Sunday, August 28, 2016

Reading, Watching, Drinking
{Plus a Chicken, Sausage and Potato Bake }

August is almost gone! Back to school shopping for many of my coworkers with school aged children and of course the traffic was heavier once FSU students returned. That's always a drag, more traffic. So what has been happening in your world for August? Garden plans? Fall baking menus and planning?

For us it's been the usual listening to music at night, enjoying some bourbon and new Red Blend wines, a few movies and of course, reading.

Books: Recently we finished reading a few good books.
Doug read City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin, Sharkey's Machine by William Diehl and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Can't wait for The Girl on the Train to come out at the theaters. It should be depressingly creepy. He is currently engaged with Ian Rankin's first novel Knots and Crosses. This is the first in the Inspector Rebus series.


I finished and reviewed:

Strange Affair by Peter Robinson
The Twelve by Justin Cronin
Scarlett Feather by Maeve Binchy
Just finished City of Mirrors and started Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.

Listening to lots of newly acquired blues CDs. Howlin' Wolf, Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters. Seems Elijah Craig or Blanton's Bourbon should accompany that combo.


We enjoyed Eye in the Sky (with Alan Rickman's last on screen performance), Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot, and also watched Slow West starring Michael Fassbender. That was a weird movie.

Now to the yummy food...........

On the Kitchen Front we have been eating well. This recipe below is a keeper and it's super easy. Crack open a bottle of wine, maybe a Dreaming Tree Crush (I am loving the red blends these days)


Chicken, Sausage and Potato Bake


2 lbs. of potatoes, washed and cut in golf ball size pieces
1 head of garlic, peel the cloves
6 chicken thighs (I used boneless and skinless because they were on sale)
salt, pepper & olive oil
About 6 ounces of sausage (smoked or chorizo, per your taste) sliced up
1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes


Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Place potatoes and garlic in a roasting tray. Now rub the paprika on the chicken thighs then place those in the roasting pan.

Pour roughly 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil over this Drizzle everything with olive oil (probably about 2 tablespoons) and smoosh it around coating the meat and potatoes. Sprinkle any other seasoning you like over the chicken. Some people like spicy foods, we do not. If you are a fan of spicy (as in hot) then you may want to add some cayenne pepper. Also, don’t forget the salt and pepper!

Bake for about 30 minutes, then remove from the oven, stir the mixture a bit and now add the sausage and tomatoes. Return the dish/tray to the oven for another 30 minutes.

Now you are done! If you have used a disposable aluminum tray you area step ahead in the clean up process.

What is going on in your part of world? Any favorites on the kitchen this month or a movie to recommend?

I am sharing this with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Grilled Chicken Taco Salad

It’s creeping up to the weekend and I can tell you, it’s been a long week. Not sure why it was especially hard to drag myself to work this week but yeah, there it is.


It’s not as if I’m working in the heat or that I have horrible work mates, although they have their moments…..
I’m in an air conditioned office and I live in Dilbert-land Monday through Friday. Pity the Government Drone as she longs for fresh cool air, a good book, a pot of coffee, a grilled chicken taco salad and maybe a ride along the rural back roads of Georgia.

Ok, one thing I did manage this past week – the grilled chicken taco salad. Lazy as I am, I did not make this salad. We went to El Jalisco’s Mexican restaurant because of my craving. My husband is considerate like that…….I get a Jones for something and we usually go satisfy that craving.

This is obviously more chicken than I would eat at home. Yet I ate it. All. I don't know what is wrong with me.
It was soooo good!


Now that I see how simple it looks I plan to make my own salad one day, just like this one. I can season the chicken and grill it in my grill pan or maybe Doug can just grill the chicken over charcoal. I’m not picky. A little bit of lettuce, a bit of chopped tomato, sour cream and guacamole and we are all set. I never eat the tortilla bowl so this could get tossed into a large bowl. Oh yeah.


Doug chose the Carnitas and oh my, that was the most tender pork I think I've ever had. Look at these portions. This is actually a lunch portion, more food than they ought to serve, more food than you should ingest at one sitting. Pity it doesn't travel well for leftovers.


It was nice sitting at a restaurant being served. We usually cook at home but do manage a weekend treat. What have you been craving letely? Anyone have a good story?

Next week I will probably be able to get up for work without dragging my feet. This was just one of those weeks. Ever have one? I'm sure many of you do.

not how it works

I will be joining Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday series. If you'd like to join in check out this week's link HERE


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Black Bean Soup inspired by The Twelve

We have been reading so much lately. Back to back apocalyptic books and now I am on to my favorite British detective, Alan Banks.

Today I posted my review of Justin Cronin's The Twelve and, as I try and find a representative food from books I read, this soup was a clear choice. Homemade soup and bread were mentioned when Peter visited Amy.

