Monday, July 28, 2014

Treasures from Becky aka Decolady

I know this is early for my August newsletter but I am writing it to honor my dear friend Becky that left this walk of life on July 29, 2011. It's hard to imagine sometimes that it has been 3 years. Anyone who knew Becky in real life or the cyber world knows what a vibrant, loving, fun-loving person she full of life and embracing each day with passion! Always sharing her love of cooking, gardening, decorating and anything artsy!  She was truly a rare and "Beautiful Gem" .We sure do miss you, Girlfriend, but each of us are SO thankful for having you crossed our pathways in this walk of life!


Paula Smith


Beautiful Gems

Thank You, Great Spirit, for the beautiful gems You've placed in my pathway.
Family, friends, all of nature to brighten my life each day.
Thank You, Great Spirit, for the varied ingredients You've provided to compile life's recipe.
Family, friends, all of nature; unique, yet pertinent, compiled to reveal a life of beauty.
Thank You, Great Spirit, for Your Love and Guidance, that You shower upon us each day.
Family, friends, all of nature; leaving a glimpse of You while crossing my pathway.
                                     Paula 2003

Recipes shared by Becky aka Decolady

Grown Up Mac and Cheese Sep 12, 2008 at 7:45pm
Post by decolady on Sep 12, 2008 at 7:45pm

I've been wanting to try this recipe for a while now, but the other people in my household don't care for bleu cheeses. So tonight we had this with some variations (posted below). To start out, we've got the pasta and cheeses:

Now the pasta/cheese mixture is just waiting to be topped with breadcrumbs before putting in the oven:

Here is the Mac & Cheese out of the oven. It got left in a little too long as my Mike and Tori went to fill up our cars due to the gas rationing we have because of Hurricane Ike.

1. I cooked the bacon in a cast iron skillet on top of the stove as I didn't want to have to deal with grease splatters in the oven.

2. In place of
4 oz Gruyere cheese, grated
3 oz extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 oz blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
I used
4 oz Hoop Cheddar cheese, grated
3 oz Gouda cheese, grated
2 oz Sage Derby cheese, crumbled

3. For the pasta I subbed the one in the photo. I'd gotten it a while back at a gourmet food store and thought it was time to use it.

4. We did not have any white bread, so the crumbs were made from whole wheat.

5. Because of using the Sage Derby cheese, I chose not to add nutmeg and I used some fresh sage instead of basil in the breadcrumb mixture.

My review of the recipe as I made it.
I was wondering if the Sage Derby would turn the mixture green, but that did not happen. And I baked this in a shamrock Fiesta pedestal bowl, instead of individual bakers. All that worked out really well. All of us thought this recipe tasted too salty. And I have to say, this is the first of Ina's recipes where that has ever happened to me. Like Ina, I use Diamond Crystal Kosher salt, which by volume has less sodium than other salts. I attribute the excess saltiness to the cheeses I used. DD nor I really cared for the addition of bacon, but we lean toward being vegetarian.

Bottom line, I would definitely make this again with the cheeses and pasta I used tonight, but I would leave out the bacon and the salt. All in all, a keeper recipe.


Green Goddess Shrimp Avocado Salad
serves 2
This recipe originally came from Southern California Cooking from The Cottage.. I changed it a little from the one in the book. It is a wonderful summer meal. Mike and I love it and it's a regular on our menu.

Romaine lettuce, enough to give a good base to the salad in 2 soup plates (I like to pick from the garden, and usually get less than one head)
24-36 medium shrimp, cooked & peeled
1 avocado, peeled, pitted & sliced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
Green Goddess Dressing* see recipe below
lemon wedges, to serve

Tear romaine and line the two salad bowls with a good layer. Sprinkle tomatoes over the lettuce. Arrange avocado slices around the edges of the bowl and place shrimp in the centre. Save 6 shrimp for garnish. Dollop dressing on top of shrimp and artfully place 3 shrimp on top of dressing in each bowl. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Green Goddess Dressing
1/2 cup sour cream (I use lowfat.)
1 1/2 cups good mayonnaise (I use Hellmann's light.)
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 small onion (I like red or Vidalia onion.)
1 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt
1 or 2 tsp anchovy paste
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh tarragon
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice

Put all together in food processor and blend till smooth.

