Summer Eating and Reading

My good friend and wonderful author, Marilee Brothers, has kindly posted some of my summer cooking ideas on her Blog – BookBlatherBlog. If you’ve not seen her blog, you are missing great recommendations for reading plus all of her books!

These pictures will give  you a hint of the dishes I’m sharing with you all and I hope you’ll find a few to try –
Apr Hawaiian Beef Cubes  Hawaiian Beef Cubes
Jun 27 Chicken Sqlad w Honey Lime Dressisng Honey-Lime Salad Dressing
Jul 19 Pasta w P.nut sauce Pasta with Peanut sauce – serve hot or cold.
those are just a few of the dishes Marilee has added to her blog –

Please check them and her books out!!

Between Marilee’s book ideas and mine for summer cooking, I think we have your days covered!! Enjoy!

April 23, 2015 – Freezer Clean-out Time

Since we’re winding down on this trip, I took everything out of the freezer and I could not believe what all I have in there. I won’t list everything, but suffice to say – we could probably live off this inventory for 2 months!!

I wasn’t going to admit this on any ‘social media’ – but, then I realized some good recipes and ideas are coming out of this cleanup project, so like everything else in my life, I’m hanging these ideas out for everyone.

The bad part is, I will be making dishes I can’t possible duplicate; as in the dish we had today – a dish from Noble Pig’s blog: Skillet Bowtie Bacon-Cabbage-Ham-Mushroom Pasta.

The following is a statement I make so often upon seeing a recipe which sounds too good not to make, but…….

But, I don’t have Bowtie pasta, bacon, or ham, or sour cream… …

Here’s the recipe and I think the original would be very tasty, but with the revisions I had to make, I think it was wonderful!! I made kind of 1/2 a recipe of the below –

Skillet Bowtie Bacon-Cabbage-Ham-Mushroom-Leek Pasta – Altered to fit our ingredients Author: Noble Pig, 12/28/12

1/2 lb bowtie pasta, dry (I used 4 oz. Spaghetti Rigati)
6 slices thick cut bacon, diced (I used 1/4 cup prosciutto bits)
4 leeks, white parts only, sliced (no leeks, I used 1/2 on onion)
8 oz sliced mushrooms (I used dried morels and porcini)
2 cups leftover ham, cubed(no ham, used ~2 cups seasoned alligator bites a cook gave me in Louisiana and I froze)
8 Tbs butter (~ 3 T. clarified butter from freezer)
1/2 head green cabbage, shredded (used green)
1/2 head purple cabbage, shredded(no purple- didn’t use)
Garnish with: freshly ground black pepper (added Truffle Salt – great addition of musky flavor.)
dollop of sour cream (had none – not needed)

1. Make pasta according to package directions. Let sit in the water to keep warm. Kind of bastardized the method from here, but pretty much close:

2. Sauté bacon over medium heat until slightly brown. Add leeks and continue to sauté for about 5 minutes more. Add mushrooms and ham and cook until done. Remove from pan.

3. Without wiping the pan, melt butter and add cabbage. Cook until softened, about 5-8 minutes. Add bacon-ham-mushroom mixture to the cabbage as well as bowtie pasta. Toss together and serve immediately. serves 6
Apr 22 Alligator, Mushroom Pasta 1  Onions, reconstituted morels and porcini mushrooms
Apr 22 Alligator, mujshroom pasta 2  Cabbage, pasta and sautéed alligator added to the onion mixture –
Apr 22 Alligator, mushroom pasta plated a great combination of flavors: Morel and Porcini mushrooms, prosciutto bits, sautéed cabbage and onions tossed with pasta and chunks of Louisiana seasoned alligator and seasoned with Truffle salt and lots of freshly ground pepper – what a dish!!

And, because we have so many goodies in the freezer, I don’t think we’re going out for Mexican tonight after all, as we had planned. In fact we may not have dinner at all…also found some Vanilla ice cream in the freezer and I have bourbon, maple syrup and peanut butter….know where I’m going with this?????????????? Probably will be our dinner.

