Catching up with life stuff, books, movies and two pasta dishes

What....? It's the end of July already?!  This month has mostly flown by.

Life Stuff: Let's catch up before we put this month behind us. Doug's father had been in the hospital so there was some family visiting here and there.  Great to see Doug's brother and the family from Mississippi when they visited, looking forward to seeing them again early next week.  In other news, our son's air conditioner went out so they are dealing with horrific heat indexes (portable A/C units can help with that for now). Our son has an interview next week so we are hoping he gets that job.

Aja is doing well for an old girl. She is just waiting summer out before she willingly walks in the Fall temperatures. I think we are all looking forward to that time.  Doug and I constantly talk about moving once we retire, someplace with seasons would be nice. I could do an entire post in our discussed options so far!

Books: I finished The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. She's such a prolific writer and I get lost in the scenes in Cornwall.  Starting A Sense of Ending by Julian Barnes and When the English Fall by David Williams.
Over at Girlxoxo they had a fun tag for books.  I copied it an added my own books to the theme.  If you want, check it out HERE

Watching: We watched Life starring Jake Gyllenhaal, that was pretty good. I didn't see that ending coming, it's nice to be surprised. That's the only decent movie we watched. We tried Dark Matter, it's a series, but only got through a few episodes.

Food:  We tried a new recipe for Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna. The recipe may be found at Damn Delicious. Great site and cool recipes.  As you can compare from her site and mine, I did not get a photogenic shot!  It looked more gray when it was reheated too.

BUT - it was good and probably had potential to be dynamite but our personal preference is for the traditional red sauced version. Not enough zing for our palates.  If anyone has tried this with a Bechamal sauce and liked it, please do tell me what I need to tweak for next time.

lasagna

Tortellini with traditional homemade red sauce!  Loved it.  Mushrooms, onions and garlic were heaped into my saucepan.  Saute and add your tomatoes.  Lovely meal and quick to get on the table which is a winner for weeknights.

torta

Do you have a favorite or go-to pasta dish? I eat more pasta than I should but I love it!

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

Taziki's Signature Pasta Salad vs. Cobb Salad for lunch on the run

We usually eat at home.  On weekends we grab lunch out when we ride somewhere or when we are running errands.  Overall, we keep the dining out to a minimum.  This past weekend we had to grab lunch out more often than we are used to, also eat much later than we usually do.  A family member has been dealing with medical issues so we've been visiting at the hospital, hence, our schedules have been off a bit.

 Trying to keep it a little healthier I opted for Taziki's signature pasta salad.  We had recently enjoyed gyros there, very fresh and plentiful ingredients.  This salad was packed with chicken, tomatoes, feta and a ton of pasta.  Honestly, it was so much pasta I couldn't finish it.  I probably wouldn't get it again but that doesn't mean I don't like it.

Tzakiti pasta

Next we have a Cobb Salad.  Ok, I know (as does everyone who can read the ingredients list) that a Cobb salad is not usually healthy.  Too much blue cheese and definitely too much bacon!  But it was a late lunch again and this appealed.  See how large?  This is the lunch portion, the smaller portion.  No way could I eat a larger salad, I didn't quite finish this one.


cobb

We have been eating at home in the evenings and cooking healthy chow, that's the preferable thing to do.  Coupled with a good bottle of Beaujolais and some music....that's relaxing.

In other news, I guess it's not really news, Aja is doing well.  She is 15 and she is on some medication temporarily but otherwise doing well.   We are wishing away the hot summer months so we can finally take a long ride.  It's always good to ride a distance and get lunch out of town but lately it's been very rainy and extremely hot.  I've been reading quite a bit and noting it in my journal but not blogging much.  I would like to get back to that.

Hope all is well in your world.

Sharing this with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday series.

Trying Rieslings.........sweet, dry and in between

This is a wine journey post.  Our latest passion has been focused on Riesling.  We are discovering the dry Rieslings are more to our taste and don't care for the sweet, or semi sweets at all.  Just personal preference.

