Thursday, July 31, 2008

Saved by the bell

Whatever happened to that little Taco Bell dog ? I thought he was funny. Not that I would want him in the kitchen around my food, but he was a cool little mascot. Anyway, I have been a fan of Taco Bell for years. I remember back in the 80's in my hometown, we didn't have any kind of Mexican restaurant. Back then, in our "underdeveloped " little town, It was a BBQ place, pizza, hamburgers, or fried chicken. When the door's opened, those poor people working there were so busy, and the customers had no idea what burritos or soft taco's were. How time have changed. I stopped in at Taco Bell today for lunch, and their newest creation caught my eye. It's called the Big Box, and it was too. It has a crunchy taco, a chalupa, a burrito, and some cinnamon twists. It even includes the drink for about $5 bucks.
I am impressed that Taco Bell has not forgotten the MEN out there and,
created a cheap feast for them. My son's and I thank you

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

This mornings breakfast was almost non-existent. No time for lunch at all. This has been a very busy day. Needless to say, at suppertime tonight, I was ready for a great meal. It was decided that the grill was going to be lit, and some pork steaks were going to be the main course. After the grill was hot, I added the aluminum foil pouches that contained some sliced zucchini, carrot, and cauliflower with salt, pepper, and olive oil. I also added 6 ears of white sweet corn, still in the husk's. If you have never steamed veggies on the grill, start now. It has the most incredible flavor, and is very hard to mess up. Just keep it on the top rack, away from the direct heat. As great as my supper sounds, My post today is about dessert. It is known by many names, but my grandmother called it Watergate Salad, so that's what I call it. I looked up the name on Google and found many recipes, all different, but still containing the main ingredients. My version of the salad goes like this.....
one tub ( 8 oz ) Cool Whip
one box Jello pistachio pudding mix
one can pineapple crushed or chunks
Chopped nuts (optional ) I use the ice cream toppers
Shredded coconut ( optional ) amount depends on own taste
1 1/2 cup of mini marshmallows
1/2 cup raisins
Basically, just mix all the ingredients together and chill for about an hour. You can make it, like I did, while the grill is getting hot. Through the years, I have added many other ingredients to
this salad, including sliced apples, peaches, strawberries, blackberries, and even granola. The base recipe is easy to play with, and you can even swap the pistachio pudding. I use Jello chocolate pudding and add crumbled Oreo's and make mud pies. Add some gummi worms for the kids, and tell them it's dirt. Go crazy with it, and if you have, leave a post and tell me about it !

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My favorite Italian place

I am an Italian food junkie. A fan of spaghetti. Lover of lasagna. So the smile on my face appeared when my wife said let's go to Olive Garden last night. I love that place. I could eat a hundred of those bread sticks, and a gallon of that minestrone soup.We can never agree to an appetizer, so we order the pick 3, which almost always include the calamari, fried mushrooms, and fried zucchini. I think I have ordered the tour of Italy every single time I have been there. It is my absolute favorite. It has lasagna, chicken parmigiana, and fettuccine Alfredo. My wife had the seafood Alfredo with shrimp and scallops.
All this, with a little wine, and my night was perfect. I have never gotten a bad meal from Olive Garden, and the people there are the best. It will probably be about 2 weeks before I can go back, because Olive Garden is a "treat " for us, and it is well worth it. Take my advise, hit the Olive Garden soon, it's always been worth the trip for me.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fortunately, I live near the water. I am a beach guy, and love everything about the lifestyle here. I have been around the water all my life, so a lot of delicacies for some, are a typical meal for me. It was raining and stormy here today, and the big race was on, so I decided to take the family out on the back deck and cook some crabs. I have a turkey fryer that is used just for steaming. It has a rack that keeps the food out of the boiling water, and handles that lifts the basket out of the pot. Cooking crabs is an art where I live. There are many spice recipes, because everyone has their own particular tastes. I will be explaining a generic version since I have no secret recipe. I basically use a half Old Bay, and Half kosher salt mix. I add 3 to 4 inches of 1 part water, and 1 part cider vinegar to my pot and bring to a rolling boil. I then add my crabs 1 at a time. Check to make sure they are alive, and discard the dead ones. I shake some of my seasoning on each layer as I ad the crabs. Fill not quite to the top and steam for 20 minutes. I then remove the lid and check a claw to be sure they are cooked. You need to look for the bright orange color, and texture of the meat. I have never cooked more than 20 minutes, but there is always an exception. You should cover your table with paper, or even old newspapers. Dump the crabs and sprinkle more seasoning and enjoy. We also like to have bowls of vinegar for dipping, crackers, and sliced cheddar cheese to eat along with the crabs. I have a special dip that I make that goes with any seafood, but I will not release that recipe at this time. Maybe in a future post. Great afternoon here with the race on the TV, hot crabs, and a cooler of Coors light. Yeah, I'll have the crabs

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Want my pickle ?

