Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cowboy Caviar

photo The Sweets Life

Yesterday while I was making a comment on a fellow blogger's site, I came upon this recipe.  It wasn't the first time I had come across Cowboy Caviar... it has been popping recently all over the place.  Every recipe I checked was slightly different, some had black eyed peas, others black beans -  some used red wine vinegar, others lime juice, and so on.  The one constant was corn and fresh chopped tomatoes, but then again, my neighbor brought me some last week that used Rollo tomatoes which are canned and hot!

The funny part is I have been making this for years, or something very close to it, as an accompaniment to tortilla chips, salsa and sour cream. I just didn't know it had a name!  It's a great appetizer for the summer, especially when you are going on a picnic by foot or by boat, like we will be doing on the Fourth.

If you want to check another recipe, go to my fellow blogger The Sweets Life and check out her version. The difference is in the dressing and the fact she uses green onions, instead of red.  When I make mine next week I am going to try that!



1 Tbsp red wine vinegar           

2 T lime juice

2 T olive oil

1/2 t salt

1/2 t ground pepper

red pepper flakes to taste

1 firm ripe avocado, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can corn

2/3 cup sliced green onions OR
      1/2 Cup red onion chopped

2/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1/2 lb coarsely chopped Roma tomatoes


1. Mix dressing ingredients and set aside.

2. Combine black beans, corn, green onions, cilantro, tomatoes, and avocado into a small bowl.

3. Add dressing and mix gently. Sprinkle salt to taste. Serve with tortilla chips.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fourth of July Weekend...Game Plan

If you have a house on the lake, the seashore or the country you will probably be bombarded with overnight guests for three nights over the Fourth of July weekend..  If you are the hostess, that can translate into stress very quickly  unless you are well organized.

 Let's face it, the idea of a getaway out of the city in this heat is a top priority on everyone's list so invitations to the country are in high demand.  Before you commit to the weekend, make sure you have enough room for everybody.  I don't mean footage wise, but comfort wise for you and for them.   You don't want to have so many guests as to make it miserable for everybody, including the dogs.

Your job is to ensure that everyone is well housed, well fed and well entertained.  The latter is a cinch here at the lake, all you have to do is open the back door and there is a lake with plenty of toys to enjoy. The former is also no problem, plenty of beds and pillows, air mattresses and sleeping bags.  A big rec type room in the basement with its own full bath, tv. laundry and stereo that you can close off and never hear from them again.  Except maybe throw them a bone once in awhile...!  That's where my nephew and his friends stay when they come over and visit. For the hearty ones, there is alway a tent on the dock! Then comes my part, the well fed portion, and that is the one that can be tricky and an ordeal if you haven't planned ahead.

I have already sat down and made a list of menus with a shopping list and a schedule of all meals.  There will be six of us staying at the house and a few more for the 4th of July cookout.  Two of our guests will be staying nearby and driving up for the day, so that means meals for eight for 3 days. 

This year, my daughter has begged me to cut back on the cooking so I can enjoy myself.  Most of the time I am exhauted by the second day and this time I am going to keep it simple and fun for me too.

Friday night is tricky since you dont know when everyone will be arriving.   Keep it a very simple and casual  meal.  This is not the time for a barbecue, the traffic everywhere this particular weekend is unpredictable.  If there are guests that will be delayed, you can always cook their pasta when they arrive.  Others may leave early and arrive mid afternoon.  Have a treat for them after their long drive.


Afternoon tea and pound cake


Garlic Bread (buy frozen)
Chocolate and pistachio gelatos



Orange juice
Bagels and muffins
coffee and tea

Picnic Lunch on the island

Cuban Sandwiches
Potato Chips


Sliced Pepperoni rounds with honey mustard

Saffron Rice
Rustic Blueberry Tart
Vanilla Ice Cream

Sunday 4th Breakfast/Brunch

Fresh fruit
English Muffins & Jams

Cookout on the Dock

(brought by friends and neighbor guests)
Baked Beans with Molasses and Bourbon (Bush makes the best ready made!)