2015 Biltmore Riesling:  Alcohol 12.5 %,   appellation is American.  Midway between sweet and dry on the scale.  It's way too sweet for us. It was paired up with grill pan salmon, peas and potato cakes. It was drinkable, not a "drain wine" and we finished it but wouldn't buy again.
  Biltmore


salmon potato cakes


















2016 Chateau St Michelle:  Alcohol 12 %,  Appellation American, Columbia Valley Washington. We had this with Chinese.  Not too spicy a Chinese dinner but this Riesling went well.  This  This will be purchased again.  Not expensive at all.


Chateau St Michelle

2015 Dr Loosen Riesling Dry. This was a big splurge, just to see if a higher end Riesling was remarkably better than a $10 - $20 bottle.  This one was $40 and we had it with Sea Bass, Cuban Style.  We liked it....but not quite enough to drop $40 on a regular basis.  It did pair very well with the fish.

LoosenDry


Lastly here is another 2015 Dr. Loosen Riesling.  Dry, pear colored, flinty and high acidity.  I did not like it at all.  I am thinking our Riesling journey is coming to an end.  Not saying we won't try one in the future but it's not on the top of the shopping list.


DrLoosen  Turns out we don't like the sweet or semi-sweet Rieslings at all.  The Chateau St Michelle would be my pick with Chinese take-away if we try it again.  But overall, I'm thinking we are more Sangiovese or Chardonnay folks.

Anything is worth trying so....there is that little experiment.  If you are a wine sipper which varietals are your favorites?

Poached Sea Bass and Mahi Mahi with Viognier
{two meals with a Cuban twist}

What a week so far. The amount of rain we've had makes the grass grow taller ...too fast!  It's a lovely green though.  We'd like to move away from the swamp here....yeah, I know I have mentioned it a few times.    I think our time frame to relocate may move up from 4 years to 3. We shall see how it all goes.

If I win the Lucky Money lottery Friday I am almost certain we will be living in another state sooner than planned.   So let me not grouse about weather or health or broken air conditioners or any of that. Let me share two pretty meals.

This is a poached type sea bass, Cuban style.  Fair warning to all, sea bass is expensive!  I had no idea it was almost $25 a pound.  I also need to remember to read the recipe fully before I shop.  Once I read the recipe again I realized I need about a cup of wine to poach the fish.  (Back out to the grocery store again)   This was good but I think I prefer fish grilled rather than poached. (Grilled version coming up).  For what it's worth, we had a Dr. Loosen Riesling with the meal and while we liked it, we aren't up for spending $40 on a bottle of wine very often.


seaBass

There was enough if the sofrito mixture leftover from the sea bass meal that I hated throwing it away.  I froze it as we decided to try it on grilled fish a week later.  No freezer burn as it was a short time frame in the freezer.

Doug grilled Tile Fish and we served with it maduras, black beans and rice.  Perfect summer meal.  Recipe will follow if you'd like to try it too.

mahi1

Here is a Viognier to round out the meal.  Crisp and refreshing.

mahi2

Sea Bass Cuban Style

Ingredients
2 TB olive oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
2 TB minced garlic
4 cups, seeded plum tomatoes
1 1/2 cups white wine
1/2 cup sliced green olives
1/4 cup drained capers (I left these out...cause I didn't have any)
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
4 6 ounce sea bass fillets

Directions
Heat olive oil in large skillet. Saute onions and garlic until soft.  Add tomatoes and cook until they soften.  Now stir in wine, olives, capers and red pepper.  Heat to simmer.

Place sea bass into sauce, cover and gently simmer for 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.  

That's it!  It was very good but I think I prefer the grilled fish with this sauce over the poached.  Also, just a note, I cut back on the amount of fish since it's just the two of us.  That means more leftover sofrito but you can put it over a rice dish or use it with another fish meal as we did.

Coming up will be a post about Rieslings we have tried recently.  It was a comparison on dry and sweet Rieslings.  Probably Friday or Saturday for that little journey.


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





Gyros and Herb Roasted Potatoes - How a lunch out inspired a good dinner

Hello and happy first week of July! We took a bit of time off and it was so nice. Five full days off and we made the most of it. When we were out running errands the lunch options were a bit limited, if you want to keep it healthy.