Soup The 12

This seems like a cheat talking about a "recipe" for this soup as it's pretty much a toss together from bits in the fridge and pantry. We always have cans of black beans on hand so this is a good base to start the soup.

soup black beans

A Simple Black Bean and Veggie Soup

3 TB olive oil
1 TB butter
1 can of black beans
chopped onions
about a cup of fresh or frozen corn
4 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
a couple of green onions, chopped
2 fresh tomatoes chopped (or a 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes with juice)
green bell pepper, chopped
3/4 cup broth
Seasonings you like - I use salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme and paprika.

Melt the butter and add the olive oil to a pan. Saute all the vegetables until soft. Tip in the canned black beans, stir, then tip in the tomatoes. Now toss in the herbs. Heat to almost boiling and simmer for a bit, letting the flavors mingle.

If you have leftover rice add it now. This will bulk it up. This is a vegetarian version if you use vegetable broth. You may also use chicken broth and add any meat leftover from other meals, if you desire. Sometimes I have just a wee bit of chicken leftover and it goes in the pot. Other times I add sausage. Just depends what you have on hand and what sort of additions you want. This soup is ever changing in ur house.

I will be joining Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday series. The linkup for this week is HERE. Please join in if you have made a soup, salad or sandwich.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Chicken, Mushrooms, Spinach and Orzo
{A perfect one-pot meal that allows you to read while dinner heats}

I am finally done with the Justin Cronin's "The Passage" Series. Three big fat books in the trilogy. Do you like apocalyptic lit? If so, you will probably like these books. When you are fully engaged in a book and the endings of each chapter leaves you wanting a little more .....I ask you, how can you possibly get a decent dinner on the table?

These are days I want meal prep to be simple. A One-Pot meal is usually super easy and it allows me to sit at the table and read my book. The important things in life. Here is a creamy one pot meal that's pure comfort food. Look at it, brimming with juices and yummy spinach and mushrooms.


Seeing as we like spinach, we served it with a Baby Spinach, Bacon and Tomato salad.


So at this point you may be thinking about substitutions if you can't abide mushrooms. They do, after all, provide some bulk in this meal. My friend Ashley suggested using roasted peppers or tomatoes. I think she's on to something there. Tomatoes would certainly add a new flavor dimension.

Thanks Ashley for the great suggestion! Maybe she will start her own foodie site soon and we can swap recipes. (hint, hint)


I will still add mushrooms to ours as we like them. A little less orzo next time as it makes so much. Pasta is deceiving like that....makes way more than you thought it would. But next time I will add tomatoes and perhaps a cup of fresh corn. Here is the recipe below but substitute and change out per your taste. I always do that.

One Pot Chicken, Mushroom & Spinach Starring Orzo


1 tablespoon of butter
1 onion, chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
½ teaspoon each dried thyme and oregano
4 strips of bacon, chopped
Boneless chicken thighs (or breast if you prefer that part of the chicken.)
About 1 to 1 and ¼ cup orzo (uncooked)
Almost 4 cups chicken broth
Lots of mushrooms! I used about 10 ounces, sliced
A cup (or 8 ounces) of fresh spinach
Half cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon cream cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Juice from a half lemon (or less, depending on your taste)

Tip butter in stock pot or whatever large pan will end up holding all the ingredients. So…a big pot. Melt the butter and add onion. Cook for a few minutes until soft then add the garlic, thyme and oregano. Cook a few minutes more

Roughly chop up chicken into bite sized pieces. Now add the bacon and chicken pieces to the pan and cook until the chicken doesn’t look raw. This will only take a few minutes.

Now add the uncooked orzo to the pot and stir well. Now add the chicken stock. This needs to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so that the orzo doesn’t stick to the pot.

Add the mushrooms and simmer for about another ten minutes. There will be a little thickening but not all of the liquid will be absorbed. You want that so it’s nice and juicy. If you are inclined to dip fresh bread in it’s amazing.

Just before you are ready to serve you stir in the spinach. It wilts quickly. Now stir in Parmesan cheese. Finally, add that tablespoon of cream cheese. Add salt, pepper, and lemon to taste.

This little bit of cream cheese makes this dish very creamy and thick.

* I wish I remembered where I got this recipe, maybe off Pinterest, but I know I made a lot of adjustments for our taste preferences. You could make it vegetarian by leave out th chicken. I am certainly adding those tomatoes next time.

I am sharing this with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Quinoa Salad
{Starring roasted corn, pesto and black beans}

Happy Friday!!!

I know anyone who works a Monday - Friday job is happy to see this day arrive. Looking forward to all sorts of fun things this weekend....besides not being at work. Things such as bike rides, new books, maybe some Cuban cuisine and new music. Maybe I'll splurge and buy a bottle of bourbon. Why not.

Now....let us talk about healthy salads and side dishes. We like to eat well and while I would have this salad again, it will be a long time before I make it. Now how can I endorse something and then say I won't make it? Because I made way too much. Waaaaaayyy too much.

