Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fried Oysters

If you have made it this far, you either like oysters or are curious.

I hope both.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE oysters and I get the pleasure of living in Maryland where we have access to them during the "R" months fresh from the Chesapeake Bay.  The "R" months are the best time to eat fresh oysters and those months are September-March.  So why did we have oysters in the summer?

This advice was given long before there was refrigeration in most homes and the concern would be how to preserve them from day to day. This made sense because the oysters could easily go bad if not eaten soon.  The preferred months stay the same but eating an oyster in the spring or summer will not get you uninvited to your next dinner party.

Peggy Filippone has this to say about why we eat oysters in those desired months. "Oysters spawn in the warm summer months, usually May through August, although natural Gulfwater oysters can spawn year-round due to the warm waters. Spawning causes them to become fatty, watery, soft, and less flavorful instead of having the more desirable lean, firm texture and bright seafood flavor of those harvested in cooler, non-spawning months."

Maryland oysters are named the Eastern Oyster, also called the Virginia Oyster.  In recent years the bay has struggled to sustain the oyster population and our state is working hard to meet the demands set by companies and locals that still desire to partake of this shell fish.  The oyster also offers benefits to the eco structure of the bay with their oyster reefs and their built in filtering systems.

At one point in time the oyster beds were so abundant that boats would scrape the top of the oyster reefs in passing.  Times have changed. To give you an idea in numbers, I found this stat quoted from the Historic American Engineering Record for JC Lore Oyster House, "In 1885, more than 15 million bushels of oysters were harvested, but by 2004, that number had dropped to26,495 bushels."

Arriving in Maryland was a dream come true.  We were finally able to live by water and not just a small seashore, but more miles of seashore than the eastern and western shores combined.  The Chesapeake Bay shoreline is a total of 11, 684 miles stretched between 200 miles.

One of the first places we visited was a place called Solomon's Island.  Little did we know that this was also home to an earlier oyster business.  We learned so much about the industry in the early days.  My favorite were the pictures posted on every wall displaying the men and ladies working long hours shucking oysters.

How do you shuck an oyster?

Step by step instructions were written out and followed for every step of the process.  The company was concerned about safety and sanitation for the oysters and their workers.  Below you can find a general how-to and you better be fast.  The workers were paid by the bushel, so the more you shucked the more money you would have.

"A shucker grasps an oyster in his left with its flat shell up, presses it against the table, the hinge end pointed away from him, and inserts the tip of the oyster knife between the shells at the broad end. The knife enters the oyster about one-third of the distance from the bill to the hinge and on the side nearest to the man. This point is opposite the large muscle that holds the two shells together. In the next motion, the muscle is cut, following which the knife is used as a lever and one or the other of the shells is pried off and discarded. Better shuckers employ only six motions in this entire procedure. The oyster, or "meat," as it is now called, is now cut from the remaining shell and dropped into a pail.", the whole article can be read here.
I find the oyster business fascinating back in this time period.  It created jobs for the locals, provided a name for the town and food for thousands of oyster eaters.

The company is no longer active but you can eat at the building which once housed the oyster plant.  It has been turned into a lovely restaurant and the walls are a history lesson of what took place so long ago.

Oysters are eaten in a variety of ways: raw, fried, grilled, in sandwiches and soups.  This is just a few of the many styles that a person can enjoy a delicious oyster.  I would not recommend starting with a raw oyster unless you have no qualms about the texture.  Most people don't like the slimy consistency that a raw oyster has.  A fried oyster on the other hand has the crispy outside, soft inside and that yummy oyster flavor.

My first attempt at eating a raw oyster was a few years ago and my hubby begged me to try them.  I believe he thought with wine, chocolate and some oysters he might be in for a grand night…LOL

Oh, and by the way, he hates oysters.  So I knew I was on my own and what ever I ordered I would have to eat all alone.

I was worried that I would get stuck with some of the largest oysters that a person has ever seen…I just wasn't sure how this was all going to go down, literally.

To make a long story short, I ate one and then another until the half dozen was gone.  I did not think I could eat a full dozen by myself.

I can now say that I belong to the "I ate a raw oyster" club.  Your right, that club probably does not exist.  DANG IT.

I was surprised that the slimy oyster did not bother me.  Along with the oysters, they bring you all types of toppings and sauces.  This may be what helped me down 6 raw oysters in one night, heck, in 30 minutes.

Fried oysters are still my favorite and I do make these at home 5-6 times a year.  My son used to love them but with puberty he has decided he does not like seafood anymore, so I may not be making them as often in the future.

I usually buy my oysters from a seafood store in the local Annapolis area.  They are usually brought in that day.  I would suggest you get them as fresh as possible and it is nice to know where they come in from.

