Not just any old side dish

We had Baked Chicken for dinner last week and needed a side dish to go with it.  I had a can of sliced carrots and wanted to “jazz” them up a bit.  There’s nothing more bland than a can of sliced carrots, folks.

carrots

See these?  Man were they tasty.  (and I apologize if the lighting isn’t that great – I don’t claim to be a photographer! at all!) I drained all the juice from the can, put about teaspoon of butter in the skillet, added about a scant tablespoon of Splenda brown sugar, and about a scant tablespoon of (sugar free) Apricot Preserves along with about a teaspoon of chopped jalapeno pepper (seeds and all for a bit of heat)a pinch of salt and a dab of pepper in the skillet also.  I let this simmer on low heat to get everything melted together, added the drained carrots, and let them hang out a bit in the sauce to get the flavors all through the carrots.

Boy oh Boy.  Were these ever good.   Feeding the kiddos?  Just leave the seeds from the pepper out.  But put them in.  Adds a bit more flavor.  But you can leave them out all together.  And if you want, use orange marmalade.  Whatever flavor you have.   Hubby loved them and were diabetic friendly but not short on flavor.   Jazz your side dishes up next time you open a can.  Have a great rest of the week!

Ribs – on the grill

It was hubby’s birthday so I grilled for his birthday supper.  He wanted ribs.  Here’s how mine are done – it may not be your method but it’s the way he likes his!  Fall off the bone tender, and oh so flavorful!  I did try a new method this time.  I usually dry rub mine and let the dry rub sit on them for a couple of hours prior to grilling.  This method, like a lot of grillers, called for a pre-marinade, and then dry rub for an hour or two.   For the marinade, you can use either apple cider or apple cider vinegar with the juice of one lemon (make sure you have trimmed your ribs of the silverskin and any loose pieces of bits) and make sure the ribs are just covered with liquid – let soak in refrigerator for 2-4 hours.  Then remove from marinade, and dry off with paper towels.   Apply dry rub of your choice and rub in – refrigerate for 1-2 hours.  Then grill! – our grill has a smoker tray of which I placed my soaked wood chips in – I cut all burners on high to heat the grill – when the wood chips started smoking, I cut off the side without the chips, and cut down the side with the chips to medium.  I placed the ribs  meat side down to begin with, on the side with no heat.  I then basted the ribs every thirty minutes with cider and rotated and turned the ribs for even cooking.  Mine cooked for 2 1/2 hours (this is determined by the size and meatiness of the ribs).  I then like to wrap my ribs in foil for another 30 minutes to 45 minutes to finish cooking and tenderizing.  If you like a bit of crispyness or plan on brushing on bbq sauce, just remove from foil, place on fire side (cut up flames if need be) and baste and turn over and baste again to get crisp sides. Hubby liked them cause he went back for seconds!

photo (2)

For my rub, I generally use:

couple teaspoons kosher salt

2 heaping Tbsp  splenda brown sugar

2 tsp smoked paprika

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

You can alter, add other ingredients, to the above, and adjust the amounts of the seasonings to your liking.   And there are a lot of already mixed rubs in the stores that are good.

I had some Chicken Kabobs for me and used the same seasoning on the chicken and it was so good!  So it is a very versatile rub.

I love using the grill in the hot summer months!  Let us know what you are grilling these days!

Pecan Praline Poke Cake

Oldest daughter found this cake recipe floating around somewhere and sent it to me.  Although the original was not a poke cake, and the sauce can be made to spoon over individual slices, I thought it much easier to poke holes while cake was hot and pour over cake and serve that way, letting the whole cake soak up that yumminess of the sauce.

However you make this, it would be the perfect Mother’s (or Father’s) Day dessert.  This cake is so easy and moist.  And yes, you do make the cake with the canned icing right in the cake batter.  What’s easier than that??!!!

Pecan Praline Poke Cake
For the cake:
1 box butter pecan cake mix

1 (16 oz) tub coconut pecan frosting

4 eggs

3/4 cup oil (canola or veg.)

1 cup water

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Sauce –

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

2 Tbsp butter

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9.13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2.  In bowl of mixer, mix all cake ingredients except 1/2 cup chopped pecans (and yes including the canned icing).

