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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Karen B's Sauteed Peas and Asparagus

This is a new twist on plain old peas! Sauteed Peas are very easy to make and taste so much better than simmered in water.

  • 1/2 of a large Package (or one small package) of frozen Sweet Green Peas
  • One Green Onion Sliced in half and chopped
  • One Handful of Asparagus sliced in 1/2 inch slices
  • One Garlic Clove finely chopped
  • One small handful of Fresh Italian Parsley chopped
  • 1/2 16 oz. can of Chicken Stock
  • Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Olive Oil
In large skillet or fry pan on medium heat add three tablespoons Olive Oil, Chopped Garlic, Chopped Green onion stir until garlic starts to infuse in the oil but not turn brown. You should be able to smell it at this point.

Add the Peas and Asparagus, season with Salt, Pepper, Chicken Stock and saute until the Asparagus reaches your desired tenderness, add the chopped Parsley, toss and serve.

You can omit the Asparagus and just use peas if you prefer.

Serves (4)


Easy Sauteed Green Beans

For a quick healthy side dish we make Sauteed Green Beans.  The kids even love them ;)

  • Whole Fresh Green Beans (One small handful per person)
  • One Large Garlic Clove Grated (Two if serving six or more)
  • Course Sea Salt - or regular salt if fine
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Olive Oil
Wash and de-stem the green beans.  

Bring a couple inches of water to a simmer in a skillet.  Add the beans and simmer turning occasionally for about two to three minutes.  Remove strain under cold water.

Dry the water out of the skillet add two to three tablespoons Olive Oil and grated Garlic.  Heat on low heat until you start to smell the garlic infusing the oil.  Turn heat up to Med High and add the Green Beans.  

Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.  Saute' until just barely tender do not over cook.  You still want a slight crunch in the center.  This may take maybe five minutes no longer. 

Serve :)

Grilled Herb Carrots, Celery & Potato's

Summer is the best time to be cooking outdoors.  While cooking your Meats,  Seafood and Somore's outside why not cook your side dish as well.

All you need is a grill pan like this one, basically like a fry pan with holes.  The handle folds for easy storage and is stainless for easy cleaning.

  • Potato's
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Dried Italian Spice Mix (or spices of your favorites)
  • Fresh Finely Grated Garlic
Preheat Grill

Precook your washed potato's in the microwave, about one minute per potato.  This will partially cook the potato only.  They will still be firm enough to cut into thick slices.

Clean and slice up all your vegetables cutting on an angle for a much nicer presentation as shown in the photo.

Toss all ingredients into a large mixing bowl, drizzle with Olive Oil and toss to coat.

Heat slotted grill pan on grill, pour your vegetables onto the hot pan (the Olive Oil will prevent sticking).

Grill turning occasionally to prevent burning.  Cook just until the carrot start to get tender but still have a firm center and serve.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wine Buff Movie Review: Napa Valley vs. French Wines

For all you Wine Buff's.  Check out our other site for the movie review:

Bottle Shock, a movie based in 1976 when the struggling Napa Valley and the French face off in a historical blind wine tasting.  Based on the true story!  Watch how Napa Valley is put on the map!

Great review!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Boiled Crabs with Zatarain's Shrimp and Crab Boil

Boiling crabs during the summer can be easy when you have all the right stuff!  This easy recipe can be done indoors or out!  If your boiling outdoors for a party just make sure you have a huge pot and a propane burner.

I also recommend lining your table with a plastic or vinyl cloth covered with news papers.  Lots of paper towels, Tabasco, butter, good friends and drinks!


  • 3 Quarts of water
  • One package Zatarain's Shrimp & Crab Boil In Bag
  • 1/4 C Salt
  • 1 Whole Lemon quartered
  • One Dozen Crabs
  • Two Tablespoons Vinegar
Add all ingredients to your large pot, bring to a boil.  Carefully add the crabs. Return to boil and let cook for 20 minutes.  Turn off heat source and let sit for five minutes (this lets the crabs absorb more of the spices). 

Remove Crabs from liquid and serve with extra lemon and drawn butter.

