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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Beans & Cornbread...A Southern and Grandma Kinda Thing

If you are ever in Eureka Springs and want to taste a true Southern tradition, you must visit Grandma's Beans & Cornbread. For just under 5 dollars you can gobble up a heaping bowl of beans of choice, yellow and delicious golden baked cornbread, and all the necessary fixins! In case you don't know about cornbread fixins', then mosey over to the fixin bar and see what I mean. A bountiful array of sauces, butter, sweet pickle relish, hot peppers, and ONIONS! Can't have beans & cb without a side or two of plain ole sliced white onions. Sorry if I'm talking above your head...it's a Southern thing...

Grandma's was facilitated by a pop and daughter who were working hard at trying to be nice to each other as I placed my order. Seems like Grandma's can accommodate up to a bus load of folks all at one sitting and a bus load had just stopped by about thirty minutes earlier. Luckily the multiple orders had been taken and served, however the daughter was at her wits' end (Southern talk for sick and tired of nobody helping) accommodating all the elderly folk with their refills and such.  But, I got my order right on target and all was well with me and #3 as we munched away. (It was heck trying to get into the bathroom later, though.) Click the link above if you wish to check the other menu items at Grandma's but, that's like ordering fish at a fine steakhouse. Anyway, the beans were correctly cooked and seasoned (yes, there is a correct way of cooking beans). No ham or meat was to be found...fine with me. And the scrumptious piece of cornbread was simply...to Di for! We also enjoyed side orders of coleslaw and topped it all off with the Cran-Apple Pie.  Simple, yummy, and down home delicious...squabbling cooks in the kitchen and all.

Grandma's Beans & Cornbread on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Knowing The Southern Art of Social Etiquette While Attending Holiday Functions (Even If You Were Raised In A Barn)

Tis' the season to be jolly and certainly sociable...and a true Southern lady knows the fine art of social etiquette while attending all those fabulous holiday functions and parties. Why I have three soirees on my agenda for the upcoming week, and I'm really a bit of an introvert. However no fear, even if you were raised in a barn, one can always honor her true Southern heritage by following these five easy pieces of almost constructive advice...

1.  It is always proper to let the host know if you will be attending or not, even if there is no RSVP. After all, the host was kind enough to invite you, and if you are a real dork that keeps their host guessing, you certainly will not be invited again. Harsh, but so true...

2.  Don't arrive early!!! I know you may be suffering from ' have no life syndrome' however, the host appears to have a life or would not be throwing a party. Duh! And, the often frazzled host certainly does not need you banging on the door before the announced time, due to the attending of a  million and one last minute details.  Early birds get no worm here, only a good thinking about when the next party invitations go out. Remember, holidays are a lonely time of year...

3. Mingle, mingle, mingle! This involves not latching onto old familiar surroundings like they were the only people in the room but instead seeking new masses to engage in thoughtful conversation. Get over the fear and on with the idle chit chat! This is where that bachelor's degree you struggled with for so many years comes in awfully handy. Who knows, you might meet a new friend who will be a keeper...

4. If the event happens to be a sit down dinner with no place cards in sight, pile make your plate and then go sit down ready to converse with whomever might be on each side. Hopefully, the chairs will not be turned up with a chair Nazi there to tell you they are taken... this is the equivalent of saving pews in the sanctuary each Sunday and we all know God is gonna get ya' for that...

5. And after the gala event is over, thank the host not only once, but twice. First (and always), when you are leaving (only genuine ding-a-lings leave a party without saying goodbye no matter what) and secondly, it is especially nice to call or send a note after the event. This may sound a bit extreme, however our goal is to be invited back. Ahh, the lost art of  correspondence via snail mail. Just imagine the glow on your host's face as he/she reads your special hand written, postal delivered thank you...that is, if the post office is still delivering mail at this time...second thought, better Fed Ex it just in case.

No excuses...you now know the Southern art of social etiquette while attending holiday functions. Go out, have a blast, enjoy your friends, and certainly no drinking and driving...Miss Alice can give you instructions on that...MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Remembering Coy's in Hot Springs and that Fabulous French Dressing!

