Mexican Jalapeno Cornbread

This was a good effort.  I experimented with this recipe using Tristan and Doug as taste testers. They are usually willing participants when it comes to kitchen experiments.  ♥ 

The goal was to find a copy cat recipe for 4 Rivers BBQ style cornbread.  I did not nail it as I couldn't find one that truly looked like the 4 Rivers creation.  But, I will say this was very good and I would make it again.

It only took 15 minutes prep time and it came out very moist.  This would go well with any BBQ or chili.  My heat tolerance isn't as great as the guys so next time I will put more of the jalapeno on one side of the pan.  I like some jalapeno but this was just a wee bit too much for me.

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Mexican Jalapeno Cornbread

Ingredients

2 eggs 
1/4 cup corn oil 
1 cup buttermilk 
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 (8 ounce) can cream-style corn
1 large onion, chopped
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda


Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square baking dish or a cast iron skillet.
  2. In a small bowl, beat eggs. Mix in corn oil and buttermilk. Stir in 1 cup shredded cheese, creamed corn, onion, and jalapenos.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix well. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top.
  4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until center is set and top is golden brown.
  5. I am sharing this with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series.















Nigella's Chowder with Asian Flavors

Happy Friday!!!!

Books, movies and cooking.  That's what we have been involved with here.  I posted about the British movie nights we have enjoyed at Novel Meals here.  As for books, I'm thoroughly enjoying A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess by Amanda Owen and have ordered the first book she wrote.  Next I will probably get on book 4 of the Frieda Klein series by Nicci French.  I'd like to finish up the series before summer and only have four books to go.

Cooking - I've been doing a bit of Italian cooking with stuffed shells and lasagna but recently wanted to make a chowder.  No tomatoes or sauce, need to give it a break.

Nigella Lawson has been one of my very favorites cooks for years.  The Nigella Express cookbook gets quite a bit of use and at one time, I was determined to make every single recipe in that cookbook.

I'm not sure when I let that mission go by the wayside but....it did.  Skimming through that cookbook again had me motivated so, I choose this chowder thick with cod and potatoes.  We'll see if I want to tackle more of this book.  There are many old favorites in there.


Nigella's Chowder with Asian Flavors

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Chardonnay works a treat with this meal.  We both like salt and lots of ground black pepper in chowders so you'll see flacks of pepper in our soup bowls.


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Nigella's Chowder with Asian Flavors

Ingredients

  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable  broth
  • 1 pound baking potatoes (peeled and cut into  ¼ inch cubes
  • 4 ounces baby leeks (cut into ½ inch slices)
  • 4 ounces baby sweetcorn (cut into  ¼ inch slices)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace
  • 14 fluid ounces can coconut milk
  • 20 ounces skinless smoked cod fillets (cut into 1 inch cubes)
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 8 ounces small or medium frozen shrimp (I left this out)
  • 1½ cups canned sweetcorn kernels,drained(I used fresh corn)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes (or ½ teaspoon table salt)
  • 1 long fresh red chile pepper (deseeded and finely chopped)



METHOD

  1. Bring the stock to the boil in a medium-sized pan. Cook the chopped potatoes, leeks and baby corn in the stock with the bay leaves and mace for about 10 minutes or until tender.
  2. Add the coconut milk, chopped smoked fish and the lime juice. Bring the pan back to the boil and let it simmer for a minute or so.
  3. Tip in the shrimp (if using them) and sweetcorn and once again let it come back to the boil to heat them through. Season with the salt and then serve.
  4. Decorate each bowl with some chopped chilli.
I'd definitely make this again, it was hearty enough with bread as an accompaniment and made so much we had lunch the next day. Nigella never disappoints me. 



Linking up with  Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series and with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sunday this week.  Here post and yummy Cure-All Lentil soup may be found Here - check it out!


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Cheeseburger Soup for Souper Sunday

Should this be called Cheeseburger Soup or shall I refer to it's true origin? Then it would be called Loser Soup but I don't want to get all negative.  Ok, ok....so I will tell you how it came about, this unplanned soup.  I must preface it with stating - this was delicious and hearty.


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If you decide to make a cheeseburger soup then that's great.  And the reason for doing so isn't because a mistake was made, it's because you want to make that particular soup.  It had been a week of tiresome events and after walking Aja at the park, it was getting late.

