Mother's Sausage and Egg Casserole

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day Party

Last year Chloe and Jackie started a tradition of celebrating Boxing Day. It's a tradition that originated in England and is celebrated like a bank holiday in Canada, Britain and Australia. It is a sporting tradition here in Birdeye where the soccer starts at 7 am featuring Liverpool and Fulham.

This was my first Boxing Day party and I was in charge of the food (I had to work last year Dec. 26). I had Cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, ham and cheese sandwiches, and my mom's sausage and egg casserole ready for the action. We served bloody mary's and mimosa's and thanks to Julie, who brought the Chardonnay, we sipped on it during the day. One thing I didn't account for was the party going for nearly 12 hours, yes I said 12 hours. Thankfully when Mark and Bobby arrived they brought fried chicken, what a relief. Then by noon when I could tell the party was continuing into the afternoon, I got out the Pancho's and whipped up a Rendezvous-style platter with Colby longhorn-style cheese, saltines, pickles and summer sausage sprinkled with dry rub. But still my favorite thing on this buffet was my mom's casserole. Thankfully we ran out of beer at 5:30 and the party was over and kids were loading up in their cars. It was a fun day but I think I'll try and be at work during the next one. Jackie turned up his stereo during the football game, fired off wisecracks, and bad behavior. I've decided I'll be going to Mendikow on Monday for those diamonds I didn't get from Santa.

I haven't said it yet, but my mom is the reason I cook. Growing up in Oklahoma City, my mother always had home cooked meals. Mother always had her kitchen organized and under control while making a meal. I think this is key to any cook and will keep you in the kitchen if you're somewhat organized. Some of my favorites of hers are pork chops and rice, stuffed bell peppers, Mexican casserole, pot roast, pita pizzas, deer chili and breakfast for dinner. When we would travel to the lake cabin during the summer, she'd have the best food packed up that we'd enjoy for the weekend like grilled chicken strips, beef brisket and the like. Good memories and fun times with mother.

Marilyn's Sausage and Egg Casserole (I doubled this today)

1 lb. sausage (I used the extra sage kind)
1 can chopped green chiles, undrained (I added two heaping spoonfuls diced japs for a little extra kick, but I could've used a 1/4 cup)
2 cups grated cheese (I used Colby jack)
6 eggs (I doubled this recipe, and used 16 fresh eggs)
1/2 c. milk

Brown sausage, drain well. Mix sausage with green chiles and cheese. Put in a greased 8 X 11 casserole dish. Whisk eggs and milk together and pour on top of sausage mixture. Bake 25 minutes on 350. (I baked it 30 minutes to get the eggs more "set up")

Well, I am glad Boxing Day has come and gone. We had Benton, Grac, Helbron/Richard, Bettie/John, Julie/Matt, Bobby, Mark, Reece, Martin and the kids, Whit/Stella, Tom B/Clarah Creighton, Chloe, Cooper, Eli/Trevor/Austin and J Gracchus/Caroline. It was a fun party and I am thankful I have 364 days until the next one. If I'm not working next year, I'll be shopping and staying over at the Peabody in Memphis.

Christmas Day Coffee Cake

Friday, December 25, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I learned a few Christmas' ago to be sure and have breakfast lined up and ready. I found this recipe in Southern Living about four years ago and I love it because you will always have the ingredients in your pantry and it takes 30 minutes from mixing to out of the oven.

Brown Sugar-Pecan Coffee Cake

2 c. flour
2 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 c. butter, cubed
1 c. sour cream, I always use lite
1 large egg, lightly beaten, Chloe's brown eggs from her bantham chickens are wonderfully dark in color
1 t. baking soda
3 T. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1 c. chopped pecans, I never add this

Stir together flour and brown sugar in a large bowl. Cut the butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender or 2 forks until crumbly. Press 2-3/4 c. crumb mixture evenly on the bottom of a lightly greased 13X9 pan. Stir together sour cream, egg and baking soda and add to remaining crumb mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir together sugar and cinnamon. Pour sour cream mixture over crumb crust in pan and sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean.

Wow, this is fabulous cooled right out of the oven. I'll have to pump up the insulin this morning! Chloe declined the coffee cake because of the name I think. She voted for pepperoni and pickles, unbelievable!

Potato Soup

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One of my favorite recipes during the winter months is this potato soup. I've given it for years with southern cornbread to friends during the holidays. Nothing like a meal that you can nuke in the microwave later on in the week. I've been making this recipe from Carolyn Raffety for years, and via Jackie, I cut down the amount of bacon in it which is truly remarkable since he claims I don't serve enough meat around here. And it was noticeable last night when he had Fettuccine Alfredo! Carolyn is another wonderful cook born and raised in Cross County. We are lucky to have so many friends and family with good culinary skills!

