Friday, February 28, 2014

A Piece of Southern History

Moon Pies and RC
The three main ingredients of Moon Pies are marshmallow, graham crackers and a chocolate covering. Moon Pie is still produced by the same bakery that invented them back in 1929. In this day and age of huge conglomerates that own multiple brand names, there’s only one Moon Pie, and those pies are the sole product of family owned Chattanooga Bakery in Chattanooga Tennessee. Originally a bakery formed by the Mountain City Flour Mill as a way to use flour that couldn’t be sold in stores, the Chattanooga Bakery has spent the last eight decades creating a snack that has become a symbol of the South itself.

RC Cola was the first company to distribute cola in cans in 1954. Four years later, they introduced the 16 oz. bottles. R.C. Cola was typically larger than a serving of Coca-Cola or other sodas.
Moon Pies hit the markets of Chattanooga Tennessee in 1917 and R.C. Cola arrived in 1934. They were an instant success when they combined forces in the 1950's. You could buy a RC (Royal Crown) Cola and Moon Pie special for 10 cents, back then, that was a full 16 ounces of soda and the MoonPies' weighed about near (that's southern for approximate size) a half pound.

The combination of "R.C. Cola and a moon pie" became inseparable, and was often referred to as the "working man's lunch." (A novelty song in the early 1950s called "An RC Cola And A Moon Pie" became a popular jingle of the time. The band NRBQ later recorded a different song called "RC Cola and a Moon Pie" which was so popular among their fans that they held a series of concert/gatherings called "Moon Pie Festivals")

Salmon with Crabmeat Stuffing and Roasted Potaotes
Roasted Red Potatoes
  • 9 medium red potatoes-quartered
  • 1/2 tsp each thyme,Rosemary, smoked or regular paprika
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves, minced
  • Preheat oven to 400
  • Place all ingredients in a large zip loc bag, seal
  • Shake well to coat potatoes with oil and spices 
  • Spread out on a lightly greased foil lined baking sheet
  • Sprinkle with Sea Salt and pepper
  • Roast for 35-40 minutes or until potatoes are tender,turn twice during baking  time
Salmon Ingredients:
  • 2 fillets
  • lemon slices
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 TB. butter
Crab Stuffing Ingredients:
  • 8 oz. crabmeat
  • 1 TB.olive oil
  • 2 TB. garlic cloves, minced 
  •  1 celery rib minced
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 TB. fresh parsley
  • 2 TB. mayonnaise
  • 1 lightly beaten egg
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1/2 cup Panko crumbs
Crab Stuffing  Directions:
  • Saute in 1 TB. olive oil minced celery, garlic and onion
  • In a bowl add crabmeat, Old Bay Seasoning, parsley, mayonnaise, egg, Worcestershire sauce, crumbs and celery mixture  
Salmon Directions:
  • Rub each fillet with  1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning 
  • Using a very sharp knife, cut a slit down the middle of each fillet; do not cut all the way through. Fold the fillet in half and cut another slit on each side of the fold into the thick part of the fillet to create a pocket
  • Fill each pocket with stuffing and roll the fillet and anchor with toothpicks or kitchen string
  • Place crabmeat filled fillets in a baking dish,drizzle with butter, top with lemon slices and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until salmon flakes   

How to Soften Butter Quickly: Not with a microwave which may over soften or cause melting, but roll it between sheets of wax paper for perfectly pliable butter.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Brunswick Stew Mission

Today my husband and I were on a mission to find the plaque and pot featured in the picture below. We figured it had to be somewhere in the small town of Brunswick, GA. But not one person we asked had a clue where it was and what it even looked like. I had seen the picture of it in a brochure. Now this was puzzling since the town seems to have some bragging rights about the origin of stew from there. 
Recipes for Brunswick stew vary greatly but it is usually a tomato-based stew containing various types of lima beans/butter beans, corn, okra, and other vegetables, and one or more types of meat. Most recipes claiming authenticity call for squirrel or rabbit meat, but chicken, pork, and beef are also common ingredients. Some versions have a distinctly smoky taste. Eastern North Carolina Brunswick Stew has potatoes, which thickens it considerably. Eastern Virginia Brunswick Stew tends to be thinner, with more tomato flavor and less smoky flavor.