Tomatoes Provençal
Madalene Hill and Gwen Barclay of Hilltop Herb Farm in Texas used to do herb classes and seminars. Some 25ish years ago they did a one day cooking school in Huntsville that I attended. This is one of the recipes they prepared. I went home and made it for supper that night and it's been one of our favourites ever since. The recipe can be found in their book, Southern Herb Growing. Sadly Madalene Hill passed away recently, but she left a wonderful legacy.

4 firm, ripe tomatoes
1 sweet onion (I use Vidalia)
1 Tbsp wine vinegar
2 Tbsp chopped lemon thyme
salt & freshly ground black pepper
extra sprigs of lemon thyme for garnish

Trim tomatoes on both ends, then cut into 1/2" slices. Cut onion into 1/4" slices. Arrange on serving plate alternating tomato and onion. Sprinkle the vinegar over, then the lemon thyme, salt and pepper. Chill before serving and garnish with sprigs of lemon thyme.

They note: If you don't have a sweet onion, slice the onion and soak it for at least an hour in sugar water (1 Tbsp sugar to 1/2 cup water). Other thymes may be substituted for the lemon thyme.

My notes:
1. As tomatoes & onions vary greatly in size, I adjust the number to match each other.
2. I've used different wine vinegars, depending what I have on hand. The only thing I would note, is that champagne vinegar seems a little mild for this dish.
3. While any thymes can be used, I really like the flavour of the lemon. If I only have plain thyme, I will also sprinkle on a little lemon zest.
4. Mike loves leftovers on turkey sandwiches.


Tomato Caramelised Onion Tart(s)
This recipe originally came from Sara Moulton's show, Cooking Live. I have made this recipe many times over the years and it is always a hit. It can be served at brunch, as an appetizer, as a side, or for a vegetarian main dish. I also like that it is great either warm or at room temperature. Makes it easy if you need to take food somewhere (potluck, funeral, etc.). During the summer when I have fresh heirloom tomatoes, I like to alternate colours of the tomato slices. They look beautiful that way. You can make one large tart or individual tarts. It's really versatile. Most often I make it in my rectangular tart pan. ~ Becky

Tart Dough:
2 sticks butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1 2/3 cups unbleached flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup ice water, or as needed

Caramelised onion:
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil

Melted butter
Finely ground cornmeal
8 medium-sized round tomatoes
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup shredded cheddar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large egg white, for egg wash
Basil, sliced thinly, plus extra for garnish

Make tart dough: Put in the work bowl of a food processor, the flour, butter, salt and sugar. Pulse quickly until the butter is the size of peas. Add very cold, ice water in a small stream until the dough just comes together. Empty the work bowl out onto waxed paper and shape into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until ready for use.

Make caramelised onion: In a skillet heat the olive oil until hot and cook the onions, stirring constantly, until golden. Remove from heat and let cool, set aside.

To assemble tarts: The tart can be made in 8 individual pie pans, two smaller tart pans, or one large tart pan. The pan(s) should be brushed with melted butter and liberally sprinkled with corn meal.

Divide dough into equal pieces if using more than one pan. Keep unused dough in the refrigerator (must be kept cold). Roll out the dough into shape suitable for pan. This is a rustic-style tart, so the edges don't have to be perfect. Make the dough large enough so the edges of the dough will fold over the top of the tart an inch or so. Crust will be thick; you don't want it too thin or the tomatoes will bleed through bottom. Place crust in tin. Repeat until all are done and place tins on baking sheets.

