Southern Cookin' Makes You Good Lookin'

Random Rantings about Food and Such

Sweet Corn Tomalito

Delicious corn pudding-like dish.  Wonderful as is, but i like Tracey’s suggestion of adding cheese and jalapeno.  :0)

Sweet Corn Tomalito

5 tablespoons margarine, softened
1/4 cup masa harina
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
     1/2 cup cornmeal
     1 teaspoon baking powder
     1/2 teaspoon salt
     4 teaspoons milk

In a medium bowl, mix together the margarine, masa flour, and sugar until light and fluffy. In a food processor or blender, blend one cup of the corn kernels with the water and cornmeal just until smooth. Stir into the masa mixture. Mix in the remaining corn, baking powder, salt, and milk until the batter is smooth. Pour into a double boiler.


Place the tomalito over a large saucepan of simmering water, and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Steam for 50 to 60 minutes, or until firm. Check water occasionally, and refill if necessary. Stir pudding before serving to give it a consistent texture. Serve in small scoops.
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So Like Sonic’s Cherry Limeade

Hello,Children!  Hope this finds all well and having a wonderful start to 2012!  Sorry for my absenteeism of late.  Life has been…interesting!  Nuff said.

This past Friday we had the privilege of hosting a surprise birthday luncheon for a very special lady who just happened to be turning eighty-years-young.  Our beloved Jewel (or Lee-J, as her old Air Force and nursing buddies call her) didn’t know what hit her.  She knew she was coming over for lunch, but not that some of her favorite friends would be there as well.  We enjoyed ourselves and enjoyed her enjoying herself! :0)

Queen for the Day, Lee Jewel Lockard

Tried out a new recipe to serve along with iced tea and coffee and it made a big splash.  Literally.  For some reason it “exploded” on poor Ashley when she tried stirring it in the glass dispenser (you know, those cool ones with a spigot.  Love it!  Gift from Stephanie.  World’s s-l-o-w-e-s-t spigot, but no biggee.)  She and dear Donna had to wipe up the tidal wave, but most of it was still present and accounted for.


This recipe is so, so easy and only 3 ingredients!  Life is good!


So Like Sonic’s Cherry Limade

1 can frozen limeade

1 jar maraschino cherries

1 bottle of lemon-lime carbonated soda  (i double batched this recipe  and one of these sodas was Cherry 7-up)

Allow frozen limeade to defrost a bit before mixing.  Add in cherries with juice and soda.  Mix and serve.

* Can freeze some of the cherries in the cherry juice in little shaped containers ahead of time if serving in a punch bowl/glass container.

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Recipe for Precious Children

Twenty-two years ago, we experienced a really strange Christmas.  I’d have to say it probably ranks as the most unusual Christmas i’ve ever experienced.  No Christmas tree–real or artificial.  No family around, which for us is NOT unusual but at least we can talk with them on the phone and we’re both experiencing either daytime or nighttime.  No big Christmas dinner.  No stockings were hung by the chimney with care…yeah, no chimney either.  You see, less than a month prior, we had been sent to Michael’s one and only overseas duty station, Sasebo, Japan.  We were in temporary quarters that consisted of a living area, bedroom, and bathroom (kitchen was down the hall for all to share.)  We had arrived around the same time as some other families but they had gotten their homes already, so it was pretty doggone quiet around there.  But i’ll tell you what we did have–we had each other (fortunately the ship was back in port) and we had two very, very, very special Christmas gifts that year.  One was a seven-month-old little bundle of joy named Ashley and the other was a “bun in the oven” being referred to as “Peanut” but would come to be known as Stephanie.