Southerners love to debate the origins of Brunswick stew. Virginia,Georgia and North Carolina all claim to be its birthplace, but the truth most likely is that it originated with Native Americans. The first stews of early America contained all sorts of wild game. Some cooks still say it isn't Brunswick Stew unless it has squirrel.

Brunswick, Georgia claimed that the first Brunswick Stew was created there in 1898. There is, at the Golden Isles Welcome Center on Interstate 95, a bronzed stew pot with a plaque proclaiming this fact. Wish I had read that part before we started searching the town for it.

However, Brunswick, Virginia claims that the first Brunswick Stew was created there by a camp cook named Jimmy Matthews in 1828, for a hunting expedition led by Dr. Creed Haskings, a member of the Virginia State Legislature for a number of years. He was said to have used squirrel in the original Brunswick Stew created for the group when they returned.

The hunters were at first skeptical of the thick, hearty concoction, but upon tasting it, were convinced and asked for more.

Every year, there is an Annual Brunswick Stew Cookoff that pits ‘Stewmasters’ from both Virgina and Georgia against their counterparts, and takes place every October in Georgia.

In the early 20th century, the rivalry of the two Brunswicks helped make this dish as popular as it is today, and it quickly became a pan-Southern classic. Some recipes call for the original addition of squirrel, but most allow for chicken, turkey, ham, or pork, even beef on occasion. Rabbit is also used. The vegetables can vary widely from variation to variation, however, the Brunswick Stewmasters recipe says *exactly* what is used in competition stews, and states that “Adding any additional ingredient(s) will disqualify the stew from being an original Brunswick Stew.” However, most agree that, Brunswick stew is not done properly “until the paddle stands up in the middle.” on its own. 

Well I was brave and ordered the Brunswick Stew just hoping they skipped the squirrel and rabbit part. It was absolutely delicious even with no squirrel in sight and no paddle standing up in middle. I am now on the hunt for a good recipe to try and post at a later date.

Brunswick is named for Braunsweig, Germany the ancestral home of King George II. 
Brunswick is part of the Golden Isles which are located in the southern part of Georgia's scenic coastline. The isles also include St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Jekyll Island and Little St. Simons.    

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Art of Making Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Biscuits are a long-time staple of Southern U.S. cuisine and are often made with buttermilk. They are traditionally served as a side dish with a meal. As a breakfast item they are often eaten with butter and a sweet condiment such as molassses, light sugarcane syrup, maple syrup, sorghum syrup, honey or fruit jam or jelly. With other meals they are usually eaten with butter or gravy instead of sweet condiments. However, biscuits and gravy (biscuits covered in country gravy ) or biscuits with sausage are usually served for breakfast.

Many southern women recall that their introduction into the world of baking came through the preparation of biscuits, almost as a rite of passage. Mothers and grandmothers taught young girls how to mix and prepare biscuits, measuring by "pinches" or through the "feel" of the dough.

And biscuits makers are particular about their flour. Up north 'hard flour' is made from wheat grown in the Midwest. But for southern baking, you need to use a 'soft' flour.
White Lily and Martha White, both produced in the South, continue to rank among the most popular flours used in biscuit making. Southern flour brands are softer than typical all-purpose flours because they have less protein, which in turn makes for a more tender, flaky biscuit. You can make biscuits with all-purpose flour, but use less of it or cut it with lighter cake flour.

There is certainly an art to making biscuits. While you don't have to be Southern to make a fine biscuit, Southern cooks have historically known "what they're aiming for" in that pursuit: the lightest, fluffiest, softest biscuits possible. I have discovered there are classes and workshops on how to make the perfect biscuit.

