Southern Alabama Specialties

Recipes and folklore from the Gulf Coast. Like this favorte recipe, Garlic Shrimp Linguine, gets a nod from Creole cookery and blends new and old world flavors in making one fine dinner.

Grilling Year-round on the Gulf Coast

Life is good on the Gulf Coast as you'll find folks grilling and barbecuing all types of fine foods. Burgers, dogs, steaks, wings, ribs, pork, chicken, beef, seafood, gator, heck ... if it lives around here, we eat it!

Cake Making in the South

A real classic ~ Lemon Pound Cake with Citrus Glaze.

Sunday Dinners are Sacred in the South

An establishment in these parts, sitting down at the dinner table for a family meal is a way of life for many of us. It is quality time well spent sharing our blessings. Enjoy our recipes.

Gulf Coast Seafood Recipes

Platters like this are often on tables around Mobile Bay especially when there is a Jubilee. A Jubilee only occurs in Mobile Bay - find mouth-watering recipes under the Fish and Seafood categories.

August 28, 2013

Award Winning Summertime Tasting Hamburger

A new favorite, maybe the best!

It is crazy how we get stuck in a rut. I mean, eating the same thing over-and-over again. Now I am not saying to put away a good recipe when you find one, I'm just saying I like to try and create new ones from time to time. Do I try to 'out do' the previous favorite? No, nor do I try to replace it. But I think having several great recipes for the same food under the belt, so to speak, is a good idea. To change things up a bit at times, don't you see.

So when I came up with this recipe a few weeks ago, I did what I do best, I reached into the cabinet and let my mind and taste thoughts lead me toward creating what became a hamburger with a remarkable and flavorful, southern smoky grilled taste. A new recipe that was hailed as 'award winning' by all who enjoyed it. (I have made a second batch and grilled them with equally great reactions.) In fact, one even went as far in saying it was the new favorite, the best ever. Well, I don't know . . . I'll let you decide that. Go ahead, make up a batch yourself, get to grilling and enjoy a really good great hamburger. Enjoy!

My New Southern Seasoned Hamburger Recipe
 Perfect for a Holiday Cookout

makes 4 burgers

2 tablespoons Southern Seasoning Home Blend (see below)
2 tablespoons low-sodium Worcestershire
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Badia Complete Seasoning or seasoning salt
2 pounds ground chuck beef (80/20), cold from refrigerator

In a wide large bowl, whisk the first 6 ingredients together. Let set for about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef by carefully breaking it apart and with a large spoon or spatula, blend it into the seasoning mixture. Using your hands will heat the meat and cause the fat to tighten up the texture.

Dip your hands in ice-cold water. Dry hands completely and divide mixture into 4 balls. Quickly pat out into no less than 1-inch thick patties. I like to form the side edges somewhat flat, perpendicular to the surface. Lay each on a baking pan and press an indention into the center of each burger. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until about 30 minutes before ready to grill.

Preheat grill on medium high. Grill patties for 5 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Baste both sides with the of the Hamburger Basting Sauce (below) while grilling.

Top each with a layer of cheese (I used Chipotle Cheddar) right after removing from grill. Add what ever condiments and finish with a dressing however you like. I made up a quick jam by sauteing red and green bell pepper slices with onion silvers along with olive oil and as it just began to caramelize, I added grain mustard and ketchup for a wonderful, dressing to pair with the grilled hamburger.

Note: Badia Compete or Sazon Completa is the same item and is available in most grocers. I use the heck out of this in so many foods as an all-purpose seasoning blend. And what I like best, besides the taste, is that salt is one of the last listed spice ingredients.

SO... What are a few of my other 'favorite' burgers'?
Steakhouse Burger - with flavors of a steakhouse grill
Dad's Better Burger - beef and pork sausage burger with bacon jam and special sauce
Sensational Burgers - pure savory beef burgers with no egg or bread fillers
Smoky Texan 'Ham'burgers - loaded patty with onions, peppers, smoked ham and bacon...juicy with Texan BBQ sauce glaze

Southern Seasoning Home Blend
I like to make up a batch and use as a general additive to so many foods, from dips, soups, stocks and the likes of this: hamburgers. (also esp. good in meatloaf)

1/4 cup dried minced onions
3 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons dried carrots flakes
2 tablespoons dried minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground bay leaves

Combine all in a container with a tight fitting lid. Store in a dry, dark cabinet or pantry.