Potato Bacon Chowder, Carolyn Raffety

8 slices bacon, cut up
1 c. onion, chopped
4 c. cooked potatoes, cubed. I use 3-4 med potatoes for one recipe, boil with lid off or you'll have a mess I did this morning! I also use russet potatoes.
1 c. water
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 c. sour cream, I always use light
1-3/4 c. milk, I always use 2% but could use cream
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

Fry bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and saute onion in drippings. (I microwave the bacon and just transfer drippings to a mini skillet and cook the onions until translucent). Drain onion on paper towel. Combine all ingredients and 1/2 the bacon in soup pot and warm over med-low heat. (Don't boil). Add bacon to crumble on top. Serves 6.

Southern Cornbread

2 c. self-rising cornmeal
1-3/4 c. buttermilk, could use 1-1/2 c. 2% milk
1/4 c. veg oil
1 egg, beaten

Combine all ingredients and pour into a prepared cast iron skillet. Bake 20 minutes at 400 degrees. (To prepare cast iron, per my mother-in-law, pour veg oil in cold skillet and put in oven when preheating it. Once the oven is to the right temperature, carefully take skillet out of oven and pour oil into batter. BE SURE not to let that skillet stay in the oven past pre-heating, it will turn into a grease fire! This also helps season your skillet over time.)

Christmas Party, Birdeye (shrimp and grits)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Our third Christmas Party was a fun time! I confess that I didn't take many pictures because I was so busy visiting with our fabulous friends who took the time to come to this party. Kara's table was beautiful and we had a great time filling it up with hits like her toffee, grilled bacon-wrapped duck (pic #2 LB Vaught hunted nearby and delivered to Kara), onion dip, rum cake, ham sammies and the like. It's the perfect time of year to have good friends over. We were blessed by our company, that's for sure.

Kara wanted to change our shrimp item on the table this year to Shrimp and Grits. I spent the last two months finding recipes and taste testing them so I'd have the right one. The Maverick Grits was a good choice that I blogged on in November but this one really was the I didn't double it and we had plenty. It's easy to do and I was thrilled that Sara Burrow helped me in my kitchen getting it together before the sitters arrived. I must give her the credit on making this. I love this recipe.

Shrimp and Grits from The Deen Bros., Take it Easy Cookbook it says.

3 C. milk, I used 2%
1/2 t. salt
1-1/2 C. old fashioned grits, I used quick cooking
3 C. grated cheddar

6 T. unsalted butter, I used regular butter
6 T. flour
2 medium bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 medium onions, I used white, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped, I used 2 heaping tablespoons jarred diced jalapenos, 3 weeks ago I had fresh peppers in the garden, dang!
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 t. salt
pepper to taste
2 C. cream, I did use cream and it was delicious!
2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
2 lbs. large shrimp, peeled and deveined, thanks to Jackie for getting this chore done, I used medium shrimp by the way
Tabasco to taste
1/2 C. grated Parmesan, I grated my own instead of the jarred
2 T. chopped fresh parsley for garnish, I didn't have any

To make the grits, combine 4 cups water, milk and the salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and slowly whisk in the grits and reduce heat to medium low. Cover the saucepan and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheddar cheese. Cover and keep warm. (this does seem like a ton of liquid to just a little amount of grits, but it works!)

To make the shrimp, melt the butter in a large skillet, add the flour and cook, stirring until the mixture is dark and golden about 5 minutes. Add the peppers, onions, garlic, 1/2 t. salt and pepper. Cook vegetables until softened, about 5 minutes. It took Sara over 10 before the onion was soft.

Slowly whisk in the cream when it's totally incorporated, add the tomatoes and 2/3 cup water and shrimp. Cook, stirring occasionally until the shrimp are just opaque, about 5 minutes.

Season the shrimp with the remaining 1 t. salt, pepper and Tabasco. Serve the shrimp over the grits and garnish with Parmesan cheese and parsley. (I just added the cheese at the end and skipped the parsley. I kept these pans with the lids on over on Kara's stove then transferred each into chafing dishes. One of which I couldn't keep warm, so under sweet Ashley Boeckmann King's suggestion, I nuked it in the microwave and quickly put back in the chafing dish. Big thanks to Ashley, keeping me thinking outside the box!)

Merry Christmas!

That's Kara's house in the picture, a great house for a great party with our closest friends!

PS. A big thanks to Martin who picked up my dry cleaning for the party. That was HUGE!

Peanut Butter Balls

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

On of my favorite things is to get Chloe in the kitchen with me. So far at nearly 9, she isn't interested in anything but getting her food delivered to her. But at Christmas, we have a tradition of making this candy. It is really just a homemade Reece's Peanut Butter Cup. This was our fourth year making the candy and before starting it, we made cookies for her cookie exchange, and we were worn out that night! This is great fun, very messy (a kitchen volcano!), but very rewarding. The candy we don't give our friends and family, we keep in the freezer all year long. You only need one to take care of that sweet tooth.