Preheat oven on to 375°F. Brush bottoms of dough shell with mustard. In the following order place into shell: cheddar cheese, caramelised onion, sliced tomato, salt and pepper, basil, and olive oil. If using more than one tin, divide ingredients equally between them. Fold in the tops of extra dough around the tomatoes and brush dough with egg whites. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Right before serving, garnish with more slivered basil if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

1. This same dough is also suitable for fruit tarts. I've made used it with plums, blueberries and peaches.
2. Dough can be placed in tins ahead of time and frozen.

Country Cornbread
Many people think it is sacrilege to put any flour into cornbread. This is my family recipe and we have always added a little.

1 cup cornmeal
3 Tbsp flour
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp oil
1 cup milk

Combine dry ingredients. Add eggs, oil and milk. Pour into a 6" hot iron skillet which has been well oiled after heating. Bake at 425ºF for 15-20 minutes.

1. I normally double this recipe and bake in a 9" iron skillet.
2. This recipe is easy to vary by adding some grated cheese, chopped chiles, etc.

Mike’s Fresh Blueberry Pie
A few years ago Mike was wanting a blueberry pie. Now I never had blueberry pie, but he described to me the ones his Mom used to make. I made this one up for him and he said it looked and tasted like a deluxe version of the ones his Mom made. I had never made a baked blueberry pie before, but it has become a regular menu item. Most of the time I use a solid top crust, but will sometimes make a lattice if time permits.

6-7 cups fresh blueberries
½-1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest (just according to how much you like lemon - I use the whole tsp.)
1½ cups sugar
4 Tbsp + 1½ tsp cornstarch
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 recipe for a 10” double crust pie (this is the size pie pan I have)
3 Tbsp butter
cream or half-n-half
sugar (granulated or roughly crushed cubes)

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Place the blueberries and lemon zest in a large bowl.

In another bowl, mix 1½ cups sugar, cornstarch, salt, & cinnamon. Fold into blueberries.

Roll out half of the dough to make bottom crust and line the pie plate. Pour berry mixture into crust and dot with butter. Either roll out the remaining pastry to make a solid top crust or cut in strips and make a lattice top. Crimp & flute edges. If using a solid top crust, pierce in a few places to allow steam to escape.

Brush pastry with cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake pie on lower shelf in oven for 40-50 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Good Morning Everyone!

Happy July from a hot and muggy Alabama! Hope this finds all doing well and enjoying their summer.
Sadly, this past month, we lost a dear friend that will SO miss being a part of the upcoming football season. God's Speed, Dearest Betty.

This month's recipes are just some simple dips, salsas, appetizers and desserts.

Paula Smith
Reflecting Independence
by Paula George
June 26, 2006

As Independence Day approaches, many thoughts and memories travel through my
mind and heart.

Thoughts of the freedoms, others have sacrificed home and lives for bringing us
to this point in time.

Families divided, others brought closer as they faced enemies seeking to destroy
these freedoms.

Goodbyes said as loved ones shipped to foreign lands, never to return, yet;
giving their lives to protect their homeland.

Unfortunate the divisions in our own homeland, families divided, others
reunited...infiltrated within by...

Outsiders...taking advantage of our freedoms and government, unwilling to accept
our land according to the laws it was founded upon.

Only taking of the opportunities...unwilling to become an intricate part of the
Independence we have because of lives sacrificed.

Reflections still remain that I have the opportunity to live in "freedom" and I
am a "citizen" of the "Land of Independence".

Reflections of those who serve in our military forces...those near and
far...those past and present...those willing to sacrifice home and family to
protect our freedom and homeland..."Reflecting Independence".


Applebee's Spicy Queso Blanco

1 tablespoon refined coconut oil (or other neutral oil)
1 small onion, divided
1 medium roasted poblano pepper, seeded, de-veined, and minced
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into chunks
4 ounces white cheddar cheese, cut into chunks
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro, divided
1 Roma tomato, de-seeded and diced

Cut onion in half and mince one half. Set aside.