Years ago we would frequent Coy's restaurant in Hot Springs, Arkansas which served a decanter of spicy French house dressing on every table. It was sooo delicious that we would gobble it up with the basket of saltines long before the salad or meal came along. Oh, just admit it...you did the same thing too! So sad the place burned down in 2009 however, I've been making a similar version of this dressing for many years. Whenever I serve it, everyone has to have the recipe. Now that I'm dabbling in vegan-ism, this is my vegan version of that old favorite we all loved so long ago. Just use regular mayo for the standard recipe.

How to make an absolutely delicious French (vegan) salad dressing:
1 cup Veganaise (get it at the health nut store)(use regular mayo for standard version)
1 cup tomato ketchup
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup minced onion with juice
Whisk together all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour into a decanter and serve with your favorite salad greens or plain old crispy saltines. It's really good with anything! I'm serving it for our Thanksgiving meal...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bang Bang Shrimp at Bonefish

Had a wonderful dinner with a bunch from the office the other night at Bonefish Grill in Rogers. This place was hopping all the way from early happy hour to lining up out the door at 8:30pm when we left. Glad we got there early...it's always packed! As usual, we all agreed we must have the Bang Bang Shrimp before our meal. And as usual, it was absolutely delicious! And, for those times we don't get to go out with the office gang it's nice to have a copycat recipe to make Bang Bang Shrimp at home. Found this one on my favorite foodie website Group Recipes posted by Reginnia0221 and I can't wait to copycat it! If you're not familiar with the Thai Sweet Chili Sauce and Sriracha Hot Sauce, you can find them in the ethnic isle at your local grocer.  They really make the dish. Enjoy!!

How to make a copycat version of Bang Bang Shrimp:
1 lb. shrimp, raw, shelled, and deveined
Dry cornstarch, for dredging the shrimp
Hot oil, for lightly frying the shrimp
Lettuce, shredded
Scallions, chopped for garnish

1/2 cup mayonaise
1/4 cup Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
A few drops of Sriracha Hot Sauce (you choose the heat level)

1. Dredge shrimp in cornstarch.
2. Heat oil and fry the shrimp till lightly, brown.
3. Drain shrimp on paper towel, put them in a bowl of shredded lettuce, mix the sauce ingredients, and pour over the shrimp. Garnish with the scallions.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Friend Says She Is Such A Lousy Cook She Can't Even Boil Toast

Well, this blog is for my friend, and you as well, if you want to learn how to perfectly produce a hard boiled egg. No more dark, yellow yolks and torn apart egg whites! Also, great for the perfect Curried Egg Salad Tea Sandwich...aren't the simple things in life sorta nice?

How To Hard Boil Eggs:
1. Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt.
2. Bring to a boil and boil for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Cover with a lid and let sit for 12 minutes.
4. Drain and place eggs in a bowl of ice water to cool down.
5. Eggs are ready to perfectly peel in about two minutes.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cooking With Legends...Piece of Cake

Master Chef with Chef Gordon Ramsay is my favorite show! Each week I tune in to see all sorts of excitement going on at the MC kitchen in LA. I usually attempt to recreate what the contestants are asked to do. The show, in its second season, started with 1000 contestants and is now down to the final eight. These contestants are sometimes praised and often totally humiliated by Chef Ramsay and his two men hit squad (Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich) as they are judged on simple techniques such as poaching an egg, making Hollandaise sauce, cooking a lobster and so on and so on, all within a time limit. Pressure cooker for sure...but, I love the show because Chef Ramsay has helped me to think about these basic, yet detailed, cooking procedures. I'm honing my culinary skills (with the additional help of Julia Child) and looking forward to maybe being humbled by Chef Ramsay some day. As Julia says,
The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Peace and Tranquility for Dining Baby Boomers

Last night me and #3 had our weekly date night at the Crazy Hibachi in North Little Rock and I must say it was fun, delicious, and slightly annoying. I'm referring to all the screaming and yelling children who were also enjoying themselves at our grill and the other stations as well. Now, I love little kids and all, but there is a time and place for everything...am I the only baby boomer around who loves the idea of banning younger children from certain restaurants??