Peanut Butter Balls (from the Cotton Country Cookbook, Junior League of Monroe, LA)

4 sticks butter, softened
2-2lb bags powdered sugar, maybe a little more
1 qt. crunchy peanut butter, I use creamy per Chloe's request
1 C. ground pecans, I never do this per Chloe
2-6-1/2 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips, I always use a 36 oz. bag because I've run out
1 block parafin, I use 3/4 a block (this can be hard to find, it's candle wax that should be near the canning supplies and flour isle)
Wax paper

Mix the first four ingredients and roll into 1 inch balls and chill until firm. If it's too wet, add more powdered sugar, you want the balls not too sticky. (This was the first year I had Chloe read the instructions to me while I got the supplies out and realized that I always mixed the peanut butter and chilled it, then did the balls. I've overlooked this for years. But it was easier having the balls cold when we dipped them in the chocolate, duh, Chloe said) Melt chocolate and parafin in a double boiler. (I don't have one and just use a bowl over a simmering pot of water) Insert a toothpick unto a ball and dip in chocolate and drain on waxed paper. (We use forks and find it's a lot easier). Makes 150 balls. Recipe by a Mrs. Jennings Wilkins.

Fun times with Chloe!! We banned Whit from coming over for a few days since he's allergic to peanut butter. I want my kitchen totally eradicated of all peanut butter.

The picture of my dogs are Tu Jaques, my last Afghan Hound who will turn 11 on Christmas Eve, and Chloe's Biscuit, a 2-1/2 year old mix breed. The picture was taken that night after making all the cookies and candy....very funny! Chloe and I were just as tired.

Merry Christmas!

Homemade Vanilla

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

With all the cooking around here I noticed that my 1/2 gallon of vanilla was getting low so I recently purchased some vanilla beans to make more. This recipe was given to me 12 years ago by Cozette Vaught, the fab cook here in Wynne. She's been making her own vanilla for years and it's divine. I love being able to make it and I have given it as gifts during the holidays. If you do this, you may consider adding a few drops of store bought vanilla to darken it. Some cooks could freak when they see the color of yours but they should let the taste speak for itself.

I use a 1/2 gallon of the cheapest Vodka I can find and 4 vanilla beans. According to Cozette, the type of vodka doesn't matter, it is the bean that matters. Until this purchase of beans at Fresh Market in Memphis, I usually buy Madagascar Vanilla Beans via We'll see in a year what I think!

Homemade Vanilla from Cozette Vaught

1/2 gallon cheap vodka
4 vanilla beans
dark storage for 1 year

Get your beans on a cutting board and split down the middle. The inside of the bean provides the flavor and is grainy, so when splitting, don't scrape out the insides, just split and open with your fingers. Put all beans in new vodka bottle and store in a dark place, keeping the splash proof insert of the bottle intact. When I finish a 1/2 gallon I never throw away previous beans, I always add them to my new 1/2 gallon. It takes me 1-2 years to finish an entire 1/2 gallon of vanilla.

If giving as a gift be sure to filter due to tiny pieces of vanilla bean will come loose from the bean over time. I never filter when I pour out of the bottle when I cook, by the way.

My Epicurean Cutting Board purchased at the Viking Cooking School is really great! I recommend it for your epicurean as a gift!


LaRand's Ham and Swiss Rolls

Monday, December 14, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Kara and I's annual Birdeye Christmas Party is coming up and one thing we both have to do working full time and being a parent, is plan ahead. The beauty of this recipe is that it is super easy and super tasty and super affordable. LaRand Thomas, who I coined as my Wynne mother, gave me this recipe a few years ago, to try for this party. We have loved these rolls so much, they are making their third visit to our party table. I make them, freeze them and once baked in the oven, they are fabulous just like I had made them that day! Thanks LaRand for such a timeless recipe! Another fab cook and fabulous entertainer in Cross County.

LaRand's Ham & Swiss Rolls

(Recipe for one batch, I always double it for 4 dozen!)

2 packages brown and serve rolls
1 stick butter, melted
1 T. dried chopped onion
1/4 c. spicy mustard (I always, always use Boar's Head)
1 T. poppyseed
1 package sliced Swiss cheese (I quarter each slice)
2 packages deli thin ham (I quarter every stack, this year I used a Corky's Sliced Ham)

Melt butter then add onion, mustard and poppyseed. Spread both sides of rolls with mustard. Put a piece of Swiss of cheese on both sides, 2 slices of ham in the middle. Place rolls in a greased 8X12 Pyrex or cake pan and covered with heavy foil and freeze. Thaw overnight in refrigerator, then bake in a 300 degree oven for 30 minutes covered. (Last year Kara's oven was on 350 and dried out the tops of the sandwiches, so 300 is key!)