The Art of Biscuit Making Tips:
  • Flour—Stir the flour before measuring to fluff it up, which will help make the biscuits light and fluffy.
  • Shortening—Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or fork until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. "Cutting in" distributes bits of shortening throughout the flour before liquid is added. As the biscuits bake, the shortening melts in pockets, which produce tender, flaky layers. For extra flaky biscuits, leave the shortening in larger-pea-size chunks. Lard or butter may be substituted for shortening.
  • Mixing Ingredients—When combining ingredients, make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid all at once. Stir with a fork only until a soft ball of dough forms and leaves the sides of the bowl. The dough should be soft. If dough is dry, add an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons milk. Using buttermilk instead of milk will give the biscuits a tangier flavor and moist texture.
  • Kneading dough—Knead by turning the dough out onto a floured surface or pastry cloth. Roll dough around to lightly coat it with flour. Knead gently and just enough to form a smooth ball, 10 to 12 times. The technique for kneading biscuit dough is much more gentle than kneading yeast dough. Overkneading will make biscuits tough.
  • Rolling dough—Roll dough with a rolling pin to an even 1/2-inch thickness. Biscuits will double in height during baking. You might want to experiment with the thickness of the dough depending on your preference for thick, cakey biscuits or thinner, crisp ones.
  • Baking—Bake in a preheated oven on a shiny, lightly greased baking sheet for a golden crust. Dark cookie sheets absorb heat and cause the biscuits to over-brown on the bottom. For crusty sides, place biscuits 1-inch apart. For soft sides, place biscuits close together. Brush hot biscuits with melted butter, if desired.
Cook's notes: So after delving into the subject; I checked my baking powder expiration date and made sure it was "aluminium free', purchased White Lily Flour and circled on my sheet the most important direction The key to real biscuits is not in the ingredients, but in the handling of the dough. Make sure not to overprocess the flour and butter, mix in the buttermilk gently but thoroughly, and form the biscuits quickly so the gluten doesn't have time to activate.
The difficulty in choosing a recipe was each recipe said their completed biscuits were bigger, better, higher, fluffier than the other. 
I picked Southern Buttermilk Biscuits  from because there were 495 reviews and the ones I read (not all 495) were positive. There were are you ready for this!!~21 helpful hints listed for this recipe.
So the burning question is... Can a northerner successfully make southern biscuits that are soft, tender and flakey?  
The answer: Perhaps it is possible with practice but I know this northerner definately needs more. The biscuits tasted fine but looked more like English muffins. Until I can perfect this recipe I will refrain from posting it :) 

check out this link to view a recipe I submitted Bailey's Irish Cake

Parchament paper is an undervalued cooking staple for the pantry.
1. Line cooking sheets and baking pans 
2. Use in place of a bowl when sifting dry ingredients
3. Wrap leftovers and prevents sticking
4. Make a dinner-parchment wrapped chicken or fish
5. Use as disposable placmeat for crafts
6. Use to cover dishes in a microwave 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Succotash Dreams

Flowers in a Blue Vase 
by Renoir
Happy Birthday
An innovative artist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born on February 25, 1841, in Limoges, France. He started out as an apprentice to a porcelain painter and studied drawing in his free time. After years as a struggling painter, Renoir helped launch an artistic movement called Impressionism in the 1870s. He eventually became one of the most highly regarded artists of his time. He died in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, in 1919.

Tagging on to yesterday's posting on Travels with a Blue Vase, author  Mary Ann Miller in her quest for great artists and the places they lived often found many artists used blue vases in their work. I thought it interesting that three famous artists used the same title for their work. 
Flowers in a Blue Vase
by Vincent Van Gogh
Flowers in a Blue Vase 
by Paul Cezanne
Part Two: Amelia Island Book Festival 
Succotash Dreams is by Karen P.Miller. She is a freelance writer, author and former Amelia Island caterer. In addition, Karen is a regular contributor to the Amelia Islander Magazine.  She is a resident of Amelia Island. Currently she is enjoying traveling, working on a book and researching a Civil War project. 
I  had the pleasure of meeting her at the book festival. We both share a passion for food, recipes and writing.