I do acknowledge that totally prohibiting the little screamers from certain establishments could cause added problems for the restaurant owner, so I suggest that management attempt to please us dictatorial baby boomers in a more passive/aggressive manner with these three simple ideas...

  1. Cut the kid's menu which gives a huge discount to these thoughtless parents. The kids don't eat much anyway and parents seem to be abusing this price reduction by taking adult size servings home for the little angels to eat later...sure.
  2. Have a designated SPECIAL area for these kind of patrons...an interactive kiddie/parent corner, preferably somewhere completely out of sight and hearing range of other responsible diners. Parents and kids could all pitch in together and tidy the area as food is thrown all over the tables, chairs, and floors. Those parents appalled at this kind of social networking and confinement (with other like patrons) might choose to pay a sitter the next time they go out and keep everyone happy.
  3. As a last resort to coax these heedless parents to come to their senses, management should cut a deal with the local Chuck E Cheese's and hand out coupons with a subliminal vengeance. After all, kids would certainly enjoy a more kid friendly atmosphere than going out to the fuddyduddy places their parents are dragging them to.

Well, just some food for thought...what's your opinion on this hot topic concerning dining out with brats?? Also, please leave a suggestion in the comment section below as to where my date night should be next week. If we choose to eat at your selection, you will receive a gift certificate at that establishment! Maybe we could hook up and dine together...just leave the kids at home. Deadline for comments is August 2, 2011 at 3 pm CST.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Big Fish at Chang's

Went to Chang's Thai & Asian Cuisine on Hwy 107 in Sherwood the other night and had this wonderful big fish. It was loaded with vegetables, sauces, and just the right amount of heated spice we had asked for. I don't even know the name of the dish...just told the server we wanted the big fish because I had watched a couple devour this entré on a previous visit...and this is what we got...
It was a teeny tiny tad too little for me and #3 as we shared it, however we did have the Egg Drop Soup to make our meal complete. We will certainly order two big fishes the next visit.

And this is all that was left...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blueberry Season Brings Buttermilk Blueberry Scones

The Natural State boasts such a variety of growing seasons and fresh berries are always exciting treats to await! This year we got the best blueberries at our favorite roadside stand, Holland Bottom Farm in Cabot. And, because I always have buttermilk in the fridge (always ready to make cornbread), I made some scrumptious Buttermilk Blueberry Scones. They were delicious warm right out of the oven with lots of butter slathered all over. You can also eat them at room temperature, store airtight for up to three days, or freeze for a later date. You're gonna love this recipe...

How to make Buttermilk Blueberry Scones:
Yields: 10-12 scones
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
1 egg
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup fresh blueberries(frozen will do in a pinch)

1. In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
2. Cut butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
3. In a separate bowl combine the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla.
4. Add the blueberries to the dry mixture and coat them.
5.Create a well in the center of mixture and add buttermilk mixture all at once to the well.
6.Combine just until moistened. Pour onto a slightly floured flat surface.
7. Spray hands with cooking spray and pat the dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness.
8. Cut into shapes and place on a parchment lined baking dish.
9. Brush the tops with extra buttermilk and sprinkle with more sugar.
10. Bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

First Friday Lunch @ Our House

On Friday June 3, 2011 we are doing community service @OurHouseShelter. Mike and I will shop, cook, and serve for about 30-50 people at Our House. We do this not only because we have a passion for cooking, eating, and socializing, but because we are striving to help the homeless in our community. We will be preparing and serving the following to the residents of Our House:
  • Salmon Croquettes with Homemade Dilled Tartar Sauce & Lemon Wedges
  • Mashed Potatoes with Fresh Herbed Butter
  • Corn, Tomato, & Pepper Trio
  • Southern Skillet Cornbread
  • Carrot Cake Cup Cakes with Creamy Cream Cheese Frosting garnished with Fresh Mint Leaves
  • Freshly made Iced Tea with Lemon Wedges & Fresh Mint Leaves
If you are interested in helping with First Friday Lunch @ Our House, please contact me or there are plenty of other ways to get involved...check out the Our House website today! 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Have You Dropped By The Oak Street Bistro In Conway? If Not, You're Missing Something Super Special!