Yum, I may have to make sure some come home with me after the party, they are so good!

And PS...LaRand let me use her exact kitchen cabinets and color in my kitchen when it was redone 2 years ago, exact copy, now that's what mom's do!

Acme Oyster Bar, New Orleans

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Saturday, December 6, 2009

I have to admit, I don't like repetition a lot when it comes to restaurants. But Acme, one of our favorite restaurants in the French Quarter of New Orleans, is a stop we have to make when in the Big Easy. It was open at 11 am when we arrived Saturday and quickly filled up as we sat down at the oyster bar. Acme has been in business for 100 years shucking oysters. They served 3.6 million oysters in 2008 at their four locations. All are located a short drive from where their oysters are harvested and claims that is the key to this legendary restaurant's success.

At this location on Iberville and Bourbon, we like the casual feel to the bar that had plenty of TVs for Jackie's ritual conference football championship games (pic #1). He ordered an Abita Amber, of course, and I chose a Zing Zang bloody Mary. This Mary was complemented by a marinated green bean, queen olive and pickled okra and lemon of course (pic #2). It was great beverage for so early in the day. I loved our bartender who was attentive and casual. Jackie ordered a half dozen charbroiled oysters and I, of course, ordered a bowl of gumbo. We just wanted a light meal since we were headed on the 6 hour journey home to see Chloe. We planned to eat at the legendary Middendorf's in Pontchatoula, just an hour north of New Orleans. But when served our snack of gumbo and oysters we spotted Rob Rash, engineer for our levee district over at the end of the bar, he invited us to have lunch with him and US Rep. Marion Berry, D-Gillette, Ark. We couldn't say no so we joined him and missed the famous catfish location just up the road.

Over at our large table, joined by Rob, Congressman Berry, and his two staffers, there were orders of raw oysters with horseradish (pic #4), Shrimp Etoufee, Fried Oysters with fries, and of course Seafood Gumbo. I was after my "once a year raw oyster" but they were quickly gone. I like a raw oyster when it is close to its source but the men out numbered me even though there was plenty of horseradish and Tabasco for my oyster. I didn't mind, I was really ready to head on out now that it was closer to 1 pm. I haven't mentioned the bowl of Seafood Gumbo I had with shrimp and crab(pic #3) but once again, I loved it with its perfect amount of rice and scallions on top. It hit the spot after a few drops of Tabasco and saltines.

The best thing about Acme Oyster House is that it's always a sure thing, fabulous service, fresh oysters and gumbo and after my two bloody Mary's, it was time for a nap up I-55 home.

Acme Oyster House, 724 Iberville, New Orleans, 504-522-5973

Drago's Seafood, New Orleans

Friday, December 4, 2009

This new find in my favorite epicurean city was wonderful. Joe Halm, my friend from our local newspaper, moved back to New Orleans in August and recommended Drago's. We met Joe and Jenna, his girlfriend, there and boy he made a wonderful call as I was suggesting Felix's, Mike Anderson's, Dickie Brennan's and the like, all of which we have been to numerous times and loved them. But Drago's, located in the Hilton at the Riverwalk, has a wonderful modern feel to it and it's bar was loaded with flat screens and plenty of local Abita beer on tap. Jackie was thrilled with the televisions due to the World Cup Soccer draw that day. We arrived a little early and were pleasantly seated in the bar area, away from the door that the 35 degree wind kept holding open. We sipped on Abita Amber, my favorite flavor from Abita, and were able to look over the lengthy menu.

From our bartender we found out that this was the second location of Drago's, the first was in Metairie and opened in 1969. This New Orleans location had been open about a year and a half. Drago and Klara Cvitanovich, a close knit Croatian family, opened the restaurant after his brother-in-law's original and his stint at Acme Oyster House, where he refined his skills at shucking oysters. When the time was right, Drago's opened. Tony Drago, his son, now runs the family restaurants with their famous Charbroiled Oysters.

Our bartender had two recommendations and it was hard for me to pick just one but I did, the Harradura Shrimp. Our waiter was pleasantly surprised I'd picked it out among the specialties on the huge menu. But first, I of course, had a cup of Mama Ruth's Seafood Gumbo (Pic #2). It was really good, it had the perfect roux and blessed with plenty of andouille and shrimp. After just a small amount of Tabasco, I was good to go. Jackie liked his gumbo, too.

