December 13, 2010

To Satisfy A Craving...

Last week I got to craving Chicken and Rice soup - and not just any Chicken and Rice soup but THE VERY BEST Chicken and Rice soup I have ever eaten (do I sound like I'm auditioning for Food Network's "The Best Thing I've Ever Eaten" or what?!).

Well, unfortunately, THE VERY BEST Chicken and Rice soup I've ever eaten is prepared in a small restaurant south of the border and I won't have the culinary pleasure of crossing its threshold for a while.

So, what's a girl to do? Go recipe hunting of course! And folks, I've got to tell you, this stuff is pretty dang close to perfect. Absolute comfort food with zing!

Spicy Chicken Rice Soup

4 cups chicken broth
2 cups cubed, cooked chicken
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup uncooked long grain rice
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro or parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2/ teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until rice and vegetables are tender.

**If you really like spice I recommend you stir in a small amount of finely chopped Habanero pepper (this pepper is VERY hot so use sparingly) and top with shredded Jack cheese.

November 22, 2010

October 30, 2010

Happy Jacks and Sad Jacks

The "Season of the Pumpkin" is upon us!

Today I am proud to share photos of one of my most treasured possessions with you. This beautiful "Happy Jacks and Sad Jacks" quilt was crafted by our dear aunt, Beth Perdue.

Aunt Beth was a very talented quilter and seamstress; not to mention one of the finest ladies one could have ever had the pleasure to know. We treasure her memory and her handiwork as we welcome fall and the "Season of the Pumpkin".

October 27, 2010

Cathedral-Basilica of St Louis King of France New Orleans

Sitting in a pew in the St Louis Cathedral, surrounded by beautiful stained glass, ornate murals and angelic music filling the air I am always overtaken by a feeling of peace and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

St Louis Cathedral has the distinction of being the oldest operating cathedral in the United States. The people of New Orleans have worshiped in churches on this site since 1727. The depth of nearly three hundred years of worship; the marriages and the mourning, the celebration of baptism and the horrors of war. The joys and the heartbreaks all linger in the air of this beautiful space and do not escape me. I say a prayer for those who came before us, those who are with us now and those who will come after we are gone.

To learn more about St Louis Cathedral go to


New Orleans, Louisiana...

The Crescent City, The Big Easy, The City That Care Forgot, N'awlins - whatever you prefer to call her she has a charm and uniqueness all her own.

To quote the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau...
"Here, in this little corner of the American South, where European traditions blend with Caribbean influences, the history is as colorful as the local architecture; the food is the stuff of legend. Haitian and African Creoles developed an exotic,spicy cuisine and were instrumental in creating jazz and Zydeco.

A cultural gumbo, we celebrate our differences. In fact, we celebrate almost anything in the Big Easy. We have a saying: LAISSEZ LE BONS TEMPS ROULER -- LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL. A reminder of our french heritage, a way of life that began three centuries ago."

To step in to the French Quarter is to be surrounded by almost 300 years of history. The Quarter has been a continual residential neighborhood since 1718 and has withstood hurricanes, floods, fires, yellow fever epidemics, war, neglect, industry and commercialization.

For me, walking through the uneven streets, strolling through the shops and galleries, stopping to listen to the amazing street musicians share their talent and admiring the centuries old architecture is my idea of the perfect day. In fact, one of my biggest regrets is that I never took a break from the real world back in my younger days, packed my bags and experienced life in the French Quarter for a few months.

New Orleans proudly proclaims, "We Live To Eat" and why wouldn't they? I can honestly think of no more decedent food than that offered in New Orleans. My five day food orgy just last week included (oh my, I should be so ashamed!) Shrimp Po' Boys, Oysters, Shrimp and Grits, Red Beans and Rice, Smoked Salmon Beignets, French Toast, a Soft Shell Crab Po' Boy and Cafe Au Lait and Beignets. It was "Foodie" heaven! We visited Felix, NOLA, Bayona, Deanies, Mr. B's, K Pauls, R & O, Cafe Du Monde and Pat O's. We were gluttons and we loved every minute of it!

New Orleans is home to Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, St Louis Cathedral, "cities of the dead", Jackson Square and historical plantations. With each of them comes more history than one can imagine.

I snapped a few images while roaming the quarter. Of course, they could never do it justice, so my suggestion to you is that you pack a bag, head on over, and Le Bons Temps Rouler...

September 20, 2010

JR's Grill

If you live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area and, like the Senor and me, enjoy a sports restaurant with quality food, spot-on service and a cool and laid back atmosphere I suggest you give JR's Grill a try.

The grill is home to no less than 25 flat screen TV's (no, I didn't actually count them but I bet I'm close) showing all your favorite sporting events. There is a main dining room and a bar area and both boast comfy booths, low and high-top tables; as well as, an expansive bar. There is a separate room off the bar that is home to a couple of pool tables and video games. Additionally there is an outside patio seating area.

The Senor and I have eaten there on three separate occasions and each time the food was exceptional. JR's Grill offers a variety of sports bar type favorites such as appetizers, burgers and sandwiches. They also offer larger items such as killer Chicken Fried Steak and Smoked Baby Back Ribs. To see their complete menu just click here.

I'll just go ahead and admit it, I fell head over heels in love with their Fried Cheese appetizer. I thought as far as JR's appetizers are concerned I would never stray from that crispy, gooey, cheesy goodness; that is right up until I tried their Smoked Wings. Oh my, they are a wing lover's dream. Crispy on the outside, moist on the inside and smoked to perfection. Upon ordering them we realized they average about a dollar a piece. After eating them we determined they might just be worth a dollar a piece.

