Embrace the Texas Heat with a Fiery Mesquite Grilled Chicken Salad

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Cool off this summer by using the power of hot chilies to provide you with your own personal air conditioning.

Spicy Mesquite Grilled Chicken Breast on Fresh Salad

Savory Mesquite Grilled Spicy Chicken on Salad

I learned, some twenty plus years ago, an important tip on staying cool during the hot, muggy Texas summers. I was working on a landscape crew down on the Texas coast and while the temperatures hovered close to the century mark during the summer, it was the 90 plus percent humidity that took its toll on me.

One of our crew members, Javier, almost always had a fresh jalapeno in the lunch his wife packed for him each day. I finally asked, “Javier – Why the jalapenos?” and his reply was something like “jalapenos are air conditioning”. I sat for a moment, taking it in, when he went on to explain that the chilies make you sweat and when the air moves across your wet skin it helps to cool the body. He of course was right and I was given one more reason to love chili peppers, each and every one of them.

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a gift for your mouth from deep in the south

Home Made Bread

Home Made Bread

What’s better than sliced bread? Home made bread, sliced and buttered. Anything better than that? Yep, toasted pimento cheese sandwiches.

Pimento (or pimiento) cheese, however you spell it, is one of those things that transports me straight back to my youth. Kind of like peanut butter and brown sugar sandwiches. They could be found at all levels of society. Finger sandwiches at the tea room or country club, or part of a hearty sack lunch for the steel worker or elementary school kid. Continue reading

sunday breakfast – polenta and eggs

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Polenta and Egg Breakfast

Polenta and Egg Breakfast

I was talking with photographer friend Jeff Spirer the other day. He usually comes up with interesting food ideas, often dishes I have never tried before. He mentioned that he made a spin off of shrimp and grits that night. Basically he married Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Shrimp Diane recipe with good old fashioned creamy grits and Parmesan cheese. I’m going to have to give this a try.

Somewhere along the way polenta was mentioned which led to me looking it up and then picking up a bag from the grocery. That night I made a cup of the polenta to just get the feel for it. I liked it and got the feeling that I would be able to make good use of it in future meals.

Having grown up in the South this was the first time polenta ever hit my plate but it was not an altogether unfamiliar taste or texture to me since we had grits growing up and for me grits are breakfast food. Continue reading

17 March 2012 – St. Patrick’s Day Sandwich

If you are thinking this post is going to be about some monstrosity of a mustard infused corned beef, cabbage and potato sandwich with green bread – you would be wrong. It is not that I am opposed to something like that …. maybe not the green bread, it is just that I didn’t have those ingredients this St. Patrick’s Day. Since we are on the subject of this day here is a link that will tell you all you need to know about the meaning of the day, its origin and what it has evolved into. Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Okay so this does happen to be about a sandwich that I just happened to make on St.Patrick’s Day. Many times making a sandwich is a pretty mundane exercise that we go through in order to quickly knock down that hunger that has been building. I didn’t want to just slap some meat, cheese and perhaps a  vegetable or two together between some bread and call it a day. I wanted to make, create, build or assemble something outstanding. I wanted to make something that looked almost too good to eat. I wanted to be a sandwich engineer or perhaps sandwich artist.

I started reading up on various sandwiches and comparing the ingredients to what I had on hand. Turns out that we had exactly what was needed to make that classical BLT (Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato) Sandwich plus a little something extra. Food historian John Mariani claimed the BLT was the second most popular sandwich in the United States residing just behind the ham sandwich and in 2008 a poll reveled that the BLT was the most popular sandwich in  the United Kingdom.

Okay so BLT it is and here is what goes in the classic version –

  • Bread
  • Bacon
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Mayonnaise

That’s it – simple is good. Depending on the quality of ingredients you use this sandwich can go from ordinary to extraordinary.

We had some good bread to take advantage of. An artisan sour dough loaf that had some nice texture and would become very flavorful once buttered and toasted. It is an investment in flavor when you buy fresh baked breads. They don’t keep as long as the preservative loaded Wonder Bread types but you will finish it before it goes bad because it is just so darned good. Continue reading

15 March 2012 – Lupo-Lobo Chicken Fried Steak

Well, how long has it been? Long enough for me to know I have neglected my duties here. I bet it has been six months or so since the last post. My apologies are extended.

About a year ago I posted here with some historical information regarding one of my favorite all time meals – Chicken Fried Steak. Some may call it country fried steak or pan fried steak but for me it is Chicken Fried Steak. It was called that when my Mom first put one before my face many many moons ago and I will call it that until my last days. You can call it delicious.

So today I had the honor of cooking this wonderful Texas classic for my wonderful Texas parents. On my last post I didn’t provide a recipe or go into the details of the preparation. I am going to make up for that today. Continue reading

21 September 2011 – Mom’s Meatloaf – Sort of

Now that it has begun to cool off I begin thinking of different dishes to eat. Hearty belly warming type meals. The other day the thought of meatloaf came to me; probably the change of the seasons. Meatloaf sometimes gets a bad rap but I love it. I should say instead that I love the way my Mom cooked it. We had it a couple times a month at least while we were growing up. She made the ketchup/tomato paste glazed variety and for me it is the only way to go. Continue reading