Instead of picking up pizza or Chinese or just going home and tackling the planned meal (which was ratatouille posted here), I brought up the fact that I could be decadent and eat a cheeseburger.

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Well now, that's like mentioning pizza or cake or whatever your naughty food craving is - it's out there now.  It's a mental image in your head and you are tired anyways so....take the easy way for dinner and go get X food.  The X is whatever you would cave in for and just get, vowing to be better later in the week.

For anyone who knows the rural area we reside, they will also know there isn't much choice for restaurants or....anything. I won't even mention the name of the truck stop "restaurant" we went to get this cheeseburger (embarrassment here).  We ordered a cheeseburger and were told by the waiter it would only be 30 cents more for a double.

"No, thank you," we said, "we only want a single patty."

So what does he return with?  Two double cheeseburgers.  It was way too much and we could have probably split one but....there you have it.  Almost impossible to eat as you would a regular burger and we cut it in pieces.  Obviously that was more meat than we wanted or could eat.  So I brought home the equivalent of one serving and used the meat for soup.

So, here is how I made a Cheeseburger Soup with leftover burger and fresh veggies.  Maybe the veggies counteracted the damage of the burger. Ha!

Cheeseburger Soup

Chop up 1 large onion, 2 stalks celery, several cloves of garlic, 2 carrots and several potatoes (I used red creamers).  Saute these until the onions are soft.  

Tip in a 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes, 2 TB tomato paste, salt, pepper, basil and oregano. 
Chop the leftover burger as well as you can and dump that in too. 
 Now add 2 cups of broth (I used vegetable broth)

Place in a Dutch oven or large pan with lid.  Place in a 350 F degree oven and let it all simmer for at least a half hour.  Add toppings as you like.  We used diced scallions and some shredded cheese.  

It was good!

Yes, we ought to have sent the waiter back and gotten what we ordered but.....I can't imagine how long we would have been there.  At least we had soup out of it.

Linking up with  Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series and with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sunday this week.  Here post and yummy soup may be found Here.


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Ratatouille Eric Ripert style

The theme this week at I Cooking Club is Healthy meets Delicious.  Eric Ripert is the featured chef for the next six months so I thought I would take a stab at one of his recipes.  This definitely meets the healthy criteria with loads of eggplant, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes and onions.

I also made French baguette and you know, there's nothing as lovely as hot baked bread to go with a meal. Light, healthy and fairly easy.

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Ratatouille

¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 diced large Onion
1 diced Red Bell Pepper
4 sliced Garlic Cloves
1 tbs Tomato Paste
3 seeded, diced Tomatoes
2 small diced Zucchinis
1 diced medium Eggplant
Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper
¼ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
Fresh Basil

Directions

Put olive oil in a pot.
Add onions and garlic.
Cut the eggplants and dice.
Add peppers and zucchini to the pot, cooking about six minutes.
Add tomato paste, salt and pepper. Cook about four minutes.
Add tomatoes and eggplant. Cook about 10 minutes.
Add water as needed during cooking.
Add cheese and basil to serve.

Served over rice.  I cooked the rice using vegetable broth so it's creamier and has more body.


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Join in at I ♥ Cooking Club and see what others have shared. It's a nice group of home chefs and all are welcome!

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A wildlife portal and a cat stuck in a pipe
{I need advice, please!}

The wildlife portal seems to be an old swing set.  Tristan had lots of fun on that old set as he was growing up and once he was too old for it, we re-purposed it as a bird feeding station.  I had also placed hanging plants up there for a while but the birds droppings killed the plants. So now, just feeders. 

That is about to end.

We put up several feeders and unfortunately attracted the squirrels, thus wiping out the seed within hours.  What I came to learn was it's not only birds and squirrels who like to eat black sunflower seeds.  Foxes, rabbits and raccoons also raided us.

Here is the fox - busted - coming right up to the house and stealing seed. 

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Several other times we saw rabbits sitting on the stumps, munching away.  I didn't know they ate sunflower seeds!  One evening this past week we were eating dinner on the patio, it got dark and the colored lights were flicked on.  Out in the yard we heard movement and it turned out to be two fat raccoons.  One climbed up onto the swing set and robbed seed and the other gorged off the laden tree stumps.  This is while we are sitting about 18 feet away with only a fence between us and them.

