Monday, April 30, 2012

Grisham Garden Part 1

We just got back from the river and before I knew it, Andy was out running the tiller through the garden. We were expecting rain Friday and just didn't happen. The ground is getting pretty dry.

When we planted the lettuce, spinach and radishes; heavy rains came through later that night and a few of the seeds were washed into the middle of the row. I pulled what came up before Andy turned them under and ended up with a pretty good salad!

It's not as pretty as what we will be fixing when the tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and squash come in. Wait a minute! I just remembered there's some fresh cilantro that popped back up from last year! That might make it even better!

Spaghetti squash...can't wait to cook this and twist the strands out and serve up with some homemade spaghetti sauce!

Sunflower seeds. I have a row with several varieties. The birds go nuts!

Green beans. The real thing canned is a job, but they're so much better than
what you buy in the store.

Cherry tomatoes, Bradley Heirloom and Romas. Cherry's for salads;
Roma's for canning whole, sauces and juice; and Bradley for sandwiches. 


Rutabagas. An orangey, slightly sweeter member of the turnip family.
Me, Andy and Momma LOVE them!





Also out there...okra, yellow squash, zucchini, cantalope, beets, asparagus, cilantro

Nothing's better than home-grown!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Grandma's Super Easy Pickles

My friend Jody was kind enough to share this recipe with me after she brought me a batch to work. We proceeded to inhale the whole container within days. She got the recipe from Rick's Grandma Ratz. Every time I bring these to work, everyone has a fit over them. They're crunchy and delicious!
When I received my Grandmother's recipe file, she had an almost identical recipe included. One is prepared cold the other requires heating and different storage directions. Grandma Ratz's will keep in the fridge for 3 months. (You'll laugh after you fix them and they're gone in a week!) They both remind you of Bread and Butter pickles, which is what my Grandma called them.

Andy and I have tiny cucumber plants popping up in the garden and I'm counting the days until I can fix a fresh batch of these.



  • 7 cups cucumbers,
    (6-7 large, 12 small), sliced
  • 1 Vidalia onion, sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, rough cut
I like to soak my cucumbers and peppers in water with a cup of white vinegar to help remove that nasty coating. Using a mandolin slicer makes this job a breeze. SAFETY FIRST! Be very careful!!


  • 1
    Put in a large Glad square storage bowl. Sprinkle 2 tbsp. salt over
    vegetables and let sit for two to three hours.
  • 2
    Pour off water and let drain.
  • 3
    Prepare this and let cool while veggie sit while veggies marinate in salt. In a small pan mix: 1 cup white vinegar, 2 cups sugar. Let it heat up and stir so that the sugar dissolves.

    4When cool add 1 tsp. each mustard and celery seed. Blend with drained cucumbers, peppers and onions.
I like the Glad bowl because it lets me safely coat the veggies evenly. Let them sit overnight before eating. If you don't feel comfortable with the seal on your bowl, stir with a large stainless spoon so the veggies get nicely covered.

The will keep in the refrigerator for 3 months---although they’ve never lasted more than
a week at my house!

4 quarts cucumbers, sliced thin
2 cups onions, sliced
1/2 cup salt
1 tsp. celery seed
2 tbsp. mustard seed
3 cups sugar
4 cups cider vinegar

  1. Wash cucumbers thoroughly, do not peel. 
  2. Sprinkle with salt. Let stand 3 hours and drain. 
  3. Bring sugar, mustard seed, celery seed and vinegar to boiling point. 
  4. Add cucumber and onions. Heat thoroughly, but do not boil. 
  5. Place in sterilized jars and seal.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chicken on Bubba Keg II

Andy's Chicken on the Bubba Keg II
When it comes to cooking on the Bubba Keg, Andy has got it going on. I don't care what it is, it's going to taste good. Andy's Chicken on the Bubba Keg tells how he fixes leg quarters using a rub. It's probably one of my all time favorites...until you bring up bone-in chicken thighs with his SECRET  BBQ Sauce.  Last weekend I mixed up a fresh batch of BBQ sauce and I was ready to use it on something. 

This is one thing you will not find on this blog. He made me swear to secrecy on this sauce. Like I've said before,  I did have to date him like 5 years before he would give the recipe to me. So...if you can finagle it out of him some way...more power to you! 

Rinse chicken. Place on a baking sheet and salt and pepper (go heavy on the paper)
Heat Bubba Keg to 275 degrees.
Place chicken on top rack.
Close and lock lid and cook for 2 hours at 275 degrees.
Completely shut down the heat.

