My little kitchen helper

IMG_1869There in the background is Mr. Waddles.  He is never more than 2 feet away when I’m cooking in the kitchen or outside by the grill.  He doesn’t bark at me he just sits and waits for my clumsy hands to drop a glorious piece of heaven to the ground for his consumption.  Every now and then I toss him a baby carrot.  This kid can eat some carrots y’all!

I can’t get enough of this guy!

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Tzatziki Fennel Grilled Chicken

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Chicken time y’all!  Last night I grilled these drummies up after they had a 24 hour marinating spa treatment!  Drummies, also known as drumsticks by less playful people, are an easy affordable dish to make for a big group of people or simply a planned left over dish.  I’m sure many of y’all out there occasionally plan meals to have leftovers the next night or two.  We are a big fan of leftovers because frankly it’s less work, saves money, and gives us more free time in the evenings.  I need not mention less dishes to wash each night! 🙂  This dish could be baked but I strongly recommended grilling it if you have the time!

Anyways, I briefly saw a recipe that involved Greek yogurt as a marinade for chicken and decided I’d try my own take on it.  I already had Tzatziki dip  in the fridge that was struggling to find purpose in life after being ignored for 3 days.  Poor Tzatziki dip.  🙂  No worries!  I used it to lather up some drumsticks that I had seasoned up with spices and herbs.  The aroma of this marinade was incredibly pleasant!  I let the chicken marinate for 24 hours then slapped them onto the top rack of the grill at 400°F for about 45-50 minutes.

I hope you’ll try this out!  This chicken has a very floral and herb flavor!

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Ingredients:

– 7-8 chicken drumsticks with skin

– 1 cup of Tzatziki dip

– Fennel seeds

– Paprika

– Chili powder

– Cayenne

– Fresh Basil, chopped

– Cilantro, dried flakes

– Salt and Pepper

– Extra Virgin Olive Oil

– Juice of 2 Limes

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Directions:

– Pat dry each drumstick using paper towels.

-Put the drumsticks in a large mixing bowl.

– Make 2 small cuts across each drumstick.

– Sprinkle all dry ingredients on both sides of the each drumstick and rub into the cuts. Go easy on the Cayenne, use just a dash.

– Scoop in the Tzatziki dip & lime juice and use a large wooden spoon to mix the chicken around in the dip mixture.  Refrigerate over night.

– Before grilling, lay chicken out on a pan to let excess marinade drip off.  Drizzle a small amount of olive oil across the top of each drumstick.

*Note: I added an extra dash of some of the herbs. 🙂

– Grill on the top rack or off to the side if you don’t have a top rack at 400°F for 45-50 minutes.  You are looking for a 175-180°F internal temperature.  Flip after about 20 minutes.

Serve immediately or wrap in foil if you need to keep it hot to prepare other dishes.  Enjoy!

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Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cake Balls

IMG_1885These cake balls are are AMAZING!  All you need is a Reese’s cake mix, chocolate frosting, and chocolate flavored almond bark!  This is yet another great party food!  🙂

This was my first attempt at cake balls and I was quite pleased!  I’ve used this Reese’s mix many times to make cupcakes to bring to work and they are always a big hit, but I personally am not a cupcake person.  I’d much rather have a cake ball.  🙂

These babies are super moist and rich!  Best served slightly cold!

*These do not have a strong peanut butter taste!  If you want more of a peanut butter taste try adding 1/4-1/2 cup of Reese’s Peanut Butter.  🙂

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Ingredients:

-Reese’s Peanut Butter & Chocolate Premium Cupcake Mix and ingredients:

-2 eggs

-water

-oil

-4 tbsp milk

– 2 tbsp butter

-3/4 of a Tub of Dark Chocolate Fudge Frosting

-Chocolate flavored Almond Bark

-Sprinkles (optional)

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Directions:

Bake the Reese’s cake mix as directed in a greased cake pan.

Let the cake cool.

Make the peanut butter filling as directed on the box.

Mix cooled cake, peanut butter filling, and 3/4 of the chocolate frosting.