 Well, we found a Greek restaurant with very good food and healthy options.  Tazikis  offers a nice wine selection as well as desserts to compliment the hearty entrees.  This gyro was absolutely packed with lettuce, tomatoes, grilled onions, chicken and Taziki sauce.  For my side dish I chose the roasted new potatoes.

Gyro

The potatoes were so good we decided we had to duplicate them at home.  A few nights later we did.  Well, not exactly as I think I used a bit too much in seasonings and herbs.  I would cut back next time but these were just about as good as the ones at Tazikis.

What do you think?  These potatoes do look like the ones at the restaurant!

potat1


Along with the potatoes we had grilled salmon with soy and sea salt, broccoli and wine.  A bowl of fresh strawberries, homemade bread and ooey cheese completed the meal.  I love eating at home!  You get so much more bang for the buck!

potat3

This meal paired very well with a crisp Sancerre.  This is a 2015 French wine with only 13% alcohol.  The Claude Riffault label states only a small amount was imported.  It was good and I might want to buy it again but at $26 a bottle, we may try a different one next time.

potat2

So now I'm hungry, looking at these photos again!  Hope your 4th of July was good.

Linking up to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday and with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.
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SouperSundays

June went by fast

June is a month of celebrations such as my birthday, our anniversary (#33) and father's day.  It's also a month we like to see the back of because we've had 3 beloved pets die in June, years past of course.

If Aja is looking healthy all through June we breathe a sigh of relief.

Aja w mirror 

For the record, our old girl is still in fine health with only the occasion issues of stiff joints and a belly ache here and there. {big sigh}

So what else is new from steamy north Florida?

Reading
Both Doug and I read Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker last month.  What a page turner, if you like wine and non-fiction.  My review and pretty photos may be found Here.  This is a book we will buy in spite of having read it.  I had checked it out of the library but I think it will be revisited.

I am currently finishing up The Daughters of Ireland by Santa Montefiore.  It's the second book in the trilogy and quite enjoyable.

Watching
We have enjoyed some older movies as well as the new release John Wick 2.  We've watched In Time, Jurassic World, Tomb Raider and The Mummy.  I am looking forward to the newest remake of the Mummy with Russell Crowe.  It didn't get high marks but I love action movies.

In the Kitchen
We have had some good meals and wines lately. Lots of seafood and fresh veggies.
I also made a big pot of soup recently.
It doesn't matter that it's hot and humid, a good vegetable soup is a welcome lunch. Pair that with homemade bread and yogurt and I'm happy.

  veg soup

 This doesn't require a recipe so much as a suggestion. You toss in whatever you like or stray vegetables in your fridge that aren't enough for a side dish. This time I used onions, garlic, green beans, red potatoes, corn, carrots, tomatoes and a a couple of mushrooms.  I used an equal part water and vegetable broth to cover the vegetables while they cooked on a low simmer.  Salt and pepper, garlic powder, oregano and basil were tossed in as well.

I hope June was a good month for you.  I am plowing into July with plans for reading, a little cleaning and trying new wines :-)  What's on your agenda for July?

Linking up to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday Series.

SouperSundays

Nigel Slater's Baked Flounder with Parmesan Crumbs for Potluck

It's Potluck time at I Heart Cooking Club and I am bringing a dish from one of my favorites - Nigel Slater.  Have you ever perused one of his Kitchen Diaries cookbooks?  It's so much more than a cookbook.  As the title suggests it's a diary about his kitchen and garden interspersed with good recipes.

I have read through most of the Kitchen Diaries as well as Tender, sometimes just for the prose, visualizing his garden with the plants, the foxes and that great dining table he talks about.  But today, I bring you a recipe of Nigel's that I found in Food and Wine magazine online.  Baked Flounder with Parmesan Crumbs.