For our main course, Jenna, Joe's fabulous girlfriend who works for the New Orleans Symphony, ordered the Stuffed Lobster (pic #3) with crab meat and shrimp dressing with a crab meat au gratin. Her choice came with a choice of soup or salad and she ordered the Ceasar salad, I was floored at this when there's a choice of gumbo? Of course Jackie ordered the Charbroiled Oysters (pic #1) that were perfect, he said. They are matched up with butter and Parmesan cheese, we guessed, then broiled. Delicious and gone in a short amount of time. My Harradura was so good I ate it all before thinking of taking a picture. I took the recommendation of the waiter and ordered a side of rice, which it needed, and he was proud to say there was no charge for it. I thought, well just serve a choice of a side because you recommend it and don't mention the no charge thing, right? Anyway, my dish featured shrimp sauteed with sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts and onions, deglazed with tequila and served with grilled portabella mushrooms. Wow, it was obviously seasoned well with butter, and was perfect with the rice and complementary crusty french bread.

Joe ordered the Shrimp Etoufee and remarked it was good. He and I finished our dishes at the same time, I loved that! Dessert was offered but we declined as they were headed back to work and we were off to Jackson Square's Little Toy Shop for Chloe. I did have a cup of coffee that was hot and strong enough.

Drago's was a fabulous find on our annual trip to the Big Easy. I will have to partake next year, our Westin Hotel was located only a block away. The service was kind and attentive and the ladies room was clean, by the way.

Drago's, Hilton Riverside, 2 Poydras, New Orleans, 504-584-3911

Cafe Du Monde, Jackson Square, New Orleans

Friday, December 4, 2009

Jackie and I took a 3 mile sprint this morning through the French Quarter on the sidewalks. The beauty of this run was we were able to see other parts of the quarter that we rarely go to after dinner. We went down Iberville to Ramparts then over to Ursulines, down Bourbon then over to Decatur to the French Market. It was an easy run even though I was steadily watching the pot holes and uneven sidewalks with my hand out of the splint, I didn't want to trip and break it again. Jackie stayed a good block ahead of me with those long legs. We arrived at Cafe Du Monde for coffee and beignets.

Cafe Du Monde is a tourist jackpot. It is an outdoor restaurant that was covered today with tent-style tarps to help the cold wind stay out of the dining area. Near the kitchen, there is a small dining room but we have never eaten in there since we've been going to New Orleans since 2000 (minus 2005 when Katrina wiped out parts of New Orleans). Today there was a street band of two guitarists, a tuba and a singer singing Christmas songs, it was a perfect Friday on Decatur.

We quickly found a table and were greeted right away by a petite waitress that took our order and went on. The tables are tiny with about three chairs I'd say. Our order of beignets were served with my large Chicory coffee and Jackie's Cafe au Lait. Yes, very girly. You have to acquire the taste of Chicory coffee kind of like acquiring the taste for beer or sushi. An order of beignets consists of 3 doughnuts covered in powdered sugar. One order will feed 2 people for breakfast unless you're a big-time breakfast person. Our beignet and a half was perfect. Our waitress served our coffee in to go cups so we took them down Decatur past Jackson Square where carriage rides were lined up and the city streets were filling with locals and tourists alike.

Cafe Due Monde is a classic and a must while in New Orleans. They do serve beignets and Chicory coffee 24 hours a day. Check out their website, it's darling. Didn't use the facilities by the way.

Cafe Du Monde, 1029 Decatur St., New Orleans

Nola, New Orleans

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The annual levee board trip to New Orleans is great fun for shoppers and epicureans alike. Once again our chief engineer, Rob Rash from Marion, booked our party of 18 at Nola, owned by Emeril Lagasse. It is a fun time with all the levee board members and wives in tow. Rob always reserves the third floor room near the elevator for this group, and thank God, in years past we always went to either Arnaud's and Mr. B's. All are good but it's never good to do all that repeating in such a fabulous restaurant town.

Our table was cramped with 8 people, I kept wanting to move over to the table that had half as many people as we did due to Jackie's long legs. But we stayed nevertheless and ended up having one of the best and most comical meals in a long time. We were seated with John and Amy Stuckey, Sam and Carol Dillahunty and Bob and Rose Bolton, all of eastern Arkansas. We had a very attentive waiter named Lamont that took all of our drink orders as we entered the room. I asked for a good Cabernet, not a house I specifically said. This young man brought me a glass of 2004 Arbios Cabernet, Alexander Valley. Very good and not a cab that I've had before. I have had some from the Alexander Valley, but this was exceptional.