The coating on this recipe was created to create a crunchy outside with a soft warm inside, the oyster.

I know that oysters are not for everyone, but for those of us that enjoy them, they can be made at home with ease and good results.

I like to think this is a simply delicious gourmet meal to make in your own kitchen for fans of the oyster.

Recipe:  Fried Oysters

20-25 small to medium raw oysters, shucked and cleaned
2 eggs, beaten well
12 Ritz Crackers, crushed (GF crackers can be used)
1/3 cup of corn meal, fine works best
1/3 cup of flour, (GF version, use almond meal)
1/4 -1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 teaspoon of salt
oil, to fry oysters

Combine flour, corn meal, crushed crackers, salt and pepper together.

Drain oysters.

Prepare your station:  oysters, coating and eggs.

In a large sauce pan, add enough oil for the oysters to float and cook.  Let them cook for 4 minutes and then flip. Remove from oil and let them cool on a wire rack.

Serve with your favorite sauces. I made a tartar sauce using dill pickles, mayonnaise and red onion.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pizza Dip

My kids request this all the time, especially when they are having friends over on Friday and Saturday nights.

I think this is for two reasons.  One: it's cheesy and creamy.  Two: the leftovers make excellent midnight snacks.

I will buy a couple loaves of french bread to serve with the dip or make my own.  A great recipe for rustic white bread, in under an hour, can be found here.

I make the base and let the kids add their favorite toppings.

You can customize this with different cheeses, toppings, meats and veggies.  Have fun creating your version of "Pizza" dip.

Recipe: Pizza Dip

2-8 oz packages of cream cheese, soft
1 cup of mayonnaise
1 cup of mozzarella cheese + 1.5 cups for topping dip
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons of green onion
1 cup of pizza sauce or marinara (you can use less, we just like the sauce)
toppings:  pepperoni, olives, mushrooms, red onion, hamburger, bell pepper, bacon, etc…

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, combine soft cream cheese, mayonnaise, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, green onions and the parmesan cheese.  Stir well.

I use a round stone ware oven proof pan to cook my dips in.  It measures 12 inches across.  The smaller the pan the thicker the dip, the larger the pan would result in a thinner cream cheese base.  I have made both and they are both delicious.   The thicker dip may require a few more minutes to cook.

Spread the cheese mixture in the bottom of the pan first.

Spread the pizza sauce next.

Sprinkle the cheese over the sauce.

Decide on your toppings and scatter those around the top of the cheese.

Bake your dip for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Serve with chunks of french bread.

This dip is very hot when it comes out of the oven. Please be careful.  The cheese makes it stringy and gooey.

Drunkin Noodles (Wide Rice Noodles)

Update:  9-19-2013.  The noodles that I have used for this recipe seem to contain wheat starch.  I was asked this by a reader and reached out to the manufacturer and he replied with this response:

Dear Sherron,
The rice sheet contains wheat starch, so it cannot be qualified as gluten free as wheat starch may contain trace amount of wheat protein (gluten).

This is a problem if you need this dish to be gluten free.  As a substitute you can use gf noodles, but you will lose the "wide noodle" look and texture.  If I find something that can be used for my gf followers I will definitely let you know.  Thanks!


I have been looking for these noodles for 20+ years.  I have googled every recipe that I can find on how to make your own wide rice noodles.  To be honest, it looks difficult.

I am not one to back away from a challenge and especially a food challenge, but I do believe that some things are just better left to the professionals.

I have moved numerous times and been in many Asian Markets.  I have looked through stacks of noodle packaging, often times not really knowing what I was reading or looking at.  The languages on the packages are from China, Korea and Japan….I don't speak any of these and can barely recognize the differences in the kanji's.  Throughout this search, I have discovered many other flavors and foods to test and try in the kitchen.

I stumbled upon a post, yes it was "how to make wide rice noodles" and there I discovered something.  You can BUY these noodles in the store.  I had to beg to differ.  I had been in stores and I could not find a wide rice noodle anywhere….It turns out, they are not sold as wide noodles, but sheets of rice pasta and they were sold in the refrigerator section.

Here they were, this whole time, tucked between the miso soups and tofus of the world.  All lined up in a row with their distinct languages printed across the packaging and without a single word saying "wide rice noodles".

Honestly, if I had not stumbled upon this post, I would never have found them and I am so glad that I did.

I make this dish similar to my other Asian influenced stir fry's.  I try to use the basic sauce recipe and change the veggies and meat around a bit.  For me, the noodle makes the dish.