Liberally coat one side with your favorite BBQ sauce. After 10 minutes, turn and coat again.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Grilled Reuben Sandwiches

Andy and I love to fix (and eat) Grilled Reuben Sandwiches. There's a few people I know who turn up their nose at the sauerkraut and I just don't understand it. When you eat it with the homemade Thousand Island Dressing I fix, you don't realize it's even there. It's a great addition to the mixture of flavors you experience. If you don't want to crunch into caraway seeds, you can even get the "seedless" version of Rye bread which still has it's own unique flavor. We ate the sandwiches along with one of our favorite go-to sides: oven baked fries.

I like to get all my ingredients out and ready to put on my bread.
Once they start pan frying, it goes really fast.

Let your skillet heat to medium. Butter one side of all slices of rye bread.  
Place one slice butter side down and top with corned beef.

Top the meat with sauerkraut. 

Lay two slices of Swiss cheese on top.

Spoon Thousand Island Dressing on top. Top with last slice of bread, butter side up.

If your skillet is the right temperature, your sandwich should be a nice toasted color and ready to turn. Let the bottom toast and it's ready to eat.

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

Here's the perfect topping for your Reuben Sandwiches or garden salads. What I love about it is you should have all ingredients on hand; it's freshly made, and you know what you're putting in it! It makes up a decent amount so you won't cringe when you open the fridge and  you're trying to figure out what year you made it.


  • 1/2 cup Hellman's mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. sweet pickle relish (or more)
  • 1 tsp. finely minced sweet onion
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Let chill in the refrigerator at least one hour before using.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Panko Breaded Fried Pork Loin Chops

Anytime whole pork loins go on sale, Andy is jumping on buying a few ASAP! He'll cut about half of it into 1/2" chops which we usually grill and the other half typically will get cut into 1/4" slices for breakfast. The odd ball end pieces he will vacuum seal separately and they're perfect for biscuits. If you want to save some money and still eat well; invest in a vacuum sealer and check out the grocery sale papers each week. When you repackage bulk portion meats or fresh vegetables into what you would serve your family and properly seal them, it will pay for itself 10 times over. The flavor is outstanding and you don't deal with freezer burn.

The other day we ate out and he ordered Country Fried Steak and it was probably some of the best we had ever eaten. We discussed how it was breaded and finally came to the conclusion that they had to have used Panko bread crumbs. The outside had a nice crunch, but the meat was very tender. Sunday night we thought we'd fry up some pork loin chops and see if we guessed it right. If we liked it, we'd see how it worked with Swiss steaks.

Andy's Panko Breaded Fried Pork Loin Chops
  1. Trim any fat off the chop. 
  2. Using a meat tenderizer, flatten the chops until they're about 1/4" thick. 
  3. Make an egg wash with 2 beaten eggs (The rectangle shaped Rubbermaid Tag-along bowls are the perfect size for dipping!) 
  4. Pour plain Panko bread crumbs in another bowl to dredge the chops in.
  5. Cover bottom of large skillet with about 1/4" oil
  6. Heat skillet on medium-high

Do not  put chops into skillet until grease is hot! You want these to brown quickly. When side one is browned, turn and brown the other side. Don't leave them in the skillet too long or the meat will toughen. If you have them beat pretty thin, they won't take long. Salt and pepper to your taste when you place in skillet.

Place on a paper towel line platter and let drain. 


Monday, April 23, 2012

Tracy's Nanner Jammers

Saturday night my fellow co-worker Tracy Ayers had checked in from Cocina de Tracy touting a delectable concoction she dreamed up all by herself. I showed Andy the photograph of this chocolately, peanut buttery creation and he was like, "I believe I'd like to have one of them!"

I had three bananas sitting on the counter and peanut butter in the pantry, but believe it or not...we were completely out of Nutty Bars! (That issue was resolved after a grocery run Sunday afternoon). If you live in the South, you know all about Little Debbie snacks. If I had a dime for every time I've seen Andy devour a pack of Nutty Bars, I wouldn't have to win the state lottery. Back to the story....The plan was we would eat her soon-to-be WORLD FAMOUS...drumroll, please...NANNER JAMMERS after a meal of Panko Breaded Pork Loin Chops (to be posted tomorrow), potato salad and macaroni and cheese. (I can't believe I'm admitting to not having something green on the plate and two starches on top of that.) Needless to say, we were stuffed and had to put the dessert off one more day.

I spoke with Tracy today and told her we would be officially "testing" them tonight and spreading the word about this never-before heard of treat on Man That Stuff Is Good. She shared how she came up with the idea. It was kind of like the chocolate bar diving into the vat of peanut butter and lo and behold out came a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup!! Tracy had the banana and peanut butter and sweet baby James wanted a chocolate bar (aka Nutty Bar) and the rest is history!  