Karen's Tip:  To spice up the crabs a bit, add some Tabasco to the liquid!

Serves 4, prep and cook time total 25 minutes!


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pan Fried Fresh Caught Michigan Blue Gill

Catch your mess of fish!

After you have your fish, have someone fillet them for you like I did.  My Brother Jim is "Mr. Fisherman" in my book so he cleaned these beauty's.  We grew up fishing all our lives.  Still to this day he has to bait my hook!  I can remove the fish, fillet it, cook it... but not bait my hook.

After he cleaned them, I rinsed the filet's with fresh water, bagged them and put on ice.  When I got home I was worried about them being "fishy"  Jim said  they are so fresh that they shouldn't be but to go ahead and soak them overnight in milk to get rid of any fishy taste.  He usually soaks them in salt water and then cooks.  So I soaked them in milk just in case.  

After T-Ball we were excited to cook my Son's first catch!  Here is how we did it:

  • Fresh Blue Gill Filet's
  • Pnut or Canola Oil
  • Whole Wheat Flour - or White
  • White Corn Meal - or Yellow
  • Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • Granulated Garlic
  • Tabasco Sauce
  • 2 Large Eggs
Heat oil in a fry pan to medium high heat.

Break and whisk two eggs in a glass dish.  Season with four to five dashes of Tabasco Sauce, a dash of Salt, a dash of pepper and a dash of chili powder.

What?  I know Tabasco!  It is important to season your fish before the flour also.  I soaked the filet's in the egg mixture before dredging in the flour to soak up some of the flavors.  The Tabasco isn't hot after cooking, but gives a great taste.  You should cook your fried chicken this way too!

Cooking Tip: You can also add some onion slices to your hot oil to add extra flavor while cooking chicken or fish!

In separate dish add 1-1/2 Cups of Flour, 1/2 Cup Corn Meal.  Season with 1/2 teaspoon Salt, 1/2 teaspoon Pepper, 1/4 teaspoon Granulated Garlic, 1/4 teaspoon Chili Powder, mix well.  If you like it a bit more spicy add more Chili Powder.

You can easily double these amounts for larger batches, just don't double the salt, be careful, you can always add more if needed.

Dredge your filet's in the egg and then into the flour mixture, coating well.

Place one fillet in hot oil to test.  Cook for five minutes turning once.  When fillet is nice and crispy remove and place on paper towel lined tray.  Cooking the fillet until crispy cooks any little bones left in the fillet like smelt has.  Preventing you from picking out any bones missed :)

Continue to cook the rest of the filet's be careful not to over crowd your pan, here we have done four at a time in a medium sized fry pan.

Continue to cook the filet's until they are a nice brown color and crispy about five minutes or so.  Keep cooked filet's on paper towel lined tray in the oven at 200 to keep warm.

When finished plate and serve with lemon, catchup and or tarter sauce.

My four year old Son loved his fish!  He ate two plate fulls.  I do have to say nothing is better than watching him get so excited catching his fish and eating them!  He can't wait to go fishing again soon.

Thank you Uncle Jim and Grandpa for a wonderful day, we love you!


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Wine Pick Of The Day! Barefoot Chardonnay California

Winning Wine Brand Of The Year!  Market watch 2007 Leaders.

Wine: Barefoot Chardonnay, California, No Date?

Barefoot Says: A delightful wine with tempting flavors of green apples and peaches.  Hints of honey and vanilla enhance the buttery finish.  Perfect with seafood, poultry, fresh fruits, white sauce pastas and mild cheeses.  Wonderful!

I say: Disappointed :(  Was very excited to try this, heard a ton about it, sad actually.  Great price $10 down from $16.00 for 1.5L.  Found at Kroger's supermarket.  You can taste the honey, but it was a bitter honey?  It was amazing with my White Sangria Recipe, but that has Triple Sec, Sugar & tons of fruit.  Not so buttery at the end and I love buttery Chardonnay!  Would only purchase again for a party and if it was on sale :(

Husband said:  You are going to blog about that swell? Lol...lol..