Orange juice
Coffee and tea


Cold Leftover Chicken Mojito
Green Salad
Leftover brownies & Lemon Squares

Afternoon tea and leftover pound cake


Grown Up Mac And Cheese
Cold Sliced Tomatoes With Vinaigrette
Lemon Ice

Plan of attack!

Do as much as you can this weekend to get the house in shape.  Bake and freeze!

1.  This weekend, change beds, lay out clean towels.  Make sure guest bathroom has new soap, kleenex and toiletries for your guests.  Lay out some fun magazines and books  in bedrooms and coffee table. Wash lake towels and lay out in a hamper by lake door. Make marinara sauce and freeze

2. Monday -  Bake pound cake and cheese wafers and freeze

3. Tuesday -  Bake lemon squares and brownies and freeze

4.  Wednesday -  go grocery shopping

5.  Thursday - Get everything ready for the 4th cookout including, tablecloths, napkins, plates, serving dishes, glasses etc and set in a corner in basement or garage so you don't have to worry over the weekend.  REST UP!

Of course, this is all nice and dandy for those of us who don't work.  Plenty of time to sit and worry.  If you are not that lucky, use the menu as a benchmark and buy everything! The good thing about it is that it is casual and economical so it won't kill your budget if you go out and buy ready made things like coleslaw, brownies and pound cake.  Make sure you relax and enjoy yourself,  Otherwise your guests will feel your stress and it will dampen the weekend..

*Make enough to have cold for lunch on Monday

Photos #1 Getty images #2 Martha Stewart

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lake Lanier Islands 4th of July Fireworks!

Although there will be many events taking place on the lake for July 4th, the largest firework display in North Georgia, and perhaps the most well-known in the region is the Light Up the Lake Fireworks Independence Day Celebration hosted by Lake Lanier Islands.

All-day live entertainment, games, and family fun will precede the fireworks extravaganza. The park opens at 10 a.m. and the fireworks are scheduled for 9:40 p.m. Overnight packages and regular daily admission tickets are available. For more information, call Lake Lanier Islands at 770-932-7200, or visit their website. The Islands are located at 7000 Holiday Road in Buford.

Have a splash all day with the exciting FunDunker®, an interactive water attraction; Wild Waves, Georgia’s largest wave pool; and numerous waterslides. The Kiddie Lagoon featuring Wiggle Waves are perfect for pint-sized guests. Don’t forget to scope out a spot on the half mile sandy white beach, the best spot to watch North Georgia’s largest fireworks display, which will be presented at dark.

After 3:00 p.m. Fireworks Pricing

Beach & WaterPark Admission - $14.99* per person

After 7:00 p.m. Fireworks Pricing

Lake Lanier Islands Resort Gate Price - $10.00 per vehicle

Beach and WaterPark Admission - $10.00 per person

*Price is per person and does not include tax.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cocktail Cheese Wafers

There is nothing more Southern than these cheese wafers.  I love to make a batch  to have with cocktails in the evening, particularly when I have weekend guests.  They keep, baked,  in a tin box for a week or two or you can just stick the uncooked dough in the freezer to slice as needed.  They are also a nice hostess present to bring to the lake or the beach.

Yield: About 60 wafers


1 cup flour

1 stick butter, softened

½ lb. extra sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

Pecan halves


1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Mix flour and butter, then add cheese and seasonings. Form into a roll (approximately 1 inch in diameter). Wrap the roll in wax paper and chill at least several hours or overnight. Slice into thin wafers, top each with a pecan half, and bake about 8 minutes.

*I placed butter sliced into 8 pieces and grated cheese in food processor, pulsed 3 or 4 times to integrate. added flour sifted with cayenne and salt and pulsed about five more times to combine.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day on the Lake!

Family picnics on Mary Alice Park

Nothing like a cold beer in the water!

Atop one of the islands in the lake

Great place for our next picnic!

With barbecue pit already in place!