I went back to the garden today and pulled more cucumbers. I now had 9 staring back at me. I knew then and there that it was time to pickle. I am going to explain to you the easiest way to make pickles. You will need to run down to your local Food Lion, or Giant store to get some special things, and unless you are like me and save old mayonaise jars, you will need to pick up some Ball jars. If your food store does not have the jars, you can get them at Wall-Mart or Target. This recipe is for 2 jars, so add ingredients according to the number of cucumbers you have. You will need

2 teaspoons pickling salt. Not the house kind

1 tablespoon dried dill spice

2 cloves garlic

equal parts water/vinegar solution

Slice the cucumbers with the skin still on and put into a bowl with a lid, and add 1/2 of the salt. Shake bowl to coat slices and put in fridge. In a pan, heat to almost a boil the water, vinegar, and dill. When it gets hot, divide the cucumber slices into the jars, and add the garlic. Pour the hot mixture over the slices, and use a butter knife to push the slices down. leave about a 1/4 to 1/2 inch air space at the top, and put the tops on tight. Put them in the fridge for 5 weeks. I put a piece of freezer tape on the jar with the date so I know when they are ready. Easy pickles anybody can do.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sausage and squash, it's what's for dinner ! !

I went out to the garden this afternoon, and after having a look, I knew what I was having for supper. I pulled a few squash, and a couple cucumbers and went inside to check the fridge. To my dismay, I was lacking some ingredients, so I had to make a run to the store. I didn't mind it to much because it means a pass through the beach and a little sightseeing. Well I ran into the Food Lion and got what I needed and hurried home to make one of my favorites. I am going to give you the ingredients and instructions on how to make my squash casserole, but please understand I am just a regular guy, and not a Food Network star. Please bear with me, because I can only give guy directions. You will need to get

2 large, or 3 medium size squash

1 big onion, I like using the red ones

1 can of mushroom or celery soup, your choice

1 green pepper

1 log of breakfast sausage, hot or spicy your choice. I am partial to Jimmy Dean mild

1 bag of shredded cheddar cheese, I get the 12oz size

2 cups of bread crumbs or crumbled cornbread. I prefer the cornbread

Now what I do is fry the sausage in a skillit with a little water and break the sausage up as it cooks. When it's close to done, I add the onion and sliced squash, and cook it down a little. I then drain the grease, put it back on the stove and add the green pepper and let it simmer a little with the lid on. While it's doing that I get my metal cake pan an put in the bread, or cornbread crumbs. I then dump the skillet in the cake pan, and add the soup and a can of milk. I stir it up and mix it good. I put it in the oven at 400 for about 30 minutes. Then I pull it out, spread the cheese on top, and let it cook for about 10 or 15 more minutes. While my casserole was finishing up, I washed and sliced my cucumbers and put them in some vinegar, poured some sweet tea, and got out the plates. If you like, you can make it the same way as I did, but without the sausage. My kind of supper tonight. I think I'll go get some of the leftovers now

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Free lunch ?

I love a deal. 2 for 1, or 1/2 off, and FREE! Today as I was on my way to Home Depot, I heard an ad on the radio for McDonalds that said Free chicken sandwiches today! My son and I got an instant smile. We hurried through the store gathering materials we needed for our little project, loaded the truck, and pulled out of our parking spot. My son say's "You hungry dad ?" and I told him " yeah boy, wer'e getting some chicken today " As I pulled into the drive thru, I realized that many others had heard the same ad, but I was only about 4 cars back and it was worth the wait. We both ordered the large sweet tea and some fries, and in return we got 2 free chicken sandwiches. I am a Big Mac guy myself, but I have to tell you, that new chicken sandwich is the most simple, and best tasting sandwich I have ever had. It was bun, pickle, and chicken. They really have a winner with this one. The seasoning on the chicken tasted different, something new, that was a welcome change from the taste of the other sandwiches I have eaten. I saw that they have a chicken biscuit for breakfast also. I havent tried it yet, But my son and I might need to hit the Home Depot again in the AM, and maybe grab some breakfast. Great job McDonalds, Love your sandwich