It's easy, you toss it in the oven and 15 minutes later you have a good meal.  Perfect for a workday or a lazy day.

fish

Nigel Slater's Baked Flounder with
Parmesan Crumbs


Ingredients

• 4 flounder fillets (2 pounds total)
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/2 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 F.
In a large baking dish, season the fish fillets with salt and pepper.
Mix the Parmesan with the bread crumbs, melted butter and olive oil and sprinkle over the fillets. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the fish is cooked and the topping is golden. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.


Sharing with I Heart Cooking Club and the Potluck theme. Click on the link and see what everyone else brought to the party!

Pan Bagnat Revisited

Today I wanted to share a sandwich that had been an old favorite  of ours quite a while back. I'm not sure why I quit making it but something inspired me to make it for our lunch this week. Wednesday evening I made a loaf of French bread in preparation for Thursday's lunch.

I cut the two butt ends off and froze them for later to serve with soup or a cheese course with dinner. Then Thursday morning, I began assembly of this sandwich called Pan Bagnat.

Here is a collage of the sandwich in the making.  Cut the bread almost in half,  Now liberally brush the inside with olive oil, sprinkle with oregano and parsley.  At this point the layering begins.  You can use your favorite sandwich stuffers - each time it can be a different taste.


sand2-COLLAGE

As you can see I first layered the shredded mozzarella and provolone cheeses.  Next I added thinly sliced cucumber and tomato.  Then black olives and sliced hard boiled egg. I had a jar of marinated artichokes so they were placed on top.  What I forgot was the sliced onion and diced bell pepper.  Next time........

This makes an enormously fat sandwich which you can't possibly eat....unless you crush it.   Now you carefully put the top bread over all those ingredients.  See top photo on right.

Wrap it with plastic wrap to avoid oils seeping out.  Now wrap in foil.  When I got to work I placed the foil wrapped sandwich on a table and put heavy Florida Statute books on top.  It weighs it down so the sandwich is pressed and all those ingredients and flavors blend and squelch into the bread.

(Is that a word? Squelch?)

Hours later your sandwich is much thinner and easy to eat.  Bring a napkin because it's still juicy!  You can add turkey or anything you'd like per your taste preferences.  It's a great lunch - lots of carbs but you wouldn't want to have it every week.

Linking up to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday Series and Beth Fish Reads Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.


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SouperSundays

Bahama Mama and Nachos and a Kong

How naughty were we? Bahama Mamas and Nachos for our movie night dinner. Just a splurge and a good movie. Aja has her Kong filled with peanut butter - that bought us 5 minutes of zero begging so we could focus on our food.

Not that I would ever give her nachos. That's a sure fire trip to the vet for an expensive canine belly ache.

Bahama and Nachos

The "recipe" for nachos may be found HERE.


Bahama Mama Recipe

3/4 ounce (20ml) white rum
3/4 ounce (20ml) añejo rum
3/4 ounce (20ml) Myer's dark rum
1/2 ounce (15ml) coconut rum
3 ounces (90ml) unsweetened pineapple juice
2 ounces (60ml) fresh-squeezed OJ
1 teaspoon (5ml) grenadine
dash of Angostura bitters
Maraschino cherry for garnish
Orange slice for garnish

Directions:

Combine all but garnish, shake with ice, strain into hurricane glass & garnish.



So what else is new?  It's been very rainy here and so we are dividing our time between  watching DVDs, sitting in the den and listening to music or sitting on the patio for dinner and hoping for a fox sighting.

Old Séamus the fox has been a fairly regular visitor but we are worried about him now. He hasn't shown up in quite a few days.  Gray foxes live to be 15 years old on average so maybe Séamus was an old man.  We do see other foxes but he was special.

The movies we have seen lately are John Wick II and a series called The Syndicate.

The music has been Handel's Water Music and Mark Knopfler.

The reading lineup includes Living the Dream and The Secret Garden.  I am almost finished with Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker and enjoying it.

That's it for us - eating, drinking, reading and enjoying.  Updates on the camping goals and plans soon.


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










Catching up with life stuff, books, movies and two pasta dishes

What....? It's the end of July already?!  This month has mostly flown by. Life Stuff : Let's catch up before we put this month beh...