All I can say is....believe it or not, Nanner Jamers are the bomb! Andy liked it, I liked it and even Blair liked it. When Blair said honey drizzled on top would make it even better, we knew Tracy had hit the dessert jackpot.

Peel and split the banana.
Lay halves flat on some Wal-Mart china.
Open pack of  Nutty Bars.
Spread peanut butter on one side of a Nutty Bar and lay on one half of banana.
Spread peanut butter on the other side of the Nutty Bar.
Top with other half of the banana
Honey drizzled on top (optional)*

*Has not been officially tested in our kitchen, use at your discretion!

Zucchini, Squash and Tomatoes

Each summer, when the vegetables start coming in, I can't wait until there's enough to make a meal out of what we pick. Then the day comes and there's so much of everything and you're scrambling to come up with something different. Last year we ran into that problem with zucchini and squash. Here's a simple dish that can be fixed all year long, and is the perfect solution to an abundance of vegetables from the squash family. When I fix this in-season, I use the Roma tomatoes from the garden and save the canned tomatoes for winter. As an option, fix a bowl of pasta and top it with this dish as a delicious vegetable sauce.

4 small zucchini
6 yellow squash
1 vidalia onion rough chopped
1 quart of whole canned tomatoes (or store-bought equivalent)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning* (optional)
1 stick butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


In a large skillet, heat butter. Add onions and let them cook a little. 

Add zucchini and squash. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Old Bay seasoning.

Stir until vegetables are tender. Pour in whole tomatoes. (I like to give the tomatoes a squeeze as I drop them in.) 

Let simmer until mixture is bubbly. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Beef Stroganoff

Andy and I were stumped as to what to fix for Wednesday night (Momma's night). We had been so busy at work I knew it had to be something simple. Beef Stroganoff came to mind with whole kernel corn and a salad with lettuce, red bell pepper and cucumbers as sides. I have made this dish with canned mushrooms, but I prefer fresh. It allows you to control how "done" they get. Rubbery mushrooms are not very appealing to me.

For dessert, Momma fixed her famous Meme's Brownies with a twist! She added a little raspberry extract to the mix, the icing and grated Dove raspberry chocolates on top. Thank goodness she cut really small pieces as they were wickedly good!

  • 1lb. hamburger (or stew meat)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 8 oz. carton sliced mushrooms
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 6-8 ounces of sour cream
  • 6 oz. water
  • Better Than Bouillon Beef Flavor (or beef bouillon cubes)
  • Good on Anything Sauce (or Dale's or Johnny's sauce), to taste
  • Egg noodles (4 cups dry, add more or less), cooked as directed

Brown hamburger meat and onion in a very large skillet. When the meat is almost cooked through, add the pack of mushrooms.

When meat is totally browned, drain off grease. Blend in: mushroom soup and water/bouillon mixture. Let it cook down on medium at a slow boil for 15 minutes.

Stir in sour cream by the spoon full. Blend in well before you add more. I always say you can always add, but it's a little hard to take away. Taste the broth. Add in enough Good on Anything sauce to kick up the beef taste. I usually add about 1/2 tbsp., blend well and taste again to see if it needs more.

Stir in cooked egg noodles. Let them absorb the sauce a little before serving.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Orange Muffins

Last weekend I found this recipe posted on Beth's DEFintely Leopard blog and I pinned it for future use. Today just so happens to be Orange and White game day for the Tennessee Volunteers and I thought this would be a perfect dessert in honor of our favorite SEC team.

A couple of years ago we fell in love with Clementines. They are so easy to peel, have no seeds, and are sweet and juicy. I bought a crate (or so it seems) of them recently and I ended up substituting them for the orange and orange juice. I'm leaving the original recipe as it's listed and listing in orange, (shocker!), what I substituted with.

I believe today was the first time I had broken out the food processor since we made cherry, or was it(?) blackberry wine last summer. To my surprise it was still working. The muffins were pretty easy to make once I got finished squeezing juice out of the Clementines and they had a great flavor.

  • 1 orange, quartered and seeds removed (with peel) 
  •   (3 Clementines-I sliced the white core piece out of all)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (Juice from 6-7 Clementines)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Line a muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray or baking cups

Put orange quarters in food processor with orange juice and blend until pureed
Add egg and butter to orange mixture until blended

Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl
Mix orange mixture in with dry ingredients

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full

Bake for 18 minutes (23 minutes in my oven)

1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp grated orange zest
2 Tbs freshly squeezed orange juice
(4 Tbsp. Clementine I could drizzle the glaze)

Whisk together until smooth
Spread (drizzle) on warm muffins

I place my cooling rack on a sheet of wax paper so the glaze won't mess up my counter.

Serve warm

Source: DEFinitely Leopard