Note: Carrot flakes are found in natural or health food specialty stores

Hamburger Basting Sauce
Use this to mop on the burgers as you grill.

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon low-sodium Worcestershire
good dash of Chipotle Tabasco or liquid smoke

I like to place this in a half-pint mason jar and mop with a baster

August 26, 2013

Oven Baked Vegetable Spears

Crusted Vegetable Sticks Baked to Perfection.

Yeah, I know. There are way too many recipes for oven-baked asparagus, green beans and zucchini spears, but this one is different. It is my concoction, my way of doing it. A recipe that not only taste good but is good for you too.

You see, I made hamburgers the past weekend (okay, not so good for us but I did use whole wheat buns, okay?) and we just could not go the usual potato fries, not even baked. Nope - rarely do we eat potatoes anymore and when we do, it is gonna be one loaded dish, really good but bad. So instead, I opted for baked vegetable sticks. Now this recipe is, like I said, one that is good for you in the sense that it uses much better ingredients than most bake 'fried' vegetable recipes. It is one that I tweaked to our liking.

Give it a try. It is one which I will make many times over now that I have perfected it. Enjoy!

Oven Baked Vegetable Spears
I list a few ingredients with my version and an option for those not dieting
serves 4

quarter pound each of fresh whole green bean and fresh zucchini
half pound of fresh asparagus spears
1/2 cup whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Egg-Beaters or 2 whole eggs
1 1/2 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise or  regular mayo
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 teaspoon no-salt Cajun or Creole seasoning, divided
1 teaspoon low-salt seasoning blend (I like Badia Completa), divided
1/3 cup Japanese Panko, see note

Wash the green beans and trim the ends. Wash the asparagus and snap at natural breaking point removing the tough root end. Soak in ice water for about 15 minutes. Remove, drain and completely pat dry. Was the zucchini and cut away the ends; cut into strips about the same size as the green beans.

Using three wide shallow bowls, add the flour and half of the seasonings to one. Whisk the egg with the mayo in the 2nd bowl. Mix the Parmesan, sesame seeds, the remaining half of seasonings and Panko in the 3rd bowl.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Position wire racks on two baking pans. Spray with vegetable oil. DO NOT SKIP the coating of the racks. Dip the vegetable sticks in the flour, dip in the egg mixture and roll in the Panko mixture to coat. Place on the racks, not touching and place into the oven, center rack.

Reduce oven to 350 and bake about 15 minutes or until brown. Remove and serve warm

I served these with a Chipotle low-fat mayo combo sauce and a low-fat Ranch type dipping sauce.

Note: Panko is a better coating and is healthier than regular breadcrumbs, here's why:

  • Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb made from bread without crusts. It has a crisper, airier texture than most types of breadcrumbs.
  • Panko stays crisp after cooking, unlike other types of breading, which can get soggy.
  • Panko is lower in calories, sodium, and fat and higher in fiber than regular breadcrumbs.

August 10, 2013

Top 5 Canning Recipes

The best for a reason.

Well, at least we think so and so must many of you according to latest search results (Aug 2013).

Since the gardens across the country in many areas are now peaking (ours of course are long over except for hot climate peppers etc.), I thought I would recap a reference page to the top 5 recipes that visitors search when looking at canning recipes on my site as rated this week, August 10, 2013.

Click on title to open recipe in new window.

TOP 5 from the top:

Spicy Pickled Green Beans

Bread and Butter Sweet Pickles

Squash Pickles

Tomato Salsa


August 7, 2013

Smothered Pork Chops over Collard Greens

Old southern foods are a lot like people - resilient!

There has been a lot on my mind lately that I just can't seem to shake no matter how much I try to move on, certain thoughts still linger around, unsettled I suppose, now going on the second month. I'm talking about people, my southern brethren to be exact, folks who just don't know how to act nor have learned the values of living. That's it in a nutshell.