What could be more "Southern" than a Succotash dish. I like the sound of the three syllable word as it rolls off my lips.  

Karen Miller has written a collection of short stories and recipes that are drawn from her childhood in New England, life in Florida, and the wealth of her catering experiences. Each recipe has a personal story from Karen's life or those of her family and friends.
The title of the book comes Karen's dreaming of succotash. She writes "This weekend I've been dreaming about succotash. Fresh, astonishing succotash, bursting with brilliant colors and flavors, created with vegetables that have soaked up all of summer's beauty and wonder."
Don't we all at some point dream about craving some food?

The stories are entertaining and her recipes will inspire you to cook with easy to follow directions. Perhaps by reading her stories some of your fond food memories will be stirred up. The photography that accompanies each recipe makes your mouth water.  But her most comic recipe is the one for squirrel pie by Jean Goodell. It looks like a legitimate recipe but I'm not sure about the first ingredient: 
7 squirrel quarters, skinned, cleaned and gutted
Maybe I need to put Bella on that one.     

I could not find a better picture of succotash on the Internet than the one Karen uses in her book. So I took the liberty of using that one.  
The book is available on Amazon

Succotash (from the Native American Narraganset language, msikwatash)
Pronounced: SUHK-uh-tash is a food dish consisting primarily of lima beans (butter beans) and corn (maize), possibly including pieces of cured meat or fish. This method of preparing vegetables became very popular during the Great Depression in the United States. It was sometimes cooked in a casserole form, often with a light pie crust on top as in a traditional pot pie. In some parts of the American south, any mixture of vegetables prepared with Lima beans and topped with lard or butter is called succotash. Succotash is a traditional dish of many Thanksgiving celebrations in Pennsylvania and other states. In Indiana, Succotash is made with green beans and corn instead of Lima beans.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Travels With A Blue Vase

Amelia Island Annual Book Festival featured almost 100 authors of fiction, non-fiction, Young Adult, Children's and Poetry this past weekend.  The author extravaganza had author presentations, workshops, musical performances and published author visits to schools. 

The crowd was enthusiastic and the authors were eager to share their work.    

So maybe it was the lavender cookies or the display with Provence colors that drew me to Mary Ann Miller's table. 
Mary Ann has written two books: Travels With A Blue Vase and More Travels With A Blue Vase. 
Mary Ann is an artist and an educator who began many years ago to search for the places where some of the great artists have lived and worked.
Each book is a travel journal that captures the places in Europe she has visited and showcases her colorful and whimsical watercolor sketches. The pictures take you along on journeys through vineyards, towns, cities, cafes and market places and capture the essence of each place. Regional recipes are included throughout each Travel book. 

I picked this page because the watercolor sketch done in Sorrento is a place I have visited and loved the area. On the opposite page, a recipe for limoncello, Italy's most popular drink is featured.
Notice the blue vase on the author display table and on the page . This vase was incorporated into the title of each book. Mary Ann takes a plastic blue vase with her on each trip so she can enjoy fresh flowers in her room. What a great idea and something I wish I had thought of when traveling. The outdoor flower markets in Europe are spectacular.  
If you want to order a book or learn more about Mary Ann, her writing and watercolrcolor sketches follow this link
The Lavender Flower Cookies were absolutely delicious.  Light, crispy, melt in your mouth and beg to be served with a cup of tea. I have included Mary Ann's recipe. Lavender buds can be purchased at local co-ops and specialty stores like Penzeys
Lavender Flower Cookies
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 TB. lavender buds
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Mix first 4 ingredients together until smooth.
  • Add dry ingredients and stir until well blended 
  • Drop by teaspoonful onto ungreased baking sheet
  • Bake in a preheated oven 375  until lightly browned about 9 minutes 
Part Two next blog posting: Food and Memoirs  