Cocktail Cove

Smart geese on Cocktail Cove

All photos J. Cadenas 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Father's Day, Now and Then

June 2010


September 2008

A little girl needs Daddy

For many, many things:

Like holding her high off the ground

Where the sunlight sings!

Like being the deep music

That tells her all is right

When she awakens frantic with

The terrors of the night.

Like being the great mountain

That rises in her heart

And shows her how she might get home

When all else falls apart.

Like giving her the love

That is her sea and air,

So diving deep or soaring high

She'll always find him there.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Father's Day Picnic On The Lake

If you want to give Dad a real break, why not pack up a hearty picnic and go somewhere for the day.  If you are not blessed with a lake, a pool, or the seashore, go camping (if he's athletic) or just pick out a site, lay out a tablecloth and hang up the hammock.  Then again, maybe he's just the type who enjoys staying at home this year and watching the soccer match.  Whatever.  Save the grill for another day and let him enjoy his day.

It is unbearably hot here in Georgia, with temperatures in the 90's.  There is nothing more cooling and refreshing than this cucumber soup so bring it along, particularly if you are going to be outside.

You can make all this the day before and pack it up that morning.

No Fuss Father's Day Menu


*If you really don't want to work, the smoked pulled pork from Kirkland at Costco is terrific.  No kidding, I passed it off as home made just the other day and nobody noticed, sshhh!  It is that good.  Do make your own sauce, that's a must!

You can find this year's Father's Day menu at Lindaraxa's Garden by clicking here

Photo: Julieta Cadenas

Monday, June 14, 2010

Baked Halibut With Fingerling Potatoes, Corn And Herb Pesto

Fresh Halibut is in season and you can pick some up this week at Costco.  While you are there, you might also want to pick up a bottle of their Soy Ginger Marinade which is terrific on everything from fish to vegetables.

This recipe is adapted from one I saw a few years back on CBS News with Chef Lynn Crawford of the Four Seasons.

Serves 4

Soy ginger marinade

4 piece 6 oz. Halibut filets

4 tablespoons Olive oil

1 tablespoon Butter

2 piece Shallot, finely diced

 1 cup Mexicali canned corn

 1 cup Fingerling potatoes, cooked and sliced into ½ coins


Marinade the halibut in a soy ginger marinade, for a couple of hours, which you can buy or make from scratch. Discard the marinade and pat dry the fillets with paper towels.

To cook the halibut, place a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Season the halibut with salt and pepper. Add the halibut to pan and sear on one side until golden brown. Place the skillet in a preheated 350 degree  oven and finish cooking  for about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the oven, place on top of the stove, flip and "kiss" the other side. (This is the way Thomas Keller describes this procedure!)

To cook vegetables, in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat add 2 tablespoon of olive oil and butter. Add the diced shallots. Cook for 2-3 minutes,  then add the corn, and the cooked potatoes. Toss together, season with salt and pepper.

To serve divide the potatoes and vegetable onto plates. Top with halibut and drizzle the herb pesto.

Herb Pesto*

¼ cup Dill, chopped

¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped

¼ cup Mint, chopped

2 piece Garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

8 piece Anchovy filets

3 tablespoon Capers

¼ cup Olive oil

2 tablespoons Lemon juice

If you don't have all the ingredients, just use the mint, parsley, lemon, worcestershire sauce, olive oil mustard, garlic and salt and pepper and still come out with a fantastic dish!.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chipotle Skirt Steak Tacos

If there is one thing we don't lack here at the lake are Mexican restaurants and grocery stores.  I haven't ventured out there yet, I'm still casing the joint. 

As I've mentioned before, nothing gets thrown out in my kitchen, and in my mind, whenever I cook something, particularly on the grill, there is always a plan for leftovers.

Skirt is one of my favorite cuts of meat.  I love to grill it the first night and serve it Argentinian style with chimichurri sauce, french fries and creamed spinach.  The leftovers, are usually destined for Mexican tortillas or tacos the next night...that is, if the dogs don't get to it first.  I am a sucker for a cute face, especially Lucy's and chances are that if its grilled, its gone.  Most of the time, I will leave a piece uncooked for the next night, especially if there is a marinade involved.