Peanut Butter Bourbon Milkshake
Dec 1 P.Butter Honey Bourbon Milkshake
2 oz bourbon
1/2 oz maple syrup
1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup vanilla ice cream (we use frozen yogurt)
1 cup of ice cubes (or use however many to make as thick a shake as you prefer)

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until fully incorporated and frothy.
More dishes which turned out very tasty from leftover packages:
Apr 21 Hawaiian Pork Tostada Hawaiian Pork and rice from a Medford, OR restaurant – diced the pork, added the rice and a can of refried beans spiced up with taco sauce and packaged up in 1/2 cup baggies. One morning, spread the filling on a crispy corn tortilla topped with tomatoes, green onions and cilantro for a Tostada dinner.

Apr 18 Hawaiian Pork burrito For brunch, used the filling in a burrito and topped again with tomatoes and green onion and served with a grapefruit and banana salad. Four more pkgs. are left to think about.
How easy can a dinner or brunch be for a busy family?

Apr 21 BBQ Rib Pizza A pkg. of BBQ Ribs with sauce morphed into a wonderful pizza! Brush a pizza dough round with BBQ sauce, then layer chopped rib meat (or BBQ Pork roast meat), cheese slices (I had Taleggio cheese), tomato slices, dried basil and red pepper flakes sprinkled over and baked. Sprinkle with green onions as it comes out of the oven.

It was a good feeling to scratch out a few items on my list of freezer goodies, but I have a couple pages to go yet, so I’m anxious to see what dishes  develop out of this little experiment. I’m thinking the real challenge will be to have on hand some of these same packages again so when I have to go freezer diving, I can recreate them.  More to come……

Freezer Clean Out Time – The Door Won’t Close!!

If you have never traveled in an RV, you probably can’t comprehend the size of freezer we have to work with…and coming from a house with 2 large freezers plus refrig/freezer, it is a challenge. So, we had to put our collective feet down and promise not to go sightseeing where we would end up checking out seafood/meat markets and specialty shops filled with local goodies that I cannot resist. Let me tell you, it is damn difficult!

So, the upshot is I’ve been doing a lot of cooking with dibs and dabs of ingredients and must say neither of us has felt deprived. Here are a few of our favorites that may interest you and remind you of dishes you have made and would like to redo.

Tortilla Pizza
The heat of the toppings for this pizza are really hot, but the flavors are so tantalizing  that the heat works.
???????????????????????????????I used 2 Spinach wraps for the ‘crust’ or base and topped with:
mixture of tomato-based  pizza sauce mixed with spicy BBQ sauce
Swiss and Emanthaler cheese
Smoked Sausage
green onions
little more of the cheese mixture
candied jalapeno pieces and a drizzle of the ‘jelly sauce’

It was outstanding and certainly a repeat and luckily these ingredients are often on hand.
Regardless of my promises to cook out of the freezer, Thanksgiving hit us and I could not not do something holidayish… instead of a turkey breast tho, I roasted a chicken and served this with Corn Grits with Goat Cheese – a somewhat homage to the south where we are staying. A fruit salad and of course pumpkn pie!! But, I’m getting ahead of myself. In a newsletter from, I saw an idea for Sweet Potato Pancakes and made those for Thanksgiving brunch with bubbly. These are delicious.

Sweet Potato Pancakes Made With Leftover Mashed Sweet Potatoes
1 1/4 cups leftover mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup milk
1 large egg
1 1/2 Tbs maple syrup, plus more for serving
4 Tbs butter, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
pinch nutmeg
pinch cinnamon

Combine sweet potatoes, sour cream, milk, egg, and maple syrup in a medium bowl. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan and add to mixture. Whisk until homogenous. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk until just combined (do not overmix).

Melt 1 tablespoon remaining butter in a large skillet over medium heat and swirl to coat pan. Add four 1/4-cup batches of batter, using the back of a ladel to smooth them out into 4-inch disks. Cook, swirling gently on occasion, until the first side is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip and cook until browned un second side and pancakes are puffed, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate set in a warm oven and repeat until all pancakes are cooked. Serve immediately with extra maple syrup.Source: J. Kenji López-Alt – Serious Eats

and, Thanksgiving Dinner
???????????????????????????????  ???????????????????????????????
Consequently, more leftovers………………. And a vow to eat a little lighter and healthier. Dug out an old salad idea and had it for dinner. This is a salad that should be in all of our repertoires – fast, easy, pantry items and dinner is on the table. You can also add some freshly cooked pasta to the mix for a complete dinner.