Our order was taken in a short amount of time and I of course cringed at the prix fix menu that featured an appetizer choice. The choices were the Rice Paper Vegetable Roll or the Crab Cake. Everyone around me got the crab cake so I veered off course and ordered the roll and boy that was a mistake (pic #2). Mr. Dillahunty and I were the two odd balls and we were so sad at the raw, roughness of the roll that had a sweet carrot dipping sauce. We looked at everyone's empty crab cake plates, then at our rolls we couldn't finish and joked at what a mistake that was. Only one choice for a salad and it featured baby greens with focaccia croutons, shaved reggiano Parmesan and a Dijon-anchovy vinaigrette. It was really good and the anchovy was not over-powering. I forgot to mention that when we placed our order, the waiters came back with complementary appetizers from the chef. One was called "crill", which makes me think fish but it was actually a french toast with egg, shrimp and tomato glaze (pic #3). It was cut into bite size pieces and was crunchy, rich and fabulous. There were two more served but I was so distracted by this crill, we can't remember the others, rightly so. Not worth mentioning I'd say.

We had three selections under the entree to choose from. The grilled pork chop, the fillet or what I chose, the garlic crusted drum cooked in a wood burning oven with bradant potatoes, cimini mushrooms, bacon and sauce berurre rouge. This was exceptional drum and the crust made the drum crunchy and salty, very good. Jackie ordered the filet of course, that was complemented by thyme roasted red bliss potatoes, house cured bacon, Maytag blue cheese, toasted walnuts and port wine-veal glace (pic #1).

Now to the comedy...we only see each other once a year, so the conversation is generally about children or grandchildren. But once we got through that chapter, I think it was Amy and I talking about our country living and the Dillahunty's started talking about a possum they cornered in their garage. That lead to live traps, guns and varmint talk. I got so tickled at every one's story about wild animals and found out Amy and I have a lot in common when it comes to spay and neutering. I am still imagining Mr. Dillanhunty with his shot gun at night with that possum cornered....

Dessert was nothing exciting at all but it sounded good on paper. Bread pudding layer cake with vanilla wafers and warm fudge drizzle. The coffee was hot and perfection and everyone's cake just sat on the table. We were probably overwhelmed with all the wonderful food that dessert was a place we couldn't go to.

NOLA is a great restaurant with caring waitstaff, excellent food and of course pairing that with good conversation makes for a memorable dinner. And the ladies room located on the third floor gets a gold star.

Nola, 534 St. Louis, New Orleans, 504-522-6652

Broad Street Bakery, Jackson, Miss

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Well we finally found it. THE place to eat on our way to our annual New Orleans trip. Jackie and I have passed this bakery for 9 years now and he finally researched the exit to take and we were delighted by our find. The bakery opened in 1998 by Dan Blumenthal and Jeff Good. Dan's grandfather was a baker since World War II and ran bakeries in Trenton for most of his life and was the inspiration behind this bakery.

The menu is quite extensive as is the gigantic case of bakery delights. We unfortunately arrived at 12:00 straight up and the place was packed. We worried about how long it would take and were pleasantly surprised when our food was ready in less than 10 minutes, amazing. I was torn between two sandwiches and asked the cashier which one she liked most. Either the Portabella Vegetarian Sandwich or the Ham and Roasted Asparagus Sandwich. She said the Ham and Roasted Asparagus was fabulous (pic #2) so I ordered it on sourdough bread and it was complemented by field greens with tomato, homemade croutons and balsamic vinaigrette (my favorite dressing in all the land). I was in heaven with this choice. The asparagus was exceptional, something I wouldn't put on a sandwich and the herbed mayo was a great touch. I have to confess that I did scrape some of the mayo off but the Havarti and ham was warm and the earthy, roasted asparagus was a great touch to this sandwich.

Of course I also ordered the praline bar cookie (pic #4). OMG, is all I could force myself to say as I got into this little wonder on our way back down I-55. That's "oh my goodness", mother! BTW, that's "by the way", Jackie got the Smoked Chicken BLT with Zappo's chips (pic#3). I was astounded by this order when the menu boasted a Reuben, Roast Beef, Po-Boys and the like. He ordered it because it was listed under the Broad Street "Originals" and was pleased with his choice. The menu also had choices of pizzas, oven selections like lasagna, salads, pastas, wraps, soups, quiche and the kid's menu had flavors of catfish, ham and cheese sandwiches, corn dog, chicken strips, marinara and Alfredo and of course a peanut butter and jelly with a choice of sides like Zappo's chips, salad or soup. Amazing and all on a kid's menu...and are priced around $4-6 including a beverage. I think Chloe would have ordered the pasta marinara with a side of chips!

I have to confess that after our lingering lunch at Acme Oyster House on our way home Saturday, we hit this spot again on the way home. I ordered the quiche special as a snack, and Jackie ordered the Reuben and loved it. They have a very efficient take out system, we were on the road in no time.

You can't order wrong at Broad Street Bakery. The selection of breads for your sandwich can also be purchased in loaves which we did for our babysitters, grandad and memaw. They got the rye, sourdough and several praline bars and their report was the same as mine, what a blessing to have hit the Broad Street Bakery. The ladies room gets a gold star too, they had that trash can by the door, love it!