This is a salad you can eat hot or cold. Do you like quinoa and black beans and roasted corn? This is for you then. As summer starts it's final countdown we are still eating light meals most of the time....But certainly we're looking forward to the heartier meals that warm us in the (oh please come on and hurry) cold weather.

Salads and grilled foods have been the staples here.


Credit where credit is due, I grabbed this recipe from Joanne at Eats Well with Others.
HERE is her original posting and recipe.

I wasn't trying to get the peppers in a pinwheel or get artsy with them. I was thinking that Doug may not like too many roasted peppers so, this makes them easier to work around or grab as many as you like.


It made so very much that we took leftovers for lunch. More than one day. I really made too much.


The olive oil I used was Pompeian Olive Oil as there was a great sale at our markets a week or so back. I stock up on the buy-one-get-one deals when I see items I use all the time. Believe me, olive oil is something we use daily. This will be tucked into my salad folder. Just don't make too much and you won't get sick of it in a hurry because it's very good.

I will be joining Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday series. Join in and add your link - this week's Link up is HERE.


Also sharing this with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Monday, August 08, 2016

♥♥ Please Vote for Lucy the Ferret! ♥♥

Hello all! I have a request if you don't mind helping out this sweet little ferret.

Her name is Lucy and she is trying to win a photo contest so she will be rewarded with a very cool play tunnel. She's a deserving ferret, a sweet little thing that could really use the prize.

If you have an instagram account and you would like to help. Please "like" Lucy's photo. Click HERE to vote for Lucy the Ferret!


Much thanks to my friends on Instagram who have already given Lucy the thumbs up. We appreciate it. Voting ends Tuesday evening.

Click HERE to vote for Lucy the Ferret!


Thursday, August 04, 2016

Avocado, Corn and Tomato Salad
{Plus a Reading Update}

July is behind us and I can’t say I’m sorry. While August has blazed in with as much heat, humidity and thunderstorms as last month, hopefully that pattern won’t continue long. To keep the kitchen cool we are using the oven sparingly. Refreshing salads have taken a starring role on our table.


The month of July we stayed in more and read. Doug finished the last Jimmy O’Brien mystery and discovered there won’t be anymore. The author, Jeff Sherratt, died before finishing the book but his wife penned the last 100 pages. So that’s the end of Jimmy O’Brien series. He also read City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin and Sharky’s Machine by William Diehl.


I finished The Twelve and liked it, Justin Cronin is a great writer. The scenes are so descriptive you can picture it as if you were in the room or part of the conversation. Now I am on to City of Mirrors. Doug loaded it on to his old tablet so I could borrow it. It can’t be loaned through Kindle but we found a way around that.

As for riding we haven’t gone very far due to the extreme heat of the afternoons. This past Sunday we rode into Georgia for some breakfast and took a long way home. I love the rural roads.

Speaking of heat – here is a salad that mixes hot and cold ingredients that’s easy to make and bursts with flavor. So many complimentary ingredients but I learned a lesson – just make the amount you want to eat for one meal. It’s easy enough to recreate another night but doesn’t hold over all that well.


I made my own adaptions to a David Lebovitz recipe. Changing out quantities and the type of cheese. Also, don’t put the dressing on the entire salad, just the serving you are eating so it doesn’t get mushy when storing. We had it the next evening and found the skins separated from the cooked tomatoes. It wasn’t unpleasant, just tasted better with hot tomatoes. It’s a winner of a recipe and a good salad for a main meal or an accompaniment.


Avocado, Corn and Tomato Salad


• 12 ounces of grape or cherry tomatoes (I probably used more)
• 3 ears of fresh corn, shucked (or 3/3 of a can of good quality canned corn)
• ⅔ of a large cucumber, cubed
• 1 avocado, cubed
• ½ onion, chopped
• 10 ounces or so of halloumi cheese, chopped into cubes ( I couldn’t find any so I tried using cubed mozzarella.)
• 2 tablespoons oil for cooking
• fresh basil leaves.

1. Cut the tomatoes in half. Cut corn off cob or is using canned corn, mix corn and tomatoes together. Drizzle with olive oil. Roast the tomatoes and corn on a baking tray for 10 minutes at 350 F..

2. While the tomatoes and corn are roasting, heat oil in a frying pan the add halloumi cubes. Let cook for two or three minutes without moving, then toss and let cook for a minute or two longer. Repeat until the cheese is well browned and crispy. Drain on kitchen paper. * Note: I used mozzarella and it was a hot mess.

3. Get the tomatoes and corn out of the oven and tip into a large bowl. Now add the cut up cucumber, avocado and onion. Stir in the basil and top with hot cheese.
Use a dressing of your choice and serve the warm salad immediately.

Linking up to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday and with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series. HERE is the link to this week's Souper Sunday.