For the next three years, these two precious Christmas gifts would pretty much be the entire focus of my world.  Daddy would be gone a lot with the ship making its way from port to port and we were thousands of miles away from the places we called home.  If you’ve ever been the poor victim of my hours and hours of video tapes made during that time, you’ll see that these two little sprites and i were very constant companions.  And, boy, did they light up my world!

i look at the two grown women before me now and wonder who they are.  :0)  Nah, all i have to do is look in the mirror and it’s obvious i’m old enough to have grown children.  It’s the beautiful women they’ve become that blows my mind.  Old crybaby here can’t even type properly from the tears running down my face and blurring my eyes.  The blessings they were twenty years ago was just a beginning of the blessings they have continued to be.  We have been so…well, blessed!  i can’t think of a better word.  Okay, maybe they aren’t perfect.  Maybe i mutter under my breath (or out loud) about little things here and there, but in the grand scheme of things, Holy Granoly!  These girls are awesome!  Recently, Stephanie’s district manager was gushing about how wonderful she is and what a fantastic job we had done with her.  i had to admit that i’m not so sure we deserve that much credit, that she is just an amazing person because that’s who she really is deep down inside.  The things she’s accomplished, especially this year, just astound me.  And Ashley, my little pied piper.  People flock to her like minivans to a yard sale.  Just dip her in honey and watch them swarm.

So, anyway, girls.  If you’re reading this blog (which for Stephanie may be some time, oh, next fall considering how busy you are and will be for some time), know how extremely proud i am of you.  Not proud as in, “Look what i’ve done” but proud as in “Look at the beautiful creatures God created and look how they’ve blossomed into magnificent human beings.”  You are the most precious gifts God could have given your Dad and me.  You are the epitome of everything good between us.  Your mama loves you oh! so very much.  Thank you for the privilege of calling you my daughters.  You have helped me understand even more deeply the love that God has for us and what a sacrifice He gave by sending Jesus to this earth two thousand years ago, knowing that He was coming here just to die for us.

Merry Christmas, Ashley and Stephanie!

Ashley and Stephanie

Recipe for Precious Children

Two fallible human beings who are willing to learn and love

One or more little creatures who need to learn and be loved


This recipe cannot be measured in precise terms because each child is different.  However, each child must have  a generous coating of praise, respect, sharing, teaching, and loving.  Hugs, kisses, and laps are an absolute necessity if the child is to fully blossom.  Although not the most enjoyable part of the process, discipline and correction are necessary in order to help in the maturation process, but only when done in love and in the right way and amount.

Room must be given in order for the child to grow to their greatest potential.  Too much room causes awkward growth and can actually warp the process.  Too little room can stunt natural maturity and cause damage in adulthood.  Therefore, do not overcook or undercook but constantly test for correct temperature.

Child must be encouraged to be the best they can be but a little rest and a little fun is always needed.

Continue to baste in smiles, laughter, and “attaboys”/”attagirls” for the rest of their lives.

As with all things, give thanks to God for such wonderful gifts.

Mama and her girls

Daddy and his girls

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Recipe for a Successful Marriage

If more people looked at marriage as a reflection of God and His love for us, i think there would be a lot more success stories.  If you tried to be God’s part in the relationship, you would love unconditionally; forgive freely; think of your beloved foremost; speak well to and of your dearest one; sacrifice your wants, needs, and desires for the sake of your most precious.  Now, just think if BOTH halves of that whole had the same attitude and mindset/heartset.  How wonderful would that relationship be?

i wish i could say that i’ve always lived up to that in my marriage, but, unfortunately, too often  i tweak the recipe my way.  i try to make it a chocolate dessert when i know that Michael loves vanilla.  So the chunky chick needs to stick to the recipe for success and quit trying to put her take on it.

A wonderful lady we were privileged to know and love left this world yesterday.  She lived a long and fulfilling life here and was ready to go.  She had been a widow for quite some time.  It makes you stop and realize that you’re blessed with only so many years on this planet and that you may not have the privilege of ending your run with the person you chose as your “running partner.”  That alone should make us cherish every moment–the not knowing how many of those moments we have.

i thank God for a husband who i honestly believe loves me (if not, the guy should go to Hollywood because he’d be an Academy Award winner!)  We certainly aren’t perfect people or the perfect couple…but we’re perfect for one another.  That, and nobody else would want us, right, baby? ;0)

To my husband of 24 1/2 years, i dedicate this recipe for marriage.  It has been my privilege to be the sous-chef to his chef-de-cuisine.  I hope we get the chance to stir things up a while longer and feed off each other’s craziness.  You really are the cacao of my life.