While eating the meat and veggies can be reminiscent of  Pad Woon Sen, the noodle is not.  It has a smooth and slippery feel to it.  When this is combined with the crunch of al dante veggies and chicken or beef…you mouth sings!  OK, maybe that is just my mouth..LOL

I am trying to tell you it is delicious, different and definitely a family hit at our home.

I have included more pictures with this post because I want you to have something to reference when you go to the store.   The noodles can only be purchased at an Asian store or possibly on line and sent to you.

This is the brand that I use and a quick tutorial on how to prepare the noodles : see below.

Preparing the noodles is an easy process.  Puncture a whole in the bag and microwave for a minute.  The noodles should be soft and pliable when they are warm.  Once the noodles are soft, then you can unwrap the noodle sheets and cut them into WIDE noodles…FINALLY, I have wide rice noodles.

You may notice that some of the noodle sheet is still hard and this is okay.  I have still been able to cut and use them in my dish.  The noodles are stuck together and you will need to peel them apart.  Peeled apart they will be very thin and LONG.  I usually cut the noodle strips into 5-6 inch pieces.

Once the noodles are cut into strips and unstuck from each other, you are ready to use them.  I use them in a dish called Drunkin' Noodles, this is a favorite with my hubby when we go out to eat.

Recipe:  Drunkin' Noodles using Wide Rice Noodles

2 cups of cooked meat: chicken, beef or pork
1 small head of cabbage, diced into 1X1 inch squares
1 small red onion, diced
2 carrots, sliced
1 T. minced garlic
oil, vegetable
oil, sesame


1/4 cup of dark soy sauce, omit for gluten allergies and substitute the gluten free version
1/4 cup of soy sauce, use a gluten free version if need be
1 teaspoon fish sauce, use more if you want a bolder flavor

I have included a picture of the brands that I use with the sauce, I thought it would be easier.
Combine the three into a small bowl and set aside.

Prepare all of the veggies according to the recommended style: diced, sliced, cubed…etc.  I use napa cabbage for this dish and it does provide a lot more than a normal head of cabbage.  I cut off the bottom 4 inches.  I personally do not like this part of the cabbage and you might be able to add it to soup stock.

In a large pan or wok, add the oils.  I use a vegetable oil, that I add some sesame oil to.  This adds a nice flavor to the dish.  You can use just sesame oil but it makes the dish taste very "sesame".  Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes.

Add the remaining veggies.  You may need to do this in two batches.  Just add a bit more oil and toss them together in the end.  The veggies will reduce.

Add the noodles (directions for preparation are on the back of the packaging or see above).

Add the sauce.  Toss and cook for 3-5 minutes.  The noodles will turn the color of the sauce.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

175. Almond Macaroons, the cookie

I had a batch of these delicious cookies at a party I attended last month.  I could not get them out of my head and decided that I would attempt to make them myself.

I was pleasantly surprised to find they were and are easy to make.

For a cookie that only has 4 ingredients…they sure did taste perfect to me.  The outside has a bit of a crispy texture while the inside is airy and soft.  If you enjoy the flavor of almond  then this cookie is for you.

The almond flavor shines through and is pronounced further with the almonds baked on top.  To spruce up the cookie, I sprinkled powdered sugar on top.

I made one batch and they were gone in a matter of minutes.  This is an expensive cookie to make because it takes a whole tube of almond paste.  I now know why they are so expensive to buy when I go to a bakery.

If you can find the almond paste on sale, buy it and horde it…LOL  

Recipe:  Almond Macaroons, the cookie
recipe adapted from Odense Almond Paste

1-7 oz. tube of almond paste, grated
2/3 cups of powdered sugar
1/4 cup egg whites, this should be one large egg
slivered almonds for the top
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine grated almond paste and sugar.  Beat until the texture resembles crumbs.

Slowly add the egg white and beat until well combined.

Beat on high for 3 minutes.  A creamy paste will start to form.  Scrape the sides of the bowl a few times.

Using a cookie scoop, place dough balls two inches apart.

Add the almond slivers to the top of each cookei.

Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly brown.

Cool completely on baking sheet.  If you try to remove them before they are cool you will scrape the whole bottom of the cookie and create a hallow cookie.

Makes 20 cookies.

Shish Kabobs

Shish Kabobs have long been a family favorite of ours when hosting parties.  Especially if kids are involved.

We will have a variety of meats, veggies and marinades available for our family and friends to create their own version of what sounds, taste and looks delicious to them.

I love to make my own marinades by using what I have in my fridge.  Sometimes they turn out okay and other times they turn out excellent.  It's always a new adventure.

Store bought marinades are a great way to save time and try new flavors.  We use them on rare occasions when we are in a hurry or going camping.

