Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Gardening We Will Go

It's that time of year, again, folks.  I'm not going all out this go 'round...same plants, not near as many of them!  We've planted a few heirloom tomatoes:, Brandy Wine, Yellow Pair, and Tigerella.  I've also planted mint, lavender, rosemary, dill, parsley, lettuce, and a few bell peppers.  Wish us luck with all that.

This weekend I may plant some okra and tomatillo seeds.  In addition, I've got Zinnia's (Lilliputs), Batchelor's Buttons, and orange Cosmos.  The Cosmos come from my sweet neighbor and the Batchelor's Buttons are special because the seeds come from my mom's plants which grew from her mom's, and my grandma's grew from her mom's plants.  So, I guess that convoluted trail of words means that I have my Great Grandma to thank for the pretty blooms.  That's four generations of crazy ladies' flowers!

I've got my eye on trying this craft to mark the plants...

Stay tuned to see how my garden grows ; )

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ma, the Meatloaf!

Folks, I've not made a meatloaf in about twelve years so this was a long time coming.  I called a friend whose mom makes a killer meatloaf and wouldn't you know, she doesn't follow a recipe; it's all in her head.  Isn't that always the case with the best tasting of foods?! ; )

Well, I combined what I'd heard from her with what I read on a Creole Meatloaf at Deep South Dish blog and gave it a go.  The meatloaf was moist, not greasy, and so tasty.  It may be a sin against the trinity (onion, celery, bell pepper), but Big Sissy requests that I remove the bell pepper the next time I try this.  Other than that, this recipe got rave reviews.

If you're tempted to give it a try, see this recipe and give Ms. Mary a big thank you for sharing it on her blog.

Creole Meatloaf with Tomato Gravy
From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish 
1-1/2 pounds of very lean ground beef*
1 tablespoon of butter
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup of green bell pepper, chopped fine
1 stalk of celery, chopped fine
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of canola oil
2 tablespoons of flour (for the roux)
1 (15 ounce) can of tomato sauce
1 can of water
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup of evaporated milk
1 egg
1/2 cup of seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
4 turns of the pepper grinder
Pinch of cayenne
Flour, for coating
1 tablespoon of canola oil, for browning

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the ground beef in a large bowl; set aside.

Heat the butter over medium and cook the onion, bell pepper and celery until tender; add the garlic, cook for another minute, transfer to a plate to cool.

Wipe out the skillet, and add the 1/4 cup of canola oil.  Heat over medium high heat and stir in the flour.  Cook and stir until it is browned, remove from the heat, and let cool slightly. Slowly whisk in the tomato sauce, water and Worcestershire and return to the heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. 

Whisk together the milk and egg; stir in the bread crumbs and add that mixture to the ground beef. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne and cooked veggies; mix gently and shape into a loaf. The mixture should be firm. If it is breaking apart, return to the bowl and additional bread crumbs until it holds together. 

In a large, oven safe skillet, heat the tablespoon of oil over medium high heat. Carefully transfer the meatloaf to the skillet and sear on all sides, turning carefully. Pat any cracks that form back together. Note: You can skip the searing process if you prefer.  Once all sides have browned, pour the tomato gravy over the meatloaf and transfer the entire skillet to a 350 degree oven for about 1 hour, basting occasionally.

When an instant read thermometer reads 180 degrees the meatloaf is done.  Allow to sit for about 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.  Serve slices with a bit of the tomato gravy spooned over the top.

"*Important:  You must use an extra lean ground beef for this recipe, so don't be tempted to try a higher fat ground beef because it just won't hold together for the searing process. One reader also substituted ground turkey and had that issue as well. If you prefer to use either a ground turkey or a fattier ground beef, omit the searing process."

That Ms. Mary sure is a genius when it comes to southern fare.  Enjoy.
sharing @ Designs by GollumFoodie Friday

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat & Happy

It's time to grub for gras, y'all.  Tonight we will be feasting on a shrimp boil complete with potatoes & corn, and oysters on the half shell.  I hope your Tuesday is just as tasty.

C'est bon,

The Kitchen Witch

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Rhubarb has always intimidated me.  I don't know why, just foreign to my taste buds, I guess, so tonight I thought I'd get over it and try something new and different.  I found this recipe on the Food Network website.  I have to say, I love the crimson color of the rhubarb.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional flour as needed, up to 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 cup cake flour (recommended: Soft As Silk)
  • 3 teaspoons sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter-flavored shortening (recommended: Crisco)
  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ice cold water


  • 2 1/2 cups chopped red rhubarb, fresh
  • 2 1/2 cups de-stemmed, washed and cut strawberries (in larger pieces)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (1 1/4 cups for high altitude)
  • 2 tablespoons minute tapioca
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cubed small
  • 1 egg white beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • Large granule sugar

Crust Preparation:


Using 2 pastry blenders, blend the flours, sugar, shortening, butter and salt. Whisk the egg, vinegar and water in a 2-cup measure and pour over the dry ingredients incorporating all the liquid without overworking the dough. Toss the additional flour over the ball of dough and chill if possible. Divide the dough into 2 disks. Roll out 1 piece of dough to make a bottom crust. Place into a pie dish. Put dish in refrigerator to chill.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Filling Preparation:

Mix the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, tapioca, flour, zest and juice of lemon, dash of cinnamon, and vanilla. Mix well in a large bowl and pour out into chilled crust. Dot the top of the filling with the butter. Brush edges of pie crust with egg white wash. Roll out the other piece of dough and place over filling. Crimp to seal edges. Brush with egg white wash and garnish with large granule sugar. Collar with foil and bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes. Decrease temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for an additional 45 to 50 minutes, or until the filling starts bubbling. Higher altitude will take 450 degrees F and 400 degrees F respectively. Also, you can use a pie bird for extra decor. Let cool before serving.
**I have to admit, I decided to forego the homemade crust.  Gasp, I know!  Sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, and I should add, I'm so glad that I tried rhubarb.  Definitely worth overcoming my hang-up ; )

Friday, February 17, 2012

From the Mind of a 13 yr. old

13 yr. old daughter: "Dude, my veins are so defiantly obvious."
Me: "The word defiant doesn't fit in there."
13 yr. old: "Sure it does."
Me: "Nope.  Defiant means going against the rules."
13 yr. old: "Well, my veins are going against the rules, apparently speaking."
Me: Apparently speaking? (mental thought, what tha?)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dog days

Yesterday marked the three year anniversary of the day we adopted Georgie bear.  This, of course, is not his official name.  His moniker is much more regal...King George.  The shelter gifted him this name and, well, we kept it seeing as how it was befitting of his high and mighty demeanor.
For who else, but a king, could lay on Momma's pillow?

Those eyes are definitely heart-melters.
Looka that teddy bear smoosh-face!

Fuzzy Bear, Bear-Bear, Hair-Bear, Joe, Joe-Joe, Jorge, Jorginio, Hairy, Hairy-Bear, Joge, Bear-bones, Boney-bear, and all the many more names to come, we love you.  Thank you for being our family dog.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Tirokafeteri is a warm, Feta cheese dip.  I first had this in a Greek restaurant, but my husband grew up with this and it's simple to prepare so if you want to give it a go, here's what you will need...

500 grams (or two 8-oz. blocks) Feta cheese
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 to 2 tsp. hot sauce
juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, and hot sauce in a bowl.  Crumble feta and stir into mixture to coat.  Bake cheese mixture in a small size casserole at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes or until warm.  Serve with warm, torn pieces of pita bread.

Pin It

Foodie FridaySharing @ Designs by Gollum.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Kickin' Baked Rigatoni & Fennel Slaw Review

Recently, I found two recipes that I thought would pair nicely, and I've got to say, Rigatoni + Fennel Slaw = L.O.V.E.

I found this recipe for Kickin' Baked Rigatoni at Rhoda's Southern Hospitality blog, and caught the slaw recipe on an episode of Everyday Italian.  I've never used fennel before so was eager to try this out.  It did not disappoint.

Fennel Slaw

Pistachio Pesto:

  • 2 cups (lightly packed) flat-leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cup shelled and toasted pistachios (I used pine nuts since that was what I had on hand)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (I didn't have fresh thyme so I went w/out and it was still amazing)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fennel Slaw:

  • 4 to 5 (about 3 1/2 pounds) fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced


For the Pistachio Pesto: Combine the parsley, pistachios, thyme, and garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor; blend until finely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil, processing until well blended. Season the pesto with salt and pepper, to taste.
For the Fennel Slaw: Place the fennel in a large serving bowl. Add the pesto and toss to coat well. Tear the prosciutto into 1-inch pieces and add to the bowl. Gently toss to combine. Serve.
*recipe courtesy Giada de Laurentis via Food Network.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

If only all meals could sooth the way that gumbo does.
Chicken & Sausage Gumbo

2 tbsp. unsalted butter, not margarine
2 Medium onions, chopped

4 cups Okra, diced
1 cup Green bell pepper
½ cup celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3  cup bacon drippings (you can use unsalted butter if you don't have bacon fat)
1 can diced tomato or 3 fresh peeled and diced
2 quarts water, add more if needed while cooking
2 cups chicken stock or 1 can.
1 Bay leaf
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 tsp. thyme
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Pinch of sage
Creole seasoning to taste
2 lbs. split chicken breast
1 link  of sausage, approximately 1 lb.
Parsley and gumbo file for garnish.
White rice, cooked according to package directions.

In a cast iron skillet sauté onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic in 2 tablespoons of butter until onion is clear; add okra and saute 'til vegetables are tender. Turn heat off veggies.  In a separate cast iron skillet, add 1/3 each of bacon drippings and flour to create a roux. Be sure to add flour and bacon drippings at the same time so that they are cooking equally. Stir roux with a wooden spoon, continuously, until dark brown, but mindful not to burn.

In a stock pot add: tomatoes, water, stock, vegetables, and roux. Add seasonings. Simmer for 20 minutes or so. Add meats and simmer for an additional 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked thoroughly.  You may turn to low heat and cook up to an hour for flavors to develop.  Adjust seasonings to taste before serving.

Serve over white rice. Garnish with chopped parsley and Gumbo file.

 Ms. enPlace

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Game Day Menu

It's Super Bowl Sunday, and though I could give a flip, husby is happy.  We will spend a quiet time at the house enjoying a few game day snacks.  If you're looking for a few last minute ideas, read on.

and what's game day without a little pork skins to go along with the pig skin being tossed around on the tube?