Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Nashville Bushwhacker


Recently I reviewed a unique cookbook called Ticket to Ride: The Official Cookbook by Alan R. Moon. If you haven’t yet, read that review, you can find it here. One of the recipes in that cookbook that turned my head was this adult milkshake/cocktail that is sooooo delicious. It’s easy to throw together in a mini blender, and goes down smooth.

  Nashville Bushwhacker

2 oz. dark rum or whiskey
2 oz. Kahlúa
2 oz. crème de cacao
2 oz.
Cream of Coconut
2 oz. milk
1 c. ice

Place in the bowl of a high-speed blender, and blend.

 Garnish with whipped cream, nutmeg, and a stemmed cherry.

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Monday, June 17, 2024

No Bake Lemon Cheesecake

Last week I was craving cheesecake. I had seen a picture of something called strawberry banana fantasy cheesecake that I knew I had to make. I went out and bought all of the ingredients, including bananas and strawberries, and then I took a look at the recipe. The recipe and the picture were completely unrelated. I did a search to see if I could find a recipe that matched the picture, and there was none to be found. This led me to the conclusion that the picture I was looking at was AI. I hate it when food blogs do this sort of thing because it’s misleading, and, in my opinion, deceit of the highest form. After this little secret was unveiled, I was kind of put off by that banana strawberry cheesecake. It must’ve been fate, because the next day a no-bake lemon cheesecake caught my eye. I’ve never made a no-bake cheesecake before so I thought I would give it a try.  The late Mr. O-P was a purist (you can read about our cheesecake wars here and here), and no doubt would have balked at something like this; too bad, because he would have really missed out. In my mind, this was going to be so easy. It wasn’t.

I suppose I probably shouldn’t have made this when I was frantically involved in a variety of things, and the Roomba was circling my feet. I had the entire kitchen covered with pots, pans, ingredients, and a freshly squeezed 1/2 cup of lemon juice (from three zested lemons) into which I had dissolved gelatin. In my zeal to clean a space to continue on, I hit that cup with my elbow and sent it sailing down to the floor. Not only did I have to clean up the mess that I had made, but I also had to squeeze three more lemons! Fortunately, I had them.

Was it worth it? Oh, yeah! This is so refreshingly delicious, light as a feather, and satisfied both my lemon and cheesecake cravings. It is the perfect dessert for summer, can be prettily garnished with fresh summer fruit, like
strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or anything else that happens to be in season, and is certainly company worthy.

The original recipe called for a graham cracker crust, I wanted something a bit zingier, so I made a gingersnap crust. You can do what you like. I also added a few drops of yellow food coloring to make the filling look less white, and swapped out the vanilla flavoring in the whipped cream used for the garnish with lemon flavoring because I really wanted to take it over the top. Did I ever.

No Bake Lemon Cheesecake

Adapted from lifeloveandsugar.com


2¼ c. gingersnap crumbs

2 T. sugar

10 T. butter, melted

 Cheesecake Filling:

½ c. fresh squeezed lemon juice (3-4 lemons)

1 0.25 oz. pkg. unflavored gelatin (2½ t.)

¼ c. sweetened condensed milk

24 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

½ c. sugar

2-3 drops yellow food coloring

2 T. sour cream

2½ T. lemon zest

1¼ c. heavy whipping cream

¾ c. powdered sugar

 Whipped Cream:

1 c. heavy whipping cream

½ c. powdered sugar

1 t. lemon extract

To make the crust:

In a medium bowl combine the crust. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Set in the fridge to chill.

To make the filling:

Place lemon juice into a medium-sized bowl, and sprinkle the powdered gelatin evenly over it; let stand for 4-5 minutes.

 Heat the lemon juice and gelatin mixture in the microwave for 10-20 seconds, until just warm and smooth. Stir the sweetened condensed milk into the lemon juice mixture, then set the mixture aside to cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and food coloring together, adjusting to achieve the desired color, until smooth. Add the sour cream and lemon zest and mix to combine. Add the cooled lemon juice mixture and mix until well combined and smooth; set mixture aside.