They are getting too bold and with a recent story in the news about a fox jumping a fence and attacked a child, we know this has to end.  The plan is to take the swing set apart and remove it altogether.  These are wild creatures and they need to hunt and get their own food.

Now - the cat in the drainage pipe is another matter completely.  We don't know what to do. A few months back it was very cold, probably 26 degrees overnight.  We get up and hear this meow out on the porch, go out to investigate and don't find a cat.  But it starts up again and we realize it's most likely made it's way up inside a drainage pipe and we are hearing it through the French drain on our back patio.

Since we'd had issues with water collecting in the yard a few drains were put in and a PVC pipe buried, draining the water into a fire break about 40 or more feet from our patio.  Evidently this cat (we'd noticed him out in the field one day, big fat stray I'm guessing) crawled up inside to get warm.  Or maybe to chase a mouse, then couldn't figure out how to back out.  No way is there room to turn around so it would have needed to back out.

Fast forward a bit and the weather is getting a bit warmer.  Now we are getting this horrific smell coming from the drain area.  That cat probably suffocated and the smell is just about unbearable.  It's not constant but when a shift of wind occurs that smell hits you and will run you inside.

We've tried filling large trashcans with water and dumping it through.  We tried bleach and more water, in great volume. It seems to make it better initially and then the smell comes back.

When Doug first started dumping the water into the drain nothing came out of the pipe in the fire break.  Then three barrels later it started trickling.  Then a mouse came running out as the water started flowing.  We saw hair, definitely the color of that orangey cat so we thought - progress, it should wash out soon.  So far we haven't seen any bones or anymore hair/fur.  And then the smell comes back again.

Any advice?  Besides digging up our field and the pipe I don't know what else to do. Since it's underground this cat won't have the sun breaking it down or vultures coming after it.  Who knows how long it will take to break down.  So seriously....any advice?  Anyone else have this sort problem..... ever? 

I'm open to ideas as wasting gallon upon gallon of water doesn't seem to help. Yet.

Whew.




Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells

Growing up south of Philly in the good old days of riding bikes, going to a friend's house down the street so you could play, having your Mom yell out for dinner time (because you weren't that far away and could hear her) seems like eons ago.  Depends how old you are as to what age you think is old.  Perhaps the gauge there is anyone 25 years older than you is .... old.  These are memories from 50 years ago. Yeah.

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There were neighborhoods with a predominantly Italian population and those just a jiggle northeast with a larger Irish population.  I lived in a neighborhood with many Italian families and can say, I loved it. Most of my friends were from big Italian families and I was absorbed with the lot, always being fed and included in whatever was going on.  So maybe I'm Italian by osmosis ...and it shows in my meal planning at times.

I. Love. Pasta.

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These stuffed shells weren't that difficult to prepare but took some time. Worth every minute of it, I attest to that here. I used the jumbo shells so three was a decent serving.

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Here is a recipe for 24 shells in case a large batch is needed.  For just the two of us I cut it down by half and it still gave us leftovers. Cheesy and spinach laden - perfect.

Spinach and Cottage Cheese Stuffed Shells
Ingredients
24 jumbo pasta shells
1 15-oz. container cottage cheese
 2 cups shredded Mozzarella
 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan 
1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry 
1 large egg, lightly beaten 
Salt and pepper 
1 teaspoon oregano 1 teaspoon basil 
Roughly 3 cups homemade sauce or 1 26 oz. jar marinara sauce


Directions
Preheat oven to 375ΒΊF. For the full recipe use a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.  Place a bit of sauce in the bottom and spread evenly. Cook pasta shells according to package label directions; drain and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, stir together cottage cheese, 1 cup mozzarella, Parmesan, spinach, egg, salt, pepper, oregano and basil.
Stuff shells with cheese-and-spinach mixture and place in dish. Spoon remaining sauce over shells and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella.  Or you can cut back to your personal taste in the amount of cheese (obviously).
Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake about 10 minutes longer, until bubbly and cheese begins to brown.  I screwed up and placed it in the oven without foil at first so, had to bake it longer. Lesson learned about paying attention.

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



Potato Soup with Cheddar and chives

Almost two weeks ago I saw this White Cheddar and Chive Potato Soup on Deb's site at Kahakai Kitchen.  I've been wanting it ever since and finally did make it, but had some adaptions due to lack of white cheddar around these parts.