This recipe is from my friend Jaden at Steamy Kitchen.  She is one of the best food bloggers around and certainly one of the most hardworking.

Chipotle peppers are red jalapeños which are ripened, dried and smoked. On the richter scale of chili heat, they are considered medium. Canned with an adobo sauce, which is a mixture of spices, vinegar, garlic, tomato sauce and other chilies, the concoction becomes mighty marinade for steak tacos. If you’ve never used chipotle con adobo before, make the marinade with a single pepper first, taste and then add additional if you like more heat. The canned product can be found at any grocer in the Latin foods section.

Serves 4


2 lbs skirt steak

1/4 onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

canned Chili en Adobo: 1-3 chipotle peppers + 2 tsp of adobo sauce (use more peppers if you like the heat)

1 Tbl chopped cilantro

accompaniments: corn tortillas, shredded cheese, avocado, sour cream, lettuce, lime wedges, salsa,


Puree a single chipotle pepper (not the whole can) + 2 tsp of the adobo sauce with the onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Taste and add more chipotle if needed. Stir in the cilantro. Throw it all in a zip lock bag with the skirt steak for at least 2 hours. Grill medium-rare. Cut the skirt steak into thin strips across the grain. Serve with taco accompaniments.

Note: I throw the corn tortillas directly on the grill 30 seconds, flip, add cheese, grill 30 seconds, remove. This melts the cheese oh-so-perfectly and chars the tortilla edges just a tiny bit for that crunch. Heating it also takes away some of the “rawness” that corn tortillas have when they are straight out of the bag.

From Steamy Kitchen

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Taku Glacier Lodge Grilled Salmon

The grilled salmon at Taku Glacier Lodge is legendary. Visitors can reserve the short floatplane ride up the river from Juneau and enjoy dinner at the lodge (available only in summer). The staff claims to engage in outdoor "combat cooking" - that is, holding back the bears until the salmon is done - but the evening we were there, the only big black beast being held at bay looked an awful lot like a well-fed Labrador retriever. We've reconfigured Taku Lodge's baste ingredients so they can serve as marinade as well.*

National Geographic

I came across this recipe in Sunset Magazine and thought you would also enjoy reading about the story of the lodge, particularly if you are planning to visit Alaska sometime in the future.

Yield: Makes 8 servings


1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup lemon juice

About 1/2 teaspoon salt

About 1/4 teaspoon pepper

8 pieces (about 6 oz. each; max. 1 1/4 in. thick) boned, skinned wild salmon fillet

1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter

Lemon wedges


1. In a large, wide bowl or 9- by 13-inch baking dish, stir brown sugar, wine, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until sugar is dissolved.

2. Rinse fish and pat dry. Add to marinade and turn to coat. Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours.

3. Lift salmon from marinade and transfer to a 12- by 17-inch baking pan. Pour marinade into a 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan over medium-high heat; add butter and stir until butter is melted and mixture is simmering, 4 to 5 minutes.

4. Lay salmon, skinned side down, on a generously oiled grill over a solid bed of medium-hot coals or medium-high heat on a gas grill (you can hold your hand at grill level only 3 to 4 seconds). Brush fish generously with the baste; close lid if using a gas grill. Cook until salmon pieces are well browned on the bottom, 3 1/2 to 4 minutes (keep a spray bottle filled with clean water on hand to spritz any flare-ups). With a wide spatula, carefully turn pieces; brush tops with baste and continue to cook, basting often, until the salmon is just opaque but still moist-looking in the center of the thickest part (cut to test), about 5 to 6 minutes longer. Discard any remaining baste.