Oak Street Bistro on Urbanspoon

The Oak Street Bistro in Conway is a wonderful place to eat, drink, and enjoy all the green and artistic surroundings. Me and #3 stopped by the other day since Conway is just a hop and skip down Interstate 40 from Sherwood. This cool and trendy place is snuggly located off the highway and adjacent to the Tipton Hurst Florist which provides lots of lush green ambience as you relax and enjoy a really good family or date night meal inside or out.

The house soup, White Cheddar and Dill was absolutely scrumptious as the Bourbon Shrimp with Crostini! The Mushroom Chicken Breast drenched in Cream Sauce was to Di for as well. Will return soon to try the Wine Tasting $15 for 5 Samplings on the last Thursday of each month with 15% off  dinner that night. Ask for Matthew who is a really great server!!

Exciting food, great service, and beautiful surroundings...try it for sure.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

All About Fast, Easy, and Delicious

I really enjoy an exciting but basic white sauce slathered all over something every now and then. Like chicken fried steak, pasta or noodles, or any veggie.  A made to order, delicious white sauce is all I need to doctor up my recipes...here's a super fast, easy, and delicious way to add a little Béchamel to your life...

Béchamel Butter & Cream Cheese Balls:
35 balls
2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons salt
1/2 teaspoon white or black ground pepper
1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened

1. Mix flour, salt, and pepper into a mixer bowl.

2. Add softened butter and cream cheese; mix until well blended.

3. Drop by rounded tablespoons (I use a small ice cream scoop) onto a parchment lined baking sheet and place in the freezer.

 *After frozen, transfer balls to a zip lock bag, store in freezer for up to 6 months, use whenever...

4. Thin white sauce: 1 ball to one cup of milk, whisked over med heat until melted & thick.
    Medium white sauce: 2 balls to one cup of milk, whisked over med heat until melted & thick.
    Thick white sauce: 3 balls to one cup of milk, whisked over med heat until melted & thick.
5. Be creative...add some cheddar cheese or anything you please!!!


Monday, May 23, 2011

The Most Delicious Chicken Salad In The South

My BFF, Becky had me over for the most delicious chicken salad dish I've ever tasted! Bec has been making this recipe for many years thanks to an old cookbook she purchased from one of Little Rock's most cherished restaurants of long ago...The Vineyard.

As a matter of fact, I was a volunteer server at The Vineyard with a few close friends, and when the doors would close at 2pm we would sit down together with a glass of wine and share some delightful chicken salad as a reward for our service. The friends are still around as well as this wonderful recipe, however I do miss The Vineyard! Do you remember where in Little Rock The Vineyard was located? Leave your answer in the comment section below. You could be a winner!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gravlax From Home

You will need the following to make sugar and salt cured salmon or gravlax:
2 center cuts of fresh salmon, about 3 lbs
1 large bunch of dill
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 T crushed peppercorns
1 T whole fennel seeds

Step by Step Directions:
Place the two cuts of salmon in a baking dish. Combine the salt, sugar, peppercorns, and fennel seeds in a small bowl and pour evenly over the salmon.

Wash and shake dry the dill and place it on top of one cut of salmon.

Put one cut of salmon on top of the other skin side up.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Place some cans of food on top to weigh the salmon down. Refrigerate for a least 2 days, turning it every 12 hours and basting with the liquid that collects in dish.

On the third day lay each piece flat on a cutting board, remove the dill, and slice in long thin slices. Serve with crusty bread and Philadelphia Pineapple Cream Cheese Spread!!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Cooking For Our House

Today we are doing community service at Our House . The lunch menu for thirty includes a lot of my favorite recipes:

 Spaghetti and Meat Balls
 Fresh Salad Greens with Vinegar & Oil
 Green Beans w/ Bacon
Cheese Drop Biscuits
Strawberry Cupcakes
Iced Tea/Sprite

I especially love the Cheese Drop Biscuits, aka Red Lobster's famous cheese biscuits. They are so easy, tasty, and inexpensive...why not knock them off at your house today!