Broad Street Bakery, Jackson, MS, 601-362-2900, Northside Exit off I-55, by the way!

Sooner Legends, Norman, Okla.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

OU-OSU annual Bedlam Shootout, OU shot OSU in the rear end 27-0!

After waiting three hours for the post-game traffic to get moving, yes I said three long hours, we were thrilled to head off to a restaurant. We waited in mother's RV after the game at the Lloyd Noble Arena and watched football games and Biscuit play with mom's Yorkies named Bob, the old man, and Jack, the new spit-fire. We literally thought we waited long enough for the horrible traffic to pass but we were wrong. We left the RV park at 5:00 p.m., hoping to see the LSU/Arkansas kick-off at 6 p.m., but we didn't get there till after 6 but of course, we hadn't missed anything. LSU had already scored I think, 10 to zero I'd say.

We were quickly seated in a booth, it was red and polyester like Johnnie's in OKC, but we were all together, nonetheless, which is what I wanted after leaving mother alone on Thanksgiving for the first time. Our wonderful waiter had to be 20 I'd say, but totally knew it all when we ordered. The menu was so interesting, mainly Barbecue or Mexican, how unique. They also offered lots of American cuisine like Cheese Fries, Buffalo Wings, Nachos, Onion Rings and the like. And much to my dismay, Jackie ordered the Beef Tips appetizer, yes, I did cringe, but they were good ribs, juicy and a nice change from the dry rub ribs we are used to in Memphis. Mother and I ordered enchiladas, mine the Fresh Spinach (pic #5 delish), which were served with a choice of refried beans or pinto beans and rice. I got the pinto beans and they were well flavored and was a refreshing side to this Mexican dish. The three delicious enchiladas were also served with a basket of homemade tortilla chips and the best salsa, very fresh with plenty of cilantro. I wish they had it jarred, I'd have brought it across the border. Mother loved her Chicken Enchiladas nearly finishing them too.

Jackie ordered the Smoked Turkey and Chopped Beef Brisket with sides of homemade fried okra, Texas toast and the pinto beans. That brisket was the best, most tender brisket I have ever had. I mean that. He finished the whole plate! The okra was really tasty and cooked just right, I've had okra burned before, yikes! Gary ordered the Remedy (pic #4). This dish featured a chicken breast smothered in queso and sauteed mushrooms. He had sides of potato salad, homemade cornbread and of course, the pinto beans. He liked it but I think he liked the name of his dish more.

Now to the kids menu. It had a lot to offer little tikes including a Brisket Sandwich, Grilled Cheese (of course Chloe ordered that), Chicken Strip and many others. She had her sandwich with a side homemade mac and cheese. It was so creamy and good. She refused to eat it because it was different than her Spongebob instant mac and cheese, shame, shame. Gary and I partook, of course.

Sooner Legend's is a family run restaurant that is perfect for watching a game and good home-cooked food. I hope to eat here again next time OU plays OSU at home over Thanksgiving in 2011. I hadn't mentioned all the paraphernalia, the restaurant was covered in autographed items like jerseys, balls, helmets and photographs. Mother said each room has a theme from an Oklahoma player. Take a look at the website and you'll see how nice the rooms are with pillow-top mattresses and Egyptian cotton sheets and the like. You can also buy paraphernalia at the checkout.

Sooner Legend's Inn and Restaurant, 1200 24th St. SW, Norman, Oklahoma 405-701-8100

Advada's Diner, Carlisle, Ark.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I've just been told this fabulous diner is closed!!  Shoot, what a great place Mrs. Advada's was.  It will surely be missed.


Friday, November 27, 2009

This diner was recommended to me when Jackie bought me a road bike at Gearhead in Jonesboro back in June. The man who sold us the bike said his wife was from Carlisle, and he went on and on about this diner in Carlisle, Arkansas of all places. Since then, I have tried to hit this spot many times. We stumbled across it on our way from Wynne to see mother the day after Thanksgiving when Chloe announced, "I am starving, I'm about to die," we literally looked up and Carlisle was the next exit. With Jackie's Blackberry in hand, I Google mapped it and we found it, only 2 minutes off the interstate in Carlisle.

You'll find it a little off the road, located on a gravel parking lot at what looked like a barn that was transformed into a diner. When you enter the establishment, you'll order at the buffet counter that was empty the day we were there (pic #4). Chloe automatically wanted a grilled cheese and tator tots (pic #1), Jackie ordered a hamburger with onion rings (wow in pic #2) and I got the low fat Grilled Chicken sandwich with mustard (NO mayo) and french fries in case the tots and rings were bad. When we found a booth and got settled in, I noticed a local having a catfish platter with his of course I went back up to the counter and added 2 pieces of catfish for just a dollar each and boy was that a great decision on top of my original order.