 In another large mixing bowl, add the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture in two parts until well combined. Pour the filling into the prepared crust and spread into an even layer using an offset spatula. Refrigerate cheesecake until firm, 5-6 hours or overnight.

Remove it from the springform pan and set on a plate or serving platter.

 To garnish: 

Place heavy cream, powdered sugar, and lemon extract into a medium mixing bowl. Whip on high speed until stiff peaks form. Pipe swirls of around the edge of the cheesecake, and garnish as you see fit.

 Refrigerate until ready to serve. Cheesecake is best for 4-5 days.

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Friday, June 14, 2024

Coconut Curry Chicken

In today’s economy, I have learned to do two things. First of all, I never waste any food if I can help it. Second, I only order in once a month, so if I get a hankering for some sort of ethnic cuisine, and I’ve already ordered in for that month, I have to make it myself. 
This recipe solved both of those problems. I decided to clean out my fridge, and in the doing, found some cilantro in the back of the vegetable crisper that needed using TODAY. Second, I really wanted to order in Indian food, but having already ordered in earlier this month from the local diner, I instead decided to try this recipe that I had downloaded to my Copy Me That app some time ago. It’s from the Damn Delicious website where I have never gone wrong with any of her recipes, and this one is no different. I started my rice first thing, and then kept feeding my pan ingredients as they were called for, and dinner was on the table, and a hearty one at that, in around 30 minutes. Next time I’m going to throw in a minced hot pepper because I could’ve used a bit of heat here, but you do you.
Coconut Curry Chicken

As seen on Damn Delicious

 1 c. basmati rice

1½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1” chunks

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1½ T. olive oil

1 medium Melissa’s shallot, diced

3 T. tomato paste

3 T. red curry paste

3 cloves Melissa’s garlic, minced

1 T. freshly grated Melissa’s ginger

1 12-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk

½ c. chicken stock

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

1 medium yellow bell pepper, chopped

3 T. chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1 T. chopped fresh Thai basil leaves

1 T. freshly squeezed lime juice

 Prepare rice according to package instructions; set aside.

Season chicken with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chicken and shallot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is evenly browned, about 6-8 minutes.

 Stir in tomato paste, red curry paste, garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

 Stir in coconut milk and chicken stock; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until slightly reduced, about 7-10 minutes.

 Stir in bell peppers until softened, about 5-8 minutes.

Stir in cilantro, basil and lime juice; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve warm over rice.

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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Slow Cooker Apple Bourbon Baked Beans

My parents used to have a very large house at the Lake of the Ozarks. Every holiday, all five of those bedrooms were filled, many sections of the floor covered in sleeping bags, and it was always a whirlwind of activity. Some people would be out fishing, others boating, I would be in the water with my friends, the men would be stoking the outdoor barbecue, and the women in the kitchen working on desserts and sides, and happily chattering away. I don’t think I appreciated those times nearly as much as I probably should have.

My number two son, now in his 30s, caught his first fish at the lake. 
But before I bring all of you down with sweet nostalgia, I’ll tell you that one of the ways I deal with holidays, now lacking all of the senior family members with whom I used to enjoy them, is to make myself a good, holiday meal. For me this past Memorial Day that meant pork steaks, my grandma‘s mustard potato salad, deviled eggs, and baked beans. I have a lot of good recipes for baked beans, but wanted to vary from what I normally do by looking up recipes online, and adding my own special spin. These turned out to be phenomenal! I ate more of them than I probably should, but I could not stop. They were that good.Slow Cooker Apple Bourbon Baked Beans

2 22-oz. cans baked beans

2 21-oz. cans apple pie filling

1 small onion, diced

½ c. BBQ sauce

1 12-oz. pkg. bacon, cooked and rough chopped

¼ c. bourbon

Brown Sugar Bourbon seasoning

Place all ingredients into a 6-quart slow cooker in the order listed. Give it a good stir, and cook on low for 4-5 hours; high for 2-3 hours. Serve hot.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Boursin Pork Chops