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cheeseburger in paridise

I am a fan of burgers. I can honestly say I have never had a bad on, although some were way better than others. Fried, grilled, broiled, or any other way, I love them. We were out doing some errends yesterday and I had remembered the ad for the BK steakhouse burger, so when we passed a BK on the way home, I hit the drive thru. The key, I think, to getting quality at a fast food place is to stop in during the off peak times because the food is not rushed to be assembled and thrown out the window to you. I pulled off to the side and unwrapped my sandwich and the first thing I noticed was how big it was. It was very impressive. It had some kind of steak sauce on it, lettuce and tomato, and those fried onions that come in a can. It was great. I think it is one of the better burger ideas that BK has come up with in a while. I paired it with some sweet tea and some onion rings, and then made sure I had the number to my cardologist on speed dial. This burger is really worh a try so don't miss out. untill next time, I'll have the........

Monday, July 21, 2008

Homegrown !!

I enjoy having a green thumb. I am proud that after many trial and error attempts at growing something, I am finally getting my plants to thrive. I am not into roses or tulips, or any of the other multi colered weeds that other people slave over. I am talking about my vegetable garden. I have a surplus crop of cherry tomato's, squash, cucumbers, big boy tomato's, green peppers, canteloupe, and watermelon. This evening, my sons and I took our plastic pails out for a walk. First, we walked the half mile driveway from my house to the paved road and picked the blackberries that grow wild along the woodsline. We got about 2 quarts. Then beside the house, along the edge of my garden to pick some cherry tomato's, . Inside of the garden rows we harvested 6 yellow squash, 4 fat green cucumbers, 4 big red tomato's and 2 green ones to fry at breakfast, and a big heavy cucumber. We incorporate all of our fresh picked produce into our supper. Cubed squash with cornbread mix, baked with a little cheese on top. Sliced cucumber in a bowl with cider vinegar and salt & pepper sprinkled on top. Raw sliced tomato's on a plate with the little cherry ones around the side and a dollop of mayo. And for dessert, the wild blackberries with a little cream and sugar and sliced canteloupe. We had some type of meat as our main dish, but I don't think it ever made it to the table. I just had to share

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Chocolate shakes and slides

Have any of you been to one of the fast food joint's play-areas ? My boys are old enough now that they can play in them without me following them around making sure they are OK. Well, today while out on a little shopping spree, we decided to stop into one and grab a sandwich. My boys made a dash for the play area and I sat back to relax a little. While watching through the window, I noticed a few kids running around, and one little girl, about two or three, standing at the end of the slide looking up. As the kids came sliding down, I saw that the little girl did not move, and as one of the kids came down, they slid into her, knocking her down. This led to screams and cries from the little girl, and a little boy who had just ran around her and continued his play. I then saw the mother, who was sitting in the dining area near me, go running in and grab up the child. No big deal I thought, she's not hurt. But when she came back into the dining room around her friends, all she talked about was the " little monsters " hurting her child, and what terrible parents they must have. I heard her say that " people need to watch their kids if they can't obey the rules ". I looked back in and saw my boys, along with about 4 other kid's having a great time going down the slide, and climbing around the tunnels. I then looked at the huge sign over the door that made it clear that children under three should be accompined by a parent. I sat back and enjoyed my chocolate milkshake, and waited for my boy's to get done burning some energy. When they emerged from the play area I made sure to walk by the table of mothers and asked my boy's " did you play nice and follow the rules? ". Almost as if rehearsed, they began to tell me about the little girl who got knocked down by someone because she was standing in front of the slide. As I held the door for them to walk out, I said, " well maybe her mom should have been watching her, like the sign says. "

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Eat more chicken ?

How many of you made it out for a meal lately ? It is one of my most favorite things to do. I was at a local place last night, and I can't begin to tell you how great the food was. I am a fried chicken fan, and this was the place to get it. I'm sure that the salt and fat content was way above the limit I needed to eat, but you cant beat a real fried chicken dinner. With all the problems and worries that people encounter, everyone should take the time to spoil themselves. Afterwards, a walk on the beach and out on the pier over the water. It was a great evening. I do my share of complaining, and I do spend more time than I should pacing the floor over everyday problems, but I think we could all make it a point to get away form things and unwind a little.