Once this is combined, stir in chopped pecans.  Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for about 40 minutes.  (I think mine actually took 45 minutes).

For sauce:  In small pan melt 2 Tbsp butter.  Once just melted, add sweetened condensed milk and stir until just heated.  Remove from heat and stir in the 1/2 cup chopped pecans.  Poke holes in warm cake and slowly pour the sauce over the cake – if it runs down the sides that’s ok.   Let cake cool.  Cut and enjoy.

This cake was so moist.  So delicious.  Give it a try and see what you think.  Let us know if you served your sauce on the cake or on the side as a “sauce.”  Have a wonderful and blessed Mother’s Day.

Oatmeal Muffins with toppings – yummy

Need something for a wonderful, delicious breakfast that is healthy?  Try these Baked Oatmeal muffins and choose what toppings you put on yours.  You can even leave off toppings and eat plain.  These will freeze well – just pop out what you need for the next morning’s breakfast before you go to bed – and heat for 10-15 seconds in the microwave – or not!

Even good with a tad of peanut butter on them!  Or a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.  The sky’s the limit with these.

Oatmeal Muffins

2 eggs

1/4 cup canola oil

1 cup packed brown sugar (I, of course, used my Splenda brown sugar)

1/2 cup applesauce (I used the unsweetened applesauce)

1 1/2 cups skim milk (any kind milk you use will work)

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp cinnamon

3 cups old fashioned oats(not the quick cooking or instant kind)

2 tsp baking powder

Toppings (your choice)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin pans with paper or foil muffin liners.  Don’t skip this.  I used regular and mini muffin pans – it should make about 16 large muffins if you use only the large size.

2.  In a large bowl whisk eggs, oil and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved (or combined well).  Add applesauce, milk, vanilla, salt and cinnamon and whisk until combined.  Stir in oats and baking powder (I measured out my oats and baking powder in another bowl and stirred to combine – that way the baking powder gets evenly distributed and you don’t get a big clump of the baking powder somewhere in the mix.)

3.  Fill muffin cups (about 1/4 cup per large muffin cup size).  Add toppings (I used chopped pecans on some, mini chocolate chips on some, craisins on some, raisins on some, and fresh blueberries on some) and slightly push toppings in to mix either with your fingers or back of a spoon.

Ready for the oven! (I didn’t take an “after baked” picture – I am an airhead.

IMG_0337 (2)

4.  Bake for 30 minutes and let cool for 5 minutes.  (the cooling lets them come out of the paper liners easier.  Enjoy!

These are so moist – and like I said, are such an easy breakfast/snack.  And with no flour, they are good for those who can’t have it.

Try these soon and come back and let me k now what toppings you used!  Have a great weekend.

Watermelon is my life

You probably already know that.  But just in case you don’t, here’s the scoop – I love watermelon season.  Hubby keeps those small seedless round watermelons for me all during the season for my snacking.  And for my breakfast, and even sometimes for my lunch.

I ran across a recipe somewhere that I am not sure where, for watermelon-basil lemonade.  Since I grow fresh basil, this was one I wanted to try.  and I am so glad I did!  So refreshing!  I will keep a pitcher of this on hand during the hot days of summer along with my sliced watermelon!

And believe me, I will have more recipes to share that involves watermelon!

Watermelon-basil Lemonade

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (and if you are not a fan of basil just leave this step out)

4 cups boiling water

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (reserve lemon rinds)

1/2 to 3/4 cups sugar (I used Splenda sugar)

3 cups pureed watermelon

watermelon wedges and lemon slices

In a 4-quart heatproof bowl (I actually just use the pitcher I am going to use) bruise basil leaves with the back of a wooden spoon.  Add boiling water, lemon juice and sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar.   Stir in pureed watermelon and the reserved lemon rinds. (I slice a few of the lemon halves in to slices and throw in to the pitcher – this gives the drink added flavor).  Cover and chill for 2 to 3 hours.  Remove and discard the lemon rinds.