Recipe for a Successful Marriage

Two equal partners who are willing to be silent partners and put the other first

God–the leavening agent that “lightens and softens the finished product”

Heaping spoonfuls of love, time, sacrificial giving, patience, understanding, forgiveness, laughter, and faithfulness

Pinch of wit, soberness, and spontaneity

Preheat home with prayer, sincerity, and long discussions about the future.

Daily add in more ingredients than the day before.  If relationship seems to sticky, add more love, forgiveness, patience, and concern.  If relationship is too dry, add in unexpected get-aways, walks in your favorite place, candlelit dinners, and head rubs.

Check for overheating and allow to cool to correct temperature.

Be sure to stir continuously.  Failure to do so can lead to scorching words, a burned-out partner, a curdled relationship, and/or a pulling away from the mixture.

Always add more than you think is needed.  You can always add  more but don’t expect a rise out of dough that’s been shortchanged on yeast.

Keep a constant watch.  It may seem like a lot of work but the product is always worth it.

Merry Christmas, Love!


Recipe for Parents

i suppose i’d be on Santa’s naughty list right now because i haven’t done laundry, cleaned, or gotten back to work on goodies for giving away like i should be doing.  But, ya know what?  i’m okay with that because right now i’d rather be spending time with you.

This year, our church is taking this week especially to try to do things for others as a way of saying “Happy Birthday, Jesus!” Now, i’m not going to tell you everything i’m doing because that would make it less fun for me (the element of surprise and all that…plus, it’s none of your business.  Sorry, but it ain’t.  Do your own acts of love.)  But…i will let you in on one of them.  One of the suggestions we gave was to write a letter/make a phone call to someone who has made a difference in your life.  Anyone who knows me very well knows that i’m much more comfortable when i write.  Therefore, this is my method of choice.

Today, i’d like to combine my “letter” to someone(s) who has made a difference with a recipe.  Not to go all Forrest Gump-y on you, but life is like a recipe.  Or, better yet, it’s the development of a recipe.  You can look at other people’s methods of doing things and see the merit in some of it.  You can see that some ingredients honestly should have been left out…or, conversely, shouldn’t have been neglected.  Thyme/Time is always a necessity.  Sage is important too.  Don’t share your love too (s)parsley.  If you care, let them know that you Mint it.  And…if your name is April, there will always be an overabundance of corn.  ;0)

If i had been half the mother that my Mama is or half the parent that my Bear is,…my girls would have appreciated it!  I mean, what can you say?  It’s easy to look back on your mistakes and wish you’d done differently.  Unfortunately, it’s VERY easy to criticize others’ parenting skills rather than try  to be supportive.  Easiest of all, though, is to look at your parents through the eyes of maturity (and the eyes of maternity!) and see just how very blessed you are/were!

So, to my daughters…although you’re grown, i promise you that i will still work on my parenting skills and try to be the kind of mother you deserve.  I wish you had had the mother that i do.  You’d be the most blessed girls in the world (right after me, of course.)  I promise that i will love you unconditionally and be your biggest fan, just like my father is.  And, thanks to their example, i offer you this recipe of parenthood…because i’ve been observing it from the best.


Recipe for Parenthood

2 people who love God and each other

1 or more children who need to be trained, nurtured and adored

Stable environment

God’s Word

Combine the love of Mr. and Mrs. Full-of-Potential and create or adopt a child.

Spend the rest of the child’s growing years loving; hugging;  teaching;, bleaching; correcting; affecting; praising; appraising; training; explaining; sharing; bearing; being constant; being consistent; being true; helping construe; saying “yes”; saying “no”; explaining why; or because you said so, that’s why! (you know that they know that they already know and they need to know that YOU are in charge, not them.)