Using a small cookie scoop or your hands, make ping pong ball sized balls and lay on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  I got 25 cake balls out of this recipe.

Freeze the cake balls for 20 minutes to firm.

Melt half a brick of almond bark in a glass bowl.

Dip each cake ball into the chocolate and take out with a fork.  Tap the fork in the edge of the bowl to allow excess chocolate to drip off the cake ball and back into the bowl.  Set coated cake ball back on the parchment paper and top with sprinkles.

Store them in the refrigerator!

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Bacon Pepper Poppers

IMG_1857Hey y’all!  Here’s another great party appetizer for your next big fiesta!  This is my version of a popper!  Party food and dinner are neck in neck in terms of my favorite thing to prepare.  I love making dips and bite size goodies because let’s be honest most of the time they are unhealthy things that I don’t always get to eat.  Thus making party food a little more exciting to make!  

I made these poppers last night because I had 6 frozen dough rolls that were begging for attention.  I also had some leftover goat cheese from those stuffed mushrooms I made the other day.  🙂  It was just yummyness waiting to happen!  I used a whole jalapeno from a jar that my Nana had canned herself and my husband felt that these were a little too spicy!  So I decreased the jalapeno input to less than half.  There are two types of peppers in these poppers, jalapenos and roasted red peppers.  If you have trouble with spicy foods or have guests that do, cut out the jalapeno all together, the roasted red peppers add a delicate heat that can stand on their own.  Try it out!  🙂

Ingredients:

– 6 Rhodes frozen raw dough rolls

– 4 oz fresh goat cheese (cream cheese will work too)

–  1/2 tbsp jalapeno from a jar, diced

– 1 1/2 tbsp roasted red peppers, diced

– 3 strips of thick cut bacon, chopped

– 3 tbsp Parmesan and extra for topping

– poppy seeds

– 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

Directions:

Thaw the rolls out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  This takes 2 hours or you can do a quick thaw by following the directions on the bag.

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Rhodes is God’s gift to the kitchen. Just saying.

Mix the goat cheese, jalapeno, red pepper, bacon, and Parmesan together in a bowl.

IMG_1829Divide the mixture into 6 mounds and roll each mound into a ball.

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Next, stretch each ball of dough out into a flat circle just big enough to cover the cheese ball up.

IMG_1842Take the edges of the dough and bring together to seal.  To reshape roll dough in your hands to reshape it into a ball.

Brush a thin coat of egg onto each dough ball and top with a sprinkle of Parmesan and a dash of poppy seeds.

IMG_1845Place dough balls on the cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown on the outside.

Serve with Ranch or all on it’s own!  🙂

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Turkey Fried Turkey

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Turkey Fried Turkey with gravy and a Greek salad!!!  Try this new alternative to Chicken Fried Chicken!!  I had fried turkey once before at our annual prestigious Texas Renaissance Festival and was longing for it a few months ago.  The Texas Renaissance Festival happens for a few months in the fall then closes up shop until next year.  Their food….is divine.

If you are ever visiting Texas near Houston in the Fall…check this place out!  Trust me it’s a full day’s worth of fun, food, and drinks! http://www.texrenfest.com/

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I made this recipe some time ago, but completely forgot to share!  It was indeed delicious yet definitely a labor of love.  I soaked a boneless turkey breast in buttermilk then battered it up and fried like a chicken fried chicken.  It was rich and crispy.

Now let’s go back to that labor of love part.  When I purchased the turkey I was wanting the equivalent to boneless chicken breasts but all I could find was a boneless turkey that was clearly meant be roasted in it’s kitchen twine.  I’ll make it work I thought.  Well I made it work and IT made ME work in return.  The roast of course is made of an assortment of different chunks of meat that are pressed together with a twine netting and then frozen.  This of course meant a longer thawing process because it was so dense.  The next cause for aggravation were the oddly shaped chunks of meat.  Cutting the turkey into fillets was a real pain in the butt y’all!  Some of the meat was great for cutting, without tendons and junk in the way.  Most of the meat was hard to cut into nice fillets because it was almost shredded.