Strain the watermelon/lemon mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large pitcher (well mine is already in a large pitcher and I didn’t strain mine! But it does make it a lot clearer of a drink and takes the pulp out of it – your call.) Garnish with watermelon wedges and lemon slices (these slices can be from a lemon you didn’t squeeze the jouce out of!)  Stir before serving.

Strain or not strain – that’s your call.  I guess if I were serving to guests I would strain but for me it is fine like it is.

Have a great week and enjoy the melon season this year!

It’s a beautiful day – let’s grill something

Y’all know I love my homemade taco seasoning mix.  And y’all know, if you have made it, that it is quite spicy.  (yummy!)  And y’all know that hubby doesn’t eat quite as spicy/hot as I do so I had come across one that isn’t so spicy that I have been wanting to make and try.  I love homemade seasoning mixes as you can add/subtract the seasonings to your liking.

Yall.  This.  Oh my.  It is so good.  We had some chicken we wanted to grill out last week, and, well, the weather.  Enough said.   So I took the chicken, sprinkled this all over it, making sure it was well coated, let it sit for about 15 minutes while the oven heated up, placed it in an aluminum foil lined pan, and let ’em go!  Could not have been better.  I did drizzle just a tad of olive oil on top of the chicken for moisture.  (I always use skinless boneless so I didn’t want them drying out and they didn’t).

We loved these.  Hubby especially!  Leftovers were slightly re-heated and served over a salad.  Man.  Flavor in every bite.  I know two little girls that are getting their very on jar delivered to them today!

Make some and try it.   You will like it, especially if you like a little less heat.

Mild Taco Seasoning Mix

1/4 cup cumin

1/4 cup salt (kosher)

2 Tbsp garlic salt

2 Tbsp ground pepper

2 Tbsp Smoked Paprika (make sure to use the smoked paprika and not plain – it adds a depth of flavor you need)

Mix together and store in an airtight container (I use my mason jars for my spices!).

Use about 2 Tbsp per 1 pound of ground meat.  If sprinkling on whole pieces of meat to cook (like breasts, thighs, wings, or even pork tenderloin, even fish) just eyeball or use to taste.

This would be good on a good firm fish to make fish tacos.  Create your own dish today!

A beautiful week and winners

The rain has stopped…we think for a few days.  Maybe my back yard will dry out a bit along with yours.  Here’s hoping to a somewhat dry week although everything is turning so green and lush looking!

And it gives me great pleasure in giving away the following items to the following people selected by random.org –

The Orange Chelsea Market apron goes to – Joy!

And the Red Chelsea Market apron goes to – Diane!

And the set of Fat Witch Bakery cookbooks goes to – Karen Goad!

And the single Fat Witch Bakery “Bake Sale” cookbook goes to – Tibiwestbrook!

I forgot I had gotten a Set of the bakery cookbooks and a single cookbook of her new one, “bake sale” so I had two winners from the cookbook list.

Congratulations to all the winners and you will get an email from me along with me getting the prizes out to you soon!

Happy Monday, y’all.

A beautiful day in NYC

We just got back from New York City. We had a wonderful few days there and saw so much. Our feet can attest to that – we walked about 10 miles one day in order to see it all. and 10 miles doesn’t see a lot in NYC! If you have been you know what I am talking about! We did take the horse drawn carriage ride through Central Park. We have pictures! I won’t bore you with them but I will show this lovely tree – I have a thing about lovely trees…..
central park

I snapped this one of the flowers which were blooming all throughout the park. It was so pretty everywhere. Just cool enough to be enjoyable. Hubby got his long awaited HUGE Hot pastrami from Carnegie Deli (go to their website to see a picture of how huge it is!) and he said it was the best he had ever had. We also saw the play “Lion King” (my second time to see it in NYC) and loved it (again!).