To ripen an avocado: add an apple or banana to a paper bag with the avocado and seal.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The World According to Bella

Super Dog
It's a bird, no its a plane, wait no it's me, Super Dog Bella. Walkers on the beach (though there are few out there ) have been dazzled with my agility. I am able to leap over sand ledges (5 ft.) tall in a single bound to get down to the lower beach.
to chase birds and bound back up in a single leap (5 ft.) 
to run along the upper beach. And I still enough energy to run down the beach at a breathtaking speed. Even Mr. C and Mrs. S can't do this and can't keep up.  
Love, Bella
PS. Wish you were here. I am having the time of  my life!
Cook's notes: It has been a challenge cooking in someone else's kitchen. It is lacking in what I consider essential supplies. Much to my dismay today, I discovered there was no blender. But it gave me an excuse to purchase a new kitchen tool that chops, blends, purees, whips and grinds. What more could a cook ask for and I even had a coupon :) I am in love with this tool. Easy to use and easy for clean-up.
  Smart Stick Two Speed Hand Blender (Immersion)
perfect for making
Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup
Calories are reduced in the soup by replacing whip cream/ half and half with low fat yogurt. One taste of the soup you won't even miss the cream . 
Fresh basil 1/4 cup can be substituted for dried basil
Pimento cheese spread and crackers would go well with the soup. See recipe below. 
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Dash of red pepper flakes
  • 2 cans each ( 14.5 oz.) diced chunky tomatoes basil, garlic, oregano
  • 1 container (32 oz.) low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. each dried basil and parsley flakes
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt 
  • 1 package fresh cheese tortellini (9 oz.) dairy section 
  • grated Parmesan cheese  
  • In a large soup pot, heat olive oil and saute onions and garlic about 3 minutes, stir in bay leaves. spices and crushed red pepper flakes
  • Add in diced tomatoes and chicken broth, simmer on low 15 minutes  
  • In another pan cook tortellini until al dente about 6 minutes, drain  
  • Add in Greek yogurt, stir and puree ingredients in several batches using a blender or a hand immersion blender
  • Add tortellini to soup and cook on low about 20 minutes
  • Remove bay leaves
  • Serve with croutons and grated Parmesan cheese

Pimiento Cheese spread is a classic Southern dip. The cheese spread is often served as an appetizer with crackers, corn chips, celery,mixed in with mashed yolks for deviled eggs, added to grits or slathered over hamburgers or hot dogs. Pimiento cheese can also be used to replace the sliced cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich. It is affectionately known as The Caviar of The South. 
The basic recipe has few ingredients: sharp cheddar cheese or processed cheese (such as Velveeta), mayonnaise,  pimentos, salt and pepper, blended to either a smooth or chunky paste.
Regional ingredients include cream cheese, Louisiana-style hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, paprika, jalapenos, onions, garlic and dill pickles.
Pimiento Cheese Spread
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 jar diced pimientos, drained and chopped
1/3 cup mayonnaise
In a bowl, combine all ingredients and refrigerate for at least an hour

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tomato-Basil and Spinach Risotto

Cook's notes: Fresh spinach can be substituted for any recipes that call for frozen spinach. On the previous posted recipe Artichoke Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups fresh spinach can be substituted for the frozen following these directions: 