Sorry Barefoot :(

Friday, June 12, 2009

Two Must Have Seafood Seasonings: Old Bay & Zatarain's Crawfish, Shrimp & Crab Boil

These two must haves are a staple in your pantry for cooking shellfish and fish.  I have this on hand all the time!

If you are in a bind and need to make a quick shrimp cocktail these seasonings are the way to go.  Add to beer or cider vinegar, steam and your done in minutes!

Old Bay has been around longer than I have.  It's great for Seafood, Poultry, Salads, and Meats.

Zatarain's has been around forever also, since 1889!  It is a staple for New Orleans type seafood boils!  It gives it that extra spice I absolutely love.

Zatarain's has simple ingredients: Mustard Seed, Corinader Seed, Cayenne Pepper, Bay Leaves, Dill Seed, Allspice in a boil in bag ready to toss in a pot and cook your crabs, craw fish, lobster or anything else you desire!

Old Bay's ingredients: Celery Salt, Mustard, Red Peppers, Black Pepper, Bay Leaves, Cloves, Allspice, Ginger, Mace, Cardamom, Cinnamon and Paprika.

Old Bay is even great in Bloody Mary's.

I will post quick and easy delicious recipes for you using these two seasonings!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Old Bay Steamed Shrimp


1/2 cup cider vinegar or beer

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons OLD BAY® Seasoning

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, leaving tails on

1 cup OLD BAY® Cocktail Sauce (or make your own).



In a medium saucepan, mix vinegar, water and OLD BAY. Bring to boil on medium heat. Gently stir in shrimp, then cover.

Steam 2 to 3 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Drain well.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until hungry guests arrive. Best served with punchy cocktail sauce and lively conversation.



Tuesday, June 9, 2009

US now biggest wine export market

ABC News posted: The United States has edged ahead of the United Kingdom as Australia's biggest wine export market by value.

The latest report by the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation says export volumes increased to the US and fell to the UK during May.

Corporation executive Paul Henry thinks the US will become an even bigger market in the months ahead.

"It's inevitable to a certain extent that the US will surplant the UK on a consistent basis, purely if one views that that's going to be the largest wine market in the world by 2010 and just by sheer force of numbers and therefore consumers it will ultimately outpace the UK," he said.

In the latest market assessment, China, Hong Kong and Japan recorded the largest growth for Australian wine exports.

Mr Henry says winemakers need to actively promote their products.

"The impact for South Australian growers I think and winemakers and brand owners is going to be less about whether they're changing their product in order to appeal to an Asian consumer and much more about whether they're prepared to get on a plane and support that market," he said.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Summer Cocktail Party On The Patio Buffet & Bar

Summer time is here and it's a great time to host a  Cocktail Party on the patio!

Pick up some great themed invitations and gather your friends for a good time.

Pick and average of four hourdouve's to serve at your party.  Guests always offer to bring something so I let them know what I have so their is no duplicates.

A white cloth from your local fabric store is always a great thing to have on hand.  You can use any color with it.  Here I used the white cloth to cover the table.  It is large enough to touch the ground.  Then I used a simple pink table cover cut in have and placed it over the white cloth on an angle so the point is in the middle.

I then added some candles (the white glass candle holder came from Pottery Barn) flowers and greenery to add that special touch.  The bouquet of flowers I found at Costco came with tons of greenery and lemon leaves.  I used the flowers cut them down and placed into small sterling cups.  Saved the greens for the table.

Take a large tray and place a wooded cutting board in the center.  Arrange large chunks of cheese and fruit like grapes, strawberries and apple around the cheeses.  In the sides of the tray I placed tall thin bread sticks in glasses and rows of crackers filled the rest of the open space in the tray. 

I try to use matching serving pieces it always displays makes the table look perfect.  Also set out some extras for guests bringing food as well as make sure to leave room on the table.

Setting up the Bar area in a location away from the food buffet and tables will help move 
party a bit preventing everyone from clogging up one area.  Here we set the bar up in a cute little area with lanterns in the tree for dramatic lighting after the sun sets.