Actually, we had this for dinner one evening with a Chardonnay and homemade French bread as our lunch was quite a heavy meal.  Have you ever eaten at 4 Rivers BBQ? Oh. My. It's so good but it's a substantial meal so....soup for dinner was definitely in order.

We didn't suffer with this light meal!

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My adaptions were minor compared to the original recipe.  Yukons were supposed to be on hand but I had red creamer potatoes.  Probably it could have been creamier with Yukons but this was still very good.  I didn't have the white cheddar so I used regular orange cheddar.

Chives.  The package I bought looked good but once home, half were soggy so, not a good amount of chives on the toppings.  Still - I loved this soup.  We brought it for lunch this week at work and it transported and reheated well.


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Linking up with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sunday this week.  Thanks for the inspiration! Her post and yummy soup may be found here.  

Also sharing this with Beth Fish's Weekend Cooking Series


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Tropical Trader Shrimp Company in Panacea Florida

I know I shouldn't complain about the weather.  I know some folks have it worse with snow and temperatures lower than 40 in the evenings.  But lately, it just hasn't been good weather to ride for lunch here in North Florida.  High winds make for a wind chill factor that isn't pleasant and of course, there is that pesky pollen coating everything in yellow gunk.

Fortunately yesterday (Sunday) rolled around and offered us highs in the 70's and cloudy skies so we rode toward the coast.  Great weather yesterday as now it's chilly again.
Anyway........Tropical Trader Shrimp Company has been on our list of new places to try so that's where we went.


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Even though Tropical Trader's specialty is shrimp, I had to try the grouper sandwich.  It was very good.  Excellent quality and a large piece of fish.  Doug's cheese grits are better but these were good too.  Next time I will try the Greek potatoes or just order a bunch of appetizers.  So much to try on their menu!

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Among the items I want to try on a future trip are steamed shrimp "you peel 'em" at $14 for a pound, Pepper Jack Shrimp which is fresh Gulf shrimp stuffed with pepper jack cheese, wrapped in bacon and grilled and also the Shrimp Kabobs marinated in pineapple margarita served and served with grilled pineapple.  There are so many other choices but these caught my eye.

Doug looking happy because he was able to ride and he's getting grouper  😎😎😎

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This is a puffer fish.  He was in the aquarium near our table.  I've never seen one before and he reminded me of an aquatic pug.  Look at the buggy eyes.  A barmaid told me if he gets agitated he blows up, puffs up is the better term I suppose.

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Here are the cloudy skies I was mentioning. Nothing too threatening.

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This is my view from the back.  I like going over bridges and looking at the water.  We did end up running through a little bit of rain but we didn't get soaked.

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This is taken on the bridge heading back over the Ochlockonee Bridge.  It would be great to live in one of those condos on the water.  I would just sit and stare at the water.  And eat lots of seafood. And read and nap in the afternoons.  Ahhhh.......retirement dreams.

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

Grilled Chicken Gyro and Internet Issues

This is why I haven't been online as much..........
First off let me say I have been having quite a time trying to establish, and keep, an Internet connection at home. It’s rather maddening to have your phone or tablet freeze up and refuse to connect but....this is a recent thing.

I had called Verizon and their solution was resetting our devices.  They asked if we would call back if it wasn’t any better afterwards.  Well, it isn't any better.  Now they need to investigate more about conditions out here. In spite of being rural we didn’t have this issue before.  It’s a recent thing and I just can’t figure out what the issue may be.  Maybe we are misdirected to another tower. That’s a long winded way to tell anyone reading this post the reason I haven’t been able to visit as much.

If you have high speed internet connections be thankful because right now 4 G is not cooperating.

Grilled Chicken Gyro

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This is the sandwich I was attempting to linkup with Deb's Souper Sunday for last week. Seriously delicious is grilled chicken with Takiki sauce, tomatoes, lettuce and onions.  Flatbread is sturdy enough to hold all this without having too much breading. Bring it on.

Linking up with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen today, go check my out her White Cheddar and Potato Chive soup! I'm inspired enough to make potato soup this week too!

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Mexican Jalapeno Cornbread

This was a good effort.  I experimented with this recipe using Tristan and Doug as taste testers. They are usually willing participants when...