Expect mistakes, disappointments, trials, triumphs, happiness, tears, laughter, and periods of contempt–but don’t ever give up on them.  Pray for them.  Praise them.  Love  them.  Discipline them.  When they’re wrong, tell them with love.  When they’re right, tell them with joy.  When you’re wrong,…be adult enough to admit it.

If they stray, pray.  They’ll come back some day.

And always, always be thankful.  They’ll learn that from you, too.

Merry Christmas to the best parents on earth, Steve and Ruth Scott!  Beyond blessed to call you Daddy and Mama!

50th Anniversary Party--December 2006

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Christmas Crunch Cookies

Happy December!  Hope your Christmas season has started off well!  Mine really went up a  notch today.  Took two dear ladies who are unable to drive at night to Mercersburg, PA, for the annual Mercersburg Area Community Chorus and Orchestra’s Christmas concert.  This was a first for me and, boy, was it everything they said it would be!  The first half of the program was excerpts from Handel’s Messiah.  Wow!  And took place in this gorgeous chapel that reminds you of an older English or European church with the Gothic architecture and gorgeous stained glass windows.  Ahhh.  A taste of heaven.  And then got a wonderful surprise at home–Michael and Ashley made an awesome light display out front.  Whoo hoo!  It’s beginning to  look a lot like Christmas. 🙂

So…i have two things to offer you today.  One i’ve been meaning to show you for several days but….  I read the neatest trick and tried it out.  And it works!  Next time you buy a bunch of green onions, use just the tops and save the bulb part.  Put them in water and, within a week, you’ll have more tops!  These are bad photos but if you can tell anything, this is about 12 days’ growth.  How’s that for frugal?!?
















Next is one of those gifts that keep giving kind of deals.  I”m planning to do a lot of cookie and other goody baking/making in the next few weeks.  If you’re like me, you have your tried and true recipes but i also LOVE finding new stuff.  How about we do a “Cyber Cookie Exchange”, or more like a cookie recipe exchange?

I’ll post mine if you’ll send me yours!  And, yes, i promise to post them.  If you have photos, feel free to send them as well.

Here’s recipe number one to get you  started.  Mama has made these cookies since Buck was a calf…or since i was a little heifer, at any rate.  The “surprise” ingredient makes all the difference!

Christmas Crunch Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup crushed potato chips

½ cup chopped pecans

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Add potato chips and pecans. Stir in flour. Form into small balls, using 1 tablespoon dough for each.

Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Press balls flat with bottom of a drinking glass dipped in sugar.  Sprinkle green or red-tinted sugar on top.

Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until lightly browned.

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Good to know!

Advice.  Everybody has it.  Whether given or received, we all have had our share of advice.  That can be a good thing.   A very good thing.  A wonderful lady named Sandra Ray (no, not related to Rachael but she can cook!) hooked me up with one of my very favoritest things to have on stock in the kitchen.  She had cooked  a pork roast that had the most wonderful flavor and nosy me had to know what she did to it.  Her secret weapon?  Mojo!  Actually, it’s called Mojo Criollo and you can buy it all nicely bottled up by Goya (look in the Hispanic section of your grocery.)  Basically it is a Cuban marinade consisting of oil, garlic, orange juice, lime juice and other wonderful things.  IT IS THE BOMB!  I cannot stress how highly i rate this stuff.  Your meat will never taste better.  Marinate your steaks in it the night before/several hours before you grill them.  Add Mojo and Montreal Steak Seasoning to your hamburger meat before forming it into patties and bada bing, bada boom!  A couple days ago i pulled out a large package of chicken breasts which i’d gotten at a good sale but had frozen as a whole package  because i was in a hurry.  So all 7 or 8 chicken breasts got mostly defrosted and put into the crockpot in a bath of Mojo.  The smell all day was divine and the taste even better.  In the end it was shredded and sauced up with the recently canned Zesty Peach Barbecue Sauce but it would have been fine just like it was.  So, honey, get your Mojo working!    As the Cubans would say, “Para luego es tarde” (translated “For later, it’s late”; in other words, “Don’t wait! Do it now!”