Prep work aside.  The meal was delicious and if you are lucky enough to find nice big raw turkey breasts at your grocery this will be a simple dish!  I took the long way around the pound, over the river, through the woods, down in the bayou…you know all the stuff you do to make something work.  I had to share this “struggle bus” experience because the end results were totally worth all the effort.  The good thing is, if you can find the right meat you can totally skip the mini cutting battle that ensued in my kitchen on that fateful day and reap the rewards without breaking a sweat.  🙂  Happy frying y’all!

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Ingredients:

-1lb Turkey breast fillets, raw

-1 1/2 cups flour

-1/2 cup Parmesan, grated

-1 tbsp fresh black pepper

-3 eggs

– salt and pepper (for marinade)

-3 cups buttermilk, or enough to cover you meat in a dish

-vegetable oil

Directions:

Tenderize both sides of the turkey fillets to flatten out to about 1/2 inch thick.

Pat dry the turkey with a paper towel, season both sides with salt and pepper.  Place each piece of seasoned turkey in a casserole dish filled with buttermilk.  Let the turkey marinate for at least 12 hours.

Set up a frying station.  Bowl of beaten eggs.  Bowl with dry first 4 dry ingredients.  Plate with a stack of paper towels for laying hot fried turkey fillets down.

Heat a cast iron skillet up with 1/2 vegetable oil filling the bottom on medium high heat.

Toss the turkey into the egg until fully coated then into the flour mixture until fully coated.

Fry in small batches of 3-4.  Slip turkey into the oil using long tongs.

Cook time will vary dramatically depending on how thick or thin the turkey is.  I cooked mine 3/4 of the way on one side before flipping over to complete cooking process.  This took about 10-12 minutes.  If you are unsure of the cook time.  Try one piece out to test.

Plate the Turkey Fried Turkey and serve with gravy of your choice or honey mustard!  🙂

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Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms


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Bacon, roasted red peppers, and goat cheese had a party last night in a mushroom hot tub!  These ingredients together really rock the taste buds!  I’m so glad I introduced them to each other.  They really hit it off.  🙂

These are delicious y’all.  I had to stop my husband from eating all of them in one sitting!  The saltiness of the bacon and sweet spice of the roasted red peppers are flat out addicting!

Try it out!  🙂

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Ingredients:

4 pieces of thick cut bacon

6 oz fresh goat cheese

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp roasted red peppers (jarred kind)

8 medium mushrooms, washed

2 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

Carefully remove the stem of each mushroom by popping it off at the base.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat.  Add in the mushroom caps and cover with a lid.  Cook until tender and brown.  Flip occasionally.  When finished turn heat off and let mushrooms set in covered skillet.  Be careful not to fry the mushrooms.  Adjust the heat if the mushrooms appear to be drying.

Cook the bacon.  Chop the bacon.

Chop the red peppers.

In a bowl, mix the goat cheese, bacon, red peppers, and minced garlic together.

Make 8 balls out of the goat cheese mixture.

Check your mushroom caps.  If they are wet on the inside flip them onto a paper towel to drain any moisture.  Place the mushrooms back into the skillet and place a ball of cheese in each mushroom.

Cover the the skillet with the lid and turn heat back on to medium.  Heat until the goat cheese mixture is uniformly hot and creamy.  This should take about 5 minutes.

Use tongs to remove each mushroom.  Plate and serve!

*Bonus: If you have some left over goat cheese mixture, spread it onto warm french bread or a bagel….oh my goodness it’s delicious.

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Freshly Fried Mozzarella Bites

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Cheese is one of life’s pleasantries.  This appetizer is truly amazing and beats traditional fried cheese sticks.  Impress your friends at this year’s super bowl party with fresh batches of fried mozzarella bites!