Use 2-3 cups torn small pieces fresh spinach with stems trimmed off. Rinse it well; don’t dry the leaves. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, cook the spinach until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain well, squeeze out the excess moisture and chop. 
Many recipes such as soups call for the fresh spinach torn leaves (not cooked) to be added in toward the end of cooking. 
  Tomato-Basil and Spinach Risotto
Cook's notes: This risotto is creamy and flavorful. It makes a savory side or as a main meal with cooked shrimp. A "heads up" the recipe does require a patient cook. It requires 30 minutes of the cook's undivided attention but well worth the effort. 
adapted recipe is from
It serves 2 if served as a main meal and 3-4 if served as a side.
  • 2-1/2 cups chicken broth-low sodium
  • 1 TB. butter
  •  1 shallot, minced or 1/4 cup diced yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup arborio rice (dry)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup Roma tomatoes, diced and patted dry with paper a towel
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • handful of fresh torn basil or 1 tsp. dried basil and 1 tsp.dried parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • In a saucepan bring chicken broth to a boil, reduce heat and keep hot
  • In a large skillet saute garlic and shallot or onions in 1 TB. butter-about 3 minutes
  • Add in rice and stir to coat
  • On medium heat add wine and stir till nearly all liquid absorbed by rice 
  • Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and stir continuously until broth is absorbed
  • Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time stirring until nearly all is absorbed before adding more
  • When there is 1/4 cup of broth left add in tomatoes, spinach leaves , basil, parsley and 1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
  • Cook until most of liquid absorbed, remove from heat, sprinkle with other 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
How To Store Fresh Herbs

, Parsley, and Cilantro
A fresh bunch of basil can be treated like a bouquet of flowers: Just trim the ends, place in a glass with an inch or so of water, and place on the counter at room temperature. (The leaves will turn black if refrigerated). The basil will remain fresh for anywhere from a few days to a week. You can also try this with similar long-stemmed herbs like parsley and cilantro.

Chives, Thyme, and Rosemary
Other herbs, like chives, thyme, and rosemary, require a slightly different approach. Wrap them loosely in plastic wrap and place them in the warmest part of the refrigerator; one of the compartments in the door works perfectly. Do not wrap the herbs tightly or the trapped moisture may cause them to mold prematurely; many people like to add a crumpled paper towel to the bag as a safeguard. Do not rinse the herbs until just before using.
How to Dry Fresh Herbs
If you have more fresh herbs than you can use, dry them. Place the leaves on a plate (chopped if using basil or parsley; whole if using thyme or rosemary) and set aside in a cool, dry place for several days. Then store them in a resealable container in the refrigerator.
When to Pitch Fresh Herbs
Fresh herbs are no longer fit to use and should be discarded when the leaves turn dark or brittle, or the stems begin to show traces of mold.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Vegetarian Meal

Two new featured additions to Ever Ready are Did You Know?
and  Kitchen Tip of the Day

Look for one of them each time at end of the blog posting. 


Spinach Artichoke Lasagna Roll-Ups
Cook's notes: This recipe is a twist on an old favorite lasagna. It is a vegetarian meal that is sure to please all palettes. The recipe comes from
The recipe was adapted.
  • 10 lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese (lite)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 box of frozen spinach thawed and squeezed dry with paper towels 
  • 6 oz. jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained,minced and patted dry
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. Italian herbs
  • 1/8 tsp. (dash) red pepper flakes  
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 jar of Marinara sauce (24 oz. ) I used about 3/4 of the jar 
  • In a bowl combine ricotta cheese, egg, garlic, drained spinach, artichoke hearts, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, basil and Italian herbs.
  • Stir until well combined, season with salt and pepper.
  • Cooking tip: The cheese mixture can be made in advance.
  • Bring a pot of water with 1 TB. of olive oil to boil, add lasagna noodles, reduce heat and cook till al dente about 7 minutes.
  • Drain and lay out noddles on paper towels and pat dry.
  • In a 9 x9 baking dish grease bottom and line the bottom with 1/3 cup  marinara sauce. 
  • On each noodle place 2 TB. of the ricotta cheese mixture down the center, drizzle 2TB. marinara sauce over the ricotta cheese mixture, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.
  • Roll each noddle up and place in baking dish, make sure all lasagna rolls are pressed closely together. Spoon marinara sauce over noodle rolls, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.
  • Press a sheet of wax paper over the top of the baking dish and press down. Remove and discard wax paper. This will prevent cheese from sticking to the foil. 
  • Cover lasagna rolls with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook 5 additional minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. 
Blueberry Orange Salad
  • blueberries
  • orange slices
  • glazed almonds
  • mixed greens
  • dried cranberries
  • prepared balsamic or lemon dressing
  • Mix and drizzle with dressing