Now, I get all riled up when I see a chef go and do some dang fool thing with a southern recipe, meddling with it or doing something that I purely disagree with and then calling out to all that it's the real deal. That's one thing; it's my opinion and I think I have the right to do so and I guess they have the right too. I have called out on such a thing a few times before and probably will again. Of course, the person that I'm talking about, well, I can say I have never thought of using the title 'chef' as reference. Why, that's like calling me a chef and we all know I'm nothing more that a cook. A self-made entrepreneur for sure, this person climbed to TV stardom and is indeed a very shrewd business person. A 'celebrity chef' is perhaps more fitting, but I still think adding 'chef' is using the title loosely. Although she did entertain me for a short while before I became bored with the epitomized act of all things southern even though her southernism is a bit uncomfortable and embarrassing. The south was and is the main focus of this celebrity's food, media and merchandising commodity, but really, do we southerners really tauk like that?

And, when I see such a person acting a fool on a matter that should have been answered and coped with and overhauled so long ago, it just tears me up. To sling slurs as a child or young teenager is one thing. We can blame it on peer pressure. But this is a grandmother. And we are not talking about targeting aspersions toward just one group. Why, no - she made sure she scooped everyone up in her sweet pot. I doubt her intentions missed any of her many pursued crowds. Well, it just goes to show that sooner or later, as grandmother used to say "even sweet honey brings out nasty flies."

Oh well, I may not feel any better; my head might not be any clearer nor my heart any lighter and I might have offended a few but I do have a real, bonafide southern recipe to share. One that I am proud of and one that's the real deal. This recipe or versions like it, been around for decades, resilient to disparateness long before anyone ever thought of becoming a 'celebrity chef.' Enjoy!

Smothered Thick Pork Chops
over Seasoned Collard Greens
4 servings

for the Smothered Chops:
Salt, pepper and seasoning blend
4 thick cut pork chops (about 1-inch thickness), diced
3 pieces thick cut hickory smoked bacon
2 tablespoon light olive oil
1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 sweet red bell pepper, sliced into ribbons
2 garlic toes, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves or 1/2 teaspoon ground bay leaves
1 teaspoon fresh minced thyme
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley, optional

Dry chops completely with paper towels and season with salt, pepper and a seasoning blend. I used a no salt Creole spice mix but any Mrs. Dash or other blend would do just fine to add a bit of flavor to the meat. Set aside.

Pork Chops in Gravy covered with Onions and PeppersIn a large heavy skillet over medium high heat, cook bacon until lightly browned. Remove bacon with tongs to a plate to drain and remove all but 1 teaspoon of bacon grease to a large stockpot (for cooking the collards). Reduce heat to medium and add olive oil. Add chops and cook about 3 minutes for a good brown sear to form. Turn chops over and sear the other side cooking for 3 minutes. Remove chops with tongs to a clean plate.

Stir in the onion and bell pepper cooking for about 5 minutes until light brown. Remove onion and bell pepper with a slotted spoon to a bowl leaving as much oil as possible in skillet. Stir the garlic into the skillet and cook until fragrant. Add flour and stir to mix. Cook stirring the bottom for about 4 minutes or until mixture is light brown. Slowly add chicken stock and stir to blend. Add bay leaves, thyme and parsley. Add additional salt if needed to the gravy. Nestle in the chops and spoon gravy over the top of each. Sprinkle the onion mixture onto each chop. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook 15 minutes, test (pork should be 145 degrees F.), cover and turn off heat.

for the Collard Greens:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small hot pepper or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 bunches fresh collards (or packaged if desired)
2 cups or more chicken stock
1 smoked ham or turkey meat
salt and pepper to taste
dash of cider vinegar

Rinse greens underwater in a deep sink if possible allowing grit to settle to bottom. Remove greens and drain water rinsing away the grit. Repeat until no trace of grit remains. Remove the thick stems and discard any blemished leaves. Rough chop collards and put aside.

Add olive oil to stockpot with bacon grease and heat over medium high heat. Add onion and hot pepper. Saute until onion is soft. Add a handful of collards at a time tossing all while cooking until all the greens are wilted. Add the chicken stock and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the ham hock and simmer covered on low until greens are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove cover, add the vinegar, stir and continue simmering out most of the liquid, about 30 minutes. Do not allow collards to scorch.

To serve:
Spoon with a slotted spoon a helping of collards on each dish. Top with a pork chop covered with onions. Divide the gravy among the chops as well as the bacon.

Note: Back in the day, for many households, the collards were cooked into the gravy mixture (which was thinned out) with the chops nestled in during the tenderizing stage of the last, long simmer.