Warm oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 2/3 of minced
poblano and grate 1/2 onion into pan. Stir to coat and cook for 3-5
minutes until tender. Add cream and bring to a bubble. Add cheese a
little at a time, stir until cheese is melted. Stir in 1 tablespoon

To create a simple pico de gallo: Combine chopped onion, tomato,
1/2 tablespoon cilantro, and remaining poblano in a bowl.

Pour queso blanco into a medium size serving bowl (2 1/2 cup or
larger). Top with pico de gallo. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 2 Cups


Blueberry Salsa
per Grit Magazine

1 cup fresh blueberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
2 green onions, finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
A pinch of sugar
A dash of hot sauce (optional for additional heat)

In medium bowl, combine ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.
Salsa will keep in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Yields approximately 1 cup.


Black-eyed Pea Croquettes

Unusual, but surprisingly tasty!



2 (15 ounce) cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup self rising flour
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons season salt


Slightly mash black-eyed peas in large bowl.
Stir in remaining ingredients, except oil, until well blended.
In a large deep skillet on medium-high heat the oil.
Drop bean mixture into oil by 1/4-cupfuls (I use an ice cream scoop), flattening slightly.
Cook croquettes, 7 minutes, turning once or until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels.
Keep warm while cooking remaining croquettes.

for the mango chutney

    1 tablespoon oil
    2 spring onions, or 1 small regular onion
    1 ripe mango
    2 tablespoons vinegar
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1-2 jalapeno peppers, de-seeded and sliced
    dash of salt and pepper
    pinch cinnamon
    pinch allspice
    pinch cardamom
    pinch coriander powder

Mango Jalapeno Chutney
To make the mango chutney:

    Slice the spring onions in small rings.
    saute in a small sauce pan with the oil
    Peel the mango and de-seed.
    Cut the mango in small pieces and add to the onions.
    Add the vinegar, sugar and spices.
    De-seed and chop the jalapeno in small pieces.
    Add the jalapeno pieces to the cooking mango chutney.
    Keep at a low simmer until the liquid has cooked off and it is a well blended mixture.
    Season to taste with additional seasonings or salt and pepper.


Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta w/HOney Glazed Apricots


    1 envelope unflavored gelatin (2 1/4 teaspoons)
    2 tablespoons cold water
    1 cup heavy cream
    1/3 cup sugar
    1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
    One 17.6-ounce tub of Greek yogurt, such as Fage Total brand (2 cups)
    1 cup dried apricots
    1 cup semi-dry white wine,
    1/4 cup honey

    In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water; let stand until softened, 5 minutes.
In a small saucepan, bring the cream, sugar and vanilla bean and seeds to a simmer. Off the heat,
stir in the gelatin until melted. In a bowl, whisk the yogurt until smooth.
Gradually whisk in the vanilla cream; remove the vanilla bean.
Pour the mixture into six 1/2-cup ramekins and refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, simmer the apricots in the white wine over moderately low heat
until the apricots are plump and the wine has reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
Stir in the honey and simmer the syrup until thickened, about 5 minutes; let cool.
    Run a knife around the inside of each ramekin. Set a plate on each ramekin and
invert each panna cotta onto a plate; you may have to tap and shake the ramekins to loosen the panna cottas.
Slice the apricots and spoon them on top of the panna cottas. Drizzle with some of the honey syrup and serve.


Momma's Chocolate Pie
from my kitchen

Made this with Stevia last night for Rick and he said it was perfect!

1 9" deep dish pie pastry, baked until golden

5 egg yolks
1-1/2 cups Stevia
1/2 cup dry cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
5 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 cups milk (I used skim)
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. butter

In heavy saucepan, whisk together dry ingredients. Whisk in milk and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes and whisk in egg yolks. Continue cooking and whisking over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and extract. Pour into baked pie shell. Prepare meringue, spread over and bake in 350 oven until top is golden.


5 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup Stevia

Beat egg whites, extract and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add Stevia and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread over pie filling, sealing to edges of crust. Bake until golden.