough to have decent health care, we make sure all the parts and pieces are in good working order by getting an annual physical.

After a few appointments we decided to indulge with the pizza. It's always such a drag to schedule other appointments for followups on issues so....yeah.  Pizza.

Also, a coworker departed for another agency so there was a party.....which meant I ate 2 doughnuts.  Brilliant, huh?  After losing almost 12 pounds I eat two doughnuts.

Anyway..........we opted to stop and pick up some salmon for a healthier dinner one day this week.  It was excellent. A bit of soy and honey and turned once in a grill pan.  Served with healthy fresh steamed broccoli and baked sweet potato.  Now that's getting back on track!


There was enough salmon left to make a pretty good salad for the next day's lunch too.  I pulled stems off  fresh spinach, chopped some green onions and cut up the leftover salmon.  Dressing was an Onion Dijon vinegrette. (Forgive the blue plastic bowls.  They are the designated bowls for work)


Leftovers are the desired choice for work lunches.  Yellow rice with black beans accompanied our salads.  You wouldn't believe the number of people at work who eat lunch out every single day.  That can be expensive.  Sometimes we go out for Indian but it's not very often.


That's about it from our neck of the woods.  I am still diligently reading 11/22/63 by Stephen King and hoping to finish it soon.  Sometimes the reading time doesn't pan out.  This was my choice for a reading challenge theme at Girlxoxo this month.  Aja is still hanging in with us and enjoying her walks and rides to the park.  At work we had an active shooter class (not how to be one, how to react scenario kinda class) which I would like to share with you soon.  Good class and information.

 Linking up to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday. This week's linkup is HERE.