I don’t make pork chops all that often and I’m not entirely sure why, because every time I do, I’m always struck by how simple they are to make, how they take so little time, and are always delicious. This is another one of those recipes that is so easy anyone can do it, it’s on the table in 30 minutes or less, and one could argue that it is good enough for company.Boursin Pork Chops

 4 boneless pork chops, 1” thick

½ t. garlic powder

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 T. olive oil

1 T. butter

2 large Melissa’s shallots, chopped

¾ c. chicken broth

1 5.2-oz. pkg. Boursin Fine Herbs & Garlic cheese, softened

1-2 T. chopped fresh parsley

 If you have the time, remove pork chops from the refrigerator 15 to 20 minutes prior to beginning the recipe.

 Pat chops dry with a paper towel, and season both sides with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and butter and get it good and hot without burning. Cook the pork chops for 5 minutes per side or until golden; remove to a warm plate. 

To the skillet, add the shallots and sauté for about 3-5 minutes or until softened and lightly browned. Add more oil to the pan, if needed.

Add the chicken broth and the Boursin to the skillet. Stir until smooth and creamy. Simmer for 4-5 minutes, and then stir in the chopped parsley.

 Add the pork chops (and any plate juices) back in and simmer for another 3-5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened a bit more and the pork chops are cooked through (145°F. minimum). Adjust seasoning if necessary.

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Monday, June 10, 2024

Asparagus Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

There is more to asparagus than you probably think. It can be used in almost any dish that you serve to your family from a frittata or omelette at breakfast, nestled into your grilled cheese sandwich at lunch, as a gin-soaked garnish in a martini, this delicious pasta dish that I told you about a couple of weeks ago, as well as making a wonderful cold salad all on its own.

Asparagus is one of those superfoods that you probably don’t hear all that much about. It is low in calories (I’m told that one spear is a mere 3 calories), and is packed with vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C, E, K, B6, as well as folate, iron, copper, calcium, protein, and fiber. That is seriously healthy, ergo we should probably be eating a lot more of it. 

 This simple salad can be made ahead and served as a main dish for lunch, or as a side dish for dinner. I used both purple and green asparagus, not realizing that, as is the case with purple string beans, the color goes away in blanching. You can make all of these gradients ahead of time and assemble just before serving. It’s simple, it’s elegant, it’s healthy, and it is seriously good.Asparagus Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

 1 l hard boiled egg, peeled and quartered

1 bunch Melissa’s asparagus

2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Dijon Vinaigrette (recipe below)

 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; blanch asparagus for three minutes. Remove to a bowl of ice water; set aside.

 After asparagus has cooled turn out into a strainer to drain while you make the vinaigrette.

Arrange the asparagus and egg quarters on a plate, top with bacon and drizzle with vinaigrette.

 Dijon Vinaigrette

2 T. sherry vinegar

½ T. minced Melissa’s shallot

1 clove garlic

½ T. Dijon mustard

1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

 Place ingredients into the work bowl of a mini blender and blend until emulsified.

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Friday, June 7, 2024

Deck Gardening 2024: Growing Alstroemeria

It’s important, when you have limited space and/or a limited number of containers in which to plant, that you plan your garden carefully. Pay attention to what you use the most when you’re in your kitchen, and grow those things. Don’t allow your head to be turned by something that will take up space and that you’re not going to use. That said, I always save one large plant pot for something experimental every year. I will say that most of the time my experiments fail.
This year, because this is one of my favorite flowers, I decided to pick up the second to last Alstroemeria that I saw on a high shelf at the local garden center. It was nearly $30, so I hesitated a good bit before I finally put it in my cart. I have long been curious as to how these grow, if I can keep it growing, and of course, the big thing is if it returns the following year because it is a perennial. My interest was in doing pink and white flowers on the deck this year with a touch of purple. The only color of Alstroemeria they had was this peach and white with a yellow center. I will let you know how things progress. Fingers crossed it thrives, and I have beautiful cut flowers all summer long. 
What would you like to experimentally grow this year?
UPDATE: Isn’t the garlic progressing nicely?