There is not much of a recipe to follow for making the shish kabobs.  You can buy wooden skewers or metal ones.  I like the metal ones because we can reuse them.  The kids have an easier time piercing the veggies and meat because they also seem a bit sharper.

Don't be afraid to have an interesting assortment of veggies and fruits too.  The thing to remind guest is when making their kabob to try and remember cook times for their meat and match the accompanying veggies and fruits.

You could end up with some charred pineapple if you want your steak well done.  Tomatoes are another veggie that taste great on a kabob but cooks fast and can get mushy.  

Have your BBQ nice and hot and ready to go.  The kabobs don't take long to cook.

If you are only sharing one type of meat, then you can marinade it longer in the refrigerator before your guest get there.  This is simple to do.  Cut your meat into smaller pieces and cover with marinade.  The smaller pieces are better because then more of the meat is marinating.  If you use one large piece of chicken or beef then the surface that is being marinaded is much smaller and the flavor may not shine through.

Types of meat to use:


Types of Veggies to use:

Bell Pepper
Yellow Squash
Cherry Tomatoes

Types of fruit to use:

Pitter Cherries
Grilled Peaches

Here are a couple of marinades that we have used before.  I found them on the Food Network Site.

Dijon-Rosemary Steak:

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, stemmed
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons balsami vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound sirloin steak , cut into 1-inch cubes

Citrus-Tarragon Chicken:

1 orange, zested, then juiced, remainder discarded
1 lemon, zested, then juiced, remainder discarded
1 lime, zested, then juiced, remainder discarded
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes

The marinades are prepared the same.  Combine all of the ingredients, except the meat, and combine well.

Cut the meat into 1 inch cubes and add to the marinade.

Let meat marinade a minimum of 15 minutes, longer is preferred.  I would not recommend marinading the 1 inch cubes over night though.  You may end up with very strong cubes.

Recipe shared over at Amee's Savory Dish for Fit and Fabulous Friday.

Jalapeno Popper Dip

2020 UPDATE:  This recipe has been visited over 4 million times!  Thank you for the love!!!

Read the comments--lots of people love it as is, but some have made changes, like preparing it in a crockpot. Great idea!

Game day!  That's right, it has become a huge deal in our home to sit and watch football. It only took my husband 44 years to finally decide that he likes football.  I should rephrase that, that he likes to sit and watch football.  He is no longer content to read the sports page and sip his coffee.  He wants to see every play first hand.
I thought I was one of the few wives left on earth that was lucky enough to not have my Sundays and Mondays ruled by a football schedule.

It is a schedule because the NFL has the gall to play more than two teams on any given day…LOL

I am saying this all in tongue and cheek because I love football.  I grew up watching it with my grandfather.  That was back in the day when the Chicago Bears had the Refrigerator (a player).

I have enjoyed having the time to spend with my hubby and with our kids.  We make yummy food, choose teams and wear our favorite colors.  This season we hope to be wearing a lot of PURPLE…go RAVENS!

This dip is popular throughout the web and can be found on numerous blogs, Pinterest accounts, and feeds.  It's not that hard to throw together but it is still so dang good.

The dip can be made up the night before and the topping can be ready to go in a baggie.  It's a great traveler to take to friends and family that are having game day parties.  You can alter the temperature of the dip based on the jalapeno's used and whether you decide to have seeds or no seeds.

Recipe:  Jalapeno Popper Dip

6-8 slices of bacon, diced and cooked crispy
2 8-oz packages of cream cheese, soft
1 cup of mayonnaise
4-6 jalapeno's, chopped and deseeded.  The seeds will make it fiery hot.
1 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup diced green onion


1 cup of crushed crackers ( I used Ritz)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 stick of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine all of the ingredients into a medium bowl.  Stir well.

Transfer to an oven proof dish. The size of the dish depends on how thick the dip is.  The thicker the dip the longer it may need to warm up.  I used this stoneware dish that is round and measures 12 inches across.  My dip is usually about an inch thick.

Combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle all over the top of the dip.

Bake the dip for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly.

2020 Update: 

I'm still writing on my blog. I don't share many new recipes but I am working on updating the recipes I have here on my blog.

I went to school and got my degree. I had another baby. We moved.  Lots of new things in my life.

Add your email to keep up to date (enter on the home page on the top right).

Visit my HOME page to see my latest post!

Enjoy your day.



181. Ham and Potatoes on the BBQ

BBQ season is slowly coming to an end as we are almost to September and the weather will soon be getting much cooler.

I can't say we don't BBQ in the Fall but it is definitely not as often.

This was a dish that I threw together because I wanted to see if I could use my grill like my oven.  I already had the ham in the refrigerator and tossed in some potatoes, carrots, onions, salt and pepper.