How to knock off Red Lobster's Famous Cheese Biscuits:
2 1/2 c Bisquick
1/4 t garlic powder
4 T cold margarine
1 c grated Cheddar cheese
3/4 cup milk

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine Bisquick and garlic powder.
3. Cut in the cold margarine.
4. Add grated cheese and milk stirring very briefly to combine.
5. Drop by ice cream scoopfuls onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 14-17 minutes.

Prepare the topping for baked biscuits:
2 T margarine, melted
1/4 t dried parsley flakes
1/2 t garlic powder
Pinch of salt

1. Mix all ingredients together and brush over tops of hot biscuits.
2. Makes one dozen yummy cheesy, garlicky, biscuits.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Restaurant Not Taken

For many years I have passed by this cozy little corner tucked Chinese restaurant in Western Little Rock only to head down the street for the ever so popular, P.F. Chang's. However the other night feeling slightly adventurous (and not wanting to hassle with the crowd at Chang's), #3 and me decided to take the restaurant we have often not taken...Chi's DimSum & Bistro. Holy cow...have we ever been choosing the wrong way to go! Atmosphere, service, food, and camaraderie all assembled together for the perfect dining experience!!! Must haves at Chi's include the Crispy Fried Shrimp, Twice Cooked Pork, and the Crispy Salty Calamari. I would have taken more pics but the food disappeared too fast. Go ahead, step out of your fuddy duddy zone and take that restaurant less traveled...you never know what's around the corner until you go there.

Chi's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy 86th Birthday!

We never know how many years we get to live on this planet, but my Daddy seems to want ten more. Hope he gets his birthday wish! Happy 86th Birthday, Daddy Bill!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Greenhouse Grille...Creating Conscious Cuisine...non lovers of loud live music and salt addicts might have a period of adjustment...

Had lunch with my sweetie the other day at one our favorite NWArkansas restaurants, the Greenhouse Grille located at 481 South School Street (479)444-8909 in Fayetteville. This cool place is a hop and skip down from the UofA and we have enjoyed the local organic and natural cuisine since it opened in May of 2006. GG strives to support local farms and products and everything on their menu is a giant leap forward to a healthier lifestyle.

A must to order is the Mediterranean Platter with Organic Hummus and Quinoa Tabouli Salad, Organic Housemade Falafel, Feta Cheese, Kalamata Olives and Tiziki Sauce, with Grilled Pita Bread. A meal in itself for $12.50. #3 usually gets a Grilled Free Range Chicken Caesar Wrap with Sauteéd Organic Shitake Mushrooms, Cucumbers, Carrot Ribbons, Parmesan Cheese and Spicy Caesar with Organic Mixed Greens served with Tortilla Chips and choice of Organic Hummus or Tropical Fruit Salsa for $9.

 Next time you are in the area (closed on Mondays), check out this cool place...non lovers of loud live music and salt addicts might have a period of adjustment...you'll come around, I did!

"Food so good, it's like going to church." - Orteil Burbridge, Allman Brothers Band

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Favorite Fudge Sans Marshmallow Recipe

I know, Valentine's Day has already passed but the truth is, I have always loved a decadent batch of homemade chocolate and nut fudge. Actually, I have gotten quite good at this lost art of candy making and hardly ever have to eat my fudge with a spoon anymore. Just like anything else done precisely and perfectly well, you have to practice, practice, practice. Not a hard thing to do with this ageless and perfectly wonderful Carnation Velvet Fudge recipe...sans marshmallow of course!

How to make Carnation Velvet Fudge:

3 oz semi sweet chocolate squares
3 cups sugar
2 T white corn syrup
1 cup Carnation evaporated milk
3 T butter
1 ts vanilla extract
1 cup chopped nuts

Place chocolate, sugar, white corn syrup, and milk in a large sauce pan on medium heat, stirring frequently. When candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees remove from heat...
Allow to cool, then add the butter, vanilla, and nuts...
Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture loses its gloss and is easily poured into your favorite buttered fudge dish...
A recipe you would never want to live without!