Mojo Criollo

Ever have a recipe that calls for buttermilk but you’re just plumb out?  You can fake it.  Add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to your regular ol’ moo juice aka cow’s milk and voila!  Poor man’s buttermilk.  I love tips like that so i was very excited to find this link to Food Network’s Top 100 Tips from their cooking show hosts and other renowned chefs.  I’ll give you a few that i found interesting but you should read them for yourselves.  Good stuff!

If you have favorite tips and cooking secrets you’d be willing to share with the gang, let us know!  They will happily find themselves in another post.  On that note, here’s my last tip for the day, so happy cooking and happy eating!

April’s Tip of the Day:  Southern Cookin’ Makes You Good Lookin’!

Tips from Food Network:

If you’re cooking for someone important — whether it’s your boss or a date — never try a new recipe and a new ingredient at the same time.
Marcus Samuelsson

Cook pasta 1 minute less than the package instructions and cook it the rest of the way in the pan with sauce.
Mario Batali

After working with garlic, rub your hands vigorously on your stainless steel sink for 30 seconds before washing them. It will remove the odor.
Gerard Craft 

When you deep-fry, hold each piece of food with long tongs as you add it to the oil. Hold it just below the oil’s surface for five seconds before releasing it. This will seal the exterior and stop it from sticking to the pot or the other food.
Michael Psilakis

Anytime you are using raw onions in a salsa and you are not going to eat that salsa in the next 20 minutes or so, be sure to rinse the diced onions under cold running water first, then blot dry. This will rid them of sulfurous gas that can ruin fresh salsa. It’s really important in guacamole, too.
Mark Miller

When making mashed potatoes, after you drain the potatoes, return them to the hot pan, cover tightly and let steam for 5 minutes. This allows the potatoes to dry out so they’ll mash to a beautiful texture and soak up the butter and cream more easily.
Wolfgang Puck

When baking cookies, be sure your dough is thoroughly chilled when it goes on your baking pan. This will allow the leavening ingredients to work before the butter flattens out and your cookies lose their textural distinctions.
Norman Van Aken

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DIY Dishwasher Detergent (Powder)

“A penny saved is a penny earned” may not seem like much with today’s inflation, but, hey, it’s still money and it will eventually add up.  While we were out Monday, i found a quarter in one spot and a penny in another and you bet your sweet life i picked them up.  I could do several loads of laundry or dishes with twenty-six cents! ha

If you were game enough to try the “homemade” laundry detergent, here’s another one for ya’.  But i have to tell you, it’s exhausting putting it together.

Ninja and Persi

Yeah, right.

This “recipe” consists of four ingredients, so for those of you in the “Five Ingredients or Less” club, like my friend Bonny, it’s do-able.

We already had the Borax and the Arm and Hammer Washing Soda from having made the Laundry Soap (found these in the laundry aisle at Wally World); all we had to add to the mix was Kosher Salt and a product called Lemi Shine.  No problem.  Lemi Shine was in the cleaning products aisle and Kosher salt was next to the regular ol’ iodized salt by the seasonings.    Personally i was unfamiliar with Lemi Shine but this is what it does according to its manufacturer: Lemi Shine removes tough hard water buildup and film from dishes, glassware, and flatware while it cleans and deodorizes automatic dishwashers.  Wish i’d found that when we first moved here, before we had a water softener installed.  West Virginia has got the hardest water.  It’s murder on your glasses, your flatware, your appliances, your shower tile…your body too, i’m sure.

When i measured out the Lemi Shine, it came out to be about 1 1/2 cups, so i adjusted the recipe to fit that amount.