I used a cake pan, covered it with foil and cooked them on the BBQ for 30 minutes.  The temperature was set to 350.

I removed the foil and added some cheese…tadah…dinner was served!

It also made great leftovers and a wonderful breakfast the next morning.

Simple.  I like that.

Monday, August 20, 2012

187. Lemon Pound Cake with Cherries

I remember the first time that we gave Isabella a slice of lemon.  We had gone to the zoo with a group of friends in Salt Lake City, UT.  Isabella was about 1.5 years old and at that curious age of being a toddler.

I can see us all sitting around the table at Red Robin chatting about our adventures and encounters of lion, tigers and bears (OH MY).  

Many of my friends enjoy having lemon with their Diet Coke.  If you have ever had teenagers while at the same time having a toddler, then you know that they master mind together.  Drake and Rye could not wait to see their baby sister enjoy a lemon slice.

We had brought our cam corder and so we were set to see the puckers, lip smacking and shrills of delight coming from Isabella.

She did not disappoint.  I told her it was sour and that she may not like it, she still reached for the slice of yellow flesh I held in my hand.

OH boy was it cute.  She did all of the right facial expressions and we laughed uncontrollably for an hour, in fact we still reflect on this memory.

To this day Isabella loves the slices of lemon that we get in our ice teas.  

I, on the other hand, don't think to make a lemony treat when I bake.  I am more of a chocolate and peanut butter kind of gal.  On this day I was desiring something new and light.

I had these cherries in the fridge and I was afraid they would go bad.  We love the Washington Cherry's but the season for those is short.  I then go for the red cherries and my family does not eat them.  I don't know why this is.

I love the colors  red and yellow together.  I pair these two colors together often when I quilt or decorate so it was an easy marriage of the two: lemon and cherry.

My oldest daughter loves pound cake.   In searching for a recipe I found this recipe on The Food Network.  The reviews were good and this led me to try it for the first time.


 I used my mini bundt pan that  Cory and the kids had given to me for Mother's Day.  They were so dang cute in the palm of my hand.  There it sat, all alone, pretty pale yellow and ready to be dressed up.

The cherry compote was a success too.  I had never boiled down fresh fruit for a dessert topping before.  I started with a little of this and a little of that and came up with this easy recipe.

Lemons and Cherry work together.  They compliment each other on a white plate.  They create a nice balance of sour and sweet. 

Simply put, it was a real treat that was different for my family and one that they enjoyed.  To add the gourmet touch to these cute little cakes, I dusted them with powdered sugar, topped them with whip cream and found the perfect cherry to go on top.

Recipe:  Lemon Pound Cake with Cherry Compote
Makes one bread loaf pound cake or 18-20 mini bundt cakes

1 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup of lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.

Attach the paddle to your Kitchenaid, in the bowl cream the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs one at a time and mix well.  Add the vanilla.

Add the lemon juice and dry ingredients alternately until well combined.

If using a bread pan,  line it with parchment paper.  If using a mini bundt pan, use Pam to spray the pan well.  If using a cupcake pan, use liners.

The bake times for each will vary:

Bread pan- 1 hour and 15 minutes
Mini Bundt Pan-15-18 minutes
Cup Cake Pan- 15-18 minutes

Let cake cool completely on a wire rack.

Serve with your favorite glaze, compote or topping.

Recipe:  Cherry Compote, makes 1.5 cups

1 teaspoon of lemon zest
juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 cups of pitted cherries
1/2 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4-1/2 cup of sugar, use the minimum amount if you don't want it too sweet

Combine all of the ingredients in a sauce pan.  

Cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil.

Boil for 15 minutes, reduce heat and let simmer until the cherry compote reduces and gets thick.

Serve warm or store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

186. Curry and Chicken Rice

Dinner tonight was a hit.  I made curry and chicken rice.  I made a huge batch and we barely had any leftovers for tomorrow.  I love when that happens.

My recipe for Curry and Chicken Rice can be found on Recipe Lion or HERE.

*A few of my recipes are shared on their site first for a few months before they are displayed in full on my blog.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sifting Through Life: Wings and Pretzels

Pretzel recipe can be found here.

It's Friday morning and I am sitting at my MAC thinking…

"I have had an interesting week, do I talk about it or not?"