Tomato & Black Olive Salad

4 large plum tomatoes, cored, cut into 3/4-inch piece
1/3 cup brine-cured black olives (such as Kalamata), pitted, halved or roughly chopped
1/3 cup very thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 large bunch arugula, stems trimmed, cut into wide ribbons

Combine tomatoes, black olives and onion in medium bowl. Add olive oil and balsamic vinegar; toss to blend well. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in arugula and serve.

This salad went very nicely with a simple clam cracker pizza – using half the topping ingredients called for
For the cracker pizza, I used 3 ½ oz. of homemade pizza dough
1 10-ounce tube refrigerated pizza dough
2 6.5-ounce cans chopped clams, well drained
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Sprinkle clams, then garlic, dried red pepper, parsley and cheese over dough, leaving 1-inch border. Drizzle oil over and bake.
And, because we had been good for a few days, we splurged on a favorite summer drink, even tho the calendar says November, it is 78° outside. I can’t tell you how good these drinks are and if you try them, I suggest making just one batch – it is enough for 2 nice size drinks.

Peanut Butter Bourbon Milkshake
2 oz bourbon
1/2 oz maple syrup
1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup vanilla ice cream (we used yogurt)
1 cup of ice cubes (or use however many to make as thick a shake as you prefer-I usually add almost 2 cups, we like thick drinks)

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until fully incorporated and frothy.
Leftovers time:

Turkey Salad with Hoisin Dressing from – this salad is light and is just right for a light dinner salad. Made this 11/29/14 – very good. used broccoli slaw. Next time up the amount of chili-garlic sauce, needs more heat.

2 Tbs hoisin sauce
2 Tbs rice wine vinegar
3 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp grated garlic (about 1 small clove)
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp chili-garlic sauce (optional)
3/4 lb leftover turkey, shredded
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
One 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
4 scallions, sliced on the diagonal in 1-inch pieces
1/2 small head Napa cabbage, shredded (about 6 cups)

Stir together the hoisin, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and garlic-chili sauce. Add the turkey, pepper, water chestnuts, scallions and cabbage. Toss the vegetables with the dressing until coated.

Tip: Replace the cabbage with a bag of baby greens or pre-shredded coleslaw mix. Toss in other vegetables on-hand, like carrots or broccoli, to bulk up the salad.
Leftover Turkey-Cranberry Monte Cristo Sandwiches –
These sandwiches just out of this world good, but a word of warning, they are filling and when I make them again, we will split one!! Wow.

Leftover Turkey-Cranberry Monte Cristo Sandwiches

1 loaf very soft French Bread, sliced
1-1/2 cups cranberry sauce
12 oz thinly sliced Muenster cheese
thinly sliced leftover turkey
3 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
4-6 Tablespoons butter
confectioners’ sugar

Spread each slice of bread with cranberry sauce, you can add as much or as little as you like. To build each sandwich, take a slice of cheese and tear it in half. Top the bread with half a cheese slice, turkey and the other half of the cheese slice. Top with another slice of bread, cranberry sauce side down.
In a shallow pie plate, add eggs and milk and beat the mixture with a fork until combined. Soak each sandwich in the mixture, about 30 seconds per side. You want the bread saturated but not soggy.

Over medium heat, melt a couple Tablespoons of butter in a nonstick skillet. Add a few sandwiches and cook until the bottoms are golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Flip sandwiches and cook the other sides until golden. Add more butter as needed to cook the rest of the sandwiches. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving. (Serve warm)  Source: Cathy   – Noble Pig, 11/24/14
And, to finish off the leftovers – morphed the carcass into turkey (only it was chicken) soup. A twist I tried this time was adding a can of chili beans to the soup in addition to the regulars: turkey, little sausage, onions, celery, green beans along with another never tried before addition – a can of creamed-style corn. We really enjoyed the flavors with the added  spiciness from the chili.

Leftovers are now gone and I’m not having to push so hard on the freezer door to keep it closed. But, have more using up before I can have some fun at the seafood and meat markets around here………