Now I have to tell y’all cheese is a huge weakness for my husband and I.  Goat cheese, feta, sharp cheddar, Gouda, provolone, Gruyere, are just a few of our preferred cheeses.  This snack came about after I purchased fresh mozzarella balls to use on skewers with different meats.  Well my husband and I didn’t really care for this mozzarella. I was determined not to let it go to waste!  I can’t stand buying something that doesn’t get used!  I searched the internet for mozzarella uses and stumbled upon a recipe for fried cheese balls by Down Home with the Neelys!  Now my original intention was to use the cheese for a healthy snack but…I couldn’t resist trying it out!

The results were nothing but shear deliciousness!  I will definitely be making these for my next party!  The crunchy outside combined with the gooey cheesy inside is incredible!  I especially like the freshness that the basil leaves added to the overall flavor of each bite!

This recipe below shows my own chosen ingredients.  I did not use the Neelys recipe, just their frying idea.   Try it out for yourself!  Amazingly enough this only took 8 minutes to prepare and cook an entire tub of mozzarella bites!

Fried Mozzarella Bites

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
 

Ingredients:

Tub of mozzarella balls in water (bite size),

1 cup Italian bread crumbs

1/2 cup crushed Italian croutons

2 tbsp chopped basil, freshIMG_1797

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup flour

vegetable oil, for frying

marinara for dipping

Directions:

Strain the mozzarella balls and pat dry with a paper towel.

Put the flour in a small bowl.

Put the beaten eggs into a 2nd small bowl.

Combine the bread crumbs, crushed croutons, basil, pepper, and salt into a 3rd bowl.

Pour vegetable oil into a medium size pot so that it is 1/2 inch deep.  Heat the oil to medium high.

Roll each ball into the flour to fully coat.

Dip each ball in the egg to fully coat.

Roll each ball in the bread crumb mixture using a fork to fully coat.

Fry the balls for about 45 seconds on each side.  Fry in batches of 5.  Use tongs to transfer balls in and out of the hot oil.

Set freshly fried mozzarella bites on a clean paper towel to get rid of excess grease.

Plate and serve with a bowl of marinara!  🙂

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Grilled Lamb Chops- Tried it and Liked it

IMG_1796Juicy grilled lamb chops with a Shiraz reduction!  Yummy!

This is a Tried it and Liked it recipe that I found online.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyeBkP5BdP4   I also believe it is published in the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival cookbook!  The original recipe I found refers to it as Australia’s Grilled Lamb Chops.  Check out the link above to see a video tutorial for their recipe!

This was my first time to cook lamb chops, so I was very nervous.  Overall the recipe turned out great and could easily be used with pork chops instead of lamb.  I found the directions and prep easy which is always a great thing!  One thing I did differently was use a thicker lamb chop that was boneless.  This required me to increase the cook time of the meat.

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Lamb Ingredients:

3/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp lime zest
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
4 lamb chops

Reduction Ingredients:
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup thinly sliced onions
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 cups Shiraz wine

  (Recipe from Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival Cookbook)

Directions:

• Combine olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, garlic, mint, pepper, and salt in a shallow dish large enough to place the lamb chops in one layer.
• Coat both side of the chops in the marinade and leave for 2 hours at room temperature, or up to 24 hours refrigerated.
• For the sauce, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.
• Add onions and garlic and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden.
• Season with salt and pepper.
• Stir in wine and bring to a boil.
• Reduce heat and simmer for at least 1 hour, or until mixture thickens and reduces to approximately 1 cup. The glaze should be the consistency of syrup.
• Grill the chops for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until desired doneness.
• To serve, allow 2 chops per person, with Shiraz reduction.

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Walking in Memphis

I went walking in Memphis for Christmas 2014 and stumbled upon some great food and sites!

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The Peabody Hotel

We stayed at The Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis which was quite a grand treat!  The famous Peabody ducks came out to the lobby fountain at 11:00 each morning and returned to their penthouse at 5:00 pm each evening.

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Central BBQ

My favorite BBQ joint had to be Central BBQ!  I tried both their famous pulled pork sandwich and pulled pork BBQ nachos and both were divine!  This location is right behind the Civil Rights Museum and Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.