In a nutshell it went like this:

Friday-photo shoot
Saturday-pack for trip, leave on trip, car catches on fire, return home
Sunday-great day, book store, shopping, day at the park
Tuesday-work, adjuster declines claim on car
Wednesday-find out damage of $3500 for said car
Thursday-buy new car and have lunch at The Tilted Kilt, all hell breaks loose for 15 minutes
Friday-recovering from long week

Where to start is a good question.  If you know me well then it's not a surprise that my red hair and Irish  spirit comes out every so often.  I am the first to admit, in my younger days, it was pretty much a daily episode until I learned to harness my attitude and personality into something more approachable and manageable.  I became a lady and not a rogue.  LOL

To say I was high strung, unrealistic at times and high maintenance might be an understatement.  I was raised to believe that I was the cream of the crop and therefore there was a sense of entitlement that was bestowed upon me at an early age.

Through the years, and a lot of miles into my life, the struggles and triumphs made me change.  I wanted to change.  I did not like that person more times than not.

So when I have a moment when I wig out…and I did…it is unsettling to me.  Let me explain.  If you are familiar with Hooters (wings) and the Tilted Kilt (pretzels) then you may understand why I wigged out.

Having an old car with issues was such a no brainer to me, it was old and we expected the mechanical part of the car to not last forever.  I was cool, calm and collected.  We made a decision to go and buy a new car.  Keep in mind that we have not had a car payment in 8 years.  We have always tried to pay cash for our vehicles and run them into the ground…basically use them until we have no other options.

We did this with our Volvo, our last truck and the two vehicles before that.  I believe we both felt that our time of driving old cars and worrying about problems had come to an end.  We needed and wanted peace of mind while driving our family around Maryland.

I dread going to the car dealership.  Our last experience was a joke. We were very honest with the dealership about our credit and the amount of money we could put down.  We test drove a few cars, went through a few sales people and finally settled on something we liked.  Keep in mind, we did not love it but we needed a car and we were willing to settle.  As we entered the financial part of the office and found a comfy spot on the couch, the deal was preposterous.  They failed to listen to our situation, to how much money we were willing to put down and how much we needed our payment to be each month.  Without batting an eye and seeing red…we left.  I was furious that they had wasted our time.

This was our last experience and this is why the thought of going through this again was causing my nerves to bristle with anticipation at the thought of wasting another whole day sitting inside a small waiting room while 4 men decided if we could buy a car.

In preparing to go to our dealership, Cory did all of the paper work in advance.  This was awesome!  We new what we could afford, he had told David about our experience with the last dealership and we were set to go.

We arrived, he showed us some cars, we nodded our head, test drove some, agreed on how much money we would be putting down….done deal in 2 hours!   Now folks, in my opinion that is how it should be done.

Straight forward.  I was so happy!  Our week went from uncertainty to problem solved in less than two hours.  Happy dance!

In the process of buying the vehicle we opted for the warranty and this would require the car to be in the shop for an hour or so to have the paint sealed.  By this time we were starving and decided to go have lunch while the car was being taken care of.  We lived almost two hours from the dealership and this would be easier than driving back to White Marsh next week.

David told us where we could get something to eat.  This is where the wings and pretzels part of the story get really juicy and frankly a bit messy.

We found this lovely outdoor mall with a ton of places to eat.  As we pulled in from the road we could see some familiar restaurants , we thought, this is good.  We were hungry.

Walking through the mall we had a tough time deciding, I will admit at times finding a place for us to eat wheat free is hard but there is always or usually a salad option.  As we approached the center of the mall I notice a restaurant named The Tilted Kilt.  They had outside eating.  I LOVE to eat outside.

In my mind this is what I am thinking:

--oh, we can eat outside…bonus
--kilt, that word makes me think of Scotland, and that makes me think of Scotch Eggs..YUM

I love scotch eggs!

My husband says to me,  "This is so and so's favorite place to eat."  Keep in mind he has a strange smile on his face, but I am so focused on scotch eggs that my WIFE DETECTOR does not go off.

As we open the door and we are greeted by 5 lovely pairs of perky breast in little red plaid bra's and the shortest kilts I have ever seen…it's all starting to come together.

Oh our waitress was so cute and perky and did the best job.  The girls were all quite pleasant.  I have eaten at Hooters a few times, hell, I have been to Vegas multiple times and loved every minute of it.

To see girls in their underwear was not the issue for me.  The fact that my husband knew what type of establishment this was and did not warn me set me on fire.

Our day together to this point was wonderful.  We were laughing, hugging and having a great time.

BUT…and this was the issue for me….when I walked into this restaurant with no warning as to what I would find greeting us at the front door, he immediately put a wedge between us.  I felt out of place.

I was wearing no makeup, a top knot.  I looked frumpy.  I was not on my A game.  I felt that if we are going to this type of restaurant then let me look my best so that I don't feel like a mother hen.

Honestly, I felt a bit ambushed.

Do you know that look that Victoria Beckham has all the time…the glassy eyed glare…well, that was me through the whole lunch.