The food is served on paper plates in a no frills way, which we loved, and served with ketchup and hot sauce if needed. The add-on catfish arrived just a minute later on the table and hot, hot, fresh. It was really, really good catfish (pic #3). One thing I haven't mentioned before is I do like to look around at the locals to see what else is being consumed when I order, they know best. And in the case of the catfish, they were right. That doesn't mean my chicken sandwich wasn't fabulous because it was really good and huge, by the way. Notice the amount of tator tots on Chloe's child-size order of a grilled cheese, amazing. We did haul the leftover tots to give Biscuit who rode along to Norman with us, and he reported they were great. Jackie's burger was over-the-top wonderful, fresh and cooked perfectly, super juicy. Our entire lunch cost less than $18 with two large teas and water for Chloe.

This is a fabulous stop right off I-40 between Little Rock and Forrest City. It is a must do when you can. Be sure to call for directions on the way so you don't get lost in downtown Carlisle. Their population is 2,362 by the way, but hard to find nonetheless.

They are also known for their made-to-order breakfast and lunch buffets. And the bathrooms were super clean.

Advada's Diner, 206 W.Park, Carlisle, Ark. 870-552-3424 Pic #5

Thanksgiving at Birdeye

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Kara's First Thanksgiving Feast

What a wonderful lunch! The beauty of today was Kara had PLENTY of help in the kitchen, that's her mother Polly, our mother-in-law Jeanie, Emmy, her fabulous sister and of course Martin, who I caught on the couch with a glass of cab when I got there. Pic #1 is her fabulous table.

I loved going to her house at 1:30 p.m. with Polly's casserole that Harmon brought to my house, around the corner, to bake at noon...yes, Kara's lunch was scheduled for noon...humm...they ran out of oven space.

At 12:45 I called to see if they were ready to eat at Kara's second predicted meal time, they said no, just come at 1:15 with the casserole I did, and later I found out that Kara's Inaugural Turkey didn't go into the oven until after 9 am....well let's do the math....we sat down for lunch at 2:45. Yes, I'm glad Jackie, Chloe and my diabetic self had a snack when we realized that lunch would be late! Fun times at Birdeye!

The hit of Kara's fabulous table was her mother's Asparagus Casserole that was from her mother's cookbook from many years ago. It boasted almonds, marinated artichokes, cream of mushroom soup and the like...OMG, unbelievable, and a HUGE distraction from the turkey and dressing that we all came to eat. I will add the recipe when I get my hands on it. Kara's turkey was super moist, which was awesome as she was a first-time turkey cooker. Her mother also made the rolls, pic #2. We cringed when Polly announced her cookie sheet of rolls couldn't fit in Kara's narrow oven and she said, "Let's bake them at Keeli's", Jeanie quickly stepped in and removed a rack in the oven and placed that cookie sheet in the oven slanted. Very inventive until the rolls slid off the end and baked unevenly. They were good yeast rolls, nonetheless.

By the way, on the buffet was turkey, dressing (I did miss Winnie Bob's dressing with rice and tons of rubbed sage), green bean casserole, asparagus casserole, spinach casserole, gravy, rolls, cranberries (they were fabulous by Jeanie), mashed potatoes and of course a relish tray. It was a beautiful table with lots of great conversation, one of which was all about Martin's stay in the hospital in Jonesboro with his appendix and complications. Yes, Jackie huffed and cringed and blew out his nose in horror of reliving Martin's February stay in the hospital and near death experience. Fun times, talking about near death experiences....that's what family is all about, right? Pic #3 is the plate of samples of all of it.

Pic #4 is Stella, 2-1/2, Chloe, 8-1/2 and Whit, 5 years old, yes all toasting Thanksgiving with Cranberry except Whit, he had some joke...Chloe said he wasn't old enough to drink, "you have to be 21", she said.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A huge thanks to Polly, Kara's fabulous mother, for sharing this timeless recipe from her family. I can't wait to make it, it is delish!

Artichoke Asparagus Casserole

1 large can asparagus tips
1 can artichoke hearts, slice
2 C. cracker crumbs
1/2 butter
1/2 lb. grated cheese
1/2 c. almonds or pecans, I think she used almonds
1 can cr. of mushroom soup
salt and pepper to taste

Grate cheese and mix with cracker crumbs. Add liquid from asparagus to soup. Put layer of crumbs and cheese on bottom of casserole dish, a layer of asparagus and artichokes and sprinkling of nuts. Dot with butter, cover with soup. Repeat until all ingredients are used with a layer of cheese and crumbs on top. Decorate with whole blanched almonds and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. This is excellent and can be prepared the day before it is to be baked and served. Recipe by Miss Charles Jones