Friday, March 29, 2013

a GOOD day

Here we are on this Good Friday
and a good one it has been.
We had the sweetest service at our church today.

Amidst the busyness of preparing
for such a service (or any service for that matter),
I am constantly amazed at
how the Spirit moves and brings such
an incredible newness (is that a word?)
to a service even when you've watched it all
being put together for days and days.
SUCH a great reminder that our Savior
is indeed ALIVE and His Spirit
is actively working in us and around us.

There is such a special-ness (that is def not a word)
about this whole week.  Christians celebrate
because Jesus died for our sins but didn't stay dead.
Families all over the country gather together
to celebrate with food and activities for the kids.
Signs of Spring and it's warmth
are even trying to bust out -
it's truly a time for thankfulness.

For this week's Free Recipe Friday,
I am here to introduce you to something
that'll perk up your buffet table for sure.
Taboli or Tabouli or maybe even Tabbouleh.
A yummalicious Mediterranean
bulgur wheat salad dish.
A Mediterranean what? you say?!?
Well, just trust me on this one.
This middle eastern dish,
is so fresh and springy.
Tabouli, as we spell it, comes in a package
with all of it's little Mediterranean tasting things
and you just add a few easy ingredients and voila -
yummyness!  Don't be deceived, even though
it may look like rice, it is not.
This grain has the most buttery, nutty flavor.
Our family loves it.
I was introduced to it about 30 years ago
at Grandma Taylor's house.  It was a staple.
Tabouli makes a great side dish
or can easily hold it's own all by itself.
Although you can find this item on most
grocery store shelves, the bad news is
that the other brands taste a bit different than
the brand we know and love.
We order ours, just as James' grandmother did,
from Bishop Taboli Products in
Bristow, Oklahoma.
All others are just not the same.

Whether you decide to order it
or try a batch from a local supermarket,
you will be glad you did.
It would go grrrreat along side your
Easter ham or brisket.
Absolutely phenom!

1 pkg. Tabouli Salad Mix
Vegetable Oil (or Olive Oil)
Lemon Juice

Optional Ingredients:
Cucumber, seeded and diced
Tomatoes, diced
Green Onions, diced

I have not included the amounts
of these ingredients because
the recipe may vary from brand to brand and
the recipe will be included on the packaging.

Mix all ingredients together.  Stir.
Cover and refrigerate for several hours
before serving.  The longer the better!
When we have this on hand,
James will regularly eat it for breakfast.

I hope you will give it a try.
Look for it in any grocery store.
We recently found a brand at Wal-Mart
on the aisle with the Matzo balls
and other Middle-Eastern type items.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Simple Pleasures

If you knew me when I was a teen
or hang around our house much now,
you should know I am a fan of salt AND lemons.
I have, however, learned to tame that craving
from the out of control days of youth
to now appreciating how necessary
salt is in cooking and to our bodies.

There may be a fine line between just the right amount
and over-salting, but please remember
if you don't put the correct amount of salt
into your cooking you will actually
use more at the table trying to get your food
to taste right. Our bodies need salt.
Some bodies more than others, obviously,
but unless your doctors have forbid you from it,
please do not be so afraid of salt.
(side note: you should also be drinking plenty of water)

Did you know that salt
makes buttercream icing better than all the rest!?
Did you know that cookies and brownies
are even better with salt in the recipe?!?
Did you know that placing a bit of sea salt
into your mouth is a natural antihistamine?!
Remember the old saying, 'you should take some salt?'
Just try google-ing Sea Salt/Benefits. Wow.
Have I convinced you yet?!?

This week's Free Recipe Friday
I bring you something quite possibly
even better than salt.
Lemon Salt!
If you love lemons and salt,
you very well may be using this
on just about anything you can find!

We happened to put it on french fries
sliced as thinly as possible without
using a mandoline -which
would have made them insanely better,
but a good knife will work if you're careful.
I actually used a filet knife.  :)

2 Lemons - zested
About 4 Tablespoons of Sea Salt
A mortar and pestle OR food processor

Mish and mash the lemon zest
and sea salt together until well combined.

Note: when you zest a lemon the yellow oily rind
is all that you want.  Getting into the white
layer will only add bitterness.
The best way to zest is to use a microplane
or the tiniest part of a cheese grater.

You can also use a vegetable peeler
and carefully 'peel' the lemon
without much pressure so that
you don't take the white off with the yellow.
Have I confused you yet?!?