In the burger and sandwich department the Senor and I have sampled the JR's Burger with cheese, the Prime Rib French Dip sandwich and the Smoked Bourbon Chicken Salad sandwich. Here's a little bit about them...

The burger is beautiful! It is 10 ounces of in-house ground beef, never frozen and flame grilled. A word of warning, they cook their burgers to a medium temperature so be sure to let the server know if you prefer your burger a little more on the medium well to well side. This burger is served on a Sour Dough bun with all the fixings and a healthy slice of Cheddar cheese. JR's offers many varieties of burgers and I imagine between the two of us we will try them all before Super Bowl 2011 rolls around.

The Prime Rib French Dip sandwich is my idea of comfort food. The Prime Rib was tender and juicy, the bun grilled and buttery-crisp and the au jus was, as my niece calls it, the perfect "dipping sauce". Perfection even if comfort food is not what you're searching for.

The Smoked Bourbon Chicken Salad sandwich is a light and refreshing sandwich although too sweet for my taste. (Mind you this is personal preference and not a reflection on the quality of the sandwich.) The chicken is mixed with apples, grapes, celery, onion, toasted pecans and mayonnaise and is served on toasted Sour Dough bread. My only critique would be that the salad is a bit runny and therefore the sandwich is messy.

Each of the sandwiches are served with your choice of French Fries, Cole Slaw, Ranch Beans or Smashed Potatoes. A side note, the fries are some of the best I've had in our neighborhood.

As for the larger entrees, the Senor tried the Chicken Fried Steak and Smashed Potatoes on our first visit. Boys, this isn't your run-of-the mill, recently thawed hunk of toughness. This is much akin to your Mama's Chicken Fried Steak. The crust is crispy and fried to a golden brown. The steak is pure tenderness. Just simple country goodness. The smashed potatoes and, of course, white gravy rounded out what some might call the perfect Chicken Fried Steak meal.

So, if you find yourself hungry and ready for some football this is the place for you.

September 15, 2010

I've never been good with math...

Today, during my daily visit to one of my favorite blogs, I ran across a youtube video.

I watched it once, and then again and then I watched it again.

You see, it immediately transported me back to a third grade classroom where a small version of me was told I would never be good with math.

The video made me consider the influences we meet in our lives and the everlasting effect they can have if we allow it.

The people discussed in this video proved beyond a doubt that we can overcome the negative influences and even excel above and beyond what we can imagine.

I wish every kid could see this video...maybe even every adult. I certainly wish it had been around when I was in third grade because, as it turns out, I've never been good with math.

September 13, 2010

A hankering...

I found myself home alone for dinner tonight and with a hankering for Chinese food. I remembered seeing a new Asian restaurant in our neighborhood and decided to do what some people consider the unthinkable and check it out as a party of one.

The restaurant is called Gingerine Fresh Asian and, as it turns out, is a Thai restaurant rather than Chinese but I decided to give it a shot all the same.

Let me start off by saying the decor is cool. The walls are a wonderful shade of lemon and there are punches of green, purple and red thrown in as accent colors all around the space. The booths, tables and chairs are white, very modern and resemble modular furniture. Everything is crisp and clean and I found it a pleasant place to be. At one time the space was home to a Red, Hot and Blue barbecue restaurant and there is not a single trace of barbecue vibe left behind.

Okay enough with the pleasantries - about the food.

Before I go any further I must throw out a little disclaimer, I am not a Thai aficionado. In fact, my experience with Thai food goes no further than Tom Kha Gai (coconut chicken soup) and Pad Thai. With that said I have eaten much of both of these items and, when they are well prepared, I love them!

Since I had originally started my quest in search of Chinese food I had my heart set on an Egg roll so I settled for what I thought would be the next best thing and ordered a crispy vegetable Spring Roll as an appetizer. Boy was I wrong - that Spring Roll was the bomb! The vegetables and the shell were cooked perfectly. The only problem was I thought I was ordering a single Spring Roll and I was presented with three. Turns out a half order is available but the waitress did not offer up this information when I placed my order for a vegetable Spring Roll and an order of chicken Pad Thai. Yes, my party of one was presented with three vegetable Spring Rolls and a huge plate of Pad Thai.

About the Pad Thai. I'm sorry to say it was uninspired. I can't say anything bad about it - nor can I really say anything good. I guess tasteless would be the way to put it. And who wants to eat tasteless Pad Thai? Long story short, those extra Spring Rolls sure came in handy. There's even one tucked away in the fridge in case I come up with another hankering - for a midnight snack!

September 12, 2010

It's squisita...

The Senor discovered this salad in the October issue of Food & Wine magazine and served it for dinner tonight. He added a couple of "Senor" touches such as tiny rolls of salami and mortadella and a crisp glass of Italian wine and; voila, dinner was served!

Big Italian Salad (October 2010 Food & Wine magazine)

1 garlic clove, smashed
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1 large romaine heart, chopped
1 small head of radicchio-halved, cored and coarsely chopped
1/4 head of iceberg lettuce, coarsely chopped
1 tender celery rib, thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup pitted green olives, preferably Sicilian
8 peperoncini
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved (1 cup)

In a large bowl, mash the garlic to a paste with a generous pinch of salt. Whisk in the mayonnaise, vinegar and oregano, then whisk in the olive oil. Season with pepper. Add all of the remaining ingredients and toss well. Serve right away.

September 11, 2010


Two of the greatest blessings in my life...