5. Transfer salmon to a warm platter or plates and garnish with lemon wedges. Add more salt and pepper to taste

*Reprint from Sunset Magazine March 2003
Photos #1 Sunset Magazine  #3 Google

Monday, June 7, 2010

Trout Fishing in Normandy

Just in case you get bored with fly fishing in the Chattahoochee, I thought you might want to consider another alternative...the fabled River Andelle, in another era a haunt of Ernest Hemingway and hotelier Charles Ritz.

The following is a reprint of an article in France Today which I thought you would enjoy.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

No Takeout? No Problem!...Mongolian Beef

This Mongolian beef recipe is very close to the taste of PF Chang’s, except that  leeks are substituted for scallions. If you are not a fan of leeks, or can’t get them where you live, scallions work, too.

If you have a yen for Chinese after a weekend of bbq and no decent takeouts are to be found where you live, try this easy and quick recipe.  Maggi sauce, which is found everywhere nowadays, is used by Chinese chefs for a very authentic taste.  It  is wonderful as an addition to soups and stews so it won't go to waste.


8 oz beef tenderloin (thinly sliced)

2 tablespoons cooking oil

2 stalks leeks (sliced diagonally) or leeks

1 inch ginger (finely chopped)

3 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)

1 stalk shredded scallion (white part only for garnishing)


1 teaspoon corn starch

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon Chinese cooking wine (rice wine or Shaoxing wine)


2 teaspoons oyster sauce

2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (ABC Kecap Manis)

1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce

3 dashes white pepper powder

1/8 teaspoon sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon Maggi seasoning

Salt and sugar to taste


Marinate the beef slices with the seasonings for 30 minutes. Heat up a wok with 1 tablespoon of oil and stir-fry the marinated beef until they are half-done. Dish out and set aside.

Heat up another 1 tablespoon of oil and saute the garlic and ginger until aromatic. Add the beef back into the wok and then the sauce. Continue to stir-fry until the beef slices are almost done, then add the leeks into the wok. Do a few quick stirs, add salt and sugar to taste, dish out and garnish with the shredded scallions.

Serve hot.

Adapted from The Essence of Shangri-La via

Friday, June 4, 2010

Summer Picnics...Getting Organized!

Warm weather is here and whether you are in the mountains or the seashore, chances are you will be going on a picnic before the weather turns cold.  If you have little kids, picnics are a great way to include them in the party.  You don't have to worry about spills or breakage or someone knocking over grandmother's antique vase!

Picnics are fun for adults too and they are a great and economical way to entertain, but it takes a lot of organization, a different kind of organization. You don't have to worry about polishing the silver or ironing the cocktail napkins, but you do have to worry about making sure you pack everything that will be needed for a successful event off site.  Here you don't have the alternative of running into the kitchen to get something you  forgot.  If it didn't come with you, you are stuck.  So sit down and make a list and above all else, make your life simple and plan a stress free menu. You will be a happier camper (pun intended)

The Rules of the Game

1.  Make sure you choose a place that you know will be available.  If you are not picnicking on your property, make sure you make a reservation, if needed.  You don't want to get there and find your idyllic spot taken.

2.  Make sure there is some shade.  I, for one, do not like to eat in the sun.

3.  If there are no restrooms nearby, make sure you bring plenty of TP and PTs!

4. If you have an "older" crowd, make sure you provide some kind of seating.  Camping foldout chairs are great to have for any occasion.  They vary from chic to just plan useful and comfortable, take your pick!

5.  Have an alternate plan, what happens if it rains????

6.  If possible, get to the site ahead of your guests, that way you will be all set up when they arrive.

7.  Bring plenty of blankets if you are sitting on the grass.

8.  Plan an easy menu, one that will taste great if served room temperature.  Finger foods are ideal.

9   Offer wine or beer or both.  Soda and plenty of water are a must.  That's it, don't complicate your life.

10.  Bring plenty of ice!!

11.  No matter how informal, use a cotton table cloth and napkins.  Bring paper napkins also if serving fried chicken or ribs!