DIY Dishwasing Detergent

1 1/2 cups Borax

1 1/2 cups Arm & Hammer Washing Soda

1 1/2 cups Lemi Shine

3/4 cup Kosher Salt

Take a deep breath, flex your muscles and…mix all four ingredients together.  Now put into a container.  Use 1 tablespoon for normal loads and an extra half or two tablespoons for heavy loads.  It ends up somewhere around five cents a load compared to commercial products that average around 12 to 14 cents a load.

Also, skip the expensive Jet Dry.  Pour white vinegar into your rinse aid compartment.  Vinegar costs about 6 cents a fill versus Jet Dry’s roughly $4 a fill.  Convinced???

We made, we tried, it conquered!  AWESOME!  You wouldn’t believe how clean everything was, including the dishwasher!


Pie Crust

Have you ever seen a pie with a crust so beautiful…elegant…perfect… and then you take one bite and think “ewww”?  Yeah, me too.  Goodness knows i can’t make a crust that’s pretty but looks don’t matter.  It’s what’s inside that counts.  No, wait!  I meant to say it’s how the crust tastes that counts!   I’ve used the pie crust recipe that Mama handed down and it works fine, but  happened to run across one that even a pastry chef gave two thumbs up so  i just had to try.  It was worth it!  Now you have to understand the gravity of WHEN i chose to use it.

When my brothers and i were growing up, we’d travel from our home in Pensacola to my grandparents’ home in Encinitas, CA every other summer.  (That’s a long trip, people.)  Encinitas is on the Southern California coastline above San Diego.  Beautiful place!  We had all sorts of wonderful fruits where we grew up but California had one thing we didn’t have–apricots.  OH!  My oh my, give me a piece of pie, or rather cobbler.  Nana or her brother Al or sister Mary would always make one while we were out there and they were heaven on earth!  And the apricot jam….!   My mouth salivates thinking about it.  We were fortunate to get some apricots from Maryland last weekend and i made the first apricot cobbler i’ve had in 25 years or more.  My mouth and my tummy had a happy!  When i told my parents on the phone, my dad said, “I’m not talking to you anymore.” ;0)  Anyway, serious cobbler needs serious pie crust!

Now i will tell you something interesting about this pie crust recipe, nay, two things: 1) you have to let it refrigerate overnight or at least for several hours and 2) it’s wet!  I mean, really.   I thought maybe the refrigeration would dry it out some, but, no…it’s wet.  Surprisingly though you’ll need less flour when you roll it out than you’d expect.  It rolls out extremely well–has a great feel and consistency to it.

Pie Crust

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1 cup shortening (or you can mix soft butter into the ratio)

1/2 cup cold water

Mix flour and salt together.  Cut shortening into flour with pastry blender or fork until it resembles coarse meal.  Add water gradually and mix until thoroughly combined.  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

* Tip:  If you have trouble measuring shortening because it sticks to the measuring cup and is difficult to get an accurate reading, here’s a handy idea.  If you need 1 cup of shortening, take a 2 cup measuring cup and fill it to the 1 cup mark with cold water.  Add in shortening until the water line reaches the 2-cup mark (may need to push down on the shortening to get an accurate reading.)  This is called the Water Displacement Method.

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When Life Hands You Leftovers…

You know it’s time to clean out  your refrigerator when….

Doesn’t that just sound like a routine from a housewife turned comic?  All funny business aside, unless you’re just one extremely talented cook who can successfully predict the exact portion sizes he/she needs to prepare to feed X number of people for one meal…or better yet, if you have a teenager in the house which means the word “leftovers” does not apply to you, we all have to deal with a little of this, a smidgen of that or a bunch of something going bad.  Now, i personally do not know how to take 2 leftover pieces of chicken, a bowl of macaroni and cheese, 1/3 of a portion of Pad Thai nestled in a cute little to-go container, and a large bunch of grapes that are about to be fuzzier than my bedroom slippers and turn that into a casserole.  That doesn’t mean they all have to go in the compost heap!

