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Friday, August 31, 2012

PF Chang's...a pretty place to eat

Was in the NWArkansas area yesterday and stopped in P F Chang's at the Promenade Mall area for lunch. If you haven't been to this mall, you have to go! Crystal Bridges is putting NWAR on the map! Anyway, P F Chang's has some pretty fancy decor with some very pretty food, as well. We sat at the bar because the huge dining area was packed! In fact, this place is always packed. Goes to show, OK food dressed up real pretty along with pretty decor and pretty good service = success! We had the Salt & Pepper Calamari, Vegetarian Fried Rice, Kung Pao Chicken, and two teas for a whopping $38 bucks (pretty pricey area), including tip.

P.F. Chang's China Bistro on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chet's Pralines...WAY Too Easy to Make!

I have a wonderful Louisiana cookbook called Cést si Bon! which I bought in the 70s. This is a noteworthy cookbook because it has some of the best authentic Cajun recipes around. It also has an Our Chef's section which has interesting instructions you probably have never experienced in recipes before. These explicit directives are very helpful in making the recipe work and just the other day, I made these perfectly delectable Chet's Pralines. The recipe yields 20 and guess how many are still hanging around...thanks, Chet for all the helpful instructions!! You're a good man for sharing this gem...Cést si bon!

How to make Chet's Pralines:
 Mix well:
 2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups sweet milk
1/3 teaspoon soda in "dutch oven" or something deep because it foams up while cooking. Cook over medium heat until hardball forms when dropped in water. Stir occasionally while cooking to prevent sticking to bottom of container.

Take off stove and add;
1 Tablespoon butter
1 cup pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix well and return to stove and cook one-two minutes more. Remove from stove and whip until starts to thicken.  Drop spoon-fulls on wax paper, and drop fast because it hardens quickly once it starts. By the time you have dropped the last one, the first one you dropped is usually ready to pick-up. These are the greatest pralines you have ever eaten. Do not cook on a rainy day, they will not harden.   Chet Beckwith

Monday, August 13, 2012

Small Town BBQ greatness...BBQ Sandwich at Mick's BBQ

In the North Little Rock area, if you haven't stopped out 3609 MacArthur Drive (old Conway Hwy), just pass the Levy I40 entrance (about where the old Scenic Drive Inn was located), and picked up a BBQ special (includes chips and tea) from Mick's, you simply haven't experienced small town BBQ at its very best! The special for about $6 bucks at Mick's is simply to Di for!! Reminds me of the(very) old and now gone, White Pig Inn which was located across the street from the old MOPAC RR (now Union Pacific RR) on Pike Avenue. Remember that one?? Anyway, with lots of tasty rich sauce, huge chunks of freshly smoked pork, and a touch of slaw (if you desire), Mick's BBQ  makes one of the BEST BBQ sandwiches around! Sit out front under the awning or in your car...open on Sunday, too.

Mick's Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Loving The Mexican Culture...Know Your Chiles

I have this wonderful Mexican cookbook, Mexican Family Favorites Cook Book, by Mariá Teresa Bermúdez that I refer to quite often for some simple and delicious Mexican favorites. Thanks to Teresa, this lil' ole Southern gal knows her chilies, makes her own (cost efficient and always better than store bought) chili powder, cooks a mean batch of pork tamales (corn husk and all), and respects the clove of garlic as a medicinally and spiritually Mexican cure all! I do love the Mexican culture and their fresh and easy way of cooking...I make my own Kahlúa, too! Try this delicious casserole!

How to make Beef Enchilada Casserole
1 1/2 to 2 lbs lean ground beef
1 crushed garlic clove
4-5 stewed tomatoes, chopped (I use a 14 oz can)
6 oz tomato sauce
2 tsp olive oil
3 tbl diced onion
Salt to taste
Ground pepper
6-8 jalapeños, diced (I use a couple)
12 corn tortillas, cut into triangles
3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, cut in small pieces
1 cup grated Jack cheese
1.In a skillet, brown meat, then drain well. Return meat to skillet, add crushed garlic clove and cook until well blended into meat. Cover, leave aside.
2. In a saucepan, add stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, olive oil, onion, and all seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover to simmer 20 minutes, stir frequently.  Blend in jalapeños, cover, put aside.
3. Preheat oven to 350° F, then lightly butter a square 2-quart casserole dish. Cut corn tortillas into quarters. To cheddar cheese, blend in cilantro.
4. In a mixing bowl, combine cooked meat and sauce, mix well. Layer casserole dish with tortillas, then add meat/sauce mixture. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese/cilantro mixture, then add another layer of tortillas and repeat, ending, with meat mixture. Sprinkle entire casserole with Jack cheese and any leftover cheddar cheese. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until cheese is completely melted. Serves 6-8

Friday, August 3, 2012

Freshly Brewed Coffee, Southern Fried Breakfast, Airy Angel Flake Biscuits, Down Home Hospitality, & A Dining Room With A View...all to Di for!

These are the delightful things you will experience when you travel Hwy 7North to Jasper and stop in for breakfast at the Cliff House Inn overlooking the majestic Arkansas Grand Canyon. Since the leaves died off early this year (AR, KS, OK hottest states in the country with major drought going on) we turned the air up to high, pretended it was fall, and made our annual pilgrimage up Hwy 7North a little head of schedule. Spectacular, as usual, and the Cliff House Inn didn't disappoint us either. The inn owners are always so friendly and they still cook the best breakfast in the Ozarks (with a view of the Arkansas Grand Canyon OTH/on the house). I especially like their light and fluffy Angel Flake Biscuits. Don't know for sure but, they probably make these scrumptious jewels via that famous Angel Biscuit recipe (got mine out of Recipes from Miss Daisy's) which I have shared with you below...

How to make Angel Biscuits:
3 cups self-rising flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup shortening
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cake of yeast, dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water

Sift dry ingredients, cut in shortening. Add milk and yeast mixture to make a soft dough. Turn out and knead about 20 strokes. Roll to 3/4 inch thickness. Cut out biscuits and cook on a greased pan for 15 minute in a 425 degree oven.

FYI, stop and smell, but don't pick the zinnias...pretty pricey crop this year with the high cost of watering.

Cliff House Inn on Urbanspoon