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October 2017 posts

Blue Ridge Day Trip


There are times when you need a respite from the urban world.  We took a day trip to the Blue Ridge mountains for a drive along the scenic parkway recently to do just that. Packing a picnic lunch of fried chicken, biscuits, potato salad and pickled beets, we enjoyed our meal at Craggy Gardens along the way. While the leaves were not as brilliant as they are in this photo by Vali S. who shares his work on, they were starting to turn vivid golds and reds - like patchwork quilts.  The drive to Black Mountain is about 3 hours and we spent about an hour on the parkway. There was quite a bit of road work on US 40 E coming home so the entire day was a real road trip, but well worth it. My regret is I didn't get any apples!

Casseroles - the Lost Art of Comfort Food



I can remember when casseroles were a mainstay in our meals - comfort food cooked up in one dish packing in all the essential meat, carbs and veggies. Never a fan of the old standby tuna noodle casserole, there were others I loved and new ones to try. For a while the humble casserole fell out of favor like a bad taste in the mouth, but just as comfort food made a comeback, so too did the casserole.  Anyone who's done an Amazon search for casserole cookbooks can find more than you can shake a stick at.  Recently I decided it was time to whip up an old-fashioned casserole to spoon a little loving onto the evening dinner plate.  This simple recipe calls for just four ingredients.  


Sausage Cabbage Casserole

1 small head of cabbage, chopped 

1 link of Polish or smoked sausage, sliced in rounds

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

6 ounces of French fried onions

Layer cabbage and sausages. Add one can of water or milk to the cream of mushroom soup and stir well. Pour mixture over cabbage and sausages, the finish by layering with the French fried onions.  Bake in oven preheated to 350 for 30 minutes or until bubbly and cabbage is translucent.  

Serves 6-8


What's for Lunch?

Avocado toast

Lunch is always a bit of a dilemma for me. I really don't care for a brown bag with an ordinary sandwich.  I like a meal with substance - a hearty salad or some pasta or curry. Although there are days where I'm forced to brown bag it, usually any old lunch just won't do. Most of the time I bring leftovers from the night before, but sometimes I whip something up from scratch like these avocado egg open-faced sandwiches. Yum!  

These are so easy to make and oh-so-delicious at work or at home.  When I make them for work, I mash the avocado with lemon or lime juice to keep it from turning brown. Then I pack it in a container and cover it with Saran Wrap to keep the air out. Nothing says gross like brown avocadoes. 


Open-faced Avocado Sandwiches

8 slices of hearty bread 

1 ripe avocado, cubed or mashed

4 hard boiled eggs, sliced

1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts (you can also substitute sunflower seeds)

To assemble your sandwiches, place the bread slices on plates and either layer the avocado cubes or spread the mashed avocado on the bread. Top the avocado with the sliced egg, then sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts or the sunflower seeds. 

Serves 4

Fried Osyters Are Good Eatin'



Not too long ago I made a day trip to the shore just for a plate of fried seafood. Sometimes it's just like that. You have to satisfy the craving. We love the Crab Shack in Emerald Isle. It's nothing fancy but it's got bay views and plates of juicy, perfectly fried oysters, shrimp, scallops and clam strips. The plates are mounded high with quality home cooking and, unless you're greedy, are ample for two. We still can't resist ordering a plate apiece. For those times when you can't get to the shore, you can always pan-fry your own oysters at home. Now that the weather is beginning to cool down at night, we think a plate of oysters sounds just right. 


Pan-fried Oysters

1 pint medium oysters, drained

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup corn meal

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

3 cloves minced garlic

2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons butter

lemon juice

Mix dry ingredients, minced garlic and chopped parsley. Dredge oysters in mixture and let sit on paper 5 minutes. Heat oil and butter until sizzling hot. Add oysters. Brown lightly 30-40 seconds on each side. Serve immediately with lemon juice or tartar sauce.

Serves 2

Breakfast for Dinner!



One of my favorite meals is breakfast. And one of the best times for breakfast is the dinner hour. Anything eggs is okay by me. Ditto for bacon, ham and sausage. Don't forget the cheesy grits. Throw in some fresh sliced tomatoes and biscuits, then you've got heaven on a plate.  Sometimes we opt for Ihop or Waffle House (or Waffle Crib as we like to call it), but most of the time we do our breakfast for dinner the old school way - at home after a busy work day. Breakfast for dinner is best with a side of cheesy grits. You can't go wrong with grits and we like them as a side or a main meal - think shrimp and grits. 

Cheesy Grits

2 cups whole milk

2 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup grits

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

Put milk, water, and salt into a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. When the milk mixture comes to a boil, gradually add the cornmeal continually stirring. Once all of the cornmeal has been stirred in, decrease the heat to low and cover. Frequently remove lid and stir to prevent grits from sticking or forming lumps; make sure to get into corners of pot. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture is creamy.

Remove from the heat, add the pepper and butter, stirring to combine. Once the butter is melted, gradually add the cheese a little at a time. Serve immediately.

Serves 4