Hubby Michael just absolutely LOVES to go to our local Food Lion and survey the meat department.  You can get some truly good deals when they start marking things down.  Our chest freezer has been the mecca of meat which is either in its uncooked state or grilled for later use.  Last week he got a bargain on steaks which he grilled and we partially ate that night.  Notice the word “partially.”  It really had to be dealt with today, so  it took a nice hot bath in the crock pot in order to be fajitas for supper.  We also had a rather sizable bowl of leftover mashed potatoes that magically changed form.  And for dessert?  Something new with something “old” that turned into something new.  Feel like hanging around for supper?  Have a seat and let’s cook!

First of all, don’t expect measurements.  The art of cooking is in creating a masterpiece with your food.  If Van Gogh were to paint “Starry Night” twice, would it really look exactly the same?  Experiment and “uniquify” your food.  Okay, so there’s no such thing as “uniquify.”  But doesn’t that make me unique?  Hmmm.  (insert mental slap)  Back to the food.  With the steak, i simply used what i had on hand.  May never do it this way again although it got rave reviews from the Franz clan.  Do have to admit, though–it has some kick!  As my dad, Bear, would say, “It’ll put hair on your chest.”  You know, as a girl, that didn’t exactly encourage me to eat whatever follicle-producing dish he referred to.  (Wasn’t exactly hair i was hoping for, you know what i mean?)  Slap.  Sorry.  Anywho….

The steak was cut into strips, tossed into the crock pot, and marinated in a sauce made of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (left over when i only used part of the can in another dish), half a packet of onion soup mix, cumin powder and about a half cup of water.  After marinating for hours, it was tender, flavorful and SPICY!  Winner, winner, fajita dinner!

The mashed potatoes reminded me of something my Mama used to make when we were kids.  IF there were any mullet leftover, she’d make Fish Cakes with the fish, mashed potatoes, and onion.  Sooo good.  These taties became Tex-Mex Potato Cakes.  Cooked up a pot of black beans but you could use canned (just get out a portion you want to use and rinse them); to the mashed potatoes, added some beans, frozen corn, the first 2 jalapenos from our garden–yeah!–, a little seasoning (cumin, ancho chili powder, and dry ranch dressing mix), and some shredded cheese.  Would have been smart to add a little bit of flour as well to firm it up, but you live and learn.

Using an ice cream scoop, put the potato mixture into a bowl of coating (flour, corn meal, chili powder) and coat completely.  Pat the ball down into a patty.  Add enough oil to coat your frying  pan and heat until ready to fry.  Cook until a nicely browned crust forms on both sides.  The potato cake will be crispy outside but moist and creamy-like inside.  We ate them with a sauce made of sour cream, dry ranch dressing mix and a pinch of chili powder but i’ll bet it would be even more awesome with some avocado thrown in!

Okay, one more for the road!  Dessert was actually a drink.  We stopped by an Asian supermarket that we used to frequent when we lived in Virginia (actually looking for Pocky but none too be had–probably another victim of the tsunami.)  But we did find the cutest pastel tapioca pearls!

Long story short, this became the basis for Bubble Tea.  Two cups worth of cherries were about to get hairy in the fridge (guess the girls finally reached their quota); so instead of a solid dessert, they became syrup.  You really need four cups of fruit but instead of grabbing a package of frozen cherries, i decided to get my last package of frozen blackberries to add to them.  And voila! Black Cherry Berry Syrup was born.  We’re going to cheat on this and use measurements.

Fruit Syrup

1 pound (4 cups) fruit such as berries, cherries, etc.

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tbs. lemon juice.

Boil the fruit, water and sugar over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and it begins to boil.  Boil, uncovered, for ten minutes, stirring consistently.  Remove from heat; add lemon juice.  Strain fruit (which i saved to use for something else.)  Cool and refrigerate.

We added the Black Cherry Berry syrup to our Bubble Tea which i think really helped the flavor, but you could also use it in coffee, lemonade, or on your pancakes or waffles!

Now that i’m full as the proverbial tick, it’s time to grab a kitty and cuddle.  Happy Experimenting and Happy Eating!

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