Creole and Cajun cooking are similar but not quite the same. Both come from  Louisiana and have evolved from heavy French influences.
Creole cuisine uses more tomatoes and has a reputation for being "refined". It comes from the kitchens of New Orleans restaurants that are supplied by the commerce of a rich port and served to city dwellers. 
Cajun food comes from the country using whatever could be trapped, hunted or harvested. Cajun cooking uses a lot crawfish as well as copious amounts of pork fat and more spices.   

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Southern Treat

"Often times what makes a recipe southern, is as much a state of mind as it is a matter of geography-Southerners simply decide a particular food is southern, and that's that."  
-Rick Mc Daniel, Food Historian

Dish up some southern comfort. You don't have to live in the South to appreciate one of its most prized exports:food. The tastes of the South are diverse from barbecue dishes to spicy Cajun fare, stews, delectable desserts to sides of okra, collard greens, fried green tomatoes, sweet potato fries and cornbread. These are just a few of the classic southern favorites. 

Ever Ready will explore southern cuisine in the next weeks and some history behind the dishes.

Pig Pickin' Cake a.k.a. Mandarin Orange Cake a.ka. Pea Pickin' Cake is typically served at southern barbecues. Pig Picking Cake gets its name from the feast where the pig is cooked outside, usually on large gas cookers. The cake is baked in three layers or in a 13 x9 pan.  

Cook's notes: I baked the cake in two layers but next 'go around' I'd use a 13 x 9 pan. It would be easier for storage and/or bringing the cake to an event. I read several reviews of this recipe and many suggested substituting orange cake mix for the yellow cake mix and adding 1 tsp. orange extract to the batter. Another idea would be using lemon pudding instead of vanilla. There are lots of possibilities for Pig Pickin' Cake
For maximum flavor refrigerate cake 24 hours before serving. 
recipe adapted from
  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 1 (11 oz.) can mandarin oranges (reserve a few oranges for filling)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (16 oz.) frozen whipped topping thawed (extra creamy)
  • 1 (15 oz. can) crushed pineapple drained well
  • 1 (3.5 oz.) package instant French vanilla pudding mix  
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut
  • Mix together cake mix, canned oranges with juice, eggs and oil
  • Divide batter between greased cake pans
  • Bake at 350 for 22 minutes for cake pans-25 minutes for 13 x9 pan or until toothpick inserted comes out clean
  • While cake is baking make filling and refrigerate it an hour
  • To frost layers divide pecans and coconut and add over filling 
Filling: Mix together whipped topping, drained pineapple, chopped oranges and instant pudding mix 

Cooking tips: Make sure pineapple is squeezed dry. Cool cake layers on a wire rack.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The World According to Bella