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Gus’s Fried Chicken

This place is world famous for it’s crispy spicy fried chicken!  The chicken is juicy and fried to crispy perfection!  This was the best fried chicken I have had hands down!  This place has their own technique!  You know how when you bite into a piece of fried chicken most of the crust comes off?  Well not at this place.  The crust only comes of the spot your biting into.  So basically you crispy goodness which each bite!

 The place was so packed we had people waiting almost on top of our table while we were eating.  That was the only down side of this location but we heard after the fact there was a bigger location else where in Memphis.

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Yeungling Beer and Aldos Pizza

This is one of my favorite light beers.  It is not sold in Texas. 😦  I was thrilled to find it on draft at a great pizza place called Aldos! I neglected to take photos at Aldos, but I highly highly recommend this be a stop on your trip to Memphis!  The pizza we had was covered in spinach, goat cheese, and roasted red tomatoes.  It was truly to die for.  Did I mention their garlic knots?  Buttery, Garlic, Parmesan carb delights!!!

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Lorraine Motel

This was the location of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination and now the site for the Civil Rights Museum.  It was closed the day we tried to go visit but we were able to see the balcony of the crime and watch a video about the events of that day in history.

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Memphis Zoo Lights

The Memphis Zoo Lights was one of my favorite moments on our trip because of the atmosphere and great set up!  There is a tram that will drive you through the lights and the entire zoo with periodic stops in case you want to get out and walk.  As soon as you enter they have hot chocolate and coffee for sale to start your evening off!  Some of the animals were visible though out the park.  Reindeer, elephants, and camels were out and about!

The coolest exhibit was the reptile house because all the snakes were WIDE AWAKE and were in the process of being fed.  This is something you never get to see in the day time.

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Graceland- The Jungle Room

We visited Graceland on a Sunday morning and arrived at 9am.  It took an hour and ten minutes to actually go from the ticket counter to the entrance of the house because of poor management.  It cost over $100 for 4 of us to go.  It took forever to get in the house then once we got in we were shuffled through very quickly.

The tour includes an ipad that narrates as you walk through the house which was cool but distracting at the same time.  We enjoyed what we saw but I was disappointed with the way the tour itself was run.  I’d still recommend it if you’re a fan of Elvis.

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High Cotton Brewing Company

We were only able to fit in one brewery stop on this trip, but it was a great one!  The High Cotton Brewing Company is a slick new brewery that hosts different food trucks on certain nights!  The atmosphere and beer were delightful!

The brew master gave us a free pint glass which was a plus! 🙂

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Christmas 2014

Memphis was enjoyable but at the end of 5 days I was ready to get out of the city and back to my slow paced town in Texas!  🙂

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Veggie Bow Tie Alfredo


IMG_1681This is a creamy pasta packed with cheesy veggie goodness!  There are only a few ingredients!!  The reason I love this pasta is because the pasta/veggie ratio is literally half and half!  AND IT’S QUICK AND EASY!!!

My mother used to make this all the time when I was growing up, but she used fettuccine instead of bow tie pasta.  She also would put diced breakfast ham in the pasta.  Over time I stop putting ham in it because I always forgot to buy it but still absolutely loved the dish without it!

Try it out! 🙂

Veggie and Ham Bow Tie Alfredo

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 box of bow tie pasta (I use Barilla Plus)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup of Smoked Ham, diced
  • 1 cup of Carrots, julienne (I go heavy on the carrots because I love the natural sweetness they add)
  • 1 medium Zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 cup Mushrooms, sliced  (3 medium mushrooms)
  • Heavy Cream
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  • Cook the pasta as directed.
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet then add in the veggies.  Cook the veggies on medium heat for about 15 minutes until they are limp but not mushy.
  • Add in 3/4 cup of heavy cream to the hot veggies and stir.
  • While stirring, add in 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.  Stir until the sauce thickens.  You can add more heavy cream and Parmesan to adjust the thickness.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Using a slotted spoon, spoon in the bow tie pasta to mix with the veggies and sauce.  Don’t worry if a little pasta water gets in.  This starch water will help thicken the sauce.
  • Plate it and top with a sprinkle of Parmesan!  Enjoy!  🙂

http://www.redbirdrecipes.com