My husband knew he had made a mistake.

When we sat down to eat (outside) he mentioned how good their pretzels were (oh, so he had been here before). NICE.

When I hear these words, "Hooters has the best wings".  It makes me angry.  WINGS?  REALLY?

Just like here, "They have really good PRETZELS"… flash,  I make really good wings and pretzels too.

To make a long story short, we ate our lunch, paid our bill and walked across the street to spend a few minutes in the book store.

I opted to sit on a park bench out front.  I was fuming!  In my mind I am thinking what is wrong with me.  I am 45 years old, been married for 25 years and all of a sudden I am jealous!

What the heck?  I was upset, but I was really trying to get a handle on what was setting me off at the moment.  Was I having a pre-menopausal fit?  Did I really feel threatened by these young girls?

I would have been fine, if I could have just sat there on my little park bench and had a few minutes to my self.

My hubby new he had messed up and I should have kept my mouth shut.

I should have, but I did not.  Every Irish, red head vein in my body came unglued.  When I get upset, and I know this may surprise a few, but I turn into sailor Bob.

My mouth opened and out came the foulest words that a diginified lady should never ever say.  I am pretty sure that was the longest 3 minutes my husband has had in a while.

He says he loves my honesty, well he got some and then some more.  Lets just say that fudge and freckle were not the f words I chose to use.

I stormed off and walked back to the car and cried.

He felt horrible and I believe that he did.  He had no idea of knowing that one decision to eat at this type of restaurant would set me off.  I had no idea either.

He apologized and we had a good talk.  His attempt at having a burger and beer turned into an emotional roller coaster ride for me.

So where was my emotion coming from?  Fear.

I have had a hard time aging.  My husband just keeps getting more and more handsome as he starts to age.  The silver is coming in perfectly.  His body is not changing shape.  He is not having mood swings every other week.  He is pretty much the same guy I married 25 years ago.

On the other hand, I am not having the same experience and so I do fear that he might get tired of me.  This is not how he feels, this is my mind playing crazy games with my head.  I exercise every day, watch what I eat and try to stay sane.  Some days are better than others but it's a daily job that I must keep up on.

It is the fear of being alone, of loosing my best friend.

Yes, wings and pretzels are good, they are fun to have, even to look at but I don't take my husband to restaurants with hoagies and six packs (good looking men) and I don't want him to take me out for wings and pretzels anymore.

I really am not a fuddy duddy but I have come to a place in my life that I don't want to sit and look at girls that are my daughters age flirt with men my husbands age while I am trying to enjoy my salad.

Am I the only one with a pretzel and wings story to tell?  I would love to hear your story and how you handled the situation.

NOTE:  My husband proof read this entire article and we had a good laugh this morning.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Oreo Wafers

When I was a kid I would share my Oreo's with my dog.  He got the creamy center and I got the cookie.  Now that I am a parent, I used to share my Oreo's with my kids.  They got the white soft center and I got the cookie.  With this recipe I solved my issue, no creamy white soft center.  Just a nice simple, thin wafer all to myself.   I still share though.  

Recipe:  Oreo Wafers
Simply Gourmet

Yields: 30-32 cookies
Prep time: 5 minutes
Bake time: 7-9 minutes
skill level:  easy

Preheat oven to 375.

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 large egg, slightly beaten

In a Kitchenaid bowl, combine all ingredients.   If you don't have a counter mixer, then use a medium size bowl and mixer, combine all ingredients.  

Mix ingredients until well blended.  Batter will be similar to thick brownie batter.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Using a scoop, scoop cookies 2 inches a part.  These cookies spread and you will need the whole cookie tray.  Don't try to make them fit or you will end up with one large cookie.

Bake for 7-9 minutes.  They are very thin and will burn if you over bake them.

Remove cookies from oven and let rest on sheet for a few minutes, remove carefully with spatula to a cookie cooling rack.

If you would like to have a filling, let cookies cool completely and then fill.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cellophane Noodle Stir Fry

One of our favorite places to eat in Annapolis is a restaurant named Lemon Grass.  All their food is excellent.

What is amazing to me is the size of the restaurant.  It is very small with a few tables inside and a few tables outside.  In the summer we usually don't have any problems getting a seat but come better be prepared for a wait and it's a packed wait.  There is maybe a 4X6 foot spot when you first walk in to wait.

I love it because it's a great chance to meet new people.  The tables are very close together and you may even get a  chance to say hello to more new friends…LOL

My favorite dish is the fried duck.  I can't for the life of me figure out how they get the duck slices so crispy.  I have been asked by several friends what I think their secret is and I can't find anything that would give a hint as to what they do.  I know of a friend who knows the owners and even he can't get the "recipe"…LOL

While my mom and sister were in town a few months ago we took them to Lemon Grass.  They had to agree the food was excellent.  My sister always orders this one dish named Pad Woon Sen.  She asked me to come close to reproducing it for her so that she could make it at home.