Next, take your 'peels' and stack a few up
and dice them as small as you can.
This was my method on this particular day.
It left me with lemon peel
a bit larger than using a microplane,
but makes it easy to grab a piece
now and then to snack on!  Win, win!
Use up whatever you need right away
or let it sit in a dry spot for a few days
and then store it in a container to use
to your hearts content!
You will notice when using it immediately
the natural lemon oils make it
very fragrant - the most awesome smell in my book!
After it dries a bit, as you can see in the photo,
obviously, so will the peel.

Now add to whatever your mind can imagine -
steamed broccoli, asparagus, fish, chicken


Friday, March 15, 2013

Little Italy meet Liberty City

Our sweet little one red-light town
here in East Texas is known as Liberty City.
It's a town by name only
because you won't find that name on any map.
There is no government run post office
or police department here. . .BUT,
we are most proud to have Sonic, Dairy Queen
and Whataburger.
The residents get their mail from
two different nearby towns
and our great school district is called Sabine.
Crazy, yes. . .but, having lived here
for more than 15 years, it is now quite the norm for us.

How did we come to meet Little Italy
here in this small town?
It's all in the ingredients, ya see.
This week's Free Recipe Friday
got to meet up with Little Italy a few weeks ago
when this recipe came in contact with our taste buds.
Such a yummy, light Italian meal! Oh my.
Lemon Butter Chicken
you are my new best friend.


-- 4 boneless chicken breasts
(these will cook much better if you
can pound them out a bit - but not required)
-- salt and pepper, of course, to season chicken
-- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
-- 6 tablespoons olive oil
-- 1/2 cup good chicken stock
-- 1/2 cup good white wine
-- 1/2-1 cup pitted kalamata olives
-- 2 tablespoons capers
-- 1-2 teaspoons black pepper
-- juice and zest of one large lemon
-- a dash of oregano and chives if you have them
it won't kill the recipe if you do not
-- 4 tablespoons butter
-- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
-- 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Season the chicken breasts on both sides
with salt and pepper.  Heat up a good
heavy saute pan on medium high,
add 3 tablespoons of olive oil
and quickly fry them about 3 minutes on each side.
Longer if they are not pounded out.
Remove them from the pan and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium.
In the same pan add the remaining
3 tablespoons olive oil along with the garlic
and saute for about one minute.
Next, add into the pan the broth and white wine.
Simmer for a few minutes until the liquid has
reduced by about half.
Place the chicken back in the pan and
the remaining ingredients (excluding the cheeses).
Let the chicken soak in the sauce a bit
until the butter has melted and the chicken
has warmed through.

At the last minute, toss in the cheeses
and do a quick taste check -
does it need salt?

Serve with the pasta of your choice
and enjoy a winner, winner
chicken dinner!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Stuffed with Bliss

Spinach Feta Stuffed Salmon
Need a yummy springy time meal idea?
These are divine!
Easy, tasty AND pretty to look at.
Check out the latest write up in
The Wedded Bliss magazine
on newsstands in the Longview/Tyler area NOW.

Here's a link to the online issue as well,
Spinach and Feta Stuffed Salmon,
with a bonus recipe for Roasted Asparagus!
stuffed salmon bundled
I think it's springtime already!


Friday, March 1, 2013

Is it Summer Yet?

After a nice little pre-Spring Break, break...
I am back at it.  Rested? No. Relaxed? No.
But we are getting hongrrryy around here, so let's go!

Oh, did I mention our fridge went out this week. Yep.
Did I mention the new one won't be delivered until
next week?  Yep.  Do you know how hard it is to cook
so that you have little or no leftovers?  Yep.
Thaaaankfully, we have an old nasty one in the garage
that is helping us get through these pioneer like days.
Ice though?  No ice.  Uggh, it feels like we are camping.

But we DID take a pic so we can drool while we wait.
Ahhhhhh. I. Can. Not. Wait.

For this week's Free Recipe Friday
we can make muffins - those require no refrigeration, right?!
These are so easy and yummy and the recipe
comes from an old church cookbook,
how much better could it be!?!

1 egg
1 cup fresh blueberries
(might even be worth a try with frozen)
3/4 cup milk
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400.
In a medium size bowl beat egg.
Stir in milk, blueberries, vanilla and oil.
Pour in dry ingredients all at once
and stir until flour is just moistened.
Batter will be lumpy and that is A. Okay.
Fill greased muffin cups about 3/4 full. 

*Side note, a few times, I've even sprinkled a bit of
brown sugar on top of each muffin
before baking - mmm, good.

Makes about 1 dozen.
Bake about 20 minutes. 
Remove from pan immediately.
If not eaten right off the bat,
place them in a large ziploc baggie
to retain moisture.
Everyone will gobble these UP I tell you!

Thank you Mrs. Nita Henson for this great recipe!