12.  Forget paper plates and invest in melamine or tin plates.  You can find inexpensive ones at Target!

13.  I like to use my stainless steel, just hate those plastic forks and knives, the food tastes yucky.

14.  I'll leave the glasses to you, but if you are serving wine or champagne, there is nothing like glass. You can always bring plastic for the young set.

15.  Pay a visit to the Container Store or Target, they have great things to cart and serve your food in that will make your life easier.

16.  Don't forget to bring bug repellent and a basic first aid box


takeout boxes, The Container Shop

Takeout Cartons, The Container Store

Rubbermaid Bottle, The Container Store

Bottle Totes, The Container Store

Metro Tote, Target

Insulated Tote, The Container Store

Eddie Bauer folding chairs, Target

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Memorial Day on the Lake...Dogs Ahoy!

Memorial Day is all about, family, friends, barbecues and a show of support and remembrance for those who have defended our country so well in the past.

This year at the lake, it was all about family, dogs, and a little Westie who finally went in the water!!!

First dog in!

Brother and sister...the biggest (Mac) and the runt (our Lily)

Sharing is encouraged

Oh dear, I feel sooo left out!

Human sister and human niece

Come on, Lucy!

Come on Luce, you can do it!

Schucks! (I can do it, I can do it...can I do it?)

I'm in!! I feel like Columbus...

How did I get here?!

This isn't so bad...wait til Snowy sees this!

You're next, Mom!

Westies are not water dogs.  They are dirt dogs. They love to dig, go into holes and chase anything that moves fast, especially cats and squirrels.  They are also very, very stubborn.  When they want something, they will wear you down.  I have yet to win an argument with Lucy.  When I think I have and the case is closed, she will come back for more and fight another day.  

Westies are not meant to be swimmers, their little legs are not built for the water.  The beach is fine, they can touch the sand and they have control of going in and out.  The lake and the pool are a different story. .. they feel lost and out of control.  Lucy has a life jacket, but she knows what it's for and refuses to put it on.  The poor thing suffers when she sees her sister Lily go in the water and play for hours on end chasing her toy.  She wants so desperately to go in, but in the end, terror wins over fun.  The only way she will come close to the water is in the kayak and that takes some prodding too. 

This weekend's activities were too much for her to resist and we finally talked her into making the jump...into the kayak that is.  After the pictures were taken, she couldn't wait to get out and watch from afar..Perhaps with time and exposure she will go in on her own.    We will try that life jacket again, very soon...when she let's us.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer Picnics ...Shrimp & Noodle Salad With Ginger Dressing

Summer picnics are here and I'm sure we will have plenty of those at the lake this summer.  Pasta salads of all kinds, particularly those with an Asian flavor, are a delight to bring along with a chilled bottle of white wine and a baguette with cheese and fruit for dessert.  Perhaps, just perhaps cookies might be found at the bottom of the hamper...

In this salad, instead of spending time shredding cabbage and carrots, Grace Parisi of Food & Wine uses prepackaged coleslaw mix. She tosses it with noodles and shrimp, then adds a spicy, gingery dressing prepared with other easy-to-find supermarket ingredients, like bottled teriyaki sauce and chile-garlic sauce.


 7 ounce(s) dried udon noodles or fettuccine, broken in half

12 ounce(s) shredded coleslaw mix

2 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced

1 cup(s) cilantro leaves

3/4 pound(s) cooked medium shrimp, halved lengthwise

1/4 cup(s) teriyaki sauce

2 tablespoon(s) finely grated fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon(s) Chinese chile-garlic sauce

1/4 cup(s) plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


Lime wedges, for serving


1.Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Pat dry and transfer to a large bowl. Add the coleslaw mix, scallions, cilantro, and shrimp.

2.In a blender, combine the teriyaki sauce with the ginger and chile-garlic sauce and puree until smooth. With the machine on, slowly add the vegetable oil in a thin stream and puree until the dressing is emulsified. Season lightly with salt. Add the dressing to the bowl with the udon noodles and toss well. Serve the noodle salad with lime wedges on the side.
Food &Wine


Related Posts with Thumbnails