It wasn't too hard to make because this is a dish that we make a lot, not ever realizing it had a fancy name.

I use a simple sauce of three ingredients.  This sauce I use on most of my asian noodle dishes.  I know that some recipes will call for hoisin sauce or plum sauce.  I personally find these sauces to be too sweet.  I want to taste the noodles, veggie and meat more than the sweet sauces used by some.

Another new favorite I have discovered is Pork Belly.  When we go into our Asian market, they sell it by the pounds.  I could never figure out what it was used for, until now.

I bought some and did some researching in trying to figure out how I prepared the meat.  I found that you cook it similar to a pork chop.  I will tell you how I prepare the pork belly below in the recipe.  You can always use chicken or beef in this recipe.  I just enjoy pork belly, way too much!!!  LOL

I think this recipe fits right into our Simply Gourmet way of eating.  We use wheat free noodles, lots of veggies, a little bit of meat and a few sauces.  It's fresh, beautiful and sure to be enjoyed by the whole family.

This recipe was featured over at Amee's Savory Dish for her Fit and Fabulous Friday feature.  You can see the other links here.

Recipe:  Cellophane (Glass) Noodle Stir Fry

1/2 pound of pork belly, prepared…see below
1  small head of green cabbage, diced into 1x1 inch squares
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 packages of cellophane noodles, prepared according to package
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce (use this sparingly at first)
peanuts to garnish
Cilantro to garnish

NOTE:  There are other things that can be added to the recipe: scrambled eggs, mushrooms, bean sprouts, shrimp, chicken, etc.

To prepare the pork belly I use a cast iron pan.  Preheat oven to 350. Score the pork belly across the top of the fatty side every inch.  Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in pan and add pork belly.  I cook the pork belly until crispy on all sides. Place cast iron pan with seared pork belly into oven to finish cooking.  Cook for 15 minutes until it is no longer pink on the inside. This is the amount of time it should take you to prepare the noodles and veggies.

Prepare your noodles according to the package.

In a saute pan, add sesame oil.  Add your veggies and saute until they are cooked to your liking.  We like our veggies to be al dente, still a little bite to them.

Drain your noodles and add them to the veggies.

Add the dark soy sauce, soy sauce and fish sauce.

Remove pork belly from the stove and slice into bit size pieces, add them to the veggie and noodles.

The noodles can be pretty hard to stir into the dish because they are so long.  I will take a fork and pull the noodles up and cut them with a pair of kitchen scissors.  It makes the dish easier to serve and to eat.

I like to add peanuts and cilantro to my Thai dishes, but it's up to you and your guest.

For cooking pictures, see below:

Pork Belly, cut and ready to add to the noodles and veggies.

Veggies before they are sauteed.

Veggies and Pork Belly awaiting the noodles.

Noodles, veggies and pork belly with sauce.  YUM

Monday, August 13, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Dip

 The very first time I tried a Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, I was hooked.

The combination of hot sauce, blue cheese and crunchy celery kept me coming back for more.

I have a tendency to "obsess" a bit about things.  When I find something I like I have no problem eating it over and over, back to back for days.

I like this recipe because it can be made in the crockpot, in the stove or thrown together in the microwave.

I like to cook this dish in the crock pot if I have the time.  I also make a large loaf of warm bread for family and friends. You can find the recipe that I use for the bread here.  I chop extra veggies for those that cannot eat the bread (like me).

I also think that this could be made without the chicken pieces and still taste yummy for your friends that don't eat meat.

Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Dip

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup of green onions, diced
1/2 cup Franks hot sauce
1/2 cup Jack or Cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1.5 cups of cooked,diced chicken
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
2 celery stalks, diced for garnish
Serve with celery sticks, crackers or fresh bread

I used my crockpot to prepare this dip.  If you wish to use your oven, preheat oven to 350.  Use a pie dish and cook for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

To prepare in the crockpot:  Add cream cheese, mayonnaise, garlic, green onions and hot sauce.  Combine until mixed, it does not have to be smooth.

Add cheese and chicken. Mix well.

 Cook on high for 2 -3 hours.  Check every so often and stir.

Transfer dip to a pie plate and garnish with blue cheese and celery pieces.

I used the left over dip on a salad the next day.

I grilled my lettuce on the grill with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Warmed up the dip and enjoyed a buffalo chicken salad.  It was delicious.

Donut Breakfast Casserole

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