We used one type of glassware for everyone, whether it be martini's or wine.  Be sure to place about three glasses per guest out. Someone always sets their glass down and forgets where it was. This way there is plenty and you do not have to run wash one!

If you are having a Sangria like here my White Sangria found in my recipe box.  Place some extra fruit in the glasses for garnish, it looks great and your guests have a treat when they reach the bottom.

Plenty of ice for chilling wine and your ice bucket is needed.  You can hide a cooler under the table behind the cloth for easy access if needed.

As always stock plenty of mixers, water and garnish.  I would rather have to too much food and drink than not enough :)

Happy Summer!

Classic Summer Vinaigarette With Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard

Here is a simple and light Vinaigrette.  No preservatives just make and serve:

  • 4 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 2/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Place all ingredients except the Olive Oil in mixing bowl, whisk together.  While whisking add the Olive Oil slowly.  Whisk until blended.

Serve over you favorite salad.


Comment: June 9th, 2009

So last night I was having dinner with my best friend and we made a salad and tried out your summer vinaigrette recipe and LOVED it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I brought a salad to work today just so I can have the dressing!  The best part about the recipe was it was so easy to make!  Love your blog Karen!


Happy Tuesday!


Jackie Kim 

The Best Summer BBQ Baked Beans by Paula Dean

I found this recipe from the food network, I believe Paula Deans show.  It is a great new twist to the same old Baked Bean recipe we all have been making now for years.  Now matter what I would do to spice it up a bit but they sort of tasted the same.  Not any more!

This baked bean recipe is wonderful for any summer BBQ get together or even during the winter.

  • 4 - 16 oz. cans of baked beans (Bush's, Best or your favorite brand)
  • 16 oz. can of French Fried Onions (crushed and set 1/4 to the side)
  • 1 Cup Molasses
  • 1 Cup BBQ Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Mustard
  • 20 oz. Crushed Pineapple - Drained
  • 5  Strips of Cooked Bacon - Chopped
  • Salt and Pepper (dash of each)
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl mix together Baked Beans, Fried Onions, Molasses, BBQ Sauce, Mustard, Crushed Pineapple, Salt and Pepper.

Pour into baking dish (first spray with Pam or Olive Oil).  Top with chopped bacon and the remaining Crushed Fried Onions.

Bake for one hour at 350 degrees.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Summer Brats and Italian Sausages On The Grill

It's almost summer time!  Everyone loves to cook out doors.  If it's dinner or a party this easy recipe will definitly keep them coming back for more!

At the supermarket pick up some "fresh" Brats or Italian Sausage.

  • Brats or Italian Sausage Links (1 to 2 per person)
  • Two Cloves Garlic - Minced
  • One Large Spanish Onion (yellow) cut in half and sliced 
  • One Large Green Pepper - cut in half and sliced 1/2" thick
  • One Large Red Pepper - cut in half and sliced 1/2" thick
  • One Large Yellow or Orange Pepper - cut in half and sliced 1/2" thick
  • 2 - 3 Bottles of Beer (depending on how many people you have)
  • Dried Oregeno
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
  • Good Fresh Hoagie or Sausage Type Buns
Place the Onions and Peppers into a heated large fry pan coated well with olive oil.  Toss in the Garlic, Onions and Peppers, season with the oregano, salt and pepper.  You will go heavier than usual with the oregeno.  When they are just sauteed and the onions start to turn color transfer to a grill safe pan (I used the disposable aluminum 1/2 catering pans from the market).

Pour the beer into the Onion and Pepper mixture, place pan on the grill to heat.

Just brown your sausages on the grill to a nice brown color not burned and under cooked.

Transfer the sausages to the Onions, Peppers and Beer pan.  Let simmer until the sausages are cooked through.  You can remove the pan if needed at this time, it will keep the sausages hot until your ready to serve.  I just leave it on the grill.

In a large bun place on the of sausages and top with the Cooked Onions and Peppers!

Serves 6 Adults (add more Onion, Peppers and Beer for larger parties)



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