We found a shopping market (we walked to it, too) in Chelsea – Chelsea Market – that was an old warehouse turned shops that was a great place to walk around and shop – it was the best! It had the neatest market with the most variety of fresh mushrooms I have ever seen in my entire life in one location. If I were living nearby, I would go broke in that market. It had a kitchen store that I just walked around in and swooned. It had one of my favorite places, Fat Witch Bakery, there, too. I was a good girl and didn’t eat any brownies, though. :-(

But what I did do, was bring back some good stuff to give you folks! Yep! So here’s the dirt:

From the neat kitchen store that hubby had to drag me out of there, I brought back two aprons to give to two people and I even got them in Alabama and Auburn colors, because, after all, the South is all about football!
orange apron

red apron

And I also brought back a set of Fat Witch Bakery cookbooks! Yep! “Fat Witch Brownies” and the newest one, “Fat Witch Bake Sale” so you can make those incredibly delicious brownies. They are easy and delicious.
cookbooks
So if you want a chance to win one of the three items in this give-a-way, just shout out which one you want to be in the running for: Alabama apron, Auburn apron, or the brownie cookbooks. I will decipher to the best of my ability Monday and select winners for each.

Have a great weekend and stay dry.

Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo – its what’s for dinner

If you are looking for an easy gumbo recipe, look no further. This one is not only easy, but is good! We thoroughly enjoyed it, and didn’t even miss the rice. Feel free to serve yours with a big scoop of rice in the middle of your bowl.

Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo
¼ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup canola oil
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans chicken broth (I used fat free chicken broth)
1 can petite diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound pkg of turkey kielbasa sausage
(you can use any kind you want – andouille, smoked – I went the healthy way and I don’t eat the other kind)
1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I like to keep the frozen bag of shrimp in the freezer for such as this or to grill or sauté to top on a salad)
2 cups frozen okra (you can either use frozen or let thaw)
4 green onions, chopped
1 ½ tsp gumbo file (found in the spice section- I know you have this in your spice cabinet!!!)

Place a couple of tablespoons of oil in a dutch oven and slice your sausage and place in heated oil. Brown sausage – remove from pan. Add the ¼ cup of canola oil and ¼ cup of flour. Stir while the flour browns to a caramel color, on medium heat; this will take anywhere from 8-10 minutes. Don’t let it burn so stir while this is going on. You are making the roux. Once this is done, add the diced onions, peppers, and celery and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the veggies soften a bit. Add the chopped garlic and stir another minute or two. Stir in the broth, salt, pepper, cayenne, tomatoes, and add the sausage back in, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook with lid on (but cracked to the side) for 30 minutes.

Stir in the okra and green onions and cook for another 10 -15 minutes or until okra is cooked. This depends on whether or not you used frozen or thawed. I used frozen and cooked for 10 minutes. Add shrimp and cook another 5-10 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink. Stir in the file powder. Enjoy!

If you like yours served with a scoop of rice (we didn’t eat rice in ours to watch the carbs) feel free to make a pot rice and serve up a bowl of this delicious gumbo and add a scoop of rice in the middle.

This recipe is definitely a keeper – hubby ate two bowls (no rice in it and he loved it- just enough heat) and said make this again!

Hope you choose to try this one soon!

Happy Easter Weekend

I pray that you have a worshipful Easter weekend and enjoy the time with your family!
We were in the mood yesterday for meatloaf – he, beef, and me, well you know the story. Mine was out of turkey. But to kick it up a notch, we smoked ours!

This is something you must try. Oh, my. I have a “steel grill meat loaf pan” from Williams Sonoma that I dearly love. It is made specifically for either grilling/smoking your meatloaf. It has a lift out insert with holes on the side of the insert and in the bottom, which allows the grill/smoker to get that flavor throughout the meatloaf. I used this pan for hubby’s and wrapped his loaf in bacon – added flavor! Just make up your favorite recipe and wrap the loaf in bacon, and there you go! I brushed some “jalapeno ketchup” (another layer of flavor) on the top of the bacon covered loaf and let her smoke!

Mine, made out of ground turkey, after making up my favorite recipe, I just placed in a wire grill basket, minus the bacon, of course, and in the smoker it, too, went. Great flavor. We love our masterbilt electric smoker.

Sorry I didn’t take pictures. I am an airhead. I admit.

I wanted to give this pan away on my blog but I can’t seem to find one on the Williams Sonoma site. If I can find one or two I will have it in a future give a way – if not, well, I will just have to get something else to pass along!

Enjoy all your peeps – both family and marshmallow kind! Love all of you followers!