A Lunch Date
Mr. C and Mrs. S invited me out to lunch. When I heard I was going to my most favorite restaurant at the pier I was beside myself with excitement. Running along the pier and barking at the pelicans is a really fun thing to do. Mr.C had to hold on tight to my leash.    
I remembered this restaurant at the pier from the last time we visited the town. They offer very fine dog friendly outdoor dining service. 
With a bowl of cool water and a doggie biscuit supplied by Mrs. S I was contented while Mr. C and Mrs. S had their lunch. I was able to keep a watchful eye on the pelicans and all the boats docked at the pier.
I got lots of attention from people who passed by our table. Some wanted to pet me and even told me I was beautiful dog.   
This place really likes dogs. I was well behaved so they'd let me come back.
I had fun.
Dove Chocolate Gingersnap Cookies
Cook's notes: I am dedicating this blog recipe posting to my neighbors Gordon and Nita, who next to my husband have been my chief taste testers. Over the years I have appreciated their feedback on the recipes. 
Right before we left on our trip they gave us a bag of Dove chocolates for Valentine's Day. We resisted the urge to open the bag and saved it till we arrived at our destination. Now that was self-control!!
I found a recipe perfect for using the Dove chocolates. I only wish I could send this plate to them since now the two of us have some 32 cookies to eat. I had to freeze some but will keep up walking the beach to wear off the calories. The cookies were easy to make and quite delicious. 
Optional omit rolling the dough balls in sugar might shave off a few calories :) 
recipe adapted from Pillsbury
  • 1 bag of Dove chocolates
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2-3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup shortening (I used 1/2 cup softened butter and 1/4 cup softened margarine)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • In a large bowl, beat brown sugar, shortening and molasses until smooth with a mixer 
  • Add in egg with vanilla and beat well  
  • Beat in flour, spices and baking soda
  • Chill dough for an hour in freezer or refrigerator
  • Preheat oven to 375 and use an ungreased cookie sheet
  • Add 1/3 cup sugar in a shallow bowl
  • Roll dough into 1-1/2 inch balls and  then lightly roll in granulated sugar
  • Bake 9 minutes or until tops are cracked and edges set (do not flatten cookies before baking) 
  • Immediately press 1 candy in center of each cookie
  • Place cookies on a wire rack
  • While next batch is baking put the wire rack in refrigerator until candy is set
  • Chocolate candy stars can be substituted for the Dove chocolates

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The World According to Bella

"You cannot perceive beauty but with a serene mind."
-Henry David Thoreau
Life's A Beach
Each day gets better and better adjusting to my new life at the beach and having my own private dog park. As you can see no one is around. Maybe they think its too cold or not sunny enough but its perfect for me. I did see any snow or ice today. And my paws were not freezing.  

Going to the beach twice a day will definitely keep me in good shape. Its lots of exercise running up and down the beach chasing birds. I remain ever hopeful one day to get lucky and catch one.  Mr.C thinks its just the fun of the chase for me. 
Dead good stuff abounds everywhere on the sand. Mrs. S practically had a heart attack today when we saw this in the sand.

Maybe she doesn't trust me. Guess she remembers three years ago how out of control my behavior was eating all that stuff on the beach and getting real sick. As for this dead bird I'm smart and know its too big for me to eat.
Mr.C and Mrs. S have complimented me a few times on my recent improved beach behavior. But remember this is only day three of our trip and lots could happen. 
Who says dogs aren't smart? I have figured out which boardwalk is ours but 
check out how long it is and all those steps. What an exhausting climb after a run on the beach. Hope my dinner bowl is extra full tonight. 
Love, Bella
Shrimp Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Cook's notes:This was an easy delicious meal put together in just 15 minutes. I purchased the lemon vinaigrette ( produce section) or you can make your own. The hummus with pesto was also purchased. When selecting an avocado look for one that is a bit soft to touch and outer skin is a dark blackish.  
  • cooked shrimp
  • cherry tomatoes
  • avocado slices
  • mixed greens
  • toasted almonds
  • hummus on crackers
  • lemon vinaigrette dressing

  • avocado slices can be arranged to the side of the greens or mixed in the greens
  • drizzle dressing lightly over top of shrimp

Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch coarsely-ground black pepper
  • In a jar or bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper. Store covered in the refrigerator.
  • Serve at room temperature. Shake or stir just before serving.
  • Yields 1/4 cup Lemon Vinaigrette.
Cook's note: To make this Lemon Vinaigrette properly, use fresh-squeezed lemon juice and not bottled lemon juice.

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

GET TO KNOW YOUR APPLES Pink Lady , great balance of sweet and tart. Granny Smith , maybe the most popular baking apple. A little more tart ...